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Living Philanthropic March 30, 2011

Posted by franciecooper in life coaching, life lessons.
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Every week when I begin writing, I find astonishing, surprising and interesting facts, figures, people, places and things, but this week blew me away.
I started with the intention of writing about the rather mundane, overwrought topic of giving your treasure for the greater good and, in the process, ran into a story about this amazing guy named Carlo Garcia.
Last Spring, Garcia, who is from the south side of Chicago, came up with a huge idea.  He decided that every day for a year he would donate money to a different charity and document his journey on Facebook to inspire others to take on their own mission of giving. He has successfully done this every day for 340 days and you can read about his journey on his blog “Living Philanthropic.”
As Garcia told HuffPost Chicago, “I know how hard it is for charities to raise the needed funds for their programs, seeing first hand from my volunteer work. Back in April, [2010] this question popped in my head: How hard would it be to give to charity every day? The biggest obstacle for most people is money, so I thought: It doesn’t matter how much you give as long as you give on a consistent basis. So, I decided to challenge myself to see if I could actually complete this mission.”
Through his efforts, Garcia has donated over $3,950.81 of his own money and his blog has inspired other people to donate over $11,965!
I encourage you to visit his blog today, readers.  I guarantee you will be stirred, motivated and encouraged.
And, while I’m at it, I’d like to ask you a personal favor today.  My friends, Richard and Cindy, are in need your prayers, blessings, candle-lighting – whatever your spiritual practice might be – dedicated to Richard’s healing.
Two weeks ago, Richard went into the hospital for a hernia repair – a simple surgery that would require a one night hospital stay. Instead, last night, he had his fourth surgery and has been in ICU for two weeks. Complications upon complications have arisen and he and his wife need all the love and support we can muster.
To help you envision these dear people, let me tell you a little about them.  Richard is an attorney and a minister – an interesting combo, right?  He’s funny, smart, kind and generous, has a mischievous twinkle in his eye, a huge smile, and a big laugh. You might see him cruisin’on his motorcycle, serving on the board of a local non-profit, or proudly wearing his authentic kilt during Kirkin of the Tartans at First Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth. Cindy is a dear friend as well as one of my book club/traveling buddies.  She loves the beach and her three dogs passionately, has a big heart, and a ready laugh.  Like her beloved Richard, Cindy is funny and smart, plus she gives her whole being working in a local non-profit, helping people who can no longer formulate or communicate decisions for themselves.
Will you please join me in sending them healing energy?  Thank you.
Francie Cooper

Everyone’s Got Talent! March 23, 2011

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 When you think of talent, what comes to mind?  Is it the kids with the amazing voices on American Idol?  Is it a favorite painter like Picasso or O’Keefe?   Maybe it’s a much-loved author like Mark Twain or Jodi Picoult.  While it’s true that all of these individuals have or had talent, what if I told you I believe Everyone’s Got Talent and, yes, that means you!
Talents are simply natural endowments.  We’re all given them and it’s our job in this life is to discover what they are.  It’s also our job to figure out how we’ll use them to make the world a better place. 
When I work with clients on discovering their own gifts and talents, I often find that what they enjoy doing gives them clues.  This week I’d like you to think about what you enjoy and, by extension, what your gifts and talents are and how you can use them to make the world a better place.  Here’s a chart* to get you started thinking.  Circle the talents that apply to you and add your own.
Taking care of animals
Doing math
Helping others
Listening to others
Riding a bicycle
Drawing pictures
Creating stories
Playing ball
Using imagination
Telling stories
Telling jokes
Making people laugh
Playing a musical instrument
Playing sports
Speaking more than one language
Finding four-leaf clovers
Putting puzzles together
Taking tests
Finding things that are hidden
Growing plants and flowers
Solving problems
Helping people understand each other
Recognizing stars and plants
Designing clothes
Building things
Sign language
Now, take it a step further.  How can you use just one of these talents this week for the greater good?  How can you use it for someone other than yourself?  If your talent is growing plants and flowers, for instance, could you help a neighbor plant a garden?  If you yodel, could you take 20 minutes to entertain a group at your nearest nursing home? 
Whatever your gift is, whatever you’re called to do in this world, just don’t waste it.   It is, after all, one of your jobs in this lifetime!

If you want more information on this topic, remember to tune in to this week’s podcast on TapaPalapa.com or itunes. 

