Entries by Karen Kitchel

The Power Of A Smile

The power of a smile has been documented by authors and singers since time immemorial. When we feel great, a smile comes naturally. It’s an outward sign of joy, happiness, appreciation, amusement, excitement, or contentment. Scientists have found that smiling on purpose can help people feel better. Smiling on purpose changes brain chemistry. So it can be a big help to people who are dealing with depression and anxiety. In one study, researchers discovered that people who intentionally smiled, ended up feeling happy.

Ron Gutman, CEO of Health Tap wrote an interesting article called “The Untapped Power Of Smiling.”  He referenced a study which examined the smiles of students in an old yearbook, and measured their well-being and success throughout their lives. By measuring the smiles in the photographs, the researchers were able to predict how fulfilling and long lasting their marriages would be, how highly they would score on …
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Living Life To The Fullest

Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly  is an organization that brings joy and friendship to isolated elders.  I had the privilege of meeting Marcella and Scott, who are a great example of how a little kindness can help to end loneliness.

Marcella has been a seamstress, sailor, nurse, writer, and gardener. And now she is a fascinating 90 year-old! Living alone in her home in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis, Marcella takes the bus to the grocery store and enjoys growing strawberries in her yard. With all of her relatives living in Arizona, she believes “you are responsible for yourself” and tries not to let a bit of arthritis or occasional feelings of isolation get in her way of living life to the fullest.

A native Minnesotan, Marcella began her career as a seamstress working in a rug factory. Longing to become a nurse, she eventually got into a vocational …
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How Do YOU Say Thanks?

There are big thanks, like when you run out of gas on the highway and an angel appears with a tank full of gas, and little thanks, like every time you check out at the convenience store.   In all cases, aren’t we trying to communicate that we appreciate whatever the person has done, whether it’s their job or not? What we sometimes forget to do when our mouths spit out “thanks” is to look the person in the eye to acknowledge their positive presence in our day.

For the big thanks, we might want to especially reinforce those unsolicited actions of a person who saved us from a minor or major catastrophe. In those instances, heartfelt words like “you are my hero” or following up with a hand-written note, if at all possible, can create a great topic at the dinner table for the receiver.  And we’ve all probably read …
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Scatter Some Kindness on World Kindness Day!

World Kindness Day is an international observance on November 13.  Will your scattering kindness make the world a better place?  I think so.

When a trash collector finds an anonymous note on his trash cart that says “you are appreciated” how will he react? If it’s a cold, snowy evening and you come out of your office to find your car windows completely free of snow, how thrilled are you?

 It’s the little things that we do which can make our world a kinder place.  Be kind to someone today!

(Photo by Random Acts of Kindness Foundation)

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To Mentor A Prisoner

A couple of years ago, I saw a post about prisoners who wanted mentors. Without any exposure to the criminal justice system,  I wasn’t going to give it a second thought, so I don’t really know why I decided to go to an informational meeting.  Maybe it was because I had convinced myself that the next chapter of my life was going to involve delving into some slices of life of people who I otherwise would never have a chance to meet.

I had successfully added volunteer opportunities  to my weekly routine which involve Hispanic kindergartners, Somali refugees, underserved teens, and the homeless. So why not consider a prisoner as well?  I quickly learned about the high percentage of people who end up returning  to correctional facilities but also how that number dramatically drops for prisoners who have had a mentor.  I know that fear is often what prevents many …
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“One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.”

Maya Angelou, an American poet, singer and civil rights activist, said “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.” If a student walks into a classroom and feels welcomed, they have a much greater likelihood of success simply because they know they are wanted which translates into being inspired to do well.

Claudia Cuddyer, of Chesapeake, Virginia has a fantastic reputation among the students she taught as evidenced by her words: “I’ve been fortunate enough to become friends with some of my former students and follow their lives into adulthood. I think something that shaped me as a teacher was the fact that when I began teaching, I was only about 5-6 years older than my students. The things that they were going through, emotionally and educationally, were so fresh in my …
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Positive Voices: Radio Interview

I was honored to be asked to write two chapters of a recently published book “Millennials To Boomers — Celebrating Gifts of Positive Voices.”  The topics I chose to write about were the Gift of Mentoring and the Gift of Adoption. You can purchase the book here.

On September 26 I did a live radio interview with author, Cynthia Brian to promote mentoring and scattering kindness. Listen below:


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Easy Ways To Scatter Kindness

If you asked most people if they want to scatter kindness, I believe you would hear a resounding “sure!”

If you need ideas on how to begin, here are a few simple ways to start scattering kindness.

Interrupt the ordinary

Think about the people who help you get life done (trash collector, mail delivery person, etc.) Interrupt them on an ordinary day with a bottle of sparkling water or candy bar and a “Thanks for what you do.”

Ice cream scattering

While at the grocery store, pick up a box of popsicles or ice cream bars and drop them off at a local shelter. All you have to say is “Enjoy!”

Pennies for wishes

Save up your pennies and spread them out near a fountain where kids will find them so they can make wishes.

Take the sting out of sorrow

Add to your calendar the birthday and anniversary dates …
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