Archive for the ‘living’ Category« Older Entries |
Tuesday, November 12th, 2013
I just returned from my very first trip to Southeast Asia. Luckily, I prepared a few things for the plane ride: extra clothes, my toothbrush, and my own little emergency shower kit (basically, lots of baby wipes). I say luckily because it took me roughly 36 hours of travel time. The terrible LAX shootings contributed to an additional 12 hours: layover in LA, a cancelled flight, a missed connection, and a lovely 12 hour layover in Seoul, South Korea. When everything was said and done, I left my house at 7am on Friday morning and finally arrived in Phnom Penh in the middle of the night around 12:30am early Monday morning. It was quite the adventure. However, my adventure was just beginning as I started my Habitat for Humanity volunteer trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
This was my fourth Habitat for Humanity Global Village trip but my first trip as a Global Village co-leader. My other co-leader, Kelly, made leading quite simple. She was a rock-star! She made t-shirts, prepared welcome bags, and was an equal partner in helping create our skit night performance of, “America” an interpretive dance to the Neil Diamond classic, “America”. Oh yes we did!
We spent our days working to build safe, decent, and affordable housing for a handful of Cambodian families, and we spent our evenings laughing and getting to know people from around the world while we explored various areas and cuisines of Phnom Penh. I ate a fried grasshopper.
My favorite part of a Habitat build is meeting the family and the children who we are building for. And this particular build, may have been my favorite family story so far. This is why…
In 2009, a dump site named, Steung Meanchey, was closed, which was the main income provider for hundreds of people living on or near the dumpsite. Families would collect the trash and sell what they could to earn a living. I was told by Habitat that thirty-five percent of the population in Cambodia currently lives below the poverty line, surviving on less than US$1.25 per day. On average, our families would earn $1.00 – $5.00 each day collecting and selling the garbage.
“In 2008 there was a food crisis, and then the economic crisis of 2009, severely affected the population, especially children, and led to a rural exodus. This caused many families to have to relocate to urban areas which had severe consequences for poverty line families – they became scavengers living in rental shacks at high risk of eviction, many were infected or affected by HIV/AIDS, enduring these and a great many other perils – predominantly in the capital city of Phnom Penh.
Rural families arriving in Phnom Penh often do not have adequate skills to find employment and secure access to an income; parents have very little capacity to provide even basic education to their children or to find decent housing leading to unhygienic and unsanitary living situations which affects health.
Housing and education critically intersect in the lives of low-income people.
Without the skills to secure a job, all family members – including children – end up having to find ways to secure food, preventing children from going to school, weakening their overall health and that of the whole family. Moreover, a constant threat of eviction in low-income neighborhoods affects both livelihoods and children’s education. With the closure of Steung Meanchey dumpsite in Phnom Penh in 2009, families that depended on scavenging at the dumpsite were forced to move elsewhere – to even worse living conditions – and were uprooted from their income source, leading to increased absenteeism from school and the family being plunged further into poverty.
“Living in a secure house provides protection, especially for women and children. It keeps families safe from monsoon rain floods, and provides better access to water and sanitation facilities. Furthermore, a decent house allows families to use their homes for microenterprise activities, expanding income-generation opportunities – enabling children to go to school and giving them decent space to study.” – Habitat For Humanity
Our team had the opportunity to visit the dumpsite. It was filled with emotion that truly gave meaning to all of the work we were doing each day. As we entered the dump site, there was clearly a smell of trash that hit the back of your throat. Almost immediately, several children emerged and started smiling for us to take their photos. With each photo came a new child, wanting to look at our screens to see themselves. It was a humbling hour of walking and touring while we had the chance to play with the kids. “I am so lucky!” is all I could think the entire time I was at the site. Any of us could have been born into that situation. This is not to say that the families are less than me because they live in these conditions, however, there are basic living standards, like safety and having access to clean water, that make living in a situation like the above, very challenging.
In the middle of the tour, we came across “our family”. I instantly recognized the mother and her son. “This is our family!” I kept telling our team. This was the family that was going to be living in the house we were building. Seeing the family and seeing where they were currently living is really where everything sunk in. I couldn’t help but get choked up. We met Jeom (pronounced Jim) and two of her 5 sons, and to describe what we saw, and to know what we were helping build, was truly one of the most inspiring moments of my life. This experience put all of our efforts into perspective. We were really going to have an impact on this family’s life and the future of their children. I will take this memory with me for the rest of my life.
