2nd Day Of Christmas: ‘Tis The Season Of Giving

IMG_7437Today’s story comes to you in the form of a good deed done by my mom. My mom’s heart will always be the biggest of anyone I know. She has this uncanny way of being accepting and compassionate even towards those who least deserve it. She has the ability to look beyond the surface without judgement. She’s who I want to grow up and become because there really isn’t anyone much more wonderful than my mom.

If I’m correct, my mom has been donating to the Grand Forks homeless shelter; Northlands Rescue Mission for awhile now. $10 or so here and there whenever she could. I don’t think it’s been too regular or anything but I think the mission sends out donation requests periodically and if she can afford it, she’ll throw a few bucks their way.

Bags-of-Blessings-2014-231x300Recently, Northlands Rescue Mission sent out flyers with the tagline “Bags of Blessings.” As we all know, Christmas is definitely coming. Those [believers] of all ages, races, and income levels in some way, shape, or form have Christmas on their yearly bucket lists. Whether you have the money or you don’t; Christmas is special. ‘Tis the season where miracles are possible and kindness is spread.

My mom took part in being someone’s Christmas miracle this year. Instead of tossing the flyer she received like I’m sure a lot of people would do (sadly, myself included) she decided to spread the wealth. Good karma if you will.

On a routine trip to Grand Forks she picked up all of the items on the list including a sweatshirt, socks, shampoo, deodorant, and a few other things. She also bought a gym bag as asked and marked the front of it male also noting the size she had bought for. All that was left was to bring the bag with the items in it to Northlands Rescue Mission and that she did.

The total cost of all the items purchased came to $72 and some change. When I asked my mom what her reasoning was for helping the homeless shelter more than she usually does, she left me with this:

Matthew 25:40 “What you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me.” ~Jesus Christ

I’ve been one to judge too quickly and assume things that I do not know.  I’m sure that many people in homeless shelters across the region and country are truly in need of generous help from those like my mom and I hope that I can find the empathy needed towards causes like that. My mom deserves a round of applause not only for buying a few things and donating it to the shelter but for being a damned good person. Coming from someone (myself) who finds it hard to see beyond the grime and the dirt on the surface and actually wonder what the story behind the homelessness is – it really takes a heart of gold and compassion to donate towards a cause that faces so much ridicule.

IMG_7970If you’d like to donate to your local homeless shelter please do so; I’ve listed both Grand Forks and Bemidji’s contact information at the end of this post. They need more help than any of us are probably capable of even understanding. If you chose not to donate towards the shelter, find a cause that you feel comfortable donating towards even if it’s just one time a year.

In an effort to embrace the season of giving and to do some good; I’ve decided to do some research myself and donate a little bit this Christmas season as well. I fully believe that rehabilitation is one of the key factors to solve many of the homelessness cases in the area. I’ll be looking online and around the area locally for a non-profit rehabilitation program to donate towards.

Northlands Rescue Mission – 420 Division Ave, Grand Forks, ND 58201
Village of Hope – PO BOX 1035, Bemidji, MN 56619

Merry 2nd Day of Christmas!

 

She Got Her Wings.

So much can happen in one year. Some enter this world and some exit. Families are formed and families are torn apart. People are forgiven and people are damaged. Some die and some are born. We travel and we get snowed in. We fall and sometimes we get back up. We change jobs, we move to new cities, and sometimes..we sit still. Sometimes life happens so quickly and days turn into weeks that turn into months that turn into years. Before you know it, you can’t even remember the last conversation you had with someone because of life.

And at the very exact same time that “life” is happening, it doesn’t. Life isn’t easy, I don’t think it was designed to be easy. Everyone will hit a rough patch or twenty. Some will suffer throughout their childhood. Some as young adults. Some won’t even suffer until they’ve hit the peak mid-life crisis stage of life. But it happens to the best of us.

Truly..to the best of us.

One year ago today, an old friend passed away. I call her an old friend not because of our age but because of life. Life got in the way from seeing each other often. Life got in the way who’s who and what’s what. Life got in the way of appreciating the goodness, the memories, the time.

And death? Well, sadly, death brought us back together. We don’t often think about everyone that has made an impact on our lives every single day because there’s still time. There will always be time to run into them at Wal-mart or catch up at class reunions. There will be time, especially when you’re 23.

That’s where I was wrong. This last year I’ve really tried to work on finding out who the hell I am. What I stand for. Who and what I love. I’ve tried to humble myself (it isn’t easy) and I’ve tried to be a more empathetic person (definitely not easy). I’ve tried to improve myself because of one person and that person is Aron.

Now, I wasn’t best friends with her. I didn’t keep in touch like I should have. I didn’t know what she was doing in her day to day life but I knew one thing. Time didn’t change her heart. It may have changed her life but it didn’t change her heart. It wouldn’t have mattered if 2 years had gone by or 20, she still would have come right up to you with a hug and a smile and ask what the hell you’ve been up to.

Man, I wish I could be like her. I wish that I could find the best in people and care as much as she did. I wish that she was still here and I could make a valiant effort to reconnect with her. I wish that her family could squeeze her too tight just one more time. I wish that holes weren’t created in hearts the day she died.

One year ago today, an old friend passed away. So much can happen in one year. Some enter this world and some exit. And some..well they are with us every day. We all miss you, Aron. Keep us on our toes will ya? I hope those wings fit you just right.

I’ve mentioned Aron in a couple posts throughout the last year. I’ve posted them below for Elaine, Melissa, and Austin. Sending the biggest hugs I can muster up your way today.

