As fall sets upon us the streets are lined with leaves changing color, squirrels chasing after the dropping acorns, and homeless people starting to bundle up asking for some pre-winter help. While at a traffic light this weekend my husband and I silently gazed at the shivering man at the stop light corner. The quiet was broken when my husband made the surprising comment "I wish that my jacket in the back seat wasn't for work. I want so badly to give it to that man. If it didn't have that dumb work logo on it, I would give it to him." My heart melted. Not only for the helplessness of this cold man outside but also for my husbands desire to help warm someone in need.
It was a brief and sudden reminder of how easy it is to drive by those we see so often on the corners. I am not pretending that there are not peddlers who beg for money and spend it in less that appropriate ways. This tends to make many hesitant to donate or stop at all. But just because beggars ask for money, that is not always what they are most in need of. I have heard plenty of tales of creative things that people provide to those at the traffic light street corners...
I wonder what would happen if every one stopped driving by and spent a few minutes saying hello to these people in need. Asking what they were lacking. And started offering solutions.
How can you help?
What is in your back seat, that you are willing to offer up?
Maybe sometimes, all they need is a minute of being treated humanely. A minute of hope, for you to stop, acknowledge their being and acting like you care.
If you are feeling flustered by the fact that America is leaving the Paris Climate Agreement, you are in good company. While overseas it was endearing to see so many cities embracing solar farms, educating communities about how to reduce their waste, and incentivizing businesses to go green. The hope for a brighter future - one with less asthma, less dying species, days where China's air is not rated for whether it is safe to breathe- seemed possible. So it has been extremely challenging for me to return to the country I love, a so called leader in the world, to see our politicians turning their backs on the health of our people & the well being of our planet.
So I freaked out.
Then I decided that action was better than complaining on facebook or whining about it with loved ones.
Pretty quickly I realized that there is a lot that one person can do.
Consider volunteering for a local chapter to aid with environmental impacts. Whats great about this is that you can commit as little or much time as you have and can make your involvement as hands on as you want.
No spare time?
Clean Your Space
They say home is where your heart it. So if your heart is hoping for a happier environment start showcasing it in your home.
Though the US may be pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, there is a huge swell of support coming from cities and states across the country vying to fight climate change. This flourish of support at a grassroots level can be even more demonstrable if every citizen does their part. You may feel like you do not have time, or money, or skills to aid with a cleaner tomorrow- but you can make a difference. By doing a little bit, every day, you can ensure that our skies are brighter, our waters are cleaner, our shorelines swell less, and our planet lasts longer.
You can make the world a better place.
Huge muscles, tattoos, 220, bearded, gruff to the max.
6"4', pot belly, overly aggressive, but nonathletic.
Older, out-of-shape, but with years of experience.
Short, quick, technically savvy, unemployed, overly trained machine.
New, white belt, spastic, moves unjustifiably and makes up for lack of technique with muscle.
These are my mat partners.
I'm a 5'2, 118 lb, female. On the mat I look like a lost child. A midget amongst monsters. Or a frail fish amongst sharks.
People seem to think that as a female in bjj, wrestling or judo you need to be tough. You need to be able to take falls, thrive on physicality, and not flinch at bumps n bruises. But it is rarely discussed the mental fortitude and chess that has to be played every time you walk onto a mat. As a 5'2" tiny woman, I not only am trying to better myself on the mat but a large portion of my training is focused on not getting injured, which basically means learning how to read and interact with the other, often larger, sometimes misogynistic, people in the gym.
My husband has to deal with the same principle of non-injury on a basic level. Knowing that he needs to control spastic white belts to ensure they don't inadvertently injure him. Understanding that certain techniques shouldn't be used with larger partners or you can put yourself in a precarious position. And knowing when he needs to change the pace as to not anger a hot-head.
But my husband never has to deal with the female part.
The unspoken distaste that many men have at the idea of being scored on, taken down by, passed by, or put at a "losing" position by a female. As a woman on the mat, you see it immediately. This heated look. A deep vengeance stare. A disbelief at themselves for being bettered by a female. It's in that moment that I immediately have to turn on a charm that men never have to utilize on the mat. A smile. A joke. Something to ease their frustration. Anything to ensure that their next action isn't something to deliberately cause injury to me.
