Monday, September 30, 2013

October: Kindness is Your Name

Tomorrow is October 1. I’m sure you’re all aware of that, but I thought I’d point this out to you for a few reasons.

1. It’s the first day of one of my favorite months (not the least of which is because it is my birthday and anniversary month).
2. I have finally accepted the fact that summer is over and I am enjoying these sunny fall days and cool evenings and not missing the beach at all (okay, hardly at all).
3. I can now legitimately wear my sweaters and boots without feeling like I’m pushing the season.
4. It’s my birthday month. (Did I mention that?)

To celebrate this month, I’ve decided to make October my Random Acts of Kindness Month!

If you’ve read my blog, you know one of my mom’s favorite sayings was “Kindness is your name.” October is also meaningful to me because it is the month my mom died so, in her honor, I dedicate this month to fulfilling her wish. During the month of October, my name will be kindness.

I’ve tried to start this tradition in the past but the craziness of life always took over and made me forget. I have discovered that if I don’t write something down, I just can’t remember it. (Sad, isn’t it.)

This time, I’ve decided to jot down one act of kindness I will perform each day in October. I’m also trying not to break the bank with this project because I firmly believe kindness doesn’t require a lot of money. Having said this, my goal is to spend less than $5 (and in some cases nothing at all) each day to brighten the day of someone else – be it a friend, family member, neighbor or stranger.

Here’s my agenda for the month:

31 Acts of Kindness for the Month of October

Oct. 1 – Remember someone in your thoughts/prayers. I am attending a retreat so I plan on keeping friends and family members in my prayers.
Oct. 2 – Leave a “Take What You Need” flyer at your local library/grocery store. Here’s the one I will be posting.Take What You Need
Oct. 3 – Drop off homemade goodies to a neighbor who you feel could use a special pick-me-up, with a note telling them how special they are.
Oct. 4 – Volunteer with a local charity for the day. I volunteer with ConKerr Cancer and will be delivering pillowcases to a local hospital and Ronald McDonald House for those children suffering from life-changing illnesses.
Oct. 5 – Email someone who has helped you in the past and tell them (again) how much their guidance meant to you.
Oct. 6 – Call a family member and tell them how much you love and appreciate them.
Oct. 7 – Compliment a stranger. “Pretty dress” “Nice tie” or “Cute shoes” will cheer anyone up, especially on a Monday.
Oct. 8 – Mentor a child. I am on the board of a local organization that mentors high school girls. We will be holding a seminar today discussing the importance of self-esteem and self-confidence in teen girls.
Oct. 9 – Pay a little extra on your overdue fees at the library and give someone else the gift of a free day of reading!
Oct. 10 – Pick up trash in your neighborhood that’s been discarded on lawns and curbs.
Oct. 11 – Bring in your neighbor’s trash cans on trash/recycling day.
Oct. 12 – Make your kids’ beds today.
Oct. 13 – Spread the word about a friend’s start-up business. (Clover Market, an outdoor vintage, collectibles and craft market in Ardmore, PA is open today from 10-5. Come check it out!)
Oct. 14 – Call a friend and ask how they are, and then just listen. It’s nice to have someone ask about you for a change.
Oct. 15 – Drop off dinner to a friend/neighbor in need.
Oct. 16 – Surprise the kids with a homemade breakfast. If your house is anything like mine on a weekday, breakfast is often a Poptart or granola bar on the run. Make them pancakes or homemade waffles for a nice surprise on Hump Day!
Oct. 17 – Return the shopping cart – yours or someone elses – to its rightful location at the grocery store.
Oct. 18 – Donate canned goods to your local Church or food bank.
Oct. 19 – Say “Yes” when a cashier asks you if you want to donate $1 to a local charity.
Oct. 20 – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month! Spread the word and encourage your mother/sister/friend/neighbor (or yourself) to get a mammogram.
Oct. 21 – Tell your family you love them! And give them a hug and a kiss! (And Happy Anniversary to my wonderful husband for 24 great years!)
Oct. 22 – Donate those clothes that don’t fit anymore! Someone will be thrilled with them.
Oct. 23 – Donate a tray of baked goods and/or money to your child’s school/sports bake sale.
Oct. 24 – Thank your mailman with a plate of cookies or a simple note. (Sure it’s nice to be walking the neighborhood in October, but come February it’s the last thing anyone wants to do!)
Oct. 25 – Thank the trash men too! It’s a dirty job but thank goodness these men have stepped up to do it!
Oct. 26 – Tell a parent something good about their child. So often we hear/see the bad about our children; it’s nice when someone shares the positive about our little darlings!
Oct. 27 – Share a positive quote on FaceBook or Twitter.
Oct. 28 – Bring baked goods to a meeting.
Oct. 29 – Surprise someone with flowers, just because!
Oct. 30 – Let someone in front of you in line at the grocery store or in the carpool line.
Oct. 31Happy Halloween! While the kids always get the candy, don’t forget the parents who are schlepping them around the neighborhood! A piece of candy, bottle of water (or adult beverage if they are walking) is always appreciated!

