Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Connection Through Kindness (A #1000Speak Post)

May 20th marks month four of 1000 Voices for Compassion, an amazing movement of bloggers coming together to flood the blogosphere with posts dedicated to compassion. The kickoff in February was simply themed "Compassion," March was "Building Beyond Bullying," and April was "Nurture." May's theme is "Connection" and you can read all of the beautiful pieces by visiting the 1000 Speak link up. We post on the 20th of every month so if becoming a part of our community is something that interests you, please keep in touch and join us with your own post in June.

Once again, my 1000 Speak post will be directly connected to my own special project: B(e) Kind 366. In 2016, I'll be doing a Random (or not) Act of Kindess every day of the year to raise funds for charity. Throughout the month of April I blogged A to Z, listing Random Acts of Kindess that begin with each letter of the alphabet. It was a blast!

Today I want to talk about the connections that RAKing, and really just kindness in general, creates. On June 13th I'll be participating in the Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life with my husband, best friend, and a group of her friends some of whom I've met and some whom I have not. We've all connected through our dedication to a cause that touches us all in some way.

One year, at my place of employment at the time, instead of purchasing gifts for one another like we usually did, my colleagues and I decided to adopt a family through Christmas Cheer. We connected over the purchase of food and gifts and shared in the delight of the family when we arrived with "Christmas" at their door.

A few years ago, my Mom and I spent Christmas Day serving turkey dinner to the community with Westman and Area Traditional Christmas Dinner. It was one of the best Christmases, and days in general, that I've ever had and I connected in a very special way with my Mom.

Just today, I put an ideas from my "Random Acts of Kindness beginning with P" list into motion. I mailed a Purple Box of Power to my closest friend from grad school. I met her during the first week and as soon as I found out that she was a Canadian prairie girl like me, we were connected for life! It's been two months since I moved back to Manitoba and she stayed in New Brunswick. While we were in the same city, we were each others' support system. I just know that this collection of purple "power" items will be a much appreciated surprise.


Nearly every day after I come home from work, I take my small dog, Memphis, for a walk. Since I've returned home from school my husband and I joke that we should change Memphis' name to Velcro because it is rare that he is not attached to me. I have a special connection with my little Pom-Chi and the best part is that our mutual love calms our anxiety (yes, Memphis and I both battle anxiety on a daily basis).

Random acts of kindness like leaving an extra generous tip for your server at a restaurant, telling a parent in the grocery store how well-behaved their children are, complimenting a stranger on their coat/hat/shoes, holding a door open for the person behind you, or even just smiling at someone you pass on the street all create, at the very least, fleeting, but often lasting connections with the recipients of your kindness. Those people are highly likely to tell a co-worker, friend, family member about "that nice thing that happened to them today," creating a chain of connections and inspiration to pay that kindness forward, through one simple act!

Go forth and be kind! The connections you will make in the process are truly invaluable!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A-Z Challenge: Reflections

A-Z is over and I made it! I had to cheat a bit at the end (due to poor health) by turning the final eight letters into two posts, but I made it! I blogged Random Acts of Kindness ideas for twenty-six letters and it was amazing! I listed 170 words and 365 acts! That means that if I actually perform every one of the acts I listed, I will have enough to complete B(e) Kind 366 - the whole reason behind posting all of these acts of kindness. 

I had a blast compiling each of the alphabetized posts and, judging from some of the comments I received, people enjoyed reading them. 

I have to give a huge virtual pat on the back to all of the A to Z Hosts! I was impressed each and every time one of them visited my blog. Jeremy Hawkins was the very first co-host to stop by and wish me well. S. L. Hennessy inspired my "If Jane Austen blogged A to Z" post and also paid me the best compliment I could have received by saying that my theme was one of the best she'd seen in the challenge. Aw shucks! Lisa stopped by to say how much she enjoyed my posts and C. Lee McKenzie is now my most recent follower. Alex J. Cavanaugh offered up a few ideas to add to my list and even the mastermind Arlee Bird himself stopped by a few times. That makes SIX co-hosts who found the time to visit little ol' me. 

