An old man walked up a shore littered with thousands of starfish, beached and dying after a storm. A young man was picking them up and flinging them back into the ocean. "Why do you bother?" the old man scofted. "You're not saving enough to make a difference." The young man picked up another starfish and sent it spinning back to the water. "Made a difference to that one," he said.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 61- Lunch, Day 72-Dinner and Coffee and Day 74-Breakfast

These days I gave the gift of time to my friends.  On Day 61 I had and paid for lunch with some old friends.  On Day 72 I met one of my dear friends for dinner and then we went out for hot chocolate and coffee. And on Day 74 I went out and paid for breakfast with a new friend.
Meeting friends for meals is one of my favorite gifts to give and receive. I usually try to pay if they let because then I feel like it is a real gift, but I am learning through this process that time and being there for my friends is just as important as paying or buying them something.  These gifts always give me something to look forward to and I try to make a conscious effort to stay in touch and go out with friends as often as I can.  With everyone living such busy lives these days I think it is easy to make excuses to not make time for friends. I encourage you to pick up the phone and schedule a meal with a friend you have been meaning to get together with for the past couple of months. It will do you both a world of good!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 60 and Day 62- Gum and a Phone Call

On a daily basis we are given the opportunity to help and give gifts to others. It is the choices we constantly make to either ignore those opportunities or take advantage of the situation to help someone in need.  My gifts for Day 60 and Day 62 both occurred while I was traveling to Minnesota.
My first opportunity to give came on my flight to Minneapolis.  As the plane started its decent I noticed the young gentleman (probably 10-12 years old) across the aisle was holding his ears and he seemed to be in great deal of pain.  His father flagged down a flight attendant asking what he should do.  The flight attendant yells, “Does anyone have any gum?”  As I started digging through my backpack searching for gum I looked around to the other passengers to see if they were looking also. I was disappointed, but not surprised no one else seemed to care. I found and handed the flight attendant a pack of gum. She smiled and the father nodded his head and said, “Gracias.”   He spoke very little English but seemed very grateful.  His son started to chew gum and by his facial expression it appeared his ears popped and were feeling much better.
On Day 62 as I was waiting at Midway Airport for the bus back to Indiana I noticed the lady sitting next to me was on the phone but having trouble communicating with the person on the other end.  After she hung up the phone she started to ask me questions, but I couldn’t understand a word she was saying, I was frustrated that we didn’t speak the same language.  Her phone then rang again, she answered it and without saying a word to me just handed me the phone!  I was a bit shocked, but smiled and said, “Hello?”  The gentleman on the other end spoke very broken English, but I could make out bits and pieces of the conversation and one thing was very clear, he was at O’Hare Airport looking for the lady next to me when he should have been at Midway Airport.  I tried to explain to him he was at the wrong airport and if he made his way to Midway he would need to go to arrivals and his friend would be waiting at Door #4.  I had to get on my bus before the lady was picked up so I hope she made it where she was going safely.
I liked these gifts because they weren’t part of my plan and I didn’t go searching for a way to help someone. But when the opportunity presented itself I choose to help instead of ignore the situation hoping it would go away. I hope the next time you are presented with an opportunity to help a stranger you choose to step out of your comfort zone and lend a hand.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 58-Massage and Tip

On this day I gave myself a much needed gift.  If you have been following my blog you know I took a somewhat adventurous trip to Mexico.  On one of our adventure we went riding ATV’s through the Mexican Jungle and boy did I mess up my neck.  After I returned from the trip I went to see my chiropractor and he told me I had whiplash. I was in a lot of pain and he recommended a massage.
I have a great massage therapist that came to my home and gave me a 90 minute massage focusing on my neck, and shoulders. After she was finished I felt like twenty pounds had been lifted off my shoulders.  I gave her a nice tip (gift #@2) for her willingness to stay beyond the original 60 minutes I had scheduled. 
I find it difficult sometimes to find time to take care of myself. There always seems s to be more important things I should be doing with my time.   This is something that is a work in progress for me but I need to realize when I do find time to renew myself and relax I can be more open and patient with others. Have you made time to take care of yourself today? 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Day 56 & 57- Birthday Gifts

