50 Better Ways to Spend $1 Billion Than Giving it to Kanye

Hard times have apparently fallen on multi-millionaire/rap-superstar/insufferable egomaniac Kanye West.  According to a ridiculous Twitter-rant that West posted earlier today, he is $53 million in debt and is asking for a donation of $1 billion from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg.  Now, I highly suspect that Mark Zuckerburg is too busy doting on his new baby daughter to really give a hoot and a half about Kanye, but the rest of the world is getting a real kick out of the fact that the famously self-absorbed rapper is asking for money.

West claims that while he is still personally rich (Whew! There’s a relief! I was almost concerned that Kim Kardashian was going to have to start living like the rest of us peasants!), he needs the $1 Billion to change the world, or make it a better place, because that what he’s meant to do or something.

Well, Kanye, sorry to burst that bubble that you apparently live in, but I can think of a few ways that that $1 billion can change the world without going through your slippery wallet.  50, in fact.


Education is a hot-button issue here in the USA. There are schools in certain parts of the country that are barely scraping by.  There are students who go to school and get their only meal of the day.  There are vital programs being cut to save a few pennies.

  1. Donate calculators, desks, and other supplies.
  2. Donate musical instruments and arts and crafts to the kids who want to study the arts.
  3. Build a new playground.
  4. Invest in teaching programs and speak out for better salaries for educators.
  5. Invest in new buildings for the kids who go to school in trailers.
  6. Donate for more dual-language programs and train all educators in the languages as well.
  7. Invest in special education programs and educators.
  8. Invest in after-school programs, especially for schools in underprivileged districts.
  9. Donate to scholarship funds for kids with disabilities, kids from low-income families, etc…
  10. Sponsor a child or a classroom.

Local Charities

We don’t have to look farther than beyond our own front porch to find people and animals in need of help. 

11. Donate to homeless shelters or organizations that provide meals for the homeless.

12. Sponsor a house for Habitat for Humanity.

13. Donate to drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities.

14. Donate to churches and outreach programs.

15. Donate to women’s shelters and sponsor a woman who has been a victim of domestic abuse.

16.  Buy new food, blankets, and toys for a local animal shelter and speak out on behalf of those who can’t speak for themselves.

17.  Donate a new wing to a children’s hospital.

18.  Support programs that help homeless veterans.

19.  Help donate to the refugee crisis.  Provide meals and decent housing.

20.  Sponsor a senior citizen, or donate to nursing homes.  Provide blankets, shoes, clocks, books, wheelchairs, and help improve quality of life.

Nature and the Environment

We are slowly but surely destroying our greatest gift and resource: our home planet and all of its inhabitants.  $1 billion won’t solve all of our problems, but it could pave the way to a better world.

21.  Donate to protect and clean up the oceans.

22.  Donate to protect and replenish the rain forests.

23.  Protect the lions and rhinos and other endangered species that Kim Kardashian likes to wear draped around her shoulders. Adopt animals from the World Wildlife Fund.

24.  Invest in rescue and rehabilitation facilities.

25.  Invest in solar panels and donate to energy conservation and innovation.

26.  Donate to national parks and designated wildlife sanctuaries.  We have bobcats and coyotes sneaking into backyards and preying on domestic pets because their homes are being destroyed.

27.  Donate to arctic relief efforts and climate researchers to help protect the polar bears.  This is a personal one for me.  I really want my future children to grow up in a world with polar bears.

28.  Donate to parks and animals refuges that take in old, sick, or disabled animals.

29.  Invest in saving the bees and butterflies.  We need them!  Bees are vital!

30.  Finally, invest in farmers and livestock farms.  Invest in better living conditions for cows and pigs and chickens.  There is no need for those animals to live in such horrible places for their entire lives.

Medical Relief and Research

31. Donate to groups and laboratories that study cancer.

32. Donate to groups that are fighting to wipe out malaria and other parasitic diseases.

33.  Donate medical supplies to third world countries.

34.  Donate to Alzheimer’s research.

35.  Support better mental health centers, resources, and caretakers.  Mental health is a HUGE deal and there are very limited resources for those out there either living with mental illness or who love someone with mental illness.

36.  Donate new equipment to hospitals.

37.  Donate to help hospitals that provide services such as spinal implant surgery, cleft palate repair, etc…

38.  Donate to surgery centers, transplant specialists, and those paving the way toward artificial organs and specialty surgery.

39.  Donate to teams studying rare birth defects and premature births.

40. Donate to worldwide AIDs relief funds.

Global Efforts

41.  Send clean water and other resources to countries that are lacking.

42.  Donate to world literacy funds.

43.  Invest in and speak out for education for women in countries where they are treated as second-class citizens.

44.  Invest in start-up businesses, in independently owned businesses, in local mom-and-pop shops that have been around forever, in non-profit organizations.

45.  Donate to natural disaster relief.

45.  Donate to NASA and other programs that seek to explore and test our limits.

47. Donate to human rights and civil activist groups who seek to make the world a better place.

48.  Donate to preserve, protect, and restore historical monuments, buildings, works of art and literature, etc…

49.  Donate to help put an end to human trafficking, prostitution, and crimes against children.

50.  Donate to local communities, to revitalize their livelihoods, to protect their way of life.

The world can be a better place, even without Mark Zuckerburg’s $1 billion.  We don’t need money or celebrities or social media to make it happen.  The opportunities are right there in front of us.



