Beat Bad Days

Keeping a bad movement from turning into a bad day seems impossible sometimes but it can make all the difference. How many of you have had a bad morning, someone cut you off in traffic, you got a hole in your pants, you got a parking ticket, the store you needed to go to was closed, you have a headache, or maybe two or three things like that happened? All of us have felt this way and normally we tell our friends and family we’re having a bad day. It takes a few bad moments and writes the rest of the day off as awful before it even gets a chance.

I’m going to share with you what happened to me last week and how I fought off the bad day. It was pouring down rain and I had to walk through puddles and arrived to work with wet feet and jeans, strike 1. I had a meeting that I was excited about and just enough time to get coffee. I waited in line at the coffee shop for 15-20, very annoying, strike 2. Moments after I got my coffee I discovered that the lid wasn’t on correctly and burned my hand pretty badly, it not only hurt but it threatened to make me late and I didn’t get my morning coffee, strike 3. Bad day right?! Not so fast. I went to the meeting I was excited about, went to the nurse for some first aid, and then talked to a friend; three counter-strikes. I told myself over and over all day that I wasn’t having a bad day just because a few bad things happened. I refused to give into it, that easy temptation to just give up on the day.

So what happened the rest of the day that I might have missed if I’d written the day off? I had a fun conversation with my Sister-in-Law, a friend shared some wonderful news with me, and I won the lottery ($12)! Now I guess these things could have happened anyway but I think that being open to and ready for them made a difference. Bad days don’t need your help or encouragement.



I’m still working on choosing my first organizations for the Purple State Challenge. #PurpleStateChallenge Stay tuned and please let me know if you have suggestions for organizations to feature.

2016 Yearly Check-In

I know it’s been a hard year with all the bad news in the news. We lost Bowie and Prince; Brexit, the US Election, and the endless coverage of both were very draining. But I hope if you take a moment to look at your own life you’ll see all the good news that 2016 brought.


275275 Hours – Most of these hours were spent on Crisis Text Line helping people cope with all the bad news in the news. But I also got to experience my first Invictus Games, I volunteered hours giving blood and platelets, I made blankets and scarves, and a few hours here and there doing whatever I could. I can’t believe I spent an average of 45 minutes a day volunteering.



Charitable Giving


  • I’d have to go back and add up all the small donations I made this year. It wasn’t much because of the financial struggles in my life but when I gave I gave with all my heart.





Personal Kindness


  • This year I really noticed as I sat down to write the nice things I’d done for others the first things that would always pop into my mind were the nice things others had done for me. It just showed me how these easy nice things you can sneak into your week make a huge difference in people’s lives.



Self Care

  • handI ran a marathon! And I have trained for another one in the beginning of January. The challenges of running long distances and committing to myself has been endlessly rewarding. It makes me feel like I can do anything.
  • I traveled. This year marked my first volunteering vacation and also my first time back in Europe in a decade. And I followed the Dalai Lama instructions to “Once a year, go somewhere you’ve never been before,” with a trip to Austin.
  • I took time to be calm and quiet and pamper myself when needed.


How’d you do this year? Are you ready for 2017?

I have big plans for 2017 that I will be announcing here on January 16th. I’m excited for the new opportunities and the new lessons that the new year will bring. Thank you for reading. Happy New Year!

Throw Kindness like Snowballs

I’m going to go against my own advice a little bit and say it’s okay this time of year to not be as thoughtful. I’ll explain.

Around the holidays the donation jars, bins, and trucks seem to multiple infinitely. From Santa ringing a bell in front of the stores to giant bins at the grocery store to trucks lined up at a local parking lot to collections in your office. There are hundreds of people working to make it easier to give this time of year. So give! Put some change in a jar, buy an extra toy or canned good. It doesn’t have to be much.

This is the time of year to get in the spirit and I think an important way to that is to let go of the stress and contemplation and just be in the moment. It will be January soon and we can go back to thinking through every donation carefully. But for now I encourage you to shift your mindfulness into the moment. Hold doors, buy someone hot chocolate or bake cookies, sing, hug, and just spread joy. There’s a saying “Throw kindness around like confetti,” this time of year I say throw kindness around like snowballs!*



*I do have an asterisk to this post. If you’re feeling sadness, depression, or just stressed and down – take time for yourself! Self-care is still important or is more important during the holidays. If you need to reach out, please find help.

