culture, In My Opinion, inspiration, love

Good Works, works

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I confess, unless I’m forced, I rarely volunteer. I’m selfish with my time, and find I resent the pit-stops and delays that interfere. I’m grumbling inside, rushing the conversation, rushing the event, rushing until I’m in charge of my time again. This stinginess is a foible I fight. What’s my solution? I force myself to commit. If I volunteer to read at Mass, I’ll go to church. If I sponsor a community service club, I will volunteer my time. It’s the theory of causality.

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Creating habits of good works fosters more good works. Like compound interest, the rewards are tremendous. Here’s an example:

Because I’m reluctant to give up my precious time, I agreed to be the sponsor of an international/community service club at my high school. I oversee teenagers doing good works in the community. Right now we are preparing a visit to a nearby nursing home and give them gifts of clothing and treats. Listen to this “wish list” given to me by the Director of Activities:

Robert, Rm. 203-1  Robert struggles with just about everything due to his health. WWII veteran. He does go to the dining room for meals, but is in his room the rest of the time.  Perhaps a nice long sleeved winter shirt or sweats would be nice for him.

Armand , Rm. 204-1 is a very elderly gentleman with no family left, no visitors, he speaks French and gets around the facility quite adequately.  He is alone most of the time due to his deafness.  He enjoys sweets, cookies and candy,and wears nice sweaters.

Howard, rm. 205.  Howard is a recluse, rarely comes out of his room. Watches old movies on his T,V. all day.  He is quite alert and not too old.  I would recommend munchies, he loves cheese puffs, cookies, etc.  He is definitely a junk food junkie

Evelyn- Rm. 207-1  Evelyn has no family. Army nurse from Korean War. She is a lovely woman who is bedridden most of the time due to health.  She is an avid reader, reads her bible daily, likes mystery stories, enjoys putting together crossword puzzles.

Muriel,  Rm. 207-2 has no family.  She recently tried returning to her home but was unable to stay due to health concerns.  She also is an avid reader, loves mysteries, works crossword puzzles daily and enjoys candy!!

Virginia, Rm. 208-1 no family.  Very active in facility, Hard of Hearing, enjoys snacking, needs perhaps a new sweater, size large, new slip over long sleeved shirt, loves candy without nuts

Victoria, Rm. 208-2 no family.  Desperately needs sweats, size medium, likes blue, black or green, avid reader, mysteries.

Bessie, Rm. 210-1, Native American woman, family far away and do not visit her.  She used to enjoy beading, wears long dresses and sweaters, size medium

Francis, Rm. 217-1, no family.  Works crossword puzzles in her room, likes chocolate candy, no nuts, wears white sweaters, size medium

Sandra, Rm. 216-1, no family.  Wears sweats, usually pink or light purple, enjoys snack food, wears caps due to hair loss

Morgan, Rm. 218-2-no family, never married. Vietnam veteran and junk food junky.  Watches T.V. and reads.  Has a Nook Book.  Needs large print books, mysteries.  Stuffed animals (raccoons)

Katherine-family is far away.  Younger woman, loves to read Nora Roberts and Daniel Steele books

Helen, Rm. 109-2 has little family involvement.  She wears blue sweaters, size large. 

Brian, Rm. 118-1 homeless, young man, very kind and gentle.  Probably could use clothes, wears tee shirts, maybe needs sweatshirt or light jacket.  Wears blues, mild colors.  Also snacks is an option.  Loves movies too.  Only 52 years old.

Our student officers have organized the school fundraiser, our members will help shop, wrap the gifts, and deliver the items to the nursing home in a couple weeks. They will spend the morning talking with the residents. One could look at our club and see the practical reasons for doing this community gesture: it is a prerequisite of our school to complete 25 hours of community service in order to graduate. Some members are in National Honor Society, and they must complete 50 hours during a school year. I receive a small stipend. Students’ high school resumes look good as they compete for admission to college.

