"As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way." - Mary Ann Radmacher
Take A Breath
By Jessica Barga, PGK Contributor
I hate to admit it, those three words that out of anyone else's mouth drive me crazy: I'm too busy.
The days blur by, leaving behind the vague feeling of running around and around on a hamster wheel. Get up, go to work, do chores and take care of other obligations; rinse and repeat. Especially during this time of year, when it's often too cold and dreary to even get outside and enjoy the sunlight, my days and weeks seem to run together into a grey monotony.
There is one respite: No matter how busy I get, I stubbornly force myself, each and every month, to attend the service project at my church. It takes about 30 minutes; you bring some sandwich-making supplies, throw together a few dozen bologna-and-cheese sandwiches, bag them up for the local homeless shelter, and you're done.
I try to make excuses: I'm (ugh) too busy. The smell of lunch meat makes me gag. I told someone else I'd do something. But the truth is, I need those 30-odd minutes a month just as much as the people receiving the sandwiches. It's a time when I can focus completely on someone else, not on myself. It's a time when I am humbled by a community coming together and the difference we can make - typically 2,000 sandwiches, enough to supply the shelter for a few days. And it's a chance to regroup and realize how lucky I am, that my day isn't made or broken by whether I receive a single sandwich to suffice for a whole day.
In today's world, it seems a me-me-me mentality has become the norm. I'm certainly not always an exception. But when the hamster wheel starts churning again, for just a few moments each month - a tiny sliver of my time - I'm able to focus on we, not me. And in these moments, I find a simple peace and stillness that's exactly what I need.
Cultivating Kindness NOW
By Molly Yuska, PGK Founder
Yesterday brought another historic tragedy, contributing to a narrative of violence not seen in any other western society. Why?! As a mother of four and a believer in the innate goodness of all people, I can't wrap my head around it, nor can I explain it to my kids. The loss of innocent young life at the hands of yet another child is not something to be explained, I suppose. There is just simply no way to make sense of it.
I'm sure in the days to come, a picture will be painted by the media offering ideas as to how this came to pass, but the full truth will likely never be known. Regardless of the reasons, it should be a wake-up call for all of us - not to put more armed guards at the door of every school, but to arm ourselves and our children with love, to fight back not with more violence but with more tolerance and empathy, so the next youth who is crying out for help - of whatever kind - gets the support he or she needs before they go to such extremes.
Regardless of the storyline that may be developed around what led to this, the reality is every life is an accumulation of moments and experiences that shape us. As parents, every day we make choices about how we spend our time and how our kids spend theirs. Things like serving others and partaking in experiences that cultivate understanding and empathy too often fall in line behind math tutors, soccer tournaments and, sadly, even video game time. As we mourn this latest tragedy, let us remember we have the opportunity to be a force for good in the lives of our kids, their friends, and our communities. It is our job to help them, guide them, and teach them in all of the little moments that present themselves each and every day to be bearers of love, compassion and kindness. If we don't, we will be part of the reason why this inexplicable narrative continues.
Share a Little Love
By Jessica Barga, PGK Contributor
If you didn’t know it by the sudden proliferation of pink in the grocery store, you would by the onslaught of TV commercials: Valentine’s Day is near. Sure, dedicating a day a year to your sweetie (or yourself) is nice, but what’s even nicer is sharing the love all year long.
To many people, the term “giving back” conjures up images of donating canned goods or visiting nursing home residents. And while those are excellent examples of everyday service, showing care and compassion can be as simple as holding the door for a stranger or paying your coworker a sincere compliment. We present a few small, meaningful ways to show kindness this month — or any time of the year.
The great thing about kindness is it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive to be meaningful. It can even become a fun challenge: What can I do to brighten someone’s day? Share your favorite ideas with us on our Facebook page, and check out our list of family-oriented service activities to see how you can get involved in your own community.