Saturday, July 31, 2010

Finding The Balance

What a busy week I have had! A visit from family and a wild work load have distracted me from this project. Yet, I found my mind drifting to it many times throughout the week and I found myself anxious to discover what’s going right in the world today. It gets addicting, you see, to hear good news. It is still way too easy to hear the bad news, local, national and international. It is so easy to just want to sigh, shake my head and “check out” because it is so much easier to just block it out and pretend it doesn’t exist. But I won’t give in. I have instead made myself the deal that for all of these sad, tragic and enraging stories I find each day, I will also continue to search for the good, inspiring and triumphant stories. It’s about finding a balance. It’s the same reason I make myself drink a glass of water between all those cups of coffee I chug at work. It’s a small but purposeful attempt to maintain health. I think the same can be said for the soul. I need to balance the input of negative by infusing positive. And it is my delight to share the positive with you. Here’s what’s been going right in the world:

Kupang, Indonesia – 47 kids? Budi Soehardi and his wife Peggy,who are from Singapore have found themselves adding love and hope to the life of 47 orphans in Indonesia. Over a decade ago, as they watched TV at home in Singapore they were struck by the story they saw documenting the upheaval and despair of the refugees of the conflict in East Timore. They made the snap decision to cancel their vacation, raise money, collect food and medical supplies and go West Timore to help however they could. Their new found mission grew from just distributing aid to the building of an orphanage that now houses 47 orphans whom each Budi and Peggy know and have a relationship with. This orphanage offers shelter and education and hope. Their mission continues to grow. The links below are for a CNN article for 2009 and a link to the website about the orphanage.

St. Loius/Chicago – Facebook family! A father and his son were reunited through a simple friend request on face book. Joe Dus was put in foster care when he was 7 years old after he was taken away from his mother. He was adopted when he was 9. His father, who was only a teenager when Joe was born had been denied custody and visitation of his son and then fell out of contact. When his father tried to find him, Joe had been adopted and his file sealed not allowing his father to search any further. After the death of Joe’s adoptive parent he set out to find his birth father. Just before father’s day, ironically enough, he found the man he thought was his dad and made a friend request. They started chatting online and recently met in person, filling a void they both had carried with them all their lives. Ok, so maybe facebook isn’t that rotten… ;),0,5153049.column?page=1

Friday, July 23, 2010

Flipping The Happy Switch

Is happiness a state of mind? Or is it perhaps a side effect of a fortunate situation?

Do you choose happiness or does happiness choose you? Is it a fleeting moment that catches you by surprise in an otherwise mundane day or do we have the ability to tap into a stash hidden within? For example, have you ever had just an awesome night out with a friend, more fun than you had expected to have? Perhaps you stayed out too late, maybe even had a bit too much to drink (Who me? Never!). The next day you find yourself really worn out from not getting enough sleep and perhaps that last glass of wine has made that overhead office light just a bit too bright and yet… you have a permagrin stuck on your face anyway. It’s not that you have the most perfect job ever, or that some insane driver didn’t cut you off on the highway this morning, or that a bunch of voicemails and emails hadn’t developed overnight and jumped on to the already teetering work load that was left behind with a wary eye yesterday. No, it’s just that the time you spent having such fun the night before not only filled up your “satisfaction tank”, it over filled it, leaving you with a reservoir of happiness to tap in to. So even on a day that may normally send you into a tailspin of frustration or an office-door-shut-to-protect-the-innocent mode, you instead find yourself able to draw upon the well of satisfaction within; to supplement your mood; to fend off the impending negativity that you would so easily be able to accept on another day. Awesome. But I wonder, how much of this happiness is really because you spent time out doing something great last night? What I mean is, isn’t this really just a frame of mind. It’s like we only conditionally allow ourselves to be in that great, happy mood on occasion; like we are need an excuse. But really, I would argue that the dinner, the drinks, the dancing from 10pm last didn’t really flip our joy switch at 6am this morning. That was you. And you have that power every day. So here’s to flipping the switch more often and here are some stories about what went right in the world today to help you get that finger closer to the switch.

Atlanta: No more needles?! Researchers at Emory University and The Georgia Institute of Technology are working together to develop vaccine patches. The patches will have tiny, itty bitty, eensy weensy “microneedles” that only penetrate the top layer of skin. The idea is that people will be able to apply the patch themselves without the pain of an injection! Can you imagine? The researchers envision people being able to apply the patch at home: no more missing work or school, no more bribing and dragging hysterical kids into the doctors office…somebody pinch me -but don’t poke me with a darn needle! Another nice side effect – not so many left over needles to dispose of. Now that’s sharp (oh forgive me).

Gateshead, England: The Twitchhiker. Paul Smith realized one day, as he shopped at the grocery store, he would rather be traveling the world. And he was really into Twitter. Why not combine the two? That’s right, he became the self-dubbed “Twitchhiker” and traveled the globe relying on the kindness of fellow tweeters to help him along the way. He mapped out a basic itenierary with a start point in Europe and an enpoint taking him around to New Zealand. From there he sent out a message to his many twitter contacts asking if they could him complete the journey which would require him to never spend money or plot his exact next steps. It worked! Starting in Amsterdam, he traversed through European cities like Frankfurt, Saarbucken, and Paris. Then he hit the U.S. in places like New York, DC, Chicago, Witchta, Austin, San Fransisco, L.A. and then on to New Zealand. All of this as a guest in homes, cars and planes that provided by fellow tweeters with no cost to Paul and in completed in less than 30 days.

