Monday, January 12, 2015

New York, New York

“Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people.  A nation does not need to be cruel in order to be tough.”
– Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Hello from the Big Apple!

So, I’m actually writing this from the train – I feel so very urban!  As you may or may not know – I work from home in the beautiful state of Colorado.  My employer is located in Manhattan and I was lucky enough to fly out and spend a few days meeting everyone and seeing the sights.  Right before I left, I was telling  my boss I was a bit nervous about getting from Newark all the way to Times Square – and he laughed a bit and said “Just ask anyone on the street for help – New Yorkers LOVE that.  Ya know – being so nice and all.”


Now I don’t necessarily believe the hype that New Yorkers are mean.  I mostly believe they are busy people that don’t have the time for lost Coloradans wandering their streets asking for random directions.  None the less, I figured I’d been building up my kindness karma for well on 6 months now and should be good.  Even though, I made sure to start my trip on the right note.  On the plane ride out, I willingly switched seats so the very adorable little girl in the middle seat could sit next to her Mom – even though it meant I had to give up my aisle seat.  Well worth the sacrifice for a little extra good will, right?

So, I landed and began the journey from Newark to Times Square.  I was determined to make it there without incident AND without looking like a complete tourist tool.  I walked quickly, kept my head down and generally avoided eye contact.  I pulled my suitcase behind me with authority and whipped through the crowds at lightening speeds.  I was killing this whole NYC thing. :-)

Then – I couldn’t find my hotel.  I wandered a bit – not wanting to be THAT person who holds a map and stares dumbfounded around the big city – but still no success.

It was my moment of truth.  I needed help – it was freezing – I forgot my gloves and I just wanted to get inside and crash.  I looked around for a kind face – but everyone was rushing by at warp speed and judiciously avoiding eye contact.

Despite the lack of opportunity  I was GOING to ask for help!  I walked up to a nearby gentleman, smiled big and asked if he could help me find my hotel.  And guess what?  He didn’t ignore me, flip me off or call me a colorful name.  He simply smiled back and told me where I needed to go.

Simple.  No big deal.

I came, I saw, I conquered with kindness.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Giving, Goodness & Grace - Farewell 2014

“Life is grace. Sleep is forgiveness. The night absolves. Darkness wipes the slate clean, not spotless to be sure, but clean enough for another day’s chalking.” 
― Frederick Buechner, The Alphabet of Grace

Goodbye 2014 – Hello 2015.

I wanted to write a really eloquent post about 2014 and how doing the Kind Year changed me.  I was ready to wax poetic about how great it’s been, the joy I found in helping others and how the past 6 months have brought so much good to my life.

But the words didn’t come.  I don’t think I can end the year (or start a new one) talking about the good without discussing the bad.

Yes – being part of this experience has been amazing.  It truly has.  It’s made me think outside the box, put others first, and try to BE the change I’d like to see in the world.

It’s also been hard, challenging and somewhat depressing.  What I do is never enough.  The changes I make feel small and ineffective.  When I look back at the past six months (I started the Kind Year in July 2014) I do not see a string of success but instead a series of actions that may or may not have made a difference.

Even my signature project – the Adopt a Family – felt insufficient after all was said and done.  Initially – I was so proud of the efforts and all that was accomplished with the support of friends, family and strangers.  Strangers!!! That was the coolest part for me – people who were not tied to me in any tangible way cared enough to be part of it  - and put in time and money to help.

I collected the money, very very carefully chose the kiddo gifts, struggled to do right by this small family and on delivery day felt like I’d really done something worthwhile.

Then – a day or two later – there was a post on one of my FB groups from another woman seeking to help a family. A call – if you will – for support from everyone in the group.  Suddenly – people came out of the woodwork.  Money was donated, gifts sent, help given – and in the end – this person raised over $1000 for the family she adopted.

I felt like crap.

Yes – I know I shouldn’t compare my experience to that of others.

Yes – what I did was good – but somehow this other woman – without even trying – made my efforts look weak and ineffective.  What’s is $200 worth of stuff to a family of 4 when this lady raised $1000 plus food and items?
I hate this.  The self doubt.  Suddenly, my “special” feels cheap. What I did probably wasn’t enough.  I wondered if my “adopted” family sat around on Christmas morning wishing they had more and feeling disappointed that I really didn’t come through for them.

