celebrate kindness

Archive for January 2014

Last week I received an email sent on behalf of a co-worker’s son.  He was chosen from among his peers to attend a leadership conference for one of his school clubs.  What an honor!  The email was asking for monetary donations towards his travel expenses, but what struck me was the offer to do any kind of service or job for donations as well.  There was even a tagline that any donation was appreciated – even a $1.00 would help!  Wow – he thought of everything!

Now I’m going to be brutally honest here, with a little guilt attached as well.  I have received many emails and letters from friends or children of friends asking for donations of support for church or school activities.   I’m always touched in the moment and have the best of intentions, but sometimes I read these messages and forget to follow through.  The guilt builds up because so many of you have been exceptionally kind to me and MY children in supporting us with our initiatives and school activities.  So right now I am apologizing to each and every one of you for all the donations, wedding gifts, birthday wishes and such that I have forgotten to send throughout the years.

Yesterday I followed through.

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It wasn’t much, only $5, but it was $5 he didn’t have before.  Every little bit counts, right?

May your day be blessed and may you be better than me in remembering to support our youth in their adventures!

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How do I even begin to write this post?

I have struggled this past week to put my thoughts into words, reeling (as many of you are) from the senseless, tragic death of Meg Cross Menzies, a stay-at-home mom in our local community.  For those of you who do not live around here, or have not heard her story, Meg was struck and killed last week while running with her husband.  The driver who hit her, also from our local community, was charged with a DUI and involuntary manslaughter.  As a cruel twist of fate, the driver’s own wife was struck and killed years ago in a car accident, also leaving behind children to mourn.

Oh, the heaviness of my heart.

In the hours after her passing, our community rallied around those touched by the loss of Meg.  An avid runner and Boston Marathoner, a few local runners honored her memory by tying their shoes to the street post where she was hit.  They also organized a “Megs Miles” run for the day after her funeral so people could run in her memory, sharing in her passion for the sport. Instead of an official race, the idea was that anyone and everyone could run and document their experience using social media with the hashtag #megsmiles and documenting their miles on a Google Doc.  We were encouraged to wear blue, Meg’s favorite color. Someone even created a logo we could use for our FB profiles in memory of Meg:

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And that, my friends, is where this Random Act of Kindness truly begins.

See, it wasn’t just the running community who wrapped their arms around this family.  It wasn’t even our local community, or her church, or even the Y down the street where she volunteered her time as a personal trainer.  Meg’s tragedy went global, thanks to the power of social media, and complete strangers rallied together in her memory.  There was a sense of worldwide unity when strangers who had never met Meg, never heard of Mechanicsville, VA, never even ran, laced up their sneakers and began to run.

Grandmothers. Husbands.  Mothers pushing strollers.  Children and adults of all ages, running in remembrance.  By the next day, our local newspaper shared the enormity of the run:  90,000 participants world-wide.

Photo Jan 21, 3 26 48 PMThat is simply incredible!!  Now, I do not consider myself a runner by any stretch of the imagination.  I’ve run 5Ks and 10Ks, but always for fun, to enjoy the social company of others running alongside me, never competitively.  This past Saturday, however, I ran for Meg.  I met a few coworkers and friends at a local elementary school and we ran around the track, remembering the life of one of our own.  Did I run the entire time?  No.  I actually began by walking alongside another Mommy as she pushed her 10 month old baby in a stroller, bracing ourselves against the freezing temperatures and swirling wind.  It wasn’t until her daughter, a kindergartner, ran ahead of us, then turned and taunted, “Hurry up, slowpokes!” that I picked up my pace.  I took turns running alongside each of the people who showed up that morning, sharing in a laugh, a smile, or simple silence.  I considered it an honor to run for Meg.

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There have been so many random acts of kindness performed in Meg’s memory.  Amanda Sullivan, a runner who was also struck down while running, completed a 5K on crutches.  Candice Shively, a race director, handed out a blinking LED bracelet to a young man she always sees walking home in the dark.  Josh Stowers, a small business owner, offered his skills in painting and power washing to Meg’s family (even offered to build her children a swingset.)  Anna Sakellariou painted a portrait.  So many ways to process grief, yet bless others at the same time!

Photo Jan 18, 9 47 44 AM

Today marks one week and a day since Meg left this world.  As I stood in my kitchen enjoying an unexpected snow day, I looked at my three children at the table, still clad in their pajamas.  It was in that moment that the reality of this tragedy gripped my heart so tightly I could no longer hold back the tears.  Those three precious children of Meg’s will have no more snow days with their mom. I wanted to sob and scream at the same time for the depth of sorrow in my soul.

Instead, I swallowed the lump in my throat, wiped away my tears, and continued making breakfast.

As many of you know, I like to cook and have my own recipes posted on Snapguide.  This morning I was in the process of making Snowman Pancakes, in celebration of today’s snow day (which is really funny now because the snow just started to come down and stick at 4:30pm. Gotta love living in a southern state!  Ha!)  As I assembled the pancake pieces on a blue paper plate and added the decorations, I couldn’t resist making an extra one for Meg, complete with angel wings and blue running shoes.

Photo Jan 21, 10 36 09 AM

Be inspired to do nice things for others.  In a few days, Meg’s official website will be up and running and all the wonderful posts on FB will be added for the world to enjoy.  If you would like to run in Meg’s memory, please use this link to add your information, which is compiled for the family.  Pray for Meg’s family, the driver’s family, and our community.  The road to healing seems endless sometimes, so anything you do can and will make a difference.

