Wednesday, March 25, 2009
We fight viruses every day. It seems to be a never ending battle.
During the winter months, we fight a lot of viruses that can threaten our health. The cold virus is one example of something that can leave us feeling absolutely miserable. Nobody likes having a cold.
There are also viruses that can infect our computer with spyware, malware and other pernicious problems we may not even be able to see or combat without the help of an expert.
But there’s another virus that spreads so quickly, it can do a lot of damage to a lot of people and organizations before anyone really has a chance to combat it. If this particular virus is allowed to spread without being challenged and treated, it can result in great losses to productivity, and the general health of individuals and even an entire work force.
This virus is called negativity.
One person with a negative attitude can infect everyone around them, and, very often, that’s a symptom of the virus itself, for they can’t seem to keep it to themselves and be content with that. Once they’re infected, they feel a certain obligation to spread it from person to person, until everyone else feels as miserable as they are.
What a nasty virus!
The only thing I’ve really found effective at fighting the negativity virus is to get away and isolate myself from the carrier. I’ve tried reasoning, cheerfulness, positivity and other antidotes, but many times, my efforts are ineffective and I end up getting infected with what they have before I know it.
So, here’s your challenge today:
Be a carrier for a different kind of virus.
Be a positivity carrier.
Just for today, smile like you mean it.
When you and others are faced with grim news (and let’s face it, there’s plenty of that to go around these days), look past the negative and find the positive. Then share that with others. While the carriers of the negativity virus always look for the dark cloud inside the silver lining, see if you can look past that and find the silver lining.
Do you know someone who is down, who needs encouragement, love, caring and a dose of something positive? You can help them. You don’t need anyone’s permission to help them, just do it.
Be a positivity carrier.
Infect as many people as you can.
They may think you’re crazy, but that’s okay. Often people infected with negativity can only see optimism as insanity. Don’t worry about that, and certainly don’t let that affect your efforts to find the good amidst all the bad.
Can you be positive today?
Can you be a carrier of the positivity virus?
Can you infect others?
I think you can.
Now, go and do and have fun with it!
Thank you for reading today’s post. I appreciate you. Because I know you come to my blog and read what I write, I feel more positive about life.
See? You’re already doing it.
And always remember, Service is the Action Form of Love.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
I got a call from my dad the other night.
The fact that he called isn’t unusual, but I must admit, I was surprised by why he called.
I’ve been working on my fifth book, tentatively titled “Whispers of Home”. It’s a novel about a girl named Emily, who leaves the comfort and peace of the Spirit World to come to mortality. Her life here, by comparison, at least, is chaotic and unpredictable.
Throughout the story, Emily has a few noteworthy encounters with her guardian spirit, Rosemary. And, at those times when Emily can’t see her, we know that Rosemary is always there, in some manner, to guide, strengthen, warn and help. On many occasions, Rosemary whispers encouragement and advice to the young Emily, thus, the title.
I wasn’t sure how my dad would react to reading about guiding spirits and life’s interactions from one side of the veil to the other, because his wife of six decades just passed away two months ago. I didn’t know if he would find the story encouraging, or if he would feel that it was too soon to think about such events, because of the raw emotions that come with sudden widowhood.
But, I took a chance.
This past Sunday, I took my little flash drive to his house and downloaded what I had so far written of the story. I put it on his desktop so he could read it when he felt ready to.
And, tonight, he called for the sole purpose of telling me how much he enjoyed it, and how happy the story had made him. In fact, when he first called, I asked how he was, and he answered with “I’m better now.” When I asked what he meant, he said that he felt better for having read only the first five chapters of my story.
I was taken by surprise. I mean, I would never think my dad would say anything negative either about me or my creative work, but to call simply to tell me my writing made him happy? To call just to encourage me in this particular work?
It was a call I’ll never forget.
