Category Archives: Love in Action

Listening By Heart

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One of Jane’s many gifts was the ability to really listen to others. She went far beyond cursory greetings and polite nods of the head; instead Jane paid attention and asked meaningful questions. She also remembered that your second cousin had been ill, or your older cat was having a hard time adjusting to the new kitten.

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Now that families and friends update one another through texts, quick emails and the increasingly rare phone call, the need to be listened to, the desire to be really heard is greater than ever. And it’s not just folks comfortable with technology who are exchanging information, but not connecting. There are many people of all ages and socioeconomic areas who simply don’t ‘do’ technology. Those neighbors and relatives and coworkers want to be heard, too.

phone-785396_1920The next time a stranger starts talking to you about their 17 year old cat, or how amazing hair styles are, or what they think of the flavor ice cream you are buying – just stop everything and listen. Listen to their story not as a busy, important, tired, hungry, disinterested stranger. Listen as if this were your loved one, as if it might be you in a few years, or as if it has been you when you were lonely or excited or just talkative. Listen as if this human being is worthy of being listened to.

Some of the most beautiful stories come from people we don’t even know – or those whom we think we know, but rarely hear. These glimpses into the hearts of another person can touch our lives in ways we would not have imagined and their faces, voices, and personal experiences can remain a part of us forever – if we simply take a little time to listen.

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Please share some of the wonderful stories you have heard from someone in a ticket line, or when searching for an ingredient on the store shelf, or while walking dogs at a park. And please feel free to share the ways in which you have reached out to another human being through the simple but profound act of listening.

 

 

When Trouble Comes …

… make a casserole.

That might sound frivolous, especially in light of the magnitude of many family challenges and problems that take place every day, but the simple act of caring for someone with a hug and a hot meal can make a real difference.

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If cooking isn’t your thing, or if you live hundreds of miles away, or if you really cannot spare even one more minute no matter how your heart goes out to someone facing a crisis, consider the following options:

 

  • Make arrangements for a local contact to pick up a meal that you have pre-ordered and paid for from a restaurant the family likes.
  • Mail gift cards (for a local grocery store, fast food restaurant, or coffee shop) directly to the person or family going through a difficult time.
  • Ask mutual friends living in the area to bake something and be willing to pitch in for the cost of the ingredients and their time in the kitchen.
  • Ship a box filled with canned soup, a box of crackers and a package of cookies along with a cheerful card – and maybe a pretty bowl or a silly spoon.
  • Purchase a subscription for a meal delivery service – or fresh fruit, tea, desserts, coffees, etc. – for someone facing a long recovery or a family dealing with financial challenges due to an illness or catastrophe.

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If, however, you are handy with a whisk and potato ricer, you might prefer to cook up a favorite recipe or two that folks can use right away or freeze for a later meal.  Below are links to some of our favorite comfort foods:

 

https://sweden.se/culture-traditions/classic-swedish-food-meatballs/

http://sweetteareads.blogspot.com/2013/09/summer-vegetable-pizza.html

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/204133/old-fashioned-potato-kugel/

http://sweetteareads.blogspot.com/2015/10/zucchini-frittata.html

https://www.thespruce.com/easy-spinach-balls-appetizer-3050704

http://sweetteareads.blogspot.com/2016/03/tuna-casserole.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/irishbeefstew_73826

http://sweetteareads.blogspot.com/2012/05/creamy-slow-cooker-macaroni-cheese.html

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Please add your own recipes, links, and suggestions for foods that can be easily shared with anyone who is struggling – near or far.

Birthday Celebrations

Summertime is upon us and with it, the the 241st birthday of the United States on July 4th.  Creamy potato salad, grilled burgers and dripping popsicles will probably be on the menu; friends and families might gather to play tag, swim in cold mountain creeks, or simply doze off on a hammock, and deafening booms and enchanting, cascading, shimmering colors will fill the night sky … it is quite a birthday celebration, and it happens every year!

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But how do we as individuals celebrate our birthdays? Do our best four-footed, or two-gilled pals brighten our day? Or is it by meeting a close friend or two for a swanky dinner or home-cooked meal? Or is being pummeled by giggling children at dawn who bring breakfast in bed, complete with spilled coffee and slightly burnt toast the best celebration ever?

Unfortunately, for many people, birthdays are simply another day to be sick or homeless or alone.

