Hopefully you are not like me and your taxes were done in January and you are simply waiting for the mailman to arrive with a refund. However, if you are a bit more last-minute (just signed my taxes today) than perhaps a little simple charitable deduction advice isn’t too late.
I came across this, and although it might be a bit remedial for some I thought it might be helpful for others. Disclaimer: I am not a tax expert. However, for some, charitable deductions can be perplexing. so here it is, a simple little guide.
Hopefully, this weekend won’t be spent rummaging through old receipts and donations but if it is, remember all the great deeds you did this past year and the lives that you touched. Isn’t that whats really important?
Growing up I was always told I was as “Irish as Paddy’s pig.” I wasn’t really sure what that meant but I knew the stories of my relatives leaving Ireland and not with a pig to my knowledge. Regardless, St. Patrick’s Day is this weekend and I wanted to share this Irish Blessing with you.
May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good friends be yours, wherever they may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world, with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons bring the best to you and yours!
Today is Ash Wednesday. It is a day when strangers continue to remind me that I have a smudge of dirt on my forehead, as well as the (roughly) 40 days before Easter and the beginning of Lent. Typically Catholics like to mark this day by giving something up. Most people give up sweets, some give up Facebook, you get the idea.
I however, have never bought into this theory of denial. I understand it but rather than give something up I like to use this time to do something positive. In years past, I have committed to favorite causes, given extra time (always the best gift) and tried to use my time and talent for their greatest purpose.
This year, between now and Easter I am committing to do a random act of kindness each and every day …..all 46 of them. So whether it is paying for someone’s expired parking meter, buying a cup of coffee for the person in line behind me or going out of my way to help another. This is the gift I choose to share.
So regardless of your faith or religious beliefs, what can you do in the next 40 days to make your life and the lives of others better?
I hope this finds you still in your slippers and comfy cozy at home enjoying the remains of Christmas leftovers. Today is a day when we look at the excess of all that we have. We question, why did we give so much? Work so hard? Use soo much wrapping paper?
The reason is because we all love to give and it simply never gets old. Today, we are tired, we are full and we are grateful for all that we have……and so now its time to reflect, remember and sadly pick up all that paper.
Its only been seven days and yet our world is forever altered by the events in Newtown, CT last week. As we begin these last days until Christmas, let us remember the lessons that these little angels have taught us all.
Life is precious
Cherish each moment
Look out for one another.
Trust your instincts
Life is unexpected.
People are innately good.
Our strength is in our unity.
Hug your children just a little bit tighter.
Be grateful for all you have because you never know when it will be gone.
The second sunday in December is an international day of remembrance for children who have died. All around the globe families, parents, siblings and friends light candles in memory of a child who has passed away. This year’s candle lighting came a week too early.
As I write this, tears stream down my face and my heart breaks for all of those families in Connecticut who lost their beloved children last friday. Those 12 beautiful girls and 8 little boys are God’s newest angels. There really are not words.
Nine years ago when we started the Spiritual Care Guild at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, the department head asked us if we could provide a candle lighting ceremony for the parents at CHLA. And so we did.
Hundreds of parents arrived with their deceased child’s picture in a frame or printed on their shirts, they enter an auditorium where other grieving parents share their story. Meanwhile the siblings, write love letters to their deceased brother or sister on cut out dragonflies. When the parents leave the auditorium they are given a candle that is lit and they walk outside under a beautiful tree filled with the dragon-fly love letters. The parents will not leave until their candle has gone out.
Some talk to other parents, some cry, some sit in silence but the power of unity and the comfort of the shared loss is palpable. It is here where the tiniest piece of healing begins. Nine years later we still provide this ceremony and many families come back year after year to remember their beloved child.
Every year I leave that ceremony with a renewed sense of purpose, gratitude for my own children and compassion for these families. So this holiday season, when you light a candle, think of these precious 20 children…. our unity and love will overcome.
I am writing this on September 11th and yes I know you are reading this on Sept 12th. This however is not old news, this is about who we are and what defines us. Every year September 11th rolls around and the band aid is ripped off the old wound. New stories arise, the tears flow that you thought had all but dried up. The stories are always about people who made a difference and who inspired on that fateful day eleven years ago.
Each year we mourn for those we lost and yet forget to acknowledge those who were left behind and what they created from their loss. Each week I write about that common thread of tragedy occurring and the defining moment that follows. What do you do? Do you turn to anger, lawsuits and propel the hurt? Or do you use that moment to create a lasting legacy of goodness?
