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Sunny Star: Lindsay Baxter

It is such a pleasure to introduce this week’s Sunny Star, Lindsay Baxter. You know how much I love community service and Lindsay shares this passion with me, along with many of you. Even though Lindsay is only 18, she has already created a charity, Knit with Love, where she donates hundreds of hand knitted scarves and beanies to not only people living in America, but to people all around the world.
Here is Lindsay’s website:
Do you want to help? Whether you knit or not, you can send not only knitted items, you can also donate knitting utensils and yarn. Or you can send financial donations–it is tax deductible! I encourage you not only knit with love, but to help with happiness by sending these donations to: Knit With Love, 32565 Golden Lantern, Suite B, # 190, Dana Point, California 92629.
Here is my interview with Lindsay:
1. You founded the organization Knit with Love, which donates scarves and beanies to people around the world. What inspired you to start this project and how much happiness has this brought you?
LB: I learned to knit when I was around 12 and started off just knitting a few scarves every once in a while. When my grandmother got cancer a couple of years later and was going through chemo I decided to knit her a beanie. Once I saw how much she loved it, I wanted to give out more knit items to people in need. A couple of days before Christmas in 2008 I went to Skid Row in Los Angles to give out scarves and beanies to homeless people on the streets. They were all so appreciative of the items and I loved how happy it made them that I’ve just continued from there to give out more items to more people.
2. What is your happiest memory from Knit with Love?
LB: My happiest memory is that day at Skid Row because it was my first time giving these items out to people and I wasn’t sure how receptive they would be. I was scared at first to approach people, but I ended up meeting a lot of really kind people and it was an amazing feeling to bring so much happiness to them, especially right before Christmas. 
3. How do you think you bring happiness to others with your organization?

Wearing his new knitted beanie!

LB: Most of the places I donated the knitted items to are out of state or out of the country so I don’t get to pass them out myself. Each time I get the pictures back from the people who went on the trips, and I get to see the huge smiles on the faces of those who received the items, I can tell how happy those people are to receive these gifts. 

4. What has been your greatest challenge and how did you overcome this?
LB: When I initially started this charity I was planning on focusing primarily on homeless people and cancer patients in the U.S.. I had a very difficult time donating to hospitals though because they have such strict policies on what they can accept since they have very sick people. I have had to transition to mainly overseas impoverished people and homeless people here because of this. I still try to donate to hospitals and sick people when possible, but unfortunately it isn’t as often as I would like. 
5. What would you tell teens who want to get more involved but don’t know how?
LB: There are so many ways for teens to find opportunities to get involved in. There are community service search engines where you can find activities you like in your area. I also did a lot of volunteering with programs through my high school. It’s important to try a lot of different things out until you find something you really love. 
Keep shining,
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

The Sunny Set: #268

I’ve been a Disney fanatic my entire life. I think I’ve been to Disneyland over 30 times and I’ve also gone to Disney World and even Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, when I went on the Disney Cruise with my family. It’d be a dream come true to work for Disney someday; I’d love to dance in the parades as Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella. As she says, “a dream is a wish your heart makes…”
That’s why I am absolutely thrilled about this week’s goal, which a friend of mine suggested to me:
#268: Run the Disney World half marathon.
This sounds like a dream come true! I’ve never been much of a runner until recently but I think this would be the experience of a lifetime. Participants get to run through the Magic Kingdom and Epcot; donning Minnie Mouse ears, Goofy hats, or whatever Disney character garb strikes your fancy. Where do I sign?
But a lot will have to happen in order for me to accomplish this goal. The race is on January 8 (which is during the school year) and I’d have to fly out to Florida. Hopefully it would become either a family or a friend trip–so if any of you would like to join me–I’d love to have you come along! Also, the race costs $135 to participate and then there’s the cost of airfare and a hotel. So there will definitely need to be a family chat regarding this new project. Oh yeah, and then I will need to have a training schedule; right now it’s an accomplishment to run 3 miles let alone 13. So if any of you have a workout routine you’d like to share–I’ll all Mickey Mouse ears!
Click here if you’d like to go to the official website.
What goal will you work on this week?
Keep shining,
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

Wishing our Lives Away

I know I’ve been guilty of it. We’ve all made comments like, “I can’t wait for the weekend,” “I can’t wait for finals to end,” or “I’ll be happy as soon as this is over with.” We often put off our happiness, instead of enjoying it in the present moment. But I believe that we have the opportunity to be happy every moment of every day; no matter what our external circumstances are. There will always be another test, another illness, or another unfortunate situation. But why should our happiness have to come in spurts? I think true happiness is finding the resilience and the determination to be optimistic no matter what situation you’re in.
With a new school year starting, I’ve already seen some Facebook statuses saying, “Only 175 days to go…” Why count away your life like that? Those 175 days will be filled with amazing adventures and they will lead to stronger friendships–maybe even a new, loving relationship.  Sure, there will be challenging essays to write and math tests to pass, but but don’t let a calculus equation or A Tale of Two Cities steal your happiness. Don’t see them as simply hoops to jump through, either. Instead, think about how many great things happened to you this past year and how many wonderful things will happen to you this year; “these are the days that we must savor” as Van Morrison sang. So here are five ways to be happy right here, right now.
5 Ways to Enjoy Your Life Today:
1. Don’t count : Try to not count the months, days, or hours. This will only make you dread your circumstances even more and doing this prevents you from being “in the moment.” I’ll be the first to admit that this is hard for me (especially since I love statistics) but make an honest effort to “be here.”
2. Write your 5 Daily Gratitudes: Even in the most dire of situations there is always something to be thankful for. Latch on to that; it will help you get through a tough time.
3. Put it in perspective: Look around you and ask the age-old question, “Would I want to trade lives with anyone else?” Most people’s answers to that question is a blatant NO. I’ll bet that there is something absolutely remarkable about your life that you wouldn’t trade for the world.
4. Connect with people: Make an honest effort to get to know the people who are in the same situation as you. There can be great camaraderie when you are sharing a life experience with someone.
5. Celebrate your past: Even if you had a painful childhood or a rough adolescence, appreciate how the experience made you a better, stronger person. Every life experience has something to offer us; all we have to do is ask ourselves, “What did I learn from this?”
Keep shining,
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
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