Kindness Calendar: Day 2

“Make some homemade gifts to give away this festive season.” 

I have this one nailed! For the past few weeks I have been a busy bee creating holiday ornaments to give to some of the volunteers that I work with and other special people. 

A year ago when my parents were cutting down trees on our family farm and I asked them to cut me some wood slices from those trees. I have been drying the wood for a year and now they are ready to be decorated and turned into holiday ornaments. 

Decorating is the fun, but simple party. Really something any DYI’er can do.  A simple stamp, ink pad, string and the thing that makes them pop is glitter spray paint. I like the Krylon Glitter Shimmer. 

Ta Da! You have an amazing natural Christmas tree ornament anyone would love and the best part it is all homemade!

 

 

Kindness Calendar!

It is December 1st! How did that happen? With every new month, and especially every new year, it always seems like a good time to me to start a “habit”. I came across this Kindness Calendar on the Action for Happiness website and thought, this is great!

With everything going on in the world, we truly need more kindness. I invite you to join me on this “kindness adventure”.  Day one – complete!

Snail Mail!

Last weekend I participated in a class at the Dreambank in Madison. “The Lost Art of Snail Mail”, presented by Taryn of theLoveSum.  She shared her views on the benefits to you and the person you are sending mail too. She didn’t have to twist my arm. I love sending cards and all the better when I receive a card back.

The best type of cards are homemade ones.  Taryn went over a few different techniques for making homemade cards.  This was our chance to play and get messy.  She showed us a technique using paint, water and soap, to make colored bubbles to stain our card paper.  She also showed us a super messy but fun technique using shaving cream, paint and toothpicks.

With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays coming up, take sometime to unplug, get messy and make cards to send to some special people in your life. Trust me, this gift is not only good for your soul, but a homemade card with a special note will also touch the person you are giving it to, and would mean more than any store bought gift.

As a challenge……  Make a list of 5 special people in your life, and send them a homemade card.  Doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does need to be heartfelt.

Need some inspiration?  Check out the links to these blogs to inspire you!

November Give Back!

All year long I try to volunteer as much as I can, but I feel like in November I need to step it up.  It is Thanksgiving after all!

This is the second year in a row that I have volunteered for the Goodman Community Center Thanksgiving Basket Drive that will provide over 3,500 families in need with a Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings.

My location was at the Festival Foods store in Madison to handed out flyers with information about the program and a shopping list of needed items. My shift started off slow, but then again, I was at the liquor entrance and it was one hour to kick-off for the Badgers Game. But then, you get that one donor who puts their items they purchased in your cart, and soon becomes a domino effect.

My shift was 2 hours and the time flew by. Something like this is not for everyone. You can’t be shy, you have to be able to approach people because if not, they will just blow right by you. Making eye contact is also key.

Come on, admit it…. how many times have you walked past a Red Kettle, eyes low, and full steam ahead?  I am guilty too.

We don’t know a persons situation, so that is why you can’t judge who gives and who doesn’t, but the key is you have to ask.  You thank them all and tell them to have a great day, and in turn, you are making a great day for yourself!

Looking for ways to help and get involved in your community? November and December there are no shortages of volunteer opportunities.

Here are a few.

Soulful Sunday!

What a perfect way to end the weekend by volunteer a couple of hours for the 2017 Sunflower Days in Verona.

If you have never been, I highly recommend it.  First it is free (but I encourage you to make a donation at one of donation stations) because this 9-acre sunflower field with over a half million sunflowers in bloom is breathtaking!

I got there at 6pm and had time to walk around the field and take some pictures (along with hundreds of other people) and then at 6:30, I reported to my post.  I met some really great people from the Friends of Pope Farm Conservancy who handed me my yellow vest, radio and put me at my post. My role was to direct the traffic to the lower field, and if that filled, direct to the hay field.

Parking cars can sometimes be a challenge based on a few that don’t listen to your directions, but I am happy to say everyone was so friendly and had this carefree energy. I contribute it to the sunflowers.  Looking at a sunflower makes me happy, can you image what half a million will do to your soul? I also love it when people acknowledge that you are giving back. A simple, “thank you for volunteering” means the world to us all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

People ask me all the time how I find out about volunteer opportunities.  This opportunity I discoverer through a volunteer interest group that I am a member of on Meet Up. If you are new to a city or looking to “meet up” with people of like minded interests, I highly recommend signing up or start your own meet up group.

