The Kindness Podcast….

2018 Podcast Statistics

My birthday was last month and Randall got me a new radio for my car. It’s awesome because I now I can listen to things I’ve downloaded or I can stream content. I had been hearing about podcasts for the last few months and I thought I would start to listen to some on the way to work. A podcast is a “is downloadable media that can be consumed at any time” (https://create.blubrry.com/manual/about-podcasting/what-is-a-podcast/). I really had no idea what podcasts where or really how many there were out there. There are so many…

According to an article published April 25, 2018, by FastCompany states there are:

Over 525,000 active shows and over 18.5 million episodes

That is a lot of podcasts. I was searching on Google Play to find something I thought I would be interested in listening to and I found a few that would be interesting. I first started listening to this true crime podcasts. The ladies voice kind of reminded me of that Saturday Night Live Skit where the ladies were radio people. It was kind of creepy. Then this one podcast popped up and I knew it was the one I wanted to listen to. It is called The Kindness Podcast.

Nicole Philips runs the podcast. She is what some call a Kindness Ambassador.  In Nicole’s own words her podcast is:

“Kindness has the power to transform a mundane, passionless life, but it also has the ability to re-route a single bad day. I’ll be talking with people who share their uplifting stories, and together we’ll explore how to use kindness as an offensive weapon in a dog-eat-dog world.”

She has written several books to spread the kindness message and to keep the world more positive. Her first book is Kindness is Contagious: 100 Stories to Remind You God is Good and So Are Most People. She has a second book called Kindness is Courageous: 100 Stories to Remind You People Are Brave + Kind. 

What I love about her podcast is every episode is so uplifting and I get to hear someone else tell the world why they do what they do. She has scientists come on and discuss how kindness can actually change your brain for the better and how there are so many health benefits to being kind. She has people that have found their passion with helping others and spreading their message. She has authors that have written books about kindness (which I have started a reading list on Amazon to buy the books they talk about).

To be perfectly honest, I’m hoping I can come up with the words to write her and tell her my story and to be able to tell more people about Smiles From Drew and all that we want to do. If you are in need to hear more uplifting stories and see that so many people are out there trying to do good, you should find her show and take a listen.

To go to the podcast click here.

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14 Days of Joy 2018

14 Days of Joy 2018
14 Days of Joy 2018 – How will you bring joy?

14 Days of Joy came about like everything else I have thought of since Drew died, in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. It was about a month before his 1st anniversary (which is a really bad word for that day) and I felt like I was drowning. I was drowning in my pain, my what if’s, and what should be’s . I felt this frantic feeling in my chest and had no idea if I was going to survive the tolling of the calendar. I feel like I may know what someone on Death Row may feel like.

When you lose a child the passing of everyday is like one more step farther away from your child. You have all those moments that have happened between on August to the other. My mind was racing, my heart was not in my control and I knew that if I didn’t do something it was not going to end well with me. I looked back on the things we had done the past year in Drew’s memory and all the people I was able to tell about my sweet boy and I smiled. Then it came to me….if I purposefully got out of my own head for awhile I may just may be able to handle that dreaded 1 year mark. As with anything (at least for me) the leading up to a day is much worse than the actual day. That’s when I came up with the idea to spread joy to at least 1 person. It was a goal…it was something my brain could fixate on instead of not having Drew. That was the start of 14 Days of Joy.

Here it is that time again and we are doing our 3rd 14 Days of Joy. This project is so much more personal for me than Smiles and Smiles is pretty darn personal. 14 Days of Joy is my lifeline, it helps me give myself to others so that I am not so broken inside. It really doesn’t take much to do this project with me. You would be surprised as to how the joys come about without you even realizing. Helping someone with putting their groceries in the car, holding a door open for someone, letting someone go in front of you at the store. Do these things purposefully, with joy in your heart and you will feel a lifting in your own spirit.

Everyone could use some joy in their lives, we never know what people are facing alone. Let them know at least for a moment they are not alone. My hope is one day that more and more people know about 14 Days of Joy. They know that it was started because of my beautiful blue eyed son and when they see the momentum they smile. They smile because nothing would make my heart so happy as to see others do this with me and they smile because they brought joy to someone else and the circle is unbroken.

