! from hearts to hands: 2010
"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." ~ Leo Buscaglia

December 27, 2010

compassion: make a difference

I stumbled upon this powerful story this morning. It is a true story by Helice Bridges.  Below is the story in its entirety.  You can also watch the video version of it.
A teacher in New York decided to honor each of her seniors in high school by telling them the difference they each made.

She called each student to the front of the class, one at a time. First she told each of them how they had made a difference to her and the class. Then she presented each of them with a blue ribbon imprinted with gold letters which read, "Who I Am Makes a Difference."

Afterwards the teacher decided to do a class project to see what kind of impact recognition would have on a community. She gave each of the students three more ribbons and instructed them to go out and spread this acknowledgment ceremony. Then they were to follow up on the results, see who honored whom and report back to the class in about a week.

One of the boys in the class went to a junior executive in a nearby company and honored him for helping him with his career planning. He gave him a blue ribbon and put it on his shirt. Then he gave him two extra ribbons and said, "We're doing a class project on recognition, and we'd like you to go out, find somebody to honor, give them a blue ribbon, then give them the extra blue ribbon so they can acknowledge a third person to keep this acknowledgment ceremony going. Then please report back to me and tell me what happened."

Later that day the junior executive went in to see his boss, who had been noted, by the way, as being kind of a grouchy fellow. He sat his boss down and he told him that he deeply admired him for being a creative genius. The boss seemed very surprised. The junior executive asked him if he would accept the gift of the blue ribbon and would he give him permission to put it on him. His surprised boss said, "Well, sure." The junior executive took the blue ribbon and placed it right on his boss's jacket above his heart. As he gave him the last extra ribbon, he said, "Would you do me a favor? Would you take this extra ribbon and pass it on by honoring somebody else? The young boy who first gave me the ribbons is doing a project in school and we want to keep this recognition ceremony going and find out how it affects people."

That night the boss came home to his 14-year-old son and sat him down. He said, "The most incredible thing happened to me today. I was in my office and one of the junior executives came in and told me he admired me and gave me a blue ribbon for being a creative genius. Imagine. He thinks I'm a creative genius. Then he put this blue ribbon that says 'Who I Am Makes A Difference'" on my jacket above my heart. He gave me an extra ribbon and asked me to find somebody else to honor. As I was driving home tonight, I started thinking about whom I would honor with this ribbon and I thought about you. I want to honor you.

My days are really hectic and when I come home I don't pay a lot of attention to you. Sometimes I scream at you for not getting good enough grades in school and for your bedroom being a mess, but somehow tonight, I just wanted to sit here and, well, just let you know that you do make a difference to me. Besides your mother, you are the most important person in my life. You're a great kid and I love you!"

The startled boy started to sob and sob, and he couldn't stop crying. His whole body shook. He looked up at his father and said through his tears, "I have been contemplating suicide, Dad, because I didn't think you loved me. Now I know you care."

The boss went back to work a changed man. He was no longer a grouch but made sure to let all his employees know that they made a difference. The junior executive helped several other young people with career planning and never forgot to let them know that they made a difference in his life. The young boy and his classmates learned a valuable lesson.

Who you are DOES make a difference!

December 26, 2010

weekly virtue: compassion

Compassion is understanding and caring when someone is hurt or troubled, even if you don’t know them. It is wanting to help, even if all you can do is listen and say kind words. You forgive mistakes. You are a friend when someone needs a friend.

[Image is from here.]

December 12, 2010

good morning

Above the dark horizon soon
new light rays will appear.
They signify to all the world
a fresh new day is here.
The sun has risen, and its light
may bring us hope for peace--
and with a deeper faith in God,
we pray that wars may cease.
Our time on earth is but a test--
a test we must not fail.
By building values, growth in faith,
may love from hate prevail.
So each new day we start once more
with rising of the sun.
May we have gained in stature when
our final day is done.

