celebrate kindness

Posts Tagged ‘zumba

Today is the birthday of my dear friend, Toni, and I wanted to do a special random act of kindness to celebrate the day of her birth! Now many of you may know her as “that Zumba instructor”, and that’s how we first met about a year and a half ago when I started taking her group fitness classes at the local YMCA. I’ve even written about her before on my blog which you can read about here and here.

Well, since that time of doing Zumba with her, I started taking her Body Pump classes, too, because she is AWESOME and actually makes me forget that working out is… well, work! (Except for last night. Those lunges and squats holding weights were enough to make a person scream!)

But I digress; back to my RAKing. I wanted to do something special in honor of her birthday, something that would delight her spirit while staying true to her mission of keeping people fit, happy, and healthy.

I knew just what to do!

I stocked up my cart at the Dollar Tree and headed to the nearest playground. The weather has been cold and dismal the past few days, with melted snow and ice forming puddles alongside the sidewalks and roads. However, the weather is warming up tomorrow with highs in the mid 50’s, no chance of rain, only beautiful, sunny skies.

So to celebrate a break from the doldrums, I left a few surprises for any children who may happen to visit the playground tomorrow:




Hula hoops. Paddle balls. Footballs. Bouncy balls. Bubbles. Lots of new toys for kids of all ages to enjoy as they stay active playing outside.


Toni, I hope you enjoyed your special birthday RAK, and I hope whoever received these surprises shared in your joy. A special thanks to Jen Hicks whose donation to Celebrate Kindness helped to purchase everything you see here.

Be blessed and think of creative and fun ways to celebrate your friends’ birthdays this year! I promise it will make you happy, too! ūüôā

It’s been more than 24 hours since I’ve learned of Robin Williams’ suicide. My social media news feeds are filled with condolences. Memories. Sorrow. It’s been more than 48 hours since my tweets and posts were interrupted by the chaos and loss in Ferguson, MO. One month since Renee. Car accidents. Airplane crashes. Heart attacks. Cancer. My summer fun has been overshadowed by death at every turn.

For those of you who aren’t comfortable talking about death or dying, you officially have my permission to click on another blog or read something else that keeps you in your comfort zone. ¬†I won’t judge you one bit. ¬†Talking about all aspects of death is not for the weak, the insecure, the timid, nor the fragile.

I am none of the above; and yet at times, I am all four.

To me, death is simply a part of life. ¬†Just another milestone on that grand stage of accolades that began with my very first breath. ¬†So it began and so it will end. ¬†What’s important is what happens during the dash in the middle. (Right, Greg?) I woke up this morning with the song, “Say What You Need to Say” by John Mayer resounding on my heart. ¬†Have you ever considered the impact you have on others? ¬†If you were to die today, what would people remember? ¬†What would they say?

Sometimes in this wonderful journey of performing random acts of kindness, I get a sneak peek into people’s reactions when I do something nice for them. ¬†Maybe it’s a comment on my blog or a heartfelt smile in the moment. These gems are treasures indeed; they serve as reminders that I have worth in my purpose and I’m on the right track.

Rarely, however, do I get the inside scoop on someone’s impression of me. Do any of us, really? ¬†First impressions are often misleading anyway – a bumbled, botched-up moment of judgement that sadly shapes one’s view of another long after the connection has been made. ¬†We are all human. We have good days and bad days. ¬†And sometimes we just get caught on the wrong day, at the wrong time, and without even knowing what we’ve done, we’ve impacted someone else in a negative way without an ounce of negative intent whatsoever.

But the opposite is also true.  Sometimes we are going about our business, just being the people God made us to be, and we are making an impact on others left and right.  Without even knowing.

I’ve often joked with my family that should I be diagnosed with a terminal illness, I want to have my funeral while I am still alive. ¬†I want to know what people will say! ¬†I want to share in the memories! ¬†Do people’s impressions of me really match the person I believe myself to be? ¬†I want my life to be remembered as the celebration it is – filled with love, joy, and kindness.

A few weeks ago I received a message on FB from my Zumba instructor, of all people. ¬†She had made a comment to me after class about her joy in doing a random act of kindness for a homeless person and, of course, I was thrilled to share in her joy! ¬†Below is the message she sent me. ¬†(If you can’t view the images, click here to read the texts in paragraph form.)







