Category Archives: Doing Good

Every day is a choice, choose well.

Every day is a choice, choose well.
Every day is a choice, choose well.
Your ability to live at your highest level may be challenged, some days are harder than others. Life continually surprises you, but at times the surprises are wonderful and amazing.
You don’t need to say everything you think, you don’t need to act on every thought, and sometimes taking a deep breath truly does make a difference.
Being kind and doing all the good you can not only improves the world around you, but that kindness and goodness is beneficial to the quality of your life as well.
Fall Afternoon in Amawalk...

Fall Afternoon in Amawalk…

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World AIDS Day, Friendship & Making A Difference

World AIDS Day, Friendship & Making A Difference

On World AIDS Day, and always, I remember my dear friend Silvio – “Sal”.  We met at three years old in dance class –  went all through school, community theatre, Broadway treks, and exploring NYC together. Regardless of where we were at in life, we always kept in touch and maintained a life long friendship. I spoke with him often during his final days at Cabrini Medical Center, until he literally could not speak anymore. When he died, the devastation of AIDS became a personal issue for me. I looked for ways to honor Silvio’s memory, but also to make a difference in his name. My search led me to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS & God’s Love We Deliver – two organizations that I am proudly a part of still. While today we do not experience the daily loss of family, friends, and co-workers as I did starting in the early 80′s – we are still a world in which HIV/AIDS is a health issue that needs to be eradicated. The focus in ways has changed, due to the hard work of many, to assist and encourage long lives of those living with HIV/AIDS. There is great hope, and good outcomes – but AIDS is still a killer among us. Today on World AIDS Day, and always, look for ways to do good, be educated, and make a difference.

 

Pat & Silvio

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Fashion Reboot – Edit Your Wardrobe, Upgrade Your Style

Fashion Reboot – Edit Your Wardrobe, Upgrade Your Style

Imagine if every item of clothing, shoes and accessories that you owned were the inventory of your own personal store – sorted by size, color, and department. Now imagine that you have unlimited spending power in this custom boutique, what would you buy? I don’t know that any of us would choose to buy everything - remember that sale, that fad, that size you will be soon, or that shoe that ran big? Obviously you wouldn’t buy anything stained or ripped, and you probably would sort out items that needed to be altered to see if they are worth the investment. You definitely would want to try items on, if you have to hold your breath or be in pain while wearing it do you really want to own it? Once you have eliminated the obvious – how do you edit the rest to create your ideal wardrobe?

Jesse Garza & Joe Lupo of Visual Therapy have written one of the best five step “get your act together” books for fashion- Nothing to Wear? From defining your style to maintaining and nurturing your new sense of style, this is a gift to all who want to establish their very own fashion sense to those who are ready to take it to the next level.

Nothing to Wear? is a great framework to build your wardrobe, Jesse and Joe also have written Work It!: Visual Therapy’s Guide to Your Ultimate Career Wardrobe and Life in Color: The Visual Therapy Guide to the Perfect Palette — for Fashion, Beauty, and You! Once you have the basics down, you can build from there. The basics really work for everyone and make a difference not only for your professional life and major events, but for your day to day activities. Who hasn’t met someone they would like to make a good impression on in the supermarket or at the post office? You can be at your best even in your “running errands” gear.

I like to revisit step #2  - Edit Your Wardrobe – every so often, especially during my fresh page mindset that comes with each January 1st! My biggest downfall is the idea I grew up with of “saving for good”. While this made sense in the  post depression age of my mom and her generation where budgets were tight, and items were few, realistically right now I will not live long enough to wear what I may be potentially “saving for good”. This also brings about the idea that fewer quality pieces that are versatile make a lot more sense than a closet divided between amazing and, well not so amazing.

Make sure to have the organizing 101 tools of a keep, throw away, and give away box/bin/bag. An additional benefit to editing your wardrobe is the ability to pass on items to those who could really use them. If you have a lot of professional pieces make sure to check with local organizations that assist those searching for a job – they truly appreciate being able to help their clients put their best foot forward while interviewing.

