Monthly Archives: February 2013

President’s Day


In honor of President’s Day, I am quoting a story that I read by Jim Daly on “Focus on Family” .

It was first told by former presidential speechwriter and Wall Street Journal columnist, Peggy Noonan.

The Story of Frances Green

“Frances Green was an 83-year-old woman who lived in California. She lived in a bad neighborhood, and survived on Social Security. For eight years she had been sending perhaps a dollar a month to the Republican National Committee.

She did it because she loved Ronald Reagan.

One day in the mail she received a very nice fund-raising letter from the RNC as she was on their list from her tiny donations. It “invited” her to meet the President at the White House. Of course you had to be a donor of considerable size to rate that privilege. Frances Green didn’t notice that part. She assumed that the RNC was inviting her to meet President Reagan because of her faithful giving all these years.

Frances Green was thrilled. So she took every cent she had and purchased a four-day train ticket to Washington. She could not afford a room, so she slept in a seat in coach. She reached the White House on the appointed day and got in line with the tourists. She was refused entrance because her name was not on the list. 

Frances Green was confused and her spirits were crushed. Didn’t they understand that she had been invited? Fortunately, an executive from the Ford Motor Company was also standing in line, and got her story. He asked her to stay in town for a few days while he did what he could for her.

The executive spoke to some of Reagan’s staff, and the story was run up the chain of command to Reagan’s personal secretary, Kathy Osborne, who told the Old Man. Reagan said to bring her in, and they set the time.

The Ford executive gave Frances Green a tour of the White House, but was worried that she would never get to meet the President. Ed Meese had resigned that day, and the White House was a bit chaotic.

They stood outside the Oval Office as the National Security Council and various generals walked out. Reagan saw them standing there and motioned Ms. Greene inside.

He said: “Frances! Those darn computers, they fouled up again. If I’d have known you were coming I’d have come out there to get you myself.”

And he sat down with her and gave her time on that busy day.

And that says more about his character than anything else”.

Today, in honor of President’s Day, we should focus on our own character and how we can be a positive influence in the life of others.

“Find a Penny, Pick it Up”

pennies luck

I have decided that on my Facebook page,, I am going to try to write one RAK that people can do each day to spread kindness.  Easy things, that are really just meant to provide some happiness to others.  Today’s was, “Leave pennies around, heads up, to provide good luck to those who find them”.  Now, do I really think that finding a penny brings good luck, no, BUT, I always pick them up when I find one, and say the poem out loud:

Find a penny,

Pick it up,

All the day,

You’ll have good luck

Until today, though,  I  did not know that there was more to the poem:

Give it to a faithful friend,

Then your luck will NEVER end!

Even better!!  I love that part and now I can share my luck (wink, wink), with someone else.  Many people believe that finding a penny is considered good luck, but it is of course an old wives tale.  There are some variations to the tale, including the position of the penny when it is found.  Do you pick it up if it is tail side up?  I do not!!  I don’t need any bad luck – bring on the good please!!

I also read that when you find a penny you should thank God for your blessings because it does indeed read, “In God we trust,” so when you find a penny, you should trust that God has placed it in your way for a reason and thank him for your blessings at that moment!  Despite your beliefs, (or not), in God, it is still such a nice sentiment – and just the fact that a seemingly worthless little penny gives you an opportunity to think about what you are grateful for, makes it worth more than you could ever cash it in for!

I filled my pocket with a handful of pennies today and throughout the day, I have left them around as we ran errands with the boys.   Nowhere special, on a sidewalk, on the floor in a store, all over.  If that little penny gives someone an opportunity to feel lucky, or “pass on their luck” to someone else, then it did what I intended it to do.


Selfish vs Selfless


I began a class today, “Uncovering Your Own Pathways to Success”.  It is a 6 week coaching circle program where you “explore yourself and deepest passions and purpose”.  I thought that it would help me to become a better writer, but even after the first class,  I know that it is going to teach me so much more.  I am going to learn about myself.

The leader of the class is a my friend Tammy and something she said today really had an impact on me.  She told us, “selfishness is not a bad thing but actually something that can be very good”.  I have been thinking about this all day.   I have always thought of the word “selfish” with negative connotations.  I, like many, often think that people who are selfish are inconsiderate and only interested in their own pleasure.  Most of us are brought up to being told that we need to please others and to not hurt their feelings.

Selfish is defined as a person, action or motive, lacking consideration for others: concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure

Selfless is defined as concerned more with the needs of others than with one’s own.

