celebrate kindness

Archive for January 2015

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One of the things I love about living near Richmond is that we are close to a REAL Krispy Kreme donut shop. Our shop makes the donuts from start to finish in plain view of the customer, with only a glass wall separating you and the production line.

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If you’ve never had an original glazed Krispy Kreme donut right off the conveyor belt, dripping from a heated waterfall of icing, you are missing out!  You always know when the donuts are “hot off the press” because Krispy Kreme will light their Hot sign whether day or night.

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I received a coupon from a friend for a FREE original glazed donut and I couldn’t wait to pay it forward to bless someone else! So I drove down to the shop and left my surprise where it couldn’t be missed – right on the glass window.

Photo Jan 24, 4 17 25 PMIt wasn’t much, didn’t cost me a dime, but boy did it make me happy! I wonder who got the free donut today? A mom suprising her kids for breakfast? Perhaps a grandparent spoiling their grandchild? Maybe even a businessman, swayed by the neon sign shining through his car window. Who knows. I just hope whoever used the coupon felt blessed by this random act of kindness and maybe it brightened their day!

Keep on keeping on, my dear friends! Kindness matters! 🙂

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When was the last time you got all the way home from the grocery store only to discover you never picked up an essential item on your list? So frustrating! Thankfully, I only live a hop, skip, and a jump away, but still… so annoying.

I forgot snack bags. Again. I always neglect to check our supply at home before going to the store, then lo and behold, we are out when I need them the most. Tonight I decided to stop by my neighborhood Food Lion after I dropped my daughter off at dance class, hoping for a quick “in-and-out” purchase.

Yes, I know it’s a holiday and yes, I know it’s prime time shopping hours for those who were not as lucky as me to have the day off. Stop laughing at my naïveté. I really was optimistic that I could grab what I needed, make my purchase, and continue along my merry way.

Apparently everyone else had the same idea. Each open register had a line. Oh well… I chose the shortest one and resigned myself to the fact that this would be yet another opportunity for me to practice a lesson in patience.

Not even 30 seconds after I got in line and pulled out my phone to play some rounds of Words With Friends to pass the time, I heard a voice ahead of me.

“You go ahead.”

I looked up to see the lady in front of me leaning to the left, motioning for me to go in front of her.

“Oh no, that’s OK. I’m fine to wait.” I smiled at her then started to look back at my phone when she responded quickly. “Please. Go in front. You only have one item.”

Have I mentioned before how much easier it is for me to give kindness than receive it? I smiled again, then graciously accepted her offer, moving ahead of her small rolling cart.

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I told her about my mission, to celebrate kindness in others, then asked if I could take her photo and write about this act on my blog.

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It wasn’t until I got home and looked through my photos that I realized her skin was darker than mine.

Today, as people all across the nation celebrate the dream so gracefully articulated by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., I am humbled and blessed to live in an era where I am free to share kindness with EVERYONE. I don’t care what gender, race, nationality, religion, age, or even clothing choice you make. If there is an opportunity to be nice to you, I will. If there is an opportunity to be blessed by your kindness, I will do my best to accept with a smile.

Because at the end of the day, I truly believe that kindness can change the world.

Be blessed and RAK on!

Today is the birthday of my dear friend, Toni, and I wanted to do a special random act of kindness to celebrate the day of her birth! Now many of you may know her as “that Zumba instructor”, and that’s how we first met about a year and a half ago when I started taking her group fitness classes at the local YMCA. I’ve even written about her before on my blog which you can read about here and here.

Well, since that time of doing Zumba with her, I started taking her Body Pump classes, too, because she is AWESOME and actually makes me forget that working out is… well, work! (Except for last night. Those lunges and squats holding weights were enough to make a person scream!)

But I digress; back to my RAKing. I wanted to do something special in honor of her birthday, something that would delight her spirit while staying true to her mission of keeping people fit, happy, and healthy.

I knew just what to do!

I stocked up my cart at the Dollar Tree and headed to the nearest playground. The weather has been cold and dismal the past few days, with melted snow and ice forming puddles alongside the sidewalks and roads. However, the weather is warming up tomorrow with highs in the mid 50’s, no chance of rain, only beautiful, sunny skies.

