The power of a book

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”

James Baldwin



Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

For it is in Giving that we Receive


(Photo Credit: by Ed Yourdon from New York City, USA (Helping the homeless  Uploaded by Gary Dee)  via Wikimedia Commons)

“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” – Henry James

As we count our blessings this holiday season, please remember that there are millions and millions of people – around the world – who are hungry, homeless, displaced, discouraged and lonely.

In this, the season of giving, please do what you can to help a neighbor, a stranger, a family in your community.

Donate food, clothing, blankets and toys to your local missions.  Help out at your local food bank. Share your Christmas feast with someone less fortunate.

If you dine in restaurants, give your leftovers (that you would normally take home) to the homeless man or woman huddled on the sidewalk. Don’t pass them by, averting your face.  Show them compassion.

Spread a little Hope and Kindness.

After all, this is the season of Light… is it not?

May the true meaning of the holiday season fill your hearts and homes with many blessings.  Remember to take time to slow down and enjoy the simple things. I wish you, dear readers, much happiness today and throughout the New Year.

Blessings and Warmest Wishes,



Cicero, the embodiment of “humanitas”

Some great quotes to live by…..

… so, I’m in a philosophical frame of mind these days and for the rest of 2016, my posts will highlight famous philosophical quotes and the philosophers who said them. This month (October), the focus will be on some of the greatest ancient Roman philosophers whose influence and thinking have transcended the passage of time.



Here are some famous quotes by Cicero. (note how well they apply to our social and political condition today):

“Six mistakes mankind keeps making century after century:
Believing that personal gain is made by crushing others;
Worrying about things that cannot be changed or corrected;
Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it;
Refusing to set aside trivial preferences;
Neglecting development and refinement of the mind;
Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do.”

For all you book lovers:

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”

Some tongue-in-cheek humor aimed at all you book writers out there (like me):

“Times are bad.  Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.”

And always remember:

“Where there’s life, there’s hope.”

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC to 43 BC) – a Roman politician, lawyer, and orator who was born into a wealthy Roman equestrian family. He represented one of the few in a new generation of men in Rome – to be the first man in his family to become a senator, and gain the highest office of consul. Cicero was best known for preventing the Catiline Conspiracy, as well as his philosophical works and devotion to the Republic. Although he was invited to join the powerful political union formed by Caesar, Crassus, and Pompey, Cicero refused and instead became an opponent of Caesar. Years later, he met his death at the hands of a soldier named Herennius, who had been ordered by Mark Anthony to kill him during the proscriptions of the Second Triumvirate.

One of the greatest Roman orators and prose stylists of his time. Cicero was also a philosopher, politician, lawyer, political theorist and a constitutionalist. He was also famous for introducing neologisms such as: evidentia, humanitas, qualitas, quantitas, and essentia.


Random Acts of Kindness


“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.”    – Henry James

Apparently today (February 17) is National Random Acts of Kindness Day… which begs the question “Do we really need a day to remind us to be kind to others? ”

Isn’t kindness an act of simple human decency – one that should come naturally … whenever, however, and to whomever?  It certainly should be.

I encourage you to read The Dalai Lama: A Policy of Kindness, by Sidney D. Piburn. It is a beautiful selection of vignettes written by and about His Holiness The Dalai Lama. You don’t have to be a Buddhist or even have any knowledge of Buddhism to read and appreciate this book.

Kindness begins at home and, as such,  our children’s treatment of others is – more often than not – a reflection of our own behavior.  There are some really good, age-appropriate books that teach children the importance of kindness. I’ve listed some of them below.

