Friday, December 30, 2016

Happy pets

How many dogs or cats or birds or other animals, are patiently awaiting the love that a family can give? Animals need love, and it's amazing to see the way they respond to kindness and compassion. Bringing an animal into your household and taking care of them, is one of the most amazing things a person can do. Emptying the animal shelters and finding them loving homes is one of those simple acts that really brightens up our world!

Are you away from home a lot with nobody else around to care for a pet? Not a problem. There are other ways to make a difference. For those who live in a "no pets allowed" house or apartment, this is something to think about as well. What about volunteering at a shelter? How about making a donation? Even simply helping to get the word out can be a big help.

The world's pet population needs your support. If you can't adopt - foster. If you can't foster - sponsor. If you can't sponsor - volunteer. If you can't volunteer - donate. If you can't donate - educate. Let's make sure there is nothing but happy pets in our world!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Better to give than to receive

I look at every single day as a wonderful gift, and don't get me wrong, receiving gifts can be quite nice, but I truly believe that it is better to give than to receive.  Think of the warm feeling.  Think of the smile you see.  I could go on and on.

I'm sure you have given a gift to someone before. The one thing I love about giving though is that it never has to be a material thing. Giving can be more than a pretty wrapped box.  I think that so many times we believe that whenever we hear the term “give” it automatically relates to material things - even expensive things.  Giving time (like when you volunteer at a charity or when you read a story to a child or when you help pick up trash along the beach), is just one example of a non-material kind of gift.
 
I recently watched a video where two young guys bought several bunches of bananas, bottled water, and gathered some clothing that they no longer wore and they took those items out and gave them to homeless men in the streets.  The smiles from the recipients proven how wonderful this giving was.  Not a huge amount of money was spent - that wasn't the point.  It was giving - pure giving.  It was people caring about others.
 
You really can't get much better than that!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Give me a list

Start a list. What can YOU do to make a difference in the world? How can you brighten someone's day? What can just about anyone do? Give me a list folks and then let's all get doing it!

Let's begin with an easy one:  Say something nice to everyone you meet today.  We can certainly all do that! Let the person behind you in the grocery store go ahead of you in line.  That's pretty easy too.  See what I mean?  Doing good does not have to be difficult. 
 
So what else might make your list?  How about calling an estranged family member or giving a bag of groceries to a homeless person or giving coffee to people on their way to work in the morning.

Suggestions?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

nothing

Every morning I sit down and write something here.

Does anyone read these words? Seriously. It would be nice to have a comment or two occasionally. Right down at the bottom you can give me your thoughts.

I was originally going to write absolutely nothing this morning.

Nothing would mean no blog entry for this date. It might not even be noticeable.

Instead I wrote this little something about writing nothing.

Remember how Seinfeld was supposedly a show about nothing? Well today my blog is about nothing. (Except that it really is. It's a request for you to comment).

Oh and please feel free to share this with your friends too!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Mother's letter to her gay son

I came across this Christmas letter and I wanted to share it with you here. Of course it wasn't written for this Christmas, but that really doesn't matter. I don't know who the author is and I don’t even know if this is true or if it is fiction, but I was quite touched by it, and I hope you are too!


My dear Jacob,

As I was going through a box of keepsakes, I came across a Christmas list you had written when you were a young boy. On the list were things we could easily find in stores, and I always enjoyed finding them for you, wrapping them up and putting them under our tree. You were always so appreciative and opened them with great joy. The joy Papa and I felt was even greater.

There is only one gift I want to give you this year. I have wanted to give it to you for many years. I have tried in every way possible to find a way to give it to you. It would bring me the greatest joy of all.

How do I give you equality? How do I give you back the years you have missed "not being equal" in this world?

Your high school and college years should have been ones where you dated and went to proms and dances with someone you were attracted to and wanted to spend time with as a couple. You should not have had to spend those years working for your equality. You should not have had to defend your dignity. You should not have had to miss out on the simple pleasures of a young teen and a young adult.

There is no way I can give you back those years, those times when you should have been having fun, enjoying life, and growing from those experiences. You had a passion for justice even as a child.

I remember when you were 4 and refused to eat supper until I had actually written the check for Save the Children. You were the watchdog in your kindergarten classroom after you felt your teacher was wrong to rip up a child's painting in front of the class in her effort to teach them to write their names on their papers. On that day you spoke truth to power so eloquently as you confronted your teacher after school.

As soon as you came out to us, you wanted to start a gay/straight alliance at your high school. We worried for your safety, but even more for the isolation it might have brought as you worked to make it happen. You reached out to students, teachers, and the administration and created your school's first gay/straight alliance.

When you were in college and heard that there were students being kicked out of colleges simply because they were gay, you founded another organization to confront that terrible wrong. Each of those times you taught me to take action and not be silent in the face of injustice. You have led me, and you have taught me throughout your life. Maybe that is why it is so hard for me to face Christmas each year and not be able to wrap up the one gift I most want to give you.

As a mother, it is such a part of my being to want to nurture and love my children. It is the mother in me that wants to protect and provide for you. It is the mother in me that is hurting so much when I am helpless in being able to give you the one gift I have wanted to give you since the day you told us you were gay.

I want to give you equality. I want to wrap it up in a beautiful box, and I want to put it under our tree right now. I want to see you open it on Christmas Eve and with great joy live with it all your days.

I love you,
Mama

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Rescued!

