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National Friendship Day was originally founded by Hallmark as a promotional campaign to encourage people to send cards, but is now celebrated in countries across the world on the first Sunday in August. This post celebrates the friendship of two of our favorite characters from classic literature, Rat and Mole from The Wind in the Willows.
Friends Stick By You When You're In or Out of Hot Water
Occasionally, I underestimate the amount of help I'll need for a project, and later find myself struggling. When our first daughter got married, I thought it wouldn’t take long to clean a reception venue designated for 155 people, especially if friends chipped in on the effort.
My assumption was wrong on two accounts. I assumed people would stay and help with the clean up. Our friends assumed we had a clean-up team in place, and since they weren’t asked to stay, they did not. It was my fault. Plus, I should have realized if I find a home for five difficult to clean, then a space for 155 would be challenging! Nonetheless, God was merciful and we completed the job with a few family members.
But, when our second daughter began planning her wedding reception, I knew we had to do things a bit differently. My aches and pains had increased greatly in the three years since the last wedding. I’d need more assistance on all fronts.
Three relatives and a friend were coaxed into helping decorate for the reception while another friend and I worked on floral centerpieces and bouquets. Two more families helped with the baking. My wonderful mother took charge of pressing all the table linens. Thankful for my dear friends and family, I thought I had all the reception bases covered. Right down to the servers and a clean-up crew.
Three servers were designated for the buffet and two other people were in charge of clearing dirty dishes from the tables. Two more delegates were to run the rented china and glassware through the commercial dishwasher. Impressed with my planning, I imagined a beautiful, snag-free reception.
Eh. Even the best-laid tables can go awry.
Don’t get me wrong. It was a beautiful reception. The food tasted delicious and the fellowship delightful. However, pretty early in the evening we were in “hot water.”
Even though we tried to think through all the logistics in advance, we still encountered a few hurdles. It soon became evident the salad bar and the buffet line would go more smoothly and move quicker with more servers.
The dish-washers were needed to help serve food. And later, the original food servers and the two collectors of dirty plates were desperately needed to help the initial two dish-washers.
Apparently, after the meal began, the facility ran out of hot water.
Then, after a few loads, the commercial dishwasher broke down. My diligent plan for a smooth evening was in a heap of “hot water” for the lack thereof.
Even the best-laid tables can go awry.
However, if my friends panicked, I didn’t see it. No one made the comment, “You said I’d only have to collect dirty plates—no one said I’d have to wash them.” No one high-tailed it out the back door. In fact, they didn’t even tell me about the simmering situation in the kitchen until the evening was almost over.
After the guests gave the bride and groom a sparkler send-off, we gave our guests good-bye hugs and wished them well. Then, I went to the kitchen to see if we were in knee-deep or barely treading water. To my surprise, my sweet friends—all of them—the catering crew, servers, dish-washers, and plate collectors were in there smiling and chatting away. They rinsed what food they could from the plates and stacked them for washing later, when the hot water hopefully returned. I knew they had to be exhausted. I hugged each of them and told them how much I appreciated them. They only had one request—wedding cake!
My friends could have left, but they stayed. They worked with what they had to make the best of a tough situation. I love my friends. Moreover, I must add my love for my family as well.
When I left the kitchen, there they were, already busy clearing and breaking down tables. And not just the ones I had asked in advance to stay and help. God opened the floodgates. Grandparents, siblings, cousins. My heart swelled with gratitude. Not just for the family and friends God has blessed me with, but especially the ones with whom He has blessed my daughter and her new husband.
One of my greatest joys was watching their friends. Most of them had a one-to-three hour drive ahead of them and it was already almost nine o’clock in the evening. When I came out of the kitchen to help clear tables, there stood a troop of college kids and recent graduates. I never expected them to stay.
God always takes my assumptions and uses them to teach me. Sometimes He teaches me through the tough love of consequences. Other times it's lessons of mercy and grace. But one thing I'm learning is to trust Him with all things.
“What can we do to help?” one of my daughter's friends asked.
Knowing some had a good distance to travel; I told them they needed to get on the road. They weren’t lightly responding out of politeness.
