“Returning the Favor” by Mike Rowe…Have you seen it?

If you haven’t seen Mike Rowe’s “Returning the Favor”  on Facebook yet, you need to check it out! It’s one of the few, if not only, inspiring things you will find on Facebook these days.

You might remember Mike Rowe from a show called “Dirty Jobs” that aired on Discovery Channel a few years ago (2005-2012). I’ve always thought that Mike was an upstanding guy, though I’ve never met him, and this show only does more to improve my impression of him.

“Returning the Favor” airs on Facebook, and seems to come out about one episode per week. The show features stories from around the country of average people doing extraordinary things for others. Get your hanky ready, because the show will tug at your heartstrings, in a good way.

There have been four episodes so far, and I’ve watched every one.

If there’s one thing this world needs, it’s to see fellow human beings helping one another because it’s the passion of their heart. Finally, something to make you feel good about the world.

Every episode, they surprise the designated “Do-Gooder” by giving something back to them. Thus, the name of the show, “Returning the Favor.”

The first episode, “Operation Combat Bikesaver,” profiles a former army engineer who runs a therapeutic bike building program for veterans. His name is Jason, and he gives his talents, and his time to inspire other vets, some of whom are suffering from PTSD, to be part of something bigger. You’ll have to watch it to see how they return the favor.

In Episode 2, “Donovan Discovers,” they profile a young boy, Donovan, who was at one time homeless, but now makes soap to donate to shelters. Its heartwarming to see a young kid use what he’s been through to reach others. No one told him to do it, he just does. Again, I’m not going to give away the ending.

Episode 3 is called “Girls Build.” It’s about a woman named Katie who runs a trade skills camp for girls. Katie is a carpenter, and saw the discrepancy in the carpentry workforce and how it was missing women. She inspires the girls to believe that they can build anything and gets them excited about creating things. They return the favor to her by…well, you’ll just have to watch it.

I just finished watching Episode 4, “Raising the Roughriders.” It’s about Brian, a retired Lieutenant in the police department and Vietnam Vet, who coaches a sled hockey team for intellectually and physically disabled athletes. The best part of his story is that his athletes never have to pay for a thing. He fundraises to get everything they need. Again, watch it to see how they return the favor.

I’m so glad to finally see something positive on social media for a change. Keep it up, Mike Rowe!

QUICK UPDATE: THE EPISODES AIR ON TUESDAYS.

 

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Reading the Classics

This post is sparked by something I recently posted on Facebook.

My daughter, who is a sophomore in high school, has been reading the classics and various assigned reading material. Last year it was “Romeo and Juliet,” “Of Mice and Men,” and “The Outsiders” (not sure I’d call that one a classic) among others. As this year starts, she’s reading “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding.

It made me think back to high school (I had to think really hard) to some of the books we were assigned to read. I still keep in touch with some of my high school friends (we just had our 30th reunion – not sure how that happened), so I asked them what they remember reading. It’s been one of the best responses I’ve ever had to anything I’ve posted before, so, just for fun, I thought I’d bring it to my blogging community.

The list is varied, considering some were in honors classes (now called Advanced Placement), but my classmates clearly have a much better memory than I do. I don’t remember reading half of these!

I thought it would be interesting to see what some of my followers from around the country (and world) remember reading in high school (as assigned reading).

Here’s the list my classmates came up with so far. Please feel free to comment which were your favorites and add to the list in the comments below. I think it would be really interesting to compile an International List (unless there’s one already) and I’ll share it with my high school classmates, who are now scattered all over the world.

1984                                                                                             Animal Farm

Grapes of Wrath                                                                       Moby Dick

Don Quixote                                                                              Handmaid’s Tale

Of Mice and Men                                                                     A Tale of Two Cities

The Great Gatsby                                                                     Les Miserables

The Scarlet Letter                                                                    Catch 22

Hamlet                                                                                       Julius Caesar

Death of a Salesmen                                                               Cather in the Rye

Wuthering Heights                                                                  Sound and the Fury

Huckleberry Finn                                                                    Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man

Canterbury Tales                                                                     Brave New World

Secret Life of Walter Mitty                                                   Black Like Me

Cannery Row                                                                           Siddhartha

 

Also, are there any that you loved and you could read over and over. My favorite was probably “Cannery Row.”

