How This Teen’s Pumpkin Spice Latte Inspired The World To Pay It Forward

Good News – The Huffington Post
How This Teen’s Pumpkin Spice Latte Inspired The World To Pay It Forward
The O’Neills just wanted to honor their daughter’s final wish, but once strangers caught wind of their plan, they decided to help spread the family’s goodwill around the world.

On the day Alyssa O’Neill passed away from a seizure, she asked her parents for a simple favor –- to buy her a pumpkin spice latte, TODAY reported. The spunky 18-year-old never had a chance to sip her favorite drink, so two days after her funeral, the mourning family decided to honor her request and take it one step further.

They purchased 40 lattes for strangers in a local Erie, Penn., Starbucks and just asked that the baristas scribble her initials #AJO on the cups.

The employees were so moved by the gesture that they bought another round of 50 coffees for customers.


But the pay-it-forward campaign didn’t stop there.

The #AJO movement took off on Facebook and Twitter and suddenly strangers started offering up random acts of kindness at cafes, and beyond.

Some have paid for others movie tickets and others have paid off layaway bills for Christmas gifts, according to TODAY.

alyssa oneill

Strangers have launched a pay-it-forward movement honoring Alyssa O’Neill, who never got the latte she requested on the day she died.

When a customer at a salon in Erie tried paying for her $23 treatment, she got a bill with a smiley face that read “Paid by another client. #AJO #payitforward,” according to the O’Neills’ Facebook support page.


Those who are buying lattes and pizzas and other treats for strangers have been posting pictures of their acts of kindness to Facebook to help get the word out.

The family plans to continue to honor their daughter’s memory by raising funds for the AJO Forever Fund, which will help families pay for epilepsy-related medical expenses, and will also serve scholarship fund for aspiring nurses.

“It’s bittersweet;” Alyssa’s dad, Jason, told YourErie, “we’re obviously mourning the loss of our daughter, but all the good that’s come of this has really helped us through it.”

See photos of O’Neill and her family below: And get involved with the AJO Forever Fund here.

George H.W. Bush Serves As Witness At Gay Wedding (PHOTO)
Former President George H.W. Bush served as a witness at a same-sex wedding over the weekend.

The Washington Post reports Bush served as an official witness at the wedding of Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen, who own a general store together in Maine. Thorgalsen posted the following photo to Facebook showing Bush signing their marriage license:

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = “//”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));

A representative for Bush confirmed the former president and his wife Barbara attended the wedding as “private citizens attending a private ceremony for two friends.”

Felicia Williams, NYC Subway Cleaner, Heroically Stops Tricky Mugger
A New York City subway cleaner says she was just doing her job, but we’re pretty sure “catching criminals” was not an MTA requirement.

Nevertheless, when Felicia Williams saw a man allegedly drag a woman down stairs and steal her wallet, the 45-year-old subway worker took action. Williams followed the suspect, who ran out of the 18th St. station and changed his outfit, the New York Daily News reported. She then waved down passing school safety officers, who stopped the man, later identified as 20-year-old Robert McLeod.

McLeod was arrested and charged with robbery and assault. His victim, 24, suffered a broken leg.

Anyone who would have heard this woman’s screams would have helped, too,” Williams told Yahoo Shine.

(Story continues below.)

felicia williams

The incident occurred in March 2013, but Williams is now being nominated for the NY Daily News’ Hometown Heroes in Transit Awards.

“Ms. Williams’ act speaks highly of her dedication and concern for the safety of our customers and is yet another example of our employees going above and beyond the call of duty,” said stations department supervisor, Algene Hall.

Williams, meanwhile, has made a new friend in the woman she assisted.

“We exchanged phone numbers and she invited me to dinner,” Williams told Yahoo Shine. “I know we’ll stay in touch forever.”

H/T: The New York Daily News

Green – The Huffington Post
10 Amazing Indoor Gardens
The world’s best gardens are a balanced partnership between humans and Mother Nature.