September 17, 2010

weekly virtue: caring

Caring is giving love and attention to people and things that matter to you. When you care about people, you help them. You do a careful job, giving your very best effort. You treat people and things gently and respectfully. Caring makes the world a safer place.

September 10, 2010

weekly virtue: loyalty

Loyalty is staying true to someone. It is standing up for something you believe in without wavering. It is being faithful to your family, country, school, friends or ideals, when the going gets tough as well as when things are good. With loyalty, you build relationships that last forever.

September 3, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Friendliness

Friendliness is being a friend, through good times and bad. You take an interest in other people and make them feel welcome. You share your belongings, your time and yourself. Friendliness is the best cure for loneliness.

August 27, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Responsibility

Being responsible means others can trust you to do things with excellence. You accept accountability for your actions. When you make a mistake, you offer amends instead of excuses. Responsibility is the ability to respond ably and to make smart choices.

August 20, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Generosity

Generosity is giving and sharing. You share freely, not with the idea of receiving something in return. You find ways to give others happiness, and give just for the joy of giving. Generosity is one of the best ways to show love and friendship.

August 13, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Helpfulness

Helpfulness is being of service to others, doing thoughtful things that make a difference in their lives. Offer your help without waiting to be asked. Ask for help when you need it. When we help each other, we get more done. We make our lives easier.

August 7, 2010

Daily Reflection

Changing values are the sign of a maturing society. You are growing into a larger version of yourself. You are changing your values all the time as you gather new information, as you bring in new experiences and discover new ways of looking at things. As you redefine who you are. ~ Neale Donald Walsch

August 6, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Flexibility

Flexibility is being open to change. You consider others’ ideas and feelings and don’t insist on your own way. Flexibility gives you creative new ways to get things done. You get rid of bad habits and learn new ones. Flexibility helps you to keep changing for the better.

July 30, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Orderliness

Orderliness is being neat and living with a sense of harmony. You are organized, and you know where things are when you need them. Solve problems step by step instead of going in circles. Order around you creates order inside you. It gives you peace of mind.

July 24, 2010

Daily Reflection

If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito. ~ Dalai Lama XIV

July 23, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Idealism

When you have ideals, you really care about what is right and meaningful in life. You follow your beliefs. You don’t just accept things the way they are. You make a difference. Idealists dare to have big dreams and then act as if they are possible.

July 16, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Modesty

Modesty is having self-respect. When you value yourself with quiet pride, you accept praise with humility and gratitude. Modesty is being comfortable with yourself and setting healthy boundaries about your body and your privacy.

July 11, 2010

Herbal Scrub Shower Spa Bags

Start the day with a pampered feeling by using shower spa bags. Fill a cloth bag with the ingredients below and use to scrub in the shower for a nice skin treatment.

  • The cloth bag can be made from muslin, handkerchiefs, cheesecloth, or even strips of nylon pantyhose cut to size then knotted at both ends (good use for ruined nylons).
  • The fabric bags can be tied at the end with a rubber band.
  • Size the bags to fit the palm of your hand. You can fill them as full or as loosely as you like.

  • 2 parts coarse oatmeal
  • 2 parts mixed dried herbs
  • 1 part grated soap

Note: You can make a tub of the shower scrub ingredients ahead of time, just make sure to store in an airtight container.

July 9, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Truthfulness

Truthfulness is being honest in your words and actions. You don’t tell lies even to defend yourself. Don’t listen to gossip or prejudice. See the truth for yourself. Don’t try to be more than you are to impress others. Be yourself, your true self.

July 2, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Self-Discipline

Self-discipline means self-control. It is doing what you really want to do, rather than being tossed around by your feelings like a leaf in the wind. You act instead of react. You get things done in an orderly and efficient way. With self-discipline, you take charge of yourself.

June 25, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Reliability

Reliability means that others can depend on you. You keep your commitments and give your best to every job. You are responsible. You don’t forget, and you don’t need to be reminded. Other people can relax knowing things are in your reliable hands.

