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Can I please show you something that’s been disturbing me for about a week now?

This perplexing little craft project was found inside an unassuming gym bathroom stall that had NO SIGNAGE whatsoever on the outside of it, such that when one is hurriedly looking for a stall to powder her nose in before making it to Body Pump Class, one will choose this normal-looking stall, rush in, and almost trip over this quarantined toilet. Um, a little warning would be nice people! Give a gal a sign or a lock or a freaking piece of masking tape on the outside of the stall for God’s sake. Because the last thing I want to run upon after a long day at work is a trash bag full of toilet. In my face.

And what is up with the clear trash bag anyway? Is there something bad inside the toilet that’s trying to get out? Is the toilet contagious with the swine flu and they’re trying to avoid a gym-wide pandemic? Obviously something’s going on in that thing that’s making them feel that it needs to be contained. In which case, a sign on the outside of the door is even more necessary.

I feel compelled to point out that this is not your average Ghetto Gold’s we’re talking about. This is a nice gym. A gym, in fact, that just underwent extensive renovations to elevate it from a normal, run-of-the-mill gym into a Gucci gym with hardwood floors and a fancy theatre room! At this nice gym, can we really not trust people to follow basic directions like “Do not use this toilet?” Or is it that people are just so clamoring to use this specific stall (as opposed to the other SIX stalls) that they feel a need to not only wrap the toilet in plastic but also put a sign directly on the toilet seat?

Can anyone explain this to me? Or is everyone thinking that the most hilarious thing is not this toilet, but the fact that I took a picture of it?

*Update: I just want to add a disclaimer that this post was written with the purpose of humor. I LOVE my gym and this is in no way is a slam against them! I just find these sorts of things funny and thought someone else might too.

And by meet, I mean sat close to at a basketball game at my alma mater.

And by close, I mean about 5 rows away, which was apparently as close as the Secret Service felt comfortable with.

I think they’re the only people in the world who like personal space as much as I do.

Kudos to you, Secret Service guy.

Oh wait, who’s that? Bill Murray you say? Well hello there.

Let me introduce you to some friends of mine.

All in a day’s work.

The first Thanksgiving at the Gorsuch household was far from perfect. The rolls didn’t rise and the turkey needed reheating but no one cared a bit. In fact, I don’t think anyone really noticed, what with all the love and laughter and pie and football and the big black Friday bible! Lesson learned: if you ever mess up in the kitchen, just distract your guests with coupons. Works like a charm.

I came home from work last week to discover this.

 

Not only did someone go on a bender with my street sign, but they also ran over my recycling bin, which, as you can see, was kindly placed down on thrown across my driveway by the weekly collection workers. And the worst part: the culprit didn’t even have the decency to leave a note! Not a post-it, not a scribbled “Oops” on the back of a crumpled receipt, nothing. Surely they make Hallmark cards for these occasions! I think something to the tune of “Sorry I turned your street sign into a lawn ornament” would be appropriate.

One moment I’m eating fancy desserts and walking through the glowing lobby of the Belvedere Hotel; the next I’m elbow deep in a skillet of ground beef and hanging out on the streets next to camo-painted trucks. That’s Baltimore for ya.

I first heard about Muhammad Yunus in an Economics class. The professor was Barry Brownstein, a rare gem of an educator who doesn’t just teach, but intrigues. Rather than using traditional textbooks he’d assign us a wide range of articles and chapters out of wildly thought-provoking books whose authors I’d never heard of. Less than a week into class I had to open a GoodReads account just to keep track of all the books he mentioned, because I wanted to go back and finish all of them. This one was at the top of the list.

Muhammad Yunus is a Bangladeshi Economics professor who transformed the theories he taught into a global micro-lending movement that has now helped more than 7 million people in 40 countries work their way out of poverty. His company, Grameen Bank, has created a whole new realm of socially-conscious enterprises that are proving that success and altruism aren’t mutually exclusive. In an industry known for defaults, Grameen’s loans have a more than 98% repayment rate.

By seeking ways to help those around him, Yunus has fundamentally changed the way that governments and non-profits approach the fight against poverty. If you’re ever feeling cynical, reading this book will help to restore your faith in humankind.

 

The best parts of Banker to the Poor:

“I never intended to become a moneylender. I had no intention of lending money to anyone. All I really wanted was to solve an immediate problem. Out of sheer frustration, I had questioned the most basic banking premise of collateral. I did not know if I was right. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was walking blind and learning as I went along.”

“My work became a struggle to show that the financial untouchables are actually touchable, even huggable.”

“My mind would not let this problem lie. I wanted to help these forty-two able-bodied, hard-working people. I kept going around and around the problem, like a dog worrying a bone. People like Sufiya were poor not because they were stupid or lazy. They worked all day long, doing complex physical tasks. They were poor because the financial institutions in the country did not help them widen their economic base. No formal financial structure was available to cater to the credit needs of the poor.”

“To my surprise, the repayment of loans by people who borrow without collateral has proven to be much better than those whose borrowing is secured by assets. Indeed, more than 98 percent of our loans are repaid. The poor know that this credit is their only opportunity to break out of poverty. They do not have any cushion whatsoever to fall back on.”

