There are angels among us

(Photo via pixabay.com)

“I believe there are angels among us, sent down to us from somewhere up above. They come to you and me in our darkest hours, to show us how to live, to teach us how to give, to guide us with a light of love.

Helen Keller

There are angels among us. Of this I am certain. They look like you, they look like me. They are the people who lift us up when we need it most (and sometimes even when we don’t realize that we need uplifting). A smiling glance, a friendly wink, some sage words of advice, a random (or not so random) act of kindness…  these have the power to make someone’s day or month or maybe even change someone’s life.

So, as long as we are able to breathe, think, and feel … there is hope.  In this, the holy season of  love and kindness, most of us experience a heightened awareness of how truly precious our family and friends are to us.  It’s not that we take them for granted throughout the rest of the year.  But, in the spirit of the season, we stop and take pause … and give thanks.

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. Consider donating food, clothing, blankets and toys to your local missions. If you can, help out at your local food bank. Perhaps you could share your Christmas feast with someone less fortunate. If you dine in restaurants, think of giving your leftovers (that you would normally take home and maybe throw away a day later) to the homeless man or woman huddled on the sidewalk. Don’t pass them by, averting your face. Show them compassion and grace.

Be an angel.

Kindness… pass it on.

May the true spirit of the holiday season fill your hearts and homes with many blessings.

– heatherfromthegrove xo

(Photo via pixabay.com)

 

 

For it is in Giving that we Receive

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(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,

heatherfromthegrove

 

Random Acts of Kindness

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“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.

The Season of Giving

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“For it is in giving that we receive.” 
 Francis of Assisi

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,

heatherfromthegrove

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”
Charles Dickens

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.
Amen.

Samuel F. Pugh

Images of praying hands and Thanksgiving dinner via Wikimedia Commons.

 

Books That Make You Think

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If you are in the mood to read a book (or two) that will make you think, give you some new perspective, and maybe even answer some of those existential questions that have been lurking in the corners of your mind…. then you may want to get yourself a copy of any one (or all) of these seven books, listed below.

Caveat:
If you are looking for a light summer read, these will not fit the bill.
They are not fiction. They are not self-help books.
They are, however, very interesting, thought-provoking works of non-fiction.

The Road to Character
by David Brooks

Brooks

heatherfromthegrove’s Rating:

5

About the Book:
“In The Road to Character, David Brooks focuses on the deeper values that should inform our lives. Responding to what he calls the culture of the Big Me, which emphasizes external success, Brooks challenges us, and himself, to rebalance the scales between our “résumé virtues” — achieving wealth, fame, and status — and our “eulogy virtues,” those that exist at the core of our being: kindness, bravery, honesty, or faithfulness, focusing on what kind of relationships we have formed.”
About the Author:
David Brooks is a bestselling author and an op-ed columnist for The New York Times.  He appears regularly on “PBS NewsHour,” NPR’s “All Things Considered” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He teaches at Yale University and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The Theft of Memory
Losing My Father. One Day at a Time.
by Jonathan Kozol

Kozol

heatherfromthegrove’s Rating: 

5

About the Book:
“Jonathan Kozol tells the story of his father’s life and work as a nationally noted specialist in disorders of the brain and his astonishing ability, at the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, to explain the causes of his sickness and then to narrate, step-by-step, his slow descent into dementia.”
About the Author:
Jonathan Kozol is an American writer, educator and activist – best known for his books on public education and his fifty years of work among our nation’s poorest and most vulnerable children.

Them
 Adventures with Extremists
by Jon Ronson

Ronson

heatherfromthegrove’s Rating:

4 stars

About the Book:
“As a journalist and a Jew, Ronson was often considered one of “Them” but he had no idea if their meetings actually took place. Was he just not invited?  Them takes us across three continents and into the secret room…  Ronson’s investigations, by turns creepy and comical, reveal some alarming things about the looking-glass world of “us” and “them.”  Them is a deep and fascinating look at the lives and minds of extremists.”
About the Author:
Welsh journalist, documentary filmmaker and bestselling author of  The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry and So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.

