Live like a kid

I’m sure almost everyone has heard the Robert Fulghum poem, “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten.”

I was thinking of that poem this evening as I watched my kindergartner play at the park. I decided to jot down notes as I watched him approach kids he’d never met before… forming instant bonds.

And I came to the conclusion that six-year-olds are seriously underrated.

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“All I Really Need to Know I’m Learning from My Kindergartner”

Talk to people you don’t know, you may find a best friend.

Never pass a swing without taking a ride.

Splash in a puddle simply because it’s there.

Laughing is good. Do it when you’re happy, and even when you aren’t.

Make art using anything you can find. Create the extraordinary out of the ordinary.

Sing for no reason.

Play outside as long as you can.

Question injustice.

Greet loved ones as though you’ve missed them forever.

Love fearlessly and fiercely.

Ignore the regular trail and create your own.

The Wisdom of Seuss


“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” ~~ Dr. Seuss

I have a collection of quotes I love. Today this one jumped out at me.

I’ve always thought everyone should live their lives this way. 🙂

It’s been a long week (yes, I realize it’s only Tuesday) so unfortunately I don’t have more to add at this time. But I hope everyone will remember Dr. Seuss’ words of wisdom.

A Change of Heart

This “good news” (a passion of mine) is brought to us by a dear friend of mine (Jim Douglas, the reporter who wrote the original story), and it brought tears to my eyes. In a good way.

Jami McElrath has inoperable cancer. Like many terminally ill patients, she’s been working hard to collect mementos for her children so they will have things they can physically hold onto to remember her after she passes away.

Among those mementos… she’s been taking photos she wants to put in a scrapbook.

During a family trip to Texas, Jami’s camera was stolen from her car while her family ate in a restaurant. The camera was loaded with photos of the trip, including their time at Six Flags amusement park.

As if that weren’t enough, the camera also had extra sentimental value. It had belonged to her father, who died of a heart attack two years before.

Jami told her heart-wrenching story to Jim, who works at WFAA-TV, the ABC affiliate in Dallas.

“I just want my camera back,” she told Jim in the story. “I just want those memories back.”

Part of her plea also included this heartwarming message of hope: “People are good,” she said. “That’s what I’m saying. I don’t think this person who took my camera is out to hurt people. I think they have a desperate situation they’re in.”

A few days after the story aired, Jim received a phone call from a man who didn’t want to identify himself. He told Jim to look behind a red car in the station’s parking lot. He also added that he felt bad about the incident.

Needless to say, Jim found the camera. He and a news crew traveled to Oklahoma to return it to Jami, who burst into tears. She had some words for the man who took it.

“Whoever you are, thank you so much,” she said. “Thank you for having a conscience and bringing it back. I can’t tell you what it means to me.”

I love this story for so many reasons. I love it for the obvious reasons— and one that’s probably not so obvious. I love the fact that she had hope and positive feelings in her heart… even though her heart was broken. This is one of those stories that reminds me that the more love you send out into the world, the more it will return to you.

I have a personal story that also reinforces this belief, but I’ll share it some other time. I want this post to be about Jami.

 

Living with Procrastination


If any of you get the OnDemand service on Comcast cable, I highly suggest going to “The Cutting Edge” section, and checking out some of the ‘school scare films’ on “Something Weird.” Depending on how old you are, you may have seen some of these films in school growing up. My personal favorite is a variation on the classic “Duck and Cover,” which offers you “lifesaving tips” on how to survive an atomic bomb blast.

My favorite gem from that film: “the instant you hear the air raid sirens, take cover under whatever you can find. A table, a doorway— even a picnic blanket or a newspaper can provide some protection against an atomic blast!” (Here, the film shows a family enjoying a lovely picnic in the park when a bright light flashes and they cover themselves with their lifesaving blanket.)

Yeah, riiiiiiiiiiight.

They rotate the films every couple of weeks or so… so over the past several months I’ve seen other great “how to” films from the 1940’s and 50’s— such as how to make friends (the lesson here: force yourself to be like everyone else— suppress those pesky feelings of individuality….!), the importance of personal hygiene (a film for new recruits in the military— did you know that foot powder can solve a whole slew of problems????), and a 60’s film about the dangers of LSD (which— honestly, was more of an ad for LSD than a scare film…. I don’t think the “squares” back then ‘got it’).

One film I saw recently was about a girl named Mary who was the ultimate procrastinator. She was appointed by her classmates to organize the school dance, much to the chagrin of one boy who said she never did things on time and other students always paid for it. Well, you can guess what happened… Mary failed to let other students’ mothers know days ahead of time which foods they needed to make for the party, she put off buying the decorations until the day before (the local store was out of what she needed), and she showed up late to the decorating party (because she was out looking for other decorations). The last scene shows the other students putting up their measly few rolls of streamers in disgust while Mary sits alone in the corner, obviously realizing that her life was now ruined— all because of her procrastinative ways.

I don’t mean to make light of procrastination. I used to be Mary. When I was in seventh grade I was in an accelerated math course. Instead of making us hand in assignments on a regular basis, the teacher left it up to us to get the work done… and just hand it all in at the end of the semester (I still don’t understand the benefits of this— all of you teachers out there… would you really want a huge pile of papers to grade at the end of the semester?).