“Policy makers tend to equate job creation with poverty reduction and economists tend to recognize only one kind of employment—salaried employment. And economists tend to focus their research and theories on the origins of wealth in the former colonial powers, not on the microlevel reality of poor people in Third World countries.”

“It is not by chance that women constituted less than 1 percent of all the borrowers in Bangladesh prior to Grameen. The banking system was created for men. It was my anger about this situation that initially prompted me to commit to having at least 50 percent of our experimental project loans granted to women. But we soon discovered new socioeconomic reasons to focus on women. The more money we lent to poor women, the more I realized that credit given to a woman brings about change faster than when given to a man.

When a destitute mother starts earning an income, her dreams of success invariably center around her children. A woman’s second priority is her household. She wants to buy utensils, build a stronger roof, or find a bed for herself and her family. A man has an entirely different set of priorities. When a destitute father earns extra income, he focuses more attention on himself. Thus money entering a household through a woman brings more benefits to the family as a whole.

UN studies conducted in more than forty developing countries show that the birth rate falls as women gain equality. The reasons for this are numerous. Education delays marriage and procreation; better-educated women are more likely to use contraceptives and more likely to earn a livelihood. I believe that income-earning opportunities that empower poor women and bring them into organizational folds will have more impact on curbing population growth than the current system of “encouraging” family planning practices through intimidation tactics.”

“Micro-credit is not a miracle cure that can eliminate poverty in one fell swoop. But it can end poverty for many and reduce its severity for others.”

Many people start a fitness program as a personal resolution. I was blackmailed. During my sophomore year of high school my older sister (and ride home from school) decided to join the Cross Country team and begged me to do it with her. She said she wanted company but I think she just wanted to make sure she wasn’t the slowest one on the team. I flat-out refused but only held strong for a few weeks, at which point I decided that running had to be better than taking the bus home. I was wrong.

It was miserable those first few weeks. Our coach would give us a route and then set up water stations at a few points in the middle, but my sister and I were always so slow that he’d moved to the next station before we got there. It ended up being just me and her running on our own, struggling to make it during the route around town and then pushing it when we got close to school so the boys’ soccer team would see us at our fastest. Then we’d hop in her Pontiac Sunbird and curse running the whole ride home. If we weren’t so competitive with each other I think we both would’ve quit.

Last week I signed up for my first marathon. It’s been a goal of mine ever since I finished that first Cross Country season and realized what my body could do with regular training. I know the next four months will be a lot of hard work, and I’m nervous about overstressing a body that has been so good to me through so many different exercises (yoga! spinning! half marathons! TRX!) over the past 15 years. But beneath the unavoidable trepidations, I’m mostly just excited to pursue this lifelong goal and see once again how far my body can take me. And I’m thrilled to have my awesome husband and great friend Lisa joining me for the ride. xo

I think I went back in time this weekend–back to a time where ladies gathered for Saturday morning crafting parties, couples walked hand in hand to the bookstore and Sunday afternoons were spent washing cars in the driveway.

 I rather like going back in time.

A few of my favorite things from around the web this week:

10 instagram accounts you should follow. (I’m not on this list, but you can find me at @pamsuch)

5 awesome board games (I’d like to add Apples to Apples, plus Catchphrase for iPhone!)

On curiosity.

Cookies that look perfectly mouthwatering.

Frozen art.

Image via


No, this post isn’t about a swanky tent or an episode of pimp my yurt (which sounds pretty gross anyway)–it’s about the rough week I’ve been having. The time change coupled with some really crazy and unexpected changes around me is throwing me for a bit of a loop. I tend to be pretty methodical about my decisions and sudden change makes my mind go into overdrive exploring possible outcomes and worrying about those around me. It can be overwhelming.

My favorite way to clear my head in these types of situations is to go for a long run. There’s something about the deliberateness of putting one foot after another, time after time, that clears my head and makes me focus on the present. The restraint of running comforts me; the intensity of it makes my mind turn off, and sometimes that’s what I need the most. But after getting a swift butt kicking on the TRX this weekend, running wasn’t an option for a little while (um, walking barely was) and I was at a loss for something to get me out of my funk.

As if she sensed I needed it, my mother-in-law invited me to go for a walk on the Goucher trails, and it was exactly what the doctor ordered. The leaves were vibrant and the trail was quiet and we wandered for a couple of hours, chatting and snapping photos and listening to the leaves. The fresh air made me feel calm and restored, and reminded me of how powerful an impact nature can have on our peace of mind if only we take the time to let it.

The photos above are just a few of the ones I took on our walk. Tell me, what do you do to clear your head?

A photo of me.

About me

Hi, I'm Pam. I'm a runner, reader and recent MBA grad living in Baltimore with my husband. I work in PR, but I spend my off-hours writing here about my life, which mostly revolves around family, friends, fashion and fitness. Sometimes I throw in the occasional food photo just to make sure you're paying attention.

Contact

For questions or freelance opportunities, contact me at theinspirationfiles {at} gmail {dot} com. I'd love to hear from you!

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