What am I doing?

Beating myself up.  Comparing myself to others. Assuming that people are disappointed, saddened and bereft because of me.

I don’t deserve this.  None of us do.

We (the collective us of Moms, Daughters, Wives) do the best we can.  Every. Single. Day.  We give and give and give until there is nothing left – and then dig down deep to our final reserves because someone we love needs us – for that last little give.

This is why I want to dedicate the month of January – the start of the New Year – to us.  The givers.  Those who try and try to do our best – but sometimes fail (for real or in our heads) and fall into a place of negativity and sadness as a result.

I’m here to tell you (and remind myself) that giving something – doing anything – is better than holding status quo.

On the cusp on this New Year – full of promise – I’m committing to kindness to all – including myself.
As we move into this year full of potential and promise – take a moment to look back at 2014.  Tell yourself you did good.  Give yourself the support you consistently give others.

You are worth it.  I am worth it.  We are worth it.

We just need a little grace.

Monday, December 22, 2014

I Just LOVE Playing Santa...Ho Ho Ho!

My job as Santa to my adopt-a-family is almost over.  The gifts are wrapped and set to be delivered today. Can I tell you that this has been – by far – one of the most amazing experiences of my life? To start an experiment in kindness as a lark and see it become a full fledged reality blows my mind. One person CAN make a difference!  And while my Kind Year is only half way through – I already know that kindness and caring really can bring people together.

Continue to give of yourself and be the magic of Christmas. 



Monday, December 15, 2014

The Greatest Gift of All....Time...

“The influence of a mother upon the lives of her children cannot be measured. They know and absorb her example and attitudes when it comes to questions of honesty, temperance, kindness, and industry.”
- Billy Graham

It’s the season!  The season of  over indulgence.  Excessive food, excessive drink, excessive fun.  I am guilty.  I partied like a rock star this weekend and I am feeling the effects.  I’m tired, and cranky, a just a bit toxic.  Ugh  - there is truth in the old saying about too much of a good thing. :-)

I also believe the concept applies to Christmas and gifts.  I am personally focused on doing  a “less is more” holiday this year. Since I’m a year round shopper I have a gift closet where I stash my “goodies”.  I took everything out last night and tallied it up.  I thought there would be a lot – but surprisingly, there really wasn’t.  While I love a “steal” and can’t resist a bargain, I actually cannot stand a lot of “stuff.”  It makes me crazy. One – because it’s just straight up waste – does my daughter really need 8 different types of Barbie dolls and 12 accessories for each?  I think not.   Two – because it’s distracting – she has so many choices that she actually plays with none of it – it just becomes overwhelming clutter.

So, my gift tally for baby girl came to 8 items – 3 of them American Girl doll outfits – which I decided was excessive.  I’m going to get rid of two sets and only give her one – that brings it down to 6 gifts.  New sneakers, a fleece top, new pjs, a board game, a Dollie and Me ballerina outfit, an American girl outfit (which I’m coupling with the ballet outfit) and a watch (which she requested).  My little guy has 5 items – a new warm up suit for swim team, a gold panning kit (don’t ask – the kid is obsessed with gold mining.  He built his own sluice in the backyard) a fun Smithsonian kit where he can break rocks and find crystals, new sneaks and a flight lesson.  Yes – my son  who has been obsessed with planes since he was a toddler  will get a chance to fly.  I am beyond the moon excited to give him this opportunity – I know it’s an experience that he’ll remember and treasure for the rest of his life.

We are also doing a family gift and taking a trip to the mountains.  We’ll spend 3 days at the YMCA camp in Estes Park  to celebrate the season. I’m super excited to have this time with my family and be able to get away from it all for a few days.  I’m hoping this starts a new tradition for us – one focused less on material things and more on experiences where we can spend active time together as a family.  This camp is SO COOL too – they have all sorts of fun stuff including a roller rink, an indoor swimming pool, archery, craft room and an endless stream of games and activities.  Our long weekend is already filling up with family fun and I’m so ready!!!