Why Does the World Exist?
An Existential Detective Story
by Jim Holt

Holt

heatherfromthegrove’s Rating:

5

About the Book:
“This runaway bestseller, which has captured the imagination of critics and the public alike, traces our latest efforts to grasp the origins of the universe. Holt adopts the role of cosmological detective, traveling the globe to interview a host of celebrated scientists, philosophers, and writers, “testing the contentions of one against the theories of the other” (Jeremy Bernstein, Wall Street Journal).”
About the Author:
Jim Holt is an American philosopher, author and essayist. He has contributed to The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, The American Scholar, and Slate.

Gotta Find a Home
Conversations with Street People
Book 1 of 4
by Dennis Cardiff

Cardiff

heatherfromthegrove’s Rating:

5

About the Book:
“Dennis Cardiff has been involved with street people since 2010, when he began to reach out, on his own, to some of the people without homes who he encountered in his daily life. In his new book, he documents conversations he’s had with them over the past 4 years and, in the process, gives those who are often robbed of their humanity a human face. Written in diary form by month, and including some of Cardiff’s own poetry, the author chronicles the lives of people who are often ignored, feared or reviled.”
About the Author:
Dennis Cardiff is a Canadian writer, author, poet and artist. 

Nickel and Dimed 
On (Not) Getting By in America
by Barbara Ehrenreich

Ehrenreich

heatherfromthegrove’s Rating:

4.5 stars

About the Book:
“Millions of Americans work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job — any job — can be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. She lived in trailer parks and crumbling residential motels. Very quickly, she discovered that no job is truly “unskilled,” that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort. She also learned that one job is not enough; you need at least two if you want to live indoors.”
About the Author:
Barbara Ehrenreich is an American author and political activist.

In Defense of a Liberal Education
by Fareed Zakaria

Zakaria

heatherfromthegrove’s Rating:

4.5 stars

About the Book:
” Fareed Zakaria argues for a renewed commitment to the world’s most valuable educational tradition. Zakaria eloquently expounds on the virtues of a liberal arts education – how to write clearly, how to express yourself convincingly, and how to think analytically. He turns our leaders’ vocational argument on its head. American routine manufacturing jobs continue to get automated or outsourced, and specific vocational knowledge is often outdated within a few years. Engineering is a great profession, but key value-added skills you will also need are creativity, lateral thinking, design, communication, storytelling, and, more than anything, the ability to continually learn and enjoy learning –precisely the gifts of a liberal education.”
About the Author:
Fareed Zakaria is the Emmy-nominated host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, contributing editor for The Atlantic, a columnist for the Washington Post, and best-selling author of The Post-American World and The Future of Freedom.

heatherfromthegrove’s Seven New Year’s Revelations Wrap-up… and on to new beginnings

As I say each year, on this day, the 8th of January:

 “For those of you who have been following, reading and enjoying each of my seven New Year revelations …. Thank You.

I would like to point out that they are not New Year Resolutions. I don’t make New Year Resolutions anymore. They are my own personal revelations. Epiphanies. Discoveries. In the past decade, I’ve faced some daunting challenges and heart-wrenching events. I’d like to think that I’ve handled them with dignity, compassion, grace, and humor. Always humor. It helps take the edge off.

So, the lessons that these “life tests” have taught me are my “revelations.” As I move forward with my life, I will use them as my guide. Wisdom has to be earned. For me, it’s an ongoing journey, as I’m sure it is for all of you, as well.”

Here’s a synopsis (the numbers have a hyperlink back to each revelation post):

New Year’s Revelation No. 1 Today is Tomorrow

New Year’s Revelation No. 2Humility is attractive, and Arrogance… not so much

New Year’s Revelation No. 3 Stand by what you say and what you do

New Year’s Revelation No. 4 Be comfortable in your own skin

New Year’s Revelation No. 5:  Freedom from Fear

New Year’s Revelation No. 6:  Respect Human Dignity… through Kindness

New Year’s Revelation No. 7:  Love Thy Neighbor, it’s that simple

And on it goes.

