Check it!

Hello! Seems to me in these turbulent times that we need to revisit some of the posts I have shared over the past several years. This looks like a good one to start with, given the political climate today! Enjoy and reflect!

warmsunshineblog

Have you ever been walking down the street, or watching a TV show, and found yourself making assumptions about the person or people in your view? For example, the big biker dude with tattoos and piercings; the African-American guy wearing a hoodie; the bald, middle-aged white guy; the confident young woman; the “older” couple; people who live in big houses; (insert your favorite stereotype here)? Face it, we all do it. It’s human nature. But in this divisive and angry society in which we live, I’d like to make a pitch for opening up our collective minds a bit.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation in which you can’t really escape an encounter with someone whose appearance–and stereotypes you’ve learned–set off an alarm or negative reaction in your brain? If so, you may have been surprised to find that this person you were wary of is really a…

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She’s back!

Hello, readers! It’s been quite a while since I have posted here because, among other things, I have been focusing on my children’s books business. Just wanted you to know that I have taken my favorite posts from this blog site to make a fun little book called Warm Sunshine. You can find it, along with my children’s books, at my website:

http://www.woofbooks.com

I donate a portion of my proceeds to animal rescue groups, so purchasing a book is helping a little furry friend find a safe and happy home.

Enjoy these last few days of summer, and wherever you are, please be safe and well!

 

There’s Something About September…

September…. when the days are warm and the nights are cool, the leaves slowly begin changing color, and every now and then you get a whiff of Fall in the air. Back to school, baseball playoffs, and new beginnings. Makes my heart all warm and fuzzy. I always look forward to September.

But September also brings tragedy. I lost my dad in September, many years ago. 9/11 happened on a bright, sunny, September day. Wildfires, earthquakes, Hurricanes Sandy, Harvey, Irma, Maria. So much loss. That also happened in September. Thank goodness we get some blue sky and refreshing air to remind us there is still some good in the world, and to give us hope.

I’m a children’s book writer. Last September, I was able to turn some sadness into good when I ran a special book campaign in the month of September to assist local merchants and residents who lost everything in a flood in my county. I donated part of my book proceeds to the cause. The generosity of both friends and strangers was amazing, heart-warming, incredible! I was able to donate several hundred dollars to merchants and to organizations helping to rebuild our sweet town. Not a Bill Gates kind of donation, mind you–but it helped, and was GREATLY appreciated. Together, we made a difference. I am happy to report that the town, though still rebuilding in some areas, is thriving, as are those merchants.

This year, I have a personal connection to the tragedies we are facing from Mother Nature. I have friends in Puerto Rico who, at the time of this writing, I have not yet heard from, though I did learn that they are safe. One of those friends is a wonderful woman who lives in the mountains of  Villalba, Puerto Rico, at her animal sanctuary, Second Chance Animal Sanctuary of Puerto Rico. Bonnie is an angel who rescues as many stray dogs as she can from the streets of Puerto Rico, provides food, love, and medical care, and with the help of stateside animal rescues, gets many of them adopted into loving homes. She had some damage to her roof from Hurricane Irma, but then here came Hurricane Maria, right on Irma’s heels. Bonnie spent almost $1,000 on dog and cat food to stock up in order to have enough to feed the 150 dogs and cats she has at her sanctuary, her home, in case the worst happened. And it did. We all worried as we heard reports of 200 mph winds in the mountains, landslides, and flooding. Right now there is no way to get up or down the mountain. Yesterday we learned she is OK, but there is substantial damage to the property, and Bonnie is up there on the mountain, by herself, trying to take care of 150 scared animals single-handedly. Bonnie is an angel if there ever was one.

Bonnie asked me a while back to write a children’s book about one of her rescues, a pitbull named Mason who uses a doggy wheelchair. I had the honor of visiting the rescue and meeting Mason, his furry pals, and some of the wonderful volunteers that help run the sanctuary. I took many pictures, and this summer released the book for Bonnie — Mason the Ambassadog, in both English and Spanish (translated by the friend I was visiting, who I am also waiting to hear from!) Since releasing the book, and forever in the future, a portion of my proceeds has been and will be donated to Second Chance Animal Rescue of Puerto Rico (SCARPR). But after this tragedy, that does not seem like enough. From now until Bonnie gets back on her feet, I will donate 100% of my net proceeds from this book to SCARPR.

If you are overwhelmed by the news in Puerto Rico (and elsewhere) and aren’t sure what to do or where to donate, and this story has somehow touched your heart, please consider buying a book for a child in your life, whether you are a parent, teacher, aunt, uncle, or friend. You will get a beautiful book, but more importantly, our dollars will go to help Bonnie rebuild the rescue, and to get the animals she has in her care to safety and into loving homes. Bonnie, the dogs and cats, volunteers, affiliated rescues, and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

To purchase a book:

Mason the Ambassadog  (in English and Spanish) can be found at http://www.woofbooks.com or on Amazon.

To donate directly to Second Chance Animal Rescue of Puerto Rico, click here: http://www.scarpr.org/

 

 

 

 

Check it!

