Monthly Archives: November 2014

Week #11 – There is no (i) in “Generous”

#50 (Photo credit: Grace Church)

#50 (Photo credit: Grace Church)

Week #11 – There is no (i) in “Generous”

Someone wrote the word “GENEROUS” on Rob’s word board.  Whoever it was wrote it really big.  And it’s had me thinking…what exactly did that person mean?

Generous can mean a lot of things: benevolent, big, charitable, considerate, good, helpful, honest, hospitable, thoughtful, tolerant, unselfish, and willing.

But deep down, the word “generous” comes from the Latin root “genus” — meaning family (race, stock, kind, birth, descent, origin).  Rob definitely had a way of making anyone who was speaking with him feel like family.  He gave his time and attention to people — sometimes people he hardly knew — and they felt a kinship with him immediately.  Everywhere he went, he made himself at home…and he has often been referred to by various friends, neighbors, coworkers, and even the clerk at the food store…as “like family.”

In the weeks during Rob’s treatment (when we were still able to talk)…he would often tell me, “Grace, if I get out of this…I want to help people.”  After Rob’s death I immediately began thinking about his legacy and wondering how best to carry his torch forward.  I wrote this on September 8th:

“His life was like a shooting star…burning bright but moving fast.  For those of us who were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of his generous light…it is now our turn to reflect it generously back to others as well!”  Shortly after, SpreadHappyness was born — a little dose of Rob each week, and a little challenge to carry his happy light forward to anyone lucky enough to cross YOUR path!

So why no (i) in “generous”…?  Because it takes “U”!

This week’s assignment:  One of Rob’s greatest joys was donating toys to Toys for Tots each year.  I’m calling on “U” — Rob’s Happyness Family — to “Spread the Wealth!”  I would like to propose a virtual toy drive on his behalf.  Together WE can carry out his holiday tradition!  You choose your gift and your location (Rob chose Toys for Tots, but there are many other options in your community — a church, local foodbank, Salvation Army, or other organization).  Just let us know what you donated and where…and maybe even post a photo!  I’ll tally up the info — number, types of toys, locations — and post a running total each week, with a grand total at the end of the month.  If I have enough photos, I’ll post a collage!

My initial thought is 50 — for #50.  Whattya think Team Happyness?  Are you in?!

Spread Happyness…Spread the Wealth and donate a “game or toy” in Rob’s honor this year!  (Then tell us about it — post a comment, send a photo, or share this challenge with others!)

(And PS: Happy Thanksgiving, Happyness Tribe!  I am so grateful for you all!)

11/28/14 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

UPDATE 12/5/14: Saturday’s event has been canceled due to weather — and Sunday’s event has been moved to Hackettstown!  Amy Wood-Oblen (classmate of Rob’s) is holding a Monster Truck Rides for Toys event to benefit local families on Sunday, December 7th — now at Highview Farms — 416 Sand Shore Road on the border of Hackettstown/Budd Lake next to Sand Shore School.  Free monster truck rides to anyone who donates an unwrapped new toy at these events!  Check Amy Wood-Oblen’s FB page for details!

