Thursday, July 31, 2014

Toastmasters Petition

Dear Heart Friends:

I'm about to let you in on a secret. I'm an introvert. Shhh!

It's true. I was a painfully shy person until I was in my 30s. What brought me out of my shell? Two things: having children and becoming a writer. What made me feel confident that I could speak in front of others and that I had a message worth sharing? Toastmasters.

Toastmasters has been a vital part of my life for the last 13 years. For most of that time I was raising a young family and I was also a homeschool mom. That meant that once a week I took my two sons with me (we started when they were 6 and 9 years old) and they sat quietly while I learned the intricacies of public speaking. They were little sponges who soaked up everything I was learning and then some! They were my first evaluators as they listened to me practicing my speeches. They were my audience. They were my encouragers.

There is a situation occurring right now in Toastmasters, my beloved organization, which needs to be rectified. Currently there is an outdated and inefficient means of giving officers credit for attending a mandatory training every 6 months. I am recommending a new way of giving credit to officers which also gives every officer credit, regardless where they receive (or give -- since many of us are trainers) that training. It only seems fair that if 200 Toastmasters receive credit for attending a particular training because they went to a local training, that if they are joined by someone from a different district -- who is also part of Toastmasters International, that they should get credit, too. Unfortunately, while that is usually the case, it isn't always the case.

Please look at this petition to decide if you would like to support my suggestion. I believe it could help streamline the process needed to give officers credit and it would also show equal respect for any district-sponsored Toastmasters Leadership Institute.

I have benefited greatly from Toastmasters -- it's what enables me to conduct my radio show and to speak to groups all over North America. Without the training and the practice I receive at my Toastmasters weekly meetings, I am certain I would revert back to being more introverted and self-conscious when speaking in public. Because of Toastmasters, I have developed confidence and can focus on the message I am trying to convey instead of the art of speaking itself. Thank you all for your consideration and for sharing this with others.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Revitalization of the Baby Hearts Press Website!

Dear Heart Friends:

What is one of the most difficult things to do once a website is created? 

I just thought website creation was difficult. Luckily for me, I had many kind people helping me out with the website creation -- provided I could supply them with content. It was extremely difficult to decide what to put on the website, what to leave out and how to spruce things up. As time went on we played with different kinds and colors of backgrounds, different images and even fun images that spun around or would have some kind of animation.

What was one of the most difficult things to do? Change! It took months of work to built the website in the first place. Why in the world would we want to change things?

Change is inevitable. It seems that once a website is built, it becomes obsolete. It's already time to be thinking about how to improve content, add images and move things around. Websites can become unwieldy because of this need to always change: to add, to improve and to enhance. Then the change deals with new ways to format the website. It seems that websites have a life of their own.

Baby Hearts Press has been going through a lot of changes. Our long-time webmaster and friend, Sue Dove, decided to take a break from working on the website. With her children grown and gone, it was time for her to enjoy a new chapter in her life. Callie Rickard then joined our mission to provide resources to the CHD community and with her came new ideas, new skills and . . . you guessed it -- CHANGE!

Please check out what Callie has done to the Baby Hearts Press website. It now features something new -- an ability to "Take a Peek" inside our books! Some of the books have book trailers -- short videos where you learn more about the book. You can read book reviews and even see the Table of Contents for the books.

Callie also has information about the radio show that is available to inspire and uplift the CHD community. "Heart to Heart with Anna" is hosted by the owner of Baby Hearts Press, Anna Jaworski. The Baby Hearts Press website is a place for people to discover other resources (in various modalities) for the CHD community.

We hope you like the new website! Please share it with others. Please give us feedback, too! We love to know what our readers or listeners think and what they want to know more about.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Empowering Through Educating with Technology

Eighteen years ago, when the Internet was first delivered to my home via a dial-up connection, there was not much information available for families of children with congenital heart defects. Many of the sites were memorials to heart warriors who left earth too soon and there wasn't much hope for families or much information written for the common person to understand what was going on and how to deal with it.

I started my website and then in order to fill a need for information specifically for parents and then later for the survivors of congenital heart defects. I wanted to paint a picture of hope for members of the congenital heart defect community. With my background in education, I felt an obligation to teach and empower members of my community through the written word.

Just this last week, a fellow heart mom and friend, Callie Rickard, shared some news with me. She told me about a mobile app that is designed to help parents understand what some heart defects look like and what must be done to repair those funky hearts.

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center is making the app Heartpedia available for people who have an iPad or iPhone. They even have 3-D images available! Currently 7 congenital heart defects are mentioned:

• Tetralogy of Fallot

• Coarctation of the Aorta

• Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome

• Transposition of the Great Arteries

• Ventricular Septal Defect

• Patent Ductus Arteriosus

• Atrioventricular Septal Defect

You'll have the ability to toggle your way between a normal heart and the heart with the congenital heart defect, as well as having the ability to read about the heart defect, view various slides explaining the heart defect and watch video animation that describes the heart defect and the surgeries commonly used to repair or palliate (reduce the severity of) the heart defect.

The best part about this is that it's free!