celebrate kindness

Posts Tagged ‘kindness

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.

recitalflowers

Be blessed dear friends and keep passing along the joy!

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Where do I even begin?

I have tried to write this post several times over the past 72 hours to no avail. It seems with each RAK I complete, more madness, more sadness enters this world. I find it very difficult to share the simplest of blessings, overwhelmed by the grief of tragedy and loss. On Sunday, I completed RAK #12 of #26 acts. Nothing big, just a little show of kindness that blessed a stranger. On Monday I heard about the devastating tornado in Oklahoma that obliterated an entire town, including an elementary school. How could I possibly write about my RAK… something so basic, so “no big deal” in the face of such destruction and shock?

On Tuesday I received a post notification written by the husband of a sweet friend of mine, detailing the impending passing of his wife from this life to the next. Mel, just a few years older than me, was diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer eight months ago, the same month I underwent testing for breast cancer. Today she passed away.

Why? How? Why? The questions circle in an everlasting turnabout, stuck in my mind. Why do bad things have to happen? How can anything I do possibly make a difference? Why would anyone want to take the time to read my little RAKs when there are so many other things to ponder in this world?

And yet RAKs do make a difference. And you do read my posts. Maybe because we know there is no answer to question number one.

It’s funny in a way how God speaks to me sometimes. Maybe you are not a believer in God, but I am. I hear his voice on my heart in the most unassuming situations. Right before learning about the tornados on Monday, I discovered this video on You Tube. (You can skip through the commercial in the beginning after a few seconds). I held it together until I realized it was all focused in a hospital and that’s where my dying friend was spending her final hours. When the words “Just signed DNR” appeared on the screen, I was done. I couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. Then later that night, I heard about the tornado. More tears.

This morning, after reading about my friend’s passing, I saw this quote in my FB newsfeed:

quote

I had to laugh. It is EXACTLY how I would expect Mel to respond had I made the statement to her. Kindness is ALWAYS a big deal!! No matter how small it may seem in your eyes, it’s a big deal to someone else. I like to think it’s a big deal to God, too. Aren’t we commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves?

So that realization is what has pulled me out of my blog post slump. Kindness matters.

Random Act of Kindness #12 is a simple act, completely random, and nothing more than being kind to a stranger. We were eating at a serve-yourself style pizza restaurant following my daughter’s dance recital. As I was making my salad, I noticed an eldery woman with beautiful white hair and cane pushing her tray near mine. She was moving slowly, carefully, but despite her best intentions, the tray wobbled and her empty water cup fell right into the heap of spaghetti sauce she had placed on her spaghetti. Without a moment’s hesitation, I reached over and grabbed the cup off her tray. “Let me clean this off for you!” I walked away towards the drink counter to grab some napkins when another simple thought spoke to my heart. “Fill her cup.” I returned to the lady with her now cleaned cup, but instead of placing it on her tray, I asked what kind of drink she wanted. “I will fill it for you!” She smiled and spoke gently, “Water, please.”

lady

When I returned to her in the line, she was struggling to balance her cane and her tray while reaching across to maneuver a slice of pizza off the counter. Glancing down, I realized she never grabbed an empty plate! (The plate on her tray was completely filled with spaghetti and sauce.) Instinctively I ran to the end of the line, grabbed a plate and placed it right underneath the gooey pizza, mere moments before it slid off the unbalanced spatula. “Oh my! I didn’t even think about a plate!” she exclaimed as I breathed as sigh of relief. (THAT could have been a mess!)

I laughed a little, then grabbed her tray. “Do you want more pizza or are you ready to sit? I can carry your tray for you!” She was completely shocked, taking several seconds to process what I had just asked. “Are you sure you don’t mind? That’s very kind of you.” She pointed to the table where her family was sitting and I walked with her as she hobbled with her cane. “Thank you! Thank you so much! So sweet.” (Below is a photo I took of her at her table a little bit later.)

lady2

As I turned to make my way back to the salad bar (I had simply left my salad plate right there in the line, lol), I caught the eye of my daughter who had witnessed the entire event. In the brief moment of connection, her smile was simply an extension of my own, radiating the joy of simple kindness.

This RAK is dedicated to Madeleine Hsu, age 6, who like my daughter was “a shy little girl who always seemed to have a smile on her face.” My dear friend Mel had a smile that radiated, too. I hope Madeleine’s family can find comfort in knowing that even the smallest acts of kindness are being done in her memory.

Share the gift of love with others. Our time here is brief, dear friends, but we truly can make a difference.

First, let me apologize for my delay in keeping up with my blog.  This time of year is always crazy busy in my job and there are many days where I don’t know if I am coming or going!  I am sure many of you can relate.  Each time I do another random act of kindness, I want to shout it to the world and celebrate the joy!!  But alas, the reality of working full-time, being a mom, and keeping up with a non-stop schedule prevents me from taking the time to elaborate on each and every RAK I complete.

