a year of Wooden: week 24

Hi, friends! How was your 4th of July weekend? Filled with fun, friends and relaxation I hope! And some good food and fireworks, too! ūüôā

Today I’m back with this week’s year of Wooden challenge.

a year of wooden

  • January:¬†Drink deeply from good books.
  • February:¬†Make friendship a fine art.
  • March:¬†Help others.
  • April:¬†Build a shelter against a rainy day (financially).
  • May:¬†Be true to yourself.
  • June:¬†Give thanks for your blessings every day.
  • July: Love.

Coach Wooden said, “The two most important words in the English language are LOVE and BALANCE.”¬†This month, we’ll be focusing on the first of those: cultivating and nurturing more love in our lives. Next month, we’ll strive to create better balance in our lives.

Last week’s challenge was to write a love letter to someone special in your life. I’m not going to reveal who I wrote a love letter to, in case the person reads this {don’t want to spoil the surprise!} But I will say that the act of writing down the many qualities and details I admire and love about this person made me feel even more grateful to have someone so special in my life.

valentines cards

This week’s challenge is to increase the love in your life by increasing the time you spend PRESENT with your loved ones. In other words, it’s not just important to spend time with those you love — it’s important to make that QUALITY time! What’s one simple thing you can do that will make a huge difference? Turn off your cell phone during meals or coffee dates or car rides with your friends and family. Checking email or updating social media can wait until later. Focus on savoring the in-person time you have with the people around you, and I guarantee you’ll feel more loved!

In his book Wooden & Me, my dad shares an anecdote¬†about one afternoon when he was visiting Coach Wooden at his home and their visit was interrupted by a phone call. Coach Wooden let the answering machine pick it up, and soon my dad heard the unmistakeable voice of basketball superstar {and Coach’s former player} Bill Walton.

“Don’t you need to get that?!” my dad asked incredulously.

“Oh no, no, I can call Bill back later,” Coach Wooden said. “If I answered the phone, I’d be stuck on the line talking to Bill¬†and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy my time here with you right now.”

Here’s a powerful video on this topic that I think Coach Wooden would have agreed with: Look Up!

Questions for the day:

  • How did your love-letter writing go this past week?
  • Have you ever gone on a technology break?

a year of Wooden: week 9

Hi everyone! It’s March, which means it’s time for a new month of my “year of Wooden” challenge! This month we are focusing on Coach Wooden’s creed to help others.

a year of wooden

  • January:¬†Drink deeply from good books.
  • February:¬†Make friendship a fine art.
  • March: Help others.

Last week, the challenge was to send a thank-you note to a friend. And my fortune cookie agreed:

fortune cookie

I sent notes to some friends who especially meant a lot to me this past year, when I was going through a tough time and they went above-and-beyond to be there for me. Writing down in words how grateful I am made me even MORE grateful. Isn’t it amazing how gratitude expands the more you practice it?

Another thing I’m grateful for: my sweet cousin Julie! I had the nicest note waiting from her when I got home from Seattle. Totally out of the blue, totally made my week. I love you, JuJu!

On the dance floor at Amanda's wedding this past summer...

On the dance floor at Amanda’s wedding this past summer…

This week, to kick off our month of helping others, the challenge is to help a perfect stranger who has no way of repaying you. This might mean corralling a stranger’s shopping cart in the parking lot, leaving an especially generous tip, paying for someone else’s public transportation or paying the toll for the car behind you on your daily commute.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite-ever quotes by Coach Wooden:

recite-9136--1816980306-1wiza5s

Questions of the day:

  • What ideas do you have for helping a stranger?
  • When was the last time a stranger did something kind for you?

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 Progression:¬†http://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?

year of kindness challenge: week 19

year of kindness button

Last week’s kindness challenge, in honor of Mother‚Äôs Day this Sunday, was to write a note to a mother of one of your friends who has had an influence in your life. I wrote a note to my friend Holly‘s mom Susan and my friend Erica‘s mom Darai. Both of them have always been very sweet and supportive of me. I also wrote a letter to my mom’s childhood friend Nanette, who is like an aunt to me. I feel grateful to have so many amazing women to look up to!

I had a wonderful week! One of the highlights was going to a reception for a local writing contest, where three of my former writing campers won awards! I was like a proud Mama bear beaming with pride! Such talented, poised and beautiful young ladies.

with writing campers at ceremony

I also baked lemon bars for my Gramps, went to an amazing yoga class, and had some wonderful family and friend time.

And I came across and loved this video about kids doing random acts of kindness in schools: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/40153870/vp/51795308#51795308

The Week 19 Kindness Challenge is to leave double the tip you normally would if you go out to eat, and/or leave a $5 tip in a tip jar at a coffee shop or cafe.  

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

year of kindness challenge: week 13

year of kindness button

Hi everyone! Sorry I’m a day late posting this — yesterday’s Foodie Pen Pals reveal bumped things back a day. Hope your week is off to a good start!