Perhaps we have gone too far, promoting the idea that if we want to truly be good people, we need to be as selfless as possible.

Maybe there is some “give and take” with these two words. If you are too selfish you may lose friends, yet if you become too selfless you may not get what you deserve because you allowed others to take before you took what you needed for yourself.  Selfless does not have to mean making everyone else happy but rather it should be doing what is best for them.  Maybe this needs to start with ourselves.  If we do not take the time to do what we need in order to help ourselves, we are not doing what is best for us.

Tammy said that she believes we are all selfish – that even the choice to be selfless stems from a selfish place, either because you enjoy helping others, because it supports the image that you have of who you want to be, or because you get something out of it.  I never thought about it that way, but if that is correct, than I really am selfish, because all of the charitable things I do are not just because it  helps others and makes them happy, but because it makes me happy too.  Very happy!  The very act of selflessness has its own backhanded way of giving self gratification. Even if I am not receiving a personal thank you note, or something in return, I  know that I helped someone else in need, before I helped myself and that makes me feel so good!

So, although the two definitions seem to be quite opposite, perhaps they are really intertwined because it does not seem that you can be selfless without being a little bit selfish.  If you can find happiness by being a little bit selfish once in awhile, focusing on your own happiness, it will not only benefit you, but may even benefit those that you’re giving to.


kind to self

I am aware that I need to treat others kindly, but tend to forget that kindness needs to starts at home with myself.

I am always stressing being kind to others, but something I often overlook is being kind to myself, or just taking time for ME.   Usually, the last thing that I will focus on is doing something for myself.  Over the last two years, I have made sure that I made the time to get to my kickboxing class twice a week.  It is one hour twice a week, that is just for me.  I have even begun to lead a Sunday class, actually giving myself another hour each week for “me time”!  I know that I am no different than most people.  Unfortunately,  the first thing to “go” when we are overworked or stressed seems to be doting on ourselves.   My husband makes sure that I take this time, insisting that I get to those classes each night, knowing that I am in a much better mood after going and a better person because of it!

Today, I took a “Claire Day”.  There was no work due to President’s Weekend.  I started my day with a morning kickboxing class – something I never get to do, and wound up connecting with a friend I had not seen in awhile.  I had a manicure AND a pedicure and then got my hair cut, colored AND blown out…and all of this before 3 pm!!  My husband and I are enjoying a kid free evening tonight and going out to dinner, (we usually skip the Valentine’s Day crowds and celebrate on the weekend instead).  Seems a bit indulgent but is has certainly raised my spirits and given me the lift that I needed!!

We all need to remember to take time to recharge our own batteries because if we don’t remember to be kind to ourselves, we don’t have the energy, strength or spirit to treat the others with the kindness they too deserve.

A Different Kind of Love Story

rescue pet

On December 1, our family began a new chapter in our lives. We rescued a dog. A shih Tzu named Emmy Lou. She has a sad story but one that has turned into a love story for us.

In the beginning of November, we had just begun thinking seriously about getting a dog and told our ten-year-old son Drew that we would begin our search in the spring. Drew had been through a rough autumn. He was recovering from his second concussion in seven months and was having a difficult time bouncing back from this one. He was only attending school part time, was having major meltdowns and was just not his happy, fun, vibrant self. To pass the time, he began doing his own research on dogs. He came across a picture on the Internet of an adorable dog, named Emmy Lou. She was so cute that I told him she might be gone already. I decided to send an email to the shelter to ask about her. I got a reply a few days later that just said that all they could tell me via email was that she was still there but I should make a call to the shelter and find out more information.

We waited a week, and Drew continued to look at Emmy Lou’s picture on line. He even printed out a few copies, leaving them around the house for the rest of us to see. I called the next weekend and got some limited information about her. I was told that she was “an older dog” – probably about six years old and that she was a Shih Tzu. They told us that we should come out and visit her and even if Emmy Lou was not the dog for us, there were plenty of other dogs at the shelter that needed homes.

Since Drew was still not allowed to play sports, our weekends were free and we decided to drive to the shelter the following weekend. It was about an hour and a half away. There are shelters much closer to us, but this was where Emmy Lou was so we decided to trek out there and meet her.

