Day 71: Remembering Loved Ones

Yesterday, 6 years ago, I was a college student excited to be on Spring Break.

I was packing and getting ready to take a trip down to South Beach with some girl friends. This was going to be a blast and we were so excited for some fun in the sun.

Before I finished up my packing, I met some friends from school for lunch. Oddly enough, it is a supermarket that is just around the block from where I work now…2 minutes away from where I am sitting at this moment. We all ate, discussed our plans for spring break, and made plans to see each other again before heading back to school. They all made plans to shop at the mall nearby and then head to Chinatown for dinner. Since I am such a procrastinator, I wasn’t ready for my flight the next morning, so I separated from the group and headed home to finish up packing. The plan was to finish packing and meet them up for dinner. As we split up from lunch, I said my goodbyes, and the last thing I remember hearing from my friend Tommy was, “You better come tonight! I promised you a ride in my car!”

Plans didn’t work out as planned. Packing took longer than expected. My sister had a sports banquet that my mother insisted that I attend. And before I knew it, it was too late to meet my friends. I texted that I couldn’t make it and promised I’d see them when I got back from Florida. Little did I know how the rest of their night would turn out.

Today, 6 years ago, I lost two great friends.

I miss them dearly and although my life has gone on, I still carry their memory close in my heart. I don’t know why good people are taken from us too early, I don’t know why others are spared and left to live out the rest of their lives; it still gives me chills to think that I easily could have been in that car with them.

I do know that we need to cherish the time we do have. Tell them you love them frequently. Forgive them easily. Visit them often.

“Before someone’s tomorrow has been taken away, cherish those you love, appreciate them today.”

And so, today, I honor my two friends that I have lost. I miss them dearly and wish they were still here with us. Most of all, I am thankful for those in my life now; especially my sister who had the sports banquet that day and my mother who insisted I attend with her…they were my guardian angels that day.

Until tomorrow…

vmo

Day 66-70: Extended Weekend of Support

***UPDATED 3/21/2013. I’M NOT SURE WHY THE CHANGES WEREN’T SAVED BEFORE, BUT I HAVE RE-ADDED THE MISSING PORTION OF THIS POST. SORRY!

 

After another crazy weekend, it’s nice to just take a minute to reflect on what was done the last couple of days! I’m still having trouble posting on a daily basis, but the important part is that I’m still doing an act of kindness everyday, right?

This weekend was dedicated to supporting those that need it most. And here’s a quick summary of my weekend:

Day 66: As I mentioned in Day 65, I was planning on helping out with Operation Support Our Troops this weekend. I stopped by Jewel to help with flyers, unfortunately, my local Jewel store didn’t have much in terms of support of the Shop & Drop, so I did the next best thing…I bought a bunch of items and donated them to OSOT. I hope the supplies get to the soldiers safely, and I hope they return home safely.

Again, if you have a loved one in harms way and would like to have a care package sent to them, please go to the Operation Support Our Troops website and fill out the request.

Day 67: Sunday was mainly with the family. I had planned on going out to watch a movie with some friends, but the rain made me lazy so I stayed at my cousin’s house and hung out. Everyone was over because there was a rosary novena – it was nice to see everyone together. As we were all talking, my little “cousin” was just sitting there. She’s is unusually shy and sometimes I worry she’ll never grow out of her shell, but I noticed that when an aunt gushed about how pretty she has become, you saw her glow a little bit and smile.

I jumped at the chance of making that last and so I offered to do her hair. She gladly accepted and so we ran to the room to work my magic. As we were sitting there doing our “girly” thing, I asked how school was and if she was excited for her 8th grade dance and graduation. I went to the same school (though, that was ages ago) and can still remember the excitement that filled the air this time of year for the 8th graders. I asked if she was interested in my hair and makeup services for her dance and graduation and when she looked in the mirror and was happy with what she saw…I saw another rare smile and she accepted.

I made sure to remind her how beautiful she is – inside and out – and that she should smile more often. I hope that helped and that she enjoyed our little bonding moment together.

Day 68: After a long day at work, a friend and I decided to hit the gym and get going on training for the runs we were thinking of signing up for this spring/summer. I’m not a runner, so¬† a 5K alone will be an accomplishment for me.

As I was waiting in the locker room for my workout partner to get ready, I decided to drop a few healthy pre/post-workout snack bars with some words of encouragement by the mirrors. I thought I had enough time to make my secret drop off and take pictures, but people came in and I had to decide whether pictures or staying anonymous was more important – I chose to stay anonymous.