Christmas is just ahead.  There is so much to do this time of year.  I'll be running all over today.  First though, a story.  I have told this story here before, but it's a favorite of mine, so I want to share it again. It's one of those tales that has circulated on the internet.  Is it true?  I have no idea.  The author is also unknown.  The message is powerful though - read on!

Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels. I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her.
 
I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn't be afraid. As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn't want her to know that I hadn't been walked today. Sometimes the overworked shelter keepers get too busy and I didn't want her to think poorly of them.
 
As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn't feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone's life.
 
She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship. A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well.
 
Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms. I would promise to keep her safe. I would promise to always be by her side. I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes.
 
I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven't walked the corridors. So many more to be saved. At least I could save one.
 
I rescued a human today.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Read any good books lately?

Have you read any good books lately? Seriously. That might sound like an odd question here, but books can be powerful tools! It might be a book you read that will inspire you to change the world. If you don't read much, you should try it. You will find amazing things!

I book can bring you a lot of information too. If you love cooking or building or designing or any number of hobbies, books can be of great help. They can show you how to do things and even give you ideas of things you might never have thought of.

How about a nice adventure story or trashy romance novel or a suspenseful murder mystery? The fiction on your bookshelves can transport you to just about anywhere. Want to learn a new hobby or explore history? There are all kinds of non-fiction options. Having a tense day? Perhaps a book of poetry can help soothe things. How about a volume of jokes and riddles? Maybe what you need is just a nice coffee table book filled with great photographs.

If your home is without much of a literary selection, surely there is a library not too far away. If you're lucky, there might even be a nice little bookstore with selections that not only might bring you joy, some titles you might bring home for others too. After all, the joy of books is good to share. Books make good presents too!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Show the world you care

Showing that you care can make a world of difference.  "Being there" is how some might refer to it.
 
My mother used to remember the birthday of every single person she knew.  She would give presents to some and send cards to some, but to so many there would be a telephone call.  It wouldn't be a long one necessarily, but she would wish them a happy birthday.  She showed by her call, that she cared.
 
When you hear that someone is ill or hear of someone's death, a brief call (for someone you are very close to) and certainly a card, conveys the same message - "I'm here for you.  I care."
 
How about the race for mayor or the court ruling on marriage equality or the campaign to raise money for the church improvements?  Show you care.  Get involved.  Become a part of it.  There are certainly many ways to show you care.  You might have some of your own suggestions.  Showing the world you care is really a good thing!

Friday, December 16, 2016

who/what inspires you?

Is there a book or a movie or a famous person that has given you inspiration?  There must be someone or something that has inspired you?  Let's talk a little bit about it.  What made it inspiring?  Has anyone ever told you that you inspire them?  Did they say why?  Think about it.



Our country's sixth President, John Quincy Adams said "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."
 
So my friends, be a leader.  Inspire someone!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Unforgettable

I don't know how many of you ever read Reader's Digest magazine, but they used to have a regular series of the most unforgettable person you have ever known.  I read about some pretty incredible people in those pages.  Here in this blog I have written about some pretty incredible people too.  There are many others of course.  Some people don't ever make it to the pages of Reader's Digest or even to the postings of my blog, but that doesn't mean they aren't unforgettable.
 
In the comments section below, it would be so helpful if you told us about some unforgettable people that you know of.  They can be personal heroes of yours or folks that you have heard about or friends that have done really fantastic things that you think other people should know about.  There are so many wonderful people in this world and it's great to hear positive, uplifting stories.  So, who do you think is unforgettable? 

This is an easy one.  You don't even have to write a lot.  Share some stories with us!  Who do you think is unforgettable?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

strive to be happy

Our nation's 16th president, Abraham Lincoln once said “People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.” I really believe that too.  WE control whether or not we are happy.
 
Yes, everything in life does not turn out the way we might want it and there can certainly be some very trying moments, but anger, frustration, sorrow, are all filled with negativity.  There is always something positive in our lives, even if it might take some time to look for it.  It might not always be easy either.  Being happy though is actually a choice we make.  We should choose to be happy above anything else.
 
This isn't a new idea. Aristotle is quoted as saying "Happiness depends upon ourselves." Max Ehrmann's Desiderata closes with these words:  “Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.” 

Like I said, it might not always be easy, but the joy of happiness is its own reward!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The eye of the beholder

What is the most beautiful thing you can think of? Your mother's smile? How about a colorful flowerbed? Perhaps a gorgeous piece of jewelry?  Maybe a child peacefully napping?  The bright golden sunrise? Beauty might not just be something you are looking at, but perhaps you think first of the beauty of a deed that someone does.
 
Think about it for a moment. Did you recently hear someone remark "Oh, that's so beautiful"? Do you remember what they were talking about? I remember thinking just that when I watched the Ellen DeGeneres tv show yesterday. Ellen has a way of doing some pretty wonderful things that touch your heart. I have a number of friends who are always doing beautiful things too.
 
Of course beauty isn't always the same for everyone. It's in the eye of the beholder, some say. Benjamin Franklin wrote in Poor Richard's Almanac back in 1741, "Beauty, like supreme dominion, Is but supported by opinion."

So what do YOU think is beautiful? Please give us some examples in the comments below. I'd really love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Never worry about numbers

When you care about other people - when you want to change the world and make this a better place, we so often think in terms of numbers.  We want to make it better for everyone.  Suddenly though we feel overwhelmed and so we stop.  We wanted to do good but because we felt we wouldn't make "enough" of a difference, we ended up doing nothing at all.
 
