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Are We There Yet 2022

Feeling a little down lately?  Not too happy with yourself or not where you think you should be at this point in your life?

This is not a new concept…when we look at ourselves, we see ourselves through a different lens than everyone else.  And it isn’t the rose-colored glasses I’m talking about.

It is a fact… that we are harder on ourselves than we would ever be to anyone else.  Why is that?  Why can’t we treat ourselves with the respect, kindness and forgiveness or slack we so willingly afford to others?

I’d like you to do an exercise.  It’s a simple one, but it’s powerful.

Imagine you can clone yourself.  There are now two of you.
Shortly after that, you get amnesia.
The very next day, you come face to face with your clone.
When you meet this amazing person, what would you think of them?
Think about this for a second.   Just the pause I know you are now in the middle of should tell yourself something important.  Are you smiling?  You should be.
You should be saying to yourself, “They were …I am … a pretty awesome human being.”

I know it seems a bit silly and trivial, but try it.  You may even catch yourself smiling, even if just for a second.
You’re more awesome than you think. Even if you don’t think so, there are many others around you who do.
I love you, so give yourself a break.  XO
Front porch flowers

"Are we there yet?" 

That brings me back to the long car rides my dad and mom used to take us on when we were little in the woody wagon. Dad was a shoe salesman and loved to drive (that's where I get it from!) We would often bellow out from the backseat "Are we there yet?!!!" Funny but I loved the drive more than the destination most times!!!
It made me think about how so many times in our lives we are chasing the future without realizing the magic in the present.

I often go for walks through the small town of Vincentown. As I make my way down the tiny historic streets with their welcoming porches, I see many residents working tirelessly on their yards. This makes me smile as my dad loved to garden and took such pride in his tomato and vegetable garden, as well as his front yard on Fountain Avenue in Cinnaminson.
I make sure to take the time to say that I notice and appreciate their efforts and their response is always the same: "It's getting there!"

Funny how we view things. All I see is a beautiful garden that is growing and is vibrant. All they see is what is unfinished, as if the beauty of what they have created doesn't count until everything is "done".
But what is "done" after all?

I think we can say the same about ourselves and sometimes how we look at others. We look past the beauty and the good of what is before our eyes and the only thing that seems to scream out at us is the unfinished or the flawed.

I believe life is fluid, we are constantly growing and changing, like a garden. There is beauty in every step of the journey for we are learning something every new day. Sometimes we just can't see the bud for the weeds.

Focus on the now. The today. The beauty of who you are both inside and out. And remember, we are all gardens in the works.

And next time someone pays you a compliment, instead of saying "it's getting there or I'm getting there" just simply say, "THANK YOU."

Love you all!

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Picture Books and the Power of Connection

It’s never too early to start reading with your child. Research has shown that there are many benefits such as increasing vocabulary, developing fine motor skills and enhancing brain development.

Data from organizations such as Reach Out and Read supports that children who are exposed to reading and books from the time they are born to age 5 will have a 6 month advantage as opposed to children entering Kindergarten who have not already been exposed prior to entering school.

One of the most important benefits you will gain from reading with your child is that time to connect. A sacred space of time that is just between the two of you…an opportunity to form a special bond with your little one.

Even if you are afraid you cannot read well to your child, don’t worry. Picture books are a marvelous way to share special moments with your child.
With the turn of every page, you receive a goldmine full of powerful information about what your child is receiving from the images on the page. This gives them an opportunity to point, giggle, laugh, squeal or grunt and express emotions as you both walk through the story together. Pay attention to their facial expressions…their eyes, their smiles or frowns! Let them turn the pages! That’s part of the fun!

For children a little older, use the pictures as an opportunity to ask them questions about what’s happening in the story. Oftentimes, children do not know how to express what they are feeling on any given day. One of the greatest gifts you can give a child is teaching them how to name, identify and manage their emotions. Picture books can be a marvelous tool in giving you a jumping off point to have an insightful conversation. Who are the characters? What is happening to them? What do you think they are feeling? What was the story about? How did it end? Can you relate with any of the characters? Why or why not? How did their actions make you feel?

Time flies by so quickly. You will only have this time once, you can’t get it back. Storytime for you could be in the morning, afternoon or evening. It only takes 10 minutes. I know grandparents who are participating in storytime with their littles virtually! Making storytime a consistent part of a child’s schedule gives you both something to look forward to and let’s them know they are important to you.
There is nothing stopping you. I guarantee, you will get as much or more out of the precious time spent with your child reading a book than you could possibly imagine.

If you need a book…message me at lgrahambook@gmail.com and I’ll send you The Adventures of Finley and Cisco at no charge. I’ll even autograph it for your little.
We can all make an impact in the life of a child and this is one of my favorite ways.
Happy reading!

