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Happy Solstice!

12/21/2012

Sounds yummy doesn’t it. Tomorrow the light begins returning, the days get longer and although, where I live, the coldest part of the year has yet to come, we will be moving toward warmth. I like warmth!

Please visit my Coaching Page for information on those services and for the limited time special offer!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the last few days, there has been a lot of snow in the high country. The river is running higher and faster than it has since Spring runoff, bringing down a lot of snowy slush. Ice is forming at the edges. Since we’ve been enjoying 45 degree afternoons, that changes as the day goes on. Yesterday, ms. Gracie was disconcerted by the sound of the “winter whispers” of the slush in motion and barked – not her usual puppy bark but a serious “I perceive a threat”, deep throated big dog bark. It made no impact on the river but amused me.

 

I will not be updating my galleries again until after this Holiday Season. In the meantime, prices on available work include shipping in the US (if you are outside the US, we’ll look at actual cost and work it out! If you want something and need to make  a 3 month payment arrangement, let me know and we’ll work it out! I’d much prefer my work to be out in the world than being stored here at home).

Until January 6, 2013, I will continue to donate 20% of all sales from my website to Relief for Hurricane Sandy victims, with the Red Cross and help for the critters being my top choices. If you’d prefer a different or specific agency, let me know.

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Soapbox Alert!

With respect to the most recent shooting tragedy, I am stepping up my intentional random acts.

I encourage all of us, as humans, becoming, being and doing, to be a little kinder, more polite, a little more respectful, a lot more grateful, going into this new era. We might all go a little bit further to be aware of the needs in our neighborhoods and in our communities. Let us all work in small ways, daily, as we can, to make the world a better place. IMO, signing petitions is a great way of making our voices heard in DC, but does not have an immediate effect on any one person who might need a smile, or some concrete help. We do need to  advocate for better Gun Control legislation,  for better access to Health Care and especially Mental Health Care and support for patients and their families, but we also need to consider small daily actions as equally important.

It should not be just in the wake of tragedy that we put our best selves forward. We should do this every single day.

We should not feel the need to announce what we did (although doing so might speed up the ripple effect <G>).

The back story, more than you need to know <G>: when I was in the 4th through 6th grade, I lived just outside Philly. My mother could never keep track of photo days or days when school was closed, so I found myself at school on an election day. My school was integrated (not common then). I overheard a discussion of Civil Rights Activism between the mothers of two of my classmates. One thought the CR Activists were doing necessary work. The other put forth the opinion that “The most important thing any of us can do is raise our children with respect and to teach them to treat others with respect. The only control we really have is how we act in our immediate relationships.”

That statement made a huge impression on me then and has stuck with me for the 50 plus years since. I do not think the two points of view are mutually exclusive. My activism, however,  has always been in how I try to live my life. I am, have always been,  an artist, not a Community Organizer.

Some days are better than others.  Some days I am more able to be open and responsive, fully present and helpful. Other days I should crawl under a rock, stay in bed, turtle somehow.

If you are moved to do something to honor the families and the community of Newtown, CT, remember this: They have specifically asked that we not send stuff. Make a donation to a scholarship fund or to an animal shelter in the name of the families and community, but don’t burden them with stuff. They don’t need it. If you are in the area and the “church that shall not be named” indeed shows up, lend your body and your time to shield the mourners. That would be a good thing.

Here are 26 simple ideas, in no particular order,  to put in motion to help, where you are. (Some people are attaching notes to recipients as they do some of these things- that’s not a bad idea, but I am not.).

*Feed 26 parking meters where vehicles are already parked. If the space is empty, the next vehicle is less likely to use it, more likely to use a space with a meter that has time on it.

*Buy someone, where you are dining, a meal, just because.

*Send thank you notes to the schools in your community; they do their best with the resources and limitations they have to work with. If you have school aged children, go beyond a thank you note. Show up. Be present. Ask how you can help and then respect the response. Give what you can. Help in a classroom, in the Library. It is good for children to have adults, who are not their Teachers, in the schools they attend.

*Say thank you to the Crossing Guards, even if you do not have children. They make the world a safer place for all of us.

*Adopt a needy family. Consider doing this beyond the Holiday Season. The needs are year round. (There are local agencies everywhere that coordinate these efforts. Perhaps your Church or Synagogue or Temple has a private list, ask)

*Contribute 26 non-perishable items to your local food bank. Do this over the course of the year, as you are able. Again, the need is year round.

*If you eat out, double your usual tip. If you do not tip, Start now.

