Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Day 213: Named A Star For My Wife

My wife gets frustrated with me many times because she thinks that I don't listen (I am sure every single male reader has the same exact problem).  I always joke with her that the reason why I miss stuff is because she says so many things that it is hard for me to hear 100% of the information.  This typically is met with a frown and a death stare.  While I admit that I probably am not the greatest listener in the world (although I shouldn't be held accountable for anything said during sporting events), I always pick up on things that she mentions to me and keep it in the back of my head for later use.  Like today's random act.

When my wife and I got married, I told her that I would do everything in my power to give her whatever she wants in the world.  I think, as a husband, that should be exactly what my role entails.  Anything that she (and now my daughter) wants I will do my damndest to make sure she gets.  A few times since we have been together, my wife has mentioned that, although she thinks it is somewhat corny, it would be cool to have a star named after her.  She probably thinks that I never picked up on these mentions, but I have, and I have been waiting for the right time to do it.  I guess now I am setting a precedent that I will have to give her not just what she wants in this world, but also in space too.  This is because today, for my random act of kindness, I purchased a star and named it after my wife.  I didn't call it Lindsey though, and it isn't necessarily "her" star.  I named it Pookie Hanaa which is the nickname that Lindsey's father gave to her when she is little.  The star is part of the Canes Venatici ("hunting dogs") constellation, which I thought was the perfect constellation because Lindsey's dad was such a huge lover of dogs.  From now on, when she looks at the right part of the sky at night, she will be able to see her dad's star shining down on her.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Day 212: Gave A Radio Shout Out

Have you ever loved someone so much that you wanted to shout it from the rooftops?  That is how I feel about my wife.  Well, I have gone up to the roof of my building before to yell to the world how much I loved her just so you know, it isn't that easy.  My building isn't even that tall, but not a single person on the street below could hear me.  I even followed up by yelling directly at passersby to grab their attention, but alas, it was a miserable failure.  I needed to think of a way to let the world (or at least the greater Chicagoland area) know just how much my wife means to me, but how would I do it?  That is when an idea struck me.  Back in February, I was invited to go join Brotha Fred and Angi Taylor on their morning show (Chicago's greatest and most listened to) on Kiss 103.5.  I decided I would reach back out to them to see if it was possible for me to use the morning show as a forum to let as many people as possible know just how much I love my wife.  They were more than happy to do it, thus reinforcing how awesome I already thought they were.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I called in to Brotha Fred's Neighborhood and gave a radio shout out to declare my love for Lindsey.  Fred followed it up with a song dedication of Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up," and Day 2 of Pookie's Acts of Kindness was in the book.  I once again want to thank Fred and Angi not just for having me on, but also for their support in getting the word out for 366 Random Acts.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Day 211: Made A Movie

Today marks the start of Pookie's Acts of Kindness Week.  Pookie (a.k.a my wife, Lindsey) and I are celebrating our 3rd anniversary this Wednesday, so I decided that I would dedicate 5 days of kindness to her and her alone.  I wanted to think of 5 different, creative random acts for her that truly let her know just how important she is to me.  I love her more than anything in the world.  I love her so much so that I am not even sure I can put the right words together to describe it.  Instead, I had to find a different avenue to express myself.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I decided to make a movie for my wife.  I just showed it to her a little while ago, and the tears, they were a-flowin' (pats self on back). 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Day 210: Went On A Date

I haven't been on a date with someone besides my wife since 2005.  My wife is out of town in Scottsdale, Arizona for a girls weekend, so I thought I would take this opportunity to change this.  Most people would probably think it is very wrong of me to go on a date with someone that isn't Lindsey, but if you saw how beautiful this girl was, you would understand.  I am going to take her to breakfast and then we will head over to one of the wildest places in Chicago.  At the end of the date, maybe, just maybe, she will plant a kiss on my lips (although she has a reputation of not liking kisses).  Alright, I need to go get ready because today, for my random act of kindness, I am taking a beautiful girl on a date.  That girl? My daughter.  Breakfast at Hash House A Go Go and then, after a nap, heading over to Lincoln Park Zoo (the wild place I referred to earlier).  We will hang out for the rest of the day and anticipate Mommy's return later this evening.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Day 209: Filled The Boot

