Sunday, January 31, 2010

Do a Good Turn - The Last Week

My, my. Can you tell by my week long silence that it's tax season and I work for an accountant? Time available to blog has been pretty much nonexistent. Now, rather than do a day by day accounting of good turns, which would make for a lengthy post, I'll do a week in review type of post.

EVENTS - Spread the love with sugar, Do talk to strangers, Shopping cart Nazi returns, Remember to love your family, too

Oh, the power of junk food. Alas. Without planning to, I ended up with three days of sugar related good turns. I bought donuts for my class. I bought candy for another class that joined us on Friday morning for a little friendly competition and, because they were 4/$1, I bought boxes of Valentine Conversation hearts to share with people in my office. That's a lot of sugar, but it was fun and all the recipients enjoyed it.

One of my favorite things this week was a conversation I had with a young girl in the post office. She was probably nine or ten and was in line all by herself with three envelopes and a handful of change. In all fairness, she started the conversation, but once did, I really went for it. I wanted to talk to her, but didn't want to say anything first since that may have caused her a moral dilemma if it had bee drilled into her not to talk to strangers. I was quite happy when she turned around in line and asked, "Where do you live?"

That might seem like an ordinary question, but this was a work related trip to the post office and the town where I work is small and only has one post office. It's a safe bet when you're standing in line there that the answer to where someone lives is going to be "Colusa, " but she asked anyway. You gotta love that. Her follow up question was even better. "Do you collect anything?"
"No, not really. Do you?"
"I collect Beanie Babies."
"Cool. How many do you have?" Now, remember, she's a "collector."
"Oh. How long have you been collecting them?"
"Since I was born. My Grandma gave me my first one as a birth present."

By this time I am totally in love with this girl. Who acquires two of something over a lifetime and yet calls themselves a collector? To her "collector" spoke of the importance place these two Beanie Babies hold in her heart. It reminded me of a question posed on one of the blogs I follow. "When did you know you were a writer?" Several of the comments left in response were some variation of, "I'm still not sure I would call myself a writer. I think when I'm published I'll be able to say that." So many of us are hesitant to claim a title, no matter how important something is in our lives, until we receive validation from somewhere outside of us. Why do we do that? Why can't we be a collector if we only collect two in a lifetime, or a writer, even if we're never published?

Thank you for that lesson, little girl in the post office. BTW, the rest of the conversation was equally delightful.

Okay, the shopping cart thing. I am not a collector of pet peeves, but I am realizing I do have one - abandoned shopping carts. A couple of times this week I have corralled carts that someone else has ditched in inappropriate places, like I have mentioned doing earlier in the month. This doesn't bother me too much if a store's parking lot designers are stingy with the number of parking places they are willing to devote to cart corrals. No one wants to walk a half a mile to return their cart. However, the store where I do the majority of my shopping is most generous in their allocation of corrals. Seriously, if you park in the main area of the lot you don't have to go further than two parking places away to find a cart return slot. Two places! How hard is that? I'll allow there may be occasional situations that justify ditching a cart in this particular parking lot, but I mean very occasional.

I know, I know, I just need to let go. This is certainly nothing worth getting my knickers in a twist over, but is it too much to ask for people to take a little personal responsibility and have some consideration for others who may actually want to park in the place they so rudely render useless by the abandoning of their carts?

But, I cannot in good conscience count returning other's carts as a good deed if I'm being a cart Nazi, now can I? I must have kind thoughts of those who will come after and benefit from my action, not acid thoughts of those who have come before and done this selfish thing.

Okay, I'm done now.

Last, but not least in this week's wrap up is remembering to love our families, too. Sometimes, well okay, way too often it's easy to see someone so much that we almost stop seeing them. Obviously we love them or we wouldn't plan their meals, do their shopping, wash their clothes, clean their house, plan our lives around their schedules, etc., etc., right? But, do we remember to actually tell them we love them and sometimes do the extra things that show we love them? This week has provided opportunities to do some of those extra little things, culminating tonight with hosting a family dinner for sixteen people in honor of my son who reports tomorrow to begin his service in the Air Force. (Go, Thomas.) Honoring this Eagle Scout son is a very fitting end to this month of doing a good turn daily.