One said, “But we’re not going to do that. We’re fine. We want to help. So tell us what we can do.”
They wouldn’t budge until I began sharing ways they could help.
That’s when this mama’s heart was blessed beyond measure. Just as God had led me to choose wonderful friends, so too had He led my daughter.
It's encouraging to know your child has friends who will stick by her even when the days aren't so sweet.
It’s encouraging to know my daughter and her husband have the caliber of friends who will stick by them in the future. When they run into hot water…or out of it, whatever the case may be.
Chatting with a friend just now made me think: I am older than I expected to get. When I was a teen looking forward to the millennium change in 1999 I was disappointed that I'd be an old lady, barely able to enjoy it. The millennium change was 17 years ago. I enjoyed it JUST FINE. Ahem. What would my teen self think of me now? She wouldn't approve of my short hair or my body, but she'd like my studio and work. She'd want to be friends with my kids. She would think today's Charlie is a nice old guy, and the Charlie I fell in love with in 1980 was romantic. She'd like my dogs. She'd think it's weird that I eat vegetables for breakfast. She'd think it's cool but not groovy that I became friends with my siblings, that I have so many good friends in my life today, and that I'm this happy. All of this makes me plan what I'll be like in 2046. I'd better not disappoint me. Have you entertained your 17 year old self lately? Or your 87 year old self?
This is a page from my sketch-journal when I was 17.
This is an exciting day for me. This is the day I get to post about a good friend of mine from high school. Under normal conditions posting about a friend is a usual occurrence in the blog world. We talk all the time about our family life, our children, pets, and our friends. Today though is different. It is different because I am here to help introduce a new talent to the word, Sheri Sanders.
Sheri is not only and author, but an actress. She has performed on and off broadway and teaches acting classes in colleges and all over the country. She has studied and perfected her art and she has decided to share her knowledge with the world. Pretty gracious if you ask me. Her new book is out now and it's called Rock the Audition: How to Prepare for and Get Cast in Rock Musicals. I have to say I love the title of this book. Mostly because when I read the title I can picture Sheri acting on stage and singing her heart out. I think those who know Sheri personally will agree. But, wait, you still don't know Sheri, well them it's time to meet her!
Ladies and Gentlemen: Sheri Sander, my interview:
1) Tell us a little bit about your back ground. Where did you study your craft?
I studied acting with great teachers here in the city but I studied popular music by listening to the radio!
2) Tell us about your experience with auditions and what made you decide to write a book on the subject? I wrote a book because there was no formal training in auditioning for rock musicals. And it's something that I was naturally good at so I was happy to help the performers who grew up listening to show tunes.
3) What type of research did you do?
I watched alot of you tube videos and listened to alot of records!
4) How did you tackle the process of getting published? Did you submit to agents or go straight to self publishing?
I cold called Hal Leonard they asked me to write a book proposal. I did an I got a book deal!
5) You travel all over the country teaching classes, where are you headed next and what are you excited about once you get there?
I'm trying desperately to get to Australia! It looks-so beautiful there!
6) What is next for you? I am looking to invite producers and theatrical organizations to my rock concert in October in the Nymf festival . I need someone to invest in me. It's too big for me to do on my own now! (NyMf is the New York Musical Festival).
7) How can you be reached, and where can Rock the Audition be purchased?
So there you have it everyone, Sheri Sanders, Actress, Author, Teacher, and lover of the arts! Click on the links to buy her book and check out her website. You can check out Sheri's whereabouts on Facebook and Twitter.Add a Comment
Something that made me sad, then happy, then sad after my friend Nelson died was finding our email exchange about how he wanted to start writing again.
And thank you for thinking me a writer, or at least having the seed — I know that having the chops requires craft. And craft requires time, sweat and not a little bit of Jameson’s. I thought about what you said, though. Maybe essays would be a start; the idea of writing the great American novel is outside both my ability and my reality. I am starting to think that reading email for a living has reduced my attention span a bit too much for that level of dedication. Sad, that. But words will always fascinate and entertain me, so if they find a way to come out in a way that someone else would enjoy — that would be something. Thankfully, some of them entertained you enough that summer to call me in the first place.
