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square, Abe Hagenston, digital panhandling, homeless, homelessness

A 42-year-old Detroit homeless man, Abe Hagenston better known as Honest Abe, is in the business of being homeless. You read that right, he has taken panhandling to the next level by developing a website for people to use to hire him and other homeless people to do odd jobs. He even bought a square so that he can accept credit cards from his cell phone. He has a business license and merchant’s account and all card swipes go through square.com and they do his merchant processing so he has no access to your credit card info.

I was confused because I thought homelessness was the result of some horrible thing that happened to someone, like getting AIDS, losing your house in a fire or having your child get hit by a car and here in your arms one minute and gone the next. I thought that these things could happen to anyone. That was the tragedy. Any of us could fall victim to this type of travesty at any time through no fault of our own just really shitty circumstances. That’s why I give when I can but when I heard words like square, website and business license, it felt more like a choice than a situation beyond one’s own control. It felt intentional but I didn’t know the whole story.

Apparently, honest Abe has been in the business of being homeless for nearly a decade and just got tired of hearing people say that they wish they could help but they just didn’t have any cash on them. It’s true; we are becoming a cashless society. I seldom have cash and usually, I give food because I can charge it. He got tired of just waiting for something to happen to turn his life around so he created a way to help himself and others.

“Being homeless is my business. Now my business is being homeless,” he said.

At first when I heard this story, I was a little leery. I mean, how the hell can a homeless man afford a phone, a data plan, have a website and think to use a square to get donations? I would never have thought of all of that and I work online in the space. Apparently, Honest Abe has a better business sense than most.

When I heard the blurb on the radio this morning, I firmly believed this guy was a scam artist who was lazy and just trying to find an easy way to make a buck instead of working (because there are people who do that.) There was an entire expose a few years back about suburbanites who made panhandling their jobs to the tune of $65,000 a year because they didn’t want to work. They enjoyed the hustle. That’s when I started giving food.

But then I researched his site, watched his video and read his story and I may have been wrong. I think this guy is just smart and trying to make the best out of a bad situation. He actually doesn’t want a hand out, he wants a hand up and he wants to pass it on.

square, Abe Hagenston, digital panhandling, homeless, homelessness

It seems that my life has been a series of rebuilding.  Along the way I have learned that hard work, determination, ethical and moral decision making, along with a positive attitude is the right combination to pull yourself out of a hole.  However, just once I wish there was someone with a rope to assist.  I have never had the benefit of being assisted.  I have always found myself in the wrong demographic, ineligible for assistance other than food stamps, having to struggle when I could have been making progress.  I have never even heard of a homeless program (let alone seen one) that actually presented itself as a viable pick you up, dust you off and send you running, all the bells and whistles included full package program.

Being homeless gives a person a lot of time to reflect on what went wrong, and what a person could do differently if given the chance.

Hagenston’s cellphone was provided by the federal government’s Lifeline Assistance program and is known as the “Obamaphone.” His website is a free WIX website that he set up and accesses via the public library.

He doesn’t get food stamps and he refuses to lie about his mental state or do anything illegal to get housing. He wants to earn his way but, due to circumstances beyond his control, he is without a home and any identification and this prohibits him from securing employment.

There are 4 options left to me.  I could steal, deal drugs, prostitute, or fly a sign.  The first 3 are out of the question.  I am not slick enough to steal, I am not mean enough to deal drugs, and I am not pretty enough to prostitute.  So, you see me at 8 and Woodward.  I mean what else am I supposed to do?  Just lay down and starve to death?

I think he seems rather bright and business savvy. He may just be a genius. He is not only trying to get himself and other homeless people honest work and pay, he is trying to develop an app to identify the truly needy homeless from those who just pretend to be panhandlers which I would personally love to have because I love to help others but I’d like to know that they are actually in need of food and care not just panhandling because they don’t want to be stuck in a cubicle all day.

If this guy is for real, he is everything we need in this country. We have so many starving, homeless people on our own streets that we need to feed and if they can work for what they earn and provide for themselves, maybe we can help not only feed them but allow them to feel/be productive in society. That is a genuine win win situation for all of us. I find his entrepreneurial sense refreshing. He’s not giving up on himself, he’s reinventing himself within his circumstances.

What do you think of Honest Abe and the business of being homeless?

