#Capture Kindness: Week 9

unnamed (1)I have a confession. I have failed you, my friends. I did not do anything especially kind to my neighbors last week. *sadface*

I can offer excuses; it was a busy week, I wasn’t feeling well, etc. But, as I have spent the last two months telling you, kindness doesn’t have to be a huge, time-consuming, extravagent thing. There are a million things that I could have done. But, I didn’t.

So, instead of sharing a story about giving kindness, this week, I’d like to share a story about receiving kindness.

Last winter, you may recall, was pretty mild, but we did get enough snow that it was starting to pile up in places. You might also recall from earlier blog postss that I’m visually impaired and my father is pretty elderly, so neither one of us is really strong enough to spend much time shoveling snow from our inconveniently long driveway. We just try to drive the car over it until it melts. I shovel a walkway to the car, at least, so that my dad doesn’t fall and hurt himself, but that’s about it.

Well, one day, I looked out the window into the nasty, frozen wasteland of my front yard and saw a kid that I didn’t know shoveling our driveway. We’d never met him, nor him us. He just saw a driveway that needed shoveling and bundled himself up to come help out. I don’t know if he’d seen us around and knew we needed the help. I don’t know if his parents made him do it. I do know that it filled my heart with appreciation and warmth to see a complete stranger notice that we needed help and care enough to give us that help.

So, if you are taking the #CaptureKindness Challenge with me and are wondering if it’s all worth, wondering if the people you’re doing all these kind things for even notice or appreciate what you’re doing, believe me; yes, yes it is and yes they do.




#Capture Kindness: Week 8

Last week’s challenge was to be kind to yourself. This might seem odd, but it frequently one of the hardest things to do.

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There’s something that I’m sure we’ve all experienced called “negative self-talk.” This refers to all those times that you’ve told yourself that you’re not good enough, smart enough, strong enough, fast enough, attractive enough, whatever. Everybody thinks these things at least once in a while. These thoughts are sneaky and don’t ask permission before entering your brain. (Sometimes, they’re also called “brain weasels.”) In some cases, these thoughts can motivate a person to try harder, but usually they just make us feel bad about ourselves. But the good news is: you don’t have to let the brain weasels run your life. Brain weasels lie and distort the truth all the time. So, it’s your job to set the record straight.

Every time you notice yourself thinking something negative, squash it by telling yourself two positive things about yourself. If your brain tells you that you suck because you didn’t beat your previous time when running a mile, remind yourself that it’s okay not to be perfect at everything (no one is.) and even though you might not be a fast runner, you’re a kind, considerate friend and you aced that algebra test last week. Say it out loud to yourself in front of a mirror. (Yes, it feels silly the first few times, but it helps; I swear!) Remind yourself that you are a miracle. Seriously. You are an amazing person capable of so much! And you *are* good enough. You are worthy of love and respect and friendship.

This has been kind of a long, wordy post, but self-care and self-love are things that I’m pretty passionate about. Everyone deserves to know just how awesome they truly are. *You* deserve it. Yet, too many people go through life disliking or even hating themselves, their bodies, and their lives. So, don’t let the brain weasels win. Tell yourself that You. Are. Enough. And, more importantly, believe it!




Anime Recommendation: Your Name

your name

Have you been looking for a full length anime film that makes you feel things that isn’t made by Studio Ghibli? Yes, those do exist. I know, right? It’s crazy! Go watch Your Name! It’s funny, sweet and will make your heart feel things you didn’t know it could feel. The best way to describe it is that it makes your heart ache (especially near the end!!).  

It’s about two characters, Mitsuha and Taki, who magically switch bodies at random when they dream. How can they meet when they don’t even know where the other is? Laugh, cry and fall in love with Your Name today.

#Capture Kindness: Week 7

Hello, all!

I hope everyone has had a fantastic holiday season regardless of which or whether you celebrate any winter holidays!

