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Sunny Star: Amanda Fisch

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I wanted to introduce a Sunny Star who is one of the most giving people I know. Amanda Fisch is a truly selfless person. Not only does she volunteer with LA Team Mentoring, she is also a wonderful friend who is always ready to share a kind word. Hearing her tell her story reminds me of how much happiness we gain from helping others and how much happiness we can give to others through service. I hope that Amanda’s words will inspire you to give back in your own special way!
1. You recently started working with LA Team Mentoring. How has the experience already brought you happiness?
One of the most amazing things that happened in the first week of mentoring was when I was able to get the kids excited about school. You see, middle schoolers are right between the stages of I-like-candy-and-games-and-being-silly and I’m-too-cool-for-that-stuff. To be able to pull out their inner child and watch them go beyond the wall of ‘cool’ and put themselves out there and actually take a leadership role was exciting. Also, it was great to know that I had already made a difference in the short time I spent with the kids. One little boy asked me if I was going to be there for the entire year, and I responded truthfully and said that I might have to switch schools at Christmas time. He looked at me with sad eyes and said, “So we only get to see you five more times?” Although my heart broke when I had to say ‘yes,’ it also brought me great happiness to see that these kids had already decided they liked me and wanted me around. They allowed themselves to open up to me, and trust me not to make fun of them for participating.
2. How do you think being a mentor will bring happiness to a child’s life?
I think that one of our core needs as humans is to have people that care about us and are there for us, and that is what mentoring can bring to a child. Many of these kids don’t have a stable home life, and many of their parents are working so hard that they cannot always give them the time and attention that they desire. So we can fill that role, and send them the message that they ARE worthy of our time, they ARE special, and they CAN do something amazing in their lives. We give them support that they may not get anywhere else, and have tons of fun in the process!
3. What do you think is the greatest challenge facing children these days?
Like I said above, kids now-a-days are being raised by very busy parents. Many people work multiple jobs just to make the ends meet, especially in the communities that we are reaching out to. So I think many of these kids are raising themselves, or are being raised mostly by older siblings. This doesn’t create a ton of stability in their lives. Parents can love their kids til the ends of the earth, but kids need time. They need attention. And sometimes that just isn’t available to them. I also think that kids are growing up entirely too fast. They watch TV and movies that tell them to act like adolescents, and most of them are barely 12. They have lived tough lives, with the media dictating how they SHOULD act and SHOULD dress, without giving them the opportunity to just play games and be silly.
4. How do you think we can help these children lead happier lives?
I think we can help these kids lead happier lives by showing them that it’s ok to be ‘uncool’ and involved. One of the things that I joked about with the kids was that I am a total nerd. At first, they were like, “But you don’t look like a nerd, nerds are lame!” That gave me the perfect opportunity to say, “No way! Nerds are awesome!” and offer a different definition of ‘nerd’ than what they see in the media. We can show them that it’s okay to be smart, to play games, to be happy. We can show them the love and attention that they crave, and guide them along the path to teenage-hood.
5. How do you think children can affect your happiness along with other young adults?
I think everyone should hang out with kids. Kids have so much potential for greatness. In every one of those kids, I could see a light that hadn’t yet been blown out by hard times. Most of these kids come from less than ideal home situations, but once they let me in and accepted me as a friend, I could see innocence and the hope that they carried. We as college students get so wrapped up in grades, classes, outside activities, etc. that we don’t stop to think about how far we have truly come. One of the kids looked at me and said, “You’re old,” and it made me really think about that concept. We should treasure our children and learn from them, and be excited for their potential for greatness, because we were just there. We were just in their shoes, and look at us now! They can remind us of a time that was less stressful, less complicated. And by inspiring greatness in them, we can in turn be inspired by their enthusiasm.
Keep shining,
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

The Sunny Set: #193

Most of us have so many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. We have a roof above our head, clean clothes to wear, and a nice family who loves us. Of course, everyone has a personal story, but my heart goes out to the people who won’t have a family to spend Thanksgiving with, or even any food for that matter. This time of year is a time of giving, gratitude, and thoughtfulness, and that is why I want to make a special effort this week to accomplish Sunny Set Goal…
#193: To feed the homeless at a shelter on Thanksgiving.
I’m not exactly sure where to find such a shelter but I know my cousins might want to help me out with this. Last year we brought food to families on Christmas Eve and we really enjoyed the experience. I have realized what a blessing it is that my family and I can gather together and enjoy a nice meal together; which is something that I took for granted before. So now it is time that we pass on some of that joy to others this year. I hope that you personally have a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you may want to help someone out in their time of need during this holiday season.
Luke 12:48: “To whom much is given, much is expected.”
Keep shining,
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

It's Turkey Time!

With Thanksgiving on the horizon, I’ve got food on the brain, especially for pumpkin pie. As obvious or silly as it may seem, food gives us a great amount of happiness (when in moderation at least). I especially love food because it is best when shared with family and friends; it is the perfect excuse to gather together. Of course, on the flip side, food can sometimes give us a great deal of unhappiness in the long run when we’ve eaten too much of it or not the healthiest of it. It’s similar to the theory of the grasshopper vs. the ant, which you can read more about here. So with Turkey Time on the horizon, I thought I’d share some happiness tips so that you can enjoy each bite without falling asleep on the table from all that tryptophan.
Food for Happiness:
1. Savor each bite: Actually taste what you’re eating. Be sure to enjoy the first few bites because those are the best.
2. Don’t make excuses just because it’s a holiday: Just like on Black Friday, all hell can break loose on the dinner table when we think we have a special reason to eat enough for a small village in one sitting. Remember that you’re eating for one, not for ten.
3. Realize what you’re really there for: To be thankful. During the meal, go around the table and have each person explain one thing they are thankful for. We have started this tradition in my family and it’s my absolute favorite part of the meal. Sorry, stuffing, you lose.
4. Seconds: Okay, it’s Thanksgiving. You should have more if you want more. But that doesn’t mean you should go back for fifths!
5. Pick your favorite: If you have an especial edible that you particularly enjoy, then make room for that. You know what I’m thinking by now…pumpkin pie, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin pie. Not sure why I’m on such a kick with that this year.
6. Move it: If you’re worried about the one pound you may gain (as studies show), then hit the gym while that turkey slow cooks in the oven. Let the Rockettes in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade inspire you!
More Thanksgiving treats and tips to come for this week! I absolutely love this time of year and I hope you do as well! It’s hard not to be happy when we have the opportunity to celebrate with our loved ones. Happy eating my friends; although I’m sure it’s not too happy for the 45 million turkeys that will be eaten this Thanksgiving. Gobble, gobble? More like yummy, yummy.
Keep shining,
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
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