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I waited to tell her as long as I could…I knew she would take the news deep into her heart.

She is inquisitive.

She is soulful.

She is seven.

I scooped her into my arms, we climbed in bed and I tucked the covers all around us…with some false assumption that we would feel safe there.

“I have something I have to tell you Lucy…” I said. I followed the guide, trying to remember everything it said as I carefully laid out the story to her.

When I was done, she was quiet. We sat for what felt like an eternity…until she spoke. It was almost a whisper.

“Mom, that is very, very sad.” she replied quietly.

“It is baby, it is.” I agreed.  Just a moment later she spoke again.

“Can you tell me the kid’s names?” she asked.

I went through the list of children I remembered…then I stopped when I got to Emilie.

Emilie-Parker

“There was a little girl who was six and she loved art, she carried her crayons and paper every where she went so she could make pictures for people.” I explained.

“I love to do that too.” she said.

“I  know. I am wondering if there is something we can do to honor Emilie.”

I proposed we sew tiny art coloring books like we have so many times before . The little books kept children busy in restaurants and car  rides, it seems all roads lead to art in my house…and in Emilie’s. I asked Lucy if she wanted to take the books and tie some crayons up with them in packages and leave them at the park and library, places where kids could find the small gift in honor of Emilie…in honor of a fellow 1st grade artist.

emilie love

Lucy liked the idea and asked me what I thought the other children liked. I said I didn’t know but maybe we could find out.

My heart was breaking, thinking of how long the list of likes must be…of simple things like art and cars and games.

…and how there won’t be any new drawings from Emilie on a refrigerator somewhere, or no more laying on her belly on the living room floor drawing pictures with her sisters, or a sweet presentation of crayon art to a grandpa or someone else she loved…but I can imagine Emilie, like Lucy would have been delighted to find a little art kit on a playground or on a bus bench.

So this is what we will do, with so much sadness and honor in our hearts, we will talk about Emilie and the others when they rise in our hearts…and we will look for ways to love and honor all the parts of them that brought so much joy to the world.

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You are welcome to join us this week. Here’s how:

1.Gather white and colored paper. We used a sewing machine and the fancy stiches to bind the little books together. Kids love to sew and the bright colors make the books so sweet. (please know you can do this project with or without kids)

2. If you aren’t crafty or don’t have time, the dollar store  and places like Target have great little crayon sets and drawing pads.

3. Attach the crayons and put the art kits in a basket and leave at places kids might find them. Playgrounds, parks, libraries, bus stops, the gym or music classes. You can also leave the kits places by themselves with out the baskets in random spots.

4. Leave a note with each kit saying, “In honor of Emile. She loved to draw and share her art.”

No more explanation is really needed.

If you plan to join us, you can post pictures on the Guerrilla Goodness Facebook page.

Today, we honor you Emilie…thank you for what you gave to the world.

Have you ever been on a road trip with a small child? or children?!! There is a whole science to packing, timing leaving, napping, snacks…and yet even at your best, there will be a moment when you will have to stop because no one can take even one more minute in the car. together.

And this is the moment you need a little travel grace. and joy. and busy little hands and minds.

As we are about to take an an 18 hour car trip ourselves, I was remembering the year my mom made these awesome travel kits for a road trip to Pennsylvania for a family reunion. Every few hours we got to pull a new activity out and I will never forget the Snoopy doll with the changeable outfits- it’s burned in my kid that-was-amazing memory. While we don’t have any 80’s Snoopy figures to hand out we thought there might be a trail of kindness we can leave for harried mothers and bored children that might become part of their trip memories.

Kate over at Mini-eco made these fantastic paper beads that I have loved using for kindness projects over the years. They are super easy to make and so visually gratifying. Head on over there for instructions- they really only require some colored paper, glitter glue and a stick. My kids love making them with me.

We grabbed some clear cello bags, brown paper, string , ribbon and threw in a Kindness Changes Everything sticker (so friends could find us or pass the kindness on) and made these little project packs for kids.

I tied a little square at the end of each beading string to avoid the kid drama of making the entire necklace and then letting go of one side and having the beads go all over the car seat- never to be found again among old french fries and dried up carrot sticks.

I also included 2 strings in some of the packets just in case there was a sibling, because how much would it suck if you found this little gift and then had 2 kids fighting over it?! Kindness trip FAIL!

I wrote a different note or message on each but most said something like this:

This Is For YOU! 

