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Archive for the ‘Helping Out’ Category

This is a re-blog of a previous post of mine from 2013. In light of so many things – the mass shooting in Las Vegas, the callousness and bias of our leader(s), the weather patterns that can only get worse as we ignore the needs of our beautiful Earth – I am reminded of the ever growing need to offset – to combat – hate, and to see the divine in one another. All of us. More than ever, we need to be kind and to forgive. This TV show was always a favorite of mine, and is the epitome of finding and acknowledging the light in one another, no matter how dim it may seem to shine.

In following an unexpected trail of webby bread crumbs recently, I came to a YouTube video of Joan of Arcadia.

256px-JoaI always loved this show and also the show’s theme song by Joan Osbourne, One of Us. I loved the premise of Joan Girardi, (Amber Tamblyn), finding God each week in everyday people – a fellow student, a mime, a homeless man, a club DJ, a girl on the color guard at school, a soccer mom, the lunch lady, the dog walker,  and the list goes on.  The message is ultimately about the Divine in each of us, and the essence of the greeting Namaste. The song’s refrain is this:

What if God was one of us,
just a slob like one of us,
just a stranger on the bus
trying to make his way home.

Namaste is a greeting used by many Hindu, Taoist and Buddhists which literally means “I bow to you.” It is said with the hands together in prayer position over the heart chakra and with a bow of the head. It is the divine spark in one person acknowledging the divine spark in another. To me it is one and the same as to what Joan of Arcadia was all about … acknowledging the divine in each other – finding the divine in each other – sometimes in the most unexpected places. As said in Wikipedia, (where you can also read more about the show’s premise), “No specific mention of any “true” religion is ever made, and God quotes Bob Dylan, Emily Dickinson and the Beatles, rather than any scripture or verse”  and is always very human in his/her appearances. I suppose it may be easy to look at this TV show in the light of one religion, but  in the end … the message is the same, and enlightening from any angle.

Listen to the song –

Take a look –

 

 

 

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Peace of Mind – One of the agreements I made with myself many years ago to help insure my peace of mind is to never watch the “news” on TV before I go to bed. First of all, as you no doubt know, the “news” for quite some time has rarely been more than a reporting of horrible misfortunes that have befallen local people and people around the world. It is a laundry list of murders, robberies, rapes, fires and the like. And that’s just the local “news.” It gets much worse as we look at national and global events.

I have been taught – and believe – that is it harmful to our very souls to bring this pain and negativity into our dream state. We have a choice in this matter. It is not to say we should not be abreast of what is happening in the world, but the degree of how much, what form of media, and the source of information also need to be carefully considered. Still, it is unwise, IMHO, to take any of it in before we go to sleep.  I am also of the opinion that any news I truly need to know will come to me.

That said, I was about to turn the TV off last night when I saw that 20/20 was doing an hourlong feature on what recently transpired in Charlottesville. I watched. I shouldn’t have. I awoke with nightmares, shaken, deeply saddened, and angry. That’s no way to wake up. It jarred the first few hours of my day. Lesson learned – again – no “news” anywhere near bedtime. Since the events at Charlottesville and what happened after, I have been, and still am, just horrified at the displays of hatred I witnessed in this country and the lack of its immediate condemnation. Like so many, I am simply at a loss in the face of all of it.

An Unexpected Upside – and then there’s this. There is very little to watch on TV over the summer, but one thing I’ve come to enjoy is a very addictive game show called The Wall. Here’s what I really like about it – it’s good news. It’s always a pair that plays – husband/wife, siblings, friends – to win money, and just about every pair of contestants is playing for money to better the world. A recent husband/wife couple had spent their own money to buy a mobile unit that offers showers to the homeless in their city. They were playing to win money to buy one or more units, at a cost of $40,000 each, to be placed around the city to give more homeless people the opportunity to shower regularly. They hoped to expand their idea across the country. In addition to dignity, they also offered clean clothing with the shower.

As you can imagine, most homeless people would not want to be on TV, but in the video package for this couple, one homeless man, clean and nicely dressed, openly thanked them on camera and said, “Now I can look for a job.” Take that, all you haters. There is love and hope in the world, and on one night a week it’s being brought to you by, of all things … a game show.

Photo Notes: These were taken after a thunderstorm in the early evening. What is most bizarre is that the first two photos were taken within seconds of each other, and seemed to be affected by the angle of my camera. I have no way to explain this. The light, as is sometimes the case after a storm, was particularly eerie, as you can see in the violet tint of a maple, two shrubs and the brown fence in a corner of the yard.

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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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