H2O – Help 2 Others

I tend to keep my writing neutral and focused on one love and not religion, so not to separate us into categories of believers and non-believers.  I believe that we are all more alike than we are different and that our belief systems should not separate our oneness. We may choose different paths for living moral lives and we are all coexisting and expressing love in different ways, which is a beautiful process.

We are members of an active, loving, community building church. Our motto is rooted in Christ, reaching out in love.  Our faith is actionable and I want to share a story about how our church family is helping the homeless.

We have a mid-week program for 2nd through 6th graders, who come to church every week for 2+ hours and share fellowship, bible study, a meal, prayer, and an activity, all run by volunteers, even the cooking dinner part.  It’s amazing to be part of and to witness.

Last week, our activity was filling brown, paper lunch bags with items that we can give to the homeless in our community. We had stations where the kids were writing cards, preparing muffins to be baked, decorating the outside of the bags, and then one to fill the bags.

One of the love notes looked like this:


 Inside the bags, the kids placed a rain poncho, a can of vienna sausages, instant oatmeal packets, squeezable applesauce packets, a fruit bar, and a love note.


They filled over 160 bags. As they left for the evening, each kid was told they could take 3+ bags home with them and they were told to keep them in their cars and to hand them out with their parents to those in our community who were in need.

Charlie was very excited for this event and couldn’t wait to be able to find his first person to help.  While he was coming home from his soccer game this weekend, a homeless person was pandering for money at the intersection. Charlie told his dad that he had to stop and give the man one of his H20 – Help To Others bags. Jeff was confused at first, because he didn’t realize that Charlie had been prepared to serve others right there and then. Charlie was insistent that Jeff open his window and give it to the man standing nearby before the light changed and he missed his opportunity.

Jeff told the man that he had a care package for him and asked if he would like to have it. The man agreed and was very thankful for the gift and connection.  Charlie watched and felt content. The two of them talked about their experience the rest of the way home and Jeff praised Charlie for his persistence and active interest in following through and helping the man, standing in the cold.

Sometimes sharing my faith makes me uncomfortable because I don’t want to leave anyone out or have anyone with different beliefs than mine to feel disinterested because it’s a discussion about something they don’t believe in. The root is still the same and that is the connection I hope you find, whether you’re Christian, Atheist, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, or other. We are all rooted in love. One love.

I shared this story because I wanted you to see faith in action. I want you to see the good that churches provide a place for people to gather and to create good deeds and to make our communities a little bit better. We are teaching our children compassion, to be giving, and to help others. I’m sure you are too, perhaps in similar ways and different ways too.  This is just one of the many ways that connect us to love and to serve each other.

Do you have a story to share about helping others, big or small?

nAMaste, BeLoveRs

Chief Cheerleading Officer

Wouldn’t this be a great job title? I think every office, and family, and team, and community should have at least one, along with a cheerleading squad to support the team.  We all need someone to lift us up, to remind us of our goals, to share our team spirit, and to encourage, motivate and unify us.

I was graciously labeled this today at one of my meetings and I loved it. I love bringing people together and sharing a common vision and lifting each other up, whether it be at work, on the field, in the community and/or with my family.

I looked up the purpose of cheerleaders, and here is one definition:

“The purpose of cheerleaders is to convey school spirit while supporting the competitive sporting events of the school. Cheerleaders act as liaisons between the spectators and the playing team by incorporating cheers, dances, and other crowd involvement techniques.  They are also representatives of the school and community. The cheerleading squads are team-based activities that promote fitness, trust, self-esteem, enthusiasm, and fun!” – Big Foot High School web page from 2011

In the workforce, a cheerleader is the one that encourages the team and reminds everyone that their team is the best and helps everyone rally behind company goals, reminding everyone of the mission and keeping things fun. They encourage the team players to do their best and root for them, focusing on the good. The cheerleader is passionate and filled with enthusiasm and hopes that her passion and enthusiasm is contagious in the organization.

Who do you know that is a cheerleader?  I keep hearing the OMI Cheerleader song play over and over in my head –  Oh, I think I found myself a cheerleader…Thanks Kimmy!

Here’s my cheer for the night:  “YOU ARE ENOUGH!!”  xo

My Little Sunnyvale

IMG_6202I live in a nice, semi-little town of 147,055 people.  After all, it’s called Sunnyvale, which conjures up great images of a sunny little town, doesn’t it? It fits my personality and I love living here for so many reasons.

