Sometimes the news is just so overwhelming. Stories about violence, crime, poverty, corruption, hatred, and discrimination stir my emotions and threaten to hold me prisoner in my own home, safe in my bed, curled up under the covers, refusing to participate fully in life. Then, just when I find myself succumbing to the temptation to feel helpless and incompetent, I remember that so many others out there are working diligently to create a better world for themselves, their families, their neighbors, and the world at large. These are the stories I wish to share with you so that you, too, can find the courage and strength within you to go out and create your own stories of inspiration, compassion, and love. I hope you enjoy reading about the Good Stuff as much as I do.
Oprah writes about what she would tell her 21 year-old self. “If I knew then what I know now, I would never have wasted even a single minute doubting my path.” Given the opportunity, what are some things you would tell your 21 year-old self? Here's what i would tell myself: Go to graduate school. Don't be afraid to embrace your inner artist (not all artists have dreadlocks and play hacky-sack). And please, for the love of Pete, KEEP A JOURNAL!
My friend and fellow writer, Jessie, posted about “Pay it Forward January” on her blog, Jester Queen. “Pay it Forward January” is a meme created by bloggers Missy at Literal Mom and Carolyn at Hooked and Happy. The theme of this project is, naturally, to encourage others to “commit” 26 acts of random kindness (#26Acts) in memory of the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy. I agree with Jessie – we should endeavor to be kind to people EVERY day – but sometimes movements like this prompt us to step outside of our normal routine and act in a manner that may actually make a difference in another person’s life. When we do something random and unexpected for a stranger we demonstrate the fact that we are all connected, no matter our differences. This month Jessie is asking readers to learn more about a cause that is important to her, Asperger’s Syndrome. One way you can do this is to take a minute and head over to Facebook and “like” the Autism Shines page. There you will find useful and positive information about autism.
Recently I subscribed to TheGod Article, an electronic newsletter that includes scripture and devotionals as well as discussion on how to live a more productive life (especially in regards to the teachings of Jesus). This week they launched a new idea, the “Be The Love” project, which is similar to the “Pay it Forward” idea but includes scriptural passages. This week’s project: pick one person who is not a family member and tell him or her that he or she is appreciated. To receive periodic inspirational e-mails, simply visit their site and sign up.
In response to recent gun advocates’ naming January 19 as “gun appreciation day”, Parents Against Gun Violence is naming January 19 “Child Appreciation Day”. The organization’s website lists several ideas for showing your support and appreciation for our country’s future citizens.
I also found a new campaign on DoSomething.org that is a great idea for schools, clubs, youth groups, or any teen organization that wishes to participate. Aeropostale is launching its annual Jeans for Teens program. 1.7 million teens are homeless in our country. The number one requested item by teens living in shelters is jeans. In response to this overwhelming need, Aeropostale is asking youth organizations to run a drive to collect jeans for teens. Groups can bring the jeans into any local Aeropostale between January 14 and February 10th and receive 25% off a pair of jeans for every pair donated. DoSomething.org is a website intended to harness teen energy to help make a positive impact on the world. Each week the organization issues a call to action on various causes teens care about. These campaigns usually require no monetary donations and are easily accomplished without needing adult assistance. Take a minute to familiarize yourself with the website and then introduce it to a teen you know.
Finally, Arianna Huffington wrote an inspiring post on the health benefits of yoga for veterans. As one who enjoys practicing yoga and believes in the importance of meditation and focus, I found this information encouraging.
That’s all I have for this week. Feel free to share any stories and/or links you have found about the Good Stuff in the comments section below!