*Say thank you to every single person who helps you: the mail carrier, the grocery clerk, the gas station attendant, the mechanic who keeps your car in good order and does not take advantage of you. Anyone who provides a service to you deserves to be thanked. Each and every single time. Do this with total sincerity. It matters more than tipping. If you have a business that you are happy with, spread the word. If you have a business that you are unhappy with, go elsewhere but consider that your experience might  be the exception rather than the rule and do not spread the word.

*Show and express appreciation every chance you get. All too often people hear only the negative. Let them know you are pleased with their service.

*Clean up after someone else’s dog. Clean up after your own!

*If you are in public, turn your cellphone ringer off. That is basic courtesy. If you are an on-call professional or have school age or driving age children, a vibration will alert you to check incoming calls. For the sake of everyone’s sanity, turn the ringer off when you are in line.

*Do not text when driving.  If you must talk while driving, use a hands free device.

*Consider the “left turn lane people”. Yes, some of them are scam artists but some of them are desperate. Some of them are our brothers and sisters. Some of them are Veterans. Some of them have been marginalized by the Reagan Admin changes to Mental Health funding. How do we know the difference? Is it ours to judge? Many of US are a heartbeat or catastrophic illness away from being destitute.  Offer what you can. I’ve been giving out packets of hats, gloves, granola bars and a couple of dollars, etc., as I can. Do what feels right for you, where you are. (FWIW, shopping at the dollar store makes this financially easier.)

*Give the gift of time. Volunteer – either in the schools, a nursing home, your community or your neighborhood.

*Shovel your neighbor’s walk when you shovel your own. If you pay for this service, consider extending it to your neighbor. No need to announce it, just do it.

*or, rake and bag their leaves. Do this without being asked, do it just because.

*Take “orphaned” shopping carts to the cart corral, or better yet, into the store. Please do not walk past these carts and then get one in the store.

*Bake cookies or bread or make soup for someone not related or directly connected to you.

*Volunteer at the local animal shelter. If you are looking for a new 4 legged addition to your household, adopt or rescue!

*Donate old towels, blankets and toys to the local animal shelter. If you can, donate cat or dog food or dollars. Every time we clear our linen closets, the Animal Shelters should be tops on the list for towels and blankets.

*Let someone else help you if they offer and if you need the help. Accepting help is a gift to the giver.

*In that tone, if you need help, ask. Accepting help is a gift to the giver.

*Write thank you notes. On paper. If you can’t do that, call. E-mail is the third best choice in this mode of communication. OTOH, it’s better than nothing.

*Make peace with an estranged family member or friend.

*Put your excess into the loop: donate through your local Family Services or other Charitable Organization or list the stuff on your local Free-Cycle. Most of us have way more than we need or use. Lighten your load and brighten someone else’s life.

*Feed the birds. I mean this both literally and figuratively. A lot of things at my house go into the alley instead of the dumpster: the few aluminum cans that show up, used furniture and so forth. The useable/recyclable things are gone before trash pick up day. This tells me that, as suspected, someone else can benefit from my discards. There are people who scour the alleys and dumpsters for things they can sell or use. Help them, make it easier for them by not putting reusable items in the dumpster.

*As for the winged creatures, check the web info to see what feeding is appropriate in your area, for your bird populations.

*Donate to Habitat for Humanity Re-Stores, if you have extra tools and hardware.  Donate $$$$ to H for H in your community. They make a real difference in the lives of real families.

Okay, that’s more than 26, and a couple might be redundant. Please use my suggestions to spin off. Find ways to be generous, grateful and kind. This is the way we will collectively make the world a better place as we move forward.

If you have additional suggestions, please leave them in the comments.

Be well and be safe. If something bad happens, look for the helpers (thank them!). Better yet, be a helper, whenever and wherever you can.

Whatever Holiday you celebrate this season I send you good wishes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Responses to “Happy Solstice!”

  1. Martha Ginn says:

    Laura, thank you for taking the time to list innovative ways we can help others. I feel a kinship with you because of the loss of our husbands after serious illnesses, and I read your blog to learn your ways of moving on. When I see uniformed diners (military, police, etc.) in a restaurant, I pay their check in honor of my husband, who always did this. Your nature walks with your dogs make me appreciate my companion (17-lb cat Bigboy) even more and I give him a bit of extra attention. Our locations are different (I’m 60 miles from the Gulf Coast of Mississippi) and rarely see snow, but our paths are similar, and we are aware of our blessings!

  2. Laura says:

    Martha, what a lovely idea – buying meals for those in uniform. I have also seen flyers give their preferred seats to those in uniform, and have seen whole planes full of people stand to honor soldiers. It warms my heart and I think ripples out into the world.
    Thank you for the lovely note. May your holidays be bright.

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