I’m looking forward to whatever 2014 has in store for me.  

I wish you all a blessed, healthy and happy  2014 and may your own personal journey bring you deep fulfillment and wisdom… and loads of wonderful opportunity and adventures!

Cheers,

heatherfromthegrove

New Year’s Revelation No. 6 of 7: Respect Human Dignity… through Kindness

On Kindness:

The healing power of touch, through a simple hug. 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.

On Human Dignity:

To treat a person ― any person, every person ― with respect and human decency… this should be the standard, not the exception.

To help ease the suffering of another human being… is the most noble act of all.

“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done.
We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was naked and you clothed me, I was homeless and you took me in.’
Hungry not only for bread — but hungry for love. Naked not only for clothing — but naked for human dignity and respect. Homeless not only for want of a room of bricks — but homeless because of rejection.”

Mother Teresa
Catholic Missionary, Nobel Peace Prize Recipient

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Photo via steveberger.gracechapel.net.

The Kindness of Strangers

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“She walked briskly out of the supermarket.  The aisles of food and the smell of fresh fruit and vegetables had made her light-headed. She had spent two dollars on a dozen eggs and some bread and only had ten dollars left in her purse – in quarters.  She passed by a man who was standing near a bench by the store entrance. He was tall, thin, about thirty-something, dressed in clean jeans and a t-shirt, and was African American. He was asking people for money to buy some food. She glanced at him, mumbled “Sorry, I can’t” and continued walking.

Then, something in her sub-conscious made her stop and turn around. He was sitting on the bench, his head in his hands. She noticed something that she recognized only too well.  Despair.  She reached into her purse and counted five dollars worth of quarters (half of what she had left to last her for the next two weeks) and she walked back to the man and said “Excuse me sir, but here is five dollars in quarters. I hope this will help tide you over.”  He looked at her.  She could hear the intake of his breath.  His eyes were clear and intelligent.  He stood up and thanked her, very earnestly and with respect.  Their eyes met and he understood.  They were the same.”

― from  the vignette “The Kindness of Strangers” – pp. 52-53 of Casualties of the (Recession) Depression, by Heather Joan Marinos

(Copyright © 2013 by Heather Joan Marinos – All Rights Reserved)

HFH2

From Aug 14-Sept 7, purchase a copy of  Casualties of the (Recession) Depression, and for every $20 book purchased directly from my website, I will be donating $5 from the proceeds of each book sale to either: Feeding America (US), Action Against Hunger (Canada), or The World Food Programme (Global). The purchaser chooses one of the three.

Image (of hands) via dosomething.org.

A tribute to the unsung heroes who help others

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“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.”

Mother Teresa

They don’t have the power of money or celebrity to back them up.  Nor do they receive any payment or compensation for what they do.  Self-gratification is not their ulterior motive. 

They are simply ordinary people who do extraordinary things… to help others − for no other reason than love and respect for humanity.

These are the people who…

… save their leftover food from their restaurant meal, so they may give it to the person standing outside… that hungry person who’s seen better times but who, for one reason or another, finds himself down and out.

… volunteer their time to work in community outreach programs.

… make daily visits to elderly neighbors who live alone, just to make sure that they are okay and to give them a little caregiving and companionship.

… regularly help out at the food banks and missions.

… notice that an exhausted single mother, trying to do it all, may need  a little assistance with carpooling, babysitting, or a few ready-made meals that she can freeze and reheat later.

… sense that a friend may be going through hard times, and invite him/her over for dinner each week.

… teach their children kindness and empathy towards others.

The list is endless.

These are the people who, although not labeled as “activists”,  are quietly making a difference in the lives of others.

One person at a time.

HFH2

From Aug 14-Sept 7, purchase a copy of  Casualties of the (Recession) Depression, and for every $20 book purchased directly from my website, I will be donating $5 from the proceeds of each book sale to either: Feeding America (US), Action Against Hunger (Canada), or The World Food Programme (Global). The purchaser chooses one of the three.

Image (of hands) via mysuccessprinciples.com.