year of kindness challenge: week 48

year of kindness button

Hi everyone! Hope your week is off to a good start!

Someone gave me an article from the latest issue of O: The Oprah Magazine called “The Do-Gooder’s Guide to Better Health” that claims “practicing philanthropy is one of the surest steps you can take toward a happy, healthy life.” The article cites studies showing that acts of kindness lead to a longer lifespan, greater happiness, better pain management, and lower blood pressure. Woo-hoo!

Last week’s kindness challenge was to brighten someone else’s Thanksgiving. My family hosted a bunch of my brother’s friends from business school; most of them were far from home and had nowhere else to go. They were so grateful! I also sent cards to a dozen of my friends letting them know how thankful I am to have them in my life.

The Week 48 Kindness Challenge is to help someone put up holiday decorations, write/address holiday cards, or wrap presents. Do you know a busy parent or perhaps an elderly neighbor who could use an extra hand? My friend Jewell used to need help addressing her holiday cards because her hands shook from her medications. Another idea: go to a mall or shopping center and offer to wrap gifts for free!

xmas cards

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 joyful week!
– Dallas

P.S.: Head on over to this Year of Kindness Challenge page to see all the archived posts from the previous 47 weeks!

Questions of the day:

  • What acts of kindness happened in your life this past week?
  • What are your favorite ways to spread holiday cheer?

how to avoid regrets

I recently read an article about the top 5 deathbed regrets that I found through Danica’s wonderful blog It’s Progression.

Here are the questions the article left me with:

  • How can I let go of the expectations of others, and live a life true to myself and my own dreams?
  • How can I create a life of meaning and purpose?
  • How can I build better relationships with friends and family?
  • How can I design my life so that I’m happy and flourishing?
  • How can I express my authentic self more fully?

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and journaling on these questions lately. For me, a key realization has been shifting my thoughts from what I should be DOING in order to live a happy life, to how I should be FEELING in order to live a happy life — in other words, what feelings combine to make up my “happy.” The feelings that keep coming up for me are: feeling loved, feeling helpful, feeling connected, and feeling inspired.

So now, I’m trying to organize what I DO and how I spend my time into activities and goals that most manifest those feelings that make me happy. Writing makes me feel inspired. Spending time with family and friends make me feel loved. Reading makes me feel connected. Volunteering at the food pantry makes me feel helpful. And so on …

I’ve also often heard the advice, “You are more likely to regret what you DON’T do than what you do.” This advice inspires me to try new things and not let fear keep me from going after what I want. On the other hand, however, I need to remind myself not to take this advice to the extreme; if I say “yes” to every opportunity that comes my way, I’ll be left feeling burned-out and stressed. Also, once I make a decision not to do something, I don’t want to look back and wonder what had happened if I had taken a different path. You can’t go back and change the past, so I don’t want to waste any time wishing or regretting what’s already done!

On a related note, I absolutely loved the latest issue of Real Simple magazine — there is a feature article titled “Live Long and Prosper” that features advice from eight centurions. Check it out!

My favorite was this advice from Justina Sotomayor {pictured below} on how to live a long, healthy life: “Be lovable. I’ve lived a long life because there are so many people who love me.”

advice justina

This advice from Haruo Ito is lovely in its simplicity: “Sleep well, try not to worry, and enjoy good dreams.”

advice ito

So, those are my thoughts of the moments on avoiding regret and trying to live the fullest, happiest life possible. What do you think? What is the best life advice you’ve ever received?

year of kindness challenge: week 25

year of kindness button

Hi everyone! Hope your week is off to a great start! And welcome to our new subscribers — so happy to have you joining us! Thank you to everyone for letting my blog be part of your day. It really means a lot to me!

My weekend was filled with wedding craziness — I was a bridesmaid in my dear cousin Amanda’s wedding! Full wedding recap coming tomorrow; for now, here’s a sneak peak picture of me and the beautiful bride just a few minutes before she walked down the aisle:

cuz bride!

Now, on to the kindness! Last week’s Kindness Challenge was do something kind for a senior citizen. This could mean calling or writing a note to a grandparent, offering to carry an elderly person’s groceries to their car, bringing in the mail for an elderly neighbor, visiting people at a nursing home … or whatever inspires you!

