celebrate kindness

Archive for the ‘Kind Actions’ Category

Last night as the summer sun swept across the horizon fading from the day, my son begged to go to the playground. “Let’s go, Mommy!” The smile stretched across his six-year-old face as I listed all the local playgrounds we could visit. “Pick whichever one you want and we will go!”

He pondered his options, then chose the last one on the list. It was the farthest from our home, but “has the most awesomest rock wall.” Who could resist that?

When we arrived, the playground was busy, but not mobbed. There were a few parents idling around, several teenagers walking the path, and a handful of children running and playing.

Not a single person here shared our skin color.

He ran towards the rock wall before I could even close my car door. “Take a picture of me, Mommy!” His small feet scampered up to the top and there he stood, so proud of his accomplishment.

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Another boy joined him at the crest and they spent the next hour playing together. There were no formal introductions, no hesitation, just two boys happy to play with each other.

They ran through the jungle gym and slid down the slide, waiting for each other at the bottom to do it all again. Their make-believe banter echoed across the metal monkey bars as they celebrated their mission of evading dangerous crocodiles below. “Follow me!” they chanted as they zig-zagged through the park, their small bodies darting from one end to the other.

I helped the boys into the swings, their small legs too short to touch the ground, then gave them both five pushes (“and one for good luck!”) Then I sat on a bench to watch the boys swing higher and higher in the sky.

 

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As I scanned the playground area, I saw trash scattered across the grass. Keeping an eye on the boys, I walked over and picked up the discarded plates, napkins, and plastic drink pouches, placing them inside the dumpster where they belonged. (Yes, I was struck by the irony of the trash so close to the dumpster with the “Please Don’t Litter” sign attached. My best guess is the trash was in the large box on the dumpster and had blown out from the wind.)

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As night began to fall, we wrapped up our playtime with one last spin on the tire swing. “Mommy! I made a best friend today!” my little guy exclaimed as his giggles rang across the meadow.

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Yes, you did, sweet boy.

Yes, you did.

This is how the world should be.

 

 

 

 

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Photo Credit

Two weeks ago, while attending the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference in Denver, CO, I had the pleasure of visiting with the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. I discovered this organization in 2014 and applied to be a RAKtivist shortly thereafter. Since that time, I have been inspired by their monthly newsletters and mission to spread kindness around the world.

And now, I can say I have met the ladies behind the label. Bucket list – check!

I emailed a request to visit their office and after a somewhat elaborate walk through the city (my Waze app sent me on a very long path!), I finally arrived just a few blocks from where I started. Thankfully it was a gorgeous summer day and my Fitbit cheered my progress of steps for the day.

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I was greeted by Rachelle Stubby who graciously gave me the tour of their office space, a cozy attic abode atop a historical museum.  I met the other ladies in the office, Kelsey Gryniewicz, Brooke Jones, and Jeana Newsom, and received apologies that the RAK Foundation Director couldn’t meet with me due to a prior engagement.  (With the Dalai Lama. And Lady Gaga. And city mayors and Ann Curry. All part of a panel discussion about kindness. WOW!)

The gals were friendly, kind, and gracious. We chatted about various kindness initiatives and then they presented me with a few surprises! Oh my goodness, such thoughtfulness!

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We then walked a few blocks to a local restaurant where they treated me to a delicious lunch as we chatted and brainstormed ideas for sharing kindness with others. These gals were SO inspiring! I was reminded of southern hospitality; all that was missing was sweet tea and a front porch (we already had the great conversation and cool breeze.)

We talked about extroverts and introverts. Bloggers to follow and books to write. Little Free Libraries and ways to make them work. We pondered the RAK vision and how to get more people involved with random acts of kindness. I was able to share a little about what I do, how I got started, and who was along for the ride. I even gave a shout-out to my school district and the Hanover Education Foundation for funding “A Passion for Kindness” grant that I will implement next year in Lori Cross’ fourth-grade classroom.

It was a solid hour wrapped in joy.

Jeana had to leave a little early for a conference call, but the other gals and I posed for a photo as our time together came to a close. I was humbled that they would make my visit a priority in their day, then had to laugh at my own surprise.

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Rachelle, me, Kelsey, and Brooke

This was their RAK for me.

If you would like more information about the Random Act of Kindness Foundation, you can connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, or their website. They have free lesson plans for K-12 teachers, a collection of quotes and inspirational videos, even a monthly newsletter you can receive. If you want to join me as a RAKtivist that would be great, too!

All it takes is one person to bring more kindness into this world. Do a random act of kindness. Share your story. Inspire others through actions and words. Kindness is contagious!

 

 

Sometimes all you need is a simple surprise to make your day.

