The Appreciation Factor

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


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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.

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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