Some of my favorite memories as a child are the wonderful birthday parties my parents would throw for me each year.  I loved having all my friends over to the house  having a special cake designed and decorated just for me and a special gift of something I had been hoping for probably since Christmas.  
I also enjoy celebrating others birthday. I like looking for that gift I know the receiver will just love.  On day 56 my gift was money to my brother-in-law for his birthday. I really hate giving money or gift cards for gifts because I feel they are so impersonal, but sometimes it is the easiest and most appreciated gift.  My gift on day 57 was to my niece. She loves all the princesses and Disney movies. My gift theme for here was Tangled. I got her the Tangled Barbie with horse and prince, a miniature Tangle doll and the Tangled booked.  She also loves to color and told me the week prior she needed a new coloring book. She loves animals so I found her a Discovery animal coloring book and then bought the Crayon Tower that came with 150 crayons.  I would have loved this crayon tower as a child. 
Also on day 57 I gave gifts to my mom, sister and niece from our trip to Mexico.  Whenever one of us travels we always bring each other back a memento from the trip. It is a tradition we started many years ago and has continued to this day.
Do you love celebrating birthdays? Do you have any fun birthday gifts you like to give?  Do you bring back gifts for any family members when you travel?  I would love to hear ideas others have and how you celebrate birthdays!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 55-Ride to School

Today was a fun gift for me to give, but it was a gift that happened because of a bad situation. One of my friends little boy was taken to the emergency room late the prior night. I found this out through facebook so I sent my friend a text to see if there was anything I could do to help.  She asked me if it would be possible to go pick her other son up at her parents in the morning and take him to school.  She had her hands full as did her parents.  I graciously accepted and was more than happy to give this gift that would help her family out.  As a bonus for me I got to spend some time with her little two year girl who is just adorable. On our way to school the topic of conversation was Boss, my husband’s K-9 partner. Kids just love him and always have tons of questions about him. I am glad my friend’s child had paid attention because even though he is in first grade he knew exactly where I needed to pull in to drop him off and which door he needed to go in. 
How many times do you see a need or where someone could use an extra hand and ignored it or tried to justify you are too busy to help? I have been guilty of this in the past but I am trying to change to old ways. It is sometimes easier written than actually taking action, but I am trying.  It is easy to make excuses and come up with laundry lists of why we can’t help. Yes, sometimes it is just not possible to help out, but I think we need to start distinguishing the difference between we can’t verses we won’t.  I think once we make the conscious decision to help we open up the door to grow friendships and let people know we are someone they can count on for not only the fun times but the difficult times also. That is the kind of friend I want to be!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day 53, 54 and 66-Referrals

I apologize that I have gotten a bit behind on my blogging lately.  Every year about this time I start a large project at work that I work on for about two months working early mornings, late nights and weekends. After sitting in front of a computer from morning  until night  the last thing I have felt like doing is blogging.  I hope to catch up by combining some of my days that have similar gifts.  Today I am writing about days 53, 54 and 66. 
As a small business owner I understand the importance of networking and referrals.  Due to having a full time job, I am limited to working with organizing clients in the evenings and mainly on weekends.  Over the past several months I have had numerous potential clients contact me wanting my services and I didn’t have time to take on their projects. Instead of just saying no, I can’t help, I located other professional organizers in their area and then contacted the organizer and passed along the referral. This gift was both to the customers I couldn’t help and to my competition. 
How many times have you contacted a business and never received a return call? Or how many times were you told by a company they couldn’t help you. I have had this happen on many occasions and I know I will never contact that business again.  If you are a small business owner, provide a gift to people you are unable to assist and refer them to someone that can.  Networking is how many small businesses receive customers. I almost always know if I don’t offer a particular service I know someone that does.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day 52-Bob Evans (February 21st)

I am not sure why, but I am having trouble writing a blog for this day.  I have started and stopped it about 10 times today and seem to be having writers block.  My gift for this day was to treat my friend and her son to breakfast at Bob Evans.  It was her day off and I was happy she chose to spend her morning with me. I had gift cards left over from Christmas so I figured I could use them on this day to pay for our breakfast. My friend was gracious for the free meal and she had leftovers for her son for lunch.  I use to be stingy with my gift cards, trying to make them last as long as I could and only using them for myself.  But since my giving challenge has started I find it much easier to use up my gift cards on other people. It is funny how the more I give, the more I want to give and the more opportunities I to find to give. Have you given a gift today?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Day 51-Run 2 Remember (February 20th)

