a guaranteed way to make a girl scout smile

Have you noticed? It’s Girl Scout Cookie Season!

Every time I run errands, or simply drive around town, I see them: tables set up with glittery posters and a rainbow of colorful cookie boxes, and girls in green uniforms, cheerfully and patiently selling their wares. Girls in pony-tails and braids. Girls with braces and girls with gap-toothed smiles. Girls who remind me of Céline, who fill my heart and break it at the same time.

Céline was an extremely proud Girl Scout and, apparently, a cookie-selling legend. Every year in college, we would order cookies from her to support her old troop. She kept boxes of Thin Mints in the freezer. I’ve always been partial to the Shortbread and Samoas {…or, should I say, Caramel deLites?}

These days, in many ways, my eating habits are a lot healthier than they were back in college. I eat fewer processed foods and zero frozen dinners. I cook meals from scratch frequently. Instead of fat-free rice cakes and cheap booze, I fill my grocery-store cart with fresh produce and healthy fats. And I’ve cut back drastically on sugar.

Maybe you’re like me. You want to support the Girl Scouts, but you simply don’t need a bunch of cookies in your pantry.

Or maybe you DO love buying, and eating, Girl Scout cookies, which is also great. As Robyn, one of my favorite nutritionist bloggers, puts it: a healthy diet means you eat cake AND kale. Nutrition, variety, and pleasure — these are things we should receive from what we eat. Food is not just fuel, it’s also something to enjoy.

In any case, whether you plan to buy one or one-hundred boxes of Girl Scout cookies, here is a guaranteed way to make a Girl Scout smile. This is something Céline learned from her experience as a Girl Scout, and something she would do whenever she came across a green-vested girl selling cookies. Now it is something I do in her honor — one of my favorite ways to remember her.

girl scout cookies

Step One: Ask the Girl Scout what her favorite cookie flavor is. {She will think you are asking her for advice about which kind of cookie you should try.}

Step Two: Buy a box of whatever her favorite type of cookie is.

Step Three: Hand the box to her and explain it is a gift for her to enjoy. Here’s what I say, “My friend was a Girl Scout and she told me how hard it was to be selling all these cookies without being able to eat any yourself! So these are a treat for you to have. Keep up the great work!”

Step Four: Enjoy all the warm fuzzies filling you up inside.

One Final Note: This is not only a way to make a Girl Scout smile, it is a guaranteed way to make yourself smile, too. 🙂

Happy Friday, friends!

amber rubarth house concert in seattle

When I wrote a letter on this blog to Amber Rubarth back in May, I didn’t expect that she would ever read it. I hoped my words might somehow reach her – I wanted her to know how much her music meant to me – but, even if she never read my letter, I still felt writing it meant something. Even if the words were just for myself, I wanted to reflect on how I had carried her songs within me for years, how they had impacted my life and had been my companions and helped me grow into someone braver and stronger and more assured in myself, more rooted in my being. It was a small gesture, but it felt hugely good.

me and amber rubarth 2

Even though I wrote that letter for myself, when I published it here on the blog, something amazing happened.

The positive response was overwhelming. People shared with me their own thoughts about how music has made a difference in their lives. The post was shared widely throughout the Facebook and Twitter communities. And, within a few days, my words made their way to Amber herself.

I got goosebumps when I logged onto Facebook one afternoon to find a notification that I had been tagged in a post by Amber Rubarth:

Ah my heart!!! Just read this beautiful post from Dallas Woodburn who came to my show last week in San Francisco. My heart is fluttering with gratitude. Thank you Dallas for your beautiful words and gorgeous soul. Wow. So moving. You are a beautiful writer.

It was the opposite of that frustrated feeling I experienced after our brief interaction post-concert, the one that spurred me to write the post in the first place. Now I felt buoyant and peaceful and more connected to the community around me. I had been able to express what had previously felt inexpressible. I had let someone know that their work was important to me. I was happy and grateful that my words had rippled outward and found their recipient. It seemed like a small miracle.

But the ripples did not end there. I received messages from both of Amber’s parents, letting me know how much my words meant to them. Amber and I became email pals, and she even tweeted congratulations on my wedding day!

screenshot_2016-09-05-08-57-39

And I received an email from a man named Bill.

