celebrate kindness

Posts Tagged ‘flowers

One sure sign of birthday season is an absence of my blog posts filling your feeds. Every September and October, as I focus on my children and their joyous days-of-birth, I tend to wrap my attention around them, leaving less time to stop, pause, and reflect.

Does this mean that I have stopped showing kindness to others? Oh, goodness, no! But my time has been limited, thus impacting my natural ebb and flow of writing.

Since my last blog post, there have been countless acts of kindness, too many to recount and post. Nothing spectacular, no grandiose expressions of greatness, just me being me and you being you; small acts of love shared here and there.

I received two new book donations to our Tiny Tech Cafe which is so exciting! Our lending library is expanding!


I was able to pay-it-forward with a few notes to coworkers to lift their spirits and remind them that they matter to me:


Today when I arrived to work, there was a darling container of hand-picked flowers with a sweet message waiting for me:


When was the last time you received an anonymous gift that made you smile?

This small ray of sunshine was actually a perfectly-timed gift of compassion. As many of you know, my mom is walking through her journey of Stage 4 small cell lung cancer. There have been ups, downs, and moments where I swear I thought the train was derailed. This was one of those weeks. But these flowers reminded me that all things blossom in their own time and small things matter!

So today, I’m celebrating the small things.

My mom had to get a lung test today as she struggles daily to breathe and her pulmonologist needs to know what’s going on inside. Right now we are taking it day-by-day. To make my mom smile and focus on other things, I promised her a yummy lunch to celebrate her very first lung test.

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We ate at Baker’s Crust and had the most attentive waiter one could hope for. We tasted samples of homemade soup, shared stories of my kiddos, and I even got her synced up with Words With Friends again (so feel free to invite her to a game!)


Then came the main meal. Oh. My. Goodness! We both agreed her Wine Country salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette was much better than my Caprese Panini.


On the way back from lunch, we talked again about her visiting my Tiny Tech Cafe. “Maybe we could go next week.”


How can we live in the moment, if we keep putting off today?

Forty-five minutes later, I was popping wheelies with my mom in a wheelchair as we made our way around campus.

(OK, so maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. You know if I tried to pop a wheelie with mom in a wheelchair we would BOTH end up on the ground!)

Today was a good day. My mom got to sit in the Tiny Tech Cafe!



As much joy as this brought to my soul, what actually made me happiest was hearing my mom’s laughter as she fussed at me for holding on to her wheelchair going down the ramp in our building. “Let go of the chair! I want to feel it roll!”

So I let go and my mom was free.

Her laughter echoed against the walls, her arms outstretched, bracing for impact as the wheelchair gained momentum reaching the bottom of the ramp.

For just one moment, there was no cancer, there were no worries, and everything was right with the world.

Friends, thank you for being such faithful readers. Thank you for allowing me to pour my heart into your life through my stories. Thank you for lifting me up when I can’t find the words, when my writing comes to a standstill, when my thoughts are going in a thousand different directions, but not a single complete thought is shared.

We are sharing this journey of life together and I appreciate being on the road with you.

Until next time! Be kind and #CelebrateEverything!



Quote Smell Roses

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day! Bright blue skies, warm sunshine, a gentle breeze, with just a hint of summer smiling down on me. After a long, cold winter and weeks of dreary rain, this weather was a gift from above. These are days of joy!

I was reminded of the old adage to “stop and smell the roses.” I took my lunch outside and sat at the patio tables, listening to children laughing around me. I walked around campus the long way instead of rushing from class to class. When my day was done, I decided to pack up and leave the building instead of staying inside the four walls. This day was meant to be cherished in every possible way!

I wanted to do a random act of kindness in memory of a friend’s mom, who passed away a year ago today. Sandra was everything you could want in a mom – loving, kind, and generous. I wanted to do something special to reflect the love she had not only for her daughter, Holly, but for everyone she met.

I went to the store to pick out the most beautiful roses I could find, then had them arranged in a pretty vase to share. I wrote a note and attached it, my heart smiling as I wrote Sandra’s name. Then I drove to a local assisted living facility and asked that the staff give the flowers to someone who needed a little extra joy in their day, maybe someone who didn’t have an opportunity to go outside and enjoy the sunshine. Perhaps these roses could bring sunshine to them instead.





Make sure you take some time today to stop and smell the roses. Each day is a beautiful gift to enjoy!

It’s been one week since the funeral visitation.

The days before and after blur like a watercolor painting left in a rainstorm. Habit alone reminds us of daily rituals: get up, take a shower, get ready for work. Take care of the kids. Feed the cat.

I went more than a week without doing any laundry. No grocery shopping. No nightly dinner preparation for my family of five. I’m not really sure what, if anything, got accomplished other than the status quo completion of required tasks, an unmanned plane gliding on autopilot.

Joy, my #oneword of 2016, stands along the outskirts of my week, handing me tissues and sharing in my tears.

The visitation was filled with friends, family, and flowers. The outpouring of kindness and love shown to our family in so many small ways reminds me again and again that there is good in this world.