As I have previously mentioned, I am in awe of firefighters.  Along with police officers and members of the armed forces, firefighters are heroes that live among us and we should all be grateful for what they do.  Besides the obvious (running into burning buildings), firefighters do a ton to help out and give back to their community.  One of the ways that they do that is the annual Fill the Boot campaign.  You have probably seen firefighters in your community standing at stoplights with fire boots, asking for donations.  The reason they are doing that (at least here in Chicago) is to raise money for burn camp.  Camp I Am Me is a summer camp for children who have suffered from significant burn injuries.  The camp provides an atmosphere where children have the opportunity to have a normal summer among their peers, free from any self-conscious feelings they may have due to their scars.  It is something truly special that helps these kids build their self-esteem through different camping activities.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I "filled the boot" while waiting at a stop light.  I nearly got the fireman hit by a car while calling him over, but luckily he made it away safely. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Day 208: Built A Playground

There I was, in front of a large crowd, on the brink of something that would end up being a complete and total disaster, or something that would throw the crowd into an excited frenzy.  My heart was beating out of my chest as everyone surrounding me was telling me to hurry up and do it.  I took a couple more seconds to compose myself and to try to reassure myself that I had it in me.  Once I talked myself into it, I closed my eyes and let go...and made it...well at least mostly.  My friend Nick came over and helped me up off the ground; my pants full of dirt and grass stains, my shoes sopped with muddy water.  But I made it.  I was able to swing on the swingset harder than I ever had before, let go at my highest point, and leap over the giant puddle that always filled the playground when it rained.  I high fived everyone, and then others took their turn trying to jump over the water.

That memory is something that I will never forget.  I could tell you exactly what I was wearing (a Chicago Bulls t-shirt and red sweatpants) and remember the faces of all those that looked on.  Memories like this aren't created inside while playing video games.  They are made running around with your friends outside, playing on playgrounds and in backyards.  Too often today, kids sit around inside their house, doing nothing but playing video games.  This has led to an alarming increase in childhood obesity, ADD, and stunted social/cognitive development.  In a city like Chicago, one of the biggest reasons behind this is a lack of places for kids to go like playgrounds and other greenspaces.  My wife's school saw this issue and decided to do something about it for the children of Humboldt Park Chicago.  Along with the playground building team from KaBOOM! and volunteers from Radio Flyer, today for my random act of kindness, I helped to build a brand new playground next to the school.  My wife is out of town, so it wasn't too easy getting up extra early, dropping my daughter off at the nanny, and then volunteering all before my work day started, but I don't mind one bit.  The benefits of those children having a place to play will be astronomical.  Plus, maybe in the near future, I will head over to the park after a rainy day and try to recreate my daring leap.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Day 207: Became A Doorman

Doormen/women have one of the most under appreciated jobs there is.  Many times they are the first person you see when you leave your house or arrive at work, so they are the first person that has a chance to put you in a great mood to start your day.  Living and working in Chicago, I encounter many doormen/women and I must say that the majority of them are jovial and always open to striking up a conversation.  Back on Day 18, I went into detail about how awesome and good natured the doorman (Adam) at my family's building was.  It is people like Adam that are the inspiration for today's random act. 

I never thought of it as a random act of kindness to hold the door open for someone.  I guess it was because my mom taught me to be a gentleman that way from a young age.  However, you would be amazed at how shocked and thankful people are when you open the door for them and allow them to go first.  I have had a bunch of people say to me, "Your mother raised you right."  I agree with them wholeheartedly, but it is strange to think that something so small as delaying your day for a split second to do a courtesy for someone is looked at with shock.  Well I am going to take it to another level throughout the course of my work day.  That is because today, for my random act of kindness, I am going to become a de facto doorman throughout the course of my day.  When I have a couple of minutes, I will stand near the busy doors in the Chicago Loop and hold them for people.  I will take the time to greet them and wish them well on their day too.  Hopefully people respond with a smile and kind words because that will then tell me that people do the same for other doormen/women of the city.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Day 206: Donated Kindness

They say that birds of a feather flock together.  This is extremely true when it comes to people who perform acts of kindness for others.  Through this journey, I have met and interacted with people around the world who have missions similar to mine.  Not long ago I received a Facebook post from Rebecca of a group called Ways To Amaze.  Like 366 Random Acts of Kindness, Ways to Amaze was an idea that sprung into Rebecca's head as a way to inspire others through random kindness (and to give others great ideas on how to help others).  Throughout her website, Rebecca will be donating $1 to a different cause each month for every story posted on her site.  Since I will have at least 366 ideas to share, today for my random act of kindness, I donated some of my kindness ideas.  The ones that I shared today will go towards a group called Mum's Like Me, a group of women that donate memory boxes to hospitals for bereaved parents.  One thing I didn't mention yet is the fact that Rebecca is in Australia.  This just shows that kindness is a worldwide phenomenon that just won't stop!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Day 205: Made A Picture Of Remembrance

