I remembered I forgot your birthday

I used to be really good at remembering special occasions. My 9th grade boyfriend’s birthday was June 14, which also happens to be Flag Day. My father still calls me at the beginning of June to reconfirm his wedding anniversary (it’s June 17). My childhood neighbor Alex was born on January 19, the same day as Asheley, one of my high school cross country and track teammates.

Unfortunately, the more people you meet, know and love, the harder it is to remember all of those dates! Increasingly I get seized by that “Oh no! It’s __________’s birthday/anniversary/(insert special occasion here) and I totally forgot!” moment. Which is why I started making this list on Yelp! of places to pick up gifts and cards that will look like you spent hours (possibly even days!) to pick out just the right thing, even though you only now remembered that you totally forgot.

Also, on the subject of gifts (’tis the season, afterall), check out Design Sponge’s excellent No-Buy Gift Guide, a list of creative ideas for “experience” gifts for family and friends. Although unlike my aforementioned list, some of these ideas require a bit of advance work. Maybe I just need one of those nifty perpetual calendars, like the one I gave to my mother-in-law for Mother’s Day, which, as we all know, always falls on the second Sunday in May.

Thanks, and be kind.

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Give Thanks by Doing Good

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My grandmother instilled a lifelong practice of expressing gratitude. Whether it’s a handwritten note, an email or merely uttering those two simple words, giving thanks is important.

Not too long ago, my husband asked me to bake something for Russ and Louise, two vendors he befriended at the Farmers Market. It was so heartwarming to watch Russ open the box and take in the smell of a freshly baked apple pie. Small tokens of gratitude not only make others feel appreciated, but it can make you happier and change your attitude about life as well.

With one week to go before the Thanksgiving holiday, we ought to consider doing a little more to show appreciation for our many blessings. Spend extra time with your family. Donate to a favorite charity. There are many families who lost everything during Hurricane Sandy. Even though soup kitchens typically see an increase in donations over the holidays, charitable organizations along the East Coast are going to be besieged with people who have been displaced by the storm. Consider donating time, money, food or all three. Check out this useful Gothamist article for specific ways to help in the New York City area.

How will you make this Thanksgiving more meaningful?

As for myself, I have decided to volunteer with a mentorship program, dedicated to raising the aspirations and self esteem of young women and girls. I am so thankful for the mentors who, through their own examples, have taught me to approach everything with integrity, hard work and kindness. Now it’s time for me to pay it forward.

Thanks, and be kind.

Everyday Saints

Perhaps we all can’t be saints like Mother Teresa, but there is so much we can do to help others in our own individual ways.

Today is All Saints Day, and as I follow the media coverage of the Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, I give thanks to all of the saints who are taking food, water and other supplies to those whose lives have been upended and in some cases obliterated by Hurricane Sandy. I have been so proud to see my former colleagues with the Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council busing food and water and coordinating other efforts to provide relief to residents of the areas hit hardest by the storm. New York City residents looking for ways to help should visit this site http://nycservice.org/  for a comprehensive list of volunteer opportunities from donating money, goods and services to cleaning and restoring the city’s parks.

Even if you don’t live in a hurricane-effected area, there are plenty of other ways to be an everyday saint. Rake leaves for your neighbor.  Bake someone a pie. Drive a neighbor to vote on election day or volunteer to watch their kids while they go to the polls this Tuesday. Love your family.

Make the effort, no matter how big or small. Devote a few minutes or a couple of hours to making someone else’s day a little better and a little brighter. These acts of kindness may not always be easy, and may even come at a small personal expense. But it’s worth it. Experience the superiority of love over selfishness.

Thanks, and be kind.

Be kind anyway.

I just ran across this quote and thought it was perfect:

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.

If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.

For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

― Mother Teresa