celebrate kindness

Archive for October 2014

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If you are reading this post, you are somehow impacted by social media.  Maybe you prefer Facebook to Instagram, or perhaps you idle your time pinning ideas on Pinterest.  Whether you have a smart phone, an iPad, or even a Nook, you are connected to those around you.

Connected.

I am so thankful to be living in this digital age, where free-flowing communication keeps me updated, informed, and in-the-know about those things that might otherwise slip my attention.  Now, I know there are many people out there who may prefer the more traditional forms of communication: phone calls, letters, face-to-face visits… and that’s great for them!  I enjoy, however, the fast-paced, never-ceasing overload of photos, words, and resources that magically appear on my phone at the touch of a button.

I am connected.

Today marked a milestone for me on Twitter.  After only four and a half months of engaged interactions, I received a notification that I now had 1,000 people following me – how exciting! Now to answer the question you may (or may not) be wondering:  Do I actually know all 1,000 people in that list?

The simple answer is: No!  That’s the beauty of social media, my friends. You don’t necessarily have to “know” people to learn from them.  I use Twitter to engage my mind.  Learn more.  Do more.  Be inspired.  Think deeper.  And today, I have 1,000 people to thank for making me a better leader, a better mom, a better person.

On Twitter, we call those “people” whom we follow closely our “PLN” (Personal Learning Network). These are the people who post links and tweets we then retweet or mark favorite.  Sometimes we learn about them personally; sometimes it’s strictly business.  There are Twitter chats; hundreds, in fact, where we can gather at the same time, half a world apart, and converse.  Share ideas.  Ask questions.  Brainstorm.  Grow.

It’s hard to believe it’s only been 4 months since I presented an Ignite session at the ISTE 2014 conference in Atlanta.  My interactive world has exploded with connections left and right.  I am in a constant state of life-long learning, a path which grows longer each day, but is marked by sunshine and joy. Nowhere else can I receive free professional development, in 2 minutes or less, while waiting in line at the grocery store.

My PLN rocks!

So today, in honor of @elearningpros becoming my 1,000th Twitter follower, I performed a random act of kindness to celebrate!

Twitter pic - delete

I wanted to do something techie – after all, this was a social media celebration, so I picked up a few things at the store on my way to Starbucks.  I found an awesome Smartphone notebook that had app icons on the front (how cool is THAT?)  I also picked up a set of snazzy earbuds and a 2-in-1 Stylus/Ink Pen, too.

Smartphone notebook

Smartphone notebook

Photo Oct 31, 2 14 54 PM

Earbuds and stylus pen

I wrote a note to go with the items, then placed them in a bag which I will leave on this Starbucks table after I finish typing this post:

Photo Oct 31, 1 42 54 PM

Photo Oct 31, 2 23 17 PM

Maybe it’s a geeky thing to do, but you know what?  I’m a tech geek at heart. This Twitter milestone reminds me that we are all part of a vital network of people – near and far.  Everyone has something of value to share.  Whether it’s a resource link on Twitter, a photo of your kids on Facebook, or a really cool recipe idea on Snapguide – sharing your knowledge, sharing your skills, sharing your LIFE, makes a positive impact on others.

Keep sharing and celebrate the many milestones in your life! Feel free to follow me on Twitter, too, if you are interested in learning more about instructional technology! 🙂

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UPDATE:  As I had more writing tasks to complete, I decided to stay at Starbucks for a bit to see if anyone would take the bag of goodies I left to be discovered.  It’s always an interesting perspective, people watching.  I saw two separate people peek inside the bag, then put it back.  I saw a teenager nudge his younger sibling to open the bag, only to be disappointed, with no toys or “fun things” inside.  I even saw a group of teenagers arrive and animatedly discuss the contents of the bag, which was quite enjoyable to listen to only a few feet away, until they started discussing the value of each item in the bag.  I was a bit dismayed when one of the teens took the earbuds, but left the stylus and notebook.  My first thought was actual embarrassment, that my surprise gifts had been shunned by adolescents who simply misunderstood the purpose of my RAK.  Then my thoughts shifted.  It was a free gift, after all. Did she not feel worthy to take the entire bag?  Or perhaps she felt guilty taking everything, and wanted someone else to share in the joy of discovery.  Maybe she was just a teenager who lost her earbuds and needed new ones.

I am a Pollyanna at heart.  I watched this gal, her new earbuds grasped in her hands balanced with her specialty Starbucks drink, and I would like to think that her day was blessed by my generosity.  After all, new earbuds is a cool find for a teenager.