Hi Dallas,

Long-story-short… My wife and I have been hosting a house concert series in the living room of our house here in Seattle for the past eleven years. Amber Rubarth played our series back in 2013. She’s eager to return and we recently talked about this coming October. Before contacting Amber I did some poking around online to see what Amber was up to and came across your blog post. Wow! It had me and several  friends I shared it with in tears. This type of feedback provides the fuel for touring musicians to continue doing what they do. So here’s the deal… If Amber plays here, I’d like to invite you and a guest to come to the show. And I’d pay for the airline tickets for you both to fly to Seattle. I know, this sounds like a scam. Believe me, it isn’t. As soon as I read your blog I knew what I wanted to do. My brain and stomach (intuition) were aligned with each other and agreed this was the right thing to do. Hope to hear back from you and get your thoughts.

I was absolutely blown away when I read this email. To receive such warm and thoughtful generosity from a complete stranger! Immediately, I replied to Bill with an enthusiastic: Absolutely, I would love to come!!

We hammered out the details over the next few months, and then suddenly it was the end of October, and our trip up to Seattle had arrived! Allyn wasn’t able to attend because he had a previously scheduled commitment for that weekend, but my dad was kind enough to fly up from L.A. to join me for the trip. It was my first time seeing him post-wedding it was SO great to get some time just to ourselves, to catch up and enjoy each other’s company. We lucked out with beautiful sunny weather in Seattle and spent the day exploring Pike’s Place Market, walking around downtown, and eating delicious seafood. My favorite was the clam chowder we ate overlooking the water!

 me and dad chowder seattle

We also visited the amazing Chihuly Museum, which I dubbed “Dr. Seuss books come to life”… the delicate, vibrant, larger-than-life blown-glass sculptures were extraordinary to behold! Tickets were a liiiittle pricey, but worth it. We were both really happy we went there.

chihuly museum

Walking back to our hotel, we stopped at a Starbucks {because, when in Seattle, right?} to escape the brief drizzle and enjoy our hot drinks. And then it was time for the concert! After stopping at a neat local brewery for dinner, we took an Uber to the quaint historical Captiol Hill neighborhood where Bill and his wife Micki live.

It was a funny situation because, although Bill and I had emailed back and forth quite a bit, I had no idea what he looked like. When Dad and I stepped inside the beautiful house filled with people {who mostly all knew each other from previous house concerts there} I was unsure what to do! A white-haired man came up to us in the entryway and I asked, “Bill?” He laughed and said, “No, I’m Jim — but Bill’s making cider in the kitchen. C’mon!” And he led the way back through the house.

Bill knew what I looked like from this blog, and as soon as he saw me, he beamed. He and Micki were both so friendly and welcoming to me and my dad. We enjoyed chatting with them in the kitchen before the concert began, and Bill introduced me to some of his friends who had read my piece here on the blog. It was so special to meet them in person!

As soon as Amber came out “on stage” my heart leapt — I was so excited that my dad would get to hear her music live! I knew he would fall in love with her beautiful songs, and he did. I had never before attended a house concert, and I was captivated by the intimate vibe of the night. It was a mix of a casual concert and a Q&A, with the audience jumping in with questions and song requests.

amber rubarth house concert

Partway through the concert, Amber asked, “Is Dallas here?” I waved my hands so she could spot me in the crowd. Amber then sweetly told everyone about my blog post and the story of how I ended up being at the concert that night. Then she wished me and Allyn congratulations on our recent wedding day and played her “Song to Thank The Stars” for us — out of all her songs, it is my favorite and the one that reminds me the most of Allyn.

I was nearly in tears, it was such a special moment.

After the concert, which flew by way too fast, we got to visit with Amber in the kitchen. It was wonderful to get some time to chat with her about her music, the creative process, my wedding, her upcoming tour and new album, and our families. She is one of the most genuinely kind, warm and authentic people I have ever met. Oh! And she recently starred in a new movie that will be released in 2017! It is called “September 12th” and also stars musician Joe Purdy. I can’t wait to see it!

me and amber 2

{A little blurry, but the best photo of the bunch!}

The trip to Seattle was one of the coolest experiences of my life! What a testament to the generosity and connection of people — former strangers, now friends — and the beauty and love present in our world. I feel so very grateful for this experience! Thank you Bill and Micki from the bottom of my heart. And thank you, of course, to my new friend Amber Rubarth!

