celebrate kindness

Archive for the ‘#megsmiles’ Category

How can any good come from such a tragedy?

This question is asked a thousand times over when a tragic event happens in a community. There is shock. There is disbelief. Then comes the turbulence of emotions that either erupt like a volcano or slip out like a dripping faucet. Even when there is closure, there is never closure; the question still remains.

I’ve written about Meg Menzies several times which you can read here, here, and here. Her death was not only a shock for our small community but radiated across the globe through running communities and those who advocate against drunk driving. The Facebook group, Meg’s Miles Supporters has more than 16,700 members who keep her memory alive by sharing their running stories and dedicating their miles to Meg.

At the first Boston Marathon after Meg’s tragic death, there was an outpouring of love shown by a memorial created by Kel Kelly. To see the impact of Meg’s legacy through the vision of a stranger in another state was phenomenal. It reinforced the fact that even after death, your memory lives on in others, even through people you’ve never met.

Since that time, Kel Kelly has been pulled by a new mission as she helps refugees in Greece. She noticed that the refugees were arriving with their feet in horrible condition as many fled on foot or had long since worn away their shoes from miles of walking. It didn’t take long for this observation to turn into a Meg’s Miles mission with a request sent out through social media for a shoe drive.


The plan seemed rather simple. Advertise a local shoe drive. Encourage the community to donate. Provide a location and time for drop-off. Drive the shoes in a U-Haul to MA for Kel Kelly to then transport for her mission efforts in Greece.

Oh, the blessings we can provide when we work together.

I went through my shoes. My husband’s shoes. My kids’ shoes. I came up with 16 pairs of shoes we no longer needed, or were willing to sacrifice, and put them all in a bag. I could have easily dropped them off at Goodwill, or even taken them downtown to a homeless shelter, but these were shoes for Meg. For Kel. For someone else in need.

These shoes are priceless to someone I will never meet.


I dropped off my shoes Saturday morning and was immediately greeted by Keith Cartwright himself. We chatted a bit and he laughed at my excuse for not running marathons: “Well, someone has to take care of the kids.” (My husband has run countless marathons. I’ll do an occasional 5K or 10K, but I’d rather be dancing than running, lol.)


Meg’s mom, Pam, came over and gave me a tight hug, her smile radiating joy.

That’s right – JOY.


Wait. How can a mother who lost her precious daughter much too early, in such a tragic way, shine with joy just a few years later?

Because Pam knows the love of God.

She understands the power of forgiveness.

She realizes the never-ending impact of kindness.

I followed the progress of the shoe collection all day. From hundreds to thousands, the boxes were filled and stacked inside the U-Haul.




I had 16 pairs of shoes to give. Some people donated dozens, others only a few. Individually, our random acts of kindness were small and meager; together our contributions will have a direct impact on more than 6,000 lives.

6,000 lives.

All because of Meg.

“How can any good come from such a tragedy?”





I wasn’t going to run today.

I got up later than planned and spent the morning cleaning the kitchen. I made myself a cup of mocha and curled up in my favorite chair to enjoy the quiet while I continued reading a book a friend had shared with me. That’s when I heard the whisper on my heart.


I glanced at the clock. 9:15 a.m. The locals at Rutland had already begun their memorial Run for Meg; it was too late for me to join in. Besides, even if I left now, there would be no place to park. And I was cozy warm right here, still snuggled up in my favorite fleece pajama pants. I had no desire to run in the cold.


Let me interject here that I am not a runner. I don’t record my miles and couldn’t even begin to tell you what my PR would be for any race. I’m more of a Zumba-Yoga-Let’s-Plank-On-The-Floor kind of gal. Sure, I’ve run a few races here and there, but you won’t find me on the training circuit anytime soon. Running just isn’t my thing.


Suddenly, I was overcome with emotion. Here I was, making every excuse in the world not to run, when Meg would have already been out the door and down the street if she had the chance. How could I possibly sit here, on today of all days, and not run?  The quiet whisper on my  heart was crowded out by the blaring drill sergeant in my mind. “GET OFF YOUR LAZY BACKSIDE AND RUN!!”

Six minutes later, I was dressed and out the door.

I put in my earbuds and started to search for my running playlist, filled with fast-paced, motivating tunes, when I realized there was music already filling my ears. The music was light, lilting, a beautiful piano arrangement of Jesu Joy Canon in D played by David Nevue. Not quite the heavy beats of hard rock to match the rhythm of my feet pounding the pavement. But as the melody swelled with sweetness, I discovered that it was actually perfect for today. This was not a race about time, nor pace, nor stride.

