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Enough with “Naughty or Nice”: Enterprising Parents Develop Alternative Christmas Product Encouraging Lasting Kindness

Arik and Amelia Cardenas are parents of two toddlers. They looked for a Christmas product that supported their values. When they didn’t find one, they created one.  They want to produce the product in time for this Christmas and have turned to online crowdfunding site Kickstarter for help.

Dallas, TX (WEB) April 6, 2015 — When Arik and Amelia Cardenas’s three year old daughter got excited about Santa for the first time last Christmas, they had mixed feelings. On the one hand, preparing for Santa’s arrival brought back warm childhood memories.  But her interest made them pay more attention to the messages surrounding the holiday, and they didn’t like what they heard.

“It gets dressed up in cheery music and colorful drawings, but there’s a lot of negativity and threats surrounding the Santa story,” says Amelia. “He’s watching kids all the time, checking his naughty/nice list. That message, aside from being a real bummer, also doesn’t equip kids for the really sticky moral dilemmas: the kind that happen when there isn’t anyone watching.”

It also puts the motivation in the wrong place, says Arik. “The naughty/nice story teaches kids to be ‘good’ to get an outside reward (presents) or to avoid an outside threat (a lump of coal). But the best motivation comes from inside. You can call it a moral compass or an internal code of behavior. It’s what makes for good human beings, and we consider it our obligation as parents to help our kids develop it.”

The couple searched for a Santa-themed product that promoted those ideals. When they didn’t find one, they made one. The result, The Spirit Post, combines an illustrated children’s book, a plush toy owl, and a story that encourages children to look for ways to spread kindness (and Christmas Spirit) every day.

Arik and Amelia believe that by focusing on kindness daily, kids will develop a habit that lasts a lifetime. “The big weakness in using threats and rewards to mold kids’ behavior is what happens when those threats and rewards go away,” says Amelia. “Come Christmas morning, the naughty/nice story loses all its power. The kids get their presents and go off into January without any lasting moral guidance. Our goal with The Spirit Post is to help make kindness part of kids’ moral fabric. When that happens, kids will do the right thing no matter who (if anyone) is watching, and no matter what they stand to gain or lose.”

The duo hope to fund an initial run of 5,000 The Spirit Post packages for delivery this Christmas. They have turned to Kickstarter, an online crowdfunding site, for help. Through the site, “backers” can pledge to donate funds to independent creative projects. It’s an all or nothing proposition: Arik and Amelia have set a $117,000 funding goal. They have 30 days to reach it. Per Kickstarter rules, if they don’t, they get nothing.

“It’s stressful for sure,” says Arik. “But also crazy exciting. We’re really proud of this product and what it stands for. We hope we get the chance to share it with people.”

The Spirit Post Kickstarter project runs through May 6. If the funding goal is unmet, no funds change hands.

Those interested in supporting the project should visit http://kck.st/1DSnTP9 to learn more.

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About Arik and Amelia:

Arik and Amelia Cardenas are high school sweethearts who live in Dallas with their 3 year old daughter, 20 month old son, and 2 pups. Arik is a photographer and stay at home dad; Amelia is an immigration lawyer. They are big on questioning the status quo.

Contact: teamc@thespiritpost.com

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Using the Power of the Written Word to Raise your Energy and Uplift Others!

The written word can be very powerful when it comes to raising our energy and inspiring/uplifting others. We can be uplifted by a book we read, by an inspiring quote, or a mere word we see written on the side of a building. I know that seeing the word “Love” written on buildings, t-shirts, buttons, menus, or any other place, almost always seems to lift my energy and make me smile.

Knowing the powerful effect of words, I write positive words and phrases around my home to keep the energy high and to keep me inspired. I post positive statements such as “Today is a beautiful day” on the bathroom mirror with dry-erase marker, or we write a list of goals/dreams I’m working on to keep us focused and inspired. Current messages on the fridge include: “Life is Good,” and “Love yourself. Love others. Love the world.” Friends, clients, and members from my Meetup groups frequently comment on the “positive energy” in my home and say how they love all of the “inspiring and uplifting messages around.”

