Thursday, December 14, 2017

Christmas Wishes And Charities 2017

In our previous article, I focused on Christmas and Holiday charities with a military or first responder angle. That one was originally written for a website that is devoted to military and first responder issues, but I thought it well worth sharing with our Frequently Interrupted family as well. Today I want to look at a broader picture and present some charities that aren't as specific, but are just as beneficial. As always, this is not a comprehensive list, by any means. There are many more out there, and anything that helps, helps. These are just some ideas to get you started.

Feeding America

The Feeding America network is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. The nationwide network of food banks provides more than 3.6 billion meals to virtually every community in the United States through food pantries and meal programs. They have a nationwide network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs that provide more than 3 billion meals to hungry families every year. While the Feeding America network operates year round, there is an extra focus during the holidays and right now they are running a matching campaign so that every donation is automatically doubled, feeding twice as many.

Angel Tree

The United States has one of the largest prison populations in the world. There is a huge debate over that subject that goes far beyond the purpose of today's article, but one piece that often gets overlooked is the fact that many of these inmates have children at home. Approximately 2.7 million children will face the holidays with at least one parent incarcerated. These children are undeniably innocent, and Angel Tree, a program of Prison Fellowship, helps to ease the holiday season for them through donations of time and presents. The children of inmates can often feel abandoned and left out, even though they have done nothing wrong, and Angel Tree tries to help them feel the love of the season.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

There is never a bad time to help St. Jude, but the holiday season can be especially difficult for the children in their care. These children are fighting heartbreaking, life threatening illnesses, and that can make it more than a little bit difficult to get into the Christmas spirit. St. Jude offers a variety of ways to volunteer and donate, but one of the ones you might want to take special notice of right now is a feature on their website where you can create and send Christmas cards to the children of St. Jude. It's under the Get Involved tab, so go take a look. St. Jude doesn't need me to sing their praises - I've never met a person who didn't know what amazing work they do - but they do need all of us to help them keep doing that amazing work.

Heifer International

Hunger is not just a problem at home. In fact, it is often a larger and more pervasive problem elsewhere, in places where life can be so difficult that people have no time for holiday seasons. Heifer International has spent 70 years working to change this global situation. Through a combination of education, donations, and just plain hard work, Heifer works toward ending world hunger by improving local communities and helping local farms become more efficient and sustaining. The Gift Catalog at the Heifer website has a section for holiday-specific gifts, so you can find the giving style that is right for you, and help a community grow (we like the theme of growing communities around here, in case you haven't noticed). For $500, you can even give an actual heifer to a community farm in need.

Make-A-Wish

If you're not already familiar with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, you might be on the wrong website. I can't really imagine anyone reading Frequently Interrupted who isn't already a fan of an organization that makes dreams come true for children who are all out of dreams. The goal of Make-A-Wish is to grant the wish of every child who is diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition. Sad to say, but that's a lot of children, and a lot of wishes. It's a lofty goal, and one that cannot be achieved without the help of every day people in every day lives. The Make-A-Wish Foundation relies on volunteers, donors, and supporters around the world to make these dreams come true. Perhaps you can help give a Christmas miracle to a child in need.

The Salvation Army

Red kettles, ringing bells, and "Merry Christmas!" It's a sight and sound that is, for many of us, an integral part of the Christmas season. The Salvation Army Red Kettle bell ringers give of their time every year, rain or shine (or snow, as the case may be) to help raise money for needy families. Started in 1891 by Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee with the goal of providing a free Christmas dinner to everyone in San Francisco who needed one, the red kettles have spread around the world and are now probably the most easily recognized donation site of the holiday season. If you're out doing your Christmas shopping, you will almost certainly see a bell ringer. Say Hi, say Thank you, say Merry Christmas! Give what you can, and help make someone day and season a little better.

However you choose to make the season special, I hope that it is special for you and yours and everyone around you. It can be a difficult time for some, so do what you can to make it less difficult. If you are one of those for whom it is difficult, reach out. Don't be afraid to ask for help. It isn't always obvious, but the world can be a pretty good place with plenty of pretty good people. You might be surprised how many people want to make a positive difference. You might also be surprised by how many people are right there with you, feeling the weight right now. You are not alone, but it's all a little easier if we all help each other. Together we can make a better world.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from ours to yours. Make it a great season this year.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Merry Christmas From And For Some Heroes 2017

'Tis the Season, which makes it a good time to take a look at a few Christmas charities. I've run this information before, but it is always worth repeating.

