Sunday, June 28, 2015

Week 40: Kindness Countdown Favorites

This is it.  The final week of the Kindness Countdown!  

I had planned on ending these 40 weeks of random acts of kindness with a Habitat for Humanity project in my county, a project I could continue working on long past my 40th birthday.  Unfortunately, I've been told there is an issue with receiving the permit and that the project is on hold.  (I'm on the list of volunteers to contact once the project is approved and am looking forward to lending a hand soon!)

After giving it much thought, I decided that my family and I would do a "best of" instead.  I asked each of my children what their favorite activity has been this past year, added my own, and then we set off to make the days of others a bit brighter.

Week 16: Collecting Carts in the Cold
Our first stop was Costco.  You may recall my son and I picked up all of the abandoned carts in the Costco parking lot back in January.  In -2 degree weather (-21 degree wind chills).

While it wasn't as big of a sacrifice this week with weather in the comfortable 60s, we did a thorough job cleaning up the abandoned carts and also offered our services to those who had just completed their shopping.  My daughters, who missed this random act of kindness earlier this year, were thrilled to join us this time and to lend a hand, sharing the experience.

Week 2: Cleaning Up Our Park
The next stop was cleaning up a park that is near and dear to us.  It is our favorite (and often-frequented) frog-catching location.

We couldn't help but notice the trash that had accumulated in the river the last time we were there, so when my daughter suggested we clean up a park, we knew just which one we'd be working in.  I feel bittersweet in telling you that we filled a giant yard waste bag of trash with plastic bags, bottles, cans, chip bags, pieces of insulation, fishing line, etc.

I hope the frogs, geese, ducks, turtles and fish all feel much more comfortable in their home.  I know we will now enjoy visiting them that much more.  

Week 6: Give and Take
One of the activities that moved me this year was hanging up the "take what you need" and "what will you share?" flyers...and driving around to the various locations the following week to check on their status.

We hung signs in four different places this week (a laundromat, coffee shop, ice cream parlor, and restaurant) and then, a few days later, went back to check on them.

As with the last time we hung up these signs, it was touching to see people acknowledge that they needed understanding, courage, love and healing.  And equally touching to see others devoted to giving those gifts.

Downloads of the flyers are below...I encourage you to hang them up in your neighborhood...and share the gifts you can. 

Week 27: Easter Egg Hide
We left plastic eggs at the various locations we repeated activities this week.  My children love dressing up in funny costumes and when they saw stick-on fake mustaches at the store last week they asked if we could put them in the eggs.

We hid a few eggs in carts we returned to Costco.  We put some in trees and on the playground at the park we picked up.  And we hid a few at the locations we displayed the signs in this week.  I hope everyone laughs and enjoys the mustaches as much as our family does when we wear them.  (:

It was a busy week of giving and, as always, we had so much fun!  My 40th birthday is Tuesday, only two days away.  I'm going to be spending some quiet time later this week reflecting on this past year and what it has meant to me.  I'm looking forward to sharing more of my thoughts once I've fully processed everything.  For now, I will say this:  It's been an amazing whirlwind, and I'm so very thankful for these memories and shared moments of giving with my family! 

And I thank you all for sharing along in the journey! Thank you!

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." - Winston Churchill

Monday, June 22, 2015

Week 39: Balloons Bring Big Smiles

School is out for summer!  For millions of children in the United States it means freedom from getting up early and having homework.  Unfortunately, it also means that those children now need to tag along while their parents run errands.

Running errands isn't anything new to my children since they're homeschooled, but it certainly doesn't make them immune from complaining about being bored and asking how many more stops we have to make before heading home.

This week's Kindness Countdown activity was to help frazzled parents dealing with bored children at the busiest errand location I could think of:  Costco.

I purchased $40 in helium balloons from my local grocery store and drove them over to Costco. (After a quick stop to take the above picture :)  I planned this random act of kindness to occur at lunch time; there is no worse time to run errands with kids...I know this from experience.

My children and I caught infectious smiles after seeing the joy on the children's faces who cheerfully accepted the balloons!  To bring a child that much was an amazing feeling!  And equally rewarding were the knowing looks of gratitude I received from the parents.

This activity quickly became one of my favorites.  And after 39 weeks of acts of kindness, that's saying a lot.

I'll definitely be doing this again in the future! 

"Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon." - Winnie the Pooh

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Week 38: Recycle for Sight

Summer is underway and life is hectic and full.  My children and I were out catching frogs this afternoon, discussing our plans for this week's Kindness Countdown activity when I realized that I hadn't written about last week's random act of kindness.  Oops!  I apologize for my tardiness...and without further adieu...

My friend Stacy has been supportive of the Kindness Countdown since week one, but this week she provided more than kind words.  When I mentioned I was going to be donating old glasses and contacts to a deserving charity to recycle, she put the word out to her friends and co-workers and they generously added to my collection.  My friend Nanette helped too.  What a blessing these supportive ladies more than just myself. 

After cleaning out my closet to locate my old glasses, collecting a handful from my friends, and throwing in some contacts that my aging-eyes no longer have use for, I donated the lot to the Lions Club's Recycle for Sight program.  

Why did I select the Lions Club?  I researched various donation programs in southeastern Wisconsin and found that a few of the other centers either weren't forthcoming with their practices or flatly admitted they didn't donate glasses to those in need. 

I can confidently recommend, after much research, that you donate to the Lions Club if you have glasses you no longer need.  Their Recycle for Sight program collects, cleans, and reconditions old glasses and then ships them to people in need all over the world. 

I wake up each morning to a blurry world and feel much more confident when I put my glasses on, when I feel I can fully participate in life and more easily interact with those around me.  I cannot imagine not having those glasses to reach for or my contacts to put on. 

It makes me smile to think of those who will be receiving this gift!  I hope they receive not only improved sight, but a renewed vision for life as well. 

To find a collection center near you, visit  

"Vision without action is merely a dream.  Action without vision just passes the time.  Vision with action can change the world."  - Joel A. Barker

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Week 37: Caring Cards Left on Cars

The hours between 3:00-6:00 pm are commonly referred to as "the witching hours" among stay-at-home parents.  By 3:00, you have pulled out every trick you had up your sleeve and are often bone-deep tired as you try to figure out what your family will eat for dinner.

I don't remember those hours being much more enjoyable pre-kids.  By 3:00 I was often mentally checked out at work and thinking about errands I needed to run on my way home and what I needed to pick up from the grocery store to make for dinner that night.

And then there are the countless number people that are in both camps...working all day and then rushing to pick up their children or meet them at home for dinner, homework and bath/story/bed time.

I had all of the above in mind for this week's Kindness Countdown activity.

My children and I placed short, encouraging notes (download available on Kind Over Matter's blog) on cars in multiple grocery store parking lots during those overwhelming hours.  The hours when people would be rushing home from work or picking up last minute ingredients for dinner. 

AKA: When they were likely to need a bit of encouragement. 

We sat in our van, watching people come back to their cars and read their notes after we finished in each location,.  It was so nice to see the recipients smiling as they drove away. 

There have been days when I have felt defeated, deflated at best, and a stranger has held a door for me, smiled a knowing smile, or offered a kind or encouraging word.  Those simple gestures never fail to turn my day around. 

We all have the power to affect moments, moods, and days of others.  Let's use our power for good. 

"One kind word can warm three winter months."  - Japanese proverb