COST - Donuts, candy and mostly dinner costs - about $80
EFFORT - Some activities, not much. Other activities quite a bit.
TIME - Total for the whole week -about ten hours
WOULD I DO IT AGAIN? - Yes, but I'd spread it out over a longer time period if I could.

Stay tuned for one or two final month in review posts next week.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Do a Good Turn - Day 24

EVENT - Compliment day

Yesssss! Things went much better, thank you. I was able to deliver Day 23's flowers and share a meaningful, wordless hug with a young mother showing great grace in trying times.

Here's your tip for the day - Actually saying the nice things you often only think about people makes them quite happy. Just so you know.

It was fun causing smiles. I also got a nice payoff. I told another young mom (not the same one mentioned above) how much I appreciate her gift for being so authentically herself when it can be so easy, especially at her age, to try to squeeze yourself into some mold of what you think you should be or do. She truly is a breath of fresh air. When I told her this, I got to hear a brief version of how she came to possess this great quality. It was an inspiring story that I likely never would have heard had I not taken the time to give her that compliment.

Oh, here's another bonus tip for you - Positive energy breeds positive energy. No kidding.

COST - Absolutely free
EFFORT - None really
TIME - I'm not sure. I didn't time how long I talked to people.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Do a Good Turn - Days 21-23

I am beginning to get a complex. Does a good deed still count if you are thwarted in your efforts? This seems to have been the theme of these last days.

Exhibit 1 - During a very nasty, windy rainstorm my plan was to stop on my way home from work to put gas in the car so my husband wouldn't worry about running out when he took it later that night. I am much more familiar with the gas gauge on the car and how far you can drive when it looks like it's empty. He usually drives a truck which when the gauge shows empty, you're in trouble. So, even though I knew he would have enough , I didn't want him to stress about it. BUT - the gas station had all it's pumps roped off, all 12 of them!

No gas getting for me. I did, however, reassure him he would not run out of gas that night.

Exhibit 2 - I have a dear friend who lives far away who is ill. Although I had just talked to her, my plan was to call her the very next day and see how she was feeling. BUT - she called me literally moments before I was going to pick up the phone to call her.

I still got to check on her, but didn't get to be the one who made the gesture first.

Exhibit 3 - A young mom who lives nearby had a baby in November. Their were complications and the baby only lived four days. I offered my condolences and help at the time, but held off getting flowers. I intentionally waited until today to do that. I know things can get even harder in a situation like hers once all the family has left and the friends and neighbors aren't bringing in dinners anymore. Two or three months out it can seem like everyone has gone on with their lives while you're still stuck wondering if you can ever move again. I wanted her to know that someone, who's not a family member, is still thinking of and praying for her and her family, so today I wrote her a note and got the flowers. BUT - when I went to deliver them no one was home.

Of course, I'll deliver them tomorrow, but seriously. Three strikes, just like that. Come on.

COST - $10.81 for the flowers. Nothing for the other two.
EFFORT - Not as much as it would have been had I been successful. : P
TIME - Ditto the EFFORT comment.
WOULD I DO IT AGAIN? - Maybe a better question today is WOULD I DO IT STILL, since the flowers are sitting on my counter, not hers. The answer to that is obviously yes.

Wish me better luck tomorrow. I've been planning to have a 'compliment everyone' day. Perhaps I should do that. Nothing could go wrong with that, right? Right?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Do a Good Turn - Day 20 (Really, this time.)

Sorry about the incomplete last post. We were having a storm that cut our internet service and rather than type the whole post over, I opted to post what had been saved before the connection was lost.

Wrap up of Day 19 -

COST - Nada

EFFORT - Not much. I'm used to cleaning up after six or more poeple, so cleaning up after three is no big.

TIME - 20 minutes tops

WOULD I DO IT AGAIN? - Yes, but I make no guarantees about not pointing out my astounding kindness. ; )

DAY 20

EVENT - Follow through

So, I'm kind of cheating today.

I have a confession to make. Remember the gift card I bought for that widower in Las Vegas with a brand new baby? Well, I found it in my coat pocket a couple of days ago. (The gift card, not the baby.) The day I bought the card I went to put it in an envelope and send it off. Turned out it was an odd size because of it's packaging and wouldn't fit in the envelope I had, so I put it in my pocket until I could get a different envelope. I fully intended to deal with it later that day, but you know how that turned out. At any rate, my good turn for today was to actually get that card into the mail.

