How gritty are you?

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Angela DuckworthAngela Duckworth is a MacArthur Genius award recipient and one of the humblest people you’ll ever meet. Her first-ever book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance  went on sale on May 3 and is topping the best seller list. Soaringwords had the honor to shoot a special video with her at the 92nd Street Y. In this video she shares what young people can do to become more gritty; how parents can be loving and demanding when their children are hospitalized as a way to help them become grittier; and how paying-it-forward increases grit. Watch Video 

Find out how gritty you are by taking the Grit Score Quiz.

Do the Best Possible Future Self Exercise.

SoaringLove Message for Someone Special

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2016_01_27_13_03_27002When you love someone or something it makes you feel really happy so your heart expands with joy. Many different cultures have LOVE symbols to communicate this powerful positive feeling.

  • Native Americans consider the Hummingbird to be a symbol of love
  • Chinese people think the Maple Leaf shows the sweetness of love
  • In Norway and Iceland, the Harp symbolizes love
  • Hinduism and Roman Mythology consider the Shell to be a love symbol
  • American Sign Language has the “I Love You” sign, which is depicted in the artwork on the left.

Today you are invited to make a special SoaringLove message and artwork to give to another patient to brighten his or her day. If you want, you can surprise someone in your family or your doctor or nurse by making your SoaringLove message just for them.

Here’s How to Ge2016_01_27_13_00_26003t Started:

  1. Think of things you love that make you happy. It could be your favorite stuffed animal or your pet or your favorite toy or anything that puts a smile on your face.
  2. Draw a picture of this to “give” to another person.
  3. Make a special message on the bottom of the page that completes this sentence “I drew this picture for you of a ______________. I am sending this to you with lots of Love!”
  4. Write your first name and age on the bottom of the page.

Pointers:
Do make your picture really big. Fill the entire page with your picture and message.
Do make your picture really bright and colorful.

After You Finish Your SoaringLove Message:
Give it to someone special like your mom, dad, brother or sister, friend, nurse, doctor or another child in the hospital.

Click here to download the activity and the border.

Soaringwords Rocks International Positive Psychology Association World Congress

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June 27, 2015 (Orlando, Florida): 1,200 of the leading positive psychology practitioners from around the world (Martin Seligman, Barbara Fredrickson, Tal Ben-Shahar and Corey Keyes) gathered at the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) World Congress. What could be better than hearing the ROCK STARS of Positive Psychology at the IPPA World Congress? Dancing with them! IPPA teamed up with Soaringwords to provide a pro-social service community project – the creation of SoaringSuperhero® puppets for patients at Florida Hospital for Children, followed by a Mega Master Dance Class with world renowned Zumba® celebrities Marcie Benavides, DJ Francis, Holly Rose and Fabio Barros.

We thank Presidio for being our sponsor and helping inspire hospitalized children to “Never give up!”

May Newsletter

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Dear Friends,

I spent Spring break on the beach in Tel Aviv soaking up the sun and spending time with close friends and family. Being in nature reminds me to breathe deeper, walk slower and truly appreciate things that often are all too easy to take for granted. Mid-trip I bent down to zip-up a suitcase and pulled a muscle. Nothing like six weeks in rehabilitation to appreciate the gifts of health! Now after the recovery, I am definitely not taking the joy of movement and health for granted. Every morning when I go to the gym for my swim, I want to kiss the lifeguard out of happiness of being able to enjoy this precious time in the pool.

Wishing you the gift of heightened gratitude and abundant health and joy this Spring.

Much love,
Lisa


Volunteers for Good

We love our New York Life Volunteers! Every month they roll up their sleeves and create beautiful gifts for children in hospitals and bereavement centers. Our latest projects included SoaringDreamBoxes (pictured above), SoaringOrigami and a gorgeous SoaringMural (pictured above). We can’t wait for our next project: SoaringWindChimes on June 12. Thank you to our magnificent leaders: Nina Deal, Arnyse Black, Victoria Dwyer, Maria Kamenetskaya, Celena Thorne and Yuk-Ying Chin MORE PHOTOS


Viacommunity Day


In the heart of Chinatown in New York City, 50 of the most exuberant Viacom employees spent the day with 4th graders at P.S.126. Students and employees decorated SoaringQuilts® and SoaringPillows® with inspirational messages and artwork for hospitalized children. Then everyone enjoyed a high-energy Zumba® Fitness dance experience to celebrate health, led by instructor Thomas Estler. The day ended with a Closing Award Ceremony. Soaringwords is proud to be part of the annual Viacommunity Day and we can’t wait for next year’s event! MORE PHOTOS


Take Your Child to Work Day


On Take Your Child to Work Day millions of children cut school to hang out at their parents’ offices. We shared Soaringwords community service projects with employees’ children at BlackRock, Cisco and Horizon Media. Since hospitalized children can’t participate in the fun, we decided to bring it to them by donating SoaringQuilts® and SoaringPillows® decorated with inspirational messages and artwork. (Photo left: BlackRock. Photo right: Horizon Media employees delivering Quilts and Pillows to children at Beth Israel Medical Center in NYC).