One of the best gifts of really putting your wardrobe together is time. If everything you put your hand on is wearable, looks good, is clean and in great condition, and you can locate it easily it will be a game changer. You also add a boost of self confidence when you know you look good,  and you feel good in what you are wearing.

Ferragamo Tina Pump - Brown, Burberry Leather Trimmed Felt Fedora

Ferragamo Tina Pump – Brown, Burberry Leather Trimmed Felt Fedora

 

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Adam Grant, Selfishness, Generosity & Karma

Adam Grant, Selfishness, Generosity & Karma

I am a big fan of Adam Grant, especially his recent book Give and Take.  This morning Adam’s blog asks who is smarter – the selfish or the generous?

Interesting read. I find that many people that take a win at all costs, let’s turn every interaction into a contest of one upping stance never can get out of that loop. It is always the next deal, the next situation to take advantage of, the number of toys they have in relation to their closest competitor (sibling, family, friends, person at the gas station). These are also the folks that tend to judge kindness as naivety , generosity as stupidity and the choice of peace over fighting as weakness.

The sad outcome I have observed is that that lifestyle leads to stress, unhappiness, bad health, selfishness, and broken relationships. Just as there is always a next deal, there is always another person – friend, colleague, partner, spouse – if the current model doesn’t support your idea of self.

The most successful people I know in all aspects of their life learned early, and practice often, the concept of selfless giving. Whether to family, friends, colleagues, or strangers – giving of time, energy and talent is a foundation of their lives. The giving does not have judgement of status, payback or publicity – they give whenever they can because it is the right thing to do. They will give the hand up, the atta boy/girl, the introduction, the opportunity because it feels good, because they can.

These success stories do include people who have achieved great success materially, who have made true change in their field, and who are considered incredibly smart (if not brilliant on a good day).

The selfish or the generous – perhaps both do arrive at the same finish line in the big picture. Maybe, if you judge by those with the most toys, you might be more inclined to see the person who follows the “me first” motto as a clear winner. However, I believe the quality of a generous life versus a selfish life is richer. I wholeheartedly believe in Karma, and I know that the intangible rewards of a life of kindness, compassion and service directly lead to a life of abundance, freedom and creativity.

Hearts & Peace, Chuang Yen Monastery, Carmel, NY

Hearts & Peace, Chuang Yen Monastery, Carmel, NY

 

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A New Way To Look At Love On Valentine’s Day

A New Way To Look At Love On Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day – many people have negative feelings about this wonderful holiday because they confuse it with the crass, commercialism it has become known for. Like many other days that have the potential to add so much to our lives, jewelers and card stores have convinced us that it’s the dollar value of love, and not the true feelings, that matter. How many carats do you love me? How many dozen roses do you love me? Do you love me Russel Stover, Godiva or Vosges?

St. Valentine was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius II for aiding Christians, and for marrying Christian couples. This was during a time of persecution when being Christian was a crime. Claudius took a liking to Valentine, and considered saving him, until Valentine tried to convert Claudius – Valentine died on February 14th.  This bit of history is often debated, but it is this version that leads to the day we celebrate now. Some say that Valentine’s Day first is noted in the fourteenth century by Geoffrey Chaucer and his peers as a day to celebrate romantic love, others say it was put forth to supersede pagan celebrations of the times.  In the eighteenth century Valentine’s Day was embraced in a more secular way for secret admirers to communicate their desires, and for those in love to acknowledge each other.  This is the time where the first notions of what we recognize as Valentines are seen – bits of lace, poetic words and posies are sent hoping for a kind return of sentiment. Flowers at this time were especially sent for their meanings – the flower, its color and the arrangement spoke volumes to the recipient.

