a year of Wooden: week 4

Happy Monday, friends! I’m enjoying a special day today with my cousins Makena & Bianca, who are off school for a teacher inservice day. We baked delicious apple cinnamon muffins this morning, and this afternoon we’re going to the movie theaters to see “Frozen.”

bianca makena

Last night we had a lovely family birthday celebration for my cousin Arianna. I really liked this new tradition we started while eating dinner: everyone went around the table and said one word they would use to describe Arianna. It was such a sweet & heartfelt way to celebrate her!

arianna bday

This year I am doing “a year of Wooden” following the teachings of Coach John Wooden, and in particular his 7-Point Creed.

a year of wooden

I’m beginning the year with the Creed’s first item:

  • January: Drink deeply from good books.

This past week I read Coach Wooden’s children’s book, Inch and Miles: The Journey to Success. Even though I’m not a child anymore, I still deeply enjoy this book. I think sometimes grown-ups — more than anyone! — need to be reminded that true success isn’t money or material possessions or the amount of Instagram followers you have. True success trying your best, day by day, little by little, and being authentic to your own unique self. This charming picture book is perfect for the child in all of us.

To summarize this month’s challenge of “drinking deeply from good books” we read:
Wooden & Me: Life Lessons from My Two-Decade Friendship with the Legendary Coach & Humanitarian to Help “Make Each Day Your Masterpiece”
Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off The Court
Inch & Miles: The Journey to Success

Since Coach Wooden was also a devoted Christian, I’m also going to work on reading more of the Bible this year. I’m participating in #SheReadsTruth, an online community of women that sends out a daily email with a Bible verse and contemplation questions.

Next week, moving into February, we’ll move on to the second monthly challenge in this year of learning from Coach Wooden!

Questions of the day:

  • What are your final thoughts on the books we read this month?
  • What is your personal idea of “true success”?
  • Do you have any fun birthday traditions in your family?

a year of Wooden: week 3

My thoughts & prayers are with the Purdue community… there was a shooting at the university early today. Crazy to think that this time last year I would have been right there on campus. And I do have many friends who are still there. Please send your good thoughts.

Coach Wooden was also a Purdue alum, graduating in 1932 with a degree in English. He helped lead the Boilermakers to the National Championship and was the first player ever to be named a three-time consensus All-American. While at Purdue he was nicknamed “The Indiana Rubber Man” because he was always diving onto the hard court after the ball. The West Lafayette community treasures Coach Wooden — I spotted photos of him and framed Pyramids of Success in countless restaurants and businesses there.

a year of wooden

This year I am doing “a year of Wooden” following the teachings of Coach John Wooden, and in particular his 7-Point Creed. I’m beginning the year with the Creed’s first item:

  • January: Drink deeply from good books.

This past week I read Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court, written by Coach Wooden with Steve Jamison. I have read this book many times, and each time I learn something new. I love how it is written in brief sections so you can pick it up and read one in a few short minutes. Each section feels like a meditation or prayer or poem — a great way to begin or end your day with a little thought and reflection. When I read this book, I feel like Coach is speaking personally to me, sharing anecdotes and philosophies from his life. This is a book that grows with you. Whenever I read it, I always come away feeling refreshed and inspired.

For this week, I’ll be reading Coach Wooden’s children’s book, Inch and Miles: The Journey to Success. I think grown-ups will enjoy this easy and fun read, too! It’s perfect for the child in all of us. Better yet, read this book to a child in your life and have a conversation with him or her about the true meaning of success. Here’s a little about the book:

Inch and Miles have one last assignment before summer vacation begins. Their wise teacher, Mr. Wooden, has asked them the meaning of success. Using a magic silver whistle, Inch and Miles set out on a journey to discover the blocks of the Pyramid of Success and learn how to try 100 percent to be their personal best.

I’d also like to give a shout out to Harper For Kids, a really neat nonprofit organization that uses Inch and Miles as a teaching tool to change young kids’ lives! Learn more about their programs here.

Looking forward to hearing your comments about the book next week!

