Monday, March 28, 2011

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

I recently got to thinking about the Wizard of Oz and the wonderful analogy that the Yellow Brick Road is...

It reminds me of life. Just like in the movie, it is not about getting to some overhyped destination to see some Wizard to give us things that we think we want or don't have. But rather, we got it all going on right here and now, if we pay attention and accept our own greatness and the gifts and abundance along our way.

It is funny. I wrote a book about living in the moment ( and I still have so much to learn and need constant reminders to stay present.

I used to be such a planner and lately I feel as though, I haven't been able to plan ahead even if I try. Literally, it is like the Universe is playing a trick on me to get me to really BE present. Every time I try to plan more than a few days out, something changes and I have to shift everything.

I am finally starting to give in and just plan almost moment to moment. It seems that in doing so I am able to appreciate all that the Yellow Brick Road has to offer. I can take in the sights, the poppies, the clean air, my friends and appreciate it all - even visits from the wicked witch or the fairy godmother.

And Oz, now isn't that an interesting analogy. So often we make our destination out to be something so big or someone so important. We put them on a pedestal and think wow they've gotten there they must be all that - we aggrandize them in our minds. Yet, when we get there we realize, wow, they are human too, and gee, I'm better at things than I ever give myself credit for.

So, maybe for just a moment every day or more often, if you can just look around, smell the flowers and appreciate YOUR Yellow Brick Road. If it isn't what you want, look for what you like and want in it and make it what you want, see it for what you want and see yourself for all that you are.

Rather, than waiting to get to the land of Oz and be disappointed, enjoy your Yellow Brick Road. This is your life! Be here now. Choose in and make it all that you can!

You can find me on Twitter @pilarstella and Facebook at

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Giving for Thought: JAPAN

I recently posted a comment to Mashable’s article ( on 7 Simple Ways to Help the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (

I also have been asked by many, where is the best place to give? So I thought I would write a quick blog with my recommendations.
First, some thoughts to consider when choosing where to give:
- Before texting to give, do your homework and make sure it is a quality texting company and be aware that many texting solutions have high overhead and take time to get to the nonprofit.
- Before using social media, like with texting, make sure you check out the organization and source as it might be easier and more “simple,” but it might not be the quickest, most effective or efficient way to get your funds to the need.
- Choose a nonprofit that is established and has been on the ground in the country/location you are giving to.
- If it is important to you to designate where to give do so. Otherwise, general operating or unrestricted grants allow the nonprofits and people on the ground determine their most urgent needs.
- In general, just be careful to do your homework on the organization you give to. Don’t respond quickly/emotionally to a plea for money before double checking the source and validity.

Now, here’s a couple of organizations worth checking out:

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) MSF is an international humanitarian organization that provides aid to in nearly 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters. MSF received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999. Here’s a note on their efforts in Japan:

href=""> AmeriCares is a nonprofit disaster relief and humanitarian aid organization which provides immediate response to emergency medical needs – and supports long-term humanitarian assistance programs – for all people around the world, irrespective of race, creed or political persuasion. Since its founding in 1982, AmeriCares has delivered more than $9 billion in aid to 147 countries. Historically, for every $100 donated, AmeriCares is able to deliver more than $3,500 in humanitarian relief to people in need, including medicines, medical supplies, nutritional supplements and other vital aid. Article about their efforts in Japan:

Mercy Corps Mercy Corps is dedicated to alleviating suffering poverty and oppression by improving health and promoting economic and educational growth. Since 1979, Mercy Corps has provided $1.7 billion in assistance to people in 107 nations. Mercy Corps incorporates entrepreneurial strategies with a deep knowledge and commitment to local context and culture to create self sufficiency and sustainability. MercyCorps’ worldwide team is in 36 countries is improving the lives of 19 million people. Article on their Japan efforts:

International Rescue Committee The International Rescue Committee is a global leader in emergency relief that responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people to survive and rebuild their lives. Founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein, the IRC offers lifesaving care and life-changing assistance to refugees forced to flee from war or disaster. IRC is on the ground in over 40 countries to restore safety, dignity and hope to millions who are uprooted by providing emergency relief, relocating refugees and rebuilding lives. Article about Japan efforts:

Relief International Relief International is a humanitarian non-profit agency that provides emergency relief, rehabilitation, development assistance, and program services to vulnerable communities worldwide. Relief International is solely dedicated to reducing human suffering and is non-political and non-sectarian in its mission. Relief International was founded in 1990 with programsin health, education, community development, agriculture, food, income generation, shelter construction and conflict resolution. Efforts for Japan relief include:

Thank you for your donations, healing and support! Thank you for BEing the change!

You can find me on Twitter @pilarstella and Facebook at

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Commentary on Mashable 3.16.11

Mashable recently posted an article about ways to give to Japan.

I posted the following commentary.

Thank you for this article. I think it is a helpful beginning for the challenges facing Japan. Yet, I think it only begins to scratch the surface of the best ways to donate. While during times of crisis are not the times to analyze the limitations of the current disconnect between effective philanthropy and online giving, it is a good opportunity to do everything we can, yet it is important also to make a mental note that better more effective measured ways for online giving need to be developed. There is a growing rift between the "mass" online giving movement, effective philanthropy and corporate/celebrity social responsibility.

We are in an exciting time in history. Everybody is giving and feeling called to give. That is the good news. So more tools are being developed to enable giving and make giving easy. The challenge will be to make giving easy AND transparent, effective and not just "feel good." Texting to give is in its infancy stages. While it is great that people can text to give or give on Facebook causes, they often can't track what happened to their giving, can't assess the best organizations to give to, or get charged huge overheads that go to the phone company or other for this "easy" new way of giving.

While I appreciate the sentiment behind this article as it is critical to find as many ways to give during a crisis as possible, I hope that we can find more ways to coordinate between all of these efforts mentioned and efforts like Charity Navigator

We need to build a bridge between these different worlds of philanthropy. There is a lot of expertise in making philanthropy effective. If we made a lot of money, would we just decide we are experts in investing and invest our money ourselves (maybe some might) or would we find an expert money manager to help. It is no different with philanthropy. If we have money to give, what if rather than thinking we are expert philanthropists or just giving because it feels right, but we don't know what we are doing...what if we could be guided in this process.

The online giving revolution has been around for 10+ years and philanthropy for many more. Isn't it time that we really found a way to merge the two in meaningful, impactful, sustainable, fun, easy, transparent ways?

I aspire to help in this. Thank you for your efforts to move the dial forward and for others to give in this time. Let's hope that for future natural disasters, we have more coordination between online and offline giving systems so we can more effectively manage and guide donors to DO GOOD strategically for maximum impact and sustainability.

MORE to come on this.
Thank you...
in peace and gratitude
;) pilar