Wednesday, April 30, 2014

How to live life

How to live life?  No, I don't have all the answers - that's for certain! Each day I do write here a little bit about living live though.  I talk about making a difference in the world, and there are so very many ways to do that.  Some folks go through life with great joy and for all too many, it is just the opposite.

One of humanity's greatest minds, Albert Einstein, once said "There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." You don't have to be an Einstein to know that's the truth!

 "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."  That is another saying of Einstein.  This time he seems to be urging us to get involved. 

May we all keep trying new things and living our lives as though everything is a miracle!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

You'll never walk alone

We are getting closer and closer to this year's AIDS Walk San Francisco in Golden Gate Park.  I was thinking about that last night as I went to bed.  My fundraising is going along nicely.  (Please click HERE if you would like to become one of my sponsors).  Thanks so very much to everyone who has donated so far!

At the beginning of the event each year there is an opening ceremony and the very last part of that is the singing of a song that has become an anthem for AIDS Walk more or less, but as I thought last night about the lyrics, I realized that it can be an anthem for each of our lives!

"You'll Never Walk Alone" is a show tune from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel, and it had a popularity back in the sixties when Gerry and the Pacemakers recorded it. We could all get something every day of our lives though out of these wonderful and encouraging words:

When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm, there’s a golden sky
And the sweet, silver song of a lark

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown

Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone

Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sixty - it takes 60

I was surprised to hear that it takes 60 volunteers in the meals program every day at Glide Memorial Church here in San Francisco.  Seeing the huge crowds of people that turn out, I was expecting the need for volunteers to be greater.  Still, sixty is a lot of people.  When Christmas or Thanksgiving roll around more people step up, but what about the other days?
 
Every weekday, three meals are served at Glide (Breakfast: 7am - 9am, Lunch: 11:30am - 2pm, and supper: 3:30pm - 5:30pm).  On the weekend breakfast and lunch hours are the same and a bag supper (prepared by volunteers in the morning) is given out. 
 
Yes, Glide is a church and worship and study are certainly a part of what goes on there, but the meal programs are really what so many know about.  As you go through the neighborhood you can see the long lines of people waiting to be fed.  Here's yet another area where you can make a difference.  You need not be a parish member to volunteer for the meal program.  They can always use your help.  Click HERE to signup to volunteer.  Donations are certainly welcome too!  Just click HERE if you want to give.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Save an animal

If you knew that this cute dog needed your help, wouldn't you want to be there for him?  Dogs, cats, and other animals need human companions and if you are there for them, it will make such a huge difference to them, and to YOU!

If you are thinking of adopting an animal - think some more.  Be sure, before you take on this huge responsibility.  The animal deserves a loving home where the people are totally committed to their animal charges.  If you decide this what you really want to do, consider adopting a shelter animal.

Sometimes even those of us with the best intentions become overwhelmed with work and school and all that we are involved with, and we neglect our animals.  That's why I suggest that you think twice.  Good care is like setting a good example about humane treatment - nothing else should even be acceptable. Responsible animal ownership requires that we give animals what they need to be healthy and happy.

Do not hold back on tje love and affection. If you’ve ever brought abused or neglected animals home and treated them like a member of the family, you’ve probably seen a rewarding transformation in behavior and disposition.  As you treat them with kindness and consistency, they learn to trust you and respond with loyalty and with unending love.

We each have it in our power to make a difference in the lives of animals.  Adoption is not the only way.  We also need to be aware of abandonment, neglect, and abuse and stand up for these animals that cannot stand up for themselves.  If you see abuse - do something!  Please remember that animal cruelty is more than just wrong - it’s a crime! It not only affects the animals involved, but can endanger the health and safety of the those in the community.

Don’t have the space or or the time for your own animal? Visit one. Go and visit the pets of friends or neighbors or make a trip to a local dog park or shelter.  Volunteering at a local shelter can be very rewarding too!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Raising money for a cause

Raising money for a cause might make you feel good, and the recipient of those funds will most certainly appreciate your efforts, but be aware that fundraising is not an easy task!  These days there are so many worthy causes and many people limit their giving to organizations or causes that they give to regularly.

Remember when there were telethons raising money for various charities?  We don't see those big television fundraisers much any more.  Walk-a-thons are still very big.  (Last year I took part in three different walk-a-thons).  Some people host events that raise money - sales or dinners or car washes, for example.  Some folks sell merchandise or put up collection containers.  Those loose change jars on store counters are quite good at raising money.