This was a run for Meg.

I have never listened to classical music while exercising, but as the incremental chords moved up the piano keys, I found it a perfect counterpart for today’s run. My mind focused on my senses. The cool morning air whipping against my ears. The sparkle of last night’s raindrops shimmering on blades of grass from my neighbor’s yard. The gentle swish of my arms and legs and they moved forward, pushing up the granite hill. Even the sunshine seemed brighter, more heavenly, more spectacular this morning.


As I made my way to the back of my neighborhood, I saw a neighbor I had never met walking his dog on a leash. The puppy was obviously excited to be outside as well, running circles around the man.


I started to run past, his little pup straining against the leash to meet someone new. I stopped running and knelt down, the curly-haired dog jumping into my lap as if I were his long-lost friend. I showered him with attention then stood up and smiled at the man. “He’s so cute!” I complimented, as the man smiled back at me. “I’m trying to teach him how to walk on a leash,” he replied as we both continued our separate journeys.

The rest of my run was quiet. Serene. My thoughts drifted to Meg, her husband, her children and her mom. I pondered endless questions of life, death, and purpose. I thought of all the ways Meg had blessed others in her short time on earth and how many more were blessed by her memory even now. As my legs started to tighten and the sweat rolled down my brow, I thought of the thousands of runners doing the same thing as me, in this exact moment, all for the same person. It was a humbling awareness, to be a part of something so big, even though I was running all alone.

I wasn’t going to run today.

But I did.

I ran for Meg.

And I even wore blue from my shirt to my shoes.

For her.



Spring is in the air!  The flowers are blooming, the weather is warmer, and I have discovered that people are more pleasant with smiles and laughter ringing through the air.  Maybe southerners are just naturally friendly people, or maybe those around me are just so happy to NOT have sleet or snow… whatever the reason, this week has been inspiring by the kindness I’ve seen in others.

Those of you who follow my blog probably read about my April Fool’s RAK where I blessed a random person with lottery scratch-off tickets.  Well, the day I purchased those, I purchased a few more and stuck them in my purse just in case I was inspired to RAK someone again the same way.

Well, today was the day!

I’ve been thinking a lot about Meg Menzies these past few weeks.  Three months ago, I ran around a local school track with my friends, our meager attempt to show support for the activity Meg loved best.  Three weeks ago, I ran a 5K with my kids, all decked out in blue down to my shoelaces (Meg’s favorite color and mine.)

January 18, 2014

January 18, 2014

March 16, 2014

March 16, 2014

I joined the Meg’s Miles Supporters Facebook group and have enjoyed reading the inspirational posts from the members of that group (Over 15,000 strong!).  I’ve also been following the work of Kel Kelly, a Bostonian who offered to collect running shoes in Meg’s memory and create a memorial now displayed at Mile Marker 1 of the Boston Marathon, the very race Meg was training for when she was tragically killed in January.

"Soles of Love" created by Kel Kelly, photo courtesy of Channel 5 news in Boston, MA

“Soles of Love” created by Kel Kelly, photo courtesy of Channel 5 news in Boston, MA

(To learn more about “Soles of Love”, click here.)

Even though I did not know Meg, I think of her often.

Today I was sitting in a parking lot texting my daughter when I happened to look up and see the car parked ahead of me.  The personalized plates made me stare in shock.  Surely this person was related to Meg!  They had to be!  (For privacy reasons, I’m not listing the license plate number, but it reminded me of Meg in an instant.)  I immediately remembered the lottery tickets in my purse and wrote a quick note on a pad of bright pink post-it notes I always carry in my car: Photo Apr 04, 6 04 26 PM I then placed the note and the scratch-off tickets in a ziploc bag (another odd thing I seem to always have on hand, lol) and placed it on the windshield of the unknown car. Photo Apr 04, 5 44 11 PM Whether the recipient of my RAK was related to Meg or not doesn’t really matter.  It was a RAK for her and it made my heart happy to know that any positive action in her memory, whether running a race or performing a random act of kindness, would be meaningful to her, her family, and all those who have grown to love and care so passionately for this wonderful woman.  Tomorrow, my husband and my son will be volunteering at water stops on Mile 8 and Mile 18 for those local runners doing their final training run in preparation for the Boston Marathon.  Another RAK in the making.  🙂

May your weekend be filled with the joys of spring and may you find your own simple way to share that joy with others.  Be blessed, my friends!

How do I even begin to write this post?

