Sunday, December 16, 2007

Random Acts of Kindness

Christmastime is here! The season of giving! When I was a kid, I used to think that Christmas was about eating good food and getting great gifts! Well, it's still about eating good food but somewhere along my journey to adulthood, I've realized that it's not about getting gifts, it's about giving gifts. Buying (or making) a gift for somebody, watching them open it, and seeing the expression on their face is more fun than getting a gift any day. What I've also found is that giving a gift when you can't see the person or don't even know who the person is, can also be fun! Some people refer to these gifts as "random acts of kindness".

I've always been a fan of random acts of kindness, yet I don't "walk the walk" as often as I should. This got me thinking, "What can I do to spread some Christmas cheer?" I recently read on the side of a Starbucks cup that if you were driving through a toll both you could pay for the car behind you. That's a great idea, but we don't have too many toll roads in Minnesota. Hmmmm, what else? Then it struck me, the next time I go through the drive through at Starbucks, I'll pay for the person behind me!

A few days later I found myself in the drive through at Starbucks. A car pulled up behind me and the person driving ordered a drink. When I arrived at the window I asked the cashier if I could pay for the person behind me. He looked a little shocked and said, "Ummmmmm, yeah." After he took my money, he asked, "Just out of curiosity, do you know the person behind you?" I said, "No, this is just a random act of kindness." What he said next caught me by surprise. "Wow, that's really cool. I haven't ever seen anybody do that before. That makes me want to go do a random act of kindness." I thought to myself "That's what it's all about!"

It wasn't about me performing one random act of kindness. It's about the cashier and the person behind me seeing a random act of kindness and then maybe doing something for somebody else themselves. You never know, you might perform a random act of kindness toward someone that is considering suicide and you're one little act is enough to get them to reconsider and realize that there really are good people in life.

Maybe you're saying to yourself, "That's great, but I can't afford to be driving through Starbucks or buying people lunches all the time." That's okay, random acts of kindness don't have to cost anything. Just the other day I saw a girl spill some tea at a store in the mall. The girl who spilled the tea laughed about it and walked away, leaving a puddle of tea all over the floor. A different girl walked up, grabbed some napkins and cleaned up the mess. She didn't say anything to the people working at the store, I don't even think they had noticed yet. She just cleaned it up with a smile on her face. Not only did she perform a random act of kindness to the store employee that would have to clean it up later, but she did it with a smile!

Now, I told you about the random act of kindness that I did as an example. I think it's important that you're not doing it as a bragging tool to your friends. Random acts of kindness need to be just that.....random. You don't need to tell anybody about it, just know in your heart that you've done something to brighten up somebody else's day.

It's the season of giving! Go do something random!

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

My New Extreme Sport!

It's officially winter in Minnesota as we got about six inches of snow on Saturday and another four to five inches already today! I know a lot of people moan and groan about how cold it's going to be and how traffic is going to be bad but I look at it as an adventure.

Earlier this summer I bought a new mountain bike and enjoyed beating myself up on the bike trails so I decided that I am going to make biking a wintertime activity as well. Today I went and bought some cold weather biking pants and a balaclava to keep my head warm under my helmet. Usually this time of year most people are running to the outdoor shops to buy new ski clothes or maybe a new snowboard so I'm sure the people at the bike and ski shop that I went to laughed a little when I came in asking if they had any bicycling pants.

I got home and put on my cold weather clothes and pulled my bike out. Keep in mind that it was still snowing and only the main roads had been plowed. It took a little getting used to constantly slipping and sliding (and a few falls) but after a while it became a lot of fun and a great workout! I got a few strange looks but I didn't care, I felt like a kid again out playing in the snow and having fun!

With another four to five months of cold weather ahead there so much to do, snowshoeing, downhill skiing, and my new favorite wintertime activity.....extreme bicycling!