Valentine’s Day right now is promoted as a day to impress, make grand gestures and show your love in dollar signs.  Prices go up, reservations get scarce and the pressure is on. Roses, chocolate, jewelry and champagne are used to measure the depths of love. This is the Olympics of relationships, it’s time to go big or go home. Many very happy couples can take a hit if the message of love is interpreted as a message of “I forgot and I now give you the best CVS had to offer at 7PM tonight”.

I offer a different approach to the big day of celebrating love – in all the forms it takes in our lives.  Perhaps my way of looking at Valentine’s Day is why it truly is and always has been one of my favorite, if not my favorite, holiday. It can truly be a day of giving love, celebrating love and showing love without it necessarily being about romantic love. This allows the celebration to include all of us, young and old, as participants in a world wide love-in. It’s a day to be thankful for the love in our lives from partners as well as children, parents, pets, friends, neighbors and kind strangers. Yes – the strangers that smile at us, hold doors and connect with us, and look us in the eye.

If we choose to we can make this day about showing love. Taking the time to communicate why you love someone rather than the garbled, drive-by “loveyou” we have all adapted as shorthand on the way out of a room, out the door, or on the phone. Spending time in a way you know is meaningful, rather than spending money in a way you know is bartering. Showing love to others through service and kindness rather than checking off cards and chocolate on a “to do” list. In each instance we not only have the capacity to bring more meaningful love into the world, but we have the opportunity to expand our own hearts and drive away the cynical thoughts we may have given in to.

It is said it takes twenty one days to form a habit. Imagine if you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day my way, and you really liked it?  Imagine if you decided this was a great way to be everyday? Imagine how amazing your life might be by March 6th???

Happy Valentine’s Day to all!  Go out and spread some love!! xo

 

jim dine heart

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Laughing Man Tiramisu – A True Triple Threat!

Laughing Man Tiramisu – A True Triple Threat!

Delicious coffee, chocolate and doing good – like its namesake this dessert is a true triple threat!  This recipe takes the best of the creamy goodness of a traditional tiramisu and adds chocolate in a starring role. The combination of flavors truly sing and will have you and yours doing a dance of joy! 

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs separated
  • Three tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Three tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • Three tablespoons Marsala wine
  • 1 container Mascarpone cheese
  • 60% Cacao bittersweet chocolate baking bar (I used Ghirardelli) chopped in a food processor
  • 16 – 20 ladyfinger cookies
  • 2 cups strong coffee ( Laughing Man’s Dukales’s Dream or Reserve Indonesia Flores work well, experiment with 184 or your favorite! )

1.  In a double boiler whisk the egg yolks, granulated sugar and Marsala wine vigorously until it thickens into a white custard consistency. As soon as it thickens remove from heat as not to overcook*.

2. In a stand mixer at a high speed whisk the egg whites and confectioners’ sugar until stiff peaks begin to form.

3. In a large mixing bowl add the custard and ¾ of the chocolate to the mascarpone cheese, fold with a spatula by hand.

4. To the mascarpone mixture add the egg whites, fold with a spatula by hand.

5. Line 2 8” x 8” serving dishes or one large serving dish with ladyfinger cookies; add coffee to the cookies slowly allowing it to be absorbed, once the cookies are saturated stop.

6. Spread the mixture evenly over the cookies gently as not to break them.

7. Garnish the tiramisu with the remaining chocolate, refrigerate for at least two hours, overnight is best.

You can also make individual desserts in glasses or use the mixture as a cake or pastry filling.

To order Laughing Man products visit http://shop.livelaughingman.com/

*This egg custard is the base for Zabaglione. You can use it just like this or check out recipes that add cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, additional sugar, etc. This is delicious over fresh berries, even better over pound cake and fresh berries! Be creative!!

 

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Musical Mondays – In The Name Of Love…

Musical Mondays – In The Name Of Love…

Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

In the name of love!
What more in the name of love?

Pride (In The Name Of Love) – U2

When we all realize that human rights is not a black thing or a gay thing but a human thing then maybe we can move forward.  We have come so far because of those that were willing to make a stand, to speak up and to give their lives for what is right. There is still so very far to go.