If you have read any of my prior posts you will know that I have a soft spot for families who have lost a loved one in the line of duty.  I think one of my callings in life is to be there to provide support and comfort to these family members.  I don’t know if feel like it is my duty to support the families; I mean, their son, daughter, wife, husband, brother, sister died protecting us and keeping us safe.  I think I also do it, because God forbid something ever happen to my husband on duty, I would hope someone, even people I don’t know, would be there to support me.
For the past two years I have participated with a group of friends in the Chicago 5k Run to Remember. It is an event sponsored by the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation. The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation provides support and assistance to the families of Chicago Police Officers who were killed or catastrophically injured in the line of duty.  It is a day not only to have fun with friends and get a little exercise along the lakeshore, but it is a way to show our support to the families.
My gift for this day was to sign up and make my contribution to participate for the third year in a row in the Run 2 Remember.
If you are a runner or walker in the Chicago area I encourage you to come out and join us for this event. More information can be found at http://www.cpdmemorial.org/.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Day 50- Cooked Dinner (February 19th)

I am don’t think I am your typical housewife, I don’t know maybe I am, but I don’t think so.  My husband works an afternoon shift at least five days a week so that only leaves two nights available for dinners together.  The other nights my husband usually cooks or we go out to dinner for a date night. It is on rare occasion that I cook. I have my traditional, easy meals but nothing to write home to your mother about.  
I have been working a lot lately and my husband has picked up a lot of the house duties. My gift on this day was to let him relax a bit and I cook dinner.  Even though I am not the best cook he is always appreciative when I give him a break and I cook for a change. 
Is there a chore that your spouse or roommate is always doing without complaining that helps you out and gives you a couple extra minutes in your day? If so, surprise them by giving them a gift and doing their chore for the day. Small acts of kindness can go a long way.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Day 48 and 49-Girl Scout Cookies (February 17th and 18th)

This is one of my favorite times of the year. Not only are the days growing longer, the weather is suppose to be getting warmer but Girl Scout cookies are available!  I love Girl Scout Cookies. I love all types and depending on the day my favorite varies.  On day 48 I bought 10 boxes of cookies from a friends’ daughter. We like to stock up and put them in a freezer for treats throughout the year. To be honest I should I have bought more.  On day 49 I bought another box from the Girl Scout troop sitting out in the cold outside of Wal-Mart. I can never pass up kids selling stuff outside of stores especially on a blustery February day.
On these day I was not only giving a gift to the Girl Scouts but a gift to me because I received delicious cookies in return for helping out a great organization out.  I was never a Girl Scout but it looks like fun and something that grows young girls’ self-esteem and confidence. 
The mission of the Girl Scouts is awesome: Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.  If you haven’t bought your Girl Scout cookies this year it looks like there is still time to buy.  If you don’t like or can’t eat cookies then buy then as a gift. It also looks like they have program you can send cookies to soldiers in Iraq. You can go to http://www.girlscoutcookies.org/, type in your zip code and find the nearest location selling Girl Scout Cookies.

Day 47-Nate (February 16th)

As you may or may not know my husband is a K-9 handler for the Indiana State Police. His K-9 partner, Boss, lives with us and is a member of our family. Unfortunately we could not take him on our vacation to Mexico.  He would have loved the ocean!  We were very fortunate this time that when we travelled my husband’s best friend, another state trooper, was available to take care of Boss. If this friend wasn’t available we would have had to kennel him two hours away and Boss hates it.
My gift for this day was to our friend for taking such good care of Boss while we were gone on vacation.  Our friend loves hot sauce. We found an assortment of five bottles of authentic Mexican hot sauces and gave them to him as a thank you gift. My husband also picked him up a case of beer. The hot sauce was from me and the beer was from my husband. I have never understood why men repay each other in beer.
Remember to say thank you and show your appreciation when people help you out and their not obligated to do so.  Sure our friend is the type of guy a simple thank you would have been fine by him, but thinking to bring him something from our vacation let him know we really appreciated the time he took out of week on a daily basis to help us out.