I recently connected with a new friend, Jeri, through a local volunteer organization called Caregivers that serves senior citizens. {Longtime blog readers might remember my friend Jewell, who I met in high school while volunteering through Caregivers and whose memory inspired me to bring Christmas cards and cookies to her former nursing home this past holiday season.} Jeri is a friendly, sweet elderly woman who can no longer drive due to health issues and failing eyesight. This past week, I drove her across town to her church, where she taught an hour-long line-dancing class to half a dozen other elderly women, and then I drove her home. I enjoyed visiting with her and listening to her many interesting life stories — she used to own a Dude Ranch! — and it was so inspiring and fun to watch the ladies line dance! They had SO much more rhythm than I do!

The Week 25 Kindness Challenge comes from my lovely blogger friend Ashley at A Happy Lass {if you haven’t checked out her blog, I would highly recommend popping on over! It’s wonderful!} and it is to do something kind for people riding public transportation. Ashley says, “I ride a bus and a train to work and was thinking I could do something for the people there. Maybe I’ll pay the bus fare for the person behind me on my way into work and back home. I’ve done this before and, usually, their faces light up, it seems to brighten their commute.”

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

year of kindness challenge: week 24

year of kindness button

Hi, friends! I’m feeling under the weather, but fortunately my family is taking such good care of me. I’m a lucky girl. My brother spent the whole afternoon on the couch with me, watching a marathon of “How I Met Your Mother” and refilling my glass of Gatorade. He’s such a sweetheart!

me and gb

Last week’s kindness challenge came from my wonderful blogger friend Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean, and it was to call at least 3 friends and/or family members that you miss on the phone, let them know, and actually talk to them…instead of just texting or emailing!

I had a wonderful long chat with my friend Holly and an in-person coffee date with my friend Erica. I also left messages for two other close friends … hopefully we’ll get a chance to talk sometime in the next few days.

The Week 24 Kindness Challenge is do something kind for a senior citizen. This could mean calling or writing a note to a grandparent, offering to carry an elderly person’s groceries to their car, bringing in the mail for an elderly neighbor, visiting people at a nursing home … or whatever inspires you!

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

year of kindness challenge: week 7

year of kindness button

Happy Monday! Hope your week is off to a great start!

Last week’s challenge was a fun one: deliver Valentines to a nursing home, Veterans Hospital or assisted-living facility. I got this idea after I delivered holiday cards and cookies to a nursing home this past Christmas, and it was such a wonderful experience. I wanted to celebrate Valentine’s Day by spreading love and kindness to people in my town who may otherwise be forgotten.

So I went to Target and scooped up some terrific Valentines-making supplies from their $1 section: blank pink and red cards, colorful stickers, and fun ribbon. Then I spent an evening last week getting my craft on while watching Downton Abbey! Here is the finished pile of 20 Valentine’s Day cards:

valentines cards

Then {because I am always looking for an excuse to bake!} I made a batch of red velvet crinkle cookies to deliver with the Valentines. {And, okay, I admit it — a couple of the cookies maaaay have made it into my Valentine’s Day lunch. Gotta taste test!} I’ll post the recipe on here tomorrow.

red velvet cookies

Next year I think I’ll make these adorable red velvet marshmallow bites that my friend Sarah posted on her fabulous food blog The Pajama Chef. Y-U-M!

I arranged the cookies in an upcycled pie tin, sprinkled in some Hershey’s kisses, wrapped the whole thing up with plastic wrap and tied it with pretty ribbon. Ta da! Cookies + valentines, ready to be delivered!

valentine's day

It did not take long to drive to the nursing home on my way to school. The woman at the front desk said she would pass the cards and cookies out to the residents during an activity later in the day. Perfect! Meanwhile, my whole day was brightened as I thought about the residents smiling to receive Valentines.

Here are some good things that happened in my world this week:

  • My precious Gramps successfully underwent knee replacement surgery on Friday. He is now recuperating in the hospital but I talk to him often and he is doing great!
  • I received a mailbox full of lovely Valentines from my mom, dad, Gramps, and my brother Greg {who is having a fantastic time in Sri Lanka — he’s keeping us updated via emails and his group’s blog.} My family makes me feel so very loved!
  • Greg also sent me an amazing mix CD full of songs that are special to our childhood and also more recent memories … it was the sweetest, most thoughtful gift and such a treasured surprise to find in my mailbox! I’ve been listening to it on repeat.
  • A little boy held the door open for me when I was coming inside from the cold one afternoon.
  • I overheard a fellow MFA grad student complimenting my plays to another student — her offhand comment made my whole week. 🙂
  • One of my good friends just announced she and her husband are expecting their first baby, a boy, in August. I am thrilled for them!

