Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Wheels on the bus go round and round

Back when I lived in San Francisco, I rode the bus nearly every day. There was a lot of complaining about the buses being crowded at certain times of day, or about them running late, but it was still a pretty good way to get around. When I saw the same driver and he or she would smile or call me by name, that was a nice warm connection that seemed to melt other problems away.

Dealing with so many people every day would seem to be a pretty tough job, and yet most of those bus drivers were so good at their task. It particularly warmed my heart when they gave you a "bonus" like the drivers that sang out the stops or who made those extra announcements, especially when there were some jokes thrown in.

Recently a friend of mine told me that he had lost his wallet while riding a bus. Losing money is never good, but when your ID and credit cards, and all those other things you carry are gone too, it can ruin your day. When the mail came a few days later, and it contained his wallet, that was a lovely surprise! Enclosed with it was a simple note: "I found this on my coach. Signed, Bus Driver." He wanted to get it back to its owner, but didn't care about any thanks, so didn't leave his name or any kind of identification. What a nice driver!

The operators of public transportation preform an important service. Too often we moan about the negative moments and ignore all the positive. The next time you ride a city bus or taxi, let your driver know they are appreciated.

Monday, January 30, 2017

In the beginning

In the beginning this blog was about making a difference.  The reason I started writing it was because I want to make a difference.  I want to change the world.  I figured if I looked for various ways to share with you, some of it would rub off on me along the way.  The more hometown heroes I encounter and write about here, the more ideas I get for things I can do to truly benefit others and make a difference in this world of ours.  In the beginning I had a handful of ideas - now I have tons of ideas and I get more and more every day.
I have been so very fortunate to hear about many amazing people who are doing wonderful things and really are making a big difference for the better.  I've even met some of these people and it warms my heart to see the generosity of spirit that exists all over our country.  We all too often hear of the bad things that are happening, but there is also a lot of good.  It's a great joy to tell you these various stories here every morning.  I hope that you enjoy reading my words here.  Do feel free to write your thoughts in the comments section below and feel free to share this with your friends too.
In the beginning I thought I might write this occasionally or perhaps for a year or so.  I had no idea that I would spend so much time on it and that I would be telling you stories here day after day and year after year.  I intend to continue too because there are so many stories to be told.  Do you know of someone who is making a huge difference in our world?  Tell me all about it and I'll happily share the story here.

Friday, January 27, 2017

My dear friend

I want to tell you about my dear friend, but my policy has always been to not write about private people without their permission, and he really doesn't want any attention.  I respect that.  I'm still going to write about him though because he is really one-of-a-kind.  I just won't reveal his identity.
This guy is special because he is always positive and upbeat and he get great pleasure out of making other people happy.  He is hardworking, the picture of health, and honest as the day is long.  He has the perfect smile and a wonderful sense of humor.  I cannot tell you how many lives he has positively impacted, but is a great inspiration to me just to know him.
He care about his family too, and his friends.  It's not just strangers that he brings happiness to.  It seems like he makes everyone happy!
Oh and did I mention generous?  He will think nothing of picking up the check in a restaurant, even he picked it up the last time you went out and even if you desperately insist that you really want to pay.
Now I'm not saying everyone should be like my dear friend.  I'm thinking that would be impossible.  How wonderful this world we be though if there were more caring folks like him though!  How wonderful indeed.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Animals have feelings too

Abusing an animal is one of the most horrible things I can think of. An animal cannot call the police. An animal cannot send an email. An animal cannot contact a doctor when they are injured. Animals are among the most vulnerable, and yet they are taken advantage of at an alarming rate.

Neglect and abandonment are the most common forms of companion animal abuse in the United States. According to the Humane Society of the United States, the shocking number of cruelty cases reported every day in the media is only a small part of the picture. Most cases of animal abuse are never reported, and most animal suffering goes unrecognized and unabated.

This is one of those things that CAN be solved though. This is a people problem. People can stop being cruel. Of course that is the simple answer. The bigger answer is that we all have to care and we all have to get involved and do our part. At the top of the list: do not tolerate any cruelty to animals!

Know who to contact in your area if you witness or suspect animal abuse. (Your police department is always a good place to start). Teach children how to treat animals and to respect them as living creatures too. The earlier the better. Let kids know that it is NOT okay to abuse an animal EVER.

If you have animals of your own, take care of them. If you don't want putties or kittens, be sure to spay or neuter your animals or don't let them spend time with other animals while they are outside.

Support the local shelter or humane society and get to know the work they are involved in. Donate also, if your are able, to your local shelters, pet abuse organizations or the ASPCA.

