“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
- Mother Teresa
Well our eighteen year old son Tyler graduated from high school last week and I am still in shock! The time goes by so quickly! I feel like I blinked and there he was walking across the stage in his cap and gown. He left the next morning for a father - son trip with my husband and some friends of his to Chicago. It was an incredible time of fun, fellowship and “testosterone filled” male bonding. While they were off on their exciting adventure, it left my daughter Shannon and I home for a fun girl’s weekend. I cannot tell a lie and no offense to my husband and son, but it was absolutely wonderful. School had just wrapped up and Shannon and I slept in, went out for lunch, and dinner, went bowling, went to the mall, took in a chick flick movie (for the second time) and spent some time just chilling and gabbing in the hot tub. A great time for just the two of us to reconnect, laugh, and relax. The end of the school year gets so busy, that it seemed some quality time was truly long overdue. I am blessed to have two wonderful kids who have both grown up into two amazing human beings in spite of my ups and downs as their mom along the way! I am extremely proud of them both and I do really enjoy their company.
What I do really treasure as mentioned is that exceptional occasion where I can spend time with each alone. This is where I can truly focus on only that child and have more meaningful interactions. This is where the most meaningful dialogue takes place. My husband and I both try to make a conscious effort to spend time with each individually to strengthen our relationships. I remember especially when they were little how nice this would be. To have two little ones to take everywhere could get very complicated, but it was amazing how much easier and enjoyable it seemed to just have one with me some days. I feel very blessed that my kids feel they can talk to me about what is on their hearts and they will let me know when they need to talk. My husband and I find it funny that it is often at midnight that they feel the need to bare their souls, but as a parent you have to take it when it comes. Apparently I was the same way according to my dad. My parents would have been asleep for hours, and I would just barge in and start babbling on about something important, trivial or exciting in my life. No matter what, they would always listen. God bless them because in hindsight, I think I did this often not being very considerate of them!
It is so great to have these times though as it opens opportunities to let our loved ones know how much they mean to us. Those closest to us need to hear it. It is not enough to assume they know, but we need to tell them! It is like that with great friends too. I have some amazing friends in the teaching profession. Sadly several of them retired this June. Although I am so excited for them entering this new chapter of their lives, I will miss them so much. Not seeing their friendly and enthusiastic personalities in the hallways in September will be very difficult for sure. I knew the last day would be very emotional for me. It always is anyways, but even more so this year with my friends leaving. Trying to keep it together, was not easy I assure you. I must admit as the day went on, I was struggling. I had prepared a little musical number for the retirees with my class, yet did not know if I could pull it off emotionally. Later I came to realize though that tears or no tears, the show must go on and we were doing it. Well as expected I was an emotional wreck throughout the song, but I explained to the kids that it was because these teachers meant so much to me. I explained that when people are special to you, it may make you cry as you will really miss them. Several kids were crying too, but it was a powerful tribute to these teachers who everyone adored. Those friends came and told me later how much that meant to them. I am so glad I did it, as I knew this was my last chance to honour them in this small, but touching way. I said what I needed to say through a song and a little speech and I have no regrets. Interestingly right after my class presented, the next class came in and we all joined in with a spontaneous dance and sing along of the “Happy” song so that definitely lightened up the mood a bit.
I am sure there are many special people in your life, whether friends or family. I encourage you to let people know how you appreciate and love them. Lately there have been so many tragedies it seems. There are so many stories of people gone too soon often very unexpectedly. It is very heart breaking. We do not want to live with regret. Send a text, write a letter, fire off an email, or make a phone call. The person may seem a bit surprised, yet will be touched by your kindness.
My students are the best for that. They are so honest and sincere. They tell me they love me and that I am a great teacher often. I never take it for granted and it never gets old. I remember one particular day was rather difficult for me and a student came in and said right away “I just wanted to let you know how much I love school and I am so happy you are my teacher.” Those simple words made a very powerful difference for me that day! They model for me the power of showing appreciation spontaneously and in many ways I strive to be more like them.
Starting conversations of this nature can seem awkward at times, especially if you haven’t done it lately. Pray for wisdom on what to say and God will direct your conversation. You will feel great because you let someone know how much he or she is appreciated and believe me the person on the receiving end will feel like a million bucks! Don’t delay! Say what you need to say!
Proverbs 16:24: Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Little Lessons Learned: Life is too short. Take the opportunity to show the people closest to you how much they mean to you!
Copyright: Littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014
Unexpected kindness is the most powerful least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.
