Posts Tagged ‘charity’

The Words of the Buddha in Action

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

Click here to read my English usage blogs.

The Buddha said, “If you knew what I know about the power of generosity, you would not let a single meal go by without sharing it.”

Last October, I made a promise to the people in New Orleans that I would keep their needs in the forefront. Then Kim Nance, Assistant Principal of James Weldon Johnson Elementary School, called me when she read that I was offering free copies of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation to New Orleans public schools. I asked her what else she needed to help her 400 schoolchildren, their families, and her teachers. She asked tentatively, “Do you really want to know?”

As sad as it was for me to hear her incredulity, my resolve to bring attention to these kids’ plight strengthened as Kim spoke. She told me about her preschoolers who, after having “accidents,” had to sit the rest of the day, embarrassed and smelly, in their soiled clothing. Gratefully, a social worker took money out of her own salary to buy extra clothing for these young children.

Then Kim’s tone changed as she proudly shared that her school’s girls just won their first basketball tournament but had nowhere to display their trophy. When I asked, “What else?” she described having to shout through a bullhorn at assemblies because the school has no microphone or amplifier. And the cafeteria, where assemblies are held (There is no auditorium.), doesn’t have tables or chairs, forcing families who come to watch their children perform in a play, poetry reading, or musical event to stand.

Kim, who lost her own home in Katrina, aches for these children, many of whom are living in overcrowded conditions (15 to an apartment with one bathroom!) or homeless under freeways, often with distant relatives or even strangers. Like war victims, these young children are suffering from post-traumatic stress. Kim says that what will heal them is what heals any of us: to know that they matter and that people care about them enough to help.

Kim has this to tell us:
Reaching out to us softens the jarring, daily experiences that our students and teachers suffer just to work and learn. By donating, you are giving our students the belief that they are valued. Your efforts help me to exhale a little and your contributions are allowing us to do what all teachers and administrators desire to do—teach our students. Thank you!

So if you feel compelled to help donate for needed supplies to Kim’s school, call Robin Fox at, 1-866-619-5320. Just tell her how much you want to put on your credit card for supplies for James Weldon Johnson Elementary School. She will keep a list of donors that will go both to me and to the school. In a few weeks, I will publish what I trust will be a long list of donors’ names in this newsletter.

Supplies Requested Supplies Donated Still Needed
500 folding chairs ($11.95 each) 200 chairs 300 chairs
1 trophy case 1 trophy case
7 lg. rectangular tables ($85 each) 7 tables
Chair dollies ($287 ea.) 1 dolly (holds 84 chairs) 6 dollies
PA system PA system

I wrote this poem today as an ode to the children of New Orleans.

Note to Self

Words matter
With their power to soothe or batter
But so do actions
Not done in small fractions
I pray for the courage not to ration
My compassion

What do I want at the end of my story
Except to know I’ve lived out my glory?
Able to look in the mirror and tip my hat
Not having wasted time on tit for tat

The hokey pokey says it true
For me and maybe for you
You put your left foot out, not just your toe
‘Cause that’s what it’s all about
Don’t you know


“Coffee Talk”: A Fundraising Event for James Weldon Johnson Elementary School

Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 10:00 AM, Northpoint Cafe, 1250 Bridgeway, Sausalito
Remember Lucy in Charlie Brown? She put up a sign offering “Advice: 5 Cents”
Well, the price for that sage advice has just been lowered by a nickel!
Sip your latte and have an Aha! FREE (Donations for Johnson Elementary School gratefully accepted) with popular Life Coaches and Bestselling Authors Jane Straus (Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life) and Diane Conway (What Would You Do If You Had No Fear? Living Your Dreams While Quakin’ in Your Boots).
Talk with Jane or Diane about whatever concern/issue/decision is foremost in your mind. Be ready to get a new perspective, be inspired, share a laugh, find your courage, or let go of an old, painful thought—before your coffee gets cold! Take this opportunity to declare what you would do if you had no fear. Then be ready for results!

