Kindness can be contagious…

(Ok the picture isn’t an act of kindness- I love the angel wings and I’m wearing my Chickens Christmas sweater so I thought I’d share lol) Nicole Philips has a book called, Kindness is Contagious. She’s a fellow cancer survivor, mom and just all around neat person. Her book about kindness, my recent birthday & the goal to get me out of my “humbug” led me to my 46 acts of kindness. I set out with the idea to do at least 46 things between my birthday (on Black Friday) & Christmas Eve. It took a little bit of planning. I also had to remember to write them down. I’m not doing this to brag or for an attagirl– I wanted to spark some ideas for others. Some of the things on my list were things I’ve done before but some were new. Some were free and some cost a quarter or two. Others were a little more expensive, but nothing crazy.

I learned a few things: 1) people are often shocked when you give them something 2) not everyone pays it forward & that’s ok 3) it’s ok to step out of your comfort zone to make someone’s day brighter 4) I found myself judging my acts- were they big enough, good enough etc. – don’t do that 5) kindness really can be contagious & it doesn’t have to just be for birthdays or Christmas- we can do this anytime!

So, here are my 46 things. Some I did more than once.

1. Brought coffee and donuts to church staff.

2. Went back home to get Cam’s medicine so he wasn’t late for work

3. Tipping the gymnastics team at the grocery store

4. $10 gift card to Caribou to a random person in the drive through. (walking up to their car freaked them out a little)

5. Bag of toys for holiday toy drive at work

6. Reindeer chow for coworkers (this is a Chex cereal/nuts/almond bark/candy treat)

7. Platters of treats for neighbors & friends.

8. Donated to 2 charities (Robbie’s Hope and Healing Odyssey) on Giving Tuesday Dec 3, so the funds were matched

9. Gift bag of office supplies for church office

10. Donated toiletries, blankets & gloves to homeless (Kare Packs)

11. Put a $5 bill in a box of generic diapers at Target – maybe next time I will add a note

12. Donated food to the food pantry

13. Sent a bunch of pjs for kids who have been abused or neglected (Project Ignite Light)

14. Paid for my coffee in the drive through + person behind me and gave the lady at the window a $7 tip. Her smile made my day even more than the $7 made hers.

15. Shared Christmas chickens pictures with co workers to brighten their day.

16. Praying intentionally for a friend who was experiencing lots of struggles.

17. Smiling and saying “hi” (more than I normally do)

18. Brought a poinsettia plant for our front desk lady & thanked her for all she does.

19. Mailed Christmas cookies to a niece right before college finals

20. Put a bunch of quarters in the carts at Aldi (x2)

21. Fed the birds

22. Put quarters in the candy vending machines at Wal-Mart (found a dime when I was doing this, thanks Grandma!)

23. Got a wind up Christmas chicken for a co-worker who also loves chickens

24. Save pop tabs for Ronald McDonald house

25. Handed out free ice cream coupons to 3 men walking over to Culver’s.

26. Set out waters & treats for UPS, Fed Ex & USPS workers (modify this if you’re in MN, the water will freeze LOL)

27. Gave change to Ronald McDonald house in the drive through

28. Put candy canes on car door handles in Albertville parking lot (this was lots of fun)! Also did this in Target

29. Put quarters in the candy/toy area in Albertville outlets

30. Son wore a Christmas suit to spread cheer – made people smile

31. Donated to the FFA at Culver’s

32. Put coffee creamer in the lunchroom by the coffee pot for coworkers

33. Bought toys & books for a little boy from the giving tree at church

34. Held the door for construction worker at church

35. Brought donuts for coworkers on a stormy Monday

36. Picked up an extra gift card for the giving tree because there were some that weren’t claimed yet

37. Gave a coworker a ride to her car at the repair shop

38. 7 Bags of treats for middle school teachers

39. Make tie blankets for Pink it Forward (sends to cancer patients)

40. Leave pennies for someone to find

41. Put quarters in the feminine products machine and left 2 extra quarters

42. Tipped cleaning people at the motel

43. Sent a bunch of personalized packages to ladies from a retreat I went to last year. Each thing reminded me of them specifically. I think the postage might have gotten mixed up though – Oops!

44. Mailed out a bunch of Christmas cards & put an extra sheet of stamps in the self service kiosk at the post office

45. Donated food to the middle school food shelf (sends food home with kids in need)

46. Paid for the person behind me in the Culver’s drive through. The cashier said, “Why would you do that? Just kindness?” Yep, just kindness. Merry Christmas.

My most fun: (by far) was the candy canes on the car doors. I did this 3 times because it was so much fun! There were people waiting in cars who saw me – I gave them candy canes too!

The most sneaky: $5 in the diaper box with no note

Most unlike Pinterest: the treats for the delivery drivers… the water froze & I had to bring them in at night so critters didn’t try to eat the snacks, then sometimes forgot to put them back out even when we did have a delivery.

