Sunday, August 30, 2009

The In-Between Time

Wow! I recently read a paragraph that really hit home and resonated with me. I am sharing it with you below because it helped me to breathe a sigh of relief for where I am at in my life and hopefully can do the same for you, that is, if it resonates with you.

It was uncomfortable to let go of my past before there was any evidence of something new. It was also disquieting to release the way I had always seen myself-my identity, so to speak. Getting rid of so many things that defined who I was left me with a tremendous void that danced in the pit of my stomach. However, I really believe that if you want to create something wonderful in your life, if you truly want to make a big change, you’ve got to learn to tolerate the “in-between” time. That’s the period in which we let go of who we know ourselves to be in order to allow for the possibility of who we might become. ~Katherine Woodward Thomas from Calling in the One

I think I am smack dab in the middle of the in-between time, as she so appropriately puts it. Or perhaps, I may actually have just recently crested the hill and have begun making my way slowly down the other side. Let me tell you, it sure does come with its discomforts, awkwardness and bumps along the way. But I guess I must really welcome that in, because I know one thing for sure and that is that I really am alive and living fully.

Just over a year ago, I walked away from my comfortable consulting career in Denver, Colorado. I really enjoyed what I did and was well respected. You probably can't ask for more than that. But, of course I did.

Externally, it probably seemed to many as though I had it all going for me. But one thing was clear to me. Even though I enjoyed what I did, I realized it wasn't fully my life purpose. I knew it was a tool and a stepping stone towards my life purpose, but wasn't completely in alignment with who I was and my authentic self. Yet I didn't know exactly what that was either. I just knew that wasn't it and the longer I postponed addressing it, the worse I began to feel. I felt knots in my stomach and constriction in my throat. I had real physical symptoms affecting my ability to keep moving forward as I had for as long as I had known.

So I made a change - and a pretty BIG one at that. I shared with my clients, friends and family that I was leaving Denver to move to LA. For what they asked? I still wasn't quite sure. But one thing I did know was I needed to find out or risk shriveling away and dying from just this overwhelming constriction.

The last year has been full of ups and downs and all arounds. As I came to LA, it became clear why I had come and what I was here to do as business partners and people started appearing around me to help me in my purpose. I realized I stepped out to follow my dream of creating OneGiving ( to connect people around the world in giving and raise awareness, visibility and voice for nonprofits and causes around the world; to empower individuals, corporations, celebrities and other donors to give with more knowledge, resources, accountability and passion; and ultimately, to make a difference for people, profit and the planet.

What has been amazing in this effort of building my dream and following my heart and inner guidance is the transformation and peace I am finding within myself. That is what Katherine Woodward Thomas talked about when she talked about the in-between time to allow for the possibility of who we might become. There are days that I wonder, well who am I becoming? And days that I hold on to what I had done or who I was in the past.

The reality is that I am learning to trust myself. I am learning to be myself - authentically and truly in every moment. I am learning what I love and what I don't love. I am learning my boundaries. I am learning what I am willing to go to bat for and what I am willing to walk away from. I am learning to make choices that are 100% right for me and not always right for those people around me. I am learning to let go of so many of the obstacles and the drama that has kept me out of alignment in my life. I am learning to allow, appreciate and even embrace the in-between time.

It really is a beautiful journey, but let me tell you, it can be really uncomfortable at moments. For me, letting go of so many of the things I was taught--the fears, the worries, the obstacles, the drama and beyond are not easy. But if I let go and allow the discomfort to come through and then pass over like a wave, I can come up for air and really breathe in fully knowing that I am becoming more fully, truly and authentically me with every breath and every moment. There is nothing more valuable or precious in that.

So if you get caught in the "in-between time," allow it to be what it is and honor, nurture and love yourself through it. Don't use it as an excuse to resist the changes and go back to the old ways. Allow it to help you usher in the new ways, no matter how uncomfortable they may be. Watch your life and the magic unfold before you, as you discover so many beautiful gifts about yourself that you may never have known if you hadn't tolerated the in-between time and allowed them to come in.

