celebrate kindness

Archive for November 2015

One of my favorite “non-holidays” of the year is #RAKFriday, traditionally known as Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year. I truly love being out and about, mingling with the crowds and immersing myself in the first official day of Christmas shopping.

What makes a #RAKFriday different than Black Friday? It’s a simple shift in perspective! Those participating in #RAKFriday make a commitment to do something nice or kind for a stranger throughout the day, then share their story through Twitter or Facebook, inspiring others to do the same. You can click here to read more about #RAKFriday if you like.

This year, I invited my teenaged daughter to join me in the fun and frolic. This was her first adventure shopping the day after Thanksgiving and we had a blast!  Below are just a few of the things we did to bless others:

  • We started our day at Target, when the sky was dark and moon still out. Here we bought some toys to bless local children as part of our community’s “Fox Holiday Sox” (we will continue to purchase more items until their stockings are overflowing!)



  • At NY&Co, we donated money to St. Jude’s and got to ring the bell! I love shopping in stores that make a commitment to donate to charity (especially St. Jude’s which is near and dear to our hearts!)


  • At Bath & Body Works we left some coupons for someone else to use (one included a free gift!)


  • At JCPenney, I discovered a mess in the fitting room, so I hung the clothes nicely on the hangers and put them where they belonged. Working retail can be an exhausting job, especially on Black Friday. While it may not seem like much, it was a small gesture of kindness that made my heart happy!


  • When I left the store, I hid another coupon to brighten a shopper’s day.


  • I left a few dollar bills tucked in between toys at Five & Below but was having so much fun I forgot to snap a photo. Oops! I also ran into my cousins, Wendy and Tori, which was like a RAK for me! So fun!
  • My daughter hates to take selfies with me, but I convinced her to take one through an ornament hanging on the tree at the mall. Another RAK for me!


  • I treated my daughter to a surprise sushi lunch at a new restaurant, then tipped the waiter 40% of the bill (20% for me and 20% for her, just because it’s fun to overtip!) I didn’t take a photo of the bill, but managed to snap one of the sushi we shared – yum!


  • At Old Navy, I overheard a customer trying to find a coat for her son in the same size I had in my hands. Without hesitation, I handed her the coat. She was so surprised! No photo, but the memory of her smile still shines brightly in my mind. 🙂
  • In the checkout line, I allowed three people to go ahead of me as I waited for my daughter to join me. Again, not a huge RAK, but all 3 people smiled back in appreciation.
  • When we arrived home from our long day of shopping, I cracked open the sparkling cider and shared a toast with my daughter, celebrating her first official #RAKFriday. Her initiation is now complete and my heart is full, being able to share in a day of kindness with her.

May your holiday season be filled with peace, love and joy, and may you continue to find small ways to share kindness with others!

Thank you for blessing me as a faithful reader of my RAK posts! 😊

There have been so many RAKs this week, I thought I would just post them all in one place! Here’s a RAK Roundup overflowing with thankfulness!

Surprise Gifts

Last week a package arrived at my doorstep from my sweet friend, Sarah Armentrout, who lives 2 hours away. This was such a surprise! What on earth could she have sent me?  

I savored the moment of opening the box, even waiting a few days to enjoy the anticipation of revealing something unknown. Oh, the delight when I saw what she gave me – a beautiful Macintosh Apple scented candle! 

In the enclosed note (shaped like two apples), she referenced a conversation we shared where I had discussed a recent apple picking trip that, alas, had no apples to pick. What a lovely, thoughtful gesture to brighten my day – now I can enjoy the scent of apples in my home leading all the way up to the holiday season! Joy!

Her gift was also a great reminder of the power in listening and acting on the whisper of your heart.

Secret Santa Scam

How many of you got “scammed” by the recent posts on Facebook asking you to send a gift of $10 or less to a stranger, then get 6 of your friends to do the same and you would receive 36 gifts in return? Anyone?

A friend of mine posted this offer and I took it for exactly what it was – a gamble of  kindness. I could either win big or end up $10 in the hole. Was it worth the risk?

I decided to join in. After all, you’re talking to the gal who finds SO MUCH JOY in giving to others – in my mind, there was no risk at all! I received the name of the person I was asked to bless, and a few details about her. The main thing she mentioned was that she loved gift cards and her favorite color was purple.

Purple. The color of orchids, lilacs and lavender. The color of my grandmother’s birthstone and my daughter’s class ring. The color of Renee’s casket.

I purchased a beautiful purple scarf with a little bit of sparkle, in memory of Renee and my grandma. I also bought a Panera gift card, thinking of my daughter’s smile when we have our girl-time lunch dates. Then I wrapped the items in sparkle tissue paper and took the package to mail at the post office.

