I had a bad day yesterday. Not the worst day ever. I didn’t have a great appointment about my kidneys. Not the worst news ever, just more worry and stress. But because of the bad day and the bad news, I decided I’m not devoting any more energy to bad things. So, today I want to focus on something good.

Here’s something about me that confuses people: I hate Christmas time. I’m getting better about it, but it’s mostly one of those situations where 1.) there are several bad memories tied particularly to Christmas, and 2.) I get irritated with people that ruin it for me because everyone seems offended by something, or people lose the basic point of Christmas, or whatever. That isn’t what I want to get into, since it isn’t the point of this post.

Now, while I become a tad bit Grinch-y during Christmas time, I do love giving. I try to do what I can for people I love, pick a perfect present (in my mind at least), to let them know I actually put thought into what I bought instead of generic body wash gift baskets and junk they won’t really like or use.

But besides the things I buy for friends and family, I also work with local organizations as much as I can to help get things for people who have lost everything, or who are alone (a lot of times, these are Veterans), or people who just don’t have the money to do anything for their family for Christmas, etc. My mom and I will buy the things, give them to the organization responsible for distributing them to families in time for Christmas, and go on with our lives. We don’t give our names. Most of the time, my friends and family don’t realize I do this, except in instances where they ask me what I want for Christmas and I give them one of the people on my list to help and have them buy for them instead. Because trust me, I’m not in need of anything. I’m perfectly fine buying myself Batman collectibles and random other junk.

Another thing my mom and I have done over the years, which even less people realize, is buy a bunch of things for the residents in nursing homes and deliver them for Christmas. It can be anything from crossword puzzles, card decks, or handheld poker games, to body wash or blankets, treats, etc. There are a surprising number of people that are alone on Christmas in those facilities, because their families don’t bother to visit, or maybe they don’t have families for whatever reason. This kills me. If I had more free time, I would like to go in and visit the people that won’t have visitors but would like to. I can’t imagine myself ever being in that scenario, where I’m alone in a home with strangers, bored and basically waiting to die.

Again, we don’t give our names, we don’t want to be praised for doing something that I wish more people would do, just because it’s the right thing. We’ve started involving Lillie and Dica, my two nieces that live with me 50% of the time. One year we dressed them as little elves and took them into the nursing home with us to drop off the presents. The residents that saw them loved them, and the girls liked being “Santa’s helpers.” I was proud to have started showing the girls at a young age the benefits of giving to someone, not because you have to, but because you want to. Because it feels good.

This year, I hope to involve them more in the buying for families tradition, and have them help me pick out things for little kids their age that aren’t going to have much of a Christmas. I’d like for them to help with that every year, to see that not everyone gets quite as spoiled as they do every year, and that they can help make a huge difference in someone else’s life.

But I don’t just do things at Christmas time. Many friends, family, acquaintances, people through work, etc will tell you that I readily give when needed, and sometimes just because. If I can avoid people knowing I did something, I will avoid it, and let it be a miraculous gift from the Universe. My mother and I have bought and delivered an entire Thanksgiving dinner for a family I barely knew, because they had just lost everything. The home of some of my friends burned to the ground and they lost everything in it,  just a few days before Christmas, and we didn’t hesitate to go get them some clothes, food, random things they may need until they could get back on their feet. Mom and I have bought groceries for families struggling to pay bills and keep food on the table.

I’ve bought many, many friends random little gifts, just because. I’ve offered to buy or help with paying for the purchases of someone in front of me in Walmart, because they didn’t have enough to buy the things they need. I donate to the local no-kill shelter, where I got my big baby boy Lenny. I’ve donated to random charities, both with money and item donations (food drives, toy drives, etc). Every single time the gas station I frequently use has the donate $1 or $5 Shamrocks for Muscular Dystrophy, I buy the $5 shamrocks every time I’m in there, or at least the $1 ones if I’m short on cash that day. And trust me, I’m in that gas station A LOT. I organized the Legends of the Knight screening in Eric’s memory and, while I’m still gathering the money from that event, I’m happy to say that so far we’ve sent more money to the Muscular Dystrophy Association than I ever thought I could from one thing. At Hot Topic, and various other stores, when they have the round your purchase total up to donate your change – I usually do it. I leave some really good tips for exceptionally nice waitresses having really bad nights. Plus other things I can’t even think of at the moment. When I have more free time, I plus to volunteer at a place or two locally, even if it’s just a few hours one day of the week. If I ever make it big as a writer, and am more than financially stable, you can bet I will be donating monthly to Muscular Dystrophy, and offering any and all help that I can to the organization.

