Friday, August 31, 2012

My Birthday Project - 25 Acts of Kindness

I like celebrating my birthday. And since it is at the beginning of August, I typically choose to celebrate for the entire month. :) This year, since I turned 25, my friend convinced me that I needed to do something really special to celebrate my 25th birthday. Something that I will have with me forever.  Something that I will always remember. Honestly, diamond earrings felt like a good option. But then I remembered a pin on pinterest that detailed a woman’s birthday project – she did 38 acts of kindness to celebrate her 38th birthday.  So this month, to celebrate the big Two Five, I decided to do 25 Acts of Kindness in my community.  Here is how I’ve spent my birthday month:

1. Left a McDonalds gift card for my mail carrier. This one actually ended up being one of my favorites! I bought a gift card early on in the month and let it sit on my counter for days – maybe even weeks. I finally wrote out a note to say thank you to my mail carrier – someone that I have never seen or met – and attached a McDonalds gift card to it. That afternoon when I checked my mail I had the sweetest note from him. “Thank you for the thought. FYI – Today's my birthday. 64. –Frank”. Seriously? The day that I finally put the gift card in my mailbox happens to be his birthday? It was an awesome moment. I’m glad that my birthday project could bless someone else’s birthday!

2. Took fresh flowers to a local assisted living center. I drive past this assisted living center almost every day. At Christmas I wonder if the residents have their own Christmas trees.  On Mother’s Day and Father’s Day I wonder if the residents receive calls and visits.  And this summer I began wondering if the residents had fresh flowers.  So I made sure that they did.  I delivered four potted mums.  Yellow, of course, because yellow is the happiest color.  

The lady at the front desk was surprised to see me. 

You brought us flowers and you don’t even know anyone here?
Oh. Do you go to Lipscomb or something? You must be a Christian, right?
No, I don’t go to Lipscomb (but kudos to Lipscomb for their awesome reputation in the community). I went to Oklahoma Christian.  And yes, I am a Christian.

The conversation continued with discussions of which churches we attend and the proper way to care for a mum (she did most of the talking on that one).  The secretary that day only works on Sundays, so she had me write a letter to the manager to explain my delivery. She said “You have to write this down.  He’s not going to believe that someone would actually deliver flowers for no reason.”  Sometimes they do.

3. Fed a homeless person. On my way to pick up the mums from Lowes, I was running Random Acts of Kindness options through my head.  How can I help? Where am I needed? And because my heart was actually seeking ways to help, I noticed someone that I never would have noticed before.  There was a man under a tree in the corner of the parking lot trying to catch some relief from the heat in the shade.  He had a cardboard sign with the word “Displaced”.  It was just before dinner time, so I stopped in at the McDonalds just a few yards from where the man was sitting.  As I headed towards the man, I realized that he had a dog napping under the tree with him. So then I ran into the Big Lots and picked up a small sack of dog food.  Because I had my heart open to opportunity, I was able to provide dinner to a homeless man… and his dog.

4. Put children's books in the shopping buggies at Publix.  I purchased educational board books to put in the racecar buggies at Publix to entertain children while parents shopped. 

If you have ever been to Publix with children, you know how hard those racecar buggies are to find when you need one.  I found two in the buggy bin, but ended up just handing a couple of the books out to children in the store.

Note: I never knew that the term “buggy” was Southern until I went to New York.  The other nanny that worked with me called it a “trolley”.  I guess “shopping cart” is the most widely accepted term???

5. Spent an afternoon with elderly woman. I cleared my afternoon schedule and spent my afternoon on a floral sofa listening to stories and looking through pictures and talking about recipes. I learned a lot.  And loved a lot.

6. Paid for the car behind me in line at Starbucks. I paid for the car behind me, but didn’t have the forethought on this one to leave a note. The person in the car behind me was a young guy. I hope he didn’t think it was some sort of “move”.

7. Made a cheesecake for Dad on his birthday. He loves cheesecake, so I made him a chocolate covered peanut butter banana cheesecake. And I made it the real way. Not from a box.

8. Emailed some of my college professors just to tell them thank you. They invested so much into me. They deserve a thank you.

9. Took bread to the park so that the children could feed the ducks. I work very close to the Centennial Park in Nashville, so I eat lunch and exercise there frequently.  Beside our Parthenon replica, we have a pond full of ducks. So on a Saturday afternoon I picked up three loaves of bread, stuck notes on them, set them on the rock wall beside the pond, and walked away.  The park was very crowded that day. I didn’t stick around to see what happened, but I’m sure that there were lots of happy children… and ducks.

