Tag Archives: giving

Season of Light

12 22 14 SolsticeYesterday marked the December Solstice, the shortest day of the year and the longest, darkest night. It makes me think of the phrase, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.”

For those in the Northern Hemisphere, temperatures are getting lower. The winter nights become darker and longer, yet December points us towards a season of light, hope and renewal. The coming of a new year gives us incentive for recommitting to our goals.

When a year is ending, we focus on new hope, and our homes and cities become adorned with lights that celebrate this hope.

Since ancient times, this pivotal time in the heavens has been cause for celebration, even for the mere fact that daylight would become longer each day. Depending on your culture or faith, there are the celebrations of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and others.

But no matter what your culture or faith, we can all partake in a time of quiet and stillness to find the presence of our inner light. No matter how small or insignificant we may feel, we have the power to brighten the path for others whose experience of darkness may be even deeper than our own.

How can we shine our light this season to brighten the lives of others?

We can do so much more than we think. Just the simple act of a smile to a busy cashier (especially during the holiday!), letting that car into traffic, holding the door for another shopper, all these have ripple effects. That person is going to feel so much better for your kindness and will most likely pay that forward.

It doesn’t take money to express the spirit of the season. Respect, kindness and love are the best gifts.

It’s not all about the lights we hang on our tree, our house, our city streets and parks. It’s the light that we bring to others – now and into the New Year.

Let your light shine!

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Start a New Tradition

Christmas 2013eWhat is your holiday tradition? This is a time of year  filled with personal tradition, no matter what aspect of the holiday season you celebrate.

Ever since I moved to Florida and experienced the spectacle of the Disney Candlelight Processional, attending that event became one of my holiday traditions. Of course it falls upon a poor Disney employee to get all their family and friends into the parks at holiday time!

I make it a special party by having one or two other friends tag along. After all, it is a birthday party, since December is my birth month! The lights are for me! So it is with great appreciation to my friend Ray, the Disney cast member, that I dedicate this blog.

Each year the excursion is different depending on when we get there and what we do; we may catch a theme park ride, see the early Processional, go to the Disney Studios to see the millions of Osborne lights on display and maybe catch the Illuminations fireworks on the way back. Simply throw ourselves into the ambience of the season surrounded by lights, decorations and Christmas fireworks. Sometimes the Christmas spirit gets an assist from a cold front visiting Florida, as was the case this weekend!

After the early Processional was over, Ray, my friend Jerome and I decided to catch the 6 PM show at American Adventure. There is usually either a store or restaurant at the exit of every Disney show, in this case it was a restaurant and we were hungry. After the gentleman treated me to a birthday dinner, it just so happened that the second Processional was ending. We got to hear the Hallelujah Chorus for a second time! Amazing!

We hopped into the boat to go see the Osborne Lights, but to our dismay, (mostly my friend Jerome’s), the boat driver announced that the park would be closed by the time we got there, so no light display! (No worries, I have Osborne light photos from past years to share with you, on this page and the home page.) Instead of viewing the lights, we enjoyed a leisurely, one-hour boat cruise through Disney property. I love boat cruises, so I was happy!

That got us back in time to hear the third Hallelujah chorus of the evening and see fireworks. A Hallelujah trifecta, hat trick, triple play? Simply unheard of! Certainly it is an omen of good things to come in 2015! My night was perfectly topped off with a Starbucks Chestnut Praline latte. Hallelujah!

What is your holiday tradition? Just like the saying, “batteries not included,” you could say, “family is not required.” You can create a tradition unique to yourself, by yourself. It’s your choice. Whether it is a Christmas Eve adventure, visiting a festive winter display or special holiday spot, watching a Christmas movie, create something that is “your own.” Here is a hint: it doesn’t even have to be about “you.”

I have always wanted to visit a retirement home at the holidays and give them some holiday cheer. This year marked the first time that my friend Jerome and I led a karaoke Christmas sing-along at a retirement home. Now, that is the spirit of the holidays! I hope we can do that every year from now on, and even visit more than one home. I want to visit the same home on Christmas Day. There may be residents who have no family or visitors on the holiday – what better gift is there to give but the present of “presence?”