Create Your Abundant Life NOW!
at Club Med in Cancun!
June 21-28, 2008

Enjoy the beautiful beach, delicious food, and luxurious setting while experiencing enriching programs by renowned self-help leaders, including a NEW program that I am offering:

Create Your Abundant Life NOW!

How do you know if you have limiting beliefs around abundance?
Just ask yourself:
Do I believe that abundance is that which already exists?

If you can’t answer that question with a resounding YES!, then don’t waste any more of your life suffering in lack.

Here’s another test of your abundance quotient:

Do you feel that you don’t have enough:

* Time
* Money
* Energy
* Love
* Intimacy
* Fun
* Self-esteem
* Inspiration, or
* Direction

There is a Buddhist saying that no enemy can harm us as much as our own worst thoughts. Three kinds of negative thoughts stop us from manifesting abundance:

* Fear
* Self-judgments
* Limiting beliefs

Any one of them can sabotage us, keep us stuck in a rut, stress us out, cause us confusion, or make us want to give up.

You will experience cutting-edge strategies and intriguing processes so that you will begin immediately to manifest your spirit’s deepest desires.

Price: Get your Friend of Jane discount $1999 (regular price $2600)/$1000 for children under 18, which includes lodging, meals, airport transportation, and all programs. Check out this beautiful, newly renovated Club Med for yourself.
Luminaries Joining Jane as Presenters:

Cameron Johnson: You Call the Shots

Maybe you’ve watched Cameron on the Big Give with Oprah – now meet him in person. Cameron is recognized as one of the most successful young entrepreneurs in the world. Over the last eight years, Cameron has given hundreds of speeches worldwide. Cameron is also the author of the international bestselling book, “You Call the Shots.” Cameron will inspire you with his story and motivate you to the next level of success.

Teresa Rodriguez Williamson: Build Your Personal Mission Statement

Teresa is the creator and founder of—a worldwide online social network and travel magazine for women. She is also the author of “FLY SOLO: The 50 Best Places on Earth for a Girl to Travel Alone.” She has appeared on hundreds of TV shows, magazines, and newspaper articles around the world. Teresa will teach you how to create and build a mission statement that can guide you to success.

Chet Holmes: How to Double Your Sales

Super Strategist of the Fortune 500, Chet Holmes had more than 60 of the Fortune 500 as clients, taking his place as America’s top marketing executive, trainer, strategic consultant, and motivation expert. He is the author of the NO.1 bestselling book, “The Ultimate Sales Machine.” Chet will teach you how to double your sales – no matter what your business is.

Stephen Pierce: The Art of More

For many, Stephen Pierce’s name is synonymous with success. Recognized as one of the world’s leading Internet marketers and Business Optimization Strategists, Pierce wears several hats when it comes to his businesses. He will teach you how to expand your business in a competitive world.

Spike Humer: Consciously Creating Your Future

Dedicated to the passionate pursuit of creating joy, excellence, and positive abundance in life, health, relationships, and business throughout the world. He will help you create a clear and compelling vision for your life.

Joe Polish: From “Real World” to “Real Money”

Joe Polish is the founder and President of Piranha Marketing, Inc. Considered to be one of the most effective direct-response marketing experts in the world, Joe made his name teaching other entrepreneurs the marketing techniques and business strategies that came directly from his own “real world” work experiences. Joe Polish is a business strategy consultant and marketing expert who has helped thousands of entrepreneurs become successful. And during your week at Club Med, he will teach you his secrets to success.

Greta Remington: Innovative Thinking for Growth

What is the next “big idea” for your company? How do you know which ideas to pursue? Based on the greatest creative minds in history and the most innovative companies of today, Greta’s proven methodology for identifying market opportunities has generated millions in incremental revenue for her clients from the Fortune 500 to start-ups. Greta will teach you her step by step methodology for improving your innovative thinking and creating actionable ideas to grow your business.

