Random Acts of Kindness

The Infinite Smile Project is an amazing program that aims to bring a bit of joy and happiness into the world through acts of kindness. So when they contacted me a few weeks ago about joining their initiative as a Kindness Crusader, I knew I had to say yes. After all, who doesn’t like spreading a little cheer around?

random acts of kindness

To be honest, my reasons for jumping on the kindness bandwagon go a bit deeper than merely trying to spread the smiles around. Much like everybody else, my family has faced many difficult times of adversity and illness. I’ve lost many relatives to cancer and other diseases. But it has been during those harsh times that I have also witnessed the outpouring of generosity and kindness from family members, acquaintances and strangers.

When my father faced his battle with cancer it was his community that rallied around him. They even organized a fundraiser to help with his medical and travel expenses. Battling cancer is not cheap. My family has been so lucky to be on the receiving end of such kindness.

It is my hope to fill my heart and life with as much generosity and love that has been shown to my family. And it is my belief that even the smallest act of kindness can have enormous effects.

My Kindness Crusade

care packages for the homeless, random acts of kindness

After enlisting as a Kindness Crusader, I quickly decided that I wanted to share my Kindness Wand with the homeless here in San Antonio by giving them care packages. I included basic essentials such as toothpaste, a toothbrush, deodorant, and 2 in 1 shampoo/conditioner. I also added snacks, wet wipes and a mini first aid kit. And of course a cold bottle of water is a must in this Texas heat!

I really enjoyed handing out these care packages. I know it’s not much, but it’s nice to be able to help even a little. And it’s actually nice to just sit and talk to some of the people. It’s amazing what stories people will share with you if you are just willing to listen. So I plan to continue making these care packages throughout the year. And in the winter, I’ll add some cozy socks for warmth. Again, it’s not much, but it’s something.

Homeless care packages

Homeless, acts of kindness

homeless, kindness is the new cool

Making these packages really showed me how lucky I am. I might not be rolling in the money, but I do have a roof over my head, food to eat and clean water to drink. Many people don’t have any of those things. Those of us that do often take it for granted, which is why it’s so easy for us to overlook the homeless or ignore the issues in undeveloped countries. But if we all just took a little bit of time to help those less fortunate than us or those who are going through a difficult time, we could actually make a difference in the world one act of kindness at a time. And it just might teach us to appreciate everything we have in our lives. And, more importantly, to appreciate each other.

For more information on the Infinite Smile Project click here.

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Why You Should Give In To Wanderlust

wanderlust, say yes to travel, travel, why you should travel

Wanderlust is the strong desire to travel the world. A desire I know too well. It courses through my veins, fills my dreams and leaves me longing for places I’ve never been and people I’ve never met. And once you’ve been bitten by the travel bug, there’s no going back.

There are few things in life, like travel, that can dramatically turn your perception of the world and of yourself upside down and inside out. It gets inside you and unravels everything you thought you knew. Your world, as you know it, will never be the same.

History will come to life through the rubble of ancient ruins and the old, worn down streets of cities. Opposing cultures will force you to take a look at your own culture, beliefs and lifestyle. The struggles in other nations will open your eyes to the things you take for granted and the insignificance of many things that you once held so dear. You’ll gain an appreciation for the diversity across the globe. And each experience will help you evolve into a well-rounded and knowledgeable human being.

So don’t try to fight your wanderlust. Give in to it every once in a while. Take a journey. Have an adventure. And learn a little bit about yourself in the process.

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Divergent Movie Review

Divergent movie review, Divergent

The movie Divergent opened in theaters in March to an abundance of excited fans waiting to see the story unfold (and perhaps a little eye candy) on the big screen. Together those fans would help secure the number 1 spot for Divergent during its opening weekend. It has since been released on DVD and continues to get noticed by many fans across the world. So it’s about time that I offered up my humble opinion on this film.

Divergent, based on the best-selling YA novel by Veronica Roth, focuses on life in a dystopian society where people are divided into 5 factions: Abnegation, the selfless, community-service oriented group that maintains all political offices; Erudite, the smarties who are the scientists, computer programmers and inventors of the bunch; Amity, the peaceful farmers; Candor, the outspoken, brutally honest lawyers and judges; and Dauntless, the risk-taking and adventurous individuals who provide quasi-military protection for the community. Upon reaching the age of 16, each member of the community must choose the faction in which they will live out the rest of their lives.

Tris, the main character played by Shailene Woodley, discovers that she does not fit into one perfect category. In fact, she is what they call Divergent, exhibiting traits from several factions. Because Divergents cannot be so easily controlled or predicted, they are perceived as a danger to society, which in turn places them in danger. The story takes us on Tris’ struggle to fit into the Dauntless faction, while keeping her secret and getting closer to her mentor, Four (Theo James).

After devouring the series in 2 sittings, I was eager to see the story come to life. However, I was gravely disappointed with the results. While the movie did its best to develop the story, I fear that bad casting choices and changes to the plot may have affected the quality of the film. In the books, Tris’ character is constantly described as being small and petite. This trait enables her to strategically pull the weak, little girl card when she needs to, while also causing others to underestimate her. It’s essential to her interaction with other characters, as well as her own psyche. In contrast, Shailene Woodley is 5’8 with long legs and a definite height advantage over her character’s best friend, Christina (Zoë Kravitz), who is supposed to be the tall lanky one. This height swap alters the dynamic between these two characters losing a little bit of the book in the process.

Theo James, on the other hand, was perfectly cast for the role of Four. And I don’t think the screaming teen girls had any problem with his addition to the movie, which provided a nice amount of eye candy for the hormonal masses and adults alike. However, I did feel that the chemistry between Shailene and Theo was a bit lacking, but that could have been more of an issue with the script than their acting.

Because the script left out scenes between Tris and Four and altered others, their relationship felt rushed and a bit forced on the audience. There was no build up or evolution between the two characters. While the stoic nature of the characters is central to their story, it also does not translate well on to the big screen. In the books, you have Tris’ inner dialogue to fill in significant details such as how she is feeling and her nervousness around Four. However, there is no way to truly demonstrate this on film.

Overall, I was disappointed that the movie did not remain as close to the book as I would have liked. Altering the dynamic between characters, leaving others out, and changing scenes completely (no spoilers for you!) slightly skewed the development of the characters and the plot. I’m not quite sure where they will take the next installment of the series, but I hope it’s a much better adaptation than the first one.

Did you see the Divergent movie? What were your opinions of the film and its cast?

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