"I regularly have used the Freecycle group in any area I have lived. This is the formalized practice of something that happens in many college towns--the good stuff goes to the curb, so the newcomers can feather their nests. I have picked up chairs, futons (fumigated and covered afterward, really), toasters, coffeepots, all manner of stuff for the kids, and a dresser over the years. I have divested myself of thousands of pounds of items including vcrs, bikes, old newspapers, books, bricks, railroad ties, plants, furniture, a sideboard, the same futon with two mattresses 25 years later turntables, speakers, and more. And remember--if you donate--research where it goes--there are TONS of for profits acting like non profits out there. And many libraries will take donated media and books for the collection or for sale ."

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"A few months ago, we stopped using traditional cat litter and started using pine pellets and kennel care bedding - recycled cedar mulch. We sprinkle some baking soda at the bottom of the cat boxes, then add the pine pellets, then the cedar. Between them, they keep the smell down very well, the cost is a fraction of the fancy litter AND it can all go into the compost bin. If you have kitties, give it a shot - we've been very happy with the results."


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"Simple pleasures can often surprise us. Yesterday I was taken off blackberrying, on the private land of someone we know slightly. I picked about 3 or 4 pounds of luscious blackberries (will be going for sloes in a few weeks) put the world to rights while we did so and when we went down to the river, we were greeted by a kingfisher. I now have a lot of blackberries to enjoy in the colder months and a lovely memory of a bright October afternoon, and a sense of having made the start of a friendship."


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"Last month I went to an organized food swap, which was great but required organization, a venue and many slips of paper. Here among our neighbors, barter is alive and well: we've received beans, tomatoes and beetroot in exchange for plums, apples and jam. Further afield, a kind person gave us a bottle of wine for 5 lb of damsons. And there is a person (not me) leaving bags of damsons on door knobs around the village!"


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"Dropped off a bag of goodies at my chiropractor's office for everyone to munch on - some crackers, mozzarella, home-made bell pepper relish and strawberry-blackberry jam. Whenever you can - take care of people who take care of you. You want them to be around a long time and you want them to WANT to take care of you."


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"I was so irked by the sight of people at an upscale department store buying and buying just for the sake of accumulating stuff because a sale was on that I bought one of the fast-going items -- -a three-foot tall stuffed Emperor penguin -- and brought it directly to the Toys for Tots guys stationed near the food court. I wanted a kid who didn't have much to have something that the rich kids were fighting over. Didn't cost much: only $11 and change, thanks to that special sale. You should have seen the looks on the guys' faces! They're retired Marine Corps reservists, well along in years, but when they saw that penguin, they laughed and thanked me as if they were kids who'd just opened their own Christmas presents."


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"For my husband's birthday, we went to have dinner and stay at the lovely Pine Crest Inn. It's a wonderful bed-and-breakfast in Tryon, NC, with the second best wine cellar in North Carolina and an amazing restaurant. While we were at dinner, two older ladies took a table next to ours. They ordered steaks. My husband also ordered a steak, which was perfectly prepared and delicious. As soon as one of the ladies started cutting her steaks, she started complaining very loudly, 'This is horrible! Completely overcooked. This is inedible.' First of all, like I said the restaurant there is superb - I can understand how the chef may have messed up a little bit, but I am having trouble believing it was 'inedible'. Second, I think when these things happen, most of us would wait for the waiter, discreetly hail him and say, 'Hey, I am not sure what happened, but this is not very good, could I get this replaced or order something else?' Most restaurants, and particularly a place like Pinecrest would be happy to oblige at no cost. And it's steak - it takes just minutes to make - so the substitution could have been done very quickly.

Then this woman proceeded to get up, go into the kitchen area, all the while yelling, 'Hello! Hey! Man! Dude! Waiter!' When the waiter came out, she kept saying, 'This is horrible. I can't eat this. My dinner has been ruined.' She then demanded to see the manager and owner - with the same message, and finally demanded another double scotch (another - I wonder how many she had before dinner and whether it affected her behavior), and went to her room. Her friend looked embarrassed, but didn't say anything. We called the waiter over, told him that we felt really bad for him and gave him an enormous tip - since he obviously didn't get any from the rude woman. We also went over to the owner and told him that it absolutely was not the waiter's fault, and that the woman's behavior was inexcusable. It was really great to be in position to set something right for someone."


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"When our old mailbox fell over and we installed a new one, I insisted on picking up one of the larger ones, even though it required a bit more finagling with installation. I use USPS Click-n-Ship all the time, and this would make it easier for me to ship slightly larger packages. Also, our mailwoman wouldn't need to drive up our precipitous mountain driveway in her decrepit truck when delivering packages to us. My husband recently ordered a lot of stuff, and today it ALL came in. Strapped to the stack of packages was a note from our mailwoman, 'Love the new mailbox.' And a smiley face."


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"Someone 'paid it forward' at Chippewa Falls Public Library today. Anonymous patron put money in the copier today and not a single person who needed copies or prints had to pay for them on 8/23. THANK YOU whoever you are from the people in the library who benefited!"

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So, SO grateful to be here and not there... Talk about attracting the right ideas when you have the right mind set. This morning, my husband was reading a Target Training International training manual and stumble over this quote that directly relates to the power of small changes, "People stumble over pebbles - you've never heard of anyone stumbling over a mountain."

