Voice & Vision Blog

The Girls Next Door

I never planned to live in South Philly again. I lived here for a few years after Bill and I married. It was not a good fit for me, and Bill was ready for a change, too. When he began his military career we were both happy to relocate to a suburban setting. We bought a lawn mower and never looked back. But 25 years passed and Bill’s mother’s health was failing. Time and time again Bill took emergency leave to fly here to be with her as she faced yet another health crisis. My own mom was faring...

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Ordinary Beauty

Ordinary Beauty, written by guest blogger, Amy Wilson It was a late Tuesday morning as my son and I strolled down the driveway. I say strolled because my son Silas was just learning to walk. He would toddle a few steps, plop down to examine the ground, his fingers lingering over stones embedded in the concrete, wander over to the grass, yank a clump or lean over a wish flower attempting to blow on it (you know the ones, the dandelion seed flowers where as child you would make a wish, breath deeply...

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Words to Remember

Last week found me missing my mom. Not because Mother’s Day was approaching, but because I was having a rough week and even though my mom has been gone for 5 years, when I’m upset my first instinct is to call her. She was my wisest counselor, my most ardent cheerleader and my most effective anti-depressant. I suppose all mothers are encouragers, at least they should be. But my mother had a bit of an edge in that department because she was a pastor—an encourager by calling and by profession. As...

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How You Can Help End the Silence

Mental Health Awareness Month The month of May is Mental Health Awareness month.  As an organization that advocates for individuals with mental illness, let us tell you why it’s important. Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year. Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S.—9.8 million, or 4.0%—experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. Approximately...

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Temporarily Pink

Our old neighborhood sat at the base of a mountain in the Chugach foothills in Anchorage, Alaska. It was a beautiful place to live, with stunning views of mountains and sky and forest. The houses were a mix of one and two-story homes, most of which were painted or stained rich, natural colors. Although we did not have a homeowner’s association dictating these colors, some of our neighbors expressed strong opinions as to what hues were appropriately robust for dwellings in the “Last Frontier.”...

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How Well Do You Know Yourself?

One of the many things I love about my job with the College Plus Program is reviewing a H.A.N.D.® Plan with the students.  It’s a tool that helps students with goal setting and futures planning using a hand as an easy reference tool.  The first thing we ask the students to do is describe their strengths, gifts and talents.   What I have found is that some of our students don’t realize just how smart and talented they are!    So I began a hunt for some tools I could use to help the students understand...

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The Changing Face of Family

My family’s Easter celebration this year was subtly different from last year’s. We welcomed a familiar face to join us once again, but he’s no longer my daughter’s boyfriend. Now he’s her fiancé! I’ve known Matthew for about ten years and I’ve always liked him. He is smart and witty and compassionate and gracious—he is fun to be around. And he is so good to Alexis. I was happy and excited when they announced their plans to marry, and yet something concerned me. Matthew sees the world so differently...

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How To Build a Bridge Like the Incas

My husband and I love learning about culture and history, so we enjoy ambling our way around museums and stumbling on interesting new facts.  On a recent trip to Washington D.C., we stopped in the National Museum of the American Indian.  After a few hours of wandering around a maze of exhibits learning about various Native American cultures, our aching feet and weary eyes begged us for a rest.  Yet, we found ourselves getting sucked into exhibit after exhibit. One such display was about the Q’eswachaka...

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Overcomers: An Artist Triumphs over Tourette’s and OCD

I first met Eli Smith at a get-together at a friend’s house. We struck up a conversation and I quickly became fascinated by his life story. He is an American, but grew up in London, UK. He is an artist, both by gifting and by education, but earns a living as a scientist doing eye research. I was curious about Eli’s artwork so he showed me photos of his paintings. When I asked about the motivation behind his work, I was stunned to learn that much of Eli’s art is inspired by the difficulties he...

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Super-Bloom

So what’s the big deal about wildflowers?  Well, wild flowers bloom in the California deserts every year, but a super-bloom occurs only once every 10 years or so.  The term aptly describes the eruption of flowers blossoming in the middle of the desert at a much greater rate than the normal spring growth.  So that’s what all the fuss is about – the spectacular and rare transformation of the desert. What’s particularly fascinating to me is that the conditions have to be just...

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