You can pre-order Amber’s gorgeous new album, Wildflowers in the Graveyard, at her website: http://www.amberrubarth.com/

27 acts of kindness for my 27th birthday

Last week, I shared that my birthday wish for this year was to create a “kindness chain” … I spent the week doing 27 random acts of kindness, in honor of my 27th birthday. It was my favorite birthday celebration ever! And even though my birthday has officially come and gone, it’s not too late to join in on the kindness chain. Please feel free to share your stories and acts of kindness in the comments section below!

my birthday wish

here they are…

my 27 acts of kindness:

1. Leave a complimentary note in a public place. I left these notes in the bathroom at Starbucks.

bathroom notes

2. Pay for someone else’s coffee drink. I bought a $5 gift card at Starbucks and asked the barista to use it to pay for someone else’s drink later that day. I asked if he would use it for someone who seemed stressed out, or someone who was particularly friendly or nice to him. “That’s really cool!” he said, giving me a big smile.

starbucks card

3. Give a meal to a homeless person. Last Friday night Dana and I went out to a delicious pizza place in Berkeley called Jupiter and we split a wood-fire pizza topped with a variety of cheeses, garlic, potatoes and bacon. At the end of our meal we had a few slices remaining and I took them to go. On the way to my car, I gave the boxed up leftovers to a very grateful and sweet homeless man, who offered to share them with me but it was late and I told him I needed to be on my way. “Bless you!” he called after me. I would have taken a picture of him, but it was dark. You’ll have to use your imagination and picture him smiling.

4. Write a kind note. I wrote cards to a number of friends + family members this week to say hi and let them know I’m grateful to have them in my life!

kind notes

5. Pay for someone else’s meal. I bought a $20 gift card at Panera and then handed it back to the cashier and asked if she would use it to pay for the meal of a family that came in. She looked surprised and said, “Oh my goodness, really?” I explained that it is my birthday. She said, “It’s YOUR birthday and you’re giving this to someone else?” Yep, that’s the idea! 🙂

Panera surprise

6. Put money into strangers’ parking meters. I left a handful of quarters on top of this parking garage payment machine.

parking garage payment

7. Reach out to a friend. I sent messages to a few friends I haven’t been in touch with in a while, and got wonderful responses in return!

8. Write a note of appreciation to a co-worker. I wrote a note to one of my co-workers at Communications Academy who did a terrific job subbing for me when I was out of town for Julie’s wedding.

9. Pick up litter. Over the week I collected a pretty big bag of trash, simply by picking up litter on the ground I saw in my daily life!

litter

10. Bring snacks to yoga class. When I think back to my 26th birthday, it’s crazy to realize that I hadn’t ever taken a yoga class at that point. Yoga has become one of my favorite rituals — definitely one of the best habits I’ve picked up in the past year. I absolutely love my biweekly Hatha yoga class. I’ve become friends with my fellow yogis, who always brighten my day with their warmth and positivity. This week I brought some energy bars to class to say thank you!

yoga snacks 20140529_092909

11. Visit residents in a nursing home. In honor of my dear friend Jewell, who was also born in May — we used to always celebrate our birthdays together — I brought some homemade cookies and kind notes to a local nursing home. I think Jewell was smiling! Love you and miss you, my sweet friend.

jewell

12. Give a treat to a toll-booth worker or gatekeeper. I gave cookies to the man who works the security gate at my neighborhood. He was surprised and excited — I guess it had been a long day working, and he was hungry! Chocolate-chip cookies always do the trick.

13. Corral shopping carts in a parking lot. I went shopping two times this past week, and each time I took a few minutes to push a handful of stray carts into the designated areas.

14. Donate books and magazines to the library. I donated about half a dozen issues of The New Yorker magazine and two books to my local library.

15. Send a thank-you note. I sent a couple thank you notes this week … and now I have a many more to send to thank my friends and family for their generous, thoughtful birthday gifts yesterday! 🙂

thank you notes

16. Write a 5-star review on Amazon. I wrote 5-star reviews for three books I’ve enjoyed lately: The Bigness of The World by Lori Ostlund; Beautiful Soon Enough by Margo Berdeshevsky; and 20-Something, 20-Everything by Christine Hassler.

