On Life, Adolescence, Coffee and Goodbyes

I’ve completed 2 weeks of the Do Good Summer Reading Challenge.  I’ve discovered fourteen wonderful blogs and have been inspired to write on topics that I never would have had reason to before.   I am growing my network and contributing to the truly vibrant blogging community here on Worpress and beyond.  Interested in joining?  It’s never too late.  Click the image on the right to find out how!

Day 11:  I took the holiday off, but discovered this gem on Friday and think it will stick with me for a lifetime.  Clare at Grace and Poise shared with her readers 40 Little Instructions on Life and they are so valuable they needed to be shared.  Clare’s list is simple, yet inspiring.  I frequently talk to my girls about using manners, being kind and the such, and this list is yet another tool in my box for teaching my girls how to live happy, fulfilled lives.  Some of my favorites include:

“Never waste an opportunity to tell someone you love them. Leave everything a little better than you found it.”

“Think big thoughts but relish simple pleasures.”

“Don’t expect life to be fair”

If you want to read the whole list, you’ll have to visit Grace and Poise!

Day 12:  On today’s hop around the blog-o-sphere, I visited The Waiting.  Emily has one of the coolest “About” pages I’ve seen and her writing draws you in.  Her most current post is part of a Blog Hop called “Remember The Time When We Did The Things.”  As I understand it, the blog hop will have a different theme each Thursday and audience participation is encouraged.  I happened upon the week about summer vacation.  So, in the spirit of participation, I must share some embarrassing stories from summer vacations of yore.  My family loves to tell the story of the time that I galloped down a hillside somewhere in California to pee on the side of the road.  The details are fuzzy.  We were in a van (I think) and on a road trip to Lake Tahoe (I think) and I had to pee like I’d never had to pee before or since.  I was maybe 11 or so and there was not a bathroom in sight.  Despite my pleading, nobody wanted to stop until I started crying (I think).  When the powers that be finally decided to stop the van, I “galloped like a gazelle” (straight from the mouth of my cousin) down the hillside, much to the delight and entertainment of everyone in the van, and relieved myself, hopefully out of the view of my parents, uncle, brother and cousins.  Ahhh, the fond memories I have of summer road trips.   What are your “classic” summer memories?

Zebra Garden
Day 13: Can a cup of coffee create positive change in the world? Sharman at 365 Cups of Kindness is on a mission to find out and I think she is onto something.   Her idea, to buy a random person a cup of coffee every day for a year, came to her shortly after the tragedy in Newtown, CT.  As a school principal, she was deeply affected by the shooting.  When shopping the next day for a gift for her church’s toy drive, she was appalled by the rudeness and hostility shown by the other shoppers and began to wonder if anyone practiced kindness and compassion anymore.   When finished shopping she and her husband stopped at Starbucks, and spontaneously she gave the cashier $20 to pay for coffees for those behind her and the idea for her blog was born.  Now, she has purchased 157 cups of coffee for others and, though each one is special, she writes that Cup 157 may be her favorite.  This particular cup led to a conversation with a man who was truly grateful and whose story is quite inspiring.  Won’t you join me in spreading her kindness further?  Next time you are in line for coffee, think about buying one for the person behind you.  A small kindness goes a long way!

Cup of coffee

Cup of coffee (Photo credit: Etenil)

Day 14: I was incredibly close with my Granny and she passed suddenly one night 10 years ago.  She was not sick.  There was no warning.  I have debated in my mind a 1000 times whether it would have been better for her to go as she did, suddenly, or to have had an illness that forewarned us of her impending death.   On selfish days, I wish that she had been ill and that I could have told her how much I loved her, how important our relationship was to me, that she would always hold a piece of my heart, that I was so sad she would never meet my husband or children, that life without her in it scared me.  But, on my more rational days, I know that she passed in the way that caused her the least amount of suffering.  I would not have wanted her to suffer.  My memories of my Granny’s death were brought to the surface when I read The First Goodbye at Living Life to the Fullest From the End Stage.  Mike has terminal brain cancer and is sharing his thoughts and experiences through his blog.  This particular one is on a topic that is so difficult – saying goodbye to your child.  He writes that no parent should have to say the words “I know we will probably not see each other again” to their child and goes on to tell the story of how he had to say goodbye to his eldest daughter who lives away from home.  This post is full of raw emotion and you should definitely grab a tissue before reading it.  

Shop Small. Buy Local. Do Good.

