Saturday, August 31, 2019

Week 2: Third Coast Cleanup

If you know me, are Facebook friends with me, or have glanced at my Instagram for even a second, you know I LOVE nature, getting my hands dirty, climbing trees, wading through streams, hiking, adventuring through this great world. 

I'm incredibly grateful to have lived 44 years on the shores of Lake Michigan, one of the Great Lakes, AKA the world's largest source of fresh water! It makes every sunrise more beautiful, the winters a little less frigid, and was the reason I learned navigation at an early age (Lake Michigan = East). 

Passing along a love for The Lake is one of my most favorite things to do as a parent. We have an extensive fossil, rock, and sea glass collection. Heart-shaped rocks ring the trees in our yard and sit on the window ledges in our home. Rock tumblers run 24 hours a day in our basement. I have no doubt my legacy will live on.

But this summer's adventures to the Lake have been a bit more challenging due to the record high water level. We have gotten creative in our times of day to go (when the tide is low) and have ventured to beaches not visited before (more touristy and crowded). 

We left a recent trip to McKinley Beach located near downtown Milwaukee feeling downtrodden and depressed at the large amounts of trash thrown on the sand, intermingled with the driftwood, and hidden in the boulders my kids like to play on. 

That afternoon was the inspiration for this week's Kindness Countdown activity: cleaning up the Third Coast!

My daughters and I (my son has a terrible cold) headed back to the shores of McKinley and Bradford armed with plastic gloves, large garbage bags, and a desire to leave the beaches better than we found them.

Over the course of a few hours we had collected 50+ pounds of garbage. We picked up countless plastic bottle caps and cigarette butts, a baby diaper, lots of straws and liquor bottles, balloons, plastic silverware and storage containers, broken shoes, and chip bags.

We passed one family playing at the beach who thanked us for our hard work. A few others made sad faces as we squatted down to pick up bottles cast aside in a field of wildflowers. 

I'm not gonna lie, it was gross and tiring work, but we all agreed we'll definitely do it again. Walking back through the sand and seeing it clean, as it should always be, felt so good. 

We may not be able to change the world, but we most certainly can fix our small piece of the planet. Hopefully doing so will inspire others to do the same. 

PS: If anyone reading this works for Milwaukee County, pretty please with sugar on top add more garbage cans to the lake shore. An increase in strategically-located bins near beaches and walkways (especially in the summer) will greatly decrease the amount of litter. 

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Week 1: Back to School Smiles

I'm baaaaaaaack!

It's hard to believe, but it's been 5 years since I started the Kindness Countdown to my 40th birthday. And even harder to believe that I'm now counting down to my 45th! How does time speed past so fast? I mean, just look at the size of my kids! My 15 year old son towers over me, my 13 year old daughter and I share clothes and shoes, and my youngest is double-digits, going into 5th grade next week!

While we've kept the kindness thing going these past 5 years, all of us were excited to once again embark on this project, to add some structure and planning, to think of all the people and areas of our life/community/country/planet we care so much about and want to help. We've got some really fun things planned for the next 45 weeks and we're excited to share them all with you! So let's get started!

Here we go, Week 1:

This week Tuesday, my family and I helped to hand out school supplies and back-to-school shoes to 250 children whose families needed a little extra help during what can be an expensive time of year.

I became a board member of the Saukville Community Food Pantry at the beginning of 2019, and when I found out about our school supply drive, I was excited to sign up to lend a hand!

My children and I arrived early to sort items, open packaging, and help develop the strategy for distribution. Because the Pantry has done this before, there was already an excellent system in place, registering 50 kids per half hour to eliminate the bottleneck effect that sometimes occurs at events like these.

We worked alongside amazing people, both young and old, who became fast friends. It's funny how quickly you can bond with other kind-hearted people, isn't it? (:

It was amazing watching the youth volunteers offer up special color, character, and uniquely designed items to kids they thought needed a little something extra or who would appreciate them most. It's no wonder their smiling faces made it on the cover of our local paper!

Seeing my kids smile when they saw the smiles they helped create is engraved on my heart.

As we were walking out the door my youngest said, "That was fun, I hope we can do it again next year!" and my middle child said, "I can't wait to see what you have planned for next week!"

I'd say the Kindness Countdown is off to another great start!

Be sure to follow along over the next 44 weeks!

"Like" the Kindness Countdown Facebook page! "Follow" on Instagram!

Trust me, you won't want to miss all the KIND fun we have coming up!