17. Compliment a salesperson to his or her supervisor. I had a really wonderful and helpful woman ring me up at CVS, and afterwards I thanked her and asked how I could pass along my compliments about her to the higher-ups. She wrote down the info on the bottom of my receipt, and as soon as I got home I sent in feedback. Debra, you are fantastic!

receipt cvs

18. Bring treats for my students. I brought chocolate-chip cookies to my Communications Academy classes, and oh man were the kids excited!

cookies

19. Scatter lucky pennies on a playground. I picked up a roll of pennies from the bank and drove to a playground close to my neighborhood, where I sometimes go to write and read under the trees. I scattered the pennies all over the playground and around on the sidewalks. I also left some pennies on the edge of a nearby fountain for people to use to make wishes.

lucky pennies

20. Bring treats to the hospital staff. My Gramps and two uncles are surgeons, and my cousin Julie is currently in medical school {so proud of you, Julie!} so I know personally the dedication, selflessness and generous care that doctors and nurses give their patients. I brought half a dozen muffins and scones to the emergency room at the local hospital as a small gesture of thanks.

hospital treats 20140530_122639 20140530_124457

21. Let someone go ahead of you in line. At the A’s game on Monday, I let a number of people go ahead of me in the {always long!} line for the women’s restroom; a couple mothers with children were especially grateful.

me and al a's game

22. Donate clothes to charity. I went through my closet and found a dress and two shirts that are in great condition but that I never wear. Allyn also gave me a bag of clothing that he wanted to donate, so I dropped everything off at Goodwill.

clothes for goodwill

23. Pay the toll for the car behind you in line. When Allyn and I drove into San Francisco to go to the California Academy of Sciences for my birthday {so much fun!} we paid the toll for the car behind us in line. The tollbooth worker was at first confused, then surprised, then pleased by the gesture. It was especially sweet of Allyn to indulge me in this act of kindness because he has a Fastrak beeper and we had to go through the slower line to pay cash for another car’s toll.

24. Give a note and a chocolate bar to the mailman. Our mailman is very friendly and nice, always taking extra care to bring packages to the door if it is raining, and always waving hello when we see him on the street. I left a chocolate bar and thank-you note in the mailbox as a surprise for him.

thank you for mailman

mailman note

25. Surprise a child with a balloon at the grocery store. When I was waiting in line at the grocery store, these pretty balloons at the checkout stand caught my eye. I thought about how excited I was to get balloons as a child, which gave me an idea: I bought one of the balloons, then handed it back to the checker and asked her to give it to a child who passed through her line sometime that day. She was excited and delighted to do so.

grocery store balloon

26. Leave a really big tip. I gave an especially big tip to the friendly barista at one of my favorite independent coffee shops, who recommended a delicious tropical green tea to me.

27. Give someone flowers. I bought a bouquet of carnations at the grocery store, and then removed the rubber bands and separated the bouquet into individual flowers. When I went to the bank to get a roll of pennies to scatter at the playground, I gave the flowers to the bank teller and asked if she would pass out flowers to customers. As I left, I heard the man in line behind me ask in a surprised voice, “Did she just give you flowers?” I hope she gave him one! 🙂

20140530_132211

birthday carnations

Thanks so much to everyone who helped in my birthday acts of kindness; to everyone who sent me words of support and encouragement; and to everyone who joined the kindness chain and did acts of kindness this week! You have made this birthday my most special yet, and this is definitely a birthday tradition I hope to continue for many years to come!

Lots of love and thanks,
❤ Dallas

* If you liked this post, you might want to check out the archives of my year of kindness challenge from last year!

fabulous friday #23

Happy Friday, everyone! Hope you are enjoying the sunshine and have fun plans for the weekend! Before I get into the rest of this post, I want to take a moment to thank everyone who has served and is currently serving our country. Yes, Memorial Day weekend is typically associated with BBQ get-togethers and amazing shopping sales, but let’s make sure we remember the real purpose of this holiday weekend: honoring the bravery and sacrifices that our fellow Americans have made to keep us safe.