Animal abuse and neglect can be ended if only we all just care.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

I'm positive

"Look on the bright side" is an oft quoted saying.  Oh and just in case you haven't noticed, there is always a bright side!  Positive thinking is so much happier and affirming than negative thinking.
While it is true that everything in life is not perfect, there are still always things for which we should rejoice and be glad.  No matter how many bad things come up, I still want to look at the good.
Abraham Lincoln said something truly marvelous about this very subject.  “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”   What a great way of looking at things!
As you go through life, look at the wonderful positive things that come your way.  Let other people sling their mud or be a gloomy Gus.  No need for you to fall into that trap.  Be happy.  Think positive.  I do!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Be a hero of positivity.

Every day you probably hear someone say something that is negative.  Don't let your day be a downer though!  You can be a hero of positivity by always saying things that are encouraging and always looking for the good instead of the bad.
That "sunny disposition" is always welcome around me.  I find it so uplifting to see people smiling and happy and greeting each other with a cheery "Good morning!"  Every single one of us can add to that positive attitude.  Imagine how much happier our days might be if the positivity were increased.  We can all increase it by one!  I'm not just talking about doing away with the negative vibes.  It's really much more than that.  Turn up the positive.
Say hello to strangers.  Be pleasant with store clerks and restaurant servers.  Say thank you.  Smile.  Spread the positive energy.  Choose to see the good stuff in life.  Let your light shine!

Monday, January 23, 2017

many hands make light work

Okay so you want to change the world.  Pretty tall order, huh?  Guess what?  You don't have to do it alone!  If we each get involved - if every one of us does something positive, the mission can more easily be accomplished!
I'm sure you have heard "many hands make light work."  The source is not known for certain, but it is believed to be one of the many sayings of playwright John Heywood.  It simply means that large tasks become small when divided among several people.  The same thing is true when you are trying to raise funds for a charity.  If your goal is $500, you can ask one person for that amount, but it might not be within anyone's budget.  If ten people gave you $50 though it is much more workable.
Spread it out.  Get more folks involved.  Everything becomes so much easier!  Small actions by many people can equal big change indeed.



Thursday, January 19, 2017


Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, once said "My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure."

The best way to learn not to fail IS to fail. That might sound a little odd, but take a moment and think about it.  When you fail at something and you aren't content with that failure, you do something about it.  You learn how to get back up. You learn that failure is something we all do from time to time, but we can overcome that - we can get back up and do better.

Knowing that you can get back up, helps with your fears of failure.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Smile, what's the use of crying?

One of my favorite song lyrics says "Smile, what's the use of crying?"  Indeed.  Charles Chaplin, John Turner, and Geoffrey Parsons gave us something very special in that song they wrote.  I can almost hear it right now.  I love Petula Clark's version, and even Michael Jackson's,  but the best known of course is from Nat King Cole.

Song lyrics can change our mood, and so it's those happy words that I want to hear the most of!  Our little road trip from San Francisco has features a lot of happy songs and a lot of singing.  I'm even getting a little hoarse. (Chaplin, by the way did the music and the words came from Turner and Parsons).  You certainly can't go wrong when the title is Smile!  Smiling is just about the happiest thing a person can do! 

The last three simple lines of that song really say it so well! 
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

how much?

How much do you want to make out of your life?  No, not how much money.  I'm asking if you have any sort of aspirations.  We weren't just born to pay bills and then die.
Are you someone who always wants to do better?  Do you find yourself reaching for the stars?  Is there a limit?  Do you keep going just because you want things better for yourself, or do you have high expectations for your family, friends, and even your community?  How much achievement is enough?  Should we keep reinventing ourselves?
What gives you joy?  What brings you pleasure?  Do you want more and more of these things?  How much more?  Oh my!  For me there really is no limit.  Every day presents new opportunities and I want to take advantage of each and every one.  I hope that you keep wanting new experiences in your life too.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Why we can't wait

Today is the day we remember the great leader, Dr Martin Luther King, Jr and all the lessons he taught us. Dr King has been dead longer than he lived, but his legacy will be eternal, and for good reason. He had ideals. He was a man of love and of courage and of the belief that we really all are equal, and that everyone should be treated that way. Dr King didn't put things off hoping the next day would be brighter, he worked in the here and now, and encouraged others to do the same thing. His Letter from Birmingham Jail, written on April 16, 1963, gives us examples of why we need to do something NOW. There is an urgency that you can clearly see in this one sentence, that points out that waiting is not the way to go.

