I had an Uncle Roland. He spent time with me, he talked to me, listened to me and he laughed with me. Today, kids are busy. There’s soccer practice, pee-wee football games, tap dancing lessons, gymnastics classes, play groups and even pre-school cooking classes. With so many things to sign up for and so many places to go at such a young age, who’s got time for an uncle? Or maybe the real reason we have all of those activities for kids is that their uncles don’t have time for them.
My uncle knew that I was fearful of spiders. When his family hosted a Halloween Party I was just a little tyke. It was my first Halloween Party. I arrived all decked out in my costume and was in awe of all the decorations. My uncle knew I was shy, so he let me sit on the couch and observe for a bit. He noticed that I was staring at the fake spider web with its huge fake spider. That’s when he came over and quietly sat next to me. He did not laugh, make fun of me, or tease me. After a few minutes he said “It’s not real” and he took my hand and led me to bob for an apple. Knowing that my uncle was there gave me the courage to forget that spider and have fun.
One of the last times I saw my Uncle we went to visit him and his family. It had been roughly 40 years since that Halloween Party. We sat in the living room, sharing what each of us was up to in our lives and enjoying each others company when Uncle Roland quietly got up and walked over to where I was sitting. He touched my shoulder and whispered to me not to move. And then he took a tissue from his pocket and with it he reached behind me and removed a spider, saving me from the embarrassment of a panicked scream had I spotted it first.
I miss my Uncle Roland. He is missed not because of his service to our country, not because of the various organizations that he belonged to and volunteered his time to, not even because he protected me from spiders, but because he always had time for you.
So, this holiday season make someone’s day, take the time to listen, to laugh together, to be present in their life because everyone needs an Uncle Roland.
In honor of Labor Day, take a moment to talk to someone about their work. I don’t mean asking the typical “How’s work?” question. Push for a little more information. Ask a specific question. Perhaps, “What do you do at work that you find satisfying?” or “What about your job are you proud of?” or “What do you wish you could do differently?” First off, just by asking a question you are showing interest which should make anyone feel good. Secondly, you might find out something that you never knew. For example, you might find out that the person owns a small business on the side that is truly their passion, like Joe Mor who is the business owner at Big and Lou’s Craft Pickle Company. I’ve tried his pickles and he has not only turned me into a pickle lover, but also a selective one who no longer buys pickles at the grocery store because I’ve had Big and Lou’s Craft Pickles! So make someone’s day, ask them about their work, the answer might turn you into a pickle lover.
You can find Big and Joe’s Craft Pickle Company on Facebook.
There are many curious habits that my husband has, I have learned to appreciate and respect them. During the hot summer months he has always insisted on keeping bottles of water or Gatorade in the car. I used to question him, “Why do you keep it in the car, it gets hot in the car?” He never answered.
So all summer we would drive around with bottles of water or Gatorade, or both, rolling around on the floor of the back seat in our car. Then one day I noticed there was only one left. I thought perhaps he drank them or they were expired and he finally tossed them. At the grocery store though he added a 12 pack of Gatorade to the cart. Then he wandered off while I was choosing produce and returned with a 12 pack of water bottles.
“Why are you buying all of that?” I asked.
“We need it” he responded.
When we got home he never brought the water or the Gatorade in. They stayed in the car. But they kept disappearing. Another curious habit of his, he often goes out for a drive. One day I went with him and that’s when I saw the kindness he was spreading. He was giving away all those bottles of hydration. Construction workers, landscapers, firefighters flushing hydrants and police officers were being kept hydrated by my husband’s kindness. So this summer, while you are staying hydrated yourself I encourage you to spread some kindness around too.
I am blessed with amazing cousins. As adults they are kind, compassionate, respectful and caring individuals. I stress the word individuals because each of them is very different. Each of them is also very respectful of those differences.