He sent this soon after the last time we saw each other in New York, in November 2012, right before Hurricane Sandy. I remember being so glad he was thinking this way. The letters he wrote to me while he was in the army — I’ve written about that era a fewtimes — were a joy. I hoped he’d find his way back to the page.
Nelson and I first got to know each other in a high school writing class — the one I took my senior year that also led me to my friend Lili, who died ten years ago of pancreatic cancer, and to our teacher, Mrs. Kjos, who died of ovarian cancer in 2008. I guess this is what being in your forties is like.
Last night I dreamed that I was reading a collection of short stories Nelson had written, a book he self-published knowing he would die soon. In the dream he was still alive. Waking up this morning was the most bittersweet thing.
Centrala is a Polish indie comics publisher that recently opened a London office, which s helping their books get wider distribution. They have three new books including what sounds like an intriguing tale about two German police officers who join the Klan to make friends and meet girls, an anthology mixing comics and cooking and a book adapting a famous Polish poem about a train into a 60 foot long comic!
Eastern European comics are usually thought of as an "emerging" scene, but with publishers like Centrala and the Latvian kuš! collective getting notice, they've emerged quite a bit. Here's the Centrala books, which are all available for order.
August 2nd - also known as International Friendship Day- is almost here. (I know, summer is going by WAY too fast).
In honor of International Friendship Day, break out your half of your friendship heart necklace and take some time to remind others how much they mean to you. If you’re unable to make plans to enjoy each other’s company, a simple gesture, such as a card or hand-written letter, will certainly make them feel loved.
Better yet, say it with a book! Reading books about friendship gives you an opportunity to talk about the characteristics of a good friend, and seeing others from diverse backgrounds sharing and being kind to each other positively affects how children will interact and treat others.
Here are 8 books that celebrate friendship and some fun activities to make International Friendship Day a memorable one.
One of the simplest and most appreciated gestures is to make someone a card to let them know you’re thinking of them. Receiving anything heartfelt in the mail is a rare and welcomed occurrence these days.
Veronicahas a degree from Mount Saint Mary College and joined LEE & LOW in the fall of 2014. She has a background in education and holds a New York State childhood education (1-6) and students with disabilities (1-6) certification. When she’s not wandering around New York City, you can find her hiking with her dog Milo in her hometown in the Hudson Valley, NY.
Several years ago I attended the SCBWI summer conference and one of the wonderful people I met was Rachel Marks. Super talented as both a writer and an artist, she had an incredible joy for life, due in part to being a cancer survivor. Rachel was rooming with Paige Britt and both of them had […]
In this innovative wordless picture book with interactive flaps, Flora and her graceful flamingo friend explore the trials and joys of friendship through an elaborate synchronized dance. With a twist, a turn, and even a flop, these unlikely friends learn at last how to dance together in perfect harmony. Full of humor and heart, this stunning performance (and splashy ending!) will have readers clapping for more!
Written by Annette LeBox Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin Dial Books for Young Readers 3/10/2015 978-0-8037-4091-4 40 pages Age 3 to 5
“Peace is an offering. A muffin or a peach. A birthday invitation. A trip to the beach.
“Follow these neighborhood children as they find love in everyday things—in sunlight shining through leaves and cookies shared with friends—and learn that peace is all around, if you just look for it.”
Peace is an Offering contains a strong message about what the abstract concept of peace means for the young (and old): helping one another, being kind, joining together, and enjoying all aspects of life with respect to your family, friends, and neighbors. Peace does not need to be overcomplicated or forced. Peace is the accumulation of all the small, meaningful acts we do each day.
“Will you stay with me? Will you be my friend? Will you listen to my story till the very end?”
The children in this large neighborhood, make, find, and (most importantly), show kindness to each other every day in simple heartfelt ways. The poem is beautifully written and illustrated. Children will easily understand each deftly visualized line or verse of the poem. Multicultural children interact with each other, families spend time together, and friends stay close.