So I ask you from July 21- August 4, 2018 go out and do something to bring joy to others. It’s ok if you get strange looks, it’s ok if others don’t understand your why. Do something for someone else. When you do use the hashtag #14daysofjoy2018 and #smilesfromdrew https://www.facebook.com/smilesfromdrew Follow the hashtag and see how others are bringing joy. So my question to you is…….

How will you spread joy? 

Finding Grace…..

24312931_309917599509125_6616587982098666412_nIt’s the way every memorable event happens in your life it was just regular normal Monday. You get the kids to school, yourself to work and pat yourself on the back because you did it without too many tears. That is how my Monday started. Then it all changed.

I work in a law office where it is just me and the attorney. For the most part our days are pretty boring and routine. Mondays are usually a little busier for me because I am making sure everything is caught up with from the weekend. Our office is in a cute little complex in downtown Santa Fe. In the complex it’s us, the publication Local Flavor, a couple of therapists, and a couple of other attorneys that share an office.

That Monday morning we had someone come into our office looking for one of the other attorneys. He said that he had an appointment with him and he didn’t show up. My boss offered for him to come into the conference room and wait for him but he declined because he had already been waiting half an hour. We got busy with our routine and didn’t think about it again.

Later that afternoon the other attorney in the office next door came and asked if we had seen Paul today. I told him I hadn’t noticed that he came in and my boss said she didn’t think so. He then mentioned that Paul had an appointment that afternoon but didn’t show up for it. That triggered the memory for my attorney about the gentleman coming in that morning for Paul. My attorney and the neighboring attorney call me into the office and ask if I would run out to Paul’s house and check to see if he was there. They write down his address so that I can find the directions and be able find it. The neighboring attorney mentions he is going to try calling the hospital and see if he is there.

I grab my purse, the paper with the address on it and trek off to Eldorado to see if Paul is at home. This is where the day took a turn for the worst.  I pull up into his driveway and see his car. I also noticed that the garage door was open. I thought this was odd but then again I had no idea if this was normal for Paul or not. At this point I started getting a bad feeling about this. I go in the garage and start knocking on the door and calling his name. When no one answered I decided to start going around the house to look to see if there is another door or I can look through the windows.

I go from window to window not seeing much. I saw his beautiful calico cat sitting in the living room but at this point I didn’t see anything else. I get to the front door and I start knocking with no answer. I turned the handle but the door was locked. I decided to keep going around the house to see if I there was anything else, I get to bathroom window and noticed on the corner of the tub is Paul’s phone, watch, and e-reader. I had known people had been trying to call him all day so I think at this point I knew this was not going to be going well. I walk to the next window which is his bedroom. And this is where I found Paul Grace. He was laying crosswise on the bed not moving. I could tell immediately that he was no longer with us. I grab my phone and call 911. I knew that there was nothing I could do to help him at this point besides letting people know he was there.

I have to say I was little upset when I was calling 911. I was envisioning when Drew was laying there and how now some other family is going to get a horrible call that they are not expecting nor wanting. Thankfully, the medics and sheriffs arrived fairly quickly. The sheriff went in first to make sure there were no dangers and the medics were right behind them. The medics came out and just shook their heads just giving me the confirmation that what I knew was true. As when any emergency happens you have to hurry up and wait. The sheriff called the coroner and all their real work started.

I made contact with my boss and let her know what had happened.  She and the other attorney tried to get into contact with Paul’s family. I had to wait there at his house to identify the body.  The sheriff had a bunch of questions for me, which many I couldn’t answer. I didn’t know Paul well. I said Hi to him the morning and said Bye to him in the evening. I first met Paul when Drew was young and we had just moved to town and we played baseball with the Little League. I also had talked to him here and there. He was running for District Court Judge and I was helping him gather signatures so he could be on the ballot. They always say hindsight is 20/20 because I sure did wish I had known him better.