Soweto, South Africa: Soccer Balls for All! Just recovering from the World Cup, the country of South Africa as well as the 52 other countries in Africa are still in a Soccer craze. In recognition of the fervor and in recognition of the poverty afflicting so many African children FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) has launched the “One Million Dream Balls for Africa” project. FIFA will provide the one million balls to NGO’s to distribute throughout all 53 countries over the next six months. The mission is to teach confidence, team work and life skills to children in great need.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Another day, another story found

Aha! In my ongoing quest to find more needles of happiness in the grim haystack of news today, I happened upon some more good stories to share. I have to admit that it is an interesting, and almost disheartening challenge at times to sift through a mass of headlines hurtling sadness toward me to catch glimpse of that one possibly positive story. But when I find it, wow does it feel great! Kind of like when I wake up in the morning preparing myself for yet another day of work but then I suddenly remember it is Saturday. Finding these stories offers me a happy little thrill because I know that I am about to discover something to celebrate. So, here are the smiles that visited me today:

Omaha Nebraska: Three people, two of whom have battled to overcome serious obstacles have joined together to help make a dream come true at the Special Olympics. Brian Bader cannot hear nor can he speak but he is an athlete in the area of power lifting (Very strong!). His coach Ed Reindardt, a special olympics coach for 2 decades, struggles to communicate with him but obviously is dedicated to seeing Brian succeed. Enter Amy Eidenmiller, a volunteer at the Special Olympics. Amy, who is blind, knows sign language and her ability to sign Ed's communication to Brian has made a world of difference in Ed's ability to coach Brian to success. He competes tomorrow! Talk about a dream team.

Gulf Coast: Kevin Costner takes on the oil spill! It turns out that 20 years ago actor Kevin Costner developed a concern about the environmental danger an oil spill from off shore rigs could pose to the coast. He was concerned enough to start his own company to develop technology to clean up oil infested water. His company developed a centrifuge that can actually separate oil from water and then return the clean water back to the ocean. Strangely enough, the centrifuge was developed to the required standards for actual usage (as determined by the Environmental Protection Agency) only days before the BP oil spill. BP has purchase 32 so far and the Federal Government is poised to purchase them as well. Look out oil, here comes Kevin and his magic machines.

La Gloria, Columbia: El Biblioburro - "The Donkey Library" is the invention of a man named Luis Soriano. He is a primary school teacher who believes that children's success is tied to their ability to read. So for the last 10 years he has set out with a mobile library, bags of books loaded onto the backs of two donkeys , headed into the rural parts of the region. Many children do not have access to schools or books but he brings the access to them. His collection continues to grow, the children and the adults in these remote areas love the program and he hasn't had a problem with people not returning the books to the donkeys. He is also currently working on building an actual library.

Hmm...after jotting these notes down I find myself rather chipper! Hope this infused a little happy into your day too!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What Went Right In The World Today?

I don't know about you but I find myself more and more frustrated with how every time I turn on the news, listen to the radio or click on a web page I just hear an ongoing chase and race to report the worst possible news. Somehow, like a wreck on the side of the highway, the worse it is the more attention it gets. It gets old.

Listen, I'm not saying that I don't need or want to know about developing news, natural disasters, what our soldiers are dealing with in their day to day battles, political turmoil in developing countries, how people are struggling to find and maintain jobs and how far and wide the oil spill has spread. I do need to know this. These topics do deserve the attention and mindfulness of my conscious. But hour after hour, day after day, I find myself wondering what went right in the world today? Am I selfish or simply naive to wish that just a bit of time was purposely dedicated to recognizing "good" things?

So, I decided that instead of wishing someone would do this, I should do it myself. Forgive for the format and the randomness but here are some of the things that I found out went right in the world today:

Israel: It was announced today that Sandra Samuel will have the process of becoming an Israeli Citizen expedited. You may not recognize her name but she is the nanny who saved little Moshe Holtzberg in 2008 during the 3 day terror attack in Mumbai that left both of Moshe's parents dead. When she heard him crying for her, she came out of hiding, grabbed him and ran through the terror and saved his life. She returned to Israel with him, pledging to stay with him for as long as she needed him but at first she has had trouble with getting a visa to allow her to stay. Today the news broke that she has been given temporary residential status and is on her way to citizenship.

Colorado: Chris Wuebben, a veteran who had just recently returned home from serving two tours as an EMT in Iraq, was delivering a pizza to a home in Lakewood Colorado. Inside, just moments before Chris rang the doorbell, one of the homeowners collapsed. Chris answered the call of help from the family as they opened the door. He dropped the 'za and immediately started performing CPR. He is credited with saving the homeowners life by being there just moments after the collapse.

South Africa: A new contraceptive gel for women has been developed that reports to cut a woman's chance of being infected with HIV by 50%. While not licensed everywhere around the world yet, this is an exciting development for women everywhere - especially in Africa where the HIV epidemic rages on.

Ok, so this is just a snippet of what went right in the world today. I would love it if you would post what went right in your world today, from the local school sports team to good news in a far off land. Here's hoping!