Category Archives: Kindness

Finding Holiday Peace of Mind

Winter Sunrise by Jim C.

Winter Sunrise by Jim C.

“The Simple Path
Silence is Prayer
Prayer is Faith
Faith is Love
Love is Service
The Fruit of Service is Peace”
Mother Teresa

How are you finding holiday peace? I have to tell you- I am not finding it at big box retail stores. It’s not in the canned music on the radio station either.

Instead, I am finding peace through time with friends and family. I am also finding it through tiny bits of service.

I don’t have much extra money these days so I look for creative ways to serve others. Last week, a good friend of mine gave me a pail of dog food. She lost both her pets a few weeks ago and I said yes to the food for my dog Jordan. Here’s what happened on the way to my mom’s, less than an hour after she gave me that pail.

I was driving up a long hill and noticed a small dog running across the road. I slowed down. Then a young teenage boy appeared, running after the dog. I slowed down even more. Next thing you know, the dog runs back across the road and the boy is flailing his arms as if to stop traffic.

I remembered that dog food in the back of my car. I pulled over and flipped open my hatchback. I grabbed a handful, sat down on the ground, dropped the dog food next to me. Can you guess the rest?

I called the dog and here he comes. It takes less than one minute. The boy grabs the dog while it goes for the dog food. In between hugging his dog, the young man says at least three or four grateful thank you’s in a row. I said “thank you for helping me do a good deed today.”

My Grandson Gavin (L), Anna, My Daughter Michelene (R)

My Grandson Gavin (L), Anna, My Daughter Michelene (R) making sandwiches!

At my church two weeks ago, fifteen plus volunteers assembled 240 ham sandwiches to make 120 lunches for the hungry families of FOCUS Pittsburgh, the Orthodox ministry center in the Hill District. Jim and I delivered them next morning and wow, was that a good feeling.

Small ways to serve, and BIG ways to serve. I read with interest the woman who went to Toys R Us in Bellingham, Mass and paid off $20,000 worth of layaways. (I wondered how much her personal wealth is. Maybe that was most of it?) Or 9 year old Jarrett who cashed in a $160 tablet he won in a school fundraiser, grabbed tags from the angel tree and bought gifts for 15 children. Amazing.

It’s nice to do great big things but it is also very fulfilling to do small things. I believe it doesn’t matter if you do non profit work for a living (I did for a long time). When I get paid for work, I don’t count it as service. We all have a few extra hours to do something for someone else less fortunate this holiday.

My friend Daleen recently wrote a post on keeping dollar bills handy for those Salvation Army buckets. I personally never pass one up. I give small amounts but when I think of those like me (who also give small amounts), I bet those add up to BIG amounts.

No matter your contribution, this is what I believe the season is really all about. Kindness, compassion,  new birth and life. We owe it to ourselves and others to give in the most generous way we possibly can.

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My “Heart Throbs” for You!

The Old Scrapbook

The Old Scrapbook

Years ago, my first employment right out of college was as a recreation director for a faith based nursing and assisted living ministry.

I had my own office and thought I had reached the pinnacle of employment success. My responsibilities included programming all the activities for 40 nursing wing patients and 40 residents. Meals for them were all provided, meds dispensed, oh and by the way, they were all women.

The average age was 85. It was a challenge to do activities planning with seniors of such limited physical movement. So I planned birthday parties of the month, brought in entertainment, utilized my piano playing skills (yes mom and dad, this did pay off!) and even brought in dogs through an organization that catered to the elderly.

But my absolute favorite activity was Poetry Corner. At first, I had a large turnout but gradually the numbers dwindled. Soon, it was just me and Constance. I loved Constance. She was in her mid 80’s and had alot of spunk. She also had a chaise lounge in her room that I loved. I’ve had a fondness for them ever since! One of these days, I’m going to have myself a chaise lounge.

Constance loved poetry and instilled in me an even greater love of classical poetry. She had two “Heart Throbs” books and we read from them over and over again. If you’ve never heard of them, here is what the inside foreword had to say about volume two: “Following the first announcement of “Heart Throbs” six years ago has come the most fascinating experience ever allotted to publishers. This book, containing 840 selections made from the contributions of 52,000 people, has become a classic in thousands of homes and libraries. The simple bringing together of the favorite selections of the people has far transcended the results of any mere literary or editorial compilations.”

I grew so fond of the books that when I left my employment at the home, I asked Constance if I could have them. She said YES.

Since then, life, marriage, children have all taken precedence. I’ve not looked at the books much but I do bring them out every Valentine’s Day. I happened to think of Constance recently and my heart did a leap. Her face came into perfect view and I can remember her just like it was yesterday.