I’m sorry I’ve been lacking on the pictures lately, I promise I’ll post some up soon!

Day 69: With my current lifestyle – constantly running around, hanging out with friends, etc. – I can’t imagine being a mom! I’d have to make a drastic change to my lifestyle in order to accommodate a child. I’m sure one day I’ll be ready…but at this point, I like my freedom.

We had one of our monthly birthday potlucks at work and a co-worker of mine couldn’t figure out how she could pick something up for the occasion. With 2 children under the age of 3 years old, she sure keeps busy taking care of them! So, as my act of kindness, I offered to pick something up for her. I was already going to the grocery store anyways to pick up something myself, so I just asked what she wanted and ran the errand for her.

To all you mommies out there…hats off to you for all you do! You have my utmost respect for everything you do!

 

Day 64 & 65: Seen and Unseen

Day 64: I was worried that I wouldn’t have time to think of an idea for an act of kindness and squeeze it in, but I was lucky and an opportunity presented itself. As I was headed home from volleyball, I saw a bus going the opposite direction on the other side of the road at a stop light. It looked like it was getting ready to take off, when I realized an elderly woman was trying to catch the bus, but couldn’t move too fast. I must have looked like a crazy woman with my window down, waving my arm to get the bus driver’s attention and honking my horn! It worked though, and once the driver looked at me, I pointed at the woman slowly making her way towards the bus. The poor thing didn’t need to wait out in the cold longer than needed, and I was happy that my antics worked.

She probably had no idea that the bus almost left her, and she probably will never know that I nearly caused a scene on the road trying to stop the driver from taking off without her, but it felt fulfilling to really do an act of kindness anonymously and see someone reap the benefits unknowingly. I hope she arrived to her destination okay and warm!

Day 65: This morning was an odd morning. I was extremely tired…I almost didn’t crawl out of bed and just staying in. But I knew that today would be a busy one, so I put on my “big girl panties” and got ready for work. Oddly enough, I ended up out of the house earlier than usual and for some reason traffic was really light on my way to the office. Both of these factors combined, had me on track to arrive at work a good 15-20 minutes early. So, I decided, I should stop by the Dunkin Donuts on the way (the same one that started this all!) and grab me a nice cup of tea.

And that’s when I figured, it would be nice to see if any of my co-workers wanted anything. So halfway down the drive, I texted a few co-workers that were already in the office and asked if they wanted me to pick anything up for them on my pit stop. I grabbed their coffees AND arrived to work on time. It was a simple act of kindness, but one that I’m sure they appreciated considering we were all coming in tired. I’m sure the extra caffeine helped get through this final day before the weekend.

And so the weekend begins! Until next time…

vmo

 

P.S. I just wanted to share a sneak peak at what’s coming this weekend! I volunteered to help Operation Support Our Troops and wanted to share the event info before just in case you are in the area and can participate in this weekend’s Shop & Drop. Here’s the scoop:

485 OSOT 920

If you have a friend of family member that is currently serving,

PLEASE sign up to send a care package to them through Operation Support Our Troops. It’s completely free and doesn’t cost you a thing. It’s a great way to show our loved ones in harms way our appreciation. Go to: www.osotamerica.org

I can’t wait to share about my experience volunteering with Operation Support Our Troops!

 

Day 63: The R-Word

Today’s act of kindness is dedicated to my cousin Angel. The world is a happier place because you are here with us. We are truly blessed to know you…even though we are 1700+ miles away, you and the family are always in our hearts.

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Today, March 6th, is the national awareness day for the R-Word campaign. Their motto is:

“Spread The Word To End The Word”

As I was deciding what to do for today’s act of kindness, I noticed something on my Facebook news feed that caught my attention. My cousin in Las Vegas posted that she and her sister both signed a pledge to practice what they preach…to promote the elimination of the R-Word from their vocabulary and promote the equal treatment of all people, especially those with disabilities. The second that I saw this, I knew I had to be a part of it! And so, I signed the pledge right away.

I am sure, in my dumb teenage years, I may have used this word out of context. But age has made me wiser, more aware of the consequences of my words and actions…ultimately, I think I’m a more compassionate and understanding person as a whole. It kills me inside that something I may have said in error or even in joking could have been perceived as derogatory. As I got older, I realized how awful the use of that word was and as a young teen, I made a conscious decision not to use it in my vocabulary.

