celebrate kindness

Archive for November 2012

Today’s Random Act of Kindness goes out to all your working moms out there.  As a mom of three children, I’ve had the best of both worlds:  working mom and stay-at-home mom.  While both roles have their pros and cons (which will not be debated in this post, lol!), the one thing I think everyone can agree on is the internal struggle a working mom has when the time has come to return back to work after a baby is born.

A dear friend of ours (Daniel’s former Kindergarten teacher) had to face this struggle just this past Monday.  Already in tears at the thought of having to leave her little boy for the first time, I knew her first day back to school would be emotionally challenging for sure.  I decided to make her a little “Welcome Back” bag filled with little goodies to bring a smile to her face.

Each item that was placed in the bag included a little note to go with it.  (For those of you who are doing your own RAKs, I’ve included the list at the bottom of this post.)

I even snagged a photo of her baby from her Facebook page and turned it into a magnet so she could place it on her magnetic whiteboard in the classroom and see her baby all day long while teaching.

I sent the gift to school with my son and asked him to give it to his former teacher.  All day long I thought of her and prayed her transition was going well.   Later in the evening, when I returned home, I was chatting with my son when he nonchalantly said, “I didn’t see my teacher today.”  Oh no!  Was she so upset that she couldn’t even GO to school?!?  Asking for more clarification, it became obvious that I probably shouldn’t have sent the gift to school with my son.

“What happened?  Was she sick?” I asked.

“I don’t know.  I didn’t see her,” was his response.

“Did you leave the gift on her desk?”  I inquired.

“Nope.  I didn’t see her.” he replied again.

Wait a minute.  You didn’t see her… and you didn’t leave the gift on her desk… did she even GET the gift?  I immediately opened his backpack and lo and behold, there was his teacher’s gift, complete with a bent bag and crumpled tissue paper.   (The gift actually looked like it had been used in a pick-up game of Catch to be honest with you!)  SHE NEVER GOT THE GIFT!!  So much for today’s Random Act of Kindness!  Doesn’t mean much to anyone if it never makes it to the final destination!  Ha!

Fighting exasperation, I calmly emphasized to my son that I REALLY wanted his teacher to get this gift and it was pretty important that she get the gift SOON.  He assured me that if he didn’t see her the next day, he would take it to the office (which is what he did.)

So, the best laid plans… sometimes you come up with a neat idea for a Random Act of Kindness, but it doesn’t work out the way you planned.  That’s OK!  Just know that whenever you take the time to bless someone else, it’s important (even if delayed!)

Here’s the list of items/messages I included in case the photos aren’t clear.  Be blessed my friends and keep paying it forward!

Welcome Back Baby Gift

  • Bag of Lifesavers:  “Everyone needs a ‘lifesaver’ on their first day back to work.”
  • Tissues:  “Tissues for just in case”
  • Chocolate bar:  “Because chocolate makes everything better!”
  • Hand sanitizer:  “So your first day back is a germ free day”
  • Baby powder:  “In case you miss your sweet baby’s smell.”  (Although I probably should have said “baby’s scent”)
  • Baby Photo Magnet:  “A magnet for your whiteboard, desk, or file cabinet so you are reminded that your baby will be just fine!” (on the photo I typed “It’s OK, Mommy… I will see you soon!  Love, <baby’s name>”)
  • Handmade card made by my daughter:  http://kitkatkards.wordpress.com (Yes, she is only 14 and owns her own card business!)

 

 

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Today’s Random Act of Kindness is a direct response to a plea posted on Facebook:

“My dear Facebook friends, an old friend of mine has a sister that lost her whole house last night to a fire.  She has 3 young girls aged 7, 2, and 10 months.  I can store anything you can donate at my house.  Just leave it on my front porch.  Thank you so much to those of you who can contribute.”

And this, my friends, is one of the many reasons I love social media.  As soon as I saw my friend make a comment on this post, I felt that all familiar tug on my heart and knew I had to help.  No, I didn’t know the family whose house had burned down.  In fact, I didn’t even know the gal who posted the plea (but she is a friend of a friend, so she is important!)

