celebrate kindness

Posts Tagged ‘coupon

Kindness-Quotes-8

Here we go with another rainy weekend. You know what I really dislike doing in the rain? Grocery shopping. It seems like every time I go, the parking lot is full, the store is packed with people, and I’m drenched from head to toe after putting my groceries in the car. Going shopping in the rain does not bring me joy.

Normally I park in the back of the lot, enjoying the extra walk, but on this particular day I was thrilled to see reverse lights on a car in the second spot closest to the store. I stopped my car and turned on my turn signal, patiently waiting for the car to leave so I could take its place.

As I lifted my foot off the brake and turned my steering wheel, a silver-beige car scooted ahead of me in the opposite direction and took the empty spot.

Unbelievable!

I literally sat there for a second with my mouth open in shock. Seriously? I was here first! So many negative thoughts filled my head in an instant and it took all I had not to let the moment ruin my morning. After all, it was just a parking spot. Did it really matter?

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As I parked my car and walked towards the store, I saw the person who took my spot. It was a young woman with a small child carried on her hip. I immediately felt horrible for the negative thoughts that filled my head moments before. It wasn’t that long ago that I was in her shoes – a mom dragging my child out in the rain to get the necessary groceries, praying for a spot close to the front door.

We entered the store at almost the same time, both turning to the right to find a cart. Many were wet, having been brought in from the rain, but I found one that was dry and pushed it towards her. “Here,” I said with a smile on my face, “This one is dry.” She smiled back in appreciation and said a quick “Thanks” as she put her daughter in the cart.

My day was filled with joy, just like that!

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I walked the aisles of the store, my mood brightened by the random act of kindness, and decided to do another RAK for a mom who might need it.

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Then, as I was checking out, I overhead the girl beside me mumble that she wished she had brought some change, so I gave her some of mine to help her out.

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It’s funny how being kind to others can change your outlook on the day. When I left the grocery store and put the groceries in my car, I didn’t even notice the rain.

May your travels be filled with joy no matter the weather or season!

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One of the things I love about living near Richmond is that we are close to a REAL Krispy Kreme donut shop. Our shop makes the donuts from start to finish in plain view of the customer, with only a glass wall separating you and the production line.

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If you’ve never had an original glazed Krispy Kreme donut right off the conveyor belt, dripping from a heated waterfall of icing, you are missing out!  You always know when the donuts are “hot off the press” because Krispy Kreme will light their Hot sign whether day or night.

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I received a coupon from a friend for a FREE original glazed donut and I couldn’t wait to pay it forward to bless someone else! So I drove down to the shop and left my surprise where it couldn’t be missed – right on the glass window.

Photo Jan 24, 4 17 25 PMIt wasn’t much, didn’t cost me a dime, but boy did it make me happy! I wonder who got the free donut today? A mom suprising her kids for breakfast? Perhaps a grandparent spoiling their grandchild? Maybe even a businessman, swayed by the neon sign shining through his car window. Who knows. I just hope whoever used the coupon felt blessed by this random act of kindness and maybe it brightened their day!

Keep on keeping on, my dear friends! Kindness matters! 🙂

Today has been an amazing day! I woke up to birthday blessings from my family which included presents and a huge rainbow chocolate chip cookie on our You Are Special plate with coffee from Panera – what a delightful surprise!

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Knowing how I love to do random acts of kindness, my family purchased a dozen bagels from Panera for me to pass out to my buddies at work – what a PERFECT gift! I was so excited to share the culinary delights with my coworkers, taking time to set everything out with a handwritten note in our teacher’s lounge.

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Best of all, when I returned to the lounge at the end of the day, this is all that remained.  Joy!

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One of my favorite things about birthdays are the stores who celebrate you, too. Michael’s Arts and Crafts store sent me special coupons for my birthday, but I thought it would be fun to pass them along to someone else with birthday joy, so I drove to Michael’s and left them to be discovered in the kids’ section.

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My personal note

My personal note

Coupons ready to be redeemed!

Coupons ready to be redeemed!

As I was walking out the store, the stamps below grabbed my attention and made me smile, so I took a photo of them to remind me of things that make my heart happy:

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Photo Sep 27, 11 23 25 AM

Photo Sep 27, 11 24 15 AM

10 things that make me happy... 4 things that make me ESTATIC!  Love this!

10 things that make me happy… 4 things that make me ESTATIC! Love this!

I also went to Starbucks and was delighted to receive a free drink for my birthday. Thank you Starbucks! I ordered my favorite Salted Caramel Mocha and relished in the happiness of sitting down without interruption to write this blog post.

