Friday, 28 October 2016

More Chicken Soup for the Soul...Simply Happy...Good Deeds

Chapter 17 A Good Deed a Day

Helping others makes us feel good, and we should do it more often. It could be as simple as a smile, or more involved, like volunteering.

One of the stories I loved in this chapter was by Shannon Anderson. Her story "A Deed a Day" is from Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Happiness.

Basically, Shannon found her family was getting a little too self involved. They only seemed to care about their own tasks and concerns. She started a family journal in which each member of the family was to document a good deed they had done each day.

A good deed was defined as doing something unexpected for someone else, family or outside the home. Shannon found it made a big difference, as each family member began the day wondering what they could do for someone else, rather than thinking only of themselves.

She expanded the project to include her classroom. The class, as a whole, tried to do three good deeds a day.

There were other examples in the chapter, and the Editor, Amy Newmark, ends by commenting that a good deed, once it is done, isn't really over and multiplies into other heartfelt deeds as the goodness travels.

Good deeds are contagious. And I can see this in my own life. Last week my brother went to a great deal of effort to take me to an out of town doctor's appointment. We had a good day, a lot of laughs, but still, he did a massive amount of driving, in what was not the best weather.

Today I spoke to my 89 year old neighbor, and found her sick with a chest cold. I immediately decided to make her soup, (must have chicken soup on the brain) but though I had chicken, I didn't have vegetables. I settled for  tuna casserole and made muffins, from a mix to keep it simple.

I buy individual pods for my Keurig, and know she uses the refill method, so gave her a dozen pods so she didn't have to fuss and clean her refill 'thingie'. I gathered everything up, added a couple of Nora Roberts books and a couple of cans of soup and I was done.

She was very appreciative, and a bit overwhelmed. She has children, but they do not live local, and as she doesn't drive, she can often feel isolated and confined. I frequently take her to the store with me, and save her the difficulty of taking the bus, or the cost of a taxi.

Earlier in the week she took me out for lunch, as a thank you for all the times I've run her around doing errands. I felt appreciated, which is the benefit of good deeds, right?

I was not expecting, when I gave her the goodies today, that she would burst into tears. I know how upsetting it can be to feel alone and be sick. Everyone needs that bit of special attention, that caring, that tells them they are not alone.

Whatever good I did for her today rebounded...I feel pretty good myself right about now.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Simply Happy...A Chicken Soup for the Soul Publication

A short time ago I was asked to review the new book published by 'Chicken Soup for the Soul'. The book was titled "Simply Happy" and was written by the new editor Amy Newmark.

I will admit, when I received the book I was not in the best frame of mind, for sure not feeling happy, simple or otherwise. So I set the book aside.

Before I go on, let me give you a bit of history.

Chicken Soup for the Soul was started by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. In 2009 they were ready to move on, to hand over their baby to new owners who would continue their legacy.

The new owners were Amy Newmark and her husband Bill.

Bill took over the legal and financial end, while Amy became editor. To begin, she immersed herself in the stories previously published and she admits the process changed her. She says in the introduction that she became " more compassionate and less judgmental; more grounded and grateful for everything...; and way more knowledgeable about what makes people tick."

Basically, her crash course in Chicken Soup for the Soul was a journey. And now she wants to share that journey and all that she's learned by introducing the reader to the stories that changed her life, and the people that wrote them.

This is a self help book, different for sure, because the tips and advice come from many sources.

The chapters are short, the stories fun and easy to read. It's not the usual 101 stories based on a theme that you have come to expect from Chicken Soup for the Soul, but it has the same energy, the same positive feeling.

I almost read the book in one sitting, finally having to put it down because it was late into the night. As I read, I recognized things that mirrored my own life, or the life of a loved one. There were chapters I immediately wanted to share, as the words so clearly expressed my feelings or thoughts.

It's a good read, and aptly titled "Simply Happy'. It's  "A Crash Course in Chicken Soup for the Soul Advice and Wisdom."

Worked for me, my mood has been much better, and brighter, despite the cold and gloomy days. I only regret I let it sit on the table for so long.