Sorry for posting so late in the day.  I have just been trying to figure out the words to say, and whether or not my random act was appropriate.  As most everyone knows, the senseless tragedy in Colorado's youngest victim was 6 year old Veronica Moser-Sullivan.  Her mother Ashley remains in critical condition in a Colorado hospital, and on top of losing the person she cherished most, she is also most likely paralyzed.  It pains me to think about what Ashley Moser (and the rest of the victims and their families) is going through right now, and I wanted to do something, even something small.  After a lot of contemplating as to whether or not it was appropriate or ill-timed, I decided that today, for my random act of kindness, I would create a picture of remembrance for Ashley that I will send out to Colorado.  It will have a photo of Veronica along with a quote.  I still am not 100% sure as to whether this is the time to do this, and it is something that I'm not even sure is a random act of kindness, but my heart tells me that I should.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Day 204: Started (Hopefully) A Hot Streak

The bachelor party has wound down. Only 3 of us remain in Vegas but that will change soon as it gets closer to our departure time. We had ourselves a great time filled with tons of great memories, but across the board there was very little winning when it came to gambling. This was made all the more apparent when on the bed side table I discovered my haul from the weekend...a single $1 chip. I figured since we didn't have very much luck, maybe I can help someone arriving today in their gambling endeavors. So today, for my random act of kindness, I gave a couple entering the casino my last $1 chip to start their hot streak (hopefully). You figure they are already feeling lucky since a random stranger just handed them free money. Viva Las Vegas.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Day 203: Introduced A Friend To His Future Wife

A friend of mine went through a breakup recently that has kind of taken a toll on him. I hate seeing my friends sad, so I dedicated my weekend to trying to cheer him up. I didn't need to work too hard because I was quickly able to introduce my friend to his future wife. I honestly don't think I'm speaking in hyperbole when I say that they are a match made in heaven. They look similar, they both have a similar (unfunny) sense of humor, and they both are romantics. So today, for my random act of kindness, I introduced my friend to his future wife. If I am wrong then it is here in text, but if I'm right then they can use this blog post for their vows.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Day 202: Got My Boy's Back

 Applying sunscreen sometimes looks like an outtake from Magic Mike

Just landed in Vegas for my friend's bachelor party. The next two days will most likely be filled with debauchery (kind debauchery) and great fun. We are about to head down to the pool to relax in the sun for the day. Before that, we need to take the time to lube up with some SPF 30 so that we don't succumb to the heat of the desert (or make ourselves prone to skin cancer). It is super important to make sure that you are covered in the stuff, but many times it is hard to cover your back. So today, for my random act of kindness, I got my buddy Rob's back with sunscreen.  Now I must go and hopefully Lady Luck lets the dice stay hot.

*I just heard about what happened in Aurora, Colorado last night. It is a terrible thing, and yet another sign that we have to really start to spread the kindness to any and everyone. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Day 201: Drank Some Lemonade

I know I complain about the weather here in Chicago a lot, but this humidity is insane.  I cannot stop sweating.  The thing is I have to complain to you guys because I can't really gripe about it too much or else it gives my wife more ammo as to why we should move back to California.  I am able to fake out my wife into thinking I am ok with the temperature with a steady combination of Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets, an undershirt, and freezing cold beverages.  This afternoon was one of those times when I was desperate to find something cold to drink to cool myself down before I got home, so I decided to stop at a nearby Panera Bread.  While waiting in line, I noticed an awesome promotion going on at Panera.  Between now and Jul 31st, for every lemonade purchased at Panera, they will donate 25 cents to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  I got pumped because, although I had one planned to do today, I was able to call an audible and perform a truly random act.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I bought and drank a giant frozen lemonade.  Not only will my body temperature start to cool, but my chilldown will actually go towards making a wish come true for a great kid! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Day 200: Went For An Early Morning Jog

Today is the random act bi-centennial; Day 200!  As with any time a nice round number is reached, I always want to thank everyone who has ever helped with a random act, suggested an act, and even just followed along with acts by reading this blog.  December 31st will be here before we know it, and I am excited to finally reveal what my dime per Twitter/Facebook/Blog follower is going to towards.  I have had some serious anxiety about it because, although it is our own money that we are using, I want to be sure that everyone is happy with what I do.  But let's not get ahead of ourselves. There are still 166 random acts to perform after today.  On to Day 200...