This is just for fun. Hope this brings back some fond memories. By the way, I have to admit that Cliff Notes were my friend during the Shakespeare unit! LOL

What I Think of Twitter

I’m late to the “Twitter Party,” “TwitterSphereTwitter Craze…oh, whatever you call it, I’m late to it. And I have to say that I joined only as part of my “Platform” and because, if you want to be a published author, it’s what you’re supposed to do as part of “reaching your audience.”

So far, with the exception of a few entertaining people that I follow, including the Property Brothers who never have a bad thing to say about anyone, Twitter is awfully snarky.

I’ve been struggling with humanity lately, and feeling a bit like I want to bury my head in the sand. I won’t, because that isn’t a way to reach out to people. But I’m finding that Twitter isn’t a way to reach people either, at least not the way that I want to reach them.

Twitter is not a conversation and Facebook is not a conversation. A conversation is a meeting between two people to exchange ideas. It isn’t well-placed snipes and targeted jabs, which is a lot of what Twitter seems to be, in my experience.

I don’t follow politically affiliated Twitter posts, but somehow, while perusing through Twitter, I suddenly know that this celebrity hates this political party, or that personality would like to see such and such destroyed.

Twitter is riddled with poor taste and insults, and the fact that you can just keep sharing them over and over is really getting annoying.

The only positive thing I can say, however, is that I’ve never been part of a social platform where people “follow” you just for the sake of “following.” You don’t even have to Tweet and people just show up, not that they are necessarily potential readers or anything, but I guess they’re following, and there’s something to be said for that.

So, what has been your experience? Am I expecting too much?

In my opinion, blogging is so much kinder and gentler. And if I’m going to spend time on the computer, I really don’t want to come away feeling worse about the world. If I want that, I can just watch the news.

Think I’ll go hang out on Pinterest for a while. I don’t need to know your political opinion, to know how to make chocolate dipped wafer cookies.

Feeling Crafty

Hello my “Crafty Friends!”

I have spent so much time writing recently, that I haven’t “made” anything in a really long time…too long. And I’m feeling restless.

I used to make stuffed animals (teddy bears and monsters), aprons, Christmas wreaths, Christmas ornaments, etc.

I usually sew or make fabric crafts. Occasionally, I’d knit a beanie or a scarf, but knitting is not my favorite, and I’m still too new to crochet to release the end product into the world.

I know there are several craft fairs coming up in the Fall and (gulp) near the holidays (can you believe we’re only a few months away?!). So, I could start making some things and potentially make some “mad money.”

But does anyone BUY hand-crafted things anymore? Does anyone even WANT hand-crafted things anymore?

I’d love some opinions on the subject.

And if nothing sells, where can I donate things?

‘Cause I gotta get my craft on! #feelingcrafty

Too Much Reality

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Phil 4:8 NLT

Whether you consider yourself a Christian or not, it’s good advice.

There is so much in this world to get caught up in. So many opinions, so many distractions, so many criticisms, so much bad news bombards us daily. And so much of it is not the Truth.

So much of it is distorted, and skewed, and I swear it’s just to get us all riled up. Then we lash out at one another, and accomplish nothing.

It’s enough to make the happiest of people depressed. And it was happening to me.

It’s hard to keep a balance. How do you stay informed and yet not be inundated with a barrage of waste washing into your brain, covering over all the joy?

Since I work from home, and don’t drive, I have a hard time not getting caught in the vacuum.

But this last weekend, I made an effort to turn off the TV, and not read the Facebook “Trending” feed (I HATE that thing). I hung out with family friends, and went to church, and got OUT of the house. And by Monday, I felt so much better about life.

I’ve been skipping past blogs that only stir up frustration and anger. And I don’t read hateful comments anymore…people can be so mean to each other. You aren’t going to change someone’s opinion by making a contrary comment.

If you want a real feel-good story, just see how people are helping one another in Texas right now. It’s inspiring seeing them come together.

And another thing I ran across is a new Facebook Series by Mike Rowe called “Returning the Favor.” It’s a breath of inspiring air that we could all use about now. You should check it out.

Here’s to reaching for happier days, and good conversation with friends.

How do you balance staying informed and not getting sucked into the vortex?

No Opportunity Wasted

Where I live, I am surrounded by over-achieving adults, and they’re passing that on to their kids, not that there’s anything wrong with that. If you have that kind of drive, more power to you.

But sometimes I think we look too far ahead to the “end product” and miss a whole bunch in between.

We miss the opportunities that happen our way, and consider them a waste of time or not worth the effort.

But life isn’t about the “end product,” it’s about all the stuff in between birth and death, and what we do with every opportunity we get.