Ages 4 -6

  • A Sick Day for Amos McGee – by Philip Stead
  • Hey, Little Ant – by Philip and Hannah Hoose
  • How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends? – by Jane Yolen
  • How Kind – by Mary Murphy
  • The Lion and the Mouse – by Jerry Pinkney
  • The Mine-O-Saur  –by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
  • Stone Soup – by Jon J. Muth
  • Stellaluna – by Janell Cannon
  • Toot & Puddle  – by Holly Hobbie

Ages 7-8

  • All Families Are Special – by Norma Simon
  • The Ant Bully – by John Nickle
  • Enemy Pie – by Derek Munson
  • Have You Filled a Bucket Today?  – by Carol McCloud
  • Horace and Morris But Mostly Dolores – by James Howe
  • The Giving Tree – by Shel Silverstein
  • The Golden Rule – by Ilene Cooper
  • Kindness Is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler – by Margery Cuyler
  • Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed – by Emily Pearson
  • When Sophie Gets Angry–Really, Really Angry – by Molly Bang
  • Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch – by Eileen Spinelli
  • The Story of Ruby Bridges – by Robert Coles

Ages 9 -11

  • Bluish – by Virginia Hamilton
  • Hanna’s Suitcase – by Karen Levine
  • Number the Stars – by Lois Lowry
  • Ryan and Jimmy and the Well in Africa That Brought Them Together – by Herb Shoveller

Ages 12 +

  • Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories – by Dawn Metcalf
  • Freak the Mighty – by Rodman Philbrick
  • Mockingbird – by Kathryn Erskine
  • To Kill a Mockingbird – by Harper Lee

And there are so many more – for children and adults alike. Think of the wonderful conversations you can have with your children, while reading these books together!

One would hope that kindness is innate.  However, sometimes we may need a reminder.  In addition to books about kindness, look to some of the iconic men and women whose lives serve as an inspiration to all of us… like Mother Teresa, Pope Francis, The Dalai Lama and so many more.  Their life stories will ignite the kindness spark that lives within each of us.

So, make every day your “Random Acts of Kindness Day.” And while you’re at it, remember to be kind to yourself.

“Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.” Barbara de Angelis



Photo via flickr.

A Thanksgiving Prayer: Remember the hungry, the jobless, the homeless and the suffering

A Thanksgiving Prayer

O God, when I have food,
help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work,
help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home,
help me to remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer,
And remembering,
help me to destroy my complacency;
bestir my compassion,
and be concerned enough to help;
By word and deed,
those who cry out for what we take for granted.

Samuel F. Pugh

Images of praying hands and Thanksgiving dinner via Wikimedia Commons.


Living An Uncluttered Life


“What we’re thinking about is a peaceful planet. We’re not thinking about anything else. We’re not thinking about any kind of power. We’re not thinking about any kind of struggles. We’re not thinking about revolution or war or any of that. That’s not what we want. Nobody wants to get hurt. Nobody wants to hurt anybody. We would all like to be able to live an uncluttered life. A simple life, a good life. And think about moving the whole human race ahead a step, or a few steps.”

Jerry Garcia

And on that note, we send our prayers to the people of Nepal – they have suffered such devastation from that horrendous earthquake. Below are a few of the organizations that are involved in this gargantuan disaster relief effort:

New Year’s Revelation No. 6 of 7: Understand the Difference between “Embrace” and “Tolerate”


“Our task must be to free ourselves…by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.”

 ~ Albert Einstein

I’m going to keep this very short and sweet.  In my view, there is only one (1) race.  It is the human race.  And the beautiful thing about the human race is that we come in so many different shapes, sizes, ages, colors, creeds, cultures, languages, and personalities.

Wouldn’t it be so infinitely boring if we all looked and acted alike?  Oh, I know,  we take comfort in the people, things, and places that are most like us, most familiar to us.  But, the “fear of the unknown and unfamiliar” should not bar us from meeting new people, enjoying fresh experiences, and basking in the realization that, although we are different, we share one common thing …… humanity.

“Our greatest strength as a human race is our ability to acknowledge our differences, our greatest weakness is our failure to embrace them.”

~ Judith Henderson

To tolerate someone means that we can bear to be around them (put up with them).  In my view, the word “tolerate” denotes arrogance (i.e. “I tolerate you but, in reality, I don’t want to be around you”).

To embrace means to open your arms to someone — regardless of who they are or where they’re from. Now, this is what I’m talking about!

The choice is yours.

“We have become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.”
~ Jimmy Carter

Image via

New Year’s Revelation No.2 of 7: Kindness is Contagious


“No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.”

