celebrate kindness

Archive for March 2014

This entire weekend has been rainy.  Dark.  Dreary.  Drizzle.  Downpours. Depressing.  Somehow the alliteration of my words echoes the dullness of the day.  So… what better way to beat the doldrums… but to don my raincoat and drive out to perform a RAK! 🙂

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As many of you know, several of my RAKs occur at grocery stores.  Usually this is because I am ALWAYS grocery shopping.  (Hey – I like to cook and I like to eat… it’s a logical place to spend my time, lol!)  Kroger, Martin’s, Food Lion, Target, Walmart, Pole Green Produce… if you sell food, chances are I have visited your store a time or two!

Some people clip coupons; some people look for sale flyers… I’m a gal of convenience.  If I need something and you’re on my path from here to there, then I’ll shop at your store.  I like to stick with stores where I know the general layout (mainly because my time is precious and it’s easier to run in and out if I know where something is located versus hunting the entire store for a box of rice noodles that can only be found down the Asian food aisle.)

There are times when grocery store chains try to reel me in as a repeat customer by offering special deals or perks.  Kroger offers fuel points and sometimes if you purchase gift cards there you can earn up to 4x the price paid.  Now that’s a good deal!  Food Lion is currently running a special where each week if you spend a certain amount of money you earn a ticket – 6 weeks of tickets can be redeemed for a “free holiday meal” (which is a $20 credit on your next food bill.)  That’s a good deal, too!

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Well, as luck would have it, I earned three tickets, not six.  Again, I shop for convenience, not for dedication.  Instead of just throwing away the tickets which were useless to me, I decided to take this rainy weekend and bring a little sunshine to someone else’s day.

I made a sign, explaining that the tickets were free to take, then I taped each ticket to the message along with my business card so those who received the RAK could visit this website and read the background story of their RAK.  Then I drove to Food Lion and taped my sign and tickets to an outdoor display right outside the storefront doors.

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I thought maybe someone might be collecting tickets, but missed one week, or maybe didn’t spend enough money to earn a ticket. Whatever the reason, I hope the person (or people!) were blessed by this Random Act of Kindness.  If you are reading this today and you were the lucky recipient, please comment below if you like to share the joy of paying it forward!

I hope you can find inspiration in even the darkest of days to bless someone else in fun, creative ways.  Performing this RAK sure did bring a smile to my face!  🙂

 

This afternoon I decided to visit a local consignment shop, searching for some summer clothes for the kids and a few “new to me” books to add to their already overflowing bookshelves.  (We LOVE books!)  The sale encouraged us to bring our own bags to make it easier to hold on to our items while walking around and it wasn’t long before the foldable cart I brought was half full.

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Usually consignment sale checkout lines are very long with a wait time of 45 minutes or more.  I was prepared for this delay and quickly joined the line that was already wrapped halfway around the store.  As I was standing in line, I noticed the lady in front of me was leaning on a cane.  Step-by-step we shuffled along in the line and I realized her bags, overflowing with clothes, were dragging along the cement floor.  As I looked closer, I saw the bags were wrapped around the base of her cane and she was pulling them across the floor as we advanced towards the cash registers.

Well, this just wouldn’t do – here I was standing right there with this half-empty cart!  I gently tapped the lady on her back and said with a smile, “Here – let me help you with your bags!”  I then bent down and unwrapped the bags from her cane and added them to my rolling cart.  “There’s no need for you to drag those along – let me put them here until we get to the front of the line.”  She was very appreciative of my kind gesture and for the next half hour we filled the time chatting about this and that.

Her items and mine

Her items and mine

Finally it was our turn to checkout so I carried the items to her spot and placed her bags on the counter.   She thanked me profusely for helping her out which brightened my day!  🙂  As I turned back to the line to wait for my turn, it occurred to me that she might need help taking her items to the car once purchased.  I returned to her and whispered, “If you have time to wait, I’ll take your items to your car for you, too!”  She turned to me with disbelief and joy radiating from her face.  “Are you sure?  You don’t mind? How sweet of you!”

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It didn’t take long for me to checkout my items and within minutes I was pulling the rolling cart to her car.  Along the way she told me more about herself and why she walked with a cane.  Her name was Shirley and she suffered from spinal stenosis; she also had both hips replaced.  “I can still walk, but I just get really tired sometimes.”  We found her car and I placed the bags in the trunk. “Thank you for your kindness!” she added as we hugged and parted ways.

It was a wonderful start to my weekend!  May you be inspired to notice those around you and take initiative to offer help.  We could all use some help every now and again, wouldn’t you agree?

Be blessed, dear readers and Happy Friday!  🙂

Today’s RAK was rather simple actually – I just wrote a few notes to some people I know to encourage them with uplifting thoughts!

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In one card I printed out small uplifting quotes and encouraged my friend to tape them on her mirror or wherever she could see them each day to bring a smile to her heart and mind.  Here are a few of the quotes I sent:

Hope

 

Self Confidence

 

Sparkle

 

I also found this quote that summarizes how I feel about all the people I encounter for my RAKs:

Butterflies

 

Later this week I plan to print out more of these quotes and leave them in unique places.  I hope they inspire you, too!

