Monday, July 30, 2012

The Volunteer Who Waited...and Wasn't Disappointed

It's all good...


By Richard Kent Matthews


Early last year, around February 2011, I applied to volunteer at a local agency doing counseling work with senior citizens. During the training, I discovered that the 'team' I was going to be working with didn't exactly take to me for some reason. Oh, well, I thought. I'm not really here for them anyway. I'm here to serve.


But I still had a negative feeling about the whole training experience.


During the last couple of days of the training, I made the decision not to work with the organization. Before I could exit, though, the leader of the training called me aside and said that I didn't fit in and they wouldn't be asking me to continue with them.


To be very blunt and honest, I was taken aback and even a bit offended! Ha! They beat me to the punch.


Later, as I rehashed the whole process in my mind, I realized my personal response was a bit childish. I made the decision to just let it go.


The sad part was, I really wanted to volunteer with the organization. I felt a sense of loss. But I put it out of my mind and went on to other things.


Forward to today, July 30, 2012.


I received an email from a Craigslist volunteer opportunity I'd inquired about. The sender asked me if I was the same Richard who had volunteered for the counseling position last year. I was hesitant to say yes, thinking that they were probably not going to ask me to interview since they most likely had talked to the trainer. But I went ahead and sent an email, telling them that I was indeed the same person.


Just a few minutes ago, I received an email from one of my 'buddies' (whom I had lightly bonded with while doing the training) who now works at the organization, containing these words:


"Hi, there...

It took a while for it to come up, but I thought that might be you!  [The trainer and her assistant], the temp office help she had for a year, both quit last year around the end of July and middle of August.  Since then we have a new program manager..., and I’m doing the office work stuff as a part-time job...  

[The volunteer coordinator] is the person who’s most involved with the [position you inquired about].  I’ll send her your name and email.  There are more of these being done each year, and the people who specifically volunteered and trained to be Senior...Counselors are mostly not so interested in this part, and overburdened by them.

This is a first for us, to be offering a volunteer opportunity that’s not the Senior...Counseling.  It might wind up being a good fit [for you]."

She closed with enthusiasm and encouragement. 

Turns out, right now is a much better time for me to be applying to this particular organization. Last year would not really have worked.

We love to plan. We love to set goals. And good for us. Sometimes, though, when we let go and step back, we will experience the Universe moving on our behalf in significant and jubilant ways. 

Over the years I have learned to do more stepping back. And the Universe just keeps sending the goodies my way.

I am grateful.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Second Chance: If You Could Do It All Again, Would You Change Anything?




Once more, with gusto!


I like surveys. So this one really caught my attention.

A survey of 200 people over 60, taken not too long ago, asked this question:

If you were given the opportunity to live your life over, knowing what you know now, what would you do differently the second time around?


The answers were telling, indeed, but not all that surprising. Only a very small percentage said they would do it exactly the same. But the larger part of the participants answered in these ways, not necessarily in order of importance to the individuals:
I would...

  • Take time to find out what I really wanted to do with my life and live my dreams. (Many thought they had not found their true purpose.)
  • Take more risks. (Some even said that 'playing it safe' had been a cop-out.)
  • Lighten up; laugh more. (Taking everything so seriously has taken its toll, they said.)
  • Be more patient. (Turns out, they would have gotten to where they were going anyway so why be so agitated?)
  • Be more open to others, less prejudiced and fearful. (They've learned that everyone is valuable.)
  • Live more in the present moment. (Worrying about the future was one of the biggies!)
  • Be more compassionate to others and to myself. (Many were acutely aware of the pain they had caused others as well as themselves.)

Bonnie Pruden wrote, "You can't turn back the clock; but you can wind it up again."What will you add to this list? What will you do to wind up your own clock? Can you begin now, in this moment, to live life on your own terms, by your own rules? Or will you continue along your present path, looking to others--like this post--to tell you what to do? It's your call. Always has been.

You still have time to offer to the world your very best. Don't let excuses, fear, and procrastination stop you from stepping out, stepping up, and moving forward. You still have time. Use it wisely. But use it.

"Don't leave this world with songs unsung." Ernie Zelinski

Friday, July 27, 2012

Drinking Mud: Your Water May Be Dirtier Than You Think



I am vegan. I do not eat meat of any kind, including fish and chicken, and I avoid as much as possible all food containing animal products. That includes dairy, eggs, honey, lanolin, and other hidden sources. I am training myself to recognize animal substances with very strange sounding, chemical-like names that show up on labels but no one really knows what they are. Good chance even the product producers don't know.


With that in mind, I want to share with you a segment from a great publication called Guide to Veg Living from Farm Sanctuary (contact info below), the nation's leading farm animal protection organization since 1986.