I waited there at his house while they conducted their investigation and so that Paul’s son Zach wouldn’t have to face this tragedy alone. Zach has 2 small girls and needed to find a babysitter so that he and his wife could get over to his fathers house. To be honest I was doing ok until this moment. That is when the coroner showed up. My breath was taken away, it was the same coroner that came for Drew. That is when I started seeing the day I found out about my boy all over again and again and again. I have the thoughts of Drew and the loneliness I feel without him and I have thoughts of Paul’s kids and the new life they are going to have to begin. It starts off as just a regular, normal day and then it all changes and you don’t know if you can even recognize your life anymore. This is what is going to happen for his boys.

I stayed there at the house for several hours being asked questions I didn’t have the answer. Zach and his wife come to the house and are hurrying up the driveway and I go out and give him a big hug. I have only seen Zach in passing when he would come to the office to visit his dad but at the moment we were connected. Our lives, the Grace children and me are forever entwined. I will always be the one who Found Grace. I wish I had found him sooner, I wish we didn’t have to find him because he was just at work like a normal Monday. However, I am glad it was not Zach or his beautiful granddaughters that found him. There was so much about this situation that brought back memories of the time with losing Drew. It was the same coroner, and the same funeral home people.

Paul Grace was wonderful man. He volunteered in so many activities in the community. He was the President of Little League, he was long time volunteer of Warehouse 21, and he volunteered his time to his church. Paul’s funeral was Thursday and all the people he impacted and moved by him just being him truly made me sad that I did not know this wonderful man better. He will be missed but always remembered. The whole service was beautiful but there was one portion of it that I could not stop thinking this is how I want my life to be remembered. I believe it’s a Jewish prayer (forgive me if I’m wrong). It stirred my heart.

On Kaddish

When I die, if you need to weep, cry for someone walking in the street beside you.

And when you need me, put your arms around others and give them what you need to give me.

I want to leave you something, something better than words or sounds.
Look for me in the people I’ve known or loved, and if you cannot give me away,
at least let me live in your eyes and not in your mind.

You can love me most by letting hands touch hands, and souls touch souls.

You can love me most by sharing your simchas and multiplying your mitzvot.

And when you say Kaddish for me remember what our Torah teaches, love doesn’t die, people do. So when all that’s left of me is love

Give me away……..

 

#GivingTuesday

11-29-2016 is celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. I found the idea of Giving Tuesday on one of my sleepless nights researching things that could possibly help Smiles From Drew. I loved the idea of having a day that is devoted to giving to others and helping those organizations that do so much work throughout the year to help those that could use a hand up.

When I decided to start Smiles From Drew it was just a little niggle of an idea in the back of my mind. I wanted to do some “pay it forwards” to help keep Drew’s memory. I wanted the chance to be able to talk about Drew and not feel guilty for doing so. I wanted everyone to know about Drew and all the wonderful things he did when he was here. I paid for people’s coffee and lunches. I would make things and send them to people who weren’t expecting it. It was then that I found out that the more that I did for others the better it made me feel. The gut wrenching pain of losing Drew was just a dimmed a little by the acts that I was doing for others. I guess you can say the reason I do the things I do is pretty selfish. I help others because it make me feel better. Here is a link to print your own Pay it Forward For Drew Lighthall cards. Click here —-> pass-along-card-8up-drew-page

It wasn’t long after starting the pay it forward projects that I realized that I wanted more for what was soon to be Smiles From Drew. I also realized I was going broke trying to do all this on my own.  I was talking to a friend and we were talking about how much Drew loved football and wouldn’t it be great if we could help kids play football. I guess it’s like any other great adventure it all starts with a dream and then you start putting your feet to the pavement and try to make it happen. I had never worked with a non-profit much less start one, I had no idea what I was doing but I knew that this was really important. Smiles was not only important for the kids that wanted to play football but it was important for me. I needed to feel like I was still mothering Drew and this is the only way I know how to do it. Growing Smiles has given me the opportunity to think of Drew at moments that aren’t just sad.