Will I receive 36 gifts in return? Highly doubtful. I would be shocked to receive even three! But you know what? Here’s the deal: I didn’t join this Secret Santa exchange to get a bunch of stuff for free. I did it as a way to bless someone I didn’t know with the joy of a surprise.

And if you know anything about me at all, you know how much I love surprises! 😊

New Markers

Ask any elementary teacher if they need classroom supplies and you will always hear a resounding, “YES!” Whether it’s post-it notes or glue sticks, teachers are always needing more.

This week, I was collaborating with a fourth grade class when my Expo marker ran dry, right as I was listing the key components of a digital creation assignment. Without hesitation, the classroom teacher left the lab and returned with a metal pail filled with Expo markers. “Here! Have them!” she replied as she put the container on my desk. Wow! What a perfectly timed random act of kindness! Thanks so much, Krista Miller, for blessing our computer lab with new markers!

Hit and Hug

On Thursday night, my daughter and I went to see the latest Hunger Games movie, which has become a tradition for the past 4 years. The movie was great, even though my daughter refused to smile for a picture. 

As we began our journey home, we were suddenly rear-ended in a single line of traffic. Oh my goodness! Visibly shaken, my daughter and I pulled over and called 911 to assist.

The man who hit us was very apologetic, checking to make sure we were OK. While waiting for the police to arrive and assess the damage, we chatted a bit and both were thankful the accident wasn’t worse. “Would it be OK if I gave you a hug?” he asked. It was a very sweet gesture in the midst of a not-so-pleasant car accident, and I was grateful for his kindness.

When the officer arrived on the scene, he was also kind and compassionate, even letting me borrow his pen to fill out the paperwork. He called a tow truck for the man, whose vehicle was too damaged to drive.

While no one ever wants to be involved in an accident, a hit-and-hug was much more enjoyable than a hit-and-run!

50 Circles of Happiness

Friday morning our boss arrived to our team meeting with a box of Dunkin’ Donuts doughnut holes.  With a smile on her face she announced, “Fifty Circles of Happiness! Take some and pass around the table!”

Have I mentioned lately how much I admire my boss? She is always going out of her way to show kindness to our team, and today’s gesture of thoughtfulness was just what we needed to start our meeting with smiles and laughter.


As I reflect on this past week with its highs and lows, I am blessed beyond measure that my path is sprinkled with kind people and warm hearts. While I can’t change the horror and violent destruction others experience daily (and I have no solution for the “big issues” of poverty and refugees), I can always take a moment to appreciate the good in this world and share how others have a positive impact on me.

And for that alone, I am thankful. 😊

This afternoon I decided to leave school at a decent time (something about being the last car in the parking lot twice this week, walking alone in the dark, makes me remember how much I dislike the time change!) I still had work to do, so I thought it would be a nice change to visit a local Starbucks and continue my tasks with a warm Skinny Peppermint Mocha by my side.

The coffee shop was brimming with people; most seats were taken, but I was lucky enough to snag a comfy armchair by the window (and an outlet!) Two of my co-workers called out to me and after a few moments of chit-chat, I claimed my chair of choice and got in line to purchase my drink.

That’s when I saw the sign.


Buy one, get one free! Awesome! I turned to the person beside me and smiled. “Are you getting a holiday drink today?” I asked. She returned my smile and replied, “Oh yes!” My smile grew as I pointed to the sign behind the barista. “I’m going to buy your drink today – you can have my free one!” The woman was surprised at my gesture, offering to pay half, but I just laughed in the joy of the moment. “No, no, this is a random act of kindness for YOU! Please don’t pay for a thing!” We ordered our drinks and I gave her my business card so she could read about her RAK later. She asked me if I was a teacher and when I nodded yes, she said, “Everything about you seems like a teacher!” I was humbled by her compliment, reminded again of the joy I have in my career.

She didn’t want her photo taken, so I captured one of our cups – two strangers enjoying a shared moment of glee.


You know what’s really awesome about today’s RAK? Neither one of us cared what color cup our coffee was served in, nor did we engage in a theological debate about symbolism or religion. It was just one person doing something nice for someone else with a promise to “pay it forward for the next person.”

Isn’t that what it’s all about? 🙂

As we enter the holiday season, transitioning from carved pumpkins to carved turkey, I encourage you to look for opportunities to show kindness to others in unexpected ways. It doesn’t take much to brighten a stranger’s day!

Be blessed and as always, thanks for reading! More blog posts to come soon – I have so many stories to share!

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