If one of the ways you want make difference in the world is by fundraising, know that it is hard work, but the end result is really worth it.  You could possibly finance some real change!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

30 years of AIDS

“Today we add another miracle to the long honor roll of American medicine and science” announced Secretary of Health and Human Services Margaret Heckler thirty years ago today. “Today's discovery represents the triumph of science over a dreaded disease. Those who have disparaged this scientific search - those who have said we weren't doing enough - have not understood how sound, solid, significant medical research proceeds.”
 
Secretary Heckler also made a multi-part announcement. “First, the probable cause of AIDS has been found: a variant of a known human cancer virus. Second, not only has the agent been identified, but a new process has been developed to mass produce this virus. Thirdly, with the discovery of both the virus and this new process, we now have a blood test for AIDS. With a blood test, we can identify AIDS victims with essentially 100% certainty.”

AIDS has been around since 1981 when it was first clinically observed in the United States in gay men. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention didn't have an official name for the disease yet but the mainstream press referred to it as "GRID," gay-related immune deficiency. Later the CDC coined the phrase "4H disease," referring to Haitians, homosexuals, hemophiliacs, and heroin users. By September of 1982 the CDC started referring to the disease as AIDS. It was seven months later that Secretary Heckler made these important announcements.

After thirty years though we still have AIDS.  Yes, there have been advancements, but there still is no cure.  We still need research.  We still need education.  We still need to get rid of the stigma and treat people as human beings.  That is why I support my activist friends who speak up and make a difference.  That is why I support Jason Villalobos every year when he participate in AIDS LifeCycle.  That is my I personally walk each year in AIDS Walk San Francisco.  You can get involved too!  You can make a difference!  To sponsor Jason, click HERE.  To sponsor me, click HERE

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Aretha Louise Franklin had a tremendous success with a song called "Respect," and I could easily write page after page about both that recording and about Miss Franklin herself, but this morning there is something else I want to say about respect. It seems many folks have forgotten what it is!

It was over sixty years ago that President Dwight D. Eisenhower said "This world of ours... must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect." I wonder how many were listening.
 
Rude or insulting behavior or a lack of common courtesy is the opposite of respect.  There seems to be a trend these days to show disrespect and it is becoming acceptable.  Generally I try to write from the positive perspective here.  Let me tell you about some heroes or let me show you some positive ideas or here are some good things to do.  I don't usually write about what NOT to do.  So today, I don't want to dwell on that growing trend toward disrespect.  Instead I want to remind everyone how wonderful it is to be polite and courteous.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I'm not saying we should always agree with everything.  Absolutely not!  We can disagree with others and still have a respectful discussion.
 
No?  I can already hear someone disagreeing with me on this one.  That's okay.  Tell me about it though.  I'd love to hear your thoughts, as long as you share them with respect.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The scraps of our lives


Since my mother's death last spring, I have spent a lot of time looking through old photos of Mom and going through tons of scrapbooks.  She really did an excellent job of keeping track of our lives with the very latest pictures dating just weeks before she died.  I have been thinking about how wonderful this is.
 
Do you ever wonder about your roots?  Do you have questions about a favorite aunt or uncle from long ago or want to know what your great-grandmother looked like?  Some people try to trace their family tree, but run into all kinds of roadblocks.  I have discovered that keeping diaries and scrapbooks and photo albums will be very valuable in the future.  I have come across old pictures of my grandparents when they were children!  I'm sure you don't want to go through page after page of my baby pictures, but this of course is NOT about me.
 
Of course it can be a lot of fun to look at your old baby pictures or memories from your graduation.  Every one of our lives tells a story and while  I've enjoyed reliving a lot of old moments seeing these old snapshots and clippings, I urge you to keep similar books yourself.  You will really be happy to have those memories.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Is there anything more wonderful than a hug?

Let me ask you a question.  Is there anything more wonderful than a hug?  Two people put their arms around one another and closely hold each other.  Sometimes it's quick and sometimes each holds on a long time.  It feels good.  It gives you a sense of security.
 
Mom always loved hugging and she was especially happy when she met someone who was comfortable giving a nice big bear hug.  I guess I follow in her footsteps, because I sure love a nice big hug too!  Who doesn't?  A nice a sincere hug with no expectation of anything further can give you a big lift!
 