Contact Teresa Williamson at for more information and to register. Put in your Subject Line: Club Med w/Jane Or call Teresa @ 650-759-1005 or Raha @ 925-915-1515

Dear Jane Podcasts

I’ve got 32 podcasts available for listening so enjoy!

Jane’s Coaching and Training

For over 20 years, Jane Straus has coached individuals and groups, facilitated organizational retreats, conducted training programs, and presented keynotes for corporations and nonprofits nationwide.

To get exceptional results from coaching and training, you need someone who knows how to assess blind spots as well as enhance strengths. Jane’s coaching helps individuals and groups maximize their potential and improve their productivity and work relationships. Jane works to ensure that each client receives the wisdom, skills, and support he/she needs to succeed and often co-facilitates with industry-specific leaders who have chosen to mentor the next generation.

Contact Jane directly at to discuss your coaching or training needs or visit for more information and testimonials.

The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation 10th Edition Now Available

Amazon’s #1 Bestseller in Three Categories!
#1 in Reading
#1 in Lesson Planning
#1 in Vocabulary

An indispensable tool for busy professionals, teachers, students, home-school families, editors, writers, & proofreaders. If you buy the book through Amazon, please write a customer review. Reviews are immensely helpful at letting other consumers know that The Blue Book is a valuable resource.

What’s New:

* 60 additional pages at the same low price
* More quizzes
* Spelling / Vocabulary / Confusing Words

View entire contents online

* Spelling / Vocabulary / Confusing Words
* Grammar Rules
* Punctuation & Capitalization
* Rules for Writing Numbers
* More than Two Dozen FREE Quizzes in interactive format with answers

Discounts available for schools, bookstores, and multiple copies.

Empowering vs. Enabling

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

Click here to read my English usage blogs.

Dear Jane,
What is the difference between empowering and enabling someone?

I’ve struggled with this in my own life. I want to be compassionate, but how can I know whether I am helping or when I am supporting someone in believing they’re helpless? How do I combine a belief that we are 100% responsible for our thoughts and behaviors at the same time that I increase my awareness of our interdependence?

A few years ago a family came to live with us. They had been evicted from their apartment and because our eight-year-old daughters were friends, when the knock on the door came, we opened up, not just our door, but our hearts. They stayed with us for three months rent free…until at 6:30 one morning, the police banged on our door, arresting the mom for parole violation and theft. Two weeks later a credit card bill arrived totaling $3000+ on a card we had never used and that we thought was still in our desk drawer.

Some details I left out of that story: I knew something was amiss when I was shown the mom’s “ankle bracelet,” her house arrest monitor. On the first day of their stay, she admitted that she had embezzled $32,000 from her employer. She and her husband also admitted that they had defrauded their roommate, making her think that they had used her rent to pay the landlord when they had actually kept it.

So what did I do with this information? I counseled them; I fed them; I drove their daughter to school and events; I cooked for them. Clearly, I was enabling, not empowering, them. Why couldn’t I see that?

I have a habit of assuming the best in people. In other words, I’m gullible. But sometimes seeing something in someone that they don’t see in themselves can bring out the best in them. Hasn’t someone seeing something in you ever made you believe in yourself more?
I also cared very much about their little girl and couldn’t imagine throwing her out into the streets for the sins of her parents.

So, yes, I was an enabler. Yes, I was foolish and disillusioned for a while. I admit fully that I not only didn’t empower her parents; in fact, I made it possible for them to commit further crimes. I could have done more by insisting on their helping more around the house or getting a job or getting drug counseling. But I’m pretty sure that insisting would have made them feel too exposed, and they would have left looking for their next suckers. If I didn’t care about their little girl, this would have been just fine.

Empowering vs. enabling is often distinguished by how people receive our help. When people want to be empowered, not enabled, they don’t ask for pity; they ask for clarity. They don’t give excuses; they overcome obstacles. They show a willingness to change their thoughts and strategies. They take responsibility for their actions. They don’t try to get away with things; they want to get out of their ruts in order to thrive.