Which one will you try? I’d love to hear your ideas! Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Merry Christmas if you celebrate or Happy Holidays if you don’t. Either way, I encourage you to spread some kindness- maybe it will be contagious!

Who brought the humbug?

My youngest son and I went to a show in Minneapolis on Sunday. It was called “Who brought the humbug?” We had front row seats and he wore a Christmas suit. He certainly didn’t bring the humbug. It was me. (I’m actually in the picture on the screen)

I’m guessing less than 39 people will read this because it makes people uncomfortable.

This is what anxiety looks like. Put together, hair fixed, makeup on, smile… not what you thought? Yeah, me neither.

I didn’t know what it looked like. I used to assume anyone anxious would look worried and be fidgety. I used to assume anyone depressed would be crying and withdrawn. December 9th, 2014, my world changed. I’ve told the story before, but if you’re new, here’s a quick recap. I had gone in for a routine mammogram. That turned into an ultrasound and then a biopsy. “I’m sure it’s nothing, you’re only 41.” That nothing ended up being cancer. I was teaching a class at work when I got the call. “I’m not sure how to tell you this, but you have cancer.” The next several weeks blur together. Fast forward 5 years. Healthy, a little overweight, but cancer free.

We went to the show on Sunday with tap dancing, singing & a band. It was just the two of us because the other two were ice fishing. Gotta love MN! Before the show, we wanted to spread some kindness. We put quarters in the candy machines at the Outlet Mall. Then, with his Christmas suit on, my son and I put candy canes on the door handles of the cars in the parking lot. If there was someone in the car (happened to be all men), I asked if they wanted a candy cane too. They all said “yes.” It’s part of my 46 acts of kindness between my birthday & Christmas. I cannot call them random acts because I have to come up with ideas first – some are random, most are not. While my body is cancer free, my mind wages a different war…. anxiety about the cancer anniversary, seasonal depression, overwhelm of the holidays, lingering thoughts of not doing enough.

This kindness challenge has shifted my focus but it’s still a struggle to get out of my comfort zone. I’ve talked to more strangers than I normally do. Every part of me wants to hibernate and every part of me wants a magical Christmas. How can I be the one who brings both the humbug and the Christmas cookies? Do you ever feel this way? Caught in a tug of war? I know the things I need to do, yet I struggle to get them done. If you’re in the same boat, you’re not alone. Join me in some acts of kindness- random or not. Watch your favorite holiday movie. Dance & sing. Do something that brings you joy. It’s not selfish, it is necessary. You cannot fill from an empty cup! Give yourself the gift of taking care of you also… you’ll have more to give to others.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May your holidays be filled with joy, peace, forgiveness, gratitude, grace, love or whatever you need most this holiday season.


We have just finished up with Thanksgiving & Black Friday and we got our tree up on Sunday. As I placed my grandma’s crochet angel on top of our Christmas tree, it got me thinking about traditions. Before we had kids, I would look at what other families did for traditions and wonder what ours would be. One aunt and uncle slept by the tree with their kids on Christmas Eve. One family member had oyster stew as a tradition. One grandma made a “Christmas dessert” as a special treat.

Traditions don’t have to be just for the holidays… some people have pizza on a certain night or special birthday treats. It’s tradition for my nephew to have pumpkin pie instead of cake for his birthday (because it’s his favorite & his birthday is close to Thanksgiving). I remember getting to pick the meal for my birthday when I was growing up. It was a big deal.

Traditions tie us together. It’s like an invisible string that connects us to the event/memory/people. When I think of the Christmas angel, I think of my grandma. I picture her sitting in her chair, making the angels. I see her starching them to make them stand up. I picture her smile and hear her laugh. When I see Gingersnap cookies, I think of my other grandma who made them every Christmas. I don’t know if she made them other times if the year, but they were always there on Christmas. I picture her grey hair and glasses. It brings me back to her house with her Siamese cat, Sam. He would hide at Christmas because of all of the commotion. I was one of the few who could pet him.

Traditions bring us back to vivid memories. They make us feel safe and comfortable and reassured. What traditions will my kids remember? I’m not sure. I’d imagine they each have a different one. I tried to force some traditions when they were little, but that didn’t work. They will each have their own view of what they think is special.

Whatever your traditions are or if you create new ones, they are great just as they are. They don’t have to make sense to anyone else. They don’t need to be approved. They don’t need to conform. If it’s special to you, it’s enough.

This busy holiday season, remember that you are enough just as you are. As I am thinking of my 46 acts of kindness, I’ve found myself getting caught up on the act being big enough or good enough. “No act of kindness is too small.” I saw that quote yesterday & it really stuck. No tradition is too small if it means something to you.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you be able to enjoy the holiday season with new or old traditions. May your heart be filled with peace and love… so much so that you just have to share it with others.