celebrate kindness

Posts Tagged ‘inspiration

writing quote

This past week as I was creating a digital photo book of my family’s vacation from last summer, I came across several photos that reminded me of random acts of kindness I did while traveling to Alaska. The memories flooded my mind and made me smile. From fish extenders to truffles to love notes for strangers, I was overcome by the realization that RAKs have permeated all I do – even vacationing with family.

Unfortunately, not a single blog post was written about any of them.

Sometimes I struggle with blogging. The need to write is visceral, and yet… I falter. I stall. I wonder if people bore of “another feel-good story.” I read posts of some who chastise those who RAK and tell, then find myself lifted up by those who share encouragement. Do I take the time to share my journey or keep it hidden inside?

Sometimes I’m distracted. Sometimes I’m weary. Sometimes I’m so excited to detail my experiences I can’t even settle my thoughts to find the right words. Sometimes my life is so busy I don’t even get a chance to sit down and blog until the midnight hour is chiming and I’m losing my glass slipper, my time already done.

And sometimes I’m so overwhelmed by the kindness of others, I don’t even know where to begin.

Kindness quote

So for the next few weeks, my goal is to share a few stories I’ve missed. To reflect and remember. To dig deep and retell the stories that make me smile before they fade away. Some RAKs are grand, others are so small you might question why on earth I would even take the time to write about them.

Because all RAKs matter.

RAKs inspire.

RAKs change people.

And no matter how small, a RAK is never wasted; some stories just need to be told.

Better late than never, right?

Be on the look out, my faithful readers, as I begin a blog fest of RAK memories. As always, thank you for taking time out of your busy day to spend some time in mine!

(And if you’ve always wanted to know what a fish extender is, check back soon – that will be the next post!)

 

 

 

 

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What inspires you?

Ok, so that might be a pretty loaded question for a Sunday afternoon, but it’s a thought that has been swirling in my brain all day. Where does one get the inspiration to do anything? Sure, we DO lots of things, but are they driven from a place of interest or obligation?

Many of the tasks I complete throughout my day and week are mundane and obligatory. Maybe there’s a way of finding joy in all things, but I have yet to discover it (and that’s coming from a self-proclaimed Pollyanna!) There are times when I have to force myself to be happy about the task I am attending and then there are times… the joy is just… THERE.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Many of my random acts of kindness are inspired by a quiet whisper on my heart. Look. Go. Do. A thought will pop in my brain and I just follow through. There are also times when thoughts flitter so quickly through my brain that they evaporate into thin air before any action is taken. Such is life.

Today, I found my inspiration through a song I heard at church. It has been floating around in my mind all day, to the point where I caught myself singing the chorus a time or two as I was doing laundry, making lunch, and even coloring a Marvel Heroes mask my son placed before me.

The song is about allowing yourself to be a branch that bears the fruit God provides. WOW. This is exactly how I feel about random acts of kindness! So many times I don’t have a real purpose, don’t know the outcome, don’t really plan anything out… I’m just an open vessel of sorts waiting to be used by Him. And sometimes, just sometimes, my RAKs bear fruit and continue to bless others as the RAKs are passed along from one person to the next.

For whatever reason, I really felt led to sing this song (the chorus part at least) and share it with whomever (again, don’t know the plan, lol). Maybe this song will bless you, maybe not. That’s OK. After all, I’m not the best singer out there – not even close (and especially not when I’m singing in my car. Ha!) But it does summarize how I get my inspiration for this journey along the road of kindness. And maybe the words (if not the vocals) will inspire you as well.

Click here to listen to the song, click here to read the words.

Be blessed and continue to inspire others any way you feel led!

Have you ever found yourself in a bit of a rut? A tad bit unmotivated to do the very same things that ordinarily bring you such peace and joy? Yes, I believe we can all relate to that feeling of just being stuck, unable to move (some more than others!) Being a self-proclaimed Pollyanna, I am always shocked and surprised to find myself in that place, especially because I rarely experience it. But this past month, I found myself there. Not just there, knocking at the door. I walked through the door, collapsed on the sofa and simply said, “Does any of this even matter to anyone but me??”

Sound familiar?

The day after my last RAK post, I came down with the flu. Influenza Type B to be exact. NOT FUN. For someone who operates at the speed of the Energizer Bunny (and that’s on my slow days!), to be confined to the bed for almost a week was simply incomprehensible. But it happened. I got the flu and it knocked me down so hard I honestly thought I would never be well again. Then following the flu was the non-stop dry cough where every other word you speak makes people wonder if they should call 911 on your behalf. My recovery time was a challenge because as many of you moms know, time stands still for no one. Dinners need to be made, children need to be dressed, and work needs to be done. In the midst of all that, my son’s sports schedule changed (put away the soccer ball, bring out the soccer cleats) and like a domino effect, the few spare moments I had available to myself slipped away with the turn of a calendar page.

In. A. Rut.

