20 May 2017 : Give and Take Garden

You may know that Melinda and I got a puppy last September. As a refresher, he is a Malti-Poo (Maltese-Poodle ) and Melinda located the breeder in Texas. So, yes, she flew to Texas last September to pick him up. And given our attraction to the politician Lloyd Bentsen who schooled Dan Quayle in the 1988 vice-presidential debate, we named our puppy Bentsen.

So anyway… I regularly take the puppy Bentsen on long walks in and around our neighborhood. These range from shorter walks, which are 1-2 miles, to longer walks, which can be up to 5 miles. I see the walks as good for both of us. They get me some useful exercise and time to quiet my mind. And for Bentsen, I hope to tire him out so we can have some quieter time at home. He’s a puppy after all, and is basically a bundle of lovable energy.

A few days ago I took him for one of the shorter walks. It was early evening and we walked east on NE 60th toward Bryant Elementary. If we turn right in 30th Ave NE and go down to NE 55th, we can do about a mile loop in 20-25 minutes, depending on how many things Bentsen decides he has to check out with his nose (which can be quite a few).

On this particular walk we noticed something after turning on 30th that we hadn’t seen before. You can see Bentsen in the photo here completing his olfactory inspection. This was a pretty serious review on his part, which gave me time to stop and think about what was actually being presented to us.

It was a Give and Take Garden. It said so right there on the sign.

Is this a child’s creation, something in which they are excitedly placing items for people to take with the hope that passersby will leave things? I decided this is exactly what is happening. Since I didn’t have anything to “give” on this particular walk I decided it wasn’t appropriate to “take.” But I have designs on making several stops at this garden, and am considering what to give. Your suggestions are welcome.

The garden certainly captured my attention, not to mention Bentsen’s. I think I might have to alert Rick Steves so he can put it in one of his travel guides as a Seattle landmark.

3 April 2017 : Strategy For Happiness

I have this grand idea that when I retire I’ll be able to make a modest living by promoting kindness. Perhaps it sounds far-fetched, but I like to imagine a world in which a person can get paid to shine a light on the nice things people do. This idea has occupied a lot of my thoughts during the dark months of this recent Seattle winter. And over the last few weeks I decided to do something about it.

Some great new art from Kind Living artist Fish Astronaut!

In fact, I decided to take my own advice. You see, I often tell my students what I think is a pretty sound strategy for happiness. I tell them it’s a secret, but really it’s not. It’s pretty simple, although lots of things conspire to make it complicated. Here it is.

First, identify something you want to achieve in the future that excites you now. Pay attention to that second part – the “excites you now” part. It’s critical that what you want to do in the future fills you with excitement in the present. It can’t be what someone else wants for you. It’s something that you not only want, it’s something that gets you FIRED UP!

Next, do one thing today that moves you closer to achieving that thing. It need not be huge, just that it moves you along the path toward the thing you want in the future. After completing that thing today, take in the information you got from it and re-evaluate what you want to achieve in the future. Has it changed in any way with this new knowledge? If so, adjust what you want to achieve accordingly.

Continue this day by day, doing a new thing that moves you toward what you want. Consider the new information you get and adjust your future goal to it, making sure you remain excited by it in the present. When you do this, opportunities will start to appear to you, almost miraculously, things related in some way to who you want to be. To who you ARE. When these opportunities appear, accept them. Say yes.

What you’ll find over time is that you are living the life you want to live and not waiting for that future achievement to be reached. That goal, that thing that excites you, only serves to get you moving in a particular direction. Staying tuned to it and excited by it takes care of the rest.

So what thing did I do today that moved me toward my goal of making a living by promoting kindness? It took me all of 20 minutes. I wrote a description for a kindness workshop I’m offering via silent auction to help PSCS raise funds.

How about yesterday? Yesterday I spent several hours updating the Secret Agent of Compassion website I created a couple of years ago.

Want to help me out? Click on the links above to learn about my kindness workshop offer and how I got involved with the Compassion Games. Who knows. Maybe you’ll be part of an opportunity for me.

26 February 2017 : Melinda in France!

Melinda with Calvados meant for me!

