Thursday, February 25, 2010

February 18-25

February 25 - Make a difference, one post-it note at a time - From the editor, Caitlin:
 "I began Operation Beautiful by leaving positive messages on the mirrors of public restrooms — at work, at the gym, at the grocery store.  I scribble down whatever comes to mind — "You are beautiful!" or "You are amazing just the way you are!"  My personal goal is to leave as many Operation Beautiful notes as I can. Maybe some people read them and just smile, but I bet some people are truly touched by the effort of a random stranger."

 February 24 - Be an organ donor - I'm not sure if there is an organ donor awareness day, but there certainly should be.  A few years ago my husband's niece died in a car accident.  It was a very sad tragedy to have a 24 year old girl killed during what should be the prime of her life - sadder still that she wasn't an organ donor.  Since her family didn't know her wishes and they didn't have any prior views on what it means to be an organ donor they opted not to donate.  As I watched the medical staff unplug all of the machines that were keeping her alive I wept not only for her but for the life giving organs that she possessed that were dying at that moment as well.  If you have not checked off the 'organ donor' box on your drivers license or made family members aware of your wishes, please do so today.

For more information on organ donation here are some websites:   Alliance for Paired Donation (living kidney donations)

February 23 - Share Dr. Wayne Dyer -  I was 16 years old when I broke up with my first boyfriend.  The world was coming to an end (isn't it always when you're in high school?).  I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep and I didn't want to engage in life.  I wonder if my parents thought they were going to have to put me into therapy for depression.  Not to worry, help was on the way!  As luck would have it I was enrolled in a psychology class with a wonderful and dynamic teacher, Mr. O'Neal.  He had us read Dr. Dyer's book called 'Your Erroneous Zones' and it changed my life for the better.  I learned how to not let my thoughts and emotions run away from me and how to create positive mind shifts and thought patterns.  Dr. Dyer's writing has matured over the years, as have I, and I continue to use his writing and teachings as a source of inspiration in my life.  He is truly one in a million.

February 21 - Let someone jump the queue - Whenever I see an opportunity I am more than happy to give up my place in line and let someone go ahead of me.  What a nice surprise it was today when I found myself with a handful of frames at Micheal's Arts & Crafts store and the lady in front of me invited me to go ahead of her in line.  I, and my strained arm muscles, thank her. 

February 20 - Fill out that survey - We all get tons of surveys in the mail, on the phone, via internet or email.  If I only had a dime for every person that has tried to extract information from me!  But, if we take the time to think about it, company's are using these surveys to help serve us better.  I haven't yet done a formal survey for La Muse but when I do it will be to help fine tune the products and services I offer so that I can do a better job of making my customers happy.  Admittedly we can't take the time to fill out every survey that comes across our desk but if we view providing our opinion as an act of kindness we might take the time out to share information with the companies we support and trust.  I received a survey from Intuit today.  I happen to love Intuit products and services.  What has sold me most about them is their customer service, it's hands-down the best I've ever experienced.  So when a 'very brief' survey from them arrived in my email today I happily took the time to fill it out and ad my comments.

February 19 - Pick up street trash -  Lord knows there is no shortage of trash on the streets, we could spend every waking hour on this good karma activity.  Instead of driving yourself crazy perhaps you'd like to try this strategy instead.  Pick a trash can you walk by each day and make it a point to throw something in it.  I walk to get coffee at Misha's most every day.  As I walk over I pick up one or two pieces of trash that is lying on the street and dump it in the trash can I pass.  No my neighborhood is not a dump, it's actually very nice, but I can always find a scrap of paper or a cigarette butt that can be put in it's proper place.

February 18 - Brighten up your neighborhood - This was a great one and I wish I had my camera with me to take a picture of it.  On Valentine's Day morning my husband and I were walking around town.  We came up to King St., which is the main shopping street, and as we turned the corner we began to notice printed hearts on 8.5" x 11" pieces of paper taped to the store windows.  At first I thought it was a promotion by one of the stores but as we walked block after block and kept seeing the hearts I realized that it was a random act of kindness.  Someone, or a few someones, printed out all of these hearts and got up bright and early Valentine's Day morning and taped them to all the business windows on King St.  What fun!  It made me smile and was a perfect way to start the morning.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

February 13 - February 17

February 17 - Support our Team USA Olympic Athletes -  Today was an amazing day in USA Olympic history.  6 medals in one day, 3 of them were gold.  In the days leading up to the events I joined the Facebook pages of a few of the athletes and wrote them words of encouragement and support - followed by lots of kudos this evening.  Aside from the athlete, it takes scores of people to help them bring home the gold.  Their friends, family, coaches and fans push them along each step of the way - don't underestimate what a few kind words from the heart can do.  If you're in a position to donate to Team USA please do so, there is a link on the website.  We have an amazing team in Vancouver and our Country should be swelling with pride.  Go Team USA - you are an inspiration!