I had tears running down my cheeks by the end of her message.  Such a mixture of emotions!  I was humbled. Awed. Slightly embarrassed. (I mean, geez, who else notices that I sing the songs in Zumba while going 100 miles an hour in every direction all at once?)  I was also impressed by her writing style Рshe writes EXACTLY like she talks, much like me!  Wow!

She was inspired by me. ¬†Inspired? ¬†By ME? ¬†Really? ¬†What in the world? ¬†I’m glad she couldn’t see me in that moment, because I’m sure my face was beet red, blushing, with my silly smile plastered from ear to ear. ¬†This was just so incredible! ¬†(Click here to read the blog post I wrote about her so many months ago.)

All of a sudden, the worries of the world weighing me down didn’t matter. Stress? ¬†Completely gone. ¬†Nothing else mattered, but that I had made a difference in someone else’s life. ¬†I just wanted to reach out and hug her for blessing ME with a gift only she could give – a small glimpse of how my life impacted hers.

Why do we wait to say such important things until it’s too late? ¬†This question has nagged me today in light of all the news of death and loss around me. ¬†Why. Do We. Wait?

Please take a moment to tell someone you care about how important they are. ¬†Tell them how they made a difference in your life. Share with them a story that illustrates your love for them. ¬†Remind them of their uniqueness. Don’t wait until it’s too late to heal wounds you may not even know are there. ¬†Your words are treasures of unspeakable richness. ¬†Share your wealth with others by paying it forward with a heartfelt note or a thoughtful text.

I hope your day will be blessed by words of kindness in return. ¬†ūüôā

One resolution many people make at the start of the year is to get in shape, start exercising, lose some weight. ¬†It’s an admirable goal, especially for those who realize and acknowledge that life changes are good!

Personally, I am not a gym rat (and no offense to those who are!) ¬†I enjoy exercising, but I also enjoy eating, so for me it’s more like a balancing act in staying healthy. ¬†I’ve tried all sorts of gym activities, but the one I love most is Zumba. ¬† Imagine fast paced dancing like salsa and mambo mixed with squats and lunges and you have a small taste of this hour long class. ¬†It is an EXCELLENT form of exercise! ¬†Best of all, if you do the classes consistently, you really can see changes in your tone, strength, and endurance!

There are many Zumba classes offered around town Рsome classes come to your workplace (seriously!), some are offered at gyms, and some can be shown on a DVD or Wii.  I like to attend classes at my local Y because it allows me to  get out of the house and meet new people while keeping me motivated with my fitness goals.

The Monday before Christmas I was trying to decide if I should go to my Zumba class or stay home and wrap some last minute gifts for the holidays.  If you are a busy mom like me (or just busy in general), you know how precious just an hour of free time can be! Although I was tempted to use the time productively to mark another task off my to-do list, I decided to head down to the Y and use the time on ME instead.

You can imagine my surprise when my Zumba instructor, Toni, opened the door wearing a Santa themed shirt and an obnoxiously huge elf hat made from skinny balloons.  (Where was my camera when I needed it?!) Her huge smile radiated joy as she welcomed us into the class.  What fun!  I almost expected to see a clown in the corner, inflating and twisting balloons into requested shapes.

As we all found our places to stand, Toni grabbed a basket off the shelf and announced, “I have a little something for you!” ¬†You could hear the small gasps of “Awwww!” and “Oh, thank you so much!” as she made her way to each individual person in the class. When Toni made her way to me, I finally saw what made everyone else respond with such appreciation:

photo (3)

Our amazing Zumba instructor, with her own time and money, had purchased each of us special Zumba jingle bell bracelets and created a CD of all the music we dance to in class.  REALLY?!?  Oh my gosh, it was such a sweet gift (and the first I have ever received from a gym instructor!)  Unbeknownst to Toni, we had a surprise for her, too, as we had chipped in with cards and money to purchase Powerade and gifts cards to show our thanks for all she does to inspire us on a daily basis.

It was a sweet moment of reciprocity, with both givers and receivers sharing in the emotion of surprise and kindness.  Best of all? We spent the next hour laughing, smiling, and sweating as the sounds of jingle bell bracelets danced in the air.

Today may you be inspired! ¬†Try a new class at the gym or call up a friend to walk around your neighborhood. ¬†Sometimes the most needed random act of kindness is the one you give yourself! ¬†ūüôā

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