Thursday, October 24, 2019

Week 10: Be a Hero

Five years ago, when I was counting down to my 40th birthday with 40 act of kindness, I had an AHA moment: I decided to donate blood...and I thankfully never looked back.

Since that blood donation in week 22 of the first Kindness Countdown, I have attended my local blood drive like clockwork every eight weeks. 

A couple of times my iron was low and I didn't qualify (not a huge surprise being a lifelong vegetarian), but that made me all the more determined to figure out how to care for myself so I could care for others. My secret: Orgain Organic plant-based protein powder.

The Versiti Blood Center employees who work our events have the best energy, they play the best music, and are so easy to laugh with!

A couple of them have told me they've passed along my plant-based protein powder tip to others with low iron. One man refers to me (affectionately, I think/hope) as "the woman who smells like she has chickens" because after growing up on a farm, immediately picked up the sweet smell off my muck boots when I once had to rush to make an appointment. Today, a woman and I bonded over the career changes we both made this year and shared stories about our children and her grandchildren.

And then there's the Cedarburg Lion's Club who hosts our bi-monthly drives! They are incredible, and work so hard to keep us all comfortable and thankful for the incredible Out & Out salad donations (they have The Best food), games, and snack tables to socialize at when we're finished. 

It really has become a special part of my community! But I do have one complaint: 

There are not enough young(ish) people there.

When I first began donating again five years ago I remember the moment I realized I was the youngest person quite a lot. I usually still am. And *I'm* counting down to my 45th birthday. 

If you're reading this, please consider donating.

Please gently remind your friends and family to donate.

Please tell them it doesn't take long, that it's pretty pain-free, that they'll save up to three lives with each donation. 

Please offer to go with them, to start your own tradition, to build your own community.

And then congratulate each other for being a hero!
"When you give blood you give another birthday, another anniversary, another day at the beach, another night under the stars, another talk with a friend, another laugh, another hug, another change." - American Red Cross

PS, a lot of the regulations regarding blood donations have been updated; many people who didn't qualify in the past most like now do. Please double-check the rules and regulations for your local blood drives.  

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Week 9: Kind Cards on Cars

I live in quaint, historic city of Cedarburg, Wisconsin. Our tiny town is known to be packed with tourists any given weekend, but yesterday and today, we've seen an unusually high number of visitors thanks to the Milwaukee Film Festival being in town at the Rivoli Theatre for the first time and what is being billed as the last warm weekend of the year.

Whatever the reason, our little walkable downtown has been crowded...and a wee bit stressful to maneuver. I thought I'd do what I could to make it cheerier.

Yesterday, my kids and I took to the streets, armed with cards carrying messages of kindness, love, and compassion.

The various cards read:

* You are enough
* You don't have to do it all
* Love what matters
* You are so full of love
* I believe in you
* You are perfect just the way you are

We walked through the city parking lots depositing cards on cars parked there. We tucked them into driver-side windows in the street. We "littered" the town in kindness.

And then we sat and watched.

It was amazing to watch people's faces transform when they returned to their cars and caught site of the cards on their vehicles. Their expressions quickly changed from one of annoyance to having a flyer to throw away to a smile in recognition of the love they had just received from a stranger.

While most of the cards were placed willy-nilly, without intentional paring for each car and card, I did place a few "You don't have to do it all" cards purposefully on cars with car-seats inside, "I believe in you" on vehicles that, like mine, had seen better days, and "You are enough" on cars that were obviously owned by women.

(Note: This all happened with a quick glance, I promise I was not creepily snooping inside the cars of stranger!)

I hope these cards brightened the days of their recipients.

I like to think of them tucked under car visors as a reminder, holding pages of a good book where they'll continue to make the reader feel strong, placed under a souvenir magnet where they'll be glanced at each time the fridge is opened for a midnight snack, or passed on to someone else who could use a smile.

Now go back and read the card messages for they apply to you too! <3

Monday, October 14, 2019

Week 8: Merch Table With a Mission

My family and I attended a spoken word performance by Tanner Olson, AKA Written to Speak, on Friday night, where my son and I volunteered. 

I've been following the Written to Speak Facebook page for a couple of years now, finding Tanner's words inspiring, and often, just what I need to read or hear at the time. (Funny how that always seems to happen!)

I was quick to lend my family's services when I learned he was coming to town to perform his poems, tell a few stories, and join in some fellowship, I knew it would be an inspiring night, and I was right!

My son worked the PowerPoint slides for the two performances and I sold Tanner's merchandise before and after the show to the attendees (and my own family - my daughters LOVED the show and were so excited to get autographed poetry books and a t-shirt). 

Volunteering at the event was loads of fun as most of the people there had been, like me, following Tanner's journey to a full-time poet/performer for a handful of years, and were excited to see him live!

He has a great ability to balance humor and thoughtfulness pretty perfectly; one moment you're laughing out loud and the next you find yourself thinking "Huh, I never thought about it like that before."

His poetry inspires the reader/listener to recall childhood moments, reminds them to set new goals, of God's love, of hope and kindness. 

I can confidently say everyone left the event smiling and feeling lighter than they did walking in on the first freezing night of the season. And Tanner's bags of merch were a little lighter as well!

Here's a snippet of one of the poems you'll find if you check out the Written to Speak Facebook or Instagram pages or purchase his book (it's like I'm still working his table... ;) 

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Week 7: Putting the FUN in Fundraising

The Saukville Community Food Pantry is an organization that services all of Ozaukee County, providing community meals, free food in a market atmosphere, school supplies, shoes, and more to those who need it. 

I joined the Board of Directors in the first quarter of this year and have greatly enjoyed lending my ideas, marketing skills, contacts, and time as well as working alongside the other members for such a great cause! Plus we have I did this week!

I attended a Chamber of Commerce meeting on behalf of the Pantry Thursday night at a local brewery, Rebellion (hence the flags), and talked with the packed house of people from my community for a couple of hours. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it!

I talked with a graphic designer about helping us with some merchandise, discussed the possibility of a couple of companies holding food drives in their offices, and walked away from the brewery with a guarantee they'd donate a package to an upcoming raffle event we're having!

The event definitely put the FUN in fundraising and helped to make the night successful for the Saukville Community Food Pantry! Thanks, everyone!