Dear mother traveling a long distance with small children,

may this busy little hands and bring some joy as you travel.

Now it’s your turn to pass on another act of kindness! 

Some started with:

Are your kids going nuts yet? Are YOU? Need something to do right about now? 

If you aren’t sure what to write, here is a download for some labels to attach to your kindness project! They fit on a 3.75 x 6 inch cello bag.

Here is the tag! They fit 3 to a sheet to print:

Other ideas for tiny project kits:

stickers and small squares of paper

tattoos

small games and activity print outs

colored pencils and small homemade books

Leave these little kits at rest stops, changing stations, benches, airports, trains, gas stations….any where a family might discover them. Let your kids do the hiding! Have fun!

May you have smooth, easy, happy car rides, even in the 15th hour and lots of kindness on your travels!

Lucy’s Father’s Day card

The Magic Wand Project for Kids continues to grow so we thought it might be fun to invite all the kids that have already found or made wands to keep the goodness going by offering a few kindness challenges this summer.

What’s our first challenge you ask?! Kindness to DADS! Tomorrow is Father’s Day but we thought we could keep the love going for the whole week. 7 days of Kindness Magic for our dads.

So here is how it works:

1. You find an old or recycled jar and make a label for the front.

2. Download our Kindness Magic for Dads! cards, cut them out and drop them in the jar.

3. Pick one each day to do for your dad, grandpa, uncle or some other kind friend that has loved you (maybe even your mom if she does both jobs!) 🙂 . Here is a funny card from the challenge- it’s a love bomb for dad that involves pictures. Make signs that say… “We love you when…”, then leave the pics all over the house for your dad to find!

4. Have fun and send us picture of kindness or even just a picture of you and your dad at The Magic Project for Kids Facebook Page.

We LOVE you Dads and can’t wait to share our kindness with you!

from our friends at James River High School, Richmond, Va.

I’ve been meeting with some kids from the Leadership Center at James River High. I was introduced to them by their Ethics teacher Mr. Couillard, affectionately called Mr. C.

I thought I was going to share my story, inspire a bit, blah, blah, blah….but the universe pulled this HUGE switcheroo on me.

I was stunned by these kids, their heart, their intentions, their focus on kindness and change…So when I got their list of plans for a You Are Loveable campaign at their school, I think my heart just melted. The Junior class took this original idea and ran so far with it with so much soul and creativity, I was blown away.

A bunch of guys giving girls lame pick up lines to make them smile

Somebody to LOVE by Queen playing on the intercom

A post-it kindness blast in the school parking lot

Sidewalks chalked with messages of love

I have looked at the list all week, with this silly grin on my face, imagining the kindness descending on that school in a big, big way.

But then today… Mr C. sent me the picture above of the bulletin boards filled with messages- Give What You Can, Take What You Need…and I started to cry a little…realizing this is the heart of kindness, I have something to give and I need to take something too.

I thought of all the sweet things planned for today- the You Are Loveable messages all over, the Cotton Candy Kindness later this afternoon…those are my Give What You Can sort of things…and then there are the Take What You Need things swirling…I don’t think I’ve taken it and I need it today.

Today I need:

Peace while I wait to find out if a big opportunity is going to happen to carry this message so much further (it feels sort of bleak at the moment, your good thoughts would be appreciated)

Community to gather and stand in some more complicated kindness- like the kind where you have to navigate different needs and still stand in what you believe in- in this case, it’s a skate park and finding the sweet middle place of compromise where everyone is valued and heard

Protection for a tender heart and clarity to see this work and this life for all its beauty- the comparison gremlin is knocking at the door of my soul hard right now.

SO on this day of love, please Give What You Can and Take What You Need in the comments…it can be our virtual bulletin board today inspired by Mr. C and the kids.

And just imagine all those high school kids kindness bombing their school, and people finding a message reminding them we are all loveable, and some grown kid eating pink fluffy candy goodness in the park…and know that kindness changes everything.

 

 

photo by Sandra Culp Marr

I love it when a mission is so simple and small that it holds its own kind of beauty and unexpected power, maybe it is the kind you just stumble upon. I think  when we connect to our most basic shared humanity, magic always unfolds.  Two weeks ago, we invited folks to join us in thanking Garbage Collectors around the nation for their important work and place in the world…and boy, did you ever. Stories and pictures came tumbling in each day.