We arrived at the shelter right as it opened. We walked through a maze of barking dogs. Some of them were huge! Some of them were scary! Drew and I were a little apprehensive and then he called out, “it’s her”. Sure enough, in a small cage, amongst all of these enormous, loud, dogs were two little dogs cowering together. The names on the cage read, “Emmy Lou” and “Fiona”. We found a volunteer and asked if we could see Emmy Lou. He took us into the doggie playroom to tell us about her first. We found out that she was much older than we had first been told. They assumed she was closer to eight or nine years old. We also found out that she was a puppy mill dog. She had been living in a cage for her entire life doing nothing other than breeding puppies. We were told that she had never been on a leash before they rescued her so she did not know how to walk with it, but was wee wee pad trained and might only use those. They doubted she would ever be a snugly dog.

Dave and I looked at each other knowing that this was not going to work for us. We had to give Drew a chance to see her though. Emmy Lou was brought to us. I held her first. Drew sat right by my side, talking softly to her the whole time. When they brought her to us she was trembling. As Drew continued to talk to her, she laid her head down on his lap and settled in. Dave and I looked at each other again, realizing that we had lost this battle. There was no way that we were going to be able to leave her there. We began to go through the adoption process.

After our referrals were called and we were approved to adopt, we waited for her as she was bathed and cleaned up. We went to pay for her and we were told that she was a purebred and the cost of adopting a purebred from the shelter was $250 but since Emmy Lou had been there for over two months, they were waiving the fee! It was as if it were meant to be.

We left carrying her since she did not know how to walk on a leash and we went to the pet store across the street to get her a little bed and some food. We drove home with her between Drew and me the entire way. At the shelter we were told that she would probably need a cage because that is what she knew best and might feel most comfortable in so we went to get one for her and we brought her home.

The first two days, she did not do much more than sleep and eat. She did seem more comfortable in her cage. We left out wee wee pads, and she used them. We tried the on the leash but she was clueless as to how to use it. Dave continued to try and she got better at it but still was not comfortable with it. Drew was determined to make her a snuggly dog and gave her love, hugs, kisses and his undivided attention. It was a long weekend but by Monday, she was walking on a leash and only going to the bathroom outside! Within the week, she was sleeping with us upstairs. It took awhile, but our older son DJ, who was not so sure about getting a dog, is now infatuated with her as well.

Drew and Emmy Lou adore each other and she looks for him at the end of the school day. Emmy is part of the family now. She seems to be most fond of Dave, who spends the most time with her. She is most comfortable laying on the couch between two of us. No matter where we are in the house, you will find Emmy in the same room.

Drew was intent on teaching her how to walk up and down the stairs, something she was very apprehensive doing on her own. For the first two months, we carried her up and down them. All of Drew’s hard work paid off, and just last week she mastered them. He is so proud of himself.

I suggest that everyone who is able to, go out and rescue an animal. We never imagined that we’d be taking in an older dog and never in our wildest dreams did we think we could fall in love with dog but she has become an integral part of our family filling a void that we never even knew was missing in the first place.

emmy lou with pink perfume



Today’s assignment for Random Acts of Kindness Week was “get in touch with an old friend”.  I thought about it during the day and decided there were a lot of people that I could get in touch with, but four of the most significant people I wanted to reach out to were my college roommates, Brooks, Mary Lynn, Debbie and Jen.  Until I began writing to them this evening. I did not realize just how much I missed them.  I was going to write each of them a personal note, but last minute, decided to send out one email with all of their names so that we could all respond to each other together.  It has been several years since all five of us have gotten together.  Mar, Deb and Brooks live in the Washington, DC area, which is where we went to school.  It has been so long that Jen and I have spoken that I am sad to say, although I think right now she is living in The Philippines, I am actually unsure where exactly she and her husband are living.  She has a glamorous, fascinating job in the foreign service and has lived all over the world.

In my email, I told them about what has been going on in  my life.  It made me realize just how long it has been since we have caught up with one another.  We share photos on facebook and we send holiday cards, but really, I was not sure how long it had been or how much I needed to share!  It actually made me a bit melancholy wondering where the time went.  Some of us have children, mine being the oldest yet I don’t even know if they realized he was in high school and that in my household, we are beginning to talk about college!!

Even so many years later, there are so many things that make me think about them.  I cannot eat a slice of white chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory without thinking of Mar and how we’d go there before our late night Astronomy class to share a piece for dinner!  Anytime I watch Forrest Gump, I get reminded of Jen, whenever Forrest pronounces his girlfriend Jenny’s name as, “Jenn I”.  The day I met Jen, she told me her name is “Jeni with an I”, so I would jokingly call her, “Jen-I” and now I always think of her when I hear him say it.  Deb was in many of my classes, as we were both education majors.  She had the most perfect handwriting of anyone I knew.  Just today, when I was writing my morning message for my class, I thought of her when I formed the letters of “Good Morning” and it looked like something she would have written!!  I have actually seen Brooks fairly recently.  She is in the NYC area often and this summer, I had the chance to meet up with her and catch up a bit.

