Sunday, November 24, 2019

Week 14: Gift Card Giveaway

"If people knew how much fun it is to do nice things for others the world would be a completely different place!" I told my husband on my way home from this week's Kindness Countdown activity.


I'm a real estate agent with Keller Williams in Milwaukee, and my why is to help people.

I want to help people receive the reliable service I wish I had gotten in my former real estate transactions, to utilize the unique skill set I've developed over the years (juggling a freelance writing/marketing career, homeschooling three kids, cooking meals, caring for 8 pets, kickboxing, making time for family and friends, etc), and because I love getting to know people - every where I go...just ask my friends and family, I talk to EVERYONE!

And so, I strive to provide my clients with the best care possible, to connect them with other professionals I've come to respect so they're surrounded by a team of people that will make the transition out-of or in-to their home as smooth as possible. 

I feel incredibly blessed to be trusted with such a huge part of my client's lives and to do this thing I love. And so after all is said and done, I give a portion of my commission away.

This week, in celebration of a closing with some special clients, I went to Woodman's and purchased 4 gift cards...and then I sat back and surveyed the crazy scene that can only happen the Saturday afternoon before Thanksgiving in a grocery store!

I noticed which men and women smiled at those near them, which customers had especially large loads in their carts, which people had children with (that they would need to shop for gifts for next month), who might appreciate a little help with their grocery bill.

And then I approached them and asked if I could give them a gift. They all said yes. ;)

And then a couple of them asked if they could give me a hug! ("YES!")

And then one lady asked me what my name was "so I can tell people this story and keep you in my prayers." 

I walked out of the store with tears in my eyes and a huge smile on my face! 

Three thoughts have stayed with me since that afternoon:  

1. DO THIS! If you can afford a $5 gift card, give it someone at your local Dollar Store. If you can afford to give away one gift card at the grocery store, give away one. If your bank account allows for more, give more. This can be a stressful time of year for people who live on a budget. I know, I've been there!

2. Talk to your family and friends about your gift-giving traditions. My best friend and I switched to gifting each other with a night out to a nice dinner in lieu of buying each other presents a few years ago and the memories we've made since then are priceless! My brother and I discussed buying presents only for each other's kids this year and then going on a low-key double-date as a gift for each other and our spouses. Plan a game night or give your family members a coupon to come over to watch a movie. Memories made together are so much more valuable than anything you can buy in a store!

3. Find your why! Having a clear understanding of why you do what you do, what you hope the future of your family and career look like is insanely powerful! It can be a source of extra strength when you're ready to quit, it makes what you do more rewarding, it provides your days with more meaning.

I want that for you!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Week 13: Party at the Food Pantry


November is one of my favorite months of the year: It gets dark earlier so I find myself lighting more candles, my Facebook and Instagram feeds are full of posts describing things people are thankful for, my family is home together in the evenings watching movies, playing games and my husband and I enjoy a nighcap most nights!

Thanksgiving is right around the corner! This weekend, my family and I went to the Saukville Community Food Pantry to drop off our donations and help set up for the festive meal they were about to serve.

(I'm on the board of directors and we had a lot of volunteers signed up to help with the meal service, so we let them have the fun of helping during the actual event!)

My children and I went shopping for some of the items I saw still needed to be donated at the end of the week and then my husband joined us the morning of to help sort through things, organize the pie station, set up a few chairs, fetch a large can of corn, etc.

As always, it was fun to see so many kids there to volunteer for girl scouts, a school group, or with their families. Our food pantry is blessed to have support throughout the year. But it, along with an article I recently read, got me thinking about nonprofits who don't find themselves with volunteers the first 3 quarters of the year, only during the "season of giving."

If you're reading this, I encourage you to reach out to a local charity you believe in and get involved...year round! 

Gratitude isn't limited to the month of November. Giving back isn't reserved for December. They are appreciated and needed, YOU ARE NEEDED AND WILL BE APPRECIATED, every month of the year! xo

Monday, November 11, 2019

Week 12: Constructing a Community


Week 12! Can you believe this Kindness Countdown to my 45th birthday is already 1/4 complete? Time surely does fly when you're having fun! And this week was no exception!

I spent an afternoon volunteering with my local chapter of Habitat for Humanity this weekend, lending a hand to build a duplex near my home.