What is not to love about Peace is an Offering? Nothing, though the spread alluding to 911 seems unnecessary. The verse feels out of place, as does the illustration, which deviates from the light, airy, everyday life depicted on the other spreads (see two examples here). but for those who lost a loved one or friend, the spread may provide comfort. Peace is an Offering is a gratifying read; uplifting and inspiring young and old alike. The author finishes the poem by offering advice to children.
So offer a cookie, Walk away from a fight. Comfort a friend Through the long, dark night.
I loved every aspect of every spread. The poetry speaks to the heart. Pencil and watercolor illustrations have those details I rave about. Simply said, Peace is an Offering is a joy to read.
When life throws you down a crooked track, hold close your family, latch onto new friends, throw up your hands and find something to smile about.
While 2014 was definitely a crooked track for us, I want to close it with a look to the good. Shortly after our diagnosis, I had a friend reach out to me amidst his own health crisis. My advice to him was, “Hear the negative, focus on the positive and know that God has both covered.”
Good advice? I think so – but much easier said than done. This world screams negative. We are bombarded with the bad. The nightly news covers everything wrong with our world first and longest before they throw in one human interest story just before saying good night. (If you missed Kylie on the news, you can watch it HERE)
While sifting through the ruins of this broken world, how do we see what is good? I have seen a lot of things in my 47 years. To borrow the movie title, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. I have driven a man out of the slum of Port ‘au Prince, Haiti and watched as he was given the keys to his new home. I have been fortunate enough to help put a roof on a hut in Swaziland for a family decimated by HIV. Beauty plucked from ugly, good snatched from bad. Both started with a choice to engage.
Despite my experiences, never in my life have I seen the good side of humanity than from the day Kylie was diagnosed with cancer. The flood of well-wishes, prayers, and support for our family has been as overwhelming as the diagnosis itself. When you hear the words, “Your child has cancer,” the temptation is to curl up in the fetal position, shut out the world and cry. When I was at my weakest, I found an abundance of arms to hold me.
Friends, family, our school and church rallied to our side.
The nurses, doctors, childlife specialists, and staff of the Aflac Cancer Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta became dear partners in this journey. We also found great care at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte.
Organizations came alongside to help navigate and let us know we aren’t alone: 1 Million for Anna, Make-A-Wish, Cure Childhood Cancer, The Truth 365, Rally Foundation, Melodic Caring Project, The Jesse Rees Foundation, Along Comes Hope, 3/32 Foundation, Blessed Beauty, Open Hands Overflowing Hearts, Kingdom Kids, Lily’s Run.
We have seen built a network of people who pray faithfully for Kylie. To be totally honest, I admit there are times when I cannot lift a word to heaven. Maybe a grunt, maybe an angry shake of the fist. Without a doubt, I know there are many people praying for my little girl when I can’t. That is incredibly humbling.
Then there is encouragement and love. Kylie gets cards and letters daily. At least a dozen young ladies have donated their hair in Kylie’s honor. People all across the country and literally around the world have been #SmileyForKylie. As of today, 87 countries have done it. Grown men have written it on their bald heads.
Between Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, we have received over 10,000 smiling selfies for Kylie. Unreal. We have gotten them from celebrities, athletes, and Kylie’s beloved Broadway performers. Idina Menzel made a video. Kristin Chenoweth made two pics and talked about her on a radio show. Laura Osnes posted a word of encouragement to her. She got a box of Broadway treats from Hunter Foster. She had pics from 9 out of 12 musicals nominated for Tony Awards, and the cast of her favorite show, Aladdin have reached out to her over and over again. Sometimes we can trace the web that led to the picture, but most of the time we have no idea how they happen – we have no line to these people. It’s just good. And it is out there – making a choice to engage with our little girl in a time when she so desperately needs it. A thank you will never be enough, but all I can offer.
Regardless of your view of the Bible, Philippians 4:8 gives us sage advice:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
I’ll not be able to change everyone’s mind. You can remain a cynic if you choose to. But the things I have experienced in 2014 prove to me that there is good in this world. I choose to think about such things – it is what has kept me going.
In 2015, we look forward to hearing the words: No Evidence of Disease and watching Kylie resume a normal life. That will be something worth throwing up our hands and smiling about.