That’s my plan for the month of October. You’re welcome to join me. I’d love to hear your ideas for random acts of kindness. Or, if you’ve done this before, tell me how you felt after each act or how the person you bestowed your kindness upon responded to you. October, kindness is your name! Let’s do this!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Calling All Women: Are You Up for the Challenge?

I was browsing Twitter the other day and came across the following tweet from HuffPostWomen: Dear women: stop doing these 23 things.

This caught my attention for two reasons: I don’t like to be told what to do (and not to do) and I love lists! I had to read further.

Written by Emma Gray, the article was entitled: 23 Things Every Woman Should Stop Doing I highly suggest you check it out when you get a chance.

Reading it over, I soon discovered that I was currently guilty of doing six of the 23 things on a consistent basis and, at some point in my life time, I have been guilty of all of them.

I won’t overwhelm you with all 23 transgressions but I will share with you my 6 deadly sins:

1. Apologizing all the time. Not only is this number one on this list but it is also number one on my list of things I have been trying to stop myself from doing. A few years ago, some of my friends decided to play tennis, something many of us hadn’t done in years. Our first rule: No apologizing for bad shots. Here’s how that went: “Oops, sorry.” “Oops, sorry about saying sorry.” We couldn’t get through the game without apologizing. If you watch NCIS, you may know Gibb’s Rule #6: Never apologize. While I hesitate to say never, I do say, be aware of this word – and use it sparingly!

2. Bodysnarking – out loud or in your own head. While I initially didn’t know the official definition of bodysnarking (rudely talking about a person’s body – thanks Urban Dictionary), the brief explanation of “stop putting your looks down” resonated with me. I was forever doing this until very recently. What stopped me? My daughters! I realized I didn’t want them to look at themselves as critically as I looked at myself. The old “practice what you preach” lesson rang in my head. It’s a hard habit to break, especially as we get older, but one I am determined to halt, for my daughters’ sake and my own.

3. Obsessively untagging every “unflattering” photo of you that ever existed online. I will take that one step further and say to stop ducking out of pictures in general. I am always the first to volunteer to take the picture so I don’t have to be in it. It was getting so bad that I worried my grandchildren would ask my children if they even had a mother growing up. This summer, I decided enough was enough. Now, I smile, look happy and hope for the best!

4. Holding on to regrets and GUILT (the caps are my addition). Having attended 16 years of Catholic schools, I can confidently say that the whole “Catholic guilt” thing is alive and well and living in my head. I need to get it out, NOW! How? Still working on it. I tend to obsess over remarks and comments that either I said to others, or were said to me, and pick apart every reflection and word. Anyone else have this problem? I do know it isn’t healthy, or productive, but knowing something and practicing it are two very different things.

5. Spending time with people out of obligation. Why do I feel the need to keep acquaintances, even if they’re toxic? I think I’m afraid to hurt their feelings. And I have some unrealistic desire to want everyone to like me. (And if you need further reason as to why I do this, see #4) I finally have decided that my time is precious, and if someone is going to bring me down, rather than lift me up, they aren’t worth it.

6. Being embarrassed about your interests. I’m a bit of a book nerd. I also love to watch In The Kitchen with David on QVC Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings (can you do the Happy Dance?) and I watch a few of the Real Housewives series. There, I said it. And it wasn’t so hard. (Okay, I am cringing a little and worrying about what you all will think of me, but hey, see #4 – I’m over it!) If someone is going to judge me or make fun of me, than I probably didn’t want them as a friend anyway! And I will keep repeating that to myself even if I get snarky comments.

As the article states, women “often drive ourselves insane striving for perfection in our experiences, relationships and selves.” I say enough is enough. HuffPost Women issued a challenge to all women to stop doing these things. I never back down from a challenge. Anyone care to join me?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

My newest obsession

I think I am a closet photographer. I don't have the talent, or creativity, to take professional pictures, but I am becoming a bit obsessed with Instagram !

Anyone else find themselves browsing through this addicting app while waiting in line at the grocery store? Or in the carpool line? Or watching TV at night? Or making dinner?

Yes? Then I have the activity for you. (And if you answered "No" than you obviously have a more interesting life than I do so hey, give me a call and invite me over some time!)

Next week, I will be joining The SITS Girls and their Instagram Photo Challenge !

This is a one-week challenge to share photos, meet others and share our obsession!

I think the reason I enjoy Instagram so much is because the picture (usually) is all that is needed to convey your feelings or thoughts at that moment. Now, you may be wondering why a writer doesn't want to use words. My answer: sometimes words, or at least a lot of words, are unnecessary.