It’s not fancy and it’s not pretentious. It’s the Heart of Silicon Valley and things work really well here.  The city streets are nicely laid out and it’s easy to get around the 24 square miles that make up this city, even at rush hour. There are beautiful parks and public tennis courts and golf courses, a library, and a quaint, little downtown. If you need emergency assistance, help is on it’s way literally within minutes.  The CalTrain runs through the downtown and connects all the cities up and down the South Bay, Peninsula and into San Francisco.  There is a lot of growth happening around the city and hopefully one day our downtown will be completely revitalized. We’ve been waiting for over 10 years for them to finish the project and hopefully the lawyers finally figure out how to call a truce and get on with things that are long past due.

We have great community sports teams, schools, churches, theaters, public services and places to shop.  We have great diversity, with 26 different languages spoken at home from our elementary school students.

I love my neighbors and knowing that we all support one another and watch out for each others’ kids. We carpool together and have potluck dinners and our kids play in the park together.  We work together to teach our kids right from wrong and support one another when there are disagreements. We tailgate together at Stanford Football games and go to each others’ kids events.  We share stories and learn from each other, because there isn’t a parenting manual and usually our friends know best or have been there, done that, or going through it right now too. I love that we’re going through this life journey together.

In the heart of Silicon Valley, there are still good old fashioned families like ours, who love being home and hanging out and BBQing, volunteering in our schools and in our community, and driving kids to and from their various events.

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The parents enjoy chatting with each other and catching up on the field, on the courts and at the school events, and even waving as we pass each other.  Even though we’re busy, we still make time to connect and help one another, and for this I am thankful.

I am thankful for all the moms and dads who share the journey with me and help me to raise my kids. Like the dad who brought Charlie home from practice tonight and came in my kitchen to discuss whether we should let our boys bike to practice or not. I enjoyed the discussion and sharing ideas about whether this was a good idea or not. I liked that we listened to each other and decided to wait giving them this freedom and to continue carpooling to protect their safety.  I love that Juliana went to a friend’s house to bake cookies for another friend’s birthday today. And I love that Christian got a ride home from a friend after his practice.

I am thankful for the public schools and the teachers and administrators who are very passionate and willing to help teach our kids and go the extra mile, even sponsoring and chaperoning trips to Japan! How cool is this?

I love that Sunnyvale is our home and that we have built a foundation here, filled with love, neighbors and a community of friends who I enjoy seeing and running into across town everyday.

What do you love about your community and where you live? What part do you contribute to making your town great?

I hope you had a good day and are living it up, right now, right where you are.  Are you??  😉

Community Connections and Friendship

Today was filled with love.

I started the day with a special breakfast at Charlie’s school, called Moments with Moms. It was my last one as Charlie is graduating this year, so it was extra special. I loved sitting with him and his friends and mine, soaking it all in and enjoying every minute and all the kids and moms and teachers and principal.  

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I love our school and our international community and my baby boy.  I was filled with joy.

After breakfast and doing a few chores, I went to meet my volleyball girls out on the grass for some outdoor volleyball fun. I hadn’t been out for over a month, since I’ve been fighting pain in my neck and back. I received an “internal memo” from our team captain, who always makes us laugh with her spirit and creativity.  She pretends that we are an official team and sends out weekly reminders of upcoming events and helps to coordinate our schedules and encourages us to get outside and play. I adore her!  Here is what her memo stated:

Internal Memo To: A. Hartley
From:  WBVC Management
Regarding:  The Hartley Shuffle aka Happy Dance
Dear Ms. Hartley,
Please be reminded that according to your contractual agreement with the WBVC you will need to ensure that you
fulfill your 2015 public appearance schedule and perform your signature move “the Hartley Shuffle”
aka “Happy Dance”(listed per your, “Publicity Branding”) as specified in the language found in paragraph 4, addendum 23.8.
We are currently renegotiating our sub leases and incentives with our DVD sponsorship and we need to ensure that “the Hartley Shuffle” will be performed during the high season.  Therefore,you will need to rehab your shoulder in short order and provide a timetable for your future appearances.
For your reference note that as per the contract, “Player will cooperate with the news media, and will participate upon request in reasonable activities to promote the Club and the League.”
The Top 7 Sports Signature Moves:
1.) Colin Kaepernick’s “Bicep Kiss”
2.) Dennis Rodman’s “Jersey Toss”
3.) Jason Kidd “Blows a Kiss”
4.) The Bash Brothers’ “Forearm Smash”
5.) Deion Sanders’ “Prime Time Dance”
6.) Lebron James’ “Powder Toss”
7.) Adriana Hartley’s “the Hartley Shuffle”
Thank you,
The WBVC Management
The shortened version of this memo from M and others reads, where is Adriana and how did that happy dance go?  We need
the happy dance back to which management was requested to send a memo asap.  BTW All members reading said memo should attend all practices weekly as your schedule permits.

It was soooo good to be out on the field again with my friends, playing in the sunshine, sharing stories and catching up while working out with my girls. I was nervous at first to play again, and was on the injured list, which gave me a few privileges, such as extra serves.  After about an hour or so, I warmed up and the pain was less. I was so happy that N encouraged me to come out and play again, as this made me very happy.

