Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year's Resolution of Kindness

Happy New Year! and Welcome to 2016!
How many of you make a New Year’s Resolution? I’m guessing there is a large show of hands. And of course you have every intention of keeping them. I can tell you the first week of the New Year and sometimes even the first month is packed at the gym. But then it dwindles.

The dreaded New Year’s Resolution.

How many of you keep your New Year’s Resolutions? I’ll bet there are a lot less hands in the air. Or maybe you keep some but not others. Hey, some is better than none, right?
Me? I like New Year’s Resolutions for the opportunity to take on a challenge. Do I stick with them? Yes. Why? A resolution to me means growth, personal growth.

Each year I like to learn or try something new, something to take me out of my comfort zone and expose me to new people and new adventures.
This year I’m doing something different. This year it’s not just about my own personal growth, it’s about giving back, paying it forward. It’s about random acts of kindness. It's a New Year's Resolution of Kindness!

Yes, this year my plan is to do at least one random act of kindness a week. That’s 52 random acts of kindness in 2016. If you are afraid you can’t do it every week then pick one month and do one random act each day of that month.
On my birthday I will perform one random act of kindness for each year in my age. Nope, do not ask. I will not tell you my age. Let’s just say it will be a very busy day giving.

I would love for this idea to spread and see more of you do this so please pass the word and let’s make 2016 a year of giving.

Below is a list of some ideas to help you get started. Please share your own ideas or acts of kindness.

 Ideas for Random Acts of Kindness:
  1. Start a piggy bank for a cause
  2. Leave a copy of an interesting book on a train, bus, or in a coffee shop
  3. Pay for the drinks on the next table at a café or restaurant
  4. Call a grandparent
  5. Thank a police officer or firefighter
  6. Share your umbrella
  7. Pick up groceries for a neighbor
  8. Bring co-workers a special treat
  9. Help someone load groceries into vehicle
  10. Bring flowers to someone
  11. Pay the toll for the car behind you
  12. Leave a generous tip for a server
  13. Help someone with yard work
  14. Thank a volunteer
  15. Adopt a soldier:
  16. Adopt a platoon:
  17. Read to the elderly or a child
  18. Return a shopping cart
  19. Volunteer at a food bank
  20. Leave change in a vending machine or parking meter
  21. Use your vacation days
  22. Hold the door open for someone
  23. Let the person behind you go ahead of you in line
  24. Donate clothing
  25. Leave quarters at the laundromat
  26. Buy a lottery ticket for someone else
  27. Buy a cup of coffee for the person in line behind you
  28. Write a thank you note to a co-worker
  29. Give up your seat for a stranger
  30. Say “please” and “thank you” … a lot
  31. Send a gift anonymously
  32. Compliment a waiter/waitress/server
  33. Give another driver your parking spot
  34. Give a landscaper a bottle of water
  35. Treat a friend to the movies
  36. Pick up rubbish in the road and put in a trash receptacle
  37. Tell your family how much you appreciate them
  38. Leave warm clothing on a bench with a note letting the finder know that it’s theirs to use or giveaway
  39. Donate to your favorite charity or donate to my site for Team RWB, which supports our Veterans.   Denise's Team RWB donation site
  40. Tweet a compliment about a vendor
  41. Put your cell phone away
  42. Give chocolate…generously and often
  43. Stop to have a conversation with a homeless person
  44. Write a positive review for a book or a product
  45. Adopt a rescue pet
  46. Leave a bag of microwave popcorn at your local Red Box movie rental stop
  47. Listen to the person sitting across the table from you
  48. Donate a race entry fee to the next random person
  49. Plant a tree or flower
  50. Make two lunches and give one away
  51. Give directions to someone lost
  52. Donate canned goods to a food shelter or at your local grocery store
  53. Buy lemonade from a kid’s lemonade stand
  54. Leave a nice comment on a blog
  55. Wash your neighbor’s car
  56. Keep a pen on hand – lend it to people when needed
  57. Call your mom
  58. Give someone a hug
  59. Smile. . .a lot


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Cup of Christmas Cheer

When I refer to a cup of Christmas Cheer I am not referring to spiked eggnog. Although, spiked eggnog could definitely be considered a cup of Christmas Spirit.

As we’ve done for the last few days, let’s talk about giving. Let’s talk about giving a cup of Christmas Cheer.
While you are standing in line to get a cup of coffee or maybe a cup of hot chocolate, why not buy the person behind you a cup? Not sure what the person behind you is going to have, hand the barista a couple of dollars and ask him/her to buy the next Veteran they serve a free cup of coffee on Santa. Or request they buy the next child a free cup of cocoa...with whipped cream.
Coffee not your drink, then perhaps some tea. Whatever your poison, go and offer up a cup or glass of Christmas Spirit (spiked eggnog or other Holiday spirits). Buy the person at the next table.
See a police officer directing traffic on a winter night? Offer him a hot cup of java to make the night pass with a smile and to thank him for his/her service.
Merry Christmas and enjoy a cup of cheer!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Candy Cane Christmas Giveaway

What is the one candy that says Christmas?

