Wedged between Thanksgiving and Christmas is December 5th, my birthday. Today is a day I like to stay away from the drain of listening to politics, about the economy and news in general.
For me, it's a day of pause, love and thankfulness. Over the years I have tried to turn it into a giving to others and the world. I often think of my New Year resolution on this date.
For my birthday this year, I want to share my gifts with you.
My prayer is that these presents can be a bit of inspiration as we begin to focus on Christmas and 2014. As you unwrap each one, by reading, you will find love, selflessness, compassion and faith. These are gifts I received from my parents, grandparents, family and loved ones over the year. What blessing they can be, if we share.
I realize we can’t do everything with these virtues, but we can do something.
Concerned about seeing so many homeless in downtown San Antonio (where I lived above the beautiful Majestic Theater for a few years) I tired of seeing homeless asking for money. Later I would see those same people with a liquor bottle or staggering on the sidewalk.
My first act of kindness was The Peanut Butter Experiment. Instead of giving money (that can be used to donate to the organizations that have a good return on investment to help the homeless) I distribute peanut butter sandwiches. With a couple loaves of bread and a good size jar of Jiff or Peter Pan, I load up a bag of sandwiches and a peppermint candy to anyone I see who needed it.
Offering a nugget of nutrition, I receive 'thank yous,' 'God Bless yous', and see glitters of hope and kindness in people’s eyes.
Here are some other Pay It Forward items I've tried to do the last few years. I hope this might inspire you to look at the good in life, or when we see darkness, shine a little light.
1. Cleaned out my extra clothes and donated them Goodwill.
2. Wrote positive reviews about local restaurants and business to promote “buy American,” keep it local, and help tourism.
3. Wrote more articles about dogs, heroes, do gooders, and positive experiences.
4. Have the courage to sit down and listen more. One of my best friends is 91-year-old Walter, a World War II veteran and one of the wisest men I have ever known. I learn much and I don’t have to fix a thing.
5. Wrote an article about a man who is a model for saving water, especially in times of drought. This man was in a WWII Japanese prison camp for four years. What an inspiration.
6. Found two random tourists and gave them my tickets to see the San Antonio Spurs. The wife screamed with delight. “Everybody in Texas is so friendly.”
7. With a great friend, took three children from her neighborhood to circus.
8. Visited a rehabilitation and adult day center and wrote an article about nurses who help the needy, injured and lonely.
9. Continued to live my passion and being a life coach.
10. Shared my umbrella with strangers during very rainy days.
11. Let others with only a few items cut in line at the grocery store.
12. Called friends up on their birthday and sang “Happy Birthday.”
13. Put quarters in a parking meter for a stranger near the downtown Baptist Hospital when I saw it was about to expire.
14. Bought two glasses of lemonade from a kid’s lemonade stand.
15. Help others get my parking space in a crowded parking lot while I was leaving, and better for me, passed up good spaces so I would have to walk farther.
16. Fixed a computer for an elderly neighbor, and showed her how to prevent the cause. Later, I gave her a few more lessons on how to be more efficient. I netted an awesome peach cobbler out of this deal.
17. Snuck some cash in an envelope and sent it to someone who needed it more than I did, with no return address. Wish someone would do the same for me.
18. Jumper cabled a car for a lady (who had small children) in a hot parking lot.
19. Donated some items to a local pet shelter charity thrift store.
20.With my wife, took a single mother with four children on a barge ride on the San Antonio River, on the River Walk, and up to the Tower of the Americas.
21. Paid for the meal for the person behind me at the Chick Filet drive thru.
22. Bought breakfast tacos for a maintenance man from my building when I saw him at a local café.
23. A difficult as this one used to be, I find it calming now: I have become a more courteous driver and let people merge in front of me.
24. Told my friends I love them.
25 With my daughter’s encouragement, I recycle much more.
26. Donated books and magazines to community ‘library exchange.’ It saves us all money and we share knowledge.
27. Took extra bags on my River Walk strolls or Mission Reach bike rides to clean up litter not disposed of properly.
28. Left encouraging post-it notes on car windshields, in library books and other random places.
29. Offered to take pictures for tourists so everyone can be in the photo.
30. Waved and yelled happy things to tourists on the River Walk barges. They always wave back!
31. Complimented servers, janitors, repair personnel, barbers, and local business owners. Always took the time to listen, if they needed someone to.
32. Stood up more for the powerless, especially when it involved children and education. I tried to encourage them to speak up for themselves more. They do. In one small town near San Antonio, a school board was practically voted out and replaced by more dedicated trustees, in part because of my articles.
33. Charged for my time by simply saying, “You don’t owe me anything, but please Pay it Forward.”
34. Wrote about my favorite rodeo clown, when he came down with spinal meningitis. It brought in much needed help to pay for medical costs.
35. Volunteered with the best Fiesta medal sales team in the world to raise money for local charities at Cornyation.
36. Said a prayer or whispered a kind wish for people I did not know (and some I did know) who seemed like they needed it.
37. Put the shopping carts in the parking lot racks at the grocery store for others besides myself.
38. Placed a tip in a musician's jar.
39. Encouraged someone to pursue their dream.
40. Hold the door open for others (consistently).
41. Taughter a third grader how to spell RACECAR backwards. What does that spell? He loved it.
42. Spent more time at a senior citizen center.
43. Listened to a senior citizen reminensce for hours.
44. Turned an "enemy" into a friend.
45. Gave a lottery ticket to a stranger.
46. Helped a wheelchaired bound lady with her plants and watering.
47. Smiled much, much more.
48. When arriving at a four way stop with others, allow them to go first.
49. Bought tacos to share with others at work.
50. Ask for autographs from children after their community play at the local theater.
Please share your ideas on how to Pay it Foward!
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