It’s interesting how these things happen sometimes.  I’m always amazed how in the face of tragedy, God has prompted me to look through my home and out of nowhere I suddenly “discover” all these things that could help someone else.  I immediately thought of the bathroom set sitting on the top of my closet shelf:  shower curtain, shower hooks, trash can, fish decorations, a new shower sponge with two unopened bottles of bath wash.  I kept meaning to list it on Craigslist, but… well… God had other plans!  Then I opened my linen closet.  I immediately spotted the flowered twin sheets from when my daughter used to have a twin sized bed.  Oh!  Her comforter!  That could be given away, too!  With each blink of an eye it seemed my closet had become a donation warehouse of sorts.  Towels.  Washcloths.  Curtains.  I barely had all the items stuffed into a bag when it occurred to me that all those little girls would need toys.  And books.  And crayons.  Markers.  Activity books.  Coloring books.  Right now, those sweet little girls needed a distraction for the loss of all their possessions.  I found a stuffed animal for each of the children so they would have something to snuggle with when they went to sleep, wherever that may now be.  I even found a purse of my daughter’s filled with play jewelry.  (Every little girl needs play jewelry!)  With each item I gathered, I prayed for this family, that through a simple Facebook plea all their needs would be met.

I checked back on Facebook to find more details posted about needs:  Mom wore a size 3-5 pants, small tops, size 8 shoes.  Right there I got chill bumps.  I wear a size 4!  Perfect!  I went into my closet and made two outfits of sweaters and pants, then threw in another sweater and a few shirts.  (As many of you know, I keep a pretty “bare bones” closet – if I haven’t worn something in the past year, it doesn’t stay in my closet!  Unfortunately, I had already cleaned out my closet about a month before, but I was willing to part with a few favorite outfits.  :-))  I also found a long wool coat and another shorter coat for Mom.  Unfortunately, I wear a size 6 shoes, so I wasn’t able to donate any footwear.

I remembered several friends who had donated items to my 40th Birthday Project:  books and “Blessing Bags” (bags filled with essentials such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.)  I gathered those items as well.  As I was laying everything on the floor to take a photo for this blog, a small oak box caught my eye.  My jewelry box.  That’s when the impact of this devastation hit me.  This mom had lost all her jewelry, too.  I literally stopped everything as my thoughts raced ahead of my actions.  No jewelry.  No family heirlooms to pass down to her daughters.  Gone.  Everything.  It was almost too much to bear, and made me think of the recent events of Hurricane Sandy and all those that had lost similar treasures.

I then did what I knew was right.  I opened up my jewelry box and pulled out three of my favorite necklaces and a matching bracelet.  Using a special gift bag my mom gave me on my 40th birthday, I placed the jewelry inside with a simple note:

As I made one final sweep of my closet and bedroom, my gaze landed on one final item.  My absolute favorite children’s book of all time:  Guess How Much I Love You.  All three of my babies were rocked to sleep as infants with me reading this book to them, snuggled safely in my arms.  Each time I see the book at a yard sale or consignment store, I buy it and then wait for an opportunity to bless someone else with the gift.  This particular version came as a gift set with the main character of the book, a sweet little bunny.  If you’ve never read this book, please do, especially if you are a parent.  The story ends with my favorite storyline:  “I love you all the way to the moon… and back.”  Without a moment’s hesitation, I grabbed the book and bunny and jotted a note for this family, including my project business card so they could know that even in the midst of tragedy, they were loved.

Then I loaded everything in my car and dropped it off on the friend of a friend’s front porch.  No one was home, so I simply left all the bags by the door.

Why do I do all these things without wanting anything in return?  Because I believe showing kindness to others is the way we all should be.  I would like to think that if I were ever in a predicament such as this that others would show me kindness, too.  Until that time, I will continue to count my blessings and try not to take too many things for granted. 🙂

If you would like more information of this family’s needs, or how to donate, please send an email to celebratekindness@gmail.com or if you know me on FB send me a PM and I will get all the details to you.  Even if you only have a few items to share, a little can add up to a lot!

