Welcome! This site is an endeavor to spread an attitude of positive thinking and optimism. By searching for joy and beauty in all things - even the mundane, perhaps a smile will spread from my computer ... to you!

Pay It Forward Fridays

July 2, 2010
Shopping With A Stranger

I missed last weeks "Pay It Forward Friday" - had a much-needed date-night with my hubby last Friday, and it was simply too late when I got home to write!

Been thinking about what I could do for someone this week, and my opportunity presented itself in a very fun way on Wednesday.  After meeting a "long-lost" friend for an amazing lunch, I stopped at our local craft and hobby store for some supplies and 4th of July decorations.  I had made arrangements to take my youngest niece out to the movies that afternoon but fortunately wasn't in too much of a rush.

Holding some decorations and a couple jars of decoupage glue, I was searching the aisles for a specific kind of craft paint.  Looking up and down the racks, the woman next to me leaned over and pointed to the items in my arms - "you look like a crafty person, could I ask for your opinion?"

Now, the first thing that came to my mind was "I look like a crafty person?"  But I found myself answering her with a "sure!!" anyway.  I'm certainly not an expert in any particular art medium - by any means.  But I have dabbled in quite a few craft projects over the years, particularly faux and decorative painting.  Trying to decide the best way to make over a gold, plastic angel, we started to fall into an easy discussion about paints that would offer the best coverage and give her the look that she required. 

The next thing I knew, we were walking up and down the aisles together, searching for products and discussing color-choices.  Before I knew it, 20 minutes had gone by!  Again I wasn't in a hurry, but I did need to pick up my niece in a timely manner. 

My new friend and I continued to discuss her project and look at paints for another 10 minutes, and I then explained I needed to check out.  She thanked me profusely, and I felt genuinely happy when I responded with "it was my pleasure."  I bid her the best of luck on her project, and wished her a wonderful holiday weekend.  With another thank you and "Happy 4th of July," we parted without ever exchanging names.

I don't know if I've ever done that before - I mean, I've quickly helped someone look for something in a store before, but to actually spend a little time discussing something and exchanging ideas with a total stranger?  Never.  And it was cool!

I feel like my little random act of kindness was "re-paid" yesterday when going to lunch with my boys at a local fast-food chicken place - the restaurant was absolutely packed, and we had trays full of food and no where to sit.  Another mother with two kids in tow came up to me and said we could have their table.  They weren't even quite finished - her little girl was still finishing up her dessert, but she gave us her table anyway. 

Hmmmm..... one simple act of kindness begets another?  Hard to prove, I know.  Still, I can't help but wonder what our world would be like if we ALL started to practice these tiny - yet significant - little exercises of cheer and kindness.

Wow - isn't it cool to know there are strangers out there who are our friends?

Pay it forward - Spread a smile!

Photo courtesy Google Images and Photosearch

June 18, 2010:
Smiles At A Bargain

Okay, so, I've been fighting what I know is going to ultimately go down as another sinus infection this week.  Honestly?  I've truly been thinking about random acts of kindness all this week, and what I could do...but my energy has "gone up and went !"

Because I love the idea of what even little things can mean to other people, I'm reposting one of my first blogs today .... 

From November, 2009:

Anyone out there really like finding a good bargain? With most people in this country experiencing the recession in some way, I'm sure we all understand the importance of being frugal and "penny wise!"

Like many others, our family's income has suffered some major blows over the last year or so, and I find myself cutting corners in any way that I can when doing the household shopping. We have three sons, all of whom are still living at home: the eldest, age 25, received two Associates Degrees in computer science recently, works full-time and will be continuing his education and certifications this coming year; our middle child - age 22, has completed Culinary School and is a full-time Chef for an organic and gourmet food chain; and the youngest is 17, a swimmer and Senior this year in high school. My husband and I are very blessed - all three of them continue to pitch in with household chores and responsibilities (usually without too much complaint!) The two eldest, who might be continuing their education, contribute financially as much as their "early career" incomes will allow!