Our days in Cambodia continued and so did our building. Although the constant rain slowed us down on the second to last day, we nearly finished laying the foundation and bricks for each room of our apartment: common area, bedroom, and bathroom, all in one week. The first floor of the first 12 units was almost complete.
The final day was a warm post rainy humid day! I took my already existing farmer’s tan to the next level. Sexy! And then, it happened. We came to the end of our time building in Cambodia. Each house had a closing ceremony with their team members and families. It was a beautiful moment and the entire experience all came together. It was a Cambodian tradition to say a prayer to the family and then they would say a prayer in return followed by throwing a handful of flowers over our head to bless us for all of the work we had done. The family was very emotional because they were so grateful. They couldn’t understand why so many people wanted to help. Why would a group of people take their vacation time to help someone they don’t even know?
My time in Cambodia was truly an amazing adventure, and I am leaving this experience with a new perspective on life. Traveling, experiencing a new culture, seeing a non-tourist side of a new country, connecting with great people from all over the world, and developing a bond with a family by helping them secure a better future has left me feeling more connected and balanced. I am leaving this experience reminded of Kahlil Gibran’s quote: “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
Sunday, October 27th, 2013
This November, we’re seeing the holiday season with a beginner’s mind, noticing the abundance that surrounds us, the fullness for which we give thanks. Please join our DEFINE family (and their families!) as we celebrate and give thanks. We made these little cards to share with your family & friends on our site, on Pinterest or on Facebook. Enjoy!
Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
What an inspiration. “I’ve decided I want to get stronger, and DEFINE is doing it!”
Saturday, August 17th, 2013
At Rice Gallery in Houston.
Saturday, June 15th, 2013
What elements of your environment make you feel alive? Which ones hold you back?
The human body is incredible. Our ability to perceive our world through our five senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell) enhances our experience in profound ways; some work for us to create momentum and inspiration and others work against us, creating chaos, stress and anxiety.
Generally, when we think about living a life that is encouraged and encourages others we focus primarily on our relationships with others, but what about our relationship with our world and the elements that we come in contact with on a daily basis? How does your atmosphere, the objects that make it up and what you interact with (music, food, products, clothing… etc.) affect who you are and the course of your day, week or year?
A few months back I wrote a post, “Live To Be Inspired – Part 3 – Engaging Environment,”and in it I explored how our environment can be either a facilitator or inhibitor of living an engaged life, fully aware and alive. In it I shared how I went about creating my office space; the place I spend a good portion of my time during the day with either clients or writing.
Creating a space that stimulates my creativity and ignites feelings of being alive, present, engaged, refreshed, at ease and cheerful is top priority for me. From artwork, to decorations, paint colors, scents, natural light and soothing music, each piece or element works to enhance my space and create a sense of calm, purpose, inspiration and comfort– drawing on the five senses to not only create a space, but an experience.
Atmosphere – one of DEFINE’s spheres of influence is made up of sights, sounds and materials that enhance your experience and helps to inspire and facilitate results; thoughtful environments designed to be energizing while maintaining a soothing balance.
What makes up your atmosphere? And how does it affect your life, mood, relationships and goals? Taking the time to evaluate all five of your senses while in your natural environment at work, at home, with friends, where you work out, like to eat, shop, travel, etc., will help you find the right balance of energizing and calming elements to not only elevate your experience with your world, but also enhance your mood and inspire positive movement towards the dreams, goals and desires that you have.
All too often small things stand in our way of progress and feeling motivated – small things like excess clutter, negative relationships, the absence of natural light and a poor diet lacking in nutritional content.
Try this exercise to wake up your senses by creating a list of moments you feel most alive, grounded, energized and free.
1) Write out your answers in a place you can access easily and will not lose.
2) Thinking about your day, list the places you spend the most time.
3) Separate each place and in thinking about the five senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell) write out what makes you feel the most alive. It can be short and sweet or you can elaborate as much as you want.
4) Similarly, write out what inhibits you, drains you, creates boredom and frustration. What just doesn’t feel good? Your commute, cubical, the color of your bedroom walls or crowded grocery stores. Does your office lack natural light, are you around food choices that are packed with simple sugars and lacking in nutritional content?
