fabulous friday #43

Happy Friday, everyone! Hope you’re having a great morning! I don’t know about you, but I’m having a hard time believing it is already Friday… not to mention already December 19th! Tomorrow is the lovely Dana‘s birthday, and then on Sunday I’m heading home to So.Cal to spend the holidays with my fam! And on Monday, my amazing brother Greg turns the big 2-5! Birthdays galore around here, I love it.

I’m super excited for all the joy and festivities and family and friend time this upcoming week brings! In the meantime…

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Christmastime in San Francisco. Allyn and I went into the city for a date night, and it was absolutely magical. Union Square is lit-up so beautifully and we were lucky enough to score a table at Burger Bar that had a terrific view. After dinner we rode the glass elevators at the Westin St. Francis Hotel up to the 29th floor to look out at the entire city. Then we got hot chocolate to-go from a restaurant that was closing up. {The man was kind enough to give us the hot chocolate free of charge because he said he was just going to throw it away otherwise! How nice is that??} We sipped our hot chocolates as we held hands and watched the ice-skaters and listened to the holiday music. It was perfection.

union square

me and al xmas

westin xmas tree

union square xmas tree

2. Celebrity doppelgangers. I am fascinated by this! Perhaps because I’ve always had a hard time figuring out who my look-alike is. The person I’ve been told most often is Claire Danes, which I consider a huge compliment because I think she is wonderful. What do you think, do you see a resemblance? Could I be her much-less-glamorous kid sister?

me claire danes

I got onto this topic because when Allyn and I were watching the ice-skaters in Union Square, a woman said out of the blue that Allyn looked like a celebrity to her, but she couldn’t place who. I suggested Kevin Bacon, but she said it was someone else.

al and kevin bacon

We left before she figured it out, so I guess it will always remain a mystery!

3. My Grandpap’s choir Christmas performance last night. They work so hard practicing for months leading up to the holidays, and it shows! They go all out with costumes and presentation, and the cheerful holiday music always brings a smile to my face. Plus, I love watching my Grandpap when he sings — he always lights up with joy! It was fun that Allyn could make it, too.

grandpap choir concert.jpg

4. This quote from Heather Waxman {especially apppropriate and meaningful during this time of year!}

“Healthy boundaries aren’t about building walls around yourself. They’re about building doorways of love around your energy field. Boundaries are not meant to separate you from other people. They’re meant to build doorways for you to attract the right people into your life.”

5. Tonight Allyn and I are going to see a local production of A Christmas Carol. It is one of my favorite stories. Though I have read the book and have seen a number of movie versions {including the classic Disney cartoon version!} I have never seen a dramatic performance of A Christmas Carol, so I am really excited 🙂

Have a terrific weekend, friends! And don’t forget to…

leave sparkle

Questions of the day:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What are your plans for the weekend?
  • Who is your celebrity doppelganger?

fabulous friday #6

Hooray, it’s the first Friday of 2014! What fun things do you have on the agenda?

Here’s what I’m loving right now:

1. I love music and I love senior citizens, so a friend recommended I watch the documentary film Young at Heart about a senior citizens choir group that performs rock songs. I watched it with my brother and I can’t remember the last time I saw such an amazingly inspirational movie. I even cried, and movies hardly ever make me cry. Here’s a sneak peak: watch their beautiful rendition of the Coldplay classic “Fix You.”

young at heart

2. Starbucks salted caramel hot chocolate. Pour in some Kahlua and you’ve really got it made!

starbucks cocoa

3. Sara Bareilles’ gorgeously bittersweet song “Manhattan.” I especially love the live version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05GZ6G2FZLM

4. Jon Stewart’s heartfelt send-off to John Oliver, who is getting his own show on HBO and so is leaving The Daily Show after 7 years. I got teary-eyed at the end, I’ll admit!