There seems to be a big portion of the population, mostly millennials (sorry guys, I don’t mean to stereotype you, but it’s what us “old people” see – and by “old,” I mean middle-aged), who are reaching for the brass ring and missing all the silver, pewter, and aluminum rings on the way.

One thing my husband and I are teaching our kids, is that no opportunity should be wasted…ever.

Every opportunity, whether it works in your favor or not, should not be wasted.

But what does that look like?

For kids: Say you didn’t make it into the advanced placement math class this semester. Disappointing? Yes. Tragic. No. Any opportunity? Definitely. First, figure out why you didn’t make it in to the class. There are those moments when you just weren’t “smart enough” I suppose, but more likely, you just didn’t try hard enough. You didn’t study as hard as you could have. You didn’t take the opportunity for the extra credit questions because it didn’t seem as interesting, or fun, as your video game.

We carry this into adulthood too.

How many jobs have we passed up because the pay was “beneath us?” Now if you’re unemployed and have a family depending on you, chances are this won’t happen. If you’re unemployed, and the sole provider, you’ll take any job you can get. But every job can be looked at as an opportunity. Maybe it isn’t what you want to do for the rest of your life, or even for the next month. But what can you learn from it? Nothing, you say? Don’t be so sure.

You may learn how to work with people, especially the ones you don’t like. You may learn a new skill. Maybe this job is just a stepping stone to the next job…a better job. Maybe it inspires you to be the entrepreneur you’ve always dreamed of being. Maybe you’ll make connections that can help you further down the road. You may even learn something about yourself, if you’re paying attention, that is.

Opportunities stretch us, and grow us into the people we need to become. Don’t waste them.

Life rarely turns out the way we plan, but sometimes the plans are better than we could have ever imagined. But not unless we take the opportunities given us.

Have you ever passed up an opportunity and you wish you could have a “do over?”

Social Media Isn’t Fun Anymore

Social media has been slowly losing its appeal to me over the last year or so.

It started with Facebook. Facebook, for me, used to be a place to share events with friends, whether they were big or small, and support one another, or be sarcastic (I have a whole group of friends that relate sarcastically, but we all know it’s out of fun).

But then it started to turn. It started with the grammar police, but those comments are usually funny to me, so long as it’s intended that way.

Then it moved on to friends who felt the need to “educate” each other, even when it wasn’t necessary. Sometimes, I just want to comment on something that just happened or annoyed me. I don’t need your “helpful” advice as to why said event happened. Chances are I’m probably already aware of the why, I just wanted to blow off a little steam. For example, I spent the better part of the morning arguing with the bank over a mistaken transaction that was cleared up. I posted on Facebook that I had spent a frustrating morning arguing with the bank over something that was a technicality. I didn’t need a long, lost acquaintance to advise me that “it was bank policy…blah blah blah…” Don’t you think I probably already knew that?! I had just been arguing with the bank, remember? But hey, thanks for the education. Now we all know how “smart” you are.

And when Facebook turned political…dear God, don’t get me started!

Now even blogging, which used to feel like a “safe” place, is changing. When I first started blogging, about 5 years ago (I know, I was late to the party), the “blogosphere” was full of people sharing common interests and common ideas. To tell the truth, I started blogging because, as an unpublished writer, I was told I needed a platform, and blogging was the best way to do it, at that time. And I realized that I actually liked sharing ideas and making blogging friends.

But that, too, has changed. More and more bate and click blogs are showing up, and it doesn’t feel as genuine anymore. Especially when the trolls started showing up. And there are metrics and tricks to get more followers. It seems more and more like smoke and mirrors rather than genuine appreciation.

I just joined Twitter, and haven’t done much with it yet. Though I’ve noticed that people will follow you whether you “tweet” or not. Again, it seems like people are just trying to get followers. Why would you follow someone who never tweets? It’s flattering, but unexplainable.

It’s odd to me that while the internet is expanding, our social circles are shrinking. Something is wrong with that dynamic. We need people and conversation. No matter how you package it, Social Media is not really a conversation. Social Media is a vacuum of ideas that just get recirculated and never really discussed or solved.

In the long run, it hasn’t gotten me a platform, and quite frankly, I feel guilty making “friends” with bloggers and then asking them to buy my book. (By the way, I’m not published yet, so you have nothing to worry about.)

All of this is enough to make me want to close-up shop, and start making phone calls to friends, and writing letters. Remember those?

Has anyone else noticed the shift in Social Media? What’s been your experience? Are you in it for the long haul?