I can relate to this.  I always think big and urge others to do so as well, but numbers really are not all that important.  What we need to do is to get involved and to stick with it!  Step by step - one by one, our grassroots efforts really do make a difference.
 
Mother Teresa of Calcutta proved this during her lifetime.  She spoke of it too.  "Never worry about numbers," she said.  "Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you."

Friday, December 9, 2016

money from the sky

How wonderful it would be if money simply fell from the sky!  As you are well aware though, it does not!
 
How do churches pay their bills?  How do homeless shelters operate?  Where does the money come from to take care of feeding the hungry or clothing those who cannot afford to buy clothing?  How do help-agencies find the means to keep on going?  It takes money.  Yes it takes desire and a willingness to do something and volunteering is important and the numerous paid employees of non-profits certainly are needed, but the big thing that is common is funding.  Where does that money come from?
 
The answer is that it comes, at least in part, from folks like me and you.  It doesn't rain down from heaven and many of us - probably most of us, cannot afford to give as much or as often as we would like.  So here's an idea:  make a plan.  Set aside some money as you are able.  This is giveaway money.  Now choose where to give it.  Do you want to spread it out or give it all to one place?  Do you want to give more to one type of organization than to another?
 
How can you set money aside for this?  Well, do you really need that midday ice-cream?  Can you skip the afternoon latte?  Is it possible to spend a little less at the grocery store (perhaps checking the sale ads and also using coupons)?  If we all tighten our belts just a bit, we can have some of that giveaway money and for organizations in great need, it can be like money from the sky!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

pennies

A penny isn't much right? What can one cent do? Well before I answer, take a look at this picture. Some pennies have been spilled from this jar. It's difficult to see how many are still in the jar, but look for a moment at those that have spilled. It looks to me like fifty cents. Yes, a penny might not buy anything, but fifty cents will get you a small pack of gum. The remaining pennies in the jar? Well I don't know what is there, but I bet it would buy you breakfast.

My point is that people often say one penny isn't important. We forget sometimes that when those pennies are joined by others, their value is more and more important!

During December there are more and more demands on us. So many of us want to donate to charities but we are also buying presents and attending parties. How can we do it? The answer is, a little bit at a time. If you think that only a $1,000 contribution to your favorite cause makes a difference, think again. Set a jar on you table and every night put the change in your pocket into the jar. If you really need those quarters for laundry and parking and those dimes and nickels help out with the parking meters too, along with the vending machines, then just put pennies in the jar. Watch the pennies add up.

As I said, one cent is not much, but a jar full of one cent coins has value that we can all appreciate.

So what can one person do? Well, it's just like the pennies. I might not seem like much - my contribution might not seem like much, but together with what comes from others, it makes a big difference indeed!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Kahil Gibran on true giving

Kahlil Gibran said so many different inspiring things.  I was just looking over some of his thoughts on true giving. 

"You give but little when you give
of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself
that you truly give.
For what are your possessions
but things you keep and guard
for fear you may need them tomorrow
?"

These words were excerpted from Gibran's 1923 book The Prophet. Something to think about this weekend.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Divorce conditions

“When I got home that night as my wife served dinner, I held her hand and said, I’ve got something to tell you. She sat down and ate quietly. Again I observed the hurt in her eyes.

“Suddenly I didn’t know how to open my mouth. But I had to let her know what I was thinking. I want a divorce. I raised the topic calmly. She didn’t seem to be annoyed by my words, instead she asked me softly, why?

“I avoided her question. This made her angry. She threw away the chopsticks and shouted at me, you are not a man! That night, we didn’t talk to each other. She was weeping. I knew she wanted to find out what had happened to our marriage. But I could hardly give her a satisfactory answer; she had lost my heart to Jane. I didn’t love her anymore. I just pitied her!

“With a deep sense of guilt, I drafted a divorce agreement which stated that she could own our house, our car, and 30% stake of my company. She glanced at it and then tore it into pieces. The woman who had spent ten years of her life with me had become a stranger. I felt sorry for her wasted time, resources and energy but I could not take back what I had said for I loved Jane so dearly. Finally she cried loudly in front of me, which was what I had expected to see. To me her cry was actually a kind of release. The idea of divorce which had obsessed me for several weeks seemed to be firmer and clearer now.

“The next day, I came back home very late and found her writing something at the table. I didn’t have supper but went straight to sleep and fell asleep very fast because I was tired after an eventful day with Jane. When I woke up, she was still there at the table writing. I just did not care so I turned over and was asleep again.

“In the morning she presented her divorce conditions: she didn’t want anything from me, but needed a month’s notice before the divorce. She requested that in that one month we both struggle to live as normal a life as possible. Her reasons were simple: our son had his exams in a month’s time and she didn’t want to disrupt him with our broken marriage.

“This was agreeable to me. But she had something more, she asked me to recall how I had carried her into out bridal room on our wedding day. She requested that every day for the month’s duration I carry her out of our bedroom to the front door ever morning. I thought she was going crazy. Just to make our last days together bearable I accepted her odd request.

“I told Jane about my wife’s divorce conditions.  She laughed loudly and thought it was absurd. No matter what tricks she applies, she has to face the divorce, she said scornfully.

