Good Thoughts. Good Words. Good Deeds.

This ancient prayer is part of my morning routine (combined with a Hail Mary, Sun Salutation and ten things I’m thankful for). I added it after becoming enthralled with Zoroastrianism, when I learned about the first monotheistic religion years ago at UNM (I highly suggest taking World Religions with Dan Wolne, if he’s still teaching). What I found fascinating about this mantra is that it is at the heart of how we should act as human beings. Our thoughts lead to our words which lead to our actions and if they are drawn out of kindness and what is right, then of course we would treat our neighbor as we would like to be treated and we would be responsible for our actions. I remember when Albuquerque Business First amended this mantra during my A Peek at the Life article to the heart, which is “Do Good”.

It seems that this is such a harder task to live by. I am not ignorant to believe this is new. I understand that humanity has been plagued with war, death, destruction, and hatred since the beginning of time, yet I feel as a society we have become desensitized by it as an everyday occurrence, and so much so that the good is over looked. A few years back, my friend, Laura, and I were talking about this topic. As a country, we were at war in the Middle East, and my uncle had been deployed to Afghanistan. I couldn’t help but think what goes through the minds of our service men and women: leaving behind your family, friends, and community to go to what will be a hostile state (in the time of war), waking up, and not knowing if you’d live to see the next day fighting against the “enemy”. I told her I could no longer bare to watch or hear the news. Even when it was “positive”, there was always some underlying negativity. It was her challenge. She would only send me good news stories. She even found a “good news only” website (however, I think we debunked it that it truly wasn’t all good news all the time).

Photo courtesy of

I began to sensor what I watched and what I read and looked for things that made me smile or laugh or feel good about the world. I know this isn’t realistic, that there has to be the good with the bad…and many times the good actually comes out of the bad. Lately, I feel the bad is only coming out of the bad, and I keep saying to myself, “it can’t keep getting any worse, can it?” The past few months have only led me to believe this profoundly. With the Supreme Court confirmation hearings, preventing the American given right to vote, the fear mongering rhetoric around the migrants coming from Central America, catastrophic climate change with a deadline, and demonizing opponents enough to incite violence, I want to run away to Canada or actually, the Cyclades islands or Amalfi coast. Then I found this (click on photo or link below to full story):

Dad Takes Son’s Bully On “Family Bonding” Trip & Learns Heartbreaking Truth.

I found it to be such an important reminder, “There’s always more to the story than we first see or hear; taking time to find the ‘why’ is always worth our time.” Just think about it. Taking the time to find out and understand the reason people act the way they do. This dad went above and beyond of just understanding the why (really, read the story by clicking on the photo or caption below it–it made my day). This story is a perfect example of loving your neighbor and just doing good.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from an organization I’ve been volunteering for over 20 years, Casa Esperanza. If you are in Albuquerque, you may have heard that summertime weather had caused extensive damage to their roof and their rooms. For those of you unfamiliar with the organization it is a home away from home for individuals and families who are seeking medical treatment in Albuquerque. I was introduced to them when my own Great-Great Aunt stayed at the “Hope House” many years ago, when she was seeking cancer treatment. A few years later, I began taking a group of volunteers to decorate the house for the holidays, that grew to making dinner for the temporary residents, to serving on the organization’s fundraising committee, to finally becoming a board member. It had been a couple of years since I last volunteered there. After a conversation with a new customer and friend (THIS IS WHY I LOVE meeting with my new bespoke customers, to learn about them and their lives), who had a similar experience of needing a comforting, safe and inviting place to stay when seeking medical treatment, I was reminded about their vital work. She talked about her despair because they were in an unfamiliar city without loved ones nearby and the immense anxiety about her husband’s illness. Some things we just take for granted: a warm bed and a safe shelter that is affordable for what might be long stays.

The email asked for volunteers. While they were able to get insurance to repair the roof (after major negotiations), the rain had caused damage to the walls and carpet (remember, some of the residents are medically frail). My desire to volunteer in what I knew would be grunt work really called to me. After reading the email, I sent my own message asking for people to join me in some hard labor. I wasn’t sure if it was moving, cleaning or painting. One of my best friends, joined me and I “voluntold” Isaiah to join me (I would have voluntold Cati, but she was working). I got an INCREDIBLE workout that day. It was a laborious few hours. However, it felt good to go back, see some friendly faces, and do the work in honor of my friend and those like her, who need these services (Chris Ann Gray, CE ED, said they’ve been unable to provide rooms for about 90 days). There is still much to do and I have included the link to sign up below. As I’ve stated before, it is beautiful to see transformation.

What we forget is the process of transformation. While the outcome is incredible, the process is not easy. A month ago, I joined my colleagues for a team building project transforming the outside of the industrial building that houses Keshet Dance, another empowering, local non-profit that supports those with artistic inclinations. While having a small part, under the early fall hot sun (not gonna lie, it was HOT), we helped with painting and taping off the mural and just today, received the almost complete transformation photo:

It is so different and so inviting. Just think how reminding yourself to think Good Thoughts and to say Good Words and to do Good Deeds will impact your soul and those around you.

National Make a Difference Day is this Saturday. It is the annual day of community service. Grab your friends, colleagues or family members and do something good for your community.

To learn about Casa Esperanza, visit them HERE.
To learn about Keshet, visit them HERE.
And even though my KK (aka Cati) wasn’t able to volunteer with me, she is doing her own fundraiser for Street Safe, support it HERE.

And if you need something to make you smile, here’s this:

Or this:

Or this:

Or this, because you need a good laugh sometimes and some new dance moves:

And, you’re welcome!

With light and love,

Dara Sophia

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