My dad has always been one to encourage, and that’s one of the reasons he’s my hero. I remember all through my growing-up years, dad would always find something to tell me that would encourage me. If I wasn’t doing so well in school, he would encourage me to do better. If I was doing particularly well at something, he would encourage me to continue. Never did my father make me feel like I was a failure.
He always, always encouraged me.
So, here’s your challenge for today:
Think about the people in your life. Don’t just focus on those who guest star in your own movie of life, think about the bit players and the extras, too.
Of those, who do you know that could use your encouragement?
Remember, to be effective, memorable and meaningful, service doesn’t have to be a large, cumbersome or time-consuming project. Small and simple service acts have great meaning to the recipient.
Think about your own interactions with those who have encouraged you. Did they have to call you up on stage and give you an award in front of hundreds of people? Did they have to announce your name in the news or over the radio? Sure, those are nice things, but I bet if you searched your memory, you can think of times when you received encouragement from someone who took the time to call you up, or mail you a thank you note, or even sent you a short email.
You can do it, too.
Think of someone and encourage them.
Pick up the phone and call them.
Write and mail a nice thank you card.
Send them a short email.
Make it personal and make it real. Don’t fabricate something, for, in the end, you both lose when you’re insincere.
Thank them for something they’ve done well, and encourage them to continue.
Recognize their efforts for something they may struggle with, and encourage them to keep at it.
Offer to help if you have the time and ability, or offer to point them to the help they need if it’s something you can’t help them with.
But, whatever you do, do it.
Do it today.
Find someone to encourage, and then encourage them.
Let them know you care.
Just do it.
Thank you for reading my post today. It makes me feel good knowing I can help you make a positive impact on someone else’s day – on someone else’s life.
Please pass it on. Stumble this, paste it into an email and send it to a friend or two (please don’t spam). Retweet. Repost. Share.
But most of all, please keep coming back.
And remember, Service is the Action Form of Love.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Recently, I read in the news of a man heading home on the freeway and seeing an accident up ahead. One of the vehicles involved in the crash caught fire, trapping a woman inside.
Though the man wasn’t a trained firefighter or rescuer, he acted. He pulled over, stopped his own car, then pulled the woman out of her car. He said he’d seen on television how cars can explode when they’re on fire, and he couldn’t just leave her there.
Pretty dramatic story, isn’t it? In one fell swoop, this man earned enough “hero points” to last him a lifetime.
Yet, even with all the drama such stories inherently contain, one common thread I notice in all such accounts is this:
The ordinary people who save others from imminent danger reject the label we put on them. They refuse to be called a hero.
They often say they were just in the right place at the right time and that anybody else would have (hopefully) done the same thing.
What about you?
Have you been a hero to someone? Are you a hero to someone now?
A hero doesn’t have to be someone who rescues someone from a burning car or building. A hero can be someone who is just at the right place at the right time.
The circumstances can be mundane and completely not newsworthy, yet still impact someone else’s life in dramatic ways.
My dad is such a hero. Though I know he would risk his life to save someone from imminent death or bodily injury by fire, I can’t think of a time he’s ever rescued anyone from a car fire. Yet, he’s been steadily building up “hero points” day after day, year after year.
He’s been there to encourage me to do my best, and he’s always thought far better of me than I’ve felt of myself. He tells me, too. By word and example, he’s shown me that he places such great faith in me that no matter if I feel like I’ve failed in a particular endeavor, he always sees me as a success.
And, even with eight children (me being the youngest) and a wife who often required round the clock care, he still found ways to serve others outside the family. He served with distinction but without fanfare. He never got a medal for his heroism, yet to many people, he most definitely is a hero.
How about you?
Can you be a hero to someone today?
Can you encourage them to be there best?
Can you see them as a success even if they feel like they’ve failed?
Who can you be a hero to?
Do you have a child or children you can serve, motivate and cheer on, even if it's not your own child?
Do you have a sibling or a parent you can quietly but meaningfully serve?
What about your coworkers or neighbors? Could they use someone in their lives that sees them at their worst but treats them like they’re at their best?
