Kindness Without a Cost

In a world where we are constantly surrounded and seemingly inundated with constant reminders of violence, crime, or the malicious acts of others, there is always another side. This other side I speak of, became all the more telling and apparent to me yesterday, in more ways than one.

During and after a visit to a doctor I saw for the first time, yesterday, during the exam and after, I sat in astonishment and awe, finally being heard and recognized. No longer did I feel ignored or pushed aside, but rather my symptoms were VALID, addressed and acknowledged. With poise, understanding and a positive nature, this doctor spoke to me with concern and immediately set a plan of action in place. Hearing and seeing him yesterday, gives me hope of seeing the good in others, realizing that there truly ARE people who want to help and who want to heal.

Seeing the Good

My discoveries of this continued throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening; scrolling through my social media feed, seeing large companies such as Chobani and Amy’s Kitchen, deploying large cases of foods (yogurt and soup) to fuel those fighting the Hurricane and helping to assist others. Another company, Anheuser Busch was detailed on the news loading cans of water to send to those in the Hurricane’s path. Companies, large corporations, prominent individuals, all doing whatever they can and could to help others, in advance. During these significant times of need, it gives me much hope for humanity and life, in general. Life can often feel so unkind, but when I see images such as this one posted by Chobani founder and CEO, Hamdi Ulukaya and his quote, “first @chobani shipments to fuel heroes preparing for #HurricaneFlorence at @RedCross HQ. thinking of our family, friends, partners and responders in region.. Stay safe !! We’ll be with you,” it is as inspiring as it is invigorating.

Chobani cases

Today and everyday, if you can do something to help others, no matter how small you think or feel it may be, please do so; the world needs more kindness and as always, a helping hand. We never know just how much a kind word, gesture or thought might mean or help someone.

 

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Stand Together and Remember

It was 17 years ago on this very day, when I was a 13-year-old 8th grader. As I recall, on that day, the skies were a pristine shade of blue, not a cloud in the sky with the sun abundantly shining. The weather was temperate and calm, but the events that unraveled as the morning progressed was not.

Though I recall a teacher running into my science class that morning informing us of what occurred, I didn’t comprehend or know the actual magnitude until I entered my mom’s car that afternoon when school ended. As we drove through the shortcut we’d take through a local park, she detailed the horrifying events and it was uncertain what was actually going on. It was perplexing to me and I hadn’t a clue how to respond or act.

Later on that afternoon and evening, as I watched treasured and seasoned news anchors, Diane Sawyer, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather, I stared in shock as tears and fear streamed down and lined their faces. It was the first time I can ever recall seeing a television news anchors lose their composure. For the first time, I saw them as a real, genuine person and not solely a vessel delivering the news with a sometimes stoic facial expression.

Continuing to watch the endless streams of video coverage that day, I was saturated with fear and upset and it was only when I heard this very quote from TV personality, Fred Rogers, I started to feel a bit of comfort and reassurance.

Look for the Helpers

Today and for all the years to come, I remember all of those lost today, all of those who battled through these horrific events, the families and friends affected, and ultimately, all of us who were impacted and changed on that fateful day.

“Never look down upon others unless you’re helping them back up.”

Love in the Aisles

Yesterday, on a fairly typical visit to the local grocery store, while perusing the produce section, I noticed a young father pushing not only a stroller, but also a shopping cart with a front section for a child to sit in. He pushed both carts simultaneously while chatting and engaging his toddler son in a pleasant, lighthearted conversation, answering his questions and making observations. At the same time, he comforted his baby in the stroller and also navigated through the displays, choosing his groceries as he went along.