Until next week,
*Chart developed by Charlene A. Costanzo

Today’s Greater Good March 16, 2011

Posted by franciecooper in life coaching, life lessons.
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Last Friday, March 11, Japan was hit by a devastating earthquake/tsunami which has caused the loss of tens of thousands of lives and irreparable damage to topography and property.   This event, I believe, is yet another call to us to become involved in working for the greater good – a topic we’ve been discussing here all month.
As author Carolyn Myss expressed, “We learn from this event in Japan that we can be with the Japanese community of people through prayer, through email, through FB (Facebook) in an instant.  We are truly learning an enormous cosmic truth: We are one. And we are meant to use that truth: Pray together, heal our fellow human beings together, and heal our beloved Earth together. Put your soul to work.”
In addition to prayer, international disaster relief organizations have recommended that those of us who cannot directly supply physical assistance can best help by making monetary donations.  If you have a favorite, reputable organization to which you regularly donate, please considering doing so again.  
It has recently came to my attention that the Red Cross is accepting donations of $10 by text messaging.  You can text REDCROSS to 90999 to contribute.  It couldn’t be easier. Full details can be seen here: https://american.redcross.org/site/SPageServer?pagename=ntld_nolnav_text2help  
As Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist posted on Facebook recently, “An event such as this reminds us of the impermanent nature of our lives. It helps us remember that what’s most important is to love each other, to be there for each other, and to treasure each moment we have that we are alive. This is the best that we can do for those who have died: we can live in such a way that they continue, beautifully, in us.”

If you want more information on this topic, remember to tune in to this week’s podcast on TapaPalapa.com or itunes. 

“Slactivism” March 9, 2011

Posted by franciecooper in life coaching, life lessons.
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 “Sometimes when we are generous in small, barely detectable ways it can change someone else’s life forever.”  – Margaret Cho
 We all know that time is a precious commodity.  We have 24 hours in a day and that’s it.  Oh, we try to stretch it and bend it, but all those efforts are for not.  We’re still stuck with only 24 hours. 
So, why would we give any of it away?  Why would we choose to use our limited allotment of valuable hours for someone or something other than ourselves?  One reason is that it feels good.   Another is that we know in our souls that doing something for someone else is the right thing to do.
Maybe you already volunteer your time for a cause, like answering pledge calls for your local PBS affiliate, or painting closets for Habitat for Humanity.  Or, maybe you do something for a neighbor or friend – like mowing their lawn, or changing a light bulb when a neighbor can’t reach theirs.  None of these take any particular talent – but they do take our precious time.
For those of you who don’t have much time to give, but want to do something, let me introduce you to the concept of “slacktivism.”  It’s defined in Urban Dictionary as:  “The search for the ultimate feel-good that derives from having come to society’s rescue without having had to actually get one’s hands dirty or open one’s wallet.”
To be a slacktivist you simply visit various “click to give” websites that allow individuals to donate by going online and clicking a button. The click leads you to a page with ads, and the advertiser gives money (based on the number of clicks) directly to a charity designated by the site.
One of the most notable “click to give” pages, according to Slate.com, is the Hunger Site.  It says that user clicks led to more than 235.7 tons of food donated last month (3,678,968 clicks). Their early success led to the creation of several other sites, including the Breast Cancer Site, where user clicks led to 103.3 free mammograms in February (5,163,968 clicks).
If you have more time to kill, try FreeRice, an educational game site run by the U.N. World Food Program that gives 10 grains of rice to the UNWFP for every question you answer correctly. They’ve donated more than 62 billion grains of rice in less than two years.
The question is: how will you use your precious time this week?  Will you choose to give of it generously to someone or something besides yourself?  Will you join the millions of slacktivists and donate by clicking or will you take a more hands-on approach?   Whatever it is, please let me know. I’d like to share your story to inspire others! 
If you want more information on this topic, remember to tune in to this week’s podcast on TapaPalapa.com or itunes. 

It’s a Bigger World than Me! March 2, 2011

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 “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…” 
– John Donne
Confession time.  I took the day off yesterday.  It was my birthday and I just decided, what the heck, I’m going to take a mental health day.  I used to let my sons take one from time to time when they were stressed out, and I promote it with my clients because I think it can ultimately make them more productive.  So, I followed my own advice and gave myself a break. Truthfully, I feel better for having done it.   I’m motivated again today to tackle the myriad tasks of the self-employed Life Coach.
That being said, this month my intention is to focus on the Greater Good – the fact that it’s a bigger world than me.  In other words, I feel a responsibility to reach beyond my home and personal life in Fort Worth, Texas, to be a good citizen and do what I can to help make the world a better place. (I assure you, the irony of my taking a “me” day during Greater Good month is not lost on me.)
But why bother?  Here are a few less-than-altruistic reasons I came up with and I encourage you to add your own thoughts and reasons to this list:
1) Volunteers usually enjoy themselves while giving to others.  Positive psychology studies show that volunteers have greater life satisfaction.  Other solid research indicates volunteers live longer, are in better health, have lower rates of depression and less heart disease. Wow!
2) Volunteering offers a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives.  Contributing to others fulfills a critical need for our own self-expression in the world.
3) Many people volunteer to gain valuable new experience in a certain field and pay their dues for developing expertise and career advancement opportunities.
So, what’s stopping you?  In this big ol’ world, surely there’s someone or some cause you can support by giving part of your time.  Identify one.  Pick up the phone or shoot them an email to find out how you can be involved.  Let me know what you decide.  Maybe I can join you and together we can multiply the ripple effect thousand-fold!

Until next week,

Life Coach Francie Cooper
P.S.  Don’t forget that my TapaPalapa podcast with fellow Coach Steve Coxsey is now on itunes too!  You can now find us either way.  Just click on one of these links!