Cherokee Bear Park May Be Sued By Tribal Elders For Violating Endangered Species Act
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians said Wednesday they’re planning to sue a North Carolina roadside zoo that houses bears in concrete pits on reservation land unless they release the animals to a reputable sanctuary.

An attorney for two tribal elders filed a notice of intent to sue the operators of the Cherokee Bear Park for violating the federal Endangered Species Act. The act allows citizens to file lawsuits for violations, but it requires them to give 60-days’ notice to the violators and federal regulators, said James Whitlock, an attorney for tribal elders Amy Walker and Peggy Hill.

If the bear park doesn’t come into compliance, the next step is to file a federal lawsuit, he said.

Walker and Hill said the bears are being held in tiny cages in barren concrete pits.

“The Cherokee Bear Zoo is an open concrete grave for these intelligent animals and they must be move from the despicable facility to a place where they’ll cared for, not abused and neglected,” Walker said.

The owners of the bear park could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday.

This is the latest development in the long, public campaign to close three privately owned bear zoos on the Cherokee Indian Reservation: Cherokee Bear Zoo, Chief Saunooke Bear Park and Santa’s Land.

Earlier this year, the Chief Saunooke Bear Park’s 11 bears, including three grizzlies, were taken to a 50-acre animal sanctuary in Texas. The move came after the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which enforces the federal Animal Welfare Act, suspended the park’s exhibitor’s license and fined the owner $20,000 over inhumane conditions.

Inspectors found that the zoo was failing to provide the bears with appropriate food, proper veterinary care and a safe enclosure.

In Wednesday’s notice, the women’s attorney said four adult grizzlies at the Cherokee Bear Park “all exhibit behaviors demonstrating psychological harm and profound physical stress as a result of the inhumane conditions.”

The complaint said the bears are forced to beg for food from tourists and to languish in stark dank enclosures. The elders want the bears relocated to a sanctuary where they can live in large naturalistic habitat and “finally be allowed to be bears.”

Over the years, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has filed complaints with federal regulators and Cherokee leaders about the bears’ living conditions. Last year, the animal-rights group posted billboards in the area, calling the bear zoos “prisons” and noted that a 9-year-old girl was bitten while feeding a baby bear.

Walker, Hill and other tribal elders became involved after watching a video that showed bears rocking back and forth and circling in the tiny pits.

They said bears hold a spiritual place in Cherokee history, and in February, pressed the tribal council to force the zoos to free the bears.

But the council declined to take action. Chief Michell Hicks later issued a statement saying he wanted to give private zoo owners the opportunity to create a wildlife preserve on the reservation.

The Eastern Band has allowed caged animals as a tourism draw since the 1950s.

For years, the community in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains has depended on its natural landscape and wildlife — with hiking trails, fishing streams and whitewater rapids — to attract tourists. But now, many people come to the area for the casino, which opened on the reservation in 1997.


Aspen Plastic Bag Ban Has Collected Over $44K In Just Over A Year
A 20-cent plastic bag fee imposed in one Colorado mountain town has really added up.

The City of Aspen has raised $44,826 in fees since the ban was put into place in May of 2012, according to a report by The Aspen Times.

Despite being a famous Colorado ski town, Aspen only has two grocery stores which were allowed to keep $1,000 of the money raised in the first year and an extra $100 each month following that.

The remainder of the money goes to a city-administered fund which is used to pay for outreach, implementation and a waste reduction program which supplies free reusable bags at Aspen’s airport, car rental facilities, hotels and the city’s Department of Environmental Health.

Vail, another ski town just about two hours southwest of Aspen, has looked to the town as it considers implementing its own plastic bag ban, along with Telluride and Steamboat Springs.

But the ban does not come without its challenges. The Mountain States Legal Foundation has a pending lawsuit against Aspen’s bag ban, arguing that the plastic bag fee is actually a tax that’s illegal under the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Tattoos: Boot Them Out Of The Army?
Over the past decade, the U.S. Army has turned a blind eye to soldiers sporting visible tattoos. Seems that if the military really needs you to risk your life in Iraq or Afghanistan, it tolerates the body art crawling up your neck or down your legs. But with those wars winding down, tattoos are being dishonorably discharged, so to speak.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler said that ink visible below the elbows or knees or above the neck will be forbidden for new soldiers. Existing tattoos may be grandfathered in, after a conversation with a supervisor that includes getting advice about how to remove them on the soldier’s nickel.

