Every 2 seconds someone needs blood in this country, according to the American Red Cross. People suffering from burns, accidents, cancer, undergoing heart surgery, organ transplants, and a plethora of other maladies truly do rely on the kindness of strangers. And blood donation is so easy to do:
The donee is not the only one who benefits. Blood donation:
And if you have a rare blood type, you will be the bell of this blood ball!
Making the world a better place through blood donation is easy and promotes Lives Well-Lived.
When I first met Halle, she was busy transforming her classroom into a castle, turrets and all. Her students were thrilled, and she’s been creating magic at Top of the World Elementary ever since.
Hallie is a unicorn. Underpinning her creativity is clear-minded, pragmatic thinking, and the results are stunning. In her classroom, she created storable stadium seating, and when the rest of us were scrambling to organize backpacks, she had already built, painted, and installed a beautifully designed backpack storage system. She extends this creativity to her students. Last week, knowing hands-on learning is critical to their education, her class enthusiastically planned, designed, and created a mud-brick wall. Afterward, she happily shared the pictures of her messy but gleeful second graders with me.
At staff meetings, she is the voice-of-reason seeing past the complexities of school schedules, curriculum, and the latest, greatest thing, arriving at child-centered solutions. In another life, she could have been an inventor or the top troubleshooter at some big company with a corner office and all the accompanying accruements. Top of the World Elementary is very lucky to have her.
Halle is also a great friend. I saw her assist a parent in her classroom through the throes of cancer and a former classmate suffering from eating disorders. She took me to the hospital for my surgery, and afterward, knowing I would be scared, she insisted on spending the night even though she had a busy household with three kids and a husband.
When our schedules allow, we love to hike and catch up. Halle enthusiastically shares new projects in her classroom and updates me on her family. We talk about life challenges, and she generously provides some of those much-needed solutions.
Halle’s friendship is definitely part of a Life Well-Lived.
Happy Birthday, Halle!
There is nothing much better than sitting back with a cup of tea or wine and cracking a big fat, dense, non-fiction book. The reading journey is slow and labored. Looking up the Sword of Damocles, the history of the Louvre, or a Republic of Congo map, takes time. Sometimes I barely make it through 3-4 pages before falling into a rabbit hole of interest, happily googling obscure factoids.
And I’ve had so many WOW moments:
~In the Hippodrome of Istanbul stands the Serpent Column rendered 2500 years ago of melted Persian weapons from an ancient battle. This iconic figure was referenced in classical literature, and its twisted shape with the three snakeheads is featured in many old drawings, maps, and paintings of the city. Constantine the Great had it moved to Constantinople in 324, and it is still there! (The three heads are gone, but the twisted-column remains.) ~Istanbul, Thomas Madden
~During the 18th and 19th centuries, there was much speculation about Marie Antoinette’s son Louis the XVll after the French Revolution. What happened to him? Many imposters claimed to be the lost dauphine, and Mark Twain even featured a character masquerading as the prince in his classic Huckleberry Finn. This book solves the mystery. ~The Lost King of France, Deborah Cadbury
~What has directly or indirectly killed over 52 billion people? The mosquito. Even our DNA has reacted to this fact. Scientists have learned sickle cell anemia is a cell mutation evolved to combat mosquitos in the human body in Africa. At one time this was beneficial, but with longer lifespans this mutation has had dire consequences for African Americans. ~ The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator, Timothy Winegard
~The Medici family dominated Florence for two centuries. Their financial support underpinned the Italian Renaissance, and the paintings, architecture, and sculpture still adorn the city today. Members of the family were well connected to many of Italy’s historical figures: Galileo, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci. Their name also figures strongly in history with 2 popes and a French queen on their family tree. ~The Medici, Paul Strathern
As one ages, one becomes more calloused, and life ceases to surprise us. Reading these books brings back the wonder and curiosity of childhood.
With time I have adopted some rituals adding to my book enjoyment. I now read them on my Kindle because I can define challenging words effortlessly. Also, I use my phone for maps and images. (The newer Kindles can probably do this.) Funny enough, I love buying the book too, and putting it on my shelf. It’s my version of a trophy for finishing the book. Also, it can open some fascinating conversations with friends.
Exploring the complexities of this world through big fat non-fiction books is definitely part of a life well-lived.
The other day I was mindlessly “thumbing through” Facebook and saw a former classmate’s obituary. If his picture had not been included, I would not have recognized his name and would have ignored the posting. You see, Chris and I did not know each other well. We only spoke once, ever.
It was years ago. I was visiting my hometown and meeting some friends at the local hotspot. Finding me momentarily unengaged, Chris had approached the table. He made no attempt at common courtesies or cursory greetings and jumped right in. He asked me how I had done it. How had I pulled up stakes with a kid and moved? How did I escape the security and safety of our small town and finally leave? He said a lot of people talked about doing it, but no one ever did. How had I finally gotten the guts to move on?
I was somewhat taken aback. I did not know him and was surprised he knew my story. He was obviously very unhappy in his present situation and needed to make a change. I do not remember how the younger me responded. I do know I tried very hard to be inspirational, but as I recall, my words fell flat. In the end, I wished him well, felt good about being brave for a few minutes, and did not think about it again. He was one of those many incidental people we meet in life; we have neither the capacity nor the time to stay connected.
Now, reading the tribute, our long-ago conversation came back to me. His torment. His unhappiness. His frustration. But my sadness for him in dying young and his missed opportunities was short-lived. According to the text, Chris had not stayed stuck. Not long after our conversation, he had moved to Hawaii, never returning to the mainland or our small town. Chris had done what he thought he could never do but desperately wanted. He was brave, moved on, and lived life the way he wanted.
And dear reader, how can anyone be sad about that?
M.J. Minerman writes for spinsters around the world who have "not found their lids and are pursuing lives well-lived."