5. Board game night with my family. We played Sorry! and it was a close race … in the end, Greg stealthily snuck up from dead last place to a thrilling comeback victory! I, on the other hand, went from leading the pack to ending the game in fourth-and-last place. I blame my red checker piece! {At some point in childhood we lost one of the red pieces so the checker became a substitute.} Mr. Mur-dog wanted in on the fun and was sassy, as usual.

fam board game

close game

red checker piece

sassy murray

Questions of the day:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What are your plans for this first weekend of 2014?

year of kindness challenge: week 50

I am a little in awe of the fact that it’s already Wednesday, and just one week until Christmas! My past couple days have flown by so fast, it feels like some calendar squares simply disappeared. Anyone else feeling this way?? 

At least my days have been jam-packed with good stuff… teaching writing workshops at local schools, long walks and catch-ups with friends, cooking dinner for my family, sorting through and delivering donated books as part of my annual Holiday Book Drive {more on that later this week}… I’ve been collapsing into bed by 10 p.m. and sleeping like a rock!  

year of kindness button

Last week’s kindness challenge was to give a warm drink to a toll-booth worker, newspaper delivery person, or your mailman/mailwoman. I brought hot chocolate to the people working the security gate in my grandparents’ neighborhood. They were so surprised and appreciative, and it made me smile the rest of the day. 

The Week 50 Kindness Challenge is 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. 

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

P.S.: Head on over to this Year of Kindness Challenge page to see all the archived posts from the previous 49 weeks!

Questions of the day:

  • How do you find zen in the midst of such a crazy-busy time of year?
  • What acts of kindness happened in your life this past week?

year of kindness challenge: week 49

year of kindness button

Hi, friends! I feel like it’s been for.ev.er since I’ve written a blog post … this past week has been crazy-busy! But the good kind of crazy, the filled-up-to-the-brim-with-good-things kind:

  • Last Wednesday I gave a reading at San Jose State as part of my Steinbeck Fellowship in Creative Writing, and it went wonderfully! I feel so grateful and supported by the university. The audience was warm and even laughed at the humorous lines in my story. My dad also drove up from Ventura for my reading and it was so special to have him there!
  • On Friday, Dad and I went to a talk by Ken Burns, the amazing documentary filmmaker. It was fantastic! I was so moved by Burns’ passion and dedication to history, preservation, art and learning.

me and Dad

  • This weekend was jam-packed with friend and family time. Nothing like catching up with good friends after some time apart. Plus the gingerbread flavor is back at Starbucks! Bring on the gingerbread chai!
  • The sermon at church on Sunday was about “surrender.” I’ve been thinking a lot about it the past couple days, and a longer post is coming once I’ve gathered my thoughts together a bit.

And now… on to the kindness!

Last week’s kindness challenge was to help someone put up holiday decorations, write/address holiday cards, or wrap presents. I helped my Grandma get the house all decorated for Christmas {and dusted/swept/cleaned} in preparation for a luncheon party she is hosting on Thursday for her bridge friends. Doesn’t the mantel look nice?

grandma christmas mantel

The Week 49 Kindness Challenge is to give a warm drink to a toll-booth worker, newspaper delivery person, or your mailman/ mailwoman. Alternatively, pay the toll for the car behind you in line.

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 48 weeks!

Questions of the day:

  • What were the highlights of your weekend?
  • What acts of kindness happened in your life this past week?

year of kindness challenge: week 5

year of kindness button

Happy Monday, everyone! I’ve heard that it takes four weeks of a behavior before it really becomes a habit. Perhaps that is true, because these kindness challenges are becoming a habit — one that I am loving! It is brightening my everyday life and way of thinking. Concentrating on doing kind acts for others has made more aware of the kindnesses that are done to me. Quite simply, even after just one month, it has made me a more grateful and happy person!