Bob Kerrey (1943)
Okay, I confess! I love coffee! My double double and I are well acquainted. I love a coffee
with specialty flavored creams, especially in the morning and most of all with a great friend or family member right beside me. Right now as any true blooded Canadian knows we are right in the middle of the Roll Up The Rim to win campaign with Tim Horton’s. But this year, being the 50th anniversary of Tim Horton’s, they have actually created a cup with, wait for it… two spots to roll up the rim! Oh the excitement of having two potential prizes at your fingertips! It is so exciting as you eagerly peek below the cardboard rim of destiny to see if you are the
lucky one, not only once, but twice this year! O.K. maybe I am getting a little too excited here, but bear with me. It’s been a very long winter! It is funny how the simple realization that my next coffee is “on the house” puts a spring in my step and a wide grin on my face as the girl behind the speaker offers her “congratulations,” for my extremely good fortune!
Several years ago I was working for the Salvation Army as their Substance
Abuse Services Coordinator. It was an amazing opportunity to offer hope and
compassion to people who were struggling with addictions and very stressful life
issues. I learned so much when I was there about many things, but most of all I
learned to be truly grateful for what I have. I was reminded of how very blessed
I was daily when I met so many people who quite frankly did not have much to be
thankful for at that particular moment. One such client came in and before he
even sat down, he began to pour out his heart about how everything was going
wrong for him. He had trouble with the law, a broken marriage, and unemployment
issues. To top it off, due to the recent loss of his job, he was experiencing
extreme financial hardship. I did not even know where to begin with this person
to offer kindness and encouragement until he made this profound statement. He
said, “ I am struggling so much with money right now I cannot even get myself a
coffee and a muffin from Tim Horton’s! This is my little treat and I cannot even
afford that! Can you believe it?” A big smile appeared across my face which
seemed quite inappropriate in light of what he was just saying. I quickly
explained that today was his “lucky day!” Puzzled, he allowed me to explain. It was also Roll Up the Rim season at that particular time and my last two cups of Timmies had brought me of all things a free coffee and muffin. I had been looking forward to these treats for my break but clearly what to do with these freebies after this conversation was a no-brainer for me! I explained to him that his coffee and muffin for today was covered by me or rather by Tim
Hortons! Enjoy! What he did next, I will always remember because he started to
cry. He went on to explain that as he was under such extreme stress, that
simple gesture spoke volumes to him about how the little encouragement he craved
mattered. A coffee and muffin was provided for him to let him know someone was
in his corner and he was not alone.
It doesn’t take much to make someone’s day. I think we “over think” it
sometimes. I have struggled on occasion with whether or not I should do
something for someone, at specific times, yet my mom always said “You never go
wrong by spreading kindness.” My parents have actually made it a lifestyle to
invest in others by offering kindness and love wherever they can. I am so
blessed to call them my mom and dad, and I strive to follow their stellar example.
Whatever you have in your hand, you can use to bless someone else. I have a
friend named Margaret who did just that literally. She is an amazing baker. Her pies,
breads and cookies are incredibly delicious, and are truly fit for a place of
honour in the most famous bakery. One October day she had made one of her famous
pumpkin pies. Her family had enjoyed it immensely, but after all the dinner
dishes were cleared there was still one piece left over. As she was tidying up,
she considered what to do with this last piece of pie. In moments an idea popped
into her head, which in hindsight now is more like a “God thing” in both my and
her opinions. The idea was to deliver this piece of pie to my mom. Margaret was
a good friend of my mom’s and she thought she would really enjoy the pie.
Margaret struggled however with this idea. Margaret is very kind and generous
and as her and I have chatted many times about the “pumpkin pie” story, she
shared she felt foolish about giving only one piece of pie to a good friend. Her
desire would be to present my mom with an entire pie for the family to enjoy,
not one little piece. Nevertheless she could not shake this feeling that that
pie slice had my mom’s name on it. She described that she drove up and down my
mom’s street several times before she finally got the courage to go to her door
with the pie. What she didn’t know was that very day my mom had been out
shopping to fill a craving she had for what else but pumpkin pie. Sadly, as it
was close to Thanksgiving, there were no pumpkin pies anywhere! My dad was away
on a men’s retreat and one piece was all she really wanted. Imagine my mom’s joy
and delight when a piece of pie was delivered right to her door. Margaret felt
incredible too that despite her feeling a bit silly by bringing only one piece of
pie, she became an agent of encouragement for a dear friend.
Show and share is always a big thrill at school. I usually link it to a
curriculum expectation such as for our animal unit, the kids bring in a stuffed
animal and describe what species it was etc, but sometimes I just like to open
up the floor for what they have been writing in their free choice writer’s
notebook. One day a little girl was so excited to share what she had written.
