heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 7 of 7: The best is yet to come

“We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched.
Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives…not looking for flaws, but for potential.”
Ellen Goodman, American Journalist

Much to the wry amusement of my friends and family members,  “The best is yet to come”  is a mantra of encouragement that I use quite frequently. Especially since the Great Recession of 2008. I believe the saying comes from Robert Browning‘s poem which begin’s with “Grow old with me! The best is yet to be… .”

The phrase is also the title of a 1959 song  written by Carolyn Leigh and composed by Cy Coleman. Although it was originally written for singer Tony Bennett, it was Frank Sinatra who made the song famous. He recorded it in his 1964 album, It Might As Well Be Swing, accompanied by Count Basie and directed by Quincy Jones.  On the 25th of February, 1995, The Best Is Yet To Come was the last song that Sinatra sang in public and the words were immortalized on his tombstone.

I am a “glass is half full” type of person and so it is not really surprising that this is one of my favorite sayings. I truly believe that there is always something to look forward to and that every problem has a solution. We navigate our lives through a series of peaks and valleys. The valleys are made bearable because we know that, eventually, there will be peaks. And oh how glorious are those peaks! Well worth the wait and hardship. Optimism and Hope. May we all continue to have them in abundance.

2017 is going to be a simply “Mahvelous” year. I feel it in my bones. Or is that my early onset arthritis…? Just kidding.  

And please remember to:

Take the time to read (a book),
Walk the walk,
Let it go,
Feed your brain,
Get some sleep,
Be the architect of your own destiny,
and, of course,  rest assured that
The best is yet to come.

heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 2 of 7: “Learn about the world around you”

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This year, my New Year’s “Revelations” are based on some of the witticisms and words of wisdom that my mother and father imparted to me.

When I was young, I used to roll my eyes and shake my head at them – not really heeding their words.

Or so I thought.

They’ve since passed, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss them.

Most importantly, their words – often colourful and humorous, but always spot-on – resonate deeply with me today.

I now share them with you.

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My father used to say:

“If you don’t want to read or learn about what’s going on around the world – in other countries, in other cultures – then, you’re an idiot!”

Those were his exact, emphatic words and they were directed at me. The year was 1974. He was reprimanding me for not showing an interest in an international news story that he was reading out loud to us.  Amazingly, I remember that the article was about Russian novelist/historian and Nobel Prize winner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn being deported from the Soviet Union to Frankfurt (Germany) and stripped of his Soviet Citizenship. Solzhenitsyn had spent 11 years in exile, at a Soviet labor camp for criticizing Stalin. In 1973, he wrote The Gulalg Archipelago (Arkhipelag Gulag) – about the Soviet prison/labor camp system under Stalin. The manuscript, which started to appear in installments in Paris, was seized by the KGB in the Soviet Union.

These were some of the stories that my father tried to engage us with at the breakfast table and in the evenings, after dinner. He would get so frustrated with me when I did not show interest.

But, as the saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Ironically, I went on to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science and history.  I write books that focus on socio-economic issues affecting everyday people, and I tell their stories by placing them in their political, historical and cultural context.

I feel privileged to have had such an intense, intelligent and well-read father. How I wish that he were alive today. Oh, what wonderful, spirited discussions and debates we would have!

I can’t emphasize enough (as he did before me) how important it is for us to learn about (and appreciate) the wonderful diversity and nuances of our world community. We are all inter-connected, to some degree.

With knowledge, we gain understanding.

With understanding, we become enlightened, compassionate human beings.

With compassion, we can help each other and we can effect change – positive change.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” 
― Augustine of Hippo

Image via Pixabay.com.

Nothing in life that’s worth anything is easy

“My recovery has not been easy. Nothing in life that’s worth anything is easy.” 

—  Sergeant First Class Cory Remsbur

Many of us can attest to that.

In his last words, during yesterday’s State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama said:

“My fellow Americans, men and women like Cory remind us that America has never come easy.  Our freedom, our democracy, has never been easy.  Sometimes we stumble; we make mistakes; we get frustrated or discouraged.  But for more than two hundred years, we have put those things aside and placed our collective shoulder to the wheel of progress – to create and build and expand the possibilities of individual achievement; to free other nations from tyranny and fear; to promote justice, and fairness, and equality under the law, so that the words set to paper by our founders are made real for every citizen.  The America we want for our kids – a rising America where honest work is plentiful and communities are strong; where prosperity is widely shared and opportunity for all lets us go as far as our dreams and toil will take us – none of it is easy.  But if we work together; if we summon what is best in us, with our feet planted firmly in today but our eyes cast towards tomorrow – I know it’s within our reach. 