I don't believe that I have spoken much on here about my back troubles.  Since summer of last year, I have been suffering from tremendous back and hip pain, but we couldn't figure out why.  Recently, I learned that I have arthritis of my SI joint (basically the joint connecting my tailbone and pelvis) which has caused erosion and makes my two bones rub on each other.  Needless to say, it has made it very difficult to run, walk or work out.  I am working on fixing it, and really want to get back into some semblance of activity so that I can be healthy for my family.  The reason I bring this up is because I received an email going back 2 weeks ago from a woman named Lauren who works for an organization called Back On My Feet.  Back On My Feet is an organization that helps create self-sufficiency and independence for homeless and underserved people through structured runs which build confidence, strength and self-esteem.  Lauren invited me to participate in one of their early morning runs, and although I was fearful of back pain, happily obliged.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I woke up at 5:15, strapped on my running shoes, and went for an early morning 2.5 mile jog with the folks from Back On My Feet.  It was great to get out and actually exercise, and it was made bearable by the people I ran with.  Everyone was super nice, and when I get my back fix, I fully intend to join them for more runs.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Day 199: Willing & Able To Give 10%

Kindness can lead to inspiration.  Maybe you see someone hold the door for a stranger and you are inspired to do the same.  Maybe you see someone drop a few coins into the cup of a homeless person and decide to volunteer at a soup kitchen.  Maybe you follow in the path of a loved one who gave to the less fortunate throughout their whole life.  The latter statement is exactly what my friend Rupal Amin did.  Starting as a young boy and continuing on throughout his life, Dr. Chhotubhai Patel, Rupal's grandfather, gave 10% of all of his income to charity.  This selflessness inspired Rupal to launch Andable; the world's first ethical shopping marketplace where a percentage of all sales go towards funding micro loans for people in the developing world.  Rupal wanted to create a new way to help those in poverty and that is exactly what Andable does. Giving those in impoverished areas the access to basic financial services empowers them to make change both for themselves and their community.  Beyond simply funding the micro loans, Andable also gives opportunity to small businesses (all of which fall into at least one of their FRESH catagories) to reach a broader scope, thus giving them the chance to grow.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I purchased a pair of tights for my daughter, so that 10% of the purchase can go towards a loan.  If you are doing online shopping, I ask that you take a look at Andable.  There are tons of awesome items on there, and at the end of the day, your purchase goes towards an incredible cause.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Day 198: Sent An Encouraging Letter To A Future Midshipman

I met KJ Hardy in March.  We met because she helps to run a tremendous program called Reading In Motion.  Reading In Motion is an awesome organization whose goal it is to help Chicago area at-risk students at or above reading level.  I will definitely be partnering with her soon to help out Reading In Motion, but that isn't what today's act is about.

When I was speaking to KJ, something that came up multiple times in conversation were her children; most notably her 18 year old son.  She raved about what a kind-hearted, stand up person that he is.  In her words, he is "selfless, focused, and determined."  He is proving all of these attributes to be true as he has bypassed acceptance to multiple colleges in order to help protect others by enrolling in the United States Navy.  While most of his friends will be enjoying the summer by partying and hanging out before leaving for college where they will continue to party and hang out, he will be going through one of the most difficult trials of his life, Plebe Summer.  Plebe summer is a 7 week program where new recruits must endure rigorous mental and physical training, with the upcoming week being one of the most difficult.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I am going to be sending KJ's son a letter of encouragement and to thank him for being a role model for my daughter. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Day 197: Joined the Project H.O.O.D. Walk

What if I told you that there was a greater likelihood that you would be shot and killed on the streets of Chicago than if you were a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan?  You would think I was lying, but the statistics don't lie.  That is why I have no qualms with referring to the place I call home a "war zone."  When I turn on the Sunday evening news it is not "if" but "how many" homicides happened in Chicago over the weekend.  It isn't cool to be from the murder capital of the U.S. but that is our unfortunate reality.  This has to change, and luckily, there are people like Pastor Corey Brooks who are leading that change.

Pastor Corey Brooks is tired.  Tired of having to comfort grieving mothers on too routine of a basis after their children have been murdered.  Tired of having to speak at the funeral of yet another Chicago youth who has had their life taken far too soon.  Tired of having the place he calls home be known not for its' greatness, but for the never-ending stream of homicides that have taken it over.  Although he is tired, he isn't someone who is just going to sit around and watch these things continue.  As I detailed back on Day 50, Pastor Brooks previously lived on a roof for 94 days in an effort to tear down the abandoned motel across from his church that was a haven for drugs and gun violence.  However, Pastor Brooks has greater aspirations.

