The Reverend Betty Adam is the founder and CEO of Compassionate Houston. She has served at Christ Church Cathedral since 1992 as pastor and educator and is currently Resident Canon Theologian. During her ministry, she has developed a theological center and an hispanic worshiping community and founded several organizations, including Brigid's Place, the Magdalene Community amd Link2Peace. We spoke with her recently to learn more about Compassionate Houston.
HOUSTON WOMAN MAGAZINE: What is Compassionate Houston?
BETTY ADAM: Compassionate Houston is dedicated to celebrating and enhancing the compassionate culture in Greater Houston. We recognize volunteers and organizations committed to compassionate work and are building a network of partners in this mission. CH is a new organization, but one that sometimes feels more like a campaign or a grass-roots movement with a big dream for Houston. We want Houston to become one of the most compassionate cities in America, or for that matter, in the world. It’s a huge dream and because of its scope, we are starting with first steps.
HWM: When was it established? By whom?
ADAM: We’ve been working on this since 2010, but we were incorporated as a nonprofit in February of this year. And, who are we? We’re a multicultural, multi-religious and multilingual group of partners as diverse as our city — students and volunteers, business people and pastors, dreamers and doers.Our Founding Partners were inspired by a global vision for a better, more compassionate world — a vision calling all men and women and children to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. When I read Karen Armstrong’s “Charter for Compassion,” which conveys the importance of the Golden Rule to all religious and moral systems, I wanted to bring the vision to Houston. So, last June, I decided to offer at the interfaith Rothko Chapel a series on compassion. Our group grew out of that series.
HWM: What is the main focus of Compassionate Houston?
ADAM: Compassionate action and compassionate living, every day. We want to spread throughout the city a vision of compassionate living — we want to learn to “feel with” the other in deeper ways, recognize and respect other points of view, alleviate suffering and refrain from harming another. First, we want to celebrate the compassionate work already going on in Houston. It’s startling to realize that there are more than 15,000 nonprofits in metropolitan Houston. We want to recognize the thousands of men and women who devote the better part of their day to serving others. We also want to grow this culture of compassion.
HWM: Compassionate Houston will be involved in the City of Houston’s commemoration of the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Would you tell our readers about this involvement?
ADAM: Along with other groups, we are partnering with the City on that weekend. Every year since the tragedy, the City has devoted time to remembrance. Since this is the 10th anniversary, an entire weekend is being set aside for remembering those who lost their lives and those who served others so bravely and generously in this time of need. Compassionate Houston is given the charge to organize service projects all over the city. We are in the process of doing just that, so we need your help in getting the word out to communities, groups, organizations that might be interested in participating.
HWM: I understand you have Compassionate Partners? Who are they? How many do you have now?
ADAM: Compassionate Partners are those organizations who want to join us over the 9/11 Tenth Anniversary Commemorative to commit to service over that weekend. A Compassionate Partner may either develop a service project for that weekend or submit an ongoing project that we can highlight on that weekend. If you visit our website http://www.compassionatehouston.org, you will find out more about them, who they are, etc. As of today, we have over 70 organizations as Compassionate Partners. We are hoping to grow that list considerably.
ADAM: Specific to the 9/11 event coming up, Compassionate Ambassadors are individuals who want to assist Compassionate Houston in activities leading up the weekend and on that weekend itself. In more general terms, the Ambassadors work to be examples of compassion. They notice kindness, acknowledge a courtesy taken for granted, look for compassionate “seeds” in unexpected places. They tell and remind others though their actions, how important it is to be compassionate. Our T-shirts say “We are Compassionate Houston.” We the people are compassionate.
HWM: How do individuals register to become a Compassionate Ambassador?
ADAM: Thank you for asking that question. Anyone interested can go to our website and click the “Get Involved” page and sign up. We, in turn, will be in touch. We want to have an informational get-together of Ambassadors to prepare for that weekend.
HWM: I understand Compassionate Houston would like to host several open, city-wide conversations about compassionate living to serve as training for the ambassadors. Have you scheduled any yet?
ADAM: These conversations are part of our next step. We don’t have any scheduled yet but that activity is certainly part of our dream.
HWM: What have I not asked about that you would like Houston women (and men) to know about Compassionate Houston?