Happy New Year from Portsong, your humble mayor & Kylie
Every year as more and more retailers are opening up earlier than ever on Thanksgiving, I look forward to the P.C. Richard & Sons advertisement they publish in many newspapers across the nation at this time of the year.
I applaud them...
Don't shop on Thanksgiving. Don't fret, the almighty sales will be there long past Thanksgiving day!
It's time to take back the Thanksgiving holiday!
Best wishes, Donna M. McDine Multi Award-winning Children's Author
A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review
Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review
Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Farvorite Five Star Review
The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist
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The most disingenuous three words in the English language. Unless you are the ultimate cynic and cast your lot with I love you. I hope that’s not the case.
Do we ever mean it when we ask? Really? When is the last time you passed someone in the hall and said “how are you” and truly wanted to take the time to know how they were? I’ll bet it’s been a while.
I’m not holier than thou. I say it all the time and rarely care. If some slick gunslinger is quicker on the draw than me, I even add the oft-disregarded, “I am well, and you?” Of course, I don’t want to know.
I get these wild hairs – often they involve really stupid things, but this one actually had redeeming potential. I decided to spend my lunch hour in the lobby of my building asking people I saw, “How are you?” and giving them available time and a proper interest to see if they would answer.
Most people don’t stop long enough to notice my disarming voice beckoning them to unburden themselves. The first seven I asked kept moving and gave the appropriate return without so much as an upward glance.
I don’t believe that anyone is “fine” like these seven told me. Pawn your lies and rote responses elsewhere.
Number eight seemed to think I had serious mental problems and eyed me warily while reaching into her purse for either a small handgun or pepper spray. Needless to say I decided against an elevator ride with this charmer. “I’ll take the next one, Bonnie Parker.”
You can trap the elderly.
In walked a slow, older gentleman. Number nine. He began scanning the directory and seemed somewhat confused.
“How are you?” I asked in a very welcoming and reassuring tone.
“I’m fine young man, just fine,” he replied. Something was different, though. Before he spoke, he turned and made eye contact.
He was rather unkempt, smelled like my high school gym teacher, and had a thick bushel of hair growing out of each nostril. But he smiled warmly. In fact, he smiled all over… an infectious smiled that started at his lips, slowly ran through his eyes and worked its way off his person and onto me. I liked this old dude.
“Say, would you know where the office of Litton & Driscoll is located,” he asked.
“I think that’s on the fourth floor.”
He patted me gently on the chest with some paperwork he had rolled into a tube, like a kid’s telescope. “Thank you, friend.”
“Don’t mention it.” Judging from his demeanor, this might be my first victim who actually was okay. He might just be fine. I had to be certain, though. “Are you sure you are fine?”
He looked at me long whilst I returned my best, biggest, dopiest smile.
“Well, I am headed up to settle my wife’s affairs. So, if you want an honest answer, I suppose I’m not fine.”
Oh boy… Panic! In over my head… I thought I would learn about a foot ailment… or a wayward kitten. Not this. Why am I so stupid? All of me wanted to say, “I’m fine, and you?” But I got myself into this.
“I’m sorry to hear that. I can’t imagine.”
“Yes, sir. For 22 years now.”
“Seem young for that.”
I really liked this old dude.
“How long were you married?”
“Fifty-three years last August….”
And so began a wonderful story of love and loss.
You know what? I’m glad I asked. In fact, I’m going to break the habit of asking when I don’t care. From now on, I will only ask, “how are you” if I have time and interest in the answer. Try it yourself. Better yet, come join Joseph and me for coffee tomorrow morning and see that infectious smile.
Welcome to the first of what I hope will be informative, entertaining blog posts … a bit about me and my work, as well as conversation about the world of children’s publishing.
Thanks to my involvement in SCBWI, I’ve developed friendships with writers and illustrators from all over, from Australia to America and lots of places in-between. I’ve had opportunities to learn about craft from some of the best writers in the business. This is why – if you ask me how to get your children’s book published – I will always tell you that joining SCBWI is the best first step, and the best investment you will ever make in your writing (or illustration) career.