All About #GivingTuesday


Happy #GivingTuesday! After a long weekend of holiday shopping (or shopping holidays – Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, all leaking into other days) it’s time to give a little.

I have gotten myself on some sort of charity mailing list so I’ve been hearing about Giving Tuesday for a few weeks. And this morning 85% of my emails were about Giving Tuesday. But for those of you who don’t know what it is, let me explain –

“Entering its fifth year, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.”

It takes the idea of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday and puts it in the world of charitable donations. Traditional giving. It uses the hashtag as a way to help charities raise awareness. Typically charities that participate will set goals for this day, will give special incentives, and will often have a matching gift campaign so that your donation is matched.

Don’t know where to start when it comes to donations? Search the hashtag #GivingTuesday and see where other people are giving, see what campaigns are going on, it’s a great time to explore the world of charitable giving. Take a minute to discover a new charity, give to one you already love, and spread the word using the hashtag. You can also share why you give with the hashtag #MyGivingStory. I’d love to hear what you think of this new shopping holiday. Share in the comments your giving story!

Shopping for a Cause

It’s creeping all too quickly into the holiday season and a time that tends to involve a lot of shopping. I wanted to explore some of the options to spending in a charitable way. For me the best way to shop in a good way is to just give it a little thought and consideration. So here we go


First, there are items designated to give a portion of the proceeds to charity. It seems like this happens often with T-shirts and pink items (for breast cancer). This is probably the least effective way to give to charity. Often this percentage is on the small side. Your purchase won’t be included in any matching gifts provided by companies or donors.

These items are only something you should buy if you really want that particular item. You like the T-shirt design, you really want to spread the word about a cause you support, the percentage of proceeds going to the charity is very high and you want to support that specific charity, or it’s an item you’d buy anyway. But ask yourself if you’d do better skipping the t-shirt and making a donation instead or buying a T-shirt that you really love and make a donation with it.


Next, there are items that support a struggling community or group. It seems like there are many items from women in Africa, often jewelry. I personally really like this option. It gives people motivation and a job and often the products that are created are handmade and beautiful. This could also be as easy as shopping at your neighborhood bookstore or a locally owned clothing store. Shopping small can make a big difference in your community and in any community.


Next, there are the items that are a buy one give one model. Things like shoes or glasses where for each item you purchase another is given to someone in need.
I’m still unsure about these and feel like I need a bit more research into the topic. I’ve purchased a few but almost always because I wanted the product not because I was interested in the donation. I don’t always completely vet the organization that gives away the goods and I wonder if money would be more helpful.


Next, there are charities that sell items. The World Wildlife Fund and To Write Love On Her Arms are two that jump to mind (that I have supported). Sometimes this is the cause’s main source of revenue. Again I’d say only purchase these items if you want the item itself (and sometimes the items are pretty cool). If you don’t need another T-shirt or stuffed animal consider just donating the money. That way it can be matched and go directly to fill a need.


The last thing I’ll mention is AmazonSmile and shopping at companies who have a strong philanthropic record. Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. If you’re an Amazon shopper this is pretty easy way to get a little money going in the right direction. The drawbacks are you have to pick a single charity and if you’re someone like me who has reservations about shopping on Amazon this one is tricky. But here’s the thing, you can do this yourself – take your bank statement at the end of the month and multiple your purchases by .005 and donate that to your favorite charity. It’s only 50 cents per $100 so it likely won’t hurt your budget and you’ll feel great. BeingGoodeSmile!


Shopping this time of year presents a lot of choices and difficult decisions. There are so many stores online and and real life competing for your attention and your dollars. I think the number one thing to think about when shopping charitably is to treat it like any other donation of time or money – is this a cause you want to support and is this the best way to do it?


What are your thoughts this time of year?


A couple of weeks ago now I attended my first volunteer conference. The conference was referred to as Palooza and it felt as much like a festival as it did a conference. 2016 seems to be a year of volunteer firsts since the Invictus Games was my first volunteer vacation.

When I found out that Crisis Text Line was having a conference for their counselors I knew that I’d move mountains to be there and between starting a new job, financial challenges, and Formula 1, there were a few mountains. Mountains were moved, planes boarded, and a few hundred superheroes without capes converged on Austin, TX to spend a few days in amazement. *Signs Amazing*

Although it’s great that this is a digital experience and I can log in on my couch and feel connected to texters and counselors, it’s nice to hug these people. Putting your arms around people who know what it’s like, who’ve taught you, and been there with you, is the best kind of comfort.

