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"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything."
– George Bernard Shaw  
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  Volume No. 15 Issue No. 10 October 2018  

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Janice Tollini

  Perspectives column
  Choose to be kind
  By Janice Tollini

   Editor’s note: This is the last column by Janice. She will continue with the book review every other month, but her new full-time job is keeping her super busy.
Of all the things you can be, choose to be kind. That message keeps appearing on Facebook, often times with a story about an act of kindness.
   
   However, some people choose the opposite of kindness.
   
   My goal is not to throw anyone under the bus, so I won’t name names but I will also remain a bit elusive in my rant. There is a woman I encounter several times a week. She is mean. This woman has learned with whom she can be mean to and who will not tolerate it. I recognize where her meanness comes from and do not take it personally. I can hold my own with such people without my feathers getting ruffled, but there are others who cannot. I become angry when she directs her venom toward those unable to effectively defend themselves. She is the equivalent of a playground bully, but in a grown-up body.
   
   Twice, I have been a witness to her altercations with less fortunate people — those who clearly are struggling with some sort of mental issue. She has taken minor incidents and become immediately combative, and insulting. Picking on the weak is a sign of weakness itself. Pushing someone down to make yourself feel better is a measure of someone’s own self-worth. Others around her have a similar view and are generally uncomfortable, waiting for her to strike.
   
   What would happen if her response was different? For example, when someone accidentally bumps into her and apologizes, she accepts the apology instead of threatening to involve the police? Maybe she even smiles at the person.
   
   Smiles are contagious, and smiling activates a part of the brain called the cingulate cortex, which is an unconscious automatic response area. Once activated, this part of the brain releases feel-good chemicals (endorphins and serotonin), which in turn activate the reward centers of the brain. Simply put; smiling feels good.
   
   I preach about not dwelling on the negative, finding the positive and building on that. Here is a story about kindness and generosity that I witnessed.
   
   I witnessed a great act of kindness from a woman named Jean. She suffered from severe diabetes, and had lost part of her fingers and feet to the disease; at the same time living in absolute poverty. The level of poverty where you can’t turn on the heat except on the coldest of days. Jean was part of a woman’s support group, and a woman named Cindy was in the same group. Cindy’s son had been born with several rather severe medical issues, and he was scheduled for surgery. Cindy would be staying in the city near the hospital so she could be with her son throughout his recovery. Money was also an issue for Cindy. I saw Jean take $10 from her purse and stuff it into Cindy’s coat when she thought no one was looking.
   
   While $10 might have been enough to buy only one or maybe two meals, I know it was the last $10 Jean had. Giving it away meant that Jean would probably go without a meal. Her gift was out of sheer love and zero expectations for a reward. I later commented that I had seen what she had done, and her response was, “Please don’t tell her it was me. I don’t want her to worry or feel bad.”
   
   Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Some take this to mean be kind to others so that they in return will be kind to you, but that is incorrect. The message is to treat others as you would want to be treated yourself. It is a guideline for how to treat others, not the reasons for that kindness. Perhaps being kind is as simple as — it’s the right thing to do.
  
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  Lisa’s Almond Bars

   Submitted by Karen Wood of Falcon — Lisa is Karen’s sister; Karen is a member of the Falcon Book Club
   
   Ingredients
   Crust
   2 cups flour
   1/2 cup powdered sugar
   1 cup softened butter (no substitutions)
   
   Mix the ingredients and pat into a non-greased 9 X 13 pan.
   Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until the top is a bit brown; (Lisa bakes hers for 18 minutes.)
   
   Filling for crust
   8 oz. completely softened cream cheese
   2 eggs
   1/2 cup sugar
   1 teaspoon almond extract
   
   Mix all ingredients and pour over hot crust.
   Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until ingredients are set and top is golden brown.
   
   Topping
   1 1/2 cup to 2 cups powdered sugar
   1/4 cup melted butter (more if using 2 cups of powdered sugar)
   1 1/2 teaspoon milk (add more if using 2 cups powdered sugar)
   1 teaspoon almond extract
   
   Mix all ingredients and spread on cooled bars; top with slivered almonds
   
   ENJOY!
  
This is a random photo of almond bars; not necessarily these almond bars.
 
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