Candy cane!

Candy canes are everywhere this time of year, bringing everyone holiday cheer.

Candy canes are used as decorations on Christmas trees and make a fabulous stirrer in a cup of peppermint cocoa.

Crush a candy, add it to a little white chocolate, top that to a dollop of dark chocolate and you have a holiday favorite of peppermint bark.

A candy can is a sweet treat both kids and adults adore.

How does this fit into our Twelve Days of Christmas Spirit? That's easy.

We're going to give them away!

Here is the plan:

  1. Buy candy canes. Doesn't matter whether the big candy canes or the small ones. They cost about a dollar a box. Come on! If you can buy a cup of coffee, you can buy candy canes to give away.
  2. Take candy canes to mall. Pick a mall, large or small, any mall at all. Malls intimidate you, then go to your local coffee shop. It does not matter where you go, just go!
  3. Open box or boxes of candy canes.
  4. Start handing them out! See that harried, last minute shopper, give her a candy cane and wish him a Merry Christmas. See that dad with dragging his kids through the mall looking for gifts for the wife, give him a candy cane and wish him a Happy Holiday. What about your favorite barista? Give him or her a candy cane and say thank you for a great cup of coffee.
Merry Christmas and have fun!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Give the gift of warmth

It's winter! Have you noticed? Some may have noticed more than others. I live in new England and we are having an unusually warm winter, by warm I mean only down to the 30s.

But it is winter and almost Christmas. With winter and Christmas comes cold and people needing to stay warm, especially those people who walk to work or those people who are homeless and living on the street.

Let's help these people out and give the gift of warmth!

Have you read or seen the articles about people leaving scarves or cold weather gear like hats and mittens on telephone or light poles? Well, let's join the fun!

Do you have any yarn sitting around waiting to be knit or crocheted? Take that yarn and knit up a scarf or crochet a hat and leave them for a complete stranger who could appreciate it.

I will even bet some of you have a scarf that your grandma or relative gave you that you have never even worn and maybe has the tags left on them. Don't let it take up space. Give it away!

Take your hand-knit scarf or your closet hiding scarf that isn't keeping anyone warm to the nearest light pole or telephone, wrap it around the thing and give it away.

Now, if you tie a scarf to a pole most people will probably just walk by thinking it was lost. To avoid this, attach a personal note. Something like you see in the picture to the right or maybe a little more festive.

You could try, "I am not lost, but I am looking for a good home. Take me, I'm yours; a gift of warmth from a total stranger and some holiday cheer. Merry Christmas!" You get the idea.

Have fun with it. Spread warmth and holiday smiles. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas spirit, running style

Following our Twelve Days of Christmas Challenge, I thought of another way we might be able to give. I call it Christmas Spirit, Running Style.

Give a gift from a runner or to a runner.

As a runner, I know I have lots of shoes and T-shirts. At one time or another a runner buys shoes when they are on sale because he/she thinks, "Oh my gosh! I have to get them while they are cheap!" If the word cheap can actually be applied to running shoes. And then he or she falls in love with a totally different pair of shoes and the ones they bought are sitting in their closet in a box never opened, never worn. Aww. Very sad.

Sound familiar? Are you guilty of this? I know I am. As a matter of fact, I have at least three pair of running shoes sitting in boxes in my closet never opened, never worn.

Hmmm...what should or could I do with these? Last year I held on to them and donated them at the Vermont City Marathon. This year, however, I am going to do something similar to the Christmas in Books. I am going to leave a pair of unused shoes in a box with a note inside, wishing the new runner a Merry Christmas!

Did it cost me anything? Not really. I had already spent the money and it was sitting wasted in my closet. Will it make someone's day? I hope so. Could I be contributing to the insanity of a future runner or walker. That would be fabulous! Even better, I would be giving the gift of health. A pair of running shoes that could spur on someone to meet their New Year's resolution to walk every day, or run their first 5K or better yet, get healthy.

There is more. As a runner who regularly participates in races, I have T-shirts. Lots of them! Where are they? In my closet, under my bed, in a chair, or anywhere else I can find space for them.

Here we have two options. If you have a runner in the family and you know where they store all those unworn T-shirts, why not upcycle them into something useful like a quilt or a handbag or duffle bag. Heck, why not placemats for the truly obsessed runner in the family.