February 16 - Participate in Random Acts of Kindness Week - Which just so happens to be this week:
February 15 - Bring someone a NY Pizza - Oh man, do I love NY pizza. I've lived in the DC area for 5 years now and I still can't force myself to like the pizza here (ditto on the diners). I have found 2 places that have decent pizza but they are both at least 30 minutes away (it seems you actually can make a good NY pizza elsewhere if you ship your provisions in from Brooklyn).  Oh boy, what I happy camper I was when my Uncle Kenny from Staten Island came to visit my cousin and stopped by the store Friday to bring me a no imitation, straight from NY, real live pizza!!  Woo Hoo!  That was one great Karma creating act.  Thanks Uncle Ken!

February 14 - Send a Valentine's Day Card - We often think of Valentine's Day celebrations being amongst those that are romantically involved but what about friends and family?  I have more than a few girlfriends who profess to 'hate' Valentine's Day (hate is a rather strong word, don't ya think?).  It doesn't strike me as odd that these are my single girlfriends.  Personally, I don't buy into the Valentine's day hoopla simply on principle.  I have decided that I won't let Hallmark dictate the day when I need to celebrate my marriage by buying chocolate, flowers and dinner all at exorbitant prices.  I'm just stubborn that way.  So, instead I've decided to send a few of those girlfriends a nice, heart adorned, 'You Are Fabulous' card in hopes that they take the focus away from hating Valentine's Day and remember that love comes in oh so many forms.

February 13 - Give away hugs, lots of them! - Jeff Ondash, nicknamed Teddy McHuggin, hugs a tourist on the The Strip on his way to setting the Guinness World Record for hugs in a 24 hour period on in Las Vegas on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2009. Ondash succeeded in giving 7,777 hugs - and just as many smiles!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

February 9 - February 12

February 12 - Send a note of gratitude to a complete stranger - The other day I received a website order for 10 Curly Girl greeting cards.  I took a look at my inventory and had 7 of them on hand, the rest were due to be delivered by today but given Mother Nature's recent snow storms I figured it might take another week to get them in.  I emailed the customer, Mary Pat, back and asked if she'd like me to get the 7 out now or the 10 when I have them all on hand.

"Thanks Debra- I am ordering these to send as cheer up notes to my daughter who left two weeks ago to work with a woman's organization in Nicaragua and is feeling overwhelmed. Whenever you can overcome Mother Nature is fine... I just wanted to cheer her up as soon as possible. Thanks, Mary Pat"

It seems that her daughter, Mariah, is working with Collectiva des Mujeres, a women's rights organization.  Kudos to Mariah for undertaking such important work and kudos to Mary Pat for raising such an outstanding human being.

I asked for Mariah's address and sent this note of gratitude.  I'm sure she would appreciate happy notes from anyone - if you have a moment to send one please do:  

Mariah Underhill
C/O Rodriguez Chavarrilla
Siete Esquinas
1/2 Cuadra al Sur, Masaya


February 11 - Share an inspiring quote - I love to share inspiring quotes.  If you've ever been to La Muse you'll see that inspiring quotes adorn our chalkboard outside and every wall inside.  Every customer package leaves the store with hand written quotes, affirmations and good wishes.  In fact about 85% of our business relies on positive, amusing or intriguing messages of one sort or another.  I often find that certain quotes prevail from year to year.  Given the state of our recent economy it doesn't surprise me that this was the most sought after quote of 2009.

February 10 - Share your skills - I devote about 20 minutes each month to manage the funds of a person with a disability.  I deposit his social security check, pay his bills and balance his checkbook.  It's an easy job to do and one that is vital to this person.  Many communities have opportunities for residents to volunteer using basic skills like reading, cooking, language, etc.  If you'd like to volunteer some time in this capacity but don't know where to start check your local city or town website and look under general, community, human or mental health services.

February 9 - Share Pictures - My next door neighbor came into the store, "Deb, what's your email address?  I took some pictures during the snowstorm and wanted to share them with you."  Here's one of the picture's he sent me.    I thought it was really nice of John to not only take this picture but then take the time to email it to me.