"But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity; when you see the vast majority of your 20 million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your 6-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see the depressing clouds of inferiority begin to form in her little mental sky, and see her begin to distort her little personality by unconsciously developing a bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a 5-year-old son asking in agonizing pathos, “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs;” when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness;" then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait."

The same kind of urgency is always present when people are being treated unfairly. When people of color are being slaughtered by police officers, when our transgender sisters are being murdered just for being themselves, when elected officials take away healthcare from millions of Americans all in the name of politics - these are times when we can't wait. These are times when we must get involved and do something. What good is whining about an election, or about unfair wages, or about gun violence, or about racism or homophobia, if we are going to just sit back and allow things to stay as they are? Did we learn nothing from our brother Martin?

Wonderful ceremonies are taking place across the nation today, and numerous programs are reminding us of the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, but the biggest thing we need to remember is that when something is wrong, we can't wait. We need to get involved. We need to follow Dr King's lead, and do everything we can to bring justice to all.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Let it shine

Everywhere I look, there is something that makes me happy. What about you? Do you see happiness in the most simple things? I look out the window at the sunrise and think of Barry Manilow's uptempo pop song from back in the mid-70s. Before you know it, I'm singing.

I'm singin' to the world,
it's time we let the spirit come in
Let it come on in

Those peppy lyrics, which Manilow wrote with Adrienne Anderson, are enough to get you bouncing, even if there isn't a gorgeous sun rising on your horizon. Put them both together though and it will keep shining all day long! Why frown first thing in the morning anyway? Start the day happy and you can stay that way all day long!

Yes, and it's daybreak
If you want to believe, it can be daybreak
Ain't no time to grieve
Said it's daybreak, if you'll only believe
And let it shine, shine, shine
All around the world

Let's keep believing! Let's keep letting it shine!

words from Daybreak by Barry Manilow and Adrienne Anderson © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Often is heard an encouraging word

Originally written by Dr Brewster M. Higley of Smith County, Kansas as part of a poem entitled My Western Home, back in the early 1870s, the line "Where seldom is heard a discouraging word," is familiar as part of the song Home On the Range. Around here we borrow from that idea but state it in the positive: Often is heard an encouraging word!
Why not?  It is so uplifting to raise others up too.  Speaking to cheer or to console or simply to refresh is such a positive experience - it warms your heart!  Besides, who needs all the negativity?  How much more rewarding it is to see the good in our world and to encourage more of it!
I really like looking our at the beauty and the positive energy in our world.  Dr Higley's poem has another very uplifting line later on too.  He writes

          "How often at night, when the heavens were bright,
                                                         With the light of the twinkling stars
Have I stood here amazed, and asked as I gazed,
If their glory exceed that of ours."

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Shrink-wrapped life

You have probably heard jokes about the shrink-wrapped furniture that some folks have in their house.  Don't sit on the couch.  It might get dirty!  I've actually been to homes where the chairs and sofa are covered with plastic.  People actually try to save their furniture for special occasions and to keep them clean.
I suppose nobody wants a dirty couch, but guess what?  It's supposed to get dirty!  It's supposed to get used!  You bought the couch to sit on, not to use as some sort of museum piece.
We can put all of our possessions on a shelf and save them for just the right time, but who decides when that right time is?  Do we really want to lead a shrink-wrapped life?  "Don't smile too much - it might cause wrinkles."  Oh the things I hear sometimes.  "My friend gave me that and I'm saving it for just the right moment." 
That bottle of wine, your plastic covered furniture, the jewelry you have in that seldom-opened box - it ALL should be broken out now!  What are you waiting for?  Don't waste your life looking for moments still to come.  Embrace what is already here.  Just being alive is a special occasion.  Being part of humanity is something that should be enjoyed every single day.  Don't keep waiting for a special occasion.  The special occasion is already here!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


It has been said that honesty is the best policy.  Most people I know agree - I certainly do, and yet we face dishonest behavior every single day.  It may be the shoplifter or the person who sneaks on the bus without paying or the one who tells you a fib just because you won't know any better.  There are all kinds of dishonest things around us, but why?

“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one,” said our country's first President, George Washington.  Indeed.  All too often we hear excuses that really are not true.
Another early American said something most profound about being truthful.  Thomas Jefferson, our third President once said “Honesty is the first chapter of the book wisdom.”

Although it may be difficult to admit mistakes or failures, it is far better to be honest than to add to such mistakes or failures the extra burden of an untruth.  May we all learn to honest in in all we do. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Start each day with YES!