“My wife and I hadn’t had any body contact since my divorce intention was explicitly expressed. So when I carried her out on the first day, we both appeared clumsy. Our son clapped behind us, daddy is holding mommy in his arms. His words brought me a sense of pain. From the bedroom to the sitting room, then to the door, I walked over ten meters with her in my arms. She closed her eyes and said softly; don’t tell our son about the divorce. I nodded, feeling somewhat upset. I put her down outside the door. She went to wait for the bus to work. I drove alone to the office.

“On the second day, both of us acted much more easily. She leaned on my chest. I could smell the fragrance of her blouse. I realized that I hadn’t looked at this woman carefully for a long time. I realized she was not young any more. There were fine wrinkles on her face, her hair was graying! Our marriage had taken its toll on her. For a minute I wondered what I had done to her.

“On the fourth day, when I lifted her up, I felt a sense of intimacy returning. This was the woman who had given ten years of her life to me. On the fifth and sixth day, I realized that our sense of intimacy was growing again. I didn’t tell Jane about this. It became easier to carry her as the month slipped by. Perhaps the everyday workout made me stronger.

“She was choosing what to wear one morning. She tried on quite a few dresses but could not find a suitable one. Then she sighed, all my dresses have grown bigger. I suddenly realized that she had grown so thin, that was the reason why I could carry her more easily.

“Suddenly it hit me .   .   . she had buried so much pain and bitterness in her heart. Subconsciously I reached out and touched her head.

“Our son came in at the moment and said, Dad, it’s time to carry mom out. To him, seeing his father carrying his mother out had become an essential part of his life. My wife gestured to our son to come closer and hugged him tightly. I turned my face away because I was afraid I might change my mind at this last minute. I then held her in my arms, walking from the bedroom, through the sitting room, to the hallway. Her hand surrounded my neck softly and naturally. I held her body tightly; it was just like our wedding day.

“But her much lighter weight made me sad. On the last day, when I held her in my arms I could hardly move a step. Our son had gone to school. I held her tightly and said, I hadn’t noticed that our life lacked intimacy. I drove to office and jumped out of the car swiftly without locking the door. I was afraid any delay would make me change my mind.  I walked upstairs. Jane opened the door and I said to her, Sorry, Jane, I do not want the divorce anymore.

“She looked at me, astonished, and then touched my forehead. Do you have a fever? She said. I moved her hand off my head. Sorry, Jane, I said, I won’t divorce. My marriage life was boring probably because she and I didn’t value the details of our lives, not because we didn’t love each other anymore. Now I realize that since I carried her into my home on our wedding day I am supposed to hold her until death do us apart. Jane seemed to suddenly wake up. She gave me a loud slap and then slammed the door and burst into tears. I walked downstairs and drove away.

“At the floral shop on the way, I ordered a bouquet of flowers for my wife. The salesgirl asked me what to write on the card. I smiled and wrote, 'I’ll carry you out every morning until death do us part.'

“That evening I arrived home, flowers in my hands, a smile on my face, I run up stairs, only to find my wife in the bed - dead. My wife had been fighting CANCER for months and I was so busy with Jane to even notice. She knew that she would die soon and she wanted to save me from the whatever negative reaction from our son, in case we push through with the divorce.  At least, in the eyes of our son, I’m a loving husband."

If you read this blog regularly, you will recognize that the above story cannot possibly be about me - this blog after all is NOT about me!  This is something I came across on the internet and I thought it was so very powerful that it just had to be shared!  As this story shows, it's the small details of our lives that really matter in a relationship. It isn't the car, property, money in the bank, or any material things. These create an environment conducive for happiness but cannot give happiness in themselves.  It doesn't matter if you are married or not - as you go through life find the time to really live it!

Friday, December 2, 2016

What is love?

There is a definition in the dictionary for love, but I'm not sure it really it's it on the head. Making a difference in the world, giving back, helping to build a better tomorrow, all that we talk about here in this blog - THAT is what love is all about. It is pretty hard to describe though.

Saint Paul wrote, in his second letter to the Corinthians "If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing."

I mention this because it just might come closer to giving us a good picture, and because this particular passage from Scripture is so often read in churches. The Blessed Apostle has more on the subject though.

He continues "Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love."

It's interesting to me that in earlier translations it says charity, rather than love. When you think of charity - of giving, isn't that something we do out of love? We all need to have faith and we certainly need hope, but that third thing, that wonderful glorious make-the-whole-world-better thing we call love - oh my! Yeah, it's pretty special!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

what can we do about AIDS?

Today, as you probably know, is World AIDS Day. How many of you remember life before there was AIDS? Let's get to a day where once again, it doesn't exist.

So just what can we do about AIDS? Well to start out, we can be part of the fight - not just on World AIDS Day or when I ask for a donation for AIDS Walk - not just right now as you read this, but until there's a cure. Also we should all know our own status. It is so easy to get tested too. If you have a doctor of your own, you might want to do it there, but there are also so many other places to get tested, especially if you live in a major city. Oh and if you live in a small town and are afraid, take a short vacation to the big city and while you are checking out the sites, have an AIDS test too.

Check out the AIDS Healthcare Foundation at http://www.aidshealth.org/ too. There are a number of great resources there. In your own community there are probably a number of organizations that deal with AIDS too. Consider donation money and volunteering. Perhaps you could even hold a fundraiser or some kind or start a program that benefits people with AIDS. When we all work together we can do so much good.

Want some more things you can do? Say a prayer. Write a check. Attend a vigil. Help a person with AIDS shop or clean house. Care. Write letters. Wear a red ribbon. Stay educated. Help dispel the myths. Help provide meals. The list really can go on and on. This is not just a December 1st thing, it's an everyday thing. Care.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

do the right thing

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a great man, usually referred to with the honorific Mahatma, meaning venerable, and most often thought of as a leader of non-violence.  He is often quoted and had some wonderful things to say about doing the right thing.