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Sugar, homeless youth

Most of us are lucky. We may not be wealthy beyond our wildest dreams but we have a roof over our heads and can afford to feed our children. Maybe we can’t give our children everything, but they don’t want for much if anything. I think that is the goal of every parent to learn from his or her own childhood and give our children a better childhood. It’s the natural evolution of parenthood. But sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way you intended it.

This summer when we were in Chicago was the first time my daughters ever saw a homeless person up close and personal. We were walking downtown and group of teenagers holding a sign stating that they were homeless and in desperate need of money for food. My 6-year-old just stared at them. It was hard for her to understand how anyone could survive homeless. She had a lot of questions and specifically wanted to know why any child’s parents would not protect their child and let them be homeless, she was baffled. Why were they homeless on the street when they were just a little bit older than she was?

I had no answers for her. She is too young to understand that financial circumstances may have lead to an entire family without a home and food and all the other bare necessities of life. She is to young to understand that due to sexual molestation or child abuse some children choose to run to survive and living on the street is preferred to being abused at home. She is too young for these conversations and every child is too young to be homeless and on their own.

There is a new movie by executive producer Elliott Broidy called called ‘Sugar’ follows the challenges of a 20-year-old woman thrust into homelessness in Venice Beach, California after the death of her family in a car accident. The ensuing plot spotlights the increased risks of violence, despair and social disconnect faced by homeless youth in a rapidly changing world. She ends up making lasting relationships with other homeless teens. Rotini Rainwater and Elliott Broidy’s Sugar is inspired by real events and has goals to educate people on homelessness in America.

Elliott Broidy has teamed with Director Rotimi Rainwater to document the multiple risks of youth homelessness. The movie’s script is drawn from Rotimi Rainwater’s experiences on the streets of Orlando following his tenure in the United States Navy.

Watch the trailer below!

Sugar does a great job portraying the social challenges faced by today’s homeless youth. For older kids, Sugar is a great movie to answer some of the questions that they might have when they see those forgotten teens on the street. It can help teach our children compassion and tolerance and it may just help us figure out how to explain this difficult situation to our small children and maybe by bringing attention to youth homelessness we can start to work to eradicate it.

 

 

Disclaimer:I was compensated and provided information about the movie to share it with my audience but all opinions are my own.

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“Mommy, why is that man with no legs asking you for money?”

My daughter asked me this when she was 3-years-old. We were downtown Chicago for the Christmas lighting ceremony one holiday season and he was the first person who was homeless that she had ever seen.

I saw the man’s sign and I explained to her that he was a veteran of the military who had lost his legs while serving our country. I explained that he had fallen on hard times and now was homeless and had no job. I explained that it is very difficult for someone to get a job when they don’t have an address to put on an application.

I could see it in her face, she wanted to know why someone who did so much to protect us wasn’t being taken care of by the collective “us.” She’s right. Why don’t we take care of our people when they are in need?

She asked us to give the man some money and, of course, we stopped and gave him some money. My husband then bought him something to eat and gave it to him. This is something the Big Guy is known to do quite frequently when he sees someone in need. It’s one of the things I love most about him.

Anyway, it all makes for a great teachable moment but I was a little taken aback by the situation because you don’t expect your preschooler to notice these things and you certainly don’t expect them to ask for an explanation. In all honesty, I think we hope that our children are so tightly encased in their protective bubble that they never have to know. Or maybe we just wish the situation didn’t exist in the first place.

We spend our parental lifetime doing our best to make sure that our children have all that they need so that they don’t have to know that want or need. But the reality is that there are some people who run into problems in life and end up homeless for a multitude of reasons.

Homelessness is an issue plaguing cities and neighborhoods across the country. At some point, most of our children will see a person who is homeless or asking for money and ask us about the situation like my daughter did, all those years ago. How you handle it will certainly shape the way your child reacts to future similar situations.

Here are some suggestions on how to answer your child’s questions and what you can do to make a positive impact not only on the life of people who are homeless but in your child’s life by teaching them compassion, empathy, kindness and love for their fellow man. After all, isn’t that what we want? To raise good human beings?

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– Answer the child’s questions honestly. Show empathy and compassion for the person
who is homeless. Answers should be person-centered (the man who is homeless rather
than the homeless man). Using this type of language reinforces empathy and compassion for people.

– Answers should be short and speak to the child’s question. Don’t elaborate if not needed.

– Talk about what it means to be homeless: a person has no place to sleep, to eat, to shower and keep clean, or to keep their belongings.