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LOVED-20 Reach Out and Connect Movement: Helping Our Children Find Their Passion

On August 21, 2020, we lost a legend. Sir Ken Robinson, a New York Times bestselling author, led national and international projects on creative and cultural education across the world, unlocking and igniting the creative energy of people and organizations.

He felt very strongly about the importance of empowering children through support of activities which allowed them the space and freedom to create.
One of his best-selling books, The Element, said it best. According to Robinson, “The Element is where natural talents meet personal passions. To be in your Element, it’s not enough to be doing something you’re good at… To be in your Element you have to love it: if you do, you’ll never ‘work’ again.”
This defender of natural creative ability, especially in children, recognizes creativity as the chance to explore new ways, face challenges, and solve problems. It ties beautifully into the buzz about SEL (Social Emotional Learning) and Mindfulness, or having mindful moments, to help a child deal with everyday’s life challenges. If a child is happy and involved in activities they enjoy doing, it will help them deal with the everyday “tests of life” (Dr. Maurice Elias, Director of the Character Development Lab, Rutgers University).

So how can we help our children get on the right path to self-expression and ultimately finding their passion?
A good start is to dedicate time each day to allow your child to use their imaginations and express themselves creatively: i.e. coloring, painting, writing stories, poems, dancing, singing, making music, or play acting. Mr. Rogers, legendary TV icon, or the Compassion Amabassador as I like to call him, emphasizes how much insight you can derive from paying attention to your child’s play. You should get a good indication if your child is sad, happy, angry, upset, frustrated or confused about something. In carving out time each day for your child to explore different forms of creativity (don’t push them into something they are repeatedly and clearly unhappy doing!) hopefully they will find not only what they are good at, but what makes them truly happy while doing it!

Take your time and have patience. The main thing is to let your child know that whatever they are feeling is ok and now you will have a good jumping off point to have a discussion based on the emotions that are expressing.

Good luck!

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LOVED-20 Reach Out and Connect Movement Thought for the Day:
The Fable of the Wind and the Sun

Good morning! Beautiful day!
As you enjoy today and count your blessings remember the message from Aesop’s fable of the wind and the sun: “The sun can make you take off your coat more quickly than the wind.”

Whenever possible, always choose kindness over being mean and hurtful.
It reminds me of the saying we were taught from the time we were little: You attract more bees with honey than with vinegar.
And we need the bees now more than ever!
A powerful  lesson not only for our children, but all of us as well.
You are loved and important and you matter to someone.
Take some time today to reach out and connect with a person who is very special to you, especially if you haven’t done so for some time. And if you know of someone who is alone, let them know you are thinking of them. Even though you cannot share your physical presence with another right now, the distance your heart can travel has no limits.
One small gesture of kindness can change the world, one random act of kindness at a time.  And if you are hesitant, just remember how special it made you feel when someone did that for you.
If this blog post inspires you, please visit our Podcast Series “Tell Me” which focuses on the Power of One, which enables each of us to create moments that can change a life for the better. https://tellme.buzzsprout.com/
Until next time, be kind, be safe and be well!

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LOVED-20 Reach Out and Connect Movement Thought for the Day:
Calming your child’s fears and answering their questions

"Mommy, why doesn't anyone want to play with me anymore?"
A good friend of mine said her grandson asked this question of his mom the other day. The lack of in-person playtime was clearly confusing to him and he just didn't understand why things were different now. He thought there was something wrong with him and that he was the reason friends were not coming to his house for play dates anymore.
Go one step further. Later that night he snuggled close while being tucked into bed and whispered, "Mommy are you going to die?"
These are all valid questions and while difficult to process at the time these words come through these quiet little voices, their message is LOUD AND CLEAR. I am scared, confused, worried, frightened and just don't understand what is happening.
The book "Dear Mister Rogers...Does It Ever Rain In Your Neighborhood", is a compilation of letters to and from the COMPASSION AMBASSADOR himself, Fred Rogers. It is full of questions and comments from children and parents to Mr. Rogers himself, their real-life television friend, asking about everything from "Do you go to the bathroom? I never see you poop" to a letter from a parent "Can you please announce when you are feeding the fish because my daughter is blind and gets worried if you don't mention you are feeding the fish while watching the show...she is afraid they will die." Incidentally, that is why Fred ALWAYS took the time to not only feed the fish during every episode but announce when he was doing so. For that one little girl. He was something so special.
The bottom line is that he encourages all of us not to be afraid of or shy away from the questions our children have. The key, no matter how unprepared or thrown off-guard you may be with the curve-ball you've just been thrown, is to stop, take a moment and yes, breathe. This will give you time to think and present caring, thoughtful responses to their very important questions. Because behind those questions are feelings and emotions that are consuming your child at that moment.
Remember there is a feeling behind every interaction. Even if the question isn't phrased this way, the meanings of the feelings and worries behind the questions may be anything from:
Am I going to be able to sleep in my bed tonight?
Will I have a house to live in tomorrow?
If they get sick, will I lose my mommy and daddy or member of my family?
Will I lose my friends if they get sick?
Will I ever see my friends again?
Will I be able to eat breakfast (or lunch, or dinner) tomorrow?
Will I have clothes to wear?
And most of all, will you stop loving me because...
The questions, no matter how silly or outlandish or ridiculous they may seem to you, are very real to them. And we need to validate their feelings to reassure them that this isn't their fault, these are grownup problems, and as grownups we are doing the very best we can to find the helpers and ensure they are taken care of.
Most of all, children just need to know that they are not only safe, but loved.
You can do this! I have faith in you. Just listen and remember, you were a child once. In fact, no doubt in my mind we still are and always will be. And we will always have a longing to be safe, needed and loved.