June 18, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Peacefulness

Peacefulness is being calm inside. Take time for daily reflection and gratitude. Solve conflicts so everyone wins. Be a peacemaker. Peace is giving up the love of power for the power of love. Peace in the world begins with peace in your heart.

June 12, 2010

Daily Reflection

Love has no desire but to fulfill itself. To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving. ~ Kahlil Gibran

June 11, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Love

Love is a special feeling that fills your heart. You show love in a smile, a kind word, a thoughtful act or a hug. Love is treating people and things with care and kindness because they mean so much to you. Love is contagious. It keeps spreading.

June 4, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Forgiveness

Being forgiving is giving someone another chance after they have done something wrong. Everyone makes mistakes. Instead of revenge, make amends. Forgive yourself too. Instead of feeling hopeless after a mistake, decide to act differently, and have faith that you can change.

May 28, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm is being cheerful, happy, and full of spirit. It is doing something wholeheartedly and eagerly. When you are enthusiastic, you have a positive attitude. Enthusiasm is being inspired.

May 21, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Determination

You focus your energy and efforts on a task and stick with it until it is finished. Determination is using your will power to do something when it isn't easy. You are determined to meet your goals even when it is hard or you are being tested. With determination we make our dreams come true.

May 14, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Confidence

Confidence is having faith in someone. Self-confidence is trusting that you have what it takes to handle whatever happens. You feel sure of yourself and enjoy trying new things, without letting doubts or fears hold you back. When you have confidence in others, you rely on them.

May 7, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Cleanliness

Cleanliness means washing often, keeping your body clean, and wearing clean clothes. It is putting into your body and your mind only the things that keep you healthy. It is staying free from harmful drugs. It is cleaning up mistakes and making a fresh start.

April 30, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Tact

Tact is telling the truth kindly, considerate of how your words affect others’ feelings. Think before you speak, knowing what is better left unsaid. When you are tactful, others find it easier to hear what you have to say. Tact builds bridges.

April 23, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Patience

Patience is quiet hope and trust that things will turn out right. You wait without complaining. You are tolerant and accepting of difficulties and mistakes. You picture the end in the beginning and persevere to meet your goals. Patience is a commitment to the future.

April 16, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Trust

Trust is having faith in someone or something. It is a positive attitude about life. You are confident that the right thing will happen without trying to control it or make it happen. Even when difficult things happen, trust helps us to find the gift or lesson in it.

April 9, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Joyfulness

Joyfulness is an inner sense of peace and happiness. You appreciate the gifts each day brings. Without joyfulness, when the fun stops, our happiness stops. Joy can carry us through the hard times even when we are feeling very sad. Joy gives us wings.

April 2, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Humility

Being humble is considering others as important as yourself. You are thoughtful of their needs and willing to be of service. You don’t expect others or yourself to be perfect. You learn from your mistakes. When you do great things, humility reminds you to be thankful instead of boastful.

March 26, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Gentleness

Gentleness is moving wisely, touching softly, holding carefully, speaking quietly and thinking kindly. When you feel mad or hurt, use your self-control. Instead of harming someone, talk things out peacefully. You are making the world a safer, gentler place.

March 19, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Creativity

Creativity is the power of imagination. It is discovering your own special talents. Dare to see things in new ways and find different ways to solve problems. With your creativity, you can bring something new into the world.

March 12, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Assertiveness

Being assertive means being positive and confident. You are aware that you are a worthy person with your own special gifts. You think for yourself and express your own ideas. You know what you stand for and what you won’t stand for. You expect respect.

March 5, 2010

Weekly Virtue: Service

Service is giving to others, making a difference in their lives. You consider their needs as important as your own. Be helpful without waiting to be asked. Do every job with excellence. When you act with a spirit of service, you can change the world.