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Just had this thought while talking about voter challenges. If you have a kid in high school or in college - that would be an interesting project for him or her. Especially, if the school is in or near a poor neighborhood. Organize a voter literacy program. Many colleges (especially community colleges) now have a community service requirement as part of the standard curriculum. I am sure something like that would absolutely count toward that requirement. Some years ago, I had a chance to work for a college located in the inner city Charlotte, NC - one of the toughest, poorest, grittiest areas of the city. The kids at the college helped out with several programs - like tutoring school children from the neighborhood (since schools there were pretty awful - and not because of the teachers. Think movie "Dangerous Minds" but first-graders.), grocery collections for the poorest households, summer camps, as well as resume and job search assistance for the grownups, free writing tutorials, etc. A high school or a community college - someplace with classrooms and a library - is a good place to set something like this up. If you are a grownup of some means, and have the ability to do so, or have a community that can get behind this - consider doing this as well. I am spread a little thin right now, however, if you do go for it - let me know, and I'll be happy to help you promote the effort and spread the word.

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I did something today I haven't done for many years. I gave a stranger a lift. I was making an appointment to see a dentist and while I was waiting, a young woman asked for a phone book so she could call a taxi. I was there maybe 20 minutes and this woman was still there waiting for her cab. As I was leaving I turned to her and said her taxi was really taking his time. She was concerned she was going to miss her bus. Not just a local bus but Greyhound. I knew the bus station is in town, maybe 5 miles from where we were so I offered her a ride. We had a lovely conversation. Turned out she is a recent dental school graduate and was interviewing there. They were running behind so her interviewed ended late. She had hr to catch the bus at 2:30 or she would have to wait until 10pm. She offered to pay for gas but I didn't want that. I told her to do a favor for a stranger. Pay it forward.

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I was at the grocery store today and the bagger accidentally dropped my jar of spaghetti sauce which broke the seal. He looked at me like I was going to blast him. I just said, guess I'm having spaghetti for dinner! Remember, especially this time of year with people a little on edge, that plans can change, things aren't set in stone and go with the flow. Also, remember the people you come in contact with are just as stressed as you are. Take an extra second to look at their name tag, smile and say Have a good day, Jane or Merry Christmas, Tom. You have no idea how good you can make them feel.

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Remember that somewhat esoteric small change challenge we had a few weeks ago? The one about remembering you might be someone's example? I was at the gym yesterday doing some strength training before my zumba class. I was on a stand that allows you to do knee-ups and leg lifts, among other things. Two ladies walked up and watched me for a little bit while I was doing those, and then asked me if it was hard. I explained it was a tough question to answer because it really depended on a person's ab and leg strength. So, I showed them both how to do those properly and helped spot them while they tried. They both agreed they would need some work. And then they thanked me and said, "But you made it look SO easy!" I was once again reminded that, while I might not think of myself as an athlete or a fitness expert, where I am today IS a point yet to be achieved for many people. And it was great fun and rewarding to be able to help someone out along the way.
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It snowed this morning and we ended up with about 1" to 2". We live in a condo but they only shovel when we get more than 4". We bought a small snow thrower a couple of years ago. I was clearing our half of the driveway and kept looking at the other half. Our neighbor just moved in back in August. She's a single mother about 40 and has a 9 year old daughter. I was cold, tired, and couldn't feel my toes. I wanted to call it quits and go inside and thaw out but I couldn't. I cleared her half of the driveway too. It's not completely clear and I didn't do her small sidewalk but I did enough to make it a little easier for her when she gets home tonight.

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My sister-in-law had to drop me early at 6:30am before she went to work. It was a 2 hour drive from delaware. My flight was at 11:30am. No problem. Then they cancelled my flight so while in line waiting to get on another flight I met bill. He was so nice and we talked for the hour and a half it took to change our flights. He told me about his family and how his daughter had just gotten married in Vegas and they had a wonderful time and then he went on to tell me how he had PTSD from watching a coworker being crushed in a machine at work. In this back and forth conversation I explained how my daughter and son both had PTSD and why. It was such a compassionate talk. Then I met another young women with Parkinson's disease she told me she had her PHD in eastern religion and we proceeded to discuss my buddhist practice. She said I had really inspired her when we talked about my children. Then I met another very nice young women when I was out smoking. I was complaining about being in the airport for 12 hours. She had just come from Asia and had spent Sunday (16hours) trying to get a flight to the U.S. It made me appreciate only waiting 12 hours. But my favorite person I met was Stephany. She has CP and is 35 or 37 years old and we had the best conversation about how it was when she was growing up. We talked about Alli and she gave me a completely new perspective on my beautiful girl. All in all it was a long but amazing day. When your stuck at the airport try to connect with people they are wonderful and can really put your life in to perspective. I'm very blessed.

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I was the recipient of a random act of kindness yesterday. I used to work in a different building. I was in the same building as the electronics lab and so got to be friends with all of the guys down there. I rarely see them now that I'm in another building. We had freezing rain yesterday and they was a light coating of ice on my car windows. One of the lab techs saw me out there starting to scrape the ice off and came over to help me. Although I have the proper tools and am fully capable of doing that, Dave just jumped in and scraped my back window. I thanked him and gave him a hug. It was appreciated.