The Appreciation Factor

All things Appreciation: Things to appreciate and the Ways we look at, Show and Think about Appreciation.

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“Thankful Thursday” – Well at this point, it’s really “Friday Favorites”

Perhaps in needing some inspiration myself this week, I wanted to share 4 links that have moved me or which have inspired me to share my appreciation of them.  Each is a reminders that kindness is out there and can is making a difference. I’m even considering making this kind of share a periodic feature called “Thankful Thursday” but as it’s Friday – Friday Favorites??

 

Post-It Notes on LockersEveryone is Special

I came across this great article and video written by James Armstrong of the Global News that was right up my alley.  Random Acts of Kindness-type notes were being created for EVERY student in this school (and I’m sure many others) in support of “Say My Name Canada.”
The program creator Glen Marais, challenged students to be kind for 30 days starting on January 30, 2015.  Several of the students felt that everyone should be made to feel special and took to writing and affixing uplifting, positive messages on each and every locker.  The goal: Communicate that Bullying is Unacceptable.   It was meant to conclude with Pink Shirt Day (see pink inset) on February 25th but per the program has been well received it at this school it continues on.

david-shepherd-and-travis-price2

Photo credit: CKNW

In 2007, David Shepherd and Travis Price of Nova Scotia  stood up for a boy who was bullied simply because he wore a pink shirt on the first day of school.  How did they do it? The second day of school, they both wore pink shirts and distributed pink shirts to all of the boys in their high school.   The pink shirts have gone on to symbolize that “we will not tolerate bullying anywhere” and has Pink Shirt Day has been celebrated annually in Canada ever since.  Visit the Pink Shirt Day site here

In 2012, the United Nations declared official Anti-bullying day as May 4th.  It’s celebrated in the US, Australia and the UK.

 

Coca-Cola – A Coke and a Smile continues in a more meaningful way

Unless you live under a rock, hate football or use commercials for food breaks, I’m sure you’ve seen the “Make it Happy” Coke ad that played during the Superbowl.  I’ve been waiting to be able to talk about this. I LOVED THIS AD.  While some may say, “well what can it really do?” I found it very unexpected. At first I couldn’t understand why a Coke would be promoting cyber bullying and hatred… but then the twist.  I loved the idea of a product we’ve seen marketed to bring “a smile” could be used to make that smile last.  My favorite vignette, the boy on the bus.

It may be only an ad, but if the 1000’s of visitors and pledges on their www.gomakeithappy.com site is any indication, maybe Coke’s ideas and taking these small steps (pledges) can make a difference.  It would be nice wouldn’t it? I’d definitely like to see a change both in bullying and in the nasty, negative comments online.   Let’s see if we can create a positive ripple effect. I hope my followers and their friends (pass it on) will pledge how we’ll “make it happy.”  As I say on Twitter: #smallactbigchange.
What will you do “to make it happy?”

video source: YouTube/Coca-Cola

 

Across the Globe – We see how Random Acts of Kindness bring us more than monetary gifts

I’ve watched this Thai Insurance video over and over again since seeing it first on a blog (which I cannot locate anymore to credit as the source. – Sorry if it was on yours!) I did find it on YouTube. Sure it’s a commercial, but I love watching how small things like helping a women with her cart, started to make her day, and encouraged her to give something back (watch for the extra rice!), as well as the touching end with little girl.  It illustrated, at least for me, how my small acts of kindness can create such deep and ongoing positive changes, many of which I may never see.
Were you moved?

video source: YouTube/Thai Insurance

 

 

New Yorker’s aren’t as uncaring as some stereotypes may make us think! (I already knew this but… in case you didn’t)

source: Fortunate Cup Coffee Cafe/Relephantmatters

And finally, I found this great post on Relephantmatters that shared a different way of paying for a stranger’s coffee.
For the month of February, customers of  the Fortunate Cup Coffee Cafe in Saratoga Springs, NY  have been encouraged to leave their change or make a donation to something they were calling “Suspended Receipts.”  The collected funds would be used to pay it forward by contributing to, or paying for, someone else’s cup of coffee.  This is a new spin on, “I’m also covering the person’s purchase behind me,” don’t you think?