For the record, Army Regulation 670-1 already prohibits tattoos anywhere on the head, face and neck above the class A uniform collar — as well as anything considered extremist, indecent, sexist or racist. So the only thing new here is the Army’s intention to actually enforce things.

Nevertheless, I’m giving this one a 21-gun salute. I’m of the generation that associates tattoos with people who served time in prison and Nazis who tattooed my relatives in concentration camps as a nifty way of keeping track of them. Some impressions just don’t go away.

Yes, I know body art is in vogue these days and 23 percent of Americans have tattoos, according to a Pew Research poll from 2010. I also know that not all of them are silly teenagers who think a tat makes them look cool; 32 percent of people ages 30 to 45 sport at least one piece of body art. The way I read that is: 77 percent of us don’t have tattoos. Me? I look at those delicate flowers on the perky breasts of young women I see at the beach and keep imagining a nursing home filled with drooping roses.

And say what you will, but there are also certain work sectors where tats are considered undesirable, if not downright inappropriate. The New York Times reported that 61 percent of human-resource managers surveyed by the Center for Professional Excellence at York College of Pennsylvania in 2012 said a tattoo would hurt a job applicant’s chances, up from 57 percent in 2011. So no, not everybody loves them even if Lena Dunham does.

Soldiers, at least those on, also seem to be quite fond of their ink — I get that too. And I totally get the seeming unfairness of ignoring the policies while the military wanted to enhance its ranks while wars were being fought. The initial reactions among the soldiers — at least those online — has been largely negative. The obvious question many ask is how a tattoo can possibly impact their ability to do the job. Others point out that tattoos are a huge part of the Army’s own culture, with many soldiers decorating their bodies with memorials to fallen comrades.

But at the end of the day, I am still shouting Hallelujah. Tattoos look unprofessional. Chandler said tightening the “grooming code” was an attempt to recognize soldiers’ individual achievements rather than having them stand out for their appearance.

The Army had me at “looking professional.” Tattoos went mainstream long after I started putting orthotics in my comfort shoes, and I sit firmly entrenched in the generation who think they can create a bad first impression — with us and with citizens of other nations who they encounter. Sure styles have changed and you can deface your body however you see fit. But for our soldiers representing our country, I’d rather you proclaim that you were “born to be wild” under your shirt sleeves.

Stop Looking for Signs From the Universe
Signs and messages from the Universe are everywhere, it’s true. But when you’re seeking answers and guidance, “looking” for signs is not the answer. Being open, listening and feeling for the answers and guidance, that’s what you need to do.

So what’s the difference?

When you actively look for a sign or message, you’re setting yourself up for being misled, confused and overwhelmed.

You’re actively looking for a sign on whether or not you should take the job, move to a different city or end your relationship, and next thing you know, everything’s a sign, and you still have no idea what you should do.

You see a dog crossing the street with a blue collar and think, “Yes, that’s the sign! I should move to a place near the ocean!” Then you see a commercial with happy young folk in the city and wonder, “Hmmm… this could be the sign. Maybe I should stay in the city.” A roll of paper towels falls off the counter, must be a sign. Someone knocks on the door so many times, a sign. Do you see where I’m going with this?

When we actively seek out signs and messages from the Universe, we’re letting our mind do the work. Your mind can easily argue, sway and support each option or direction without any problems. It’s logical, rational and can weigh the pros and cons like a champ, but it can’t feel what’s right for you. So when you let your mind do the sign reading, suddenly you’re even more overwhelmed by the possibilities and potential signs.

When you state your question clearly and then release it to the Universe, allowing yourself to be open and receptive to the answers, you find clarity, synchronicity and guidance. It never fails.