Be blessed!

 

Today was SUCH a fun day to be out and about performing random acts of kindness for strangers!  It was also a beautiful day (no more cold snow!) which helped to brighten our mood as well.

Our first stop was a local girl scout cookie stand.  My friend, Dawn,  posted on Facebook that her daughter’s troop would be selling cookies today outside a local store.   She was so surprised to see us show up to support her daughter!  We bought several boxes of girl scout cookies to use for RAKs, which delighted the girls eager to make a sale.

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As I was chatting with Dawn, the girls had several sales in a row after mine and ended up selling out of Samoas – the boxes of cookies I just bought!  Then Dawn leaned over and said, “You had perfect timing – not only did those cookies sell out, but we were supposed to be packed up and gone 30 minutes ago!  I just got permission to stay longer right when you walked up!”  Talk about blessings!

Dawn and I with one of the Samoas I bought.

Dawn and I with one of the boxes of Samoas I bought today.

Then it was time to put my purchases into action.  My daughter and I drove to a local mall to do a little bit of clothes shopping (great sales on bathing suits at JCPenney, by the way), but before we could even get started on our planned RAKs, I found myself in the midst of a God moment.

For those who are unbelievers, let me explain.  Sometimes I find myself in the right place at the right time to do exactly what I feel God is whispering on my heart.  These “God moments” are never about me – I’m simply a catalyst that God uses to speak to someone else in a crucial moment.

This particular God moment happened as I was pulling into the shopping mall parking lot.  I noticed the car parked in front of me, the driver’s side door open, boots leaning out of the car.  I could see the driver in the car’s rear view mirror and in that exact moment that I happened to see the mirror, I saw her profile.  A dark skinned gal, probably in her 20’s, tears streaming down her face, cell phone held to her ear.  It was a brief moment, mere seconds actually, but wow – it hit me so hard!  It’s so difficult to explain in words the pain I could sense in this woman’s tears.  I could almost feel her anguish, just as I sat in my own car.

Without hesitation, I knew EXACTLY what to do.  A few days ago, I had placed a ziploc bag in my car’s glove compartment with a little note and two chocolates candies:

Photo Mar 08, 3 56 49 PMI didn’t have a particular plan for this treat, other than to use it for a RAK sometime in the future.  (In all honesty, I totally forgot I had done this until this God moment refreshed my memory!)  I reached in, grabbed the baggie, then walked towards the car.   The car door was still open and now I could see that the driver was sobbing, her friend leaning over and comforting her.  I simply gave her the baggie and said “This is for you.  Be blessed.”  I then turned and walked away, not daring to look back.

I will never know what news this gal received to jar such emotion, but I know without a shadow of a doubt that God used me right in that moment to let her know she was not alone.

And that, my friends, is just really cool.  🙂

So back to the actual RAKs I was trying to complete.   Now, I don’t know if you are male or female, young or old, but I think I can make a fair statement that shopping for bathing suits is complete agony for many people (myself included).  It’s almost like a necessary evil, I believe.  Well, in this particular store there are fitting rooms right where the bathing suits are located and I went straight there to do my next RAK.

Knowing there would be gals in the fitting room trying on bathing suits (remember me mentioning misery?), I wanted to brighten someone’s day.  I placed post-it notes with uplifting messages on the mirrors to make people smile when they looked at their reflection.

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Surely someone would appreciate a reminder that they are beautiful!  My next RAK was planned for a different fitting room on the other side of the store.  I knew there was a fitting room near the older woman’s clothing area, and I wanted to bless someone who may have been on a fixed income.  My next RAK was simply to leave a box of new, unopened Samoa girl scout cookies for a stranger with the message “Finders, Keepers!”

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As I walked out of the fitting room, I saw two older ladies walk in and it gave me such a rush to think that maybe one of those ladies would discover my free cookies!

Later, as we were in the checkout line to make our shopping purchases, my daughter went back to the dressing room to see if the cookies were still there.  They were gone!  YAY!  Mission accomplished!

My daughter and I had SUCH fun doing these random acts of kindness today – I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in crime!

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May these small RAKs inspire you to do some RAKs of your own.  As you can see from the post-it notes, it doesn’t cost anything to brighten someone else’s day.  Just think outside of the box… or maybe just leave a box for someone else to enjoy!

Be blessed and thanks for sharing in my adventures!

Did you know that today, March 1, 2014, is the Annual Melee of Kindness? According to http://www.therandomact.org, over 498 participants in 18 countries performed 156 acts of kindness all in one day last year.  How fun!

This year, I’m adding two of my own acts to the list.  Read below to find out what I did!

AMOK RAK #1

My niece has a severe dairy allergy that prevents her from enjoying many of the sweet treats children take for granted. Ice cream. Chocolate. Cookies. Cake.  Sure, there are substitutes out there she can have but nothing can compare to a surprise trip to an ice cream parlor like Sweet Frog or Coldstone.  We were chatting one afternoon and being almost 7 she said that she was too scared to get retested because she knew it would hurt.  I told her if she went ahead with the test and found out she wasn’t allergic to dairy anymore that I would take her out and she could get any ice cream she wanted!