As of  February 1st, …. all the do gooders [sic] who can spare change for a random act of kindness [leave it as a suspended receipt]. This month we will provide customers with the opportunity to suspend receipts to provide a complimentary drink or meal for a stranger…. It’s our way of showing customer appreciation and connecting strangers through genuine care for our community.

It gets better!  They’ve also promised to continue accepting donations after February which later may be used to buy meals or provide other assistance for those less fortunate and/or those who may need temporary assistance.

Think of how much one single cup, or a few dollars to help with a bill if a family member is ill could improve someones day?  Go New Yorker’s! Go Fortunate Cup Coffee Cafe!

 

Were you inspired by any of this or nah… it wasn’t enough, it won’t do much?

What would inspire you?  Send your ideas/links for future a Thankful Thursdays feature


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For Swizzel

Today, in honor of the 80th!! Anniversary of patent # 1,991,871, better known as the Swizzle Stick, I wanted to expand on my appreciation of, and provide a little history of these unique and fun accouterments to any drink.  You may have heard me reference my appreciation of them first, on Cutie Cameras earlier this month.)drink w swizzle

There’s something about saying the word Swizzle that just makes me smile.  It’s probably because there aren’t many words like it.  When I think/hear “swizzle,” I think “whimsical,” “nostalgia,” and “zing!”  When it comes to the swizzle stick, I think, “added class.”   I also can’t help but love a means of advertising for both businesses and brands in a playful way.  What other products can you say do this?

 

It’s History:

The branches looked a little something like this

The branches looked a little something like this on the ends

The first “swizzle sticks” have been traced to West Indies sugar plantations in the 1600s.  Workers used a small branch to stir a refreshing rum elixir called the Switchel.

The birth of what we recognize as the swizzle stick of today was created shortly after the repeal of Prohibition by Jay Sindler.  While trying to fish an olive out of a martini (without using his fingers) and failing, Sindler, sketched a small spear made of wood with a paddle shaped handle on his cocktail napkin.  He ingeniously thought to use the paddle as a way to promote the name, address and logos of local businesses as a cheaper alternative to matchbooks and ashtrays.  He and his business Spir-It Inc. obtained the patent on February 19, 1935. (While there are other swizzle stick manufactures now, Sindler’ business (now at www.spiritfoodservice.com) is still in operations today!)

 

 

I’ve been a fan of swizzle sticks  since my childhood, before I really knew what they were, when my family had “drinks” on hot summer nights.  Everyone enjoyed their favorite drink (mine was Ginger ale with lime) and picked a swizzle stick from my grandparent’s notable collection created from trips across the US and abroad.  While trying to trying to recapture and appreciate the days of my youth, I found myself gravitating towards swizzle sticks at flea markets, thrift stores, and in online stores, picking them up here and there.  They just make me smile.  As a brand strategist, I also love how many swizzle’s images correspond with the location or establishment’s name.  For example: anchors or lobsters for seaside restaurants (see: Cape Cod’s Landfall lobster one below), Horseshoes for racetracks, Tikis for Hawaiian or Caribbean venues, or symbols of an industry, like the TWA propellers in the image to the far right.

twa4-1Landfall Restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

Over the years, I’ve amassed 100+ swizzle sticks, some I’ve even started to make into bracelets. While I prefer the vintage kind complete with advertising, I’ve received many equally loved, glass swizzle sticks from friends and family. I’ve also started to expand my collection to include other drink accouterments and bar ware like glass straws, long picks, appetizer pics, and drink charms. The latter are not the ones made popular recently to identify your wine glasses, instead, these are whimsical charms in the form of mermaids (my favorite), monkeys, giraffes, camels and more, that sit on the rim of your glass.
Here are some examples:

charmscharms on glass2

 

I fondly recall one instance where a college friend and I had reconnected at a bar that placed the mermaid charms on their drinks instead of using swizzle sticks. We were immediately enamored and begged for as many as the bar tender would give us. He eventually gave us 25!*

(*NOTE: We DID NOT indulge in 25 drinks. We just wore him down with our pleading and he gave us a few handfuls!)