Toys for Tots

The Toys for Tots program was founded in 1947 by Major Bill Hendricks, USMCR, in Los Angeles, CA, and was officially adopted and expanded into a national program by the U.S. Marine Corps the following year. Every year, around this time, Marine Corps League Detachments and selected local community organizations set up collection centers in public spaces to accept donations of new, unwrapped toys for distribution to less fortunate children in those same local communities. As of the conclusion of their 2012 campaign (the latest year for which I could find completed numbers), Toys for Tots had distributed nearly 17 million toys to more than 7 million children.

FOP Cops and Kids

The “Shop with a Cop” program is a local effort conducted by police departments across the country, designed to remind children that the police are there to help. Police departments conduct fundraisers to purchase school supplies and Christmas presents for children who would otherwise go without, and then take the children shopping, so the children get to participate in picking out their supplies and presents. Through this, the Fraternal Order of Police hopes to make a lasting impression and make a real difference in their local communities, one child at a time.

Soldiers’ Secret Santa

The holiday season can be especially difficult for families of military members serving abroad. After a soldier in the 101st Airborne Division was killed by an Iraqi roadside bomb in early December, 2007, the Soldiers’ Secret Santa program was established to try to help ease this load, in some small way. Within weeks, the fledgling program raised enough to provide anonymous Christmas presents to five families and eighteen children. Today, the Soldier’s Secret Santa program continues to provide anonymous Christmas presents to the children of military members from all service branches, and is one of the fastest growing military charities in the country.

Holiday Mail For Heroes

Every year the American Red Cross helps to organize sending Thank You and Christmas cards to military members and veterans serving overseas or others separated from their families due to their military service. Beginning this year, the Red Cross is giving this program a new look, making it more about “neighbors helping neighbors”. Unlike previous years, there will be no national PO Box. Instead, local chapters across the country and overseas will organize individual programs, to benefit service members within and from those communities.

***

There are, of course, far too many charities and events to go over in this small space, but these are some highlights that I believe are worth looking into. From everyone here at FrequentlyInterrupted.com, we hope that you and yours have a wonderful season. Stay safe, enjoy your families, and remember to keep moving forward, no matter the interruption.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to each and every one of you!

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Give Cheerfully

It's that time of year when we most often start to spend more time thinking and talking about giving. I hope we do so cheerfully, and I hope we do so secure in the knowledge of how much good we can accomplish in the process. Peace, love, and happiness, these are lost when hoarded and magnified when given. Remember that.

In the spirit of remembering, we will be running several seasonal reminders this week. If you are new to our family and have not seen them before, I hope you enjoy them. If you have seen them before, I hope you enjoy the reminders.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Namaste. Let's make a better world.

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Meaning 2017

With my birthday so recently past again, I thought it was a good time to run this reminder from our first year. It's also that time of year when I often start running some reminders, so I hope you enjoy them. 'Tis the season, and Happy Holidays to all.

***

If you’ve been paying attention - and of course you have - then you know that this past Monday was my birthday, and that I celebrated that birthday with a new tattoo. You also know that the new tattoo was the site logo for Frequently Interrupted. What you might not know, and what several people have asked me about now, is what it means. Today we’ll take a few minutes to answer that question.

The original idea was generated by reading about Project Semicolon. With my history, I was instantly intrigued by this idea of using the semicolon as a reminder that life keeps going. Pause, but don’t stop. I knew that I wanted to follow that idea, but I also knew that it had to be more than that. While I like things to be simple, I also like things to be artistic, and I also like things to be mine. I wanted something that could tap into the Project Semicolon symbolism, but I also wanted something that could express my uniquely artistic view of the world.

All of this consideration was taking place at the same time that I was beginning to put together what would become Frequently Interrupted. At some point in the early stages of design, I made two critical decisions: the end result would be the logo for the new website, and it would also be my next tattoo. With that in mind, I started talking to some artistic people I know (I may have an artistic mind, but I can’t draw convincing stick figures), and expanding on my original idea.

I had already put together the basic site brand that appears on many of my posts and images, and knew that I wanted to continue using the enso that was central to that brand. The Japanese enso is a Zen design of a circle made with one or two quick brush strokes. It can be an open or closed circle, but I prefer the open circle, as that adds an imperfection element to the basic idea, which is about being open to creation, minimalism, inner strength, and, ultimately, enlightenment. It has many subtleties of meaning, depending on who you ask, but it can be summed up in my mind as the enlightenment of recognizing the perfection of imperfection. It represents the idea that nothing is complete, and it is perfectly beautiful as it is.

