Playing Retail Secret Santa

Last year one of my friends posted on Facebook that he had paid off some layaways at Toy R Us at Christmastime.

I was in Tucson when I read this and was inspired.

My mother-in-law and I had gone to a yoga class one evening and I asked her if she would be willing to brave the crazy crowds (it was just two days before Christmas) to pay off some layaways. She was in.

(I wrote about this last year.)

We headed to Toys R Us and we’re disappointed to find out that their Christmas layaway program was closed. If the layaways weren’t paid off by a certain date the money deposited was returned and the items were put back on the shelf.

Not too discouraged we headed to Kmart, where we were able to pay off some layaways. Our hearts felt so big and warm afterward.

Knowing the Toy R Us deadline I made sure to not miss it this year. On Saturday I headed to the Toys R Us near me and helped three families put presents under the tree this year.

The woman helping me was grinning ear to ear the whole time we were working … Continue reading

Meditating, lunch breaks & doing nothing are winners

Thank you to everyone who participated in this month’s Comment Contest Tuesday.

There were just a few responses. But they were all great and I appreciated every single one of them.

It is so important for us to take care of ourselves while we are taking care of others.

This Comment Contest Tuesday was part of December’s Monthly Challenge. It lasted for a two-week period and had Challengers do and comment on 5 things attempted each day or over the two weeks.

Brenda mentioned that she wanted to try meditating for 5 minutes each day. Alicia said she was going to take a lunch break at work. Nicole M. is trying to do nothing for a whole 5 minutes. Nicole and her family are going to volunteer 5 times this month, for organizations or events that don’t benefit them personally. One of the volunteer items Nicole and her family are doing is taking canned food donations at WinterHaven, which essentially is a neighborhood festival of lights in Tucson. Brenda said she would be visiting WinterHaven and bringing 5 cans of food.

According to the WinterHaven website, in 2012, more than $20,000 and 33,905 pounds of food were donated to the food bank … Continue reading

Comment Contest Tuesday: 5 for 5

This Comment Contest Tuesday stems from Go Fit Girl’s December Monthly Challenge: Free(ish) for 5.

In the spirit of the holiday season we are usually thinking about others, which makes us amazing people. But we also have to make sure we take care of ourselves.

In the spirit of 5 for 5, over the next two weeks tell me 5 things you attempt each day or over the two weeks. (This Comment Contest Tuesday is going to last from today until Tuesday, Dec. 17). But you can can continue 5 for 5 this whole month and beyond.

This CCT is simple and we can all participate.

Some 5-minute ideas: Meditate for 5 minutes; take a brisk 5-minute walk; try handstand or headstand for 5 minutes (this one is definitely one for me); do crunches for 5 minutes; do a couple of relaxing yoga poses for 5 minutes …

Some 5-things ideas: Let 5 cars ahead of you while in traffic (doesn’t have to be all at once); smile at 5 strangers; give 5 strangers a compliment; find 5 things you like about yourself; pick up 5 pieces of trash (maybe while on your 5-minute walk); have 5 servings of water … Continue reading

Keeping calm, simple for Monthly Challenge

I asked my readers for ideas for the November Monthly Challenge. I got a lot of great ideas and used them.

I saved one idea for Go Fit Girl’s December Monthly Challenge.

We’ll get to that shortly.

December is a tough month for me and for many others as well. We are so busy with the end of the year at work, with the holidays, travel, extra tasks, multiple parties, certain expectations, many pressures.

Be kind to yourself this month. Let’s not forget the post I wrote in August titled, Do you want to be happy? Make sure to take care of yourself during this hectic, stressful over the top time.

Exercise: Exercise of any kind is important all year round. But it is really important when under stress. Try to exercise at least three times a week, but more is better. Go for a walk, catch a yoga class, take Zumba. Whatever you like to do do it. Make sure to make time for yourself. You can do as little as 15 minutes. It doesn’t have to be a full exercise regime to alter your mood.

Nutrition: We can probably guarantee any diet or healthy way of eating we … Continue reading

Helping the GreaterGood

The other day in the mail I received a gorgeous scarf from my brother. Either an early Christmas present or late birthday present.

There was a pamphlet included with the scarf about greatergood.org (in partnership with greatergood.com).

Greatergood.org website simply states: GreaterGood works to protect people, pets and the planet.

My scarf came from the Animal Rescue Site shop as animal rescue is something my brother is passionate about. My scarf funded 28 bowls of food.

I love this!

I perused their website and found many cool programs they work to support. My favorite is Operation Sandwich. (I also like Cats R Cool. And frankly all the programs are awesome.)

According to the site, a food bank in Seattle has teamed up with GreaterGood to launch Operation Sandwich to fight back against hunger. GreaterGood staff and other local volunteers will prepare sandwiches every week for the homeless and working poor.

