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 -June 22nd Edition

Happy summer!  I’ve been looking forward to the first day of summer for a long time. As I said to someone yesterday on the phone, I may like the first day of summer even more than my birthday!

 

I’ve got some great Thankful Thursday stories to share today.  You’ll note that two are around writing; I was more inspired by National Stationary Month than I realized.  Two others focus on middle schoolers really stepping up.  As you know, Thankful Thursdays are stories, people, companies, and videos that move me, and which exemplify appreciation, kindness, or those making a difference in the world.  These five stories really spoke to me and I hope they’ll speak to you too!

As an added bonus that’s in honor of summer, I’ve included a refreshing non-alcoholic drink, Watermelon Lime Agua Fresca, courtesy of the How Sweet It Is blog.

 

We’re Really Just All the Same

I found this on Twitter in May, and it still moves me every time I watch it.  A girl in Birmingham, England came to school with a new prosthetic blade.  How did her classmates react?

Watch this video to find out:

Thanks to www.someecards.com for this story

 

 

They Say Middle School Can Be Cruel, But This One has Kindness In It

We’ve all known that group in middle school who always has the best and most expensive things and who seem to look down on those who don’t.  In this case, one who had a lot, shared a lot more.   Instead of continuing to allow a younger classmate to be bullied and made fun of, an 8th grade boy gave a 6th grader a pair of his Air Jordan’s that he’d only worn a few times! (FYI: Some Air Jordan’s cost over $125!)
His parting comment: “…remember this day for the rest of your life.  No matter how many bad people there are, there are always people that will help you in the long run.” WOW! Such wise words from an 8th grader.

Click this link to read the whole story.

 

 

A Letter Makes A Difference – Girls Love Mail

Ever since National Stationery Month in April, I’ve candidly become a bit obsessed with cards and letter writing – much more so than what I expound upon here at The Appreciation Factor. I’ve told you in the past how much impact a handwritten note can have, so you’ll quickly see why, this story about Girls Love Mail, an organization that sends handwritten notes of encouragement to women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, made such an impact on me.

 

I think I’m going to have to write a few letters myself for Girls Love Mail and join their 2017 Miles of Mail campaign (as of this post, Girls Love Mail is on Lap 2 with over 9,400 letters received, and over 92,000 have received a letter since the group’s founding in 2011!)  Truly, when more has a letter meant so much?

 

 

Putting a Spin on a Serious Topic

While you may have distinct opinions on Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why and it’s depiction of a girl who commits suicide and who she blames, I promise this is not story is not a downer.

Much has been said about 13 Reasons Why and how it glamorizes suicide.  I personally did not have that take away but I know younger audiences could walk away with different ideas from this program. This is why I wanted to share a story of Oxford, Michigan, who turned the story around to be, 13 Reasons Why Not.  The school wanted to address suicide, bullying, depression and other challenges teens face, with a positive twist.  Select students from Oxford High School were picked to tell their story and to thank a friend/friends for bringing hope and inspiration to their lives.

You can listen to this NPR Youth Radio feature: 13 Reasons Why Not (Listen here).

 

Rocks Can Make a Difference

One pile found on Martha’s Vineyard. Source: Backwater Trading Co.

Ever a fan of acts of kindness, this one won me over immediately. It’s probably because I also collect rocks – primarily heart-shaped rocks, but still find a nice rock can really make my beach day – even one without any writing on it.  The thought of finding one with an inspirational message… wow!

It all started when Meagan Murphy wrote some inspirational messages for friends on rocks she found on her local Cape Cod beach.  Inspired by the positive reactions she received, she started leaving inspiration rocks for strangers to hind on her local beach.  So many people were moved by them, that they started to leave their own.

Now formally, The Kindness Rocks Project (www.thekindnessrocksproject.com) it’s expanded across the US and rocks have been left/found in over 10 countries!
There are two goals of The Kindness Rocks Project:
1.  Inspire others through randomly placed rocks along the way
2.  Recruit every person who stumbles upon one to join in the pursuit of inspiring others through random acts of kindness.

What a great reminder to always act as kindly as possible, and share inspiration in places one may not expect it.

How can you get involved?  Anyone and everyone is welcome to participate – no registration is needed.  Simply decorate a rock and leave it for the next person to find. Doesn’t get much easier than that.

 

And as a special treat a recipe courtesy of Jessica Merchant of How Sweet it Is

Watermelon Lime Agua Fresca (frozen non-alcoholic drink)

Source: How Sweet It Is (Jessica Merchant)

Serves: 4         Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
– 1/2 Large Watermelon, Seeded and Cubed (about 4 cups)
– 1/2 Cup freshly squeezed lime juice
– 1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest, plus extra for topping
– 3 Tablespoons sugar
– Pinch of salt
– 4 Cups Ice
– Garnish: Lime and Watermelon wedges

Directions:

I’ve tried this and it’s Ahhhhhmazing! Can’t wait for the really good summer watermelon to come out! I’m also thinking about adding some Mint to this too!  Let me know what you think!

What did you think of this issue of Thankful Thursdays?

Have a link you want to share for my next issue of Thankful Thursdays – Share it in the comments section.


