10 Spring Random Acts of Kindness

In a world full of hatred and fear, let’s take every opportunity to spread a little love and kindness. Spring, along with every other season, is a wonderful time to do Random Acts of Kindness (R.A.K.). Today I would like to share with you 10 R.A.K.s tailored to this season.

spring R.A.K.

1. Leave sidewalk chalk messages

My neighbours did this just last week. We live in a university area and the students are all heading home for the summer. My neighbours wrote “goodbye” and “happy summer” messages to these students. They left the bucket of chalk out so that others walking by could also leave messages.

2. Clean up road-side litter

Somehow, people think that it is okay to litter in the winter time because the snow will hide their trash. But when the snow begins to melt away, the ditches start to look like a garbage dump. Old furniture, toilets, and many other large items can be found in the ditch once spring rolls around. Unfortunately not all of us are able to pick up the big stuff, but we can take time to gather the small trash like paper cups, beer bottles, and food wrappers.

3. Put flowers on a strangers grave

Many graves tend to go without flowers during the wintertime because it is just too difficult to trudge through the deep snow in the cemetery. Many people visit their loved ones’ graves in the spring (especially on Mother’s and Father’s Day). While taking flowers to your own families graves, why not take flowers to a grave that you notice doesn’t usually have flowers on it.

4. Volunteer to clean up a cemetery

We all know that when spring comes our yards sometimes look less than presentable. They can be covered with stray twigs or piles of leaves that blew into corners the previous fall. Even before the grass grows, it seems that weeds seem to sprout in the spring. A cemetery is no exception to this spring mess. This is an excellent time to volunteer to do some spring clean up. Many cemeteries have certain maintenance guidelines, so you might like to contact the caretaker for some advice. This could also be a great time to clean the tombstones, although extra care must be taken when doing this since many historic tombstones are very delicate. Read this article on Cleaning Gravestones for more information.

5. Help an elderly person clean up their yard

As I mentioned in the above point, spring can mean a messy yard. Why not help an elderly person with this task? Since spring is a lovely time to get outside anyway, why not take this opportunity to help someone else?

spring yard cleaning
Help an elderly person clean up their yard a spring R.A.K.

6. Send a special gift to your child’s teacher

Its the time of the year when everyone is feeling a little restless. The kids want to get outside and play. The teacher is ready for a holiday. In my own experience, I found spring to be the toughest time of the school year. Why not send a random gift to your child’s teacher as a way to encourage him/her?

7. Take fresh flowers to an elderly “shut-in”

Many elderly people are not able to get outside to enjoy the loveliness of the season. They would greatly appreciate a fresh bunch of tulips or daffodils that would help them celebrate spring.

take tulips to an elderly person
Take spring tulips to an elderly person as a spring R.A.K.

8. Pay for an extra scoop of ice cream for the person in line behind you

In my area, many ice cream shops close for the winter. When they reopen in the spring, we all flock to their door (even if it is still pretty cold outside). As a gesture of kindness, pay for an extra scoop of ice cream for the person behind you. Try to do it quietly so they don’t know until the get to the cash, and you have already exited.

9. Volunteer to sweep the parking lot of a local church or not-for-profit organization’s office

While we appreciate the use of sand on icy parking lots during the winter, when the ice and snow melt, the sand remains behind. Many churches and organizations can’t afford to hire a truck with a sweeper. It is often the pastor or a staff member who volunteers their own time to this task. Why not make their day by offering to do it for them?

10. Buy summer toys at the dollar store and give out to your friends and neighbours kids.

This might include bubbles, skipping ropes, frisbees, and sidewalk chalk. You might try giving them to strangers, but just be careful about approaching a strange child when their parents/guardians are not in close proximity.

summer toys
Give summer toys to kids as a spring R.A.K. (This little boy stole his sister’s Frisbee!)

I got so excited about this topic that I couldn’t make myself stop at ten. So here is a bonus one!

Give your umbrella to someone who doesn’t have one.

This could be an extra one you carry with you for this purpose (you can buy them at the dollar store). Or, you can truly be sacrificial and give away your own to an elderly person or someone who needs it more than you.

Doing spring R.A.K.s can be a great yearly family tradition. I’d love to hear some of your favourite spring R.A.K.s.

Happy spring!

Joanna

10 Family Christmas Traditions

For most of us, our favourite memories of Christmas are tied to a special tradition that was practiced by our family each Christmas. While it is fun to do new and different things each Christmas, it is also fun to have something familiar to look forward to throughout the year. Today I am sharing with you ten of my favourite family traditions.