For the next person who receives my RAK bag, I hope you might find joy in the items that remain, even without the earbuds.  After all, it’s the thought that counts.  🙂

 

Photo Oct 18, 5 06 25 PM

One of the most exciting times in a young girl’s life is getting dressed up for a formal dance. Oh, to be young again! The dress… the shoes… the hair… each decision carefully made with finite precision.  Such a magical time!

Today I had the privilege of being asked to style my daughter’s hair for her very first homecoming dance.  As a mom, this is an esteemed honor, only bestowed to those who can be trusted to transform one from ordinary to magnificent. While I don’t consider myself worthy of such an honor (surely a licensed hair stylist could do a much better job than I), it was humbling to be asked to take on such an important role in my daughter’s memory-making.

My daughter’s straight hair is much thicker than mine, the width of a ponytail band often straining to be looped a second time.  It also does not hold curl very well.  We both knew this request posed a unique challenge if to last the entire night.

She spent some time perusing Google, to locate a photo that matched her vision of the perfect style, then she passed along a quick video to remind me how to create a waterfall braid.  I gathered my hair essentials (namely sprays, bands, and ceramic curling wand) and made my way to her bedroom.

Sitting in her swiveling desk chair facing the mirror, her right foot absentmindedly turning the seat from right to left, I caught a flash of what it would be like to share such a moment with my daughter on her wedding day. It was a brief moment, one that dissipated almost as quickly as it began, but it was enough to remind me that this moment was special.  Precious.  Priceless.

I pulled the chair away from the mirror, twisting her to the side so the preheated curling wand could reach all angles of her hair.  For the next 20 minutes, I created sections; quarter inch strands of rich chocolate silk woven through my fingers into a small braid with cascading curls.  We chatted and laughed, without a care in the world, both knowing she was being transformed into a princess.

“Um, can you make this part less curly?”  Her request was made with a scrunch of her nose.

“Can you make this part look like that?”

“Yeah, that’s better.  Like that.”

She wanted a braid on only one side; the other to have curls alone. I took my revised orders and recurled, my only hope to achieve acceptance in the next round of review.  My fingers tilted within the strands, gently pulling and separating (but not too much, mind you.) The sparkling gemstone headband was added with another twist of braid, its side hidden beneath the luxurious curls that now bounced from my fingertips. The time had come to leave the makeshift beauty salon to change into the dress, but not before a photo could be snapped for our memory book:

Photo Oct 18, 4 46 01 PM

As the dress and shoes were added to complete the ensemble, we made our way to her friends’ home where I was asked again to create flowing curls for two of her best friends.  And so I did.

Photo Oct 18, 5 45 23 PM

Photo Oct 18, 6 16 14 PM

Photo Oct 18, 6 23 42 PM

The best friends, who often spend their days in ponytails and casual tees, had a night filled with beauty and joy.  Best of all, this Momma had a smile on her heart for completing this random act of kindness times three.

My daughter and I through the flashes of cameras in the afternoon sun.

My daughter and I smile through the bright camera flashes during the photo opp.

The next time you receive a request of help from your child, take a moment and appreciate the opportunity to give back and make a difference in your child’s life. Sure, the request may not be as monumental (or publicly documented) as a Homecoming hairstyle, but it can have the possibility of creating a life-long memory for everyone involved.

Be blessed and treasure the simple moments!

This week I received two surprises in my mailbox that brightened my day:

Photo Oct 14, 11 36 41 AM

 

Photo Oct 16, 11 43 05 AM

 

What an easy way to put a smile on someone’s face!  I’m not quite sure who blessed me with these unexpected gifts, but they were received with much appreciation.  Thank you, mystery sender(s), for making my day shine brighter.

Happy Fall indeed!

Ask any teacher the value of copy paper and you might be surprised to hear the answer.  Even as we move towards a digital world, teachers still use a LOT of paper, for a variety of purposes.  Now this is not a blog post of me comparing the evils of worksheets with free, online tools; rather, it’s a simple summary of the random act of kindness I did today, from one teacher to another.

I left extra paper in the copy machine.

Photo Oct 02, 8 40 48 AM

Yes, I know, it may not seem like a monumental RAK, but there is nothing worse than having 5 minutes left in your planning period, walking across campus to the copy room to make one extra copy you forgot to make, only to discover you left your open package of copy paper back in your classroom.  So frustrating!

As a technologist, I don’t use many photocopies (unless I’m working on a special project or professional development sessions), so it’s become my little RAK tradition to bring a little extra paper with me every time I head to the copier machine.  Then, when my copies are made, I simply leave the paper in the tray just in case the next person forgot to bring their stack.

It’s a simple way to put a little good back into this world, almost always anonymously.  (Well, until now. I guess I just blew my cover writing this post, lol.)

I hope this quick blog post inspires you to look for small ways to bless one another.  Kindness is always free.  🙂

Be blessed and pay it forward!

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