From page 9 of the pamphlet:
  • American factory farms produce nearly 788,000 tons of manure per day.
  • Manure from these operations contains multiple pollutants, such as heavy metals, antibiotics, pathogens, and nitrogen and phosphorous.
  • Through lagoon leaks or spills and run-off from saturated fields, contaminants enter into the environment and threaten water quality across the country.
  • Often finding its way into the groundwater supply, manure can cause nitrate levels in drinking water to rise to dangerous levels.
  • By robbing water of oxygen and killing off aquatic life, nitrogen and phosphorous found in manure can also harm river and stream ecosystems. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the run-off from factory farms pollutes our waterways more than all other industrial sources combined.
  • Agricultural run-off introduces disease-causing pathogens, including parasites, bacteria, viruses, into surface waters often used as drinking water sources for humans and animals. (My note: Don't think water in plastic bottles will save you. Most of that water is actually tap water. Plus, the plastic leaches into the water, creating its own set of challenges in your body and the bodies of those you love, both animal and human.)
If the fact that factory farm animals are the most mistreated creatures in America, perhaps the world, doesn't move you, maybe you and your kids having to drink foul, muddy, infected water will. Giving up factory-produced meat and dairy is a good way for you to help in saving our water, our air, our world.

It's your choice, of course. I'm hoping you'll join us in this movement to stop the pollution, the cruelty, the destruction.

Contact Farm Sanctuary at www.farmsanctuary.org or call 607-583-2225 for more information on you can be an asset to global health.

Friday, July 20, 2012

What Have You Got To Lose? Your Bill of Rights



As we plunge into this 2012 election season, with the Citizens United decision now firmly entrenched, and super pac money flowing more freely than Niagara Falls, I thought it might be nice to remind you and all of us what it is we defend in the US. There are those who are trying to undermine these rights. You need to be well informed about them. So, here are your Bill of Rights. Read, remember, reinforce, and resist any attempt to dismantle them.



The Preamble to The Bill of Rights
Congress of the United States
begun and held at the City of New-York, on
Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.
RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.
ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.
Printer-Friendly Version
The Bill of Rights: A Transcription
The Preamble to The Bill of Rights
Congress of the United States
begun and held at the City of New-York, on
Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.
RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.
ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.
Note: The following text is a transcription of the first ten amendments to the Constitution in their original form. These amendments were ratified December 15, 1791, and form what is known as the "Bill of Rights."

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment VII
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Five Great Ideas for Your Nonprofit Blog

By Patrick T Langley (Guest author)


Even the best writers have trouble coming up with ideas... You don't want to overwhelm the page with bland details and short blurbs. The goal is to give supporters a reason to keep coming back. If you're stumped on what to write about for your nonprofit blog, look no further....

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Do We Really Exist?



From St. Jimmy at Captain Cynic Philosophy Forum...


Think about this: 

-An atom has no intelligence, becasue it is just a collection of tiny tiny particles held together by magnetism. 

-An atom does not need any food, drink, nutrition to keep living. 

-An atom cannot die because matter cannot be created nor destroyed, and an atom is not "alive". 

Everyone can accept this. 

Now the confusing part.  Every single one of us is made up of atoms, an yet we 

-die 
-need nutrition 
-have intelligence 

How does this work out???



(Thanks, St. Jimmy. Quite a thought. If anyone ever comes up with a true answer*, we will share it here, without hesitation. In the mean time, may we each be nudged to do the least harm and the most good while we stumble along, seeking truth from wherever it may come, following it wherever it may lead.)


*At Captain Cynic Philosophy Forum, there are some attempts at an answer to these questions. It's up to you to decide of any of those answers pass muster.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Truth About Gratitude: It's Not What You Might Think...



Are you grateful? Let's find out.


It's been said that...

> Grateful people have a sense of maturity. They motivate themselves rather than always waiting to be motivated by outside sources, though they are willing to receive what resonates with them. They challenge assumptions, especially their own. They assess their own abilities and take calculated risks.

> Grateful people make time work FOR them rather than against them. They inspire others to action and have a sense of playfulness. They know the benefits—and the pitfalls—of a positive mental attitude. They make common sense common practice. They know that relationships are based on good communication, that listening is the most important skill.

> Grateful people are energized by, not frightened by, change and can snap back from slumps. They’re willing to do what it takes to reach greater heights. They realize that life is not necessarily fair, that the hustle never ends, but that the benefits ultimately outweigh the drawbacks. 

> Grateful people know that they are already successful. And they understand the Number One  Principle of Life—compassion, which simply means to do the least harm, and to help where they can.

> Grateful people count their blessings. They see the gift in everything, rather than the penalty or the loss. It can be tough, but behind every adversity, there is gift waiting to be acknowledged.


> Finally, grateful people have a sense of humor; they don't it all so seriously. And they know that laughter heals.