AS OF 12/23/14:
1. Thomas the Tank Activity Toy was donated at Dollar General in Netcong, NJ.
2. Two Lego sets and a Lincoln Log set were donated at Toys for Tots in Stockholm, NJ.
3. Two Operation Christmas Child boxes, Baby Chicks, a Bible, and money to fund Thanksgiving baskets were donated at various locations near Succasunna, NJ.
4. Two Hallmark Jingle Bell Stuffed Animals will be donated in Flanders, NJ.
5. CLUE game will be donated in Flanders, NJ.
6. Hot Wheels Assortment was donated near Stanhope, NJ.
7. Donation made to EFA (Endometriosis Foundation of America) in Robert’s memory.
8. Barbie VW beetle donated to Community Hope’s SSVF Program (supportive services for veteran families)
9. A baby doll with a pacifier and crib, a doc mc stuffin gift pack, and home made loom bracelets were donated to the Hackettstown Police Department in Hackettstown, NJ.
10. 2 stuffed horses, a Crayola creation set and a remote control car were donated to Toys for Tots in Parsippany, NJ.
11. Four wigs (along with bandanas) were donated to Carol G. Simon Cancer Center in Summit, NJ.
12. Five gifts — Mega Blocks, a play xylophone, a Fisher Price Rock-a-Stack, a baby doll, and a plush puppy dog — were donated for a sweet little girl through Angel Tree in Tampa, FL.
13. A monetary donation was made to Toys for Tots near Flanders, NJ.
14. A donation was made to Mylestone Horse Rescue in Rob’s name.
15. Two very generous donations were made in Hopatcong, NJ: Gift #1 — 2 sweaters, 2 mulitmedia pads, a color wheel, and 126 mulitmedia art set. Gift #2 — tie dye kit, package of white tee shirts, cross stitch kit, crewel kit, soap making kit, nail kit, 2 bottles of nail polish, nail treatment, nail oil, base coat and top coat, and lots of socks!
16. A donation was made in Rob’s memory to Memorial Sloan Kettering.
17. Donations were made at Toys for Tots and Bergen County animal shelter in New Jersey.
18. A donation was made in Rob’s name to Eleventh Hour Animal Rescue.
19. A $50 donation was made in Rob’s name to United Methodist Global Aviation Ministry.


Week #10 – “Gabes and toyds.” (What’s on your wish list?)

(Photo credit: Grace Church)

(Photo credit: Grace Church)

Week #10 – “Gabes and toyds.”  (What’s on your wish list?)

When Rob was in high school he took a childcare study class with his friend, Frank.  It was shortly after Christmas and all the kids were excitedly talking about what they got under the tree.  There was a little boy named Jeffrey who was still developing his speech skills.  When Frank or Rob asked him what he got for Christmas, he replied: “Gabes and toyds.”  (Meaning “games and toys.”)  Well, Rob must’ve loved the way it sounded because he asked Jeffrey the same question over and over again (imagine that!) to which Jeffrey became even more adamant in his reply: “I told du already!  Gabes and toyds, Wob.  Gabes and toyds!”

This little catch phrase — even 20 years later — stuck in Rob’s head.  It became a standard answer any time I asked him what he wanted for Christmas — but more important it was a sweet memory of a simpler time, and a little boy whose greatest desire at Christmastime was fulfilled…with “games and toys.”

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving.  There is always so much to be grateful for — and all the popular advice will tell you to stop wanting and to start counting your blessings.  I disagree.  Be grateful for what you have, yes — but don’t stop wishing for more!  Progress is not born out of satisfaction…it is created in the gap between where you are and where you want to be.  Dissatisfaction is a valuable indicator that there is room to grow, to invent, to imagine, to create something new, or to meet someone else’s need.  Thanksgiving is a great reminder that big problems can give birth to even bigger solutions.  So yes, count your blessings always…but be kind to yourself and acknowledge the areas where you still want for more.  There is great desire there.  Then…go about the business of delivering!

Your assignment for the weekend: as a kid, do you remember going through holiday catalogs and writing down all the things you wanted?  It didn’t make you feel lack…it made you feel excitement and anticipation for what was to come.  For what was possible!  This is the last calm weekend before the holiday craziness begins.  From here on out you will be focused on family and friends and work parties and year-end deadlines.  Take this moment for yourself. Take it NOW.  Write out your own personal wish list for this holiday season…and don’t forget to include some games and toys!  The kids are already working on their holiday lists…why not you, too?!

You can be grateful for what you have and still want for more…progress depends on it!

Spread Happyness — and tell us what’s on your wish list this year!

(Even better…help someone find a way to fulfill their wish!  More on this next week!)

11/21/14 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

Week #9 – Who’s ready for some “Strange Magic”?

Strange Magic 3

Hmm…. (photo credit: Grace Church)

Week # 9 – Who’s ready for some “Strange Magic”?

Rob’s hairstylist, Jodi, contacted me this week to let me know that she was remembering and missing Rob.  She shared some stories about his visits to the salon…and then she mentioned that the song “Strange Magic” by ELO always reminded her of him.  In fact, she said, it came on as she was heading to his services in September.  Hmmm…has anything like that ever happened to you?!