There’s more to it than the practical reasons. Look at that list! I see veterans, people without families, people alone at the end of their lives with candy as a companion. When we listen to them, it feels good. They cry and we cry when we say goodbye. What happens next? We come back to our meetings and think of other projects to do.  

The officers brainstorm and the group completes a year’s worth of international and community service projects. Sometimes we box meals to send to refugee camps or to those who have suffered from a Tsunami or hurricane. We work with Doctors without Borders  and raise money to buy chlorination kits for impoverished communities. The result is the same. Giving feels good.   

As an individual, giving my time is difficult, but within a group, the synergy makes giving easy.   

 

culture, education, inspiration, love, writing

Four Life Principles: Thanks, Eleanor Roosevelt


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At the request of my school, I gave a speech today. My audience included parents, students, and community members at an assembly, and Eleanor Roosevelt stood by my side and helped me through it. Are you are feeling lowly today? Maybe a reminder is all you need. Let her wisdom lift you. Here was what I said:

Thank you, school board members, administrators, students, and the faculty for whom I represent for allowing me to address you today. I’d like to begin with a quote given by First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, who advocated for human rights and became an essential advisor for her husband, President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

She said, “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”

Whenever I face an anxious situation, like speaking on this stage in front of you, I like to pretend Eleanor is standing next to me. Her maxims are great ideas, life principles to follow, and there are four I’d like to share.

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1. Goal Oriented 

“I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday.”

Come up with a strategy. Then try it. Students, today you are commended for improving your grade point average over the course of a semester or a year. You are here today because you tried. Creating a goal is the first step. To execute the strategy requires focus. Remember, you are not competing against the person next to you. You are in a marathon race with yourself and your success first depends on a course of action.

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2. Self-Reflection

“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t possibly make them all yourself.”

How did your strategy work? What can I do differently to achieve a better result? Life is about tweaking, modifying, and scheduling your time. If you manage your time well, efficiency will catapult your goals and results easier to achieve. Ever notice how true experts, athletes, and artists make it look so easy? It’s because they are efficient, focused, and tweaked their “performance” over time.

You change. Don’t be passive. Don’t wait for someone to suggest what you should do. This is your education, your life. Decide what worked and what didn’t; create a new strategy and try again. It is all about you.

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3. Be Positive

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

This is the hardest principle to live by and it truly makes all the difference, for it is a choice, happiness, and it starts with positive thinking.

Insecurity. Fear. Labels others give you. Mountains to climb, Hardships. Loneliness. These are your companions for the rest of your life. What helps you achieve your goals, your dreams, is your attitude. Avoid succumbing to the negative by discovering strategies for dealing with these sap-sucking companions. People surround you who want to help you bypass your obstacles. Seek out the advice from those who have succeeded. You are never alone. A positive attitude takes practice, it is akin to hope, and worth the effort.

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“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

How do you acquire strong self-esteem? How do you become confident? Self-reliant? Surround yourself with people who are positive. Allow them to fill the hours of your day and you will gain courage to face all those who only see the negative–the whiners, the complainers–those who want you to be miserable with them. Can’t find anyone positive? Then be your own best friend. Let the positive people from the past be your inspiration and your friends. Like Eleanor Roosevelt. They will give you courage. Let them be your teachers.

4. Reinvent Yourself

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 There’s an old film I’ve made a personal connection with and that’s Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray. Here was a story about a negative, obnoxious man who, stuck in a time glitch, relived his day over and over. He disgusts the girl of his dreams and can’t figure out why she doesn’t like him. Every day he learned something new. He discarded selfishness and cultivated a positive attitude. He became philanthropic. He became a leader in the community and devoted his time to learn something new, motivated to win the love of his dream girl. What if every day was the same day and you chose to reinvent yourself? What an opportunity! What would you do? What if you were the leader and positive role model for someone else? What do you think would happen to you? Give it a try.

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Practice. Try. Read all about it. Imitate. and remember a Cindy Bruchman adage: “Follow the Good, and lead yourself.” Thank you. No, thank you, Eleanor. It’s easy to be wise when you adopt the wisdom of others.