The rest of the day was filled with catching up with laundry and work, before getting ready for the potluck dinner with our Japanese students and host families back at school. Every family brought something to share, which made for a fabulous dinner. We made bagel pizza bites and the girls made gluten free chocolate frosted cupcakes.

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The Japanese students provided entertainment that made me very happy.

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My favorite part of the night was watching. The kids perform. The Japanese kids practiced their English, acting as the MCs and directing the agenda for the evening. I loved the boys group dancing, the drama scene, the group song, and most especially watching  Akie perform a solo ballet performance to my favorite Frozen tune, “Let it Go.”  

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She was absolutely stunning and beautiful and graceful. I was so proud of her (as my daughter!) I left from filming, saying to my friends, “that’s my girl!!.” They giggled.

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Seeing and feeling the appreciation and gratitude and love between the students, the schools, and the families made my day.

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This is truly a remarkable experience and I recommend hosting a foreign exchange student in your house, if you have the means. We are all loving her and sharing in this journey, creating connections and friendships that we would never have had otherwise.

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I am thankful!!

The Love that Binds

So many things can and do go wrong.

Things happen every day that we don’t expect, that we don’t desire and that we wish just didn’t.

We don’t get to choose or control all of the events that happen to us and for us.

When we are still and can accept what happens, we are usually surrounded by love and light that comfort us, when we are open to receive it. This is the amazing side of life that feels like a miracle and is awe-inspiring.

Such is the case for us right now as we sit and wait for Juliana’s eye to heal.  I know this isn’t the end of the world, but it has stopped us from carrying on as usual. She is suffering and I am waiting by her side, supporting her and providing around the clock care, as we wait for healing and to know the results from her injury.

We did not wish for nor plan for this to happen. Accidents happen.  Life happens and it’s up to us how we adapt and respond.

There is good in everything. We just have to see through and past the pain to see and feel the good.

So many people love us and support us through kind words, gifts, visits, phone calls, food and prayer. Thank you friends and family.

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We are so thankful for the loving concern shared with our family.

It’s love that binds and connects us to each other and helps us endure pain and suffering.

I know our story is not the only story like this, and that ours is so small, yet it is still our pain. I am not complaining. It just is.

Love permeates the world and I see how love shines in times of trouble.

I’m watching the love from Australians supporting Muslims through the simple connection of offering to ride the tram together. #illridewithyou as the deadly siege occurred yesterday.

I’m watching the support and love flow for the tragedy in Pakistan. #prayforPeshawar #peshawarattack

“Smallest coffins are the heaviest!! May the innocent souls RIP.” #PrayForPeshawar

We remember the tragedy in Sandy Hook two years ago this week #SandyHook.

And I’ve watched the love and support flow in after my cousin’s tragic death.

Love is an amazing force.

Humanity has no borders.

Spread love, BeLoveRs. Keep shining your light. You make a difference.

xo

Love is Louder – The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Success

If you want to see love in action, just take a look at the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.


We, as a community, are speaking up. We are accepting a challenge to connect, to raise awareness, to be giving, and loving and supportive and playful, and grateful.  We are creating compassion and we are doing something good that feels good and right, and not just for ourselves or our families or necessarily something close to home.  We are helping others and that helps heal us and creates happiness despite the pain and suffering that exists in its many forms. And ALS is just one of them.

Love wins.

There will be haters and nay-sayers, but when we are loving and authentic and share from our hearts, love and goodness wins.

ALS Awareness is also winning through our social media online campaign.  Just look at the numbers… over $42 million dollars has been raised in a month by thousands of new contributors.  That is CRAZY good.  I hope this sparks giving all over the place.

We as a society are winning by communicating and connecting and bridging the gaps between our humanity, across religious and political and financial and age differences, one at a time in our own little way.  Woohoo!!

It is amazing to be part of this wonderful movement, and not just for the awareness that our participation and sharing is bringing to ALS, but also to the connection and compassion and kindness we are sharing with one another.

What if we can learn from this successful social media online campaign and apply the lessons to other causes?

What has made this so successful?

Here are my takeaways, in no particular order:

1.  It started with a SPARK.  Pete Frates, a patient with a need, had an idea. He dared someone to take a fun, goofy challenge to create awareness and to raise money and gave them a specific time period to respond, within 24 hours, and asked them to spread the love by challenging friends, creating a personal connection.  He created an inferno!

2. A DARE.  When we are dared to do something, it’s like challenging us to step up. In this case, it was a fun dare that is possible and easy to do, and most everyone can participate without getting hurt (if you’re careful!! – of course there have been injuries)

3. A quick turn around TIME, within 24 hours. The challenge was action oriented, dump ice water on your head and/or donate to the cause within 24 hours. People can’t put it off to do later.

