Tag: giving

Always help others…no matter what!

Always help others…no matter what!

Summer has officially been over for a month and it has taken me this long to sit down and write about someone that touched my heart when I was volunteering one evening in August.  I was volunteering at my alma mater because I love to help welcome the students back to campus.  It was a casual evening where I helped give directions to students, greet students, and welcome them during a “Back to Campus” event.  It was simple and easy to do.  I didn’t feel like I had done much other than say hi and welcome back to students.  As I was walking around at the very end of the night I came upon a student that was walking home after the event.  I walked by as I was browsing my phone and then circled back because there was something about the student that concerned me.  He had a physical handicap that made walking very difficult.  He was also staring at his phone with a confused look upon his face as if he needed something.  I could tell he was struggling so I asked if he needed help.  He said, “I am trying to figure out what direction to go to get back to the dorms.”  I explained the location of the dorms, but also wanted to make sure he could get to a bus because walking was very difficult for him.  It made me realize how much I take walking for granted.

He seemed very grateful for the help.  I actually wasn’t sure if the buses were running on their normal bus schedule so I went to verify it with campus staff to be sure he was able to get to where he needed to go.  He got the directions he needed to get to the bus stop and that was something that made me realize how important it is to offer help.  I came across this young student at just the right time to assist him with getting back to the dorms safely.

Not only did he remind me of the importance of helping others and being present rather than browsing on my phone, but he also forced me to think about how much I take my legs and feet for granted.  That student had a permanent handicap that prevented him from walking at a steady pace or maintaining quality balance.  It’s something that many of us take for granted on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.  Next time you see someone who may need help, may be handicapped, or may need guidance I implore you to do the right thing.  It’s too easy to look down, look at your phone, stare, or just simply not want to get involved with others, but that’s not the right thing to do.  We are meant to be kind and help other people.  There’s a reason why we should be kind – that reason is often to help someone else, inspire someone else, or make the lives of those around us better.  After all, you will find more purpose and meaning when you give back and help others than you will in any other facet of your life.

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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Making ‘thank you’ your regular reality.

Making ‘thank you’ your regular reality.

The last week of school I wanted my students to be extremely comfortable with the concepts and topics that we had covered over the 18 week semester.  Further, it was important to me that the students could look beyond the test and the multiple choice questions.  I really hoped that they could apply the information on taxes, checking and savings accounts, and renting an apartment after graduating high school.  Midway through the week, I had a rather shy student come up to me and in the most genuine voice say, “Thank you so much for reviewing with us this week, Mrs. Jamieson.  I really appreciate all the time you have spent to do this.”  It was a simple gesture, but meant a lot that he chose to say that.  A simple thank you really is as easy as that!

My first year of teaching at my current school I felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants during parts of the semester.  I started in the middle of the year and had very little prep time to get a classroom ready and activities prepared for class.  I remember toward the end of the semester receiving a card in my mailbox.  I opened that card to find a thank you note written from one of my students.  He was thanking me for being his teacher.  He wanted me to know that he thought I was doing a great job.  It meant a lot to me to receive that note.  I felt so lucky to have such a genuinely kind and appreciative student.  And, to this day, I still have that note.

While those thank yous really inspire me and give new perspective, sending and giving thank yous is what really makes my heart happy.  I love seeing others when they feel appreciated or surprised by a gesture of kindness.  I recently went to a conference that had a small team that worked extremely hard to plan meaningful sessions.  I could tell they worked long hours and had planned for months upon months.  I sent a personal thank you card to each person on that team to show my genuine appreciation for the work they had done.  So often we attend large events, galas, conferences, or fundraisers that caused a group (often small) to work their butts off to make it a phenomenal time for others.  It is usually nice for someone to acknowledge their work and the time they spent to execute it.

Recently, I had a friend who was getting ready to leave the school I am at to start a new adventure.  We were not close friends, in fact, I only knew him on a small level.  Before he went back to his city life, I wanted him to know how much I appreciated meeting him and having him as an aide for the very short time that we worked together.  He was delightfully surprised by the thank you, which is one of the best ways to thank someone!  Lastly, I chose to take bagels and cream cheese from Panera to an office where I do a very small amount of contractual work.  It’s a small group of very hard working individuals who are very kind and friendly toward me.  I randomly thought it would be fun to surprise them to let them know that I see how hard they work each day.  I got there with the bagels in hand and they were thrilled.  The director came to me and said, “We have never had someone do something like that for us.”   So, next time you have the chance to do something small, or to do something big, just do something to show appreciation and to thank others.