– Speak about social problems that can cause homelessness.

o A person doesn’t have money to maintain a home – a home costs money.

o A person may not be connected to family/friends to help them.

o A person may have mental illness. Mental illness is when a person’s brain is not working the way it is supposed to.

– Talk about reasons why some people do not have money to maintain a home.

– Don’t attempt to use a person who is homeless as an example of what could happen if the child doesn’t stay in school, go to college, doesn’t get a good job or uses drugs.

– If the child wants to do something to improve the situation, you can:

o Talk about the many different ways to make a difference for people in need, such as making a donation to a local charity, volunteering, organizing a collection effort like a coat drive, food drive or toy drive.

o You can also include a bus pass or some small bills for transportation.

o create homeless hygiene kits to distribute to those in need. Using a large resealable plastic bag, include items and snacks such as granola bars, graham crackers, or fruit snacks; bottled water; socks; hats, scarves; deodorant; toothbrush and toothpaste; band aids; hand sanitizer; Kleenex; hand lotion; shaving cream and disposable razors; toilet paper; chap stick; hand lotion; and shampoo and conditioner.

o Include notes of encouragement or favorite bible verses, or a child’s drawing.

– You can purchase pre-made kits at www.salvationarmystore.com/comfort-pouch-kit.html.

– Or visit https://centralusa.salvationarmy.org/metro/homeless_hygiene_kits for a list of items to include and a downloadable sheet of notecards.

I love the idea of keeping pre-made kits in your car to hand out when you see a person who is homeless and in need. It’s a great way to get the children involved and be proactive. If you are like me, I seldom have cash on me but if you already have kits made with a few dollars in them for a meal, you don’t have to worry about that. Not to mention, you can make the kits a few at a time and give them out as you see the need. It’s a wonderful example to set for your child and it allows them to do something positive to change the situation, rather than just feeling helpless. We need to encourage them to be kind to those in need and give those who need it a hand up.

Last year The Salvation Army provided shelter to 628 men, women and children at the Evangeline Booth Lodge family shelter in Chicago. The Booth Lodge is one of Chicago’s only shelters that keeps families together.

The Salvation Army mobile feeding and outreach program makes 32 stops daily throughout Chicago to provide hot meals and support services to people who are homeless.

I think it’s our duty as parents to teach our children to have compassion for people in need and if they can, do something to help. We have to lead by example and be that change we want to see in the world. If we don’t, how will our children ever learn to care, to fight for what’s right, to stand up against what’s wrong and to be the change this world needs? It all begins with us showing them how to get involved and to choose to do good rather than do nothing. Homelessness is not just someone else’s problem, it is everyone’s problem.

How will you teach your child to help the homeless?[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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Rudy Eugene, Ronald Poppo, Zombie, MacArthur Causeway, Miami Florida, Bath Salts

Throat Punch Thursday,Rudy Eugene, Ronald Poppo, MacArthur CAuseway, Miami Florida

Upon further viewing, maybe this Kangaroo is a Zombie about to eat a face off

Zombie Apocalypse is a real thing? What the hell is the world coming to when unsuspecting (sleeping no less) homeless people, Ronald Poppo, are getting stripped, beaten and having their faces ripped off by out of their mind junkies, Rudy Eugene, who present like something from the Walking Dead? Now, that is one hell of a gruesome way to be woken up. I am never complaining about my 4 year old jumping on me and strangling me with hugs at 5 am, EVER again. I’ll take rambunctious babies out of drug induced zombie ANY day of the week.

Rudy Eugene, Ronald Poppo, Zombie, MacArthur Causeway, Miami Florida, Bath Salts

A drug induced Zombie & his Victim in better days

I’m sure many of you are aware of this story, as it has been hot on the internet since it happened on Saturday. If not, here is the gist of it. A man, Rudy Eugene, supposedly high on a new form of the drug LSD, bath salts, attacked a homeless man, Ronald Poppo, who was asleep on the MacArthur Causeway in Miami, Florida. Mr. Eugene, literally, ripped the flesh off the homeless man’s face, Ronald Poppo, with his teeth not unlike a zombie might do. Yes, you heard me right. Even more unbelievable is that the entire incident took place on the MacArthur Causeway, a busy stretch of road near the beach. Drivers and bikers alike drove past for almost 20 minutes, no one stopped to help the man being attacked but several called 911.Honestly, I am not sure that I would have stopped if I saw, what surely looked like a zombie attack, taking place. I would have been afraid that the attacker might eat my face off too. Call me an asshole but I don’t think that would be a particularly enjoyable way to expire.