I am sure most of us have intended to render some kindness and then at some point let something or other get us off track. Then by the time we think of it again, we feel awkward because we didn't do it sooner, but instead of acting right then, we stew on it a little longer. By that time it's just too embarassing to admit that we have been thinking about it for so long without doing anything about it. Blah, blah, blah...we decide to just forget it and resolve to do better next time.

I learned a great lesson about this when I got a thank you card for a porch swing I had given a friend two years after I had given it to her. I loved that note even more than if she had sent it right away, because by then she had made lots of good memories on that swing. I knew she really did appreciate the gift. No just following the rules of good etiquette there.

So, better late than never, right? This is why I decided that simply following through rated it's own status as a good turn.

COST - $.44 for the stamp, but I think I counted that on the day I bought the gift card.

EFFORT - Next to none

TIME - None extra. I dropped it off when I was picking up my mail.

WOULD I DO IT AGAIN? - Follow through as needed? I sure hope so.

Funny side note - I teach a group of eleventh graders a class that meets before school daily. Today I told them about what I'm doing this month and asked them to be thinking of ideas for me. One young lady immediately raised her hand. She happens to be quite a thoughtful girl, so I was anticipating some awesdome idea from her. When I called on her, she sweetly said, "You should buy your class doughnuts."

Be watching for that one later this month.

Do a Good Turn - Days 19 & 20

Day 19

EVENT - Family service

Yesterday ended up being a kind of cloistered day so my family was again the recipient of my good turn. We have dinner responsibilities broken up into three parts since there are three of us at home. Last night I happily did more than my share of the job (and didn't point that out-does that count for extra?).

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Do a Good Turn - Days 15-18

In the interest of time I will blend these four days together.

EVENT - Better noticing

I have been working on keeping my eyes open to what's going on around me. There are so many things that can distract from living in the moment: phone calls, iPods, thinking about something in the future or the past, etc.. It's easy not to be present in the present. These good turns are a result of being consciously present.

Over the last few days I have given up my place in line for someone, returned an older woman's cart to the cart return for her, gone out of my way to hold the door for someone who has difficulty walking, helped my daughter with her laundry (She's 15 and does her own.), been extra nice to clients at work, and offered to pay for a guy's milk at the grocery store.

The guy at the grocery store was there early on Saturday morning. He was in the refrigerated section of the store holding a gallon of milk and his feety-pajama clad, toddler daughter on his hip, while patting down his various pockets with his free hand. He stopped after taking only a couple of steps, rechecked all his pockets, then headed back to the refrigerator door. He put the milk back and turned to leave. As he came closer to me I asked him if he had forgotten his wallet to which he replied that he had. I offered to pay for his milk. It was obvious that was the only thing he had come to buy. After my initial offer, the conversation went something like this.

Him - "No, that's okay."
Me - "No, really. It's less than three bucks and I even have the right change."
Him - "No. No. I just left my wallet out in the car."
Me - "I know you don't *need* it, but won't you let me do this for you? I sympathize with what a pain it is to have to go to the store on a Saturday morning for just one thing and carry your child all the way to the back of the store, only to find that you've left your money in the car. Let me save you the trip back to your car."
Him - "No. Thank you, though. I couldn't...really."

At this point I felt like I would have been pushing too hard and crossed the line from nice to obnoxious if I continued to insist, so I let it go. Here's the thing, though. Even with him refusing my offer, he still knew that someone noticed him and that his little plight stirred compassion in a stranger. That's a nice thing to know, don't you think?

COST - Nothing. If the milk guy would have let me pay for his milk it would have been $3.
EFFORT - To be honest, the biggest part of the effort for most of these was getting outside of myself. I have been sick for a couple of days and it's really easy to just mope around thinking about how crummy I feel.
TIME - All total less than a half an hour.
WOULD I DO IT AGAIN? - Yes, I would.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Do a Good Turn - Days 13 & 14

Day 13
EVENT - Help feed some missionaries

Every so often the women of my church congregation host a luncheon for 30-50 missionaries. Before I started working full time I would cook part of the food and help serve and clean up. Now that's not an option. Rather than leaving the whole thing to the women who are available during the day, I offered to make two dozen brownies. That was something I could bake ahead of time and take over to one of the coordinators the day before. I even went the extra mile and made chocolate\blonde swirled brownies and frosted them, too.