Soaringwords + Zumba Fitness



Every month, Zumba® Instructors in more than 50 hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses bring Soaringwords’ activities and Zumba® classes to children, their families and hospital professionals. Soaringwords salutes all the hardworking and dedicated Instructors who donate their time to inspire others!

(Photo left: Children’s National Health Service in Washington, DC. Photo right: Ronald McDonald House at St. Christopher’s Hospital, Philadelphia.)

Thank you to Dahrio Wonder for writing a wonderful new song called Get Up that he is dedicating to Soaringwords! Now all our fabulous Soaringwords + Zumba® volunteers can share this amazing song and choreography with ill children around the world. Thanks to Anaya and Maliah for being the stars of the video and to their mom ZES™ Gina Grant and ZES™ Jessica Witt for creating the fabulous choreography. VIDEO


Soaringwords is Coming to Orlando!



Join us at the Zumba® Master Class featuring world-renowned instructors ZES™ Marcie Benavides and DJ Francis. Special Guest ZJ™ Holly Rose. 

100% of your ticket will fund the Soaringwords + Zumba® Fitness program for hospitalized children. With your support, we will share the healing power of dance, movement and laughter. 

Saturday, June 27 – Doors open 6:30 PM
7-8 PM Make a SoaringSuperhero puppet for hospitalized children
8-9:30 PM Zumba® Master Class

Disney Coronado Springs Resort – 1000 W. Buena Vista Drive, Orlando

$20 GENERAL ADMISSION; $30 VIP (includes T-shirt and priority entrance) TICKETS: http://marciefrancis.bpt.me

Special Guests Include: International Presenter Fabio Barros, Mother/Daughter Team Reyna Zurita and ZJ™ Janice Gonzalez, the youngest ZIN™ member in U.S. Justin Romero and the fabulous Lourdes Leon, ZJ™


SoaringStars – Marcia Graham

This month we salute Marcia Graham, CCLS, Senior Child Life Specialist at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center in NYC.  For the past ten years, Marcia has been our SoaringChampion welcoming volunteer delegations to visit with patients and families and share SoaringQuilts & SoaringPillows and other crafts projects to brighten their days. She is a tireless advocate for patients with an understated warmth and calm she learned back home in Jamaica. Marcia is a person who makes each child feel loved and supported; precisely what you’d want from someone bringing hope and healing to so many patients and families who come to the hospital from all around the world.


SoaringHealth & Wellness

 
Awe and Wonder in the Midst of Medical Challenges
Jonathan Haidt is a positive psychologist who is considered an expert on Awe and Wonder. Like so many words today that are bandied about in daily use so that the original impact is seriously diminished, the actual definition of awe means that one has to experience something that does not neatly fit into our existing mental structures. The vastness or awe-inspiring experience causes us to pause, giving us an opportunity for our minds to actually expand and grow. According to Haidt, “the best way to think about awe and wonder is as a family of emotions, but the key thing to keep in mind is that awe always includes an element of fear and dread in the face of gigantic awesome power. When you’re contemplating and processing the experience, that’s when your mind shifts and expands. And that is what I think is so deeply pleasurable.”  A self-described awe-junkie, he traveled the world researching awesome experiences like climbing the highest mountains and going to remote and exotic locales. So how can someone experience moments of awe and wonder in the hospital or during a medical challenge? Sometimes it is the gift of slowing down in our daily lives that allows us to see the power of nature that gives us a moment of awe and wonder. This uplifting transformative positive experience can create an opening to experience other positive emotions, and when this happens you could say that’s actually pretty awesome.

Touch Points
 
Contact Soaringwords to share a team-building event at your company, school or hospital. Contact greta@soaringwords.org or call us at 646-674-7105.
We have a few spots left in our summer internship program. Kindly send us bright and fabulous interns who want to get real-world experience and make valuable contributions to Soaringwords’ social media and special events this summer. Email heal@soaringwords and request an internship application.