People who know me have experienced first hand my passion for pictures.  I have a camera at most every outing and now that I have an iPhone the sky is the limit!  My most treasured possession isn't a house or car, it's my collection of pictures.  What I have noticed is that since the dawn of digital pictures, although we all take tons more of them, we don't print as many out.  I try to make it a point to print out pictures for friends and family.  Sometimes I give them in a nice frame as a gift and sometimes I just put them in an envelope and send them through the mail.  When it comes down to it, is there a nice gift than a memory?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

February 6 - February 8

February 8 - Adopt an animal - According to the latest ASPCA figures 4 million animals are euthanized every year at animal shelters because there is no room for them or resources to care for them.  Add on top of that a down-turned economy or natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the numbers spike considerably.  Personally I've adopted four adult dogs over the years and wouldn't trade them for anything.  I understand that some people have an affinity for particular breeds but every breed has their own rescue group and with a little patience you should be able to find the perfect rescue dog that meshes with your family - and you'll save a life to boot!  Click Here for a website to get you started if you are looking for a particular breed to rescue. 

Here's an example of one the cuddly little creatures you could be rescuing right now - meet Max.  I adopted him 18 months ago.

February 7 - If you knit or crochet make someone a treat - I am very happy to be the recipient of two scarves and one hat over this last year.  My friend Joanne made me a wonderful scarf and my mother-in-law Ruth made me a hat and scarf set.  These have come in very handy lately!  I was at a business meeting recently and one of the ladies at the meeting owns a knit and crochet store here in town, Fibre Space.  She mentioned how they frequently have charity nights.  It's an opportunity for people to socialize while knitting and making baby blankets, hats, etc. for various charities.  What a great idea!  

February 6 - Creating Good Karma during a snow storm - Check on your neighbors * Be a good neighbor and shovel your walkways and sidewalk (especially if you live in a city) * Shovel walkways for an elderly or disabled person * Call around to family and friends to make sure they are ok * If you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle call your local hospital and offer to be a driver * Clear fire hydrants * Clear street drains * Bring food/goodies to your local fire department *

Friday, February 5, 2010

January 28 to February 5

Feb 5 -  Make someone laugh - "The most wasted of all days is one without laughter."  ~e.e. cummings  It's early Friday morning and every DC news station is sensationalizing the impending snow.  Better stock up on supplies because we might be snowed in for months!  As my husband was getting ready for work this morning we were watching TV and he started poking fun at all the newscasts and dramatization of the impending weather.  He's a pretty funny guy and had me laughing until there were tears coming out of my eyes.  As I looked at him I had a silent moment of gratitude - I am so blessed that I have a husband that makes me laugh, what a gift.  

My mom has been battling cancer for over ten years now and people will ask me how I feel about that.  Aside from the fact that it sucks?  How I feel is that it's my job to make her laugh.  Whenever I get on the phone with her I, who am not very funny, somehow manage to turn myself into Chelsea Handler and have her laughing from the beginning of the conversation to the end.  It's music to my soul.

Feb 4 - Recommend a good book - This good karma moment is brought to you by my friend Debby Ross.  In the fall Debby loaned me a bunch of books and among them was a book that easily makes my all time favorites list, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.  I don't know where I was when this book was on the NY Times bestseller list for 100 weeks in 2007 but I'm very happy that Debby took the time to bring it to my attention.  The book is not only a compelling story but it gave me yet another chance to contemplate gratitude in reference to my own childhood and parents.  The book also had a magnificent ripple effect as it was the catalyst to put all of those grateful thoughts on paper and give my mom and dad a Thanksgiving Day gift - a letter entitled Thanks Mom & Dad that I used to begin my November 2009 La Muse newsletter.

Feb 3 - Buy from a local artist - I'm not really one for buying souvenirs on vacation but if I do buy something it's usually something small and useful.  Something that I'll see often and will remind me of where I've been.  I haven't had a real salt & pepper shaker set for quite a while, we've been using those $.99 cardboard ones you get in the grocery store, so I thought this might be just the kind of item to bring home from our Key West holiday.  We were down at the sunset celebration at Mallory Square a few days ago when I saw this cute salt & pepper set with hand painted scenes of Key West by a local artist.  I was going to purchase them but Darryel reminded me that I wouldn't want to carry them around all night.  Yesterday he saw another set in a souvenir store and asked me if I wanted to get them.  "Should I purchase these mass produced, made in China items or go back to Mallory Square?"  Needless to say we went back to Mallory Square and now I am the proud owner of my very own hand painted Key West salt and pepper shakers.     

