Priceless Notes

By: Shannon Boatwright

So, I think recent times have been incredibly stressful for many of us. As a teacher, my life has been especially busy, stressful and overwhelming. Nothing I can’t handle. But between major teacher observations, preparing for my big honors drama production next week – taking on the role of not only teacher, but director, producer, costume/set/props master, stage manager, media relations, etc. – plus, teaching my regular classes, and fulfilling my regular duties, the ten to twelve hour work days start to weigh on ya. All the work responsibilities are of course on top of family needs and activities. And I won’t even bother to go into the stresses of the recent election.

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All that being said though, it’s the smallest, most random acts of kindness that can lift one’s heart and help get one through the busy and tough times. They say the smallest acts of kindness make the biggest differences in a person’s life. Like a sweet smile, a genuine compliment, or someone taking the time to open the door for you and greet you; a kind note can light up a person’s world.

This has been the case for me lately. I don’t know if God and the universe whispered the need to those around me, but I have been blessed with random, precious notes of kindness in the past month that have warmed my heart, brought me to tears and given me the strength to keep moving forward, knowing I’m appreciated and loved. No lavish gifts necessary. It’s the little things in life. These tokens of gratitude and love, these lovely little findings that bring the biggest smiles and instill a positive energy in me that helps to remind me of why I do what I do.

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Over the past month, I have gotten to school super early, before most teachers show, to get work done and prepare for my classes or rehearsals, and I’ll go to update my whiteboard and find these fabulous notes that my students have left on my board. And though some teachers may get aggravated that their board was messed up, I positively adore these notes they leave me. It is never easy for me to erase them when I have to. So, I always make sure to take a picture of their heartwarming notes, to forever cherish and to look at in those moments when I’m struggling.   

Just last week, two of my students from one of the fun academies at my school, called Random Acts of Kindness, busted into my Zumba fun academy while I was teaching. They had papers in their hands and smiles on their faces that truly lit up the room. With giddy excitement, they left these precious notes for me to read when I was done teaching. Their notes said that they were thankful for me, stating that I make them excited to come to school and that my class always puts a smile on their face and is the best part of their day. To read those words, written by a middle school student….whew, brings tears to my eyes. It’s what we live for as a good teacher. To know that I’m making a positive difference in someone’s life. To know that I’m inspiring someone and that someone appreciates what I do….it’s truly priceless!

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I’ve also had the joy of coming across unexpected notes from my incredible family. Waking up to a note on the bathroom mirror written in lipstick by my sweet husband, finding a lovely note from my pre-teen daughter, hidden under her bed covers, because she knew I’d find it when I went to wash her bed linens, super cute handwritten notes from my son, letting me know he loves me… just seeing their handwriting and knowing that they’re thinking of me and love me – truly priceless. My daughter even left a random sweet note on my iPhone charger and I absolutely love it. My amazing Mama dropping by unexpectedly with an awesome gift and card, for no special reason, just to say she loves me! I’ve even gotten random texts from family members and dear friends saying hello, they love me and are thinking me. Those kinds of texts that make you respond out loud with a drawn out, “Awe….” and make you sit there wondering how in the world they ever knew you needed that sweet message in that moment. It’s all absolutely PRICELESS. Priceless treasures that fill my heart and soul.

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Not only do these random notes of love and kindness fill me with positive vibes, replenishing me with faith and encouragement, but they also remind me of the power of random acts of kindness and they serve as a lovely reminder of the strength a simple positive message to another individual. They remind me to pay it forward and to make a conscious effort to spread the positivity, taking the time to recognize someone else’s hard work or voice my love and adoration for someone else. Spreading the joy… it works wonders, in so many wonderful ways!

I felt this topic was appropriate considering the time of year we’re about to enter. In sharing all this, as Thanksgiving is upon us, I hope that I can encourage others to remember that making the smallest effort of leaving a simple, sweet note for someone can make the biggest difference in their lives. Let others know you appreciate them, that you love them, and that you’re thankful for them.  Who could you leave a priceless note for? If you think someone rocks!, tell them. 😉 It’ll make you feel good, and I can guarantee it’ll make them feel good.

Paying it Forward

By: Katie Austin

Happy New Year to my Every Woman Blog family!  I hope 2013 is off to a great start for each of you!  Like most, my husband and I spent the better part of January 1st preparing for re-entry back into the real world   Yep, it was time to head back to work, and the plan was to spend a relaxing first day of the year at home watching the college bowl games.  Go Gamecocks! 🙂

Pay it ForwardOur first decision for 2013 was that we were not going to cook on the first day of the year.  We had been cooking a ton over the holidays, so after a unanimous vote (there were only two of us… LOL!), the decision was made and off we drove to Lizards Thicket with images of breakfast dancing in our heads.  If you haven’t had breakfast at Lizards Thicket, they do a great job for a good price, whether you choose to eat in or carry out.  Just thought to mention that and no, this is not a paid advertisement 🙂

Like you would expect, we pulled up to the drive-thru, placed our order (veggie omelette, potatoes, toast, and juice each – yum!) and then moved forward to the checkout window to pay for our scrumptious meal.  What happened next was completely unexpected and why I wanted to share this story with you!  (This is where I build suspense and you cry out “What happens next?!”)

When we pulled up to pay for our meal, a young woman at the register said to us “Your meal was just paid for in full by the man driving away.” We went into shock and sat there staring, with our mouths wide open, at the gray car pulling away to see if it was someone we knew. I asked her “Did he really just pay for our meal?”  She replied with a smile, “Yes. His meal was only $7 and he paid for yours in full.”   Our meal was double the price of his, and he paid for ours without hesitation. She told us that this had been happening all morning with each car pulling up to pay for the meal ordered behind them.  She then went on to tell us that her mom had someone pay her $63 grocery bill and told her “Happy Holidays” before walking out of the store with their own groceries.

I literally did not know what to say and for those that know me, that takes a lot!  Haha! As we waited for our food, we learned that this young woman was a single mother and she smiled as she told us that she felt blessed to be a part of something special.  People were paying it forward and she was a part of it!  We were so moved by what had just happened that we wanted to do the same so we offered to pay for the meal ordered behind us. We paid for their meal, giving about the same as a tip, and then drove off smiling knowing that the car behind us was going to learn that we had just paid for their meal! I wonder how many times the story was told that day to each car pulling up who offered to pay for the meal ordered behind them 🙂

What a great way to start 2013 and it warmed our hearts to know that we were making a difference along with everyone else who was stepping up to pay it forward.  As we ate our breakfast, we realized that because we paid less than our original meal cost, giving more for a tip to make up the difference, that we were helping the young woman we just met at the drive-thru window. It’s amazing to think that one random act of kindness can spark many to do the same and the lives changed that day including ours!

Pay it Forward DayTo pay if forward doesn’t mean that it has to be something you pay for.  I found a website that sets an international Pay It Forward date each year and offers ideas for paying it forward.  What a great idea!  The date has been set for Thursday, April 25, 2013 so mark your calendars and be prepared to make a difference.  You never know if your act of kindness will be the biggest change in someone else’s life 🙂

Have you done something to pay it forward?  Are you planning to participate in Pay It Forward Day?  Share your ideas with us and how we can each pay it forward for a better tomorrow.

Looking forward to another year with my Every Woman Blog family!