It looks like we have way more work to do to make sure America is great again.

It’s not just mere sadness that our candidate lost the election that we mourn but just like that our country felt taken away from us. This is a man whose campaign was full of hate and attacked every other people who weren’t like him so wouldn’t you be afraid of the America he proposes? Like me, others are already feeling displaced but, like me, others are rededicating themselves to make sure this is still a place for all of us.

I just hope this motivates people into real action and not just social media outrage. We need a change. We need to value ourselves and goodness and kindness and family and friends and love and life. Let’s help each other come up with solutions and answers and actions to make change happen.

We have to continue to strive to be greater than we were before.

We have to continue to be as kind and as inclusive as we would want others to be to us. We need to work on the foundation that we are more alike than we are different from one another.

We have to educate ourselves to the dangers of letting hatred and fear fester inside ourselves.

We have to be vigilant that the hard fought rights that were given us as equals are not taken away.

We have to keep each other- and this planet- safe.

We have to channel our anger and frustration into positive, peaceful and productive actions. Hate and negativity will never be solved by more hate and negativity.

We cannot expect others to change if we do not ourselves change. Some broad action steps I can take now:

I will educate myself and be a participant in our political system.

I will be watching to make sure our elected officials do what’s best for the people and not just for themselves and for their party.

I will create safe places for people who feel in danger just by simply being who they are.

I will seek out allies and help them.

Do not lose hope or faith even when things seem bleak because there is good and there is kindness and there is love. I know it’s a struggle against overwhelming odds especially when we still have to make our day to day living. But “fighting for what’s right is worth it.”

Let’s do our parts as citizens of this country to make sure America does become great again because it is ours for all its good and bad.

Create, not destroy. Be good and kind. Love one another.

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Coming Out as a Form of Activism

October 11th is National Coming Out Day.

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Art by Keith Haring

It was founded in 1988 as a way to raise LGBT awareness to combat homophobia (and other forms of hate related to one’s sexual orientation and identification.) It is not a forced outing but a decision on the individual’s part to do so- as it always should be.

I like to share my post blog- Sorry, Ladies– as my coming out story but the first time I ever told someone was probably eight years ago when I was still living in Las Vegas. My best friend was driving me home and, as I was leaving her car, I said, “Thanks for hanging out with me. By the way, I’m gay. OK, see you next time.” Luckily, she didn’t let me off the hook so easily and we talked some more.

LGBT history is so dark with having to hide being who you are and who you love.

You put your life in danger by putting yourself out there.

Visibility is so important. It can give others the much needed strength, courage, or inspiration to come out.

Being oneself is such a worthy objective.

The best way to encourage coming out is to create a safe and accepting environment through words and action.

Coming out is sometimes easier said than done because people’s attitudes and reactions are unpredictable. I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by understanding and accepting people. If I knew that was the outcome I was going to get, I would have been more understanding and accepting of myself.

Resources:

National:
GLAAD
Human Rights Campaign
It Gets Better
The Trevor Project

Portland/Oregon:
Basic Rights Oregon
Q Center

Register to Vote!

I can’t stress enough the importance of exercising your right to vote during this election year.

Registering is easy. It seems everywhere you go online, there’s some helpful tool to help you with the process.

Your vote will decide what kind of world you’ll be living in and its impact will echo through generations.

I like to think of America as an already great country that has accomplished so many things in its still considerably short history. It is a country that has worked- and continues to work- hard to fight injustice. All the accomplishments were done by working together because united we are stronger together. All the challenges we face we must solve together. This election can easily wipe out so many long deserved rights and aggravate the issues America is suffering through. Disillusionment with a faulty system has caused fear, hopelessness, and outrage. It has become difficult to be kind and to think of the well-being of others when we feel there is no one looking out for us. But now is not the time to build walls around ourselves. We must break down barriers to see and welcome all the possibilities there is for us to enjoy.

I’ve heard people say they won’t vote because it’s a choice between two evils. Some say they’ll vote for a third party (which is a legitimate choice) but don’t do it to make some sort of statement.

I also want to encourage everyone to not only be active or interested about political issues during election years. If you want to make a difference, do something every day to make it happen. Be passionate about your cause.

Deadlines are approaching so if you want your voice heard, register to vote now!

Go to I Will Vote’s website to register to vote, check your status, or update your information.

And, on Tuesday, November 8th, vote!

Easy Giving: Goodsearch

I want to spotlight easy ways to give so people can start doing kind things.

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For the inaugural feature, let’s talk about Goodsearch. It’s a search engine tool (powered by Yahoo) in which every search you do translates to a donation to your favorite nonprofit.

So sign up/log in via your Facebook page, pick your Cause, and start searching. (One of the downsides I  noticed was the amount of spam I got in my email account the first day of signing up but it has since died down. Also, I’m not really quite fond of this search engine so I still use Google afterwards if I think I’m not getting the best results.)

Goodshop is apparently their retail aspect which also benefits your cause.

Another cool thing is that you can see how much you’ve accumulated. It may only be a penny a search but watch it add up!

What’s your experience with Goodsearch and/or Goodshop?

What are some of your easy ways to give?

Updates on Kindness Conversations

I’m not going to lie. I feel overwhelmed with the scope of what I want Kindness Conversations to be that it’s actually stopped me from working on it at all.

