Monday, March 22, 2010

Letters to Soldiers

In law school I learned that the Bill of Rights is not a "bill of responsibilities". We get many basic rights in this country and have almost no responsibilities. Even simple things like voting and paying taxes are avoided by a large number of people.

So who takes responsibility for us? One group that comes to mind is the US Military because they put their lives on the line in countries all over the world so that we are safe.

My act of kindness this week was to think of a way to help these troops who have taken an oath to protect our country.

We have over 60,000 troops in Afghanistan whose sole purpose is to fight terrorism where it lives and breathes. I'm not going to argue about whether I support the mission, I am going to support the troops. To put it into perspective, the number of troops in Afghanistan is equal to 1.5 times the population of any of the following towns or cities in New Jersey: Paramus, Hoboken, Pennsauken, or Atlantic City (yes people live there, it's not just a place to gamble and buy salt water taffy).

I went to and randomly selected a person to write a letter to. I then read some of the sample letters and tried to keep it short and sweet.

The letter I wrote is posted up at the top of the page. I am mailing the letter today and made sure to include my email address, maybe they will want to correspond.

This is our country, this is our world, we can make it pretty nice, it's our responsibility. And without stepping up and taking that responsibility seriously, we don't have the Bill of Rights.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hockey Tickets

A good buddy of mine recently graduated from law school. I had tried to warn him off going but he insisted on inflicting the pain and suffering on himself anyways! As a sort of gift, I invited him and his wife to the Devils v. Rangers game last night along with my little boy (his first hockey experience).

I got the tickets through a business contact and these seats were "fat". They were in the 17th row in the Prudential Center and it came with access to a food court, all of which was included in the price of the ticket. A nice way to spend the evening.

Alas, my buddy's babysitter cancelled at the last minute. Not only did he recently finish law school but he has a young child and one on the way. A busy man to say the least. He was very depressed that he couldn't go but these things happen.

All of this happened at about 4:45 pm, 2 hours before the game was to start. What was I going to do with the extra tickets? Undeterred, I called my "go to guy" for last minute sporting events, my brother Ken. He's a huge Ranger's fan, and he asked his oldest son to come along. We were in business.

The hockey game was great with the Devils v. Rangers rivalry and the seats were spectacular. My son's favorite part, cotton candy and the Zamboni! Gotta love a five year old.

So although my act of kindness started going in one direction and ended up somewheres else, it was still a great evening. Well, except that my buddy watched on TV.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Have I Changed the World Yet?

The One Month Anniversary!

I started this blog one month ago this Wednesday with the idea of tracking kind acts, random or otherwise, that I perform. Not for accolades, but with the hope to explore kindness as a way of life.

I wanted to open my heart to the possibility that we can all make a difference by being kinder to each other. I want to be more involved.

So far I've become involved with food drives, donations to animal shelters and I even gave blood for the first time. I think it's a good start.

One thing I noticed is that I constantly battle against time. I feel that I spend so much time "earning a living" that I don't always have the quiet time to do the things I love to do or explore the other things life has to offer. I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling that the world seems to move too fast sometimes.

With that in mind I am going to give a little kindness to myself and to those I come in contact with today by going a little slower, listening better and smiling more.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New Jersey Blood Drive

I am keeping my commitment to kindness by trying things that I haven't done in the past. This means pushing myself out of my toasty comfort zone and taking responsibility for others as well as myself. The New York Blood Center blood drive fit the bill. It's help to others, it took about 15 minutes and it's an experience I've never had before.

Two years ago I got very sick. I was unexpectedly hospitalized with a serious condition called diverticulitis, an infection in the pocket of my large intestine, (sexy, right?). The infection was so bad that I was out of work for over a month on intravenous medication and went through surgery where they removed 16 inches of my large intestine. I didn't know that I had that much to give. Of course I asked the doctor who said, "Don't worry, you don't need that much."

It made me appreciate my health. It also made me realize that blood is something that all of us take for granted.

