Reach Out!

The isolation among us is costing us all dearly. We waste money on entertainment because we don’t know how connect with those around us. We waste money constantly shopping for our own EVERYTHING, when so much could be done without or shared between multiple users.We avoid our neighbors, why? Too busy to engage? Afraid they may want to talk again some time in the future?

I don’t think we ever intended to create this lonely, vaguely hostile environment we live in, but it’s becoming insufferable. We have more than ever before (way more than our fair share!) yet we are isolated, disconnected and in-debt with little to show for it. Our money, our time, our relationships, our communities – all these things suffer as a result of our over-consumption and wasteful behavior. The only way to feel better is to live better. And the first step to living better is reaching out to those around you.

Halloween in the Hood.

So after the jump, ways to reach out to neighbors, friends and strangers. Because the only way this world is going to change is if we all start doing something differently.


This quote from Dr. King and it has shaped my life’s work: Everyone has the power for greatness—not for fame, but greatness, because greatness is determined by service.

I love the word service, it implies on-going commitment and an obligation to those around you. Service is not glamorous, most of it goes on behind-the-scenes and isn’t terribly exciting. However, there is no better feeling than the sense of reward for doing what is right and setting an example for those around you. These big machines- schools, non-profits, civic organizations, churches – run on behind-the-scenes service. Those are the unsung heroes of your community. And if you want to be a part of the solution, I suggest you roll up your sleeves and get to work.

A small sampling of reaching out

  1. Helped organize block party, neighborhood parade and trick or treating over the years.
  2. Did on-line promotion for my international high school reunion.
  3. Organized clean-up walk.
  4. Volunteer at vacation bible school (every year, because once you’re in, you’re in forevah!)
  5. Boys and Girls Club
  6. Food delivery to neighbors and friends for births and deaths.
  7. Inviting the widower down the street over for dinner every few months.
  8. Helping friends and family craigslist anything and everything.
  9. Sharing tons of great music with friends and family to help uplift and inspire them.
  10. I always have a troubled teen under my wing. I’m the cool auntie to a lot of kids.

Taking the neph out for Pho.

You need to be able to throw some things back

This truth is stated in many different ways. Call it karma, call it you reap what you sow.  The Rev. Run explained it to his teenagers thusly, “The Lord gives to the givers and takes from the takers.” Although my favorite is Maya Angelou explaining it to Oprah, “I’ve learned that you  shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back.”

It’s that simple and totally true. We have to get out of this selfish, me-centered mindset. I want to step up and do what the generations before us have been charged to do– figure out how to make this a better place for us all and the next generation.

This is done in a million ways, big and small. The best days are when I can help a stranger, when I can extend kindness and compassion to a person when they need it most. Maybe it is a sympathetic smile, a compassionate look or a helping hand. These small acts convey that we are here in this moment. I see you and we are all in this together. Perhaps that person, will in turn, offer kindness and compassion to another. That’s how we heal our nation, by warming the space between us and taking responsibility for making it better.

Dr. Maya Angelou on her 70th Birthday

The above quote was taken from an interview with Oprah on Dr. Angelou’s 70th birthday. I have to print the entire quote, because it is so wonderful.

Dr. Angelou is a living hero and legend. She has achieved GREATNESS in her service to us all. I want to let you enjoy it for yourself, so I will resist the need to highlight the lines that speak to me most. But know, this quote makes my soul sing, it’s like a prayer, flung up to heaven.

“I’ve learned that no  matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be  better tomorrow.

“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

“I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your  parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.

“I’ve learned  that making a “living” is not the same thing as “making a life”.

“I’ve  learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.

“I’ve learned that you  shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back.

“I’ve learned that whenever I decide  something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.

“I’ve  learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.

“I’ve  learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a  warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.

“I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Related posts by Bonita Applebum

Repair It!

Return It!

Reuse It!

Signs of the Revolution – A smile and the Thanks Dude wave


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. FuerzaBruta
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 23:27:17

    LOVED this post ❤


  2. Margo
    Feb 04, 2010 @ 17:46:07

    That picture of you at the table? That kid is beaming with something deep, something happy and maybe surprised. Awesome.


  3. pileofmonkeys
    Feb 06, 2010 @ 10:30:39

    This post is awesome and inspirational.


  4. Trackback: We’re bringing back the mix tape « Bonita Appleblog
  5. Jessy
    Feb 10, 2010 @ 03:12:20

    Maya Angelou came to speak at my university in the spring of 2008, after that awful, horrible, worst campus shooting in US history that happened here in April 2007, and she was so sincere, so honest, and she told us how remarkable we were, how strong and resilient we were and I just remember being in that huge auditorium, so many of us couldn’t hold back our tears because we didn’t feel any of those things at all, but she told us that we would one day, she told us that life would go on and tomorrow will be better.

    The band-aid she put on my soul that night will stay there forever.


  6. Trackback: Words to live by – Pop’s Reprise by Common « Bonita Appleblog

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