Be blessed!

Woo-Hoo! Welcome to the wonderful world of BLACK FRIDAY! To say that I look forward to this one crazy shopping day of the year is a complete understatement. I cannot WAIT for Black Friday to arrive! I love so many things about this day: The excitement! The energy! The reduced prices! It’s the one day of the year where I am guaranteed to be child-free, can shop for 10 hours straight, spend money without worry, all the while getting the majority of the items on my Christmas list marked off. For me, Black Friday is the ultimate day of productivity.

Now I know several friends of mine will read this and roll their eyes. “Black Friday shopping? Who in their right mind would do THAT?!?” And… they’re right. It takes a really special shopper to tackle the crowds on Black Friday. But what greater opportunity is there to show kindness to others?

This year I was extra excited about Black Friday, because I was already plotting ways I could deliberately bless others on such a maddening day. The first thing I did was stop by a Starbucks. After all, shopping in and out of stores where the temperature was a frigid 29 degrees outside… one might need a little pick-me-up to make the adventure more bearable!

As I stood in line to get my tall salted caramel mocha, my gaze wandered across the yummy muffins and pastries. I immediately thought of my family members who were stuck working retail jobs on Black Friday. What types of customers would they encounter today? Would their day end in satisfaction or exasperation? I decided that a surprise treat might be just the thing to put a smile on their faces.

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My first stop was JCPenney’s to surprise my cousin, Becky. It took me about 20 minutes just to find her in the sea of customers waiting in the checkout line. That’s her on the far right side – you can barely see her from the back of the line!

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I snuck around the corner and slipped her Starbucks treat right as she was finishing a sale. (I would have brought her a drink, too, but I wasn’t sure if she was allowed to have one while working on the floor!)

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My next stop was on the other side of town to surprise my sister, a shift supervisor at CVS. Thankfully there are Starbucks coffee shops all over the place, so I was able to grab a hot drink and a muffin to bring a smile to her day.

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(Yes, she is tired. She had to be at work at 2am, following our family Thanksgiving dinner the night before. This picture was taken around 9am, almost at the end of her shift. She definitely deserved a pick-me-up!)

Back in the car, I was excited to start shopping. But first I had to get to the stores! Have you driven around on a Black Friday? Just the driving alone might send you fleeing back to the safety of your home. But I was determined to show kindness, even in my car. I smiled and waved at complete strangers, patiently allowing them to merge in front of me as they went about their way.

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Almost to the local mall, I thought about families who weren’t as blessed as me to have the ability to shop on Black Friday. So many families are struggling this time of year, especially with unforseen layoffs and other monetary challenges. While adults can understand these constraints, it can be really hard on the children. I decided to make my next Random Act of Kindness focused on kids.

Entering the parking lot of a Dollar Tree, I was almost giddy with my plans. Just imagine if you were a child, entering this store with your mom, dad, or grandparent, and this is what you discovered:

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Yes! I went into this store and hid three one dollar bills among different toys, all at a child’s eye level. SO MUCH FUN! I really wanted to wait and see a child discover the money, but there wasn’t a single child in the store. However, as I was headed to my car, I saw a mom with three (THREE!) children walk into the store. It was a divine setup!

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I knew without a doubt that my being at that store, with that specific Random Act of Kindness, was nothing short of God showing his love to his children. It literally gave me chill bumps!

As my day progressed, I finally found myself at Kohl’s, my last store of the day. The checkout line looped down one side and around another. Unknowingly, the line I found myself waiting in led to Customer Service, not the actual checkout counter. Oh no! I had already waited in line for 20 minutes – did I have enough energy to get out of this line and start all over in the “real” checkout line? As I was pondering this dilemma, I overheard several other ladies in an animated discussion about this particular line. “Yes, it’s for Customer Service, but they are also doing regular purchases, too.” “Why on EARTH would they do that?” “I think all the lines are long so it doesn’t really matter.” “Well, it matters to me. All I have is one item to return. I wish people would just go to the regular checkout and leave this one for Customer Service.”