In early June, Pastor Brooks started the Project H.O.O.D. Walk in New York City.  His goal is to walk across the country from New York to Los Angeles to raise money to build a community center on the former grounds of that motel, all the while raising awareness about gun violence from coast to coast.  This past Friday, Pastor Brooks made his way home to Chicago.  Before continuing on his journey, Pastor Brooks is going to walk through the city along with Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Governor Pat Quinn to help shine a light on the ever growing problem here in Chicago.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I am going to join Pastor Brooks and many others on the Project H.O.O.D. walk.  By the end of this walk, although his legs will be weary, hopefully Corey Brooks no longer has a reason to be tired.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Day 196: Protected Boobies

When I woke up this morning, I had the breast idea ever.  Since yesterday, my wife allowed me to donate her bras to support (pun intended) women in need, I decided that today I would help protect the things that fill those bras...

Breast cancer, like all cancers, is a scary thing.  It is also something that is far too common.  1 in 8 women will be afflicted with invasive breast cancer at some point in their lives.  However, for as terrible and awful as this disease is, there are more than 2.6 million women in the United States who can call themselves "Breast Cancer Survivors."  One of the biggest ways to become a survivor and to help combat breast cancer is through routine mammograms.  For many women who have a lack of access to affordable healthcare (and healthcare in general), mammograms are something that are far from routine.  Only 67% of American women over 40 have had a mammogram over the past 2 years.  That needs to change.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I am going to help protect boobies with one of the easiest random acts possible...clicking a button.  By clicking a button, the sponsors of The Breast Cancer Site will donate funds to provide free mammograms to those who need it.  It is literally the easiest thing you will ever do that can have a huge impact, so I ask that you join me in clicking here.  Join me in protecting boobies!!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Day 195: Totally Bra-some

I was panicking the majority of the day today.  Typically, when I wake up in the morning, I have 3 or 4 ideas in my head as to what I am going to do for my random act of kindness.  For some reason, today I had kindness block and couldn't think of anything.  Sure, I have plenty of things on my list to do, but if inspiration doesn't grab me for a particular act on that day, then I wait until I can fully get behind it.  So, as I said earlier, I was in a panic.  Whenever this happens to me, I go to my wife.  She helps to first calm me down, and then to act as my kindness muse.  Seriously, she usually can just rattle off random acts for me to do in seconds, and they are always great.  When I let her know that I was kind of flipping out for not having an act, it literally took her 5 seconds to say, "Donate some of my bras."  I was taken aback because that is not what I was expecting her to say at all and because I didn't know that places actually took used bras.  Boy was I wrong.  Lindsey then pointed me to Soma Intimates, a nationwide bra and panties chain (I am 12 and still laugh to myself when I say panties).  Between now and August 12th, Soma is taking donations of new and gently used bras that they will then donate to the National Network to End Domestic Violence.  After reading further, I found out that bras are among the most needed but least donated items of clothing, and that it makes a huge difference in the life of a woman who has to decide "between buying a bra and putting food on the table."  So today, for my random act of kindness, I am going to be swinging by Soma to donate some of my wife's bras.  If any of you ladies (or men with moobs) have spare bras to donate, please find your nearest Soma location for more info!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Day 194: Participated In A Graduate Project

Donesha, Me, Jackie, and Veronica

I have been baffled by the press coverage of this blog (and humbled/flattered/awed).  Anytime people call me to ask if they can interview me, if I don't outwardly say it, I at least am thinking "Why?"  The reason is because I honestly feel that I am not doing anything that most people don't already do on a daily basis.  Plus, there are people out there doing WAY more than I could even imagine that deserve a ton of credit and press.  I hope to use this forum to bring as much attention as possible to those folks.  People like Len Austrevich, Corey Brooks, Brook Laura, Afam Onyema, and many others that I have met/interacted with on this journey.  I just hope that any interview or appearance can directly or indirectly help or positively affect someone else in some way, and that includes today's random act.

