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 Thursdays – April 23rd Edition

Lots to inspire as of late.  Today for Thankful Thursday, I have 7 great links for you. 

I thought four were really inspiring, one made me think differently and the last two are a little gift dedicated to my fellow bloggers with a little help from I Can Build A Blog. 

*If you’re new to the Appreciation Factor, On select Thursday’s I like to post links to stories and videos that exemplify appreciation, those that have moved me, and others making a difference. (I’m always open to suggestions so send them along!)

Enjoy!

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Ask Yourself, Am I Appreciating Others? – If Not? Try Volunteering

While I’ve spoken about volunteering before, it’s a topic that bears repeating.
Volunteering, for me, has been one of the most rewarding ways to spend my time, and this upcoming week (starting tomorrow)  is National Volunteer Week. This year the theme is “Celebrate Service.”

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Established in April 1974, President Richard Nixon signed an executive order dedicating the week to those who give their time to charity.  Volunteer Week is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities.†  Each year it’s grown in scope and notoriety due to the support of sitting presidents, governments and other elected officials.      

Volunteer Statistics

3 Other interesting stats from last year:
  • Women have been more likely to volunteer (28.3%) vs. Men (22.0%)*
  • 35-44 year olds were the most likely to volunteer (29.8%). Teens aged 16-19 years old come in 2nd place, having volunteered at a rate of 26.1%*
  • Married couples volunteered at 30.2% in 2014 versus singles who attained 20.2%*

 

Have You Ever Volunteered For Something?
In the past I only volunteered periodically, but I found organizations that I am truly moved by to support and offer my time whenever possible. (I currently help several local food pantries, donate my time and guidance to my college alumni chapter and undergrads, and I volunteer for events at my local PBS station.) I should also share that I believe that your TIME IS JUST AS VALUABLE AS A MONETARY DONATION.

If you recall my #unselfie promise that I posted here, I’d pledged 25 hours over the next 6 months (December – May). To date I’ve volunteered for 17.5 hours and have eight (8) additional volunteer hours planned for April alone.  If all goes as I hope, I will be over my goal by half an hour with a half a month to go!   I’m also on the look out for at least one organization where I can donate my professional skills and have been watching Catchafire for a match (see below for more info).

As an added benefit, volunteering has made me reflect and be more appreciative of where I am and what I’ve going for me in my life.

 

Why Volunteer?
It’s a great way to further a cause that you believe in.  You can meet interesting people who share your passion, and more importantly, you’ll be making a difference in your community, and in the world and as a human being.  From a professional perspective, volunteering can provide you with hands-on experience and/or a new skill in an industry that you are considering for your career.  It can also help you find and develop valuable networking contacts, people you may not have had the opportunity to meet in your everyday life.  In fact companies tend to value and hire candidates who volunteer. They find them more well-rounded and appreciate that they are willing to give back to their communities. 

Need another reason? Volunteering has been shown to boost self-confidence and a sense of worth.  This has been proved time and time again. Check the Internet, you’ll find a ton of articles.

Volunteering is a Win Win, but it may not be glamorous

 

I should warn you before you jump in with both feet and visions of giant exposure and rubbing elbows with the who’s who. Not all volunteer activities are necessarily “fun” or “exciting,”  (e.g., cleaning a warehouse, packing boxes, stuffing envelopes, sorting inventory etc. ) but if you understand how the purpose of what you are doing is furthering the organization, and more importantly, you believe in the organization and its mission, I’ve found that it’s well worth it.  Plus someone needs to do these tasks, why not you while gaining a feeling of accomplishment.

 

Need Ideas On How You Can Get Started?

  • Food Pantries – There are both local and regional food pantries out there.  You can simply start out by making a donation (food, paper goods, health/beauty products) while you learn more;

 

  • Do You Listen to NPR or Watch/Listen to your local PBS station? – Local PBS stations (radio and TV) always need help, and especially love their fans; 

 

  • The Arts – Do you go to the theatre or ballet?  Many of these organizations are non-profit or have an accompanying non-profit foundation.  You can help by staffing events or potentially with their administrative needs, staffing an event, or helping with a fundraising event;

 

  • United Way – This is a great national organization that helps a variety of local non-profits and foundations that focus on children and families, many who might live in your own community;

 

  • Volunteer Match – Here’s another great resource that I found during my research.  It includes a blog about volunteering, a library of organizations where you can get involved (including a system that’s geared towards matching your interests and location). There’s also an option to add your charity/non-profit to their list/library;

 

  • Catchafire  If you’re in the working world (even if not currently working) this is a great resource. Catchafire can identify a non-profit or company that needs some pro-bono help that matches your professional expertise.  I especially enjoyed their recent blog post that counters all of the reasons people feel they “can’t” give back.

 

Do you already volunteer?  What organizations do you support?
What prompted you to get involved?
What talents do you have that you could share?
Share your feedback as others may be interested in getting involved/supporting your organization too!

Footnotes/Source Support:
*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
How Stuff Works, and the Resource Center


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Staying the Path – Followers Come as They May

You may not all know it, but I recently celebrated The Appreciation Factor’s 3rd anniversary. (It’s January 31st.) 

I’ve found it rewarding, challenging, scary and candidly every once in a while, hard. The hard part is sometimes finding topics that feel true to not only who I am, but what I wanted this blog “to do/accomplish” in the first place. That is:

Share some thing new or Make you think about something in a new/different way.