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How do you like to celebrate YOUR birthday? The old adage “‘Tis better to give than receive” is so very true – I love to bless others unexpectedly with kindness. Interestingly, birthdays are the one occasion where friends and family come together to celebrate YOU; it’s a humbling time of year where laughter and memories come to the surface as you are the center of attention. I know several people who would prefer to hide in the shadows of their special day, but I like to think of it as an opportunity to share in the joy of others. Of course, if I had my way, I would have a sign in my house that says, “Celebrate Everything!”

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Today one of my students asked me how old I was and I told him to guess.  When he replied, “Thirty?” I smiled and whispered, “Add twelve more years.”  His reaction was priceless – his mouth gaped open in shock and disbelief.  “You’re… OLD?!?” All I could do was laugh!  

Yes folks, it’s true.  I’m old.  But old is simply a state of mind.  Ask my forever friend, Lisa, how old we are and the response would be slightly different: “You’re only as old as you feel!”

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Photo Sep 28, 2 39 05 PM

So with that mindset, dear friends, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing in my celebrations EVERY day, no matter how “old” I become.  You have blessed my life beyond measure!

Yesterday as I picked up a few Christmas gifts for family members, I realized my store coupon was actually three separate coupons attached together.  I bet you can guess what I did next!

RAK coupon

You’re right!  I used the first coupon for my purchases, then found two other customers waiting in the checkout line who had no coupons to use.  We all saved money on our selections, and I left the store with a smile about a mile wide.  It’s such a great feeling to do something nice for someone else!

Have a blessed day!  More RAKs to come!  🙂

 

Today we celebrated the “dog days of summer” with a visit to our local amusement park, Busch Gardens.  It’s always a little tricky to find a summer fun activity that appeals to the vast ages of all my kiddos (ages 14, 9, and 3 respectively).  Busch Gardens is the one place where everyone has fun, even if it means we separate into pairs.

After several hours riding rides and seeing the sights, we were famished.  Add to that 90+ degree weather, we were desperate to find a shaded area to sit and eat lunch.  We decided to enjoy a meal and a show in the Ristorante della Piazza, an outdoor Italian themed restaurant in the heart of the park.  As I was purchasing our meals, I received this coupon from the cashier:

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This was a first!  I’ve never received a coupon at checkout before!  Of course, it had to be used the same day, for another meal later in the evening, but 50% off a meal at the park is quite a savings indeed!

The kids and I settled in to watch the show and munch on breadsticks and homemade macaroni and cheese.  The performance was delightfully loud and entertaining.  The musicians’ talent and comedy routines reminded me of the days when I used to work at Kings Dominion as a guardette and hang out with the Kings Dominion Clown Band (KDCBOK).  Which, of course, has nothing to do with this Random Act of Kindness, just a memory moment that made me smile.  🙂

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As the show came to a close, we cleaned up our table and gathered our belongings.  I noticed the coupon sitting on my tray and suddenly realized I could use it to bless someone else!  I quickly returned to the cashier and asked to borrow a pen.  Hastily, I scribbled a note on my receipt and decided that I would pass along my coupon to someone entering the park as we left.  Oh, just the thought of such a surprise made me happy!

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I chose this RAK dedication for Jesse Lewis, age 6, whose parents have set up the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation in his memory.  As you know I am a passionate believer that a little bit of love and kindness goes a long, long way to making this world a better place.  No act of kindness is ever too small to make a difference!

We made our way to the front of the park and I spotted a family of five walking in.  I noticed the dad had a season pass hanging from a black lanyard around his neck, but arriving so late in the afternoon maybe they would be staying until the park close and needed a discount on a meal?  I approached the dad with a smile and asked if they would be eating dinner in the park.  “No, sorry, we’re just here to ride a few rides,” he replied, not missing a beat in his brisk walk towards the main entrance. “Oh, Ok.  Thanks!  I just had a coupon for a discounted meal.  I’ll find someone else.”

Before I could turn my gaze away, I was approached by a lady with a huge smile and bright, friendly eyes.  “I’d be interested!  I love coupons!”  Returning her smile, I handed her the coupon and my note and explained the purpose of this RAK.  She was very appreciative for the kind gesture and gave me a hug as I described the dedication to Jesse.  Our exchange was short and sweet, a perfect way to end the day.

May your weekend be filled with peace, happiness, and hugs!   Be blessed, my friends!

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Last Friday was the official “last day of school” for teachers.  WOW!  Another school year done, time for summer break.  As I was packing up my belongings for the two month hiatus, I thought again of the students and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  I recently read that their district has plans to demolish the existing school and rebuild another one.

Starting over.  Renewal.  Rebirth.

Focusing back on the present I took one last look in my computer lab, then shut the door quietly and walked down the hall.  There were tearful goodbyes for coworkers who were moving away or moving on to new adventures.  There were smiles and laughter as others shared their plans for the summer.  Keys and paperwork were turned in and… that was it.  The school year was over!