  1. Light an Advent Wreath. If you attend a church that does not participate in this seasonal type of worship, this is a great idea to do with your own family at home. There are many resources online that can assist with the preparation. I found http://www.kencollins.com/answers/question-10.htm to be helpful. For four Sundays before Christmas a different candle around the wreath is lit to represent Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace. The candle in the middle of the wreath is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day in celebration of Christ’s birth.
  2. Visit a Nursing Home. Many seniors have no family members in their local vicinity. Christmas can be a difficult time for these people. Many seniors love seeing and talking to children. Maybe plan on the children singing or helping with some sort of Christmas program. The best thing to do is contact your local nursing home and speak to the Program Director. She/he will be able to direct you appropriately.
  3. Make an Activity Calendar. This is something my family always did when I was a child. On December 1, we gathered a large poster board, markers, tape, old magazines/catalogues, and scissors. First, Mom would mark out the grid of the calendar for December and add the dates. Then we would assign an activity for each day of the month. This might include putting up the Christmas tree, baking sugar cookies, or wrapping gifts. For each activity we either found a photo in an old magazine/catalogue or drew a picture that represented that activity and taped it on the day assigned to it on calendar. For instance, if we went Christmas dinner grocery shopping on Dec 21, we taped on a picture of a shopping cart on the square of Dec 21. On a day that didn’t have a specific activity, we took turns drawing a picture of something that represented Christmas.This calendar also acted as a countdown to Christmas since we each took turns crossing off the days as they were completed.
  4. Buy a New Ornament Every Christmas. Throughout the year, be thinking about what ornament you want to purchase. It could be a souvenir that represents a family vacation or a set of house keeps from the house you recently sold. It’s exciting to think about something that represents the previous year and incorporate that into your Christmas tree décor.
  5. Dress up for Christmas Dinner. In the past, it wasn’t considered Christmas if the family members did not put on their best formal wear. This was done to set apart the holiday as a special day. Of course, this can be difficult to do with little children but might be something to consider as the children get older. If you are having a formal Christmas dinner with your best dish set and glassware, why not dress for the occasion.
  6. Have Outside Fun on Christmas Afternoon. Some of my fondest memories as a child are spending the afternoon sledding or skating with the whole family. The whole family could include grandparents, aunts, uncles, moms, dads, and cousins. You might even invite the neighbours or close friends. If it is a mild winter or you live somewhere warm, then go for a walk or play some sort of outside game. Remember to have the hot chocolate set out and ready to be made when everyone returns inside.
  7. Invite Someone (Other than Family) for Dinner. This is another tradition my family always had when growing up. We had an elderly friend who had nowhere to go for Christmas, so he always came to our house. He came for Christmas dinner for many years. When he got sick and unable to attend, we felt a great sadness. We might not have been related to him, but he definitely felt like a part of our family. Just remember that most people don’t want to be pitied, so you might allow the person to participate in the meal by bringing some sort of food dish or gifts. I still have a blue teddy bear that was given to me by our family friend one Christmas.
  8. Read a Christmas Book. For small children, you might decide to read a different picture book each night in December leading up to Christmas. For older children, it can be fun to read one chapter each night of a chapter book. The book does not have to be completely about Christmas. When I was a child, we often chose books such as Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
  9. Have the Children Plan Christmas Eve. Let the kids plan a skit, a song, a craft, or a special activity for Christmas Eve evening. This is better for older children, but you would be amazed how creative children can be when asked to plan something. While Christmas movies can be fun, encourage them to do something that is a little more creative for this special evening. Remember to have some special treats to wrap of the festivities.
  10. Watch It’s a Wonderful Life. My sister and I have a long running tradition of watching It’s a Wonderful Life every Christmas. This is a great tradition to start with teenagers and/or adults. The message of this timeless classic never grows old. Some people find the movie depressing, but I find it very encouraging. It reminds us what the important things in life truly are – living honestly, giving to others, and celebrating family and friends.

I hope you found these 10 traditions inspiring, and that you will choose to create positive, uplifting memories for your family this Christmas and in the years to come. Be sure to share your favourite family traditions in the comments below.

Merry Christmas!

Joanna

The Art of Journalling

What do think about when you hear the word journal? Some people think of a stagnant book where only the days happenings where recorded in a bullet style manner. Others think about the diaries of love sick young girls. If this is the way you think, then please keep reading. I hope I can change the way you think. If you’ve always enjoyed journalling, I hope this post inspires you to journal more.

Why Journal

I have found there to be many benefits to keeping a journal. Journalling helps gather my thoughts on a specific situation or issue. It also serves as a place to layout my goals and record an action plan. I find journalling a great way to discover and understand my true feelings. I can write a lot in my journal that I might not tell someone else. In my journal, I write about positive, happy feelings, but I also at times vent my anger and sadness. Writing down my feelings helps me understand them better. (Even if I later rip the page out!) Journalling is also a great way to keep track of important dates and record special memories.