In honor of Constance, here is one of my favorite poems:

The Arrow and the Song

I shot an arrow into the air

It fell to earth, I knew not where;

For, so swiftly it flew, the sight

Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,

It fell to earth, I knew not where;

For who has sight so keen and strong,

That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak

I found the arrow, still unbroke;

And the song, from beginning to end,

I found again in the heart of a friend.

Henry W. Longfellow

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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The Highest Form of Wisdom

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I was working at the Jewish temple when I first saw the words. “The highest form of wisdom is kindness” was a quote from the Talmud. Later, I found those same words, artistically drawn on a plaque no less, at a common home goods store. I purchased it and it is hanging in my mudroom at this very moment.

Why does this quote mean so much to me?

Because it reminds me that though others may not be right about something, it is not always necessary for me to point this out to them.

For instance, Jim and I miscommunicated last week over a small matter. I knew I was right (of course) and he did the quick two step to try and cover up his own bad memory. On the spot, I decided it would do no good to hammer him about it or rub it in,  so instead I decided to try a little humility. I said “Wow, I guess I completely forgot I said that to you”, thereby diffusing a tense situation and practicing kindness in the act.

And Jim, ever the good example of humankind said “Well Jo, that’s probably just how I remembered it.”

Now I know you’re going to say that some things are just worth arguing about and I agree. But there are times when I ask myself truly, is it worth it? Maybe I make a great argument for a point about something and rub my ego shiny in the process. But then what do I do with that? I am the fluffed up rooster, crowing my accomplishments and I forget about what’s really important.

What’s really important is that I treat everyone as if they are a child of God.

So this means I am respectful. I am kind. I try and look at another person’s perspective and if theirs doesn’t agree with mine, that’s ok. I will love them anyway. If another person’s bad behavior affects me, I can set some decent boundaries. But I never want to not be kind about it.

My recovery friends like to say Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy? It’s basically the same thing as the Talmud but I do love this more simplified version. It’s worth it sometimes to give in just a little, for a center full of happiness.

“You can either practice being right or practice being kind.”
Anne Lamott

How do you feel about kindness? Who do you practice kindness towards?

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The Radical Practice of Loving Everyone

Loving EveryoneAs soon as I saw the title of this book, I knew I had to read it. “The Radical Practice of Loving Everyone” is a treat, a feast not only for the heart but also for the soul of anyone who is willing to take a few moments a day to learn more about unconditional love.

Honestly it took me a few weeks to get through it because you really shouldn’t read this book fast. I loved savoring a chapter or two, then really thinking about the lessons that Mollie, the hero of the stories, had imparted not only on her owner but the rest of us.

Mollie had a terrible start in life at an awful puppy mill, but thankfully Michael J. Chase and his wife latch onto her and nurse her through the first few ill months. After that, Mollie eats her way through heart and home as Michael tells witty stories and heartfelt lessons about the things Mollie teaches him.

Because even though Mollie is a dickens of a big poodle dog, always getting into trouble, wanting her own way and stealing cookies, she is an amazing judge of character (as many dogs are) as she wags her tail and makes friends with anyone.

The author, Michael J. Chase, is an inspirational speaker on KINDNESS, even has his own KINDNESS CENTER so that tells you right there he has his priorities straight. Early on in the book, he chronicles his search for a new spiritual teacher and while pondering his options, Mollie suddenly licks his face. He decides then and there that Mollie is the teacher he has been looking for.

My favorite story is about a walk that Michael and Mollie embark on, one day through their neighborhood. It is a carefully mapped route with a minimum of distractions and opportunities for Mollie to get into trouble. But on this day, Mollie has her own ideas. She plops her butt down and decides she is not going any further. Michael begs, pulls on her leash, offers snacks and pleads for movement but Mollie won’t budge. It begins to rain and they are getting soaked. Finally, exasperated, Michael asks her where she wants to go. He lets her lead and Mollie takes them on a beautiful walk, through new neighborhoods with lovely picturesque houses. Michael decides older dogs really can teach new tricks and the lesson is to move out of our comfort zones and try new things.

I hope you decide to give this amazing book a read. It would make a great present as well, especially for someone you know who loves animals and does acts of loving kindness.

This is my 100th post and I cannot think of a better way to celebrate than to review such a wonderful book! Thanks to WordPress for this Daily Prompt!

And here is my disclosure per Hay House Publishers. I get to choose the book I wish to review, it is given to me free of charge, and I am not compensated for my endorsement of this book. This review is my personal opinion. Thank you for reading!

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