Not wanting to stare, I found myself occasionally tracking him as I wandered, noticing his smile, comfort level and pleasant tone his voice. I contemplated how it was all possible – him remaining calm despite all of his responsibilities, never once appearing stressed or overwhelmed. From what I could see, it was more important to him, to practice being calm, slowing down and enjoying the moment with his children, wanting to teach them though it is easy to get stressed and overwhelmed, when we pause, we can enjoy even the most typical moments and errands. Perhaps he WAS overwhelmed, but he never once showed it on his face or in his words, from what I could see and hear. It stood out to me, the way his demeanor was, taking his time in the store, being patient with his children, making a routine shopping trip an experience, rather than simply an errand. While observing, I contemplated approaching him and commending him on his ability to navigate the store and engage his children, but ultimately remained silent.

Enjoy the simple things

Looking back, I wish I had complimented him, because all of us are deserving of a compliment, or at least a pat on the back and an acknowledgement that we are doing okay, or even MORE than okay. He deserved to be recognized, from what I could see and hear, so by writing this, even though he most likely will never see it, it is my way of saying, “To the man in the grocery store on Friday afternoon, I see you and I think you’re doing a great job.”

Out of Love quote

 

An Open Letter to “Him”

About two nights ago, my mom and I were together in a crowded venue when a man approached my mom. Assuming he was approaching her due to his interest in her, I turned my body away and focused on what was transpiring in front of me. Though, within merely seconds, my mom turned to me with her face in disgust and stated, “You wouldn’t believe what this man just said to me!” Within minutes, I was made aware that he asked if I was my mother’s “granddaughter,” and then proceeded to question, “If I eat?” Not waiting for a response, he quickly walked away and resumed his position several feet away with his “pals.” In years prior, I might have ignored his comment, internalizing it and allowing myself to feel “less than.” Personally approaching him and standing my ground would have been the furthest thing from my mind in my teens and 20’s, though as I’ve grown older (and clearly as evidenced that particular evening!), my confidence level and desire to stand up not only for myself, but for all women has grown tremendously. Merely minutes after hearing his inquiry to my mom, I approached him, asking him if he had something he wanted to say or ask me, emphasizing I am a 30-year-old woman and if he has a question or concern, he can ask me and not my mother.

Therefore, the following is an “open letter” to this very man and though he most likely will never see it, in my heart, it needed to be written. These words and my reaction need to be exposed and heard, because by staying silent, it is a quiet acceptance and I will never accept this type of treatment or inappropriate comment and it is my hope that others won’t, either. This letter is a call to action, a call to always stand up for oneself and to let others know ignorance and body shaming WILL NOT be tolerated.

Teach others

An Open Letter to “Him”

To the man who reduced me to the size of my body: who are you to tell me who I am? What gives you the right to evaluate and critique my body?

I am NOT my body. I am not the thick, coarse hair on my head. I am not the scars on my legs chronicling a life lived. I am not the blemished skin on my body I desperately attempt to conceal. I am not my uneven spine afflicted by scoliosis.

No, those I am not.

What I am is:

The helping hand I extend to a family member, friend, or acquaintance in need. The listening ear to someone in need or longing to be heard. A companion to those I love or who are lonely. A sounding board for advice or encouragement. I’m also someone who tries their best in life, but knows some struggles are inevitable.

To the man who thought it was okay to ridicule and shame a woman’s body (most likely not only mine):

I’d like you to know that this body you question and chastise is a body that carries me each day. It is a body that has supported me my past 30-years of life. It has not failed me; it persists in spite of all I have subjected it to and though your words may have begun to wound me, to you, I bravely spoke my truth; not solely for me, but for all the others, as well. Why? I’ll tell you; because SILENCE is a form of acceptance and accept judgment of my body and anyone else’s, I WON’T. Humans are not defined by the shape of their bodies; all of us are so much more and I feel sorry for your blatant ignorance and difficulties in seeing/recognizing that.

Today and everyday, I promise to stand up for myself and others, because we do not need validation or criticism for our bodies from others. When we stand up for ourselves, we in turn stand up for others.

To the man who believes a body shapes someone’s worth; I am ME and that is ENOUGH.

