Day 711: You’re never fully dressed without a smile

Not feeling 100% today… in fact, more like 62.3%… but I’m going to make an effort to smile more as I go through the day. *deep breath*

Watching this helps… sending it out to you!

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Day 710: Piano man

Remember Ryan Arcand, Edmonton’s “piano man”?

Well, great news … the woman who originally shot this video, used it to raise money to buy Ryan his own piano. And what’s more, his life has taken a turn for the better:

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 6.55.27 PM

On Friday afternoon, Ryan Arcand was doing what he usually does these days.

Playing piano.

He was in the lobby of Ambrose Place, a supportive-housing complex in Edmonton’s inner city, where he recently got his own apartment after years of living on the streets.

Around one o’clock, the front doors opened and two men came in, lugging long, heavy cardboard boxes.

They set them down and went back for more.

Curious, Arcand eyed the boxes.

“What the heck?” he said.

He got up and walked over to read the labels.

“It’s yours Ryan,” said Carola Cunningham, executive director of Niginan Housing Ventures, the non-profit group that runs Ambrose Place..

“It is?” He grinned. “Can I open it?”

Inside those boxes was a new Yamaha digital piano, a keyboard stand, some headphones.

Arcand seemed stunned. He looked at the camera. “Mom, if you’re listening, watching.” He turned and pointed at the boxes. “Look, mom. It’s me!”

Read full story HERE.

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Day 709: The kind leading the blind

Thought I’d share another heartwarming story I came across today.

Especially since there’s a crazy blizzard raging out there right now and a little kindness will certainly go a long way.

I think what struck me most about this photo is that the grocery clerk in the green apron isn’t even wearing a coat. Brrrrrrrr.

When I get home, I’ll try to do some shoveling for my neighbour… but knowing my true-blue husband, he’ll have already done that!

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This photo of a Sobeys employee walking a 72-year-old customer home was posted to Facebook on Friday. (Terri Bordage Stevens/Facebook)

This photo of a Sobeys employee walking a 72-year-old customer home was posted to Facebook on Friday. (Terri Bordage Stevens/Facebook)

A photo of a Halifax grocery store clerk walking a 72-year-old customer home on icy sidewalks has gone viral.

The photo, taken by Terri Bordage Stevens, was posted to Facebook on Friday morning and has since accumulated more than 12,000 likes and almost 5,000 shares.

“I was driving in Halifax by Sobeys Queen Street and made my friend slow down so I could snap this wonderful picture,” Bordage Stevens wrote in the Facebook post. “Now that’s putting your customer first.”

The picture shows Sobeys employee Austin MacNeill helping Mary Cogswell, who is legally blind, navigate the icy sidewalks on Queen Street in the city’s south end.
Mary Cogswell

Mary Cogswell, who is legally blind, says the Sobeys' staff have helped walk her home for about five years. (Photo: CBC)

Mary Cogswell, who is legally blind, says the Sobeys’ staff have helped walk her home for about five years. (Photo: CBC)

Mary Cogswell, who is legally blind, says the staff at the Queen Street Sobeys in Halifax have helped walk her home for about five years. (CBC)

Cogswell said employees at Sobeys have been helping her get her groceries home for about five years, regardless of the season.

“They always do that at Sobeys, whoever takes me around there. They walk me home,” she said.

Read the whole story HERE.

p.s.
Song for the day: George Ezra, “Listen to the Man.” Love this young Brit’s voice.

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Day 708: Homeless helping the homeless

I read this story this morning on the NPR news site and it choked me right up. Someone who had nothing, less than nothing, and yet managed to turn his life around and then dedicated it to helping others do the same.

I think more of these stories need to be told.

At Health Care for the Homeless, Simmons helps a man named Ethan. (Photo credit: Gabriella Demczuk for NPR.)

At Health Care for the Homeless, Simmons helps a man named Ethan. (Photo credit: Gabriella Demczuk for NPR.)

Sometimes, the people you’d least expect are those who do the most. People like Tony Simmons, a homeless man in Baltimore who helps others get off the street. Simmons says he does it as much for himself as for anyone else.

Simmons is 53 years old and a former Marine. He’s also a former heroin addict and drug runner and was in and out of jail. Eventually, he hit rock bottom — homeless, penniless, alienated from family and friends.

Two years ago, he says, he was afraid he might die if he didn’t pull himself up. Even then, he knew what he had to do.

“You must start with yourself. Get up. Get going. No excuses. That’s what I tell myself every morning after prayer. ‘Cause every time I help one person, I get a little part of me back,” Simmons says.

Read the rest here.