I remember when my grandmother lost her battle with cancer sixteen years ago. The funeral home received so many flowers for her passing, they offered to open another room so people would have enough space to walk around. That was the way people showed their condolences back then – flowers. Lots and lots of flowers.

Times have changed dramatically in sixteen years, even with this rite of funeral flowers. Practicality and cost now govern decision-making and rightly so. Flowers are expensive, especially petals that are woven into wreaths or displayed on stands. Not everyone has hundreds of dollars to spend on objects that, while beautiful in the moment, have a limited luster and will quickly wither away.

In lieu of flowers, some send plants. While lacking in the vibrant colors and patterns of flowers, they can thrive beyond the period of mourning. They remind the living that there are things to care for and that they, too, are still alive. Plants are a lovely choice as well.


A beautiful plant donated by my school in memory of Mom Letter.

Sometimes there are donations. We’ve seen an increase with weddings and funerals for people to add a tagline: “In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to…” listing a favorite charity or organization. What a beautiful legacy to pay-it-forward in memory of someone else.

Mom Letter asked for donations to be made to hospice. For five months, hospice helped to care for Mom and provided support for our family. Now Mom has a way to say “thank you” to the hospice nurses and caretakers through the kindness of those who loved her.

Today my husband received the list of names of those who had donated in Mom’s name. Family. Friends. Neighbors. But one name stood out among the others.

Dr. Scott Otto, Libertyville, IL.

See, Mom Letter’s journey from diagnosis to hospice spanned more than two years and two states. Dr. Otto was the specialist who first cared for her. Talked with her. Helped her make decisions. It was Dr. Otto who knew her more intimately than any of us ever could – he literally held her existence in his hands in the operating room and surgically saved her life more than once.

It’s because of Dr. Otto’s care that Mom lived years, not months. It’s because of his dedication that we were granted extra time with Mom, sharing holidays and celebrations. It’s because of his signature that Mom was granted permission to move back to Virginia, to be surrounded by family, so that her final days could be filled with love.

And now, because of Dr. Otto’s generosity and the kindness of others, more families will get to do the same through hospice.

It’s been a tough week to write, but I hope as the hours turn into days, I will regain my momentum again. Thank you for taking the time to be a part of our lives and share in our journey. There is kindness everywhere, even in death.





This week as I was driving my boys home after school, I overheard a fascinating conversation about flowers.  Prior to entering the car, my youngest son picked a dandelion from the grass and proudly held it towards me.  “Mommy!  A flower for you!”

Photo Apr 17, 6 29 38 PM

I accepted the yellow sunburst as if it was the most beautiful tulip, shining in the sun.  “Thank you so much!  I love it!”  Moments later I heard my oldest son sharing his own words of wisdom, gleaned from his vast 10 years of experience on this earth:

“I don’t think girls like dead flowers.  That flower was alive when you saw it, but now that you pulled it out of the ground, it’s gonna die and girls don’t like dead flowers.  Next time you might want to give her fake flowers. Girls love fake flowers because they last forever.”

Such words of wisdom.  It took everything in my power not to interject with advice from a girl’s perspective.  I simply chuckled to myself and made a mental note to share a conversation with  my son before he asked a girl out on their first date, scouring the bins of Michael’s craft store for the most beautiful fake flowers money could buy, lol.

His comments did resonate in my brain, however, and gave me pause to think.  What is it about live flowers that have such a great appeal versus fake flowers?  Is it their brilliance in color that cannot be replicated?  Or maybe it’s their temporary presence, blooming only for a short time, reminding us all to enjoy beauty while it lasts.  I believe it’s a little of both. Artificial flowers, while pretty and everlasting, can’t quite compare to the real deal.

Which brings me to my 100th RAK blog post.  I wanted to do something extra special for this RAK and suddenly it became crystal clear what I could do.  But first, I needed to buy some flowers.  I wanted to visit my Grandma.  🙂

Today was a beautiful day for a drive.  Leaving the city behind and traveling where the green hills roll and white fences stand was blissful even in itself. Two dozen fresh tulips sat in the floorboard of my car, their subtle magenta petals starting to spread.  A folded garden flag  detailing daffodils and butterflies accompanied me on my journey along with a small bunny figurine. The drive was long, but peaceful, as all country drives should be. Within the hour, I arrived at my destination to deliver my flowers and gifts.

The ground was soft as I made my way from gravel to grass.  I could hear the birds chirping in the trees as they announced their pleasure at the return of spring.  The sky was a flawless blue, not a cloud to be seen, and the sun’s rays streamed down, warming me as I walked the short path to visit with my Grandma.

Photo Apr 17, 3 38 14 PM

Now I could spend the next five hours telling you stories about my Grandma, about our family plot in this cemetery, about how she battled ovarian cancer for 6 years, about her unselfish love for me and all those she knew.  But this RAK wasn’t just about bringing flowers to my grandma and tidying up her grave.  This RAK was actually about Shelby Ann.