Two days ago, I received an email from a Northwestern graduate student named Veronica Smith.  Veronica had come across my blog recently and appreciated the message of doing random acts of kindness for other people.  So Veronica reached out to me, and asked for my participation in her capstone project that she is doing along with her classmates, Donesha and Jackie, for their graduate program at Northwestern.  She asked if they could interview me and film some of my random acts for a documentary they are making to help their complete their graduate degrees.  As with any other interview request, I was once again overly flattered and blown away that they would want to do an important project around my journey.  My feelings of flattery were immediately replaced by fear.  Fear that if I somehow mess this up, it would affect something as important as a capstone project.  I decided then that if someone thought enough of what I was doing to base something as important as a final project around my acts, then there was no way I was going to let a little fear get in the way.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I am going to be meeting with Veronica, Donesha and Jackie and participating in their documentary.  Maybe a future random act of kindness will be to send an envelope of unmarked $100 bills to their professor demanding an A.  Just kidding...or am I?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Day 193: Bid On An Auction Item

Every year, like clockwork, I know that I will be crying the day after the MLB All-Star Game.  It's not because there isn't a single sporting event on television.  No, I know that I will be crying because at some point in the course of my day or evening, I will either hear or see Jim Valvano's acceptance speech from the 1993 ESPY Awards.  For those that do not know, Jim Valvano (or Jimmy V) was the head basketball coach for North Carolina State.  In 1983, he led an underdog NC State team to an improbable national championship in the men's basketball tournament.  If you have ever watched a college basketball game, you have seen a replay Lorenzo Charles slam home Dereck Whittenburg's airball to upset Houston's Phi Slamma Jamma in the championship game (If not, here you go).  Well about a decade after shocking the college basketball world, Jimmy V was unfortunately diagnosed with bone cancer.  Not long after being diagnosed, Valvano was honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award at the ESPYs, and gave the aforementioned speech that, to this day, still gets me pretty emotional.  Sadly, Valvano passed away about 2 months after the ESPYs.  During his speech, Valvano announced the creation of the The V Foundation for Cancer Research which from 1993 until today has raised more than $100 million to go towards eradicating this horrific disease.  Today, ESPN is holding its' annual auction to raise money for The V Foundation.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I am bidding on an auction item.  Should I lose the auction, then I will make a donation to The V Foundation in honor of my father-in-law, John.  And anyone out there reading who is suffering from, or knows someone suffering from cancer, please heed Jimmy's words and "Don't give up, don't ever give up."

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Day 192: Started Reading A Book

The internet sure makes our world much smaller.  I mean that in a good way.  Since starting this blog, I have been introduced/spoke to incredible people from all walks of life spanning the globe.  My favorite part about having my blog reach these different places is learning about people all around the world that are doing similar things to my random acts.  It is extremely encouraging to know how many awesomely kind people are out there performing their own random acts or promoting the acts of others.  A person that I have been in contact with that successfully displayed just how kind strangers can be is George Mahood.  A ways back, George and his friend decided to bike from the Southernmost point in England all the way to the Northern tip of Scotland.  It was to take 3 weeks and span over 1000 miles.  The only problem?  George and his friend didn't have bikes...or clothes...or food...or places to stay...or money.  They began their journey with nothing but a pair of Union Jack boxer shorts and relied on the kindness and generosity of strangers to help them accomplish their journey.  George recently messaged me and let me know that he turned his and his friend's adventure into a book.  So this evening on my Kindle, for my random act of kindness, I will begin reading "Free Country: A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain" by George Mahood and ask that you find his book and join me.  If you would like to join me in reading this book, it is available here (US) and here (UK).  Hmmm, I think that George may be on to something...

Monday, July 9, 2012

Day 191: Dug A Well

Not long ago, I received an email from a man named Todd Amacker.  Todd emailed me about MozCause, a small non-profit that he is the directs.  MozCause is a small group of volunteers dedicated to helping a school in a remote part of Mozambique, Africa.  The goal for MozCause is to improve the conditions of the school, named Escola Primaria de Mafacitela, and to help the 96 students to gain an education, something they previously didn't have access to while the country was still in the midst of a bloody civil war.  MozCause was previously successful in their effort to raise enough funds to build a roof for the school to shelter the students from the oppressive heat.  One of the issues currently facing the students is the fact that in their remote location, they (and the surrounding 3 tribes of the region) do not have access to clean water.  Therefore, Todd has led a campaign to get a well put in for both the school and the inhabitants of the area.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I am going to help Todd and MozCause "dig" the well with a small contribution.  A simple well may seem like a small thing, but I recently learned of some statistics that may startle you.  As I learned from MozCause, malnutrition due to dirty water, inadequate hygiene and hygiene is estimated to lead to death in an additional 2,350 children under the age of five each day.  Just think of the impact something as simple as clean drinking water can have on so many lives.  If you would like to learn more about MozCause, or make a donation you can do so here or here!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Day 190: Spoke To My Sales Rep's Boss

My wife and I needed to get a new TV today because the one that we had unfortunately wasn't able to be safety braced to the wall.  With Isla now starting to crawl all around the house, we quickly had to move into babyproofing mode.  I figured that a couple of braces and bolts here and there would get the job done.  Man, was I wrong.  This kid gets to everything so I have to keep an eye on her at all times.  I probably didn't even need to get a TV because I can't even take 2 seconds to watch it with the female Indiana Jones finding ancient artifacts (aka my keys, some dust bunnies, the wife's earrings, etc.) at every turn. 

