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God Bless America

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Vacations are a wonderful thing for so many reasons.  In addition to the obvious time away from the hustle and bustle of jobs, daily chores and routines, it’s also a time to relax and take a breath.  While everyone enjoys their breaks differently, some completing tasks they have been putting off or simply haven’t had time for like painting, gardening and lawn work; others escape to places away from home.  Places maybe they enjoy each year like a summer home or campground, others to exotic places, different states or even far away countries/islands.  Whatever you choose, one thing is for sure, the time passes way too quickly in most cases.  My Uncle (who coincidently retired from the Automobile Club of America / AAA), taught me years ago, that “getting there” was half the fun.  He suggested that each time you go somewhere you should take a different route.  This allows you to see different sites, enjoy different scenery and maybe if you are lucky, you might learn something new in the process.  Right after I moved to Virginia, I was gifted a book entitled “Beach to Bluegrass” by Tennis.  This book followed US Highway 58 (500 miles) from the beach across the bottom of the state to the Bluegrass trail.  The book named over 100 sites from unique areas to Civil War battlefields to historical buildings and legends, all while only getting off the “beaten path” one mile north or south.  I completed the book, touring all the various sites over a three year period, and to this day continue to travel optional routes to get to the destination.  Last weekend, en route to a county fair, I got off the highway and traveled down a one lane road for several miles and came across stacked bales of hay, that had the words “God Bless America” painted on them.  Being extremely patriotic by nature, I pulled over to “take in” the scene.  This simple message, being displayed in such a manner that made a statement to all who passed by the roadside farm was mesmerizing.  Before I knew it, there were about 6 other vehicles that had pulled over to take it all in.  One of the gentlemen, who was sporting a Vietnam hat, started to sing the song “God Bless America” and before long, all had joined in to finish the verse.  However, you enjoy your road trips, in the future try a different path, perhaps one “less taken”, and remember getting there is half the fun!

Paying it Forward

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Have you ever been somewhere and the person standing in front of you in line paid for your meal, coffee, gas etc. without your knowledge?  Remember that feeling you had?  How nice it was for a total stranger to be nice to you for whatever reason?  At Easter time I was standing at a food kiosk at the mall, and this younger guy was paying for his food.  Close behind him was a young girl, which I had assumed was his significant other.  When he went to pay, I jokingly said “hey you making your woman pay her own way today?”  He smiled and threw down a $20.00 bill which more than paid for BOTH of their items and went his merry way.  When he walked away the young lady was still standing there and tried to hand me money.  It was then that I realized the young man didn’t know her yet paid for her item anyway because the situation had made her smile.  The girl started to cry, as she was only in line to buy the nurse at the hospital, where her Grandmother had passed a “thank you gift.”  Just such a great act of kindness to witness.  I myself once went through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge toll, and when I got to the toll booth, the lady told me the person in front of me had paid my way, and asked that I KEEP it going, because it just “Makes everyone feel good.”  The concept of “paying it forward” doesn’t have to involve money, as there are so many other ways in which to treat people with kindness.  A simple smile, a hug, holding a door for someone, baking cookies, offering to do yard work and so forth.  In our various associations the same concept applies.  When’s the last time you offered to have lunch with a fellow activity professional, or called and invited them to attend a meeting with you, or even just called to share a special idea that you recently came across?  I challenge you to seek out someone to be kind to this week, and write and share the positive outcome with us.

International Day of Friendship is an International holiday which has been celebrated annually on July 30th since 2011. The General Assembly of the United Nations declared 30th of July as “official” International Friendship Day on 27th April 2018. It was created in the hopes that the fostering of friendship between different peoples, cultures, and countries will inspire peace throughout the world.  Several countries including the United States have celebrated a day of friendship, as early as 1958.  I really appreciate the intent of declaring an “international” day of friendship, to inspire peace and acceptance within the world.  I recently was asked “Why I rushed to help someone that was involved in a car accident, when I didn’t even know them?”  The question caught me by surprise, as whether I knew the person or not, they needed assistance, help which I was able to give them.  Many of us feel quite the same, regardless of race, creed, religion, sexuality, gender etc.  While we may have numerous differences, we certainly have one thing in common…we are ALL humans!  I’m thankful to live in a country that celebrates individuality, friendship and fosters INTERNATIONAL rapport!  Happy INTERNATIONAL friendship day. (www.friendshipday.org)

Indivisible

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Our Pledge to the Allegiance includes “One Nation, Under God, Indivisible.,,,”  What does that word indivisible mean? indivisible. Something indivisible cannot be broken up or divided: it’s rock solid. The most common use of the word indivisible is in the Pledge of Allegiance, where it is used to show how our country is united and can’t be broken up. But you can use this word for any group or organization that seems indestructible.” (Merriam-Webster).  That is powerful language that our founding fathers utilized in that Pledge, which many organizations, schools and churches still recite daily.  Let’s think about that in terms of associations such as our local activity districts, and VAAP our state activity association.  At the district level, educational opportunities are provided, often a meal and best of all support from our peers that can understand the budget cuts, low staffing ratios, challenging clients and other such commonalities.  The state level is much the same, yet provides additional opportunities for resources from others around the entire state and not just in our local areas, as well as additional educational opportunities i.e. webinars, newsletters and direct access to activity professionals that can assist with questions and information.  So, IF we know that there is “power in numbers” as my Mom used to say to me, then this can also be applied to our activity associations.  TOGETHER we are stronger that we are as individuals.  We should NOT forsake the assembling of ourselves together (Heb. 10:25), as it gives us strength, INDIVISIBLE!  Invest in your association, invest in your profession, invest in YOU!