You have ten days left to create some Christmas magic. Start a new tradition in your life by finding a new way to bring joy to your world and the lives of others.

Speaking of traditions, one thing I do know, it’s two weeks after Thanksgiving, and it is time to make the traditional turkey soup!

Live Happy – Part Deux

ae420ec5ac8e16745144860a5729b85dThe “Live Happy” people were at it again last week. They are going to do this every month, so get ready for your monthly dose of “happy.”

Unfortunately I missed the one speaker that I was most interested in hearing because I needed to be on the road at the time!

These are a series of 30-minute web conversations with New York Times best-selling authors and experts in the fields of happiness, business and positive psychology. Hosted by Live Happy CEO Kym Yancey, the guest speakers share tips on how to tap into the power of happiness. Listeners interact and post questions.

Research proves that happiness is a major force behind your success in business, relationships and much more. Make a decision to “live happy” and check out the resources provided by the Live Happy organization. Become a Happiness Ambassador!

Here are some nuggets from the past week just for you!

October 13, 2014
Dr. Drew Ramsey – Happier with Every Bite
Author of The Happiness Diet discusses how poor diet and nutrition can cause anxiety and depression. His new book 50 Shades of Kale provides 50 exciting recipes for this superfood.

Brain health begins at the end of your fork.

Change the architecture of your brain by picking healthy food.

Some foods actually contribute to depression, such as soda and the trans fats in processed food.

Dark chocolate gives a mental boost!

“I witness people transform themselves every day-from tears to smiles, chaos to calm. We all have the power to build happy, vibrant lives. Since every molecule in your brain begins at the end of your fork, that’s where I like to start.” – Dr. Drew Ramsey

October 14, 2014
James Pawelski – The Positive Portfolio
Dr. James O. Pawelski, Director of Education and Senior Scholar in the Positive Psychology Center and Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania is widely published on the topics of positive psychology and philosophy.

Don’t wait around for happy to happen.

Happiness = human flourishing = a deep sense of well-being.

What’s in your Positive Portfolio? The Positive Portfolio is a collection of items that give you love, happiness and confidence. Think about a strength or positive emotion that you want to cultivate. Gather pictures, emails, music, etc. that help cultivate that strength or positive emotion. Focus 15 minutes a day on your “Positive Portfolio.” Add frequently to your Portfolio.

Bring mindfulness to your life; bring in the good happening around you.

Sometimes you wake up happy, and sometimes you have to wake up your happy!

October 15, 2014
Judson Laipply – Discover Your Happy Senses
Judson is a motivational speaker and dancer, best known for his performance in the Evolution of Dance viral video clip. In 2006, it was the #1 Most Viewed All Time Video and #1 Top Rated Video on YouTube.
The Evolution of Dance

Happiness is a decision, an attitude, a way of life.

Don’t hope for things, decide for things.

Make people happy and flood people’s brains with dopamine so that they remember what you say.

You cannot light another’s path, without lighting your own.

The more we share happiness, the happier we are.

The flame we have together is bigger than two individual flames.

Our words are powerful, It’s ok to day, “Yes, I am going to have a good day!”

Vocabulary lesson for the day: Perspicacity-Understanding how our perception affects our reality.

If you perceive the world through the lens of “I’m going to be happy” you can find things to make you happy.

Purpose and passion are hard to have without the other. “Pur-passion!” They feed on each other.

We have 5 “happy senses” – “pur-passion” (purpose and passion), play, harmony, perception and gratitude!

Giving isn’t giving until you give to someone who could never pay you back.

October 16, 2014
Michelle McQuaid – Wellbeing in the Workplace
Michelle is a best-selling author, workplace well-being teacher and playful change activator. She is passionate about translating cutting-edge research from positive psychology and neuroscience into practical strategies for health, happiness and business success.

Prime your brain before you go to sleep to cue up your morning habits.

During the day, make sure you get up frequently and move around, get up and drink water, create an inflection point to refresh yourself.

Inject a moment of positivity to short circuit that downward spiral that can happen at work. A jolt of joy = anything that puts a smile on your face.

You have a choice in how you feel and how you show up.