Have you ever been walking down the street, or watching a TV show, and found yourself making assumptions about the person or people in your view? For example, the big biker dude with tattoos and piercings; the African-American guy wearing a hoodie; the bald, middle-aged white guy; the confident young woman; the “older” couple; people who live in big houses; (insert your favorite stereotype here)? Face it, we all do it. It’s human nature. But in this divisive and angry society in which we live, I’d like to make a pitch for opening up our collective minds a bit.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation in which you can’t really escape an encounter with someone whose appearance–and stereotypes you’ve learned–set off an alarm or negative reaction in your brain? If so, you may have been surprised to find that this person you were wary of is really a nice person, and nothing like the image in your mind! Talk about “cognitive dissonance”! So the big biker dude with the tats and piercings is doing a fundraiser for kids with cancer, has two kids of his own, and takes care of his aging mama. And yeah, he revealed that he cries at sad movies. Huh?? The hoodie-wearing, African-American man coming towards you on the street is actually a doctor out for a nice walk in his neighborhood on a chilly morning (hence the hoodie). What?? You mean I didn’t need to grasp my purse a little tighter?

You see where I am going with this. There is something wonderful to be said about actually meeting and interacting with people who make us feel uncomfortable simply because of things we have seen on TV or Facebook. One of the greatest and “mind opening” experiences I’ve had was to sit down with people in homeless shelters and learn what their lives were like before things went downhill for them. Many of them are amazing, interesting people who have had much in common with me. Surprise! Mind is opened! Life is enriched.

Although I see myself as an open-minded person, even I at times find myself pre-judging others. So I have made a conscious effort to stop my thoughts in their track and check my assumptions. Why am I thinking this thing about this person whom I have never even met? What other possibilities are there that I have not thought of? Hmmm… Maybe this guy is wearing a hoodie because it’s cold. So I look down and realize that I’m wearing one, too. Hmmm! Maybe that scary-looking dude is a parent just like me. I wonder what kind of music he likes, what his favorite food is, and … oh, look at his shirt, we root for the same sports team. Hmmm!

The next step is to actually talk with someone who has (or appears to have) a vastly different life than we do. We can consciously reframe our thought process. For example, when the guy with the hoodie approaches, I can choose to be afraid or I can choose to say, “Good morning, sir! Chilly out here today, isn’t it?” and perhaps he will smile and exchange pleasantries about the weather. Hey, he seems like a really nice guy! My day feels better already. Likewise, I can judge the scary looking biker dude and be afraid of him, or I can make a comment about our shared love for that baseball or football team–a common bond–and he might respond with a smile and maybe even stop to chat about last night’s game. And VOILA! That stereotype has just lost a little bit of its bluster. Both people feel happier and we’ve brought a little bit of much-needed light into this world.

Try it. STOP your negative, judgmental thoughts in their tracks and CHECK your assumptions. LOOK for other possibilities. REACH OUT to others the likes of which you may not have ever encountered before in real life, and look for their goodness and shared interests. It is only when we can put our fear and judgment aside and open our minds and hearts that we can begin to influence our society to be a kinder, safer, and more loving place. Heaven knows we need it!

 

New Book!

Hello, everyone! I sure do appreciate those of you who have been following my blog, and I send a big welcome to those who have just joined in! Just wanted to let you know that I have taken some of the more uplifting, thought-provoking, inspirational, and fun entries and turned them into a book. Full disclosure–this book definitely has a spiritual feel to it, in case that’s not your thing. But if you or anyone you know might benefit from a dose of positivity, I hope you and/or they enjoy it! It’s inexpensive (only $7.50) and it can be found at https://www.createspace.com/6989183 or on Amazon (called Warm Sunshine, by Marla Stahl) on or before May 12, 2017. Happy reading!

 

 

Traveling Tales

I am a true “homebody,” but once I actually get myself geared up for a fun trip, I love traveling. Despite the hassles, I love meeting fellow travelers and hearing their stories. This month, I traveled to Puerto Rico, and I began having fun as soon as I hit the airport. Friendly folks in line; people going home to Puerto Rico who assumed I spoke Spanish and animatedly told me stories, and we laughed together (though I only understood a few words and gestures–shh, our secret!); a young couple traveling to Rincon, Puerto Rico to get married on the beach; a couple with an adorable service dog, who was allowed to be petted and played with; and a grandfather of 12 (!) going to his dad’s 102nd birthday party!

I also love getting out of my own world for a while and learning about the lives of others–truly an escape! As much as we may love our happy lives, it’s nice not to think about yourself and your concerns for a while! It refreshes your perspective so that when you return home, you can see your blessings with grateful eyes.

Some of the highlights for me, in addition to seeing and staying with a dear friend, were: indulging in my home decorating magazines on the plane; visiting the amazing, humongous caverns at Camuy (Parque Nacional de las Cavernas del Río Camuy); getting a VIP tour of the Arecibo Observatory; visiting the Second Chance Animal Rescue of Puerto Rico in the mountains of Villalba, which I have been supporting for several years; visiting the beach at Rincon; and last, but not least, a wonderful birthday party for my dear friend. Her friends and family adopted me as a family member, and even when we didn’t speak the same language, there was someone around who did, and we all laughed together as one. It was wonderful!

Any Yoga Fans Out There?

Any Yoga fans out there? If so, please check out my friend’s new blog, spiritplayblog@wordpress.com. My friend is just getting started, but I know there are great things in store for this site! The photos are lovely and peaceful as well. Happy reading!

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