A teacher friend of mine had this posted on her social media page. “You are part of a puzzle in someone else’s life.  You may never know where you fit.  But someone’s life may never be complete without you in it.” (Bonnie Arbor)  I often reflect on those that come in and out of our lives, and to what extent they were involved in certain situations or time frames throughout our lifetime.  Some memories make us smile, others we learn lessons from, yet each person we encounter has left some sort of mark.  On the other hand, we too are those puzzle pieces that help form the existence of others.  I’m sure we all can think of a time when we have run into a person on the street or in a supermarket, at the gas station and such, where we have an almost “déjà vu” moment.  That feeling that we have met them some other time or place in our past.  Or we have been told we look “just like” another individual, our “twin” if you will.  Those little things that you do for others, the selfless acts of kindness, the random good deeds without giving it a second thought, may have created moments of joy for others and in turn, have given them a sense of completeness.  We may never know where we fit, but each and every one of us brings special meaning to life.

Having just celebrated Father’s Day this past weekend, I wanted to share a few things that I had come across through signs and postings.  The first read “Anyone can be a father; it takes a lot more to be a Daddy.”  Then it continued by listing several things involved Dads could participate in including; riding a bike, flying a kite, praying and other such activities to do with your children.  Another item I read, said “Hug your Dad today, as mine is gone, so appreciate them while you still have them.”  Lastly, I ran into a girl who was trying to choose a “proper” card for her mom, who served as both her mother and her father when she was growing up.  We discussed how we all have biological families, yet as adults we can choose our own circle of family/friends.  We often serve in the role of surrogate family members for our residents.  Maybe their loved one’s have passed on, or do not live in the area, and we at times become “family” to our clients.  Do you realize just how special that makes each one of you?  Knowing that you have the unique privilege to be a blessing to others, not ONLY on a designated holiday but on a day to day basis!

I recently read these words on a billboard near the house and thought about it for a while later.  Initially I found it a bit negative, to intently think about making mistakes.  However, after discussing it with a friend, and seeing it from a different perspective, I realized how very practical the statement could be.  Kind of like the statement “Hindsight is 20/20”, This is a saying which means that “It’s easy to know the right thing to do after something has happened, but it’s hard to predict the future.  It’s seeing the obvious which didn’t seem so obvious at the onset.  Can you think of a situation when after the fact, you thought to yourself…LESSON Learned???  This happens in our profession as well.  We try things with our clients, realize the things that could change, be more productive for future endeavors, and alter as necessary.  Same could be applied to our personal lives.  Ok, so we tried something, it didn’t work, MOVE on, learn from it, and see what you can do differently the next time.  If you KNEW what the outcome would be, would you do things differently at the beginning?  Knowledge is power….. yes, you WILL make mistakes, and yes you WILL learn from them, so next time, smile…as you will be more prepared

The reference “There is no I in team” is generally repeated in office settings and sporting events, which suggests that no one person’s needs, abilities or ideas are any more important than the combined skills or efforts of an entire group. This concept has been used for centuries, even with the beginning of the United States, when John Adams and Thomas Jefferson among others joined forces to propose a Constitution that allowed the colonies their Independence from England. My Mom used to say “there is power in numbers,” which still holds true today. While this concept can be argued to be a bit skewed as there are many with individual skills and abilities that can be an asset to others, the fact still remains that a combination of multiple qualities can bring unmatched value to an association/organization. VAAP is comprised of activity assistants, directors, consultants, artists, musicians, creative spirits, volunteers and many other unique individuals that TOGETHER are way more beneficial to the betterment of the quality of lives of those that we serve. GO TEAM!!!!!

Memorial Day

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As you know, Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering and honoring military personnel who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Memorial Day, originally known as “Declaration Day”, originated in the years following the Civil War and became an “official” federal holiday in 1971. Between 1868 – 1970, Memorial Day was observed on May 30th each year. It is now observed the last Monday in May. While talking with a group of 5 – 6 year old’s, the discussion turned to “who they knew that served in the military” versus who may have served and died. Every one of them knew or were related to someone who has served or is still currently serving in the armed forces. When asked if they knew why we observe a moment of silence after reciting the Pledge of the Allegiance, one child said “So I can let myself think about my Grandma who was in the Army and got shot”, another said “To give us time to hear the things in our heads”, the last child that answered said “Because the whole world loves those that died for our freedom.”

Young and inexperienced children can often be extremely wise, wouldn’t you agree? A couple teachers were overheard discussing an upcoming theme for the transition in their classroom from Spring to Summer, which is coming up in a few weeks, on Friday, June 21st, being the “official” first day of summer. One of the teachers mentioned “Spring into Summer” ..as a play on words to JUMP into the summer season. Another teacher suggested “Learning to Play”. Then this teacher went on to say “Too bad we are not a religious school because we could use this other theme about….”. The first grade student in the room immediately asked the instructor “Why cant we use a religious theme?” The teacher spent a few moments trying to explain and this seemed to appease the child. Moments later, they all stood for the Pledge to Allegiance. When it was over the student smiled and said “Well at least we are still one nation under God.” As many of you probably know, the expression “Out of the Mouth of Babes” is a revised version of the Old Testament verse “God ordains strength out of the mouth of babes and suckling’s” (Psalms 8:2), later generations changed strength to wisdom. We invite you to share with us something a WISE young person in your life has voiced recently.