Archive for July 2015
Today is an exciting day! After two years of diligently saving and planning, our family began a once-in-a-lifetime bucket list vacation: a Disney cruise to Alaska!
There will be many opportunities for random acts of kindness on this vacation and we couldn’t wait to get started. After counting down the months, weeks, and days, it was finally time to fly cross-country to Vancouver, Canada.
I’m not sure if you’ve ever traveled with young children before, but if you have you know there is a certain level of angst that accompanies a trip of this magnitude. Did you pack everything you need? Where are the boarding passes? Do you have all the passports? Does your suitcase weigh less than 50 lbs? (For the record, mine passed inspection at 48.5lbs. Eek!)
Hopping on for a one hour puddle jumper flight is a breeze. Settling in for more than 5 hours is another story.
He fell asleep as we waited on the runway, missing the takeoff views so eagerly anticipated.
His slumber was much needed since we woke him at 3:30 AM to arrive at the airport for our early morning flight, the first flight of the day. We were hopeful he would rest for a few hours.
He slept for 20 minutes.
The next 4 and 1/2 hours loomed before us like a sand timer tipped to start again. He read books. He matched stickers. He played with his toys. He ate a snack and drank some juice.
4 more hours to go.
Since this was the first flight he could remember (he had flown once before as a baby,) he was mesmerized by everything around him: the window, the seatbelt, the mesh pocket, and especially the serving tray.
He discovered that the recessed drink holders made a perfect bed for his Paw Patrol pets with the tray transformed to a battleground as the Minions kept watch over their sleeping friends.
With all the movement of the tray going up and down, back and forth, I suddenly became aware of the gentleman sitting in front of my son, his seat shifting with each battle won. Ugh! I could only imagine this scene from the stranger’s perspective, yet he never once complained. I decided to write him a note of thanks.
It was a long flight, made even longer by the lack of sleep from us all, but my little guy was a trooper, never once having a tantrum or meltdown. I was proud of his patience – quite an accomplishment from an over-tired five year old!
As the plane finally made its descent, I added some chocolate to the thank you note and handed it to the stranger as we landed and exited the plane.
Sometimes the understanding of complete strangers is enough to keep a smile on your face. 🙂
To honor the memory of Renee Parr, her family asked those that loved her to complete 14 random acts of kindness as we approach the one year anniversary of her passing, July 14, 2014.
Last Saturday, my two older children came with me to The Dollar Tree as we picked up some last minute glow sticks for our 4th of July festivities. As we paid for our purchases, I saw my son go to the candy machines and check to see what was inside. In an instant, I felt that nudge and suddenly I knew what I wanted to do to honor Renee’s memory:
I wanted to share in the joy of surprises for children.
I dug around in my purse for all the quarters I could find – only two, but better than nothing. I opened my wallet to count my cash and there found disappointment as well – two single dollar bills folded behind my license. One more search in my purse resulted in a third dollar bill, crumpled and disheveled, the edges ripped and worn.
Two quarters and three dollar bills.
I asked the sales clerk if she could change my bills into quarters and she refused, saying she didn’t have any quarters in her tray. In desperation, I located the store manager and explained the RAK I wanted to do, its purpose to honor the memory of Renee. She used her master key to open two additional registers and finally we were able to complete the transation.
Two quarters and three dollar bills, now 14 quarters to give away.
It didn’t take the children long to fill all the candy machines. Some required two quarters; some only one. They finished their task with two quarters left and had to decide which “big machine” would receive the money.
Renee was always a princess, to her family and her friends, so it was only fitting that the remaining coins went to the Frozen Disney Princesses Tattoos.
We took a moment, my children and I, and said a silent prayer for Renee’s family and those sweet children who would receive the joy of a Renee RAK. She will always be in our hearts, forever.
In addition to preparing Blessing Bags for the ISTE Conference, I packed some extra goodies to surprise conference presenters and attendees. There were three separate random acts of kindness, but each asked the recipients to tweet out the RAK using the hashtag #ISTERAK if they found them. The photos shared on Twitter were priceless and brought a smile to my face each day! Maybe these will give you some inspiration for easy-to-share RAKs with others!
I printed a few sheets of paper titled “Free Compliments” with tear-off tabs at the bottom. Some of the compliments included sayings like “You’re Beautiful!” and “I wish I could pin you on Pinterest.” I taped the compliment sheets to the back of restroom doors, thinking they would be seen by many. Here are a few of the photos shared of this RAK:
“You are tech savvy!”
“You are tweet worthy”
“I like your style!”
The biggest thrill came at the end of the conference when ISTE (@isteconnects) tweeted out a photo of my compliment sheet, all tabs taken, with this message for all their participants:
“#ISTERAK spreading kindness at #ISTE2015. Attendees, you are all amazing!!”