I'm sure - even if you've never had a son - that you can appreciate just how much food this family can go through (not to mention all those "little" things like soap, laundry detergent, deodorant and shaving cream!) Let me tell you, I've had these boys around for some time, and it STILL amazes me! The youngest one - the swimmer - even amazes his older brothers in his ability for mass consumption. When all three are actually present at the dinner table (yes, we still manage to do that several evenings a week!) it's basically a "free-for-all" ....you snooze, you loose!

SO - with all the shopping I still have to accomplish each month, I've found myself frequenting some discount establishments that (years ago) I would never have thought would now be a regular stop on my bi-weekly excursions. I've given up the need for the "expensive" shampoos, body washes and facial care products, have opted for off-brand cleaning and paper products, and continue to select "store-brands" whenever possible. Usually shopping at our local grocery store for most everything (with coupons in hand) I recently discovered that I can save even more money on some of my monthly necessities at a small discount store. I stop at this store before making the trip to the grocery store, and I always manage to cut quite a bit off my shopping budget for the month.

Yesterday being the end of the month, today was most definitely the day to refill the pantry, so once again I stopped at that little discount center first. Because I had balanced the checkbook before leaving (and took a peek at the bills I would have to pay later in the day) I wasn't in the cheeriest of moods this morning as I wandered around gathering the usual specials. I finally got to the aisle where I always buy this store's brand of facial products...and felt myself giving in to an immediate self pity party. "Why do I have to scrimp on my beauty products - at this age (when I need them the most!)" After all, it wasn't like I was buying those expensive department-store brands ...now I'm buying copies of the COPIES!! (I wasn't raging mad, mind you - but the internal pouting I was doing would have shamed a two-year-old.)

I made my way over to the tiny check-out area, which is just crammed with all kinds of candy, lighters, trinkets and dollar-items...there's barely enough room there to lay out your purchases. They usually keep only one register open in this place, and I waited behind one other person as they placed their items on the counter one-at-a-time for the clerk to ring up. It was getting a little annoying as she methodically picked up one thing at a time out of her cart. However, she finally completed the process and paid her bill. Just as she was finishing, I turned to look behind me and standing there was the tinniest little old woman - I mean little! (I kept wondering later if she actually drove herself to the store, and "could she see over the steering-wheel?") She wasn't terribly old, but a good bit older than my mom. She was holding a bottle of Mr. Clean and a box of something (I couldn't see) in front of her, along with a handbag almost as big as she was.

You've done it, haven't you? You have a shopping cart full - and even though you're worn out, completely "over" the whole shopping, saving money, and comparing prices thing and want to get home - you've let someone holding only one or two items check out ahead of you. Thing is, today it made me feel better. That little old lady asked me twice if I was sure I didn't mind (probably because we'd both been waiting behind "Ms. Poky!") She couldn't believe it, and I reassured her it was absolutely fine...she only had 2 items!

My pity party was over. By doing a small, random act of kindness I felt better. Maybe it made her feel good too, I may never know. What I do know is this...even though some people might say the "random act of kindness" and "pay-it-forward" thing has been over-done, it ultimately does matter to us - on a personal level. It's not always about making another person feel good or making their day....it's also about reminding ourselves how it feels to be kind, while possibly healing a little something that might have been missing within ourselves for awhile.

I still had to complete the major portion of my grocery shopping after that, and I didn't relish the thought of spending even more money. Taking a moment to let the little favor I just granted to a stranger sink in, I walked to the car with a smile on my face - knowing that I had just put a smile on hers.
Pay it forward - spread a smile!

(photo courtesy of Google images.)

June 11, 2010:
Introducing: Pay It Forward Fridays

At the suggestion of a new blogging friend, I have been inspired to include a new meme at A Dose of Positivity.  A "meme" in the world of blogging is another catch-phrase for creating a specific theme - usually one specific day of the week -  devoting the posting for that day entirely in support of the meme's message and purpose.