What a great way to start off my work week…. Sunflowers, fresh air and giving back! Hope your Sunday was as soulful as mine!

Get to Know – DWOS14 All Star – Jody Weyers

I am dancing again!!! Here is my official Bio!

Love these people! My volunteer crew for my 40th Birthday Bash Fundraiser!

It’s hard to believe it was four years ago I competed in the 2014 Dancing with Our Stars for the American Red Cross. When I look back on my journey I can honestly say it was one of the most rewarding and humbling experiences of my life.  To this day, I continue to be humbled by all the people who supported me along the way and who contributed to my fundraising campaign in shattering my goal of raising $40,000. My final fundraising total was $56,182.57!

Here we are in year 10 and the final year – it is bitter sweet!  I have been involved with this event since it was just an idea that came out of the mouth of one of our board members, Jim Gagnon, and here we are nine years later, 95 community…

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Earth Day!

What did you do on Earth Day? I was one day late in taking action and doing something, but honestly, it doesn’t matter because everyday should be Earth Day!

Every since I got back from India, seeing trash on our streets, lawns, side of the road drives me crazy. There is so much litter and trash everywhere in India — even in the middle of the desert, that I don’t want my home, community, state or country to get like that.

Down the road from my house is an area that ALWAYS has trash strewn around — fast food beverage cups, swisher sweet cigar packets (?), straws, liquor bottles, etc….  I drive by this area most days on my way to work and to get on the highway.  Seeing this trash everyday drives me nuts. This is not the first time, I have cleaned up this section. On Earth Day, this was my goal to tackle. Armed with garbage bag, gloves and my big stick, off I went.

I collected a full bag of trash in a very small section. It made me feel good to do my part, I just hope more people will do theirs or think about where they are disposing of their trash next time. Nature is not our trash receptacle.

 

 

National Volunteer Week

April 23 – 29 is National Volunteer Week. It is great that we have this designated week to bring awareness of the good done in our community. Volunteer recognition should also be on going, not just given during this week.

In my current role of Donor Recruitment for the American Red Cross I am lucky that I get to work with lifesavers every day! Our volunteers coordinators who organize the local blood drives in their work place, community or school. Our blood donors who give of their time to help save lives. I am also one of those lifesavers giving 61 times in my lifetime and saving a potential of 183 lives.

This video is dedicated to all those who give of their time and/or blood. The American Red Cross is grateful for the community support!  We can’t save lives without our volunteers and donors.

The Dancing Shoes are Coming out of Retirement!

I will be entering the ballroom once again on February 24, 2018 for the 10th Annual Dancing with Our Stars for the American Red Cross. This year will be bitter sweet. We have an amazing crew of All Stars from previous years, but this will also be the last year for this event.

I have been apart of this event since it came out of the mouth as an idea from past board member, Jim Gagnon. From our first year at Riverside Ballroom with the dancers dodging the chicken cart, to the production it is today at the KI Center! As the saying goes…. “All good things must come to an end”…. it is time – the event has run its course.  In those 9 years the community has stepped up to show their support for the Red Cross in helping raise over 2 million dollars and we hope to raise our most ever in our last year.

The first year I danced was in 2014! That was a special year. I was turning 40 four days before the event, and “40 for 40” served as my fundraising campaign. Not only did I hit my goal of $40,000, I crushed it, raising $54,000 for the American Red Cross.  I am still in awe of the generosity of my family, friends, strangers and businesses who supported me. I also had the most EPIC 40th Birthday Party Fundraiser a girl could ever ask for!

My friends and family that volunteered for my 40th birthday fundraiser!

I looked back on event night and my dancing videos and I still think, that was me! I was so nervous the night before I actually puked, but the day of the event, I was like “I got this”.  It was seriously one of the best nights of my life.