Sometimes with all the negativity in the world, it can be difficult for us to stay positive, but I have found it helps to have a very simple resolve: start each day with YES!  Our minds are powerful tools though and sometimes just thinking something gives us a very good boost.  Having a yes kind of attitude can go a long way!
Now I won't make believe that there are not any problems in the world.  Certainly there are many.  Can we solve every single one of them?  Probably not today.  We can make a start though.  We can do some good.  Of course changing the world means believing in yourself and your ability and trusting and believing in other people.  It's a tall order I know.
Think about the opposite though for a moment.  You wake up in the morning and ask if it's going to be a good day.  NO!  Am I going to eat a nice delicious breakfast?  NO!  Will the commute to work be an easy one?  NO!  If you begin each day with negativity, there is no chance there for a smile - no chance for a happy day.  Even when something bad happens, no matter how minor or how big, shrug it off believing that better things are coming.
Yes, I'm going to have a good Monday!  Yes you are too!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Let us all unite!

A marvelous scene by Charlie Chaplin from  "The Great Dictator," a 1940 film where he condemns Hitler and the Nazis calling them "machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts," really got me thinking last night.  There is a great remix of this speech from the movie with Chaplin's voice over images from the present, showing how the words spoken then are still true.

I urge you to take a few seconds and watch the video by clicking HERE.  Then take a few more minutes and think about it.  We can do so much.  We need to put aside hate - ALL hate.

In his speech, part of what Chaplin says is "You the people have the power to make life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy let's use that power, let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age and security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie. They do not fulfil their promise, they never will. Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfill that promise. Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men's happiness."

What a marvelous goal:  a united world!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

the smile on your face is there because

The smile on your face is there because you are happy?  Are you always happy?  Do you realize you are smiling or is it something that just comes naturally?  When you meet someone for the first time, do you notice whether or not they are smiling?
Okay so it might look like a toothpaste commercial to some people, but so what?  Isn't a happy appearance a better option than an unhappy one?  I think when someone is smiling, it makes me smile, and not just on my face - I find myself smiling inside.
If you see someone today without a smile, why don't you give them one of yours?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

show the world your joy

Ever notice how small children always seem to be happy? Why can't the same be true for adults? Yes, every single moment of our life is not necessarily magic, but I think we could have a lot more joy if only we tried a little more!

Babies and small children are really good at showing off their happiness too. It seems there is something else we could copy from them!

Someone once said that life is not about making others happy. Life is about sharing your happiness with others! Even those little tiny happy moments are worth sharing! Show the world your joy. You just might be surprised at the results!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Yada yada yada

First of all, this is NOT a reference to a certain sitcom episode from the past. It's actually in response to what someone said to my face yesterday, about this blog. I was told that once these words were read daily, but now that it is "boring and empty talk about nothing," they no longer bother with it.

Goodness! I certainly don't want to bore anyone. I also don't see how my detailed posts about charities, hometown heroes, and ways we can all give back, could be considered as "empty talk about nothing." I asked so suggestions about how to make this better, but they said it wasn't worth it. I should just stop writing.

Guess what? I have no intention of stopping. I mentioned this to my doctor on Friday, and he liked the idea that I was writing this. Another friend who says she reads this regularly, once told me that even if I only reached one person a week, that was worthwhile. I have said many times that I don't have all the answers, and my suggestions are just that. Some of you may have different or even better ideas (and you are always welcome to share them in the comments section below). I will never stop wanting to make a difference though, and if I can inspire others to join in, who wonderful!

So, if this is a big yada, yada, yada for you, share some of your own ideas. Let's make this more exciting! Let's do some incredible things and make our world a little better each day of our lives!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Be the reason

Have you ever walked down the street early in the morning and had someone smile and say hello to you? It actually used to be quite common. It still happens here and there, but mostly in smaller communities. I don't know about you, but that kind of friendliness can really make my day. Their smile becomes my smile!

Of course there are many reasons to be happy. The barista who serves my coffee, remembering exactly how I like it from my previous visits, and who hands it to me with a smile. His smile, becomes my smile! The same thing happens when I am crossing the street and a driver waits to let me go ahead with a wave and a smile. I think you know where this is going. Her smile becomes my smile!

Being nice is always a good thing. Sharing the joys of life not only makes others happy, but can help to keep you happy. It's like a circle. Happy people don't have to put a lot of effort into it. It just comes naturally. Some of us have to think about it a little more. Whatever the case though, be happy, and share it. Be the reason someone smiles today!