I read once that a sincere hug that lasts longer than twenty seconds can release feel-good chemicals in the brain and elevate the mood of both the giver and receiver. Sorry, but I don't recall the source of that, but even if it isn't accurate, hugging feels good and who can argue with that?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

purpose of life is to live it

The longest serving American First Lady was Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  She was one of the most quoted and most respected First Ladies too.  Yesterday, while thinking about the importance of seizing the moment, something Mrs Roosevelt said came to mind.  “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

Mrs Roosevelt certainly followed her own words.  She loved life so very fully, being active in public affairs long after her husband's death. She served as a UN delegate and later chaired John F. Kennedy's Presidential Commission on the Status of Women.  She wrote a newspaper column and was often on radio and later on television.  Her list of accomplishments would run for pages.  My point is that Eleanor Roosevelt LIVED.
 
How many of us can say the same thing?  Don't get stuck in a dead end job.  Don't keep thinking about "some day."  Sometimes you have to take risks.  Want to change the world?  There is no better place to begin than with yourself.
 
So many people complain that their life is boring.  Way to many people are unhappy.  Remember the words of Mrs Roosevelt:  “The purpose of life is to live it.”

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Raising awareness about brain injuries

Raising awareness and funds for the Brain Injury Association of America, a woman is leaving from San Francisco to run all the way across the country to New York City!  I'm out of breath just thinking about it.  Wow!  Her name is Jessica Goldman and at this very minute she is on the steps of City Hall here for a sendoff ceremony that begins this adventure, which is also an attempt at setting a record or two.
 
I don't know if you have ever heard of the Brain Injury Association of America, but I am learning a lot of wonderful things about them and I suppose the best thing to do here is to direct you to their website at http://www.biausa.org/ - tons of information is available there.  They will also be keeping you updated on Ms Goldman's cross-country trek.
 
This trip to New York is exciting to me for many reasons.  Just look at the distance for one thing and look at the geography between here and New York!  She is also traveling solo.  I doubt if I could be that brave.  Any time someone raises awareness though I think it is a wonderful thing, and to raise money as well makes it all the more wonderful. 
 
Want to follow Jessica Goldman?  Click HERE to see her blog updates.  She also has a facebook page that you can follow HERE.  As for me, I'm not that far from San Francisco City Hall.  I think I'll run on over and see her off in person!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tie a yellow ribbon round your old dog's leash

Did you ever notice someone walking their dog and on the leash there was a yellow ribbon?  This is becoming more and more common, but just what does it mean? Well first of all it is not a waiver of responsibility on the part of the owner, nor is it an admission of guilt or an excuse to avoid the basic training that any dog should have.
 
If you have ever had a dog of your own, you know that sometimes there are issues of behavior and any dog can also have bad health.  Oh yes and then there are service animals or dogs in training (not necessarily to be service dogs).  These are all reasons why a dog might need his or her space.  These days people seem to forget about personal space and it can be even worse for animals.  After all, they can't speak up and ask you to step away from them.
 
Sometimes dogs are not good around small children or around other animals.  These are more good reasons to give them their space.  Now or course it is a good general rule of thumb to give any dog you are not familiar with, the space it is entitled to and to not approach or try to pet it.  A lot of people have a hard time remembering this though and so the yellow ribbon is a nice gentle reminder.
 
This didn't just happen overnight.  There is an organization called the Yellow Dog Project and they are worldwide.  You can follow them on facebook HERE or visit their website at http://theyellowdogproject.com  What a wonderful idea this is!  It's only been around for a few years, so help spread the word.

Monday, April 14, 2014

It was on a Holy Monday

It was on a Holy Monday, just one year ago, that Mom entered into eternal life.  I can recall everything from that day and the day before (Palm Sunday) just like it was now.  It's amazing how some things stick with you. 
 
I especially remember the wonderful nursing assistant who, seeing that Mom was in distress, asked my sister and I if we might step out for a few minutes so that she could put some lotion on Mom.  (I found out later that this angel was actually assigned to a different ward that night but came and did this on her break because who had really clicked with Mom and wanted to make her comfortable).  When my sister and I returned to the room later on, the nursing assistant told us she had given Mom a sponge bath and rubbed her down with lotion.  It was obvious too that she had combed her hair and put a dressing gown around her.  I'll always be grateful to this lovely lady who prepared Mom's earthly body for what turned out to be its final hour.  I really think it helped put Mom at ease, knowing that she was "presentable."
 
Oh and I have memories of the night before when Mom was anointed with holy oil and prayers were said for her.  She leaned over to the priest afterward and said "you're going to preach at my funeral, right?"  It amazed me at the time that Mom seemed to suddenly be full of energy and she went on to tell the priest that Abide With Me was her favorite hymn.  We would sing it at her service a few weeks later.
 
