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

The Best Gift

 I love surprises and unexpected attention.

Tonight I was sitting at my computer around 10 pm and Juliana was getting ready for bed. She came to me with a really hot wash cloth that had been warmed in the microwave to wash my face. She knows how much I love this ritual and how I don’t usually take the time to care for my skin the way I should. I’ve taught her to wash her face, but I don’t do such a good job of modeling this behavior.  When I do heat up a wash cloth and put it on my face, it brings such great and simple joy and I melt into the comfort of the moment of the warmth, taking my breathe away.

When she unexpectedly brought me this gift tonight for no reason other than she loves me, I felt like it was my birthday. I felt cherished and was so happy that she surprised me and took care of me, knowing how much I would appreciate this simple gesture. She knows I’m tired and she took a moment to connect and to pamper me before going off to her room.

Thank you, Juliana. I’m the luckiest mama!

If you’ve never heated up a wet washcloth in the microwave and enjoyed the steam on your face, you’ll want to try it. I think you’ll love it too.

Wishing you love and sweet, simple, connections and comforts.

nAMaste

 

 

How to Stay Positive When You’re Brokenhearted

Today was hard. It is the anniversary of Chase Varney’s death today and it sucks. He was only a high school, senior. My son will be a senior next year. This is too close to my heart and I adore and admire his mother and I can only imagine what she is feeling right now. Heart broken.

I felt paralyzed and helpless. I felt anger and sadness and loneliness. I felt compassion and frustration and helplessness. I also felt grateful and guilty. I felt present and short-tempered and nervously laughed a lot. I was anxious.

I am not in control and I feel vulnerable and fearful and sad and mad all at the same time.

How is one supposed to be positive when you’re dealing with such negative feelings?

This is what we need to learn to do. We need to learn to carry on, despite the S*(#.  We need to teach our kids and ourselves that we are going to face ugly moments and days and we can get through them. We don’t have to be perfect. It’s okay to be sad. We get to choose how to deal with the bad things, just as we know how to deal with the good things.  When we make bad choices, we can recover. One bad choice does not define us and this too shall pass. It’s okay to mess up. We’re all still learning. Do our kids really know this? Do they know how to make mistakes? I don’t know for sure, but I’m hoping we teach them to fail and to be resilient.

No one thing or event defines all of us. We can be broken and we can start again. We can be forgiven and we can rebuild. We have to be kind to ourselves and allow the pain to just be without feeding it.

I just ate an entire chocolate bar. I am feeling it. I am lost.

I don’t have to have all the answers and it’s okay to cry my eyes out. I did that tonight. I yelled tonight too. I’m so frustrated.

And then I wiped away my tears, and said enough. I didn’t want to cry the rest of the night. I was crying that ugly cry and it felt good to let it out and I don’t like to lose self control and to cry like that.

Charlie asked if I wanted to hear a good story. Thank God for the littles. I said yes, please. Lift me up and share something good because I am so sad right now. And he did.

He told me how he won a raffle prize tonight for wearing his shirt. Another new kid forgot to wear his member-shirt and this was his first year participating. Charlie chose to give his prize to the new kid and made his night. Seriously? He knows compassion already and to be self-less? Good job, Charlie boy. I am proud of you. You’re getting the meaning behind this life circus. I am proud of you and this story was just the right one I needed to hear tonight. Thank you for this precious gift. Thank you for being you, kind and loving and compassionate.

I smiled. I cried. I smiled again.

We are all a little broken. Let’s choose to take care of each other. Let’s choose to forgive others and ourselves and to offer do-overs and compassion. Let’s support one another and lift each other up.

And just maybe we’ll get through this life happily ever after together.

nAMaste

p.s. These little gifts brought light and warmth to me today, still a year later. Thank you Elizabeth and ML for your gifts of friendship. I love you.


Women

I love women.

I love how women take care of each other.

I love how we care for kids and build community.

I love women who love their families.

I love how empathetic we are to each other and how we can really feel each other’s joys and pains.

