Saturday, April 18, 2015

Counting your blessings

Years ago, I managed a restaurant for a while and one day I waited on a woman who had no arms. She asked if we might have a table where she could position herself a bit away from it. I wasn't quite sure what to expect at first, but this woman didn't ask for us to feed her. She did everything for herself - with her feet. It was Amazing to watch her function at a dinner table with such a huge positive outlook on life.

You have probably seen basketball games on television played by people in wheelchairs. You normally think of running back and forth on the court, but these wheelchair bound players are simply incredible and so full of life. Who says you need legs to play basketball?

Have you ever caught yourself complaining about the simplest thing and than realizing how good you have it and how much worse it might be for others? I recall an old saying: "I had the blues because I had no shoes until upon the street, I met a man who had no feet." Think about it. The things we complain about, others might rejoice in.

Life is so full of blessings. Sometimes we are just too blind to appreciate them. With my recent health scare, I know I am much more tuned in to the little things. I'm personally thankful that I have so many friends too that help keep my eyes on these wonderful prizes every day. Isn't it great to have people like that in your life?

Friday, April 17, 2015

No Hate Here

Have you seen the news lately? Hate seems to be making a comeback. I keep reading stories about people who are going to withhold service (wedding cakes, pizza, automotive service) from people because they are gay. How about the recent anti-Islam hate in the City of Brotherly Love? Racial discrimination and hatred seems to be everywhere. Look at all the black men who have been killed by police officers. Hate speech is all around too. A white supremacist who admits to killing his gay ex-employer: "I feel no remorse, I hate faggots with a passion."

It isn't brand new. There has always been hatred somewhere and on just about every newscast, there is something negative to report. I'm mentioning all of this because someone recently asked me why I never take a stand against hate. Apparently we haven't met. I have always been against any form of hate and I stand against it every day. In this space, I choose to take the high road though and talk about good things - positive things that people are doing and that we ALL can do. Obviously, if we are all doing good, then there will be no bad.
 
Yes, I am disgusted that any human being would kill another in cold blood.  Yes, I am disgusted that people would be discriminated against because of who they are.  The desecration of the grave of Hillary Clinton's father sickens me.  The individuals and the organizations that promote hate are disgusting.  In various places I have lived, I have been a part of rallies and events that condemn all forms of hate and, as I said, everything I do is about making the world a better place.  I don't choose to use this space to give more publicity to the haters.  They are already getting far too much attention.  I want to show the love.  I want to focus on the heroes, the folks who are making a difference for the better.
 
So, there really isn't anything different.  There will be no hate here.  I invite you to join me in wiping it out altogether.  Let's all take a stand against hate!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

do not crumple, scar, or mess up

Here's a story you may have heard before. It's about a teacher in New York who was telling her class about bullying and gave them an exercise to perform. She had the children take a piece of paper and told them to crumple it up, stamp on it and really mess it up, but not to rip it. Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty it was. She then told them to tell it they’re sorry.
 
Sometimes a child who is bullied will later receive apologies, but the damage is done. In this exercise, even though they said they were sorry and tried to fix the paper, she pointed out all the scars they left behind. And that those scars will never go away no matter how hard they tried to fix it. That is what happens when a child bully’s another child - they may say they’re sorry but the scars are there forever.
 
Hardly a day goes by when I don't see something about bullying. The It Gets Better Project has done some amazing videos aimed particularly at lgbt youth. Let me be clear though. While gay kids are so often the targets of bullies, ALL bullying is bad. We need to get rid of it ALL.
 
The kids in that classroom learned an important lesson. The looks on the faces of the children told their teacher that the message had indeed hit home. I hope this hits home with all of you too! Bullying must STOP!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Lend a hand

Making a difference can take many forms. Lending a hand or an ear is just one way to help out - one way to connect with others and to be human. I don't take about me here, because my goal all along has been to encourage cooperation and hopefully to get those who read these words to want a better world and so to reach out to others. It's NOT about me - it's about all of us. Today though, for a change, it's a little more about me, and about an incredible person I am blessed to have in my life.