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LOVED-20 Reach Out and Connect Movement Thought for the Day:
Helping Our Children Cope by Identifying and Expressing Their Feelings

When kids learn to manage their emotions in childhood it leads to positive attitudes and behaviors later in life.
An online article from kidshelpline talked about the value in helping kids identify and express their feelings and things to encourage and look for in their daily activities.
According to the article, children who learn healthy ways to express and cope with their feelings are more likely to:
Be empathic and supportive of others
Perform better in school and their career
Have more positive and stable relationships
Have good mental health and well being
Display less behavioral problems
Develop resilience and coping skills
Feel more competent, capable and confident
Have a positive sense of self
Here are some of the ways you can help your child learn about and express their feelings:
  • Tune into cues - Sometimes feelings can be hard to identify. Tune into your child’s feelings by looking at their body language, listening to what they’re saying and observing their behavior. Figuring out what they feel and why means you can help them identify, express and manage those feelings better.
  • Behind every behavior is a feeling - Try to understand the meaning and feeling behind your child’s behavior. You can help your child find other ways to express that feeling once you know what is driving the behavior.
  • Name the feeling - Help your child name their feelings by giving them a label. Naming feelings is the first step in helping kids learn to identify them. It allows your child to develop an emotional vocabulary so they can talk about their feelings.
  • Identify feelings in others – Provide lots of opportunities to identify feelings in others. You might ask your child to reflect on what someone else may be feeling. Cartoons or picture books are a great way discuss feelings and helps kids learn how to recognize other people’s feelings through facial expressions.
  • Be a role model - Kids learn about feelings and how to express them appropriately by watching others. Show your child how you’re feeling about different situations and how you deal with those feelings.
  • Encourage with praise - Praise your child when they talk about their feelings or express them in an appropriate way. Not only does it show that feelings are normal and it’s okay to talk about them, it reinforces the behavior so they are likely to repeat it.
  •  Listen to your child’s feelings - Stay present and resist the urge to make your child’s bad feelings go away. Support your child to identify and express their feelings so they are heard. When feelings are minimized or dismissed, they will often be expressed in unhealthy ways.
Fred Rogers once said that children often act out what they are scared or unsure about through their play. Encourage them to draw, write stories, color and act out plays to help express themselves.

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LOVED-20 Reach Out And Connect Movement Thought for the Day:
It’s not a sprint…it’s a marathon

When I was in the beginning stages of writing my children’s book and developing a positive mission statement, some days I would become frustrated because I didn’t feel things were progressing as they should. Then a wise friend of mine said, “The thing to remember about this journey of yours is that it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”
And it made me think. So often, we question God’s purpose and plan for us, particularly the timing of how everything is supposed to play out. Many times, God’s timing did not jive with what I thought my timing should be.
That was a few years ago and there are days when I still become impatient with where I am and where I think I should be. Fast forward to today and boy, talk about everything being turned upside down and inside out and sideways.
I have three beautiful children and they are each at different points in their lives. My husband and I are at different points in our lives from them. And my mother-in-law is at yet another point in her life from us.
In a Podcast interview with a good friend of mine, Erin Lawler Patterson, aka The Goodness Chick, we touched on reminiscing about the Color Runs that were held at Seneca HS. That made me think of the life journey we are on. If you think about our lives before COVID-19 as a sprint, everyone was, including me, running around the same large track we call life.
Then zoom out after COVID-19 and see that we are no longer running. We are now walking, together, on the same track. Young and old, perhaps moving at slightly different gates and at different positions, we are together. We are scared, frightened, confused, frustrated, angry, feeling helpless and sometimes hopeless… but we are still walking and experiencing all of it…TOGETHER.
The goal my friends, as Joanna Gaines said in my earlier blog, is to just keep moving…forward. Some may even have to crawl, and that’s ok. Just keep moving. Keep breathing, keep living. Like the color run, life is full of vibrant moments to fill our cup, as Erin says. Right now it may seem black and white, but the color is there waiting to be rediscovered.
This time for reflection is going to affect every single person very differently. Some are finding their strength through a new or slightly redirected purpose, others are feeling as if their purpose has been diminished or erased. We need to be gentle with each other, patient with each other, and create space for listening to each other. We don’t have to have all the answers…just the ears and heart to listen. And no doubt some of the toughest conversations we will have will be with our kids. Be kind and try not to be judgmental. Just listen and offer support.
Those special moments you carve out to be there for someone just may help them take that next step around…or to get back on… the track… They need to keep moving forward. Please don’t underestimate the power listening holds to do this for someone.
And if you are the one who is feeling lonely or hopeless, please reach out to someone. And if you can’t think of anyone, you can e-mail me at lgrahambook@gmail.com, and I will make time for you.
So, here I am, walking the talk. I am so happy to announce that our new Podcast, Tell Me, is up on Apple I-Tunes as well as other formats. The link for the new podcast is https://tellme.buzzsprout.com/…it’s all about how the Power of One allows each of us to create a moment that can change a life for the better.
I hope it will inspire you. If it does, I hope you will subscribe and share. We all need to connect, and this is my way of reaching out. Unemployed and all!
Until next time, be well!
 