Stand Up 3

Many Shades of Red: Learn How to Make a Difference in Minutes

*Note: The following are my own thoughts and opinions. The reason for my post is because this particular issue/topic resonates with me and I feel a personal obligation to share with others, in hopes that at least one person may participate or at least share this important message. Thank you in advance for reading and/or sharing this vital information.

Imagine this: you, a loved one or friend has just been involved in a serious, critical car accident. The theoretical accident has left you or them with life-threatening injuries, requiring an immediate blood transfusion. Or, picture this: your young child, niece/nephew, grandaughter/grandson, godchild, neighbor, friend, student, etc is diagnosed with a life-threatening disease requiring platelets (tiny cells in blood that form clots and stop bleeding, which according to redcrossblood.org, are essential to surviving and fighting cancer, chronic diseases and traumatic injuries).

American Red Cross Blood          American Red Cross 2

Everyday, millions of people worldwide are in desperate need of blood, blood plasma and platelets, which are received primarily, from my understanding, via donations. The process of donating blood typically takes minutes, yet, as of currently, The American Red Cross, the largest organization collecting blood donations, is facing an Emergency Shortage. There are a host of benefits to donating blood, some of which many people may be unaware. Therefore, the the purpose of my post today, is to provide general knowledge and information in regards to donating blood, plasma and platelets, perhaps providing someone with momentum to donate on their own, or at least share this information with others. Much to my dismay, I am unable to donate blood myself, due to not meeting some of the criteria (I’ll share this criteria later on in my post), therefore, I am doing my part by crafting this blog post to inform others about the emergency shortage and the constant importance of these donations and how they can truly save countless lives each day. In a world where we are often faced with stressful, potentially life-threatening situations, or are often spread thin with many responsibilities, donating blood, plasma or platelets is a way to help multiple people at once in a short amount of time.

Blood Donation

CRITERIA for Donation (via redcrossblood.org):

WHOLE BLOOD Donation:

  • Donation Frequency – every 56 days
  • Must be in general good health and feeling well.
  • Must be at least 16-years-old
  • Must weigh at least 110 pounds.

POWER RED Donation: (Two units of red blood cells can be donated versus a smaller amount for whole blood):

  • Must be Type O, A negative or B negative blood type.
  • Donation Frequency – Every 112 days, up to 3 times per year, or 2 times per year for male donors under 18.
  • Must be in good health and feeling well.
  • Male Donors: must be at least 17 years old in most states, at least 5’1″ and weigh at least 130 pounds.
  • Female Donors: must be at least 19 years old, at least 5’5″ and weigh at least 150 pounds.

PLATELET Donation: (Tiny cells in blood that form clots and stop bleeding. Every 30 seconds someone needs platelets. Platelets must be used within five days and new donors are needed each day; as many as THREE patients can be helped with a single platelet donation!)

  • Donation Frequency: Every 7 days, up to 24 times each year.
  • Must be in good health and feeling well.
  • Must be at least 17 years old in most states.
  • Must weigh at least 110 pounds.
  • *An appointment must be scheduled to donate platelets (cannot be done at blood drives) and the process is longer than traditional blood donations (3 hours in total as you relax, watch a movie or engage in other activities)

AB Elite Plasma Donation: (Type AB plasma is the ONLY universal type and can be given to patients of ANY blood type. Only 4% of the population has type AB blood! Plasma products are used by burn, trauma and cancer patients)

  • Donation Frequency: Every 28 days up to 13 times per year.
  • Must have Type AB blood.
  • Must be in good health and feeling well.
  • Must be at least 17 years old.
  • Must weigh at least 110 pounds.

*Donation Eligibility Note: These are GENERAL requirements per donation type. As with anything, it is important to consult redcrossblood.org for additional information and also specific state requirements, as they may vary.