You may find me on Twitter @pilarstella and Facebook at

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gratitude in Giving

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. ~ Albert Schweitzer

This past weekend was a full one! I had an event on Saturday with Our New Earth ( in which they were premiering their TV show RAW, all about raw food and conscious living. I had the honor of opening and setting the energy for the event by teaching Kundalini yoga and doing a gong meditation. I also got to represent OneGiving and be the giving spokesperson for the day by introducing two nonprofits and the amazing work that they are doing. On Sunday, I got to be at an event to support a nonprofit fundraiser.

It was a full weekend of giving and service and left me fulfilled and full of peace and gratitude. It also got me thinking about giving and conscious living in general. We live in a crazy time and world. Things are changing so rapidly around us and sometimes it feels as if it is impossible to keep up with all the madness. I realized that if there is anything that is helping me to stay sane (other than my own yoga and meditation practice) it is the regular incorporation of gratitude and giving into my life.

What does this look like you may ask? It means finding things regularly, daily and moment by moment in my life that I can be grateful for and that I can give to. A large percentage of my life and time is about service. So much so, that many times I have friends say, how can you keep giving and giving? Doesn't it wear you down? How can you afford to give so much of your time and not receive a paycheck or otherwise for it. That is where the gratitude comes in. You see giving is a cycle - it really isn't just about giving, it is about all that you receive in return for the giving.

Now, of course, that isn't why I give, but I will tell you it is through my regular giving that I receive so much in return and it is why I can stay in a state of perpetual gratitude. Giving and receiving and gratitude all go hand in hand. Lately, so much of my time has been committed to building OneGiving a company about giving, receiving and making a difference on the planet ( Other than that my time is filled with teaching Kundalini yoga, meditation and service. I don't have a lot of social time other than that and the time that I do have, usually you can find me volunteering or being of service.

Sounds crazy? Maybe, but I think it is what keeps me going, committed and truly fulfilled and happy. Here are some of the nonprofits that inspired me this past weekend and have helped me to stay in gratitude and motivated to keep taking the next step in building my own dream of OneGiving.

Healing Bridges ( - Healing Bridges is a nonprofit committed to address and create positive outcomes in the areas of health, education and sustainable employment in Africa. Healing Bridges is building the first high school for girls in the forgotten refugee camps in Eastern Sudan.

Create Global Healing ( Create Global Healing is a nonprofit organization committed to heart-centered leadership development for orphans in war-torn countries, US students, humanitarians and philanthropists. In September 2009, Create Global Healing is sending a team of professionals and humanitarians to Rwanda to work with over 100 Orphan Head of Households, all genocide survivors between the ages of 17 and 30, and caring for orphans, ages six and under.

Youth Mentoring Connection ( Youth Mentoring Connection awakens at-risk youth to their power, unique gifts and purpose by matching them with caring adult mentors and placing that “match” within a structured group dynamic that provides the resources youth need to reach productive, conscious adulthood. We further seek to awaken society to the needs, promise and value of this overlooked population. I am inspired by this nonprofit and join them for their summer "surfing" activities where they bring youth from South Central to the beach to learn to to surf and connect with each other, the ocean and themselves!

What do you dream about and what inspires you to keep going for those dreams? What nonprofits do you work with? How do you give? And are you open to receiving when you give as well, to allow the love, light and gratitude in? Try it out and enjoy! And remember to have a great #2GiveTuesday (aka #charitytuesday on Twitter)!

You may find me on Twitter @pilarstella and Facebook at

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Si Se Puede - Latest News on Giving & Social Media

Si Se Puede! Yes We Can!

It is with jubilant excitement that I give you the latest news that I could find related to Giving and Social Media. The last few weeks have been a journey - a roller coaster of sorts. I gather interesting articles and tweets as I find them across the days and then I store them all to review and pick out the best of the bunch. I am thrilled about the latest.

We are progressing! Who is this "We" you might ask? Well it is all of us! But particularly I am speaking to those who care about giving and making a difference AND seeing how the online community and world are helping to expand the capacity for that to happen quicker, more virally and almost like a movement!