A few weeks ago I visited Linvilla Orchards, a kind of wonderland in the world of farm markets.  In addition to fresh, homegrown produce, fresh baked goods and locally produced products, they have an array of family activities that keep the children happy while visiting the farm.  My girls loved the train ride, petting zoo and playground and were totally tuckered out by the time we left.  While buying our goodies on our way out, my eyes were drawn to the Buy Fresh, Buy Local signage that was hanging all around the market.

BuyFreshBuyLocal

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Buy Local movement lately and this was just the push I needed to look into it further.  You see, though I have heard a variety of campaigns that push consumers to Buy Local, I never really paid attention to the reasons behind the campaigns.  Instinctively, it just seems “right” to buy from small, local businesses, but how do these campaigns compel you to do so?

The Buy Fresh Buy Local program’s goal is to make it easier for consumers to find, choose, and appreciate great local foods while supporting the farmers and lands that produce them.  If a store, restaurant or market features a Buy Fresh Buy Local® sign or label, the consumer can be certain that the business has committed to feature local foods and support local producers.  This is one of many programs across the nation that encourage consumers to purchase locally grown and produced foods.  Consumers who patronize local farm markets or restaurants that utilize local foods are directly supporting the local agriculture community.  Further, consumers who buy local produce are reducing their carbon footprint because locally grown fruits and vegetables require far less transportation than those shipped in from great distances.  So, get out there and buy some local produce.   I prefer farm markets or CSAs, but you can also shop the “Buy Local” section of your grocery store and support the movement too.

Shop Small

Shop Small (Photo credit: afagen)

The Buy Local movement stretches well beyond agriculture though and encompasses small business in general.  I’m sure you’ve heard of Small Business Saturday. Conceived by American Express in 2010, it is a “shopping holiday” on the equivalent of Black Friday for big box retailers and Cyber Monday for e-commerce retailers.   Small Business Saturday’s purpose is to drive consumers to local business in an effort to help stimulate the local economy.  Small Business Saturday has morphed into a Shop Small movement that encourages local shopping all year round (though I am sure there will still be a push for that Saturday after Thanksgiving.)   This makes sense.  After all, these businesses need to pay their employees and keep the lights on throughout the year, not just during the shopping season.

Still, I wanted some cold hard facts about why this is an important movement to get behind.  Here is what I found on ELocal.

– Throughout the United States, only about 33.6% of the revenue from national chains is reinvested into the community, which is very low compared to the 64.8% return from local businesses. (2009)

– A study in Austin, Texas found that $100 spent at a local bookstore produced $45 worth of local economic activity, and $100 at the chain store Borders brought back only $13.

– National chains often bring loss of employment. The opening of a Wal-Mart reduces retail employment by an average of 150 jobs in the county of its location.

– If the people of an average American city were to shift 10% of their spending from chains to local businesses, it would bring an additional $235 million per year to the community’s economy.

These numbers are pretty compelling.  Small businesses create local jobs.  Small businesses return more money to the local economy than larger chain retailers.  Small businesses are more likely to be active members of the community, supporting local causes and participating in local events.  And, in patronizing small businesses, you are supporting your neighbors who work there or the family that owns it.  Shop Small.  Buy Local. Do Good.   Now that is a campaign I can get behind.

How does small business fit into your life?  Do you work for one?  Shop at one?  Tell me about it!

Rounding Out the Week…

Day 5:  Today I entered the world of Kristen Hansen Brakeman and encountered a hysterical tirade about Vitamin Water, specifically a radio spot that featured a non-celebrity swimsuit model as a spokeswoman for the product.  You should read her post to get a taste of her spirited sense of humor and truly brilliant ideas for behind-the-scenes footage of Vitamin Water.  As I read, I thought about all the times in my life that I have gotten irrationally mad about something that I should have just let roll off my back.  The biggest offender in my life is drivers who use the shoulder to avoid sitting in a line of traffic.  I know I should just ignore them and hope that there is a police officer ahead to nab their law-breaking tushies.  But, my blood boils.  I grip the wheel until my knuckles are white.  I start to yell at the drivers, you know, because they can hear me, right?  And then, I am that person who blocks their path by driving half on the shoulder and half in my lane, all the while claiming victory, as my grip loosens on the wheel, my blood returns to its normal 98.6 degrees and I start to hum a happy tune again.