One of the things I love to do is write/design positive messages on small pieces of paper and give them out to “strangers.” I regularly go out into the community with other members from my meetup group (Southern Maine Random Acts of Kindness) and hand out these messages to passersby. Our messages say things like, “You are Loved,” “You are a beautiful expression of life,” or “Who’s the most awesome person today? You!”

Every step of this process is very powerful: The writing of the messages makes me feel good, because I’m writing positive, high energy words and phrases which is basically downloaded into my brain. The handing out of messages feels great as well, as most people who are given one of our messages smile or express their appreciation in some way. Some people are so touched they tear up, give us a hug, stick around to chat with us about our mission, and/or join our group!

This much is clear to me: the written word can uplift, inspire, and make the heart happy. It’s one of the easiest, most accessible tools I know of, and it can do great good in your own life and in the lives of others. A friend of mine was known at his last job as the “positive post-it guy,” as he would leave little sticky notes on people’s desks with positive messages. Likewise, a simple thank you card or a letter telling someone how you feel about them can have very positive and powerful effects.

Like everything else, words have energy; the more positive the word, the higher the energy it carries, and thus the greater the positive effect it can have on you and others. As an experiment, get out a piece of paper and write letters A-Z down the page with A on the top line, B on the second line down, and so on. Start with the letter A and write down the most positive/high energy word you can think of. Do this all the way through Z (you can use creative freedom for the tricky letters; i.e. instead of coming up with a word that begins with “X” you could write the word “eXpress.” After you are done writing a word for each letter, read through the list and feel the essence of the word you wrote down. If you wrote “Beauty” for B, feel the essence of Beauty inside your body. After you are done going through the list, take note of how you are feeling. How does your body feel? Your mind? What is your mood like?

Lifting your spirits or helping yourself get back on a more positive frame of mind can be as simple as thinking of/meditating on some positive words. Words have the power to either bring us down or lift us up. Assuming you prefer the latter, why not make use of this simple and wonderful tool today by surrounding yourself with positive statements and passing positive words onto others?

In love,

Robyn <3

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$2 act of kindness toward little boy leads to $100 tip

When a little boy came up to the counter at an eatery in Katy, Texas, he had his money ready, hoping he had enough for a mini mint Oreo custard.

“He wants to order dessert,” said Travis Sattler, who was manning the cash register. “He was a little nervous. Ends up handing me everything he had.”

But all of the coins and a few dollar bills he had Wednesday weren’t enough to get his desire. He was $2 short.

So Sattler, who was just a few minutes from the end of his shift, pulled out his own credit card.

“It’s on me,” the cashier said, remembering the child’s gratitude. “He had the biggest eyes, the widest smile.”

A half hour later, the same little boy handed Sattler a note as he and his mother walked out.

“It says, ‘Thank you for being so nice and paying for my custard. We need more people like you,'” Sattler read.

Wrapped up inside the note was a $100 bill. Sattler plans to save the generous tip for nursing school.

“I like to think that I made a good impact on their day, and I kind of brightened it up, just like they did mine,” Sattler said.  “We all need to look out for each other.”

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One Kind Word Can Change Someone’s Entire Day

Think about a day when you’ve been kinda down, a lot on your mind, or under pressure at work. And someone gave you a kind word that snapped you out of it, and gave you a fresh outlook on the day.

Your mission today is to seek out someone who looks like they could use a boost, and say something kind to them. Then come back and tell us the reaction you saw in their face.

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A Hardened Heart Can be Reached with a Little Kindness