Obviously, I didn't get to see the reaction, but I've never met a missionary that didn't get excited about homemade brownies.

A side bonus to this one - there were a few extra browines left over for my family. They were pretty happy about that.

COST - About $8 for browine ingredients
EFFORT - More than many of the other things I've done this month. I had to plan ahead to have the ingredients on hand and to have the time to bake, cool, frost, and deliver them.
TIME - An hour and a half give or take, not counting the time to cool the brownies.
WOULD I DO IT AGAIN? - Sure, why not?

Day 14 -
EVENT- Red Cross contribution

Although, I hadn't planned on giving another charitable contribution so soon, how could I live with myself if I didn't make some effort in behalf of the people of Haiti? I only wish I had the means to do more.

This one was ridiculouslly easy. The American Red Cross has very wisely gone all high tech. They have a set up now where if you text the word 'Haiti' to 90999 you can donate $10 to their relief fund. The charge will be added to your next phone bill. It's that simple.

This is a perfect example of little things adding up. Last I heard, which was at about 6:30 PST on Jan. 14, their contributions for Haitian relief had topped four million dollars. Go Red Cross!

COST - $10
EFFORT - Basically zero
TIME - Almost none. It has taken me way longer to write these three short paragraphs about it than it did to make the donation.
WOULD I DO IT AGAIN? - Yes, and more if I could.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Do a Good Turn - Days 9-12

I have a little catching up to do, but it shouldn't take too long.

EVENT - Focus on the Family

The weekend was about the family - single-handed Christmas clean up, getting up early to make breakfast, hosting a family dinner. None of these things on their own was very spectacular, but I did a little extra for someone each time.

On Saturday, I let my lovely, teenage daughter, the only child still living at home, lounge around while I undecked the halls by myself. The undecorating is never as fun as the decorating, is it?

Making breakfast may not seem like it's even worth mentioning, but it is. This is why. I normally get up at 5:00 to start my day, so I really appreciate the fact that our church schedule moved to afternoon meetings for 2010. I have a day to sleep in. My dear husband however, has early meetings related to his volunteer position in the church. No sleeping in on Sunday for him. He is quite the capable type and is used to getting his own breakfast, and I willingly let him while I stay in bed. Last Sunday, I got up at 6:00 so he could be greeted by the smell of fresh cinnamon muffins when he went into the kitchen. I snuck out of bed while he was in the shower, made the muffins, and got back in bed before he was out. He didn't know I was awake until he opened the bedroom door and smelled the muffins.

Later that evening as the whole family was gathered together, I spent some good one on one time with a son I don't get to see as often as I would like.

COST - A couple of dollars for muffin ingredients.

EFFORT - Not monumental, but definitely not convenient.

TIME - Several hours all together

WOULD I DO IT AGAIN? - Yes, but not every weekend. ;-)

EVENT - Write love notes

Monday and Tuesday were note writing days. I wrote a note to my mom and one to my neighbor.

My mom has Alzheimer's and phone conversations are increasingly difficult for her. She lives less than an hour and a half away, but because of my work schedule I don't get to see her anywhere near as often as I would like. I want to be sure she knows often that she is loved and thought of, so I have taken to writing notes to her. It's always nice to get something in the mail besides junk and/or bills and I'm hoping my little effort brightens her day a little when she gets her notes.

Often I think about the difficulties people I know are having and sit wondering what I can do to help. Too often, I can't come up with anything except to pray for them. (Not to diminish the value of that, but if all anyone ever did was pray for people then do nothing to make things happen, not much would ever actually get done, would it?) Anyway, sometimes an encouraging word is the most helpful thing that can be offered, and that I can always give.

Today I took a couple of minutes to write an anonymous note to a neighbor who is going through a challenging time. In it I acknowledged how hard she is working to get through this time of her life and hopefully conveyed my belief that she is strong and capable. I chose to write anonymously because I wanted to convey the sense that many people are pulling for her right now (which I know is true). I thought if I attached my name to the note it may seem more singular, you know, like it would have only one name and face associated with it rather than a whole host of possibilities of who could have written it.