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Yeahhhhhh… here I am, standing right in the mix of these ladies with boots, sweaters, jewelry, wrapping paper… I had so many items to purchase I was literally sliding the shoebox with my foot along the ground because I couldn’t possibly carry another item with my hands. Since I knew it would be near impossible for me to gather my items and try to start over in another line, I made a conscious decision to do something nice to the woman behind me; the woman who only had one thing left to return. I think you can tell by this photo who was enjoying this day more…

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When you stand in line for over an hour just to spend money on gifts for other people… well, you have lots of time to think, listen, and learn. I’ve discovered that patience (not necessarily a strength of mine), is an essential skill for withstanding the trials of Black Friday shopping. Oh, how many times I could have lost my patience!! But what would have been the end result? Would it have gotten me closer to the finish line (a.k.a. Customer Service)? Nope. So why lose patience over something I have aboslutely NO CONTROL over? I chose to go shopping today. I chose to shop at the store with the really good sale prices and free coupons. Standing in line was simply part of the process. So why complain about it when I was here BY CHOICE?

Which brings me to my next act of kindness. Remember me mentioning doing something nice for the lady behind me? The gal who was not too happy about all the regular shoppers being in the Customer Service line when she only had one thing to return? Well, I did the only thing I could think to do to make her smile: when it was my turn at the checkout counter, I let her go before me. Because that’s what kindness is all about. 🙂

The gal behind her was now behind me. I remembered her telling a story about her grandson scratching off all the discount scratch-off coupons (thus making them invalid to use). As she was called to the register beside me to purchase her items, I quietly slid my 15% off coupon to her with my business card and a smile. She was touched by my generosity, promised to pay it forward, and agreed to take a picture for the blog. Can you see our joy for finally crossing the finish line?

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But this Black Friday Random Act of Kindness BLOWOUT would not have been possible were it not for my husband and children left behind at home. Yes, this was my day to do as I pleased. But it wouldn’t be right to have this much fun and not include them. So as I left my last store, I made yet another stop at Starbucks and picked up some coffee for me and my husband and some sweet treats for the kids. It was a small gesture to say “Thanks!”, but one I knew would make them smile.

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So, as you are reading stories of how horrible Black Friday is, and how mean people can be, just remember there are a FEW people out there who are truly trying to make a difference in the midst of it all. I really do love Black Friday in all its chaos and confusion. Where else can complete strangers find commonality in their craziness?

Be blessed my friends! May your holiday season be filled with peace, joy, and love wherever your travels take you!

Today’s Random Act of Kindness was an easy task, but one rarely acknowledged or even noticed by others. As I was walking to my car today after a quick shopping trip at Target, I glanced across the parking lot searching for my van and voila… Not my van, but a perfect opportunity to bless someone else!

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Yes, the infamous lazy man’s cart just sitting there hogging up a parking space.  The irony here is that the parking lot was near empty – not like the owner of the cart had to fight through lanes and lanes of cars to get the cart back to a safe place!  I actually started laughing when I saw this, because a friend of mine, Sheri, had just this week shared how she always puts unwanted carts back where they belong.  I told her that she inspired me to add this to my RAK list for Black Friday, not knowing that an opportunity would present itself just a few days later!

So instead of turning a blind eye (“It’s not MY cart!”) I did the right thing and retrieved it, then returned it (in addition to my cart).

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Such a simple thing to do, yet it still felt good.  Now the cart won’t block someone from parking.  Or prevent the lady in the white truck from putting her children in the car.  It will also keep the cart from rolling in the wind and dinging someone’s car (because, folks, that’s just annoying and aggravating!!)

Be sure to check back on the blog Friday afternoon through Saturday as I am SURE I will have several Random Acts of Kindness to post from Black Friday shopping.  I’m almost giddy thinking about my surprise plans!

I wish you all peace and joy as you go about your travels and special plans for Thanksgiving.  Be blessed and pay it forward!

