Life Changing Opportunities

Our significant opportunities will be found in times of greatest difficulty. ~Thomas S. Monson

Our significant opportunities will be found in times of greatest difficulty. ~Thomas S. Monson

For the millions of students in public and private schools around the world, there is a remarkable opportunity available to all, typically beginning in middle school all the way through college — the opportunity to experience a class trip to another city, or even country. For many students, this may be their first experience outside their state, or perhaps their county. And for students who have never traveled, doing so at such a pivotal point in their development, is life-altering in a most positively significant way. It provides an experiential lesson beyond  that of text books, enabling a student to formulate stronger budding personal goals about their future. They begin to visualize a future on an elevated level. It’s a brighter future. The majority return home with a dream, which then alters their perception of the present.

When a great moment knocks on the door of your life, it is often no louder that the beating of you heat, and it's very easy to miss it. ~Boris Pasternak

When a great moment knocks on the door of your life, it is often no louder that the beating of you heat, and it’s very easy to miss it. ~Boris Pasternak

In the United States, one such life-changing opportunity is the class trip to Washington DC. For many students, this trip takes place in the 8th Grade, as students set off to begin their journey to independence in high school… it’s the ideal stepping stone.

Students travel to DC from every corner of the country, including Hawaii and Alaska. The teachers who lead these trips often make preparations one to two years in advance with the hope that this will give the students time to raise money to pay for the trip. Students fundraise as well as find babysitting and pet-walking jobs. Parents scrimp and save to make this dream a reality for their child. And yet, there are often some who aren’t able to raise all the necessary funds and fear they will have to cancel. This can be heart-breaking for the student and the parents; the parents want their child to have his horizons broadened. They wan’t their child to have her eyes opened to all the possibilities available in a free society.

Wonder is the heaviest element on the periodic table. Even a tiny fleck of it stops time. ~Diane Ackerman

Wonder is the heaviest element on the periodic table. Even a tiny fleck of it stops time. ~Diane Ackerman

When that flame of wonderment is lit inside a young heart, self-motivation springs forth. Parents and teachers no longer have to push so intensely, the child begins to push himself, and this not only changes that child’s life, launching the child forward at an accelerated pace, it changes the world in a phenomenal way for the better…

We hope you’ll be able to help support changing the world in one of the easiest, simplest, and most effective ways possible!

To help these students and families Today, just click: http://spanninternational.com/donate.htm

Thanks in advance for your contribution!

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Somewhere

The friend in my adversity, I shall always cherish most. I am more able to trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my darkest hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity. ~Ulysses S. Grant

The friend in my adversity, I shall always cherish most. I am more able to trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my darkest hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity. ~Ulysses S. Grant

I met a woman who wrote an amazing story about her very difficult, abusive childhood. The book was published and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 — You Better Not Cry. Although Janet is a great deal older than me, I consider her one of my closest friends. She has the most amazing ability to laugh at outrageous situations rather than scream. She once told me that screaming makes you sick, while laughter can cure just about anything.

In Janet’s book, she explains in detail how she was surrounded by chronic abuse inflicted by her alcoholic mother, pedophile “Uncle Jack” (who was really her mother’s boyfriend, not her real uncle), nine brothers and sisters that her mother decided she would be responsible for taking care of, all of this amidst extreme poverty. It was the 1940’s. While having to juggle these horrific conditions at such a young age, she found that what enabled her to keep her sanity… was singing. She sang constantly, and while she sang she dreamed of one day attending The Julliard School of Music in Manhattan. Her favorite song to sing was “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” She could have easily been a superstar singer in the 1950’s and 60’s, that’s how gifted her singing voice is… but that life path apparently wasn’t meant to be.

All the same, her dreams did come true regardless… she survived. Not only did she survive, she succeeded.

Janet is now 80 years old, although if you met her you’d swear she was in her early sixties. She’s owned and managed a health food store for more than 40 years and has become a superstar at saving lives through health and wellness. She will sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow if you ever need a bright pick me up after a tough day. She’ll even sing it over the phone.