I will readily admit that I am not a huge electronics buff.  If it were socially acceptable, I would still be rocking a Discman (it would look great with a pair of Z Cavaricci jeans).  Needless to say, when I walked into Best Buy today, the only thing I knew that I wanted in my TV was that it had the ability to be braced to my wall.  Thankfully, I had a super knowledgeable, non-sketchy sales guy who walked me through all of my options.  Being in sales myself, I am typically hyper critical of the role, and Antonio exceeded all expectations that I had.  I couldn't finish my day without letting the store know just how awesome of an employee they had on their hands.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I called Antonio's manager and spoke to him for about 5 minutes about the great service I received today.  He said he really appreciated my call because 90% of the time that people call in, it is usually to complain.  Also, here is the TV we got successfully bracketed to the wall.  Now Isla doesn't have to worry about becoming must see TV.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Day 189: Had My Daughter Make Someone Smile

There is an older woman in my building named Jackie.  She is a sweet lady with a very recognizable voice that is highlighted by a thick Boston accent.  From previous conversations with her, I have come to learn that Jackie lives by herself here in our building, and her only child (an adult son) lives far away.  Personally, I have never lived by myself mostly because I have a fear of being bored and lonely, so I can only imagine what it would be like to be alone with family so far away.  I always try to spend a couple of minutes chatting with her and learning more about her.  One thing that I know helps Jackie forget about any loneliness she may have is when she sees my daughter.  Her face lights up and she always rushes over to hold her or play with her feet.  My wife, daughter and I went shopping today, and when we came back, we noticed Jackie downstairs.  We had a bunch of things that we needed to do, but none of them were very time sensitive.  So today, for my random act of kindness, we decided to give Isla to Jackie and to spend some time hanging out with her.  She once again started to glow when playing with my daughter, and I am sure she could have spent all night doing so.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Day 188: Laughed At A Friend's Jokes

Imagine being completely exposed.  No, sickos, not like Lindsey Lohan getting out of a car.  A different kind of exposure.  Like being on a stage in front of a bunch of people, all the while being open to jeers, criticism, and potential failure.  Imagine the nerve required to put a ton of work into something, to try to perfect something, and then to present that in the face of those possible consequences.  Even while typing this I am starting to get nervous and sweat a little bit, so I can't even think of being in the shoes of my buddy John Thomas.  Tonight, John will be making his debut at the world famous Laugh Factory here in Chicago where he will perform a stand up comedy set in front of friends, strangers, and god (yes, Tim Tebow will be in attendance).  John has been in comedy for the past couple of years, and getting an opportunity to perform at a venue as famous as the Laugh Factory is huge for his career.  So tonight, along with my friend Doug (who will most likely be wearing at least 1 see through article of clothing), for my random act of kindness, I will go to the Laugh Factory and laugh at John's jokes.  I know great things will come from tonight because of the magic that this venue holds.  Back in April, it was the place that hosted the Jokes 4 Miles Joke-A-Thon, and helped Len and Miles get ever closer to their goal of 5,000 jokes.  Good Luck Break a leg John, and be sure to picture the crowd in their underwear (Doug will be wearing something sheer I am guessing).  If you would like to come and you live in the Chicagoland area, you can buy your tickets here.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Day 187: Chewed Some Gum

Did you know that each second of the day, more than an acre of the rainforest is lost from deforestation?  The consequences of this deforestation range from the extinction of plant and animal species to global warming to humans being forced from the natural homes.  I learned these facts from a group called Project 7.  Project 7, founded my entrepreneur Tyler Merrick, has made it their goal "to ensure that everyone around the globe has access to fundamental needs for a healthy life."  They have been able to get closer to their goal through the sales of coffee, mints, t-shirts, bottled water and gum, with proceeds from the sales of these products going towards a number of causes that they have backed.  A couple of the causes that Project 7 backs in an effort to Save the Earth are Plant With A Purpose and Trees Water & People.  They are looking at helping these organizations save rainforests, aid in reforestation, and offset our carbon footprint.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I purchased and chewed some Project 7 gum.  With my purchase, 10 fruit trees will be planted back into the Earth.  If you are interested learning more about Project 7's other initiatives please visit their website.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Day 186: Manned The Grill

Happy 4th of July to each and every US citizen both here and abroad.  Also, I want to thank the men and women of the Armed Forces for protecting us as we celebrate this holiday.  I hope at some point today, each of you get the chance to enjoy a nice grilled hot dog or hamburger.

