Day 760: Home is where the heart is

This is beautiful and wanted to share.

“It’s very simple to be kind,” says seven-year-old Jacob. “At the end of the day, homeless people are just humans with a lot of bad luck.”

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Day 759: Happy Holidaze

tree

Our cute office tree.

I love this time of year but also find it extremely stressful. To the point where every single year, I fantasize about leaving Dec. 1st for Bora Bora, or somewhere even further away, and not coming back until January.

(Of course, I’d bring everyone back a seashell ankle bracelet they’d never wear as my special belated Christmas gift.)

Why is it so stressful? Partly because it’s such a busy time. Busyness causes me stress. Also, FOMO (“fear of missing out”) gets morphed into FOLSO (“fear of leaving someone out”). Either by not having a gift for someone, or not choosing the right gift, or forgetting to call someone I meant to call.

SO many worries when it’s supposed to be a time of peace and kindness and joy.  That pressure to be peaceful and kind and joyful also causes me stress, however.

At this point you may be questioning my claim above that I love this time of year.

I do though. When I do make the effort to remember what this season is all about — love — then my heart does fill with that warm, loving feeling for others.

Every December, our office “adopts” a few local families in need and we collectively find gifts for them. Initially, it always feels like “ugh, one extra thing I have to worry about when I’m already SO busy” … but then something magic happens.

I forget how busy and stressed I am and start thinking about what will make little five-year-old Adunola smile when she sees her new bike.

How will mom, Twaiwo, feel when she sees her three kids try out the new toboggan that I lugged to work and had a hilarious time wrapping.

Joy.jpg

Our office holiday message.

Last night, I dropped by a No Frills grocery store to pick up a gift card for one of the families with some of the donations we collected around the office.

While I was waiting in line, a mother and son had their gift card declined. There was no money left on it, the cashier told them.

They desperately pleaded to see the manager because apparently they’d used the card in the store the day before and thought the cashier must’ve given them back the wrong card.

The manager was really sympathetic with them and tried to sort everything out for them but I still couldn’t help but think, “There but for the grace of God go I.” A simple twist of fate and that could be me. Or it could be me depending on the kindness of strangers to put smiles on my family’s faces on Christmas morning.

I guess that’s why I love this time of year. It reminds me that we are all in this together. It’s not about what we have or have not, but how we treat and care for one another. That we put as much love into the world as we can.

One of my favourite lines in this Christmas carol is “when love came down to the Earth” … that’s how Christmas feels to me… taking that love and sharing it.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!

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Day 758: Rest in peace, Frank

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may remember me mentioning Frank Nelson.

A true hero.

Frank, from Barrie, Ontario, was diagnosed in 2010 with stage-four colon cancer.

Many folks in that situation would either give up entirely, or work on their “bucket list” of things they want to do or experience while they can.

But Frank’s bucket was different. He wanted to fill it with ways he could help others.

FrankHe started a Facebook group called “Paying it Back” where those in need would write in (or nominate friends or family who needed some help).

He ended up becoming a true local hero who gave $1,000 at a time to more than 40 families in need, and eventually (with the help of others’ contributions and corporate sponsors) he also:

  1. Arranged the donation of wheelchairs.
  2. Helped fund lunches for students
  3. Funded a grocery shopping trip as a surprise for families in need
  4. Surprised kids with medical issues with gifts, hockey game tickets and other special experiences
  5. Supported a range of community organizations that help others

And much, much more.

But beyond all the good works he did, he inspired countless people, who are now flooding his FB group page with memories, thanks, and stories. Beautiful to see.

Sadly, Frank lost his battle with cancer on Friday.

Here’s the announcement from his family on his Paying it Back FB page:

My family and I would like to inform everyone that has not already heard, of my father’s passing on December 8th. Many of you in this group have not only supported his journey but have become close friends and extended family. Since his passing, we have received an out pouring of love, and support and we are so grateful for all of your kind words. My father’s big heart, kindness and passion for helping others are only a small part of the incredible man he was and we were so proud of the way he handled his diagnosis by making the decision to start a small ripple that he dreamed would grow and spread to impact the world. It started with one small gesture and became so much more than he imagined, thank you all for being a part of that.

Anyone who would like to pay their respects are welcome to attend the visitation and service being held at Steckley Gooderham Funeral Home on Minets point in Barrie. Please visit their website at www.steckleygooderham.com for the scheduled dates and times.

At my father’s request, we would ask anyone attending to wear bright, and lively colors. My father was a positive man and wishes to have this be a celebration of his life. A day filled with smiles, laughter and as he always said “happy tears”.

In lieu of flowers my Dad would like those who wish to honor him, do so by either making a donation to World Vision or by taking the time to complete an act of kindness and posting it to the page.

