Thursday, April 30, 2015

let's choose

Some things are more difficult to speak about than others. Some of us are in positions where we don't have to say anything at all. There are those though who always do the right thing - those who stand up and speak out and make a difference. We can choose to be one of those people. We can choose to be like Jason Chu.

Remarkable just doesn't get to what I want to say. I can't think of any word that does. I have mentioned Jason Chu here a couple of times before and I have found myself listening to his words over and over. In the interest of full disclosure, I'll say that he sent a nice email in response to an earlier blog post and I started following him on twitter. I even sent a facebook friend request, but don't actually know him. Remarkable though. He speaks truth.

He doesn't just speak.  He performs.  He's an artist.  You really should watch his youtube videos.  Subscribe HERE.  In his latest, he talks about Freddie Gray and about Baltimore and about privilege.  That one, THEY WON'T SHOOT ME (I am not #FreddieGray), is HERE.  Jason says what we all should be saying - if indeed we speak. 
 
Perhaps the most profound thing Jason says this time, is at the very end "Privilege means I get to choose.  So, I choose."  Let's all make that choice!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

When my sister's in trouble, so am I

She's a giver alright! Her name is Joan, and for as long as I can remember, she's been in charge of the safety committee for the LGBT Pride Celebration back in San Francisco. She's also active in her church and her community. So much of her work has literally kept people safe, and even saved lives, that many don't even know her last name - they just call her Safety Joan. Now though, she's the one who needs help.

Not to worry about her physical health - she's fine where that's concerned, but she is without an income now and without a place to live. In San Francisco, that can be a particularly scary situation. She has a cat, which will find a temporary home with some Episcopal nuns, but the separation from her emotional support animal will be difficult for them both. Safety Joan will be invited in for a night or two by members of her church, but most live in tiny apartments, and this is just a very short term solution. I have no idea what she is going to do for food.

This woman has given so much, and continues to do so. How wonderful if folks could give back! Suggestions for income possibilities are welcome. (Just post in the comments section). A GoFundMe fundraising campaign has been setup by a friend, and it would be wonderful if that could collect some money for her. Click HERE to donate to that. Your prayers are certainly welcome too!  She's been like a sister to so many.  Let's give her a hand.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Massive devastation in Nepal

The devastation in Nepal is much worse than anyone had expected, and certainly much worse than I said yesterday. There are 2,500 confirmed deaths and in addition, thousands of people have been left homeless. The shaking hasn't stopped either. The original quake Saturday morning was a magnitude 7.8 - the worst to hit Nepal in eighty years, and there have been numerous aftershocks, including one with a magnitude of 6.7. Besides the Nepal fatalities, there have been deaths from the quake in India, Pakistan, China's region of Tibet and Bangladesh. Also, at least 18 people died in an earthquake-triggered avalanche on Mount Everest, including three Americans, Google executive Dan Fredinburg among them.

It's not over either. Many of the structures have been damaged to the point that more shaking can cause additional collapse. There are so many missing and unaccounted for people that it will likely be days before everyone knows the full impact of this. As I said yesterday, they need help - they need WAY more than I could have even estimated.

Some good news is that they are already getting help, from all around the world. It warms your heart to see that so many care and that some many want to do something. Earlier today, a friend of mine who is overseas, said "Even though I'm not really an emergency relief type of person, and I actually have only a light jacket with me, I just wanna jump on a plane to Nepal and see what I can do to help." That feeling is pretty universal. People want to help. As I said yesterday though, the best way is through recognized sources, people who are setup to help in these kinds of emergencies.

To donate to the American Red Cross, specifically for Nepal relief, click HERE to go to their secure site.  Save the Children has a special relief page HERE.  World Vision is helping too and has a page HERE.  Prayer is always welcome too.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Nepal needs help!

I'm sure you have heard by now of the horrible news from the other side of the world - a powerful earthquake that struck early Saturday in Nepal, leaving massive destruction and more than 1,000 people dead. I've been watching pictures from Reuters of the devastation and it is difficult to compare it to anything. Entire buildings have fallen and there are people lost and trapped.

The reports from various sources are changing with every minute.  (For example, when I first heard the news on the radio about 45 minutes ago, they were saying that 850 people had perished.  Minutes later a BBC News report was saying 940.  Right now Reuters is saying over 1,000).  I have just checked several independent online sources and all of the news is bad.

The bottom line is the survivors there are going to need help - money, food, supplies, help with rebuilding, and I urge you to go to RECOGNIZED agencies to donate what you are able.  I stress that you use known sources like the Red Cross, Save the Children, and AmeriCares because your donation will be put to work faster. They are already set to do such things. Sadly, this is when scammers come out too and they take your money and keep it for themselves.
 
