Make More Time for People

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Photo by Praxis Systems on

Everyone you see has a story worth hearing. Just say hi!

Try something new this year and check out the Just Say Hello Campaign on Oprah’s website. The campaign (find it here) encourages kindness and strives to combat loneliness by encouraging us to reach out and connect. A howdy-do to a stranger might make your day and a new pal in the process. I read about this excellent friendliness project in Oprah’s O Magazine a few Sundays ago and immediately felt inspired to try it that day. My boyfriend and I went to do our weekend chores, which include buying fresh flowers from our neighborhood stand. An older gentleman was standing there smelling the roses, always a good idea in my mind. I remembered to say “Hi” as instructed by Oprah and he responded with a big smile and wanted my input on flowers he wanted to buy for a lady friend.  As you might imagine, quite a conversation ensued and my boyfriend joined in, who is even friendlier than I am. Soon the florist was involved and our new gentleman friend turned out to be a fascinating conversationalist. He had been a fighter pilot in the Korean War, very highly decorated and has traveled all over the world before returning back home to El Cerrito. Widowed some years back, he was only beginning to get back out there and date. After landing upon a carefully selected bouquet of red roses and pink lilies, he headed off to the dance at the senior center. I noticed he has a good bit of pep in his step, and I remember having a good feeling about his first date. We kept our eyes peeled for Colonel Jarvis when in the vicinity of the flower shop and sure enough we saw him and he had pictures of his lady friend from the dance featuring a corsage he had gotten for her. Things were looking pretty swell all around and he looked pleased as punch.

So, thanks Oprah for another great idea!


Holiday Magic

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on

Chimney cleaners and inspectors do not have the most glamorous jobs. Fireplaces are often filthy, and there is waaaay less singing involved than Mary Poppins would have you believe. However, one chimney sweep had a profound effect on a friend of mine when she was about five or six years old.

It was summer break, and her siblings were outside the house with friends. A strange man was over, and his head, arms, and torso were hidden up the chimney in Sylvie’s living room. Of course she was sitting a few feet away, asking questions each time his head reappeared, despite her father’s pleas to leave the man alone. After a few seconds of silence, the man gasped and squeezed out the chimney and into the living room.

“You will not believe what I just found!” he said, holding his hand out with a small piece of red fabric. “Santa must have snagged his suit on the inside of your chimney and left this behind.”

Sylvie was dumbstruck. Proof! She had proof! Santa was real!

Though Sylvie now knows the truth about Santa, she still has that small piece of fabric, and it reminds her every year about the kindness of strangers and the importance of sparking joy in someone’s life.

If you’re not a chimney sweep, find other ways to inspire joy in the young people around you. It is, after all, the most magical time of year.


Happy December 6th!

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Photo by Daniel Reche on

Today is Saint Nicholas Day, or the feast day of Saint Santa if you prefer. The original St. Nick was a Greek bishop in the fourth century with a reputation for generosity and anonymous gift-giving.

While normally this day comes and goes in the flurry of the Christmas season, I have a friend who makes this day special by giving pre-Christmas gifts like festive socks, candy, or holiday CDs (old-fashioned, I know) to friends, family, and coworkers. Take this Saint Nicholas Day to enjoy the holiday season. Buy coffee for the person behind you in line, or stop at the grocery story on your way home to pick up some flowers for a loved one. While December 6th may not mean much to most, you can spread joy and cheer by honoring Saint Nicholas today.