 

 

It may be true that the “age” of the swizzle stick (the 50s and 60s) is gone and the use of them has diminished a bit, but I think it’s coming back.  I think there is a resurgence for incorporating vintage and “retro” items into our lives. I believe it reminds us, or helps us replicate what we think of as simpler times.  Elegant drinks or drinks from yesteryear, (e.g., Sidecars or Tall Tom Collins) dolled-up with a swizzle stick, allow us to stop and appreciate the moment, feel special, and enjoy ourselves.  What do you think?

Here’s just a just a small sampling of my swizzle and bar ware collection:

Swizzle Bar Ware Collage

Clockwise L to R: Vintage drink poster, Vintage shaker and branded swizzle, Tiki themes, Assortment (middle image), Tall Monkey and Firework Long Pics, Mini Appetizer pics, Swizzle bracelets I make and sell, and Repro-vintage coasters.

 

 

Did you know? – A Bonus for you

In researching the history of the swizzle stick, I found that there are also drinks call Swizzles. According to Esquire, there are three main versions that originate from the Caribbean; all are based on alcohol, ice and bitters. The three are: the Guyanese (circa: 1870; without citrus), the Barbadian (circa: 1880; with citrus and soda), and Trinidad’s Peerless Green Swizzle (circa. 1890).  While I have not tried these, I am including a link here in case you feel adventurous and want to make one.  Be sure to add a vintage swizzle stick before you enjoy it!

 

What do you think of swizzle sticks? Do you ever use them?  Do you get excited when they’re included in a drink?  Do you have any swizzle sticks in your house – either that you’ve collected, or that your parents or grandparents have amassed?

What do you think of when you hear swizzle or swizzle stick?  Do you think it was an effective way to advertising?

If swizzle sticks aren’t your thing, do you collect any other bar ware/drink accouterments?

 


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I Choose to Carry On

How are you doing in your efforts to support Random Acts of Kindness Week? I thought I was doing great, but had a setback yesterday.

If you follow my Twitter feed you’ll know that one of my mirror tags was passed along. What I’ve come to find out is that the second recipient was chastised by her boss/co-worker – it’s unknown and less important – to RETURN the tag back to its position on the mirror.  I was horrified and upset!  When I asked the second recipient why, she said, “It was too confusing. It wasn’t clear that I could keep it. Why didn’t you clearly put something on it saying that we could keep it?” She was upset with me and the result that come about from receiving it.

This is the tag.
You are Wonderful

 

 

I was a bit stymied, as to me, a random act doesn’t need explanation. It’s a goodwill gesture. It’s something immediately appreciated and usually gives you the warm fuzzies.  She went on to explain that it should have been explained better (the note and what it meant/what to do with it) as the team didn’t see this as a kind act. “…hat’s not how people here think,” she replied, when I said that a random act of kindness doesn’t need explanation.  I was disheartened my acts of kindness were seen as a bad thing.

Unexpected Kindness2

 

However today, after speaking to the friend who originally wanted to pass it along (she was inspired by the way), I am taking a new tack.  I’ve decided that it’s true that not all understand or appreciate good will, or acts of kindness.  It’s sad but true.  That said, I am going to be a person who helps creates change.  I will continue to move forward with my plans for the week, and ongoing (beyond this week).  If I believe in it (spreading kindness can help create happier and friendlier people), perhaps I can be the change that transforms others to believe and pass it on.  I may be one person, and I know that not all that I contact will be affected, but if I can change at least a few then that helps makes it a better place.

 

How are you doing with your Random Acts of Kindness?
Do you see the results? Have any “back-fired” on you?
What would you do if in my situation?

RAOK Gift


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What Will You Do to Make a Difference? – RAK Week 2015

Repayment QuoteIt’s time to celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Week (Feb 9th – 15th).
I’ve spoken about this great week before but it’s one that should not only get a mention again, but should be an frequent activity throughout the year.  It’s always a good thing to help others and show you care.  When you spread kindness, it comes back to you, almost always when you need the most.
 