This is not to say that a larger partner ever intends to train with a woman differently. And many of my favorite long time partners are dudes. This is usually a phenomenon that occurs when you are new to a gym. When the males do not yet have a comfort level with you. It's something that I have to feel out anytime a new member joins a gym, a visitor is in town, or I am visiting a new place. It's an unspoken dialog that every female has with herself prior to working with a new dude - "How do I stay safe with you? Will you react like a jerk? Will you use too much strength? Will you roll using only technique? Are you someone that will be pissed if a girl does ok? Are you super chill and will aid my development while just working on your technique?". Recently a good friend and I had a great conversation about this- reveling in the fact that we have this secret super power that needs employed at practice.
It's an unspoken conversation that every female has every time she goes with a new man. It's a chess game she plays with herself to ensure each round is completed with her body remaining in tact. It's an avenue of the game that most men are immune to, not attuned to, and will never be able to fully comprehend.
Props to all my partners over the years who have put personal male pride aside. Who have spent their rounds with me using minimal strength. Who focused on sharpening skills, enhancing new techniques, and fixing details while working with me. Thanks to my plethora of male counterparts who because of this have enabled my development, while I provide a body for them to attune specifics in their game. You are the reason I have comfort rolling with the 250 lb gigantor, the 6'2" newbie, and the pot bellied 49 year old. Your acceptance of my size and non-ego about my skill allow me to have partners, gain strength, improve speed, and accept new partners.
Props to all the coaches I have had that encourage men to roll appropriately with us little ladies. Who remind the potential troublemakers that I am half your size. Who drill as a leader- showcasing how to work on your technique despite your partners size. To the coaches who set an example of excellence and acceptance in their gyms. I thank you.
After training the other night my husband and I were discussing our rolls with a newbie and it was the first time in his 20 years of training that he realized how much must be considered prior to any roll I have with a new dude. He hinted at a new level of respect for me. And then, as if on cue, immediately changed the topic.
So to all you women super heroes on the mat- I see you. I see the super power you have prior to each roll. I know the mental game you must play to ensure your own safety. I know the mental strength and inner power you posses. Congratulations on knowing how to fight anyone. I know you are playing a bigger game of chess than anyone will admit. Keep it up. Keep yourself safe. Warn the other ladies of the rougher guys. And keep spreading the education to our amazing training partners, on how to properly, safely, and beneficially train with the midgets.
You may be a tiny fish amongst sharks - but you are powerful beyond words.
Challenge: Give More Thanks
One of the biggest things that my mother instilled in me growing up, is that you should always say thank you when you are appreciative of someones actions. And you should always tell people you love them. Pretty much, if you care, don't let it linger in silence.
As I have gotten older though I have seen the sad regression of people remembering to take a few minutes out of their lives to reflect on what (and who) they appreciate in their lives. Wanting to remind people of this important aspect of life, I decided that my next "event" should be focused on that very task.
I decided to set up 'shop' somewhere downtown with all of the essential tools that people need to write "thank you" and "love notes"....then to hope that the idea caught on.
I found a nice grassy area in town, set up a table with cards on it, and started inviting/cheering passers by to come 'share some love'. "Come write a thank you card to someone...its FREE"....People's responses were incredible.
I got a lot of "thank WHO?". In which case I quickly rattled off a list of potential people that anyone on any given day could & should give thanks to...' your mom, teacher, son, co-worker, dad, roommate, boss, friend, girlfriend, mailman, ...". Once I reminded people that they had many in their lives that they should thank, there were immediate smiles and excitement about the endeavor.
Though mainly women seemed excited about the table of THANKS, it warmed my heart when a few children came by to write letters to their parents & teachers, and the handful of men were extremely exciting to watch as they wrote cards for people they cared about. One kind woman even wrote a note to me (attached here).
I started with about 250 cards...and left with about 10. I left feeling full of love, life, and happy that I reminded a few people that they have thanks to give. So take a minute this week to reflect on who you need to be thankful for. When is the last time you let them know in words? When's the last time you left them a note or shot them a letter/email to tell them? I challenge you to write at least one this week.
Want to really impressive- hold this event in your town - its easy!!!!