To veterans, current military servicemen and women, and your families: my deepest thanks for your service!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Your kind comments and enthusiasm for my birthday kindness chain! Today I’ve been busy working at my computer, so I’ve done a handful of kind acts from my desk: sent an email of praise to a coworker, wrote some thank-you notes, posted three positive reviews on Amazon, and reached out to an old friend I haven’t been in touch with in a long time. More proof that you don’t even need to leave the house to make the world a better place!

2. Starbucks work sessions. I have a big cup of green tea w/honey, I’m surrounded by the hustle and bustle of people, there’s light jazz in the background … perfect ingredients to power through my to-do list!

starbucks

3. This inspiration from Nicole @A Life Less Bullsh*t to quit being afraid and just get started already:

a year from now

4. I won the Swanson Vitamins giveaway that Danica hosted on her blog!! I can’t ever remember winning even a raffle, so this was a huge surprise and I am so excited and grateful. Happy early birthday to me! I’m going to buy myself some nut butters and baking supplies. Thank you, Danica!

I won a giveaway

5. Phone dates, Skype dates, Google Hang-out dates, and in-person dates with people I love who make me feel loved. I talked with Holly, Allyn and my parents on the phone yesterday, I’m Skyping this afternoon with my friend Chidelia, Greg has called me via Google Hang-outs twice from Thailand {so thankful he is safe and having fun!}, I saw my aunt Annie and cousin Arianna for dinner last night, and I’m seeing Dana for dinner tonight. Nothing warms my heart more than time with so many amazing, loving and generous people I’m blessed to have in my life. ❤

P.S. Look at how cute my Grandpap was in his choir concert last weekend! I couldn’t resist sharing this photo I snapped of him!

grandpap choir concert.jpg

Questions of the day:

  • What are you loving this Friday?
  • What are your plans for the weekend?

my birthday wish + giveaway

Hi, friends, and happy Thursday! My 27th birthday is a week from today, and during the next week I’m planning to celebrate by doing 27 random acts of kindness! I’m really excited about it and will be sharing highlights and photos from all the acts of kindness next week, so stay tuned.

my birthday wish

In the meantime, I’d love to invite you to join in on the kindness! Just like last year, I’d love if you would create a random acts of kindness chain with me. To participate all you have to do is perform an act of kindness in the next week, and then leave a comment below sharing what you did.

On Friday, May 30, I’ll randomly select one winner from all the comments to receive a personally autographed copy of my collection of short stories, 3 a.m.

3 a.m. book cover

I’m so excited to hear about all the love and kindness you spread in the world this week! Looking for ideas of random acts of kindness? Here are 52 of them!

Questions of the day:

  • Have you ever participated in a kindness chain before?
  • What are your favorite ways to celebrate your birthday?

celebrating martin luther king, jr.

Today we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I’m celebrating by participating in a community service project and by doing as many random acts of kindness as I can fit into my day!

I’m also spending time today reading the words of Dr. King and reflecting on his wisdom. I was especially moved by this passage:

“A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be changed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth with righteous indignation.” {Source: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/pacificaviet/riversidetranscript.html}

My dad’s wonderful column this past week was about Dr. King and I want to share it with you as well: http://woodywoodburn.com/column-let-service-ring/

I’ll be back tomorrow with this week’s year of Wooden post. Hope you are having a beautiful day filled with service, compassion and reflection!

Question of the day:

  • What are you doing to celebrate MLK day?
  • What are your favorite words of wisdom from MLK?

fabulous friday #8

Happy TGIF, friends! It’s been a beautiful sunny week in the Bay Area, though the weather has been drier than ever — which means wildfires are a very real danger. Please send your thoughts & prayers for rain!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service on January 20th. I can’t think of a better way to remember Dr. King than a national day of service in his honor. I’m excited to get involved with a community service project on Monday. Here’s a wonderful link about the Day of Service with a helpful guide to find projects happening your area! Or, do an act of kindness!

2. Morning yoga. I’ve started going to a yoga class that meets every Tuesday & Thursday morning. I may not be the most talented yogi in the land {a not-so-nice instructor once told me, “You are the least flexible young person I’ve ever seen!” Ummm, thanks? At least I’m trying!} … but I always feel way energized and refreshed after yoga class. And I’m improving, little by little, day by day. I’m even contemplating adding a morning Saturday yoga class to my routine!