Intrigued and curious about how you can actually donate blood or platelets? Here are some quick fast facts to help get you started (via redcross.org)

Blood Donation facts

BLOOD DONATION Fast Facts: (via redcrossblood.org)

  • Donate blood either via appointment (can be made online), blood drive (search for a local one via https://www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/find-drive)
  • RAPID PASS: As recommended via redcrossblood.org, first schedule an appointment, then register for a Rapid Pass (via https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/manage-my-donations/rapidpass.html), which allows donors to share their personal information, including health history for a quick and easy donation experience)
  • Blood Donation can save up to 3 lives!
  • AMAZON Gift Card Reward: Right now, for donating blood, receive a $5 Amazon Gift Card as thanks for helping to save lives; now you can not only feel good about helping to save fellow humans, but also treat yourself to something special (or maybe essential!) on Amazon.com. It’s a win-win for everyone!

BLOOD DONATION PREP RECOMMENDATIONS: (via redcrossblood.org)

  • Consume Iron-Rich foods (i.e. red meat, fish, poultry, spinach, etc)
  • Drink Extra Liquids (roughly another 16oz glass of water)
  • Make an Appointment (helps to speed up the process and choose a convenient time that works best for you)
  • Distraction (Bring along a book, music, friend, etc, to help pass the time)
  • Rapid Pass (create a Rapid Pass to help the process along and decrease time)
  • Photo ID (Bring along donor card, driver’s license and two other forms of ID)
  • Review Eligibility

DAY OF BLOOD DONATION: (What actually HAPPENS when you arrive for your appointment via redcrossblood.org)

  • Registration (sign in, show ID and read required information)
  • Health History and Mini Physical (done in privacy)
  • The Donation (Actual donation takes 8-10 minutes while a pint of blood is drawn)
  • Refreshment & Recovery (Enjoy a snack and drink for roughly 10-15 minutes before continuing on with your day)
  • Testing (Every blood donation is tested and after clearance is sent to patients in need)

Blood Donation facts 2

OTHER WAYS TO HELP: (Perhaps you’re in a similar situation to me and are unable to donate blood. Good news: there are a host of other ways we can help. Here are some ideas to get you started: via https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/how-to-donate/eligibility-requirements.html – scroll down to Other Ways You Can Help section and my own ideas)

  • Host a Blood Drive
  • Start a Virtual Blood Drive
  • Make a Financial Donation
  • Become a Volunteer
  • Share information with others (verbally, in writing, social media, etc) about the importance of blood donation and how easy it can be.

Now that I’ve provided extensive information regarding blood donation, I hope whomever may be reading is inspired either themselves, or to share this critical information with others. My late maternal grandmother was the recipient of several blood transfusions having been a Leukemia – blood cancer patient, as well as my own mother, after enduring invasive surgery for kidney stone removal, where she experienced significant blood loss, on December 13, 1979.

IMG_4778

A photo of my grandmother, Selma and my mother, Marci from March 1997.

Perhaps you, a loved one, friend, colleague, neighbor, acquaintance’s lives have been dramatically touched or impacted by blood, plasma or platelet donations or potentially will at some point. With that being said, all of us can truly make a difference, whether we are directly donating, disseminating information and doing our part to ensure others know as much information as possible to make an informed decision to help others and potentially themselves.

For more information, please consult https://www.redcrossblood.org/ and know that any information shared is a step closer to potentially saving a life.

Blood Donation Quote

 

 

 

How to Heal in 365 Ways

Good morning to whomever may be reading, I hope today finds you well. Yesterday (Wednesday), I took the opportunity to post some of my current sentiments on my blog’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/MelissasMorningMusings/) after learning of upsetting and emotional developments the day prior. (Tuesday)  For those of you who may not follow or view my blog’s Facebook page, I thought I would share my thoughts here on the blog, as I feel they are imperative ones to mention:

Yesterday’s Facebook Post:

Yesterday, around 4pm, I casually clicked over to my social media pages not expecting to see or notice anything particularly significant. It had only been roughly 2 hours or so since I last checked and yet, with the click of a button, I quickly noticed something dramatic and heart-wrenching.