Special thanks must be paid to Annalisa Crawford for actually taking the time to participate in my rather unsuccessful giveaway (I guess I better make it easier to enter next time!) and to Sandy for being my most avid commenter. I've been a fan of her work with Bridge and Beyond for years now and never tire of reading about the wonderful work she is doing for the homeless population in her city. 

Extra special thanks goes out to Randi Lee for showcasing me on her blog as part of her Sunday Series: Meet a Blogger! She even refers to me as The Queen of Kind! I think that deserves an "Aw shucks" as well. 

All in all I had an incredible time AtoZing this year! My goal was to start building a better following on my blog as I gear up to launch my kindness project in 2016. I am happy with the results and hope that many of the wonderful folks who stopped by my blog over the past month will continue to visit from time to time and, most importantly, will support B(e) Kind 366! 


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A-Z Challenge: Random Acts of Kindness beginning with "W," "X," "Y," and "Z"

I'm still battling with my health, (although I am seeing some positive progress) so this post also contains four letters like the last one.

Throughout the A-Z Challenge I'll be blogging through the alphabet using each letter to create a list of Random Acts of Kindness. I've been collecting RAK ideas for some time now as I gear up to the 2016 launch of a project dear to my heart: B(e) Kind 366. I'll be performing an act of kindness every day of the leap year starting January 1st, 2016 while raising funds for World University Service of Canada (WUSC), an organisation that changed my life.

I'm starting each post with a synonym (of sorts) for kindness. I added this part to my posts because of an amazing movement I am a part of 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion. We link up monthly and blog about changing the world for the better. It's magical really. We're even on Twitter! @1000Speak

W is for Warm, but to be honest, I could not come up with synonyms for "X," "Y," or "Z."

Walk - with a friend, alone, take your dogs!
Watch - the sunrise, the sunset, the rain come down.
Wave - to people you drive past.
Wish - leave coins on a wishing well or fountain for others to wish with.
        
X (as in kiss - xoxo) - send someone a special message and use it to sign off, leave it as a comment on a loved one’s facebook, make some out of paper and leave caring messages on them.
XD (the emoticon for a laughing face) - text it, facebook it, tweet it!
X Marks the Spot - bury treasure in a playground and leave clues for a child to find.
Xavier Rudd - So much of Xavier's music is incredibly beautiful and kind. I've chosen one of my favourites, "Better People," to share with you. 
Xpialidocious - say it, sing it. Embrace the awesomeness of the “word.”


Yoga - attend a class, follow a video, try a different type (ashtanga, bikram, hot, restorative, vinyasa), attend a Yoga-thon!

Zombie Run - take part as a participant or a volunteer.
Zumba - try it! Attend a Zumba-thon!

That's it; that's all, folks! I'll do a wrap up post in a few days with a count of how many RAKs I listed A-Z. Here's a fun thought: before I do the count, YOU venture a guess and post it in the comments. I'll do something especially kind for the person who is the closest to the correct number. 

In addition check out my super fun "If Jane Austen Blogged A-Z" post, test your Janeite knowledge, and win some Jane Austen swag! 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A-Z Challenge: Random Acts of Kindness beginning with "S," "T," "U," and "V"

Well folks, my health has gotten the better of me over the past week which has led to me missing a few posts and packing S, T, U, and V all into one! Four letters makes for a long list of RAKs so I hope you find some inspiration!

Throughout the A-Z Challenge I'll be blogging through the alphabet using each letter to create a list of Random Acts of Kindness. I've been collecting RAK ideas for some time now as I gear up to the 2016 launch of a project dear to my heart: B(e) Kind 366. I'll be performing an act of kindness every day of the leap year starting January 1st, 2016 while raising funds for World University Service of Canada (WUSC), an organisation that changed my life.

I'm starting each post with a synonym (of sorts) for kindness. I added this part to my posts because of an amazing movement I am a part of 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion. We link up monthly and blog about changing the world for the better. It's magical really. We're even on Twitter! @1000Speak

S is for Supportive
The first time I shaved my head in 2011

Scented Soaps - put them in random lockers at the gym with a little note.
Shave your head! (I’ll be shaving mine on February 4, 2016 for National Cancer Day.)
Shopping carts - put some stray ones away.
Shower - for only five minutes.
Sing - to a child, at an open mic, at karaoke, in the shower, for your supper!
Smile - at strangers! Make a conscious effort to keep one on your face all day J
Sock” someone!
               
