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!

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?

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.

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.