|Get the best of Oprah.com in your inbox. Sign up for our newsletters!|
August 2012 (129 posts)
The Gazette reports that Michelle Rodenburg and Tonya Dusold agreed to spend a day "plugging expired meters, handing out gift cards, leaving quarters in candy machines and buying ice cream for strangers."
The longtime friends shared how their attempts to distribute quarters at a laundromat ran afoul when people started eyeing them suspiciously -- so they tossed a bag of quarters into a basket and ran away, laughing hysterically. Rodenburg said, “It’s just so simple. When I first told my husband about it, he said it was a great idea, but that we should be doing something like this all the time. It really makes a difference. You have no idea what kind of impact a kind gesture will have.”
We should be doing it all the time, odd looks in the laundromat be darned! Because let me tell you, just reading this story on the newspaper's website I encountered another news story so breathtakingly sad and awful I felt like I'd been socked in the stomach. Then I remembered what I was supposed to be doing and came back to these generous-hearted women and their fun day sharing ice cream and coins and kindness, and my gut unclenched and I remembered, Oh yeah. Things aren't that bad. Look at that! You have no idea what kind of impact you'll have. How true, how ridiculously, senselessly, eternally true.
Read the whole article for the "Pay it Forward" twist to the 30th-birthday-kindness spectacular, and for more ideas on how to spread the joy yourself.
A Dying Wish: Leave an Awesome Tip
Day-Brightening Acts of Generosity
Her GoodsErin Flett's patterns—which she silk-screens onto pillows, bags, and wall hangings—are often inspired by her collection of unusual bric-a-brac. (Old sushi bowls, a 19th-century coloring book, and a vintage scarf have all influenced projects.) "I grew up sifting through junk at estate sales," Flett says. "That's where I get a lot of my aesthetic."
Her MethodFlett sets a screen atop a piece of fabric and, with a squeegee, rakes ink across it to transmit an image to the cloth. Flett's 4-year-old, Aryana, is her biggest fan: "When she was little, she would clap when we got a good print," she says.
Her PhilosophyThe zippers on Flett's pillows—which are stitched locally—are sourced from family-owned manufacturers. "If someone helps you make something," she says, "their energy is in it. So I want to know them, and I want to make sure they feel good about the result, too."
Flett's designs—shown here on throw pillows and messenger bags—feature everything from cheerful pups to graphic florals and abstract, riverine ripples.
Even the, hm, less-globally-powerful among us can learn from these eminent figures, from Hilary Clinton to Beyonce. Forbes has helpfully culled some highlights:
It occurs to me that these are actually all part of the same thing, basically three ways of saying: Don't put up mental blocks in your way. It holds true in so many ways, in so many different corners of our lives. Even if we don't actually want to be the most powerful women in the world. Even if our wildest aspirations are actually to be the most powerful woman within a significantly smaller sphere of influence, even if -- maybe especially if -- the people we wish to lead and inspire are just the kids snoozing in the bedrooms down the hall.
But in 2008, Perdue terminated her contract. Morison suspects this had something to do with the camera crews she'd allowed into her barns to shoot footage for the shocking documentary Food, Inc. It wasn't until 2011 that she and her husband bought 500 Rhode Island Red laying hens—and set about doing things their way.
From the start, the hens were a revelation. They batted around Ping-Pong balls and chased each other to snatch pieces of lettuce, their favorite snack. While the industrial birds had been fragile and identical, the Reds were hardy and varied, with a stubborn resistance to disease. Perdue had demanded Morison use the company's proprietary feed, which she says routinely contained chemicals like arsenic (Perdue has said it stopped using arsenic in 2007). She fed her new birds grain, grasses, and clover to complement the worms they dug up on her 14 acres of pasture.
Recently, Morison's farm was certified by Animal Welfare Approved. While she previously "despised" her work—in addition to her guilt over contributing to toxic runoff in the Chesapeake Bay, she says, "I just felt so bad for the chickens"—she reports that "these days I'm having way more fun."
Each week, we'll be letting you know about the new releases the editors of O and Oprah.com couldn't stop reading. This Monday, we can't get enough of two unusual mysteries set in Victorian England:
The Pigeon Pie Mystery
By Julia Stuart
This mystery is a delicate yet kooky romp. At the book's heart is Mink, formally known as Her Highness Princess Alexandrina, daughter of the Maharaja of Prindur. Raised by her exiled father in England, the princess finds herself destitute upon his death thanks to his taste for luxury. Luckily, Queen Victoria offers her a "grace-and-favor" home at Hampton Court Palace, a refuge for the genteel-and-cash-strapped. Mink moves to a house near the castle's maze, a popular tourist attraction. Before long, though, she's drawn into a maze of a different kind: the investigation of the death of one of the palace's least popular residents, General Bagshot, who appears to have died from eating a poisoned pigeon pie. But as Mink investigates, she finds something surprising: a group of people filled less with malice than with a desire for love in a world that offers little of it. Their longing gives them a zany wisdom that helps Mink find her own place in the world. As one character admonishes, it's a poor choice to "fall into the fatal habit of thinking that if you were somewhere different, life would be so much better. There are moths everywhere." And it's true: There are moths—and many other things that eat away at clothes and souls—no matter where one looks in Mink's world. Every life is its own maze, and escape is not the solution. Instead, it's best to find a little place for oneself within the tall, impenetrable hedges.