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What did I want from Kindness Conversations? For my One Little Word of 2016, I chose Kindness. I wanted to share stories of people doing good and provide resources for those interested in doing good. (I actually just added that tagline today.) This requires a lot of reaching out to people to actually get them to share their stories. And it requires some reflection on their part to answer the questions I want to ask.

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That’s a lot of work and time commitment that I haven’t been ready to give. At the same time, I do want to keep Kindness Conversations going. So, I’ve been trying to apply a lesson to this aspect of my life: Keep things simple.

And it’s actually helped me focus. This blog doesn’t have to be everything to everyone all at once- or ever. It can serve as an open journal with occasional voices of family and friends thrown in. Plus, I like the more personal tones than having things sound too formal or serious.

But I did do some recent updates to Kindness Conversations:

  1. I changed the color layout to make it seem brighter.
  2. I added the tagline: Sharing stories of people doing good. Providing resources for people who want to do good.
  3. I started the Resources page of organizations mentioned in previous posts.

I hope it makes a difference to readers of this site.

Thank you for visiting. And, of course, I invite you to join in on Kindness Conversations.

Kindness Conversations: Crystal’s Story

Crystal is a teacher librarian as well as a blogger over at Reading Through Life where she promotes literacy and diversity in children’s books.

Who or what inspires you to be kind? Who do you know personally who embodies kindness?
There is a pre-k teacher at my school, Janie, who is kind with everyone no matter how she feels that day. She is so attentive to the needs of those around her. She also shows everyone respect at all times. I think her students and everyone around her always feel loved.

Another inspiration is the book Wonder. I really appreciated the Choose Kind initiative.

How do you practice kindness in your life? What do you feel we need to do to accomplish a better, kinder world?
I don’t actually feel that I practice enough kindness in my life. I think when I am stressed or upset, I am not attentive enough to others. That’s when I am less likely to be kind. That’s when I have to focus or else I will miss my opportunities to be kind.

One of the ways that I am working toward a kinder world is to provide inclusive literature in my school library and on the blogs I write for. When people know more about each other and see each other as human rather than something other, they are more likely to be kind and respectful instead of hateful.

Which charities and organizations do you support and why? Which social issues are close to your heart?
Diversity/inclusion in children’s and young adult literature is an issue that is very important to me. I support We Need Diverse Books and blog at Rich in Color.

Share a story in which you’ve experienced or witnessed an act of kindness that has left an impression on you.
Recently, another pre-k teacher at our school, Sarah, got us moving. There was a food drive happening in our school district and a local store was giving away free fixings and side dishes with the purchase of a turkey. The turkeys didn’t cost that much either. Sarah sent out an email noting that our hearts were big and our school could do amazing things if we got up and got busy. Within 12 hours she had collected money and run to the store. Our school provided more turkeys than any other school in the district. We ended up with extras to through in the freezer for Christmas. There were many people who showed up to help deliver the food to families too. Without Sarah feeling compassion and issuing a direct challenge though, there would have been half as much food available.

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What’s your Kindness Story? Join in on the conversation!

Kindness Conversations: My Story

Who or what inspires you to be kind?
Ever since I moved to Portland, I developed a volunteer mindset. There’s a great website- Hands On Greater Portland– that connects interested people to organizations who are in need of volunteers. It’s very helpful and convenient because sometimes people don’t volunteer not because they don’t want to but they don’t know where to start. Hands On helps with that. Plus, there’s no commitment except to show up for that one time you signed up for.

I’ve met so many incredible people who have inspired me to be kind. There was a family of four who made it a point to volunteer at every state they visited. There was a woman who dedicated ten percent of her time for a year to helping others. Another woman vowed to volunteer once a week for a year to discover the “nature of the servant.” A dad decided to give his time to try and make a difference in the world after opening presents one Christmas.

I feel fortunate to have known so many kind-minded people.

How do you practice kindness in your life?
I volunteer. Over the years, I’ve created multiple challenges to make it more fun- like volunteering with as many organizations as I can or trying to reach a certain number of volunteer hours in a year. I’ve also tried to cut back since it does get exhausting and overwhelming. I’ve tried to focus on a handful of organizations I feel particularly passionate about and to step up my game in what I do with them.

I feel I could definitely do more. I find myself inspired by stories of kindness but when confronted with people who could use a bit of kindness or compassion from, I usually end up distancing myself from them or set up a wall around me.

What charities and organizations do you support and why?
One of my Core Goals or Values in life is to support literacy especially in children’s lives. Volunteering with the Multnomah County Library (mainly in their Every Child initiative) and the Friends of the Library and the Children’s Book Bank fulfills that. I’m also part of the Alberta Main Street Promotions Committee because it’s great to support the neighborhood where I work in. It helps foster a sense of community. Other organizations I support are American Red Cross (because I have good blood to give so why not) and Donors Choose (because education is important.)

Share a story in which you’ve experienced or witnessed an act of kindness that has left an impression on you.
When I first moved to Portland, a city in where I hadn’t been to before and didn’t know anyone, I usually hung out in the lobby of the building where I was staying at. I usually had a book with me. I could have read in my room but I liked watching the people come and go. One evening, a lady and her kid came in with their many bags. It sounded like the people they were staying with who lived in the building wasn’t there and wouldn’t be for awhile. (They got their messages mixed up.) Another resident offered to let them wait in their apartment. I loved seeing that willingness to open up their place to complete strangers.

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What’s your Kindness Story? Join in on the conversation!