As I got into my car, my purse overturned on the front seat, spilling everything out.  The first thing that caught my eye was a page of coupons for the restaurant, Ruby Tuesday.  Oh my gosh, I had totally forgotten that was in my purse!  When it arrived in my mailbox a few weeks ago, I almost threw it away (It’s not close to my home, so I never go there).  Then I realized I could use the coupons to bless others for random acts of kindness!  I put it in my purse with good intentions, but with all the end of school craziness it ended up lost in the muddle until this moment.

I bet you know where this is heading… 🙂

Instead of driving home, I drove to Ruby Tuesdays.  Even the darkening skies couldn’t damper my excitement at bringing a smile to a stranger’s face.

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I pulled out the coupons and made dedication cards for each.  I would be able to bless four people today!  Awesome!

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I chose to dedicate each of these RAKs to Rachel D’Avino, a behavioral therapist at Sandy Hook.  Surely she would have been excited about the last day of school.  She may have even gone out to lunch with her friends to celebrate the onset of summer break.  I felt it was a perfect way to honor her memory.

I walked into Ruby Tuesday and was met by the greeter.  “How many in your party?”  I had to smile at that question, because it was a party in my heart indeed!  I explained my purpose, that I wasn’t here to eat, but rather to perform random acts of kindness in Rachel’s memory.  The greeter returned my smile and ushered me into the dining area.  “Feel free!”

As I scanned the room half-filled with diners, I decided to start on the right side and just bless each table until I ran out of coupons.  The first table had an older couple eating.  “Hi… My name is Tamara and I am doing random acts of kindness today.  I would like to bless you with a discount on your meal.  This card has my website and can explain more.”  They were surprised at first (as expected), but thanked me for my generosity as I moved on to the next table of diners.

Two ladies were sitting behind them, the waitress checking to see if they needed anything else with their meal.  “Sorry to interrupt,” I began, “But I wanted to bless your day with kindness.  Here is a coupon for your meal today!”  It’s difficult to explain the rush of emotion you receive when you bless a stranger in this way.  There’s always a little bit of apprehension at first (“Are they going to think I’m weird?!), but the appreciation shown by others quickly overrides the worry and replaces it with pure, unfiltered happiness.  It’s truly a win-win experience for me and the stranger!

My third coupon went to a mom and her two children.  She reached out and shook my hand, grasping it firmly between her own.  “Thank you.  Thank you so much.”  The gratefulness in her voice hinted to an untold story of need.  I KNEW the moment she grabbed my hand that this RAK today was no coincidence.  She was absolutely chosen by God for today’s blessing!

My last coupon went to a large group of diners seated in the middle of the room, two tables pushed together to accommodate everyone.  “This isn’t much, but I hope it blesses your day!”  The lady smiled back with appreciation as I quickly exited the restaurant.  My work here was done!

No matter if you are a student, teacher, parent, or professional, I hope the start of summer break brings blessings and joy your way.   And the next time you get a coupon in the mail, maybe you will choose to use it for someone else instead!

Be blessed, dear friends, and thanks for reading!  🙂

Woo-Hoo! Welcome to the wonderful world of BLACK FRIDAY! To say that I look forward to this one crazy shopping day of the year is a complete understatement. I cannot WAIT for Black Friday to arrive! I love so many things about this day: The excitement! The energy! The reduced prices! It’s the one day of the year where I am guaranteed to be child-free, can shop for 10 hours straight, spend money without worry, all the while getting the majority of the items on my Christmas list marked off. For me, Black Friday is the ultimate day of productivity.

Now I know several friends of mine will read this and roll their eyes. “Black Friday shopping? Who in their right mind would do THAT?!?” And… they’re right. It takes a really special shopper to tackle the crowds on Black Friday. But what greater opportunity is there to show kindness to others?

This year I was extra excited about Black Friday, because I was already plotting ways I could deliberately bless others on such a maddening day. The first thing I did was stop by a Starbucks. After all, shopping in and out of stores where the temperature was a frigid 29 degrees outside… one might need a little pick-me-up to make the adventure more bearable!

As I stood in line to get my tall salted caramel mocha, my gaze wandered across the yummy muffins and pastries. I immediately thought of my family members who were stuck working retail jobs on Black Friday. What types of customers would they encounter today? Would their day end in satisfaction or exasperation? I decided that a surprise treat might be just the thing to put a smile on their faces.

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My first stop was JCPenney’s to surprise my cousin, Becky. It took me about 20 minutes just to find her in the sea of customers waiting in the checkout line. That’s her on the far right side – you can barely see her from the back of the line!

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I snuck around the corner and slipped her Starbucks treat right as she was finishing a sale. (I would have brought her a drink, too, but I wasn’t sure if she was allowed to have one while working on the floor!)