How can you earn “hero points” by serving someone else today?
I challenge you to find someone to serve today. Find someone to be a hero to. Find someone to encourage, to uplift. Even if you can find one person and help them one time in some small and simple way, you’ve met the challenge.
Be someone’s hero.
And remember, Service is the Action Form of Love.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Welcome back. Its good to see you again.
I apologize for my sudden absence from my blog - late last year, there was so much going on in my life, I needed to take a hiatus and just get things settled.
I'm still trying to post every day, but anniversary days like today (mama passed away 2 months ago today), and with everyday life, I just can't seem to get back into it. I promise, I'm trying.
One of the things that happened was my dear mama got sick and ended up in the ICU of a local hospital. She passed away on January 16, 2009. For a week, our family essentially took over the ICU waiting room (on one typical day, I counted 32 of us there).
This time was both a very sad time and a very good and spiritual time. Not only did we as her children, husband, grandchildren and others have time to see one another on a daily basis, we also had many opportunities to tell mama of our love and to assure her that we would be fine if she needed to return Home.
We shared a lot of stories in that waiting room, and one constant story that was told over and over was mom’s refusal to pass on bad gossip.
I suppose you may be wondering if there really is such a thing as good gossip.
Whenever mama heard something nice about someone, she always made a point to pick up the phone and tell the person what so-and-so said about them. But, if she heard something bad about someone, she kept it completely to herself.
What an example I have to live up to!
So, here’s today’s challenge - which is actually a few challenges rolled into one. You can pick one, do all or just some of them:
First, make a point to find the good in somebody you know who really needs an encouraging word. This might be a co-worker, a friend or even the bus or cab driver. Find something about them to praise, and then just say it.
It’s not hard, it’s a small and simple way to brighten someone else’s day, and the impact on them could be just what they need to make it through a rough day.
Second, if someone comes to you with something negative to say about someone else, refuse to listen or pass it on. Tell that person of a nice quality about the object of the gossip, and let them know you appreciate the other person.
Third and final, if you hear gossip about yourself, remind yourself that you are a child of God, a true and literal son or daughter of diety. Rather than becoming immediately defensive about what you’ve heard, think of one of your best qualities. Write it down and remind yourself of that quality throughout your day.
As I’ve learned (and am continuing to learn) from mama, service doesn’t have to be an arduous, painful or time consuming process. It really can be small and simple, take little time and have a great and lasting impact on the lives of others.
Remember, Service is the Action Form of Love.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
We often read in the news about just how different and diverse our world is becoming. Because of inventions like the Internet, we’re learning more and more about people all over the world, in real time, as if they were our next door neighbors.
But, at the same time we’re learning about our differences, sometimes we’re letting those differences be barriers to our commonality. Rather than be the work-together village we once were, in too many instances we’re becoming a slum town where we stick together with those who believe as we do and form gangs to tear down others who believe differently.
We’ve become a world of red states vs. blue states. We have straights vs. gays. Black against white against Hispanic against… well, you get the picture. No one group seems to be able to avoid the fray.
Where will this lead? It’s already taken us through the courts and into wars. Where the Vietnam War became a living room war a few decades ago, we now get to watch the likes of Judge Judy, Divorce Court and even American Idol where civility toward one another seems to be the exception rather than the rule.
We love to tear down others who are different from us. Rather than step out of our homes and talk about our common interests, we pull our cars into our attached garages, turn on the radio host who attacks our differences and polarizes us, and then get on the Internet to lambaste others who don’t look, speak, think or act like we do.
We shun anything and anyone that could help us find common ground.
So, I’m betting you can guess what today’s challenge is, can’t you?
For today, be nice. Be civil. When you can’t find common ground in beliefs, find it in other areas.
Do you both have children? Grandchildren? Do you have a common interest in music? Books? Movies? Can you steer the conversation away from religion, politics, race or whatever comes between you and instead talk about something you share?