It looks as though the list of people who have been inspired by Somewhere Over the Rainbow goes on indefinitely…

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Overcoming Challenges Through Art

If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I came to live out loud. ~Emile Zola

If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I came to live out loud. ~Emile Zola

It’s impossible to think of two thoughts at the same time… which is awesome when you stop and think about what we’re able to do with this.

For example, whenever I’m having a tough day, the first thing I do when negative forces surround me is block them all by lining up positives in front of them. Typically this involves the arts. Absorbing my mind in my favorite music, taking my Nikon off the beaten path in search of mesmerizing landscapes, signing up for a Painting with a Twist event, singing out loud while hiking in the woods listening to Pandora… I wish I could HipHop dance because I’d certainly be doing that too.

The arts are a savior, an alternative method for channeling all emotions, enabling us to work through nearly every conflict, overcome endless obstacles and pull off a happy ending in the face of a wicked day!

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. ~Thomas Merton[

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. ~Thomas Merton[

And what’s wonderful about the arts is that there are so many amazing and rewarding programs offered in every village, town, county, Parrish, tribe across the world. The programs are not scarce, but rather an abundant resource available to all.

I hope you’ll try it and see what I’m talking about…

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A Hope and a Dream

The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy. ~Kalu Ndukwe Kalu

The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy. ~Kalu Ndukwe Kalu

There are many organizations across the globe who have lovingly undertaken the endearing cause of older adoptions. These older children are from a broad spectrum of challenging situations that present an extra variable to adoption’s often complicated equation. Some that are hoping to be adopted are from foster care and orphanages, while others are refugees or became older orphans when their parent(s) died unexpectedly.

As they enter the waiting period, where organizations search for families seeking to adopt older children, they have to conquer the tough emotional difficulties they’ve been dealing with surrounding their early childhood. Many have been through a great deal of grief and sorrow. Despite all this, this child clings to a hope and a dream that there is one family out there in the world who wants her, one family in search of an older child to take under their wings, overcome the different stages of transition, maintain their commitment to the child with optimism, humor and flexibility as they all strive to bond as a family.

When an older child is being considered for adoption, he or she will often meet with prospective parents who may ask questions and try and get to know him or her. But this can be intimidating for a child who as of yet may not feel very extroverted and may also be dealing with emotional stressors.

I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you're going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you. ~C. JoyBell C.

I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you’re going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you. ~C. JoyBell C.

Mecklenburg County Youth Services created a wonderful idea to assist children overcome these barriers; in early 2014 the children will be involved in a painting event with Painting with a Twist where they will each create a painting that they will be able to share with prospective parents when that time comes …which will enable them to explain the painting process to prospective parents and why they like this image and the many details that went into the work as a way to begin a meaningful conversation that could potentially change their lives forever.

We hope that you’ll help support this wonderful initiative by donating today… (http://spanninternational.com/donate.htm) .

Thank you in advance for your support in changing the lives of children for the better, a gift that will last forever, a gift that will become your legacy.

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Annika

We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, for which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, for which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Annika is shy and won’t let me take her picture. Annika and Paulina are sisters, so their background is the same. Annika was a freshman in high school this year, acclimating to a foreign country at the beginning of her high school career (she felt that this was a great advantage and that her sister Paulina had a much tougher transition to get through, although interestingly, when speaking with Paulina, she didn’t feel that it was difficult). Annika is passionate about photography. She explains that when she was living in Mexico, she loved taking pictures of the town where she lived, Ajijic. It’s a busy town, with lots of people walking the streets. That became Annika’s focus, she would photograph all the people. There is also a lake in Ajijic, and Annika began to get experience in landscape photography. Her father would let Annika borrow his expensive camera to practice. They would go to the lake together, and walk around town together and take many pictures. These are now fond memories for Annika when she misses her father who is still in Mexico. Spann International bought Annika a camera so that she could continue with her photography here in the United states. Annika volunteers at the middle school across the street from the high school and has become the sport photographer, taking many great pictures for the Booster Club this year. She hopes to be the middle school sport photographer every season while she is in high school…