Feb 2 - Tip the hotel housekeeping staff - In general I'd say I am a good tipper.  I consistently tip at least 20% at restaurants and am always sure to tip the bellman, taxi driver, gas station attendant (when I'm in NJ where they pump it for you), black jack dealer, postman, yada yada.  But for some reason I am pretty lax on tipping housekeepers in hotel's unless I am asking for extra services.  So today, as we were checking out of our hotel my 'good karma' conscience got the best of me and I said to myself "Self, why don't you leave the housekeeper a couple of bucks."  And so I did.  :)

NOTE:  In case you are looking for guidance on this subject this is what has to say:  "While tipping a chambermaid is not obligatory, it's a nice gesture.  Tip a maid $3 per night in an upscale hotel, $1 per night in other hotels. If you stay for a week, a bit more (perhaps $5 to $7 a night) is appropriate."

Feb 1 - Return someone's personal property -Amazing karma for the day! This story starts out ..."So I lost my phone this morning."  It's almost comical because anyone who knows me knows what a stretch this is NOT.  Darryel and I were visiting the Southernmost Point in Key West and  I took a picture with my phone, put it down to grab my coffee...and proceeded to get up and walk away.  It wasn't until 20 minutes later that I realized I hadn't put it back in my pocket.  Lucky for me I lost my camera a few months ago (ok, this isn't the lucky part) and it taught me a great lesson - label everything with identification!  The lucky part is that I have a big label on my phone with my husband's phone number on it (he's the responsible one).  A very kind gentleman called and returned my phone.  Thank you Bolina & Thank God for good people!

 Thanks Bolina!!

Jan 31 - Tip a street performer - In Key West today at the Sunset Celebration.  I knew it was fate when his tip bucket read "Tips Good Karma."

Jan 30 - Don't put your seat back on an airplane with tight quarters - Today was my first experience with Noname Airlines (if you can't say something nice...:).  I travel quite a bit and have had my fair share of sitting in coach, at times over 12 hours worth of it!  This is where being 'vertically challenged' comes in handy.  At 5'4" I can pretty easily move around and make myself comfortable in most tight quarters, today was the exception.  As I tried to slide into my window seat I found I had to shimmy over with my knees facing the seat in front of me as the back of my leg slid along my seat bottom.  "Uh oh."  I immediately realized that this aircraft had the smallest seat pitch of any that I'd ever been on.  My poor husband is 6 feet tall and was practically in the fetal position.  To make matters worse, the people that were sitting in front of us immediately put their seats back as soon as they sat down and the flight attendants never made them bring them upright, not even during take off or landing.  Now I have to admit, this good karma moment was made possible by my husband, Darryel.  As soon as we were airborne I said to him "Put your seat back to give yourself a little more room."  He said "No, I can't do that to the people sitting behind us."  I said "Seriously?  I can!"  And then I got 'the look' from him.  You see, the people sitting behind us were in the very last row - the one that doesn't go back.  "Ugh, ok, ok."  As I sat there NOT putting my seat back and practically eating my knees I said to myself "this definitely deserves a good karma mention." 

Jan 29 - Remember our soldiers serving overseas - Last Saturday I closed the store a little early to have dinner with friends.  I was turning off the last of the lights and my friends were waiting for me in the store when a gentleman walked in with a few bags loaded to the brim with various toiletries, munchies and hand written notes.  It was a funny scene as my friends looked at the gentleman like he had three heads, "What is this guy doing with all of these bags?"  It immediately registered with me and I looked at him and said "For the soldiers?"  Yep.  I started sending items to our soldiers overseas back in 2004 when a friend was serving in Iraq.  It's something I've continued to do, even after he returned, using the program.  La Muse has been a drop off point for those wishing to contribute since the day I opened the store.  I remembered this particular gentleman and said "Didn't you come to drop off items around this time last year?"  He said yes, he had, it's something he does on his birthday every year.  As I wished him a happy birthday I thought about what a neat present it is to give the gift of service to yourself. 

Jan 28 - Bring some home cooking to a friend - During the winter time I make lots of things in my slow cooker.  Soup, stews, Italian sauce, chili, even whole chickens.  Since I'm only cooking for two I generally end up with lots of left overs - which I either have to freeze or end up eating for a week.  Why not share?  Yesterday I made a killer split pea soup.  Don't you love split pea?  It's such a wonderful winter time comfort food.  Nothing like split pea and some crusty French bread!  As I was packing up the last of it to put into the freezer I remembered one of my neighbors and thought she'd enjoy some home made soup too.  I was right!