Question of the day:

  • What were your favorite books as a child?

year of kindness challenge: week 31

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Hi, friends! How has your Monday been? Mine has been productive and happy so far. Lots of fruits & veggies eaten; a great convo with my brother about his awesome first day of business school; many rounds of fetch with Mr. Mur-dog; some yoga & a sunny walk; and chugging along nicely on various writing projects. Woo-hoo! Now time to get dinner started — I’m thinking a veggie-filled pasta bake — and maybe a glass of wine, too…

This past week’s kindness challenge was to go to a playground {or any place where children congregate} and scatter a handful of “lucky pennies” for happy kids to find. I walked to my neighborhood park and scattered a dozen pennies around the playground and sidewalk. I was planning to take some pictures on my phone, but there were people around and I didn’t want to seem creepy. But it made me happy to think of the little kids finding lucky pennies all around the park! 🙂

This week I also came across a neat kindness website, helpfromhome.org, with the slogan: “Change the world in just your pyjamas!” Doesn’t that sound nice?? The website is loaded with “micro-volunteering” opportunities that are designed to fit into busy lifestyles. There are also platforms to track your actions and hours logged. Check it out!

The Week 31 Kindness Challenge is to send someone a postcard with a healing, empowering, or comforting message. Pick a postcard from your hometown, a place you went on vacation, or maybe somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit. You could even create your own postcard by collaging pictures and words from magazines. If you need someone to send your postcard to, mail it to Traveling Postcards, a nonprofit that will distribute it to a woman somewhere in the world who is working to overcome violence and oppression.  

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.

Have a wonderful week!
Dallas

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year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
– week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold
– week 5 challenge: do something kind for a neighbor
– week 6 challenge: deliver valentines to a nursing home
– week 7 challenge: donate to a food pantry
– week 8 challenge: donate toiletries to a shelter
– week 9 challenge: post a kind note in a public place
– week 10 challenge: do something kind for a child
– week 11 challenge: thank someone in a genuine & meaningful way
– week 12 challenge: deliver baked goods to a fire station
– week 13 challenge: give someone flowers
– week 14 challenge: donate books
– week 15 challenge: reach out and spend time with people
– week 16 challenge: smile at everyone you meet
– week 17 challenge: pick up litter/trash
– week 18 challenge: write a kind note to a mom figure in your life
– week 19 challenge: leave an extra-generous tip
– week 20 challenge: donate blood/join bone marrow registry
– week 21 challenge: visit a cemetery and pay respect
– week 22 challenge: practice a little patience
– week 23 challenge: call 3 loved ones on the phone
– week 24 challenge: do something kind for a senior citizen
– week 25 challenge: pay for someone’s public transportation
– week 26 challenge: volunteer at a food pantry or soup kitchen
– week 27 challenge: send a care package to someone in the military
– week 28 challenge: give at least one compliment every day
– week 29 challenge: do a favor for someone else
week 30 challenge: scatter lucky pennies around a playground

year of kindness challenge: week 30

year of kindness button

Happy Monday everyone! Hope your morning is off to a great start. I did a little meditation this morning — love this guided meditation by Heather Waxman, check it out! — and ate a homemade banana muffin for breakfast alongside a warm cinnamony cup of tea. The tea is my new fave and I was introduced to it thanks to my July Foodie Pen Pal; reveal day coming on Wednesday!

In other news, I finally moved forward past the year 2008 and got my first smartphone over the weekend. I think I may have been one of the last holdouts — even my grandma has a smartphone! There was a part of me that liked not having access to my email and the Internet 24/7 right there on my phone, which was why I waited so long. I’m now excited to have the added convenience of Internet and apps on my phone, not to mention the ease of being able to take photos and post them easily on here … and, hey there, Instagram, nice to meet you! I’m expecting to be posting on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest more often now because it is so much easier for me with my shiny new smartphone. But I must admit, there’s a part of my techno-phobe brain that is still a little wary of having the Internet right.there.all.the.time. I’m curious: what tips do you have for balancing screen time? How do you keep yourself from compulsively checking your email every three minutes? Do you have any “technology rules” you try to follow to keep yourself grounded? Please share in the comments section below!