Jane was very aware of this loneliness and was adept at making other people feel special, so it was no surprise when she began baking a monthly birthday cake for a local ‘soup kitchen’. Jane would bake and frost a cake for the folks who were celebrating a birthday during that particular month – complete with a candle and singing. She often talked about how important it is to humanize those impersonal labels – homeless, poverty, illness. And she believed that to be forgotten, to have no one to celebrate your birthday, your existence – that doesn’t always have to be the case. It is possible to do something about it.

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Family friend and former co-worker Alice works with developmentally challenged children, and came up with her own caring way to let her students know that they are treasured: She makes little goodie bags for each of them on their birthdays. With a trip to the dollar-store, she is able to fill one of the 3-for-$1 gift bags with a snack cake, noisemaker or toy, colorful pencil and small notebook, and candy or gum. There is always a personal note inside the birthday card and a big hug for the birthday boy or girl.

Although fireworks and ice cream and games in the lake are fun ways to recognize the country’s birthday, it is easy enough to celebrate our fellow human being’s birthdays in smaller ways – a birthday cake, a card, a hug – that are no less important.

Please feel free to share the ways in which each of us can let our neighbors know that we are glad that they were born. Thank you!

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Five Ways to Pack Less but Make More of a Difference

This post was inspired by Katherine’s actions – Thank you!

The wisest travel advice we’ve ever heard is, “Take half as many clothes, and twice as much money.” That might be why savvy travelers carry less luggage and wear clothing with more pockets than the average tourist.

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With or without those over-sized pockets, as folks take advantage of good weather and saved vacation days, they can find plenty of opportunity to make a difference in other people’s lives while on the road and out of town.

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The following five ideas are simply starting points; please share your thoughtful travel ideas in the comments section below.

 

  1. Buy locally made souvenirs from independent vendors, local markets, or from shops like One World or 10,000 Villages.  You’ll support a craftsperson/artist while having a unique, region-specific treasure to remind you of the great time you had.
  2. Pack your less than favorite – but still nice – clothes. When you arrive at your destination, buy locally made clothes to wear and enjoy, donating your clean but no longer loved clothing from home to folks who would appreciate it.
  3. If going to an area where the residents struggle with poverty, pack small toys, one-size-fits-all gloves, or little notebooks and puzzles to give to any children you might meet. These small items are a better choice than candy or chocolates because they may not have regular access to dental care, or there could dietary/religious factors to consider.
  4. Take an instant camera along. New models are small, colorful and under $100. The instantly developed pictures are fun for kids to make silly faces for; exciting for people who don’t have access to cameras/their own pictures to see, and the completed photos can be given to the subjects themselves to keep or share with their family and friends.
  5. Upon your return, consider sponsoring an endangered animal, family in need, conservation effort, etc. in the area you just visited. Look into giving gifts of service/action to family and friends back home instead of plastic doodads from a tourist-trap. Some good choices like Heifer International or SEVA Foundation can be found at Charity Navigator. Sometimes it’s easier to learn about the needs of a country or region firsthand, and then take action.

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No matter where you will roam, or how you plan to travel this year, there are many ways in which you can make every day of your vacation one of service, gratitude and compassion – it all begins when you tuck a little hope, a little light into your luggage.

 

 

 

On the Quiet Side

It’s been a little while since we last posted on this site, but not due to complete inactivity on our parts. We’ve been catching up with the busy-ness of life; the care and feeding of family, friends, careers – but then, you already know all about such things. We’re just glad to be back; grateful for the opportunity to share some pleasant news and helpful information with one another.

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One of Jane’s many gifts was a softness that she shared with all living things. Her ability to soothe and heal a variety of animals was a beautiful thing to see. She once explained that she did nothing more than provide a safe place for rest, a little food and water – and time. That may be true, but there was a peace within her that baby bunnies and small birds trusted, allowing themselves to be gently picked up after being wounded by a cat or falling from a nest.

In following Jane’s example of caring for these vulnerable creatures of the woods and fields, lakes and sky, we have shared some of the ways in which you, too can learn about and help animals in need of, as Jane used to say, “a soft place to land”.

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  • Baby Birds (Nestlings)

http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/health/rehabilitation/baby_birds.html

  • Golden Retriever Rescue

http://www.fhgrr.com/

  • Baby Bunnies

http://rabbit.org/category/care/babies/

  • Sea Turtles

https://conserveturtles.org/

  • Animal Rescue

http://www.peggyadams.org/

  • Raptors

http://www.carolinaraptorcenter.org/

 

Please add your suggestions for reputable sources for animal rescue and education in the comments section. Thank you.