But here I sit, looking through photos on my phone, carving out time to remember, reflect, and rejoice.  Yes, rejoice!  RAKs make me happy!  How can I keep this all happiness to myself?!

So it’s with that spirit that I will be posting several RAKs in a row.  I was tempted to just lump them all together in one blog post (after all, that would be MUCH easier and quicker, too!) but I was reminded yesterday that EACH random act of kindness I complete is special and deserving of its own page.  A humbling reminder that quick and easy isn’t always best.

RAK #8 happened a few weeks ago, on a bright Sunday afternoon.  I was changing purses (I love to carry cute little handbags when the weather gets warmer) and I discovered a gift card for Subway I had received as a birthday gift that had somehow gotten lost in the shuffle of other items in my purse.  (In full disclosure, it was wedged at the bottom of my bag in between a sheet of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle stickers, a sticky, red Matchbox car, and a 20% off coupon for Kohl’s that had expired in November.  Needless to say, I carry the same purse around all winter and it becomes a traveling toy box as well, lol.)

subway1

How exciting!  And perfect timing, too, because I was STARVING and the kids were hungry, too.  Perfect!  I packed the kids in the car, drove to the nearest Subway, and delightfully placed my order.  Normally I get something inexpensive like a 6 inch veggie sub, but today I decided to splurge and got a 6 inch chicken teriyaki, a drink, a bag of chips, the works!  Oh, how fun to discover a forgotten gift card – it was almost like giving myself a RAK!  Ha!

After paying for my meal and my children’s meals, there was still a little bit of money left on the gift card.  I decided to bless someone else with the store credit.  I wrote a quick note on a napkin and asked the cashier to give it to the person behind me in line.

subway2

It wasn’t a lot of money, only a few dollars, but I figured it could still be a blessing anyway.  And, in a way, it was like sharing my birthday with someone else all over again!  Fun!

As I was grabbing napkins for the kids and putting straws in plastic drink lids, a gentleman about my age approached me with a smile on his face.  He pointed to his bag and said simply, “Thanks so much.  That was very nice!”  Even as I watched him walk out of the door, his smile still lit up the room.

Being kind doesn’t have to cost money and it isn’t always about 100% self-sacrifice.  Sometimes I feel guilty when I do something for myself that I could have done for someone else instead.  But this RAK reminded me that it’s OK to enjoy the generosity of others (my Subway birthday gift card) because sometimes there will be enough for two blessings instead of just one.

Random Act of Kindness #8 is dedicated to Dylan Hockley, age 6.  According to Dylan’s family, “his beaming smile would light up any room and his laugh was the sweetest music.”  Seeing the smile of my RAK recipient in Subway was almost like catching a glimpse of Dylan’s smile, too.  It simply warmed your heart and made you happy.  I hope Dylan’s family will know that his memory, and smile, will live on through the random acts of kindness shown to others.

Be blessed, dear friends, and share your joy!  Check back soon because I have more RAKs to post!  🙂

One of our favorite family traditions is visiting Krispy Kreme when the children receive their report cards.  “One free doughnut for every A” is the incentive Krispy Kreme offers and they never disappoint! Ever since our daughter started Kindergarten eight years ago, we have made the trek across town to the only Krispy Kreme restaurant around, to watch the doughnuts transform from gooey round balls to puffed up delicacies.  We love staring at the baked doughnuts sliding down the conveyor belt with sweet anticipation of seeing them being smothered in warm, slick icing.

KK-donutsrack

Yes, a visit to Krispy Kreme is quite the treat for our family indeed, especially because we don’t live nearby.  This past week we piled the kids in the car, report cards in hand, and made our way to this little piece of heaven on earth.

Traveling side roads, main roads, and interstates, we finally approached our destination.  My son piped up from the back seat,”Mommy… what does that sign say?”  He was pointing to a girl standing on the side of street who was holding up a sign asking for help.  “We don’t need rocks, we need socks!” declared the sign.  She was a bit disheveled in her mismatched layers of clothes, trying to keep the biting wind away from her bare skin.  “What does that mean, Mommy?  I don’t get it!”  Well, I could have spent the next two hours talking about that sign and the greater issues in our society that the sign represented, but I answered simply, “I think she just wants a little bit of help, sweetie.”

We turned into the Krispy Kreme parking lot and made our way into the restaurant, but the image of the girl holding the sign wouldn’t leave my mind.  When was the last time she ate?  Had a shower?  I noticed that there was a dog sitting by her feet.  When was the last time he ate?  As we made our way through the line to the front display with all the different varieties of sprinkled and iced donuts, I knew exactly what I needed to do.

The Krispy Kreme worker checked off the A’s on the children’s report cards and packed the free glazed doughnuts into a sturdy box to take back home.  Each child also chose one “fancy” doughnut of their choice which we purchased with milk to be consumed now.  I pointed to the red, pink, and white sprinkled heart-shaped doughnut in the front and asked, “May I have this one to go?  With a coffee and a cup of water, too?”  Gathering napkins, cream, sugar, and a stir stick, I told my husband, “I’ll be right back” and walked out of the front door as my children made their way to the back of the store with their dad to eat their special treats.