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Well, after all these trips back and forth through the toll booths this week, it occurred to me and my daughter, “Why not bless the toll booth collector, too?” So today, that’s what we did! We baked two batches of cookies (one set chocolate chip, the other pecan praline) and wrapped them as presents to surprise two lucky people!

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We included my 40th Birthday Project business card with a handwritten note, too.

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Then we got in our car and delivered our goodies to our unsuspecting recipients!

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The ladies we met were definitely surprised, but both were appreciative of our kindness.  The first gal couldn’t stop grinning from ear to ear saying, “Well, that’s just so sweet!”  It was a fun way to bless someone else and one we will repeat again!  🙂

In this week of Thanksgiving, what are YOU thankful for?  I am thankful for you!  Yes, YOU!  I love that you take time out of your busy day to read my experiences and share in the joy this birthday project has created.  Thanks for inspiring me to do even more!

Be blessed!  🙂

Black Friday is right around the corner (7 days and 4 hours to be exact!). Even though this is the official start to the holiday shopping frenzy, my Christmas shopping has already begun. Having three children, I’m always keeping an eye out for great deals, especially on toys. One way that our family affords to have lots of gifts around the tree is to purchase gently used, “like new” toys at consignment sales.

My favorite local sale, The Clothesline, provides additional incentives if you volunteer to work for them during the sale. Each three hour shift you complete earns different perks. My favorite incentive is the ability to shop before the sale officially opens. (This is when you get the best deals!). Another reward you receive is a coupon for $5 off your purchases. Awesome!

Yesterday afternoon was my big shopping day. Pure bliss! I don’t want to spoil any secrets, but there is a really cute little three year old girl out there who is getting a three level dollhouse from me!

As I finished paying for my purchases, I realized I had never given the cashier my $5 off coupon. Turning to the woman right behind me in line, I said, “This might seem a bit odd, but would you allow me to bless you with this coupon for $5 off?” I then explained the details about my 40th Birthday Project and hastily scribbled my website down on a notecard (because, once again, I forgot to refill my business cards in my wallet.). As I was sharing my story, the owner of the Clothesline, Lisa, looked up at me and exclaimed “I love you!” (This really made my night because technically Lisa had blessed me with the coupon in the first place, I was merely passing it on!)

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It was a fun way to end a great night of shopping and seeing this lady’s smile made me want to do even MORE random acts of kindness. It’s always a win-win to give from the heart with no expectation in return.

Be blessed my friends and keep paying it forward! 🙂

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Today my day was filled with doctor appointments so I decided to do a few Random Acts of Kindness to lift my spirits. I’m always surprised just HOW GOOD it feels to treat others with kindness! So here are my acts today:

  • I paid the toll for the person driving behind me. (Yes, I’ve done this one before, but it just makes me happy when I can look in my rear view mirror and see the stranger trying to pay the toll booth attendant as she hands the person my card with an explanation that their toll has been paid in full. What joy!)
  • I did not hit the person who thought it was wise to drive horizontally across the Target parking lot. Trust me. I could have easily hit her had I not been paying attention. She drove out RIGHT in front of me! But instead of getting angry, I simply waved her on (as she slammed on her brakes halfway across my field of vision.) “Patience. Kindness. Grace.” I whispered to myself.
  • I picked up trash in the parking lot and put it in a trash can at the front of the store.
  • I left a diaper coupon right on a pack of diapers for another mom to discover. $3.00 off! That’s a big deal!
  • I blessed a stranger at the Dollar Tree by buying her items. She only had a few things and looked like she was having a not-so-great day (at least by her expression.) I wish I had taken a picture of her smile when she figured out what I was doing! She hugged me, read my business card, and promised to pay it forward. Yay! :-).

    At this point I realized I hadn’t taken any photos of my blessings, so I snapped one of the store and one of the stranger as she walked (almost bounced!) to her car.

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A little bit of kindness goes a long, long way. Sometimes I wonder who is being blessed more: them or me? I hope you will be inspired to do kind things for others, ESPECIALLY on days you don’t feel that great. Trust me when I say it can totally change your mindset!


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