Get clear on what it is that you need support and guidance around…

Should I move to a new city, or is this the place for me?

Is this the right relationship for me?

Do I really want this job, or do I want something different?

Ask the questions, take a deep breath and release it to the Universe. Stop thinking about it and engage in the present moment. Go to work, be with the guy, do what you normally do around the city. Don’t go into your head to try and “sort it out” or seek a sign. Just be… and be open.

The Universe works through people, and signs can come in many forms. A video that your friend forwards you with an underlying message that sparks a sense of knowing in your soul. A series of status updates, shares or tweets that you’re able to feel a common thread between. A question in an advertisement that sparks clarity. An article, billboard or random string of conversations that raises the hairs on your neck.


This is knowing.

Knowing doesn’t come from seeking and forcing.

Knowing comes from…

1) Being clear on where you need guidance. Ask your question clearly, where exactly do you need support, answers or guidance?

2) Releasing it to the Universe. No more weighing the options in your mind. Send it off and trust that it’s been heard.

3) Engaging in the present moment. Just be present in your life and tuned into your body. Your intuition lives in your body, and if you want to know the answers and be able to receive them, you have to be engaged in it, not your mind.

4) Staying open and receptive. If you have to think about whether or not it’s a sign or guidance, it’s not. You’re forcing it. If something is said or comes on your radar that sparks a physical reaction — a clear sense of truth — you have your answers.

So tell me…

What do you need guidance and support on?

Use the steps above to find your answers.

Stephenie Zamora is the founder of;, a full-service, life-purpose development, design and branding boutique. Here she merges the worlds of personal development and branding to help young women build passion-based businesses. Click here to download her free guide, “The Unexpected Trick to Transforming Your Life With ONE Single Question.”

Connect with Stephenie on Facebook and Twitter!

For more by Stephenie Zamora, click here.

Healthy Living – The Huffington Post
Benefits of Garlic: 11 Healthy Reasons To Eat More Of This Smelly Superfood
Garlic — known to some as the stinking rose — is used by many cuisines around the world to add flavour to food, but it’s also been used as a natural medicinal ingredient for centuries, both in its fresh plant form and as a supplement.

Peter McClusky, founder of the Toronto Garlic Festival, moved back to Ontario from New York in 2009 and started growing garlic, which is actually part of the onion family. Today he’s an expert, sharing his love of the bulb with Torontonians. Five thousand people came out for the city’s first garlic festival, McClusky said, so there’s got to be some shared affection there.

So aside from the fact that it’s delicious, why add garlic to your dishes? “Research shows that garlic is responsible for lipid-lowering, anti-blood coagulation, anti-hypertension, anti-cancer, antioxidant and anti-microbial effects,” McClusky said.

Sounds pretty good to us! Here are 11 ways to enjoy garlic’s many health benefits and some other lesser known facts:

Immune System Boost: Garlic was used to fight gangrene during the world wars—probably not a concern of yours, but it may be able to help you fight off a more modern-day ailment. This herb could help keep those cold-weather colds and flus at bay ( The food’s antioxidants can help your immune system run well; in addition to simply eating it, you could also try steeping garlic into a tea by steeping chopped garlic in hot water. Add a bit of natural honey to soothe your throat and cut some of the intense garlic taste.

Get Those Antioxidants: Here’s a reason to crush a few garlic cloves into your next meal — garlic is a great source of antioxidants, which we know play an important role for our health. The evidence is varied, but there is some research supporting garlic’s potential benefits. One of those benefits might be beating bad skin: those antioxidants can kill the bacteria that are sometimes a cause of acne. Next time you have a pimple, try rubbing on a sliced clove of raw garlic.

Get Heart Healthy: Studies have shown that garlic can benefit the health of your respiratory and circulatory system in several different ways. Let’s count them: it could help with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease and artery hardening. The research on each condition and how garlic can help is varied, but research into what it can do for atherosclerosis and blood pressure is promising. These benefits may come from the production of hydrogen sulfide gas, which is produced when red blood cells take the sulphuric compounds from garlic. The gas can help expand our blood vessels, which can help keep your blood pressure steady.