Last week’s kindness challenge was to do a favor for someone without being asked. I was surprised how much FUN I had doing favors for people! I ran a bunch of errands to pick up last-minute things for my brother before his big move and helped him move down to Los Angeles and get his apartment set up. My mom and I drove across the traffic-clogged city to get copies of his new apartment key made {only to later spot a hardware store a block away from his apartment! D’oh!} I also baked some gluten-free treats for my fam and helped my Gramps with some chores around his house.

Another great thing about this past weeks’ kindness challenge is that it made me so much more aware of the favors and sweetness others extend to me on a daily basis! A few examples from just this week: my mom washed my car and cleaned my bathroom as a super nice surprise. An acquaintance from college sent me a nice email about a recent blog post. I ran into a dear old high school friend at Trader Joe’s, and not only was it great to see her but she also invited me to go to a zumba class with her on Wednesday. Again and again, I am reminded that the world is full of kindness and compassion if you just take the time to open your eyes and appreciate what is around you!

The Week 30 Kindness Challenge is to go to a playground {or any place where children congregate} and scatter a handful of “lucky pennies” around for happy kids to find. 

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.

Have a wonderful week!
Dallas

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year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
– week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold
– week 5 challenge: do something kind for a neighbor
– week 6 challenge: deliver valentines to a nursing home
– week 7 challenge: donate to a food pantry
– week 8 challenge: donate toiletries to a shelter
– week 9 challenge: post a kind note in a public place
– week 10 challenge: do something kind for a child
– week 11 challenge: thank someone in a genuine & meaningful way
– week 12 challenge: deliver baked goods to a fire station
– week 13 challenge: give someone flowers
– week 14 challenge: donate books
– week 15 challenge: reach out and spend time with people
– week 16 challenge: smile at everyone you meet
– week 17 challenge: pick up litter/trash
– week 18 challenge: write a kind note to a mom figure in your life
– week 19 challenge: leave an extra-generous tip
– week 20 challenge: donate blood/join bone marrow registry
– week 21 challenge: visit a cemetery and pay respect
– week 22 challenge: practice a little patience
– week 23 challenge: call 3 loved ones on the phone
– week 24 challenge: do something kind for a senior citizen
– week 25 challenge: pay for someone’s public transportation
– week 26 challenge: volunteer at a food pantry or soup kitchen
– week 27 challenge: send a care package to someone in the military
– week 28 challenge: give at least one compliment every day
week 29 challenge: do a favor for someone else

year of kindness challenge: week 10

year of kindness button

Happy Monday! It doesn’t quite feel like Monday to me because I’m on Spring Break and with Daylight Saving “spring forward” yesterday, I’m still a little off timewise. But I’m thrilled to get to spend the whole week soaking up time with our little man, plus it feels so nice to have daylight until 7pm!

Let’s move on to the kindness. Last week’s challenge was inspired by Operation Beautiful, which I discovered via this moving post by Anne at Fannetastic Food, and was pretty simple: write a kind or inspiring note and hang it up in a public place. I hung up some post-it notes in a school restroom:

kind note

DSC00030

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My dad hung up a wonderful sign in the bathroom at the local park, where he goes for runs every day and where many youth soccer teams practice:

soccer team sign

It was probably the easiest kindness challenge yet, and definitely something I want to do again. It took maybe two minutes and made me feel happy the whole week! A perfect example of how doing something to brighten others’ days immediately brightens your own day!

Does anyone else drink Yogi brand tea? One of my favorite things is the fortune-cookie-like sayings printed on their tea bags! My cup of green tea two days ago had a very appropriate saying printed on it:

tea saying

{I know the type looks a little strange: I couldn’t get my camera to focus on the tiny print, so I used a bit of photo editing to make it clearer.}

Here are a couple more kindness-related links I came across this past week:

The Week 10 Kindness Challenge was jointly inspired by Moore Love: do something surprising and kind for a child. You might donate toys or art supplies to a local school, leave quarters on top of a gumball machine in a restaurant, or even buy a toy for a child you don’t know like Rhiannon did. Think about what would have seemed totally magical and wondrous to you as a child — and then make that happen for a child {or children} today!