Believe it.”

I do.

When hunger hits close to home… what would you do?

“America is the richest country in the world. And yet tonight, thousands of your neighbors will go to bed hungry.
It may be your child’s schoolmate who is undernourished and has difficulty learning on an empty stomach.
Or it could be a co-worker, a working mother whose low-wage job doesn’t make ends meet.
Perhaps it’s an elderly neighbor who has to make a decision whether to delay filling a prescription or buying groceries.
The faces of hunger are as broad as the faces of America.”
~ David Nasby, General Mills

How many of  us (and our families) could survive on $30 per week?
If we knew a family member, friend or neighbor who was starving, would we give him (or her, or their family) food?
Would we even notice the signs, or would we wait for them to have to swallow their pride and ask?
Some soul-searching questions, indeed.

Sometimes, the only way to fully understand the gravity and indignity of hunger is to walk in a hungry person’s shoes.  A very interesting experiment that would be, wouldn’t it?

Here’s a little food for thought:
http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2011/09/28/the-food-stamp-challenge-eating-on-30-a-week/

And some more: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/tag/detroit

A book with a local story, but a global message

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Around the world with Casualties of the (Recession) Depression….
… amazingly, the Kindle (eBook) edition is available virtually everywhere!
 

Although Casualties of the (Recession) Depression is about middle-class America, the experiences narrated in this book, along with the issues of recession, hunger, joblessness, homelessness… are experiences and issues that have no geographic boundaries.  They are global.  Especially in today’s world economy. 

There are approximately 870 million people, worldwide,  who are experiencing  hunger. 

Book Details:

Genre: Non-fiction

Categories: Commentary, Economics, Economic Condition, Politics

Topic: Economic crisis in middle-class America. Real people. Real stories. Real issues. Complete with commentary, historical/comparative economic analysis and statistics, helpful resources, and philanthropic programs.

Available (in English) through the following worldwide Amazon sites:

        Europe:

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Image via spartantraveler.com.

Random Acts of Kindness: Paying for People’s Groceries

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For those of you who have ever found it challenging, at one time or another,  to “make ends meet” and for those of you who understand the concept of random acts of kindness… watch this video (click on the link, below)
 
 
Very apropos, given the Thanksgiving season and upcoming Christmas holidays. 
Kindness.  It IS the gift that keeps on giving.

The Season of Thanksgiving: Embracing Gratitude and Humility

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“‘Thank you‘ is the best prayer that anyone could say.  I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.”
~ Alice Walker 

As we begin the season of  Thanksgiving in America, it is important to remember, respect and show compassion to all those who do not have the luxury of a warm meal, a place they call home, or the safety net of a regular income stream. It’s a time to remember to be grateful for the blessings that we have…. what we take for granted are often luxuries to the less fortunate. 

It’s a time to reflect and think about how you could make a difference, a dent in this insidious epidemic that is Hunger.

Check out the Philanthropy page of my blog if you are interested in learning more about how you can help fight hunger in your community, and what wonderful work is being done by three well-respected hunger relief organizations in the United States, Canada and around the world.

Gratitude…

I, for one, bow my head in thanks for the sweetness and light of my family, friends and my beloved “children” (my pets). 

Humility not always palatable for many.

There are those who are, by nature, humble. Then there are others who have learned how to be humble. I fall in the latter category. I truly admire people who fall in the first category.

I guess we are all a Work in Progress…

Thank you for stopping by.

Cheers,
Heather

Image via landypf.blogspot.com.

Announcing “Casualties of the (Recession) Depression” on Amazon Kindle!

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My book, Casualties of the (Recession) Depression is now available in eBook format… on Amazon Kindle, is US $9.99 (Paperback edition retails at US $20).

Although Casualties of the (Recession) Depression is about middle-class America, the experiences narrated in this book, along with the issue of recession, hunger, joblessness, homelessness…are experiences and issues that have no geographic boundaries. They are global. Especially in today’s world economy. Therefore, this book is applicable everywhere. As I write on the front cover: “They could be you. They could be me. They could be anyone.”