Want a good read that will make you laugh, make you think, then this is it. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Fall Road Trips

I'm late again this week, (for posting)but for good reason. Yesterday was a long day, more so for my brother. He came down from the city and we drove further east, a road trip for sure, ending at the Hotel Dieu Hospital in Kingston where I had a doctor's appointment.

As our usual lunch spot, usually on a Tuesday, was in Wild Wings, we stopped in Belleville and had the Wild Wings there. Must say, not up to the usual standard we were used to. Food was good, but the service with a smile was lacking, plus the personal attention we've come to expect and enjoy.

We continued on our journey, with time to spare, which was good because we had a bit of a tour of Kingston.

I had my map book, but we got confused, more accurately, I got confused as I was navigator, with one way streets. We ended up following the blue hospital signs, which led us directly to Kingston General. Oops, wrong hospital.

Deciding to go to a better source, than me and the map, we pulled into a park and pulled out the GPS. My brother got it out and ready.

"What's the address?" he asked.

"I don't know. It's Hotel Dieu, can't you plug the name in?" Apparently not.

You have to love technology. He called his wife, working downtown Toronto, and asked her to look up the address for us. She googled it and we were good to go.

She gave us the address of Brock Street, and I wisely kept my mouth shut, as for some reason, I had been directing him to Bagot Street. I was close, they both started with a 'B'.

We quickly arrived at our destination, and I saw the doctor and other health professionals I was scheduled to see.

I loved the drive home, but then I wasn't driving. Heading west we saw a beautiful sunset and a glorious sky, but there were times the sun was blinding in its brightness, and there was that furious rain storm that made vision difficult.

We arrived back at my place in time to watch the last 2 innings of the Jays game, and they won, so an even better day.

I repaid my brother's efforts on my behalf in butter tarts, from Betty's, an award winning butter tart establishment.

Road trips. Lots of beautiful fall scenery, lots of laughs and time for conversation.

Thank you to the best brother in the world, sorry the last leg of the trip was in the rain, hope you didn't get too much butter tart stickiness all over the place.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Book Delivery

It was so exciting to see the delivery truck pull up outside my door. I just knew it had to be the copies of "Chicken Soup for the Soul" with my Christmas story. 

Not only do I get paid for the story, but I get 10 free copies.

Here's the story that appears in this issue of the Joy of Christmas.

A Gift From the Heart

I love chocolate, and who doesn’t?

Christmas is a very chocolate kind of holiday, much like Valentine’s Day and Easter. It had been a tradition for my husband to give me a box of chocolates at Christmas, and at the time, the brand he purchased was Nutchos. A swirly mound of milk chocolate filled with ground nuts.

In one of my ‘woe is me’ moments, facing my first Christmas as a single parent after my husband and I separated, I moaned and asked who was going to buy me my Nutchos that year. The sad moment passed and I forgot about that display of my own sorrow.

One day, I took the kids to the local department store and handed them money so they could do their own Christmas shopping. They had orders to stay together, and we had a set time and place to meet up before we headed home.

A short time later I saw the kids, laden down with their purchases. It made me smile, to see their excitement with their first foray into holiday shopping. But as we walked home, I saw one of my son’s purchases hanging out of his bag.

It seemed, instead of using the money for gifts, he had spent the money on a huge bag of Doritos, or chips or some sort of junk food for himself. I was annoyed, thinking that was not the giving holiday spirit I was trying to teach him.

“Why did you buy chips?” I asked. “That money was for gifts for the family, not for you to buy yourself a snack.”
He looked at me, his sad eyes looking hurt, holding back tears. “They’re not for me,” he said. “They’re for you. You wanted to know who was going to buy you your Natchos, and I wanted to make sure you got some.”

Nutchos…made from chocolate and nuts, natchos…a chip made from corn for dipping in a salsa. I guess they could sound very much the same to an eight year old boy.

There was no escape, I had to laugh, I had to cry, and I had to give that thoughtful little boy a big Mommy-Loves-You hug, right there on the sidewalk.