I think my biggest takeaway was seeing how different this organization really is. I’ve been volunteering all my life (seriously, I remember as a kid I’d be stuffing donor drive envelopes for the Ballet while watching the Disney Channel). I have never seen anything like this. Many organizations appreciate their volunteers, many rely on their volunteers, but I have never seen any organization that puts its volunteers first. Appreciated is an understatement and they let us know and feel that at this conference. You might be thinking – of course most organizations don’t do that, the people or the cause they serve should come first. But what Crisis Text Line has figured out (through data and not being afraid to breakdown assumptions) is that putting the volunteers first makes it possible to serve the texters. Supporting volunteers is the key to what drives empathy to people in crisis. Volunteers give their time for so many reasons and I think a lot of us do it with or without a thank you but Crisis Text Line is starting a revolution with this idea. I’m a better volunteer because I’m supported, validated, and celebrated. My first shift back from the conference I felt like I could take over the world, I took more conversations and was more engaged than ever. I was a better counselor.

When I signed up, it was a 4 hour weekly commitment for a year. It sounded like a lot and some weeks the 4 hours feels like a lot sometimes but I’ve passed my 1 year commitment by a few months and have basically left it behind. I will be a Crisis Text Line counselor as long as they’ll have me. I’ve found something amazing. I’ve learned to be open to the fact that even if my assumptions are positive, I can be wrong. I’ve been inspired to be open and listen to the things that challenge my assumptions.

Another thing that stuck out to me during the conference was how diverse of a group we are. Crisis Text Line isn’t just a genius idea because people in crisis can use their phones to get help in a new and easy way, it’s a genius idea because people can volunteer in a way they wouldn’t normally be able to. Caring people are no longer limited by location, time, or disabilities. So if you aren’t able to get somewhere to volunteer, your only free time is in the middle of the night, or you have a physical disability that might keep you from doing typical volunteer work; at Crisis Text Line these aren’t limits. For example, there is a growing hard of hearing or deaf contingent. There are older volunteers who might not get the same reaction or connection face to face with younger people in crisis. There are volunteers in remote locations – all 50 states. The only requirements really are empathy and the internet.

A million people die by suicide every year worldwide. A million people. It sounds overwhelming but also motivating. I can make a dent. My kindness, my words, can help. I imagine one of those big neon signs that show the donations for a charity telethon, but going in the opposite direction. I’m screaming out in the world that you matter and the number goes down. I tell people that I go to therapy and the number goes down. I work a shift on Crisis Text Line and the number goes down.

The Crisis Text Line conference was amazing and I’m still feeling the effects. I learned so much and it brought me so much happiness. I feel very connected to this community.

If you’re interested in volunteering you can find more information here.  Feel free to ask me any questions you have in the comments.



Q4: Charitable Giving

Now that I’ve spent time looking at Self-Care, Volunteering, and Personal Kindness, it’s time to focus a little on the obvious part of being a philanthropist – Charitable Giving. Money, donations, it seems so straight forward and simple but it’s really far from (as most straight forward and simple things usually turn out to be).

Who do you give money too? How much? Is giving things just as good? What about buying things with a “percentage of the proceeds”?  I can think of a dozen challenges that the idea of traditional giving brings up.

It’s also a challenging because money is the thing I have the least to give – I’m not Warren Buffet or Kate Middleton. But that just means I have to be even more thoughtful about it. So stay with me for the next few months as I explore this.

What are you wondering about Traditional Giving? Anything you want me to address?

Coming Into Focus

There was no weekly update on Friday and there won’t be one this week either. I’m traveling, taking a break from the everyday, volunteering and giving. A little time to heal and enjoy. Major self care time. 

The past couple of weeks have been jammed full of good news after a couple of years of a lot of bad. While this is wonderful it’s also a lot to take in and a lot to reflect on. 

I had a thought the other day that it’s possible the universe is being kind to me because I’ve been so focused on the kindness I’m putting out. Taking time every week to write out and think about how I succeeded or how I could do better at being good; a good person, a good citizen, a good friend, has made a world of difference. 

I’m not sure if that’s true but I’m truly grateful for my life. 