Build a bridge. Smile. You don’t have to believe the way someone else does, but you can accept someone else as a fellow child of God, a co-resident of this big, beautiful world we live in.
We don’t have to do it all, but we should do what we can, even if only for today.
Thank you for taking today’s challenge. I hope you find peace and harmony in your life and in your relationships. I hope you find small and simple service worthwhile and meaningful.
Remember, Service is the Action Form of Love.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
First of all, let me say “thank you”. Just by being willing to consider accepting and following through with this challenge, you’ve shown a desire to do something worthwhile for no gain to yourself, except for the good feelings of helping someone else.
I appreciate you!
Second, I realize most of us aren’t celebrities, but we all have a certain “circle of influence” with others. We have friends, family members, coworkers. People we communicate and network with on a regular basis. I’d like to ask you to pass on this challenge and get the word out however you can. The more people who know about it, the more people can participate in it.
And the more people who participate in it, the more people being served.
One of my favorite books is called “The Message”, by Lance Richardson. The author died and came back to his mortal life a changed man. Before coming back, he had the opportunity to visit Paradise, or the Spirit World. While he was there, he learned one very central and fundamental lesson:
Service is the Action Form of Love
If each one of us who accept this challenge can serve just one person for 30 minutes, think what an impact we can make on our own community. Remember, the date for the 30 Minute Service Challenge is on Saturday, March 14, 2009.
Alone, neither you nor I can change the world.
But one by one by one, we can make a difference.
Are you up for the challenge?
Friday, March 6, 2009
30 Minute Service Challenge
I’d like to tell you about an idea - then I’d like your help passing it along.
The idea is this - on the second Saturday of every month, block out just 30 minutes (minimum) of your busy schedule to serve someone else.
I think many of us have the idea that in order to serve others in meaningful ways, we have to find a complicated, time consuming service project to work on. We think of all the problems we and others face in the world - poverty, hunger, war, etc., and the task seems daunting. We feel that as individuals, anything we do would be ineffective at best.
In reality, like a pebble tossed into the calm waters of a pond, our actions for good can spread out the breadth and length of the world. Our good deeds can radiate from one person to the next in our individual towns, cities and villages and keep radiating outward until many people have been touched.
Truly, service to others can be accomplished in small and simple ways, yet be unbelievably meaningful to the people we serve, as well as to their family and friends.
So, here’s the challenge.
Beginning Saturday, March 14th, block out at least 30 minutes of your day. Put it on your calendar. Set a reminder for yourself for the day before. Tell your friends and family and invite them to join you.
Then, find someone to serve.
Pretty simple, isn’t it?
But, you may be asking, how can I serve others for 30 minutes? What can I do to help?
Here are some ideas:
• Get a trash bag from your kitchen and take a walk. As you walk, pick up trash along the way. You can even drive out to your local park or cemetery and clean up there if you’d like.
• Find someone who needs to talk and listen to them. Really focus and hear what they have to say. You don’t have to offer feedback (unless they ask you to). Just be there for them.
• Share your skills. Do you have a talent or a skill that could help others? Share it for free. Do you write resumes or fix cars? Are you good at landscaping? Masonry? Use your skills for at least 30 minutes to help someone who can use your particular skill or talent.
• Do you know of someone in the hospital or who has experienced a recent loss of a loved one? Go spend some time with them. Visit them with no agenda in mind other than to see how they’re doing and let them know through your actions and words that you care. See if there’s anything they’d like you to do. Offer to run to the store for them. Ask if they need meals or a car wash. Then do it.
I think you get the idea. The ideas are endless and in almost every case, will cost you nothing but a little of your time and attention. And remember that the 30 minute time frame is a minimum, not an absolute. If you can devote more time to serving, by all means, please do.
Other than the challenge itself, the only thing I would ask of you is this:
If you have service ideas, I'd like to hear about them. Also, if once your service is complete, I'd love to hear about those, too. Your experience could really help others serve. And finally, pass it on.