- Gather cards. I was planning to do this by using old ones of my own, then head to dollar stores & clearance sections (of target/hallmark/ect..) to grab a fair amount of "thank you", "love you" and "blank" cards...
***I reached out to friends that work at printing companies and got some donated (thank you VISTAPRINT!). So be creative. If you know some artist friends, card designers, freelancers, workers at stores that sell cards see if they can donate or provide discounts to aid with costs. For me the total ended up being $0. But I am sure you could collect a fair amount for $10.
- Grab Pens. Thank you $2 at the dollar store.
- Get a Posterboard to advertise the cause. Thank you $1 at the dollar store.
- Bring a Card Table. I didn't own one, so a facebook post helped me to advertise for the cause and a friend let me borrow hers. Cost $0.
Total cost: $3. Outcome : Priceless.
Original post and project from October 2014 on my original blog lovesomemore.
Love writing love notes? Check out the site: http://www.moreloveletters.com/
Circle The Block
Circle the block. That's what my dad always did when the family made trips downtown. Refusing to part with a penny more than he needed to, this often led to parking extremely far distances from our destination, but we had legs, and walking never killed anyone. This memory made one thing clear to me, parking stinks.
As an adult I have re-realized this truth time and time again. Rushing into a city to make an event, only to find myself struggling for a spot (or forced to enter an overly priced lot) . I often associate parking with stress or frustration.
There are glimmers of wonder though, that somehow makes the pains of parking dissipate and remind you of how great humanity can be. Below are some tales from readers that showcase that parking time is always a great time to brighten someones day :
- I had finished pulling quarters out of the bottom of my purse and went out to feed the meter, only to realize that my meter was broken! (yes!!! Free spot!) As I turned my head, the woman parked behind me was digging in her purse, so I handed her some of the change that I already had in my hand. She seemed stunned and overjoyed that a stranger was willing to aid (and that she no longer had to weed through her purse).
- My neighbor has a snow blower and I do not (yet). I returned home from work expecting to have to dig myself into the driveway but he had snow-blown my driveway and I was able to pull right in!!! What a welcome relief and wonderful neighbor.
- A woman and I both pulled up to a spot at the Target parking lot at the same time and I noticed she had kids in her back seat. I waved for her to take the spot as I figured it was more important for her to be close to the store, given she needed to deal with little ones and I only needed to get myself out of the car.
- I just came back to my car after touring an apartment, and a young lady asked if I was leaving. I replied "yes" and inquired about how long she planned on parking. When she said she was only dropping something off, I handed her my parking pass, which had thirty minutes remaining. She offered her gratitude with surprisingly elation. It served as further proof that even the smallest act of kindness can have significant impact.
- I put extra quarters in my meter when I leave as a nice surprise for the next parker.
- Recently I was leaving the hospital and was in a great mood because of really good news. I asked the parking attendant if I could overpay, so that the next person could leave the lot for free. I figured that they might not be leaving the hospital in the same mood and that maybe that gesture would lighten their day.
- I always try to pull up as much as possible, so that its easier for others to park behind me on the street. I would hate to be the reason that a person wasn't able to find a spot by accidentally taking up too much of another space.
Next time you are parking, think about what a pain in the butt it is. And take notice if you can save someone else from some of that burden. Hopefully some of the examples above will stick in your head a bit and you will keep someone else from 'circling the block'. Lets all do what we can to share the love on the road.
What other examples do you have???
Warm N Fuzzy With Strangers
One of my favorite things about NYC are the eccentric people that you see. Over the top outfits. Off the wall hairstyles. Handcrafted jewelry from any and every material. Pretty much any way that a person can accentuate their individuality, can be seen on the streets of New York and I love it. I love people's excitement and ability to proudly showcase who they are on the inside.
So during a recent day trip down there I dared myself to take on the daunting task of complimenting people. That's right - boldy complimenting complete strangers. This has been something that I've been attempting to do more of recently....and despite the always awkward internal negotiation as to what tone to use, how to get their attention, and how to specifically phrase the compliment- what I have found, un-suprisingly, is that people love to be complimented.
Regardless of how strong or confident a person may appear - you never know what is going on inside. Doubts, fears, worry, bad days...despite all of the internal struggles that people face, and usually because of these internal struggles, people need told that they are loved, acknowledged, looked up to, cared for, noticed, or special. So I have embarked on a journey to do just that. Tell people good things about themselves.
