celebrate kindness

Archive for March 2015

AMOK2

When you tell someone you spent the morning running amok, you are sure to receive some odd looks. After all, who announces their seemingly uncontrollable behavior with such joy? This is when I wish little speech bubbles would appear above our heads when we talk, so people can see that I’m referencing #AMOK, the Annual Melee of Kindness. This annual event, sponsored by RandomActs, is a global flash mob of sorts; people all across the world complete random acts of kindness for two designated days and share their stories with others. (Go ahead. Search the hashtag #AMOK on Twitter and see all the awesome ways people are being kind!)

This morning, in less time it takes for me to vacuum my house, I completed 6 RAKs for #AMOK. It was so much fun! Here are the things I did:

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1.  I went to Starbucks to purchase a few gift cards. While in the drive through waiting to reach the cashier, a small feather floated across my windshield (very Forrest Gump-like.) I watched it, mesmerized, as it skimmed the slight breeze, flitting right, then left, then right again, to finally rest inside my side door window.

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Now you may not believe in signs from above, and that’s fine, but for me, this was like a smile from heaven to start my RAKs #AMOK! When I finally made it to the cashier to purchase my gift cards, I bought the drink of the person in the car behind me and passed along this note:

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2. My next stop was to purchase three lottery tickets from a local convenience store. Then I went to Kroger to see who deserved a chance of hitting it big.

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The first car I saw was parked diagonally from me. You could tell from the door that the person had been in an accident and had their car fixed with spare parts. I thought they might deserve a chance at some better luck, so I placed my note with one lottery ticket under their windshield wiper.

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The next car that caught my eye had a personalized plate focused on children. That made me smile, so I left them a lottery ticket, too.

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My third lottery ticket went to a van parked in the special parking place reserved for adults with small children. I remember the times I’ve had to go grocery shopping with little ones in tow and it is never a relaxing task. I thought maybe a lottery ticket on their dash might brighten their day, too.

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3.  With a pocketful of quarters, I made my way into Kroger. I stocked the bottom row of candy and toy dispensers to surprise any children who may be shopping with their parents that day.

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Did you know that some of the bottom row dispensers cost MORE than the ones right beside them? ME NEITHER! How frustrating for a child OR parent to have to understand that logic! I went ahead and added a few more quarters so no one would be disappointed.

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4.  I left money on a Redbox machine to pay for someone’s movie for the day. I even hid it behind the screen so there would be an element of surprise! (I love surprises!)

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5.  Who can resist Girl Scout cookies? Often, when I’m entering or exiting a store, I’m consumed by an overwhelming sense of guilt because these sweet girls are trying to raise money for their troop, but we’ve already bought cookies from our niece. (Heaven knows we do NOT need any more cookies in this house!) Today, however, I went right up to the table, money in hand, and asked if I could by a box to donate to someone else. Thankfully, they were prepared for my request with a box already designated for donations to the Hanover Safe Place. I let the Girl Scout choose her favorite box (Samoas!) to donate on behalf of #AMOK.

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(Yes, her mom gave verbal permission for me to post these photos!)

6.  My final random act of kindness was done as I was heading back to my car. I saw one of the Kroger workers gathering all the shopping carts to return to the store. I recognized him instantly (I shop at Kroger a lot), and approached him with a smile. “Hi,” I began, as he turned his head in my direction. “I know you never ask for tips and this is just part of your job, but I wanted to take a moment to say thank you for all you do. You remind me a lot of Mr. Leon who used to work here; I’m sure he would be proud of all you do to help others.” With that, I placed $5.00 in his hand as the smile spread across his face. “Thank you ma’am,” he replied, as I quickly turned and walked to my car.



My morning RAKs were quick little sprinklings of kindness here and there; nothing outrageous or grand, but small reminders to others that there is still good in this world. Imagine how wonderful this world would be if EVERYONE ran #AMOK with kindness!

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Pooh

As I sit in my kitchen, looking out the window at yet another snow covered morning, I am reminded that even on the coldest, dreariest of days I have a choice in my mindset. Even Eeyore, the beloved, pessimistic sidekick of Winnie-the-Pooh, could reach down deep and find something good in the muck and mire.

It’s all about perspective.

I love the impact of words. Words people say; words people write. With just a few letters pushed together, one has the ability to change perspectives. Inspire. Empower. Simply amazing.

The past two months I’ve been reading a multitude of books, articles, and research journals focused on how young children learn. As I put the finishing touches on my keynote presentation for tomorrow’s early childhood conference, I’m reminded of the wonderful authors who have invited me into their world of words. From the silly stanzas of Shel Silverstein to the social struggles of Judy Blume, my childhood was filled with words.  I can still remember the moment as a teenager when I finished reading my first “adult book”, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith. It was the longest book I had ever read (368 pages) and there was a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction as I turned that final page to close the book.

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I have been blessed over the years to receive books from friends as gifts and to have the luxury of purchasing my own. Even in this digital age where it’s easier (and cheaper!) to download an e-book to read on your device, there is something powerful about holding a paper-bound book in your hands.

To have a book signed by the actual author, with a personal message inscribed inside, creates a connection that continues long after the book is done. One of the first autographed books I received was written by the assistant superintendent of my district who invited me to detail one of my teaching units to be included in her manuscript. Talk about a thrill indeed!

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This past year, I was delighted to receive two autographed books, generously donated to me by kindred spirits who believe in the power of doing good in this world. Oh, the delight in receiving an unexpected package in the mail, with something new to read!

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I wanted to pay-it-forward, to share this joy of words with others, so I decided to do a little “Book Buddy” RAK of my own. My friend, Jen, had donated several children’s books to me a while back and they had been sitting in my closet just waiting for a new home. I packaged the books in a blue, plastic tote, put them in my car, and started to drive.

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My drive was short; only about 15 minutes away, but in a location I rarely visit. From a quick view driving by you might miss it, a tiny daycare center sandwiched in a small retail space beside a tattoo parlor.

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The lights were dim and the door locked; I almost turned away thinking the child care center was closed.  As I peered through the dark windows, I saw the faint outline of someone walking towards the door. I could hear a key jostling the metal lock as the heavy door creaked open.

“Can I help you?”

I was greeted with a warm, but guarded smile, as a woman’s face appeared out of the shadows. I introduced myself and handed her the bucket of books. “I know the power of books, and I wanted to bless the children in your center with some free books to read. You can pass them along to your teachers to use in their classes or let the kids take them home! Whatever you like!”

Her smile widened as she turned to the side, allowing me a small glimpse of the many children playing with blocks and cars on the floor. “What a sure nice thing for you to do!” she replied as she accepted the books into her arms. She turned her head to several young women in the background, and explained why I was there. “She’s gonna give us some books for the kids! That’s just nice!”

I told her a little about Renee, the first grade teacher at my school who passed away, and sprinkled a little bit of her sparkle along the way. Our exchange lasted less than two minutes; I smiled all the way back to my car. As I drove home, I kept thinking about those children, who might be receiving a book of their own for the very first time. WOW. Talk about the power of a gift!

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The next time you are cleaning out your children’s bookshelves, or happen to see some books at a yard sale, you might consider paying-it-forward to bless someone else. A “new to me” book can be just as treasured as one with an autograph inside! Embrace the power of words and make someone smile today. 🙂


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