I think one of the best sum-ups of where we are at today in giving and the social web is the folloiwng article by Beth Kanter and crew - really good stuff and inspiring for all of us to keep expanding our thinking and growing our online efforts to enhance and increase giving:

Community Philanthropy 2.0 Report Finds Increasing Use of Social Web for High Dollar Donors: A recent study by Beth Kanter, Society for New Communications Research, Geoff Livingston and Qui Diaz examined the use of social media by nonprofits and causes and donors. One of the primary findings is that: the online world of charitable activity is highly social, but also fragmented. No dominant voice for charitable giving exists online, indicating the social web is still in an early phase of philanthropic activity. There is a need for a trusted source, and a lack of authoritative philanthropic conversations. Social media use is a good way to cultivate high dollar donors. MUST READ:

Beyond this, the other articles are great too! Enjoy this latest read!

Celebrities & Giving
Harry Potter Fans Supporting Nonprofits:
Dumbledore’s Army is a nonprofit registered by a team of Harry Potter fans who want to eradicate poverty, illiteracy and genocide. The organization was started by Andrew Slack, a 29 year old Harry Potter fan. The organization has raised over $15,000 in aid for Darfur and Burma through blogs and YouTube videos and 14,000 books to children in need. Check out the full story at Newsweek:
Celebrity and Nonprofit News site: is an online source of celebrity nonprofit news and information on what stars are doing to make a difference in the world. The site includes exclusive interviews and a database of celebrity good deeds.

Politics & Giving
Bill Clinton Calls for More Rural Philanthropy: At a recent Council on Foundations conference on rural philanthropy, Bill Clinton urged nonprofits serving rural areas to do more to advocate for additional foundation support and recommended partnership with organizations in urban areas. More at:

The White House Office on Social Innovation: This new office represents an opportunity to transform how we solve our most pressing domestic problems, including health care, education, poverty, the environment and more. This article examines some of the ways it might do this if leveraged effectively:

Fact Sheet on the Social Innovation Fund: This fact sheet is a valuable resource on the purpose of the fund, how it will work, what it will fund, etc.:

Corporate Giving
How Companies Can Build Trust Through Corporate Social Responsibility:
This article examines 3 ways in which companies can truly use CSR to build trust and relationships, partnerships and bottom line. They include: creating and leveraging social capital through employees; using CSR as a social media platform, not a marketing tool; and integrating strategy with key business objectives and measuring the outcomes. Excellent article:

Using Social Media to Enhance Business: This Wall Street Journal article demonstrates some of the key ways in which businesses like Ford, Pepsi Co. and others are using social media to enhance business strategy, avoid public relations problems and build consumer trust and support. Worth a read:

Nonprofit Times Top 50 List: The NonProfit Times, a leading business publication covering the nonprofit sector, has released its annual Power and Influence Top 50 list, which this year reflects the growing importance of the national service movement.

Hewlett Foundation Report on Shared Measurement and Social Impact: A recent report documents the use of shared measurement systems in increasing nonprofits’ efficiency, knowledge and impact based on interviews with thought leaders in the social sector. The study includes four case studies of the use of collaborative learning and measurement systems which offer ways to increase the effectiveness of interrelated organizations as they impact social issues

Social Media & Giving
The following articles demonstrate some key insights into the use of social media, types of users and potential for growing social media to promote your organizations and expand donor bases. They are all fascinating and valuable reads:

New Study Shows How Different Generations Use Social Media: Great recap blog of a recent study showing how different generations are using Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn and social media. A GREAT summary table is included:

Understanding How a Facebook Page Grows: This blog post shows specific ways to grow a fan page and what triggers the growth. Excellent read for organizations interested in growing their Facebook pages, strategically:

The Four Types of Twitter Profiles: This blog includes the different types of Twitter users and highlights how each may serve a different purpose. They include: pure corporate brand; corporate with a persona; employee with corporate association; and pure personal account.

Mobile Giving
Mobile Giving is Catching On: Mobile giving is catching on amidst the over 75% of individuals giving in the over $300 billion giving market. The Mobile Giving Foundation and others are catching on and capitalizing on this market, particularly with people aged 18-24

There is more news coming - check back regularly as I'll add more soon. This is just what I could get to for today and this last few weeks. This is all good news! These are exciting times - a proverbial giving storm brewing up good things for the planet! Stay tuned!

You can find me on Twitter @pilarstella and Facebook at