Annika and Paulina’s mother sent me a message last week announcing that their Green Cards were approved and they are now US citizens, that’s eight months. They were so happy, she described it as a miracle, after so many challenges and hardships. They have all passed through a new door to a new beginning; they love Charlotte and can’t wait to do everything there is to do. They are a very adventurous family and love taking day trips up to Asheville and down the Charleston and wherever else they can think of… Annika is documenting the journey with her camera!

©Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

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Paulina

The best way to predict the future is to create it. ~Peter F. Drucker

The best way to predict the future is to create it. ~Peter F. Drucker

It takes a lot of courage for a teenager to agree to let someone blog their “story” to the world. Thank you, Paulina, I greatly appreciate your sacrifice.

Paulina’s mother was born and raised in Germany, and moved to Mexico when she was in her twenties to teach German and English at the University. Paulina’s mother soon fell in love and married the man who was to become Paulina’s father. Paulina’s parents opened a German restaurant in Mexico. The menu was based on a collection of delicious family recipes from Germany. Paulina’s dad managed the restaurant and Paulina’s mom was the German chef. A few years after Paulina was born, there was another addition to the family, a baby sister. The family was happy and life seemed good for the parents of the two young girls. The restaurant had become quite popular, Paulina’s father wasn’t home very often. After some time, hardship set in. The marriage fell apart and Paulina’s parents got divorced, but they stayed friends and continued to run a profitable restaurant.

Paulina’s dad remarried and became very involved with his new wife and life; he paid for private school for Paulina and her sister. But Mexico began to go through many changes with the varying social concerns, such as the drug war. The restaurant eventually experienced hard times, the financial concerns facing Paulina’s mom and dad were very difficult. Paulina’s mom had fallen in love with an America artist who was living in Mexico to pursue his artistic goals. He loved the girls very much and gave them what they valued most, his heart. With the extreme circumstances that began to grip Mexico a few years ago, and continued to grow in the years that followed, and with the girls becoming teenagers, Paulina’s mom’s American boyfriend suggested they relocate to the United States. Paulina’s mom and her boyfriend became engaged, (Paulina’s dad agreed to the relocation), the four moved to North Carolina in August 2012, and Paulina’s mom and boyfriend were married in November of 2012.

From the moment Paulina settled into her new home, and her new school, all she wanted to do was run. She dreamed of being a long distance runner and planned on joining the high school cross country team. But first semester was too transitional to join anything. Paulina speaks three languages fluently but she had never lived in the United States. She had studied abroad in Germany the preceding year, and now she was caught up in adapting to yet another culture. Her first objective was to meet people and make friends. Once she reached that goal, it was Thanksgiving and then Christmas.

The big challenge facing Paulina began in January 2013. All of her new friends were so excited to begin participating in spring sports. That’s all they could talk about. Paulina felt left out. She had had that dream too. Track would soon be starting, but she wouldn’t be able to join Track. Her mom and her mom’s new husband were facing extreme financial distress. The relocation from Mexico had been very expensive. Then they had to pay the attorney a substantial amount of money to pursue papers and citizenship. There was a wedding, and although they kept it simple, it was still an expense. All Paulina’s mom wanted to do was work, but she couldn’t until she received her papers. So in January Paulina began to arrive home from school and go immediately to her room and stay there with the door closed for hours. Paulina lost her appetite and was no longer her happy, cheerful self. She never seemed to smile anymore. Her mom became very worried…

I’m so happy that I met Paulina’s mom when I did. It has been such an amazing, gratifying experience to be able to support this wonderful family who has been trying so hard to keep everything together. Paulina is doing very well on the high school Track Team, throwing everything she has into it, trying her best, building excellent habits… and making new friends. Making great memories!

©Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

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