Every year around the holidays, I promise myself I’m going to do something more charitable than simply sending a check to our local food bank, or dropping some coins in the red kettle at the grocery store. But each year I get caught up in the madness that is the Season and regretfully find myself dropping a check in the mail and stuffing coins in the kettles. This year was different. This year I bought two walnuts.
Last night after logging on to Twitter I received some bad news. A friend and fellow blogger, Anissa Mayhew, founder of Aiming Low and her personal blog, Free Anissa, suffered a stroke yesterday. She is a mother of three, wife, friend to many and the most wonderful woman you'll ever hope to meet. If you know Anissa you know exactly what I'm talking about.
I had the pleasure of meeting Anissa at the BlogHer conference in Chicago this year and we took to each other immediately. Right then and there I wanted to pack her in my luggage and take her home with me and from the outpouring of support on Twitter and the internet I've seen since the news hit I know I'm not alone in my fondness for Anissa.
Details are spotty right now but if you would like to help Anissa's family get through this difficult time, whether through thoughts and prayers or with contributions, please check out this post on the Aiming Low blog. A PO Box has been set up to receive any items you may want to send.
From all of us at the New England Mamas, we'd like to send good get well vibes to Anissa and our support to her family. We love you, Anissa!
It's a new site called Hope Revolution, started by Krystyn, one of the lovely ladies who established the now defunct Mama Says Om site.
Yes, MSO may not exist in cyberspace any longer, but Krystyn has found a truly remarkable way to continue her efforts of making a great change in the world.
This site was set up after Krystyn received several positive comments on her personal blog when she posted pictures of little Hope Notes she left all around her city - NYC. Because of this positive feedback, she figured several others may like to perform similar random acts of kindness and hope in their own communities.
She's right. Hope Revolution already seems to have a large, inspiring audience of hopeful individuals.
Currently, Krystyn is asking participants to create their own Hope Notes and anonymously distribute them throughout their own pieces of the world. After doing so, you can even post your pictures through the Hope Revolution Flickr account.
I've already created a large number of notes and have strategically placed them nearly everywhere I go - from my work to the grocery store to the local coffee shop. My notes have been left in both NH and MA. I even left one on a table at my daughter's pre-school.
Here are a few shots of my card-making progress:
I apologize that you're not able to clearly read all the messages I've written. And I'm especially sorry that I can't even transcribe them for you, as they're either distributed by now or sealed up in their envelopes in my purse. But you get the idea.
For me, I really like putting each card in an envelope, so I never know exactly which message I'm leaving behind where. I figure this way is best, as the "right" message will most certainly get to the "right" recipient this way.
Sweetie and Hubby have even helped out, designing and writing their own cards (see Sweetie's green BE GREAT card above). Sweetie especially is really getting "into" it, and, just this weekend, very sneakily left a card inside the front pages of a stack of newspapers on sale, instead of simply on top of the papers in plain sight.
That recipient is surely to get a happy surprise when he/she reads their morning news!
I would so love it if I could get several others interested in taking on this Hope Revolution challenge. Please do check out the site, start making your cards (you don't have to make many, and they don't have to be pretty - it's simply the message that matters most), and get to the hope-spreadin'!
And once that's done, keep going back to Hope Revolution for more updates, more inspiring stories and photos, and more Hope Challenges.
Krystyn and myself will be so grateful. And your world - our world - will start to feel just a wee bit more hopeful for your efforts, I promise.
Residents of Massachusetts have a long history of being reserved and not, if I may be so bold to say, overly polite. If you want friendly people go South. If you want to hang out with someone who's chill, go West. If you want a bunch of overworked stress bags who are just friendly enough with their neighbors to make sure if they ever were to drop dead in their homes their bodies would be discovered before the cats ate it, the Northeast, and especially Massachusetts, is where you want to be.
Or maybe I'm just projecting my own experiences on the residents of my fair state?
I've lived here all my life and while the people I have met are generally affable I wouldn't exactly call the majority of them warm. Sure, there is the odd neighbor who will go out of their way for you but they're usually the exception to the rule.