Years ago I began a tradition of giving back for each holiday we celebrated. One Christmas during a particularly prosperous time in our country, I was shocked to find that there was a “shortage” of in need families. I began to think about who else needed help around the holiday. We always think of kids at this time of year and it came to me that there are many lonely adults as well. I was able to get the name of some individuals needing some Christmas cheer of one kind or another. One for a “gentleman” named John. John was a particularly vile individual, who lived in what amounted to two rooms of his rather large house. He was not able to get around and he survived on delivered pizza of which he had a hoard of boxes stacked everywhere. Myself and another volunteer went over and cleaned up his house, it was horrible and he yelled the whole time we were there. He was living in horrid conditions and we just kept on working through out his objections until the place was spotless. I had also brought in some decorations which I carefully placed and hung through out his space to bring in the spirit of the season. Instead of a thank you he simply made a rude comment about hating the decorations. I knew the doctors had been trying to get him on his feet more so I told him, if he didn’t like them, he was more than welcome to take them down himself. I returned several days later, on Christmas Eve with a few small gifts for John, hoping he had calmed down a bit. He wouldn’t open the door. So I left the gifts with a note containing my name and number on the front porch. A few days after Christmas we received a call he needed a favor, small but we obliged. Then there was another favor and another. Finally one day we realized he was mostly lonely, his wife had passed, he had no children and his extended family was gone as well. We invited him to come stay with us for a week as he recovered from a medical procedure. John lived with us for 30 years. He became a central figure in our family and everyone called him Uncle John. He divided his time between our home and days spent at the Senior Center in town (with his “girlfriends”). When John passed many years later, we put up collage of him with family pictures. We all giggled as his friends from the community looked at the pictures and talked about his kids and Grandkids. John had adopted them all in his mind over the years and would speak with great pride about each and every one of kids and grandkids as if they were his flesh and blood. John went from a vile, mean, bitter, old man, to a loving, happy and doting “grandfather” in just a few short months. He spent the balance of his life surrounded by a family who was there for him till the end and mourns his passing to this day.

I will always remember the overwhelming change in John and it was at that point that I realized that a lot of people we think are just mean and nasty, are actually hurting inside and just need to now they are loved and needed. No-one should have to feel that alone. Poor John, he went from a lonely existence to a family with 4 married kids and 13 grandkids within 5 miles of his house. He never had another moment to himself as long as he lived, and all the grandkids loved him. We’re so very sorry to lose him to cancer several years ago, but he did get his wish to not die alone in a hospital or some facility. We kept him home to the very end and we were all there for him.

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College Student Who Walks Home In Cold After McDonald’s Shift Gets Help From Kind Cop, Internet

You don’t always have to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes to understand their needs.

Jonesboro, Arkansas, police officer John Shipman proved that to be true last month, when he noticed a young man walking along the road at 2 a.m. on a night when temperatures dipped to 19 degrees, according to local news station KAIT. Shipman offered college student James Taylor a ride home, and has since launched a online fundraiser for Taylor that had raised $5,880 as of Tuesday afternoon.

Taylor had been traveling home after finishing his shift at McDonald’s when he was stopped by Shipman. Unable to afford a car, the Arkansas State University student explained that he makes the daily four-mile trek from his apartment to his job by foot.

“I asked [Taylor], ‘So you went to work tonight knowing that you didn’t have a ride home, and that it was going to be freezing?'” Shipman said. “And he said ‘Yes sir, I have to. I don’t have any other choice.'”

The day after giving him a ride home, Shipman stopped by Taylor’s apartment and gave him $20 for cab ribes. The officer also posted about the student’s situation on Facebook, and received an overwhelming response from their local community wanting to help.

Soon, a GoFundMe account was set up to raise money to buy Taylor a car. Within three days, the $1,400 goal was reached, and donations were still pouring in. The Jonesboro community also provided Taylor with $200 worth of winter clothing.

I can’t put into words what it means to me that John and the community are helping me,” Taylor told “The Ellen Degeneres Show’s” Good News page.

Taylor does not stand alone in his admirable work ethic. His story of determination comes weeks after that of James Robertson, the 56-year-old Detroit resident who walked 21 miles each way to work.

Similar to Sherman’s efforts, college student Evan Leedy took to the Internet for help, and set up a GoFundMe account to help raise money to buy Robertson a car. It began with a goal of $5,000 and rose to more than $350,000 from thousands of people worldwide.

For both Taylor and Robertson, a simple, unexpected act of kindness grew to change their daily lives dramatically. As Taylor told KAIT, “These kind of people, you don’t meet every day.”

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Offer up your parking spot at the mall

Remember how frustrated you were when you were looking for a parking spot?  Circling around, following people walking to the car, only to have them cross through to a different row?  Good, now that you’ve done your shopping, think of the next person. When you’re in the row your car is parked in, wave to a desperate driver searching for a parking spot to have them follow you. And jeepers, once you’re in your car, don’t spend 1o minutes fixing your hair before you back out!!