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Feeling Awesome – Appreciating Oneself

Hilary of Cutie Cameras, fellow blogger and now friend, after we first “met” via my guest post on her site, recently wrote about her thoughts on being awesome. In one example she notes feeling awesome after getting a promotion.

Her pondering prompted me to ask in the comments section as to whether we need to have an event, award or recognition to feel awesome and appreciate ourselves.  I’d like to think that we should be able to “feel” awesome about ourselves (or appreciate our worth) without a reward, albeit and award/recognition is always nice.  She agreed.

 

This lead me to think about how or what prompts one to appreciate themselves and feel “AWESOME”.

 

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Thankful Thursdays – A New Feature!

Two posts in a week!?  I’m spoiling you for sure, but let’s think of it as a random act of kindness on my part and a way to share some great links – one of which can help you plan your Friday and Saturday!

 

Last month I posted, what is going to be a new feature at The Appreciation Factor called “Thankful Thursdays.”  Due to the timing of my first post however, the day necessitated that I change it to Friday Favorites. (If you missed it you can revisit it here.)  

This feature (posted on select Thursdays and from-this-point-on called “Thankful Thursdays”) will provide you with some inspiring sites/links/posts that I find out through my followers, via social media, on the internet or in the news, and all of which want to share with you.  For the most part, I’ll share ways on how you can give back, information about others making a difference, or links that may simply make you smile. I hope you like this new feature! Continue reading


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It’s Ironic but…Not – Friendship

 

While quoted as being unknown it's similar to JOSEPH PARRY's poem here.

While often quoted as being “Unknown” it’s very similar to Joseph Parry’s poem here.

 As a Brownie and Girl Scout, we sang this weekly at the close of our meetings.  At the time, I didn’t really understand its meaning, but as I’ve grown older, I think I do.

I recently came across a “feature” on the Design Darling blog called 101 in 1001. (Visit it here.)  Mackenzie called her list “a happy medium between writing a To Do List and keeping a Bucket List.”   It’s a list of 101 things to complete in 1001 days; she also posts other blogger’s 101 in 1001 lists who were inspired by hers.  On several of the lists I perused, “Reconnect with an old friend” was noted. It inspired me.

 

This weekend I reconnected with my friend Jen, or “Niffer” as I called her back in the day.  We were an unlikely pair at first, but were inseparable from 6th grade until the summer going in to our junior year, when a fight that seemed like World War III, ended our friendship.  Junior and senior year were definitely different without her by my side.  This doesn’t have a sad ending I promise!

We reconnected, happy to see each other I might add, at our 10-year high school reunion, as if no fight had split us apart.  The shared experiences, closeness, wild adventures, mischief/trouble – which I will not divulge as even some of my followers do not know the extent of our follies, and secrets we shared, rushed back and brought us back together immediately.  All I could really remember were fond times and a great friendship.  We quickly caught up and I subsequently visited her out West several months later.

 

Fast forward to this weekend.  I hadn’t spoken with Jen, in I don’t know how long, but I said, “I can do this.”
I called.  She answered.  I said, “Jen?  It’s K.”  She said, “HI!”  It was clear that she was happy to hear from me.  I told her about the list, but in actuality I’d been thinking about her quite recently, but the list finally prompted me to make the call.  She said that she’d also been thinking about me and about a video game room we frequented in 8th grade.  I laughed.    Exactly 60 mins later we’d caught up on each other’s lives and promised to keep in better touch.

The Other’s Gold

The thing that I noticed after my call with Jen was that while our lives had continued to hum along independently, the moment we spoke it was as if little to no time had passed.  We were as close as we’d been “pre-fight” and our last time together seemed like “only a few weeks ago” versus years.  Oh if we truly could hold off aging like our friendships make us feel we do.

Have you ever had that feeling?Friendship quote

 

 

 

I think this experience and “feeling” is what the song from long ago is referring to.  Our earliest and/or longest friendships are gold(en).  There is an automatic acceptance or understanding of what we bring to the table/friendship.  Even to our core, these friends like us and appreciate us flaws and all, but best of all they look forward to more shared times together and to reminiscence.  This is what makes them gold.

Those who have come in to our lives more recently are silver.  They are still shiny and new.  We still may be “proving ourselves,” on our “best behavior” or haven’t worked through that first disagreement.  While they are “silver” it doesn’t mean that you like these women or men any less, nor is it saying that she or he cannot one day be gold, but the friendship is still a work in progress right now. (A good one of course or I hope!)  You may even get that “no time has passed” feeling when you get together after not seeing her/him for a while.

 

I am so glad that I reached out to Jen.  In fact, I’ve been thinking about several other friends with whom I’ve lost touch. (I still have that goal to write 2-3 “Just Because Notes” that I could utilize for this effort.)  We can get “so busy” and caught up in our own lives and minutiae that we sometimes can neglect and almost lose the appreciation of the things and people who make our lives fuller and richer, like our gold and silver friends.

 

Is the someone you consider a “gold” or “silver” friend?
Have you spoken to her/him recently?
Why not go and call her/him, or better yet drop a “Just Because” note in the mail to catch up and let her/him know you’re thinking about them.

 

No-act-of-kindness Quote


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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.

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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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