Random Acts of Kindness

The holiday season is upon us.  Rather than adding to your wish list, or stressing over the trappings of the season; find your joy by doing random acts of kindness.

Random acts of kindness are selfless acts of kindness directed at complete strangers, with the sole intent of spreading love and kindness.  There is no better way to celebrate the joy of the holidays.

Below is a list of easy and fulfilling random acts of kindness.  Give them a try and see how they improve your holiday season.  You might just want to make them a part of your everyday life.

  1. Buy a stranger’s coffee.
  2. Leave some change in a vending machine, so that someone can get a free drink.
  3. Take some homemade treats to nurses, firefighters, teachers, or cops in your community to thank them for all they do.
  4. Leave a big tip for a waiter or waitress in need.
  5. Make treats and put them in the mailbox for the mailman.  Be sure to leave them a note, so they know the treats are for them.
  6. Take pet food, old blankets, and pet toys to your local shelter.
  7. Take flowers to a local hospital and have a nurse give them to a patient who needs to be cheered up.
  8. Donate food, books, toiletries, and warm clothing to the local homeless shelter.
  9. Do chores for a friend or family member.
  10. Adopt a deployed soldier and send him/her some much needed holiday cheer.  Here is the website:  http://www.adoptaussoldier.org/
  11. Give someone your place in line.
  12. Visit a nursing home.  Just talk to the residents, play board games with them, or get some friends together to sing Christmas carols and hand out Holiday cards.
  13. Give a hot drink to a Salvation Army bell ringer.
  14. Give a gift card to a stranger at the grocery store.  Any amount shows you care.
  15. Take classroom supplies to a teacher or two.  If you have Dr. Morton, then you know he always needs dry erase markers.
  16. Adopt an Angel from an Angel Tree.  Most of the time, these children aren’t asking for a lot.  I personally have adopted several angels over the year, and each time it cost me around $50.

Above all, this Holiday season and all year round, show kindness, compassion, and love for your fellow man.  Restore your faith in humanity by blessing strangers with random acts of kindness.

“Year of Yes”

“If you want crappy things to stop happening to you, then stop accepting crap and demand something more.” –Christina Yang, Grey’s Anatomy

The magnificent creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and executive producer to How to Get Away with Murder all share one thing in common…Shonda Rhimes. She has become a household name and is the super woman behind these hit television shows that own Thursday nights! Aside from being a producer, screenwriter, owning a production company ‘Shondaland,’ and being a mother to three girls, she is also the author of the book, ‘Year of Yes.’ When a person has that much going on it makes sense that Rhimes would say no to anything outside of writing for her Thursday night hits. Although Shonda is a busy woman that wasn’t the sole reason why she continued to turned down opportunities, but I’ll explain that a bit later.

Rhimes prefer to being behind the camera, why, because she’s a liar and she enjoys every second of it. Shonda Rhimes admits to the thrill of making things up in the opening of her book, “I’m a liar. And I don’t care who knows it. I make stuff up all the time.” Now before you freak out about that statement and boycott her shows, she gets paid to make stuff up…she writes for the shows that keeps her audience on the edge of their sofas every week. Now here’s the real reason Shonda use to skip out on opportunities, because she’s extremely shy! Rhimes explains in her book how much of an introvert she is, having panic attacks before television appearances, and saying ‘no’ to anything that involved her being the center of attention. Then on Thanksgiving Day 2013, Deloris, Shonda’s sister mumbled six simple words “you never say yes to anything.” Shonda, being the brilliant person that she is, decided to challenge herself and for one year said YES to everything that scared her.

“Year of Yes,” is a journey of how Shonda Rhimes transformed from saying “NO” to all things that scared her to saying “YES” to all things that scared her. That meant one day giving the commencement address to Dartmouth University in front of thousands upon thousands of people and even appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live, something that the old Shonda wouldn’t have done. I think this is a book that many people around the world could benefit from, because it challenges people to stop living life afraid of the unknown and to stop being comfortable in the place they are familiar with. As 2017, is slowly starting to come to a close this is the perfect time for those that want a change in their life to take on the “Year of Yes” challenge for 2018.