I’ll be back soon. 

How Do You Treat The Waiter?

We’ve all heard that you can judge the person you’re dating by how they treat the waiter. The idea being that this reveals how they are to other people, that possibly they’re only kind to people they like, think are important or can do something for them. And it might be true, it could be an easy yard stick.

When I was shopping the other day just by not throwing unfolded clothes around I received immense gratitude from the sales associate. How could it be that our expectations are so low that this ordinary act was so appreciated?

It all got me thinking about expectations on how we treat each other in these situations. When someone is paid to serve us (usually very little) what are the world’s expectations and how can we change or exceed them?

I worked in retail most of my young life with a stint as a waitress thrown in there. So I know what it’s like on both sides. But that was 10 years ago. I wonder if technology has blurred the lines of distinction that you’re talking to a real person. That was before receipts were posted online showing tips and messages good and bad. Before there were tumblrs and twitters set up to complain about the horrible things customers do. Before our daily interactions became entertainment. Our culture has changed a lot and I don’t know that we’re really taking the time to think about these interactions past talking about how our dates treated the waiter.

But we should. This is an easy win. It’s also an almost daily win. We’re likely to go to the grocery, get food, and/or buy something daily. I think there are some easy steps we can take to improve everyone’s day.

  1. Acknowledge that you’re interacting with a real life human being. Put away your phone, make eye contact, smile, use their name if you can, something, anything to visible communicate that you know they’re not a machine.
  2. Think beyond yourself and have patience. Use having another living breathing person in front of you as a reminder that you’re not alone. Your actions have an impact on others. Be patient in lines, acknowledge when someone is busy with something else, maybe doing something for you, and let them know you’re okay waiting a minute because you see they’re doing what they can. Let them know you saw how someone else treated them and tell them how well they handled it. Just let them know you are there, you’re their partner for these few minutes and you’re going to help them help you.
  3. Be appreciative. Say thank you. Smile. Be kind.

A lot of people go into a service situation in a very combative way. Having been there and tried both ways – being nice is ALWAYS better. If you ask nicely for a manager, if you ask for an exception or another solution you’ll probably get one. I called an airline about an expired gift certificate and when the person I was talking to couldn’t help I asked nicely for a manager and ended the phone call getting exactly what I wanted. They’re there to help and when you come at them with a pleasant energy you become someone they want to be around and they’ll want to help you more and be more willing to bend rules. Treat them like a person and that’s how they’ll treat you. It’s really as easy as that. Positive energy is contagious.

When I worked in retail I knew that when someone was upset or would yell that it wasn’t personal. Something was happening in their life that I had nothing to do with and knew nothing about. But it made my smile fake, it made it a chore, and it made me defensive. Sometimes I could turn it around but more often than not it was just another horrible customer that I’d hope none of my friends would ever date.

Kindness Pet Peeves

When blogging about kindness it seems like I’d only have puppies and rainbows to talk about. Well there is one thing that drives me up a wall and it’s commonly mistaken as a kindness.

“Smile,” he says.


I’m sure that some people think they are acting out of kindness, although probably more don’t think at all. They want you to be happy and more importantly demonstrate your happiness. And somehow most of the time it’s men telling women to smile. Some strange chauvinistic hold out that hasn’t yet been killed by the 21st century.

The feelings I get when someone says this to me are always negative. I’m usually in my head and jarred to hear that someone has a problem with my appearance. I may not be smiling because I’m upset or thinking about something going on in my life that is difficult or complicated. Or I could just be tired and not ready to put on a big fake smile first thing in the morning. It doesn’t even matter if I have a reason or not. Smiling is a decision that is completely up to me. And while I often smile it is not mandatory. Someone telling me to smile just makes me more upset to the point where smiling is the opposite of what I’m feeling.

If this is something you’ve done in the past – told someone to smile – I hope you’ll reconsider your actions. This isn’t kindness. If you see someone who isn’t smiling there are kindness that that can provoke – ask them if everything is okay, smile at them yourself, do something to make them smile, or just move on with your day.

If someone says this to you remember – it’s okay to be sad sometimes, it’s okay not to smile. It’s your decision. I know you want to have a happy life but smiling 24/7 is not a requirement. My life is filled with so much joy and still I’m often told to smile.
What are your kindness pet peeves? Does any “kindness” just drive you up a wall?