Cops arrived on the gruesome scene and tried to get Mr. Eugene to dismount Mr. Poppo and stop cannibalizing his face. Mr. Eugene looked up at them and growled. The cops had to separate Mr. Eugene from Mr. Poppo’s face by shooting him. Even after being shot, just like a zombie, Rudy Eugene kept on eating the man’s face until he was shot to death. By the time it was all said and done, 80% of Mr. Poppo’s face had been removed, including his eyes, nose and mouth.All that remained of Mr. Poppo’s face is his beard. I will not provide the photos of Mr.Poppo’s zombie attacked face because they are unbelievably horrifying.

Throat Punch goes to the drug bath salts that is creating an epidemic of junkies who are behaving like zombies in the worst kind of way. Throat Punch to the asshole drug dealers who continue to sell this drug when this is not the first time something like this has happened. Throat Punch to Rudy Eugene for acting like a zombie and ripping the face off of an unsuspecting homeless man. There is a lot of crazy shit going on in the world, bad things. Can we just say no to a drug induced zombie apocalypse?

Do you think this is a bad drug reaction or could this be the nearest thing we get to a zombie apocalypse?

Is the Zombie Apocalypse Upon Us?

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#ChampionsforKids, hungry, child, Snacks for students

Every once in awhile I get the opportunity to use my piece of the Internet for something good. I love when that happens because it makes me feel like I have a higher purpose than just documenting my life online. It gives me a chance to actively make the world a better place for my girls, to be a good example and give back.

I partnered with The Motherhood and Champions for Kids for their Snacks for Students Program. Champions for Kids is the first of several campaigns to launch nationally, with the goal to provide resources for more than 10 million children in 2015. It makes it simple to give kids in your own community the resources they need to thrive. Since 2004, Champions for Kids has served more than 5.4 million children across all 50 states through in-store donation campaigns, service projects and community events.

Champions for Kids, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Emerald and Kettle Chips have joined forces to make it simple for communities to provide basic resources for students through in-store donations.

The Snacks for Students program is part of the Champions for Kids program that seeks to make it simple for shoppers to purchase and donate items to children in need. I chose to work with a local organization called Charis House for Homeless Mothers and Children. This is a cause close to my heart because there are so many brave women who have to make the decision to leave an abusive relationship, many relinquishing all financial stability in order to give their children and themselves a better chance at life.

From February 16 to March 2, U.S. customers at more than 3,600 participating Walmart stores can purchase snacks and breakfast items for children and place them inside designated donation bins. All donations made in-store will stay in the local community and be distributed through school districts or youth-based organizations. This is the perfect way to give back to the people that should matter the most to you, the children in your own community. Doesn’t every child deserve a full belly?

In addition, Champions for Kids, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Emerald and Kettle Chips will provide 13 awards, totaling $45,000, to school districts and participating youth-based organizations based on the total number of donated items collected in each store.

I am proud to be a part of this program and to be able to help the Charis House for Homeless Mothers and Children. Who will you help feed?

Disclosure: I partnered with The Motherhood, Champions for Kids and Walmart to provide donations for the organization of my choice but all opinions are my own.

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tyrant, child, stubborn, disciplining an obstinant child

My daughter has metamorphosed from a sweet, loving child into a tyrant who rules with a iron fist and a sadistic sense of humor. It feels as if she’s made it her mission to frustrate me to the point of submission. I have to admit, she’s getting close this morning.

I was all set to write my post about this upcoming year…my resolutions. I have them plenty, only mine aren’t resolutions they are revolutions. Nope, no empty threats, just promises to myself to do and be better. I had it all worked out in my mind only I can’t write that post today because I’m laying here on my bed contemplating the meaning of it all. This, my friends, is what happens when you are taken emotionally hostage by a tiny tyrant whom you happen to love unconditionally.

Look, I’ve never been the mom who could say, suck it up and rub some dirt on it and move on. I’m the mom who gasps and kisses booboos, even when it’s not my kid who got hurt. My mommy heart is just too damn big for my own good. My daughters know this.

Sure, I come off like a cold-hearted twat sometimes but I’m not. Not even a little bit, especially when it comes to little people. That’s my soft spot and when they are my own, well, that’s my fucking kryptonite and they know that.