I hope these stories inspire you, motivate you, and cause you to surprise others with cards, food, or other ways that show appreciation for what they do.  Let’s make sure that thank you is a always a reality.  It will change your day by making the day of those around you better!

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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The #1 NYE Resolution!

The #1 NYE Resolution!

There are lots of resolutions to be made and goals to be set as we head into another New Years Eve.  As you add a new diet to your list, new health and nutrition goals, weight loss, less sugar, and the countless other resolutions, I hope kindness is at the very top for each and every person.  It’s what keeps the world going!  It will give you more purpose, meaning, and happiness than any other goal on your list.  I promise you this, and my book, Giving Back: Lessons from an adopted immigrant on why a happy life is about helping others will affirm why this is true.

As I wrap up 2017, I am thankful for the trip to the nation’s capitol that my husband and I just embarked on.  While there, I was reminded once again why I find travel to be so therapeutic.  The melting pot of people and cultures was lovely, but more than that, the ability to provide guidance and help to them was at the heart of the trip.  My husband and I gave directions to several in DC (while we were ‘tourists’ ourselves it never fails that we get asked how to get somewhere, even when we were in Ireland!).  We also helped someone off the ground who fell at one of the monuments.  What was even sweeter is when my husband said, “I did the same thing earlier today” to make the young twenty-something feel better.

Lastly, as we traveled home we got behind a very slow person in the security line at the airport.  It was a mother with a young child who didn’t put her stuff through the scanner.  The security personnel instructed her to do so and we continued on our way.  Later, I ended up sitting next to her on the plane.  The little girl she had was absolutely a doll.  I lipped to her “Hi” and in the most bubbly little voice she said “Hi” back.  While the mother was between us, the little girl liked to observe me discreetly.  I eventually lended a hand to the mother who was giving the little girl her lunch by throwing her trash away and providing extra napkins for a small spill that occurred.  After all, it can be overwhelming and stressful when you are traveling alone with a small child.  She said back to me, “Thank you so much.”  It wasn’t more than a minute or two later when she looked at me again and said, “That was so kind of you” (after throwing her trash away).  These are the resolutions I hope we are all making for 2018 – to be kind to one another, help one another, and give back to those around us.  Cheers to much happiness and good health next year and LOTS OF KINDNESS!

While Christmas, New Year’s, and the holidays will soon be over until next year, kindness and giving back throughout the year should be resolutions for all.

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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The mountains we call life!

The mountains we call life!

As if we haven’t heard it a thousand times that life is full of highs and lows and twists and turns.  It’s something our parents tell us, our teachers told us, and something you can hear and witness every single day.  Sometimes life seems glamorous when we are young (and, it certainly is at times and most definitely more times than not!), but it isn’t always glamorous.  And, it is important to teach your children this, your students this, and all the people around you this.  It makes that fall to the ground a little bit less painful in the end.

I am a new teacher surrounded by many veterans, but we all have bad days, the ones who are new and the ones that have tons of experience.  I was recently evaluated and the class didn’t really go as planned, not at all, not even a little bit.  It was stressful, chaotic, and more than anything it felt like a bit of a failure.  That day was you guessed it…a mountain.  But then again, in life, almost every single day is going to present you with a mountain (or hill) of some kind.  It’s the reality and we must come to accept that when we plan things out in our head and they go in a complete different direction we recognize it is as a learning experience and not a failure.  Now, not all people will lead you to believe this – you may not have friends, family, bosses, supervisors, leaders, or people that believe that a loss of profit, a bad decision, or a poor evaluation is a learning experience, but it is.

My evaluation did turn into a learning experience and a lesson to stick in my pocket.  It’s one I can carry with me.  That evaluation will make me a better person even if I would like to forget about it.  This leads to the last part.  I work with a wide range of students.  Some that have family and a great home and others that aren’t sure where they will sleep that night.  Students that eat out often and others that aren’t sure when their next meal will come.  It came at just the perfect time.  Less than 24 hours later I received a note about the impact I was having on several students.

What’s the point of sharing these highs and lows?  Because it’s life.  You can translate this to your own life, job, relationships, and chaos.  Life is full of moments where you feel like you have reached the peak of the mountain and feel like you have met success, but you will also find challenges and frustrations right around the corner.

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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Is it possible to add more to your plate?

Is it possible to add more to your plate?