This is also a good reminder that earthquakes and various other natural disasters happen and we need to be prepared.  Do you have an emergency kit ready for such occasions?  Do you have a plan with your co-workers and your family?  Help minimize the horror that can follow such an event by planning.
 
The news from Nepal, India, and the area effected is certainly going to get worse before it gets better.  Do what you can to help and keep the people there in your prayers.

Friday, April 24, 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 23, 2015

joy to you and me!

What brings you joy?  Think about it for a moment.  There are probably numerous answers to the question.  Close your eyes and picture all those special times.  For many, the joy come in the giving too.  So how can a feeling of great pleasure and happiness be felt by those around you?  What can you do to share the joy?
 
I realize I am always asking this same question in one form or another.  I suppose it really isn't all that important that you write down an answer.  There isn't a wrong answer after all.  How lovely though it would be if we could all be spreading that warm feeling of bliss. 
 
For me joy is splendid to be sure, but I'm one of those who is most happy when I am surrounded by happiness.  When I see your delight, it in turn delights me.  It's a kind of circle.  Assuming that others feel the same way, we should all be spreading the joy because we therefore are all receiving it as well!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

One thing we all have in common

There is one thing that every human being has in common. We all come from the Planet Earth. You would think we would all care more about the Earth's future then, huh?  Since 1970, Earth Day has been celebrated around the globe as an annual event on April 22, on which events are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection and for the future of the good ole Earth.
 
I could list events here, but would they necessarily be near you?  Oh and the events of today are really only a part of it all.  My goal is that EVERY day be Earth Day - that we care about our planet every single day of our lives.  That we take seriously things like carbon emissions and recycling and global warming.  My goal is for us to all care about this place we call home and making sure it will still be able to sustain human life for our children and our grandchildren and their children and grandchildren.
 
The idea of Earth Day is certainly a good one, and I am not trying to dismiss it.  Yes, let's do things today, but let this only be a beginning.  Let us work every day to erase our earlier mistakes and let's start really taking care of our planet.  We CAN do this!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Road to the White House

It seems that this is a popular place to live in Washington, DC. It's still very early in the race, and already a number of people say they are running for President. Certainly it isn't just because the White House is such an impressive place to live and to work.

Do you want to make a difference in this world?  One would think that a US President would say "yes" to that question.  How many of our Presidents really have made a difference though?  How many of them can be easily forgotten?

At no point during the campaign will I be telling you who to vote for, but I will say that getting involved is important.  If you believe in a candidate, let folks know it.  Vote!  It's our right and it does make a difference!  Hopefully we will choose a good one.  Hopefully we will choose someone who truly makes a difference.

Since November 1, 1800, this has been the home of the President of the United States. John Adams, on his second day in the house, he wrote a letter to his wife Abigail, which contained this prayer: I pray Heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this House, and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.  (Men needs to be changed to people, but other than that, I'll happily say) Amen.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Football team says goodbye to a huge fan

We've all heard stories of professional athletes doing things that warm your heart. Remember Knute Rockne's famous Win just one for the Gipper speech? I can also tell you many tales of San Francisco Giants players visiting sick children or donating money or participating in fundraisers. This week though it was the Kansas City Chiefs that brought a tear to my eye when one of their 86 year old fans was granted a dying wish.

Betty Johnson, of Independence, Missouri, was a season ticket holder since 1986, and since then, she missed only three games. She loved her football team and it seems the Chiefs loved her. Mrs Johnson reportedly used to get a kiss from former Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe before each game. Her dying wish was to see her beloved team one last time. Former team kicker Nick Lowery visited her and gave her that traditional kiss on the cheek.

Mrs Johnson's granddaughter Autumn Barricks told KSHB Action News, "We sang a prayer, and he was going to leave, and we noticed that she was no longer breathing. We believe that she was just waiting to say goodbye to her Chiefs."  Rest in peace Betty Johnson.  You were the fan of a team with a lot of heart!


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

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.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Who are you?

For the past seven years now, I wake up in the morning, and before doing many other things, I sit down with my tablet or my laptop and say a few things here. We have a counter that tell how many people visit the page and the number is fairly steady with big spikes when we write about someone or something that every search engine directs you to.
 
Who comes here?  I actually have no idea!  The counter shows numbers only.  It also shows search engine referrals, so I can see that someone came from a facebook hyperlink for example, or from a bing or a google search of a keyword I may have used.  It doesn't say who was referred though.  Even more important - I have no idea if my words were actually read, only that someone came to this page.
 