This morning, my littlest one made it her mission to do my head in. There is no other possible explanation for it. You see, my eldest has entered the tween years and is emotional, hormonal and has perfected the eye roll to my dismay. I expect this and I have developed a tolerance as to not lose my mind. We’ve been having long discussions about hormones and puberty and why it’s necessary to wash your face every single day, especially since your dad suffered from acne. She half gets the message. All I can do is offer advice, give her a facial cleaning system and be there, astringent in hand, when the shit hits the fan.

However, when the 8-year-old gets a full on, honest to God pimple on her chin and literally freaks the fuck out, I have no idea what to do. I tried rationale but let’s be honest, you can’t be rational with an 8-year-old with a white head about to burst. She worked herself into such a tizzy that yesterday, I kept her home because she had diarrhea. I know TMI but I honestly, thought the kid had the stomach flu. Not until last night when she came to me with tears in her eyes asking if I could cover up the pimple and told me that her stomach issues were caused by her nerves did I realize the weight of that damn pimple.

I spent yesterday coddling and reassuring her that it’s no big deal and I would help her clean her face and astringent the damn thing to death. I felt bad for her. I know the frustration that comes with pimples and a body that you have no control over. I was understanding and nurturing. I was going to smother that pimple in love and self-confidence if it killed us both. Hell, I even let the little one climb into my bed when she told me she was nervous and her stomach was bothering her at bedtime. However, that was yesterday. This morning was a different story.

In the place where my child who wanted pity and coddling stood yesterday was a defiant, mean spirited tyrant this morning. She woke up tired, because she stayed up too late explaining her stomachache and pimple woes last night. She didn’t want to get out of bed. Finally she got ready. Argued over breakfast. Went to the bathroom, where she proceeded, not to use the bathroom. Cried as I covered up the pimple as she had asked and just when it was completely invisible, she grabbed a tissue and yelled at me that it wasn’t working and smudged the whole thing.

Then she told me that I don’t care about her because if I did I wouldn’t send her to school where she very well might “poop” herself or throw up in mass. I email the teacher to make her aware that my daughter may or may not poop or throw up during mass, either way, please call me to pick her up if she does so and for the love of God, if the kid says she has to go to the toilet…this is not a drill. Heed my warning, woman. What kind of monster am I? (Probably the kind who hasn’t been alone in 3 weeks.)

Meanwhile, I go on feeding her sister and brushing hair, all the while the littlest is dragging her feet and making us late and absolutely refusing to eat. I can do no right. Every single thing I do, including taking breath is annoying her. I wasted so much time trying to cajole her into gear that I have to get myself ready in 1 minute. It’s okay; I have no intention of ever leaving my vehicle. Finally, we head out the door with 4 minutes to get to school that is a minimum of 5 minutes away. She’s fidgeting and sighing exasperation at a deafening tone. I ignore it as I tell myself, this too shall pass.

We get to school and she refuses to kiss me goodbye. Oh the defiance is strong with this one. You know when you’re a child and you piss your mom off and she curses you by saying those fateful words, “I hope you have one just like you when you grow up?” Well, my mom was good at it because I got a Mega mini me on steroids; big heart, big mouth and more stubborn than any mule who has ever lived. It will serve her well in the real world someday but it’s slowly driving me insane.

After all this, in the middle of my daily prayer for them to survive their school day, she walks back to the car and tells me that she’s going to be sick. I offer to walk her in. She refuses and walks away, only to instantly turn around and say, “Are you coming or what?” I jump out of my car, looking like a homeless person (who wasn’t expecting to be seen in public) as I have to chase her down in my boot cast (because I just had surgery a week ago and am back in the boot). She stays at least 15 feet ahead of me all the way into the building.

Finally, I hobble into her classroom, looking even crazier with sweat and explain the possible shit situation to her delightful teacher who looks at me like I might need some lithium in my life. I then walk over to my daughter to confirm that I have, in fact, made the teacher aware of the situation and there will be no shitting or vomiting on herself on my watch to which she responds by giving me the side eye as she maintains her 15-foot buffer and mutters, “Whatever!” I catch up and kiss her goodbye just to show her whose boss.

Just to make the morning even more magnificent than being caught in public wearing leggings as pants and looking like a homeless person covered in sweat and frustration, I was greeted while exiting the building by the annoyingly good looking 20-something year old vice principal who I serve on the school board with. I thought parenting was supposed to get easier as our children got older so why am I feeling like I’ve just been water boarded by a tiny tyrant with a pimple on her chin and a really terrible, no good, very bad Napoleon complex?

If this tyrant attitude is hanging around for the teen years, I may not survive.