Last week’s kindness challenge was to be kind during the holidays. This can be a really stressful time for a lot of people with family obligations, shopping, cooking, travel, and just a whole lot of demands on our time. That also means there are a lot of opportunities for kindness and lending a hand to someone who needs it.

Food drives for the homeless or economically challenged, delivering meals to those who cannot (for whatever reason) leave their homes, or even inviting over a neighbor or friend that doesn’t have any family in the area so that they don’t have to spend a holiday alone are all hugely kind things to do during the holidays. As always, though, kindness doesn’t have to be huge. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t spend your entire winter break delivering toys to children in the hospital. Mad props to you if you did, but that level of generosity is simply more than many people can manage. Did you help wrap presents? Did you clear your stuff off the table when your parents asked? Did you spend some time talking to your senile Auntie Grizelda and brighten her day? Seriously. Small things. Big impact.


I spent the weekend of Christmas at my sister’s place with some of my favorite people. We have a typical “blended family” with step-siblings and people that may not be related to me by blood but are family nonetheless. We come from five different homes throughout Illinois and Wisconsin so it can be hard to find time to get together. My kindnesses included planning and organizing to get us together, finding a way to get my 83-year-old father to the celebration, asking people to bring food (so the burden wasn’t all on my sister), preparing parts of the feast, bringing a few fondue pots and crock pots for our traditional fondue feast, cleaning up, and spending time swapping silly stories with my youngest nephew who sometimes feels left out because he’s the only one under the age of 25. (He loves to tell me about his Dungeons & Dragons character A LOT.) So, yeah, nothing huge. However, all those small kindnesses helped to make the weekend a lot less stressful for everyone involved.

This week’s challenge is to be kind to yourself. Check back in next week to see how I handled this challenge!

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#Capture Kindness; Week 6

Week 6 (December 17-23) challenged us all to be nice to or, if you are a kid, with kids. I am not a mother, except to my cats and, while I’m an aunt, most of my babies are in their 20s. I do work with teens all week, but that’s my job; it felt like these added kindnesses should be something I don’t recieve a paycheck for. So, how’m I supposed to be nice to kids when there are no kids around?

Luckily, I meet up with Faith, an old friend from college, every few weeks to chat and catch up and *she* has (drum roll, please) …KIDS! Allyn is a mischievous and adorable 2-year-old and Éowyn  is a talkative and independant 4-year-old. (Yes, Éowyn , like the Lord of the Rings character who slew the Witch-King of Angmar. She totally lives up to the name.)

If you recall, last Tuesday was so unseasonably warm that I’m pretty sure witchcraft was involved somehow. So, Faith, the kids and I grabbed some brunch and headed out to a park. (A park! In late December! Witchcraft!) At one part of the park, there was rope-web-nest-thing that Éowyn loved climbing. And Allyn did a pretty darn good job of working his way up the ropey-laddery bit. It quickly became our “spiderweb” and all of us were the “spiders.”  Éowyn was the Mommy Spider, she dubbed Allyn the Daddy Spider, and Faith and I got to be the babies.  (I even celebrated my first Spider Birthday, complete with a wood chip cake, well, several woodchip cakes. Allyn was very interested in the wood chips.)

We were soon joined by a few more kids, there with their grandmother. For the most part, all four kids got along really well – that is, until one of them discovered a large stick that made a lovely dinging sound when smacked against the metal swingset. At that point sharing became difficult. There may have been some mild shoving involved. However, the grandmother stepped in, the stick was removed, apologies were made and we all went back to being a happy Pirate-Spider Family again! (Did I forget to mention the pirate aspect? I’m not really sure where it came from; we were just suddenly pirates in addition to being spiders. It’s best not to ask too many questions.)

There is really no point in the day that I can screencap and say “There! That’s where I was kind to children.” It was just kind of an ongoing theme of the day. I was kind to the kids and my friend. They were kind to each other and to me. Faith and her husband, Fred, had done an amazing job of modeling positive behaviors for their kids. So, brunch was full of pleases, thank yous, and silly stories, with a hefty dose of sharing. The park excursion was full of encouragement, compromise, helping, and even new friends.


