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Here's a cat picture, for absolutely no reason. Photo credit: Doree Weller

Here’s a cat picture, for absolutely no reason.
Photo credit: Doree Weller

Once I read one book by an author, if I don’t like it, I’m unwilling to try another book by that author.

I know that’s unfair.  Dean Koontz is my all time favorite author, yet there are some of his books I don’t like at all.  Same goes for Stephen King.  Though I loved Watership Down, I’ve never read another Richard Adams book.

So, I know authors can be hit or miss.  Not every book that a good author writes will appeal to me.  But my gut reaction to reading other books by the same author is “ugh, no.”  On the flip side of that, I’m more likely to stick with an author I know I like, even if the book isn’t filling me with joy.  Remember I mentioned Dean Koontz?  I read all his books, whether I love them or not.  I’m loyal like that.

Because of my book club and various book challenges I’m participating in, I’ve actually been reading more different things, and it’s a good thing.  I’ve found some new books I’ve loved, and some I most emphatically have not.  But it’s always good to try new flavors and textures to expand my palate.  Plus, there’s something invaluable about being able to discuss books with other people.  I’m not surrounded by very many readers, and discussing a book as if it were real, critically analyzing character development and the events that surround them, is stimulating and allows me to see the book from other perspectives.  That alone will push me to finish a book I otherwise may not have.

How about you?  Are you willing to give an author another try?  Or are you like me, telling an author, “I’m just not that into you”?

Grand Turk Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Grand Turk
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Some people believe that if they want something enough, they can attract it.  I don’t believe that.  If wanting something were enough, we’d all be gorgeous millionares.

“The world is a great mirror. It reflects back to you what you are. If you are loving, if you are friendly, if you are helpful,the world will prove to be loving and friendly and helpful in return. The world is what you are.”

~ Thomas Dreier

I’ve noticed that people react to me in the same way I react to them, like a mirror.  Most people can’t help but smile back at someone who’s smiling at them.  If you’re polite, it’s hard to be rude to you.  Sure, some people are jerks and will act the way they do, no matter what you do, but in general, your attitude defines your reality.

As you start off on this Monday morning, remember that.  Remember that your attitude defines your reality.  And if others are treating you badly, ask yourself if your own attitude plays a part in it.  By the same token, if people are treating you well, know that means you’re probably doing your part to spread sunshine.

Feel Good Friday

It’s Friday, it’s Friday… gotta get down on Friday!

Okay, enough of that.  Ready for some good news?

Green tea tiramisu... amazing!  Life's short... treat yourself! Photo credit: Doree Weller

Green tea tiramisu… amazing! Life’s short… treat yourself!
Photo credit: Doree Weller

A waitress in New Jersey had two firefighters come in for breakfast.  They’d been fighting a huge warehouse fire.  Instead of giving them a bill, she gave them a thank you note, and covered their breakfast.  The firefighters shared her note on social media, and then they found out that she’s trying to get a wheelchair accessible van for her paralyzed father, so they encouraged people to donate to her crowdfunding account.  This is a perfect example of why I believe that we make our own luck.

Earlier this week, I shared a story about Humans of New York.  The photographer, Brandon, has been in Pakistan, sharing their stories.  He shared a story about a woman who is committed to fighting the human bondage that takes place there.  Hoping to raise $100,000, he set up a crowdfunding project, and raised $2.2 million in one week.  This is all about the power of people.  When we come together, we can do amazing things.

Okay, remember the ice bucket challenge?  Well, it turns out that it wasn’t ridiculous after all.  It raised a lot of money.  And that money as actually led to a breakthrough in finding out what causes ALS.  Researchers are actually trying to get the challenge restarted.  So, for all of us who thought it was just silly, we were wrong.  Your move, social media.

Cops in Massachusetts say that they won’t ever be shutting down a child’s lemonade stand.  In fact, they encourage kids to let them know if and when they’ll be selling lemonade, so officers can stop by if possible.  The post from the chief of police is heartwarming.

