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Archive for the ‘Helping Out’ Category

Today, Sunday February 12th, is the beginning of Random Acts of Kindness Week. This whole concept had taken off to such a degree as to be a movement, but I pay no attention to that. And while you can, you needn’t either. What we can all do during this week is one little thing – one kind little thing – each day for another person or animal that will make some small difference in their life. Just because we can.

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Kindness, as you know, is it’s own reward. And if you enjoy how you feel this week, then go for another week, and another. Because not only will you have changed the world,  you will have changed yourself.

Here are some new quotes I found for inspiration …

“Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something and has lost something.”
~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
~ Leo Buscaglia

“Sure the world breeds monsters, but kindness grows just as wild… ”
~ Mary Karr, The Liars’ Club: A Memoir, 1995

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
– Desmond Tutu

“In the long run, the sharpest weapon of all is a kind and gentle spirit.”

~ Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank

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There’s a great little animated video making the rounds among “animal people.” Yes, it’s partially about that adorable puppy you see below, but I would be misleading you if I told you it was really only about the puppy. It’s much more than that. It’s about the difference an animal – or person – can make in another’s life. In this short video, wait for the twist. Well worth a bare 4 minutes of your life.

It says that Disney offered this student a job after seeing the animation. I just say thank you, Jacob Frey.

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Do you ever find yourself missing you? And by that I mean a part of you that you have always enjoyed but for which there seems to be little or no time nowadays?

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On the rare occasions that I bake these days, I am reminded of times when I really used to cook and bake a whole lot more … and loved it. So when I do get in the kitchen, and take my sweet time baking a cake, (which may be to raise funds for the local equine rescue I help or when I’m a dinner guest and have offered to bring dessert), I not only enjoy it, but feel like I’ve re-found a part of myself. I call her the “domestic dolly” part of me.

Dolly likes to cook and bake – from scratch, of course – likes to sew, paint stuff – walls, furniture, do crafts – and yes, sometimes, actually enjoys cleaning … or at least the result. But as our lives get busier and stay busier, other things demand our time and attention, and these may fall to the wayside,  and hey, I’m not 28 anymore. Yeah, then there’s that.

So we pick and choose, and try, somewhere along the line, to occasionally rediscover the parts of ourselves that sometimes get lost in the shuffle. It’s a challenge. Life has different demands than in the past. We have different goals. But it’s good to remember ourselves, even if for a little while.

What about you – are you a cook or baker with no time? Love to go out dancing? Travel? Play music? Hike? Just curl up with a good book?

My suggestion? Dust off that `you’ and take her or him out for a spin. Find that time or make that time. If it’s something we love, we can’t afford to go missing.

 

 

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I am repeating this post from my own blog from 2012. It is never too late to do a kindness and there is never a wrong time but today is the day that celebrates it. Should you wish more information, there is a Random Acts of Kindness website with wonderful stories, ideas, etc., but I suspect you know exactly how to be kind. Have a lovely day.

Recently a friend from the other side of the country – Washington State, to be exact – sent me an e-mail with the photos below. Needless to say, the images have been collected by someone from all over the web and put together in that e-mail. I have  pulled them together for this blog post because I believe we all could use a little inspiration here and there and it never hurts to be reminded of the difference a small kindness can make, how a simple gesture can touch a heart and soul, and how there really is a great deal of kindness in the world despite what many sources would have us believe. We can always add to that, and it needn’t be on an official Random Acts of Kindness Day – it can be any day or every day.

Enjoy the photos. The e-mail began with this : If you never learn the language of gratitude, you will never be on speaking terms with happiness.

A father and mother kissing their dying little girl goodbye. If you are wondering why all the medic people are bowing,….in less than an hour, two small children in the next room are able to live thanks to the little girl’s kidney and liver.

The e-mail continued on with the following, which I have altered slightly to be more inclusive of all beings on Earth:

Every day, every day, you hear …
I WANT!   I WANT!  I WANT!
Every day you hear people saying what they want. Well, here’s what I want:

  • I want people who are sick to be healed
  • I want children – and animals – with no families and no one to love them to be adopted
  • I want people to never have to worry about food and shelter and heat
  • I want to see a kinder world towards all animals on this planet
  • Most of all, I would like to see people start to care more for one another.

May your heart be touched by kindness today and every day.

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I journal almost daily, in the morning, with my coffee, and find it a very effective way to start the day, clearing out cobwebs, jotting down ideas, organizing what-have-you, etc. I am RandomActs-Notes2generally somewhat particular about what size my journal is – as there are limits as to what is most comfortable in one’s lap – but not how plain or fancy the journal may be. After all, this isn’t some formal document, and in the long run, is not going to be kept. I often can pick up a perfectly serviceable journal in the supermarket.

As I was down to the last 2 pages in my current journal, I planned to pick up a new one when I went grocery shopping, but … there was not one to be found of a workable size. All seemed to be notebooks that kids would bring to school, at least 8″ x 10″. OK, then, as mentioned, hardly the Declaration of Independence going in here.

“Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.” ~Maya Angelou

When I opened it, however, I was pleasantly surprised. There was a perforated, light cardboard page behind the cover promoting Random Acts of Kindness! Eight cards you could tear apart, write a note for someone and leave for them or give to them. Now that’s RandomActs-OneCard2pretty cool! And while it has its own hashtags from the manufacturer for learning more, it doesn’t take away from how wonderful an idea this is to put right into the hands of children, (or anyone, really.).

I have always been enamored by Random Acts of Kindness. Most of us actually perform them daily and don’t even think twice about it – holding open a door, picking something up for another, giving a compliment – kindness isn’t hard. We’ve all, I’m also sure, gone a little above and beyond from time to time. One of my personal favorites was a number of years ago when in New Hope, PA, a very popular, artsy town known for its unique shops and restaurants AND for its 25 cents for 15 minutes parking meters. One time, returning to my car, I spotted the meter maid about 6 cars down and coming my way. The meter had expired next to the car directly behind me, so I fed 4 quarters into their meter and bought them an hour. I’m sure you’ve done the same. I was amazed that something so small put such a big smile on my face, even to this day.

“Always be a little kinder than necessary.” ~James M. Barrie

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Now if the purchasers of this notebook are at a loss as to what to do with the cards, the reverse side gives lots of examples. As for me, I think I’ll be tearing off at the perf and carrying one with me. You never know when the chance to do a Random Act may arise!

If you are interested in knowing more – for your kids, students, or just for yourself – of course there’s a website for Random Acts of Kindness with all kinds of resources and ideas. I suspect you’re already a kind person, and I’m sure you agree, that in addition to making a however-small difference in the life of someone else,  there’s a lot of giggly-inside, feel good to be had in a Random Act of Kindness.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ~Leo Buscaglia

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A fellow writer and book-loving friend of mine just sent me this link, and as I have a moment, I want to share it that more people will get to see it. Please share.

We have all read books that were in some way life-changing. In this YouTube video series named “Call Me Ishmael,” a fellow, (named Ishmael), transcribes and shares a voicemail of one person each day telling about a book they love. In this day’s video you will hear the call made by a young man named Ethan whose mother was a crack addict and the books that quite literally saved his life. Not to be missed.

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In the humane field, we see a great deal of cruelty and insensitivity to animals. It can be frustrating. It can be heartbreaking. It can be soul-wrenching.

But we can never forget that there are also many, many kind people in the world as well. Below is a video of a few of those kind, everyday people who know that a life is worth saving. And which, as the caption says, can restore your faith in humanity in 4 minutes flat. Enjoy.

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Have a creative child at home or know one? They have the possibility of winning $30,000 in college scholarship funds and a $50,000 Google for Education technology grant for his or her school by entering the Doodle for Google contest.

It’s open to kids K-12, but the deadline for entries is March 20th!  So get those kids thinking and drawing. This year the theme is …. “If I Could Invent One Thing to Make the World a Better Place…”  OK, so grab a kid and go here and get started!

YesButton2Now when I first saw that theme, I got so excited I didn’t see, (or remember), that Doodle 4 Google is for kids and I just went off with my own ideas. Here’s mine – it’s a booth that anyone can go in – it’s free to everyone – inside the booth, there are buttons you can push and they have names like “No More Anger”, “No More Fears”, “No More Anxiety”, “Forgive Everyone” and so on. It would be a limited palette, but you get the idea. You close your eyes and are bathed in white light and in about 5 minutes, your anger, fears, etc. are washed away. 

No fee, no confession, no angst – just a desire to live a more loving life. Maybe there’d be an optional survey button before you leave – a Yes or No button answering “Are you feeling more loving now? Because you are loved.” 

I haven’t worked out all the details, obviously, but I guess it’s a new take on that old concept of free love. No judgment, no punishment, no expectations – just a way to get back on our path of being and feeling more love. See you on the line!

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Pierogies-MichalZacharzewski2At first that may sound like a wacky idea, but who could argue with teaching tolerance to kids and who doesn’t like food? The idea is not mine*, and actually I’m focusing on just a part of the author’s three recommendations to remove judgment, be aware of your own behavior, and diversify your life as a way of inspiring your kids. The third idea is about broadening a child’s frame of reference so that those kids who might seem “different” can seem “normal.” (their words.)

The recommendation was eating out at international restaurants or creating a regular family event that features different ethnic foods while learning about that culture. This is really genius to me. Unless you have a super-picky eater, you can generally find a dish in almost any culture that is tasty and palatable, even to children. Think about starting with your own heritage. For example, I have six different nationalities between my grandparents and great grandparents. That’s where I’d start, right with one’s own family.

DimSum-xiantianmi2Let’s pick one … how about Irish? It might not be easy to find an Irish restaurant nearby, (although there is at least one in Manhattan), but we can cook up some Irish goodies at home. There’s lots of ways to cook up potatoes and cabbage, and if you eat meat, there’s corned beef for starters. Or …. Irish soda bread anyone? And perhaps some stout for the adults. These are the obvious choices, but exploration reveals greater variety in any country’s cuisine. Meanwhile, you could learn about Ireland’s history and of the Irish when they came to America, what they ate in the past and what they eat now.