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LOVED-20 Reach Out and Connect Thought for the Day:
What is my purpose for today?

I wish I could go back in time and tell that little girl (me) that not only was she enough. She was extraordinary.“   Joanna Gaines, Darling Magazine Quarterly Article
“Darling”, an independent, quarterly print women’s magazine founded by Sarah Dubbeldam, has a “no-retouching” policy and was developed upon a foundation of empowerment of women. The magazine subtitle includes “Wisdom For the Modern Woman” and claims the slogan, “the art of being a woman.”
I recently read an interview she conducted with Joanna Gaines, who has built a community entitled “On Creating A Life You Love.” Joanna Stevens Gaines is both co-owner, co-founder of Magnolia, and was co-star of HGTV’s Fixer Upper with her husband Chip. She appreciates the old ways of living, simple and hard-working with home at the center. Born in Kansas and raised in the Lone Star State, Joanna graduated from Baylor University with a degree in Communications, and was inspired to join the world of design while interning in New York. Off-the-beaten-path boutiques felt like home in the midst of the big city.
A few things stood out to me in the article and I thought they tied in nicely to what our blog is all about, connecting and letting people know that they are loved, valued and relevant. And we all have a purpose.
She remembers growing up as a little girl and getting teased at school because she was half Korean. She says to any young person struggling with their self-worth: “I wish I could go back in time and tell that little girl (me) that not only was she enough. She was extraordinary.”
Who would think that someone so naturally beautiful in so many ways, including resonating a genuine, warm, personality, with so much to offer, would have ever struggled?
Even at a young age, one thing she was certain of: she knew that she loved serving people. Even though she had two sisters, to keep busy, she spent a lot of time alone at home organizing backyard carnivals and setting up small businesses, including running a highly popular hot dog stand situated in the parking lot of her father’s business. Hot dogs were delicious and free, and she said she learned so much from being given a sense of purpose through the opportunity to run something so important.
On the subject of finding our purpose? She talks about how finding your purpose takes time. As long as you are moving forward, you are working towards that goal. “Even if you’re moving forward some place different from where you’re destined to end up, at least it’s pointing you forward. I say just get up and go. Even if that means working a hot dog stand. I don’t care. Just do something.”
Instead of worrying about the purpose for your life, she invites and challenges us to think about it this way. What is my purpose for TODAY?
“As a kid, our purpose was to have fun. When we are older, it feels like it is to survive. I feel like there must be a middle ground here. Life is about marrying fun and work, responsibility and freedom, play and rest. I believe our purpose is to enjoy this life, to serve one another and bring each other joy through kindness and care. I hope you can remember each day when we wake up to ENJOY.”

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LOVED-20 Reach Out and Connect Movement Thought for the Day:
Everyone Needs a Support System

I have said this before, “Why is it we don’t give time the value and respect it deserves until we have so little of it left?”
But what about when we have too much time on our hands? Two things happened to me today. I learned of two special people who are elderly, who do not have a support system (family and friends) who live alone and are having trouble with too much time on their hands. So much time to think and often, worry. There are just not enough distractions or worthwhile moments to fill their day. They are very lonely and simply have the television on 24 hours a day just so they don’t have to hear themselves talk. And depending on what they are watching, this could make their mood and outlook even worse.
We all have people that we know in our lives who fit this description. I ask you today to take the time and connect with them. Let them know you were thinking about them and that you care how they are doing and feeling. Maybe set up a time that you can connect with them on a regular basis, weekly or every other day as you see fit.
It may seem like such a small thing, but it will give them something to look forward to and it will mean the world to them. And me.