I have struggled this past week to put my thoughts into words, reeling (as many of you are) from the senseless, tragic death of Meg Cross Menzies, a stay-at-home mom in our local community.  For those of you who do not live around here, or have not heard her story, Meg was struck and killed last week while running with her husband.  The driver who hit her, also from our local community, was charged with a DUI and involuntary manslaughter.  As a cruel twist of fate, the driver’s own wife was struck and killed years ago in a car accident, also leaving behind children to mourn.

Oh, the heaviness of my heart.

In the hours after her passing, our community rallied around those touched by the loss of Meg.  An avid runner and Boston Marathoner, a few local runners honored her memory by tying their shoes to the street post where she was hit.  They also organized a “Megs Miles” run for the day after her funeral so people could run in her memory, sharing in her passion for the sport. Instead of an official race, the idea was that anyone and everyone could run and document their experience using social media with the hashtag #megsmiles and documenting their miles on a Google Doc.  We were encouraged to wear blue, Meg’s favorite color. Someone even created a logo we could use for our FB profiles in memory of Meg:

Photo Jan 17, 8 54 52 PM

And that, my friends, is where this Random Act of Kindness truly begins.

See, it wasn’t just the running community who wrapped their arms around this family.  It wasn’t even our local community, or her church, or even the Y down the street where she volunteered her time as a personal trainer.  Meg’s tragedy went global, thanks to the power of social media, and complete strangers rallied together in her memory.  There was a sense of worldwide unity when strangers who had never met Meg, never heard of Mechanicsville, VA, never even ran, laced up their sneakers and began to run.

Grandmothers. Husbands.  Mothers pushing strollers.  Children and adults of all ages, running in remembrance.  By the next day, our local newspaper shared the enormity of the run:  90,000 participants world-wide.

Photo Jan 21, 3 26 48 PMThat is simply incredible!!  Now, I do not consider myself a runner by any stretch of the imagination.  I’ve run 5Ks and 10Ks, but always for fun, to enjoy the social company of others running alongside me, never competitively.  This past Saturday, however, I ran for Meg.  I met a few coworkers and friends at a local elementary school and we ran around the track, remembering the life of one of our own.  Did I run the entire time?  No.  I actually began by walking alongside another Mommy as she pushed her 10 month old baby in a stroller, bracing ourselves against the freezing temperatures and swirling wind.  It wasn’t until her daughter, a kindergartner, ran ahead of us, then turned and taunted, “Hurry up, slowpokes!” that I picked up my pace.  I took turns running alongside each of the people who showed up that morning, sharing in a laugh, a smile, or simple silence.  I considered it an honor to run for Meg.

Photo Jan 18, 11 36 09 AM

There have been so many random acts of kindness performed in Meg’s memory.  Amanda Sullivan, a runner who was also struck down while running, completed a 5K on crutches.  Candice Shively, a race director, handed out a blinking LED bracelet to a young man she always sees walking home in the dark.  Josh Stowers, a small business owner, offered his skills in painting and power washing to Meg’s family (even offered to build her children a swingset.)  Anna Sakellariou painted a portrait.  So many ways to process grief, yet bless others at the same time!

Photo Jan 18, 9 47 44 AM

Today marks one week and a day since Meg left this world.  As I stood in my kitchen enjoying an unexpected snow day, I looked at my three children at the table, still clad in their pajamas.  It was in that moment that the reality of this tragedy gripped my heart so tightly I could no longer hold back the tears.  Those three precious children of Meg’s will have no more snow days with their mom. I wanted to sob and scream at the same time for the depth of sorrow in my soul.

Instead, I swallowed the lump in my throat, wiped away my tears, and continued making breakfast.

As many of you know, I like to cook and have my own recipes posted on Snapguide.  This morning I was in the process of making Snowman Pancakes, in celebration of today’s snow day (which is really funny now because the snow just started to come down and stick at 4:30pm. Gotta love living in a southern state!  Ha!)  As I assembled the pancake pieces on a blue paper plate and added the decorations, I couldn’t resist making an extra one for Meg, complete with angel wings and blue running shoes.

Photo Jan 21, 10 36 09 AM

Be inspired to do nice things for others.  In a few days, Meg’s official website will be up and running and all the wonderful posts on FB will be added for the world to enjoy.  If you would like to run in Meg’s memory, please use this link to add your information, which is compiled for the family.  Pray for Meg’s family, the driver’s family, and our community.  The road to healing seems endless sometimes, so anything you do can and will make a difference.

I will close out today’s blog post with this quote from Isaiah that spoke to my heart this morning.  Be blessed my friends and share kindness with one another.

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.  When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”  -Isaiah 43:2

Photo Jan 20, 5 57 40 PM

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