ADAM: There’s so much to talk about. But, I guess I would say that Compassionate Houston is foremost a connecting and energizing organization. We want to create opportunities for you to connect to service projects and build upon the compassionate work you are already doing. If you study the history of compassionate work in Houston, you will see how involved women have always been in fostering compassionate service. Starting with Kezia Payne DePelchin in the late 19th century whose heart went out to orphaned children, women have been in the forefront of serving and giving. I believe women can be in the first ranks of those in this grass-roots movement to cultivate compassion in this great city of ours.
Social Media Must-Dos
Leveraging social media opportunities to grow your business and career is key in marketing and personal growth in 2011. Here are 10 Social Media Must-Dos that will help you build a solid foundation that grows your brand, serves your customers and increases your bottom line!
Stop talking and start listening. Find out who your followers are and what they are interested in hearing. Ask questions, do research and then listen.Get an area of expertise and focus on that area. A highly focused social media and content marketing strategy intended to build a strong brand has a better chance for success than a broad strategy that attempts to be all things to all people.
It’s quality over quantity. It’s better to have 1,000 friends and followers that you share, discuss and acknowledge than 10,000 connections who disappear after connecting with you the first time or soon after.
Remember the Ps — passion, patience and persistence. Social media and content marketing success doesn’t happen overnight. While it’s possible to catch lightning in a bottle, it’s far more likely that you’ll need to commit to the long haul to achieve results. And, show your passion! Get us excited about you and your ideas!
Develop a sharing mind set. The Baby-Boomer’s nature is to hide and keep for self. Gen Xs started the concept of sharing and giving it away Today, Gen Ys not only gives it away; they remember to honor the messenger.
Connect with the influencers. Spend time finding the online influencers in your area of expertise, your colleagues, superiors and your market. Also, look for individuals who have quality audiences and are likely to be interested in your products, services and business. Connect with those people and work to build relationships with them.
Stop selling and show me the value. If you spend most of your time on social medial promoting your products and services, you better believe people will stop listening. You must add value to the conversation. Focus less on getting the sale and more on creating amazing content and developing relationships with online influencers.
Realize the power of “thank-you” and acknowledge others. Remember to acknowledge every person who reaches out to you, mentions you or shares great value. This is how the game works! If you are going to “play” you have to know and adhere to the rules.
Remember the Cs — clarity, consistency and constancy. Once you figure out your message and are posting on a regular basis you have to be available to your followers, friends and readers. Answer their posts; comment on their status. Tweet about them, and show up online.
It’s all about reciprocity. Honestly, you can’t expect others to share your content and talk about you if you don’t do the same for them. It is very important that a portion of your social media time be spent talking about others, sharing others’ posts, blogs and ideas. If you simply take from others, you will lose the game.
Houston-based, Karen McCullough is a business keynote speaker and consultant focusing on branding, social media and generational challenges. She loves studying workplace trends and technology and is passionate about sharing her insights with others. For more information, visit www.karenmccullough.com.
TEW Selects Honorees
Texas Executive Women has recently announced its selections of the 2011 Women on the Move. Ten professional women will be honored at the organization’s gala fund-raising luncheon on Thursday, Nov. 3. The big event is being held at the Houston InterContinental Hotel, beginning at 11:30 a.m.
Those chosen for this special recognition include: Linda Geffen, Chief Special Prosecutions Unit Harris County Attorney’ s Office; Suzie Jones, executive vice president and investment division manager, Amegy Bank of Texas; Giner Kerrick, flight director, NASA/JSC; Karen Love, director of practice growth at Pannell Kerr Foster of Texas; Barbara McKnight, executive chef and owner, Catering by Culinaire; Sister Jane Meyer, head of school, St. Agnes Academy; Shelly Power, associate director, Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy of Dance; Sheryl Rapp, co-founder, The Up Experience; Cristina Rodriguez, partner, Baker Botts, LLP; and Wilka Toppins, president, Law Offices of Wilka Toppins.
Since 1985, TEW has proudly held the Women on the Move award luncheon to celebrate the professional and civic achievements of women in our community. One of the highlights for attendees of the luncheon is being able to watch a short video about each of the honorees. In the past, these videos have proven to be both informative and inspiring. The luncheon, now in its 27th year, benefits the scholarship and mentoring programs of TEW.
Sponsorship opportunities are available, starting at $2500. Individual tickets are $100. All can be purchased online at the TEW website (www.tewhouston.org).