~ Amelia Earhart

A few weeks ago, while I was waiting for the train at the Metrorail station (here in Miami), I happened to glance down at the outer main platform (one story below, outside of the turnstiles) and what I saw simply made my jaw drop.   There were about fifty or so people, either sitting down on the benches or  mulling about, and an elderly man was walking (alone) on the sidewalk.  No one took notice of him, until he fell.  Very shakily, he tried to stand up and almost succeeded but then his legs gave way and he collapsed in a heap on the ground.  No one — and I mean no one — lifted a hand to help him.  Oh, they certainly gawked at him, but apparently no one wanted to “get involved.”   I started yelling from the station above, but my voice was lost in the noisy rumble of the train that was approaching my station.   Finally, a bus driver sauntered over to the man and helped him to stand.  Luckily, he wasn’t hurt, just shaken.  I shook my head in disgust.  What in the bloody hell is wrong with people?

It never hurts to be kind.  Kindness is like the gift that keeps on giving.  It comes back to us in spades.  Some call that Karma.  I call it Humanity.  The Dalai Lama says it best:

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”

Pure and simple.  Kind acts don’t have to be extravagant, nor should there ever be the expectation of reward or recognition.  The man, pictured above, is an example of the most pure and humble act of kindness (and love).  His very old dog suffers from painful arthritis.  He frequently takes his dog out in Lake Superior and the water soothes the dog’s arthritic joints,  relieving him from pain and allowing him to sleep on his “Dad’s” chest.   Strangers from far and wide, having heard of this moving story via the internet, have anonymously paid for vet procedures and more, to help the ailing dog and to relieve the financial worry from his “Dad.”   Now that is kindness in its purest form — anonymous, random acts of kindness.  I encourage you to read the full story.  It is simply inspiring.

Spending the night listening to a troubled friend.  Offering to carry bags of groceries from the supermarket to the car, for someone you don’t even know.  Giving some wildflowers to an elderly stranger sitting on a park bench.  Feeding a hungry stray cat.  The opportunities to show kindness … are simply endless.

I’ll leave you with yet another one of my own personal stories.  It’s about “Lucky” — the name I gave to the baby possum I rescued about a year ago.  In my neighborhood, Friday is the day that we can leave yard clippings out on the road, to be picked up.   My husband and I had done a lot of tree trimming, so we placed the pile out on the Thursday evening.  On the next day, the truck came and picked up all the clippings and I noticed that there was still some yard debris left.  Annoyed, I took my broom and began to sweep.  The truck driver came around again and honked his horn at me.  I looked up and then he pointed (animatedly) at the edge of the road near the sidewalk.  Puzzled, I looked down and then I gasped.  There was a shivering, wet (it had been raining earlier) baby possum, playing dead (as only possums know how to do).  I hadn’t noticed the little fella, because his color blended with that of the road.  I knew that if I left him there, a car would park and the tires would run right over him.  So, I ran into the house and got a plastic container and a sheet of cardboard.  I slipped the plastic container over him and the cardboard under him, lifted him up and brought him into my side garden.  I removed the cardboard and container and watched him for a moment.  I truly thought he was dead. His eyes and mouth were open and he would not move, even though I prodded him gently.  I left him there, amid all the grass and shrubs and then went into the house, to watch him from the window.  After about five minutes, he got up, shook his head (very similar to what my dog, Bacchus does)  and then he grazed on some grass.  After a while he went exploring.  I named him “Lucky” for obvious reasons.  He was so lucky that he didn’t get flattened by a car whose driver wouldn’t have noticed him.  Lucky still lives in my garden.  Very late at night, when I walk around — to make sure that all is well and secure — I sometimes have a chance encounter with my old friend.  He’s not so tiny any more.  I like to think that he remembers my voice (possums don’t have the best eyesight).

It gives me great joy to be kind.   We are all God’s creatures.  It would behoove us to remember that, from time to time.

Lucky (2)

“Lucky” … the day he was rescued

Image (of dog and man) via, photo by Hannah Stonehouse Hudson.