My aunt died in Holy Week two years ago and then Mom died in Holy Week last year.  It might make this week especially hard to deal with.  I'm going to use the time though to center on the good things - the positive things - the things that make a difference.  I had such a wonderful mother and I am grateful to her for all she did for me.  I'm grateful too that she is at peace and that I have so many warm memories to carry with me, not just on Holy Monday, but always.  Thanks be to God.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday

Everybody gets excited about Friday.  Of course the reason is because many folks don't work on the weekend and for those going to school, that is almost always a Monday through Friday situation.  Yeah!  Friday is here!  I'm so happy!
 
Well I'm always ready for a good celebration and being happy for two days off from work is certainly not a bad thing, but shouldn't we be happy EVERY day?
 
Don't like going to school?  Perhaps you are not taking the right classes.  Hate your job or unhappy with the way things are right now at work?  Do something about it.  Perhaps it's time for a change.  Instead of rejoicing when Friday arrives, we should celebrate every single day of the week.  Mondays don't have to be a dreaded day.  We can have our Friday kind of happiness every single day of he year.
 
Happy days are upon us.  Let's see that they are ALL happy!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Van Gogh's legacy

The Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh was many things (not just the inspiration for Don McLean's 1971 hit song), but we remember him most for his numerous self portraits and his lovely starscapes.  Van Gogh was not famous during his lifetime, but his posthumous fame shows us a man who not only was an incredible artist, but also a man of great wisdom. Much of the information we have of him is from correspondence between him and his brother.

One thing I find particularly inspiring is this thought from him: "The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore."

He also said "If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced."
 
Don't let things hold you back even those voices of self-doubt from within.  Just do it!



Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Before you donate

Donating money to a charity can be a wonderful thing. We have talked about that here on many occasions.  Making random contributions though to unknown charities might do little except to empty your bank account.  Therefore, I give you a top ten list of questions you should ask yourself before donating.

10.  Have I ever given to this organization before?

9. How does the charity acknowledge my donation?

8.  Is this charity local or does it stretch beyond my town?

7.  Do any of my friends or relatives donate to this cause?

6.  Are the employees/officers of this charity paid inflated salaries?

5. How much of my money goes directly to those in need?

4. Do I feel strongly about this cause?

3. Are my actions/donations really helping?

2. How can I help, beyond making this donation?

And the number one question you should ask yourself before donating:
1. Is the charity reputable?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Challenged Athletes Foundation

Sometimes I stumble across the most wonderful organizations or events because some wonderful people are doing wonderful things with them.  Here's an example:  I just learned about the Challenged Athletes Foundation because a friend of mine is involved in a fundraiser for them.  More about that later.
 
If you where born healthy with all of your body parts in order and no illnesses to slow you down, you might not have ever thought about how much some folks would like to participate in sports and athletics but can't for lack of equipment.  I'm not talking about a baseball bat or a ball.  If you have special needs, you just might also need special equipment.  Adaptive sports equipment like basketball wheelchairs cost up to $5,000, while running prosthetics can cost more than $30,000. That's just part of it.  Only one in ten physically challenged people participate in sports and the main reason for that is they simply don't have the resources they need to succeed.
 
Using those special basketball wheelchair can require some instruction.  Learning to swim when you lack a limb (or limbs) requires special coaching.  Insurance typically doesn't cover these expenses. Challenged athletes may very well want to participate in athletics and feel the rush of competition, but they face a major obstacle. The Challenged Athletes Foundation is around to help.
 
My friend Bill McCarty is helping CAF.  Truth be told, he helps a LOT of different causes.  The man is a saint.  I'm not sure how he finds the time or energy to do all he does, but this one is incredible.  CAF needs big dollars because of the high costs involved in the grants it provides.  I'd love to give you great detail, but there simply isn't space here to do it justice.  I do urge you to visit their website at http://www.challengedathletes.org to find out more.  There is a lot of information there including many ways you can get involved.
 
Now, about Bill's fundraising efforts that I mentioned back in the beginning.  You can help him!  Click HERE to go to his personal secure fundraising page.  You can donate any amount from $5 up and it all helps him reach the ambitious goal he set for himself of $6,000.  Tell your friends too.  This is a great way to help a great organization.

Monday, April 7, 2014

no negativity!

There are so many wonderful positive things in this world to celebrate that it seems to me that negativity has no place.  Yes, there are those who are always moaning and groaning about something, and there are newspapers and television stations that seem to enjoy showing the bad more than the good, but that doesn't mean for one moment that we have to follow along!
 
Yes I am repeating what I said here just a couple of weeks ago, but it's important.  I said we should promote the things we love instead of bashing what we hate.  There are so many things that I truly love and am inspired by that this is very easy for me to do. 
 