Now on to the Week 7 Kindness Challenge: drop off a donation of canned goods to a food pantry, homeless shelter, or soup kitchen. This idea came to me when I was thinking about how we often hear a number of opportunities to donate food to the hungry during Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it seems donation efforts die down once the holiday season has come and gone. I am sure there are many people who would be SO grateful for our food donations right now. Why not go through your cupboards and pantry and fill a big bag with nonperishable food items to help feed those who might otherwise go hungry? Or stop at the grocery store and pick up some of your favorite canned food or dry goods to donate!

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

year of kindness challenge: week 6

year of kindness button

Happy Monday, everyone! How was your weekend? Mine was quite lovely and filled with friend time, which was SO nice. In grad school often everyone is so busy that it can be difficult to find time to get together, even on weekends. This weekend turned out to be the perfect timing for lots of social get-togethers. I had lunch with friends on Saturday, saw a movie with a friend yesterday afternoon– the new release Side Effects which was a terrific, twists-and-turns-filled thriller! — and had more friends over last night for dessert and many rounds of a very addictive Chinese card game called “Da Fa.”

My brother Greg has been in the forefront of my mind all weekend, because he departed for his month-long goodwill trip to Sri Lanka with a group of Rotary ambassadors. I am going to miss talking to him every day, but I am just bursting with pride and excitement for him. He is giving away 70 new pairs of shoes and socks through his nonprofit organization Give Running. You can follow his team’s travels on their blog at http://ustosrilanka2013.org/

me and greg shoes

Here’s a picture of me and Greg with a mountain of shoes he has collected and cleaned!

Last week’s Kindness Challenge was to do something kind for a neighbor. I have new neighbors who moved into the apartment below me back in November, and most of our encounters have taken place at 3 in the morning, when I go downstairs and knock on their door to kindly ask if they could turn down their bass subwoofer that is shaking the walls. {It is ridiculously hard to sleep when there is a rap beat thumping loudly and incessantly below you!} However, they are typically nice about turning it down when asked, and I thought I would try a tactic of kindness to let them know it is appreciated.

So I baked them cookies!

cookies

I baked a sampling of double-chocolate chip, peanut butter chocolate chip, and oatmeal butterscotch. {And yes, I may have eaten a few myself!} 🙂

Then I stacked the cookies in this clear plastic container that I washed and upcycled {it originally came from a package of pineapple that we used last week when I made bbq pulled-pork sandwiches.}

pb cookie

cookie stack

I taped a thank you-note to the front of the container and dropped it off in front of their door.

thank you note

When I returned that night, the cookies were gone, so I assume the neighbors found them and brought them inside. I have not seen them in the hallways or anything, but I also did not have a problem with their loud subwoofer this past week, so maybe the two things are connected! 🙂 Here’s hoping we continue to have lovely quiet sleep-tastic nights around here.

Have you ever had a positive experience trying to “kill someone with kindness”? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!

Here are some other good things that happened in my world this week:

  • Someone is posting kind notes in the bathroom in the English department! They kept popping up all week and totally brightened my mood. Here’s a favorite that I came across on Thursday:

kindness note

  • I have managed to stay healthy so far {knock on wood} despite a flu bug that is making its way around campus. 
  • My students are being extra attentive lately — always a bonus in my book!

How did the Week 5 Kindness Challenge go for you? What good things happened in your life this week?

Now on to the Week 6 Kindness Challenge: deliver Valentines to a nursing home, Veterans Hospital or assisted-living facility. I got this idea after I delivered holiday cards and cookies to a nursing home this past Christmas, and it was such a wonderful experience. The residents were beyond grateful and it warmed my heart to make them feel like someone was thinking of them and sending them good wishes during the holiday season. Celebrate Valentine’s Day by spreading love and kindness to elderly people in your town who may otherwise be forgotten!

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