Spice up your Giving in 2012

Since we are only weeks removed from the joys of the holiday season (i.e. spending time with family, visiting friends and enjoying good food), the acting of giving should still be top of mind.

One of the beautiful outcomes from the holiday spirit is the way people choose to help those in need or less fortunate.  With the dire economic straits in much of the USA and Europe, along with the poverty around the world, giving is more important than ever.

Why not try something new in 2012?  Here’s what an anonymous woman did at a Kmart store in December:

Before she left the store Tuesday evening, the Indianapolis woman in her mid-40s had paid the layaway orders for as many as 50 people. On the way out, she handed out $50 bills and paid for two carts of toys for a woman in line at the cash register.

"She was doing it in the memory of her husband who had just died, and she said she wasn't going to be able to spend it and wanted to make people happy with it," Deppe said. The woman did not identify herself and only asked people to "remember Ben," an apparent reference to her husband.

Not only did she honor her late husband in a loving way but she touched and impacted at least 50 families!

If you want to spice up your giving, there are numerous ways to go about it. All it takes is a bit of creativity.

You could anonymously:

1)      Give a Food Store gift certificate to a family in need.
2)      Pay the bill for a family or families in a restaurant.
3)      Pay the tuition for or make a donation to the college education of a student who is struggling financially.

Or you could:

A)    Visit an elderly home or hospital with sick children while on vacation.
B)    Spend one hour at your local school talking to a class of children about your life/career and hearing about their dreams. I highly recommend this!
C)    Use your automobile to deliver goods for those in need or to help people who may need a ride to their weekly hospital visit.

The sky is the limit with the number of unique ways to give!

There are also more subtle ways to impact a life.  One thing I’ve done from time to time in the USA is to “pay the toll” of the person behind me on the highway – especially during the holidays.

This simple act of kindness doesn’t cost much and can’t help but put a smile on the face of person receiving it.  In addition, it will probably give them an incentive to be more giving.

When speeding off after paying a toll, I occasionally caught a glance of the surprised and happy face behind me and it felt great! We need more small moments of giving like this in our world.

Also, it’s important to note that giving need not be monetary in value. A warm smile or tender hug goes a long way in touching a soul. 

Let’s not forget that the traditional ways of giving (i.e.donating money to good organizations) are invaluable and serve a great purpose for the numerous companies/entrepreneurs who are doing good work around the globe.

Since “variety is the spice of life”, I find it exciting to change one’s path or consider doing things in a different way.  No matter what you decide to do, I implore you to give a little more in 2012 if you are in a position to do so.  If you are inclined, spice it up a bit in order to make a unique impact.

Have a joyous and fun time giving in 2012!

Happy Gswede Sunday!

The beauty of nature! (photo by Bret)

A Taste of my Weekly SMS/Text

A year before I began my weekly blog in early 2008, I was sending a Sunday “sms/text” to a select group of friends around the world who I am close with or enjoy being around.  It was one of the catalysts that propelled me to start putting pen to paper for my blog.

It’s been nearly 5 years since my first sms and I’m happy that I still enjoy doing it every week! Sometimes the words I transmit have to do with my weekly blog although more often than not, they are thoughts that come to me a day or two before I send the sms.

As with my blog, it’s a way in which I try to inspire, empower or simply make people look at things in a different light.

In addition, the sms’s I receive after my own often inspire or educate me. It’s wonderful to know that you have touched someone with a thought, especially when friends reciprocate with such eloquent or poignant responses.

Here’s an example of one I sent out (and the responses) on November 27, 2011:

Whether your life is good, challenging or bad....1 thing should always be a constant - Progression. Either you are moving forward with your goals/dreams or you are wasting time.

If your home life needs fixing, fix it.
If your job is so so or you have no job, do something about it.
If negativity surrounds you, get rid of it.
If friends/family dampen your spirit instead of enhancing it, keep them out of your life.

Life is too short to waste time. Progress!

Comment - From one of my most creative friends.

Brazil's motto on their flag reads, "Order and Progress2. You may have something there, given that they are debt-free and have just discovered oil. Nice.

Comment – From one of the most positive people I know.

Well said George! This is precisely what I am experiencing now - a personal life almost entirely built on progression. And I feel like Superman!

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Interesting Wall photo (by Buddhism)

Cancer with a SMILE

Happy 2012!

I can’t think of a better way to kick off the new year than by describing a poignant moment of inspiration in my life – a moment that has stuck with me for nearly 40 years.

It was the mid 1970’s and I was 10 or 11 years old. I remember walking into a room to visit the older brother of a close childhood friend as he was very sick with cancer. I had never known a young person who was severely ill so I was understandably nervous.

The next moment shocked me.

He greeted me with a big smile as if we were buddies who hadn’t seen each other in a long time. It was nothing less than one of the happiest smiles that I can ever remember and an extremely positive visit.  Here was a 14 year old teenager with cancer, smiling at me. It put me at ease immediately.

I don’t recall much about our conversation or who was in the room although that SMILE looms large and has been a wonderful force in my life. That smile confirmed to me what had been evident during his healthy times – what a fine young man he was.  Unfortunately, he lost his battle with cancer not long after.

Over the years, I have thought about that smile when times have been tough although most often, the moment has just popped into my mind to give me a dose of inspiration or to let me know that nothing is worth complaining about.

This is the first time that I have shared this memory in abundance. I only told my mother (he was her godson) about it recently.  I don’t think I ever really knew until now just how important that moment was for me.

I can’t say for sure although I think it has helped me to become a patient man, a giving man and a loving man. In addition, I rarely complain so I must attribute that in some form or fashion to the visit.

If there is one thing that most of us can do better in 2012, it would probably be to live life more positively, increase our patience and lessen our complaints. I have worked hard to evolve into the good man that I am despite the impatience and stubbornness of my early twenties although there is still work to be done. We can always improve upon who we are and how we live our lives.

Maybe you have a similar moment in your life? If so, hold onto it and cherish it. It may be the key to helping you evolve into a better person.

Cancer with a SMILE.  It’s a day I’ll never forget.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

 A lovely picture from my hometown in Pennsylvania!