Sunday, November 28, 2010

Leftover Love...

I bet you have a fridge full of leftovers and if you have one more bite of turkey you might just burst.  Well, don't throw all that food away!  There are lots of hungry folks on the street who would gladly accept a nourishing meal.  Here's how you do it:
  • Supplies You Need: 
    • Ziplock Bags- Quart Size is good; Plastic Utensils; Napkins; Old Plastic Grocery Bags; Bottled Water
  • To Do: 
    • Fill the Ziplock Bags with layers of various leftovers- mashed potatoes, then stuffing, then turkey, then gravy or cranberry. Lock up the bag and place it in the plastic grocery bag along with utensils, a bottled water and napkin.  TA DA! You have an instant picnic.  
  • Delivery: 
    • Get in the car with your delivery bags and seek out some common neighborhoods where homeless live and hand out the leftovers.  I find it helpful to have a helper in the passenger seat to help with the hand out.
It's as easy as that.  You just helped provide a wholesome meal to someone in need AND cleared out the fridge so you can start up your diet tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Liquid Gold.

One thing that I'm really enjoying about this blog writing gig is the conversations that I've been having with friends/family about their own "good" efforts. Today, I'm featuring a guy, whom I've never met, but I do know his proud sister who shared his story with me.

Todd Flaming recently set off on a dream surf trip to Nicaragua.  In addition to packing his necessities like sunscreen, swim trunks and a toothbrush, Todd recognized that he was venturing into a poverty struck community with limited resources. Fresh water, which we typically take for granted (the U.S. uses about 346,000 million gallons of fresh water every day), is not readily available to many third world countries. Knowing this ahead of time, Todd purchased 4 water filters ( and packed them in his suitcase to take along on his vacation.  

Once Todd arrived at Nicaragua and started exploring the area and talking to locals, he quickly discovered that it was not going to be difficult seeking out families in need of clean water- most families cannot afford clean, fresh water.  He gifted one water filter to a very poor family with 4 children who lived down the beach from the resort he was staying at. Sadly, the family could not afford to buy bottled water so Todd's gift costs them nothing and they are now set up with fresh, drinkable water. 

Todd was staying at the beautiful Buena Onda Beach Resort, were he discovered that the employees get paid only $5 per day. It was clear to him that he didn't have to go too far to gift out the 3 remaining filters.  Word got out quickly to the employees that these 3 filers were going to be gifted from a lottery system.  The excitement from the staff quickly illustrated a large demand for water and more filters.  

Todd has returned from his trip and is now planning on working with the owner of Buena Onda to get future travelers to bring filters with them to continue helping provide fresh, drinkable water to the community.  Todd's selfless efforts are a good reminder to all of us of the simple ways we can help those less fortunate, globally.   Your efforts ARE making a difference.

Todd, you rule. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010


It's been quite an emotional and fulfilling week.  I'm sad that this is the first opportunity that I've had to write to you to share all of the good things that have been going on- part of me has been too busy to write and part of me has simply been too emotional.
Last Sunday a group of close family and friends participated in the Save A Life Walk to celebrate our dear Cassie's life and to help bring awareness of suicide.  The walk route took us through the beautiful gardens at Balboa Park and it was a beautiful, sunny day- we could feel Cassie there with us. The event was an amazing opportunity to support the many families and friends who have been affected by the loss of a loved one to suicide.  I left the walk feeling a great amount of love and support within my circle of friends and a stronger desire to be available to anyone in need.  A special thanks goes out to Kim Saunders for making beautiful posters and bracelets for "Team Cassie".

Monday night I hosted the Angels For Hearts Silpada Jewelry fundraiser at my house.  I've told you a little bit about my good friend Kim Kaufman in an earlier blog post- she's amazing.  Kim started Angels For Hearts to provide toys for pediatric heart patients all while Kim is facing her own health challenges as a congestive heart patient. When I told Kim about the fundraiser she was so excited that she generously sent us Angels for Hears "swag" (i.e. shopper totes, t-shirts, etc.) to have available to gift to guests at my party.  My friend Lori (whom I hadn't seen since college 14 years ago) was our Silpada expert and a great personal shopper.  What fun we had sipping wine, eating delicious treats and playing "dress up" with endless amounts of beautiful jewelry.  It was a special night that we dedicated to Kim and thanks to the generosity of my amazing friends, we raised over $400 for Angels for Hearts. It was so special to me that my friends donated to this cause without even knowing Kim- I have great friends, really.
 Tuesday, as I was sitting at the airport to depart on my business trip to Dallas, I received a text from Kim.  She explained that she had been put in the hospital on Monday and didn't have the heart to tell me on Monday because "she didn't want to mess up the party."  A rush of emotions took over-  concern, sadness, loneliness and the thought of flying away from where she was was extremely difficult.  Kim was admitted in to the hospital for extreme pain- her heart hurts.  And it breaks my heart to know the pain she's going through. 

