My dad was far from perfect. But there’s one great thing I’ll never forget about him.

My dad was far from perfect. But there's one great thing I'll never forget about him

My father was far from a perfect dad. In fact, there were many times I wished he wasn’t my father. Suffice it to say that my dad’s life didn’t turn out the way he had planned, and that fact that made him bitter. When that bitterness seeped out of him, it turned him into someone no one wanted to be around.

But as he got older, my dad mellowed out and seemed happier and more at ease with life. Maybe the inevitability of aging made him reevaluate. Working less and cultivating his hobbies seemed to help him find some relief from his mental burdens. And becoming a grandfather absolutely changed him. As time went on, old wounds were healed. I became closer to my dad and more inclined to let go of the past and enjoy the present.

But right as my relationship with my dad was getting rejuvenated, he was gone—a victim of a stroke. Suddenly I was writing a eulogy, summing up the life of man I had just been getting to know.

It’s been five years since he died, and with each passing year the bad memories fade and the good ones crystalize. I figure this is my right as a daughter who has lost her father: to choose to remember what I want and let go of the other stuff.

The biggest positive thing I remember about my dad was that he was 100% confident that I was born to Do Great Things. That man did all he could to ensure I would attain excellence in my life, especially when it came to my education. In fact, he wanted me to go to a private high school in the city so badly that every day of my freshman year, he drove me 50 miles roundtrip to and from school. Thankfully, bus service started up my sophomore year, but he would have kept on driving me until I got my license, that’s for sure. In his eyes, I deserved the best education, and he’d drive wherever he had to in order to get it for me.

When I got into several colleges, my dad insisted I go to the best one despite the cost. When I wanted to change my focus from teaching to writing, he cheered me on, convinced I would be a successful, best-selling writer. And when I graduated from Boston College with honors, my dad was bursting with pride (but he was also completely sure that the college got it wrong and I actually graduated with higher honors).

No dad is perfect, and mine was more imperfect than many. But he was my dad. When Father’s Day comes up this June, I’ll choose to remember how my dad had complete and utter faith in the idea that I was born to great things. And I’ll honor his faith in me by continuously striving to do great things, big and small, in my life and in the lives of others.

Right before he died, I had told my dad about my plans to start a blog. He would be floored to see where my blog is now and how it’s turned into a community that helps women around the world.

Actually, I take that back.

That’s exactly what he would have expected.

[Tweet “How an imperfect father’s faith still inspires his daughter #imbornto #ad”]

This post is sponsored by the March of Dimes #imbornto campaign and The Motherhood. As always, I strive to make my sponsored posts an organic part of Honest Mom, and all the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

The March of Dimes believes that every baby is born to do something great. But in order to do those great things, every baby needs a strong and healthy start in life. This Father’s Day, why not get a gift from one of the amazing brands—such as Blue Rhino, kmart, and Bon-Ton—that are supporting the March of Dimes? Visit imbornto.com for more information!

photo credit: Fishing off the Dock via photopin (license)

What were you born to do?

What were you born to do?

“What was I born to do?” It’s a question so many of us ask ourselves. Are we doing what we were meant to do with our lives? Are we on the right paths? Are we using our talents to do good?

I probably think about these questions more frequently than the average person. I admit it—I’m a bit of an introspective worrier. But I’ve always felt a need to do something in my life that helps people beyond my own little world, and feel a real responsibility to achieve this goal.

I do know that one thing I was born to do is help moms dealing with depression and anxiety to not feel so alone. It’s my unique way I can contribute to the world. When I write a post that touches women and results in their feeling like someone actually gets what they’re dealing with… well, I feel like I’m doing good things. Things that matter. Things I was born to do.

I look at my daughters and I wonder what they were born to do. Annie, my sensitive, funny, creative third-grader—I have a feeling she was born to write, like her mama. She loves writing and reading, and she’s fantastic at both. Gracie, my kindergartener… she’s still so little! While I’m not sure what her interests will be, I do know she was born to make people laugh with her impish sense of humor.

I’ve been thinking about this idea of being “born to do something” even more than usual. And that’s because I’m part of a team of 39 bloggers who are supporting the March of Dimes’ imbornto campaign. The March of Dimes knows that every baby is born to do something special and unique. But they can’t do it alone. #imbornto is a celebration of their parents, the moms and dads who keep them healthy and safe, before and after birth.