This story came to me on the heels of seeing the movie Interstellar…and of ruminating on my word study for this week: CONNECTION.  One of the underlying themes of the movie (no spoilers here) is human love.  One scientist argues that it’s simply a physiological urge to assure safety and reproduction of the species.  Another wonders why then, after those needs are fulfilled — or even after a death — do we continue to love?  What then is it’s purpose?

Jodi’s message was dogging me…what is it about “Strange Magic”?  And then it occurred to me…CONNECTION!  Jodi hears that song, thinks of Rob, and is instantly transported back to whatever place and time that song represents for her.  For me, Dire Straits’ “Walk of Life” always took us back to our neighbor’s pool where we played as kids…and was the first song I heard when I started Rob’s car on September 5th!  For you it may be something else…maybe for someone else.  A place, a song, a certain word or food — these connect us to people, places, and events far beyond our present time/space reality.  Little reminders deliver BIG connection across the cosmos — through love.  Perhaps that is what gives us our fifth dimension — and a glimpse into eternity!  Phew!!!  Strange magic indeed!

So…your assignment for this weekend: Over the next 72 hours something is going to transport you from the present moment to another space and time.  You are going to feel the love of another person, even though they may not be anywhere near you (or even on this earth).  Use this opportunity to CONNECT with that individual.  Send an email or text, make a phone call or reach out to let them know you are thinking of them.  (If they are gone — talk to them out loud, write a letter, or share a story about them with someone else.)  Let it transport you.  And in that amorphous space between here and “there” — see if you can experience some “Strange Magic” all your own!

Spread Happyness — CONNECT!  And tell us about your experiences in the comments!

11/14/14 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

(Editor’s note:  Just want to offer Tweet-Tweets, Yoo-hoos, Alohas, Hellos, and How-are-yas to all of you who have let me know you are reading the blog each week!  It means so much to know Rob’s spirit is alive in your life!  Thank you so much for following along and sharing this with others…and if this is your first visit, WELCOME!  We are so glad you are here!)




Week #8 – Are you a “Smiling Guy” (or Gal)?

Smiling Guy (Photo credit: Grace Church)

A Smiling Guy (Photo credit: Grace Church)

Week #8 – Are you a “Smiling Guy” (or Gal)?

Look in the mirror.  Is that the face you want us to remember you by?

In a note to my parents, one of Rob’s high school teachers remembered Rob as a “smiling guy with a friendly hello.”  The note went on to comment that this is a characteristic shared by our entire family.  That might be true…just this week a friend from town complimented me on my ability to smile regardless of the weather or circumstances.  But while I certainly can’t speculate about what went on behind Rob’s smile…I have a confession to make: I’m not always smiling on the inside!

Smiling is a habit…nearly a reflex.  It’s something you practice before it becomes automatic, kind of like a killer karate move.  You don’t wait to learn those moves in a crucial situation…you practice them over and over again beforehand.  And the more I thought about it…the more I realized that smiling is complicated business: If we smile regardless of the circumstances, then we’re not being true to our grumpiest selves.  But if we are true to our grumpiest selves, then we’re sure never to smile!  So which comes first…the smile, or the happiness?

I took a long walk on the beach to clear my head and wondered out loud, “Rob…what is it that you want me to know about smiling?”

A scene from the movie Chaplin immediately came to mind.  Charlie’s just been given heartbreaking news about a long lost love.  He buckles under the sadness.  Meanwhile, his fans eagerly wait to greet him.  Seeing the crowd and Charlie’s state, his friend asks him, “What are we gonna do, Charlie?”  Chaplin pulls himself together and bravely responds: “Smile.”  With that, they head out into a sea of admirers.  Charlie’s fans expect him to make them smile…and that, in return, is what makes Charlie smile.

Your assignment for this weekend: tackle a problem with a smile!  You can start small by practicing on a the few little snags that come your way…or you can go big and tackle that one critical moment when you are about to blow your top and lose your cool!  You may have little eyes watching your every move…or loved ones depending on you to set the tone in a crucial situation.  What is your response to pressure telling them?  What are you telling yourself?  Take a deep breath…and SMILE!

Make smiling a choice whether you are happy or not  — and you may just find that whether you are happy or not, you are smiling anyway!  😉

Spread Happyness — SMILE this weekend!  And share your experience in the comments!

11/7/14 by Grace Church
© Grace Church