Earlier today, my wife and I visited a friend's house to take my daughter swimming for the first time ever.  20 years from now, while my daughter stands on the podium at the Olympics accepting her gold medal in swimming, to think back about how she first learned to swim on the 4th of July.  Luckily we were able to be in the water because it was unbearably hot outside.  We are still in the midst of the heat wave that has battered the Midwest for the past week.  Including humidity, today should register over 110 degrees here in Chicago.  It has made the 4th of July tradition of grilling a little more difficult since no one wants to stand in front of a hot grill and flip burgers for the majority of the day.  To help alleviate the pain from everyone, today, for my random act of kindness, I am going to man the grill at my friend's 4th of July cookout.  We have been coming to this cookout for over 12 years now, and it is always something I look forward to every year.  Thank you again to Ginny and Kevin for putting it on!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Day 185: Gave A Birthday Massage

10 years ago today, my dog Vinny was born.  It has been a crazy life for the little guy.  He grew up in a fraternity (and an occasional sorority), has driven from Chicago to California and back without a single nap, had life saving disc surgery, and has recently been ridden like a rodeo bull on a daily basis by our insane cat.  All the while, Vinny has been the most loyal dog who, and I'm not using hyperbole here, may love me more than any other dog loves its' owner.  He has been attached to my hip every day of these 10 years and tries to protect me as much as his little bark lets him (he still growls at my wife in the morning when she gives me a kiss in bed).  I figured on such a momentous occasion as a 10th birthday, Vinny was in line to receive a random act of kindness.  Since I know he typically reads this blog before he goes to bed at night, I can post this and have his act still be a surprise.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I will be giving Vinny a birthday dog massage.  I researched calming massage techniques for animals so I think he will have a nice relaxing evening as long as the cat doesn't bite him on the legs like she typically does. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Day 184: Gave The Shirt Off My Back

As I am sure many of you have heard, Colorado has been suffering from some of the worst wildfires both in the history of the state and the country.  Countless people have been forced from their homes due to these fires, and they have sadly returned to nothing but ash after the fire destroyed everything they had.  Many of these people only have what they packed prior to being evacuated.  While it is impossible to replace the irreplaceable items that the fire has taken, it isn't impossible to help them in other ways.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I am going to go through my wardrobe and send clothes to the wildfire victims of Colorado.  A shirt and a pair of pants may not be a home full of pictures and memories, but hopefully it is a start in getting them back on their feet.  If you would like to make a donation of any type, please visit Help Colorado Now.  Another place to help is by purchasing a shirt at Wildfire Tees, where 100% of the profit goes to help the wildfire victims.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Day 183: Keep Your Head Up

Today is a pretty significant day for us.  Today marks the official halfway point to our 366 Random Acts of Kindness.  These past 183 days have been the best days of my life.  My daughter has gone from an immobile, quiet 4 month old to being the most talkative little crawler on Earth.  There is also another reason for us to celebrate today because my daughter, for the first time, gave me a kiss.  She had done fake little ones before, but this morning she turned her head, looked at me, and went in for a smooch.  My wife was extremely jealous.  Before getting into today's random act, I thought I would have a musical interlude that tied in with this being the halfway point.  So for your listening and viewing pleasure, please enjoy Kenny Loggins' "Meet Me Halfway" from the arm wrestling classic "Over The Top."

I knew that I wanted to do something to incorporate "half" or "halfway" into my random act for Day 183, but I wasn't exactly sure what to do.  Then, during a walk with my wife and daughter, I found inspiration.  Right down the street from my house is a place called Hazelden Recovery Home, a sort of halfway house for those in the early stages of recovery from addiction.  I can only imagine how difficult of a time the residents of the house may be having, as I am sure kicking an addiction is an extremely trying task.  I figured that any added encouragement may help them through the recovery process.  So today, for my random act of kindness, my family and I are making cards of encouragement for those at the Hazelden clinic letting them know to keep their head up.  Hopefully, this will be a small part in helping those folks on their road to sobriety.