And what have I done today? Nothing quite as grand as Mr. Simmons. But I did donate some of my clothes to a local group who outfits unemployed people of all ages with clothes they can wear on job interviews, or to those who just need clothing, period. The hardest thing to part with? My shoes. I get separation anxiety when it comes to giving away my footwear. Yes, I know I have issues.

p.s.

Song for the day. This is a Newfoundland singer/songwriter I just discovered, named Amelia Curran… I’ve heard her described as “Leonard Cohen meets Patsy Cline” and I’d have to agree. Enjoy!

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Day 707: Mustang Sally Ann


The Salvation Army does a lot of great work (learn all about it HERE) and I’m happy to donate to them, especially at Christmas time.

I was in Florida this past week (where I took the video above) and I couldn’t help but notice that the volunteers manning their Christmas “kettles” have a much more pleasant setting than our volunteers here, who often look like this:
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The best Sally Ann “troupe” I’ve ever seen was in New York a couple of years ago…

I can never seem to just walk on by those kettles, but those guys definitely deserved extra, lol.

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!

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Day 706: Recharging batteries

Derek Murray holds a note that was left on his windshield yesterday after he parked his car in a residential neighbourhood and left his lights on before he took the LRT to school. When he got back, a man had left the note and a battery charger for him. (Credit: John Lucas / Postmedia News)

Derek Murray holds a note that was left on his windshield yesterday after he parked his car in a residential neighbourhood and left his lights on before he took the LRT to school. When he got back, a man had left the note and a battery charger for him. (Credit: John Lucas / Postmedia News)

Nothing recharges your inner battery faster than an act of kindness, whether you’re on the giving or receiving end.

At least, that’s how I felt after reading this story in the National Post:

Edmonton stranger leaves kind note and battery charger for student who forgot to turn car lights off

by Andrea Sands, Postmedia News |

Screen shot 2014-11-23 at 5.00.28 PMWhen second-year law student Derek Murray left the headlights on all day Wednesday in his silver Acura, he returned to his parked car to find the battery drained and a note on his windshield.

“I noticed you left your lights on,” the note said. “The battery will probably not have enough charge to start your vehicle. I left a blue extension cord on the fence and … a battery charger beside the fence in the cardboard box. If you know how to hook it up, use it to start your car.”

The note went on to explain exactly how to jump-start the vehicle. “Good luck,” it said.

I was expecting it to be an angry letter from someone telling me not to park there. Instead, I got someone just totally brightening my day

“Sure enough, I looked over at the house my car was parked beside, and there was a blue extension cord plugged into an outlet behind the guy’s house with a battery charger right there beside it,” said Murray, who had parked Wednesday morning in the residential neighbourhood to take the LRT to the University of Alberta.

“When I first saw the note, I was expecting it to be an angry letter from someone telling me not to park there. Instead, I got someone just totally brightening my day. My day could have been ruined but, because of this guy, it was the highlight of my day. …

“It just shows you how such a pure act of kindness from one person can just spread through everyone and help make everyone’s day a little brighter,” Murray said.

Full story here.

And me?

Today, I packaged up a bunch of shoes I really like but never end up wearing (we all have those, right? right??) and donated them to a local charity. If you knew how freakishly protective I am about my shoes, you would appreciate the separation anxiety I’m going through right now. But I’ll spare you the details.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’d only worn a few of the pairs once, maybe twice. Yes, I could have tried to sell them in a garage sale or online but because they were in pretty good shape and fairly dressy shoes, I thought maybe someone who needed shoes for a job interview or special occasion could benefit from them.

At least that’s what I told myself to force my hands to actually tape up the box and carry it out of the house. Sigh.

p.s.

In lieu of a Song for the Day, I’ll leave you with this hiLARious Ellen sketch. Enjoy!

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Day 705: Happy National Philanthropy Day!

I actually did not know this was a thing until I read a sponsored section in the Globe & Mail today. (See, those DO work. :) )

How am I celebrating?

Well, since I’m still in my PJs, my options are somewhat limited.

So I decided to go through my links in the sidebar and click on the ones that instantly “do” something — from sending free books to kids in need to funding mammograms.

If you too are slouching around on this grey, snowy November day, I invite you to do the same.

Blue_candles_on_birthday_cakeAnd have some cake.

Every special day calls for cake.

p.s.

I heard this song on Randy Bachman’s wonderful CBC-Radio show, Vinyl Tap, last night. Had totally forgotten about this great song, even though it was featured on the soundtrack for the movie Cool Runnings. I dare you not to smile your way through it. Enjoy!

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