 

 

A Random Act of Kindness (RAOK) is something small or big, that can make a difference in someone else’s day.  Taking a moment to compliment someone or help him/her out can make a HUGE difference.  It can turn what may be a challenging morning/afternoon around, give a boost of confidence to someone who needs it, or make someone feel appreciated — and who doesn’t want to feel appreciated.

Some of you may believe that this may cost a lot to do, but there are many ways that you can spread kindness that don’t cost a thing, or have a nominal cost.  To keep this topic fresh, I’ve been reading other blogs for new ways to spread kindness to virtual strangers and to those I know and love. I’ve been inspired, seeing tips for things I’d never considered, and many that were free or only cost a dollar or two.  Really… the amount you want to spend is up to you.  It’s more about the effort you make, than in the cost, that makes it so meaningful.

 

Here are The Appreciation Factor’s Top 11 ways you can participate in Random Acts of Kindness Week (and beyond!):

1You Look Amazing.    Place/take positive sticky notes to a computer screen, bathroom or dressing room mirror, complimenting the person who comes across it. (Keep reading for tags you can use!) 

 

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Finding Joy with K of The Appreciation Factor

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theappreciationfactor:

Here’s something a little different for me today
I was offered a great opportunity by Hilary of cutiecameras.com, (GREAT SITE give it a visit!) who after several conversations offered me a guest spot in her weekly “Finding Joy” feature. I grabbed it because it was a chance to give you a quick look at something I both appreciate AND which brings me joy – Vintage objects/finds! A HUGE thanks for this opportunity Hilary!

If you’re visiting my site for the first time (via Cutiecameras or otherwise) -Thanks for stopping by! I hope you’ll visit again or become a follower.

Originally posted on Cutie Cameras:

Hello Lovelies,

Today I am introducing you to K of The Appreciation Factor. K reached out to my after reading one of my previous guest posts and it has been wonderful chatting back and forth. K’s blog is wonderful and I really hope you take a moment to check it out!!! Now over to K!

I was very excited when Hilary of Cutie Cameras said, “Yes” when I
shared my offer to share my joy on her blog. On my blog, The Appreciation Factor, I talk about things I appreciate and how we talk about and show appreciation. This offer was a great opportunity to share something that brings me both joy and something which I also appreciate – Vintage objects/finds.

In today’s world so much of what many use each and every day is new and shiny. We always want the next new/updated version… it’s what keeps us immediately connected. However, I…

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Tips on Writing a Memorable Personal Thank You Note

I know you were on the edge of your seat waiting, well maybe not, but today I’m sharing the 3rd and final installment of Why Do We Say Thank You – the Personal Thank You note.

If you think about it, it’s quite timely, as January is National Thank You Month – a “celebration” which clearly has a special place in The Appreciation Factor’s heart.  (I promised I’d keep reminding you.)  I’m sharing “no-fail” tips that you can use to write a great personalized Thank You note.  I also wanted to share a great resource I found to write not only Thank You notes, but notes for all occasions, it’s Just a Note to Say… by Florence Isaacs.

Just a Note to Say…  What a great book. I can’t say enough.  I loved it so much that I even read it cover to cover.  I initially purchased it to see if I could pick up some additional tips for this post, I did and then Just a Note to Saysome.  Isaacs’ approach is to truly think about the topic at hand and what it means/meant to you and how it makes/made you feel.  Whether it is a Thank You note (gifts, hospitality, weddings, baby gifts);  a Condolence letter (deaths, divorce); the Holiday greeting; or Get-Well Wishes (she even covers how to address severely ill friends and family), her more personalized approach ensures that your message is both memorable, and just the right thing to say at that moment. There are more topics than I’ve listed so I definitely recommend picking it up. (You can order it here.)

 

In my first installment, I talked about why we should say thank you.  In the second, I shared how the Business Thank You note can win you a job, generate more business and is simply a classy thing to do.  In this post, I’m sharing some tips on how to write a memorable Personal Thank You note.