It was an easy decision for me to become part of this campaign. I used to volunteer with the March of Dimes, and am very conscious of how much the organization’s work has helped babies for over 75 years. You’ve benefitted from the March of Dimes’ work if you or someone you care about:

– Received the polio vaccine

– Took a prenatal vitamin with folic acid

– Received an APGAR score upon birth

– Was born premature

But it’s not mission accomplished just yet for the March of Dimes. The fight to save babies and help all moms have healthy, full-term pregnancies is still the March of Dimes’ focus. That’s because one baby is born prematurely every minute and approximately 72 children die each day before reaching their first birthday.

That’s not worldwide—that’s in the United States.

You read that right.

So what can you do about it? You can SHOP.

Yes, really. That’s how the imbornto campaign is raising money for the March of Dimes. From Mother’s Day to Father’s Day, a whole bunch of amazing brands are running special promotions that benefit the March of Dimes. Brands like Martha Stewart, kmart, Bon-Ton, Alex and Ani, and more! Just visit imbornto.com to see all the partners and their offers.

So, please. Buy a Mother’s Day gift (or treat yourself!) from the March of Dimes’ partners and help all babies be born strong and healthy. Give every baby, every person, a chance to discover what they’re born to do.

Visit imbornto.com to learn how you can get involved, and join the conversation on Twitter by searching for the hashtag #imbornto.

Thanks for reading and big hugs,
JD, aka Honest Mom

I’ve partnered with the March of Dimes and The Motherhood on this sponsored post, but as always, the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. See my disclosure policy here.

[Tweet “Perfect Mother’s Day gifts that also support @MarchofDimes? Yes, please! #imbornto #ad”]

How to make fresh produce available to everyone in your community

Get info on the Aetna Foundation's grants for community gardens, urban farms, and farmer's markets

Get info on the Aetna Foundation's grants for community gardens, urban farms, and farmer's markets

I live in a small, suburban town that is thought of as a generally well-off area. But what many people do not know is that we have a food pantry that serves a surprising chunk of our population. The clients of the pantry include moms and kids in temporary housing, elderly people, and families who are financially struggling for a range of reasons.

The pantry gives out a huge range of items: canned food, fresh bread and meats, frozen foods, toiletries, and more. And in the summer, thanks in large part to our town’s community garden, the pantry gives out fresh produce to many people who couldn’t afford or access it otherwise.

My town has a lot of land—until relatively recently in its history, it was more rural than suburban—so it was probably not too difficult to create a community garden that helps benefit our food pantry. But even in cities where land seems scarce, community gardens are more than possible, and desperately needed to help supply fresh produce to local residents.

Think about it: How would you get fresh produce if you lived more than a mile from a grocery store? More than 23 million Americans are in this situation. What if your kids’ only source of produce was their school lunches—what happens in the summer when school’s out? This is a real concern for the 15.8 million children who live in food-insecure households.

Community gardens are a great solution to these problems. They supply healthy food in areas where it can be hard to come by, help educate people about healthy eating, and bring people together. That’s why the Aetna Foundation’s Local Roots program is giving out $1 million in $25,000–$50,000 grants to organizations that want to create or expand community gardens, urban farms, and/or farmer’s markets in underserved communities.

If you’re a part of a 501(c)(3) group—a school, church, state/local government agency, a public university, or community organization—you’re eligible!

Does this idea sound a little intimidating? Need some inspiration about what you could do? Check out these five examples of successful urban agriculture or these three other examples. And check out these past Aetna Foundation grant recipients (a bunch are focused on urban agriculture). Regular people around the world are transforming vacant lots, rooftops, and abandoned areas into thriving gardens, and with the Aetna Foundation’s help, you can, too.

The Aetna Foundation is awarding grants for community gardens, urban farms, and farmer's markets!Program details

1. All proposed programs must include one of the following:

– Nutrition education or cooking classes focused on the health benefits of fresh produce

– Growth or distribution of produce that reflects the food traditions of the target area

– Opportunities to learn job skills or entrepreneurship within the context of gardens, farms or farmers markets

– Opportunities for community service or volunteer work with the project

2. You must be an organization with 501(c)(3) status to apply, or a 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor can apply on your behalf (get the nitty-gritty details here).

3. Proposal deadline: May 6, 2015 at 5 p.m. ET.

Make fresh fruits and vegetables locally available, accessible, and affordable to your community with the Aetna Foundation’s help! Visit the Aetna Foundation to learn how you can get involved, and join the conversation on Twitter by searching for the hashtag #GoLocalGrants.

I’ve partnered with the Aetna Foundation and The Motherhood on this sponsored post, but as always, the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. See my disclosure policy here.

[Tweet “Schools and nonprofits: #Grants for community urban gardens and farmer’s markets! #golocalgrants”]