 

For the Love of Poetry

(contributed by Susan Ray)

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Although April is actually National Poetry Month, it’s never too soon to delight in the song, the truth, the joy, the diversity that is poetry.

Mona/Jane kept books of poems at her bedside always. She found comfort, peace and wisdom in poetry that was especially welcome at the end of the day. Mona/Jane loved the beauty, the melody of the words, and encouraged those new to poetry to enjoy the fun of the language. She shared her gift of connecting with the poet by inviting new readers to imagine what the poet might have seen, felt, experienced when writing.

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A few of her cherished, better known poets were W.H. AudenChristina Rossetti, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, Rainer Maria Rilke, Walt Whitman, Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and perhaps her favorite, Robert Frost.

 

 

On Jane’s Day of Service this February 28th, consider the following ways in which you can share Mona/Jane’s lifelong love for poetry:

  • Memorizing a poem that holds special meaning to you
  • Reading poetry aloud to your child’s classroom
  • Posting an uplifting poem on the bulletin board at work
  • Sharing your family’s favorite poetry with the elderly at a local nursing home
  • Sitting down and writing some poems of your very own

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Forbearance

Ralph Waldo Emerson, 18031882

Hast thou named all the birds without a gun?
Loved the wood-rose, and left it on its stalk?
At rich men’s tables eaten bread and pulse?
Unarmed, faced danger with a heart of trust?
And loved so well a high behavior,
In man or maid, that thou from speech refrained,
Nobility more nobly to repay?
O, be my friend, and teach me to be thine!

 

You are always welcome to contribute your ideas and suggestions in the Comments below, and please join others in sharing your poetry and  photos of the ways you’ve chosen to participate in Jane’s Day of Service on our Facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/JanesDayOfService/

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Events

martin-luther-king-180477_1920For almost 50 years, people throughout the world have not only remembered Dr. King, but have put his profound lessons and peaceful message to work.

On the third Monday of every January, men, women, and children participate in acts of service, connect with their own and different faith communities, and search for opportunities to carry on the dream in ways that have personal meaning to them.

If you need ideas for ways to participate, or if you’d like to share more links to local events, please visit the CONNECT page, above.

Please share your own plans for celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the comments section below, and/or on our Facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/JanesDayOfService/

 

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Thank you for sharing your experiences and for your service.

 

 

Women in Black

Every Friday afternoon throughout the world, women of different faiths, different cultures, and different political views are united in silent vigil against violence, war and injustice. Meeting at a specific location on a regular basis, these women – and sometimes men – hold signs, wear black and remain peaceful.

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The current form of Women in Black began in 1988, when Jewish women and Palestinian women  stood in silent protest to occupation and war. Over time more and more women in more and more countries joined this movement – lending their silent support to the stand against war, violence and injustice. These demonstrators do not yell, chant or incite – instead they act quietly with dignity, strength and conviction.

http://www.womeninblack.org/old/en/history

Anyone can join these ongoing groups, and anyone can organize their own silent protest. This is less a group as it is a gathering; a place and time for people to come together to take a common stand for justice, for understanding, for peace.

For more information, please visit:

http://womeninblack.org/

Compassion in Action

WHEN:

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

WHAT:

Jane’s Day of Service – a day spent doing what YOU feel will bring more peace, more harmony, more happiness to your corner of the world. You might read to the visually impaired, or take your neighbor’s trash can to the curb, or write a thank you note to someone you’ve been impacted by recently. Or you might take some breakfast cereal or cans of beef stew to a food pantry, or give flowers to a stranger waiting for a bus … whatever moves you, whatever matters to you. That’s the thing to do.

WHO:

You and me and everyone we know. This day offers everyone an opportunity to realize that alone or with friends -each and every one of us can make a substantial difference in the life experience of another person. We do have choices. Even if we might not be able to change the world – we can definitely brighten one corner of the universe we know best.

WHY:

Because the world needs people to show up, to love and care for one another actively – and to find positive outlets for worry and frustration instead of bemoaning the truth that ‘somebody ought to do something about that’. Yes – someone should – and that someone is me and you. No matter how small the act – it’s the action, the choice to DO that makes all the difference.

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To honor and remember my beloved mother

Mona