As with any good friends, there are so many stories that I remember and just start to smile or laugh out loud.  Probably things, that would never be funny to anyone else, but can make me not only crack a smile, but often burst out laughing.

I cannot wait to hear back from all of them and see what is going on in their lives.  Often life just gets too busy and I find it hard to get it under control!  I am hoping to try to find the time to “slow it down” and take more opportunities to get in touch with my old friends.  Perhaps this year, we can have one of our mini reunions and just spend a long weekend together – just the five of us, reliving those days and just catching up with life.

Making the World a Kinder Place

kindness gift

Last night, I began to hand out “Smile Cards” in celebration of Random Acts of Kindness Week.  I shuffled the deck and told them that they could choose a card.  It looks like a regular deck of cards, with all of the typical suits.  The tasks begin at number one and are rather simple and they get more difficult as the number gets higher.  Each suit is a different color and represents a different category.

  • For people you know
  • For yourself
  • For our world
  • For those unknown

It started out with a lot of laughter after my kickboxing class as I had each of the women choose one WITHOUT looking.  Some of cards just don’t work for  everyone, so I let them put it  back and choose another if it was not appropriate for them.  It seemed a little silly at first, but as they chose cards that had significance to them, it became more meaningful.  We all got a good laugh from the first one chosen, which was in the category, “for our world” and was  “hug a tree in public and inspire others to do the same”.  Not that any of us don’t respect our planet, but it just was not feasible or realistic with a foot of snow on the ground right now in the freezing weather.   One of them chose the card, “Call a mentor to say ‘thank you'”.  She loved that one and was happy to have a reason to do it.  Each of the women chose a card that inspired them and will try to act on it this week.

At school this morning, I shared the cards with teachers and staff as well.  Here are some of the favorites.  Perhaps you could try a few of these too!!

  • Connect two friends who had not previously met each other
  • Help someone with a chore unexpectedly
  • Create five cards with positive messages and leave them in a coffee shop for someone to discover
  • Donate your favorite book to a library with a note inside why you love it
  • Get in touch with an old friend who you’d like to reconnect with
  • Strike up a conversation with an elderly person
  • Leave a snack for an unsuspecting co-worker

When you do an act of kindness, someone else will be inspired to do the same, keeping the kindness chain alive.  If you would like a directive, I will be happy to pass along some of the ideas from the cards.  If you have some of your own that you’d like to share, post them as well.  The more kindness shared, the more power we have to make the world a kinder place.

Random Acts of Kindness Week

RAK rain

Today is the start of Random Acts of Kindness Week.  Coincidentally, I was a part of a few RAK’s today.  When I arrived at work today, our custodian, a woman named Stephanie, was outside all by herself shoveling and salting the sidewalks to make it safe for the students and teachers.  Later in the day, when I saw her, I thanked her for doing it.  She told me that I was the only person who had said anything to her about it and it made her so happy to know that at least someone took notice.  Later in the day, a fellow teacher at my school gave me a beautiful mug today with the words, “Kindness Matters” written inside.  She said she thought of me when she saw it.   When I arrived home, in the mail were “SMILE CARDS” waiting for me along with a note saying, “May this help you spread kindness in many ways”.  It is a deck of cards with ways to spread kindness written on each one.  They can be used by just me, or I can let others choose one and let them do the RAK.  I got the cards from  Their mission is to to spread anonymous kindness and tag others so they can go ahead and do the same.

Seemed so ironic that so much happened on the first day of RAK Week.  I got some suggestions from with some easy things you can do this week to promote and spread it:

Monday, Feb 11—Smile at 10 strangers.

Tuesday, Feb 12—Buy something for the person in the line behind you.

Wednesday, Feb 13—Reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while.

Thursday, Feb 14—Bring a treat to a neighbor or your co-workers.

Friday, Feb 15—Donate your time or money to a local charity.

Saturday, Feb 16—Cook a healthy meal.

Sunday, Feb 17—Let someone go in front of you in line.

All of these are easy to do!  They don’t have to cost much, if anything at all.  If you can’t do them all, choose two or three.  It does wonders, not only because of the way it makes others feel, but because of how wonderful it makes YOU feel.

Fresh Air Fund

a little goodness tutu

Today I received an email from a friend about “The Fresh Air Fund“.   The Fresh Air Fund, is a not-for-profit agency, that has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.7 million New York City children from low-income communities.  In her email she said that she was making her annual pitch for folks to consider hosting a child this summer. It is her family’s  third year hosting and she highly recommends it.