“New year, new me,” will be the statement that will be circulating around social media on January 1, 2018, so why not really mean it this time by doing something you’ve never done before? Do you feel like your life is a little stagnate, do you feel like you haven’t accomplished anything, still feel like you are the same person you were a year ago? If you answered yes to any of these it’s probably because you’ve been living your life in your little bubble that most called “a comfort zone.” A person’s comfort zone is a place that is familiar and nothing bad can come from it if a mistake happens. However, guess what, nothing extraordinary can happen from it either. So, with that being said I’m giving you a homework assignment, but don’t worry it’s not due until December 31, 2018.

I want you to go out and buy a notebook, and throughout the year write down every scary opportunity that is offered to you. Of course, you said yes to it because you’re participating in the “Year of Yes” challenge, right? Write down what was going through your mind when the opportunity presented itself and your experience after you completed it. At the end of the year reflect on what type of year 2018 was for you. I guaranteed it will be your most fulfilling year yet.
Good Luck!

Thor Ragnarok: Calm Before the Storm

Rated PG-13 for Intense Sequences of Sci-Fi Violence and Action, and Brief Suggestive Material

Thor Ragnarok represents the calm before the storm – the latest in the ever progressing Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), it works to answer lingering questions while setting the stage for the highly anticipated Infinity War films. Unfortunately, it isn’t much aside from that – Ragnarok tries to be some sort of 80’s film homage and succeeds, much to its detriment.

Underneath the highly appealing aesthetic, Ragnarok is chiefly concerned with Thor saving Asgard from, well, Ragnarok – the prophesied apocalypse he’s been receiving visions of since prior MCU films. The film moves full speed ahead to resolve this plot, quickly tossing aside plot points from The Dark World to make way for new dilemmas, such as whatever happened to the Hulk or to throw out there that the antagonist of Ragnarok is Thor’s heretofore unmentioned sister.

It isn’t as though the film is inherently bad – the fight scenes are nice to look at, the music adds to the energy of the film and the chemistry between characters (such as Thor and the Hulk, who can now speak) makes for great laughs. It’s more so that the only aspects of the plot that feel like they were thoughtfully done are those related to Infinity War and unfortunately, they’re the sort of things that make Ragnarok a required view for those fans of the MCU that want to keep up to date for it. But that Ragnarok seems so keen on doing away with old plot points for the sake of progressing the MCU makes me a little concerned that these portions of the movie will be just as simply discarded for the sake of Infinity War.

Thor Ragnarok – come for the Hulk, stay for the post-credits scene!

Dear Future Self

Dear Future Self,

The things that has happened in your past are permanent and there is nothing you can do about it. Stop dwelling on the things that can’t be changed! The only thing you can do now is too not make the same mistakes. You’ve pinned a lot of things to your bulletin board which is also your vision board, because Steve Harvey says that everyone should have one. I don’t know exactly where you’ll be in the next 10, 18, or 25 years but I hope you’re in place of peace and happiness in both your personal and career life. I mean, are you still going to Justin Bieber concerts, are you married, do you still have the same friends, did you ever go to grad school, did you ever purchase that all black jeep wrangler, and lastly did you ever find the courage to move out of Texas AKA the greatest state in America? I have so many questions, I hope someday you come back and read this and reflect on your current life. Right now, you’re a 23-year old college senior and is set to graduate in December 2017. I’m giving you some advice for the future, I know you’re stubborn but for once in your life just consider following at least one tip.

Here are the top ten things I would like to say to my future self.

1. Believe in Yourself: Remember why you got the word ‘believe’ tattooed on your wrist at 19-years old. Don’t ever forget this. Always believe in yourself and in your own abilities. During time of adversity is when you should trust yourself the most. Listen to your gut, everyone may not understand the decisions you make for yourself, that’s none of your business. You do what feels right. Because difficult roads can lead to an awesome destination.

2. You Belong: No matter what board room meeting you’re in, grad school, or television network you’re on, you belong to be there just as much as the person sitting next to you. You’re a hard worker and persevered through the tough times which is why you deserve a seat the table. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel less than. Trust me when I say there are going to be times when you feel like you’re not good enough and start doubting yourself, it is during those times that you must be your own super hero and not dwell on the things that are out of your control.