Today we are seeing more different cultures than we did even a decade ago, between immigration, (the very same way so many of our own forefathers got here), but also in increased adoptions from overseas. Our children now go to school with Russian, Vietnamese, African, Chinese, Korean, and Colombian children, among others, all adopted. Understanding what these children eat in their native culture and serving something from it at our house while learning about that culture is to help them be understood and accepted.

Chimichanga-JavierArmendariz2Depending where you live, you can also visit restaurants of different cultures. Skipping the chain food restaurants, it’s still possible to find authentic Chinese, Mexican and Italian foods in many places. It’s now becoming easier to find Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, and Korean for not too long a ride. Without leaving my state, you can also find authentic Hungarian, German, Ukrainian, Polish, Szechuan, Portuguese, and Cuban food and more. The key is to learn about the culture as well as enjoying the food.

Maybe your kids have some new students in their class. They’d like to learn more about them but are feeling shy in reaching out. Let’s find some facts and enjoy their food! It’s often been said that knowledge is power, and in this idea, that’s half of it – knowledge AND good food can be the power of tolerance. Bon appétit!

* My post is inspired by one segment of the Better Homes and Gardens‘ series called The Good Kid Project which explores the qualities that are key to a happy, well-adjusted child. Their January  column is devoted to tolerance. Visit their website for more info.

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Abraham Lincoln once said, “A man never stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child.” In my world, that would read “… when he stoops to help a child or an animal.

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Those of you who know me personally know my deep involvement with animals. It began so, so long ago. As soon as I could stand, I was toddling up to animals. I am drawn helplessly to them by a sheer and invisible magnetic force. Our lives are intertwined in ways I cannot even describe. Needless to say, I am deeply touched when any of us rises to the occasion and helps our animal friends.

I pulled the photos posted from an e-mail forwarded by a friend. As is often the case in these e-mails, the photos have been collected from all over the internet and their source is never known. So here I thank all of you, whoever you are, for taking these wonderful and inspiring photographs. They make me proud to be a human on this often-struggling, sometimes cruel, sometimes compassionate planet we call Earth.

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“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

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“True human goodness, in all its purity and freedom, can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power. Mankind’s true moral test, its fundamental test (which is deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals.”
― Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

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“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.” ― Henry Beston, The Outermost House: A Year of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod

Merry Christmas.

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LineWorkers2Something I heard on the radio really jumped out at me this morning. A dockworker called in to the show I listen to, talking about the men who work all night long loading and unloading cargo containers, right next to the frigid waters, making it even colder. In this part of the world we are experiencing the coldest temperatures we’ve seen in three years, and while we sit warm at our desks or run errands in our heated cars, lots of folk are out there in this making their living.

I thought today to give a shout out to all those who work outside in these freezing temperatures, so here’s my thanks – and I’m sure I speak for all of us – to: line workers and those who keep our heat, electricity, phones and cell phones working; dockworkers and truckers who keep everything we need coming and going; police, fire and EMT personnel who are out whenever duty calls, school crossing guards, animal control officers who rescue animals from freezing to death; health care workers who make sure the elderly and incapacitated have heat and food; mail carriers; delivery people; construction crews; and anyone I may have missed.

Thanks for keeping our world safe and moving along.

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Recent events have me pondering … journaling … rather than recording my thoughts in a public forum. As you are well aware, there are times in our lives when we have to take certain events and look at them from every angle, trying to get them in some comfortable spot so we can live with them, especially since there’s nothing we can do to change them. And aye, there’s the rub.

I am not good at helpless. I am particularly not good at helpless watching another – in this case, an animal – who is suffering, and for whom I can do nothing. There are times when we really have to come to grips with whatever it is and accept our own limitations in action regardless of how our hearts are reaching out. In all the years I have been involved with animals, rescuing and healing them, and, depending on the circumstances, finding them homes, those situations that have been the most painful have been those where I could do nothing.

I have been told many times along the way that it was not/is not my responsibility to save everyone .. or every animal … that each of them, like each of us, is on his or her own journey, and I can only do as much as I can do. Whatever the issue is, and it may be different for many of us – animals, children, the elderly, loved ones, those persecuted unjustly for any reason, anyone suffering – if we have a heart, we want to do something … make it better.

But sometimes the change has to be within ourselves. To accept our limitations and to understand that our inability to alter one circumstance does not mean we are failing … it only means that sometimes, despite our desire, it is not ours to change.

So I have found myself thinking a lot of the Serenity Prayer, written by twentieth century American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr. As short as it is, it is brilliant and to the point. I’m sure you are familiar with it.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.

I believe that sometimes we need to accept that just being who we are is enough. And that sometimes, achieving that may be a lifelong lesson given to us again and again until we finally know it to be true.

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