You have my permission to cut and paste this document into a new note or email, print it and hand it out… whatever. This isn’t about acclaim or fame. It’s all about serving others.
Let’s do it!
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Welcome back to my blog. It's so good to see you again!
I'd like to apologize in advance if some of my blog posts seem to dwell on the thoughts I have in the recent passing of my mama. She's been on my mind a lot, as have the people who loved her and spent time with her at the hospital last month.
One of those people, of course, is my dad.
Mom and dad were married almost 62 years at the time of her passing. They would have celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary in the autumn of this year. Dad hung on to the hope that she would make it through the illness that landed her in the hospital, but it just wasn't the way things turned out.
Yet, even in the face of losing his sweet companion, he never left mama's side.
On many ocassions during the week mama spent in the Intensive Care Unit, one of us kids would go into her room and find dad hunched over the bed, her limp hand in his strong but gentle grasp. He would stand that way for hours on end.
We'd try to get him to take a break and go to the cafeteria for some nourishment, but he declined. Instead, he'd ask one of us to bring him a muffin or a drink to keep him going. We nearly had to beg him to go home at night so he could sleep and regain his strength for another day of standing at mama's bedside, holding her hand.
He knew she wasn't going to get better.
He knew she wasn't going to go home with him.
He knew he couldn't save her life.
Yet, there he was. Day after day after day, standing by her side.
There's a lesson in here for me, and perhaps for you, too. And that brings up today's challenge:
Do you have a friend, family member or someone else that just needs someone to stand by and hold their hand, either literally or figuratively?
Do you know someone who needs a friend to just stand by and listen to their problems, even if that means only listening and no solving?
Do you have a co-worker who needs someone to stand by them as they face difficult times? Maybe a layoff, reduction in pay, or survivor's guilt after watching others get laid off?
Can you be that person?
Can you be the person standing by to listen, strengthen, uplift and support?
Can you be the one they so desperately need in their corner, even when things seem helpless, hopeless and dark?
I think you can.
Look around you - in all your relationships. Be aware of those you work with, live with, socialize with or go to school with. Be aware of the needs of individuals. Be sensitive to those who need you to stand by them.
And when you find that person, you know what to do.
Just stand by.
As always, thank you for reading today's post. I appreciate you. I hope and pray for you to find someone to stand by. Thank you also for sharing my words with others.
Truly, Service is the Action Form of Love.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Welcome back. Late last year and early this year, life got in the way and I needed to take a leave of absence.
My mama had just turned 79 and one month to the day when she passed away on January 16, 2009.
From this experience, losing someone so incredibly important in my life, I learned some valuable service lessons. For today’s post, I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned.
When dealing with someone grieving and mourning, this is what helped me:
I find myself talking about the most random memories of mama. It really helps when someone is willing to just listen.
If you have memories of the person I’m mourning, I love hearing those memories. This also encourages me to share.
Allow mourning time.
The one comment that shuts me down completely is “get over it”. How can I get over the death of this very special person in a specified period of time? I can’t and I won’t. My mourning will take as long as it takes.
Don’t worry about the “right” thing to say.
In the ICU, at the funeral and later, many people told me they wished they knew what to say. Just the fact that you said that lets me know you care, and it’s a lot more appreciated than saying nothing at all. Though it may not be true, saying nothing can give the appearance that you don’t care.
Be a Peacemaker.
When faced with the passing of a loved one, how sad is it that survivors fight and bicker over material possessions? Be willing to share, find ways to get along and be thoughtful of the others in the situation. Remember, you’re not the only one feeling the loss, and as for material possessions, well, you can’t take it with you.
Thank you for being willing to read today’s post. Thank you for being willing to be kind and thoughtful of others, despite the circumstances. Thank you for being willing to share my words with others by posting, linking, stumbling and forwarding.
Thank you for being you.
And remember, Service is the Action Form of Love