5) Once you have the list, rate each element on a 1-10 scale, 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest rank for how affected you are by it, positively or negatively for the respective lists.
6) Identify which ones you ranked the highest and create a plan to either reduce it or increase it – meaning, if your office cubical creates stress and frustration and you ranked it an 8.5 with regards to how much it affects you, try using an element from your list of positives (your garden view – bring plants that do not require natural light to enhance your space and remind you of your love for the outdoors) to see if you can incorporate something that will reduce your stress to a 7 or 6. The idea isn’t that you have to eliminate it altogether because that isn’t always realistic, however, believing that you are stuck or unable to introduce relief is a misconception.
Creating lasting change that invites positivity and energizes who you are from the inside out will ignite a ripple effect throughout your life. Relationships and authentic connections definitely help encourage and inspire our best selves, however, what we see, feel, taste, smell and hear also plays an integral role; one that will not only contribute to our own personal wellbeing but to the wellbeing of those around us.
Also- If you’re unsure where to start, check out Erin Stewart’s monthly DEFINE foods workshops for a tasty experience from which you’re sure to walk away feeling energized and eager to implement in your nutritional routine. Taking care of the body with food not only prevents illness, fatigue and other major medical conditions, it also helps balance out hormones and digestive issues that contribute to our mood and quality of life.
DEFINE’s Emotional Wellness Expert, Jessica Pass, LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Instructor at DEFINE body&mind. She has a private practice in Houston, Texas, specializing with children, adolescents, individuals, couples and parents. Jessica’s approach incorporates mind-body integration, education and practical strategies to improve emotional wellness, emphasizing all aspects of who we are to live fully and thrive in our relationships.
Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
Ways to fuel the Mind to keep it functioning at its best!
By: Lori Hudson Bertrand D.C., R.N
Lets face it; we all have had our moments- forgetting where we parked the car, a name, birthday, or even an appointment. While these things can sometimes be normal, they aren’t something you want to make a habit of right? Does integrity of the brain come to mind when thinking about a healthy body? We take conscious efforts towards keeping the joints, muscles, skin, digestion, hair, etc. healthy, but what are we doing on a daily basis to keep the mind working at its absolute best? Take these following steps to keep the brain feeling fresh throughout the day:
Stimulate the Brain
If you do this already try something different. For example if you like crossword puzzles and do them often, then try brainteasers or work a puzzle to stimulate the brain in new ways.
Change the Routine
We are creatures of habit – so if you always put your pants on right leg first or put your shirt on then your pants, try switching it up to force the brain to think in a different order.
Continue to Learn
Most people can’t wait to get out of school to enjoy a little more free time but the more we continue to learn the better. Keeping the mind engaged keeps neurons in the brain strong and improves function. So read a book, search the web, or take a class to create new synapses in the brain.
Research now shows that exercising even just three times a week can delay the progression of dementia and sharpen brain function. Not only does it improve thought process, but it can also energize the body and awaken the mind to think more clearly.
Periodontal disease and gingivitis have been linked to several health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, and decreased cognitive function. Bacteria from inadequate oral hygiene are believed to travel up to the brain through the cranial nerves thus leading to plaque in the brain, which is associated with Alzheimer’s.
Protein– can help block the build up of serotonin in the brain (a neurotransmitter making you drowsy and sluggish).
Nuts – typically high in the mineral boron, which has been shown to improve the electrical activity of the brain. Other foods that contain high amounts of boron are green leafy veggies, pears, apples, peaches, and grapes.
Apples – not only do apples have the mineral boron, but also some evidence shows that one apple is just as effective at waking up the mind as a cup of Joe.
Zinc – a mineral that has been shown to improve mental alertness and memory. Foods that have a higher content of zinc are fish, oysters, whole grains and legumes.
Omega’s – crucial in brain development; supports brain function and memory. Foods such as fish, avocados, olive oil, and nuts all contain omegas.
Peppermint – studies suggest that sucking on a peppermint helps keep the mind focused.
Caffeine – some sources have antioxidant properties such as dark chocolate and coffee. Drinking 1-2 cups of coffee a day will help stimulate the brain and enhanced alertness. However, too much caffeine can cause dehydration and jitteriness having the opposite effect on the mind.