 

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LOVED-20 Reach Out and Connect Thought for the Day:
 “Friendship with one’s self is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.” Eleanor Roosevelt

I marvel at the unending array of inspirational quotes this amazing woman has gifted us with.
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was an American political figure, diplomat and activist. She served as the First Lady of the United States from March 4, 1933, to April 12, 1945, during her husband President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four terms in office, making her the longest-serving First Lady of the United States. Roosevelt served as United States Delegate to the United Nations General Assembly from 1945 to 1952.
Yet growing up, being loved a little was the best Eleanor Roosevelt ever wished for. In a recent documentary, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History – In The Arena” we learn that she felt perfectly insecure in her own feelings of self-worth during her upbringing. Her mother, Anna Hall, was an extremely beautiful woman who had been disappointed in her daughter’s looks. She often referred to her as “Granny” making her feel unattractive and diminished. As a result, Eleanor Roosevelt grew up feeling like her mother never loved her and that her mother thought she was nothing but a failure.
How very tragic.
Her mother was also self obsessed and was subject to headaches. She would allow Eleanor, at a very young age, to rub her forehead and soothe her for hours. According to Biographer Blanche Wiesen Cook, Eleanor wrote that it was then she realized that the way to be loved was to be of use to others.
She lost both of her parents by the age of ten and felt responsible for the care of her younger brother. Sent to live in an abusive and turbulent household with unstable relatives, she was a very lonely little girl. As a result, she was afraid of everything and everyone, fearing she always had to please.
Then President Theodore Roosevelt, her uncle, was especially warm toward his late brother’s daughter. It was said she was his favorite niece. But he was larger than life and she was timid and frightened by his boisterous nature.
His sister, Bammy, however, was the Power of One adult that was her salvation. She took an interest in Eleanor and it was her caring that turned her life around. She recommended she attend an all girls school, Allenswood Academy, outside of London.
It was here that for the first time all her fears left her. She said it was the happiest three years of her life. She was challenged to be socially conscious and was asked, “Why was your mind given to you?” It was there she learned the power of discipline, gained emotional energy and further developed her nature of empathy.
A cousin said that eventually she was the most admired girl in the school. According to Eleanor, it was the first time she felt deeply loved and loved in return. Years later, she added that whatever I have become had its seeds in those three years of contact with a liberal mind and a strong personality.
How extraordinary that because of the sadness she endured in her youth, her empathy for others enabled her to connect to other people for whom fate had also dealt an unkind hand. The strength she drew from that connection could be expressed through her vulnerability in helping others.
She never forgot the lesson of servitude in the years that were to follow in both her private and public life.
She is truly special.
 

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LOVED-20 Reach Out And Connect Thought for the Day:
“I Was Just Doing My Job”

I had two wonderful experiences today…one with my insurance rep, Troy, and another with a software technician, John. Both calls were made to ask for assistance with issues I was having. One was to see what help, if any, my insurance carrier was giving regarding delaying premium collections for those out of work indefinitely (my husband and I); and the other was seeking help for a computer file that needed tech intervention.
Both were very important issues that required swift resolutions and while they might not seem as significant as other issues of the day, they were causing me much stress.
Can I tell you that the kindness and professionalism the two of these men showed to me during our brief virtual encounters provided the peace of mind I needed to, yes, face yet another day of unknowns.
Were my problems fixed completely? One yes, the other, we are continuing to work on resolving the issue tomorrow morning. But they both made me feel as though my problem was their problem and they were as eager to solve it as I so desperately needed it to be solved.
What touched my heart the most was that during both calls, we were able to hold space to have a human to human exchange, not just one consumed by my problems and challenges, but one to connect as parents and children struggling to get through each day. And all it took was me asking, “How are you today? Where are you from and how are you managing?”
I truly believe we are all just trying to do the best we can. And for those of us who are lucky enough to still be working, God Bless you. In reality, we are all just this side of confidence and stability, from one day to the next.
So if you want to know how to create a moment that will inspire someone…the next time you are on the phone with a perfect stranger, take an interest in them as a human being, not just a professional or hired hand on the other side of the connection. We all have families, have issues, have worries, have hearts.
You don’t have to have lost your job to hold space for someone who has lost theirs. You don’t have to have someone in the hospital to hold space for someone who does. You don’t have to have a family member or close friend working on the front lines sacrificing so much to hold space for someone who does.
Call them, reach out and connect however way you see fit. And just hold that sacred space for a conversation which can simply begin with, “Tell me…I’m here to listen. I might not be able to fix it or change the outcome, but I care about what you are feeling and am here to walk through this with you.”

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LOVED-20 Reach Out and Connect Thought for the Day:
Life Lessons taken from SEL are just as important to emphasize while spending extra time with our kids.