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An Inspired Idea

As you may know, I love sharing articles that I think inspire appreciation of life, self and others.   I couldn’t pass up sharing one from this week’s MV Times, (the paper from my favorite island, Martha’s Vineyard), Artist Plants Positive Messages on Martha’s Vineyard Landscape”.  The artist here executed a unique project that lends itself to an abundance of positive outcomes.  Don’t be surprised if you see this shared on Facebook or executed in other locations!

Quick Overview
Martha’s Vineyard artist Julie Kidd came up with an idea to “inspire Island residents to focus on the positive aspects of their lives and feel good about themselves.”  Her idea:  post inspirational and encouraging signs/messages in unexpected places around the island.  “Every person that comes across them will have their own interpretation based on who they are.”  There are I believe, 10 messages (it wasn’t confirmed in the article), which will be located in downtown areas, libraries, theatres, random road side locations and even the in the regional high school’s cafeteria from April 23rd – May 7th.

Here’s an example:
Photo by Steve Myrick 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are Some of My Favorites:

    • I love looking at you  which will appear on at least one of the Island movie theatre screens  (Don’t you just love the irony here as well?)
    • You are a bright idea  is located in the high school cafeteria  (What a great compliment to pay a student.)
    • There is so much to love about you  as seen above (How many attributes could you come up with about yourself after reading this statement?) 

Not only do I love Ms. Kidd’s concept and her messages, I was also impressed with her perseverance.  Apparently she came up with the idea several years ago, and despite being previously turned down by several town officials and potential locations she tried again and went through all the red tape needed to see it through.  Ms Kidd said that she felt that this was something that she really needed to do and that she was “called to do it.”  This thought she believes, brought the energy and right people together this time to make her art project a reality.

Now I know that some may see her messages as too lovey-dovey or saccharine, but I love them for their simplicity and their ability to be interpreted in so many different ways.  I also love the idea for its originality and the unexpected locations.  I can’t think of another execution like this – Can you?  If so please share.  Think of the change this could bring about if someone was having a bad day, or if they needed some inspiration.  It’s almost like having a mobile inspiration door.

I’m heading to Martha’s Vineyard this weekend, if I come across any of these signs, I’ll be sure to post pictures!

 

If these messages aren’t inspiring to you, what words, messages or approach would be?  What do you think about Ms. Kidd’s approach?  Is this the best way to create a little more positivity out there – even if only affects one resident at a time?


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Little Notes … Big Impact

Oh the joy of finding a love note, word of encouragement or appreciation tucked inside your jacket, purse, luggage, lunch bag or on your keyboard.  The little things can mean a lot.

I’ve always enjoyed writing and giving little notes, pictures or an inspirational quote to show I care.  I’m not necessarily talking about creating anything elaborate, but rather something I make on the spur of the moment.  Think of a note or picture on a post-it note, index card or even a message written several pages ahead in a loved one’s notebook. (Parents seem to be particularly skilled in this practice, especially when it comes to wishing their kids good luck on an upcoming test or tryout/audition.)

I also like adding the element of surprise if I can.  I think it’s best when the recipient comes upon these notes unexpectedly.  And candidly, I probably enjoy the element of surprise as much as I enjoy letting someone know that I am thinking of them.

Here are some samples I found online that illustrate what I’m referring to:

  

 

 

 

 

Haven’t tried it?  Don’t have a significant other or child?  I also try to create these moments of delight by simply saying thank you.

I often like to recognize the help that I receive at work, by handing out thank you “notes.”  I thank my co-workers, direct reports or even my boss when they have helped make a bad day better or if he/she has provided instrumental assistance/guidance on a project.  I’ll also maintain that element of surprise by dropping off these notes when the recipient is away from his/her desk. 

As a bonus, I found a great product made by Compendium, Inc. that makes my effort even more impactful.  It’s a pop-open 2-1/4”w x 1-7/8″h card with “Thank you” on the front and an inspirational “thank you themed” quote revealed inside when you “pop” it open.  Again, it’s not a formal note, it’s simply a few lines of appreciation that I write on the back (lines are provided), accompanied by a great quote.  And while the quote is always a surprise, it’s ironic how often it seems tailor-made to the event or the help that inspired it.  

 

Want to try it but don’t think you can draw or you need inspiration?

If you’re too unsure to create your own, you can buy these the cards.  I found and buy mine at this MV gift shop, but you can purchase yours at this Compendium site.  They sell 26 different themes!! – I didn’t know that they had so many.  Personally I’ve used/sent four themes so far: “Thank you”, “You’ve Got a Friend”, “I Believe in You” and “Whatever it Takes.” 

 UPDATE 2016: Compendium has revamped the cards – some changes for the better others not sure (definitely more packaging which I’m not a fan of, but I do like the call out to “open” the card – which was quite tiny on earlier versions.)  Their new site is http://www.live-inspired.com (which was automatically redirected in my link above.) The name of the product changed to “Thoughtfulls, (under “pop-open cards” in their Products drop down.)  They also have “lunch mail” which are notes targeted to kids.

I’m also not clear on how the “thank you” and “thanks” cards differ – it’s not really spelled out on the site. (I own a new box of Thank you, Thoughtfulls and it’s a similar approach to those I’ve used in the past.) 

 

So what are you waiting for? Make a big impact by sharing (and hiding?) an inspiring note of love, appreciation or luck today!

Do you have a unique way of showing that you care?  I’d love to hear about it!  Share it today.