Blueberries – anthocyanin is what gives this powerful fruit its rich blue pigment, which is linked to enhancing memory and learning capabilities.
We’ve all been there, those times where you just feel in a fog. Rest is needed to stabilize chemicals in the body and achieve psychological and physiological balance. It’s crucial, and without appropriate amounts of rest – fatigue, memory loss, impaired mental function, depression and decreased mental clarity can ensue. Just a 10-minute power nap can wake the body and mind up and keep it optimally functioning.
Small amounts make a huge difference when talking about hydration. Losing just 3-5% of body weight can adversely effect concentration, memory and reaction time. Losing just 1-2% can result in dehydration; so don’t wait until you feel thirsty because typically by then your body is already low on fluids.
photography by: Christi Minter
Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
This week we are featuring Richard Dale for a job well done! He challenged himself to do 100 DEFINE classes in 100 days. He gained this and more! Hear his story and join us in celebrating his accomplished goals!
How did you first hear about DEFINE?
I heard about DEFINE from my eldest daughter, who is a long time client. I didn’t look into it until my club, West Lake, closed down at the end of July, 2012. She asked me to try DEFINE West University on a Sunday with Kasey Buchtien. I was astounded how difficult the class was, but I also could already tell it was the best all around workout I had ever done. I had been on a two-year weight loss of about fifty pounds, however I felt like my core needed extra attention. I had also been suffering from leg issues due to the sedentary nature of my job.
When you first started, did you feel awkward working out with mostly females?
I had already broken that fear (or awkwardness) prior. I had never been in a exercise class before, however on a whim,previous to DEFINE, I tried one at West Lake, and to be honest, it was awkward at first. After visiting West University, I told my daughter this really would be something I would like to look into. When I got on my computer that night, I noticed the Energy Corridor location was close to my office, and when I saw there was a 6:00 am class I was so excited! I arrived at Energy Corridor that morning before 6 am, and that is when I met Montse. She was so nice and energetic towards me, so tried a month package to see if this exercise would really help me. Montse has been the instructor I have had the most during my two hundred classes since August. My normal routine at Energy Corridor was Monday and Wednesday’s at 6 am, and usually Monday and Friday’s during lunch. I found out the more I went, the more I enjoyed it, and my body felt like it actually had more energy. The various joint and nerve pain I was having went away; also, the more I went, the more I could tell my body was changing, and my clothes were getting looser as I lost over two inches in my waist and fifteen pounds.
What would you tell the guys who feel that this is not for them, or simply do not want to come in because it is a female based studio?
I would tell a guy to try it for a week, and see how good you feel. I really never have felt awkward in any of the classes; however, I do try to make a point to find a spot somewhat on the edge mostly because I have never been flexible, and I am sure my technique has room for improvement. I notice all of the instructors are so encouraging and give all of the clients positive feedback by calling out our names and saying something nice about our technique. I have had many co workers, including men ask me what I have been doing as they have noticed the change in my body, and I always without hesitation mention DEFINE with rave reviews. When I see a guy make his first class, I try to tell them in advance to not to start off with a ten pound weight as it is a little embarrassing when the instructor comes over with a lighter weight after all the repetition and the fatigue sets in!
Where did the original goal of 100 classes in 100 days come from?
Well, the first 100 classes in a 100 days was mostly luck due to the fact that I kept coming because DEFINE made me feel great, I was noticing the fact that I was losing inches, I was obtaining muscles for the first time in my life, and was losing the rest of the weight that I was trying to lose. As Montse knows, I am accountant therefore I love numbers, the day I asked how many classes have I taken, and Montse replied seventy-five, I started to look at the calendar, and realized if I pushed myself, I could actually take one hundred classes in one hundred days. When I did completed my goal, Montse and Julie really made my accomplishment exciting by celebrating at DEFINE. I jokingly spoke of attempting to take two hundred classes in two hundred days, and they both thought I should do it! So the first one hundred classes was luck, but the next hundred were the result of setting a goal. Setting the goal was motivating in itself and I finished the second hundred classes in eighty days!
With work, family, etc, how do you find time to make it to so many classes?
I have found that DEFINE has a client friendly web site, and having so many locations really helped. I realized that I am able to take most of the classes around my workday, so I was aware that there were three mornings I would go before work, and now I try to make the three lunch classes. On the weekends I do Saturday mornings, and a Sunday class before church as well. Another tip I did was to keep every location schedule in my car, so there have been times I would take a daughter to the airport or to Reliant Stadium, and then I would swing by West University on the way home.