Hooray to all parents! You are our heroes as you try to juggle all the responsibilities on your plate. I am sure by now you are understandably reaching the end of your nerves and creativity with things to do with your kids while at home.
In between academics, why not work in some valuable time for life lessons? Educating the heart is just as important as educating the mind. Social Emotional Learning or SEL concepts teach wonderful values that can help our children be more mindful of their actions and aid in understanding their role in maintaining healthy relationships with others.
You can work very simple concepts into your daily routine. For example, when I present at an assembly, I ask the children to recognize that we are all different by having them look at one another. We continue to talk about how what makes us different from each other makes us unique and special. There is no other person exactly like you in the world and that is on purpose! You are a MASTERPIECE!!
Then I show them a picture of a heart and explain that the one thing we all have in common when we are born is a pure, beautiful heart – full of the capacity to love but also full of the capacity to hurt.
I proceed to crumple the picture of the heart as I give an example of an unkind moment that can occur on a playground, bus, cafeteria or bathroom. As the heart is opened back up, there are wrinkles on the paper. I explain that the lines are now “hurt lines” we have placed on another’s heart.
The hurt lines have their names on it until they apologize to the person they were unkind to. I challenge them by asking them this question, “How do you want to be remembered? As the person who helped to put a hurt line on someone’s heart or someone who helped to prevent it?”
We talk about the importance of apologizing when we make a mistake, but also how important it is to forgive others. I add that often times someone is unkind because they are hurting themselves or experiencing pain we can’t often see. Once we apologize to someone we’ve hurt, the hurt line becomes a healthy heart line again! The kids really love this visual and understand it completely.
We all have talents and kindness to offer one another. Easy ways we can help our children understand this is by encouraging them to draw a picture, sing a song or write a poem or note for someone. They can even practice this at home with their siblings if they have a disagreement or argument. Saying “I’m sorry for what I did and if I hurt you” goes a long way in teaching our children how to own their behavior and how to help others, including themselves, heal in a loving way.
Explaining to children that being different, embracing what makes others different and being accountable for their actions is how we can show them THEY too can make a difference in this world!

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LOVED-20 Reach Out and Connect Thought for the Day:
Pray for Children Who Are Loved and Who Need Love

This is an oldie but a goodie. I found this article folded up into quarters while going through an old jewelry box. Another reprint of a tearjerker from Agibail Van Buren, aka Dear Abbey.
We pray for children who sneak popsicles before supper. Who erase holes in math workbooks. Who can never find their shoes.
And we pray for those who stare at photographers from behind barbed wires. Who can’t bound down the street in a new pair of sneakers. Who never “counted potatoes.” Who are born in places we wouldn’t be caught dead in. Who never saw a circus. Who live in an X-rated world.
We pray for children who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions. Who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money.
And we pray for those who never get dessert. Who have no security blanket to drag behind them. Who watch their parents watch them die. Who can’t find any bread to steal.
Who don’t have any rooms to clean up. Whose pictures aren’t on anybody’s dresser. Whose monsters are real.
We pray for children who spend all their allowance before Tuesday. Who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food.
Who like ghost stories. Who shove their dirty clothes under the bed and never rinse out the tub. Who get visits from the tooth fairy. Who don’t like to be kissed in front of the carpool. Who squirm in church or temple and scream into the phone.
Whose tears we sometimes laugh at. And whose smiles can make us cry.
And we pray for those whose nightmares come in the daytime. Who will eat anything. Who have never seen a dentist. Who aren’t spoiled by anybody.
Who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep.
Who live and move, but have no being.
We pray for children who want to be carried. And for those who must be.
For those we never give up on and for those who never get a second chance.
For those we smother and for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it.
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” – Mother Teresa

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LOVED-20 Reach Out and Connect Thought for the Day:
What Would Fred Rogers Say To Parents Today