3. Big ol’ salads. {Which always makes me think of this Seinfeld episode!} One of my health goals for this year is to eat a salad or a green smoothie every day. My body just feels better when I feed it good fuel. Right now I can’t get enough of crunchy toppings like fresh bell pepper, celery and edamame. YUM.

big salad

4. My aunt’s two poodles, Lucy & Rocca. This week I’ve been writing at her house during the day to keep her dogs company so they don’t get too lonely. Mr. Mur-dog will always hold the key to my heart, but these two dogs are pretty dang sweet and adorable, too! {Just don’t tell him I said that.}

poodles

5. This “revamp my spirit” playlist by Heather Waxman. My current favorite playlist, guaranteed to start my day off on a great note! I especially love the first track, “Riptide” by Vance Joy.

Now, your turn:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • Any fun plans for the weekend?
  • Are you going to participate in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service on Monday?

year of kindness challenge: wrap-up + reflections

year of kindness button

Last week’s kindness challenge — the final challenge in this Year of Kindness — was to forgive someone. I am a fierce believer in forgiveness. When you forgive someone, you set yourself free from the cage of anger and pain and bitterness. As I mentioned before, this past year was a tough one for me at times. There was so much love and growth and laughter, but there was a lot of pain, too. The hardest part was knowing that I caused others pain, in particular two people I cared for deeply. I can’t know, and can’t control, whether they ever forgive me. But this past week, crossing the bridge from 2013 into the sparkling new year 2014, I knew I had to forgive myself.

Sometimes, real life is messy and difficult. Sometimes, being true to yourself and listening to your gut creates collateral damage. Sometimes, you are confronted with a decision and there is no pain-free choice to make. But I know in my heart that I made the right one. Sometimes, pain is necessary to avoid a much greater avalanche of pain in the future.

So this week, I finally wrote a letter of forgiveness. To myself. And I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. It was a fitting end to this year of kind acts: being kind to myself.

I learned and grew so much from this year of kindness challenge.

kindness collage

Here are my top 5 take-aways:

1. Aesop is right: “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” This year has solidified my belief that even small acts of compassion and joy — smiles, cards, a few minutes out of your day to help someone — can make a big difference. You never know how very much your kindness might mean to someone!

2. Want to be happy? Be kind. I learned that if I’m in a sad or grumpy mood for whatever reason, the quickest way to turn my day around is to do an act of kindness for someone else.

3. Little by little, big things can happen. This time last year, the idea of doing 52 unique random acts of kindness seemed like a huge, overwhelming task. But by focusing on one act per week and integrating it into my routine, doing acts of kindness became a habit — something I soon looked forward to every week! I was also so inspired by the support and encouraging words I received from readers and fellow bloggers. Special thanks to Lauren, Lindsay, Danica, and Gayle for contributing kindness act ideas for the project!

4. Being brave and putting yourself out there is SO worth it. There were times I was nervous to do acts of kindness. Striking up conversations with strangers, buying coffee for people in line behind me, reaching outside my comfort zone … it can be scary to put yourself out there! But every single time, I was left with a huge smile on my face and gratitude in my heart.

5. Have faith. It’s a magical world we live in. Time and again, I have been blown away this past year by the wonderful connections and coincidences that have happened — and by the acts of kindness that others have done for me! Keeping track of acts of kindness has also made me more aware that we are all connected.

bday girl

As always, in love & kindness,
❤ Dallas

P.S.: Head on over to this Year of Kindness Challenge page to see all the archived posts from the entire year!

Questions of the day:

  • What is something you need to forgive yourself for?
  • What are your final thoughts & reflections on this year of kindness?

year of kindness challenge: week 52

And just like that, we’re into our very final week of this year of kindness challenge. What a magical journey it has been, friends! Thank you to everyone who has participated along with me, suggested ideas for acts of kindness, and sent me encouraging emails and comments on my posts.

year of kindness button

One year ago, I started this year of kindness challenge as a way of trying to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Now, looking back, I believe it made the biggest positive difference in my own life. 2013 has been a rollercoaster of a year for me, with some of the biggest challenges I’ve ever gone through, and these acts of kindness were my lifeline. The people I’ve met along the way are now invaluable friends. I’ll be sharing the top five lessons I learned in next week’s wrap-up post, but for now, I just want to say this: THANK YOU! 

kind note

This past week’s kindness challenge {inspired by Martha Richards, the Executive Director of the WomenArts Foundation} was to reach out to an artist whose work touches you and tell him or her what you love about their work. I sent cards to two of my favorite local artists and teachers, Patti Post and Rima Muna. {Click on their names to visit their websites and check out their stunning artwork!}

artist notes

with rima

My brother and I with Rima at one of her art shows, a couple years ago.