Note writing is one of my favorite nice things to do. There are power in words and I believe far too many nice words are left unexpressed.

COST - Probably less than two dollars - 88 cents for postage and Whatever the note cards cost.

EFFORT - A bit of mental effort to decide exactly what I wanted to write. Not much effort to do the actual writing and mailing of the notes.

TIME - Probably about 20 minutes

WOULD I DO IT AGAIN? - Yes, and again, and again, and again...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Side note

I learned today about a contest a Mary at Kidlit is having. Send in the first 500 words of your YA or MG novel for a chance to win a critique from her. The entry deadline is Jan 31st. Should be fun. Click on over if you have something to enter. Kidlit Contest

My Do a Good Turn post will follow later today.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Do a Good Turn - Days 7 & 8

Day 7 EVENT - Charitable Gift

Yesterday I made my promised contribution to Heifer International. (see post on Dec. 23) Thanks to Nathan Bransford's challenge and all those who stopped by to comment we purchased a flock of chicks. If you aren't familiar with Heifer International, I would strongly encourage you to go check out their website. Their lofty goal is to end world hunger. Their approach is to not only provide food, but education in animal care, sustainable agriculture, how to use the animals provided to care for the recipient's family and sell the animal products (eggs, wool, etc.) to increase a family's income. One of their requirements is also that recipients "give back" by sharing some offspring of their animals and such with other members of their communities. Immediate help, education, encouraging self-sufficiency, requiring work on the part of the families, and teaching the joy of sharing one's blessings - what a wonderful, comprehensive approach to aiding those in need! As the song says, it truly is a wonderful world.

COST - $20
EFFORT - Only as much as it took to visit Heifer's website and donate.
TIME - If you include the time spent participating in Nathan's challenge by commenting on several other blogs and posting pleas for comments on Facebook, maybe two hours. If you only include the time to make the actual donation, 5 minutes or so (longer with the time I spent wandering around the Heifer site).
WOULD I DO IT AGAIN? - Oh, most definitely, YES.

Day 8 EVENT - Also a charitable gift

Today as I was driving into work i was in tears. The DJs were talking to a man in Las Vegas whose friend had emailed the station about his situation. This man, Jon, has a three year old daughter and, until Wednesday of this week, a pregnant wife. In November he woke up early one morning to find his wife convulsing on the floor. He called the ambulance and she was rushed to the hospital. Turns out she had an aneurysm in her brain that ruptured and leaving her brain dead. She was placed on life support until they thought the baby would be viable. They could offer Jon no assurance of how healthy the baby might be when the time came to deliver him. For more than two months Jon prepared to let go of his wife and welcome his new son into the world. Last Wednesday was the day the medical staff set to do the C-section. His son was born miraculously healthy and 45 minutes later his wife stopped breathing.

Needless to say, with everything else he was dealing with he didn't have the assurances about his baby's health or life expectancy or the wherewithal, while grieving the impending loss of his wife, to prepare for a new child. He had nothing for this baby. His friend had written into the station asking if they might ask their listeners for help. One of the things that was mentioned as a need was gift cards for Rite Aid or Walgreen's to help pay for the prescription formula his son will need for the first year or so.

Today's good turn is a pharmacy gift card sent to Chase Bank in Las Vegas where donations are being received. If anyone else would care to help You can go to the website for 100.5 the Zone and see the Mark and Mercedes link for more information. Apparently Mark and Mercedes broadcast on a station in Sacramento and also one in Las Vegas. The fund that has been set up is called the Jay Jay Fund. Chase has an account set up to receive cash donations as well.

There's so much I could say about the feelings I have about this situation, but I will leave it at this.

COST - $10.44 for a gift card and postage
EFFORT - An out of my way trip to the pharmacy, big whoop.
TIME - 10-15 minutes listening to this man's plight on the radio, another 10-15 minutes to get the gift card and mail it,oh, and about 5-10 minutes looking up the website to get the info on where to send the card.
WOULD I DO IT AGAIN? - How could I not?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Do a Good Turn - Day 6

EVENT - Earn the Miss Congeniality award at the grocery store.