How on earth could I take the time to bless others? All I saw around me were items needing my attention: laundry piles, unfinished projects, stacks of mail, and an endless array of legos and toys that only a three year old could so brilliantly scatter in record-setting time. For the first time since I started this RAK project, I truly felt overwhelmed by the mere suggestion of blessing someone else. It just seemed like such an effort! And if it didn’t matter to anyone else but me, then why keep going forward with it?

That’s when I stopped. Literally. I stopped focusing on this blog and just let the chips fall where they may. And you know what? The moment I stopped was the moment other people began.

It started with a Facebook wall post from a gal I went to high school with. “I loaded an elderly woman’s groceries into her car for her today. It made me think of you & all your acts of kindness. Not that I’m an unkind person, but I normally just walk around in my own head & hardly ever notice people around me. You’ve made me be more aware and to look for opportunities. Thank you!” Wow! I wasn’t expecting to see that on my wall today. How nice! Free and easy, too! It reminded me of another high school friend who had written on my post about cleaning out store dressing rooms (yet another easy and free RAK to do.)

Another friend commented on one of my RAKs with, “Keep sharing your compassion and great ideas to inspire the rest of us.” Great ideas? Inspiring others? Me? Really?

The next week I checked my Celebrate Kindness email account and discovered an email from one of the recipients of my first RAK for Sandy Hook victims (read the story and her response here). She was asking for my address so she could mail me a $25 gift card to T.G.I.Fridays so I could pay it forward and keep the blessings going. REALLY?!? A gift card donation! WOW! My spirits were lifted at the thought of walking into a restaurant and paying the bill for a family with kids, not knowing their story, but blessing them just the same. How exciting!

This week, as Pollyanna peeked her smile back into my spirit, I received yet another message from a former co-worker. She has been blessing homeless people on the way to work and stated how good it makes her feel to perform her random acts of kindness. She also added that she reads my blog stories several times because each time she reads them they make her feel good inside and inspire her to do more.

Well, short of being hit over the head with a shovel, I received the message loud and clear: RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS MAKE A DIFFERENCE! It is very humbling to know something you do, even something so simple and seemingly unimportant, really does positively impact the life of another. The most ironic point of this entire story is that none of the people mentioned above knew I was in a rut. Seriously! It was LITERALLY divine intervention with a splash of perfect timing.

Speaking of perfect… I am not a perfect person. (Oh gosh, not even close!) I am human, just like you. I have up days and down days (although more up than down, thankfully.) I get caught up in the day-to-day trials and tribulations and lose focus along the way. But thanks to God whispering in the ears of those around me, I am brought back to the surface with kind words and deeds. As much as I enjoy blessing others, I am realizing the importance of allowing myself to be blessed along the way as well. With that spirit in mind, I would like to take a moment and let you know about the Random Acts of Kindness that were bestowed upon me recently:

  • Two people offered to take a photo of me with my son when we were at the Children’s Museum. Granted, he wouldn’t smile for one photo (and actually refused the second offer by shrieking “No picture! No picture!”)… but the fact that someone else recongnized the importance of capturing this fleeting moment of motherhood brought tears to my eyes.

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  • As I was shopping at the grocery store picking up ingredients for my 3-2-1 Cup Cake (see recipe here), a stranger leaned over my shoulder and said, “You know what I like to make with Angel Food cake?” then proceeded to give me a super easy recipe for a new dessert I could try. I then shared my 3-2-1 Cup Cake recipe with her and she ended up adding the ingredients to her cart! How fun!
  • Someone let me in front of them in the grocery store line. Little did they know I was in a rush and a little frustrated by the events of the day. Just something as simple as letting me go first changed my perspective in an instant!
  • I was in a classroom teaching third grade students when I realized one of the students was the son of my husband’s best friend from high school, whom I hadn’t seen in 20 years. It just so happened that he was picking up his son from school Friday afternoon, so I was able to reconnect and say hello. What a great surprise! Although this may not have been an official “act of kindness”, the random surprise was still a delight!
  • Four times this week I had students offer to open doors for me as I was carrying items or pushing netbook carts. Yes! Children can be kind, too!
  • Three separate friends sent me messages saying they wanted to get together to catch up, to have some quality time together. Oh, how this brightened my day!

If I stop and start to list all the nice things people did for me, even in just this week, I am overwhelmed by such kindness. How can you NOT be inspired to bless others when you find yourself so blessed? After all, isn’t that what paying it forward is really all about?

So dear friends, my best advice for getting out of a rut is to just stop. Stop trying to be everything to everybody. Take time for yourself. Allow yourself to be in the moment, but don’t let the moment swallow you alive. Think of those who have blessed you this week, this month, this life (either people you know or complete strangers) and be inspired to do the same for someone else.

Random acts of kindness don’t have to cost money. They don’t have to be Herculean events. Many times the simply RAKs are the ones that mean the most. Listen to the God whispers and act upon them. You just never know how important that random smile may be.

Share the love and be inspired! Thanks for taking time out of your busy lives to spend some moments with me!


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