This past week was my favorite yet for the #yearofkindness challenge! The Week 4 Kindness Challenge was to give hot chocolate or coffee to someone out in the cold who could use a bit of warmth. I immediately knew who I wanted to reach out to: the kind older man who works as the parking lot attendant for the local public library, which is just a couple blocks from Purdue’s campus. He reminds me a little of my Gramps and whenever I go to the library, I always wave hello to him.

Last week was a cold, snowy week in Indiana, especially on Wednesday. I woke up and thought, “Today’s the day! I’m doing my act of kindness!” During my lunch break, I walked to the Einstein Bros. that is right next to the library. I had a coupon for a free coffee or frappuccino, but I wasn’t sure if my friend would want caffeine, so I opted for a hot chocolate instead. My act of kindness was a team effort because the nice people working at Einstein Bros. let me use my coupon for a hot chocolate instead of a coffee. {Of course, I *would* have paid for the hot chocolate if need be, but I thought I might as well use the coupon that I had. It’s a frugal act of kindness!} 🙂

I felt a little nervous as I carried the warm cup of hot chocolate over to the parking garage. Doing acts of kindness can feel like putting yourself out on a limb, and I hoped he would like it.

Well, I should not have worried one bit! He smiled and waved hello when he saw me walking over. I said, “I thought you might like some hot chocolate on such a cold day” and handed him the cup, and he just lit up. It was such a neat moment! He smiled the biggest smile and said, “Thank you so much, dearie. That is so nice!”

I beamed the entire cold, snowy walk back to my office. It was the best part of my day and surely a highlight of my week!

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

  • I received a beautiful card from my dad telling me he loves me and is proud of me. I am incredibly lucky to have the best dad who tells me those two things all the time, but I could never get tired of hearing it! I miss him so much and it is always a wonderful surprise to see his handwriting on an envelope in my mailbox.
  • A waitress gave me a to-go glass of the tea I’d ordered in the restaurant so I could enjoy it on the drive home.
  • A kind maintenance worker came out to my apartment one evening when the heater stopped working. He not only got it working again, he also brought space heaters just in case and could not have been nicer. 

Now on to the Week 5 Kindness Challenge: do something kind for a neighbor. This might mean bringing the newspaper up from their driveway to their front door, shoveling their front walk after you shovel your own, taking their trash barrels up their driveway after the trash is collected, striking up a conversation in the hallway of your apartment complex, baking cookies or making a casserole to bring over … or whatever idea strikes you!

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

year of kindness challenge: week 4

year of kindness button

Happy Monday! How did the #yearofkindness challenge go for you this past week?

The week 3 challenge was to send a kind note to brighten someone’s day. I sent quite a few handwritten cards this week — I aimed for one per day — and it put me in such a good mood! There’s something about sending good old-fashioned snail mail that seems extra-special these days. I slid the stamped envelopes in the mailbox and thought about the recipients opening their mailboxes in a few days to find a card from me, and it was the best feeling! This kindness stuff is addicting! 🙂

kind notes

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

  • I was alerted that one of my fellowship applications was incomplete with enough time to send in the required materials to complete it … they definitely did not have to take the time to email me about the incomplete materials, and I am SO very grateful they did not just throw my application out! {Whew!}
  • Funnily enough, I received some happy surprise mail this week — a letter and clipped cartoons from my Gramps! He is not very computer savvy and I am pretty sure he does not read this blog {I don’t think he knows what a blog is!} so it was serendipity that he participated in last week’s kindness challenge!
  • One of my best friends got an exciting {and very much deserved} job promotion. Woo hoo!
  • I bumped into a professor I had last semester, who thoughtfully told me that one of her current undergraduate students took my creative writing course over the summer and had great things to say about it. What a nice compliment that totally made my day!

Okay, now on to the Week 4 Kindness Challenge: give hot chocolate or coffee to someone out in the cold who could use a bit of warmth! Some possibilities: a construction worker, a toll booth operator, a crossing guard, a bus monitor, a mail deliverer … or I’m sure you can think of others!

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