What have been the hardest factors keeping you back from not reaching your goal?
I have been blessed by being healthy during this period, but I did tease with friends and co-workers as I would tell them I am trying to make two hundred classes in two hundred days, but you never know how things will be in the future. I am an avid racquetball and tennis player, and two of my regular racquetball players have had injuries during this period and have been out of commission for two months, so that is one of the reasons I was really try to get the classes in before my two hundredth day. I laughed with more appreciation of pro athletes who are on various streaks of performance, as you never know what tomorrow will bring.
How has DEFINE helped you? What kept you coming back for more?
DEFINE has made my body feel better than I can ever remember. I am almost sixty years old, and I honestly believe I am in the best shape in my life. I will definitely continue to come to DEFINE and will continue informing as many people I know about the DEFINE method. Whether I continue at this pace or not is not important, but I do plan to continue DEFINE as an important part of my exercising routine as it is something I really enjoy. The instructors are extremely nice, and how else can you listen to cool music and with a great exercise method at my age!
What would you respond to people who say you are crazy for taking so many classes in such a short period of time? What have the benefits been?
Well, those that have seen me the last few years have seen the major difference in my body, and they realize that DEFINE has made that difference. I also believe my racquet sports have improved not only am I stronger, so I can hit shots harder, but I am also more flexible and my speed has increased, which helps me to get to more balls. Also DEFINE helps me from having potential nagging injuries. In theory I am thinking DEFINE will also help my golf game by giving me additional flexibility and strength in my back that will help my swing. Lastly, I feel that the DEFINE routine has kept me sharp at work, and I notice my sleep has improved too!
Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
A Brief Overview: By: Lori Hudson Bertrand D.C., R.N.
It’s estimated that over 45 million Americans experience headaches with health care costs reaching to an estimated 1 billion a year. With such a common and sometimes debilitating experience, how often are pain meds the first resort to relieve the systems? Instead lets take a look and dig deeper into the most common types of headaches and take into consideration, triggers, specific signs and symptoms and other associated factors that can help distinguish between headaches that affect the body.
Sinus Headache - Pressure and pain over the forehead, cheeks and within the oral cavity. It’s estimated that 90% of these headaches are misdiagnosed as migraines. Usually sinus headaches stem from allergies, viral or bacterial infections. Pain may be aggravated when bending over, coughing or chewing.
Some things to keep in mind: avoid known allergies (food and seasonal). Utilize warm compresses over sinuses and a vaporizer to promote drainage. Ginger, Bromelain, Turmeric, Feverfew, B complex, vitamin C and E have all been shown to provide relief.
Tension (Cervicogenic) Headache – Pain and tightness located from the neck to the base of the skull (suboccipital area), forehead, and temporal area. Usually these headaches stem from postural strain like when studying or doing deskwork, but can also be from stress or temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ). Symptoms seem to get worse as the day goes on, increase in intensity and occur daily. Range of motion and flexibility in the neck and shoulders can be limited due to tightness in the neck region.
Some things to keep in mind: Be aware of posture and avoid awkward head positions. Strengthening while lengthening the muscles in neck, upper back and shoulders relieve pain while increasing endurance in these areas keep the body functioning optimally throughout the day. Avoid known allergies (food and seasonal). Magnesium, Calcium and Valerian root have all been shown to be beneficial in relieving symptoms.
Hypertensive Headache – Discomfort and pulsating pain either behind one eye or at the base of the skull (suboccipital area) that’s worse in the morning. Associated factors are stress, lack of exercise, high sodium diet, high blood pressure, cardiovascular and renal disease. Note- sustained high blood pressure can be detrimental to the body and should always be examined further. These headaches tend to get worse when reclining and better when elevating the head or when seated.
Some things to keep in mind: Avoid known allergies (food and seasonal). Maintain a high fiber and low sodium diet. Avoid excess sugar, caffeine and alcohol. Magnesium, Calcium, Garlic, Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), Vitamin C and Potassium have all been shown to be beneficial in relieving symptoms.