3. Don’t Compare Your Life to Other People: Okay, I want you to read this very carefully. ‘Don’t compare your life to other people.’ What you see on social media isn’t always a true reflection of a person’s life. According to Erving Goffman, a well-known sociologist that studied the self, describes social life to a performance. Goffman uses a theater type metaphor to explain how people present themselves. He pretty much says that we act different when we think we’re being watched “front stage” and is the complete opposite when we’re not being watched “back stage.” If you’ve ever been to a concert you know on stage everything is “perfect”, but backstage there it is probably a lot of chaos going on. What I’m trying to tell you is that everyone’s journey in life is different and the finish line is at a different place for us all. When the time is right for you to have something, you will have it. No matter what happens no one can stop something that was specially meant for you.

4. Try New Foods: You’ve been a picky eater your entire life. Still at 23-years old your go to food are cheeseburgers. Also, can you try to eating vegetables, I know they’re disgusting but they’re healthy for you and you want to live a long time. Also, start drinking more milk. I know you hate that too, but it’s good you. You don’t like trying new foods because you automatically think you’re not going to like it. Again, stop being a ‘know it all’ you won’t know until you try it. You won’t be young forever, so this fried food diet you have can’t last forever.

5. Accept the Word ‘NO’: Here’s another one that you might have to read a couple of times to fully process. On your way to success get used to hearing the word ‘NO.’ You’re going to be rejected from certain things a few times, that’s okay! One or a couple people’s ‘NO’ does not mean something wasn’t meant for you. At the time it might hurt, but eventually you’re going to have to get over it. You might not get accepted in grad school right away, or that television show you want to work for, guess what, it’s not the end of the world. All the ‘NO’s’ that you’re hearing only means you need more preparation for the thing you want. Keep working and when the time is right you’ll get it.

6. Travel, Travel, Travel: You’re young so travel at every chance you get. Stop waiting for other people to join you on the exciting excursion, if you have a place in mind that you want to visit to then go already. I think every good journalist should be multicultural. Go learn about all those places you’ve pinned to your visionboard, try the “weird” foods, and get used to being in unfamiliar places. Fill up an entire passport!

7. Do Things That Make You Happy: Through this journey called life don’t forget to enjoy yourself. Surround yourself with good people. No matter what your friends say you are really funny, even if you do tend to laugh at your own jokes. Although you’re not much of an outdoors person try to become one. Getting fresh air on the regular is an energy booster and will ultimately keep you in a good mood. Maybe you can go camping someday…maybe!

8. Relax: Right now, you don’t know what the future holds so you’re a little… well actually a lot anxious. Just Relax! Focus on the present moment, you’ll eventually get to your destination in due time. Everything will work out.

9. Outwork Everybody: This is a very important piece of advice. In anything you do be the first one there and the last to leave. Yes, they’re might be people smarter than you or even more experienced than you are. However, the thing that will set you apart from everyone else is your work ethic. This world is competitive, if you want a seat at the table you have to fight for it. The thing that is going to get you to the top is perseverance. I remember hearing former first lady Michelle Obama say, “You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is your biggest advantage.

10. Go to Every Justin Bieber Concert: I know I was wondering whether or not you’re still obsessing over JB, but let’s be real here you’re still seeing him in concert every chance you get! He’s a talented guy, I just don’t understand why so many people find him annoying. Now the real question is, how you are going to meet him?

So, there you go future self. You’re probably reading this with the biggest smile on your face because in deed everything worked out! I know it’s easier said than done, but current you can stop being so anxious about the future.

Now I would like to hear from you, what advice would you give your future self? Don’t forget to post your advice in the comment section below.

Kids Will Be Kids?

A group of teenagers were charged with second-degree murder after a 6-pound rock was thrown off an overpass and killed a man on October 18. Kenneth White, 32, was a passenger in a van driving south on I-75 in Vienna Township Michigan when a rock smashed through the windshield and struck his head and face. The teenagers, aged 15-17, are each charged with one count of second degree murder. They are also charged with conspiracy to commit murder, six counts each of malicious destruction of property, and two lesser charges.