I may also share tidbits here about works in progress and my radio commentaries, as well as news about other projects.
Inspirational thought by my dear friend Priscilla Burris.
Mainly, I hope this will be a place where we can get to know each other, a place where I can share the wisdom I’ve learned from dear friends like the wonderful illustrator Priscilla Burris:
I was just thinking that it’s not the perfect flower I look for in my photography, it’s the perfect feeling, same with my friends, they all have little flaws just like me but when I close my eyes and think of them I only know the sweet essence of their perfection and see how wonderful life is to let me see them … Love you all !
We were seventeen years old and looking forward to graduation when it happened.
Our friendship began only a year and a half earlier. Her family had recently moved to North Carolina from Ohio. The school year had already begun. She was the new kid without friends and she had cancer.
Our Junior Civinettes club went to her house to welcome her to the neighborhood and to introduce ourselves as her new friends. We were nervous about going because we didn’t know anyone our age with cancer. I knew my boyfriend’s mother had survived Hodgkin’s. That’s what this girl, Jan, had so she was probably going to be alright.
Jan and I became good friends. We hung out at school and visited each other’s homes. We never talked about cancer or life and death. We didn’t talk about it when her sandy blonde hair began to fall out. She only asked if I’d help her brush off the loose hairs from her sweater. I did.
We didn’t talk about life and death when she came to school one day wearing a wig and people began to whisper. And stare. I just walked with her.
We didn’t talk about life and death when she grew weaker. She only asked if I’d help carry her books. I did, and when I couldn’t, I enlisted others to help. Jan had many friends. She always smiled and made conversation easy for those who dared to come close to her. A teen with cancer is a difficult thing to understand. I tried not to think about that. Jan was fun to be with and I knew she would get well.
A teen with cancer is a difficult thing to understand.
So, we didn’t talk about life and death. Not when we had to stop and let her rest a lot when playing tennis, not when she missed school, not when I drove her to chemotherapy, not when she had to have a hysterectomy.
I thought life and death were things people talked about when they got old.
Except Jan did not get old. She died.
Then, I panicked because Jan and I had not talked about life and death. As nice as she was, I didn’t know if my dear friend believed in Jesus Christ. And then, it was too late.
Sure, I had considered talking to Jan before. But, I was afraid that if I talked about such things, she would think that I assumed she was going to die. I didn’t want her to think that because I didn’t think she was going to die.
My heart grieved the loss of my friend and ached because I had failed her. The burden became too great. Before the funeral, I asked Jan’s mom. She assured me Jan was a Christian. Relief came, but not peace. I still failed my friend. I could have been more encouraging to her during her difficult journey by talking about the hope in Christ we shared. Why had I not prayed withher instead of just for her?
I was given a bittersweet gift my senior year in high school—a glimpse of how quickly things pass— opportunities, friends, life. No one is guaranteed tomorrow. No one.
Life is fleeting.
Today is the day to talk about death and eternal life.
FRIENDS!! If you are like me, you have a great group of friends. My friends teach me the lessons of life by the way they live. My friend Lucy is a servant. My friend Nancy has a huge loving heart. My friend Ronnie taught me how to draw cartoons. My friend Leana is wise. My friend Karen is my party friend, always bringing us all together to laugh. My friend JoAnn is a chef! My friend Juanita is a creative soul. My friend Rachelle is soft-hearted. My friend Lin is a kindred spirit. My friend Sue is an amazing teacher. All my artist friends AMAZE me! … the list goes on. All are unique. All are a part of my heart. I am thankful!
Last week I spent time with my Vivian friend. We were going to go visit our friend Clara in a nursing home. I wrote out a little card and tucked it in my purse. When Vivian got to my home she came bearing flowers, magazines and muffins! All were for Clara. I watched Vivian talk to Clara. She was all there, in the moment, not thinking about what she was going to do when we left. She was completely present and asking Clara this and that. It was wonderful to watch. Her heart was bursting with love. It made me smile. THANK YOU VIV!
You see, to have friends you have to be a friend. We can all improve.
You have to get outside yourself and look into their faces and participate in their lives. Lives touching lives makes us all better people.