10/17/2013:
We Shouldn’t Have To Say Goodbye Yet
10/22/2013:
I Want To Be A Better Person
1/8/2014:
Heavy Hearts & Open Arms
4/4/2014:
Does Heaven Have DQ Ice Cream Cake?
8/14/2014:
Genie, You’re Free

Empathetic VS Apathetic.

Empathy doesn’t come easy for me. Even admitting that makes me feel like a douche. It’s not that I don’t care about people, I do. But I don’t know, it’s just something that I can force and force and force but if I’m faking it, does it really matter? Can you tell? I mean, I feel empathy towards people that I can actually relate to. There are plenty of people that I can actually say I’ve felt something similar to what they are feeling but there are many more things that I just can’t relate to. I’m sure lots of people that can empathize with others haven’t gone through the heartache or whatever emotion may arise but they can still genuinely exhibit compassion.

Does that make me a bad person? Is it better to show rapport when you don’t mean it or to be honest? I’m sure it depends on the situation. There have been times when I just want to say “you know what, too bad for you.” This even relates to the entire 9/11 fiasco. It’s terrible that all those lives were lost, yes, but it didn’t change me. It didn’t change my view on the world. The world has always been a shitty place, have you ever read a history book?

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I’m sorry that your spouse is in the military. They chose that life knowing the consequences. You either were part of the decision or knew it was part of their life when you met them. It’s a package deal. Yes, it’s tragic when someone dies in war but it was also awful when my mom lost her dad to heart disease.

Or when you miserably had to plow your snowed in yard for the thousandth time this winter? Really, I don’t care. You live as far north as you can in the midwest, are you surprised it snowed again?

Within the last year, I had a good friend pass away. It was a very sad moment in time and whenever I think of her I am filled with immense emotion but I wasn’t close enough to her to deserve any empathy from anyone. Once we heard of her sudden passing I promised myself that I’d try to relate to people more but it’s not easy. It’s not something that you can just “do” or turn on. You have to try to be kinder and I mean really really try.

I’m not trying to exhibit myself as an asshole nor am I attempting to justify my emotions. It’s more admitting to something that I can’t seem to control. I do empathize when necessary but overall I’m not an overly understanding person. The simple things in life that we all complain about on a daily basis shouldn’t have to require empathy. I bitch all the time but I don’t expect people to really give that much of a shit. And when people do go over board with the “oh no, that’s just terrible” nonsense speech – it doesn’t make me feel any better, it just makes me wonder if you are sincere or not.

I’m not quite sure where it all came from. It’s gotten worse as I’ve gotten older I can tell you that much. I’m sure part of it was how I was raised. When you wake up in the morning it’s up to you if you’re going to have a good day or not. Don’t let others bring you down. It also might be due to the last few years where although I had people to care for me; I still didn’t feel like anyone understood what I was going through. Someone told me about two years ago to not broadcast everything out there. To keep it to myself and that’s what I’ve been doing. I kept a lot of things to myself thus obviously no one has been able to empathize with me because in all fairness, they didn’t have the choice to.

Having gone on an on about that, I wouldn’t describe myself as an apathetic person either. I guess I’m in limbo when it comes to the topic. I wonder if we were honest with ourselves; if more people are actually in-between like myself. I run into people on a daily basis that try too hard and I can’t help but wonder if they pull the guilt card like I have for so many years so they just default to feeling bad for people. I’m on the road to being more honest so I can find myself from within and I really do feel that I am a good person to the people in my life whether you are present for five minutes or five years. But I’m still willing to admit that I could be better.

Here’s to trying a little harder and caring a little more.

Heavy Hearts And Open Arms.

Anything going on in my life is nothing compared to the sorrow of the families of those lost in the last 24 hours. My Facebook wall and Twitter feed has been flooded with quotes, sayings, and memories of three different deaths in the surrounding area. I lost a good friend a few months ago and up until that point, I didn’t have a terrible amount of empathy or relatable experience to anyone suffering loss. Not because I was a complete asshole but because I didn’t understand. And I still don’t. I don’t think anyone can completely understand the meaning of mourning and grief. It’s different for each and every person.

death

I didn’t keep in touch and I didn’t know what was going on in anyones lives. I didn’t bother saying “Hi” to people I knew in stores and I didn’t go out of my way to extend a helping hand. I was just doing my own thing in my own world by my own self until Aron died. Even though I hadn’t seen her in such a long time, her death put my life into perspective. I realized that I needed to show people that I care not just assume that people know it. I needed to reopen friendships of people that I’d pushed away and books that I had closed and most of all, I needed to appreciate everything.

I’m very fortunate that the most important people in my life are still on this physical Earth. But I am reminded on a daily basis that even though we are alive, happy, and well; that doesn’t guarantee us a lifeline. Any single one of us can be taken in an instant and although it’s only pointed out when a loss has happened, we all need to learn from it. We really do need to appreciate the people around us. Love them and tell them and show them and be with them. We need to reach out even though we haven’t spoken in weeks or years. We need to cherish the memories and the moments yet to come. Because it can all be gone in an instant.

I want to take a moment to extend my absolute deepest condolences to the families and friends of those lost. I don’t know exactly how any of you feel (none of us do) and there are never any words that can be said to console everyone in the same way but know that every single one of you are in so many peoples hearts and prayers.

So tonight, hug the ones around you, reach out to the ones far away, and never ever stop making memories.