The group reportedly threw about 20 rocks and a tire off two overpasses that night before eating at McDonald’s. The heaviest rock thrown was 20 pounds and four other cars pulled over after receiving damage. What may have started as an inconsiderate prank has turned into tragedy for a family and an inconvenience for the people who now must get their cars repaired.

When does a prank become serious? When should kids and teens who commit illegal acts be held responsible? When I was in high school, I went to the movies with a group of friends. When we walked out, I saw my car covered in flour. I had no idea why my car was the only one covered and could not think of a person who would do that. A classmate I was not close friends with had seen my school parking pass and decided to prank me. She claimed not to know it was my car, but I was livid. I drove home angry and told my mother, who suggested I call the police. Instead, I told her it was just a prank. Had we called the police, the girl responsible could have been fined and face up to 30 days in jail.

The pranks we pulled on friends in school were not meant to hurt anyone’s feelings or damage property. If things went a little too far, we always took responsibility for our actions and tried to make the situation better.

In April 2015, 100 students at Sequoyah High School in Madisonville, Tennessee, were banned from graduation for a senior prank that took a very ugly turn. The first wave of students entered the building with balloons and glitter. Later that night, a second group arrived that did the most damage. The students let crickets and chickens loose in the building, urinated on walls, and left a dead animal in the hallway amongst other damage. This prank was absolutely disgusting and extremely disrespectful. Not only did they vandalize property, but they left a mess they expected someone else to clean up. A janitor may have to clean up some awful messes, but cleaning up dead animals and wiping urine off the wall is a very big difference. There were marbles placed under hay in the doorways that could have caused serious injury. There were goldfish left in toilets and trash thrown on the floors.

The seniors were barred from participating in the graduation ceremony, but was that enough? Should they have been charged with vandalism? As a teenager, I didn’t think too much about pranks and tried to stay away from them as often as I could. While I was raised to be respectful of others, I still shrugged some pranks off as just silly games. It was not until I got older that I began to see them in a new light. What begins as a small and harmless prank can cause serious damage to another person. When you are in the moment, it is not always easy to see what could possibly go wrong in a situation. If kids and teens are held fully accountable at a young age, it can help prevent them from taking a human life for a few moments of fun.

Why Journalism?

In life, the billion-dollar question asked the most is, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” When the response is, “I don’t know” the look given isn’t always a pleasant one. The truth is for some it takes changing your major a few times before figuring it out. Then there are those that have known since birth what their life would one day be. Fortunately, I am not that person. I say fortunately because, it’s okay that you don’t know exactly what it is that you want to do. It’s okay that you may not have your entire life figured out. For the ones that do have their entire life planned out isn’t always the happiest, those people probably have never really experienced life and the things that the world has to offer.

“Life is an adventure, not a packaged tour.” –Eckhart Tolle

As hard as it may be to live life the way you want, it is also the most rewarding. Living for other people and their opinions is the quickest way to failure. Trust me when I say not everyone is going to understand your career choice, that’s okay. It’s your life. Follow your passion and ignore the naysayers. There’s so many things I thought about pursuing before finally deciding that being a mass communication major was the best fit for me. I’m that person that can sit around old people and listen to what life was like when they were young. I’m not shy, but naturally I have always been one to listen more than I talked. I stayed curious about everything and was that person that enjoyed being in other people’s business and was called nosey. Now, my nosiness will one day pay off.

“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dream.” –Oprah Winfrey

If you’re reading this because you’re uncertain of what you want to do with your life, I’m here to tell you how I came across what I feel I was meant to do. As I’ve stated before, I’m not that person that have always known that this is what I would one day do. As I like to say, “I didn’t choose journalism, journalism chose me.” Ever since I was a young girl I thought I would one day grow up to be a dentist, why, I have no idea it just seems like an exciting job. That dream stuck with me until I was a freshman in high school in 2008. That same year Former President Barack Obama was elected as President of the United States of America, for so many it was a time of celebration and most importantly history was made. The first black president, how many people thought that would one day happen? I remember being so inspired that I just knew I would one-day go to college to study political science. So, from the time Mr. Obama was elected until about sophomore year of college I was a political science major. Clearly, that changed for me simply because politics were tougher than I thought. Although I didn’t choose politics for a career choice Obama inspired me in so many other ways.