Day 6:  It’s Yoonanimous!  This reading challenge is so fun because I am just hitting gold at every turn.  Today, I visited Yoonanimous and read the most recent post about marital traps.  The author, Yoona Park, describes “marital traps” as situations she tries to avoid because of how much tension they create between she and her husband.  I think that anyone in a committed relationship can relate to this, so she had me at hello.  As I read on she related humorous stories about H&M t-shirts and her husband’s grill and how he gets very territorial about it.   And then I read her piece about the bike rack for the car.  I cannot count how many “nice” family days have started out with an obscene amount of F Bombs targeted mostly at my bike lovingly referred to by The Hubs as B****.  He and the B**** bike have wrestled each other countless times to simply be strapped to the car so that we can embark on a family ride.  I’ve learned to avoid the loading of the bikes process at all costs.  It’s best to load the kids in the car, lock the doors and turn up the music to drown out his verbal assault on the bike rack and B**** bike.  If am so stupid as to open my mouth to try to help, I will become the target and that is just ill-advised if we want to continue on to our family outing.  I also must steer clear of The Hubs when he is assembling children’s toys or furniture purchased from Ikea for the same reason.  What are your marital traps?

Day 7:  To round out the first week of the summer reading challenge, I decided to search the WordPress Reader for blogs with the tag “kindness.”  Once again, I was exhilarated with what I’ve stumbled upon.  Harula at wordsthatserve has embarked on a journey of doing at least one good deed a day for an entire year, and is documenting her acts on her blog.  Even better, she is documenting the kindnesses that she has received too.  I love this so much because often the focus is on doing good for others, but we sometimes forget to recognize how much goodness we have received!  Since she was inspired by another blogger to take the journey, you get a twofer today.   Harula’s inspiration is Rosie Amber who started her journey in April after reading A Year of Doing Good by Judith O’Reilly, a book that will be added to my Kindle library later today.  I always find it uplifting to read about how others are living a do-gooder life and these two ladies certainly are.  What is the last good deed that you have done?  When were you last on the receiving end of a good deed?

With the first week of the Do Good Read More Summer Reading Challenge down, I am raising a glass to this challenge and inviting all of you to jump on board for the ride.  I’m feeling inspired and invigorated in ways that I haven’t since launching my blog. Moreover, I am connecting with other bloggers and offering what little I have to give – my words in the form of comments on their blogs and mine about their posts.  I hope that my small acts of commenting and sharing links have helped build their community of readers, I know it has mine.  After all, this challenge, boiled down simply, is to do small acts of kindness daily  with the knowledge that small acts often produce a much greater return than expected.  So, are you ready to be challenged?  It is never too late to start!

final sum read chall

Reading Challenge Starts Monday!

final sum read chall

Summer Reading Challenge Rules:

  1. Display the Do Good, Read More Summer Reading Challenge Image on your website and link it back to this post.
  2. Read one blog that you have never visited each day from June 24th – August 18th. Explore other blogging platforms, click on suggested posts, ask others for suggestions – the only rule is that the blog must be “new to you.”
  3. Leave a comment for each of the bloggers whom you have discovered. You can offer support and constructive criticism or share knowledge and ideas.
  4. Share the blogs you have discovered in any way you see fit. Blog daily, compile weekly lists, or write a “This is How I Spent My Summer” post sharing all the links.

Follow these rules and by the end of the summer, you will have connected with 56 new bloggers and your exposure will have grown considerably. Better yet, you will be supporting your fellow writers who, like you, take the time and have the courage to share their thoughts and ideas with world using blogging as their medium.

via Do Good, Read More Summer Reading Challenge.

Marketing Campaigns That Do Good Honored at Cannes

I had a leisurely lunch yesterday at my local Chili’s.  I may be obsessed with their Chicken Enchilada soup, but that is a story for another day.  On this particular day, I picked up the complimentary newspaper, which happened to be a USA Today, and spent a quiet, luxurious half hour reading a newspaper.  What a novelty to feel the crisp newsprint between my fingers and allow my eyes to focus on the small black and white print!  During my all to rare lunch date with the newspaper, I encountered an article titled, “Ads That Make a Difference Honored in Cannes.”  I was intrigued and continued to read the article, and snapped a picture of it to remind myself to look into it further.    Last night, after my girls were snuggled warm in their beds, I looked up the article on the USA Today website and it was so much more vibrant and moving online than in print.  The online version featured videos of some incredible marketing campaigns that made positive impacts on the community and increased business and exposure for the company behind the campaigns.  These campaigns are at the intersection of astute business practices and social goodness.  Take a look at these videos and be inspired.

Samsung’s Bridge of Life campaign helped lower the suicide rate on the Mapo Bridge in Seoul by 77%.

Dela empowered individuals to communicate their feelings and gave them a powerful medium to do so.

Sport Club do Recife harnessed the power of their fans and launched a highly successful “Immortal Fan” campaign to register organ donors in Brazil.