If you're a runner and don't wear your race T-shirts and want to see them put to good use then give them away. Wrap them up and drop them off at a homeless shelter or a women's shelter. Or, if you are feeling energetic then take a handful on your next run and tie a few to various telephone poles with a Christmas ribbon and a note wishing the future wearer a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas in Books

Last night I visited a local bookstore. This is a regular occurrence for me as I am a HUGE reader and lover of books, not to mention an author.

I was on a mission for a couple of Christmas themed books.

I picked up two books by a couple of my favorite authors: "A Knights Bridge Christmas" by Carla Neggers and "Christmas in Mustang Creek" by Linda Lael Miller.

I will probably have them both read by the weekend and will need others. What can I say? I love to read!

When you think of Christmas gifts for kids or teenagers or even adults, what do you think of?

Most people think of electronics or clothes, or jewelry, and everything else in between.

What about BOOKS?!

In this day of electronics, we have Kindle and Nook and even phones to read a book. Yes, you could buy someone a giftcard to Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Better yet, you could share a book you loved. Share your joy!

This year I'm giving all of my relatives a book. (Oops! I hope none of them are reading this.) I shared with each of them a copy of a book I enjoyed or an author I love to read. Some of the books are even autographed by the authors. How fun is that?!

Anyway, as I was standing in the checkout line at the bookstore I noticed this bin of books just looking for a home. It was a bin of books that needed a buyer so they could be donated to a child. How can you not give a book to a child? You are not only offering them a Christmas gift, but you're offering them a chance at literacy.

Books make great gifts, super stocking stuffers, and open a new world for a child or adult to see and experience.

Can't afford to buy another book? Got any books on a bookshelf? Then take one off the shelf and to your local coffee shop and leave an already read book behind.

Yes, you read that right. Take a book you've read, add a little note on the inside telling the reader that you left this book so someone else could enjoy it and wish them a Merry Christmas and leave the book.

I do this all the time! If you ever visit Panera in Bedford, NH then you may have spotted a book next to the fireplace at one time or another. As a matter of fact...look for more this weekend.

And as my Twelve Days of Christmas Spirit blog says, let's give ALL YEAR. Share your love of books with others, with total strangers, with someone who maybe can't afford to buy a book. Read and share!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Remember our Troops and Veterans this holiday season

Many of you know I am a runner. Actually, in the past year I have become an ultra runner. What is an ultra runner? Someone who runs or in my case run/walks more than a marathon (26.2 miles).

You also know I am a huge supporter of our Veterans and giving back. Every Christmas I make it my mission to make as many Veterans Christmas special. But, as my earlier post Twelve Days of Christmas Spirit Challenge mentioned, we want the spirit of giving to continue throughout the year.

In that hope, I have combined my love of running with the goal of giving throughout the year by registering for the Rock the Ridge 50-miler with the goal of raising money for Team RWB whose mission it is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.

This is the second year I am running for Team RWB and the Veterans and as it is the season of love and charity, I am hoping you all will help me in supporting this wonderful organization and the people who have served our country to keep us safe. Let's show our Veterans our love and thanks by giving back.

If you have it in your heart and have money in your pocket you can spare, please help click this link to my crowdfunding page and donate at Denise's Rock the Ridge for Team RWB funding site.

If you're not ready to donate at my site then please, thank an active Service Member or Veteran this Christmas. Thank him or her for their service, offer a hug, a handshake of gratitude, or buy a member of our military a cup of coffee.

Happy holidays and a big thank you to our Troops and our Veterans. Merry Christmas!

In the spirit

Today I was in the holiday spirit. Today I played Santa at the office, delivering gift bags to the team of engineers whom I have the extreme pleasure to work with and several co-workers who make my worklife interesting and many times fun.

Is it just me or is there any greater gift than giving?

It doesn't matter how much or how little you spend, whether its store bought or handmade.

Remember, the old addage, "It's the thought that counts." There are reasons we have such sayings. Because they are based in fact.

Letting someone know that you thought about them is a wondrous gift. It could be a text, and email, or in the case of 10 days before Christmas, a small gift bag with little items to make their day a little more sweet and enjoyable.

You can handmake a card, or in my case my mom (the crafty woman in the family) handmade Christmas candybar wrappers and I stuffed them with the chocolate bars.

Why not offer up a little warmth for those cold winter days with a mug and a jar of hot cocoa mix and a bag of mini-marshmallows. Sweeten up a day with a box of chocolates or a tin of Christmas cookies. Or offer up something simple and seasonal like a candy cane.

Whatever you do, give it from the heart and offer it with cheer, for the smile you receive will last all year.

Merry Christmas!

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