TEW and its members are dedicated to supporting programs that recognize, develop and fund the advancement of women and girls in the community. Through its diverse membership, the organization works to inspire women and girls to achieve their goals and give back to the community.Membership is open to women holding an executive or managerial position in a company, profession, service, trade, government or civic/cultural organization, or are self-employed. Dues are $150 per year.
The organization offers its members an opportunity to belong to a local organization that fosters both professional and personal relationships. Members enjoy regular meetings with engaging speakers on topics that are relevant to their personal and professional development, as well as several social events each year.
Membership applications are available to download on the TEW website (www.tewhouston.org). The applications, along with the $50 application fee, should be mailed to: TEW Treasurer. P.O. Box 22593. Houston, TX 77227. For more information, please contact Jackalyn Rainosek at 713-202-6884 or Lynn Ellis at 713-532-6907.
Working Out Loud
Every so often, if you are lucky, you will see a naked man in the pool area at 24 Hour Fitness. Something about the locker room feel of the aquatic site just beckons to some men, “It’s okay. That co-ed sign is a hoax. Go on – take your pants off.” And so they do.
I spend most mornings at that gym, so not only am I familiar with the occasional misplaced nude man, I am also familiar with the fact that unique environments can lull us into doing things we’d never normally do. Like the seashore tricking us into wearing clothes resembling underwear in public, the gym teases, “Come on, let go. It’ll be our secret.”
I exercise in the free weight area, lifting alongside muscled men who scream at one another in efforts to bench press more. I used to work out mutely, seeing no need to make a loud fuss over tricep dips; but a recent incident has convinced me to cast aside my silence. It started when an amazingly sweaty man asked, “You wanna work in a set with me?” nodding toward the hack squat machine.
I joked along with him, “Yeah, sure. Ha ha.”
“I need motivation,” he said. “Please.”
Please? “Um, okay,” I said, “You go first.”
The perspiring man positioned himself on the machine and grunted out several reps before handing it off to me. I stared at the contraption, which was now drenched with this man’s sweat, willing myself not to cry before clambering on.
I didn’t have long to dwell, because the guy began screaming at me. He yelled, “You a BEAST!”
When I work out with my girlfriends, we quietly reply, “Good job” after the other completes a jumping jack. But, did this dude just call me a beast? Let’s get something straight. Under any other circumstance in my life, if I am screamed at (much less screamed at that I am a beast), I either cry or call the cops. Maybe both.
But, it worked. I squatted more weight that day than I ever had in my life. In that situation, being screamed at empowered me. It also converted me. These days, I scream all the time in the gym and beg folks to scream back at me: All right naked pool men, I’m about to work in some arm curls. Megaphones ready?
At first, I assumed my newly discovered strategy only worked at the gym (just like bikinis work at the beach, not at dinner parties). But, lately, I’ve been thinking: Could I translate this phenomenon to office life? Could I have discovered the key to ultimate workplace productivity?
I might type 25 words a minute faster if my boss shouted, “You a BEAST” as I fill out his expense report. I just may be onto something.
Most people use their inside voice at work. Not me anymore. I’ll come in with a bang first thing in the morning. I’ll shout out, “HELLO, MY CO-WORKERS! ANSWER THAT PHONE! FASTER!”
Then, I’ll slam the desk with my laptop bag while stomping my high heels into the hardwood floor. I could write a book, even! I’ll conduct seminars motivating women all over the country: Getting Ahead: How I Shrieked My Way to the Top. I’ll have a slideshow displaying wildly successful female screamers. “On our first slide we have Jillian Michaels, trainer on The Biggest Loser. You think she broke glass ceilings by sitting there quietly?”
I’ll let you all know when I get that book deal. Meanwhile, at least I know the secret to toned quads.
Christina Ledbetter is a free-lance writer in Houston. She was an assistant at a local mortgage bank for three years, until her bosses realized she was better at writing than stuffing envelopes. She blogs about office life, fashion and the mortgage industry at JustTheAssistant.com.
Surrendering to Grief
On February 4, 2009 I woke up to find that my husband had died in his sleep from an undetected heart condition. He was 49 years old. I was 39. It was the biggest shock of my life. The first two hours were a blur of emotion, pain, fear, shock and denial. The two and a half years since have been a lesson in living life much more openly, deeply and presently.