What is your favorite marketing or ad campaign that raised awareness about about a cause or made a positive impact in the community?

Do Good, Read More Summer Reading Challenge

‘Tis the season of summer reading lists….do you have yours ready yet?  I am an avid reader and am looking forward to reading some books that have been buzzed about: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight, We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo and Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld have made the list, all books I discovered on this excellent summer reading list.   But, I have decided to go on a entirely new reading adventure this summer and you are invited!  My blog’s purpose is to inspire adults and children to improve their own lives by doing good, being kind and making a difference in the lives of others. The Do Good, Read More Summer Reading Challenge provides each of us with an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our fellow bloggers, and, in the process, improve readership and exposure on our blogs too.   Will you join me on the challenge?

final sum read chall

Summer Reading Challenge Rules:

  1. Display the Do Good, Read More Summer Reading Challenge Image on your website and link it back to this post.
  2. Read one blog that you have never visited each day from June 24th  –  August 18th.   Explore other blogging platforms, click on suggested posts, ask others for suggestions – the only rule is that the blog must be “new to you.”
  3. Leave a comment for each of the bloggers whom you have discovered. You can offer support and constructive criticism or share knowledge and ideas. 
  4. Share the blogs you have discovered in any way you see fit.  Blog daily, compile weekly lists, or write a “This is How I Spent My Summer” post sharing all the links. 

Follow these rules and by the end of the summer, you will have connected with 56 new bloggers and your exposure will have grown considerably.  Better yet, you will be supporting your fellow writers who, like you, take the time and have the courage to share their thoughts and ideas with world using blogging as their medium.

Are you ready for the Do Good, Read More Summer Reading ChallengeJoin today and then share this invitation with your network!

 

**Note: This challenge is clearly targeted towards bloggers, but you don’t have to be a blogger to participate.  Simply read a new blog and comment on it each day and you, too, will be making a difference in the lives of bloggers!**

Do-Gooder Companies – Father’s Day Edition

Since I did a Mother’s Day edition of the Do-Gooder Company series, it is only fair to feature some great places to purchase socially responsible Father’s Day gifts too!  Whether the Dad in your life is a sports enthusiast, creative genius, tech geek, or a big kid, you will find some great gift options for him below. Click on any of the images to be taken to the company site for more information or to buy.

Life is good

Life is good donates 10% of net profits to the  Life is good Playmakers, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to helping kids overcome poverty, violence and illness by using the power of joyful play to heal and strengthen children.   There are a couple things I really love about this company: 1. They offer a consumers a chance to donate to Playmakers at checkout and 2. They have a great fundraising page that allows individuals to become active fundraisers.

And, of course, their products are endlessly fun and good quality.  Here are a couple of my favorites for Father’s  Day, but do check out their website because there are so many more to choose from.  Oh, and if you sign up for their email club, you will receive a 15% off coupon code!

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 The GoodFather Men’s Crusher Tee

 

 

 

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  Mr. Fixit Chill Cap

 

 

 

 

REI

I’ve written about REI before so I am going to just direct you to my post and get to the good stuff!  Check out these great gifts for Dad on their website:

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  Eno Double Nest Hammock

 

 

 

 

8cb0485f-2c08-44ae-85c3-5c022de9766a  Leatherman Wingman Multitool

One World Futbol Project

cache_500_400_3_ProductImageNewBOGO_500 I could make a crude joke about how you can buy your hubby a set of balls for Father’s Day, but   I won’t do that.  <wink, wink>  This is a very cool soccer ball – virtually indestructible and for each ball that you purchase for the soccer playing Dad in your life, one is donated to organizations working with impoverished youth around the world..

TOMS

I’ve also written a lengthy opinion on TOMS which you can peruse at your convenience.  I’m not sure The Hubs would love the traditional TOMS shoe style, but I found several things on the site that I think he’d love.  Here are a couple of my favorites:

m-edson-botas-s-su12  Edson Men’s Botas

 

 

 

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Kilgore Gunmetal

Red Cross Store

At the Red Cross Store, a portion of the proceeds from every single item is donated to the life-saving mission of the Red Cross.  Every Dad should have an emergency radio and emergency preparedness kit, don’t you think?

red cross radio  FRX2 Eton Emergency Radio

 

 

ItemImage_724_58354 Person Emergency Preparedness Supplies

Uncommon Goods

Uncommon Goods is a certified B Corp and donates 15% of net profits to non-profit organizations.  Plus, they have a very unique and interesting selection of products, many of which are handcrafted or designed by artisans and independent designers.

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F-Bomb Paperweight

 

 

 

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 Places in America