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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Just When You Think You Have Heard It All!

There is one flood out there in the world right now that should not be contained. The Flood sister flow, that is. I feel so fortunate to have happened upon one of these special sisters on Facebook. She wrote me there telling me that she and her sisters were featured on Daryn Kagan's site (which by the way is SPECTACULAR. Check it out for sure. Daryn interviewed me when HIH had just launched back in December 07). So, I immediately became her friend on Facebook Come to find out, she has THIS story:
(Have a seat for this one, folks. Its a doozie!) Talk about paying love forward...WOW!

Jennifer was sitting at her desk one day thinking that she had not spoken to her father recently. He had been diagnosed with chronic renal failure just a couple months prior. The phone of course rang right after this and it was her sister telling Jennifer that their Dad was not well at all and was on a waiting list in New York for a kidney. Unfortunately, none of the family members were a match for him.

Something awoke inside Jennifer in that moment and she knew she needed to do something to help her father since the waiting list was 2-5 years and her father only had months to live. Since she had worked as a nurse 5 years prior to changing careers, she knew that neither dialysis nor waiting for a kidney from the list were viable options for him at that point. Basically, she could not live with the fact of knowing that she did NOT try to save his life when she had worked in the profession since that is what nurses do. They respond to medical situations and act upon them in the hope of saving a life.
So, that is exactly what Jennifer and her sisters did.

And like any other person who needs something out there in the world, she put an ad out on Craigslist for a donor. Yes, CRAIGSLIST! The same place I have bought and sold televisions and home furnishings in the past. Told you it was a good story. :)

Many people contacted the girls about donation. Some were scams, others weren't genuine donors or had medical issues of sorts. But there was one woman, who had never used Craigslist before I might add, who felt called to check it out back in May 2008....all the way out in California. (The Floods were in NY).
She just wanted to really give back (or I would say forward) after experiencing a death in
her life.

And before anyone could talk her out of it, a woman named Dawn Verdick flew to NY and started the testing process. Turns out she was a perfect match and she scheduled the surgery for December 2008 to give her kidney to a total stranger. WOW-WEE!

The surgery was a complete success and both Dawn and Jennifer's father, Dan, are doing great! Dawn insists she is not a hero or extraordinary. She is simply someone who was hungry to make a difference in the world.

So much good has come from the entire experience for everyone. Dan Flood is healthy, Dawn made a difference (uh, a big one!) and the Flood Sisters have started their own organization to help other families find desperately needed organs for their loved one.

I was thinking of inserting a statement here about not giving up. But I think the story speaks for itself....
in every way, shape and form.

Craigslist?? Proof that anything is possible with desire, faith and action.

With love,

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Puppy Moment

Ashton Kutcher recently released a video on his fan page telling the story of a woman's experience during the Holocaust. She and her little brother boarded a train as they were told to do. Her brother lost his shoes somehow and she continuously called him stupid throughout the trip. Well, turns out they were taken to Auschwitz and her brother did not survive. The last thing the woman said to her brother was that he was so stupid.

From that moment on the woman vowed to herself that everything she said would have the value of the last words she ever spoke to someone. Now that is powerful.

Two very different things come to mind when reflecting on this deep, intense story. Most obviously for me is the fact that had she known she was going to lose her brother and be saying her last words to him, she clearly would have been more compassionate and kind. This is an enormous and raw reminder to us all that the small stuff really does not matter in the end, and what matters is how responsible we are in every moment to love both ourselves and others to the fullest. This story is a clear representation that hammers this home.

Secondly, I am struck by the woman's self responsibility from that moment on. Yes, it is our duty to stay aware of ourselves and others. At the same time, we are human and make errors in our moments of unconsciousness. These moments give us a choice. We can choose to learn and grow from these experiences and perceive them as opportunities to advance further as responsible humans, or we can dwell on and identify with our mistakes and paralyze ourselves with guilt and fear. The latter in my opinion is not productive to anyone, whether it be yourself or others around you. This woman teaches us the value of self forgiveness by taking a mistake and turning it into the greatest reminder to all of us every day.

When I was extremely ill many years ago, I found myself really beating myself up for not being able to figure out what was happening to me (which in retrospect was exactly what triggered the illness in the first place!) I began obsessively reading meditation books, searching deeply for some answer to heal me. One night I came across a meditation in one of Stephen Levine's books. He encouraged the reader (me) to imagine a little puppy inside myself. This was actually perfect for me because I was so "outside myself" at the time, any human association or inner child comparison would not have worked. But the puppy was great. Anyway, he asked us to reflect on how we would treat that puppy inside us. Would we beat and kick at the puppy and starve it of love and food? Or would we treat the puppy with great tenderness, caring for its every need and loving it every second. I immediately burst into tears. I got it. I had been treating the "puppy" so poorly and neglecting it to almost a state of death. I grieved for a while out of tremendous guilt at how I had been treating myself with my own damaging thoughts and had extreme regret for things I did not even realize until that moment that I had been thinking about myself.

Then came the choice. I could continue to feel guilty and terrible for my past mistakes or take full responsibility in that moment for now treating "the puppy" with devoted love, respect and care so the "puppy" could truly heal from the inside out. I chose love. And because I am where I am in my life today, I encourage you to do the same.

Treat your "inner puppy" with kindness and compassion. Forgive yourself of past mistakes. Take responsibility for yourself and your life right now, in this moment because....YOU CAN.

With love,

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Learn From This 12 Year Old!

Well folks, what I can tell you is that you are in for SUCH a treat this week! I've recently been back in touch with some high school friends through Facebook (of course). One friend, Keith Cendrick, CLEARLY has a special daughter named Rachel. This dynamite 12 year old, as you are about to witness, has not only a heart of gold but a global vision that we all should take note of in our lives. I am so proud to know that the future leaders of our country are young women like Rachel. Her message inspired me to the greatest degree and is completely aligned with the HIH purpose to pay love forward....one heart at a time.