Because life is complicated, I still don’t always know ahead of time how my help will be received or if I’m being foolish, throwing away money or energy. I can always hope that good intentions will sow their seeds, even if I can’t know where they’ve been planted or when they will germinate. Maybe, just maybe, this little girl, basking in some unconditional love and living in a safe and secure environment for even a short time will help her not re-create her parents’ life. That little girl is now 15. She still calls us. That feels great. I’ll live with being a fool.

Join Jane at Club Med in Cancun
June 21-28, 2008.
I will be teaching a new, exciting program on Creating Abundance everywhere in your life.
More about this in next week’s e-newsletter.

Handle Stress to Boost Immunity presented by Jane at the KCBS Health Fair in San Francisco with Keynote Speaker Dr. Mehmet Oz
I was honored to be invited as a panelist, along with Melina Jampolis, M.D., host of Fit TV’s Diet Doctor and author of The No Time to Lose Diet; and Dr. Jacob Leone, Naturopathic & Integrative Medicine Practitioner, to discuss Boosting Immunity: Nutrition, Supplements, and Stress. I promise to have the contents of my presentation available for you on my Web site shortly.

About Jane Straus
Jane is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.

She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation,, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes. Contact Jane at

Helping New Orleans Recover

Sunday, November 25th, 2007
icon for podpress  .: Play Now | Play in Popup | Downloads 788

This is one of those times that I wish I were a poet—even just a decent one—because New Orleans deserves to be described with more powerful imagery than I can offer.

I took the six-day trip not knowing what to expect. I had never been to the city or even to the south. Whenever I mentioned that I would be going, people who had been there before Katrina would get a gleam in their eyes and an instant smile would spread across their faces. So I knew that New Orleans was special. What I didn’t know was that it would steal my heart.

I arrived in New Orleans at midnight on a balmy evening. Sequestered a number of miles from the city in a motel close to the airport, I had no hint of what I would soon witness. I could have been anywhere in the U.S. I thought, This isn’t so bad. Maybe the recovery work is finally in full swing.

Janet Bruno-Small, my contact (and now friend) who lured me to New Orleans, picked me up the next morning and drove me to her lovely jewelry store on Magazine Street, part of what is known as “The Sliver on the River” because it is above sea level. Everything looked fine to my untrained eye. “Just wait until we tour later. You’ll see,” Janet warned amicably. “Katrina did a lot of damage here but the levee breaks didn’t affect us.”

She had to work for a while so I decided to stroll down Magazine Street, with its beautiful architecture and upscale, cute shops that reminded me of Carmel, a picturesque, pricey seaside town in California. I took my video camera just in case I saw “something.” As I left the store, Janet said, “Close the door behind you and be careful out there.” I was struck by both parts of that statement because it was a sunny Friday at noon. But I simply shrugged my shoulders and closed the door as requested, hearing the lock click shut behind me.

I walked next door to a rug gallery and introduced myself as Janet’s friend to Michael, a longtime employee and native of New Orleans. I asked him to tell me about his experience of Katrina as I recorded him with my video camera. He told me that his house was damaged but livable; however, his relatives didn’t fare as well. For months, there were fourteen people living in his home. It was crowded, not just physically but emotionally. The fallout was that he and his sister were now estranged and his wife was refusing to spend Thanksgiving (just days away) with her. He didn’t know what he was going to do. He kept a brave smile as he told me about his hardships, but just underneath, his sadness was all too apparent.

After leaving the rug shop, I turned the corner and was struck by the contrast of what I saw: houses boarded up with black, spray-painted X’s, symbols or numbers in each quadrant. On one house was painted a date in one quadrant and the words dead dog in another. I continued to walk, noticing very few cars and no other pedestrians. The road was uneven with potholes. Anywhere else, these serious dips and cracks would have been surrounded with gates and flagged with warnings for motorists to go around.