Every one of us will occasionally have a bad day.  Nothing seems to be going right and you feel like you don't want to even move.  Well, rare though it is, that was me yesterday.  I made a comment on social media, which probably hundreds of people saw, but there was someone out there who also acted.  Moments after my post, he was reaching out.  "Are you okay?" he asked.  A conversation - a very encouraging one, began.  He cared.
 
Now I'm not suggesting for a minute that nobody else cares.  This person did something though.  He reached out.  He lent a hand.  It made a world of difference and I will always remember the warmth of his friendship last night and his concern.  Today is a great day.  I feel fantastic.  Last night though was a great reminder of how wonderful it can be to lend a hand to someone who needs you.  How wonderful it is to care.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

more PBJ love

Last week I told you about this incredible peanut butter and jelly restaurant in Oklahoma that by doing a good deed, has inspired a lot of media buzz and a lot of suggestions of how to help others. Well those were just the first tiny ripples and in the week since, there has been so much more including a "Share the nuts" program. I'm sure Ashley Jiron had no idea what she started a week ago at her place called PB Jams in Warr Acres, Oklahoma, but she certainly started something big!

Yesterday, in addition to having started a "pay it forward" (or share the nuts, peanuts that is) there in the restaurant, where patrons can prepay for the meals of those who can't afford to pay, they also began a GoFundMe online campaign where anyone can pay for the meals of others.  Since the average meal at PB Jams is only about $10 they can already feed an awful lot of poor folks! Click HERE if you would like to donate.  By the way.  I heard about the online fundraising minutes after it was setup and took a look - two people had already donated and later when I was telling someone else about it, I looked in again and saw that 34 people had given money.  Right now, in less than 20 hours, they have already raised $1,400.  There are a lot of good hearts out there!  Check out their facebook page (HERE) too.  The comments are so inspiring.

Last week I mentioned that many restaurants will do things for poor or homeless people on occasion (some have programs all the time), but this action at a little business in Oklahoma is so heartwarming.  I hope that it inspires others.  Wouldn't it be great if there was something like this from coast to coast and nobody ever had to go hungry?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Missing a piece of the puzzle

Somehow I never really got into the jigsaw puzzle thing. Mom loved them and I remember her having them laid out on a card table when I was little. It might take her a while because she stopped to do other things, but when she found those last pieces, it was an accomplishment - especially that last missing piece of the puzzle.
 
Sometimes our lives are like that. It doesn't mean we are unhappy necessarily, but we are looking for something that just is not there. When it comes: WOW! It seems somewhat like finding those missing puzzle pieces. (Now of course if you are putting together a jigsaw puzzle, you actually look for those pieces. In life we might not even realize that something is even missing).
 
So what do we do? Well, keeping our minds and our hearts open to new possibilities is always a good thing. Listening to others and realizing that "our" way might not be the "only" way is a start in the right direction. If we think there is a missing piece that we'd like to find, there is nothing wrong with asking for help too. Perhaps our puzzle pieces are a bit more fluid than those of the jigsaw puzzle. Perhaps in some cases, there is nothing really missing at all.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

what about the next guy?

When I say it's NOT about me, I should add quickly that it IS about the next guy - it's about the future. It's about all of us paying it forward and making a difference.

What is? Life. Life is about everyone - our children and our children's children and generations yet to come. Why do we need to care about future generations? Why do we need to pay it forward?  The answer should really be obvious.  We don't want to be selfish.  We should all want our children to grow up in a better world than we had and for things to be even better for their children.
 
If we all think about the next guy, imagine how wonderful this world might be.  It can keep getting better and better each day.  So, let's all vow to keep an eye toward the future - to gift it forward to create fun times for the future generations -to think of the next guy!