Cluster Headache – Although it’s the least common of the headaches listed, it can be the most intense. They cause severe pain typically behind one eye lasting anywhere from 4-6 weeks at the same time everyday. They occur in clusters, hence the name, attacking 2-3 times in a day. Nausea and sensitivity to light can be seen. Incidence can increase in the spring and fall; associated causes can be infection, toxins and serotonin imbalances.
Some things to keep mind: Avoid known allergies (food and seasonal), monitor intake of sodium, alcohol, coffee and teas. Reduce stress and the glare that can be associated with it. Nutritional support: Calcium, Magnesium, Choline, Valerian Root, Passionflower and Capsaicin have been shown to be beneficial.
Migraine Headache - Can occur on one or both sides of the head, sometimes visual and GI disturbances can occur before the migraine hits. More commonly seen in females between the ages of 10-30 years of age. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and noise that may all be aggravated with physical activity. Diet, hormonal changes, hereditary factors and daily activities have all been linked to triggering migraines. If you suffer from migraines or know someone who does, join me May 4th at Tanglewood from 1-230 for my workshop specifically on migraines. We will cover what areas of the body are affected, common triggers and associated factors that can set off a migraine, followed by strengthening and stretching of the associated muscles. Use the tools covered during the workshop to be better prepared for the next time a migraine hits!
The body is truly amazing in many ways! In a sense it speaks to you when something is not right. Pain, fatigue, swelling the list goes on of how the body communicates with you. More often than not, we tend to ignore the subtle signs and symptoms and focus more on the “significant” ones. I challenge you to pay attention to the body; take a closer look to how speaks and take control of your health today!
DEFINE’s senior instructor and anatomy specialist, Lori Hudson Bertrand D.C., R.N. is a doctor in chiropractic and registered nurse. Her love for helping people through education about anatomy and physiology drives her to continue to share her experiences and knowledge with others as they persue their journey towards health and restoration!
More of Lori’s Articles HERE.
Wednesday, April 24th, 2013
Be the Change You Want to See in the World – Mahatma Ghandi
Today is the global celebration of Pay It Forward, making it the official day the entire world is encouraged to pass on random acts of kindness in hopes of creating a ripple effect of positivity, good deeds and connection. The founders of the movement believe that this is the best way to bring about world peace and inspire a generation of givers… How can you not agree with that!?
After a horrific week of tragic events, it is easy to lose faith in humankind when all we are hearing is one horror after another… It is even easier to just sit back and do nothing when the problem feels so much larger than us. Whether its a natural disaster or preventable act, all I’m left with is discouraging thoughts like, “How can I create change that is so desperately needed when every time I turn on the news something else extremely tragic has taken place?” Or “The problem is just too big. No gesture, big or small, can really make a difference, can it?”
I know these thoughts may sound ridiculous, but they are honest thoughts that I do have. I often describe my helpless feelings as “empathy overload” because my empathetic response and ability to feel the intensity of others emotions sometimes paralyzes me from acting… Am I alone here!? Probably not.
Over the years, research has shown that increased exposure to negative life events through the media is correlated with increased feelings of helplessness and ultimately, hopelessness. These researchers have substantiated that when we watch, read or hear about a multitude of tragic events, or are subjected to constant discussion about traumatic events we can develop feelings that we are incapable of making a difference. Ultimately, leaving us with a greater risk of falling into feelings of helplessness that paralyze us with hopelessness and disable us from taking action, even in the smallest and most simple of ways.
This phenomenon referred to as, “learned helplessness,” is developed over time after repeated exposure to events that are out of our control and can create an expectation that unpleasant experiences are unavoidable, therefore we fail to respond even though there maybe opportunities to do so. In my opinion, complacency, often the result of helplessness, is one of the worst possible outcomes. The idea that we are incapable of making change is devastating and needs serious attention before it is too late.
Our need for positive news and inspirational stories is extremely important for our overall health personally and as a society. If the media isn’t providing it, what do we do or how do we create it?
Fortunately, other research does find that participating in any act of kindness, no matter how big or how small, produces a sense of hope and resilience, even when the act is unrelated to negative events portrayed through the media. In addition, charitable giving has been shown to result in higher self-esteem, a more positive outlook on one’s personal life, it produces the “feel good” hormone oxytocin and increase feelings of being needed, valued and important.