When I returned to Janet’s store, I had to knock on the door to be buzzed in. “How do you get customers this way?” I asked naively. Janet stopped her work and looked up at me. “We don’t. Tourists don’t come here anymore. They don’t want to know how bad things are, how dangerous it is here, so they hang out in the French Quarter where the doors to shops stay open and private security patrols the area. We’ve had to pay for private security too.” Janet’s face was getting paler as she educated me. She also looked embarrassed somehow, not for herself I realized, but for the city she loves. The lawlessness and violence that permeate the city—a result of unchecked poverty, lack of resources, and sheer and utter governmental neglect—reminds one that our civility is only as deep as our failsafe mechanisms that are in place before disaster strikes.

Janet took me to a nearby colorful and eccentric café called Winnie’s. It looked well loved but had a For Sale sign on the door, a sad reminder of the economic hardship still driving the middle class out of New Orleans. After ordering what turned out to be the best Portobello mushroom and cheese sandwich I’ve ever tasted, I turned on my video camera and started asking questions. Winnie, a flamboyant native perhaps in his late forties, was ready to talk. He gave a steady stream of examples of hardship, frustration, and graft: It took him three days to get the fire department to shut off a leaking hydrant across the street. When he called his local fire station, he heard a recording that the number was now private. A private number for a local station? “What if you had an emergency?” He laughed bitterly, “You’re on your own, darlin’!”

Winnie spoke into the camera about the financial burdens: He and his partner David had to clean up their restaurant alone after Katrina, including dragging their refrigerator and freezer onto the street and dumping all their food. The storm water had gotten inside, causing maggot growth and a stench that was unbearable. This was the same story for hundreds of thousands of citizens. At one point, New Orleans had 400,000 refrigerators and freezers littering the streets, waiting to be hauled off by authorities, who would drain the Freon and then send them to the dump. Lined up end to end, the appliances would have stretched from New Orleans to Chicago (so I’m told).

David, who had been too shy to be filmed earlier, now chimed in about needing to get a new roof, like everyone else in the city. “It would have cost $2500 before Katrina. Now the contractors wanted $12,000. Why? Because they could! And just how could we pay for that with no customers, no business, and no water for three months? And now the utility company wants us to make up for its losses. Our electric bill is so high we can’t keep our doors open.”

I asked them both, still recording their responses, “What can people outside of New Orleans do to help? What should we know?” They both just shook their heads, just as Michael in the rug shop had. I asked these same questions of more than a dozen people and got the same blank stare. After a few more days in New Orleans, I came to understand that look. All of them, to a great extent, felt ignored, forgotten, and invisible. Many had been abandoned by their own families. All of them were abandoned by the government. “We’re on our own here,” was a common refrain. The question they all ask themselves is, “Am I a fool for staying?”

Until I toured the city later that day and the next, including the infamous Ninth Ward, I didn’t understand how bad things still were. The media don’t keep New Orleans in the headlines so our attention goes elsewhere. It shouldn’t.

That afternoon and the next day, I traveled for hours through neighborhoods and saw mile after mile of boarded-up buildings, cement slabs, weeds, broken levees, piles of debris, and an occasional front step where a house once stood. No cars, no kids playing, no life. I could hear the wind where I should have heard voices and other signs of life. New Orleans looks like a war zone. Today. Still.

Katrina was an equal opportunity disaster but the aftermath is not. The ones who had insurance could afford to leave or rebuild. The middle class are left struggling to salvage their livelihoods and homes. The poor are camped out in front of City Hall, or in FEMA trailers, or in homes with no running water or electricity—to this day. Some have received money for low-income housing. But there is no low-income housing in New Orleans. There are no city services, no infrastructure. One can drive for miles without seeing an open grocery store, gas station, hospital, or fire station.

Real estate prices have escalated as a result of low supply and high demand, forcing a continuing exodus, which hurts the remaining shopkeepers and tax base. The mayor of New Orleans, while pleading for people to return, has moved his own family to Atlanta.