Beat Inflammation: Garlic has anti-inflammatory properties — one study identified four sulphuric compounds in garlic that helped cut inflammation. People who suffer from auto-immune diseases might be helped by including garlic in their diets — Dr. Andrew Weil includes it in his Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid. As well, if you have psoriasis — a skin condition related to inflammation — try rubbing garlic oil directly on the affected area for relief.

Prevent Food Poisoning: Some research indicates that garlic’s anti-bacterial properties might help to prevent food poisoning by killing bacteria like E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Salmonella enteritidis.(The affect would only apply with fresh garlic, not aged.) One study found that garlic was better at treating Campylobacter than two kinds of antibiotics ( That said, the addition of garlic to a dish is in no way a substitute for proper sanitation and safe cooking and food handling.

Remove a Splinter: OK, this isn’t as serious a medical concern as some of the others we’ll address — but everyone knows a deep splinter is really annoying! Garlic is involved in an old folk remedy for splinters that involves placing a slice of garlic over the splinter, then securing it to your skin with tape or a bandage. Try it and let us know if it works!

Beat Athlete’s Foot: Along with its anti-inflammatory properties, garlic has anti-fungal properties as well. Give those itchy feet a soak in garlic water to cut the fungus that causes athlete’s foot (otherwise known as ringworm of the foot). Or you can use this approach and rub raw garlic straight on your feet.

Repel Mosquitoes: One study from India found that mosquitoes apparently hate garlic — great news for people who are fans of natural bug repellents and not fans of pesky nippers. You can either apply the garlic directly to your skin, or just keep some nearby to try to keep the bugs out of your general vicinity.

Banish Cold Sores: Here’s another folk tale that might have something to it — if you get cold sores, try applying some crushed garlic directly to the affected area. The anti-inflammatory properties may help you feel better by cutting the sore’s swelling. Some say that taking garlic supplements can also help to prevent them and get rid of them more quickly.

Allicin: Allicin is a sulphur compound similar to the one found in onions, and it could offer a host of health benefits. Onions have similar compounds that were found to treat hair loss in one study. (It’s also what gives garlic that unmistakable smell!)

Botulism In Garlic Oil: Garlic-infused oils are a great way to add that flavour to your dishes, but you have to be careful if you’re making them at home. Botulism can spread when it in foods that aren’t exposed to oxygen, and garlic is one of them — there have been several documented cases of people becoming ill after consuming homemade garlic oils. Botulism can lead to paralysis or even death, and it’s not obvious if your oil contains it. The safest way to use homemade garlic oil is to make it in small quantities and use it fresh.

Let It Sit: If you know you’ll be adding garlic to a dish, crush or mince it a bit before you plan to add it. It gives the alliinase enzymes in the food a chance to get working. Changing the temperature or pH of the garlic by putting it in food or heating it prevents this from happening, so you might not be getting the full health benefits of garlic if you toss it in the pot right away.

Supplements or Food? Is it better to get garlic’s health benefits from supplements or food? “Supplements deliver a concentrated form of allicin, which is the organosulphur compound responsible for the medicinal benefits of garlic,” McClusky said. “Some claims state that an allicin powder extract is the best form of supplement. Pay attention to the quantity of allicin on the package.”

Allicin is an unstable compound so it can change very quickly once outside of garlic’s fresh form. Some supplement manufacturers age garlic to make it odourless, but this reduces the amount of allicin available, making the product less effective. Talk to a natural-health professional about choosing a quality supplement for garlic or supplement, if you’d like to try one.

How to Cook Garlic: The best way to enjoy garlic’s health benefits is to eat it raw, or close to raw. “A temperature above 140F destroys the allicin,” McClusky said. “If you wish to add it to a meal, try to add it at the very end of the cooking process after you’ve removed the dish from the source of heat.”

#alkalinity #alkalinitymovement #7.2 #sevenpointtwo


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