100-year-old couple celebrates 75 years of marriage.  How beautiful!

People are people.  some of them are good, some are not so good.  Remember to treat people as individuals, and they will often surprise you.

Have a great weekend!

Walking That Mile

I love squirrels! Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I love squirrels!
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Not long ago, I clicked “like” on a Facebook page called Humans of New York.  Brandon decided one day to start taking pictures of people in New York, and eventually started asking them questions and including quotes and short portions of their stories.

Some of the stories are funny, some heartbreaking, some inspirational.  But it’s not the stories that really capture my attention; it’s the comments.  Most of the comments are supportive, offering love and acceptance.  The internet can be a really mean place, but it can also be a beautiful, supportive place.

The project reminds me of PostSecret, where people send in post cards anonymously with secrets written on them.

One of the themes I heard most often in therapy is that people want to make connections with other people; the problem is that they often don’t know how.  It seems like it should be easy.  After all, most of the photos on the Humans of New York Facebook page get between 80,000 and 350,000 likes.  They get tens of thousands of comments.  People want to love and support others, but I guess we don’t know how, without the distancing tool of the internet.

One woman who told her story, that she left an abusive relationship, has Hepatitis C, and wanted to place her daughter for adoption so that she’d be in a a better situation, but then couldn’t go through with it.  There was such an outpouring of love and support for her that Brandon set up an email address to try to connect her with services.

This is the truest side of mankind.  I believe that.  The truth doesn’t show up in the news with all the racial, political, sexist, hateful, violent stuff.  The truth is strangers are willing to help a woman on the other side of the world.

When we pass by homeless people asking for food or money, we look at them and see what we’ve been told to see.  Drug addicts.  Liars.  Lazy people.  The truth is much more complicated, and it’s hard to maintain that disinterest and vague feeling of being better than when we know their stories.  Because everyone has a story, and if we hear their stories, we can connect with them.

Next time you find yourself judging someone, I urge you to stop and wonder what their story is.  What would put them in the situation they’re in?  I would rather err on the side of believing a lie than judging someone too harshly.  After all, we’ve all made mistakes.  We’ve all done things we’re ashamed of.  Compassion, empathy, and love show the truest parts of who we are.

Feel Good Friday

Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Here’s today’s Friday dose of good news.  As always, it was hard to choose just a handful of articles.  There are lots of good things happening in the world, so pay attention!

Steve became homeless in 2001 after losing his job.  Not long ago, he got a job offer in another state.  Steve had been helping out stray dogs he found, and he wasn’t going to leave any of them behind, so he packed up all 11 in a cart and rode his bicycle, with the dogs, across states to his new job.  A woman spotted him and decided to help him out.  This is the stuff I love.

A young woman saw an older woman eating alone and asked if they could have lunch together.  It turns out that the older woman had just suffered some losses, and was grateful for her new friend.  I love to see people making small differences in the lives of others.

Kids can be amazing.  This 6-year-old’s parents both died, and he got tired of being sad.  So he decided to give small toys away to anyone he encountered who wasn’t smiling.  What a sweet story!

A doctor in Boston started DoctorBeDancing.  Basically, this doctor goes out on the street in his scrubs and white jacket and dances, asking for donations for charity.  He says that he likes the idea that he can help and inspire people, and show that one person can make a difference.  Bravo!

After a photo of a child studying in the dark outside of McDonald’s in the Philippines went viral, McDonald’s stepped up with scholarships for the kiddo, and said that they’re going to do what they can to help out his school.  While it’s great that McDonald’s is helping, the real story here is that this child wasn’t going to let anything stop him from getting an education.

Last but not least, here’s a video of a dog rolling around in a ball pit.  Because nothing says Friday like rolling around  with a wagging tail!

Happy Friday!  And may you have as much fun as a dog in a ball pit this weekend.