Having spent most of my life as someone who worked part time at home I have been able to plan my grocery shopping for times when it is not a complete madhouse at the store. How nice for me, huh? Well, now I work for an accountant and during tax season I reluctantly become one of the masses that has to go to market during non-office hours. Did you know there are lots more shoppers in the stores at those times? You did? Oh. Did you also know that the higher the volume of people, the higher the potential clueless shopper factor is? Probably. Let's just say grocery shopping has become an opportunity for me to practice maintaining my calm center.

Today, rather than just maintaining myself , I decided to be Little Mary Sunshine. I struck up a conversation with a total stranger and we ended up laughing together over her valiant effort to retrieve the last bag of knock off Froot Loops from the very back of the bottom shelf. She made quite the picture down there on her hands and knees.

Later, when it was time to check out, all the open check stands had the kind of lines that should be reserved for the really good rides at an amusement park. However, the shopping gods smiled upon me and a new cashier came and opened the check stand right next to me. Sweet! With lightening speed I turned my cart toward the golden spot at the front of the next line. Just to be clear, I was in the most logical place to be the first one in that line. I wasn't being pushy trying to get there. Miss Congeniality wouldn't do that, would she? I looked over my shoulder and noticed the lady behind me had less than half as much stuff as I did. She was quite surprised when I offered to let her go in front of me and obviously didn't want to put me out by taking my place in line. In her effort to get through checkout as quickly as possible so I wouldn't have to wait any longer than necessary, she bumped into the display. Several packets of Tic Tacs clattered to the floor. She was apologetic, but I smiled as I stooped to gather them and told her I would take care of it while she checked out. She thanked me again and loaded her groceries onto the conveyor. Sounds cheesy, but I felt all warm and fuzzy inside.

Then in the parking lot after I put my things in my trunk I took a minute to gather a couple of abandoned shopping carts and take them to the cart corral. Obviously, I have no idea who will benefit from that apart from the kid whose job it is to wrangle the carts, but at least two people will have an easier time parking than they would have if I left those carts where they were. This is actually one of my favorite kinds of things to do - the kind where no one will know who did it and, in this case, won't even know that it was done. I feel sneaky in a good kind of way. It's fun casting these tiny seeds of truly anonymous service around.

COST - Again, none.
EFFORT - A little. I had to get over myself and talk to a stranger, twice. Then there was the whole (cough, cough) exhaustive effort of stooping to pick up Tic Tacs and wrangle two whole carts all by myself.
TIME - Maybe ten minutes for all of it combined.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Do a Good Turn Day 5

Sorry to have left you mid-sentence on the day 2-4 post. I hit the wrong thing and posted instead of finishing my saved draft.

So, a quick recap and finish of day 4. I thanked my chiropractor and his staff for being open late enough for me to get off work at 5:00, drive the 40 minutes or so it takes to get to their office and still have time for an appointment. They were surprised and appreciative of my little gift, and neither of them had ever tasted a vanilla steamer from Starbucks, so they got to have a new experience, too. Yum, yum.

TIME - 5 extra minutes to drive through at Starbucks
EFFORT - Not much. I, yanno, had to sit in my car for a few extra minutes and deal with a tiny bit more traffic getting in and out of the shopping center. Whew, tough stuff.
COST - Less than $5.00 for two drinks

JAN 5 - Day 5

This morning I had the pleasure of working out next to an older woman who was studying her Bible and taking notes as she walked on the treadmill. When I was done with my workout I turned off my iPod and commented to her that it was nice to see someone reading their scriptures.

What followed was a lovely conversation about the value we both placed on such an activity and a moment of shared faith between two strangers of differing beliefs. (Though we are both Christians, I could see from the title on her Bible that we belong to different churches.) It was very cool.

COST -Zippo, unless you consider having to take a faster shower than usual as a cost, which I don't.
EFFORT - A little, I tend to be more reserved about talking to nice strangers than I ought to be.
TIME - 5-10 minutes
WOULD I DO IT AGAIN? - Are you kidding? I already chastise myself for not making this kind of effort often enough. Most people really are nice, you know?

Other cool things - I recently read an article about two guys who attend Purdue and spend an hour or two once a week standing outside one of the campus buildings complimenting every person who walks by. They just want to brighten people's day in what are tough times for many. Their mother's must be very proud of their sons' thoughtfulness.