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spark goodness, random acts of kindness, teaching kids to be kind, how to raise kind children

Disclosure: Sponsored by author T.A. Barron and the Spark Goodness Program.

How do you teach your kids to be good people? Sounds simple, right? We think its innate but really, we lead by example. It’s not something you learn just from being told to do so. The way it makes you feel also is not something you can explain. It’s like childbirth in that way. The only way to experience it is to do it and to feel it wash over you like a warm rain shower in the summertime. It feels special, beautiful and fulfilling.

I’ve always told my girls that you get out of the world what you put into it. This is something my parents taught me. Life is not about collecting all the things. It is about living a life that is meaningful, intentional and purposeful and at the end of the day, it’s about being the kind of person that you’d like to encounter in the world.

READ ALSO: The Starbucks Effect

It’s summertime and the girls have had a definite lull in their schedule compared to the school year. They are required to do service work throughout the year for school. This is something they have always done. Aside from that, they’ve always seen me volunteer my time, money and experience for many different causes that I support. I do this because I believe in it and I love actively raising awareness. It gives me purpose. It makes me feel fulfilled. I want this for my girls too.

The world is what we make of it. We have to be active participants. Waiting for life to happen to you is not very fulfilling. I want my girls to know that sparking goodness does not have to mean giant, sweeping declarations of righteousness because, honestly, the idea of creating these grand gestures can be quite intimidating and daunting. I’m showing my girls that all it takes is a spark of goodness to ignite a raging fire.

Each act of kindness we perform has ripples and they reverberate and touch everyone around. Maybe it’s nothing more than grabbing an item at the grocery store from the top shelf for an elderly woman. It takes a second but she won’t forget that kindness. Though it was a second of your time, it might have meant everything to an elderly woman struggling to get her green beans. This causes her to smile and it makes her day brighter, her disposition sunnier and that is contagious.

READ ALSO: Random Acts of Kindness

My daughters see these acts every day. They’ve seen my husband buy meals for homeless people many times. They’ve seen us help our elderly neighbors, take meals to sick friends, give clothing to the homeless shelter or friends who could use them. They’ve seen me raise 10000 for Leukemia and Lymphoma. They know that every act of kindness matters.

I see, when they think I’m not looking, holding the door for people. Helping the elderly at the stores. Donating their allowance to special causes. Volunteering their free time which they don’t have much of to begin with. I am proud that they have made this a priority in their lives. I hope they never forget that every small act reaches many lives.

This year, T.A. Barron, well known for his philanthropy and creator of the popular Merlin book series that is currently being made into a film by Disney, wants to help influence children to find their inner hero.

To support this dream of creating more light in the world, he came up with the #SparkGoodness campaign that encourages individuals to bring good and light into the world. He even provided a list of ways families can spark goodness in their own communities.

spark goodness, random acts of kindness, teaching kids to be kind, how to raise kind children

Those that share are highlighted via his social media feeds and entered to win a monthly prize as well as a grand prize at the end of the year. T.A. Barron even provided an easy sheet to track all of your families sparks of goodness this summer.

spark goodness, random acts of kindness, teaching kids to be kind, how to raise kind childrenEven though sparking goodness is its own reward, I’d love to encourage you and your families to enter T.A. Barron’s year long #SparkGoodness contest. Those that share are highlighted via his social media feeds and entered to win a monthly prize, as well as a grand prize at the end of the year. The July prize is a set of family yard games valued at over $ 200!

How do you inspire your children to commit sparks of goodness and rand acts of kindness?

 

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Niagara water, parenting

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if the world was peaceful and there were no wars, no hate, no starving children, no displaced and homeless people? What if there was no poverty, racism or bigotry in the world? What if the world was filled with people who loved people equally no matter the color of their skin, their politics or their religion? What if we could all see past the superficial and get to know our neighbors for who they are and not what they are? Isn’t that a refreshing thought?

The world is a crazy place. It feels like it’s gone completely wild (and not in a good way) and maybe just a little off the rails. Every day, the news is filled with one horrible act after another, each one worse and more gruesome than the last. I want more for the world that I’m raising my daughters in. I don’t want our generation’s legacy to be one of death and destruction so I’ve made my mind up to change it.

I know that a lot of people say that they can’t make a difference because they are only one person but every person counts; each one as equally as the last. In my world that starts with me standing up, being the change and being the example for my children. They are always watching and I want to be my best self for them because that’s what they deserve and that’s who I want to be. I’m not perfect and I don’t pretend to be but I want my children to see me actively working to be a good person and the best version of myself.