The dream of a free and equal society does not depend on everyone agreeing with the choices, lifestyles and decisions of others it depends on the respect that all have the right to make those choices and decisions for themselves. It will only be realized when we view each other as true equals and not as a society where some feel they have the right to make decisions for others because they are superior or know best.

My dream is not only that my children will see a world where this equality becomes reality, but where their belief that this is true and possible does not place them in a minority.

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Happy New Year 2012!

Happy New Year 2012!

Happy New Year 2012! A clean slate, a fresh page, a new start. The potential to start a anew & do better because we know better.

Make the resolutions, not so much because they’ll be stringently kept, but because they make us revisit the past and think about the future with purpose. Mindfully we move on learning from not only our mistakes, but also from our successes.

Be kind to the people in your life, including yourself. Know that we can only act within the capacity we have to understand. We are all at different levels of learning and understanding and the greatest wish for all of us is that the process of learning in our lives never stops.

Try very hard to forgive and move on. Forgiveness does not mean resolution in all instances, it often means accepting what cannot be changed and letting the power of anger and conflict go. Part of maturity is realizing that right, wrong and winning are less important than acceptance and compromise. A greater part of maturity is knowing when to let go, perhaps walk away and somehow find a way to remember the good memories separate from the painful ones.

Do good! It is essential to us as human beings living in a society to live by a code of looking out for one another. Locally, nationally and globally there is need and in whatever way we can address need we are called to act. The initial step is to make a commitment to do good in your home – to create a place of respect, kindness and manners. A place where we support each other and help each other grow. From that place of kindness and compassion we can move to a place of service to others. Once you experience doing good, once you step outside your own needs to help someone else, the experience will change you. The call to be better will motivate you, seeing a picture larger than your own needs and wants will expand you and allow you to more clearly see your place in the world.

Take care of yourself, physically and mentally. Choose healthy habits, find a way to move each day as it helps both body and soul. Choose positive thinking as a way of life, while it might not always pan out it reduces stress and allows possibility where perhaps there was none. Find a personal place of spirituality – develop a personal relationship with God or the higher being, creator of your beliefs. Do not allow others to define or determine that relationship, accept responsibility for cultivating and maintaining it. We are all only human, including religious leaders and scholars, and with that comes the inevitable human traits both positive and negative. While we can look to others for direction and information ultimately the spiritual relationship should be a personal one.

Take the time to know yourself, to listen to the voice inside you and recognize the gut feelings and moments of intuition. Often, in hindsight, our greatest regrets have come from the moments when we had a sense of knowing and ignored it.  Remember that everyday and experience is a lesson, if we don’t learn from these lessons we will continue to circle the same pattern and will have no reason to expect to move forward. If we are attentive we begin to recognize patterns, both good and bad, and respect the inevitability of cause and effect. Our actions and reactions form our experience of the world, others and ourselves. While we need to accept that there are many outside things that we have no control over, we do have the potential to direct how we react to them. Being a person of integrity with a clear set of what is right and wrong for us will allow us to move through the world in a positive way and reduce the effect that the actions of others have on our lives

.Happy New Year 2012! A clean slate, a fresh page, a new start. The potential to start a anew & do better because we know better.

 My love & best wishes to all – enjoy the journey!! xo

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Rick Perry, Ben Brantley and Human Rights Day: Some Thoughts About Our Best Uses of Time & Talent

Rick Perry, Ben Brantley and Human Rights Day: Some Thoughts About Our Best Uses of Time & Talent

In a last gasp for air in a presidential campaign  that is obviously going down for the last time, Rick Perry thought that his last, best hope was to rally the troops who rise to the cry of hate speech. Vote for me, I’ll make sure to make life a living hell for anyone that doesn’t see things the way we do and believe in God in the exact same way we do. Seems like a great part of the message of acceptance, love, understanding and peace hasn’t quite reached this group of so called Christians.

