Friday, July 10, 2015

My 2013-14 Year of Giving Began Here

Travelling home from a July 4th trip to Redwoods National Park and the California coast, we stopped at a McDonald’s restaurant in Grants Pass, Oregon. As we stood at the counter pondering one of the really critical decisions in life—what size frozen lemonade to order—a woman walked up with an empty cardboard coffee cup. Tim told her she could go in front of us. She said something very quietly to the employee behind the counter as they filled her empty cup. The woman walked back to the table where she was sitting alone.

When she walked away Tim asked me if she said, “I am hungry.” I might have heard something like that. The cashier gave a little nod. We were on our way out the door with our medium sized frozen lemonade and Tim took a detour to the woman’s table. He asked her if she would like a hamburger. She said, “Yes sir. I am very hungry.” He walked to the counter and ordered a hamburger and gave the cashier money. He told the woman they would call her when her burger was ready. She said, “Thank you kind sir.”

Not only did I not consider giving her money or food, but I thought that this must be a scam that she uses to make people give her money. Tim’s kindness is not out of character for him. He is a kind and generous soul who would give the shirt off of his back to help someone, which he has done in the past, but this random act of kindness really touched me.

I have thought about this interaction several times since then. I wondered why giving a hungry person food wasn’t my first instinct? So, I decided to teach myself a lesson in giving.

Could I make giving a new habit? To take it a step further, could I give something away each day for a year? Being a fundraiser has taught me the benefits of personally giving before you ask others for money. But what if I gave with no expectation of anything in return?

Thus was the genesis of the idea of a Giving Challenge. I challenge myself to give something away every day from today, my birthday, to one year from now.

This will be a fun year. I hope you will follow my progress as I share my experiences at

Simply giving,


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Recap of My Big Year

On July 15, 2013, I began a challenge to give something away every day for one year and blog about it. At that time I didn’t know that it would be such a gigantic commitment.

There were many trying life events that happened during the year. I comtemplated quitting several times, but there was always someone who lifted me up. Tim said time and again, “You’ve had a lot of reasons to give up over the last year, but this isn’t one of them.” Some of the events were:
  • Several friends and close family members died.
  • Receiving cards, letters and “likes” on Facebook that encouraged me when I was ready to quit.
  • Professional endeavors didn’t work out.
  • Teaching online was much more time intensive than I expected.
  • A fun college roommate reunion where I wanted to spend every minute reminiscing and not writing a blog.
  • Feeling like I had given away everything that I could possibly think of, but still had to think of something else.
  • One time I went to bed early after a really disappointing day. Tim woke me up at 10:30 p.m. to say that he had written my blog for me. He wrote a story that he had heard me tell and wanted me to be sure he got the facts accurate.
  • Attending a convention that was so intense that I didn’t have the brain power to think about a gift or write about it.
  • Going on adventures where I didn’t have internet access.
In spite of the highs and lows, I learned so much about myself and other people. Below are some of the highlights.

Most blessings:
The Gift Goes to the Giver
Enriching Lives
Recognizing Warning Signs

Most fun:
Cause to Paws
An Encouraging Word
You Might have Moved Too Many Times If . . .
One White, One Black
Laughing at Yourself
From the Kitchen of . . .
Secret Santa
Try Nt Prncg Yr Vwls
Texts Gone Bad
Hugging Instructions Not Included

Most likes on Facebook:
A Fun Contraption
Surprise Change
Family Giving
Human Goodness Wins
Speedy, the Not So Speedy Dog
A Gift of Sharing

Most views:
Free Rice for a Better Vocabulary
Family Giving

Felt the best:
Anonymous Love Letters
Smile, You’re On Candid Camera
Having Just Enough
Parking Space Karma
The New Normal

Most emotional:
If I Knew Then What I Know Now
Supporting Firefighters
An Angel Among Us
Blame Someone Else
A Gift of Sharing
Train of Memories
If I Were in Charge of the World
March Madness to March Gladness
Everybody’s Got a Story
Let Them Drink Coffee

Most comments:
Pantyhose Won
Free Ride

Real Life:
Distilling the Truth
Grumpy Gratitude
Don’t Let a Thief Steal Your Passion
The Job Candidate Said, What?!!!
Demon of Cancer

Most quizzical:
Human Goodness Wins
Watching a Movie in Person

Most Difficult: 

Biggest Surprise:
Comfort in Chaos

Help from Friends:
Girls Gone Wiles

This past week in my blog I quoted
eighty-seven year old Rose. She said, “In one year, I will be one year older whether I go to bed for a year or not.”
I chose to make this past year one that I will always remember.
Colin Powell said it best, “Giving back involves a certain amount of giving up.” Thank you all for coming on the journey with me.                                                                   

In Giving,

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Dalai Lama Laughs Because . . .

I have been confronted with many difficulties throughout the course of my life, and my country is going through a critical period. But I laugh often, and my laughter is contagious. When people ask me how I find the strength to laugh now, I reply that I am a professional laugher. [...]

The life of exile is an unfortunate life, but I have always tried to cultivate a happy state of mind, appreciating the opportunities this existence without a settled home, far from all protocol, has offered me. This way I have been able to preserve my inner peace.

If we are content just to think that compassion, rationality, and patience are good, that is not actually enough to develop these qualities. Difficulties provide the occasion to put them into practice. Who can make such occasions arise? Certainly not our friends, but rather our enemies, for they are the ones who pose the most problems. So that we truly want to progress on the path, we must regard our enemies as our best teachers.