In thinking about the current crisis, and all of the fear, anxiety and doubt we are feeling about our worthiness (or unworthiness) to fix this tragedy on many different levels, I couldn’t help but wish we had access to my hero, Fred Rogers, to help talk us off of the ledge. Then I thought of his PSA after the 9/11 tragedy and how his words are just as relevant and useful today.
Only two weeks after the 900th episode and 30 years of broadcasting Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, the 9/11 tragedy occured. In the Podcast, “Finding Fred”, hosted by Bestselling Author and Cultural Critic Carvell Wallace, his long-time producer, Margie Whitmer shares that he was so distraught he told himself “I am not the savior and I can’t save the world.”
As he so often did during times of tragedy, Fred was asked to tape a Public Service Announcement to help calm the fears of children who were frightened and confused at what was going on in the world. Over the years, Fred often wondered if he was effective, but he knew that his show had mattered. Those close to him convinced him to do one last public address.
Right before he was to go to the studio to do the taping, Whitmer says that she found him in his office asking himself, “Why am I doing these? These aren’t going to do any good.” She assured him that they indeed were making a difference and that people listened to what he had to say. He went to the studio, sat down at his place of solace, the piano, and began speaking to the camera.
What you come to realize as you listen to the end of the exchange is that he wasn’t just talking to the young children, he was speaking to the child in all of us. The following is taken from the PSA.
“I’m just so proud of all of you who have grown up with us. And I know how tough it is some days to look with hope and confidence on the months and years ahead.
But I would like to tell you what I often told you when you were much younger. I like you just the way you are. And what’s more, I’m so grateful to you for helping the children in your life to know that you’ll do everything you can to keep them safe and to help them express their feelings in ways that will bring healing in many different neighborhoods.
It’s such a good feeling to know that we’re lifelong friends.”
Carvell explains that as adults, we want to fix things. We sometimes feel we are never doing quite enough to fix the problems and we become overwhelmed with feelings of unworthiness. Tryng to feel the need to fix everything by ourselves is a tough burden to carry alone. What we can do is reach out to and for eachother. Everyone has something essential inside they can offer.
Throughout the years Fred often shared the story his mother would tell him in times of tragedy. “Notice the people who are helping during timeof crisis. There’s always someone trying to help. Look for the helpers.”
For inspiration and with the luxury of technology, I leave you with the words of this amazing human being, who knew how to speak to the child in all of us, to let us know that we are enough, just the way we are. And that doing the best we can is all we can do. And that’s ok.

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LOVED-20 Reach Out and Connect Thought for the Day:
Finding and Celebrating the Joy in Little Things

It’s a scary time I know. It’s hard to feel happy when good things happen to us during this time of suffering and want for so many and not feel guilty by comparison. But it’s so important to allow yourself to feel joy in the little moments that happen to help keep you going.
Researcher Brene Brown has found that the people who find this easier are the people that practice gratitude. Although it’s hard, I try to make this a daily part of my routine.
For example, with the free time I now have from our entertainment business being temporarily shut-down, I have found immense joy in recently (just last night) coming across the following little treasures:
Little keep sake boxes which contain locks of hair I had tucked away in an old jewelry box for all three of my children’s first haircuts…including one my mother set aside for me!
My original engagement ring and wedding band I had cleverly hidden away to have repaired for broken prongs and loose stones at a later date. I hid it so well, I thought it was lost. I just found it.
Countless handwritten (remember those?) notes, cards and letters of appreciation from various people in my life of all ages that I saved to pull from my reserve for the “I’m not _____ enough days…
And this beautiful re-print of an editorial posted by Abigail Van Buren, otherwise known affectionately as “Dear Abby”… a loved columnist and activist when I was growing up. This is what it said:
Dear Abby: I am enclosing a copy of ”A Parent`s Prayer,” which I clipped from your column 24 years ago. I put it on my bulletin board as a constant reminder when the eldest of my three children was just an infant. It has helped me a lot along the way, and I know it can help other parents, too. As you can see, it is worn and faded, but it has survived three moves.
Many thanks for the help and inspiration I received from this prayer. I hope you will print it again.
Dear Abby writes in return: Dear Mrs. Morningstar: With the hope that it will help other young parents, I am printing it again–on Mother`s Day. It was written by the late Garry C. Myers, the founder of Highlights for Children, a wholesome, educational monthly magazine–now in its fourth generation:
A PARENT`S PRAYER
”Oh heavenly Father, make me a better parent. Help me to understand my children, to listen patiently to what they have to say and to understand all their questions kindly. Keep me from interrupting them, talking back to them and contradicting them. Make me as courteous to them as I would have them be to me. Give me the courage to confess my sins against my children and ask them forgiveness, when I know that I have done wrong.
”May I not vainly hurt the feelings of my children. Forbid that I should laugh at their mistakes, or resort to shame and ridicule as punishment. Let me not tempt a child to lie and steal. So guide me hour by hour that I may demonstrate by all I say and do that honesty produces happiness.
”Reduce, I pray, the meanness in me. May I cease to nag; and when I am out of sorts, help me, Oh Lord, to hold my tongue. Blind me to the little errors of my children and help me to see the good things that they do. Give me a ready word for honest praise.
”Help me to treat my children as those of their own age, but let me not exact of them the judgments and conventions of adults. Allow me not to rob them of the opportunity to wait upon themselves, to think, to choose and to make their own decisions.
”Forbid that I should ever punish them for my selfish satisfaction. May I grant them all their wishes that are reasonable and have the courage always to withhold a privilege that I know will do them harm.
”Make me so fair and just, so considerate and companionable to my children that they will have genuine esteem for me. Fit me to be loved and imitated by my children. Oh God, do give me calm and poise and self-control.”
After the reprint as requested, the woman wrote back to Dear Abby saying this:
Last Father`s Day I wrote such a letter to my father. I put into words how important he was in my life and how much I appreciated all he had done for me.
He died three weeks ago and will never see another Father`s Day. I am so glad I didn`t wait to write that letter.
Friends who attended my father`s funeral commented on how calm I was. Abby, that letter was the reason. My father died knowing how much I loved him. There was nothing I left unsaid. I felt at peace with myself.
Thank you for that suggestion. I had no idea when I wrote that letter to my dad that it would help me through a very trying time. My mother will receive a similar letter this Mother`s Day.
At peace in Minnesota.