October 17, 2014
Mary Jane Ryan – The Happiness Makeover
MJ Ryan, a personal change expert and executive coach, is the author of How to Survive Change…You Didn’t Ask For: Bounce Back, Find Calm in Chaos, and Reinvent Yourself.

Accidental acts of happiness help us to become happier.

Accidental acts of kindness help us to become happier.

Gratitude is an “and” experience. No matter what is going on in your life, you can always appreciate and enjoy.

What can you still appreciate despite the difficulty and negative circumstances?

It’s not permanent; it’s not personal; it’s not pervasive.

We catch our feelings from our friends.

Give a smile to someone else today.

“We can be happier because we can grow and change until we take our very last breath.” – MJ Ryan

The Greatest Gift

9 1 14 OneBlood Logo WEBI remember my first time.
I was disappointed.
But the next time, I was elated.

I’m talking about donating blood.

The first time, my blood was not flowing fast enough and they could not collect it. They gave me the free T-shirt anyway! The second attempt was successful and I felt a very satisfied and rewarding feeling.

Could you spare an hour of your time?
Could you spare an hour to give someone a chance to live?
Could you spare an hour to donate blood?

What do people need to live?

Air, water, food, shelter…blood.
Air can be bottled, water can be purified, food can be grown, shelter can be built.
Blood cannot be manufactured.

Every 2 seconds an American needs a unit of blood.
A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.
Red blood cells have a shelf life of only 42 days, so the supply needs to be continually replenished.

If everyone who was eligible donated, when the time came for you or one of your loved ones to need blood, it would be there.

Has there been a time when someone you knew needed blood?
I’m sure you have. Cancer patients and sickle-cell patients, infants in NICU and other patients are always in need of blood.

By donating blood you will help countless others, and yourself.

How can donating blood help you?

When you donate – your screening provides you with a “mini-physical” – checking your blood pressure, temperature, cholesterol, iron level, and more. Sometimes even a mini-physical can detect conditions important to your health.

Donating is actually GOOD for your body! After donating blood, the count of blood cells decreases in our body, which stimulates the bone marrow to produce new red blood cells in order to replenish the loss. So, it stimulates the production of new blood cells and refreshes the system.

I call it getting my oil changed!

The whole process of blood donation – from the time you arrive until the time you leave – ordinarily lasts no more than one hour. The donation itself takes only about fifteen minutes. Your single donation can help as many as three people, and can be at a hospital in as little as 48 hours, ready for a critically ill patient. Just think – you can help a trauma patient, a cancer patient, and a premature baby with one donation!

Around holiday times, when there are more traffic accidents, or in times of natural disasters – the need for blood grows. You can be responsible for saving a life. Many people go on vacation during the summer, which makes blood donations more challenging. And here we are in the middle of Labor Day weekend, when there is likely to be an increased need for blood with more drivers on the road.

Do you know what the rarest blood type is?
The rarest blood type is the one that is not there when you need it.
Today’s donor may be tomorrow’s recipient.

I am in one of the special groups. Only 8% of the population has B+ blood. My type is especially helpful for leukemia patients.

All donations to charity make a difference, whether they consist of money, clothing, or simply a couple of hours spent volunteering. While every contribution is equally important, nothing is comparable to the donation of human blood.

But what are the actual statistics on blood donors?

Only about 38% of the population is eligible to give blood, and of that less than 10% actually do. If all eligible donors gave 4 – 6 times a year, there would be no blood shortages. Most people do not give simply because they do not have the facts.

They think it will hurt. They think they will faint.
They think they can catch a disease.
They think it will take too long. They think it is inconvenient.
In all cases, no.

You can go on a Saturday afternoon to your local Blood Center – spend an hour relaxing in a chair while you give blood and then drink juice and eat snacks afterwards.

Besides helping to save a life and keep ones own blood fresh and renewed, some blood centers also rewards its donors with gift certificates from vendors including grocery stores, retail chains, restaurants and gas stations. I’m sure if you knew you’d be getting a gas card you’d be running out the door now!

While these rewards are all well and good, the greatest reward is that warm feeling that you get, knowing that you have just given the greatest gift you can give – the gift of life.

So what’s stopping you?

Go to Google and look up your local blood center and make an appointment now.

Me – I’m getting another T-shirt this Labor Day.