For whoever holds love and compassion in high esteem, the practice of tolerance is essential, and it requires an enemy. We must be grateful to our enemies, then, because they help us best engender a serene mind! Anger and hatred are the real enemies that we must confront and defeat, not the “enemies” who appear from time to time in our lives.

Of course it is natural and right that we all want to have friends. I often say jokingly that a truly selfish person must be altruistic! You have to take care of others, of their well-being, by helping them and serving them, to have even more friends and make more smiles blossom. The result? When you yourself need help, you will find all you need! On the other hand, if you neglect others’ happiness, you will be the loser in the long run. Is friendship born of arguments, anger, jealousy, and unbridled competition? I don’t think so. Only affection produces authentic friends. […]

As for me, I always want more friends. I love smiles, and my wish is to see more smiles, real smiles, for there are many kinds—sarcastic, artificial, or diplomatic. Some smiles don’t arouse any satisfaction, and some even engender suspicion or fear. An authentic smile, though, arouses an authentic feeling of freshness, and I think the smile belongs only to human beings. If we want those smiles, we must create the reasons that make them appear.
The Dalai Lama, in an excerpt from his book "My Spiritual Journey.”

Today’s gift was to send a card to someone who helped me through a day when I doubted that my giving challenge was worth the effort. On that day I received a heartfelt card from her telling me how much she enjoyed reading it. That was the encouragement that I needed to keep going. Today is day number 365 and I have received numerous blessings. Thank you for being on this journey with me. Tomorrow I will recap my year of giving and share some of my feelings and insights that I gained.

In Giving on Day 365,

Sunday, July 13, 2014

How to Take a Chance

In this video Jim Carrey said, “You can fail at what you don’t want so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”

Today’s gift was to give a friend encouragement to enter the speaking profession. I offered to help her write a proposal for an upcoming speech. I also shared names of prominent speakers who would be good role models. I want to live life by taking chances doing what I love. How about you?

In Giving,


Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Comeback, Not the Setback

Last year at the National Speakers Association convention I heard Robyn Benincasa talk about her trials and tribulations. She is a firefighter and a 10-time Ironman, but she hasn’t always been as fit as she is today.

Seven years ago, Robyn was running in an eco-challenge adventure race when her leg gave out. She collapsed and dragged herself to the finish line. Shortly after, she was diagnosed with stage-four osteoarthritis in both hips, and her doctor told her she would never run again.

"I was in shock, because my body had never betrayed me before," said Benincasa, 47. "I always found a way to get through whatever it was, so I pretended it wasn't happening for a little while. And then I was being rolled into surgery for my first hip replacement."

Benincasa has since had three more hip replacements, but she never let it stop her. After the first one, she was inspired by a friend to start scheduling herself in events for which she could train. She realized it could also be a way to help inspire other women in their recovery so she started the organization Project Athena to help women recovering from medical or traumatic setbacks achieve their athletic goals.

One of those women, Alli Morgan, lived for sports. She was a cyclist, a climber, and played on her high school's softball and field hockey teams. That all ended abruptly her sophomore year on the day Morgan tore a ligament in her right knee during a field hockey game. She underwent ACL surgery, expecting a quick recovery. Instead, it led to 45 more operations on her knee, months in the hospital and a diagnosis of a rare genetic disorder. Morgan faced a difficult decision: Continue to undergo more surgery or consider amputation. "I thought of what I wanted out of life. I was on crutches for six years. I had a leg that was basically dead weight," she said. Morgan opted to have her leg amputated above the knee. "This was not about a loss of a limb," she said. "It was about regaining my life." During that process, Morgan found hope in Project Athena.

"Being an Athena, you're not just a survivor, you're an adventurer," Benincasa said. "We give them a different label to put on themselves, and it's something they become on their way to the finish line."

It's not about the setback; it's about the comeback. This is a reminder to the athletes and those around them to always try to see “challenges” in life and not “roadblocks”.

Today’s gift was a donation to the Project Athena Foundation. It  inspires me to remember that it is not what happens to you, it’s what you do about it.

In Giving,

Friday, July 11, 2014

Avoid Catching Abibliophobia

Today’s gift was a donation to the Klamath County Library Legacy fund. This will keep people who live in Klamath Falls from catching abibliophobia.

In Giving,

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Those Shoes have Soul

Several years ago on Bourbon Street in New Orleans a man was saying to people passing by, “For $5, I’ll tell you where you got ‘dem shoes.” Of course, there was no way he knew where people were from, much less where they got their shoes. When someone said, “Sure, I’ll give you $5 dollars to tell me.” He said, “’Dem shoes are right there on the sidewalk!” Then, he strutted off with a pocketful of money.

It is an interesting thought process to think about the places that my tennis shoes have been. The list may look something like this:

·      South Carolina
·      Pennsylvania
·      West Virginia
·      Oregon
·      Utah
·      Colorado
·      California
·      Nevada
·      New Jersey

In each of those states my shoes took hikes, walks, worked out in gyms, shopped and rode a bicycle. Sometimes they even went to a movie theatre or into a restaurant.

A Nike shoe advertisement says, “You gave your shoes a soul. Now give them another life.” Their recycle program takes old tennis shoes and creates a new material, which is used to make high-quality sports surfaces including courts, turf fields, tracks and more.

Today's gift was to take my tennis shoes, and the memories attached to them to the local running store. The soul of my shoes will now create new memories for those who put their soles on the sports surfaces.

In Giving,