I only mention this because it is nice to know if you are making an impact.  Sometimes it can help with your direction.  So, who are you?  Please let me know from time to time.  You don't have to give your name, but an occasional comment (you can use the comments section below) helps a lot.  Are any of my ideas any good?  Should I go in a different direction?  Is there an individual or an organization that I should tell people about?  Let me know!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

PBJ

The late singer-songwriter-instrumentalist John Hartford once talked about opening up a peanut butter and jelly restaurant! Yum! Who doesn't love a classic PBJ? Well Hartford might not have gotten around to it, but someone else did, and it's on historic Route 66 (which happens to be where I am too).  Ordinarily I wouldn't be writing here about a PBJ place, delicious though they may be, but this one has been in the news because of its amazing heart.

You might have already seen the story on the news. It warmed my heart. Apparently the owner of this place went outside to throw out the garbage and saw that the dumpster had been rummaged through. She could tell that table scraps had been removed and her heart sank because she realized someone with nothing had come there for a meal. So, she posted a note inviting the dumpster diver to come in for a free meal. Of course it's a peanut butter and jelly sandwich she is offering - that's what she serves, but what a nice gesture.

Many restaurants give to the homeless and the needy and it is certainly a wonderful thing whenever anyone does something nice for those in need.  This is getting a lot of publicity though and is even collecting numerous suggestions.  Their facebook page (HERE) is filled with wonderful ideas already and more keep on coming.  Here is another example of people making a difference!  Peanut butter and jelly might not be a very traditional way to change the world, but it sure seems to be making a huge impact.  The first news story I saw was last evening and this morning there is tons of additional coverage! 
 
The restaurant, by the way, is called PB Jams and it's in Warr Acres, Oklahoma, much farther along on Route 66 than my Arizona location, but I do hope to visit there someday.  Ashley Jiron is the wonderful owner I have been talking about and it is such a joy to know that there are people like her operating businesses.  More about these great people on that facebook page I mentioned and on their website at http://www.howdoyoulikeyournuts.com/ - their menu is there too!

Monday, April 6, 2015

There's other people like you

ABC News correspondent JuJu Chang has covered some incredible stories over the years and yes, some have moved me very much. I'm not going to tell you about Ms Chang this morning though but rather about a story she told last week on Nightline. It's the story of Nathan, a transgender teen, who has a pretty moving story of his own, but there are some extra special elements. Nathan has two loving and supporting parents, and had a pretty incredible counselor in school.

I'm always saying that to change the world, we don't have to do huge things. It's the everyday kind and caring things that make a difference. When kids are at their most vulnerable, the love and support and good advice of professionals can go a long way. In this Nightline report we hear about the school counselor who supported Nathan throughout his childhood struggle. Cameras were rolling for the emotional reunion between Nathan and the counselor too.

According to this report, the counselor had years ago said "There's other people like you and you're not alone."  What a profound statement.  I think we all need to be reminded of that from time to time.  None of us is alone.  It's especially nice that this young man and his parents allowed cameras to poke into their lives and that this counselor was there and made such an impact.  I think it's great that JuJu Chang and ABC News shared this important story too.  Watch it HERE, and prepared to be moved.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Learning to be a hero

Does being a hero require a special license or certificate? Are there classes you can take to learn to be a hero? Can only some people be heroes?

When you come across a horrible car accident on the freeway and rush to the aid of the victims, you become a hero.  It wasn't something planned or studied for but rather it was a basic human response.  The same is true when you see injustice and you stand up and fight against it.  While you may have had more time to think about it and to plan your response, you are still there, not because of a special license you hold or because it is your job.  You fight injustice because it is what good people do for each other.  It is a basic response of our humanity.

Anyone can be a hero and they come in all different kinds.  Most of the heroes in the world are those quiet unsung type.  They are making a difference without much fanfare and often without any acknowledgement at all, but by doing basic good things that will benefit future generations.  You likely have some people that you consider to be heroes.  Perhaps your parents or a favorite teacher or a boss from work.  Maybe a famous person is a hero to you because of something they have done.  Superheroes like Spiderman or Wonder Woman?  Not likely. 
 
Two years ago on this day, a hero of mine died.  She was my mom, Teddy Fritts.  Can you learn to be a hero?  I suppose the answer is partially 'yes' because so much of who I am, I learned from her.  She was a great teacher of how to be good and how to love others.  Not a day goes by that I don't think about her.  Not a day goes by that I don't act in ways that she influenced.  If I am a hero to anyone, it is because of what I learned from Mom.

Last month, I introduced you to another hero, Jason Chu and shared his video Marvels.  The lyrics are so powerful, they have been with me every day and they speak to the very subject I am talking about this morning. His closing words:  "But I’ve learned: a hero isn’t about being super
We become heroes because of what makes us human."