We are reminded by Rachel that the simplest gesture of love can have the greatest impact on the life of another. Rachel is featured here (in the middle) with her brother and sister.

"Pass It On" by Rachel Cendrick

I was walking along when I noticed a girl who no one seemed to see.
She was alone, and I was with friends when she shyly looked up at me.

Her shoulders were drooping, and her eyes looked sad;
So I stopped to talk to her, even though I never had.

I told her she looked pretty and gave her a hug,

And a small sweet smile appeared as she shrugged.

She looked down at the floor and slowly walked away.

I guess she didn't know what to say.

Later that day, I saw her again,

And I held the door to be a nice friend.

She smiled even bigger this time than before

And said very happily, "Thanks for holding the door!"

The next day at school when I saw her walk by,

She walked a little taller and wasn't so shy.

She waited for me at the door to our class.

"How's your day?" she quietly asked.

Her hair was curled cute, and she had pulled it up high.

"Come find me," I said, "when we go play outside."

At recess that day we played with my friends,
And for the first time she felt like she finally fit in.

A new girl came to school the very next day,
And my shy friend did something that blew me away.

She went up to the new girl with a hug and a smile.
"Welcome to school. You can hang with me for a while."

One act of kindness day by day

Slowly changes the world in a special way.

If you show love to someone, then they can show love, too.
Because everyone should feel loved-- no matter who!

Superheroes are great; they're fun to pretend.

But to be a real hero, just be a friend!

Although Rachel is currently in the 7th grade, she wrote this poem as a 6th grader at her elementary school where she was an "A" honor roll student as well as student body president. Rachel loves singing, dancing, acting and playing the piano. Her favorite roll was as the "The Cat in the Hat" in Seussical the Musical where she was able to do all 4 of her favorite activities! Rachel is also involved at her church where she often speaks to kids and adults about her life-changing experiences on the youth's mission trip. Rachel loves time with her family, playing games, going on trips and just "chilling" at home.

With Love,

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Generosity Of The Spirit

Happy March!
I want to share with you a tale about generosity of the spirit this week. I found this short story in Ode Magazine. It is told by a man named Yasser Hareb, Vice President for Culture of the United Arab Emirates. This is a story from his region. I think you will find it as profound as I did. What a gem.

A man knocked on his friend's door to ask him a favor. "I want you to lend me 4,000 dinars because I have a debt to pay. Can you do that for me?"
The friend asked his wife to gather together everything they had of value, but even so it was not enough. They had to go out and borrow money from the neighbors until they managed to get the full amount.
When the man left, the woman noticed her husband was crying. "Why are you sad? Now that we've gotten ourselves in debt with our neighbors, are you afraid we won't be able to repay them?" she asked gently.
"Nothing of the sort," he said. "I'm crying because he is someone I like so much, but even so I had no idea he was in need. I only remembered him when he had to knock on the door to ask me for a loan."

With love,

Monday, March 2, 2009

Will Spin For Dough!

The moola kinda dough, that is!
Hey, Sahara here! And I am participating in YAS's (Yoga and Spinning in Venice) annual Spin-A-Thon on March 29th to raise money for the Women's Sports Foundation (created by Billie Jean King in 1974).

Anyhoo, the deal is:
Each bike is supposed to gather $1,000.00 at least in sponsorship to
support the foundation.

Well, I immediately knew I could double that right off the bat...and
here's why. Because all I need to do is get 200 people to donate
$10.00 each. NO BRAINER!! That's like money you find in the laundry! You don't even have to skip that Starbuck's for this one. (I am sure many amongst you are relieved to hear that).

So, let's do it! Oh, and most of you don't know my spinning
history...because I do have one, you know.

The first time I spun was with my partner Anne. She and I were "new"
to each other and she invited me down to LA for a visit. She was so
excited to introduce me to her spin teacher and perhaps "show off her
new girl" a bit. Yeah, well that MAY have been a mistake....
Read on.

I proceeded to flip over the handle bars in the class...not just once
FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! I literally landed on the ground in front of me 2 times.
I was going too fast without enough resistance on the bike. So when
they had us stand up on our bikes, my foot would clip out and I literally
went flying. Literally.

Anne is horrified to this day that I even mention the experience to
anyone, let alone broadcast it out to the world.
But it really happened. And mind you, I am quite athletically
inclined and grew up playing all kinds of sports. So, this really was
a shocker. A funny one at that. No, I did not hurt myself,
luckily...and its a miracle Anne still chose to be with me after a
maneuver like that.

So, several years later, I am comfortable that I can stay on the bike
for the 3 hour spin to raise money to help other girls have the chance
to excel in sports, feel good about themselves, stay focused and have
a great ole time.

When you go to the donation page, you MUST put my name is as the rider
you are sponsoring so they can keep track of the amount as it grows.
That's Sahara Damore.


Again, the Spin A Thon is Sunday, March 29th from 1-4pm.
Location: YAS in Venice, California

If you are around that day and live in the area, stop by and cheer me on. You will notice that my shoes are super glued to the pedals! wink wink. I would say
the story is humiliating...but I think its so way beyond that...that I
just have to laugh. And do! :)

10 Bucks to make a great difference. I say YES!

PLEASE pass this forward to others whom you feel would participate in
this wildly fun campaign to support young women.

One more thing: Do it now. I have read in the "just do it for pete's
sake" type books that if it takes less than 2 minutes, do it NOW.
It's actually been a great tool that I have used for several years.

Lots of love....