My first trial at this was in a hotel lobby bathroom. At the sink there was an older woman in a lovely dress who was (as many women do) adjusting everything to ensure that the dress fit her properly prior to returning to what I assumed to be a wedding. After staring out of the corner of my eye for a good 15 seconds I finally pulled out the nerve to say "you look beautiful in that dress". The woman turned to me, immediately beaming, no longer adjusting straps and returned the most sincere 'thank you' that I have ever heard. Maybe her date neglected to tell her how lovely she looked, maybe she was stressed about meeting new people in an awkward social situation, maybe she had on an uncomfortable bra....or maybe everything about her day was going perfect...all I know was that I left that bathroom feeling good about giving her a smile.
Later in the day I told a teenager that I admired her rainbow eye-shadow. A style I could never 1-artistically draw or 2-pull off, but she was rocking it perfectly...and I wanted her to know that her efforts were noticed.
I realize that its easy to fall into the trap of complimenting people purely based on looks or outfits but I challenge you to be a bigger person that than. I tried to tell talented street performers that I really was moved by their music or skills. A man that helped an elderly woman across the street, I acknowledged and thanked him for his kindness. You can compliment people for having well behaved children, for giving up seats to the elderly on the train, for helping you pick up things you drop, or merely for them having a smile that brightened your day.
There is almost always a way to find a reason to share a compliment with a stranger. Next time that you are awkwardly in a checkout line, waiting for a stall to open in a bathroom, or walking by something special, lovely, or that lifts your heart - I challenge you to not just note it in your head but to share the adulation with that stranger.
Maybe if we all address our love for one another's incredible individuality - we will all be a little happier.
What are other compliments you have shared with strangers? What other opportunities do you see for improving your kindness to strangers?
originally posted on my first blog 2/1/16....condensing my stuff!
When I moved to Rhode Island one of the weirdest moments of my introduction to the state was when I was passed on the highway by the notorious CANDY CANE CAR.
As the years have passed I have always been overjoyed by encounters with of the car on the highway- always trying to catch a glimpse of the driver (who wears a full helmet to hide their identity). From the humorous "not for sale" (but has a phone number) to the hubcaps, and a seat on the roof - I always leave our drivebys in wonder, amazement, and usually a better mood.
Recently I relocated and have been overjoyed to learn that this candy-cane car owner LIVES NEAR ME!!!! Driving by the house, I am always smile filled. The lawn frequents signs such as "free snow" after 2 foot-snow falls and "free christmas trees", two months after christmas. The smiles that this person's creativity bring to not only myself but to anyone who sees their endeavors is even more beautiful because there is no way to thank them. It is a pure offering of joy to strangers with no form of repayment neccessary or possible.
This awesomeness got me thinking- how can you creatively share joy with strangers? What skills do you have that can be shown off to bring happiness to others? Many partake in putting up Christmas lights/shows at the holidays to bring smiles to others - but how can this idea be shared year round?
Sometimes a strangers bad day can be totally cured by seeing a candy cane car.
What is your candy cane car? How will you be conjuring strangers smiles????
Returning to work after a nice break can be a horrible adjustment. The only thing that makes it worse is having an extremely heavy work load to return to.
At the end of the work day yesterday, I headed home knowing that my counterpart had a huge assignment dropped on his team that needed accomplished by this am. I knew that group would be working late or busting their humps all this morning on the last minute project. On the way into work this morning I contemplated grabbing some munchkins from Dunkin' Donuts and bringing them in for the team. My thought being everyone loves munchkins and these guys are going to be miserable today, so maybe a few tiny doughnuts will brighten their day and make them feel a little appreciated.
Everyone gets stressed at work.
Everyone has irritating last minute assignments or times when they need to work late.
Unfortunately it is not often that these efforts get rewarded or even acknowledged.
Why is that???
Is it because we assume that acknowledgement/thanks should be coming from a boss? Is it because we don't take the time to notice our counterparts efforts? Is it because we don't appreciate the efforts that others put in because we are too focused on our own tasks?
I am not sure the real answer. Maybe its a mix of all of the above.