T is for Thoughtful

The toys and books I took to the
Children's Ward as one of my
29 RAKs for my 29th on Jan. 29
Take WhatYou Need - put these signs up in public places. 
Tell - a parent how well behaved their child is.
Text - someone just to say good morning or good night.
Thank you - make it public on a poster, make it private in a note.
Thankful list
Tip - leave a generous one.
Toys - take some to the children’s ward of a hospital, leave some a playground.
Tweet - to promote a cause.

U is for Understanding

Unplug - electronics
Upside down - snowman, build one!

I couldn't come up with a "V" synonym; can you?

Virtual - greetings, smiles, hugs!
Volunteer - My plan is to volunteer with at least one different organization every month in 2016! 

Now that's a long list, but I am always looking for more RAK ideas so if any come to mind please do post them in the comments!



After all of that, be sure to check out my super fun "If Jane Austen Blogged A-Z" post, test your Janeite knowledge, and win some Jane Austen swag! The more people who enter, the more swag I'll add to the bag.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A-Z Challenge: Random Acts of Kindness beginning with "R"

Throughout the A-Z Challenge I'll be blogging through the alphabet using each letter to create a list of Random Acts of Kindness. I've been collecting RAK ideas for some time now as I gear up to the 2016 launch of a project dear to my heart: B(e) Kind 366. I'll be performing an act of kindness every day of the leap year starting January 1st, 2016 while raising funds for World University Service of Canada (WUSC), an organisation that changed my life.

I'm starting each post with a synonym (of sorts) for kindness. I added this part to my posts because of an amazing movement I am a part of 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion. We link up monthly and blog about changing the world for the better. It's magical really. We're even on Twitter! @1000Speak

R is for Respect

Random - Pick a name from the phone book and mail surprise note/gift  
Re - shelve misplaced groceries, -hang clothes that have fallen off store hangers, -use plastic and canvas grocery bags.
Read - to a child, to a senior, something you normally wouldn’t, something from a banned book list, something written by someone from a marginalized group, a book that someone recommends, to participate in a reading challenge or a read-a-thon. Read something and pass it along to someone else or leave it in a public place for a stranger. I recommend: Citizens of Nowhere
Recycle
Review – a book, a film, a restaurant, someone’s customer service, BUT make sure it’s all positive!
Run – 1km, 5km, 10km, a half marathon, a full marathon. Run to raise funds or run just to run! (I’ll be running a half marathon in December of 2016.)
Ride for Refuge (I'll be biking 25km in October of 2016.)

That's it for my "R" list! I am always looking for more RAK ideas so if any come to mind please do post them in the comments!

Since I keep urging you to check out my super fun "If Jane Austen Blogged A-Z" post to win some Jane Austen swag, it's only fitting that I give you an "R is for Reading" recommendation from Jane Austen's novels as well. If you have read two or more Austen novels, I highly recommend Northanger Abbey. It is, by far, my favourite. If you have never read Austen or have only read Pride and Prejudice, then I recommend Sense and Sensibility! It's hilarious and you'll love it! If you enter my giveaway, you'll have a VERY good chance of winning some read-worthy Austen books!

Monday, April 20, 2015

A-Z Challenge: Random Acts of Kindness beginning with "Q"

Throughout the A-Z Challenge I'll be blogging through the alphabet using each letter to create a list of Random Acts of Kindness. I've been collecting RAK ideas for some time now as I gear up to the 2016 launch of a project dear to my heart: B(e) Kind 366. I'll be performing an act of kindness every day of the leap year starting January 1st, 2016 while raising funds for World University Service of Canada (WUSC), an organisation that changed my life.

I'm starting each post with a synonym (of sorts) for kindness. I added this part to my posts because of an amazing movement I am a part of 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion. We link up monthly and blog about changing the world for the better. It's magical really. We're even on Twitter! @1000Speak

Try as I might, I couldn't come up with a synonym of sorts that starts with "Q" - can you?