So to celebrate a break from the doldrums, I left a few surprises for any children who may happen to visit the playground tomorrow:

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Hula hoops. Paddle balls. Footballs. Bouncy balls. Bubbles. Lots of new toys for kids of all ages to enjoy as they stay active playing outside.

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Toni, I hope you enjoyed your special birthday RAK, and I hope whoever received these surprises shared in your joy. A special thanks to Jen Hicks whose donation to Celebrate Kindness helped to purchase everything you see here.

Be blessed and think of creative and fun ways to celebrate your friends’ birthdays this year! I promise it will make you happy, too! 🙂

You know what? I have THE best friends in the world. EVER!

Seriously. I am blessed beyond measure to call so many of you my friends and mean it. I know that if I were ever in need, you would be there for me, bending over backwards to help in any way you can. So right now before I go any further with my post, let me stop right here and say two little words you need to hear:

Thank you!

Last week, I was chatting with one of my friends on the phone and in the midst of the conversation I happened to mention that I had left my purse at work and I was driving back to retrieve it. Ironically, I wasn’t concerned in the least about any money inside, or the purse itself, but rather my cell phone charger. I only have one charger to fit my phone and the battery was already drained to 15% remaining. Thankfully, I don’t live too far from school, so it wasn’t a major inconvenience, but just another blip on my radar as I went about my day.

Unbeknownst to me, my friend had picked up on my plight and made a choice to go out of her way to make sure I never had to worry about my charger again. See, while I was rambling about this and that on the phone, her brain was already forming a plan to take action.

A few days later I received a box.

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Oh my gosh! Can you believe this?? Trust me, as a technologist, this was like manna from heaven! Not only did she send me several chargers to fit my phone, she added a few others to fit my iPad, my son’s iPod Touch and my daughter’s iPhone 4. What an amazing act of kindness and generosity!

You know what’s even more amazing? I’ve only met this friend once my entire life; she doesn’t even live in my state. And before last June, I didn’t even know she existed.

See, God has a funny way of placing amazing people in your life at exactly the right time. People come and people go, but the time that they walk along the same path in your life really is purposeful. Maybe you don’t need a charger. Maybe you need to know you are loved. Maybe you need a hug. Maybe you just need someone to vent to so you don’t do something rash. Look around you. When you least expect it, someone in your life will be there for you, right when you need them the most.

Now that is an awesome way to share kindness. Just simply being there for someone else when they need it. Very cool indeed.

So to my friend who lives so far away, thank you for making my day! To my friends who are reading this post, please know that I treasure our friendship as well, no matter what the structure or framework.

And to the friends I have yet to meet, just you wait. Your day is coming! And when we connect, you will be part of such an amazing network of caring, compassionate, loving friends, you just might believe your heart will burst with joy when you think of them all.

Happens to me all the time. 🙂

This year I plan to do 30 random acts of kindness in memory of our sweet Renee Parr, a first grade teacher at my school who unexpectedly passed away last summer at the age of 30.  She was known for her contagious laughter and smile, her sparkling personality, and her love of all things fun.

I don’t really have a set plan of which RAKs I want to complete, or even a timeline (other than doing them this year). I’m just going to wait on that nudge and know, in that moment, that it’s a Renee RAK.

Over the Christmas holiday, I had that first nudge as my family and I were visiting the Jelly Belly factory in Wisconsin. There were lots of smiling children and the whole place seemed somewhat magical with candy all about. You can read about that RAK here.

The next day, I went on a shopping date with my daughter (a perfect way to pass the time with a teenage girl!) As we strolled in and out of clothing shops, it seemed like I was constantly finding clothes that had fallen off their hangers. By the third store, I was almost starting to think I was on Candid Camera!  Each time I saw something on the floor, I stopped and picked it up, then searched for its hanger so I could return it to the rack, nice and neat. It wasn’t a huge RAK, one might even debate that it “doesn’t count”, but it was one less task a sales associate had to complete at the end of a long day.

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Then my daughter and I went into a store filled with sparkles. Oh, now THIS was our kind of store!  We looked at all the shimmering jewelry and scarves and admired the merchandising done by color groups throughout the store.  I took a picture of my daughter, just to relish in the moment:

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That’s when it hit me.

Renee loved sparkles. Glitter. Fancy things. And the color purple. All of which were surrounding my daughter on our special shopping day.

