celebrate kindness

Posts Tagged ‘children

Ever had a day where the weather was so beautiful, so perfect, you wanted to just freeze time forever? We’ve had several days like that around here recently. This past weekend I couldn’t wait to visit one of my favorite places, Maymont Park. Nothing relaxes me more than taking a stroll through that park. Hundreds of acres of rolling hills, farm animals, trails and more. They even have bears and a waterfall nestled on the grounds!

I decided to do another random act of kindness by gathering some activity books and pencils I had been saving from a Target clearance sale a few months ago. I thought again of those precious lives lost at Sandy Hook and one little face popped into my mind. Emilie. A sweet blond headed cherub who shared the same name as my sister, although spelled a different way. I remembered reading about her, how she loved anything to do with art, especially making handmade cards. That, of course, made me think of my own daughter who started her own card making business at the age of 13. Without a moment’s hesitation, I knew today’s RAK would be dedicated to Emilie.

sign

books

We gathered our things to have a picnic at the park then headed towards Maymont. Traffic was light, the breeze was blowing… I could not have asked for a more beautiful day. Upon our arrival, we found a nice, shady spot to set up our picnic lunch, near the iron statues of children playing on a wooden log.

people

K and C

It was a busy day in the park with many families enjoying the gorgeous weather. As I made my way towards the statue, I knew it would be a perfect place to leave my bucket of activity books as children were always climbing and playing in that spot.

statue

As I made my way back to our picnic, a woman called out to me from across the grass. “Are those books free? The ones you just left right there?” I was already grinning. “Yep! Help yourself! Enjoy!” Immediately two little children came running past me, activity books already in hand. “Look what I found! And it came with a sharpened pencil, too!” (See – those little details DO make a difference!)

All of a sudden it was if a magnet was placed on the side of that statue. Children, parents, even a few grandparents made their way to see what all the fuss was about. We simply sat on our blanket and watched with glee, imagining how Emilie would feel to know her RAK brought so much joy to others. I broke my trance for a moment and captured a photo of a dad flipping through one of the books with his son (see below). Simply precious!

read books

Then, as our picnic was winding down with full bellies and happy hearts, I saw a family of three approaching our blanket. Lo and behold, it was my sister, Emily! I couldn’t believe it! I had no idea she would be at Maymont that day and she was just as surprised to see me. But I treasured the surprise (a.k.a. divine intervention and perfect timing) and spent the next few hours soaking up the rays of sisterhood as we walked the park together with our families.

T and Em

(Our “babies” are 8 days apart in age. They were so sweet walking through Maymont hand in hand!)

C and L

With the acts of terror, violence, and despair we have experienced in only four days since our picnic (Boston marathon bombing, ricin laced letters to government officials, explosion at the Texas plant, even a scrawled hate message on a high school bathroom door in a neighboring school district), it makes me once again dig deeper to share peace and joy. I know my simple acts of kindness may not change the landscape of hatred that fights to cover our nation and our world, but I still believe with all my heart that even one random act of kindness can change a life forever. Who am I to decide which life is changed? I simply act on the whispers of my heart.

This act of kindness is dedicated to Emilie Parker, age 6. May her family find comfort in knowing her legacy lives on in others.

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This was a quick and easy Random Act of Kindness… adding a few quarters to a donation jar. In this case, it was a Boy Scout fundraiser set up right outside a grocery store. No, I didn’t want any popcorn. Yes, I was in a rush. But it was for the Boy Scouts. How could I say no?

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The last two weeks have been a whirlwind with vacations and end-of-summer activities.  Despite the craziness this time of year brings into my life (and the lives of others!) I’ve had an amazing opportunity to observe kindness in others:

  • Two friends posted stories of kindness on their Facebook pages (Click here to read their status updates.)  Amazing!  Stories such as these make me wish I had an endless supply of money to surprise and bless others unexpectedly.
  • While at the beauty salon, I looked out the window and observed an elderly gentleman opening the car door for his wife (in the rain, mind you).
  • Standing in a very long restroom line at an amusement park, the person at the front of the line allowed a mom with a young child to go first instead of herself.
  • People held doors open for those walking behind them (and helped parents, like me, trying to maneuver through an entry way with a child in a stroller.)
  • People picked up trash on the ground and placed in trashcans.
  • Several drivers showed patience and kindness by allowing others to get in front of them in the midst of two separate traffic jams.
  • Coworkers offered to drive when going to the same location for lunch.
  • Two people brought over fresh fruit and vegetables from their garden “just because”.
  • Several friends sent emails, notes and messages just to let others know they were thinking of them.

Wow!  What a blessed week indeed!  There is SO MUCH kindness out there if we just take the time to SEE!

My favorite story of observing kindness in others happened between my two oldest children.  It was the last “official” day of summer break (as I was returning to work the next day) and I offered to play board games with them in the afternoon when the youngest child was napping.  “Today is YOUR day!  You each get your very own “Mommy Time” this afternoon!  Choose a board game, any game you want, and I will play with you!”  Now, if you know our family, you know we have a TON of board games.  Scrabble.  Sorry.  Clue.  Monopoly.  Triominoes.  Mouse Trap.  Checkers.  Apples to Apples.  You name it, we probably have it.  In fact, we have SO many board games that we actually converted one of our coat closets into a game closet just to make the games more accessible to the children.

Having three children with ages ranging 2 to 13 makes playing games as a family a bit challenging.  The older children LOVE having “Mommy Time” for game playing because all my attention is focused on them, and them alone.  I knew my pronouncement of “Mommy Time Game Day” would garnish cheers and excitement from the children.  As both children started thinking about which game they wanted to play, I reminded them that because it was THEIR time, they could choose to play a game with just me, or with me and their sibling (knowing, of course, that they would choose to play with just me because it was, after all, Mommy Time!)

So you can imagine my surprise (and delight!) when BOTH children chose their favorite game and said they wanted their sibling to play as well.  What fun!  We could all play together!  We played three rounds of Twister and one (very long) game of Life.

No one was left out and our afternoon was filled with laughter and joy.  Even when my daughter was crowned Life Millionaire, my son handled the disappointment with kindness by saying, “That’s OK.  Maybe I’ll win next time.”

Kindness in others.  It’s amazing how inspiring it can be.  Just a little shift in perspective can make such a difference in your disposition.  This week I have tried to focus my attention on the GOOD things people are doing and I have to say it has made me a happier gal indeed!

We all have choice.  Free-will.  We have a choice to focus on the negative or the positive.  I challenge you this week to shift your perspective to the positive and share what you see!  Kindness is contagious!  🙂


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