I’m teaching my children to spread love not hate and to embrace, seek out and spread positivity. I know that it sounds almost too simple, right? But honestly, it is the truest thing I’ve ever known. It starts with me teaching them to love and accept themselves and it ends with them knowing that I am always here for them; no matter how old they may be or how badly they may think they’ve messed up. My love for them is unconditional and everlasting and I hope this allows them the freedom to always follow their heart and do the right thing.

My goal is simple; to raise good, tolerant, loving and accepting human beings. I’m raising daughters who strive to be the best them that they can be and to not compare themselves to others because that only leads to jealousy and bitterness. It also leads to feelings of less than and dissatisfaction with one’s self. I don’t expect perfection. I expect them to work hard at what’s important to them and try to reach their goals. The real living happens on the journey not the destination.

We parent focusing on a few very important virtues 1)honesty 2)integrity 3)respect 4) to know that where there’s a will there is always a way and by far the most important, 5) you cannot control other people’s reactions, only your own actions so do good and don’t worry about whether someone else chooses to appreciate it or not. Life is so much better when we accept people for who they are and not who we want them to be. Life is not a competition and no one is keeping score. I want my girls to take the high road, no matter the road others choose because they can’t control others but they can control how they behave and move through this world.

I’m not saying that I am raising my daughters to be people pleasers, there couldn’t be anything further from the truth. I am just raising them to please themselves and to let others live their own lives. We can’t please everyone, nor should we even try but we can choose to be a source of positivity and optimism rather than a source of sadness. We can choose to go high when the world goes low.

Speaking of being a positive and inspirational force in this world, I have partnered with Niagara Water, the brand that takes pride in being about “Water Not Hype”, to share with you their Refreshing Thoughts Sweepstakes.

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karma,Starbucks, starbucks effect, random acts of kindness,kindness

Have you ever heard of the Starbucks effect?

I’m not referring to the theory that Starbucks will boost the price of your home, but that is a thing. I’m talking about the kindness of strangers.

“Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you,” it’s the Golden rule. I’ve heard it since I was a little child. It boils down to this… put out into the world what you want to get back. It’s karma for those so inclined.

In my 20’s I was self-centered, everything was about me. When I got married, I had my first experience of occasionally putting someone else’s needs and wants before my own. Then I had children and putting others before myself has become my full-time job.

Over the years, I’ve found myself doing more good but still that selfish little voice in my head kept asking, “When’s it my turn? When will someone do something nice for me?” I just sort of got tired of always giving of myself. Now that I think of it, I wasn’t giving so much as having it taken. I did nice things because I felt it was expected.

Then my perspective of the world changed, we moved to Chesterfield, VA and I was on the receiving end of several random acts of kindness from complete strangers. These women changed my perception of the world. For the first time, aside from my parents, someone was doing something kind for me with absolutely no expectation. It was so out of my ordinary that at first, I was suspicious. What did they really want?

I decided, then and there, that while I cannot control how someone else responds or reacts to my kindness or goodwill, I would live by the good rule because I’m responsible for my behavior. I can put all the good I want into the world but I had to let go of my expectation that the others would reciprocate, care or even appreciate my act.

Then, I had an epiphany. Who cares if they don’t appreciate it? I feel good when I do good so I’m doing good. I let go of the whole idea of putting good out there so good would come back to me and then it did.

I believe that our simple acts of kindness that we do throughout the day, they cause ripples and eventually we get caught in the tide of our own ripples so next time you find yourself deciding whether you should take an extra second to hold the door for a stranger, smile back at someone for no reason at all, give a dollar to a homeless person or share on an opportunity or helpful advice with someone who you think might be a good fit or need it, just do it. Don’t over think it. You can’t control what others do with the gifts you give but you can take joy in knowing you cared enough to give the gift and tried to help someone else.

I know everyone says this and I know many of us don’t immediately see the effects of our good deeds and that may leave you wondering, why bother? Let me tell you a little story.

I once received a cup of coffee in one of those Starbucks lines, when the person ahead of me paid for my latte. It was the first time this had ever happened to me and I had no idea this was a “thing” or that there was a “protocol”, so I took my latte, said thank you and was happy for the rest of the day. The more I thought of it, I realized that I should have paid it forward and bought the person’s behind me. It was what was probably expected.