As that great philosopher, Dr. Seuss, once said, "The writer who breeds more words than he needs is making a chore for the reader who reads."

Sometimes, a picture really is worth a thousand words.

If you want to join The Photo Challenge, check out the link above.

And if you want to follow me on Instagram, I'm Here !

Happy snapping!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Stop the Glorification of Busy!

Stop the glorification of busy!

I was browsing Pinterest this summer and noticed the above quote, and it just stopped me in my tracks. Finally someone has expressed, in just five words, what I have been feeling and experiencing for years now.

Stop the glorification of busy!

I cannot tell you how many times I have been in a conversation with someone and it feels like we are trying to outdo each other with horror stories of how busy we are.

Stop the glorification of busy!

When I started my blog a few years ago, a friend (a very good friend) called me when she discovered my blog to tell me, specifically, that it must be nice to have the time to sit and write a blog. She didn’t call to congratulate me or tell me how happy she was for me that I had found a new outlet for my passion. No, she called to tell me that she was just too busy to do something so superfluous. (And she has never mentioned my blog to me again.)

Stop the glorification of busy!

I love to read (as you know if you read any of my posts). Books relax me, take me away to other places, teach me, and entertain me. I joined Goodreads a few years ago and use it not only to find new books but also to keep a running list of the books I have read. Recently I was telling a friend of my goal to read 65 books this year – a lofty goal but one I am enjoying accomplishing. Her response to me? You guessed it. Wow, I wish I had the time to read that much.

Stop the glorification of busy!

I think we feel more important if we say how busy we are. I think we feel we are being judged negatively if we respond to the question “What did you do this weekend?” with the answer “Relaxed!” I think we all need to…

Stop the glorification of busy!

I cannot imagine anyone’s life is so busy that they don’t have time for some sort of hobby or outlet. Whether it is exercise, shopping, browsing the internet, social media or reading, most people fill their free time – no matter how long or short that is – with some sort of distraction. Sadly, I think many of us are just too embarrassed to admit it. We fear others will think we are slacking. After all, the busier we are the more important we are, right? Wrong!

A few weeks ago, I spent the morning at my daughter’s swim meet. I chose to separate myself from the crowd and stand on the hill overlooking the pool. What I observed and overheard saddened me. It was like watching ants in action – people never stopped. Very few just sat and watched their kids swim. Moms were buzzing around buying drinks for their kids, folding towels for their kids, organizing pool bags, and generally hovering over children who were old enough to take care of themselves, while Dads were giving their kids advice about flip turns and strokes, checking stop watches for their kid’s times, shouting their kid’s names over and over again while the meet was going on, and slapping the backs of other fathers comparing notes on times and who knows what else.

Then, just as the meet was wrapping up, the cell phones came out in earnest. Suddenly, the air took on an even more frenzied feel, as plans for the rest of the day were being discussed. Baseball games, softball practices, tee times, tennis matches, work appointments – all were being scheduled and dissected. On to the next activity!

When did Saturday afternoon become so exhausting? When did life become so exhausting?

Stop the glorification of busy!

Is anyone else tired of it all? Does anyone else feel like slowing down a bit and jumping off the treadmill – even for just a little while – and enjoying life rather than complaining about it.

I propose a challenge to you. Stop using the word “busy” for the rest of the month. I’m going to try. Can you do it?

Stop the glorification of busy!

Monday, September 2, 2013

A look back at August

Summer is over.

It is Labor Day evening, just a few hours before bed. We are home from the shore with backpacks packed and lunches made, supplies labeled and alarm clocks set for an hour we haven't seen in a few months (three, to be exact), and our mood is mixed.

We are happy (a new year is beginning) and sad (summer is over); excited (oldest in the school) and nervous (college applications looming).

Mother Nature seems to sense our mood, as the day was a mixture of rain, storms and sun.

We spent the day getting ready: shopping for last-minute supplies; packing school bags, checking schedules, doing laundry, and trying to enjoy every last minute of summer.

My goal: gather my August Breakpictures together into a collage. (Easier said than done!)

But I have succeeded. (Okay, true confession: my daughter did it. I'm not that tech savvy yet. But I'm trying).

Here it is:

And, as sad as I am that summer is ending and school and Fall are about to begin, I can't help but smile as I look back at the past month.

I remember the day I sat on the front porch reading, and captured my midday experience.

I laugh at the memory of my daughter and I trying to find a seagull who would stand still long enough for me to snap a picture.

And I smile at the largest photo of my youngest daughter, smiling herself, about to enjoy her favorite donut during our breakfast together.

I so enjoyed participating in The August Break and would encourage everyone to do their own "Break" at some point in the near future. Not only did it make me slow down and capture my days in photographs, but it gives me a wonderful collage of memories that I will have to look back at (especially in February, when the weather, and my mood, are often cold and dreary.)

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy and successful school year!