Let’s rally together and flood this page with positive memories and our own “Paying it Back” experiences.
With Love,
The Nelson Family 

I support World Vision and will continue to do so in Frank’s memory.

Frank, I hope you’re smiling down on all the lives you touched and people you inspired, including me. ♥♥♥

p.s.

Song for the day. One of my all-time favourites, even though it makes me cry like a baby.

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Day 757: And I will give you rest

Saw this story today and wanted to share.

We Canadians know just how cold and unforgiving winter can be, so I can’t even imagine the struggles homeless people have to deal with this season.

This lovely, caring church group in Winnipeg provides winter shelter for those in need, but also got together to crochet plastic bags into sleeping mats. What a great idea and kind effort. Really warmed my heart and I hope it does yours.

Full story here.

So, what am I doing to help? Great question! 😊

I have been trying to organize a winter coat drive at my office and I will keep you posted!

p.s.
Song for the day… Charlie Brown Christmas was on the other night and it never fails to get me into the holiday spirit… that Vince Guaraldi soundtrack is one of my all-time faves. Enjoy!

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Day 756: Dishing out good deeds

2010-11-05_337.jpgOur office manager has been away on vacation for the past two weeks and usually when that happens, by the time she gets back, our office kitchen looks like poltergeists were let loose in it.

Not exaggerating.

She gets back on Monday, so I spent some time the last few days, putting other people’s dishes in the dishwasher and generally tidying up.

The strange this is, I think a bunch of people were doing the same thing, because I have NEVER seen the place look so tidy while our office manager is away.

Nothing like teamwork, am I right? 🙂

I also supported a friend who was growing a moustache for the first time for November, to raise money for prostate cancer research. I wish I could’ve given more because it was a valiant effort by my friend (who is Asian and said that he didn’t think he could even grow one, lol). Well, he did, and raised more than $700 for the cause, which I thought was awesome!

p.s.
Song for the day:

I happened by this performing arts school choir today at a charity event singing a medley from Sister Act (His Eye is on the Sparrow and Joyful, Joyful) and WOW, they were incredible, enjoy!

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Day 755: 5 ways to celebrate World Kindness Day

flowersToday is World Kindness Day, basically the Olympic Games for good-deed bloggers.

The pressure is on and I am UP for it! Well, I’ll try, anyways.

Here are the 5 ways I plan to be kinder today:

  1. Lend a hand
    I got a head start this morning when our elevator wasn’t working. (Apparently the elevator software was in “holiday” mode because of our office being in a public building and it’s a government holiday for Remembrance Day.)There were two strapping young gentlemen in the elevator with me, but I volunteered to hike down the long hallway to security to alert them of the problem. The security guard at the main desk put in a phone call and the person acted so quickly, the doors almost shut before I ran back into the lift. That would’ve meant seven flights of stairs for me. Not a great way to maintain a kind mood… but I digress.
  2. Don’t be annoying
    Not as easy as it sounds. How have I accomplished this so far? I let others go ahead of me in line for the microwave in the staff kitchen, not letting my hunger pains turn me into an ogre who stampedes to put their lunch in first. Oh, I also avoided making loud phone calls next to others and kept my cracker crunching to a minimum.
  3. Let a smile be your umbrella
    It actually is raining today, so that kind of fits. 🙂 I tried to make a new person feel welcome this morning and smiled at 2.6 strangers (one of them wasn’t a complete stranger).
  4. Truly listen
    This one can be hard. When you’re busy or in a rush, it can be really stressful to stop and take the time to listen to someone who needs to share something. It wasn’t easy, but I did do this today, and I want to try and do it more often.
  5. Reach out 
    I spoke with two family members today and messaged a friend, and I want to connect even more this afternoon. I’ve been in that mindset before where you’re waiting for someone to contact you and wondering why they haven’t. Fortunately, I usually snap out of it, give my head a shake and say to myself, “Maybe they’re wondering the same thing about you, bozo.” (I know I usually recommend being kind to yourself, but sometimes something stronger is required. 🙂 )

Have fun out there celebrating, my friends!!!!

p.s.
Song for the day… a Smile from me to you. Enjoy!

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Day 744: Poetry Friday

Needed to hear this today. Just in case you do, too, I thought I’d share. Powerful.

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Because opening our heart to others often begins with opening our heart to ourselves. And that doesn’t mean letting ourselves off the hook, or giving ourselves an easy ride.

But digging deep to be our best selves. Finding the motivation we need to do the best we can with the gifts we’ve been given. To make an effort to make a positive difference in the world, even in small, everyday ways. To try and love our neighbours as ourselves.

Happy Friday!

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