I will close out today’s blog post with this quote from Isaiah that spoke to my heart this morning.  Be blessed my friends and share kindness with one another.

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.  When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”  -Isaiah 43:2

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One resolution many people make at the start of the year is to get in shape, start exercising, lose some weight.  It’s an admirable goal, especially for those who realize and acknowledge that life changes are good!

Personally, I am not a gym rat (and no offense to those who are!)  I enjoy exercising, but I also enjoy eating, so for me it’s more like a balancing act in staying healthy.  I’ve tried all sorts of gym activities, but the one I love most is Zumba.   Imagine fast paced dancing like salsa and mambo mixed with squats and lunges and you have a small taste of this hour long class.  It is an EXCELLENT form of exercise!  Best of all, if you do the classes consistently, you really can see changes in your tone, strength, and endurance!

There are many Zumba classes offered around town – some classes come to your workplace (seriously!), some are offered at gyms, and some can be shown on a DVD or Wii.  I like to attend classes at my local Y because it allows me to  get out of the house and meet new people while keeping me motivated with my fitness goals.

The Monday before Christmas I was trying to decide if I should go to my Zumba class or stay home and wrap some last minute gifts for the holidays.  If you are a busy mom like me (or just busy in general), you know how precious just an hour of free time can be! Although I was tempted to use the time productively to mark another task off my to-do list, I decided to head down to the Y and use the time on ME instead.

You can imagine my surprise when my Zumba instructor, Toni, opened the door wearing a Santa themed shirt and an obnoxiously huge elf hat made from skinny balloons.  (Where was my camera when I needed it?!) Her huge smile radiated joy as she welcomed us into the class.  What fun!  I almost expected to see a clown in the corner, inflating and twisting balloons into requested shapes.

As we all found our places to stand, Toni grabbed a basket off the shelf and announced, “I have a little something for you!”  You could hear the small gasps of “Awwww!” and “Oh, thank you so much!” as she made her way to each individual person in the class. When Toni made her way to me, I finally saw what made everyone else respond with such appreciation:

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Our amazing Zumba instructor, with her own time and money, had purchased each of us special Zumba jingle bell bracelets and created a CD of all the music we dance to in class.  REALLY?!?  Oh my gosh, it was such a sweet gift (and the first I have ever received from a gym instructor!)  Unbeknownst to Toni, we had a surprise for her, too, as we had chipped in with cards and money to purchase Powerade and gifts cards to show our thanks for all she does to inspire us on a daily basis.

It was a sweet moment of reciprocity, with both givers and receivers sharing in the emotion of surprise and kindness.  Best of all? We spent the next hour laughing, smiling, and sweating as the sounds of jingle bell bracelets danced in the air.

Today may you be inspired!  Try a new class at the gym or call up a friend to walk around your neighborhood.  Sometimes the most needed random act of kindness is the one you give yourself!  🙂

Well, my faithful readers, let me begin with a huge apology for such a delay in my RAK postings.  With the wonderful Christmas break away from school, work, and pressing responsibilities, it was such a delight just to be wrapped up with the fun festivities of the holiday… spending time with my family, enjoying the season, and just savoring the precious moments that came my way.

I wanted to start off this new year of 2014 with something inspiring… motivating… invigorating… and I think the best way I can capture all three of these is to share a few random acts of kindness I’ve seen play out right before my eyes.

This weekend I will post several little stories that warmed my heart and made me smile, so keep checking back in (or just follow my blog so it shows up in your feed, lol).

Today’s story happened literally ten minutes ago.  I was running around taking care of some errands after work when I decided to stop in for a Starbucks using a gift card my daughter bought me for Christmas.  (Have I mentioned how much I love my thoughtful children?)  It’s a dreary, chilly, rainy day and I thought it would be nice to sip on a salted caramel mocha while writing this post, so that’s exactly what I did!

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As I was sitting here, typing away, a young gentleman approached me with his hand outstretched.  “Excuse me,” he said, “Do you drive an Acura?”  A set of car keys rested in the palm of his hands as he smiled with kindness.  I shook my head no and suggested he give them to the barista in case the owners returned looking for the keys.    He followed my suggestion and approached the workers, asking them if they knew who the keys might belong to.

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I thought that would be the end of the story, but no.  This sweet young man was clearly concerned about who could have lost their keys.  He walked out of the Starbucks and searched the parking lot, looking for the car in question.  He returned and looked around for possible owners (keeping in mind there were only 4 customers in here, including the two of us.)  He paced the floor, running his hands through his short blond hair.  It almost made me wonder if he himself had ever lost his car keys; he obviously knew all too well the level of panic that could come from losing something of importance.

Several minutes later, after it was apparent that the owners were long gone, he settled down and chatted with his friend who had accompanied him into the Starbucks. I continued to type, minding my own business, but simultaneously touched by his concern and kindness for someone he didn’t know and would most likely never meet.

There are good people in the world, all around us.  We just need to open our eyes and recognize who they are, and appreciate the moments when we can witness such kindness in action.  That alone inspires me, and I hope it inspires you as well!

I will write again when time allows, but until then, look for opportunities to bless one another with kindness – no matter how great or small your actions, they DO make a difference!  🙂


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The cards I made as random acts of kindness to bless others through iServe #iservecsbc #rak
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