Tuesday, December 21, 2010

So Cool, My Oprah Moment, and "You Can't Buy Happiness"

I'm way behind in my blogging, blame it on the fact that I still do not have any Christmas shopping done - which would make you think that I probably should have been blogging since I wasn't out shopping - but I am spending a good amount of time stressing about it. At any rate, I've got three days worth of stories to share......

So Cool

I was standing in a long line at Starbucks last week (I know that an inordinate number of my blogs begin with that line......it's all free publicity), when I heard a woman sharing with someone else in line that she was spending the entire day running from Christmas concert, to Christmas concert. Three in total, one for each son. She named each son and their concert time. When I heard her mention her second son's name, Kohen, I was shocked. As she walked past to leave, I stopped her. I confessed to overhearing her conversation and explained that I too have a son named Kohen - and it's a name I've never, in 21 years, heard before. She said (and I quote), " Oh I named my son after a former student of mine I had in grade 10. He was such a handsome, smart, cool kid, and I loved his name. Kohen Bauer." I looked at her in disbelief, " Kohen Bauer is my son," I told her. So cool. I gave her some dakbands, and ran out to the car to call Kohen and share the story with him - through my tears! (She spells her son's name: Coen)

My Oprah Moment

I'll confess that one of my dreams is to meet Oprah - I really thought the dakband project might be my ticket, but no luck so far. However, I did have a real life Oprah like moment last week. At the beginning of November I featured a story on our Facebook page about an amazing cheerleading team from Dublin High School in California. Clik on the link and watch the video, it is simply amazing. Well, last week their coach, hosted a Christmas party for all the girls, and surprised them with the dakbands as gifts. I Skyped into the party and was projected onto a big screen in the gymnasium (so Oprah like!) and told the girls how proud I was of them, and explained how to use the bands. Then they all paraded past me and introduced themselves. SO COOL. I even got to meet Rachel (watch the video). I asked her what it was like to be a star, since she has been all over the media since becoming Home Coming Queen. She told me that being a Queen has taken a little getting used to!!

You Can't Buy Happiness

That's what Allen and Violet Large assert. They should know. They recently won 11 million dollars, and gave 98% away to charity. At 78 years of age, and after 36 years of marriage, these two Maritimers, have each other, and their health - at least for the most part (Violet is undergoing cancer treatments). That's all they need. Oh, and maybe a few sets of dakbands that I'm sending them tomorrow. Read about their generosity here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dak Day!!

Maybe it's the spirit of the holiday season, a little bit of magic from that old silk hat, because today was a dak delight.

Today I was in Toronto to pick my daughter up from university (she couldn't possibly get all that laundry home on the Go Train). While waiting in the lobby of her Residence, I couldn't help but notice how the gentleman at the security desk, took a moment to acknowledge every single person walking by with a personal greeting. Sometimes the people he greeted would reciprocate, sometimes they completely ignored him, but regardless, he greeted the next person with the same respect and enthusiasm. I couldn't help myself. I walked over, offered him a pair of dakbands, and we started chatting. As it turns out, Lloyd attributes his positive attitude, to his 12 Step program. When I asked him how he felt when people ignored him, he answered, "It doesn't cost me anything to be polite and nice. I'm just grateful that I woke up today, and I'm here and alive and well." Amen Lloyd. Amen.

If that wasn't enough, I came home and discovered an awesome message from Shane on our facebook page. He shared about a friend of his who went above and beyond the average DAK. Brent Pilgram is a photographer from Milton, who got involved with an organization called Help Portrait. Help Portrait helps photographers donate their time, energy and skills to provide portraits to those who might not otherwise be able to afford them. An awesome idea. So, Brent, got involved with The Darling Home for Kids - a paediatric hospice care and respite services center in Ontario that supports families who have children with life-limiting or life-threatening illnesses requiring complex care and/or technology-dependent care. In fact he spent a whole day taking Christmas portraits with the children and their families. Please take a moment to read about the event (and see some behind-the-scenes photos) in his blog. We'll be sending Brent and his entire team some dakbands tomorrow.
(we'll ignore the reference to random acts of kindness in his blog :)

Shane, thanks for sharing about Brent. We'll send you some dakbands as well!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010


I realize that my posts have taken on a rather medical theme of late, but I think it is just a statistical coincidence given the amount of time of spent at the TGH this year. Recently I wrote about some of the doctors who deserve to be recognized for their kindness and compassion. And back in April I blogged about an experience I had the day I learned that a defibrillator lead had perforated my heart for the second time (requiring immediate surgery), and how that experience - the opportunity to help a young woman who had no Health Card - transformed my assimilation of that bad news. You can read about it here. This past Friday, I had another synchronous event at the hospital that made the long Go Train trek into the city (well not that long....from Burlington), and the three hours of alternating waiting and appointments, all worth while.

