Friday, July 31, 2009

The Power of Nice

I know I've mentioned this before, but I really love libraries. The idea of cooperatively sharing books and knowledge -- for FREE -- is just so perfectly utopian. I've been a card carrying member of our library for 11 years now. Lately I've been purposely seeking out small reads, little books that pack a big punch. A good book that I can easily read in one sitting, or two, at the most. On my last visit I found this little treat, The Power of Nice, by Linda Kaplan Thaler & Robin Koval, which I read in an afternoon. It's a great little book with a main message of considering every interaction, situation, chance meeting, etc. as an opportunity. An opportunity to share, be helpful and in general, be nice. You never know when a chance encounter might become your next big opportunity. And consider that opportunities go both ways; maybe it's your turn to help someone else discover something big. It's not rocket science really, just simple principles. Much of it stems from biblical teaching, though it does not directly mention that as the source. The Secret and countless other purveyors of universal truths all understand the same principle: Give and it will be given back unto you. Though this book is directly written as a business how-to, it clearly crosses over to much more personal territory. It's a concise reminder of the things that most of us already know. The golden rule revisited. I love how, when you read or study something, you start to see the things around you measured by that knowledge. This week, as I mentioned in my last post, my family was treated in a very rude and uncaring manner by someone we trusted. For a business, this is the kiss of death. For an individual such behavior will quickly poison relationships and dry up opportunities. How hard is it to be nice really? Not fake or fluffy, but truly nice. Maybe we don't have the answer someone is seeking, but we can help them find the answer rather than just turning them away. Consider how your responses can affect someone, whether good or bad. Reading this book won't change your personality but it will remind you of what your missing out on when you chose not to be nice.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Good Samaritans

Let's face it, not every day is a banner day. Look at the rap that Monday's not Monday's fault, Sunday's just a hard act to follow. And while we all want to focus on the goodness in life, there are surely weeks where tough stuff prevails. This has been one of those weeks for us. Our dog has been very sick since Monday. She is having her 2nd bout with IVDD in 6 months, this time losing the use of her back legs almost completely. Our veterinarian of two years gave us the runaround and did nothing to help. I was shocked that our vet and her staff would actively chose to makes things worse in a crisis situation. They even refused to give over our xrays to share with another vet, though they finally relented. I was so angry and confused by their lack of compassion and professionalism I wasn't sure what to do. Thankfully I had a contact at Dachshund Rescue of North America, Jane, who has been absolutely fabulous. Her advice, compassion and help have been priceless! She made a few calls, with the help of some other caring local DRNA folks, and found us a local vet that saw us right away. Commonwealth Vet Clinic was wonderfully caring and professional with very prompt service and reasonable fees. Bunny will be crate resting for several weeks, taking meds and hopefully improving. It's interesting in a crisis situation that a stranger is so willing and eager to help, when someone you know well may do nothing to help. Reminds me of my favorite Bible story, The Good Samaritan. The story is a reminder to all of us to help one another, have compassion for one another and to have the courage to reach out and take action on someone else's behalf. I chose this particular youtube clip because it's my kids favorite. Gotta love storytelling with legos! Plus it helps me to smile a little in a week that's not given me much to smile about.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Happiness Is...

...Finding little surprises everywhere you look.

...Making art, just because.

...A shady spot with a beautiful view.

Monday, July 20, 2009

It's a beach thing

There is something about being at the beach that changes us. The hazy sunshine sinks into us and the sweet sea air conjures up ideas that have been long sleeping in our brains. The constant sound of churning waves is both relaxing and motivating, driving us to look out at the horizon. Searching the distance for what is next. For me, it's about getting out of my comfort zone. I live in the mountains of central Virginia. It's safe in the mountains, like a fortress around me, I feel comforted there. But here, at Ocean Isle, you can see as far as the eye can fathom. The ocean drives in and pulls out, one wave larger than the next; it's unpredictable, exciting. The energy here is amazing! Being here opens up possibilities that we don't often allow ourselves to consider. The artist in me is brimming with ideas: I find it hard to sleep, wishing I'd brought my pastels and paints. What do I photograph next? The simplicity of a wild morning glory stretching across a sand dune causes a million scensors to go off in my brain. To see this kind of beauty makes you long to see it again. I feel like taking chances, swimming out a little further, diving in. I see my son, who's usually afraid of the water, running into the waves and I'm amazed at the power this place holds. He's overcoming boundaries he's drawn for himself and in that he's finding a whole new sense of accomplishment and freedom. From that we can all take a lesson.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

Look at this sweet little girl! Hard to believe she's turning 75 today. Happy Birthday Mom! May your day be happy, your 75th year be especially joyful and may your life be full of love, family, good health, warm breezes and your favorite flower, Daisies, for many more years to come. I love you.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Facebook: A 10 Step Program

1. Avoidance: Maybe if I ignore it my friends will stop hassling me to sign up.
2. The Cave-In: Okay, okay, I'll sign up for an account already.
3. The Timesuck: I am pretty sure I used to have a real life.
4. The Timewarp: People that I knew 20 years ago, but were never friends with, now want to be my BFF...huh.
5. The Upside: I'm in touch with a few dear people that otherwise avoided email & computers, until FB.
6. Think before you Friend: Surveys, invitations to surveys, meaningless crap, obscenity (see #3).
7. Why did I do this again?: Why did I do this again?
8. The Payoff: There's a payoff...where?!
9. Avoidance, part 2: Maybe if I ignore it, it will just go away.
10. Twitter: Ah, this is much better!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Did somebody say Chocolate?

I love this cookbook! Honestly. Literally. Truly. I just returned it, begrudgingly, to my local library after keeping it longer than I should have. Good thing I have a magic library card with no late fees. As a wise and wonderful woman once told me, when asked why she was turning down dessert at a church picnic: "Honey, if it isn't's not worth the calories." So true. Chocolate Chocolate by Lisa Yockelson, is a dreamy collection of all things (what else) chocolate. I lusted over the images and recipes in this book for weeks! We feasted on fabulous peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and went crazy for the best-ever dark chocolate cake glaze. We even had enough glaze leftover to heat up and pour over ice cream last week. I can't say enough good about this book. Lisa has included many personal anecdotes filled with insight & information about the history of the recipes, helpful hints, etc. It would make a great gift for your favorite chocolate lover, a new bride, or even for yourself. If you, like me, frequent the library -- this is one you'll want to check out. I'm not sure why I wrote this post so late at night, what was I thinking? I'm off to bed now to dream about fancy chocolate tortes and piles of fluffy cupcakes...sweet dreams.
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