Successful People Journal

Many successful and famous people have kept journals. Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, and Beatrix Potter are just a few noteworthy people who journalled. In looking at some of their journal entries, we can see their inventions, inspirations, or action plans taking shape. Their journal is where it all begin.

Making a Habit of Journalling

Many people, including myself, find it difficult to journal on a regular basis. Keeping a daily journal can be beneficial, but don’t be discouraged if that doesn’t happen. Sometimes, I go for weeks without journalling, but I try to keep my journal easily accessible for when inspirational thoughts come my way. I can grab my journal and quickly jot them down. I also try to remember to journal after important life events. Sometimes I journal when I am bored. Sometimes I journal when I need a way to express myself. Keeping my journal out where I can see it, reminds me that it exists. Journal writing shouldn’t be a chore that you have to check off your daily to-do list. It should be something that you enjoy. That’s why it is important to make the actual journal fit your personality. If you like the professional look, buy a leather bound journal and use black ink. If you like being creative, buy a colourful notebook and use brightly coloured ink. Whatever your style, make it personal. That way you will feel more inspired to actually use it.

Journal Prompts

Of course, I couldn’t write a post about journalling without giving you some concrete ideas of what to write in it. So here are a few ideas:

  • Record the environment in which you are writing. (If you are sitting by the lake describe what you see, hear, and feel.)
  • Describe a recent special event. (What was said and done and how did you feel? What did your like and dislike about it? Did anything humorous happen?)
  • Make a wish list. (This could be items you would like to receive as a gift or places you would like to visit, etc.)
  • Describe your pet(s). (What breed are they? What is their personality? What do you enjoy the most about them?)
  • Write a fictional short story. (Use people, places, and situations you know well as inspiration but change the names.)
  • Jot down a project to-do list. (Record the major projects you would like to undertake such as building a new shed, putting together a quilt, or planting a vegetable garden.)
  • Record your favourite childhood memories. (Who was there? What did they say? What did you do? How did you feel?)
  • Describe the neighbourhood where you live. (What style are the houses? Is the neighbourhood old or new? Are the people friendly? What kind of lives do the people live? Is there one word that sums up the atmosphere?)
  • Make a list of pros and cons. (Is there an important decision you need to make? What could be the positive and negative outcomes?)
  • Record meaningful things that people have said to you. (Did someone recently give you a nice compliment? Did your child say something special to you?)
  • List your favourite books/songs/scriptures. (This is a great reference tool in the future.)
  • Write down all your dreams and aspirations. (If you could do anything, what would it be? How can you work towards fulfilling that dream?)

I hope this post has inspired you to start or re-start the wonderful art of journalling. Please share your journalling thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

Happy journalling!

Joanna

15 Fun Fall Activities

Does anyone else love fall as much as I do? If you do, I’m sure you’ll find the following list super exciting!

15 fun fall activities

1. Rake leaves and jump in the pile

Kids will love this, and you are never too old to experience this old-time pleasure. Just be careful at how hard you hit the ground!

2. Have an informal fall photo session

Ask a friend to take pictures or just set your camera on a makeshift tripod        and set the timer. No need to hire a professional photographer unless you      want to.

3. Make candy apples

Use melted caramel, melted chocolate, nuts, candy corn, or anything that          sounds delicious to you.

4. Build a scarecrow

Or maybe build two!

build a scarecrow

5. Have a picnic in the woods among the fallen leaves

Don’t forget to pack a festive blanket and a thermos of hot chocolate along  with your other favourite goodies.

6. Walk through a corn maze

Just wear shoes you don’t mind getting dirty!

walk through a corn maze

7. Collect acorns and pine cones

This  might require another fun walk in the woods!

8. Make pumpkin, chocolate chip cookies

Keep tuned for my post next Saturday on my favourite fall recipes.

9. Decorate for fall

Make your own decorations or have your kids make some. A lot of dollar stores have a nice, affordable assortment of fall decor.

10. Take a fall drive through the countryside

Admire the many colours of leaves along the way.

take a fall drive

11. Wear fall coloured clothes

Break out your orange, mustard yellows, burnt reds, and browns.

12. Bake an apple pie

Keep tuned for my post next Saturday on my favourite fall recipes.

13. Have a final bonfire

Make s’mores and hot chocolate and wrap up in a festive blanket.

have a final bonfire

14. Make a craft with fallen leaves

Let your kids make “pictures” with leaves, glue, and paper.

15. Go on a hay ride

If you don’t have a tractor and wagon and neither does your neighbour, many corn maze farms and apple orchards will give rides around the farm. Some of my favourite fall memories is going on hayrides after its dark. Just don’t get spooked by the weird night sounds!

I hope you found this list inspiring. Now go out and have some fun!

You can download a free copy of this list here by clicking on the thumbnail.

 

Happy Fall!

Joanna