Daymaker - a person who performs acts of kindness with the intention of making the world a better place.
~ David Wagner
, author of Life as a Daymaker; how to change the world by making someone's day ~

DayMaker - any thought, word, or deed that spreads happiness, compassion, or fruitful ideas.
~ Annis Cassells ~

Friday, May 27, 2011

Memories of Ms. Ruthie

Ruth Lucile Cassells, July 5, 1920 - May 31, 2003

When we grew up in Detroit in the 1950s, our friends thought the Cassells kids had “the coolest” mom. My buddy Saundra and I have reminisced about the times my mother took us to the frenzied  Rock & Roll shows that were popular in those days.  Mom was right beside us as we found our thrill on Blueberry Hill with Fats Domino, did the twist with Chubby Checker,  and were all shook up with Elvis.  Saundra said, “We all wanted your mother.” 

Of course, to her own three kids, she was just “Mom”. We knew without a doubt that she would be at home when we came running in after school. She often had a plate of cookies or a cake sitting on the yellow Formica kitchen table, and the television was always tuned to the channel for Mickey Mouse Club. 

Mom was visible around our school, Marcy Elementary. She donated her time to work on PTA projects and hold an office. Several years, when the sixth-grade classes went on their annual camp outing, she was part of a crew of PTA moms who became the camp cooks.

We grew up listening to country music, cleaning our plates, having our English corrected, and saying “Yes, m’am,” "please," and "thank you." She was a patient, loving teacher, giving Tom, ReeniĆ© and me enough responsibility so we could become independent but still enjoy our childhood. And, by her example, she taught us how to grow up to be good, strong, respectful people. 

She was Mommy, Mama, Mom, and Granny before my middle adulthood, when I started calling her Ms. Ruthie while we were on a cross-country road trip. I’d flown back to Detroit to drive with her to her new home in California. Along the way we visited relatives and did some sight-seeing. And, most importantly, we became reacquainted as adults. That journey was a turning point, the transition of our relationship from mother-daughter to mother-daughter-friends.  

Once she arrived on the Bakersfield scene, Ms. Ruthie became everybody’s Mama. She was a "cool Granny," ready for whatever new adventures came along:  trying Mexican food, wine tasting, taking a train trip to visit her granddaughters, riding her three-wheeled bike around town, and  jumping on the back of my motorcycle for her 80th birthday ride.

There is never enough time with the people whom we love. But, I am eternally grateful for every one of those days and years, time well-spent, with Ms. Ruthie, my mother, my friend.
 ~ xoA ~

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ahhh, Massage

Before sinking into “the zone” while on the massage table recently, I remembered the first time I’d tried massage. My friend Madeline and I were visiting my daughter Amina in the Bay Area. Amina encouraged us to try it at the nearby massage institute, where she’d been training. It was heaven at first touch.

Since then, I’ve had massages all over the world. When staying with my daughter Asila in North Carolina, I make sure to get scheduled for a massage with Laura at Hands-on Health. That’s the massage that has set the standard all others must meet. I’ve been massaged while on safari in Tanzania and on a boat on the Yangtze River in China.

In Chongqing, famous for its foot massages, our tour guide took us to a massage establishment. Nine of our group members congregated in one room and enjoyed the attention of our own personal massage therapist, who kneaded and chopped our shoulders and backs while our feet were readied by steeping them in a tub of hot tea.

Massages come in a variety of flavors, too. Once, I had a chocolate massage in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. And, in Cuzco, Peru, the massage therapist came to our room and brewed a hot herbal tea in which she soaked towels that she laid on my back before beginning to work the muscles.

More than luxurious pampering, massage therapy brings health benefits. I’ve heard from therapists and read articles about such notable effects as reduced stress, lowered blood pressure, pain relief, and increased circulation to provide more oxygen to the vital organs.

I may wince a little when Michelle, of Body XChange, hits some of those muscle knots, but I feel the stress melt away and have been known to produce a gentle snoring noise while on her table. Besides being pampered and taking time for myself, my plan is to get regular massages just for the health of it. I’m already scheduled for another of Karen McGuire’s deep, therapeutic massages the first week I’m in Coos Bay. Yea!

What pampering are you doing for yourself?
~ xoA ~

Monday, May 9, 2011

Raise your Hand

Just last week, I took part in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in Bakersfield. Our amazing, dedicated ten-woman team contributed over $34,450 to the more than $2 million dollars the event raised. We were proud as can be, and the euphoria that broke out when the total was announced pumped us up even more. There was jumping, screaming, hugging, back-clapping, and the prevailing yell, “We DID it!” Already united in the cause, our feelings of one-ness intensified in those moments.

There’s something magical about working on a project to help others. We feel we can make a difference in our community and in the world. Some are making that difference as they volunteer at homeless shelters or food banks. Some tutor in community adult literacy projects. 

Within their organizations, some find ways to provide opportunities for under-served populations. My AAUW branch sponsors several girls who are entering 8th grade at Tech Trek, a week-long, residential science and math camp held on the CSU Fresno campus. 

Supported by their workplace values of community involvement, some employees mentor youngsters through local schools or other community activities.

Hands fly up in classrooms when the teacher says, “I need a volunteer.” It’s our nature, even as children, to help. We want to be a part of something outside of ourselves.

In varying degrees, we all crave the feeling of community, of belonging, of being valued. When we contribute our time and effort to a cause, we give and we receive.

Tell us about a way you’ve become involved in your community. Seeing what you’re doing may urge others to action.
~ xoA