It is easy to do the "expected thing."  Many folks do the "thing that will bring them the most recognition."  The "right thing though is often the toughest - frequently it is not the popular thing to do.

“It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important," according to Gandhi. "You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing."
 
Gandhi was so very wise.  He went on to say "You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

being healthy

Being healthy does not just mean eating right and going to the gym.  Our individual health depends on a number of factors and it is important for us to pay close attention.  Regular check-ups are important and knowledge of changes in medicine and in healthy living standards.
 
I've written here about leukemia and other cancers and about AIDS, and although I'm not a doctor (and certainly am not trying to be everyone's mother), but we should all know a little about the many diseases that exist, not to diagnose ourselves, but to be aware when something in our body just isn't right.  Early detection is often the key with many things that can attack us.  If we want to change the world, we need to have the strength and energy to do it!
 
Being healthy leads to being happy.  If our bodies feel good, our minds will likely join in!  Eat your fruits and vegetables and get plenty of exercise, but don't stop there. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Nice

"Have a nice day!" we tell folks. Many years ago, I used to close my radio program saying "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice." I think we can all agree that NICE is good.  I also used to say that nice is never out of style!

George Foreman was a fighter, so it might surprise you that he spoke of the importance of being nice. Foreman said "It's very important that people know that I really enjoy everything that has happened to me. And I tell my kids 'you're not going to be the tallest, fastest, prettiest, the best track runner, but you can be the nicest human being that someone has ever met in their life.' And I just want to leave that legacy that being nice is a true treasure."

The nice people you encounter today, the nice moments you experience, will warm your heart and you will remember them far longer than any bad moments. Make somebody's day.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Givers and Takers

There are two kinds of people in this world:  givers and takers.  It is very likely that the takers eat better, but I am absolutely certain that the givers sleep better!  (Someone, Marlo Thomas I think, said that before).

I am so blessed to know many, many givers!  I definitely am acquainted with more givers than takers.  How wonderful, huh?

In the Acts of the Apostles, Saint Paul tells us to "remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

I would add that being givers is certainly wonderful, but there are times when we have to let others give to us.  It is certainly not a bad thing to graciously accept a gift.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Amendment of life

Last year I wrote here that we need to stop telling the untrue story about Thanksgiving and finally admit to the horrible deeds of our ancestors. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I like the idea of gathering with family and friends. I enjoy the traditional food. I like the whole idea of giving thanks. I can easily separate all of that from those "first Thanksgiving" stories, because I don't think that is why we gather today. I always think it is important to mend our errors though.

Yes, I didn't do those horrible things, and neither did you, but it was done on our land and in the name of this country. We need to admit it. We also need to move forward and vow to never do anything like that. Let's also look at the good things we have done and the good that have happened in our lives. Our ancestors committed horrors, but they certainly did some positive things as well. We might personally have never done anything that can be described as horrible, but we can still apologize on their behalf. Then, we need to move on.

"Thanksgiving Day has baggage to be sure - in fact, with the atrocities committed, baggage is an understatement. I'm not suggesting we should ignore it either. Perhaps we need to re-invent the day. My suggestion though is that we continue to give thanks; that we continue to gather together. Let us do so honestly though, making reparations for our past, and looking ahead with thankful hearts for all the good that we can be." Those were my words here last year, and I still believe this.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Story from a taxi driver

Once before, I shared this story with you that I had found on the internet.  The author is unknown, but it was not me.  I'm sharing it again because several people have requested it.  I have no idea if any of it is true, but I do know how inspirational it is.  I hope you agree -


A NYC Taxi driver wrote:

I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked..

'Just a minute', answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940's movie.

By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.

There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

'Would you carry my bag out to the car?' she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.

She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.

She kept thanking me for my kindness. 'It's nothing', I told her. 'I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.'

'Oh, you're such a good boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, 'Could you drive through downtown?'

'It's not the shortest way,' I answered quickly.

'Oh, I don't mind,' she said. 'I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice.

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. 'I don't have any family left,' she continued in a soft voice. 'The doctor says I don't have very long.' I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

'What route would you like me to take?' I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.

We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, 'I'm tired. Let's go now'.

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.

Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move.

They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

'How much do I owe you?' She asked, reaching into her purse.

'Nothing,' I said.

'You have to make a living,' she answered.

'There are other passengers,' I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

'You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,' she said. 'Thank you.'

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day,I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver,or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.
 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The list just keeps on growing

The list of ways to make a difference is endless.  From time to time I have shared some thought here.  Today I have some more!
 
Open the door for another person. Give blood. Bring flowers to work and share them with coworkers. Pay for the meal of the person behind you in the drive-through. As you go about your day, pick up trash. Call or visit a homebound person. Pay a compliment at least once a day. Leave a treat or handmade note of thanks for a delivery person or mail carrier.
 
Leave an extra-large tip for the waitperson (if you can afford to). Tell a bus or taxi driver how much you appreciate their driving. Give the gift of your smile. Draw names at work/school and have people bring a small gift or treat for their secret pal. Sponsor people in fundraising walk-a-thons.
 