As I was walking toward the entrance of the Peter Munk Cardiac Center on University Ave, I noticed a very elegant looking woman walking through the doors ahead of me. She had on a full length fur coat that floated on her tiny frame, her hair was pulled back in single pony tail, and she rocked some great ankle boots. She just happened to head straight to the Starbucks line, which, needless to say, was my first destination as well. I was right behind her, trying not to drool on her coat. She immediately tapped the woman in front of her on the shoulder and told her how wonderful her funky pink streaks looked! Then, she told another woman in line how much she loved her bag. Well, you can imagine, I am already sliding those dakbands off my wrist and reaching out to offer them to her when she turns around, looks at me, and says, "Oh my, you look beautiful - so well put together." I put my around her and gave her the dakbands, which of course she just loved. Then she bought me coffee. She is my new best friend. We chatted for some time before I had to go upstairs to my appointments, but not before I learned her lovely name, Rosalind.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hodge Podge

Today, I have a whole hodge podge of neat, but unrelated items to share. So, in no particular order:

The first is a biggy. Dakbands are going silicone! Originally, I chose elastic instead of silicone because I thought it would be easier to exchange dakbands with people of different sizes. To a certain extent this is remains true, however, the silicone bands are cleaner, the numbers are lasered (so they don't wear off), they are hypo-allergenic, and probably stretch enough to suit most adults. We'll still offer them in various sizes, but they'll be packaged in sets of 4, instead of the current 8. They will still be same slim width - not sure about the colours. If you have any suggestions in this regard be sure to let us know.

Next big news is our new interactive map, coming your way soon. In fact it would be here now if my good friend (and programmer) hadn't just had a heart attack. Go figure!! Thankfully, he has some great doctor kindnesses to share (perhaps not the energy at the moment :) and is at home recuperating after a successful emergency angioplasty. Once he feels up to it, the mapping tool, will display the dakbands and their stories in a much more fun and user friendly manner. Even the Tag Cloud (I can hear your groans) is getting a spiffy new make-over. So stop by often to check it out, www.deliberateactsofkindness.com

Admittedly, those items were related. However, on a completely unrelated note, it seems the holiday season has begun in earnest. I generally refuse to acknowledge the season until the month of December, then without fail, it's suddenly two days before Christmas and I'm running around like a crazy person. To say that I'm a Grinch at heart (no pun intended :) is an understatement. I love the idea of Christmas, but I hate how far from the idea we've strayed. The excess most of us experience wears me down the more socially conscious and other centered I become. It seems at this time of year, more than any other, the gap between the haves and have-nots widens.

Last year at this time I had an experience that impacted me profoundly. I never shared the story because I was ashamed of how I handled the situation. But they say confession is good for the soul, so here goes.......I was grocery shopping, it was dinner time, it was the 23rd of December. It was cold, and the ground was snow covered. The grocery store was almost empty, which I was thankful for, wanting to just run in and out. As I sprinted up and down the isles I couldn't help but notice a family moving alot more slowly, and carefully than I, a mother and her two teenage sons. They were all wearing soleless, laceless, tattered running shoes, track pants that hadn't seen a washing machine in some time, and coats that really couldn't be described as 'winter'. There wasn't much in their cart, and they were choosing very carefully what was going in. As it turns out they were in front of me at the one check-out that was open, while a line-up formed behind me. The kids had begged their mother, in the candy isle, for a treat. She allowed each of them to pick one small bag of candy. At the check out, they were holding the bags of candy, no way that candy was going in the cart! The cashier rang in the groceries. The bill was $45.00. The mother handed the cashier two gift cards, just like the ones that needy families receive at this time of year. The gift cards totaled $30.00. Immediately, all these thoughts, started running through my head. I wanted to offer to pay the bill for them, but then I hesitated. Would I be embarrassing them in front of the long line of impatient customers? What would I do if she rejected my offer? In that tiny moment, the opportunity was gone. She took the boys and left. Leaving the groceries in the cart. She barely made it to the door when another clerk came and took the cart away. I'm not sure why I hesitated. I mean, I walk up to complete strangers and give them dakbands. The incident haunted me, effectively ruining the holiday season for me. This year I'm ready though. It won't happen again. I've purchased $50.00 gift cards and I'm going to lurk the local grocery stores from now til the New Year, giving them away whenever the opportunity arises.

Today I drove by a bus stop, and there was a young man, about 15 years old, waiting for the bus in a sweatshirt....Marks Work Wearhouse here I come.

Finally, to those of you who began Hanukkah celebrations yesterday, Happy Hanukkah!