Many years ago, 27 years to be exact, my Grandma and I were in this same cemetery together, two spots to the left, changing out flowers on my Great-Grandma Chick’s grave.  Since this cemetery is shared by several families, we are always aware of “someone new” being buried here.  A small marker stuck out of the ground and said simply “Shelby Ann Menard 1984 – 1987”. My Grandma had heard on the local news that there had been a fire in a trailer home and a little three year old girl lost her life in the fire so we assumed this was where her body was put to rest.  We were both saddened to think of someone dying so young.  As we stared at the fresh mound of dirt, so small in length, my Grandma walked away and returned with a few flowers from the arrangement we had brought for our family member.  “She needs a few flowers.  She’s part of our family now.”

And so began the tradition of bringing Shelby Ann flowers, too.

Years and years of flowers have been brought to Shelby Ann, sometimes they remain and sometimes they do not.  We have never met her family during our visits, and for more than a decade her death was marked by nothing more than the initial marker provided by the funeral home.  We were surprised on one of our visits to discover her sweet name engraved on a plaque, shiny and new.  She was loved!  Oh, how wonderful! That joy was turned to sorrow when another visit revealed the corner of the plaque broken and chipped, apparently the unintentional victim of a lawn mower.

Have you ever wondered about the stories that a simple headstone can hold?  We live.  We die.  How many stories are lost with that final departure?  Who is left to tell Shelby Ann’s story?  Who will be left to tell mine or yours?  Weighty questions best saved for another day.

Today, for my 100th RAK, I brought flowers to my Grandma and a girl I never even knew.  And despite my son’s wonderful advice, I went with real instead of fake.

Photo Apr 17, 3 45 17 PM

A sweet bunny for Shelby Ann

A sweet bunny for Shelby Ann

As we enter the Easter season, reflecting on the sacrifice Jesus made for us, think for a moment about a sacrifice you could make for someone else. Is there something you could do for another?  Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice, dying on a cross, and no one can ever come close to that.  But you know what?  You can still give of yourself.  Your time.  Your compassion. You really can be the change you hear people talk about.  Even if the only “change” you do is bring flowers to someone’s grave.

Every act done in kindness matters.  🙂

Be blessed my friends and thank you again for sharing in my journey. Here’s to the next 100 RAKs!  Cheers!




Today as I was waiting in line at Kroger to purchase flowers for my nieces’ dance recital, the gal waiting behind me struck up a conversation.  It always amazes me how different people are in this world.  Some individuals won’t even make eye contact with a stranger, much less speak to them.  Others, like myself, think nothing of chatting with someone they’ve never met (and probably will never see again.)

If someone had observed us, you might have thought we were acquaintances.  Co-workers.  Maybe even friends.  We chatted about discounted flowers.  She was buying fresh flowers for her mom’s grave, but it wasn’t a somber occasion, just a matter-of-fact statement of what she was planning to do.  “I promised my mom I would NEVER bring her fake flowers… I just can’t disrespect her wishes.”   We talked about the weather.  Other grocery stores.  All of a sudden, my vision moved from her face to her enlarged belly, peeking below the bouquet of flowers she held in her hands.  “Oh my goodness – you’re pregnant!” I exclaimed, stating the obvious.  A small-boned lady with gorgeously straightened blond hair (can you hear the underlying strains of envy in my description of her beauty?  Ha!), it was funny that I had completely missed the undeniable shape of a baby belly facing me.  She laughed at my surprise as I added, “Happy belated Mother’s Day!” (remembering the joy one of my pregnant friends received when a complete stranger said the same to her.)

All of a sudden, it was my turn to have my flowers arranged and wrapped.  I stepped to the side and motioned for the mom-to-be to go ahead of me in line.  “Are you sure?” she asked.  “Of course!  I have more flowers than you and lots of time.  You go ahead!”  We continued our conversation, talking about her pregnancy.  I learned that she was due in September, she was having a boy, and her other son was born 11 years ago.  “I was hoping for a girl, but…”  Her weak smile couldn’t hide the completion of her sentence.  Even though I have been blessed with a daughter, I could empathize with the sentiment she dared not speak.

“Awww, you know what that means… you’re going to be blessed with AMAZING daughters-in-law!”  Her smile brightened a bit and I leaned towards her and whispered, “And just WAIT until you meet your granddaughters… you will be able to spoil them to death with no guilt whatsoever!!”  She laughed at my premonition, her bright smile shining once again.  As she gathered her finished flowers, she turned to me and said, “You know, I never thought about it that way, but you just might be right!”  I smiled back and our exchange was done.

And I never even asked her name.

Today’s Random Act of Kindness is dedicated to Allison Wyatt, age 6, who “delighted in showing people how much she cared.”  In a statement to People magazine, her parents said, “Allison made the world a better place… she would often surprise us with random acts of kindness.”  Maybe the gal I met today will have a daughter-in-law or a granddaughter just like Allison.  We could always use a little more brightness in this dark world.

I didn’t get a chance to take a photo of the mom-to-be, so here’s a photo of the flowers I bought instead, lol.


Be blessed dear friends and keep passing along the joy!

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