In the immediate aftermath of Mark’s death, I discovered I had two choices. I could either surrender to what had happened or choose to fight the reality of it all.Initially, I fought the reality, and life was hard. I felt alone, afraid, hurt, angry and even guilty. With Mark gone, I was instantly and solely in charge of our home, cars, finances and children. I thought ‘Til death do us part?’ Well, what if I wasn’t ready? I felt abandoned and could not overcome the thought that Mark was supposed to be there with me to help me take care of everything. Deep down I knew he couldn’t be there, but accepting that meant accepting the fact that he really was gone. And, I wasn’t ready for that, so the battle continued.
A few weeks after Mark died a close friend said something to me that changed my perception. She said, “Jennifer, no matter what happens in the future, you will always have lost your husband. There is nothing you can do about that. For the rest of your life it will be a part of who you are. You don’t have to ever ‘get over it.’”
I realized with those words that I didn’t have to act any certain way. I didn’t have to get rid of my grief. I didn’t have to be anything I wasn’t. I was a widow and nothing would ever change that. Not even my deepest thought that it wasn’t true. This realization gave me the long-term view I needed in order to let go of the pressure I was putting on myself to be “fixed.”
After I heard those words I began to surrender to all of my emotions, including grief. In these moments of surrender, there were glimmers of hope, love and life. For lack of a better way to explain it, angels took over and miracles began happening. Almost mysteriously, life began taking care of itself. The right person walked in the room at the right time, needed items appeared without even asking. It was as if the universe was saying, “Yes, this happened, and yes, it will all be OK. Because no matter how hard it seems, there is something right about this.”
Upon surrendering, I was able to acknowledge all of the people who appeared who wanted to help me with my kids, my home, my work — everything. And, more importantly, I learned how to let them help. I’d always thrived on handling everything on my own, but because of my new life I had to let go of that independence. It was impossible for me to handle everything Mark and I had handled together. I had to let people help me. I even had to ask for help. It was an entirely new concept. Like no other time before, I saw there were lots of people in my life who wanted to help, who even felt helpless if I didn’t let them help. So, I started to let them. In the process I became closer to them. I really felt their love and energy in my life.
After my world started to smooth out a bit from the huge turbulent waves of the first few months, I knew there was another step. I had to rely entirely on myself for one thing — taking care of me. Nobody else could do that. So, each day I began to do something for me.
I quickly realized that it didn’t have to be anything big. I could make a cup of tea and breathe in the steam for a few minutes. Or, take a short walk around the block with my dog. Or, listen to music that made me happy. Or, go to a funny movie. These little “me” moments kept my spirit afloat at times — when the alternative was to drown.
Even now, after years have gone by and times still sneak up on me and grip my heart and gut like nothing else can, I breathe and remember to surrender and feel everything I’m feeling.
Sometimes, it’s just a glimpse of something that could have been, which leads to sadness in missing Mark. But I know that the sadness is simply a reminder that I’m human, alive and can love. And that reminder is a blessing that I will always cherish.
Jennifer Hawkins is a highly successful real estate investor. In 1988, she earned a spot as a swimmer at the Olympic Trials. She married Mark in 2001 and started her family. She lives in Austin, Texas with her sons Connor and Brannon. For more information, visit www.thegiftgiverbook.com.
Editor’s Note: There are many groups in Houston serving the needs of widows during all the stages of grief. Please use Google to look for local organizations.
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Cover Story Archives
Browse through our cover story archives below and learn more about the amazing women who have graced the covers of Houston Woman Magazine:COVER GIRLS – 2012
COVER GIRLS – 2011
Kjersti Aagaard, M.D.
Veronica Caseras Lee
Cora Sue Mach
Dr. Cheryl Peters
Penny Ann Reed
Linda Bell Robinson
Tiffany D. Thomas
COVER GIRLS – 2010
Nelda Luce Blair
Elaine Johnson, R.N.
COVER GIRLS – 2009
Jennie M. Bennett
Jacqueline Baly Chaumette
Laurie M. Glaze
Shay St. John
Rebecca Greene Udden
COVER GIRLS – 2008
COVER GIRLS – 2007
Lee Ann Elvig
Margo P. Geddie
Maria Emee Nisnisan
COVER GIRLS – 2006
Mary Bossier-Bearden, R.N.
Kristi Cullum, R.N.
Helen Currier. R.N.
Mary Grace Gray
Charleta Guillory, M.D.
Renae Schumann, R.N.
Y. Ping Sun
COVER GIRLS – 2004
Lisa Leal, M.D.
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