I've been gifted with quite the arsenal of handy talents over my 44 years of life. I grew up working on house projects alongside my father, who is a very talented woodworker. He completed all house projects on his own and since renovating my childhood home, has built two houses for him and my mom in his "retirement."


My husband and I are currently renovating our third home and are in the middle of a complete kitchen remodel, which we are doing 100% ourselves. I'm fortunate to have chosen a curious and smart man to marry who has taught himself all things electrical, plumbing, automotive, etc. He has continued to amaze and teach me new skills over the years, skills that have come in handy as a real estate agent who sees all sorts of scenarios in the houses I work in each day!

And so, with this background, I walked onto the construction site Saturday afternoon, ready for work. And while all of the middle-aged men who were there were all super nice and accepting of me from the beginning, I'd be lying if I said they appeared confident in my abilities; here was this girl (who people kindly say looks younger than her 44 years) walking up the driveway, asking for a job to do on an active site with no finishing work to speak of.

After signing the waiver and being handed a helmet and safety glasses, I was first assigned the task of cleaning up a couple of areas around the site. I happily got to work loading myself up with discarded pieces of wood and tossing them onto the burn pile, wrapping cords, and easily maneuvering around different stations.

I must have proved myself because once the wood was sorted and stacked, I was assigned to assist on constructing the electrical box for the outside of the house, including drilling through loads of metal, switching out bits, using a hydraulic cutter, and more.

Towards the end of my shift, the men working didn't think twice about asking me to lift heavy things, relocate large ladders, walk through the oozing mud to fetch tools they called by their real names and not some silly descriptions, and joke around with me like one of the guys.

I'd be lying if I said it didn't feel great having them all tell me I did a great job after we put everything away for the day, and invite me back to help again next week on such a great project in our community. I wasn't just the token female to photograph working...although I happily played that role as well (anything to encourage more women to join in the fun!).


No matter your abilities, your local chapter of Habitat for Humanity would love your help!

  • Cleaning up a site keeps everyone safe, it's an important job! 
  • Organizing food donations to feed those working construction keeps them motivated and energized!
  • Working on communication for volunteers keeps the projects moving ahead!
  • Picking up some tools and helping to build is a no-brainer necessity for every project!
Whatever your experience, no matter your talents, I feel confident volunteering for HFH would be fun and appreciated! And you're sure to meet some awesome people who just might be down for grabbing drinks after the work is over! At least they usually are here in Wisconsin. ;)


Visit habitat.org to find a volunteer opportunity near you! Get constructing your community today! 


Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Week 11: Supplying Samaritan's Purse


Samaritan's Purse: Operation Christmas Child is my family's first sign of Christmas and one of our favorite traditions of the season! This year was no different!

Last week Friday (I'm a few days late in writing this, but rest assured, the KC activities continue to remain on schedule...this post is just a wee bit tardy), my children and I went shopping and filled boxes that will be shipped to children in need of encouragement, love, basic necessities, and the Gospel this holiday season.

To get started, I picked up a few of the boxes and forms that our church provided (visit www.samaritanspurse.org/ to find a distribution and pick-up location near you!) and then my children chose what age and gender they wanted to pack a box for. As always, my daughters packed for girls their age and my son for a boy just a few years younger than him. 


Next, we headed to the store to pick out basic items for the boxes (soap, hairbrushes, deodorant, socks, toothbrushes, etc) and then my kids let loose filling their baskets with special items they thought the kids might like: crayons, notebooks, balls, an airplane, stickers, and more. 

When we got home, my kids placed all of their purchased items into the boxes and we talked about how much these simple things we take for granted will mean to the children receiving them...it's such a blessing for my kids to take part in moments like this, and I appreciate encouraging their little hearts full of so much love. 


On Sunday, we dropped our boxes off at church, where next week, my son and some of his friends will return to fill dozens of other boxes in a group activity and then pack up the hundreds of donations into a trailer to be shipped out for distribution! (I'm beyond proud of him and how he balances school, work, and a few service hours each week at the age of 15!)

This is such a fun and meaningful activity to do as a family and I encourage anyone looking to spread the message of gratitude and compassion onto their children to find a participating location near you in the next week and a half! It has been such a blessing to our family over the years, I know it will become a family favorite for you as well!