In spite of IV's, probing, doctors, nurses, medicines and pain, Kim has texted or called me every day since she's been in the hospital.  We talk about what's going with our days,  what we've eaten (it seems we both have a love for food), she asks me how Louie is doing and she tells me great stories about her family.  During a recent call, Kim told me she loves my blog and she has shared it with many of her friends and family.  I am so honored- I honestly didn't think anyone read my blog.  Since then, we've had great conversations about "kindness" and the other day Kim told me about her own "act" while in the hospital.  An elder patient kept asking for a banana and nobody would get it for her so Kim asked her mom to bring a banana during her next visit to give to her.  The elder woman was so appreciative of the banana- it was all she wanted. Kim's willingness to share an act of kindest all the while being laid up in a hospital bed is truly inspiring.

Kim's love for my blog is now my driving force and this blog will forever be dedicated to Kim.  Almost every time I speak to her she says, "there's a reason I'm still here".  I know the reason- she is teaching many of us to live, love, embrace your friends/family, be kind and do good.

As this week comes to an end and as I reflect back, I can safely say this was a tough, emotional week, but I wouldn't change it for the world.  I have learned so much from so many of you and  the lessons that I've learned have energized me. LIVE. LIFE.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A true angel.

We met in August 1993 at a Delta Gamma pledge function. Her bright red curly hair and contagious smile were hard to miss and I just knew that she would be a fun girl to hang out with.  From that day forward, Kim and I (and several other girls in our sorority) put all of our energy into making the best of our college experience.  What fun we had spending afternoons at the campus bar instead of studying for mid-terms, dressing up in costume to attend fraternity dances and singing Four Season's "Oh What A Night" at the top of our lungs til the wee hours of the night. Those were some great memories.  Sadly, once we all graduated, we parted ways never to look back, but I often wondered what Kim and many of my other college friends were up to and how their lives shaped up.  
 Thirteen years later, in early 2009 as I was beginning to re-connect with old college friends on Facebook, I received an email from a sorority sister.  The email was letting a group of us know that Kim was not well and needed our support.  I couldn't believe it- I always thought we were invincible and how could any one of us be sick if we are still so young?  Without hesitation and without knowing what was wrong with Kim, I reached out to her.  We initially reconnected via email and it was as if time never lapsed from our college days.  The difference now is that Kim is not well.  In 2004, Kim was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and a few months later received the news that she was not a heart transplant candidate.

While most of our lives currently revolve around marriage, raising children, careers and paying our bills, Kim's life is about comfort and survival.  Kim is not afraid to tell me the reality of what she's going through- she sleeps most hours of the day and is in constant pain.  When she is awake and can muster up the energy to get out of bed, she must carry an oxygen tank wherever she goes.  Did I mention that Kim is only 36 years old? 

After months of emailing, Kim and I recently connected by phone.  I'll never forget that first conversation where really, she was giving me a therapy session on how to deal with her dying.  Amazingly, Kim is at peace with what her future holds and so it's really her friends and family who are left trying to figure out where she gets her strength and how to cope with her declining health.  I remember telling her, "Kim, you sound normal- you don't sound sick."  She replied with a chuckle, "What does sick sound like?"  I am awestruck by her courage and her ability to put her own problems aside to ask how I'm doing.  She's often reminding me that my problems are no less important than hers.  

I could stop this blog entry here knowing that I gave you a really good idea of the amazing woman that Kim is, but there's more.  Kim refuses to sit and let her illness overcome her- she just told me the other day, "there's a reason I'm still here."  In 2006, after undergoing several surgical procedures and spending a lot of time recovering at Stanford University Medical Center, Kim felt the need to offer support to the many children she saw who were undergoing similar heart procedures.  Soon thereafter, Kim and her close family & friends started Angels For Hearts, a non-profit organization that provides pediatric heart patients with Christmas gifts. In 2009, Angels for Hearts received $15,000 in donations to buy gifts for local pediatric heart patients. In 2010, the goal is to raise $25,000 to bring smiles to the faces of very young heart patients at some of the top pediatric hospitals in CA to include, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.  
I'm a believer that whomever crosses my path has a lesson to teach me and in the short time that I've reconnected with Kim, I've learned about patience, courage, selflessness and strength.  I encourage you to connect with an old friend or at the very least open your mind to the lessons that you can learn from those already near and dear to you.  Life is too short.