The kind people at GOOD helped spread the word, kids in schools all over made cards for their garbage man and school custodians, and lots and lots of people passed the word on to family and friends. The mission traveled further than any we have ever done…and while numbers aren’t totally in yet, we are estimating close to a 1,000 friends joined us.

Some garbage friends were so busy they didn’t even see the signs, others stopped and chatted, some even came back to thank us…and now more than ever, we are longing to be connected in new and meaningful ways. Kindness is growing bigger and moving faster than I have ever seen..it’s so, so good.

Thank you for being part of this with me…and thanks to all our new garbage collecting friends, we are grateful for you.

And a special thanks to Vejay, Lionel and Joe for taking the time to talk to me and inspiring this mission, we hope you know and feel our respect.

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What do you think the most thankless job in America is? I had my own idea but decided to take an informal poll among friends, family, and of course Facebook. It turns out, garbage collectors won by a landslide. I can’t say I was surprised. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, we create an additional one million tons of waste, which is a whopping 25% more that our collectors have to pick up and haul away.

These are people that are part of our lives, in our backyards or front sidewalk, taking away all our decay, the stuff we don’t want or no longer serves us. Yet even though these guys are in my living space every week, I really had no idea what they might look like or what their names were. I started to wonder so I woke up early one Friday morning and waited for them to roll down my alley.

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I must have looked like a total loon waving my hands and carrying my camera but they stopped the truck and hopped out at my back gate. I introduced myself while Vejay, Lionel and Joe pulled off work gloves to shake my hand. We chatted for a moment and I told them I was interested in doing a kindness project for garbage collectors. I asked them what kind of kindness they thought was needed.

Joe leaned against the garbage can and said, “You know, we just need a little respect.”

“Yep, pretty sure everyone needs and deserves that, huh?” I replied.

“Yes, they do. Yes they do.” Joe said.

The kindness mission was sparked. What could be a more lovely and simple message of respect than saying, “I see you, I value your contribution to my community and I thank you.”?

Sometimes it is the smallest act of kindness that makes the greatest impact on a person. Meeting a basic human need may be all it takes to make a change. All I could imagine was Joe lifting can after can with notes of gratitude attached, throughout an entire neighborhood, maybe even a whole city.

So I asked the kids in my daughter’s kindergarten class if they would like to join me in writing thank you notes since they had just been learning about community helpers. The kids were stoked to take the mission on and the kindness started moving. Word traveled and seven more schools wanted in.

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awesome thank you note from the kids at Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts

Here is the kindness mission, if you would like to join us:

1. Write a note of thanks to your garbage collector sometime from now until February 3rd.

2. You may want to include a gift card for coffee from your local coffee shop or gas station.

3. Attach it to your garbage can on pick up day for your collector to find.

4. Take a picture and send it to patience@kindnessgirl.com or upload it to our Guerrilla Goodness Flickr pool.

5. Tell us in the comments what city you are from so we can see how far our garbage gratitude is traveling. If you invited your school to join us, let us know the school too. Some schools are including their custodians in on the thank you note kindness too!

6. Hit the Facebook or Twitter button below to share or like…we all know Facebook and Twitter rule the world!

Can you imagine if there was a wave of gratitude across an entire nation? Garbage collectors may get kicked off the top of that most thankless job list. I imagine Joe would be just fine with that.

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I love school supplies…there is nothing better than a new set of markers, a pretty journal or super sharp pencils. But what if you got a new back pack AND got some ice cream after?!!! In honor of our good kindness friend Chris and her kindness mission, we thought we would do it over on our little part of the country.

If you are last minute school shopping this weekend, get some fabulous and inspiring supplies and leave a little treasure behind for another kid to find.

Here’s the deal:

1. Baskin Robbins sells $2 gift certificates, which is exactly the cost of a kid’s size cone. Perfect, right?!

2. Buy a few, and attach a little message with a post-it.

Some ideas for messages:

Have a great year at school! Have a little treat on us!

Kindness found you! Enjoy this treat!

Hope you know how sweet you are! Here’s a sweet to remind you!

3. Hide your ice cream treasures in back packs, pencil boxes, thermos canisters, and notebooks at your local store!

4. Grab an ice cream cone for yourself and enjoy the kindness high!

Tell us your story and share pictures if you decide to take on this cool mission…

Check out these cool pics from Kelly and her crew chalking for the first day of school!