10. Baked cookies for the Brentwood Police Department. In Nashville we have rush hour six days a week, not five. We have a Sunday church rush. Traffic is crazy, cars are everywhere, and crossing traffic can be a little difficult.  The Brentwood Police Department directs traffic outside of Otter Creek every Sunday morning, and I am always so grateful to them for that. I usually wave and say thank you, but I wanted to say thank you another way too. With snickerdoodles.

11. Spent an afternoon giving my undivided attention to a precious little girl.  I abandoned my schedule and entered her world of imagination for hours. Worth it.

12. Made a monetary donation to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospitalthe hospital that stole my heart the moment I started volunteering there last year.

13. Invited several new Nashvillians to go to church with me. Moving to a new city can be intimidating, and it helps to get plugged in to a great group of young adults.

14. Sent a McDonald's gift card to my nephews. Just because I know they love the Play Place.

15. Signed up to lead a group of youth group girls. Growing up, I had so many influential mentors in my life. I want to be able to mentor others in the same way.  I recently volunteered to be a small group leader for a group of girls at Otter Creek and I am super excited about all of the possibilities that this holds!

16. Volunteered to babysit a stay at home mom's kids for free. She deserved it.

17. Sent letters to some of my dearest friends just to thank them for their friendship. I have the best group of friends and it is my mission to make sure that they always know it.

18. Gave a friend a ride home. The best conversations happen in cars.  Sometimes cancelling evening plans to give a friend a ride home can change you.

19. Had a girl's night with one of my favorite 7 year olds. Dinner at Rainforest CafĂ©. Build a Bear. A Carousel Ride. Sweet CeCe’s frozen yogurt. Perfect night out.

20. Smiled and said thank you to every single airport employee that I encountered on my trip to Dallas. I can't imagine having a job dealing with predominantly unhappy or rushed people. Smiles really do make a difference. It seemed like every other person said something like "Thank you for smiling. We rarely see that." or "It's nice to see people enjoying their journey." And sometimes smiling gets you an extra scoop of pulled pork on your sandwich and a free fountain drink at airport restaurants. :)

21. Made a prayer journal for a sweet friend. Journaling has always been influential in my spiritual life and it has served to bring her closer to Christ as well. I wanted her to have a personalized journal designed specifically for her.

I included a different leader thought on each page.

22. Baked cookies for the local fire station. I live close enough to a fire station that I hear the sirens regularly, but have fortunately never needed their services. I know that they do so much for our community, so I dropped off some homemade sprinkle cookies to say thank you.

23. Had a dollar ready at a stop light to purchase a Contributor - Nashville’s homeless news publication.

24. Treated a friend to dinner. And then talked for hours.

25. Took flowers to my cousin on her birthday. Everyone deserves something special on their birthday!

These 25 things are small, but they truly are things that I will have forever.  It was a birthday that I will always remember.  Look for ways to bless other people and help out in your community.  When you look, you will see.

Oh, and don’t worry. I did something for myself too. I joined the Y. Woo hoo...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Weekend in Dallas

The very best friends are the ones that inspire us and sustain us . The ones that remain the same – if not better – even when silly things like 800 miles come between us. Which is why I adore this Texas gal.

She lived in the room across the hall from me during my freshman year at OC. We bonded over silly things like fruit snacks and afternoon naps and our mutual dislike for geology. And we’ve been best friends ever since. Now she lives in Dallas with her husband and sweet baby girl, but regular phone calls and texts and facetime calls make it feel like we aren’t so far apart after all.

I was supposed to go visit her in late February after her daughter was born, but a broken arm threw a wrench into those plans. But I was so happy to be able to visit now, because this age is one of my favorites.  Her daughter is the sweetest, happiest little girl ever. I was instantly in love! There is just something so special about your best friends' babies!

I enjoyed a weekend full of LOTS of shopping, sunset walks and talks, plenty of great food – including my first experience with In-N-Out Burger.

We also tried to watch Sleepless in Seattle several times. We didn’t succeed.  No, not because the movie isn’t awesome. It’s one of my favorites! But because I (actually we both) kept falling asleep.  Long weekend vacations call for extra naps. When we determined that there is no greater “Girl's Night Movie" combo than Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks (who doesn’t love You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle?) we were curious to find out what exactly Meg has been doing since her Tom Hanks duo glory days. So we looked up her wiki page. We found no interesting new movies (except of course Kate and Leopold) but were shocked when we found out Meg Ryan's real name. Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra. I mean, girl is awesome and can totally rock 5 names (plus a stage name) but wow. That's a lot.