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There’s so much to be said about making it to the other end of the tunnel at the end of the year, at least most teachers can relate to this!  I loved every minute of being back at my old high school as a teacher.  It was a new challenge, a new learning experience, and more than that a new way to give back to my community and the people in it.  I must say not only did I survive happily through the exhaustion, chaos, and craziness of the school year, but I managed to do a few side projects as well.  After all, life is supposed to by crazy busy, right?!

I finished my #ProjectKindnessBook which is titled Giving Back: Lessons from an adopted immigrant on why a happy life is about helping others, eloped to Ireland, and coordinated a backpack drive in my local community to help students in need.  I was so excited to have lots of my own projects to do this summer including sort pictures, which has been on my ‘to do’ list for ages.  And, then I was asked to serve as the community member for the SIU Carbondale Homecoming Committee which is where I do a lot of my volunteer work aside from other misc. volunteer projects I get myself roped up in!  I pondered it for the night, curiously cautious about whether I wanted to give more free time.  A lot of it over summer.  I thought to myself how the heck can I be signing up to give my time to another project?  It’s summer and I need to catch up on MY life. And then, I realized just how extremely selfish that is and was to think.  I have so much more than the average person and the ability and control to always add more too my plate if I prioritize my projects correctly and use my time wisely.  And, you have that same exact power!  You can add more to your plate than you probably ever thought or realized.  You can seek projects to get involved, find ways to give back by fulfilling disparities within your community, and realizing that life is bigger than you and your life, but about what you can do for others.  At the moment, I felt like I needed some rest and relaxation after being a full-time beginning teacher, being newly married, writing a book, and then I remembered that my rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation in life comes from giving back and doing things for others in my ‘spare’ time.  I use spare time loosely because I don’t seem to allow too much of that in my life.  (Though, don’t let me deceive you, I plan on having a few fun days this summer with family and friends, enjoying the local wineries, and spending time with my husband – who usually helps along with the crazy projects I commit to and doesn’t get annoyed by all the extra time I spend doing things for others.)

The moral of the story isn’t that I make myself do good things or make myself give back or make myself have a passion for my community.  It isn’t that I am this phenomenal person who is selfless.  It’s just that giving back has become second nature to me in life.  I have gotten so used to it being part of my life and who I am.  It’s become my passion.  I challenge you to join me with your pictures of giving back.  Use these when you tag your pictures: #BeKind, #GiveBack, #HelpOthers, and #ProjectKindnessBook.

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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Diversity can change the world!

Diversity can change the world!

If you know me, you know I love diversity.   The first time I remember heavily considering and thinking about diversity is in 8th grade when I begged my mom to move high schools so I could be in a more diverse district filled with lots of ethnicities and different cultural experiences.

I love diversity because I love what it brings to my life, and more than anything I love what it teaches me.  Similarly, I remember as we headed to Ireland to elope that I recall how noticeable the diversity was in London and Dublin.  From the waiters and staff that helped with our wedding to the many people that we met, the vacation was filled with Muslims, Indians, Americans, Romanians, and many others.

These experiences have further reminded me how much I appreciate and love to be immersed in projects and opportunities that expose me to people and students with different opportunities, educational backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, and experiences.

I hope others are able to learn and appreciate those they are surrounded by and the communities in which they live.  It is so easy to judge those who are different, but I personally prefer to learn from them, and I hope you do, too!  We can learn why they do things the way they do, why they wear the clothing they do, what their religion means to them, how their journey brought them to where they are now, and so on.

Back to the whole high school story which is what set me on my path of wondering about diversity.  We eventually moved and I loved my new high school that had so much more diversity, my alma mater, and where I now have the privilege of working.  I once again was lucky enough to witness the diversity at prom.  I realized how lucky I am to be in a place that offers so much diversity and experiences for me to grow.

It is so easy to judge those that are diverse or different than us, but I hope at some point we learn to embrace them because of the many great things they can teach us.  I challenge you to think about this next time you are helping someone from a different culture, someone that isn’t like you, or someone that may be far different than you are used to.  All the diversity we see and have among us is what brings people together to invent new things, find new cures, expand community projects, teach our students, and ultimately to change the world!

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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Make #GivingTuesday and #SmallBusinessSaturday an everyday thing!

Make #GivingTuesday and #SmallBusinessSaturday an everyday thing!