Well, since I was Mary— you can guess what happened. I didn’t do my assignments in a regular and timely fashion. I think I started off the semester by getting a half dozen assignments out of the way immediately… then everything else went on the back burner, because according to my seventh grade reasoning I was AHEAD at that point, right? If I could complete six assignments in one sitting, surely the rest would be a breeze.

:p

The NIGHT before the assignments were due, I decided to tackle the other— oh, 40-50 assignments I had for the rest of the semester. I was up all night. And my mother had very little sympathy for me the next day (shocker!) when I begged to be able to go in and turn in my assignments and then come home to sleep.

The good news is, I learned my lesson. I made a decision right then and there that I never wanted to pull another all-nighter (at least not for schoolwork). And I never did after that.

But even though I now make my deadlines 99.9999% of the time, I still struggle with procrastination every once in a while. Unfortunately, I’m also a perfectionist. And as a perfectionist, I still beat myself up over leaving things until the last minute. Yet I keep doing it. So, I’ve decided to apply my new mindset (changing my perspective and looking at things differently) to this issue.

I’ve decided I need to make procrastination work for me.

A lot of life experiences have led up to this point. When I was in TV, I discovered that no matter how much time I had to put a story together— whether it was ten minutes or five hours— I always finished right at the deadline. It wasn’t a matter of procrastination in TV— it was just the way the business worked (we were always in a rush). But what’s interesting is that some of those stories I slapped together in ten minutes were better than the ones I had more time to spend on.

I’m going to try to look at that as a sign that I actually thrive under pressure (how’s that for spin?).

Likewise, I find that when I put off doing something, I tend to get a lot of other things done in the meantime. For instance, if I know I have to write a difficult email I will stay away from my computer and instead put away dishes, clean up the living room, mow the lawn… you get the idea. And the whole time I’m doing these things, I’m thinking about what I’m going to say in the email. So… by the time I sit down at my computer, I’ve not only decided how to handle it, but I’ve got a cleaner house and a tidier lawn as well.

And of course, since I thrive under pressure (see above) the email comes out a lot better later than it would if I’d spent the last three hours at my computer.

I know… it’s a reach. But it’s better than beating myself up for not sitting down until the last minute to write that email. 😉

I know this exact process won’t work for everyone. But here’s my point: nobody’s perfect. We all want to be, but sometimes life prevents us from living up to our own high standards. If you are trying to reach a summit— there could be several paths that lead up to it— and it really doesn’t matter which one you take… as long as you get there.

I would love to be that person who starts things as soon as they are given to me. But the conclusion I’ve reached is that starting earlier (in my case) doesn’t really help. I get things done in the time they need to be done. And they usually turn out really well. In fact, looking back at several projects— I can honestly say I wouldn’t change a thing… even if I’d had more time. So there’s no point in me beating myself up for not starting sooner.

Now I want to make my own school scare film called: “Making Procrastination Work for You.”

The Power of Good News

It does no harm just once in a while to acknowledge that the whole country isn’t in flames, that there are people in the country besides politicians, entertainers, and criminals.” ~~ Charles Kuralt

Not feeling so hot today (under the weather), and reading the news is making me feel worse. News outlets I really used to enjoy are focusing a little too much on “Jon and Kate” these days.

Don’t get me started.

Anyway, I decided to pull out a good news story I once talked about on another blog. I started the blog with the intention of highlighting stories of hope— stories that honor and celebrate people who do the right thing. I eventually had to give it up because it was getting harder and harder to find good news. Not because it’s not happening— but because no one is reporting it. Right now, the economy, GM’s demise (ahem, excuse me…. “rebirth”), and apparently Jon and Kate :p trump those types of stories.

Every once in a while, I’ll re-post one of those stories here. Because I think we could all use a pick-me-up every once in a while. 😉

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Saved by a Stranger

A little girl needed a miracle.

Sarah Dickman lives with a genetic disease called juvenile nephronophthisis. The disease slowly destroys the kidneys, and can take the life of a child before he or she reaches the age of 15.

At the age of eight, Sarah already needed a new kidney. Doctors placed on dialysis and the Atlanta girl’s condition was getting worse by the day.

Neither of her parents were a good match. Sarah’s name was already on a national waiting list, but no matches had been determined. So as a last ditch effort, her parents put up flyers around their community. They knew there was little chance of finding a suitable donor that way. But they wanted to give their little girl every chance they could.

34-year-old Laura Bolan saw the flyer at the elementary school where Sarah and two of Laura’s children attend class. Her heart melted when she saw the girl’s smiling face.

Laura noted that she had the same blood type as the little girl. She talked to her own family, and called the Dickmans later that night.

Two people called in about the flyer, but Laura was the better match. And she didn’t even hesitate. As she told a reporter, “It breaks your heart to know there’s a little girl sick out there who you could help.”

The two underwent successful surgery in February.

Sarah’s parents say they are not only eternally indebted to Laura, they also plan to pay the favor forward. Her father, Joe became a living donor as a result of the sacrifice a stranger made for his child… knowing he might one day have the same opportunity to save a life.