Several years ago, I noticed a new book that sparked by interest by the name of – Staying Strong 365 Days a Year. It surprised me at first to see who the author was – none other than singer/performer, Demi Lovato. Not previously a big fan of hers, I was intrigued by her book as I flipped through the pages. Each page is dedicated to a specific day of the year, packed with motivational quotes, thoughts and ideas. After reading the book and noticing how forthcoming Demi was in her personal struggles, often using them to motivate, encourage and connect with others, I began to see her in a new light.

Demi Book Page

For me, I admired her bravery and candid conversations. She didn’t shy away detailing her struggles, but rather openly shared them, perhaps providing a platform for others to do the same.

Yesterday, that grave news I noted discovering, was Demi’s relapse. Today I read several pages of her book and settled on today’s lesson on personal passion and now we can use it to not only help ourselves, but others, as well. With that being said, I wish Demi an emotional and physical healing, hoping that she can embrace her own motivational words and concepts she speaks of in this very book.

Demi book

After I posted my memories and thoughts on my blog’s Facebook page, I continued my reflections on Demi. My thoughts wandered back to just months ago when my mom and I watched her YouTube documentary together. The entire two hours or so documentary was captivating and honest, leaving me shocked at some points, but thankful for her honesty and candid nature. It’s often easy for me and perhaps others to see a celebrity on the screen or hear them on the radio and believe their lives are near faultless or in a way “easier” in a sense than the average civilian. However, Demi’s relapse and several other stars tragic circumstances as of late is evidence and reason enough to believe we are all only human and none of us are truly immune. We are not faultless, but I believe we all possess the strength and ability within us to overcome the challenges and personal struggles faced. With that being said, it isn’t typically easy by any means, but Demi has proved herself, time and time again, she can weather the pain and anguish living deep within her and use those struggles as a platform to heal not only herself, but others. During one’s own personal struggle, it can be easy to isolate or feel they are the only ones afflicted, but when people like Demi are honest and transparent about their challenges, sometimes even to the extent where some might find it uncomfortable or difficult to hear/watch, it can empower others to take the first step towards positive change and healing.

Recovery is not linear. To further explain this statement, the way I perceive recovery is similar to the weather. One minute outside it can be abundant sunshine with azure skies, but the next moment, a torrential downpour and thunder/lightening can overtake. Situations in recovery and albeit the weather, can come without warning. What I feel is most important to focus on during these times, is healing and kindness towards oneself, recognizing faults do not define anyone, they are part of a process, part of a battle and part of the journey to recovery from whatever affliction it may be (drugs, mental illness, physical ailments, etc). To that end, I’d like to share a poem which I feel resonates with any type of personal struggle and how the process of healing is just that.. a process; one requiring patience, kindness, awareness and insight:

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters by Portia Nelson:

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

If you’re currently healing, hoping to heal, hoping for another to heal, or simply thinking of healing, remember:

Healing Quote

Today’s post is dedicated to Demi Lovato others like her who may be fighting a silent, loud or constant battle. You are seen and worthy of healing.

Demi Lovato

“Daisy” of My Heart

Good Morning and Happy Summer, to you! It’s hard to believe the Summer season is finally upon us after a brutal Winter, over here in Pennsylvania. With that being said, the entrance of a new season and completion of a swift training program brings to me an announcement I’ve been waiting to make – On February 17, 2018, a new family member, best friend and companion entered my life by the name of Daisy. It’s hard to envision life without her, as everyday is an adventure, filled with excitement and new possibilities. With Daisy, the simplest moments become exciting and she teaches me to appreciate the smallest things in life, as they often become the things that make our lives whole. As the rescues often say, “Who rescued who?” Welcome Home, Miss Daisy and Happy “Gotcha” Day!