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LOVED-20 Reach Out and Connect Thought for the Day:
You are enough to tell someone they are enough.

You don’t have to be a musician to love music
You don’t have to be an artist to appreciate a piece of art
You don’t have to be in the medical profession to care for the sick
You don’t have to be an author to get lost in a good story
You don’t have to be an ordained priest or minister to believe in a higher power
You don’t have to be a counselor to “see” someone
You are enough to tell someone else they are enough
As Teddy Roosevelt once said: “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Don’t let that stop you from reaching out and connecting with someone today.

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LOVED-20 Reach Out and Connect Thought for the Day:
“What’s the best thing that’s happened to you today?”

As part of the LOVED-20 Reach Out and Connect movement, each day I have set out with intention to create powerful moments that matter in the most ordinary of settings, in a very small period of time.
I want to show you how you can do this too. Whether at Wawa, Shoprite or any checkout situation, I ask the cashier or gas attendant (for example) “What’s the best thing that’s happened to you today?” I love this question because it doesn’t allow for a closed-ended one-word answer as the question “How are you today?” which usually invokes a response such as “fine, good, ok, etc,.. Instead, it makes them stop and think about what they are grateful for in that moment.
Not only does this disarm people, as they are pleasantly surprised that I am “seeing them” as a human being and asking them to share something personal with me (as opposed to a “hired hand”) but I think it helps to brighten their work experience by breaking up the monotony of their shift.
In just the last 48 hours, these are some of the special responses I have received:
“A regular customer of mine told me last week he was worried that his son had the virus…he came back today and told me it was a mild case of the flu and that he was going to be okay! I prayed for him and his son, so I guess God gave me something in return!!…”
“I’ve worked so many hours but I finally got some sleep last night and found out I got promoted!…”
“Today before I came to work, I was able to get back in touch with the things I loved to do as a child, such as crocheting…”
“I’ve become closer to my family members, we are spending more time together and realizing how important it is. I’m so lucky to have a job and realize how blessed I am.”
One young teenager remarked, “I found a quarter today!” I said “That’s great!” as I remembered a story my daughter had told me that a music director from college had shared with students their first day of class.
When his wife was growing up, before going to bed her parents would say to her, “Good night, we love you and we’re glad you’re alive.” She passed this on to her husband, who told the students the following story:
One day as I was making my way across campus, I came upon a young woman who was a student of mine. She was visibly distraught so I stopped and asked her if she was ok. For the next 5 to 10 minutes or so, she shared her heart-wrenching story with me. As I listened, I found myself shifting my weight from my left to my right foot and back again. My hands were in my pockets and I could feel the loose change jingling within my fingertips. I knew I didn’t have anything profound to say to make things better, I just knew how important it was for her in that moment to have someone take the time to listen.
As we were saying goodbye, a moment of divine inspiration came upon me and in an awkward exchange I pulled out a quarter, handed it to her and said “I’m glad you’re alive!”
They parted, and she must have shared what happened with friends and other students, because it went viral across campus. He told the students that after that day he would find random quarters lined up on his piano from students returning his gesture of kindness.
After the cashier in the checkout line heard the story, I wasn’t sure what his impression was. As he handed me my receipt he thanked me and said “Hey, by the way, really cool story! Thanks for sharing that!”
Another cashier the next day told me that nothing good had happened to her that day and she just had that “eyes-glazed-over what time do I get off” look. I took a chance and told her the story anyway, and when she handed me my receipt and I was about to leave with my groceries, I put a quarter in her hand and said, “I’m glad you’re alive, and I hope your day gets better!”
All of a sudden the expression-less young face broke out into a beautiful smile. She didn’t look me in the eye, but looked down as if to try and process what had just happened. As I walked away I turned back around one more time before I left the store and saw that she was still smiling. I think she was in shock.
We may never know if the kind gestures we offer to others in our bid for connection will make a difference in their lives. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. It takes courage to reach out for fear of rejection, but when you know your motive is to show kindness and compassion, especially in unsettling times such as these, it’s worth the risk to me.
I believe any bid for connection where kindness and compassion are at the core are never in vain.

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