Quarters - leave some by payphones, next to bubblegum machines, top up someone's parking metre.
Quiet - take a vow of silence for a few hours, for a whole day, for even longer if you can handle it!
Quit - Don't!
Quote - share some inspiring ones via social media.

My "Q" list is quite short, but I am always looking for more RAK ideas so if any come to mind please do post them in the comments!




Check out my super fun "If Jane Austen Blogged A-Z" post, test your Janeite knowledge, and win some Jane Austen swag! The more people who enter, the more swag I'll add to the bag.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Self-Kindness (A #1000Speak "Nurture" Post)

February 20 marked the start of an amazing movement - 1000 Voices for Compassion. One thousand plus bloggers came together to flood the blogosphere with posts dedicated to the theme of compassion. I wrote a post simply called "1000 Voices Speak for Compassion." A month later, on March 20, the movement continued and bloggers posted around the theme of "Building Beyond Bullying." This time I wrote something a little outside of the theme, but with an important message nonetheless: "Positive Stereotypes, Do They Exist?" Now it is April 20 and the theme for this month's post is "Nurture." Once again bloggers are linking up and spreading goodness across the globe. The link up is live until Noon GMT on April 21 so why not join us? After that you can still read all of the blogs (the link up will just be closed) and find us on Twitter @1000Speak and with the hashtag #1000Speak.

Besides the fact that 1000Speak is an incredibly beautiful initiative to be a part of, I'm also participating because it fits so well with my own project that will come to life in 2016. B(e) Kind 366 is a kindness project that I have been dreaming about bringing into existence for a few years now. In 2016, that dream will become a reality! I'll be doing a Random (or not) Act of Kindness (RAK) every day of the year in 2016 and raising funds for World University Service of Canada, an organization that has changed my life.

Throughout the month of April I have been taking part in the A to Z Challenge and posting lists of Random Acts of Kindness ideas for each letter. While it is wonderful to perform kind acts for others, it is equally, if not more important, to treat ourselves with the kindness we deserve, to NURTURE ourselves. With that in mind, I thought I would provide a few self-kindness ideas in honour of April's 1000Speak theme while still keeping with my A-Z theme.

Keep a Happiness Folder - when something makes you laugh, when you have one of those really great days, when you receive a compliment, when you are the recipient of a RAK, jot your recollection of those moments down and put them in a folder (or jar, or box). On those days that really aren't so great, pull it out and remember happier days!

Literally STOP and smell the flowers.
Practice Mindfulness - There are a number of ways to incorporate simple acts of mindfulness into your day. I'll give you two. Mindful eating - sit in silence with your food, look at it (at the colours, the textures, the arrangement on the plate), smell it (what is the scent of each individual item? what is the scent of the whole plate together), take a bite and just hold it in your mouth for a moment without chewing, roll it around (how does it feel in your mouth? what flavours can you taste? are all of your taste buds engaged? bitter? sour? salty? sweet?), finally chew slowly and as you swallow imagine the nutrients entering your blood stream. At least once a week try to have a meal where you really appreciate and are mindful of your food. Journey of the Senses - whenever you are feeling overwhelmed or just whenever you feel the urge, stop what you are doing and stand or sit still. List off five objects that you see. Close your eyes and list five sounds that you hear. Then breathe in deeply through your nose and list five scents that you can smell. Finally, list five flavours that you can taste. Try to do this at least once a day; it's a really effective way to be fully present in any given moment and focus on things that allow us to clear our minds of clutter.

Relax - lie down and close your eyes. Starting at the top of your head consciously think about your entire body relaxing one part at a time. Think about the tension leaving the back of your head, your neck, your shoulders, and continue down the back of your body to your toes. Once you have relaxed each individual toe, work your way up the front of your body. Think about the tension leaving the tops of your feet, the fronts of your ankles, legs, knees, thighs, etc, all the way back to the top of your head. I promise you, you will be relaxed by the time you are finished. The key is keeping your mind focused on your body relaxing.

And finally - any kind thing that you would do to nurture someone else, do to nurture yourself every once in a while! Buy yourself a gift. Write yourself a poem. Send yourself a letter.