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.

Have a marvelous week!

-Dallas

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year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
– week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold
– week 5 challenge: do something kind for a neighbor
– week 6 challenge: deliver valentines to a nursing home
– week 7 challenge: donate to a food pantry
– week 8 challenge: donate toiletries to a shelter
week 9 challenge: post a kind note in a public place

saturday upsides: grieving

saturdayupsidesbutton

After the horrific shooting that happened yesterday in Connecticut, it seems difficult {or maybe even trite} to write about an “upside” today in my life. Then again, maybe it’s more necessary today than ever. I thought of Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project {review still coming soon on here, I promise!} and her recurring question/nagging fear: “Who am I to talk about happiness when everything in my life is fine?”

Grieving the tragedy yesterday, while also hugging my family close and thanking God for their safety and health and all the love I am so blessed to have in my life, I remembered one of the responses Rubin received on her blog: “Remembering that joy exists is tough when you’ve been traumatized. Joy is a big concept and utterly unbelievable when we are in the depths of catastrophe. But happiness … happiness is more accessible. We can be miserable and then find ourselves laughing, even if just for a few seconds. It reaffirms the will to live, and from there we can branch out. Happiness, and the belief we have in it, is the foundation for survival.”

Tragedies like the Connecticut shooting make us pause in the hectic flurry of everyday life and reflect on what’s important. For me, these are the questions running through my head:

  • How can I give more to others?
  • How can I spend more time doing what I truly love?
  • How can I bring joy to those around me?
  • How can I remember and refocus on what truly matters?
  • How can I use my blessings to make a difference for others?

I’ll be pondering these questions more in the coming weeks. I already have some ideas that I am hoping to implement and share with you here on this blog, and start a conversation with you about your own reflections. What matters to you? What do you hold most important in your life?

With love and prayers for you and your family,
-Dallas

homemade festive christmas chain

Good morning! Hope your transition from the long holiday weekend back into your regular routine wasn’t too painful yesterday. I had a nice time seeing my students again and hearing about their Thanksgiving breaks. I can’t believe we only have two more weeks left of the semester!

Christmas is in full swing here in my little apartment. Today I’m excited to share an easy, super inexpensive, and wonderfully festive holiday craft with you.

Remember those colorful paper chains you used to make in elementary school to decorate the classroom or count down to holidays or special events? In my family we used to make them as count-downs until Christmas or our birthdays and tear off one strip each day … it was so exciting to watch the chain gradually get smaller and smaller as the big day approached!

We also used to make chains with red and green construction paper to decorate our stair bannisters. The only problem with using paper is it isn’t very durable. We would make them again and again year after year, which was fun in its own way {especially as kids} but it isn’t very environmentally friendly or time-friendly — there are so many other craft and decorating projects I want to try rather than doing the same one year after year!

After some brainstorming, I came up with an idea: what about using using green and red felt instead of construction paper?

TA-DA! A homemade festive Christmas chain that will last from year to year. The best part? It costs less than $3.00 to make!

Here are the supplies you’ll need:

  • scissors
  • stapler & staples
  • red & green felt — I used 5 sheets of each color {got them at Michael’s for $0.29 each}

Directions:

1. Cut the felt into strips about 1 inch wide.

2. Bring one strip of felt together into a loop and staple the ends to each other.

3. Take a strip of the alternate color and loop it through, stapling its ends together to make another loop.

4. Continue the process until your chain reaches your desired length.

Then display them around your house! These are great hung around the walls and draped over a mantel. I don’t have a mantel in my apartment, so I draped mine over the top of my bookcase where my stockings are hanging.

And that’s it! Hope you enjoy this festive Christmas craft.

Have a great day!
-Dallas