Now, here is the point of all of this babbling, because I sure as hell wasn’t doing it to praise myself. I wouldn’t keep most of the stuff I do a secret if that was the case. I don’t do any of this because I want people to think of me a certain way. I don’t do it for brownie points with God or the Universe or any other deity or religion or cosmic force you can think of.

Be the change you want to see in the world.

I do it because I want to give the world my very best. I want to do the best I can to put everything I can back out there into the world. I do it because I’ve been there, stuck at rock bottom, and I’ve been lucky to find my way out. I do it because of the kindness of strangers and family and friends that I witnessed as a child, when we were going through rough times. I do it because my mother taught me by showing me how good it feels to know you’ve helped someone else, whether they know it was you or not. I do it to pay it forward for the help I’ve been given in life. I do it because I don’t want to be part of the problems in this world, but rather because I’d like to help see those things change. I’d like to teach other people, whether or not they know it’s me, to give back too. Because maybe some day their stars will change, and the opportunity will present itself for them to help someone else. I’d like to think I could be a part of something like that. That if I’ve inspired at least one person to help another, that maybe my life has been worth something.

And since it is November, and this is the time we all try to mention the things we are thankful for, I thought I’d mention a slightly different group than I normally do in my Thankful posts.

creativeminds

I’m becoming surrounded by these wonderful people in my life. Even though they may not all be physically close to me – some several states or farther away – they help and inspire and teach me to grow.

There are plenty of friends and other people that inspire me in some way, but these people inspire me, motivate me, and make me want to keep growing as a person and giving back to the world. These are a very particular set of inspirational people:

First, I do need to say that a lot of my drive to do better, to give, to inspire, and just live the best life I possibly can, comes from my friends Eric and Whitney, both of which are no longer with us. Eric died many years ago, and Whitney died in 2013. Both of them were dearly loved, and deeply missed. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of either one, because I miss them both more than I can say. They were some of the most beautiful souls I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting. I know I have to live the best life I can, or it would be a dishonor to their memory.

our dead

I have a friend, Sky, that’s about to embark on an amazing adventure, volunteering in other countries and traveling for at least 11 months. She’s saving and working hard to pay her way on this trip to help other people and grow as an individual through this experience. And you know what? I think that’s absolutely beautiful. You can check out Sky’s journey on her blog: Sky vs World.

There’s Brett Culp, his amazing family, and the incredible people in Legends of the Knight. Because of the hard work Brett and their team and the people interviewed put into Legends of the Knight, so many people all over the country have gotten to host screenings of the film, and not only inspire everyone that watches it, but also help raise money for so many different charities and people that need it. I’m one of the many people that were inspired by their great work, and was lucky enough to hold a screening myself for Eric. I was even more lucky that Eric’s mom and brother were there, and we could cry together when we thought of how proud Eric would be. This is a blessing I will never, ever forget. You can learn more about Legends of the Knight on their website and order a copy of the DVD.

Which leads me to the amazing duo: Tommy and Samantha Castillo. Tommy is an incredible artist, and Samantha is his amazing wife (with quite a bit of her own talent.) They were kind enough to donate several signed prints of Tommy’s work to us for the Legends of the Knight screening. Tommy and Sammy visit a TON of conventions, if you want to meet them in person for some prints, or you can order online on their website. I have a huge collection of his work, myself, and it is gorgeous.

And these are just a few of the people I can think of that inspire me on a regular basis. People that motivate me to keep going for my dreams, and to keep trying to give the world my best.

Now tell me: Who inspires you to give the world your best?

~Angel

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Comments
  1. […] each other. I try to make a difference, but I can’t do it alone. You can read more on my post Give the World Your Best – because it’s pointless for me to go into the same details all over again for everyone […]

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