Wonderfully Imperfect

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While dashing to the train after my morning swim, I notice a small pull in my brand-new navy stocking. By the time I get off the subway, my left leg resembles the tights of a punk-rocker. Not exactly the look I was striving for in a morning piled up with back-to-back meetings like a big stack of pancakes. The truth is, why did the wardrobe malfunction even matter?

Yet on a really small, ever-so-annoying level, somehow it did.

And that got me thinking. For some reason, I immediately recalled an improbably famous People Magazine cover shoot from 1990. Cybill Shepherd’s smiles broadly, a dazzling Hollywood leading lady right off the red carpet. However, in spite of the A-list team of sytlists, hair and makeup experts who surely spent hours creating the “prefect look” the most remarkable thing about the cover proved to be something rather unexpected.  There was a significant run in her stocking. When the actress saw the wardrobe malfunction she laughed and was not interested in changing into a new pair. And to the surprise of the editorial team, hundreds of readers actually wrote letters thanking Ms. Shepherd for presenting herself as a “regular person” runs in her stockings and all.

All of us is wonderfully imperfect, including glamorous celebrities who occasionally get a “snag.” Perhaps you can’t find your cell phone charger as your phone starts powering off just as your doctor or your best friend calls to give you some important news. Or you get immersed in a magazine article and forget that your favorite activity is about to start in the teen lounge. Once you remember that the class started twenty minutes ago you head for the lounge getting there just in time to see all of the other patients laughing and walking back to their rooms. You missed the entire experience. When you or someone you love is grappling with a serious illness, sometimes it is precisely these little daily indignations that can trigger a strong negative emotional response that can make the incident seem even worse.

When we free ourselves from setting impossibly high standards of self-perfection, our ability to accept mistakes, failures and painful emotions actually allows us to experience more happiness since we don’t let the mistake or the imperfection define us and take over our life.  In his book, The Pursuit of Perfect. How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Start Living a Richer, Happier Life, Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar talks about our own and society’s crushing expectations. According to Ben-Shahar, the pursuit of perfection may actually be the most powerful internal obstacle to happiness. In my experience, I’ve found that some of the most authentic conversations with strangers, friends and people I’ve met while spending lots of time in hospitals have been conversations where people are courageous enough to be vulnerable, not trying to project an image that “they’ve got it together all the time.”  When people share from this rich, authentic place of vulnerability, then everyone can feel a sense of relief, a sense of connection, and a sense of hope. Connections like this make us feel safe.

As human beings, our bodies are wired with a mammalian care system programmed to respond to warm, gentle touch or a soothing voice that makes us feel comforted and safe. Think of a human baby or a baby deer being cared for by its mother. When mammals are nurtured, their bodies release oxytocin the natural chemical that makes us feel safe and calm.

Studies show that people who have self-compassion are able to brush off set-backs, disappointments, and mistakes without blowing them out of proportion.  Dr. Kristen Neff is an expert on self-compassion. She defines self-compassion as “the importance of putting ourself in the circle of compassion which means treating ourself with the same kindness, care and concern that we would treat a good friend.”

Self-compassion is a way of relating to ourselves kindly, as we truly are, flaws and all. Neff shares the three elements of self-compassion: the first is treating yourself with self-kindness. The second is recognition that there is a common humanity. This is the process of “realizing how I am the same as others and that to be human is to be imperfect.” Recognition of our shared human experience allows us to feel connected to others, instead of feeling isolated in our suffering.  The last element of self-compassion concerns mindfulness which Neff defines as being with “what is” in the present moment. When we notice we are feeling isolated or suffering, then this is precisely the time to give ourself some self-compassion.

So the next time you experience a set-back, simply stop and take a deep breath. Instead of taking it out on yourself with self-criticism, shame, anger and other negative emotions, take another deep breath and give yourself a gentle hug or kind word. This simple step takes less than ten seconds and can prevent you from falling into a black hole of negative emotions and despair. The more self-compassion you practice, the easier it becomes to replace the negative self-criticism with warm and loving self-talk. In doing this simple ritual you’ll be able to celebrate your wonderful imperfections as part of the glorious, messy journey to your true authentic self.

As I got into the elevator at my office building, I looked down at my disheveled blue stockings and quickly turned the run towards the inside of my leg where it was slightly less obvious. I confidently walked out of the elevator into the rest of my day. Later that night, the tangled hosiery was tossed into the trash while self-compassion helped me keep my spirit from landing in the garbage.