If you wish to donate, I know it would mean the world to Kim: Angels For Hearts

Monday, November 8, 2010

Yo! What's the big hurry?

So a few months ago, I pulled up to an ATM Machine and as I was turning off my car, another car pulled up and parked behind me.  As I got out of the car and started walking the 10 short steps to the ATM the guy (who parked the car behind me) literally RAN past me to cut in front of me and use the machine.  Really?  He couldn't tell as I was 2 feet away from approaching the ATM that I was going to actually use it? Was he really in such a big hurry that he couldn't wait 1 minute while I got my cash out of the machine?  

I'm not a confrontational person but this guy was such a doof that I told him so and as I got back into my car, I began to wonder, are people in such a hurry that they don't care about being rude and affecting others?  Don't get me wrong, I'm not from the 50's where I expect a stranger to lay their rain coat over puddles for me, but it is nice to be treated nicely by a stranger.  "Mr. Hurry" was a poor example of someone with manners...

Fast forward to the other day- same neighborhood.  I got out of my car and as I started walking toward the entrance of Starbucks, I noticed a 19-20 year old guy was approaching the same entrance from the other direction.  Who was going to reach the door first to win the closer spot in line for their coffee?  I was expecting the worst (flashbacks from the ATM episode), but was pleasantly surprised that this young guy sped up to hold the door for me.  I thanked him and told him that he could get in line in front of me (since he gave up his spot for being polite) but he declined.  AHA! There are still polite, patient people in this world (at least on the Starbucks on 5th Street) who are willing do so something nice for a stranger.  

So I leave you with this reminder- the next time you're in a big, insignificant hurry, stop and do something nice for someone you don't know. Your small acts of kindness will not go unnoticed.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Unmentionable.

SUICIDE. The word brings chills up my spine.  You may wonder why I even dare say the word and it's because sadly, my close friends and I were affected by the loss of our beautiful friend Cassie this past summer. 

FACT: In the United States a person dies by suicide every 16 minutes, claiming over 30,000 lives each year. 

Cassie decided to take her life at the young age of 20 years old.  Cassie was a lovely, intelligent young girl who had so much talent and potential in this life and she left us all too soon.  My dear friends and I often ask if there is anything that we could have done to prevent Cassie's tragedy.  I don't have an answer to that and probably never will, but I have learned a great lesson from Cassie- awareness.  

I have learned from Cassie that it is my job and the jobs of all of us to bring awareness to suicide and make this word less taboo.  If more people were aware of signs and causes of suicide, maybe just maybe we can help save lives. As part of our attempt to continue the healing process of our great loss, we are marching on behalf of Cassie at the Safe A Life Walk. I invite you to join Team Cassie and walk with us on Sunday, November 14th, 2010-Team Cassie. If you can't join us, I ask you to please try to bring awareness your family, friends and community.  

If someone you know is reaching out to you for help, listen to them and be there for them.  For immediate help- Suicide Prevention Lifeline

R.I.P. Cassie. There are a lot of people in this world that love you.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Value of Karma.

So, today's post is actually about yesterday's actions.  My friend and I agreed that my actions weren't necessarily an "act of kindness" BUT it's worthy of posting for the mere fact that it scored me some pretty good karma points. 
My friend and I were grabbing some lunch before the Chargers game at a local burger place when suddenly in my peripheral view I saw something green flutter to the floor a few feet away from where we were sitting.  I directed my full attention to find that a $20 bill had slipped out of the pocket of a fellow Charger fan with a very large afro wig (the game was on Halloween so of course he's got an afro wig on, silly!).  

For a millisecond, I thought up what I could do with that $20, but my gut instincts told me otherwise.  I grabbed the $20 and handed over to the rightful owner.  He was understandably happy that I handed it back.  Although I didn't have the $20, I decided the value of karma was plenty.  In fact, the value of the good karma was probably worth more than the $20- it scored the Chargers a win!!

The bottom line is it's really about doing what's right...