From her email I learned that the children are from the 5 boroughs of NYC and you agree to host them for a 7, 10, or 14 day time period.  During that time, the child lives with you and does whatever you and your family are doing during that time.  If your own kids are with a babysitter during the day, these children can be too. If your own kids go to camp, they can go too.  She said that some programs even generously let them tag along for free!  The kids are very excited to have a new summer experience and access to yards and parks.  I also learned that you don’t even need to have a child in your home to host! The kids range in age from 6 years old to teenagers and you can request a boy or a girl and specify what age would be the best fit for your family.

She sent along a link to a very touching Youtube video that you might like to watch.  It features a speech by Brandon Mendoza, a Fresh Air Fund child who speaks of what the program meant for him growing up. .

If you aren’t able to host a child, there are many other ways that you can help support this program.  I have added a link to their website,

Financially right now, my family will be unable to actually have a child live with us.  It is something that I have thought about doing for a few years now though.  Hopefully, I will be able to help out in other ways and in the future, I can have a child come and stay with us and have an opportunity that they might not have gotten to experience otherwise.

Be a Good Sport


I have written about hockey and the fighting once before but I need to reiterate how much the fighting and unruliness bothers me at games.  Don’t get me wrong, it is my absolute favorite sport to watch and to me, there is nothing more exciting than watching live hockey!  Seriously, if they don’t start regulating more, they should just start calling it The UFC instead of The NH.  I don’t go to a hockey game for the fighting but I know there are many fans who go just for that!  No other major league allows fighting like The NHL does.  In most sports, when a brawl does ensue, the referees jump in and pull it apart.  In The NHL, the refs stand back and let them fight it out for awhile before attempting to break it up.  Today’s game, had just one fight.  Lots of shoving and pushing but only one fight that called for penalties on the players.  Not too bad but lately, I am embarrassed to be a fan though.  I have been to games at other arenas and this happens everywhere.  When players on the opposing team are announced before the game, the fans yell out, “you suck”.  When a goal is scored, the fans stand up and cheer to a song, (Gary Glitter’s Rock and Roll Anthem), and all call out “Hey, you suck” as they cheer for their own team yet heckle the opponent.  I cannot remain standing.  I won’t say it and I don’t allow my kids to either, though I know that I can not control what they do when I am not there.  I am uncomfortable being a part of it.  Adults, kids women, men, all around chant it.   The swearing at games amazes me as well.  Today, a man in front of me, was sitting with a young  boy about eight or nine years old.  The referee made a call that this man obviously did not agree with. He stood up, screamed the “f word” and made a gesture that meant the same thing.  All right in front of his kid!  I don’t know how we can change these attitudes.  No one is noticing me, as I sit down, refusing to join in on the cheers and jeers.  My silent protest won’t change it.  I am not going to make a change by myself, there are nearly 20,000 people at a game.  I think about it at every game, but have yet to thought of a solution.  It cannot happen by myself.

Learning how to interact with others in sports whether you win or lose, is an important part of sportsmanship.  This is something we all try to teach our children.  In my Kindergarten, we play lots of math games and interactive games.  They know that when the game is over, they have to shake their opponents hand and say, “good game”.  We can not always be winners, but at least we can learn to be gracious losers.  One thing I always mention to my students’ parents at back to school night, is to play games with their children and let them LOSE!  They are in class with 21 other children and will not be able to win all of the time.

It is not always negativity that I witness at games.  Today in fact, I witnessed a really nice chain of kindness.  A woman was walking down the steps to her seat with her hands filled with food that she had just purchased.  One of the beers, in a plastic bottle, fell off her tray and hit the cement stairs hard.  It exploded like a champagne bottle, soaking the woman sitting to her right.  The woman who dropped it was mortified and stood there not knowing what to do first.  I offered to take the food to her seats for her, as she tried to help the woman now covered in beer.  The woman covered in beer did not get upset, and instead calmed her down and said not to worry because she knew it was an accident.  The woman behind her, grabbed the bottle from the stairs, that was still pouring out and started to help clean up the mess.  As all of this was going on, another fan, got up and got an usher to call for someone to help with the clean up.  Nothing huge.  Just something that proved to me that despite all the negative cheering, booing and name calling, these people still offered to lend a helping hand and do the right thing.  No harsh words for this woman.  Just sympathetic looks, (knowing she just spilled a ten dollar beer), and silent gestures as they tried to help her without making it into a big deal.