KK-tamwithdonuts

“Excuse me.  Hi,” I said to the girl on the street corner, who was leaning over rubbing her dog.  “Hi!”  she reponded, eye opening wide.  I held out the drinks and doughnut.  “Your sign made me smile.  I wanted you to have these.”  Her smile was bright and cheerful despite her clothes and surroundings.  “And the water is for your dog,” I added as an after thought.

I caught movement from the corner of my eye and turned to see two more people on the corner, another young girl and an older gentleman, hunched and worn with age.  “Oh no!” I exclaimed.  “I didn’t know you had friends with you!  I thought it was only you!”  The second girl came closer and showed me the dog she had hidden inside her coat.  “I have a dog, too!” she said, proudly drawing attention to the little scruffy head peeking from within.  “Oh my gosh, I am so sorry!  I only brought one doughnut and coffee, thinking there was only one person here!  I am so sorry!”  The girls laughed, still smiling, with the first girl easing my embarrassment.  “Oh, it’s OK.  This is my sister.  We can share.  It was nice of you to bring us a treat!”

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As I turned to make my way back to my family, nestled in the warm restaurant devouring their doughnuts with sticky fingers and milk-stained mouths, I heard the girl offer her doughnut to the older gentleman who had stayed hidden in the shadows.  “Pat, you want part of this?  You can have some if you want.”  Almost out of earshot, I heard Pat respond, “No, no, girls, you have it.  I get me something soon.  You eat.”

It almost broke my heart.

As the tears started to sting the corners of my eyes, I pushed open the door to Krispy Kreme and sat with my family.  “What did she say?”  “Was she excited?”  “Did the dog drink all the water?”  The kids had dozens of questions, clearly interested and concerned at the same time.  After retelling my random act of kindness, I couldn’t overcome the simple lesson I myself had learned from the experience.  These girls, whose lives were obviously more challenged than mine, had received an unexpected surprise and yet were willing to share it with someone else who might be more in need than them.  Priceless.

In that moment, I knew I had more to do.  I got back in line, purchased two more doughnuts, coffees, and waters, and made my way back to the street corner.  I wanted to bless both sisters and their older friend, Pat.

KK-2donuts

“Hi.  I’m back.”  I held out the treats as an offering for forgiveness.  “Now you don’t have to share!”  They were surprised by my return and the older girl exclaimed, “Oh wow!”  I pulled out the cream, sugar and stir sticks from my pocket.  “Stay warm and know you are loved.  Be blessed!”  I quickly turned and walked away before they could see the tears inching out of my eyes yet again.

I know there has been a lot of conversation and debate within our local community about homeless people standing on the sides of streets, signs in hand, asking for help or handouts.  In this moment, it didn’t matter.   None of it made a difference to me.  It was simply a moment in time where I saw an opportunity to bless someone else with kindness.  I could have just as easily purchased doughnuts and coffee for a stranger in the restaurant.  I wasn’t there to debate the legalities of their actions, nor their purpose or intent.  All that was important was that I acted on my heart and did what I felt was the right thing, in the right time.

This random act of kindness is dedicated to Caroline Previdi, age 6, whose neighbor told the Associated Press that “Caroline was always wanting others to smile.”  I can relate.  It really does brighten your day to know you made someone else smile.  I hope there’s an endless supply of pretty sprinkled doughnuts in heaven for this sweet little girl.  I also hope her parents know that her legacy lives on with this simple act of kindness.

Be blessed, my friends, and never let an opportunity pass to bless a strangers.  I promise you will be more blessed in return!

Now that my 40th Birthday Project is complete, I find myself in “Random Act of Kindness Withdrawal” (if there even is such a thing!)  I have read many articles and blogs about people doing kind things for others in rememberance of the 26 students and teachers who lost their lives in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting on December 14, 2012.  As a teacher myself, this hits very close to home.   It simply broke my heart to learn of this tragedy and I am still affected daily when I see my children and students returning back to school after the holiday break.

I have decided to perform another 26 random acts of kindness, but this time each act will be either student or teacher focused.  I will create new website cards with a dedication section so each recipient will know the purpose of the act and whose memory is being honored.  I also plan to send a card to the Sandy Hook post office for each act of kindness I perform with hopes that they will forward the card to the appropriate family.  I want each and every one of them to know their child/family member continues to make a difference in the lives of others despite this horrible tragedy.

Join me on my mission!  If you perform an act of kindness, please post to Twitter with hashtag #26acts.  If you are a Facebook junkie, you can “like” the pages 26 Acts or Acts of Kindness, then post to their wall the things you are doing.

All it takes is one act of kindness to make a difference in the life of someone else.  Be the change!  Make a difference!  Start small.  Even something as simple as a smile or a compliment can have amazing impact on someone’s day.

Be inspired and join in on the fun!  🙂

 


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