Here’s who will find added value to buying a copy of Casualties of the (Recession) Depression:

  1. Civics and humanities students/teachers – this book would be perfect suggested reading for the class.
  2. If you are involved with your own organizations, in the fight for hunger, this book would be a good one to use as collateral material for your cause(s).
  3. If you are in government, this book would be good reference/collateral material for your political platform and/or constituency.
  4. If you are involved in your religious community and work with community outreach programs, to fight hunger and homelessness, this would be a good book to raise awareness in your congregation/religious programs.
  5. If you work in the field of hospital administration, social work or advocacy, this book would be an interesting (and valuable) reference to have.

Some of the Amazon customer reviews are on the right sidebar of this blog site.

I hope that you’ll give it a read!

Cheers,

— Heather

Kudos to the Non-profit Organizations and Volunteers Who Fight the Fight… to alleviate hunger, poverty and homelessness

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“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

Anne Frank

 

I have always viewed volunteer workers and non-profit organizations – such as (but not limited to) The World Food Programme, Feeding America and Action Against Hunger/Action Contre La Faim – with deep and profound respect.

It is a difficult and thankless job.

Ahhh, but many of these dedicated men and women don’t view it as a “job”…  nor do they expect a pat on the back, let alone an actual “Thank You.”

Imagine, for a moment, what it must feel like to see hardship, hunger, poverty and sickness… day in and day out. Yet, these volunteers press on… hoping, no, praying that they are somehow making a difference, making a dent in this world epidemic that is Hunger.

Imagine what it must feel like to try to recruit people to help… to contribute their time and yes, their money, to a problem that – like it or not – affects us all.  So many people (too many) prefer to turn a blind eye.  Until it happens to them. And for those raising their eyebrow: it can happen to them. And to you. And to me.  It is never wise to be complacent. As we’ve seen with disasters like Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, it can happen in a flash.  Here today, gone tomorrow.

So today marks the last day of my 3½-week Help Fight Hunger book promotion.

To say that I am “disappointed” is a huge understatement, but it will not deter me from continuing to contribute my time and writing to helping others, to raise awareness on important issues that ultimately affect us all, and to hope that someone – anyone – will listen and perhaps even join the effort to help those who need our help.

I’d like to take a moment to thank the family members, friends, and colleagues who have been kindly “spreading the word” on behalf of my Help Fight Hunger campaign. Most importantly, I’d like to express my deep love and gratitude to my husband for putting up with all the intensity. 

I hope that I’ve provided you with some informative, thought-provoking blogs on a subject that is discomfiting, but nevertheless very current and critical. 

Thanks for reading.

― Heather

HFH2

Image (t the very top) via erikarachel.com.

Quid pro quo

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Business transactions have always been based on the principle of “quid pro quo” (something for something). Individuals and organizations barter their goods/services in exchange for other goods/services or for monetary compensation.

When there is a fair and equal exchange of give and take, all parties walk away satisfied and happy. However, when the exchange is uneven and unfair, this will inevitably result in dissention and conflict.

This translates to human interaction and relationships ― between spouses, families, friends, and communities. When the “give and take” is unbalanced, problems ensue.

Taking the concept of “quid pro quo” and placing it in the context of philanthropic work, what do philanthropists, non-profits, and community volunteers receive – in exchange for their good work?

First and perhaps most importantly, they get a sense of well-being from knowing that they have helped ease the suffering of another human being. That is, in my opinion, the highest form of quid pro quo.

Additionally, they receive visibility (for themselves and for their cause), potential business opportunities, and additional funding (to further their cause; to sustain their philanthropic efforts).

By reducing and, ideally, eliminating hunger, homelessness, and poverty, we help to make a nation prosper and thrive ― as a whole. We are stronger (as a nation) when we no longer need to allocate funds for assistance. Imagine a country devoid of poverty and hunger…  what a wonderful triumph that would be!

The flip side to quid pro quo is when organizations offer the poor and hungry an opportunity to pay it forward or to work, in exchange for food and board.

Thus, they finally have access to one of the most basic rights of all: the right to human dignity.

And if that isn’t quid pro quo, I don’t know what is.

HFH2

From Aug 14-Sept 7, purchase a copy of  Casualties of the (Recession) Depression, and for every $20 book purchased directly from me, through my website, I will be donating $5 from the proceeds of each book sale to either: Feeding America (US), Action Against Hunger (Canada), or The World Food Programme (Global). The purchaser chooses one of the three. As I’ve stated before and clearly state on my website, this promotion does not apply to books purchased from third party distributors, such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

 

Image (t the very top) via bubblews.com.