March 2, 2010

"Virtue is the muscle tone that develops from daily and hourly training of a spiritual warrior." - Tolbert McCarroll

We should be concerned about virtues, not only because virtuous people are good people - it goes deeper than that. In each of us there is a deep spiritual need, a yearning of the soul which is often misinterpreted as physical or material neediness. How many of us believe that if only we had more popularity, money, love, power or a better job, we would be happy? Yet when we try to fill this longing by something physical or material - something outside ourselves - we remain unsatisfied. We need to connect to our spiritual self, some would say connect with God, to feel that we are a complete, whole person.

The author likens a child to an acorn with the potential to grow into a great oak - born with all the virtues waiting to grow. But just as a tree requires the right environment to grow, so virtues in a child need tender loving care to develop. In today's world of latchkey children, it is easy to believe that if we satisfy our child's physical needs we are being good parents. But a child needs more and this book helps us to understand and implement part of what is missing. This book should be read by all thoughtful, loving parents who want their child to develop into the oak tree that is their potential.

So what is a virtue? The book itself gives the best explanation.

"The Family Virtues Guide is not about family values. Values are culture specific.  It is about virtues, which are universally valued by all faiths and cultures in the world. Virtues are the silver thread running through all of humanity's sacred literature as well as the oral traditions of the world's indigenous peoples. Virtues are described as the qualities of the soul and the attributes of God."
Examples of virtues are:  Caring, Courage, Determination, Faithfulness, Generosity, Humility, Justice, Love, Patience, Reliability, Self-discipline, Service and Trust.

The author likens a child to an acorn with the potential to grow into a great oak - born with all the virtues waiting to grow. But just as a tree requires the right environment to grow, so virtues in a child need tender loving care to develop. In today's world of latchkey children, it is easy to believe that if we satisfy our child's physical needs we are being good parents. But a child needs more and this book helps us to understand and implement part of what is missing. This book should be read by all thoughtful, loving parents who want their child to develop into the oak tree that is their potential.

January 26, 2010

Tasty Tuesday ~ Herbed Potato Soup

  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups milk

  1. Place potatoes and water in a large saucepan; cook over medium heat until tender.
  2. In another saucepan, saute onion, celery in butter until tender. Stir in the flour, salt, thyme, rosemary, and pepper. Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes.
  3. Add potatoes and carrots with cooking liquid; heat through.

January 14, 2010

Preparing for Natural Disasters

photo: 1906 San Francisco earthquake - public domain
My heart is heavy as I witness the devastation and despair being experienced by those who have survived Haiti’s horrific earthquake this week. While we can never been fully prepared for a natural disaster, there are things that we can do to be more prepared while awaiting for assistance from others.
Bare Essentials  
  • Water: We can survive long periods of time without food, but we can’t survive without water. Properly store a minimum of 6 gallons of water for each family member. Don’t forget your pets, too.
  • Food: Being the only nourishment that your family may receive, store away a supply of non-perishable canned and packed items that won’t require cooking. It’s wise to select a wide variety of items. Also remember to store away a manual can opener.
  • Survival Kit: Fill a waterproof tote with important items like flashlights, batteries, radios, clothing, bedding, and various tools. Inside keep an on-the-go bag that holds basics like clothes, cash, and important papers. It’s good to have on hand should you need to leave your home quickly.
  • First Aid Kit: Keep an up-to-date first aid kit in your home at all times. One that contains bandages, gauze, aspirin, and antibiotic cream.
  • Medications: Have an 3-5 day emergency supply of your important medications, and check the expiration dates on them regularly. If you have complicated medical issues, discuss an emergency plan with your doctor.
While the odds of a disaster striking are fairly low, it’s always wise to be prepared … just in case.


January 13, 2010

Letter Writing ~ A Lost Art

illustration: Letter Writing by 19th century Swedish artist Carl Larsson

When is the last time you either wrote or received a handwritten letter? For me it was a note written on the inside of a Christmas card from a dear friend who’s recently purchased a farm in Virginia. As I read, I could hear him speaking aloud, and I realized just how much I miss hearing his laughter, seeing his contagious smile all as he’d simultaneously dance a little jig for something that brightened his day that day.