I talked to other parent’s that have lost children that had started a non-profit or is in the process like I am. I even started a Facebook page for us to all support each other. Every single person was doing this for the same reason I was. We want our children remembered we NEED them to be remembered by more people than just us. If you are a parent of a child no longer here on earth just message me and I will add you to the group.  I researched and did more research. I wanted to make sure I did this whole non-profit thing right. I wanted to make sure that Smiles was official. I got a few of my friends that I could guilt into helping and found some fundraisers for us to do. We sold t-shirts, coffee, and candy bars. If I saw that a company did fundraisers I signed us up for it. I’m glad I did this so soon after Drew died cause I had the sympathy factor in the beginning. People were very giving and we were able to pay for us to become a 501 C 3 non-profit corporation. My goal was to be official before Drew’s birthday on May 1. We got our paperwork from the IRS on April 28!!! We did it.

 

 

It wasn’t long before I realized all that was the easy part. The hard part was getting people to keep supporting me. The hard part is keeping the momentum after almost 16 months after Drew’s death and making people realize why Smiles From Drew is important not only to me but the countless other people we could possibly help. We were lucky enough to help 12 kids play football this season. Me and a friend went to almost every game to help support the kids and to help keep our name out there. We sold t-shirts and personalized football. It was a lot of work but it was worth it. To see those boys out on the field and having a good time it was all worth it.

 

 

I can see Smiles doing so much more. I can see Smiles helping kids with karate lessons, swim lessons, piano. The ideas are endless. The only problem is money. It takes money for us to be able to do all this. Small non-profits like us are hindered by the lack of people knowing about us. If people don’t know about us they can’t help us. It’s hard to get our name out in the public when you don’t have that many people to help you do it. That is why I post on Facebook so much. It isn’t so much for the people who have helped me in the past but they may have friends that have friends that something about what we do touches them and they will give to us. Share my posts, tell people about us. Let people know what we want to do. If you got some extra time let me know and I have so much to do that I don’t have time for. Word of mouth is a life saver for small organizations like us. If you would like to help us you can visit our website and donate at  Click Here to visit the website. You can also visit our Facebook page and donate there or just to learn more about what we are doing  Click Here to visit our Facebook page.  Please like it and share it, you never know who will see it. It just takes one moment to make a difference.

Ways to Grieve

They keep saying that there is no wrong way to grieve. That your body will know what it needs to do. Hmm… I’m not so sure about that. I know that there are times I have no control over when I am going to cry. I have no control over how many times a day Drew passes my mind. There are so many things I don’t have control over in this grief process but I feel like there are a few things I can control.

I can control whether I treat people like crap around me. It’s not their fault Drew died. Being mean and cross the the very people that are grieving with me will not bring Drew back. It doesn’t even make me feel better cause when I get out of my head for a moment I realize that I was just being a bully. The people that Drew was close to are all hurting right now all in different ways, all the more reason to show love and not hate.  I can control whether I am going to go forward in this process and not stay in this place of pain. Now this may just be my way of thinking and Lord knows I am not always right. I feel like I can control whether I am going to turn his life into a legacy versus just someone I knew that died. I wonder if this is my Mama Bear coming out and I feel that everyone and anyone should know about this wonderful creature I brought into this world.

Grief fault of our stars

I know grief is messy and it’s not always pretty to look at. I know if I said half the stuff that runs in my head at any given moment not a single person would want to be around me. That’s the thing, I don’t say every thing that runs in my head. It doesn’t help me and it doesn’t help the person that has to hear it. I’m still in the beginning stretches of this journey. I have the whole rest of my life to grieve for Drew. The natural order was broken, a mother had to bury a child. There is not a part of that situation that is “normal” or “right”.

I have learned so far that I can’t do this on my own. Whether I go to counseling, reach out to friends or try to talk to other mothers that have walked this path. You have to reach out. If you feel like you aren’t being heard and understood go to the next person. As much as I hate that Drew is gone far too soon I would hate more if I become a bitter and horrible person. He would hate it if his death caused me to become that also. More than anything I want Drew to be proud of me. I want him looking down going “Good Job Mama, I knew you could do it”.  At this moment right now I choose to let this strengthen me and do good with my energy. I know this is what Drew would want me to do. Now will I feel this way in a few weeks, months, or years. I don’t know but I sure am going to try to put out in the world what I want to come back to me. quotes about bad things