The Thing About Thugs
Amir Ali has changed his identity to escape from a family feud in India. He claims to be an ex-Thug, a former member of the (made-up) Thuggee cult, which murders people for the sake of killing. As such, he allows himself to be "studied" by a phrenologist—a man who researches the so-called science of skulls and how their shape determines character. The phrenologist takes Amir to London to understand how a man with a skull that predisposes him to murder came to be reformed. This facilitates Amir's escape, but it lands him in an even bigger mess. In England, he finds a world replete with racism and a white upper class hell-bent on proving its own superiority through "scientific" means. The only way for him survive is to keep playing into the story of racial superiority that the upper class wishes to promote by showing himself off as a curiosity. Then, when a string of ugly murders takes place, Londoners unite in pointing fingers at Amir the Thug, and Amir's new identity becomes a liability. Who, after all, will believe in the innocence of a "confessed" murderer when they don't know that his story is a lie? As he searches for the real killers, he becomes confused as to who he really is. He wonders, almost obsessively, "Can stories—told by yourself, told by others—turn us into something else?" His saga shifts with every sentence. Will he find the killers stalking London? Will he find himself again? It's hard to know which question you want answered more—both will have you turning pages feverishly. But be warned: If you want a book with a neatly packaged ending, this isn't it. Rather, its elliptical conclusion is proof positive that when it comes to the really big stories, the ones that define who we are, the telling is never over.
Mysteries every thinking woman should read
Beach reads you'll blaze through
A short-string budget, actors with no experience, a 29-year-old director's first feature film...and the list goes on about what makes Oprah's new favorite movie Beasts of the Southern Wild something special. Watch a sneak peek of her conversation with the director and cast to talk about the obstacles they overcame to make this inspiring film.
Tune in Sunday, August 26 on OWN's Super Soul Sunday at 11 a.m. ET/PT to learn about the movie that has Hollywood buzzing. You can also watch from anywhere in the world on Oprah.com, Facebook.com/OWNTV or Facebook.com/SuperSoulSunday.
Plenty of road trips end with that Thelma-and-Louise feeling, am I right? You know what I mean. Reaching the end and realizing how much has changed, how much hasn't changed, how much you just want to keep on going. Not in a driving-into-the Grand-Canyon-because-the-law's-catching-up way, but in a soaring-into-the-air-eternally way. But you don't, of course you don't, because your life is waiting. You know, real life -- the job that needs to be returned once the vacation days expire, the dog that needs to be picked up from the kennel, the house full of all your very important stuff that you can't quite picture anymore, quietly awaiting your return. But what if you just kept going? Well, that's what Gunther Holtorf did. Twenty-three years ago.
When Gunther Holtorf and his wife began their journey in 1989, they meant to take an 18-month trip around Africa -- an ambitious enough undertaking. But somehow they just weren't ready to stop traveling, and continued on in their Mercedes Benz G Wagen for the next, oh, 500,000 miles. This BBC News video is a must-see, full of inspiring images of the trusty car (Holtorf says he's never had a major breakdown!) just about everywhere on Earth a person might want to travel.
And guess what: Holtorf has documented these amazing travels with only a couple of ancient film cameras. Film! No blog. No Twitter. No Instagram. It's almost as if the true roving spirit, the collective unconscious travel bug, has swarmed and assembled in this cheerful world-driver. After I'd seen this video for the first time, I was walking across a highway overpass and found myself gazing at the river of cars, wondering if any of them were in the midst of a grand adventure, feeling somehow, as I hadn't before, that most of them must be.
Ten Places to See Before They're Gone
Inspiration for the Armchair Traveler
It's another glorious Friday, so we're getting out the old gratitude journal and saying thanks for...
(via Organized Wonder)
Local businesses and auto shop help restore bullied student’s vandalized car (via GLAAD)
A woman donates kidney to EX mother-in-law and saves her life (daughters-in-law everywhere have probably already heard this one--from their mothers-in-law) (via The Huffington Post)
What's literary jukebox? Funny you should ask... (via Brain Pickings)
An amazing ballpoint pen portrait—no, it's not a photograph (via Colossal)