We also spent lots of time crafting. Ever since I learned to sew, I have been itching to sew one of my latest pinterest pins.  After much debate, I settle on the zippered, lined makeup pouch.  Even though I fought with the sewing machine a bit (which I’m pretty sure was predominantly user error), I ended up really liking my finished product!

And she made a circle skirt and onesie for football season. Adorable and very easy to duplicate!

I’m already anxious to spend another weekend with her! Here’s hoping that we don’t wait a whole 1.5 years between visits this time!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


As I mentioned last month, I am a contributing blogger to Stir (the blog for my young professional's group at Otter Creek). Head on over and view my latest posting!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

August - A Month for Friends, Food, Concerts, and Crafts

The Williamson County Fair
I recently went to the Williamson County Fair with some friends. 

And you know what that means...
Lots of food.
 A Caramel Apple with Sprinkles

 I had a corn dog...

 And washed it down with a Gyro.

Cool rides.

Karaoke. (My friends... not me, of course)

And a cow with a hole in it.

A real, live cow with a whole in one of its stomachs.  The guy fed the cow some grass and then reached into its stomach and pulled it out.  They do it to study the digestion of cows.  I personally think that it is really awesome. I could have watched it all night.

I had the best week of concerts recently.  I went to see Kari Jobe with a few friends at a local church. 

She was awesome! If you listen to Christian radio, you will know her song “We Are”.

And then I went to a Zoe Group album release.  Most of the members of Zoe either attend, or have attended, my church so they decided to do their album release with us.  It was an awesome night!

Sam’s Sushi
I really, really love sushi and I finally found the best Nashville sushi joint. Sam’s Sushi. It is a tiny little place downtown on the corner of Printer’s Alley and Church. Sam owns the place. Yes, he does literally own the establishment but I mean it more like he owns the place. Dominates it. He is the only person who works in the tiny little corner restaurant that seats about 10. He takes orders (you write it down on the piece of scratch paper that he plops down on your table). He makes the sushi (by taking his sweet time, there are signs everywhere reminding you that this is not a “fast food” joint and that orders take 15-30 minutes). He does the dishes (after you clear your own plate of course). And he makes the best sushi in town (at the best price - $5.95 for two huge rolls). You have to go in small groups of people.  Any more than three and he might just make you leave. If the place gets crowded, he locks the door. If you ask for a To Go box and he thinks you haven’t eaten enough, he will make you eat more. If you take to long to eat, he will make you give up your table. And don’t try small talk. He has a sign beside his sushi bar that says “I’m fine, okay” as if he were saying Don’t ask me how I am doing. I’m fine. Okay. Nice, Sam. 

Under the "Please have a seat" sign on the picture of the sushi: "I'm fine ok"

And one day he made me and a group of fellow young professionals read this article before ordering:

18-35? You are Generation Screwed! 
(An article highlighting social security changes, social responsibility, etc.) 

Oh, Sam.

Sewing Class
On Saturday I finished my sewing course! (This was all a part of my New Year's Resolution.) Yes, I now officially know how to thread a machine and sew a reversible tote bag. Pure awesomeness. 

Class 1 - Threading a machine and sewing various stitches on straight lines.

I can’t always sew straight and my thread gets hung in the machine a lot and I always forget to reverse stitch before sewing and I have a bad habit of pushing the fabric through the machine instead of guiding it. But that is all beside the point. The point is that I made this.

 Class 2 - Tote Bag

It's reversible!

And now I just need to purchase a machine! Look out, Pinterest!

I have celebrated birthdays for two of my favorite people recently.

My dad!
I made him a chocolate covered peanut butter banana cheesecake.

(Why yes, I did get a hair cut. And a glaze, which basically makes your hair shiny. It was a groupon experiment. I can't say that I completely notice a difference. But I did like the girl who did my hair.  We were getting along great until she said "You have Snow White hair." Ugh. Snow White isn't even in my top 5 Disney Princesses. Pocahontas is my favorite, but whatever.)

And we celebrated my friend Ashley's birthday! You might remember her as the girl who took me to the Emergency Room when I sprained my broken arm.

With the birthday girl.
My (at this point still long) hair was out of control that night. The only down side of outdoor seating - my hair got bigger as the night went on.

We ate at The Pharmacy in East Nashville.  I had The Mission City Burger. A grilled burger topped with guacamole, black beans, pico de gallo, and other yummy things. Best burger in Nashville! Awesome outdoor seating. A soda fountain. And room for a bunch of friends. 

I am realizing as I type this that my August has been full of music and food. I’ll take it.