Now the statistics - About 60% of us qualify to give blood. About 2% actually give blood to the blood bank.

Why don't more people give blood? I think many are afraid or get nauseous at the sight of blood. What if someone you knew was dying and needed your blood? I think we would all roll up your sleeve and give all that we could. Why is it any different because we haven't met the recipient?

Kindness towards others transcends the typical relationships we establish as father, son or brother and works on the concept that we all belong to the group of mankind. As part of that community we respect each other and want to give back.

One in three people will need blood in their lifetime. This area is desperately short of supply and we rely on other areas of the country to supply us. It's truly a "gift from the heart!"

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Commitment to Kindness goes to the Dogs (and Cats)

Yesterday's little adventure in random and not so random acts of kindness involved Nico and I donating bleach, kitty litter, dog biscuits and cat food to the local animal shelter.

I have been a dog lover all of my life and although I've never owned a cat, I feel for the plight of abandoned animals and thought this would be a good way to help out our community.

Montville Animal Shelter takes care of hundreds of stray dogs and cats each year. They bring the strays into their care and hold them in an "observation area" to make sure the cat or dog isn't sick. Once the cat or dog seems fine, they include the animal in the shelter with the rest of the strays. Some dogs are even taken to foster homes until they get adopted.

Prior to going to the shelter I looked online and saw that they needed bleach for sanitizing, kitty litter and any type of food. We spent about $25 and about 15 minutes picking out the bleach, litter and food for the animals. Once again, a little time, a little love and a little kindness goes a long way.

We entered through the isolation area and were greeted by a frantically barking chihuahua. I asked the woman what happened with this young dog. She said that people probably got it for Christmas and didn't want it so they brought her in for adoption. Now I'm not a big fan of small, "yappy" dogs but your heart goes out to an animal that was met with love and praise on Christmas Day and is now living in a cage alone.

There were other dogs and cats that had their own stories. Who was found as a stray, what dog or cat was left at the shelter after closing, not a very flattering refection for us humans.

If you get the chance, visit your local shelter. It's a great way to get involved with the community and get a little animal time even if you can't adopt one . . . yet!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A GPS Gives Me A Little Direction

Back in January I made the commitment to be kinder. I would try harder to be involved and I would find a way to do it as part of my life expression. As with many deals we make with ourselves, the Universe offered me opportunities almost immediately.

Not long after my "Commitment to Kindness" I was heading to Connecticut to a business appointment one morning. I stopped at a red light in Pequannock, NJ. I was talking to a friend on the phone when a small, frantic woman tapped on my window.

I rolled the window down and she hurriedly told me that she was late for a "cat scan" appointment and couldn't find the office, could I help her?

I really felt for her. I told her that I had a GPS and if she had the address, I could drive there following the directions and she could follow me in her car. I called the office to confirm the address and I plugged it into my GPS.

The small frantic woman got back into her car. She followed me to the medical office and waived to me as she exited her car, running to her appointment. The entire episode took about 10 or 15 minutes.

I wonder if I was given the chance to help that woman because I was open to the opportunity? I wonder whether I have ignored other chances to connect with people that need help because I was too busy or disconnected.
When we are open to random acts of kindness, the opportunities will present themselves and it only takes 10 or 15 minutes to touch a life.
Have a great day.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Be Kind to Nature

The picture above was taken last year when was backpacking with Dave and George, two of my very best friends. The picture above is real, it wasn't doctored and I'm no genius with a camera. I wanted to capture what I felt and saw at that moment above Feather Falls. It was as close to a Zen moment as I could come.

I think that nature is our greatest gift and our greatest responsibility. We need to be kind to her. We need to perform simple acts of kindness for her like recycling, composting, and conservation.

Today, maybe I'll be a little more thankful for my surroundings. I'll pick up the wrapper that didn't make it into the garbage can. I'll daydream about planting a vegetable garden this spring. I'll see what I can do to make the world a little more beautiful.