There are lots of organizations, big and small, all around the world that would LOVE to receive a donation from you this #GivingTuesday.  I got at least five or more emails asking for donations today.  I usually give donations to big and small companies or organizations throughout the entire year, but more times than not my time and money goes to local initiatives and events.  I do on occasion reach out to larger organizations because I like helping both in some capacity, even if it’s a very, very small amount it can make a profound impact.  Kind of like being a teacher, while you may only work with a student for thirty minutes, one hour, one day, one month, or one year, the way you approach and work with that student can leave a footprint on their life forever.  It’s the beauty of teaching, giving quality service to others, listening to those around you, and reaching out to those in need – you have the power to make a difference in the life of someone else.  And, to me, that’s pretty cool!

One thing I chose to do this year for the holidays was to give money to the Shawnee Hills Arts Council when I ran their Reindeer 5k to provide additional funding to performing, visual, and literary arts.  Not only was it a great way to give back to a local organization, but it also fell on #SmallBusinessSaturday which is a vital day for many small businesses and communities that depend on that economic boost each year.  It is so easy to order from online retailers where the prices may be a few dollars cheaper, but those few extra dollars you might spend at your local toy store, pet shop, or restaurant really boost your local economy and help money stay in the area.

Another donation I am planning to give this holiday season is my hair – literally!  It is almost time for me to head to the chopping block so that I can donate at least eight inches of hair to a woman in need.  This is something that you can give no matter what time of year.  You can make the commitment to grow your hair out without coloring it to send to an organization that will help change the lives of others.

You can do similar things in your local area to keep your economy thriving.  #GivingTuesday and #SmallBusinessSaturday aren’t just once a year if you make the commitment to help improve your local economy – volunteer, buy local goods, go to your Farmer’s markets, eat at your local restaurants, and make a commitment to helping with events, initiatives, and activities in your area.  After all, your local economy depends on your support and willingness to make a difference in the many lives and communities in which you are a part of.

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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What is #ProjectKindnessBook?

What is #ProjectKindnessBook?

PBK3I have almost completely finished my #ProjectKindnessBook which focuses on the bumps in the road that life presents and how to get through them successfully.  In a nutshell, it is a book about the twists and turns of life, learning, and giving back to others.

Along the way, I offer bits of advice to “stick in your pocket” to carry with you through life.  I don’t have everything figured out and am still eager to learn more from other’s experiences.  The one lesson from my pocket that I have come to understand most is that the roadblocks in my life have allowed me to reach inside myself to create a path that has led to where I am today.  It has taught me that it is never too late to accomplish my dreams.  This book being a paramount example of accomplishing a dream.

It has been the most challenging and time consuming project I have ever taken on yet a very fulfilling thing I could do for myself and others.  Stick the stories, quotes, and advice in your pocket and pull them out along the way to use in your own life.  By the end of my book I hope you recognize that the little things are precisely just the little things.  I didn’t learn this overnight, but rather through my experiences both personally and professionally over time.  I wrote this book knowing that I am a “work in progress.”  I am not perfect, but the stories you read are about learning and giving.  It was a learning curve, taught me more about the world, and expanded my growth as a person.  I hope it does the same for you.  It is meant to give you new perspective about others and teach you something about yourself.  If nothing else I hope it reminds you that kindness and giving will give you purpose–purpose that will change your life.

My “Project Kindness” is meant to encourage others to pledge their age on their birthday as the minimum number of random acts of kindness to achieve in a year just as I have chosen to do with mine.  I challenge you to help me make the world a kinder place by pledging your birthday as a way to give back.  Learn more by visiting jennarpjamieson.com!

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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A day, month, and year of random acts of kindness!

A day, month, and year of random acts of kindness!

I feel very lucky because I have way more than I even want or need.  I have more than I feel like I deserve, I feel completely overindulged, and find myself living a life more blessed than most people in the world.  Yesterday was Easter and I was showered with numerous “goodies” from candy to quote books/journals and little things.  I got to eat my favorite food (pizza!) for lunch at one of my local favorites with family I love and finished the night with a lovely dinner with more family I love.  It felt like a pretty perfect day. However, today it reminded me of how overindulged many of our lives really are.  My Facebook and social media pages were filled with overflowing Easter baskets for children, egg hunt after egg hunt, and church gatherings with lots of people in new pretty dresses and clothes.  It was quite lovely to see the happiness that filled the world, but it was also a reminder of those that can’t afford to celebrate holidays, can’t afford new Easter dresses or Easter baskets for their children, and people that can’t even afford clean water, clothes, or even a house over their head.  It is a reminder to be mindful of those around us.  Those that may be suffering and need our help.  Those that could use something as small as a compliment, surprise, or someone to listen to them to brighten their day.