The Week 52 Kindness Challenge, as we head into this sparkling new year, is to forgive someone. You can write a letter of forgiveness; you don’t even need to send it. You can have your own ceremony of letting go: burn a slip of paper in the fire to symbolize your release of anger and hurt. The person you forgive might even be yourself.  

As always, blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn AT gmail DOT com.

Oh, and before I wrap this up I also wanted to share this fabulous article that I came across thanks to Danica at It’s Progressionhttp://www.wellnesstoday.com/beauty-inspiration/8-messages-to-teach-young-women-and-girls-about-happiness

Savor these final hours of 2013, and let’s ring in 2014 with kindness!
-Dallas

P.S.: Head on over to this Year of Kindness Challenge page to see all the archived posts from the previous 51 weeks!

Questions of the day:

  • What are you doing to celebrate New Year’s?
  • What acts of kindness happened in your life this past week?

year of kindness challenge: week 51

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone!

Today I brought some chocolates and cards to the local nursing home in honor of my dear friend Jewell, who passed away in 2011. I miss her every day, but especially at Christmastime. She was one of the most genuinely sweet and kindhearted people I’ve known! I’ve started a tradition of bringing holiday cards to the nursing home every year as a way of remembering her.

me and jewell

To make the cards this year, I upcycled wrapping paper scraps by cutting out holiday designs — Christmas trees, gloves, snowmen, snowflakes — and gluing them down to blank white notecards. Then I wrote holiday messages on the back, such as:

  • Hope your holiday season is filled with joy and laughter!
  • Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
  • A friend is sending you lots of love and blessings this holiday season.

candy for nursing home

upcycled cards

It made my heart happy to think of the residents smiling when they receive the holiday cards.

I finished wrapping all my presents yesterday, so I’m all set to go! The rest of my Christmas Eve was spent visiting with relatives, taking care of my poor brother who is sick, and baking! I made a pumpkin pie and funfetti cookies.

funfetti cookies

Now … on to the kindness challenge! We’re down to our final two weeks, can you believe it?

year of kindness button

Last week’s kindness challenge was to donate a toy or book to a child in need this holiday season, and/or to drop off a donation at a local animal shelter. I dropped off five boxes of new books {donated through my annual Holiday Book Drive} and three new basketballs to the local Boys & Girls Club.

The timing worked out perfectly — the manager told me she was expecting to get a large donation of children’s books from another source, but then didn’t receive nearly as many books as expected so she was left scrambling to pull together enough gifts for all the children. And the holiday party was that very afternoon! I could tell from her tone that she was feeling pretty desperate.

“I was hoping you would come,” she said as she helped me unload the books from the car. “I remember you from last year. You’re our book angel!”

I can’t put into words how joyful and fulfilled the experience made me feel. The universe is magical and things truly work out for a reason!

book drive

The Week 51 Kindness Challenge was inspired by Martha Richards, the Executive Director of the WomenArts Foundation. In a recent newsletter, she wrote: “If you are like me, you are being deluged with funding requests at this time of year. If you are able to make cash gifts to women artists and women’s organizations, I hope you will do so. Most of us {including WomenArts} are working on a shoestring, and your cash gifts will really make a difference.  But I also believe there is a currency of kindness that we can use to lift each other’s spirits whether or not we have any spare cash on hand. I have seen it over and over again at WomenArts and in other parts of my life — you can often give someone the courage to keep working or try something new just by listening to them carefully, acknowledging their hard work, and finding kind, supportive things to say.”

So this week’s kindness challenge is to reach out to an artist whose work touches you and tell him or her what you love about their work.

As always, blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn AT gmail DOT com.

Merry Christmas!
-Dallas

P.S.: Head on over to this Year of Kindness Challenge page to see all the archived posts from the previous 50 weeks!

Questions of the day:

  • What are you doing to celebrate Christmas?
  • What acts of kindness happened in your life this past week?