Daisy smiling          Daisy 9           Daisy toys

It’s important for me to note how Daisy and I first became “acquainted,” so to speak. Following my beloved Oliver’s passing, I began to research and follow numerous area animal rescue organizations via social media (i.e. Twitter & Facebook) and would regularly browse their available animals. Though many of the animals (or all of them, rather!) tugged at my heartstrings, none of them summoned a connection or pull to me. That is, until the first Sunday morning in February. It was a brisk day, albeit bright and sunny, and there I sat, on the iPad mindlessly perusing through my Facebook feed, not believing I’d find anything remotely interesting. Without warning, a white-haired, light brown spotted furry creature with a pleasant smile and the most beautiful/unique eyes – a light russet hue, graced the screen. Her name, as stated by Crossing Paths Animal Rescue (www.xpar.org), headquarted in Alabama, with various satellite sites (a local one by me, in Pennsylvania) was Cinderella and several months prior, she’d given birth to numerous puppies. With all of her puppies adopted and in their “furever” homes, now it was Cinderella’s turn at a new family and home. As I read her story and gazed at her photos, something within her stood out to me. Just about where I sat was the painting of Oliver, created and sent to me by pet supply company, Chewy.com and as I looked up at his photo, I couldn’t help but feel (as strange as it may sound) an approval and encouragement by him. Since his passing, a piece of my heart lay empty, longing for Oliver, wishing I could see or touch him again. His final day still haunts me; I can still hear my voice calling to him as I rocked him in my arms one last time, “I love you so much, Oliver, I love you so much.” Still to this day, I wish he hadn’t left me, but I know of the pain and anguish he was in for so long and force myself to believe he is over the rainbow bridge, enjoying all the pleasantries of where he is. With that being said, I still feel his presence and felt his urging to submit an application for Cinderella, giving me his approval. In a way, I felt him saying, “There is so much love inside you, Melissa, why not give that to another dog in need?” “Give yourself the chance to love again, don’t deny yourself the chance to experience another one of my friends; it’s okay, I know you’re not abandoning me, you’re continuing my legacy.” For so long, I was unable to take Oliver for walks, unable to see him enjoy his dog food and treats or life in general, due to his significant health issues and I realized at that moment, adopting another dog would give me the chance to give all that repressed love to another who is truly as deserving.

Daisy selfie              Daisy 1             Daisy 2

Within an hour of first seeing her, an application was completed and submitted to Crossing Paths Animal Rescue for Cinderella (who would soon become Daisy). About two weeks or so later, Daisy arrived at a local Petsmart in my area via transport van from an Alabama shelter with an assortment of other dogs, also being adopted. The day she arrived was one of the coldest days of the Winter, but standing outside and seeing her, also made the day one of the warmest, in a sense. Life with Daisy is never short of an adventure. She is full of energy, life and zest, with a true puppy-like nature (one I still have trouble remembering, as Oliver was 15.5 years and it had been so long since I’d been around any dog with that amount of momentum!). My favorite points in the day are when I am outside in the warm sun with Daisy, taking our time walking and looking up at life. Each time I hold her leash, I can’t help but smile as I see her swaying from side to side, sniffing the ground, taking in the sights and smells. Sometimes I find myself wondering what her early life was like in Alabama, but I try to live in the present, letting myself love and enjoy her the way she deserves. When I become sad due to the daily stresses of life, I take a moment to sink into Daisy, holding her in my arms, petting her, and realizing how even though I feared I might not be able to love another dog the way I loved Oliver, there are all different types of love and plenty to go around.

Daisy 4              Daisy 7

With Daisy, my home and heart is full again and I know Oliver couldn’t be prouder, not only of me, but of his sister. Often times, I’ll tell Daisy stories about her brother, Oliver, and as strange as it may sounds, I know she understands and accepts her title of sister, with much pride and contentment. Each and every day, I’m so thankful for Daisy, so glad I stumbled across her photo and so blessed to have submitted the first application for her as they proceeded to receive countless ones following mine. I thank Oliver for watching over me and for giving me the greatest gift – the chance to love another.

Daisy Rescue      Daisy HomeDaisy chair            Daisy Waiting