Personal Thank You notes are a great opportunity to share how much that gift, thoughtful action or favor meant to you.  Taking the time to hand write a thoughtful message that calls out how his/her efforts makes the recipient feel special and remembered for his/her kind gesture.  If this doesn’t sway you, think about how you would feel if you didn’t receive one. You might feel slighted or unappreciated.  The old mantra holds true in my book, “If someone can take the time to buy you a present or help you out, the least you can do is sit down for a few minutes and write a Thank You note.

Here are The Appreciation Factors 7 Tips on writing a Thank You note that will be appreciated each and every time! (I did take some cues from Isaacs too!)

1.  Hand Write It

 I’ve spoken on this “topic” several times.  So quickly…  Electronic emails and texts (HORROR!) can get lost in the transmission or even in the sheer volume each of us receives every day, not to mention how impersonal it is. Enough said!

2.  Write Conversationally & Be You

This one is from Isaacs:  You don’t have to be a published writer to write a caring note.  As she says, “Just speak sincerely and in your own authentic voice. A meaningful note sounds like the person who wrote it – real and natural.”

 

3.  KISS (Keep it Short and Simple)

You don’t have to write on and on.  If you write too much it’s likely to not sound sincere.  The average Thank You note is only made up of 4-5 lines.

4.  Focus on What was Given or Done

Ask yourself, what made what he/she did or gave to you important when you’re thanking him/her vs. simply saying, “Thanks for (the) _insert help/gift here_.”
Did they watch your child(ren) when you had to run out on an errand or for appointment?  Did she stay on the phone with you for the 14th time as you bemoaned the loss of a boy/girlfriend? Did you receive the most beautiful accessory that you didn’t know you needed, but adds that extra touch to your interview/date-night outfit?  Tell them and be sure to be sincere.

Here’s are two samples using an approach I learned from Isaacs:
“Lauren, Thank you so much for the beautiful Swarovski two-toned bracelet. I couldn’t have imagined a more beautiful piece of jewelry that truly goes with my entire wardrobe. You really know my style!”

“Tony, I really couldn’t have made the cookies for Friday’s bake sale if you hadn’t had graciously watched Pat and Sue for that hour while I ran out to get the sugar! I’m still not sure how I forgot the most important ingredient!”

5. Reiterate Your Appreciation Before Closing the Note

A simple close like: “Thank you again for your generous gift.” OR “Thanks again for lending an ear when I needed it most.” would work well.

6. The Close/The Sign-off

While many close their notes with “Love” this may not be appropriate for the relationship you have with the recipient.  Isaacs suggests “Warmly,” “Affectionately,” or “Fondly” as alternatives.  In all cases, “Regards” will do if the rest feel too mushy.

7. Send it promptly

Send your note within 24-48 hours.  A week at the latest! (Isaacs allows for 3 months at most for wedding gifts.)
You’ll find that the more time passes, you’ll likely get busy and sending a note will slip your mind.  Hey it happens to all of us!

*The one caveat – It’s always better to send one late than never!  You can even say – “I cannot believe it. I realized that I had not taken a moment to thank you for ________”  I’m so sorry for the delay!”

 

What do you think of my tips?  Do you already use some of them?
Do you have a tip to share or that has worked well for you?
Do you write Thank You Notes?


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You Could Change a Life … or at Least Someone’s Day

As you’ve seen read know by now, I’m/the Appreciation Factor is a huge proponent of writing and sending Thank You notes.  I’m also in support of writing and sending what I call the “Just Because” note.  

I think that we are all affected by one person or another each and every day – and many times in a positive way.  So I ask, why not send a note (a”Just Because” note) to those who we want to reconnect with, those who help us, inspire us, positively challenge us and/or care about us?  I believe that we all can benefit from an unexpected note of cheer if we’re feeling down, going through a challenge or transition, or even be congratulated as reinforcement on a good job.