Not that this bothers me. I like to smile and wave at my neighbors and I expect the same in return but I don't expect to become BFFs with the new couple who moved into the house on the corner. Would I like to if we had something in common? Absolutely, but I'm not going to force it by showing up on their doorstep with a plate of cookies or a tuna noodle casserole. If you're from another part of the country where this is not only acceptable but expected you're probably horrified but this is just the way it is usually.
But sometimes I'd really like my fellow Masshole to go a bit above and beyond for a fellow member of the Commonwealth.
The other evening my husband and I took our daughter out for an early dinner at one of those obnoxiously loud chain restaurants. Apparently we didn't get there early enough because there was already a 20+ minute wait for a table. We chose to bide our time in the packed waiting area.
We stood in front of an L shaped row of cushioned seats because that was the only place to wait. All the seats were taken by able bodied people and their young children. Mothers and fathers all of them. I'm seven months pregnant and although I'm not huge my bump is clearly evident to those who choose to notice, especially to a person who has been in that position themselves. And for the first five minutes it never occurred to me to be put off by the fact that no one offered me their seat.
Then my back started to hurt.
I didn't make a big show of being ticked off - and I was - but I did make eye contact with more than a few of the people who were sitting and noticed most of them looking toward my baby bump. For the next ten minutes, until someone got up anyway because their name was called for an empty table, not one person gave me a place to sit.
Was I expecting too much?
Like I mentioned before, I don't expect much of my neighbors but we do go out of our way to help each other in times of need, because that's what neighbors do. But was I wrong to expect that total strangers from my area of the state would notice an uncomfortably pregnant woman and offer her a bit of kindness?
I mean, geez, it's not like I forced my tuna noodle casserole on them. Now that would be cruel.
("My Ultimate" will run most Tuesdays and will feature any
topic that hops into my head. The views expressed here do not
necessarily reflect those of the other New England Mamas. . . although
I first attended the prom in 1983. I was a sophomore in high school, going with a senior who was not exactly my idea of the 'hunky older senior', but had a look of inexperience that made my parents comfortable. Back in the early 80's, we all wanted to wear one kind of dress: a Gunne Sax. I'm not sure exactly what these designers were thinking, but these dresses looked suspiciously like ones worn in the late 1800's. All I needed was a parasol and high, lace-up boots.
I'm on the far left. The only skin I'm showing is above the neck and below the wrists. Quite the sex symbol, huh?
Over the next twenty years, there were three more formals, several semi-formals and about six weddings in which I was a bridesmaid. The number of dresses left behind in my parents' home was impressive. And, taking up way too much of their closet space.
So, a few years ago, I heard about a program called Belle of the Ball, a program which is currently going on now. Anton's Cleaners (locations in Eastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire) will accept gently-worn formal dresses at any of their locations (there are drop-off points at Jordan's Furniture as well). After cleaning the gowns, Anton's holds an event for high school junior and senior girls who would normally not be able to afford the high price of a new gown.
On April 28th, girls who have been referred to the program will be invited to come and look at the gowns with the aid of a personal shopper. After selecting one gown that they would like to wear to their prom, they can meet with hair and makeup professionals for some beauty tips.
There are a few rules for donating a dress: they should be no more than four years old so that they are still stylish (which eliminated that gorgeous Gunne Sax from consideration). They should be in 'gently worn' condition. Anton's will clean all dresses they receive before offering them to the girls.
When I first heard of this program, I was working in an office with many other women. I offered to take up a collection and dresses began to appear in my office daily. Beautiful dresses from formal events, weddings; dresses worn by my co-workers' daughters once; dresses that fit at one time, but were now too small for the owner. I carried more than 20 dresses into Anton's that year.
So, while you may not have a magic wand, you too have all the tools to make a deserving girl look like a princess for a day.
Logan is a 13 year-old boy who lives on a ranch in a very small town in Nebraska. Logan listens to a Christian radio station (89.3 KSBJ which broadcasts from Houston, TX) and called in recently, distraught because he had to take down a calf . His words have wisdom beyond his years.
It's been made into a video clip so those who choose to listen can find wisdom in this young boy's words. The radio station's website gives more detail about Logan and his family (read here).
Sometimes we need to hear a young voice to really be able to listen.
Bless his young heart, and yours.