There are so many inspiring non-profits that were created in that horrible aftermath and sadly more than you have time to read but one in particular that amazed me is Beyond the 11th.Org
It’s the story of two widows, Patti Quigley and Susan Retik, who met because they both lost their husbands on United Flight 175 and American Flight 11. Susan and Patti were both pregnant.
Besides being overwhelmed with grief and shock, they were also overwhelmed with people’s generosity. Susan believed that the generosity she had received brought with it a responsibility and wanted to use her voice to make a difference. She and Patti decided in 2003 that they wanted to help the “enemy” the Afghan widows that were also victims in all this. They believed that if they could change the life of just one Afghan widow then they would encourage a dialog and friendship that could somehow guide them through understanding their own loss.
I think the quote on their website from Patti’s brother Jim best sums it up, ” When given a choice between violence and love — they chose love. When given a choice between retribution and restoration of harmony — they chose restoring harmony. When given a choice between death and life — they’ve chosen life. That’s just who they are. It’s who they’ve come to be. It’s who they’ve chosen to be. And because of that, their children are learning to choose life as well.”
So today is Sept 12th. We try to forget until next year rolls around and we then post on our Facebook pages once again “We will never forget.” Lets not forget the Pattis and Susans, lets honor these amazing people who take their sorrow and create lasting goodness. If today was the last day of your life how would you be defined? What is your legacy?
The word giving and mother goes hand in hand. All mothers are givers, so why not turn the tables on your mom this year and give a gift that lets her give (and shows her she’s done a good job raising you too).
Sure we all love getting flowers and perfume but gifts of the heart are always the best and since we are too old to make gifts in art class these ideas can show your Mom you care.
Help A Mother Out.Org Founders Lisa Truong and Rachel Fudge learned that the number-one need mother’s had was not baby blankets, clothing, or food but diapers So they created this non-profit and Mother’s Day diapers-and-wipes donation drive to benefit a dozen agencies serving low-income and homeless families throughout California. A donation touches a child, literally.
From Harm to Home The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people to survive and rebuild their lives. Founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein, this organization gives lifesaving assistance to refugees forced to flee from war or disaster. You can buy a card for $24 that will provide a safe birth of a child or for $52- a year of school. Talk about gifts that keep giving.
Women for Women. Org Send a card from Women for Women International, and you’ll help women in war-torn countries change their lives, support their children, and nurture their communities. It’s a Mother’s Day Gift that supports mothers worldwide.
OxfamGifts.com A water jug ($18) can help a family store and transport clean drinking water; a vegetable garden($30) can help a mother jumpstart a small business and provide security for her children; or you can help restore a pre-school ($35) so a mother can comfortably send her children off to grow and learn in safety. There are over 70 life-changing products to choose from to help a mother.
So this year, think outside the box when you think about your Mom. She will be touched knowing just how great you turned out. Charity Matters.
I happened to be watching the Today show the other morning and caught these four young men discussing their “Bucket list” and their new book called What Do You Want To Do Before You Die?.
What struck me most, was when they said they were lost until they realized their purpose in making a difference for others. While this may not be my generation, their question and the compassion are timeless.
“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.“
I thought this was the perfect quote to celebrate todays 100th post of Charity Matters. Each week I attempt to pour my soul out for each of you by sharing the stories of the incredible heroes I cover, the non-profits. These stories, people, quotes, inspire me as I hope they inspire you.
Thank you for being here with me and if you are inspired thank you for sharing CM with your friends, tweeting and liking us on Facebook. Its the communities that we build together that create change, thank you for being a part of mine.
In almost 90 posts, I have yet to take a break. How can I possibly slow down when all of you are out there giving, helping and doing so much for so many? So, I haven’t….until now.
We recently had a moment when we realized that our children are going to college soon and that this will be our last “Spring Break” for a while. So while I am re-charging my batteries I am encouraging you to do the same.
We all give and do so much, if your reading this..yes I am speaking to you. How can we keep giving if we don’t give to ourselves? Its much like the oxygen mask on the plane (and I really hope I don’t see those, by the way) you put the mask on yourself first before you can assist others.
I recommend we all put our oxygen mask on now. By helping myself, I am resting, renewing and recharging so I can keep making a difference. I wish you the same, even if it’s a moment of silence, a hot bath, or a nap. You deserve it, you give so much, so please give to yourself too.
PS. If you you read Charity Matters via Facebook, please go to our site directly this next week to see our upcoming post at www.Charity-Matters.com or subscribe and they will come to you. Happy break.