Now I’m not saying, as my title may allude to, that my or your note is definitely going to save a life, but who knows?  Words are powerful. Perhaps your note will arrive at just the right time to be that force of change, the one thing that changes an attitude, inspires and/or turns things around.  Can you think of a note you’ve received that’s meant a lot to you?  Personally, I have several notes that I carry in my planner.  I have one that recognized me for acting professionally in a very challenging and negative situation, one where I’d sent a gift that was especially meaningful, and another that shared how my actions created a positive reaction in someone else’s life.  I re-read each of them periodically.

My Approach in 2015:

I’m sure you’ve been reading/seen quite a few resolutions online already.  I’ve even seen several resolutions where the writer plans to increase her/his appreciation.  I decided to take things a step further. (As an aside, I don’t set resolutions, I create goals to strive towards.)

One of my goals this year is to “Write 1 note of appreciation/just because note (hand written is preferred*), each week or minimally 2-3 times a month.” 

It’s sounds a bit daunting I know. How many of us find time to keep up with all of the “To Dos” we already have on our plate, let alone adding a task that will take concerted energy, effort and stamps!  As this is in conjunction with my commitment and desire to be even more thoughtful and appreciative in the coming year, I think I will be successful.
(These will be in addition to the Thank You notes I already write after interviews, receiving gifts, going to lunch etc..)

Here are just a few examples of the types of Just Because notes I hope to write (I’m sure more will naturally come to mind as I progress through the year):

  • A note to tell someone how much they’ve inspired me
  • A compliment on a good job – (e.g., a note to our handyman for keeping the property running efficiently)
  • Congratulations on an achievement I’ve heard or read about
  • An “I’m impressed” for someone who acted with integrity through a challenging time
  • Encouragement to a job seeker or friend running/starting their own business
  • “Just because I was thinking of you today” – when something I’ve seen or heard made me think of a friend or colleague or simply just because they are my friend

I’m really looking forward to working on this goal.  I think that even the simple task of finding/buying fun and interesting stationary and blank note cards will add to my success.  Don’t get me a wrong, do I think a call would be a great way to connect and express my sentiment, or even a store-bought greeting (vs. blank) card?  Sure, but I’ve always found that the personalized hand written notes I’ve received have been the most powerful.  I’ve appreciated the extra effort it took to write something and mail it.  In fact, I have several that I keep in my planner that I have read many times over because they’ve meant so much.

Here are some cards I already have on hand. (I’ve tried to list the source or a link to purchase where possible.)

Just Because Cards 2

Clockwise from Left to Right Row by Row. 1. Vineyard Vines Patchwork (Unfortunate Appears to be sold out – Try your local VV shop), 2. Be Optimistic unknown source (picked up at craft fair), 3. Ciao (Unknown was a gift),
4. “It’s My Bag” by Simply K (I make these. Contact me for details.), 5. Anchor Thank you Paperchase, 6. Blank Stationary,
7. Turquoise/Orange Spiral graph Flowers In May (Ask for info as I bought at an outdoor market), and 8. Hey Stranger Paperless Post electronic card.

*My one exception to the hand written note is using an electronic one when I don’t have a mailing address.  My new favorite resource (for those of you who read my post about Electronic Thank You Cards – which I’ve since updated), is Paperless Post.  This is a great free* site that does not limit the number of online cards you can send.  (*The site requires “coins” if you want to send one with an “envelope,” a designer card (e.g., Kate Spade), and for some select categories.  However, upon registration you’ll receive 25 free coins!)  Paperless Post also has the option of  sending your personalized cards as a paper option through the mail.   It’s definitely worth checking out!

*NOTE I am NOT paid nor compensated by Paperless Post. I simply really like using it! Plus they are great listeners when it comes to feedback. A tracking improvement suggestion I made is already in the works!

 

While promising to write a set number of cards per week or month can be too much for most people.  I hope you’ll consider sending out at least a few of these Just Because notes in the coming year.  The time and consideration will definitely make an impact on your recipient, and should she/he say thanks, you’ll hear in their voice how much this extra effort meant to her/him.

Do you already send Just Because notes?   What has prompted you to mail one?  Have you ever received one that resonated with you?  Do you keep it on hand to read again and again?  Think you might try to write some this year?

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