Last week, I finally paid it forward. I ordered my Oprah Chia Latte, pulled up to pay and then said, “ I’d like to pay for the person behind me too!” Then I looked in my rearview mirror, and saw it was another mom. She looked exhausted and I saw myself in her. I pulled away feeling good. I felt good for rest of my day and it only cost me $4.50. I mean, who knew happiness was so damn cheap? I’m hoping that my simple gesture brightened her day, at the very least I saved her $5.00, right?

The thing is last week I got 3 new freelance jobs and scheduled an interview for another job. Maybe it was coincidence but I’d like to think that my little ripple has caught me in its tide. I put out into the world what I wanted so, guess what I did this morning (what I will be doing every Monday morning)? I bought another person a cup of coffee and I saw her smile in my rearview mirror when she pulled up to the window and she didn’t have to pay and THAT made my day. If I can brighten someone else’s day by such a simple gesture, why wouldn’t I do it every single time I can?

What random acts of kindness do you do when no one is looking?

I get that buying Starbucks for someone won’t change the world,  but it might change someone’s day and that’s enough reason for me.

 

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American, dentist, Walter Palmer, Cecil the Lion, Zimbabwe

Have you seen this photo of Walter Palmer, the dentist from Minnesota who murdered Cecil the Lion,  perched proudly above the remains of a dead lion? It proves that Walter Palmer has no respect for life.

There are bad people in the world that’s not a secret. I’ve always leaned more towards the crunchy, tree-hugging and animal loving side  of life philosophies. On most days, I prefer animals to people because most people suffer from some degree of hubris and I find that to be a most unattractive quality in humans. But on days like today, I’m reminded why maybe being at the top of the food chain doesn’t make you more evolved but more capable of doing wrong; damn walking upright and opposable thumbs. I’m talking specifically about the story of Cecil the Lion and the arrogant dentist from Minnesota.

Have you ever seen the hostel series? This is the vibe I get from this entire situation. Lesson number 1, Americans travel the world and act like assholes. This is our Achilles heel. We travel and think the entire world should bend to our will. We don’t learn the languages, we don’t respect the culture or the people and we basically think we can walk in there and own the place. This arrogance makes us vulnerable to all sorts of wrongdoing.

Walter Palmer is a big game hunter. He says he secured all the appropriate licenses and jumped through all the big game hoops that were dictated by regulations. Yet, the lion in question was lured off of a reserve at night (I don’t know maybe that’s when you hunt Lions?) when he was clearly in the national park and wearing a collar, which means he was not only protected he was being studied. In fact, not only was he being studied, he was the most famous of all the lions in Zimbabwe. But Americans, we can’t be held to the rules of native countries we are above these savages, besides he had money and if there is anything we are taught in the United States it is that everything has it’s price. He’s not the first person to think he’s above the law and he won’t be the last when it comes to murdering helpless animals.

And we wonder why the entire world hates us. It’s because we are a bunch of assholes. I see this all a little differently because while I am American, I have traveled outside the U.S. as a child with a native to another country and I was force learned to respect other countries; their languages, their people and their culture. I was not taught to travel and expect the world to bow to me. I was taught when in Rome (or Mexico in my case) behave as if in Rome, not as if you are in America because you’re not.

This dentist went to Africa, paid some people, greased some palms and had his hunt. He didn’t care how forbidden or illegal it was. He can backtrack all he wants now but why lure the lion off the reserve unless it was to do something illegal. He wanted the full experience of the hunt; the thrill of wounding, tracking and ultimately killing and desecrating the animal. He wanted his photo taken with the slain carcass and the head mounted on the wall. He didn’t give a damn about the law. He wanted to satisfy some desire in him to say he killed the beast.

American, dentist, James Palmer, Cecil the Lion, Zimbabwe

He was trying to get around the law because he has no respect for it and if the truth were truly known, I’d say the only thing he is sorry for is being caught and the financial repercussions he is suffering for this bad behavior.

I don’t know about you but I think Walter Palmer should be extradited to Africa and made to serve jail time, not just issued a fine because he has not only disrespected the animal itself, he has disrespected the law and the country. I feel like he thinks he is above the law. He needs to be shown that he is not.

If this bad behavior is tolerated, what’s next on his list? Hunting humans? The thrill of the hunt will grow and what happens when there are no more animals to be hunted? He will want something bigger, smarter and more of a challenge. Maybe next he will pay the right people to let him murder a homeless man in some obscure country where he thinks no one will notice. Maybe he already has.

What are your thoughts about Walter Palmer murdering Cecil the Lion?

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