The site also says, sandwiches provide an easy, cost-effective way to craft complete and ready-to-eat meals that are also handheld and portable, meaning they travel well to school or work where prohibitive prices often mean missed meals. Sandwiches are also nutritious, and for some homeless, it might be the … Continue reading

Kid cares with (hot) chocolate

A former colleague of Curt’s has two family members battling cancer.

He also has a daughter. His daughter, who is 7, has decided to do something. She lives in New Jersey and is setting up a hot chocolate stand this Sunday to raise money for Stand Up to Cancer, which allocates 100% of the funds raised from individual donors to research.

One time one of Curt’s friend’s kid’s opened up a lemonade stand to donate toys to kids who were less fortunate than him. Curt and I drove about 40 miles to buy lemonade.

We can’t drive to New Jersey this weekend. So we bought some virtual cups of hot chocolate to support this amazing kid in her heartfelt efforts to be aware and kind and generous and giving and passionate.

If you want to support this awesome kid, you can use PayPal to paypal at thefriedmans.net, or use cash@square.com to lex at lexfriedman.com.

According to her dad, who wrote a blog post about this, she’s raised more than $600 $750 $900 $1000 $1300 $1500, and we haven’t stirred a single cup of powder yet. Thanks, Internet. Her mind is blown.

The latest update from the dad says: 24 hours later after my initial tweet, she’s sold $2,000 … Continue reading

Helping Brighter Beginnings

Curt and I support a variety of charities and different programs. Whether it be our alma maters, food banks, Planned Parenthood, Humane Society, organizations focused on children, etc.

One of the organizations we are passionate about is Brighter Beginnings, which works to support healthy births and successful development of children by partnering with parents and helping to build strong communities.

Curt and I were invited to a fundraising event on Saturday night. Curt had other plans so I took a girlfriend with me.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee attended the event as well.

We had a good dinner, tasty wine and met some interesting people.

There was a raffle before dinner.

After dinner, a young woman who has benefited from Brighter Beginnings services spoke. She had her baby when she was 17. After having her baby she was a little behind in school. But managed to catch up and graduate with a 3.92. She was honest and well-spoken.

What I really loved about her is that she has taken her situation and the help from Brighter Beginnings and is paying it forward. She is a peer counselor to teach at-risk teens pregnancy prevention in East Bay high schools.

After she spoke the auction … Continue reading

Supporting kids, parents and families

We had a third challenge this month for Go Fit Girl’s June Monthly Challenge.

A challenge of the heart with a donation, preferably focused on children. But any sort of charity giving (whether monetary, time or material [clothes, books, etc.] donations) is awesome.

Brighter Beginnings is a local charity Curt and I like to support. We normally make monetary donations to them for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and usually around Christmastime.

The website states: Supporting healthy births and successful development of children by partnering with parents and helping to build strong communities. Brighter Beginnings tagline is Every Family Matters.

I love supporting Brighter Beginnings. It’s a great organization. And we are helping so many children grow and develop (along with a few other charities we support).

(I probably shouldn’t even say this, but well, I am going to. I have had people call me selfish for choosing to not have children. Hmmm, it’s selfish to know you don’t want kids and not have them while being able to support so many other kids. Selfish?)

Every time I make a donation to BB  they  call me to thank me for my donation after it is made. And they are just … Continue reading

June Monthly Challenge: Greek yogurt, exercise routine & giving

All right, it’s time for Go Fit Girl’s June Monthly Challenge.

I want to say thank you to everyone who participated in Go Fit Girl’s Comment Contest Tuesday. There were lots of great ideas for future Monthly Challenges. And I promise to use them in the upcoming months. But I did have some ideas already for June’s challenges.

Ready for them?

Nutrition: I got this idea when we ended up with a vat of plain Greek yogurt recently. If there are any vegans out there I did find a vegan version of Greek yogurt. I’m sure that isn’t the only brand available.

Experiment  and get inventive with plain Greek yogurt and use it in various meals. I found multiple ways to use it. I will write about my meal/snack experiments sometime this month.

If you absolutely don’t want to work with Greek yogurt come up with something else.

Exercise: The New York Times recently wrote about The Scientific 7-Minute Workout. I am not 100% excited about the routine proposed. But with modifications I think this is a great exercise routine.

It has been scientifically proven that adults need 30 minutes of cardio five days a week. You can … Continue reading

National Day of Service

As I am typing this post I am watching the second inauguration of President Barack Obama.

I feel lucky to have today off to honor Martin Luther King Jr. and to have the opportunity to watch the inauguration.

I still remember President Obama’s first inauguration. I was at work and the area I sat in we all agreed to crank up the volume on our computers and watch the inauguration of the first Black president of the United States. We were proud and giddy. It was pretty awesome.

But today is about honoring another great man. Martin Luther King Jr.

And I recently found out about National Day of Service. How did I not know about this before?

Click the link above for more information on National Day of Service to read more. But this is a brief summary: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’” Each year, Americans across the country answer that question by coming together on the King Holiday to serve their neighbors and communities.

Is there anything more flattering than people helping others in your honor? I think not.

I am always honored when someone … Continue reading