Kelly at Blue Frogs Legs initiated a most wonderful idea for Fridays - "Pay it Forward Fridays."  Being a devotee of the novel, movie and mantra of the same, I couldn't help but be drawn into her idea and dream for this movement to move into more of the blogging world.  We bloggers have so many ways to touch the hearts of many, and whether we write about family life as mommys, review books or movies, keep travel logs or anything, I think we can all agree on one thing...random acts of kindness - in any form - when paid "forward" are contagious, and now within the world of cyberspace, we writers have infinite possibilities to touch lives the world over!

I have touched on this "theory" several times in past postings, (see "Smiles - At A Bargain" ) and usually try to incorporate a message as often as I can on how very simple things can make a huge difference in another person's life.  Seeing Kelly's post and new idea was a "light-bulb" moment for me, and I'm honored to take up the challenge. 

Recently, a very close and personal friend of mine was presented with an opportunity to actually put this "theory" into practice.  About a week ago, my friend had stopped at a convenience store/gas station within the city to purchase gas and some snacks before getting on the expressway for his long ride home from work.  As he was leaving the store, heading back to his car, a man who definitely appeared to be "down on his luck" came up to my friend and asked him if he could spare a little money, because he hadn't really had anything to eat in a while.   My friend knew by looking at him, and the tone of his voice, that this man was probably truthful.  Quickly looking around, my friend noticed a fast-food chicken restaurant directly across the street, and made a quick - yet monumental - decision.  Telling the man to get into the passenger's seat, my friend then drove him across the busy road to the restaurant, where he took the man inside and purchased him a full meal.  He left the man inside to eat his meal in peace, never knowing exactly just how long it had been since this humble person had actually had a meal.

I've been thinking about my friend's experience for quite a few days now, and reading Kelly's post, I knew that I could finally write about this amazing little story of generosityWhile I won't embarrass my friend by posting his name, I have to say how proud I was to hear of this story, and how grateful I am to personally know someone of this caliber - for it really did happen, and I know deep within that at the moment, my friend wasn't even thinking about the "pay it foward" movement - it trully was a random act of kindness.  Moments like that are usually unexpected, but when we are faced with them, they not only change the outlook of the recipient, but in the blink-of-an-eye, they change us.  Sure, many people might walk away thinking in "today's world" such an act of faith would be very risky...would you, when faced with a similar dilemma, invite a seemingly homeless stranger into your car, even though it's only across the street?

Maybe most of us aren't presented with opportunities such as this to perform such a selfless act, but all of us are usually given many moments where we have an occasion to share something. Usually, it doesn't even have to cost us anything - as I've posted before, sometimes taking the time to offer someone a handshake, welcome or smile, can mean so much more....  why does this seem so important to me?  In a nutshell, I firmly believe that continuing to pass on a spirit of kindness - of any kind - offers us hope.  All of us, when on the receiving end of a selfless and generous deed know that there is, indeed, still kindness and love remaining within the world.

In this spirit, I would like to begin posting examples on Fridays of those who have "paid it forward."  Ways other readers are - or have experienced - paying it forward, and even notes on how I, myself have strived to exercise this belief.

I sincerely hope that you will join me and my new friend Kelly in promoting the dream.  One blog, one story at a time, each of us can make a difference for positive change within the world! 

"Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you."
- Lady Diana

Looking for ideas, additional thoughts, stories and inspiration on how you can get started?  There are many links to visit on the Internet, offering tons of suggestions, tips and information.  Here's a couple to start:

The Pay It Forward Movement:   http://www.payitforwardmovement.org/

The Random Acts of Kindess Foundation: http://www.actsofkindness.org/

I look forward to sharing some memorable and inspirational moments with you on "Pay It Forward Fridays!"

Pay it forward - spread a smile!

Photos courtesy of Google Images.