Yesterday afternoon was a scorcher. Ninety-degree weather with a heat index well into the 100s. My sister and I planned to get the kiddos together, thinking a late afternoon walk through Maymont Park might be a nice, refreshing change from the day-to-day mom mode of summer.

Nice, yes. Refreshing, no.

The children’s zoo entrance was blocked due to construction, so we had to find another way in. The bears exhibit was closed and empty. We had tantrums. We had tears. We had a streak of angry petulance from one of the six-year-olds when we tried to take a group photo. (My child, not hers.)

We walked and we walked and we walked. There wasn’t much of a breeze, so our sweat clung to our clothes as if we had been caught in a downpour of rain. Some may have questioned why on earth we were still out in all this heat, but we knew what we wanted to see: the beautiful waterfall in the Japanese Gardens.

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Our children climbed the rocks to sit in the tiny pagoda, a family tradition from when my sister and I were young and would come here with our dad. We reveled in the moment, knowing we were passing down our own childhood memories to the next generation.

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Two hours later, we ended our walk where we began, gave our hugs goodbye, then headed home. As I pulled into my driveway, I saw an Amazon box by my front door and was surprised to see my name on the front. I thought perhaps I had received an item in error, or maybe my daughter had ordered something delivered in my name. I carried the box into the house and sat on the floor to see what was inside.

Using scissors, I carefully cut the packing tape across and lifted the edges to discover a speck of red peeking out. That’s when I started to laugh with childlike wonder… it was a hummingbird feeder!

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Attached to the feeder was a small note from my friend, Karen Richardson, who blessed me with this surprise in response to my comment about her blog post this past week. Both she and Donna Donner described the joy of watching hummingbirds from their yard and I stated that I needed a hummingbird feeder, too.

And with that one statement, a random act of kindness was delivered.

JOY!!

What Karen and Donna don’t know is that we did a “deck overhaul” just a few weeks ago. We took down the table, chairs, and umbrella, stained each and every wooden plank, then purchased two lounging chairs, three folding chairs and a small side table to make the deck more like a relaxing “outside office” for me to do my writing this summer.

And now… I can watch the hummingbirds linger as I write, read, and play.

Thank you, Karen, for your gift of friendship and kindness and for reminding me how wonderful it is to be on the receiving end of a simple surprise. You absolutely made my day!

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Today is the National Day to Spread Summer Fun! In all 50 states, people are spreading kindness today, specifically focused on summer fun. Since I’m in Denver, CO for a conference, I decided to bring a few items in my suitcase as random acts of kindness for children and conference attendees.

Being in the city, there was no playground near the convention center, so I placed my goodies in various places to be discovered by others.



As I walked around, a large rabbit figure caught my attention, so I left a surprise near it.



As I was walking back, I saw a grandmother pushing a little boy in a stroller. I had one pack of cars left, so I approached them and asked if it was OK for me to give the cars to him.

Oh. My. Goodness. Such a cutie! He was thrilled and wanted to open them immediately! Joy! Such preciousness.




On 16th Street, I discovered a mock park set up complete with lounging swings and fake turf for grass. I saw some children playing along the side, so I left my last surprise near them.



It was SO MUCH fun to spread summer fun in Colorado today! A special thanks to Cathy O’Grady for sending me a stack of Sophia’s Angels cards. Visit her site at http://www.facebook.com/sofiasangelsraok to connect and learn more about spreading kindness in this world!

“We apologize for the inconvenience…”

Two weeks ago we received an email that our hotel reservation was no longer valid. Apparently the hotel double-booked their rooms and despite our reservation being placed half a year ago, we were being bumped to another hotel for one night only.

Seriously?

The new hotel, a Hampton Inn & Suites, was closer to the Convention Center (and offered a continental breakfast), but we were told they could only accommodate us for the first night because they, too, were booked the entire conference.

So we planned accordingly.

We arrived late last night and selectively unpacked only what we would need to get ready the next morning. The Hampton Inn was GORGEOUS, right in the heart of the city, and we lamented about our desire to remain here.

This morning as we finished our delicious continental breakfast, a well-dressed gentleman approached our table and offered to clear our plates. We exchanged pleasantries (we are southerners after all), then he asked if there was anything he could do to make our stay better.

“You could find a way for them to stay all week!” exclaimed Lisa, a friendly smile across her face. Our friends, Lisa and Sonja were already booked in this hotel for the week and shared our dismay at having to change hotels.

The gentleman, Kevin Smith, inquired about our dilemma, then smiled and said, “I’ll be right back.”

A few minutes and two phone calls later, Kevin made it happen.

We get to stay the week. We don’t have to switch hotels. We don’t even have to switch rooms!

There is no greater joy than having a wish fulfilled. We are blessed beyond measure for this man’s kindness, his willingness to go above and beyond to help us, and the hospitality shown to us from Hampton Inn & Suites in Denver. He was even willing to take a picture with us! If you are ever in this part of the country and need a hotel, I highly recommend this one!