After such an amazing 2014 experience, why would I do it again? Why not? This event not only raised incredible amounts of money for programs and services for the Red Cross, it has also created life long friendships of people, that otherwise probably would never have met.

I know I am so grateful to have met every single star dancer and pro partner that has stepped up to take on this challenge.

We have a very motivated, hard working and amazing group of “All Stars” that want to see this event go out with the BANG it should!

My goal – to help our team raise $600,00 in our last year! If you wish to support me, please give — give to the organization that has given me so much in my 16 years!  My humbled thanks!

Jody

India – Positive and Negatives

I am very grateful for my time I got to experience in India.  By volunteering my time through the Sankalp Society Christmas Program, I feel I got a real snap shot of the Northern Indian landscape and daily life. It was only a week that I volunteered in the schools, but the beautiful faces of the children will be with me forever. I am blessed to have crossed paths with so many amazing people on this journey who helped make my experience an even better one.  This was a trip full of adventure and India really gets you out of your comfort zone.  If you like your comforts of home while away on travel, India is not the place for you! Flexibility, non judgement and positive outlook is what will get you through visiting this country like no other.

Positives:

1. The chia tea – every where you go, they have chia from the small shops, road side markets to restaurants. You can be in the most remote place and they will have and offer you chia.  I did get some of the spices and black tea with instructions on how to make when I am back home.

Photo by: Nina Davis

Photo by: Nina Davis

2. The beautiful saris you see the women wearing.  They are made of some of the most beautiful material and such vibrant colors. Again, even in the most rural areas the women dressed beautifully.

photo by Nina Davis

photo by Nina Davis

3. Tuk Tuks – is sort of a love/hate. In the city, best way to get around and so cheap.  Can be a little scary but it is also crazy fun as they are flying in and out of traffic dodging people, cows, cars and motorbikes.

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 4. Dollar goes a long way. 150 rupees is about $2.00 US dollars. When we take the tuk tuks from our house into town we pay about 150-180 rupees. For scarfs we paid no more than 300 or 400 rupees ($4.00-$6.00 US dollar).

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5. There is a mystic about this country. Among all the dirt, garbage and mass of people there is also a beauty about it. Very intriguing on how people live there daily life because it is so different from all the people I know in America.

Photo by Nina Davis

Photo by Nina Davis

 6. Taj Mahal – One of the most beautiful and impressive structures I have ever seen. Blows my mind how they could build something like that in its time.

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Negatives:

 1. Napkins, toilet paper, tissue and hand towels are a rare commodity. Some of the nicer restaurants will have napkins and when they did, we all grabbed every single one and a few from the next table.  Two of our three hotels during our travel time had toilet paper, but very small rolls. I went through 3 economy packs of wet wipes.  I used them for everything.  Toilet paper, hand sanitizing, drying them out, and using for tissue to blow my nose, washing my body when we had only cold water or no time to shower.

Western Toilet. Still haven't figured out how people use that hose.

Western Toilet. Still haven’t figured out how people use that hose.

2. Most of the places we stayed or restaurants we went to had western toilets. You can’t put the paper in the toilet like we can back home. You have to put it in a garbage bin next to the toilet. There is this hose next to all the toilets that we still haven’t figured out how people use that and don’t get all wet. In some of the places, they had the squat toilets. A porcelain square with a hole in it and grips on the side for your feet while you squatted. I did not attempt that while I was here. 

This is a clean squat toilet, most are not this nice.

This is a clean squat toilet, most are not this nice.

3. Garbage every where. I can’t figure out why there is no sanitation system here at all. Literally, garbage is everywhere.  Plastic bottles, clothes, plastic garbage bags. There is also so much dust.  You never really feel clean. 

4. The driving here is down right scary. I don’t think there are any traffic rules, there is constant honking. I would never be able to drive here between the cars, trucks, cows, goats, dogs, tuk tuks, motorcycles and people that you have to dodge. It is scary enough just trying to cross the street sometimes.

5.  India is every man’s toilet. Every time I looked out the window of a car or tuk tuk I saw a man peeing on the side of the road, on a brick wall, or in the middle of town. You never stepped in any wet spots you saw on the road because you didn’t know what it could be.