The gift of sharing can be awesome too, so please do share your own ideas!  You can do it below in the comments section!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Smell the flowers along the way

What do you see? A brown eyed susan? A beautiful blue sky? A brightly colored roof? There is beauty everywhere just as there is good all around us. We only need to look and listen and smell and hear and feel.
 
To really make a difference in this world we need to have open minds and open hearts and open eyes.  We need to enjoy life.  We need to smell those flowers!  Really.  I used to say that every day and I mean it.  No, you don't have to actually bend down and put your nose to a flower, but you need to live! 
 
We have so much to give and it all starts with love.  Smell the flowers along the way.  They're only here for a very short time and they need a lot of love to grow!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Inspired by Kennedy

When I was young, Robert Francis Kennedy was the junior US Senator from New York State, where I was growing up.  I remember him saying “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” Those words had a profound impact on me.

Robert Kennedy's life was cut short by a bullet, but he had already gotten my attention.  I don't know how many lives he touched; we never know such things.  I do know that ever since I have been trying to not only get involved and make a difference in the world, but to motivate others to participate too.  I really believe that it was Senator Kennedy who inspired me.

We may not all be inspired by a Kennedy, but we all can give back to this world of ours.  It isn't important that we give in a certain way - the important thing is that we just do it!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Boxing with Chieh Huang

Just over three years ago, an incredible company was launched in the garage of Chieh Huang. I LOVE their products and I LOVE their service, but this isn't a shopping blog, and most of you know that I never talk about commercial operations. I do want to tell you about Mr Huang though because it seems he is some sort of saint.

As CEO of this company, called Boxed, you might expect him to be sitting in some stuffy office, issuing orders to all his underlings. Nope. Not this guy. Although I have never spoken to him, I've been reading a lot, and it seems his employees adore him. Is that because he pitches in and works alongside everyone? Is it because last year he announced a College Tuition fund for his employees' kids? Is it because he said they would pay for the weddings of their employees, up to $20,000? Is it because he has provided an endless supply of Boxed snacks? People who work at Boxed say Huang has a heart of gold. By the way, Boxed was named to the 2016 Best Places to Work in New York City.

Last month Boxed employees volunteered at Riverside Park on New York City's Upper West Side. The donate time to many great causes, in fact just this week Boxed workers put together 50 boxes filled with toiletry items for parents of pediatric cancer patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The company, and individual employees, are generous with donations of money too.

I could go on and on, because this is an organization that really believes in giving back, and there are numerous examples. I'm happy to be a customer, and I'm even happier that people like this still exist in our world! You can find out more at their website, https://www.boxed.com/ (and although, I don't endorse businesses on this blog, you can also place orders via that site with no delivery charge on the first order). Chieh Huang and Boxed - definitely making this a better world!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

what can YOU do?

This isn't a new question.  I've asked it before and others certainly have as well.  You might have even asked this of yourself:  What can YOU do?  In keeping with the theme of this blog, the question really goes much farther.  How many different ways can you make a difference in this world of ours?
 
If you have absolutely no idea, you might want to read some of what we have written about here in the past.  Then, clear your mind and think about things important to you.  Do you care particularly about human rights or health care or fighting poverty or teaching language or protecting animals or any number of other things?  Is there a pet project you would like to work on?  Think about it.
 
We ALL can do wonderful things.  We ALL can make a difference.  It doesn't have to be just one thing either.  We can do many different things.  Some of this may involve your time or your abilities and some of this might involve your money.  Perhaps some of the things you might do involve organizing other people.  Whatever it is, figure it out and do it!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The passing of a journalist's journalist

Through my many years in broadcast journalism, I never met Gwen Ifill, but I'm sure glad she came our way. Hearing news of her passing yesterday after a months long bout with cancer, brought me to tears, and more tears have flowed at various points since then, as I hear tribute after tribute.

Gwen Ifill, who co-anchored the PBS News Hour, was referred to as "a journalist’s journalist," and every single thing I have heard about her has been positive. Last night, everyone was reporting her death and her own program devoted much of it's time to memories of her.
 
One of her contemporaries said that her office almost looked like a museum because of all the trophies and awards. Earlier this year she added to the many, receiving the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism from Columbia University. Oh and she's received more than twenty honorary doctorates.

I was touched by her strong faith too. She was a minister's daughter, and that frequently means you run away from the church, but she was very involved. Her pastor said yesterday that she was present each week for worship

I remember the Gwen Ifill years at NBC, because during part of that time, I worked for an NBC affiliate. Her former colleague Pete Williams was brought to tears yesterday several times when he tried to report on her life. Former NewsHour reporter Charlayne Hunter-Gault began sobbing as well. Fighting back his own tears, CNN's Don Lemon closed his thoughts to Gwen Ifill with: "I won't say goodbye, because goodbyes are so hard. But I will say, so long and thank you."

There are countless stories that I could retell here, but the biggest thing is that she made a difference. She was a trailblazer for African Americans and for women and she was a mentor to many. She was fair and honest and she was always real. Gwen Ifill will be missed.

Monday, November 14, 2016

It's my life

He is one of the nicest guys in the world. You already know him as an excellent singer, a gifted songwriter, a superb produced, and a fine actor, but Jon Bon Jovi makes a difference in this world by doing much more than entertain us. He get's involved. You may already know about his political activism from some recent news stories, but his chartable involvement is even greater.