“The future rewards those who press on. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain, I’m going to press on.” –Barack Obama

Then there was a period of time when I had no clue what to do with my life. I revisited the idea of becoming a dentist, I thought about being a nurse because that is what my mother wanted me to do. I thought about being an interior designer, a teacher, even some type of surgeon. Nothing was really jumping out at me, of what could really be my future career. Every now and again I remember watching these exclusive television specials on everyday people. Those stories would cover kids with a parent that was incarcerated, people living pay check to pay check, or young people abusing drugs. Things that are going on everyday but us as a society may not care too much about, because most can’t personally relate.

All the journalists that I admire all tell stories that means something. Journalist gives a voice to the voiceless and bring light to subjects that are meant to be swept under the rug. I once reached out to Lisa Ling, (journalist) on Instagram, not expecting her to respond. I asked her, “what advice would you give to future journalists,” she responded, “travel and keep writing.” I think traveling exposes a person to new cultures and the social norms in other places. To be able to write about it is telling a story that means something. My inspiration is people, because I’m constantly learning from them whether it’s my peers or strangers. It’s amazing how much you can learn about a person if you take the time out to have a simple conversation. With that being said, if any of you are unsure about what you want to do, don’t panic! It’ll come to you when you least expect it!

“There’s so much grey to every story-nothing is so black and white.” –Lisa Ling

Put a little love in your heart

With recent events, such as Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria, and the mass shooting in Las Vegas, it is hard to stay positive.  So many lives have been lost in all of this devastation.  The death toll for those four events alone, has reached more than 200.  How do we move on from such tragedy?  When the media mostly reports on horrific events and politics, how do we begin to see the world as good again?  There is far more good, than bad, in the world.  We simply must look for the positive.  Check out these examples of humanity at its finest, and put a little love in your heart.

When 4-year-old Sidney moved in to her new home in Colorado, she was certain there were monsters in her house.  She called on police officer, David Bonday, whom she met at a community fundraiser for help.  Bonday was happy to help put Sidney’s mind at ease. Check out the video below for more on this heartwarming story.

In Columbia, Maryland, grandmother Stacy Lee, was out shopping for a dress for her granddaughter.  Money was tight, and she couldn’t afford the dress.  The grandmother asked the shop owner to hold the dress.  When she did, a stranger walked up and offered to pay for the dress.  Lee said, “Thank you, but I cannot accept such a gracious gift.”  The stranger replied with a story.  She informed Lee that she was once homeless, and if it weren’t for the kindness of strangers, she would not have survived.  Since that time, the stranger’s situation had improved and she wanted to pay it forward, and the only payment she would accept in return was a heartfelt hug.

Lebanon, Connecticut resident, Donna Kachnowski’s 6-year-old grandson, lost his home to a fire in January 2006.  He lost everything, including his Christmas presents.  A classmate from his school had a birthday around that time and gave the boy all of her birthday presents.

Hallie Twomey of Auburn, Maine, lost her 20-year-old son to suicide in April 2010. She and her husband, John, donated CJ’s organs.  But Hallie felt she had to do more.  She made the decision to donate one of her kidneys to a stranger.  Hallie was proud of her decision, “Not only did I give life to someone else, but my life has changed as well.”

Collin Carlisle, owner of Collin’s Lawn Care Service, saw a post on the Facebook group, Texarkana Cheers and Jeers, complaining about a neighbor’s yard being overgrown.  According to the complaint, the neighbor had not mowed their lawn all year.  Collin decided to go cut the woman’s grass, free of charge.  The resident was not home at the time, but she took to social media to thank Collin and the countless others who offered to help her, “I just want to take a moment to thank every single person that reached out to me about helping me with my yard work, odds and ends around the house, and any other things you to offered to help with.”

These are just a few examples of the kindness that is still residing in this world.  Please keep all of these stories close to your heart.  I ask you all to spread compassion and love through random acts of kindness, and put a little love in your heart.