In a totally unrelated story the New York Times theatre critic Ben Brantley, after writing a positive review upon the opening of Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway, chose to revisit the show and publish a second article that seemed to straddle a line between a witch hunt style outing and self loathing reminiscence of gay stereotypes and iconic gay performers. What struck me was not so much the “is he or isn’t he” questioning, which frankly is old and so  much more tabloid than New York Times worthy, but the Rick Perry like connotation that if in fact a performer is gay that is something we are entitled to know and publicly brand them for. This finger pointing style seems to equate being identified as gay to be equal with being identified as a criminal, or as Mr. Perry feels, something to be stamped out.  As it would be a fairly time consuming task to visit Broadway shows identifying performers who may or may not be gay, I am curious as to why Mr. Brantley felt the need to do so with this particular show.  A curious choice for someone with a position held in high esteem, one that not only cast a negative shadow on the writer but on the publication he represents.

Today, December 10, we celebrate  Human Rights Day, marking the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 63 years ago. “It is a day that belongs to the global movements to fight for fundamental human rights and freedoms” as stated on the Global Poverty Project’s site. While the concept of human rights is global in scope encompassing issues too numerous for many of us to comprehend, we all have the power to use our time and talent to identify and work on human rights issues that exist within our own communities. Perhaps really paying attention to politicians and what they profess to stand for before supporting them or casting a vote, perhaps writing a letter to the editor stating that attempted outing and inferences of sexual orientation are unacceptable to you as a reader.

In honor of human rights day decide to stand for something, large or small, and add your voice to others who are not willing to accept these behaviors any longer. Find a way to make your time and talent count:  volunteer with an organization working toward making a difference, take the time to think about what you do stand for and work toward making a difference in whatever way you can, take a minute to post on facebook or twitter about Human Rights Day or any movement, issue or organization that can use your support.

Perhaps if more forward thinking people speak up, and put their words into action, more small minded people who have ruled the bully pulpit too long can begin to be silenced.

 

 

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Choosing to Do Good Regardless of What Goes On In The World Around You

Choosing to Do Good Regardless of What Goes On In The World Around You

 

 

The Paradoxical Commandments – Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001

 

 

I originally came across the Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments in preparing for a lesson plan for The Family Program, it had been attributed to Mother Teresa. Digging a bit deeper I found that it was authored by Kent M. Keith as part of a booklet for leadership, Mother Teresa had seen it and had it hanging on the wall in her office in Calcutta.

I think that this is such a great basis for us to use as we go through our daily lives, as we work toward integrity in all things. So often, because we are only human, we allow the actions or reactions of others to affect our behavior and decisions.  Once we start on that slippery slope of being many things to many people we lose our sense of self and most importantly we stray from being people of integrity.

As we go along our journey we need to constantly work to make sure we have a clear sense of right and wrong, a clear sense of respect for self and others, and  a clear sense of the message our words and actions convey. Not because we are trying to make a good impression, not because we want to get ahead or get a deal done, not because we want to be popular but because it is the right thing for us to do.

Once you start to lead a life based on your beliefs, principles and ideals it truly does become easier. When you are who you are at all times you are never trying to remember who you said what to, you never live in fear of being found out. Don’t make the mistake of thinking any of this will make you popular – the harder you try to live by your own set of ideals the more others will try to tear you down. Because they act with the intent of quid pro quo, they assume you do as well. Because they create situations to put themselves in a good light , they assume you do as well. Because they see you work hard to put your best self out there at all times they assume it is an act because the thought of working that hard to be your  best for the sheer reward of knowing you are your best is beyond them.

Despite any obstacles – be your best self anyway. Set goals and work hard to reach them, aspire for things that might be beyond your reach right now so that you have dreams to work toward. Your “doing it anyway” isn’t to impress others – it’s to allow you to put your head on the pillow at night knowing who you are, that you did your best and that indeed you do have a plan for tomorrow!

 

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