Jon Bon Jovi has done things for Covenant House, the Special Olympics, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Project HOME, and the American Red Cross, to name just a few. He was appointed by President Barack Obama to the White House Council for Community Solutions. He's also raised awareness with Habitat for Humanity for the past eleven years. Bon Jovi has done work too for STOMP Out Bullying, Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center, Save The Music Foundation, Musicians on Call, and more. It seems like I hear about some good thing he has done, just about every day.

Oh and then there is the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, which he founded. This is a really exciting operation that helps a lot of people. I'll let you find out details for yourself from their website at http://www.jonbonjovisoulfoundation.org/ - be sure to read about JBJ Soul Kitchen in Red Bank, NJ too. It's a remarkable concept that feeds and teaches and much more. Click HERE to get a lot more information about the kitchen.
 
After listening to him sing It's My Life one day, I made it my unofficial theme song.  The song inspires me, but much more, Jon Bon Jovi inspires me.  I've never met this man, and I didn't even interview him for this (my information all comes from numerous public sources), but this is someone who makes a difference.  Our blog is all about giving back, and this guy could easily be our poster boy.  I never have seen such a giver.  Support his efforts.  Consider donating to the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation or volunteering your time. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

what Veterans Day asks all of us to think about

Just moments ago at Arlington National Cemetery, President Barack Obama laid a wreath and made a statement, saying in part "Today, on Veterans Day, we honor those who honored our country with its highest form of service: You who once wore the uniform of our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard. We owe you our thanks. We owe you our respect. And we owe you our freedom."

The President went on to say "On Veterans Day, we acknowledge, humbly, that we can never serve our veterans in quite the same that they served us. But we can try. We can practice kindness. We can pay it forward. We can volunteer. We can serve. We can respect one another. We can always get each other’s backs.

"That is what Veterans Day asks all of us to think about. The person you pass as you walk down the street might not be wearing our nation’s uniform today. But consider for a moment that a year or a decade or a generation ago, he or she might have been one of our fellow citizens who was willing to lay down their life for strangers like us. And we can show how much we love our country by loving our neighbors as ourselves."
 
No matter where you are on the political spectrum, Barack Obama right now is our Commander-In-Chief and his words ring so true.  I hope that we all will learn from them.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Yield

You’re driving down the street when suddenly you see a flashing light behind you and you hear a siren. What should you do? Apparently some folks think to correct answer is step on the gas and try to beat the emergency vehicle, as you proceed on down the street. WRONG!

Let’s take just a moment to remember what it is that emergency vehicles do. An ambulance transports sick or injured people to hospitals and medical centers. More often than not, when an ambulance is involved, the patient is in urgent need of care and every minute counts. Fire trucks sometimes respond to medical calls and various random emergencies, but most of the time they are headed to fires, where once again, every minute counts. Police may be responding to any number of calls – a hostage situation for example, or a murder, robbery, or rape. Again, time is of the essence.

The flashing lights and sirens were developed to signal people that this is a vehicle that needs priority treatment. Please yield. Of course one very good reason for doing so is that it is the law, and a heavy fine can hit you for not yielding. The better reason though is that it is simply the right thing to do. Would you like someone to die because you blocked an ambulance? Would you like someone to lose their house because you didn’t let the fire truck through?

You can make all the difference in the world with just a bit of road courtesy. Yield to the first sound of a siren!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

differences

Take a look at the image to the left. Most of you will see three logs if you look at the picture from the left side. However, if you look at it from the right, there appears to be four logs. Hold on! How can this be? Keep looking at it. Two different realities.

Reality can be so complex that equally valid observations from differing perspectives can appear to contradict each other. If you disagree with someone, don't be too quick to dismiss them though. Take a step back and try to look at things from all sides. Perhaps there is more than one correct answer.  This picture is proof.

While it is true that everything is not as simple as this drawing, sometimes our differences aren't really that big a deal after all!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Brought to you by the letter G

Today's blog entry is brought to you by the letter G (as in good).  There is good all around us.  More and more people are doing good things!  Since that's what we write about here, it's really pretty exciting - we have so much more to talk about!

Along the way we always like hearing from you.  Tell us about the good in your lives.  Tell us what you think of all this good.  Share your stories of good in our world. 

I certainly don't know about all the people out there making a difference, so help me out and bring us your stories too! Tell us about some of those especially inspiring good people that you know.  We really need to share this good!

Monday, November 7, 2016

just one

Picture this for a moment. You have one chance - one opportunity to change things for the better. Imagine. You can do something so wonderful. Picture this in your mind. Think about it. I'm not talking about lists. I'm not talking about doing something marvelous every single minute or every single day of your life. I'm talking here about one chance to do great. Just one. Think about it for a moment. Study it for a while.

Now imagine one more thing: Imagine everyone doing one great thing. Imagine how great things could be if we ALL got on board and made a difference. Just one.  If we all did just one incredible thing.  Think about it. Pretty incredible, huh?

It does not have to start out big at all. It can start with just one. You can be that one!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Give something back

Giving something back is not just one simple formula. There are so many ways of giving back and they all make a difference in this world of ours.

Pay a compliment at least once a day or go even further and say something nice to everyone you meet today. It doesn't even cost you a penny. Volunteer to read to kids in the library - that doesn't cost anything either, and oh what a reward you will get! Donate time at a senior center, at a hospital, or an animal shelter.  There are so many possibilities.

Oh course giving of material gifts including money is very helpful too.  Some folks are able to do this more often than others.  Give up that morning cup of coffee and use that money to donate to a cause - you see, it doesn't have to be difficult.  Everyone though can give of themselves, even if it is just occasionally.