Overall, my goal is to put forward an experience that brings my family together.  I want them to associate holidays not with materialism – but with giving of oneself.  An opportunity to unplug, step away and be together – simply and quietly.  This has been the greatest side effect of my Kind Year journey.  Continually seeking kindness has enabled me to slow down and really appreciate the good in life.  In turn, I can then share those feelings and experiences with my family and bring them together in kindness and love.  They have watched, and participated, in many of the things I’ve done in the name of kindness.  And they amaze me with their ability to spread love, care and generosity to those they meet.  In a season focused on what you need and want, I’m so thankful to be able to say I already have it all.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Can Less Really Be More During the Holidays?

“If you can live with less of what you have. You can be more of who you are.”
– Celso Cukierkorn

As many of you know, this year I’m running an Adopt A Family program – sponsored through my side business – and dedicated to my Kind Year journey. So far so good – we got people excited, raised the $200 goal – and I got to go out and shop! I am bound and determined to stretch this budget to it’s limit – I REALLY want to do a lot with the money. I started shopping – ticking items off the kids wish list (a little boy and girl) – and watching the stash grow.

Then I hit a wall.

I know these kids don’t have a lot – but do they really NEED a bunch of “stuff” to make it Christmas?  I spent roughly $80 of our goal money and received some very kind donations – and the kiddos gift pile was growing quite large.

Lots of love and caring went into the collection of these gifts! Very proud of my peeps and all their generous donations!
I’m taking a step back.

Yes – I want these kiddos to be excited and have an awesomely amazing Christmas morning – but when is enough enough?  After reviewing all the items I’d already bought, I’ve  decided to finish up a few small thing (mostly clothes as I want both kids to have a new outfit and new jammies) but take the remaining $100 and give the family a Visa gift card.

I know it’s slightly unorthodox to give “cash” gifts in situations like this – but I believe it’s the right thing to do.  While I cannot control how the they spend this gift – I’m going to add a note, explain about the Kind Year journey and ask that they use it as a family.  I’d love it if this money would give them a shared experience – something they can really remember and treasure.   Maybe it’s a huge family dinner complete with all the fixings on Christmas day – or a trip to the movies and ice cream as a special treat over the holiday school break.  I’m not intimately involved in their situation and I don’t know what $100 will mean to them.  Maybe it’s enough to take some pressure off an already over taxed budget and allow for a few treats over the holiday.  Maybe it will be the difference between lights and no lights.  Maybe it means Dad can take a day off of work and spend it with the family.

I don’t know.

I just know that I cannot in good conscience continue to spend just to spend.  $100 is a lot of money and the goal is to help this family.  And that help – if possible – should extend past just wrapping paper and ribbons.

I hope with all my heart that this money will ease a burden for this family.



Thursday, November 27, 2014


“The real gift of gratitude is that the more grateful you are, the more present you become.”
— Robert Holden

Friends, this has become my truth.  I am many things but as this year progresses I find I am more and more grateful.  I appreciate small things (like the older couple that offered my family of four their dinner table when were out the other night) despite the gentleman having his arm in a cast.

I give more readily – of myself and of my time.  I want to BE THERE living every moment to its fullest. My little worries have fallen to the wayside – and I see potential where I once saw failure.

As we come to Thanksgiving I want to ask you all to take a moment and think about what makes you TRULY grateful.  Is it something simple like having a loving family?  Food on the table?  A roof over your head and enough money to keep it there?

For me – I’m grateful for opportunities.  Opportunities to be a better person.  Opportunities to give someone else a better life – even if it’s only in the moment.  Opportunities for second chances (and third and maybe fourth) cause Lord knows I’m not perfect and man – do I need them sometimes.

Most off all – I’m extremely grateful for this project.  In the past six months I have stretched outside my comfort zone, taken chances and made real change – how incredible is that?  Plus – I have a written record.  Someday, I’ll take all these posts, print them out and bind them into a book for my family.  My greatest joy is that my children – as they grow – will have a chance to really know how I strove to make a difference.

I can only hope it inspires them to do the same.

Happy holidays ya’ll…go forward in kindness and love.



Monday, November 24, 2014

I've Got Spirit! Yes I Do!!

“Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.”
- Dale Evans

Ok, yes – I know – it’s not Christmas yet.  Usually I am the first one complaining about “Christmas Overload” where the decorations start filling store shelves and holiday music is playing in October.  But this year I feel different.  I feel excited about Christmas.   I’m ready.  So so ready.

I think it’s because of my Kind Year commitment.  I really do.   Instead of seeing Christmas as a hassle (too many gifts, too much money, too little time) I’m beginning to see it as a magical moment where my efforts can truly make a mark.

I’m inspired.

Inspired by my kiddos – who seem to be picking up this Kind Year vibe and running with it.  Case in point – my oldest –  decided to start a little snow shoveling/yard raking business this year. He’s 10 going on 11 and ready to help out, make some money and do his part.  He created some flyers and we built an ad for him on our neighborhood FB page.

He got his first call last week  - a lady in our neighborhood needs his help with shoveling.  He couldn’t wait to get home from school that afternoon and head over.  Unfortunately, the woman outreached to me that same morning and said she was at the hospital.  Her Mom had a stroke and was being moved to hospice.  I wished her best and said I would let Hayden know that his services weren’t needed.

When he got home that afternoon he was so excited to head over and shovel.  I quickly explained that the lady had to cancel because her Mom got sick and was in the hospital.  She wouldn’t be home to pay because she was staying there until her Mom got better.   Hayden seemed to understand.  He looked at me and said, “Well, maybe I could do it anyhow.  You know, as a good deed.  I feel really bad about her Mom – that’s sad, right?  Do you think it would be ok?”

Oh my – my heart was so full I was sure it would pop.  My dear sweet boy.   We packed up the car and headed to her house so Hayden could do his good deed.  Mind you, it was all of 10 degrees out and FREEZING – but he still wanted to go.  He shoveled, froze his little fingers off (note, we need better gloves) and was so full of joy at helping our neighbor.

The best part?  When our neighbor came home and saw the shoveled driveway?  SHE was full of joy!  She couldn’t stop thanking us (specifically Hayden) and was so very appreciative.  She even made a special trip to our house to pay him AND said he is now her default “snow guy.”

What else do you wear to shovel snow when it’s 20 degrees out? My crazy, lovable kiddo getting his shovel on!
All this kindness and caring also inspired me to step outside my comfort zone.  I LOVE to give and we always participate in the Giving Tree at school and an “Adopt a Family” program through a local business.  This year – I decided to adopt a family through the FB group I admin and manage.  My group is a resale site and while it’s small (about 600 people) it’s my hobby and I love it.  So – I put out a request to see if anyone on the group had a family they would recommend.  I was looking for a family that wouldn’t necessarily qualify for programs in town but might still need some help this season.

And I found one!

This family is hard working with the Dad holding a full time job and the Mom very active in her kiddos school. They have two little ones that are in Pre-k and Kindergarten and had mentioned to one of the teachers that Christmas might be hard on them this year.

So – I set up a fund and posted in my group.  My goal is to raise $200 to buy items for the kids – who love Frozen, Hello Kitty, Spiderman and Cars – and also give Mom and Dad a little something.  In addition, all the food I’ve been gathering for the “10 Cans of Conscious Kindness” challenge will go to the family as well.
I’m excited and terrified!  Now I have a REAL LIVE GOAL to work towards for my Kind Year – and a family that is depending on me.  It’s scary, cool, amazing and overwhelming all at once.  I was worried no one would participate.  That I wouldn’t be able to meet my commitment.  That I would fail this family despite my best efforts.

Guess what?

People donated!  At first, it was $10.  Then $20.  We are now at $75 after less then a week of donations.  And the very best part?  It’s a nationwide effort!  I have donations coming from NY and items being shipped from Illinois.  All to help this small family in Colorado Springs.

I continue to be amazed by the people around me.  Everyday.

And my littlest?  The 5 year old? Guess what she said when I told her about adopting the family?
“Mom – I have lots of stuff that I can give!  Can we go through my room and see if there are any toys I can give? I bet they love stuffies!  I have a lot of stuffies to share.”

My sweet little stuffie sharer.
Love!  My cup runneth over.

If you would like to participate in our little Adopt a Family effort this year, please visit the page below.  If you would prefer to donate an item please send me an email – – and I’d be happy to let you know what we still need.