Wasn’t part of that Christmas spirit I was trying to teach him that it’s the thought that counts? He got the message better than I could ever have imagined.

Wednesday? Already?

I'm trying to keep to the schedule of posting on Wednesdays, but this short week caught me off guard.

It was Thanksgiving weekend for Canadians, and we were treated to a beautiful few days, except for the rain on Saturday morning. It is cool enough for a jacket, but, boy, the sun feel good.

I already posted about my road trip, and would love to take another. If I want to go back and take pictures of things I saw along our route, I'll need my son to draw me a map. Once we passed the lake, I was basically lost. (So was he for a short time. LOL)

Thanksgiving, turkey dinners, and for the first time, I tasted pumpkin cheesecake, instead of the more traditional pumpkin pie. There are many food traditions associated with this holiday, that I hate to miss.

Turkey sandwiches for one. Nothing tastes better the day after than turkey sandwiches. I had dinner at my daughter's, and she kindly gave me enough for a sandwich yesterday. It tasted so good. Still feel like I'm owed a piece of pumpkin pie though.

It's also apple picking season. I don't make pies like I used to, or homemade apple sauce, so I buy apples one or two at a time, just for eating. I was shocked when told a bushel of apples cost about $25.

I'm going to open the windows, let that fresh and cool air blow through. Too soon it will be too cold and we'll be into November, a usually dreary month when it rains, the frost kills off the garden and the trees are bare.

Let's not even mention freezing cold and snow. I'm not ready yet to go there.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Men Asking Direction

We spent today travelling the back roads, and I mean back roads. From the minute we headed north of Roseneath, I'll admit, I was lost.

My son said he had this fantastic place to show me, so we drove, and drove. We were going through some nice wooded country, on the usual kind of semi paved country roads. There was the odd scattered house, lots of farms, and lots of trees. Most of all there was just Mother Nature's fall show.

At one point I asked my son if he knew where he was, where we were heading, and, of course, he said yes. But then we hit a dirt road, followed by a dead end. We turned around and went back the way we'd come. I was okay with that as, this time, we stopped so I could get a picture of this old house.

But, as we were driving, he asked his wife..."Hon, have you got bars?"

She said yes. "Why?"

I laughed, and answered for him. "Because he wants to know where we are."

We'd come one side road too far for the place we were looking for, and as unique as it was, it was no longer there. That sounds confusing, but the foundation was there, the structure torn down.

I saw the quarry, some falls, lots of colored trees. It was a great day, and even though it rained heavy this morning, and the wind was cool, the sunny was shining, the sky a bright blue.

There was also a suspension bridge that crosses this river. The floor of it is mesh, and you can see through it. When someone walks on it you can feel the change, the bounce. I only went out a couple of feet, felt dizzy and nauseated, and quickly went back to solid land. No way could I go across the whole bridge.

It was a great day, ending with dinner out. A perfect fall day, thanks guys.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Weird Car Noises

Anyone who has read my blog knows about Velma.

A few years ago I was having trouble with my car, and figured we needed to improve our relationship, so I named the car Velma. When she goes to Uncle Brad's garage for some auto repairs, I call it a trip to the spa.

And, if you have read along, you'd know I am absolutely nerve racked when I hear strange noises in the car. I have all these fears of being stranded on the side of the road, and me without a cell phone.

The last few times I have been in the car, I've heard the strangest noises from the back, but never bothered to investigate, until today. 

I was sitting in the car, outside the lab, waiting for my friend. I'd heard the noise again and checked out the back seat, and guess what I found.

Sometimes when I have been out, and missed lunch, I grab a Happy  Meal. Just a quick meal to get me through (I know, I know, a terrible choice). This was the toy that came with the last one, which I gave to one of the grandkids when we were out a week ago.

They left it, turned on, in the cup holder of the back seat, resting on its belly, so every time it bounced, it hit the button and said "Oh Yeah!" 

There was my noise, so now all I have to worry about is the squeak that Velma makes when I back up. I still see a spa trip in her future.