I love how smart we are.

I love our beauty and how we admire each other.

I love our strength and how we endure pain.

I love how we help one another.

I love how we offer to bring meals, to pray, to visit, to call and text, when one of us is suffering.

I love when women are filled with grace, especially when we are hurt and we give up our need for control and accept what is.

I love that we love.

I love women, especially the women in my life who embody these truths.

Thank you for being wonderful you.

Carry on BeLoveD Warrior Women!

Namaste.

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Messy Relationships

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
Brené Brown

Relationships – Part 2

This is the week of relationship challenges.

I had another situation this week that left me saddened.  

I was not chosen for something and it hurt my feelings. I felt rejected by my friend and at the same time accepted her decision. As I dealt with my feelings of rejection, I also practiced letting go of anger and accepting her and her choice, even though it wasn’t my favorite choice.

I am practicing letting go of hurt and sadness and moving on as quickly as possible, after acknowledging the sense of loss. I don’t want to dwell on loss and pain and sadness, even though these feelings are also part of life. I want to acknowledge the feelings and release them so that they don’t consume my mind space. This is a practice, let me tell you, but it’s so worth it.  There are so many other opportunities to explore and one loss shouldn’t take away our energy, but rather should energize us to try new things and to create new relationships.

I choose to let go.

I chose to share my story of disappointment with my kids. I wanted them to know that even as adults, we will sometimes get hurt by others choices and that we have to find peace in that. We all experience rejection in different forms, and we cannot always be chosen for the team, for the role in a play that we wanted, as a friend, for a job, as a partner, etc, and we have to develop ways to cope with the changes that life delivers to us.

I wanted to teach compassion and forgiveness. I wanted them to be aware that we are sometimes the ones that do the unintentional hurting, and that I want them to be careful with their choices and their relationships and to be mindful of how their actions affect others.  I wanted to teach them self confidence, and to be ok with themselves, when they are rejected for whatever reason, and to carry on.

They got it. They understood.  They shared how they have dealt with similar experiences and shared compassion with me. And then I cried. Because I was understood and was thankful that my little ones got it.

Life is good. I am ok.  We move on and it’s ok. Shine.

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

Dalai Lama – Visit to Santa Clara University

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The Dalai Lama visited Santa Clara University today and was giving a talk about business and ethics and compassion. There was a live webcast of the event, of which I got to hear a bit while cooking dinner and cleaning up the kitchen.

Mostly what I heard where the local panelists sharing their life experience and work experience and very little spoken by His Holiness, Dalai Lama (HHDL).  I most appreciated Jane Carpenter-Cohn’s life story about the four stages of life and how she learned the values of compassion as a child and lived those values as an employee, as well as having created a compassionate working environment when she started her own company.

The Dalai Lama was preaching the importance of compassion in life and in the work force for ourselves and for others. “A compassionate mind creates self confidence and inner strength.”  It creates calm and mental comfort and creates happiness. 

“Give more happiness to others, you get maximum happiness,” he said.  The spirit of giving is what creates peace. We need to take care of others and the joy will return to us. We cannot be self-centered and we need to be giving.

Although I didn’t pay attention to the entire program, what I did see was a lot of laughter and pure happiness. He showed up late to the afternoon presentation, because I think the concept of time is not something he worries about.  Everyone else seemed more nervous and on a schedule, but he just seemed jovial and wanted to connect and hear and share. I loved this and wanted to hear and see more.

One other thing he mentioned that caught my attention was that he thought if females were the world leaders, we would have less conflict and less violence. Do you think that would be true? I wonder and think it’s possible. Maybe Hilary will run for presidency, not that I’m advocating for her, but do like the idea of a female president.

At the end of the program, he presented white shawls to the co-hosts and acknowledged them by bowing his head and thanking them. I enjoyed watching this ritual. 

I think his overall message is a good one – 

Be compassionate.

Be loving.

Be kind.

Everyone wants a happy life and everyone deserves the right to be happy.

Be well, my friends. 

Namaste.

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