Kiva: its a win-win

KivaFood for thought…
“Knowing that someone out there wishes the best for you is enough to give you drive to achieve your dream.” – Sammy, a Kiva borrower in Kenya

Over the past few years I have had the opportunity to travel in India, Guatemala and Uganda. Seeing the poverty in these countries, especially in India where tourists are often swarmed by children and adults begging for money, food… anything, is agonizing. It’s hard to know what to do, it’s impossible to help everyone, and you come away feeling  helpless and uncomfortable about all that we take for granted back home.

Over the years I have sponsored children, helped build schools in developing countries and have given money to various charities knowing that every little bit helps, but more recently I came across Kiva, an organization that takes your donated money and gives loans to individuals in developing countries to help them get their businesses off the ground. Sometimes it’s farming, sometimes it’s retail or even maintenance for cars and buildings. These loans are repaid, bit by bit, and you can simply reinvest the money into another individual’s business. Continue reading

The End

The EndToday I typed The End.

I’ve been working on this novel for at least two years. Probably longer.
I should feel elated, but I feel strangely empty instead.
For one thing, I don’t really know if it is The End. I’ll have to reread the story (again!) to see if it has come full circle. Have I reached the place I was aiming for since page one? I don’t know. Is that because I’ve been with this story for so long that I’ve lost perspective? Perhaps.

Or perhaps I feel sad at the prospect of saying goodbye to these characters, who aren’t actually characters to me. They are real people. After all, I have been living with them for a couple of years now. It’s hard to leave old friends, people you’ve been with every day, wrestling with them, finding their flaws, discovering their strengths, observing their growth.

I recently heard a writer friend use the term Premature Submission. It refers to the temptation to send the manuscript to the publisher too soon, before it’s been put aside for a few weeks and then looked at with fresh eyes. This is an important step in the writing process. Problems with a story become much clearer when the writer has stepped away from it for a while. One can hope that the story will begin to age like fine wine, but more likely the writer will see the rough edges, the clutter, themes that are incomplete, connections that weren’t made.

This isn’t really The End at all. It is the beginning of a whole new stage in the writing process.

Thirteen years and counting…

Sir Winston

Sir Winston

Friend A:  “My dog is 13 and I’m so sad because I know he is nearing the end of his life.”

Friend B:  “Are you kidding me? My dog died when she was only 9! You’re lucky that you’ve had so much more time with your dog.”

It’s all in the perspective. Dogs have short life spans. We know that when we invite them into our families.

My old boy is really showing his age this summer. He doesn’t hear a thing, not even the front door banging shut when I return home.  Jumping into the car to go to the trails for long hikes is a thing of the past. The hot weather exhausts him. He pants a lot. He sleeps deeply. But he loves us as fiercely as ever. His tail wags madly in greeting even when he’s too tired to lift his head off the floor, and he still finds the energy to bark hysterically at squirrels in the yard – there’s hardly anything left of the windowsills which his claws have gouged during these frantic episodes.

I’m grateful for 13 really good years together and hope we can squeeze out a couple more.