You might have noticed a recurring trend in my #CaptureKindness posts; kindness doesn’t have to be a huge, organized event. It’s a constant, ongoing process. It’s in the way you treat people everyday – even when you’re tired, even when you’re hangry, even when you’d really like everyone to just go away so you can be alone for a while. It’s a smile, a compliment, or an offer to help.

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Remember to be kind during the holidays and check back next week to read about my Week 7 Challenge!




Warrior Women: Learning Self Defense

As much as I like to believe the best in humanity, it’s really not realistic. Some of you who have met me in person know I’m a very tiny-statured female; a lot of the time, it’s hard for me to feel safe in this world. I’m small, not that powerful, and it makes me feel extremely vulnerable a good chunk of the time, especially at night.

Finally, a few months ago, I decided to do something about it. I don’t want to feel like prey for possible creepers anymore.

I looked up a lot of places online that offered self defense courses (specifically for women). Thanks to Google, I found the Warrior’s Edge dojo in Naperville! It was $150 dollars for 8 weeks of courses and I am so glad I went for it. (Quick note: all these opinions are my own and I wasn’t paid to write this!)

I learned a lot of different things in the class such as how to throw a punch properly, fall without hurting yourself, get out of different types of choke holds, what to do if someone is holding onto your hair, and so much more!

It’s amazing how, after repeating the moves enough times, you start to actually remember what you’re doing. I have absolutely terrible brain-body coordination. It takes me several times watching something and then trying and failing even more times before it starts to click in my head. Dextrous, I am not. Happily, my instructors and their aides worked with me (and the others who needed it) until I was finally able to get it! It was really a rush when I realized I could do it right on my own.  

The final (we weren’t graded or anything, don’t worry!) for the class was to “take down” one of their martial arts students who was geared up in padding. Our goal was to get him to the ground. It was a lot easier than you’d think! Even teeny, tiny me was able to. Me! Omigawsh! Talk about empowering. I’m nowhere near perfect, but I’ve come a long way from the beginning of those eight weeks.

Once I have more time again, I’d love to take their advanced class and eventually try their normal martial arts courses. I loved learning more about my body and how to defend myself while having fun too! I definitely feel less vulnerable now than I used to. My fears aren’t completely gone, but it’s a start! Warrior’s Edge was great, and I can’t wait to go back!

I’m gonna share one piece of valuable advice they gave us I think everyone should know. In the moment if someone is trying to hurt you, they’re no longer the person you love be it a brother, boyfriend, sister, etc. They are a predator and they are trying to hurt you. Don’t hesitate to defend yourself and get out of there. Be safe. Your life is important.

#Capture Kindness: Week 5

Last week’s challenge was to be kind to strangers.

I’m not gonna lie; this one was hard for me – not because I find it hard to be kind to strangers, but it’s difficult to capture such interactions on film.  So, this week, I have no pictures to share, but I do have a story.

On Friday, I went downtown to meet a friend for lunch.  If you’ve spent any time in Chicago, particularly the Loop, you’ve probably been approached and asked for money. If you’re like me, this can be so heart-breaking. I want to be able to help everybody who needs it, but I can’t. I have limited funds with which to help. So, do I give all my money to the first person that asks or spread it out and give each person one dollar? What is a dollar really going to do; what can you buy with one measly dollar? But, if I give one person $10, then I have nothing to give anyone else. The whole thing just becomes the saddest math story problem ever.

So, instead, I offer food. Granola bards and apples are pretty easy to stash in a medium-sized purse or backpack. Not everybody wants an apple, and that’s okay. I hope they get their needs met another way, but at least I know I tried. And, for those who did take the proffered food, I hope I made their day a little easier.

Next week, I’ll tell you all about my kindness to kids!

Until then, keep making the world a kinder place to live!