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My next stop was on the other side of town to surprise my sister, a shift supervisor at CVS. Thankfully there are Starbucks coffee shops all over the place, so I was able to grab a hot drink and a muffin to bring a smile to her day.

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(Yes, she is tired. She had to be at work at 2am, following our family Thanksgiving dinner the night before. This picture was taken around 9am, almost at the end of her shift. She definitely deserved a pick-me-up!)

Back in the car, I was excited to start shopping. But first I had to get to the stores! Have you driven around on a Black Friday? Just the driving alone might send you fleeing back to the safety of your home. But I was determined to show kindness, even in my car. I smiled and waved at complete strangers, patiently allowing them to merge in front of me as they went about their way.

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Almost to the local mall, I thought about families who weren’t as blessed as me to have the ability to shop on Black Friday. So many families are struggling this time of year, especially with unforseen layoffs and other monetary challenges. While adults can understand these constraints, it can be really hard on the children. I decided to make my next Random Act of Kindness focused on kids.

Entering the parking lot of a Dollar Tree, I was almost giddy with my plans. Just imagine if you were a child, entering this store with your mom, dad, or grandparent, and this is what you discovered:

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Yes! I went into this store and hid three one dollar bills among different toys, all at a child’s eye level. SO MUCH FUN! I really wanted to wait and see a child discover the money, but there wasn’t a single child in the store. However, as I was headed to my car, I saw a mom with three (THREE!) children walk into the store. It was a divine setup!

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I knew without a doubt that my being at that store, with that specific Random Act of Kindness, was nothing short of God showing his love to his children. It literally gave me chill bumps!

As my day progressed, I finally found myself at Kohl’s, my last store of the day. The checkout line looped down one side and around another. Unknowingly, the line I found myself waiting in led to Customer Service, not the actual checkout counter. Oh no! I had already waited in line for 20 minutes – did I have enough energy to get out of this line and start all over in the “real” checkout line? As I was pondering this dilemma, I overheard several other ladies in an animated discussion about this particular line. “Yes, it’s for Customer Service, but they are also doing regular purchases, too.” “Why on EARTH would they do that?” “I think all the lines are long so it doesn’t really matter.” “Well, it matters to me. All I have is one item to return. I wish people would just go to the regular checkout and leave this one for Customer Service.”

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Yeahhhhhh… here I am, standing right in the mix of these ladies with boots, sweaters, jewelry, wrapping paper… I had so many items to purchase I was literally sliding the shoebox with my foot along the ground because I couldn’t possibly carry another item with my hands. Since I knew it would be near impossible for me to gather my items and try to start over in another line, I made a conscious decision to do something nice to the woman behind me; the woman who only had one thing left to return. I think you can tell by this photo who was enjoying this day more…

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When you stand in line for over an hour just to spend money on gifts for other people… well, you have lots of time to think, listen, and learn. I’ve discovered that patience (not necessarily a strength of mine), is an essential skill for withstanding the trials of Black Friday shopping. Oh, how many times I could have lost my patience!! But what would have been the end result? Would it have gotten me closer to the finish line (a.k.a. Customer Service)? Nope. So why lose patience over something I have aboslutely NO CONTROL over? I chose to go shopping today. I chose to shop at the store with the really good sale prices and free coupons. Standing in line was simply part of the process. So why complain about it when I was here BY CHOICE?

Which brings me to my next act of kindness. Remember me mentioning doing something nice for the lady behind me? The gal who was not too happy about all the regular shoppers being in the Customer Service line when she only had one thing to return? Well, I did the only thing I could think to do to make her smile: when it was my turn at the checkout counter, I let her go before me. Because that’s what kindness is all about. 🙂

The gal behind her was now behind me. I remembered her telling a story about her grandson scratching off all the discount scratch-off coupons (thus making them invalid to use). As she was called to the register beside me to purchase her items, I quietly slid my 15% off coupon to her with my business card and a smile. She was touched by my generosity, promised to pay it forward, and agreed to take a picture for the blog. Can you see our joy for finally crossing the finish line?

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But this Black Friday Random Act of Kindness BLOWOUT would not have been possible were it not for my husband and children left behind at home. Yes, this was my day to do as I pleased. But it wouldn’t be right to have this much fun and not include them. So as I left my last store, I made yet another stop at Starbucks and picked up some coffee for me and my husband and some sweet treats for the kids. It was a small gesture to say “Thanks!”, but one I knew would make them smile.

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So, as you are reading stories of how horrible Black Friday is, and how mean people can be, just remember there are a FEW people out there who are truly trying to make a difference in the midst of it all. I really do love Black Friday in all its chaos and confusion. Where else can complete strangers find commonality in their craziness?

Be blessed my friends! May your holiday season be filled with peace, joy, and love wherever your travels take you!


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