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Posted: May 2, 2013 8:00 a.m.

Help out on the sly

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Recently I was discussing gift-giving with someone and explaining that while I adore receiving gifts, I love giving them just as much because of the joy they bring to others. That, in itself, is like another gift for me. And while this newsletter is very much about entertaining yourself, what's really amazing is that a lot of times, you can do both and not really even notice it.

 There's tons happening around the state this weekend. This won't slow down until it's disgustingly hot outside and people cannot bear to deal with the jungle heat that is summer in the south, unless it involves napping under the shade of a large tree. It's hard to pick something to do this weekend because there is just so much! What's fairly awesome is that you can do many of these things and help other people, without even really trying. You get entertained, they get your assistance – it's a win, win for everyone involved!

 You can go to any number of spring festivals around the state and your purchase of someone's food on a stick or folk painting of a chicken will help them out. It will give them some cash and bolster their self-confidence. But you know, some people don't want to do that. They don't intentionally try not to help, they just could care less. And I get that. The whole charity begins at home thing is a hard habit to break. Plus, a lot of times helping out can be boring. I am sure I am going to get some hateful emails from that statement, but Billy Joel wanted to laugh with the sinners for a reason. Cause we're more fun. Saints can be boring, so a lot of people aren't going to go out of their way in search of good deeds. You have to trick them.

 I was once getting a pedicure at my favorite nail salon in Covington when the technician asked if I wanted a design and then scolded me for always picking red polish for my toes. I gave her my nicest smile and went back to my book. Then I hear giggling. I look down just as she yells “I trick you!” My toes were bright orange with a Chinese dragon's worth of colors all over them. While this has nothing to do with helping people, it does prove a point. She wanted me to do something and she tricked me. You have to do the same thing when you want cranky people to help out.

 The Fairy House Festival this weekend is a great example. You get to chill out under some shady trees while your kids run around with wings on and eat sugar cookies. It seems like a decent way to spend a spring day and cheap enough at $5. But that money helps the park maintain it's programs and allows children and adults of all ages to enjoy a magical spot in the middle of the city. Or go to the ballet. You pay $10 to see “Snow White” this weekend, but that money goes so far to support the arts locally, and your presence does so much to bolster the confidence of these amazing kids. Chamber Day at the Ball Park gives you and the kids a chance to run some bases and jump on inflatables, but the money you pay for your admission and the food you will undoubtedly get at the concession stand will go to help the Miracle League.

 The list of how you help when you get out and enjoy yourself is endless, and you get to be totally selfish at the same time. Some of us like helping others, it gives us a high, but if you're a crank you can still help out without ruining your reputation for being a jerk. Don't worry, it will be our little secret. You can even scowl at the children running around pretending to be fairies. As long as you cough up the $5.

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