As children we all spent many a Sunday at our grandparents’ home playing outside. While there hours were spent outside playing hide-n-seek, tetherball, watching baby bunnies hop about, catching grasshoppers and then letting them go, playing with the neighbor’s kittens, or making flower necklaces. Then in the evening we’d enjoy sandwiches and cookies while gathering in front of the TV. Those were good times!
In spite of all the common denominators in our upbringing we all turned into our own unique self. But also, because of the common denominators, when one of us needs advice, support, encouragement, empathy or simply an understanding nod or hug, they are there unconditionally, to give.
Be kind, like my cousins, and give unconditionally to someone who is feeling down, sad or misunderstood. Trust me, you will make their day.
Turtles. I asked some friends to give me words that I could one day use as writing prompts, thank you Amy Elizabeth for the word, turtles. Back when I was a little girl you could go to the local dime-store and purchase a tiny turtle as a pet. You could also purchase a plastic beach of sorts that had a small area you could fill with water for your turtle to swim in and an “island” area for them to sun on, if you were fortunate enough to purchase the deluxe model it may have even had a small plastic palm tree! You can no longer do that, due to the risk of salmonella, I believe. Anyhow, at different times, Amy Elizabeth and I both worked in a classroom named the Tricky Turtle class. We were both proud of the difference we made while teaching in that room.
Everything I know about turtles I learned from a teacher. It’s Teacher Appreciation week, the perfect time to make a teacher’s day! Give them a smile, an apple, a candy bar, write them a note, take a photo with them or talk with them and say “Thank you for all you do”. Feel free to comment about a teacher who made a difference to you and invite them to visit and read this! So THANK YOU Amy Elizabeth and all teachers who give so much, simply THANK YOU.
“Keep Christmas with you
All through the year,
When Christmas is over,
You can keep it near.
Think of this Christmas day
When Christmas is far away.
Keep Christmas with you
All through the year,
When Christmas is over,
Save some Christmas cheer.
These precious moments,
Hold them very dear
And keep Christmas with you
All through the year.
When my children were preschoolers that song prompted talks about Christmas spirit and it also lead to a Christmas tradition for our family. Each year, when we pack up the Christmas decorations each of us selects one item to keep out. Often it is an ornament or a small knick-knack. We then find a place to put it, somewhere that it will be seen every day. The thought being that when we see this little piece of Christmas every day it will remind us of the joy of giving, the importance of traditions and relationships and to keep the Christmas spirit in our hearts all year. And yes, it works! Another family tradition has been that on December 27 from 7-10p.m. EST we invite everyone (yes, that includes you if you are reading this) to light a candle, wherever you are, so that we can all be together in spirit. Each year as you light your candle, think of all of those who are also lighting a candle, each of us is different, practice understanding how our differences enrich us, look a little harder for ways that we are the same, peace will naturally follow. Every act of kindness makes a difference so keep Christmas with you, all through the year.
If you haven’t heard of the group Northeast Ohio Rocks! then you should check them out on Facebook. This group is all about spreading kindness. It’s a simple concept and is brightening the day of many who randomly find hidden rocks. I discovered the group because I found a rock. It was a painted rock, painted to look like a minion, it was cute. I picked it up and on the other side of the rock was a label instructing what to do. So my first reaction was to smile, it made my day! Then I took it home where it sat on the coffee table for a few weeks. I researched the group. I looked at the rock every day, I thought about the time it took the creator to paint it, what a nice thing to do for a perfect stranger. And it worked, it made my day.
Everyone who participates in the group does so voluntarily. The idea is to post a picture of the rock you find and then re-hide it for someone else to find, thus spreading the kindness even further. But the work that goes into the painting of these rocks is amazing. You can get instructions and advice on the group page. But seriously, check out the photos of all the rocks, they are truly masterpieces! And a lot goes into priming them, and finishing them so they are weatherproof. The most amazing part of it all, the only reason for doing it, to make someone’s day.