I guess here is my take away. The next time you see a co-worker going above and beyond, showing signs of overwork stress, or doing something incredible - consider bringing in some munchkins. Or baking brownies/cookies/cake. Whatever floats your boat. Don't wait for someone else to show appreciation. You are capable of doing it.
You are capable of making others work day more thank-filled and less horrible.
originally posted on previous site www.lovesomemore.com on 1.7.15 prior to combining sites...
New Years SOLutions
I am not a big believer in resolutions. Namely because people tend to set their sights on great ideals and they don't understand how to set up goals, tasks, and self-evaluation periods to ensure they will make those 'resolutions' happen. I see new years resolutions as a great way to set yourself up for disappointment.
However I am a big fan of goal setting, so I find myself joining the yearly craze of New Years Resolutions as a fantastic time for me to check in on the status of my constant goal setting and to reflect on what needs updating or added. One of the accomplishments that I am firmly proud of was my resolve to monthly find ways to give back.
Vague sounding? Yes.
Open to a fair amount of interpretation? Yes.
I purposefully worded it that way.
I found myself living a life where any time I made a donation to a cause I believed in or I was able to donate my time to volunteer for a great charity- I felt really great. I found that I had a deep desire to do more good, but being fairly poor I was unwilling to commit to donating money monthly and being time strapped often I didn't want to commit myself to physically volunteering and then be unavailable. So I set an attainable and achievable goal for myself:
Every month try to find some way to give back.
I set this goal in Sept 2013 and have been in one way or another going strong. What has been fun is that every month that has meant slightly different things...and when the 30th is coming up its easy to find a way to meet that months quota:
I am not listing these things to in any way brag but to point out suggestions. If you are reading this blog, I assume there is some level of giving in your heart. So I challenge you to make my goal, your goal. Make this a SOLUTION to making 2015 love filled. What things can you do to give back this year?
Once you start to brainstorm it becomes apparent that these opportunities are everywhere....
Babysit for friends, Help clean up the neighborhood garden/park, Give your nutrition bar to a homeless person, Donate $$$ to public radio/tv, Help a friend move, Volunteer to paint a neighborhood school, Give hot coffee to your postman on a cold day, Rake a neighbors leaves, Send a note of appreciation to your garbage-men
Think about what your interests are. What your skills are. And what things in life you constantly take for granted. I challenge you to not walk past them blindly this year. Take some time, open your eyes, and give back in any capacity that you can.
I guarantee, that far after you stop going to the gym, you will be wanting to continue giving back.
originally posted on my previous blog lovesomemore, prior to combining blogs in Jan 2015.
When Life is Hard : REFLECT
The hardest times in life; the times that feel like everything is a constant uphill battle, when light is nowhere to be seen, and when it feels impossible to feel sure of your decisions; are also the times in life that are the most meaningful to your development and growth as a person. Without hardship and struggle, happiness would never feel so welcome and self-growth would never be attainable. So as much as these phases can seem never-ending and always daunting, they also provide some of the most important lessons and growth opportunities in life.
As I reflect upon the challenges that I have faced in the past, as seemingly minute as they may appear to others, I can not help but to be filled with faith that all these moving pieces will fall into the correct places and that the paths to come will lead me to (continue to) grow into the person that I want to be.
These reflections also make me feel incredibly lucky to have so much love in my life. The fact that I am blessed with an extended family whom I know deep down that I could always call if need be, always makes me feel supported no matter what the challenge. The friends that have helped me face adult life and have given me strength & laughter, any and every time I have needed it. And the handful of lifelong friends that I have built true bonds with, always supply me with the sense that life always goes on.
No matter what the day, challenge, pain, or trouble- it always passes and you need to make the most of it. Finally I am reminded daily of what strength, support, love, and goal-setting really means because of a husband who constantly is by my side pushing me to dream, smile, and be better at everything that I aspire to.
I guess that it’s just intriguing to me that as confused and wanderlust as you can feel in life, sometimes being lost in the confusion of it all, makes you remember just how great you really have it. Just how beautiful life really is. And how lucky and lovely your world is. How important it is to fill your life with supportive, motivating, and inspiring people. Maybe that moment of reflection is the first sign that the phase of difficulties is ending...
Believer that everyone is special.