It wasn’t until I received that note, that I realized just how long it’s been since I’ve handwritten a letter to either family or friends. Sure there are the random emails, or the infrequent text messages, but they are brief and quickly forgotten as I rush about my day. Reading a typed message somehow lacks the personality of a handwritten letter.

Earlier this week, I connected with Kathleen, a childhood friend, who moved to Utah twenty or so years ago to start her adult life full of jobs, volunteering, a husband and his children. As the years passed, we seemed to lose touch. Through the magic of Facebook, I discovered that she’s still very alive and well and already we’ve exchanged several emails as I still remember the letters we once exchanged. Hers always written in the smallest and neatest handwriting, fitting so much into such tiny little note card, while my larger, more flamboyant handwriting filled pages and pages in response.

It’s as I remember those letters, that I recall my anticipation as I checked my mailbox for ‘fun’ mail. When one arrived, I loved finding a quiet place where I could sit and leisurely catch up on what’s been happening, delighting over a new picture, a small doodle, or even a recipe, and afterward thinking about what I wanted to share in return. Tucked away I have a small box of treasured letters I’ve received since I was a little girl. When I find myself missing someone, like my Dad or Grandma who have both passed away, it brings me great comfort to still have that connection.

Writing letters is a way to connect with the loved ones around us, and it feels like that connection has been lost in this modern world we live in. I, for one, am not going to let the letter writing become a lost art. If anyone out there would like to write a letter and doesn’t have anyone to send one to, please let me extend an invitation. I would be thrilled to receive a letter from you.

Join me?

Wordless Wednesday - Devastating Earthquake in Haiti

photo:  Reuters

photo:  AFP/Lisandro Suero

photo:  Reuters TV

January 12, 2010

Tasty Tuesday - Cheese Lover's Chicken

  • 2 (15 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 medium garlic clove, chopped
  • 3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
  • 1 pound Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • Lightly grease a baking dish that is deep enough to allow at least one inch between the chicken and the top of the dish.
  • In a large pot over medium heat, stir together tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, parsley, basil, oregano, and garlic.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss chicken with bread crumbs until completely covered. Arrange chicken in baking dish and sprinkle to taste with garlic salt and pepper to taste. Top chicken with half of shredded Cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. Pour tomato sauce evenly over chicken. Reserve half of the remaining Cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, and sprinkle the rest over the chicken and sauce.
  • Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for about 50 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove foil, and top with remaining Cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. Return dish to oven and cook, uncovered, until the cheese on top melts. Remove and let sit five minutes before serving.

January 10, 2010

A Life Purpose

Photo by Jerry McCrea

"One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested." ~ E.M. Forster

I Believe … each and every single one of us has a purpose in this life.

Many of us commit to endeavors and professions that we never consciously planned on pursuing and attribute our lives to being shaped based on circumstance. Others drift through their lives feeling directionless. Finding your purpose can help you realize your true potential and live a more authentic and fulfilling life.

How would you define your life purpose? I believe that it’s something that you focus on and move toward with intent and passion. It allows you to express your creativity and intelligence, to live in accordance with your values, and to find the joy of simply being yourself.

Discovering one's life purpose requires taking a close look at the interests that you have both explored and unexplored. During your search take stock of your beliefs, values, strengths, and passions. One’s love for a pursuit gives it meaning. I’ve been told that when you wake up eager to face each day, feeling both good about what you do AND also about who you are, then you’ll know that you have discovered your life’s purpose and work.

For me? Well, I have a persistent little inner voice who's becoming more and more outspoken.  The 'how' has always been left solely up to me; though at times my same inner voice whispers like a little birdie in my ear. 

Would you like to join me on this journey of discovery?
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