Art of Happiness

Good morning!  Here’s your thought for this week.

“The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.”
-Henry Ward Beecher

I really believe that there are a lot of reasons to be happy; you just have to open your eyes and see them.

My little friend. Photo Credit: Doree Weller

My little friend.
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Hey everyone, it’s Friday!  Time for some good news.

Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Photo Credit: Doree Weller

A 75-year-old woman was going to be fined and possibly jailed for not mowing her lawn, so some kids, who didn’t even know her, went ahead and took care of mowing her lawn.  There’s a very sweet (and short) video attached to the article.

Rachelle Friedman does a lingerie shoot to prove that people with disabilities can still be sexy.  Rachelle was paralyzed in an accident at her bachelorette party.  In the article, she says that some people think the photos are inappropriate, and I don’t see why.  She says that it made her feel good to do the shoot, and she gets to do what she wants to with her body.  I don’t think anyone has the right to pass judgement on that, like she’s held to different standards because of her disability.  In her book, The Promise: A Tragic Accident, a Paralyzed Bride, and the Power of Love, Loyalty, and Friendship, she commented that some people asked if her then-fiance was still going to go through with the wedding, and that she was surprised, that it had never occurred to her that he wouldn’t.  Because she knows something important: she’s more than just her body.  I say, “Go, Rachelle!”

AC Moore featured a child with Down’s Syndrome in a fundraising campaign.  Julie Gerhart-Rothholz wrote to them and thanked them for including a person with Down’s Syndrome, and told them about Changing the Face of Beauty, an initiative to feature a wider variety of people in advertising.  Not only did AC Moore write back to her immediately, but they also committed to participating in the initiative.  If you want to learn more about the initiative, click here.

A woman lost 200 pounds and went to participate in her first 10K.  She started struggling after the 4th mile, but was able to finish with the help of her son and a Kentucky police officer.

There’s a kindergarten teacher in Albuquerque NM, who every day, asks her students if they’ve eaten breakfast and if they need anything (clothing, to brush their teeth, etc).  She went to sit in the audience of the Ellen show, and was surprised to be honored for what she does.  Here’s the clip from the show.  Yeah, it made me cry.  Teachers do an amazing job.  We only really hear about the crappy ones in the news, so it’s nice to see someone wonderful like this being honored.

Have a great weekend.

My dog was not feeling very tolerant toward that squirrel. Photo credit: Doree Weller

My dog was not feeling very tolerant toward that squirrel.
Photo credit: Doree Weller

I write a lot about tolerance and acceptance, and that I feel that they’re “good” qualities.  I’m sure most people agree with me.  However, people with liberal mindsets often put down people with more conservative mindsets for not “accepting” what they feel is okay.  And that’s where things get thorny.

For the record, I’m pro-human rights, which in my mind, means I support gay marriage (or marriage equality) and the right for LGBTQ people to just be treated as people.

However, not everyone agrees that being gay, for example, is “okay.”  A lot of people are even more opposed to gay marriage, and the Supreme Court ruling isn’t changing their minds.  That’s because people often object to gay marriage on religious or moral grounds.

About this time in the discussion, someone usually says that Jesus preached tolerance for all, and that it’s not tolerant to be anti-gay or anti-gay marriage.

I respectfully disagree.

Tolerance doesn’t mean that you like something.  It doesn’t mean that it’s okay with you.  It means that you tolerate it.

According to dictionary.com, tolerance means:

noun
1.a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.

Nothing in there says that you have to condone an attitude, but I would like to point out that in order to be “fair” and “objective,” you have to understand.

One of the arguments people sometimes use against gay marriage is that “it’s not good for children,” and this is often based on anecdotal evidence of a few people raised in gay marriages who feel it negatively impacted them.  I can find thousands of people raised in heterosexual marriages or by single parents who feel that their parents’ relationship damaged them.  That doesn’t make heterosexual relationships to blame.