Not only that but, volunteering, donating and reaching out to others in need reminds us of our blessings and helps us feel wealthier, healthier and happier. Now that’s more like it! Continuing to engage in activities, actions, organizations or movements focused on positivity, instilling hope and sharing love will in fact, impact who we are and how we see our world. Change starts within us; if we want to see a difference in our world we have to begin with ourselves first.
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” - Mahatma Ghandi(photo by : Christi Minter)
There is no doubt that experiencing any act of kindness positively affects us. It could be the random stranger in the Starbucks line before us who pays for our double espresso latte or being lent a helping hand when we’re stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire, doing things for another without the expectation of anything in return is contagious. Once we’ve experienced it, it’s hard not to share it with someone else, hence the impactful ripple effect (hence, the ripple effect).
This is what the Pay It Forward Foundation, inspired by the bestselling and award winning novel, Pay It Forward, by Catherine Ryan Hyde, has sought to create across the globe since November 2011. Their mission is simple, to inspire people to Pay It Forward with acts of kindness and create the world’s largest ripple effect of good deeds.
Last year on Pay It Forward Day, more than 52 countries participated on a global scale. This year (today) Pay It Forward Day is aiming to inspire over 5 million acts of kindness around the world! How amazing would it be if we, as a community at DEFINE, were a part of this global movement inspiring others to graciously and generously give of themselves for the betterment of mankind?
Here at DEFINE, giving back is not just about hosting charity rides or classes, its about creating a lifestyle that seeks to generously give to others what we have been given. Hosting events to highlight specific charitable organizations is just a small portion of what is brewing behind the scenes for the next phase of development. It all starts with the desire to take what inspires us and what we have learned to reach out and share it with those in need.
How can you contribute to selfless giving today? In case you’re looking for a creative way to help others around you, check out my list of inspiration below and be sure to leave a comment or tag #DEFINEpaysitforward on Instagram or Facebook to participate with us to Pay It Forward! No act of kindness is too small or too insignificant!
Take Action! – Ideas to Pay It Forward
- Deliver baked goods to your neighbors
- Pick up another persons tab while in line at Starbucks or another food or beverage establishment
- Surprise a friend in need with their favorite food or just spend time together
- Donate your professional services to someone in need
- Listen intently to someone
- Donate blood – one pint of blood can save 3 lives
- Check on someone who looks lonely
- Share something inspirational online
- Give words of encouragement
- Be a courteous driver
- Donate used clothing or other items, your used is someone else’s new
- Create a care package and send it to an active duty military unit
- Donate to the victims in West, TX through this website: www.pointwestbank.com
- Give hugs. We all need more moments of feeling them embrace of another.
- Smile… You never know who needs it
- Buy a homeless person a meal or deliver them a care package of essentials like sunscreen, baby wipes, snacks, water, etc.
- Host a Noonday Collections Party – every purchase gives back to the artisan struggling for a better future
- Pay for a friend to come take a DEFINE class or leave a credit on their account
- Spend time with a senior citizen living alone
- Inspire someone to be the best they can be
- Compliment a stranger
- And so many more…
If you need a boost check out this video that went viral last week and feel inspired by these random moments of kindness and heartfelt emotion that were caught on hidden cameras all over the world. Sometimes security cameras catch something totally different
Do you have an inspirational story of a random act of kindness? Tell us about it and what you did to Pay It Forward by leaving a comment below.
DEFINE’s Emotional Wellness Expert, Jessica Pass, LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Instructor at DEFINE body & mind. She has a private practice in Houston, Texas, specializing with children, adolescents, individuals, couples and parents. Jessica’s approach incorporates mind-body integration, education and practical strategies to improve emotional wellness, emphasizing all aspects of who we are to live fully and thrive in our relationships.
For more articles by Jessica - Click Here
Sunday, April 21st, 2013
DEFINE instructor Kristen Frizzell (pictured right) rode in the BP MS 150 this past weekend and we want to say a BIG CONGRATS for a job well done! Here is a recap from Kristin!
“Registration fee: $100, Cycling shorts: $52, Camel back: $68, Cot: $85… Finding a cure for MS: Priceless. I finished the 150 miles from Houston to Austin this weekend. It took more than 9 hours over the last 2 days, but that is nothing compared to the challenges that people living with MS face everyday. Thanks to everyone who supported and prayed for me and the other riders. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect!!” – Kristin Frizzell
If you missed Kristin’s playlist a while back, here it is!