Ideally, the finder will take a photo of the rock and post it on the group page. I did that, then re-hid the rock. When you think of all the effort that goes into the rock painting it’s the least you can do. Then you watch and wait for the rock to hopefully reappear. Some have followed their rocks to faraway places, others stay nearby, but they all make someone’s day. Imagine that, there’s actually people who want to do something kind for a complete stranger, with only the hope that they will someday see a photo of their rock again. If they do not, that’s OK because all that matters to this group is the spreading of kindness. This is a group that I want to be part of.
Thank you to Carol Biddle Wozniak for the word memories. I am blessed with many memories I’ve shared with countless children over the years working in the field of early childhood education. Today however my memories are overshadowed by the fact that 4 years ago I was spending the last 34 hours of my Mom’s life with her. My Mom was supportive of my choice to pursue a career in early childhood education, others were not. I can truly say that each and every time that I feel like I made a child’s day I feel like I’ve made a difference.
How do you make a child’s day? Children actually have an amazing sense of humor and they love to laugh so when spending time with a child, try not to be all serious about doing the right thing in their presence, and do your best to make them laugh! They will remember and at some point in their future those good memories will be important. Without good memories made during our childhoods how would we ever get through the rough patches in life?
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve planned some serious activities for children. I tried to make sure that the children involved had fun so that they’d remember those activities. For example, a field trip to city hall to meet the mayor when you are 4 might not seem age appropriate. But add some juice and cookies with the mayor in his office and I’m pretty sure they’ll remember because there was an element of fun. Do you remember that field trip Mark Wozniak, Steve Wozniak, Sean Carter, Amelia Morchak, Terri Doyle Morilak, Mark Morilak, Michele Novotny Carter, Dan Carter, and Kathleen Carter VanGilder? That field trip although it involved city government and the mayor was not about politics, it was about making positive memories. Each person involved may remember it differently, but they remember because they had fun.
Another memory I was reminded of recently is the making of a time capsule. I had forgotten about this until a child involved recalled it. I recollect several items placed in the capsule including the then popular POGs. Did you ever make a time capsule? Do you remember what was placed in it? Do you recall where exactly is was buried? Please comment and let me know. I’d also like to know what you would put in a time capsule today? I look forward to your responses and please share this post so others can see that even on a day when you are flooded with sad memories a good memory can get you through it. To all the followers, thanks for all the good memories, be kind and make a memory today, you will need them when you least expect to…
Smile. It’s a kind facial expression, it can be given freely and it usually results in receiving one back as well. Smile is the work given to me by my cousin, Paul Seaburn, a man who makes many people smile on a daily basis as he writes. Paul has been writing comedy for years, recently he’s expanded his repertoire into writing about paranormal things which not only makes me smile, but also laugh! He can be serious and on occasion has offered me some very sound advice for which I am thankful, but I most like his ability to make me smile every time I see him.
When I was growing up smiley faces were the rage, appearing on t-shirts, jewelry and just about any wearable item as well as on stationary, greeting cards and tacky room décor! I had a favorite purple smiley face t-shirt. At the time it was also “in” to wear shirts inside-out. Does anyone else remember that stylish fad? I loved my purple smiley face t-shirt because I could wear it inside-out and the smiley was still visible so I felt doubly stylish!
I wonder though, with the constant bombardment of smiley faces coming at us from all over if we have become immune or resistant to the innate response of smiling back? So, today I am challenging anyone reading this to give away a kind facial expression. A smile is not really received unless you make eye contact; so I challenge you to make eye contact with someone and then give them one of your best smiles. No excuses, there are people everywhere who could use a smile to make their day. They are in line at the grocery store, they are a co-worker, a friend, someone sitting in their car next to you at the red light, if you are at home alone take a selfie and post it! The receiver of your smile will hopefully give you one back thus proving me wrong about our resistance to do so and perhaps they’ll give away yet another smile. Feel free to post your smiling face here, I can’t wait to see all the smiles and hear about who you gave a smile to, it will make my day!