On the other hand, many people put down religious people for their intolerant attitudes by pointing to the extremists who don’t accurately portray religion.  The first group to pop to mind is the Westboro Baptist Church who protest funerals.  While they identify themselves as Christians, even other Christians believe them to be a “hate group.”  Just because someone has an opinion, and they’re Christian, doesn’t mean that all Christians believe the same way.

Let’s start treating one another as individuals, asking questions, and treating one another with respect.  At the core, we all want the same thing: to live our lives the best way we know how.  For Christians, that means figuring out how best to follow Jesus’s teachings.  For the LBGTQ community, that means being treated as equals.  For some people, those two ideas mesh well, but others can’t reconcile them.

I’m going to say something some might disagree with, and it’s that it’s okay if people disagree.  Respectfully disagreeing means that we listen to the other side and respond with respect.  The key here is that you honestly listen, and when you respond, you do so without name-calling, put-downs, or a condescending attitude.  These two issues make people quite passionate, and it can be difficult to be respectful in a discussion, but that’s tolerance.  Two people can have a disagreement, come no closer to agreeing by the end of it, and still listen to one another and respect one another.

My tolerance only ends when someone advocates or threatens harm to self or others.  That’s my line.  I love listening to people who disagree with me because I might learn something.  I love talking to people who disagree with me because I might teach something.  But if someone starts speaking in a disrespectful manner, my ears generally shut off, and I don’t hear anything but the disrespectful parts of the speech.

What are your thoughts on tolerance?

That's why I take pictures of my feet looking out on the ocean or the beach... so I can remember what it feels like to be there. El Jardin del Mar Photo Credit: Doree Weller

That’s why I take pictures of my feet looking out on the ocean or the beach… so I can remember what it feels like to be there.
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

That’s the first question IT always asked me, and it made me crazy.  But a large majority of the time, it actually worked.

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
–ANNE LAMOTT

The thing is, it’s not just good advice for computers; it’s good advice for people too.  If you find yourself getting upset, frustrated, irritated, or just generally out of sorts, take a few minutes and walk away from whatever situation is frustrating you.  Take a few deep breaths.  Take a walk outside.  Look up a favorite picture on your phone, or a beach picture on your Pinterest.  Turning your brain off, even for 5 minutes, can be really helpful for dealing with whatever it is that’s bugging you.  Because really, it’s so much harder to solve a problem when you’re upset than it is when you’re just a bit calmer.

Hello, and welcome to Friday!

I had blogs written earlier this week.  Gnomes snuck in my house and stole them.  They kept saying something about “Step 1- steal underwear.”  I don’t know.

But seriously, I lost a blog this week, and I’m not sure where it went.  I thought I lost two, but apparently the other one auto-saved.  (Thank you, blog gods!).  I got frustrated though, and that’s why there were no blogs this week.  I’ll do better next week.

Here are this week’s feel good Friday articles.

In the Woods Photo Credit: Doree Weller

In the Woods
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

San Antonio woman fined for feeding the homeless has her case dismissed.  Joan Cheever has been operating The Chow Train for over 10 years, and recently was fined, because it’s apparently illegal to feed the homeless.  She cited religious freedom, stating that’s the way she prays.  Now that the case has been dismissed, it will be interesting to see what’s next for the law.

There is a device to ensure that K9 officers don’t get left in hot cars.  

The California made some changes that please animal activists.  And as we all know, change often begins in California before it comes to the rest of us.

“Growing Local” is both the name of a documentary about farmers and a trend toward determined farmers who believe in the food they grow, and increasing consumer want for sustainable, local foods.  There’s a short article and the trailer for the documentary attached.

The Malawi chief changed the law, raising the minimum age for marriage to 16.  She annulled marriages for more than 300 children (both boys and girls) in her district and sent them back to school.

There’s a lot more good news in the world, but these are the stories I picked this week.

Go forth and be amazing today!

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