If you are looking for some “nerds”, a technology conference with 21,000 registered participants is the place to be! I left these boxes in random places inside the convention center to be discovered by whomever. Here are a few of the lucky “nerds”… how awesome that all four boxes were tweeted out!
Here is one box I left on a seat. Below are the photos posted by others to Twitter.
You Are Worth 100 Grand
I am a strong believer that you should compliment someone when they do something well. For this reason, I like to bring along 100 Grand chocolates with a little note saying “You are worth 100 Grand.” Here are a few people that received some sweet treats for their awesomeness:
Right after Adam Bellow (@adambellow) and Dean Shareski’s (@shareski) session on “Hacking Keynote”, I ran up on the stage and handed them both 100 Grand. Their presentation was funny and informative with lots of opportunities for learning and sharing.
I had so much fun touring the poster sessions, especially those where students shared their work. The Tech Ninja Squad was a technology club for 4th and 5th graders and these gals were very eager to share all the cool projects they made!
Another poster session I loved had students sharing the projects they created with green screen technology.
They definitely earned their rewards as they patiently walked me through each step of the process. Twice.
I had my first “celebrity selfie” moment where their teacher (Pam Craig – @Pcraig911) looked at my name tag and said, “I follow you on Twitter!” What a fun moment – I’m not used to being on the receiving line of that statement! (And yes, I’m wearing a cape. You didn’t know I was a superhero? Ha!)
After using my cell phone and iPad all day, it was time for me to find an outlet and charge my devices. As another random act of kindness, I carry a power strip in my purse a conferences so I can share my multiple outlets with others. It’s a great way to meet new people, too!
One person I sat beside had THE most amazing accessory holder for all his chargers and cables. I was so impressed, I left him 100 Grand, too.
Speaking of chargers… there were all these little lock boxes at the convention center and in Reading Terminal Market where people could charge their devices for FREE. Talk about a random act of kindness – that was AWESOME! Each box contained a key where you could lock your device and leave it. I predict we will see a LOT more of these around town – in classrooms, too!
These random acts of kindness were fun to share throughout the conference and cost me about $6 in all. If you want to see who posted what, search the hashtag #ISTERAK on Twitter!
One of my favorite parts of the ISTE Conference is the opportunity to bless others and pay-it-forward with random acts of kindness. Imagine 21,000 people walking, talking, laughing… watching, doing, making… learning, growing, connecting… all through the common thread of technology in education. It’s a never-ending mashup of activity from morning to night!
This year’s conference was in Philadelphia, PA and prior to leaving, I prepared my RAK surprises. We would be there five days and I wanted to make sure I could bless at least a few people each day.
I sorted the shampoo, conditioner, soap, mouthwash, Chapstick, granola bars and peanut butter crackers into separate baggies, then added a few dollars to round out the blessing. I finished with eight bags to leave on the streets of Philly to bless the homeless!
The Philadelphia Convention Center is the heartbeat of the city, slicing the rich from the poor like a scalpel. On one side of the convention center there was hustle and bustle, suits and skirts, gourmet coffee and specialty bread. On the opposite side there was… silence. The only movement was foot traffic from the overly priced parking lot on the corner and moving vehicles turning left, away from the downtrodden and desolate souls who littered the corners and vestibules.
I turned right.
Each day, after the last session concluded, I walked through the underpass and opened my eyes to the life that called these streets home. They had their bags, bulging from the few belongings they owned, their eyes downcast as I passed by. They were killing time and breaking my heart in the process.
I was discreet, respecting their time and place. I left my bags within eyesight, but not close enough to disturb; a simple smile as I continued along my way.
On my final day in Philly, I came across Saint John’s Hospice, a homeless shelter a few blocks from the convention center. I only had 3 bags left, but knew they were all meant to stay here. I placed one on the top step near the entrance (if you look closely at the photo below you can see the bag in the top right side), then as I backed away to place another I saw a tall gentleman staring at me, his frail frame leaning against the cinder block wall.
I smiled and walked towards him, my hand outstretched with a blessing bag. “Would you like a bag?” He nodded and took my offering, turning the bag over and again to check out what was inside. “Do you have any friends who would like a bag? I have another one.”
His eyes brightened as he accepted the second bag and a smile emerged to reveal his gratefulness. His name was Eric and he fumbled with the bags to return my handshake. I wished him well and said it was nice to meet him as a few other men came out of the building. Everyone was pleasant, cordial, and for a moment I forgot that I was deep in the city on the wrong side of town.
For me, it was just an interaction between two people whose day was made brighter by kindness.
The next time you have an extended hotel stay, maybe you will consider putting those travel soaps and shampoos to good use, helping someone else in need. Your generosity might be the only reminder someone else may have that they are worthy to keep pressing on.