Melinda with Calvados meant for me!

Any longtime follower of our family’s trips to France will know that Melinda is pretty clever. Early last year she starting playing this “game” with credit cards that allows a person to earn a lot of frequent flyer miles. She’s such a good “player” that she earned enough to fund a free flight to France and decided to take advantage of it over the past week.

Christine, Celeste & Melinda at the Bertail's.

Christine, Celeste & Melinda at the Bertail’s.

Christine, her best pal who happens to live in Nantes, had the last week off from work and PSCS happened to have an abbreviated week of school. Melinda has accrued a number of vacation days and decided to cash in three of them. Presto-chango, eight days ago I dropped her off at Sea-Tac. I pick her up in a couple of hours.

From the Boudeau kitchen, a place I know well!

From the Boudeau kitchen, a place I know well!

Melinda stayed with the Bertails, specifically in Celeste’s room (who was gracious enough to give it up). On Tuesday night she had dinner at the Boudeau’s. And on Friday night, the Boudeaus came to the Bertail’s home for a gathering of our best friends. Melinda connected with me via FaceTime in time for me to watch them all pop open a bottle of wine (Friday night in Nantes was, of course, noontime in Seattle and the middle of a workday for me).

The photos I’m using to illustrate this post are from the few sent me while Melinda was gone. I might add a few more, depending on what she brings home.

11 February 2017 : “My goal is to have the children be relaxed and happy”

Linda Taylor signed up to participate in one of my online kindness classes back in 2009, soon after a Seattle Times article about them was picked up and published in newspapers all over North America. She’s been the most consistent participant since. I daresay she has been involved in pretty much every online kindness offering I’ve presented since 2009.

tommySo, of course, Linda is participating in the current kindness initiative I’m promoting via the Kind Living website and eNewsletter. She recently wrote to me privately about how the ongoing class is providing her some things to consider as she and her husband pursue their retirement. A couple of weeks ago, I suggested participants consider an online article about how to apply the Golden Rule to their lives.

Linda was taken by the suggestion that people “Be a Child.” Quoting the article, “The urge to control and criticize is especially strong when we are adults dealing with children. In some cases, it’s necessary, of course: you don’t want the child to hurt himself, for example. But in most cases, it’s not. Put yourself in the shoes of that child. Remember what it was like to be a child, and to be criticized and controlled. You probably didn’t like it. How would you want to be treated if you were that child?”

lindaIn response, Linda sent this message to me, along with the photos I’m using to illustrate this post, “​For the last two and a half years I have watched two of our neighbor children, age 7 and 5 now, who have a heavy, busy schedule as both parents work full time. Their mother once threatened they could not come see me, IF something or other was not done. I asked her not to do that as I felt the children really enjoy coming to us, who treat them like our great grandchildren, which we have yet to have! They do not have grandparents here and they give us great joy, but when they come I completely focus on them and always give them options of what we could do during their visit. Sometimes it is something familiar, other times it is an old game we have not played or a book we have not read for a long time. My goal is to have the children be relaxed and happy, partially because they have such a hectic schedule always!​ They do not have much down time!”

What a wonderful thing it is to connect elders in a community to youth. I greatly appreciate what Linda has to say here, and hope her wisdom can inspire others. She wrapped up her email to me by saying this, “I feel blessed to have them in my life and sometimes when one cannot come, the other gets upset if they do not get a special visit alone with me and Tommy. Our lives are greatly enriched by their visits and we get to be kids again too – just doing what our little neighbors want to do!”

That’s what I call a win-win situation!

15 January 2017 : “i am impatient to drink with you”

poireOn Friday night, I sent this message to Frédérique and Laurent, “A little Poire William for me after a hectic week at PSCS. This made me think of Laurent and wishing we all were together. I am missing you and Nantes, –Andy” Attached was the photo I’ve included here.

A few minutes ago, I received this reply from Laurent, “Hi Andy, thank you for this photo, another bottle like this one wait your coming next summer in Nantes… and i am impatient to drink with you. See you soon. Laurent.”

I would like a T-shirt that says, “i am impatient to drink with you.”