“Look up! I want this in MY room,” my daughter exclaimed with admiration. It was the largest, most glittery chandelier I had ever seen in a retail store. All glitz and glamour.

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“Look at this!” I turned to see my daughter modeling a tiara and felt my eyes fill with tears. Renee!

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Oh yes, this day of RAKs was meant for Renee for sure.  I kept the RAKs coming, allowing someone to go ahead of me in the dressing room and in the checkout line. I also left a few dollars in an accessories bin (but forgot to take a photo.)

It was fun spending time with my daughter shopping and it was fun to spend time with Renee in my mind. I’m excited to see what other RAKs lead me to think of her throughout the year.

Be blessed with kindness as you go about your week! For those of you tagging me in your RAK stories on Facebook and Twitter, keep ’em coming! Your stories inspire me, too!

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What inspires you?

Ok, so that might be a pretty loaded question for a Sunday afternoon, but it’s a thought that has been swirling in my brain all day. Where does one get the inspiration to do anything? Sure, we DO lots of things, but are they driven from a place of interest or obligation?

Many of the tasks I complete throughout my day and week are mundane and obligatory. Maybe there’s a way of finding joy in all things, but I have yet to discover it (and that’s coming from a self-proclaimed Pollyanna!) There are times when I have to force myself to be happy about the task I am attending and then there are times… the joy is just… THERE.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Many of my random acts of kindness are inspired by a quiet whisper on my heart. Look. Go. Do. A thought will pop in my brain and I just follow through. There are also times when thoughts flitter so quickly through my brain that they evaporate into thin air before any action is taken. Such is life.

Today, I found my inspiration through a song I heard at church. It has been floating around in my mind all day, to the point where I caught myself singing the chorus a time or two as I was doing laundry, making lunch, and even coloring a Marvel Heroes mask my son placed before me.

The song is about allowing yourself to be a branch that bears the fruit God provides. WOW. This is exactly how I feel about random acts of kindness! So many times I don’t have a real purpose, don’t know the outcome, don’t really plan anything out… I’m just an open vessel of sorts waiting to be used by Him. And sometimes, just sometimes, my RAKs bear fruit and continue to bless others as the RAKs are passed along from one person to the next.

For whatever reason, I really felt led to sing this song (the chorus part at least) and share it with whomever (again, don’t know the plan, lol). Maybe this song will bless you, maybe not. That’s OK. After all, I’m not the best singer out there – not even close (and especially not when I’m singing in my car. Ha!) But it does summarize how I get my inspiration for this journey along the road of kindness. And maybe the words (if not the vocals) will inspire you as well.

Click here to listen to the song, click here to read the words.

Be blessed and continue to inspire others any way you feel led!

Wow – what an exciting year I’ve had, and it’s only the 9th day thus far! Today I completed another random act of kindness in celebration of a Twitter milestone – 2,000 followers! That number is simply incredible. To think that every time I post something, there are 2,000 different people receiving my words, my thoughts, my insights… wow, indeed!

My 2K follower was @mrwheeler, a high school language arts teacher from Ohio. Thanks for the follow!

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I wanted to do a RAK that aligned with his interests, so I decided to do something with books since he was an English teacher.  As a pure coincidence (or would you say divine intervention?), my co-worker Jen donated a Barnes and Nobles gift card for me to pay-it-forward in whatever RAK I chose. Perfect timing!

So after work today, I wrote a quick note and drove to the nearest store to leave my RAK surprise.

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I found a stack of books near the front of the store and left the gift card there.

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It was so much fun to peek at the shoppers leisurely gazing at book titles around me. Which one would see my gift card? Who would actually pick it up and use it? Sometimes half the joy of doing a random act of kindness is in the wonderment of who will be the recipient.  Will it be someone shopping for a gift? A bookworm like me, who will read all sorts of books? Or maybe someone who wishes they had enough money for a hardback book, but had resigned themselves to only being able to afford a soft cover. One can only imagine.

I hope whoever received this RAK was blessed with a smile, because it definitely made my day to give it away!

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Mr. Wheeler, I hope your day was blessed as well, and I thank you… along with the other 1,999 of my followers, who engage with me on Twitter and allow me the privilege of sharing my life journey. I treasure each and everyone one of you!

Be blessed!


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