As with a war, the hardest hit are the children, particularly poor children. The new vice principal of a local elementary school called me after I returned from my trip. She had heard that I was offering to donate 150 copies of my Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation and she was hoping they were still available. “You don’t know what it’s like for these kids, Jane,” Vice Principal Kim started. “They’re just starting now to talk about what happened. Most of them were at the Superdome. Many of them don’t live with either parent anymore. They’re living with neighbors, cousins, grandparents. And the adults in their lives are depressed. We’re all depressed. The kids are too. I want to help them. But how? No one is coming here to tell us what to do for them and their families. We’ve got to do something. I wanted your books because maybe it would help them to write about their trauma. Do you think that’s a good idea?” Before I could answer, Kim apologized with, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be talking your ear off.” “Yes, yes, you should,” I said quickly, trying to reassure her as I felt my own helplessness creep up. “It sounds like you need mental health professionals. Maybe I can help get some folks to you.” Kim sighed with momentary relief at just the idea. “That would be great. That would be wonderful.”

Kim’s appreciation for any small act of kindness was typical of my experience while there. I counseled individuals anywhere I was asked to go: garages, cafes, houses, city parks. Everyone I sat with was shocked and honored that I had shown up just to help them. I kept telling them that I was the one who was honored to be of service. I confessed that I had thought for two years about helping somehow and had felt immobilized. I had considered Habitat for Humanity but was useless with a hammer.

It wasn’t until I met up with Janet through a mutual friend in September that I realized that my counseling and seminar skills might be beneficial. I think I was hooked when she told me that after she evacuated, she was watching the news and saw that patients were stuck in one of the local hospitals. Janet took it upon herself to hire a private helicopter to rescue those people from certain death. By the way, Janet has multiple sclerosis and uses a walker. If Janet could take responsibility to rescue strangers at her own expense, certainly I could do something.

After listening to people’s stories, I came to understand that Katrina didn’t cause all their problems, but she did manage to bring to the surface every underlying issue that had lain dormant. I learned that they had the same needs and opportunities for healing and personal growth as we all do. So during my weekend in New Orleans, I held my Enough Is Enough! seminar for some of Janet’s friends and acquaintances at the downtown W Hotel. The participants were so grateful that I did this with them. But as much as they appreciated the work, I suspect that the real highlight of their day was this: In mid-afternoon while they were on a break, I ordered a couple of trays of cookies and chocolate truffles. When they walked back in the room and saw the treats, a couple of them burst into tears, taking my hands, whispering their thanks.

So what can you do to help? Anything. Just show up. Bring cookies. Bring an open heart and an open mind. Be a good listener. Share whatever skills you possess. Someone will use them. You’ll be scooped up quickly by outstretched, loving arms. In New Orleans, there is great hardship but there is also an abundance of hospitality.

Here are just a few ideas:

*Call a public school and ask what they need. Kim Nance at James Weldon Johnson Elementary School is waiting to hear from mental health professionals and health professionals: (504) 861-7718.

*Acupuncturists, chiropractors, dentists, massage therapists—the word will spread quickly that you’re on your way.

*If you can’t go, send textbooks.

*Get one of your local schools to become a “sister school.”

*Buy your holiday gifts from local merchants. Many of them have Web sites. Janet’s jewelry store is Mon Coeur: Janet gives a tremendous amount to the community through her business, so your support helps many others get back on their feet. Besides, her jewelry is beautiful.

*Support Habitat for Humanity, which is helping to build a lovely enclave for displaced musicians.

*Bring your children there for Spring Break so they have an opportunity to pitch in.

*Regardless of your religious beliefs, support the church organizations still handing out food and providing shelter.

*Send this blog to everyone on your e-mail list. There is such power in numbers.

Our politics and opinions about the city’s future don’t matter. What matters is the care of each other’s hearts and spirits and that is easier to provide than what we have been taught to believe. This was my lesson from New Orleans. I’m going back. Care to join me?


Jane on TV January 10, 2008
I will be interviewed on NBC 11’s The Bay Area Today on January 10. I will be talking about New Year’s resolutions. Expect a fresh take on the subject. More details to follow.

About Jane
Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.
She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation,, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes.
Contact Jane at