4. Social Media – we have the means to connect quickly via Facebook and Twitter and Email, etc.  People want to be part of something fun and good and it’s catchy. Sharing is caring.  We are connecting communities and feel like we can do something to create change by participating. We can be seen and we can be creative and we like those things.

5. It’s FUN.  It’s fun to be play and be silly and with all our busyness, it’s great to stop in a 24 hour period because we “have to” and to just be goofy.  We are given a pass to play because we accepted a dare.  It’s fun because of the anticipation of ice cold water being thrown on our head and waiting for the cold to chill and shock us and make us laugh and make those around us laugh. It’s like that carnival dunk tank game that makes us laugh every time the ball hits the target and the volunteer falls in the water. We laugh at this. We love the anticipation and clean, safe, fun that surrounds us and we want to play, participate and watch.

6. It’s POSITIVE and we can all connect and share and create community across communities. There is a lot of negative news and we’re tired as a nation of all the terrorism and racism and any other -ism. We need to laugh. We need to connect. We need to share some love and laughter, as a nation and across nations. We’re hurting as a society and we need to love one another. LOVE doesn’t see age, sex, fat, politics, religion, etc.

7. Happiness comes from GIVING. We give each other a challenge. We give each other a laugh. We give a little bit of money to help others. We give ourselves hope. We give each other some lovin’ and that’s a good thing.  Giving is a secret to creating happiness, not just for the receivers but also for the givers.

8.  It’s ENTERTAINMENT.  We use humor to lighten the stress. We use humor to connect with one another. And watching people dump ice cold water on each other or themselves is funny. We can laugh and connect with one another in this simple way, through a smile and a laugh.  And most everyone can participate in this challenge – young and old.  And we’re using humor to create awareness, love and compassion.  And we’re playing first, learning second, and giving third. Play is important.

9. It’s SIMPLE.  It’s easy to do and it’s engaging and quick. We maybe spent 20 minutes between finding a bucket and filling it with ice and water, rehearsing for a minute and recording the challenge. And then going online afterwards to http://www.als.org to donate.  It was fun, easy, quick and simple to do with my kids.  As a family, we played first, watched a video second and learned about what ALS is really about, and then donated money next.  The dare/challenge from a friend is what got us involved and interested in participating and we didn’t want to miss the 24 hour deadline.

10. The intention is AUTHENTIC and by participating and sharing, we make it PERSONAL. We thrive for authenticity and for what is real. This is a real need. There are real people dying and suffering with no cure.  ALS is a horrible, terrible disease that affects the patient and his/her family and community. And we all know someone that knows someone that is afflicted by this and we can feel empathy by sharing in the pain and feel like we can make a small difference.

I hope what this challenge does is helps to raise enough money and awareness so that a cure can be found for ALS and the conversation continues and those affected feel the love and compassion from all of us. I also hope that we continue to engage with one another, play with each other, focus on the positive, and continue to think of others and give money and time to those causes that need our attention, as often as possible.

We can make a difference. We can be the change we want to see in the world.  I dare you to take the challenge and play along and donate to www.als.org and to any other group or organization that needs some lovin’.  I dare ya!  xoxo

Namaste

Being Part

We are parts of various communities. We have so much to give and so much to gain by sharing our gifts and talents and love.

We get to show up. We get to be together. We get to help one another and build friendships and bonds with those who are like us, doing what we’re doing, believing what we’re believing, playing what we’re playing, studying what we’re studying, etc.

The more we choose to show up, the more joy we create. Isn’t this a good thing?

Think about where you belong and what part you play. Are you being an active participant and contributing to the group’s benefit? We get out what we put in. Just sayin’

Whether you belong to a family, a school, a church or synagogue, a sporting team, or another group of two or more, the more you show up and participate, the more gratitude you will feel and the more happiness you will create.

I believe this to be true in most cases.

Today I felt a strong connection to our school community. There were more than 13 adults, and a handful of kids sorting and stacking all the relevant school papers for all the new and returning students this year and putting them into Manila envelopes. We had quite the assembly line. We worked together, while sharing stories of our summer vacations, about our kids and our excitement for school to be beginning again. Summer is a full time job for stay at home parents. It was nice to be back with my peers again.

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I Am content to be part of such a healthy community of diverse friends, working together to support our kids and our school and learning environment.

I love this online community and the connections and stories and inspiration that comes from sharing every day, even in just this small way.

For the community of Ferguson, stand strong and work together with love and kindness. I wish you peace. We can change the world, one community at a time.

For the community of friends who loved Robin Williams and are feeling such a big gap and sadness, I wish you peace and understanding and love. Life is complicated and messy. Follow the light.

Namaste