Monday, January 4, 2010

I am running into technical difficulties and will finish the Days 2-4 post tomorrow.

Do a Good Turn - Days 2-4

Whoops. Can you tell I'm not used to posting every day?

So. Backtracking a little -
JAN 2 EVENT - Invite a friend to the movie.

On Saturday I made an effort to be more thoughtful than usual by inviting a friend I don't see very often anymore to go to the movie. (BTW, The Blind Side is a great movie.) She didn't end up going, but she was grateful that I asked.

TIME - About a 10 minute phone call

EFFORT - Almost none

COST - none

WOULD I DO IT AGAIN? - Yes, and I definitely need to.

JAN 3 EVENT - Niceness at church

What easier place to be nice than at church. I have been a part of the same congregation for many years. One of the great things about it is how often it changes. As new people join us it can be very easy to get in the rut of using the limited amount of time available for visiting at church to talk to people I know and love, but usually only get to see at church. So this Sunday I intentionally looked for someone I didn't know and not only introduced myself, but sat with her during Sunday school and our womwne's meeting.

It turned out she is from England and is the friend of a woman I love dearly. That woman has a responsibility to teach a children's class and so wasn't available to sit with her visitor. How grateful I am that I could be there to keep her friend company. I accidentally ended up doing something nice for two people instead of one.

TIME - About 2 hours, but I was at church anyway. Fifteen to twenty minutes was actual time I spent talking to her.

COST - None

EFFORT - Just what it took for me to look around, notice someone new, and not be afraid to talk to a stranger.

WOULD I DO IT AGAIN? - Yes, I certainly need to do this more often.

JAN 4 EVENT - Medical staff appreciation
Today I found myself driving home from work having had no interaction with strangers to whom I could be of service. My chiropractor and his receptionist were the only people I would be seeing before I went home for the night. By default they got elected to be the recipients of my good turn. On my way to their office I went slightly out of my way to stop at Starbucks to buy two vanilla steamers.

They were surprised and appreciative when I gave them to them and thanked them for bring open late enough for me to be able to get off work at 5:00, drive

Friday, January 1, 2010

EVENT - Take a little gift to the Racquet club staff.

To start things off I decided to show some appreciation for the staff at the gym I attend. Recently I was checking their holiday hours and noticed they would be open today. At first I was surprised, but then realized they facilitate what is one of the top new year's resolutions. Still, I'm pretty old school in my thinking regarding who should have to work on holidays. In my view holidays are a time to be home with family and/or friends unless your job is critical, like medical and emergency personnel and such. Having a gym open on New Year's Day, not so critcal, you know?

Anyway, when I was making blueberry muffins for my family this morning I made some extra to take to the gym staff. I also made some mint brownies and sliced up some oranges from our tree - figured I'd hit various levels of nutrition for them to choose from. You should have seen their faces when I walked in, sat the plates and a thank you note on the counter and told them they were for them. There were three staff members behind the counter and all of their faces literally lit up. It was very cool. It was such a little thing for me to take a minute to say thank you with a note and a little food, but it obviously brightened their day. One of the girls even said, "You have no idea how happy you just made me with those blueberry muffins," and called me the world's greatest member. I've been told that food isn't love, and I get that, but with their reactions, that's a hard argument to make. To them today, food was definitely love.

BTW, I opted not to workout at the club today since, if I had my way, they would be closed. I didn't want to give them one more reason to think it's a good idea to be open today.

TIME - About 15 minutes, not counting the bake time since I was baking for my family anyway.

COST - $2ish for the muffin mix and a few cents of gas money to drive to the club and back.

EFFORT - Not much, though I did make a special trip to the club just for this purpose.

WOULD I DO IT AGAIN? - Absolutely. In fact I may plan on doing something similar for them periodically.

Other Cool Things - There's a 13 yr old quarterback who has raised over $6500 so far to help feed the hungry. (13 yrs old!) He calls his program Pennies for Passing since he gets donations for how many passes he completes. You can read about it on His name is Colton Roe and he's from Chantilly, VA. Go, Colton!

Question - Do you have any activitiy ideas for me? I plan on doing lots of spontaneous things, but I want to have some planned, too.