Last week was very exciting around here, as the Year of Kindness Challenge was featured on the amazing blog Money-Saving Mom! What a true honor! Welcome and thank you to all our new subscribers! ūüôā

The Week 12 Kindness Challenge was to deliver something sweet ‚ÄĒ coffee, cookies, baked goods, etc. ‚ÄĒ to your local fire station. I baked a pumpkin pie from scratch and delivered it to the local fire station with a handwritten thank-you note:

pumpkin pie

week 12 challenge

thank you note

My dad sent me this note about his act of kindness for the week:

“Instead of the fire station I gave some yummy Limonera gourmet lemon candy chews to a policeman and thanked him for his service. (I did it at my¬†running park as they tend to come in and circle around¬†now and then and I was ready!) I could tell¬†the gesture made his day…”

And here are some wonderful kindness posts by my new blogger friend Pam:

Some good things happened in my world this week:

  • my absolutely wonderful and amazing friend Holly came to visit me
  • another friend surprised me with homemade cookies
  • I received a ton of sweet emails and congratulations about the Steinbeck Fellowship, which I am completely thrilled and beyond words excited to have been awarded for this upcoming school year — I’ll be moving to San Jose in August!!
  • I reconnected with a few good friends, who I will miss dearly after we graduate in May
  • Karen Russell, terrifically talented author of Swamplandia! and Vampires in the Lemon Grove, came to speak at Purdue and was so insightful, kind, generous and funny. I greatly admire her work and it was a real treat to meet her!

Now, on to this week’s kindness challenge: give someone flowers. This could be a friend, sibling, child, parent, neighbor, coworker, or even a stranger. They could be flowers from the store or from your own garden. You could give them in person or leave them for someone as an anonymous surprise. Spread the springtime AND the kindness this week!

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 great week!
-Dallas

‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚Äď

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

year of kindness challenge: week 9

year of kindness button

Happy Monday, everyone! How was your weekend? Wonderful, I hope!

This past week’s kindness challenge was to donate toiletries to a women‚Äôs shelter or homeless shelter. I donated this big bag to a women’s shelter across town. {Yes, I am that person who hoards hotel soap and always has a “back-up” stash of shampoo and conditioner. I figured it was time to give it all away to people who could use it!}

toiletries

more toiletries

I could tell the woman working was SO grateful, and it really moved me. Much like last week when I took canned goods to the food pantry, I know I want to go back and donate more toiletries and perhaps clothing as well to this women’s shelter in the future.

Speaking of the food pantry, they sent me a sweet thank-you note in the mail this week. How nice!

thank you card

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

  • I got to talk to my brother via Skype from Sri Lanka. It was SO amazing to “see” him — I miss him beyond words! He inspires me every day with his huge heart and unending generosity. I love this photo of him donating shoes at the Foundation of Goodness this past week:

greg shoe donation

  • I received a thoughtful and supportive email from a colleague that really brightened my mood during a stressful day.¬†
  • I ran into a former student on campus who said she misses my class. Aww!
  • I had lunch with friends on Friday and dinner with another set of friends on Saturday. It was so nice to take some time to catch up and laugh with people I love!

The Week 9 Kindness Challenge was inspired by Operation Beautiful, which I discovered via this moving post by Anne at Fannetastic Food. This week’s challenge is simple: write a kind or inspiring note and hang it up in a public place. This might be a bathroom mirror at school or work, a public bulletin board in a coffeehouse, or even a flyer on a lampost in your neighborhood! Write a message to brighten a stranger’s day and make him or her feel beautiful, special and loved. I would love if you would take pictures of the kind messages you send out into the world! 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.¬†You can also share them at the Operation Beautiful website.

Have a marvelous week!
-Dallas

‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚Äď

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

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!} ūüôā

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! ūüôā 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

—————————–

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

year of kindness: week 3

Happy Monday, everyone! I made it back safe & sound to snowy Indiana. Today’s high is a whopping 12 degrees {yes, that’s Fahrenheit} … I feel like I’ve hopped straight from summer to winter! While I do miss the Florida sunshine, it is wonderful to be back home.

year of kindness button

How did last week’s kindness challenge go for you? I thought it was a quick and simple way to hopefully make someone smile. It made me feel great to think about someone lugging their laundry bag and soap down to the cold and cramped apartment basement, and then finding this note and quarters waiting for them on the communal laundry machines:

kindness challenge week 2

A couple bucks has never made me feel happier!

As I mentioned in last week’s post, this year of kindness challenge is already making me feel more attuned to acts of kindness done to/for me. Here are some lovely things that happened to me this past week:

  • a man helped me lift my heavy carry-on bag into the overhead compartment on my flight to Key West
  • I got to meet the incredibly kind and sweet Judy Blume, a literary icon of mine
  • a fantastic writer and person — and new friend who I met at the Key West conference — Gigi Amateau surprised my conference roommate {a fellow grad student} and me by generously picking up the check for dinner one night
  • everyone at the conference was so warm, friendly and welcoming

My dad also wrote a terrific column for the Ventura County Star newspaper this week featuring three beautiful acts of kindness! You can read it online here.

Now here’s the challenge for this week: write and send a kind note to someone who could use a bit of cheer. This could be a friend, relative, acquaintance, neighbor … anyone who pops into your head who perhaps you haven’t talked to in a while or who is going through a tough time.

Have a marvelous week! I would love to hear your stories of kindness in the comments section below, or feel free to email me at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com.

Till soon,
Dallas ‚̧