Try it!  You will immediately be glad you did.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Get involved

You have probably already heard some form of this, (it is a story that has been told and retold over and over) but it bears repeating:

“This is a story about four people: Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when actually Nobody asked Anybody.”

Get the picture? Get involved!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Ordinary folks

Do you need to have a certain level of education or do you need a large bank account or must you be of a certain age or race or religion or ethnicity to be a hero?  Do you have to be a man to be a hero?  That might seem like an odd question, but think about it for a moment.  Who do you consider your own heroes?  Do they have anything in common?

I have found over the years that those who inspire me are all different.  Their age or sex or gender identity or wealth or life experience can all be different.  In real life, heroes don't wear capes. In real life heroes aren't always men and they don't need to be a certain height or of a certain race. In real life heroes don't necessarily even get much attention.  Being a hero isn't so much about who they are, but what they do.

Just about all of the people I consider heroes, are ordinary folks.  So what does that mean?  Who can be a hero?  Ordinary folks like you and me.  Every single one of us can he a hero!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Parable

This being All Saints' Day, how about a parable? A man was taken on a tour of both heaven and hell. In hell he was shown a banquet hall filled with diners seated at a table that was covered with all kinds of delicious food. Each person’s back and left arm were tied to the chair so that bending at the waist was impossible, and the left arm could not move. The right arm was stiffened so that the elbow would not bend. The people at the table could gaze at the delicious spread and they could smell the aroma of the food, but they were starving.

In heaven, the picture was the same – backs and left arms shackled, right arms stiffened – but the diners were feasting and rejoicing, because each diner used his stiffened right arm to feed the person to his or her right. It was a picture of people working together, in other words – it was cooperation. How wonderful!

Of course, we don’t have to wait to get to heaven to have this kind of teamwork. It really is quite easy to do things for each other, right here on earth! Oh and before you ask what part of the Bible this parable comes from - it doesn’t. This isn’t a parable of Jesus, but one that we mortals came up with and which has been told and re-told. The point is a very good one though: cooperation - helping others - making a difference. It's a story that illustrates the very thing we talk about here every day.

If you like your parables to come from Scripture and have to have some backup from the Bible, let’s look at the words of Blessed Paul the Apostle, who in his letter to the Philippians wrote “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.” I could not have said it any better!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Boo

Every Halloween I think back to this lovely lady who used to live across the street from my grandmother. She decorated her porch, entryway, and much of her house. The trick-or-treaters weren't just greeted with some candy at the door, they were invited in! This was back in a kinder, gentler time when strangers did nice things for others. Each year more and more kids showed up as the word got around.

I can't remember this lady's name but everyone on October 31st called her the Halloween House Lady. Once inside you could help yourself to apple cider or cocoa, popcorn balls, homemade lollipops, and you could bob for apples. There was spooky music playing and she always had some kind of costume. It wasn't my neighborhood, so I didn't know most of the people coming and going. Nana walked across the street with my sister and I, but I think a few times we went over by ourselves. The big thing I remember was everyone left her house happy. We had fun.

In many parts of this country, it isn't safe to go door to door and it certainly wouldn't be safe to go into a stranger's house and eat unwrapped food and candy. Too bad. This lady made a difference. She brightened people's lives. MANY years later and I can still remember like it was yesterday!

Friday, October 28, 2016

I found something better

Maybe it was because I last night heard Aretha Franklin's signature hit "Respect" or maybe it was a scene I was recalling from the 1966 comedy film The Trouble with Angels, but something suggested I write this today.
 
First the scene from the movie.  An all girls school run by nuns is the scene and the Mother Superior is talking to one of the students about her own youth when she was a seamstress and had dreams of becoming a designer.  The student asks why she gave it up, and after a reflective pause, Reverend Mother says "I found something better."
 
Picture if you will, a high school boy asking a girl out on a date.  He asks just any girl because he wants to be sure of a yes answer, but all the while he is hoping for a yes from a more popular girl, whom he eventually asks.  Having gotten that yes from the girl he really wanted to go out with, he drops the first girl like a hot potato.  He found something (actually someone in this case) that he felt was better.
 
Now these are different situations to be sure, but the point I am trying to make is that we sometimes make changes for the better, but we don't always play fairly.  The girl in the second example certainly didn't get a good deal.  How about when you are choosing teams for basketball and the poor player always gets chosen last? 
 
Recently an organization sent out invitations to a number of people asking for someone to come and speak at an event.  They really didn't want just any of them though.  The first person who said yes was thanked and told when and where the event was and she was expecting to be the speaker - that's what they had told her.  A few days later the organization received a late response from one of the others that they had invited.  The late responder was a bigger name and so they dumped the first in favor of this new person.  Were they playing fair?
 
Think about these situations.  When, if at all, is a good time to go with something better?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Share a little tea

Is you life at all hectic?  Try though we may, there are moments of tension or stress that would could just seem to not be able to get rid of.  Sometimes we try to do too much or we let things we cannot control overtake us.  Good advise often is to simply slow down and relax and maybe share a little tea.
 
All of life's answers are not simple ones.  Sometimes we need help.  Never should we feel alone or under a huge weight of burden that we cannot handle.  Certainly I don't have all the answers!  If we really want to change the world though, one things we can do though that is an awful lot of help, if to be present for others!
 
When things get overwhelming, remember there are professionals out there too.  Don't let stress or worry overtake you.  Slow down and relax, and if you feel you need it, get help.