She hugged her notebook close to her chest like a prize possession and eagerly
began to share. She had written a song apparently that day and with great pride
the song she shared was entitled “Why I Love Mrs. R!” I had been having a rough
morning that day and this was exactly what I needed to bring me back to what
really matters and feel encouraged. Kids have a way of doing that. Likewise on
another occasion I have a very special memory about the last day of school one
year. I find the last day of school very emotional for me. We have been through so much
together at that point. I have loved these kids and prayed for these kids. I
have rejoiced in their victories and been saddened by their struggles. They will
never again by in my classroom as they are older now and moving on. As sometimes
happens they come in with lovely gifts and cards that are real tearjerkers for
me. I was blown away by the generosity of the families and humbled by their kind
words. One little girl shared she wanted to save her gift for last because it
was so very special. When all the gift bags, cards and tissue paper were
cleared, I noticed she was standing there front and center with a huge smile.
She asked so sweetly “Are you ready for my gift?” Through my tears and emotions
I replied, “yes.” She then proceeded to give me one of the biggest, heartfelt
hugs I have every received. That was her “very special gift,” which quickly
mushroomed into one of the biggest, most special group hugs I had ever received.
That was it! I was a bundle of tears but for the best reasons! She gave the gift
of herself and that is what was so touching!
We can all struggle with questions about what do we have to offer this world
of ours? What talents, skills, wisdom, or practical assistance can we give? We
cannot do it all but we all can do something in our own little corner to make
someone else’s day better. The cool thing is that when you reach out in
kindness, you make your day brighter in the process as well. The chain of
kindness is just like that. As we like to sing at Valentine’s Day in my
classroom “Love is something if you give it away, you’ll end up having more!” So
what’s in your hand? A free coffee, a piece of pie, or a timely and needed hug?
Don’t underestimate the power you have to encourage someone. You just might be
what that person prayed for or needed that very day and that is truly amazing!
So roll up that rim, roll up your sleeves or roll out the red carpet to bless
someone who needs it. Trust me you will be very glad you did!
Matthew 10:42 And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of
my followers, you will surely be rewarded.
Little Lesson Learned: Whatever you have to offer others know that it can be
used in powerful life changing ways if you are open to it.
Copyright: Littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014
Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet
voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”
Mary Anne Radmacher
On Friday I wore a purple hoodie with great pride to work in honour of a very
special little girl named Aubri. Aubri is a precious child in second grade from
our Leamington community who is currently in the fight of her life with cancer.
Purple is Aubri’s favourite colour and yellow is the colour of childhood cancer
so people were encouraged to wear both colours for "Prayers for Aubri Day." It was
amazing to see how our small community came together to show they support this
wonderful family who are going through such a difficult time right now. In a sea
of purple and yellow our town and surrounding area showed that actions do speak
louder than words. In this simple gesture people old and young showed they
cared, they were praying and a very special little girl was clearly not
forgotten. It was so cool to see Facebook pictures of that day, marquee signs
with her name on it and purple and yellow “Aubri” doughnuts created especially
for her at Tim Horton’s. I was also touched by the fact that when we are often
encouraged to keep our religious convictions private, that all were encouraged
to openly pray for Aubri and her family.
To add to the incredible hardship Aubri’s family is experiencing, her father
also recently lost his job at Heinz and they are currently seeking the best
possible treatment for her away from home. I cannot imagine how difficult this
has been for the entire family on so many levels. In the face of so much
uncertainty, it is so amazing to see that one thing is certain: we are all
praying and standing together with this family. For such a young girl, she has
provided such inspiration to us all. She has shown a living example of what it
means to stay strong in the face of tremendous adversity. I am so encouraged to
hear that she is showing some positive improvements recently. We know that she
still has a long road ahead and ask that people continue to fervently pray for
and support this family.
The Bible instructs us to encourage one another and build each other up. When
we go through hard times, it is so vital to let people know they are not alone.
Words are not enough. I know Aubri’s family is feeling encouraged and
supported by the practical acts of kindness that have been shown to them. It is
the little things that can really make a powerful difference. I am so proud to
call myself a resident of Leamington.
I teach Grade 2 and could not help but think that Aubri could be one of my
students. I think it really hit home for me when we discussed Aubri on Friday in
my class as she is their age. Many students looked her up on Youtube and were so
proud to wear their purple and yellow for her. The family has been very open
about their journey yet always tries to remain positive. They are such a
wonderful example for us all!
Stay strong Aubri! We are in your corner and will continue to lift you and
your family up in prayer. Thanks for reminding us about what truly matters in
life and how such a little person can provide such huge inspiration!
1 Thessalonians 5:11 ~ Therefore encourage one another and build each other
up, just as you are already doing.
Little Lesson Learned: Simple acts of kindness can really provide great
Copyright: Littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014