Now off to our first conference day!

Another text message received.

Another flight delay.

We each shared a collective sigh, our growing excitement for traveling west tempered for a few more hours. Our attention turned back to a previous conversation as we tried to shroud our disappointment with stories of family, friends, and fun.

There is nothing fun about being stuck in an airport for five hours.

The restaurants closed, the crowds dwindled, and we checked our Twitter feeds to pass the time.

We were the last flight to leave the airport.

There are times in this life when we are simply powerless to control the events around us. I can’t fix a broken plane. I can’t make time miraculously speed forward. I can’t suddenly transport myself from here to there with the twitch of my nose or the rub of a genie’s bottle.

I can, however, control my reaction to those things that wield power over me.

I smiled at my travelmates. Allowed laughter to resonate against the tiled floor as we focused on joy instead of frustration. Even laughed at myself when I mistakenly told an airline attendant I was headed to Chicago instead of Denver, a faux pas surely rooted from my in-laws living in Chi-Town for two decades.

We took selfies to commemorate the unforeseen turn-of-events, our smiles as vivid as if we were already flying to our destination hours before.


The airline attendant was pleasantly apologetic, acknowledging the extensive amount of time that had passed, offering directions on how to contact the airline for a small credit for the inconvenience.

Then, five hours later, we boarded the plane.

And were rewarded by three hours of continuous sunsets.





Sometimes we need to know there is a greater purpose for those things we can’t control. That change doesn’t always equate despair. That beautiful surprises can occur in the midst of chaos and disappointment.

And that sometimes God gives us RAKs, too.

Our flight attendant was very kind, helping passengers with connecting flights and soothing crying babies. I left her a little random act of kindness as we exited the plane.



Now that we are in Denver, I’m looking forward to sharing more kindness tomorrow as we learn and grow at the ISTE Conference! 


This morning I woke up giddy about random acts of kindness floating in my brain. A coworker was celebrating her 40th birthday and another friend’s miracle baby was turning one. Birthday celebrations ALWAYS bring me joy (even when I’m not a part of the festivities!) I was hoping to do something special today to honor them both.

I saw this AWESOME community fundraiser where 100% of the proceeds would be donated to a local family whose daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer:


I ADORE businesses that give back like this! And 100% profit? Unheard of. I decided this would be a perfect birthday RAK to not only honor my friends, but bless others as well. 

My plan was pretty simple: swing by the elementary school after work, buy a box of donuts (maybe 2!) then take them with me to my hair appointment and pass them out.  After all, who can resist Sugar Shack donuts?

Sometimes best laid plans go awry.

I got engrossed in my work and left school later than planned. Arriving at the fundraiser, I saw the line was wrapped around the side of the building with only 30 minutes left in the sale.

Egads.

I got in line, determined to wait it out, then saw a school representative heading our way.

“All they have left is blueberry and red velvet.”

That was fine. Any kind of Sugar Shack donut would do.

“The wait from here might be more than 30 minutes.”

Hmmm. That might be an issue. My hair appointment was in 45 minutes and I still needed time to drive there.

“The max amount of donuts you can purchase is 6 because they are running out of batter.”

Ugh. 

My brain started practicing probability. What were the chances I would get to the front of the line in 30 minutes? Would they even have 6 donuts left for purchase? Should I wait or should I stay?

I reached into my wallet, grabbed a handful of bills and tossed them into the donation bucket near the line. My posture was a little deflated as I walked back to my car empty-handed, but I quickly reminded myself of my purpose.

Today is a celebration of two special birthdays. Maybe I could find a different way to honor these sweet gals.

I stopped by Starbucks and decided to surprise my hair stylist, Hayley, with two sweet surprises: a chocolate chip frappuccino and a cute decorated cookie.

Arriving at my hair appointment, Hayley was delightfully surprised, but whispered in my ear as we walked back to her station.

“Does this drink have dairy?”

Oh no. Once again my good intentions were dashed with a detour, this time due to allergies.

“Well, you could always find a friend and pay-it-forward,” I offered.

Within seconds a voice piped up behind us. “I’m a friend!” We turned to see her co-worker smiling, pointing at the dairy-filled drink. Laughing, Hayley passed the drink along, making the other gal’s smile even brighter.

Sometimes our plans simply don’t work out the way we want. Sometimes those plans work out the way they should

It was a positive thing that the Sugar Shack line was so long around the building and they had sold so many donuts. Look at all the money raised to help a well-deserving family!

My hair stylist received an unexpected surprise and got to share in the joy of blessing someone else.

Another hair stylist enjoyed a cold drink as she worked the late shift this evening.

Best of all, my birthday friends were thought of today with love and celebration and others were blessed simply because they were born.

Today was a delightful day! 🙂


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