Saturday, January 2, 2016

B(e) Kind 366: Plans for January

I started off B(e) Kind 366 with an act that I've wanted to complete for some time. My hubs and I completed the paperwork to become a Big Couple with Big Brothers Big Sisters. By the end of the month we should have a "Little" matched with us! The commitment is 3-4 hours a week and my mind is full of ideas of ways to spend time with them.

In addition to my acts of kindness, I am taking on a personal challenge every month. For the month of January I've decided to not drive anywhere. I'm going to have to make a few exceptions, but on a daily basis I'll be walking to and from work, the gym, etc. In the summer this wouldn't be such a a big deal, but January in Manitoba makes this challenge a bit more trying. We've had a really mild winter so far by Manitoba standards so here's hoping it stays mild for the extent of January. In either case, I'm prepared as per the photo to the right!

Another part of B(e) Kind 366 is volunteering with a different organization every month. I already volunteer with quite a few organizations, but because I'm attending World University Service of Canada's International Forum later this month and because January is Student Refugee Program Awareness Month, I'm choosing to dedicate some additional time to WUSC this month.

Of course we can't forget that I am raising funds for three charitable organizations during all of this. Since January is my birthday month I'll be honouring everyone who donates $10+ to my project, by reciprocating the gesture with a small gift. I'd love to send to you a token of appreciation so please consider donating!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

B(e) Kind 366: Official Launch

If you've stopped by my blog over the last year you'd have had a difficult time missing my kindness theme. I've been planning B(e) Kind 366 for over a year now, collecting kindness ideas, and developing this special project. I shared most of my ideas during the month of April when I blogged A-Z.

On January 1, 2016 B(e) Kind 366 begins. B (that's me - short for Brandy) will be performing an act of kindness (sometimes random, sometimes not) every day of the year. 2016 is a Leap Year - hence 366.

I'll be blogging about it here. Facebooking about it here: B(e) Kind 366. Tweeting about it here: @blr098. Instagramming about it here: @bitsbyb. And raising funds for World University Service of Canada, The Women's Resource Centre, and the Canadian Cancer Society here: B(e) Kind 366.

Every month I'll be taking on a different unique challenge in addition to performing an act of kindness. Some of the challenges include not driving anywhere for month, not purchasing anything for a month, shaving my head, writing a poem a day, spending thirty minutes in nature everyday for a month, living "off the grid" for a month, giving up something I love for a month, and more.

Every month I'll also be offering a special little incentive to those who donate to my project. Some of the incentives include receiving a small gift, receiving mail art, having a poem written for them, and much more.

On top of all that I'll be offering giveaways right here on my blog for all of you lovely people!

All of this in the name of KINDNESS! 
I hope you'll join me in your own special way!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Simple Kindness of a Wave

I originally got the idea for this post on Father's Day (June 21) and had the best intentions of linking it up for the fifth installment of 1000 Voices for Compassion or #1000Speak. On or around the 20th of each month amazing bloggers come together and post about compassion or themes closely related to compassion. If that sounds like something you might be interested in, please do join us! Like I said, I had good intentions, but I just didn't sit down to write this soon enough so here it is, July 8, and I'm finally typing words on the screen.

I was driving home on Father's Day and as I entered the outskirts of the town I slowed my truck down to allow what I am only assuming was a father and his sons to cross the road. The father was on a four-wheeled ATV and was followed by an older son on a dirt bike and two younger sons on smaller three-wheeled ATVs. I stopped and as they made their way into the ditch on the side of the road the father waved in a gesture of thanks. I waved back and immediately started thinking about the simple kindness of a wave.

Memories of growing up in a small town (less than 1000 people) flooded in and I recalled my own father "waving" at everyone he encountered while driving in his truck by simply flicking his index finger up from its resting place at the top of the steering wheel. I remember asking him, "Dad, who was that?" and getting the response, "I don't know." "Well then why did you wave?" I'd ask and he'd respond, "Just to say 'Hi.'" It made sense to me then and it still does now, but it's not something I see very often anymore, if ever and that makes me a little sad. Why don't we make the effort to wave and "just say 'Hi'" to complete strangers?

Shortly after that encounter with the father and sons, the provincial government started construction on one of the smaller, but heavily travelled highways between the town where I live and the city where I work. I'm annoyed by road construction as much as the next person, but in addition to tapping into the old cliche "patience is a virtue" to deal with the frustration, I noticed that a number of the men and women hired to work as flag people holding the "Slow/Stop" signs wave at every vehicle that goes passed. Their job has to be quite exhausting and boring, but despite that the same people who wave at me during my early morning commute to work are there still waving at me during my early evening commute back home. I always make sure I slow down to well below the suggested speed limit (a person stands zero chance of survival against a vehicle driving 60km/hour) and wave back. That friendliness makes the slow drive home not all that bad.

In 2016 I am launching a project called B(e) Kind 366 where I'll be performing a random (or not) act of kindness every day of the year. Waving to people, especially random people, is definitely on my list!

Do you have a friendly waving story?
I'd be delighted to read all about it in the comments!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Great Canadian Giving Challenge

For the past few months and especially throughout the AtoZ Challenge I have been focusing my blog posts on Random Acts of Kindness as a means to start promoting my own major kindness project, B(e) Kind 366. In 2016 I'll be embarking on a kindness journey, performing a random act of kindness every day of the year! Today's post still falls in line with my ongoing kindness theme, but this time it's a call to kindness from YOU, my lovely visitors!

On April 17th, I started a new chapter of my life as the Executive Director of The Women's Resource Centre in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. This position brings together two of my life's passions: feminism (a.k.a. women's rights) and the not-for-profit world. It has been approximately six weeks since I began my journey and I am loving it more every day.

Jodi Wyman, TWRC Board Chair
and myself.

The Women's Resource Centre's mission is to provide programs, services, and counselling on issues affecting women including family violence, while encouraging respect, diversity and equality with a feminist perspective. Our vision is to be an organization dedicated to providing support, empowerment and mentoring for all women and their families. The Centre's goals are to provide the women of Western Manitoba with education and counselling on domestic violence; to provide Brandon and rural women access to information on cultural, economic, educational, health, legal, and social services; to coordinate and support projects which promote women's equality; and to create a space for women to meet in a place of their own to network and share information. Our promise is to do all that we can for the women of our community. We will reach out, and keep and open door to all women. No matter the situation, we are committed to guiding and supporting women in a non-judgemental, positive environment. Freedom is the right to stand strong and hold your head high no matter the past.

Throughout the month of June, is running The Great Canadian Giving Challenge. Every dollar (minimum $3) that is donated through The Women's Resource Centre's Giving Page gives us a chance to win $10,000. If you donate $3 we get 3 entries into the draw. If you donate $100 we get 100 chances. Easy, peasy, right?!

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!