What's in the news today?  Do we hear anything about the kids that are collecting for charity of about the program that helps senior citizens or the heartwarming tale of a community activist who is making a difference in our world?  Perhaps we don't hear those stories in the mainstream press, but I am happy to share them here.  The incredible tales I hear from Go Inspire Go or from San Francisco Night Ministry or any number of other organizations that share good news, give me great hope for our future.  There is so much good out there!  Let's celebrate it and no wallow in the negative.

Friday, April 4, 2014

It's not laziness

On days when my mother didn't seem to have her usual level of energy, she's say that her "get up and go had got up and went."  Did you ever have a day like that?  You aren't lazy.  Most of the time you can do tons of things - all day long, but not today.  Ugh!  For some people those days become more frequent and they just shrug and say it must be due to old age.  But wait!  It very likely is something else.
 
Yes, it is common for us to slow down with age but not all of us do.  There are many elderly people that we can describe as active.  When was the last time you took stock of your overall health?  Perhaps there is a physical or mental cause of your fatigue.  Did you just eat a big meal?  Overeating can certainly weight you down and give you that feeling of listlessness.  Obese people can often experience fatigue - having to carry a lot of weight is tiring.  There are numerous other possible physical causes.  Are you getting enough sleep, of instance?  You might also have psychiatric issues such as job worries,  drug or alcohol abuse, simple boredom,  relationship problems, or grief.
 
You cannot be productive, and you certainly cannot change the world if you are unable to function.  If you experience a day where your get up and go has got up and went, don't panic.  It might just be a one day thing.  If it seems to be happening more and more though, do something about it!  Look at the possible causes and see if you can eliminate any problem.  Seek professional help though if it turns out to be too big to handle alone.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Recognition

If you are a regular reader of these daily words, you know that what we talk about here is giving back and making a difference in the world. There are many ways of doing it, and we have ventured details on a goodly number over the years. Occasionally we bring an individual to your attention who is making a difference.

Most people become activists or volunteers or givers, because they genuinely want to be productive. That doesn’t mean that a little recognition is a bad thing or that they would run from it. If you are giving time to a non-profit, you usually aren’t receiving any money for it. Now hopefully you are there because you really like the organization and you feel your gift of time and talent can be of assistance. That does not mean that your efforts should not be recognized or that you should not be thanked.

Years ago, a priest taught me a valuable lesson. I know this is NOT about me, but still, I want to share it. I would volunteer on a regular basis – at least once a week. Each time, when I had finished, he said two simple words to me: thank you. I try to always do the same now with others. It really doesn’t have to be limited to volunteer situations either. In the workplace, it’s nice when your boss thanks you with words and not just your paycheck.

Recognition goes beyond thanks too. Calling attention to the good work of others and letting others know of it, is another form of pay and one that recipients will greatly cherish. They may not go in to a situation looking for praise, but a few kind words of recognition can really brighten up their day! 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

all gone

There is a line in the classic film The Trouble With Angels, in which elderly actress Judith Lowry as Sister Prudence says "All gone."  I have no idea what it meant.  Every time I watch that movie (and I love it and have watched it a LOT), I wonder what that was supposed to mean.  I will most likely never know.  I do know about something being all gone though because that is precisely what happened to all the earlier entries for this blog.  They now are all gone.
 
I don't know how long you have been reading this or if you have ever just wondered what I might have said before this entry, but you cannot go all the way back to the beginning anymore.  Delete keys can sometimes be overridden, but not in this case.  With one motion (well it was perhaps more than one) I wiped out three years worth of writing.  You can now only go back to February of last year.
 
This might not be a big deal to you, but I really didn't save most of these in any other form, so it's a bigger deal to me.  Another lesson learned of course - back things up!  Yesterday I even printed a paper copy of every blog entry that is left.  Unless any of you happened to save my earlier blog posts though, they are now all gone.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Harvey said

The wonderful actor and writer Harvey Fierstein has brought thousands of hours of enjoyment to the world.  I can't tell you how many times I have watched Torch Song Trilogy for example.  Harvey also says some pretty inspiring things too.
 
Harvey said "Time will tell us what we did and didn't do."  Yup.

"Never be bullied into silence," he also said.  "Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself."

One more thing from Harvey:  "I do believe we're all connected. I do believe in positive energy. I do believe in the power of prayer. I do believe in putting good out into the world. And I believe in taking care of each other."
 
Thanks for continuing to not only entertain us Harvey, but also to inspire us.