I wanted to somehow combine the enso with the semicolon, and we hit upon the realization that two semicolons, inverted to each other, have a striking resemblance to the Yin and Yang symbol. Duality. Light and darkness together make up the whole.

I had what I wanted, or, at least I had the pieces of what I wanted. My own initial designs were as amateurish as might be expected, but I tossed them out to people who know better, and what came back was beautiful.

Long story short, it is a reminder that life is beautiful and worth it, not in spite of, but because of all of it’s mixed up imperfection. Life keeps moving. Pause when you need to, take a breath, and keep going. Everything is Zen.

Namaste.

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Friday, December 8, 2017

Beyond Description

Everything is transient, but what you are is more than the sum of its parts. Be truly yourself in all that you experience and you will always be enough.

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Meditation Is The Journey

Every single step is a complete journey. Be present. Be mindful. Be complete. Experience your journey for all that it is in every moment, and live life to the fullest.

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A Mistake That Makes You Humble

We all want to succeed, but sometimes we get a little too caught up in that idea. We let success go to our heads and learn the wrong things from the lessons we are experiencing. Sometimes we need reminders. Stay humble.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Radical Honesty

There are three steps to this plan, and all three are necessary. Say what you mean and mean what you say, but never say it mean. The more we can keep all three in mind, the more we can make a better world.

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Monday, December 4, 2017

Kindness Is Like Snow

There is always room for kindness. There is always time for kindness. Kindness is the addition that makes everything better. Don't believe me? Give it a try and find out for yourself.

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Friday, December 1, 2017

No End To Knowledge

Learning who you are is an ongoing process. You don't figure it out. You don't arrive at a goal. The learning, if done well, never ends. This is the nature of learning. There is always something new.

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

A Mind That Is Stretched

Once you have learned, once you have become something new, there is no going back. You can't put on the old shape and be who you were before. You might try, but it won't fit. The wear will be uncomfortable, and nothing will hang quite the way you remember it hanging. Grow. Keep going forward. That is how we live.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Doing Your Best

No one is perfect, and you're not always going to succeed. As long as you are genuinely doing your best, always trying and working to correct when you do find errors, you will almost certainly be moving in the right direction. Keep doing that and you'll get there. The journey may be slow, but there's nothing wrong with that. Life is about the journey.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Go Further

This is another case where times have sure changed. It used to be that a child following in a parent's footsteps was the expected goal, but no more. Walk beside me, learn from me - both from what I teach and from my mistakes - and then follow your own path. Don't just go further than I did. Go further than I dreamed. Push the boundaries, and take the world with you. Conversely, parents, don't be afraid when your children outpace you. That's growth, and it's a good thing.

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Practice The Pause

They used to say, "Count to ten," but I think this does even better. It isn't about counting or the numbers. It's about taking the time. Don't respond in the heat of the moment. Don't be in a hurry. Know that you have time and will likely see things differently if you use it.

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Friday, November 24, 2017

The Most Unloving Ways

Children learn from what's around them. They learn how to love, and how to ask for love, from what they experience. This doesn't stop being true because they become adults, but it does become far more difficult to work with or correct by then. If we take the time to work with the need in early life, we will have less problems with the way it is expressed later on. Children are our future, but that is heavily influenced by what we teach them to be.

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Appreciate What We Have

Count your blessing more than your pains. Remember what you have more than what you want. Appreciate your life. When you look for reasons to be grateful, those reasons multiply.

To our friends and family in the United States, Happy Thanksgiving. Love and light to your and yours. Know that we count you among our blessings, and we thank you.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Life Is All About Balance

Do what you have to do, but never forget that what you have to do includes more than just checking boxes off on a To-Do list. To live a full and balanced life must also include fun and relaxation. Everything in its place, and everything in its time. Don't forget to make time for yourself.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A Way Through

There is a common misconception that living in the moment means something akin to giving up, or checking out, but this is not true. It is a peaceful understanding that each moment is transitory, things will change, and we can change with them. The universe is what it is, and we will learn from it and find a way through to the next lesson. There is always a next lesson.

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Hours Of Our Lives

Money is nothing more than a representation of time and effort. It has no value in itself. It is what we do that creates value. What we are spending is our lives. Make sure the cost is always worth it.

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