Well, my brave little niece went ahead and got retested only to discover she had not outgrown her allergy.  No ice cream allowed. Poor thing!  I found out what her favorite candies were (that she was allowed to eat) and made her this candy gift instead.  It wasn’t much, but it was the least I could do to reward her bravery!

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AMOK RAK #2

In preparation of making the candy treat above, I went to our local grocery store to purchase the items needed.  As I was walking through the busy parking lot, I heard an older gentleman asking for directions.  “Excuse me, can you help me find Fed Ex?”  He was holding a piece of paper, pointing to something circled, the Fed Ex emblem bright enough to see several feet away.

Now let me stop here to say I am cautious about speaking to strangers, especially when I am alone.  However, this was a very busy parking lot with cars and people all around, and something prompted me to smile and offer my assistance.  “Absolutely!” I responded.  I walked towards him and sure enough, the item circled on his paper was a street address for Fed Ex.  I really had no idea how to get there, so I pulled out my cell phone, located my favorite traffic/navigation app, Waze, and punched in the address.

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“Ahhh – that’s why you are lost… this street actually stops at a dead end, then picks back up on the other side of a neighborhood.”  I could see the relief flood through his eyes.  “Thank you so much!” he replied.  “I’ve been driving up and down the road and thought I had lost my mind!”

I explained to him exactly where to go, then we parted ways with smiles on both our faces.  It felt good to help out someone in need!

I hope you are blessed by my stories and inspired to do your own RAK today in celebration of AMOK!  🙂

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Three stories of RAK blessings! What a great week!

RAK #1

As many of you know, my daughter has her own card business that she started when she was 13 years old.   She loves to make cards, not only as a creative outlet but as a way to bless other people.  Sometimes when she gets backed up with orders, I will jump in and help, although always under a watchful eye.  “Mommy, you can add the ribbon, but I will cut the paper.”  She takes pride in the quality of her work and it shows!

A few weeks ago, one of my co-workers had a death in the family.  Our team collected money and tried to bless her with a gift card to a restaurant, but she turned it down saying, “That is so very sweet of you, but to be perfectly honest what I really need right now are Thank You cards.”  She didn’t need to say another word.  We were on it.

Fifty cards and one Kit-Kat candy bar later (my daughter’s trademark), we were able to bless my friend with exactly what she needed. She also received the restaurant gift card, too, with the cards being a RAK blessing instead.

RAK #2

Yesterday I received a text message through my email that showed a photo of a sign that said “Employee of the Month – Parking Space!”  I didn’t recognize the phone number at first so I was thoroughly confused, but with a little investigating I realized it was one of my teammates from work.  Wow!  She received the Employee of the Month designation for one of her three schools with the added reward of a special parking place close to the entrance of that school.  Very cool!

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That’s when the reward became a RAK!  She texted more details about the acknowledgement and said she wanted to bless someone else with the parking pass.  She knew there was a new mom on staff who had been out on maternity leave, but was returning to school next Monday.  She decided to pay it forward and bless the new mom with the prized parking space instead of keeping it for herself.  How inspiring!  I am always in awe of my friends doing such kind things for others!

RAK #3

As a surprise for my daughter, I decided to swing through a Starbucks in the midst of running errands around town.  Ironically, she had given me a Starbucks gift card for Christmas and I was waiting for just the right time to use it – today was the day!

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As we placed our order in the drive through and waited to pay, I thought it would be fun to pay it forward by doing a RAK for the car behind us.

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Have you ever wondered how to do a drive-thru RAK?  It’s so easy!  When it came time for us to pay, I simply asked how much the order was for the person behind us.   It wasn’t much, apparently they only ordered one drink (or maybe two small drinks?) and I was practically giddy at the thought of blessing someone right behind me.  I gave the barista my gift card (Thanks, sweet daughter of mine!) then said I also wanted to pay for the car behind us.  It was a little more than what I had on my gift card, but no big deal at all.  I gave the barista one of my business cards and asked that he give it to the person when they tried to pay.

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As we pulled away from the payment window, my daughter kept looking through the back window, watching the people trying to pay.  Has this ever happened to you?  We couldn’t stop giggling at the thought of them having to keep their own money, knowing that a perfect stranger had blessed their day without warning, without expectation.  What fun!

We continued on our way and my daughter asked a very important question.  “Mommy, what would you have done if their order was really expensive?”  It was a valid question and a teachable moment.  “Well, baby,” I began, “It would not have mattered how much it cost.  When you make the decision to bless someone else, money is not an issue.”  There was a quiet pause and then I continued.  “You see how good this feels right now?  Try to bottle up this feeling inside.  Then, when you want to spend money on something… but can’t because you already spent it being nice to someone else… bring back this feeling and be happy.”

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Because this, dear readers, is what I do.  Kindness matters.  Be an inspiration!  🙂

 


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