It’s Okay to Have Fun

It’s good to be ambitious.  It’s good to have dreams.  It’s good to be productive.  It’s good to work, work, work.  In this life, you have to strive.  You have to push yourself.  You have to work harder than anyone else and want it more than anyone else if you want to get ahead.  Our American society is very much a work and toil and sacrifice-driven society.

Kids today are being prepped for college as early as elementary school.  College students are bending over backwards and stressed to the breaking point in order to make the grade.  Adults wander around like zombies, with dead eyes and listless spirits because they work so hard that it’s consumed their very being. It’s kind of scary.

It’s been engrained in our heads that if we don’t make the big money and have super successful careers then we don’t amount to anything in this world.  And okay, yes, I’ll admit that it is good to have a career and make money.  i’m not saying it isn’t.  Jobs are good.  They keep our world in balance.  We need people with jobs of all kinds.  But I feel like it needs to be said every now and then that it’s also okay to have fun.  Work and ambitions don’t need to control your life.  In fact, I don’t think they should.

Last night, I hung out with one of my best friends.  We both had stuff to talk about.  Somewhat heavy, but nothing too bad.  After we finished talking, we kicked off our shoes, poured ourselves some wine, and played Mario Kart.  That is not something I would normally be doing on a work night.  That’s usually when I do most of my writing.  But you know what?  It was great.  I loved just hanging out with her, laughing, and playing some good, old-fashioned Nintendo.

John Lennon sang, “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”  I love the extraordinary moments in life, seeing a new place or publishing a new book.  But those precious ordinary moments of fun and laughter and just being with the people you love, those are the moments that really make a life.  Please, goof off.  Have fun.  Be silly.  Remember to enjoy.  Life is worth it.


Something Meaningful

I am not a morning person.  In fact, if you even look me in the eye before 11 AM, I will probably want to punch you in the face.  I won’t, because I don’t want to get arrested, but I will want to.  

Honestly, I feel sorry for anyone who has to be around me in the mornings, because I am so utterly unpleasant.  I’m fully aware of my lousy attitude, but I usually don’t care enough to do anything about it.  So, I go about my business with a permanent Stink Eye look plastered on my face and only talk to people if they address me first.  

Now once in a while, I will actually put this state of incessant pre-noon brooding to good use and think up a new blog post or something great that I want to write in a story.  Today, however, all I could do was how little good I actually do with my life.  

People who know me might be surprised to hear me say that, because to them, I’m such a goody-two-shoes, and on paper, yeah, I guess I do qualify as the proverbial Good Girl.  I’ve never been in any serious trouble.  I made mostly straight-As.  Graduated high school 3rd in my class and spent the next six years earning my BA and my MA.  I don’t drink.  I don’t smoke.  I don’t like to party.  I’m responsible (although I hate admitting it), and for the most part, I always do what I’m told.  There’s no getting around it.  I am a Good Girl.

Here’s the problem with being a Good Girl though.  It doesn’t matter.  Yeah, all that is great for me and it’s really great for my parents, but what have I done in the past few months that has actually helped someone?  Being well-behaved and making good grades is great and encouraged, but what good am I actually doing the world by existing in this narrow little world of impeccable self-control and obedience?  

I’ve decided that one of my new goals for 2014 needs to be:  Start doing more good.   

I have done good in my life, but not for a while.  I’ve volunteered time, I’ve given blood, I’ve donated to charity, but I feel like ever since I started working, my life has revolved around the sole purpose of making money, and that is simply no longer enough.  

Money is awful, isn’t it?  I mean, when we’re kids, we’re told that life is this beautiful and amazing thing full of wondrous creatures and new experiences and exciting adventures.  We can be anything we want to be.  We’re taught about the magic of science and heroic events of history and all the extraordinary things that human beings have done before us.  I’m not sure where in the great timeline of our lives that that message changes, but as we get older, it gradually evolves from, “Wonder, awe, and opportunity,” to “Do whatever you have to to make money.”

 I know, I know, I sound like a total romantic (not in the Lovey-Dovey sense, but in the Looking-at-Life-Through-Rose-Colored-Lenses sense).  I have a terrible habit of projecting how I think life should be onto reality and I know that at least some level of acceptance is important or else I simply will not survive in this world.  

I’m not even sure how my thought process led me from “Do more good deeds” to “I hate that I have to have money to exist,” but there it is.  I’ll try to stick to the point.  

This afternoon after work, I stopped by Target.  I had a little birthday money left over, so I decided to buy the second Percy Jackson book and a hardback copy of The Fault in Our Stars.  I’ve already read it, but it was on my sister’s Kindle and I wanted my own physical copy (although as an author, I am very grateful for the eBook, as a reader, I will always prefer real books).  I reread most of it in one sitting.  

Books like that one really make me think.  I think of all the kids and adults in the world who are terminally ill or physically disabled and who would give anything for a shot at the kind of life that most of us take for granted.  I am a healthy young person, probably as healthy as a person can get minus allergies and a mild anxiety disorder.  I can do anything.  And yet, out of some strange fear, or perhaps the idea that I have to keep my life on a certain track, I don’t.  I’ve published a book, yeah, but for the most part, I’ve lived my life on the straight, narrow, and very conventional line, existing each and every day as though my time in this world is endless.    

This life is a rare and beautiful gift.  I want to write, and I will always write.  It’s my Thing.  It’s what I do because I enjoy it, not because I feel like I have to.  Even now that I’m a published author, it still doesn’t feel like a job to me, and I love that I’ve found something that I enjoy that much.  But I also want to start living life outside my safe little bubble.  

It’s not enough anymore to simply be good.  It’s time to start doing good.