As my family and I talked at both lunch and dinner yesterday Starbucks coffee came up because they are changing their rewards program.  It reminded me how lucky I am to be able to buy a cup of $3 – $5 coffee (which I must admit makes me feel guilty typing because I know it is probably ridiculous and not to mention out of reach for many).  I still am guilty of consuming it on a semi-regular basis.

The point of this post isn’t to make anyone feel shameful or guilty of their choices, luxuries, or things.  It is rather a reminder for myself (and hopefully others appreciate it as well) that I am more blessed and overindulged in the most simple ways that are so easily taken for granted on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.   It is a reminder for me to give back more and more each day as I go through life.  There are endless random acts of kindness that can be done for nothing or a little something, but that can light up someone’s face and change the entire outcome of their day or maybe even their life.  For that, I think kindness is definitely something worth spreading.

My mom had a little boy over when I was younger who couldn’t keep his pants up.  It seems funny and it was, but she went and found a belt for little Joey.  She later received a thank you card from that six year old little boy thanking her for the belt.  It was a simple gesture, but that little boy is now in his late twenties and sent her a message yesterday again reminding her of how much it meant that she gave him a belt that day.  Something as small as that is something that can impact someone’s life. I recently had a mother of a student at school bring hot chocolate for myself and two other teachers as a thank you for being such happy “parent pick-up” coordinators at our school during all weather – rain, snow, hot, and cold.  Today will be a day to put my foot forward and be the person to do a random act of kindness.  I am going to show up at SIU and give treats to some of my fiancé’s co-workers and the staff that work across the hall from them.  People I don’t really know, but may appreciate a small treat on a Monday!  These are just a few random acts of kindness, but there are endless people and places to spread it. From police officers to firefighters and the random person in line at McDonald’s to sliding a few dollars in a Redbox DVD to pay it forward.

I hope today is a day you remember how lucky you are and how thankful you should be if you have clean water, clean clothes, family, and a roof over your head.  I know I don’t always remember how blessed I am, but I continue to remind myself that the things I take for granted are another person’s dreams.

Celebrate spreading kindness and remember you can brighten someone’s day! 🙂

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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Giving is good for your health!

Giving is good for your health!

Emotional and mental health are important.  Very important.  Sometimes these two components of health take the back burner to social and physical health.  We might focus on our social media relationships, comments, and statuses.  Stuff that in the scheme of things won’t matter when we look back on life.  I am even guilty of this sometimes.

I actually have someone in my family that struggles with finding a balance between her emotional and mental health versus her social and physical health.  She struggles with finding happiness, being self-confident on the inside, and feeling a sense of contentment.  She chooses to focus on her social and physical health as a way of combating the struggles she faces with her emotional and mental health.  She walks daily and puts effort into how she presents herself to others, but in reality it doesn’t fix how she feels about herself.  She is missing a sense of self-purpose in life.  She struggles with identifying meaning by the roles in which she chooses to play in society.

Giving may not seem like it has to do with emotional or mental health.  It may seem like a big stretch, but it actually isn’t a stretch at all.  Giving provides purpose to a person’s life.  It gives meaning.  It is a reminder to be appreciative for what we have.  It feels good to give to others.  It gives you that warm and happy feeling on the inside knowing you contributed to a good cause, helped someone that is struggling, baked cookies for your local police department, or helped a stranger on your way to work.   The feeling you have from doing those things contributes to your emotional and mental health.

You do not need tons of money to give.  Giving can come from the heart.  It can be coloring a picture for someone, writing a “Thank You” card, volunteering with a local organization, helping someone into their car, or a multitude of other ways to be kind and give back.  I work at an elementary school where I am given pictures and coloring pages almost every single day.  While students love to give me pictures and have a huge smile as they hand me their masterpiece I feel equally as blessed.  It warms my heart that they want to give me pictures that they work so hard on.  It is a reciprocation of mental and emotional health.  It makes them feel good and me as well.

In a world full of consumerism and materialism, I challenge you to remember to give (year round)!  Just because the holidays have passed and it is a new year doesn’t mean all your time has to focus on New Years weight loss resolutions or bikini bodies for spring break.  It is still important to smile at strangers, say hi to people you pass in the hallway, or compliment someone.  I challenge you to increase your purpose and role in the world.  I challenge you to remember what giving will do for your emotional and mental health.

I hope this blog, as short as it is, captures how much giving can do for you and the world.

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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