This is why this movement has moved me (pardon the pun). I hope that if anything, my “non-use” of this word, at the least, made someone else reconsider using it as well throughout the years. And I hope, that this movement will continue to promote the acceptance and inclusion of those with intellectual disabilities. Please consider signing the pledge to do the same at http://www.r-word.org and please, spread the word to end the word!

Until tomorrow…
vmo

Day 62: SNOW DAY!

I felt like a child again today when we received the email notification at work that the office was closing early due to the extreme wether in our area. It was a nice precaution to ensure all employees got home safely. And boy did it take me back to my elementary school days when you got excited for a snow day!

With the snow not as thick as expected later on in the day, it seemed like it was a waste of the early closing, but I’m not one to complain! I was relaxing at home when my cousin invited me over for some movies. I jumped at the idea since the snow wasn’t too bad and it was a movie I wanted to see, but when I tried to get my aunt to come with, she refused to go out in the snow.

Now, my aunt is an almost 75 year old woman. She technically is more of a grandmother to my sister and me since she helped raise us. Since she’s older now, she doesn’t work and she gets stuck inside the house most of the time. I was surprised that she didn’t jump at the chance to get out, but considering her age, I guess not wanting to go out in the snow was understandable.

My initial thought though, was that I shouldn’t leave her home alone. And I followed that thought by deciding to stay in. Instead, I spent time with her cooking, watching American Idol (not my choice) and baking cookies. I think she enjoyed having something to do. And I’m sure sure it was nice to have someone to talk to…because that woman loves to talk! Haha! Overall, I think I found enjoyment in this act of kindness as well since it was so nice spending time with her.

Until tomorrow…
vmo

Day 61: Extending Invitations

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I work for a company in the Treasury group. Our finance department as a whole, is a pretty young group, and contrary to popular belief, the Finance area CAN be fun!

After having the entire company split up between multiple offices throughout the area, mostly because we had outgrown our old headquarters building, we are all finally together in one building…much to my dismay because the move caused my commute to jump from 5 minutes to 35 minutes ( but that’s a topic we don’t need to delve into). So, we’re all finally together and it’s almost like everyone is new because we haven’t seen some departments in years. We’re all still getting used to the new faces and new digs.

So, a couple days ago, a few co-workers asked if could plan another after-work outing for our department. Why me? I have no idea when I became the official party planner, but I figured something out and sent out the details to the gang. All of a sudden, what I thought was just going to be our little Finance group, turned into the entire company! Everyone was forwarding in the info to their buddies in other departments. I have no problems with that since I always think “the more the merrier!” but I thought about all the new employees that may not know everyone. This was the perfect opportunity for them to meet people in a casual setting…so I went and forwarded the info to as many new people I could think of. Hopefully that helps in getting them acquainted with the rest of the people around the building! I know I would’ve enjoyed that when I was new and didn’t know anyone!

Until tomorrow…
vmo

Day 60: Donations For Memory

I went on a little bit of a shopping spree today. I thought I was only purchasing a couple necessities and came out with items that I didn’t really need. It happens…we’re all entitled to it every once in a while, right?

Today’s opportunity for an act of kindness came up during my time shopping. Marshall’s was offering customers the chance to donate to the Alzheimer’s Foundation. I, of course, jumped at the opportunity to donate and made sure that my cousin, at the register next to me, also donated.

If you knew me, you’d know that the donations we made will probably help benefit my future ailments. Haha! I seriously have memory issues….and I am not exaggerating about that! I truly hope they find a cure or a way to prevent Alzheimer’s.

Back to work in the morning and another Chicago winter storm on the way. It looks like another shoveling/ snow cleaning act is coming!

Until tomorrow…
vmo

Day 59: A Picture’s Worth

A couple of days ago, my co-worker let me know that she needed someone to take pictures at her son’s first birthday party, and I jumped at the chance to volunteer for the job. I’m not a professional, by any means, but I enjoy taking pictures so I figured, why not? And so, for today’s act of kindness, I acted as the family photographer at the party.

I don’t know where my obsession with photos started, but it’s always been something that I have enjoyed. My sister and cousins hate that I’m constantly trying to snap pictures, but I just keep reminding them that one day we’ll be old and enjoy looking back on all our shennanigans. Pictures really are priceless, in my opinion. This is probably why I jumped at the chance to help out my friend. I know that she’ll treasure these pictures when the babies are all grown up.

Here are a couple sneaks of today’s shots:

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And finally, a shot of mommy and the birthday boy, who slept through his whole party!

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Until tomorrow…

vmo

Day 58: Helping Strangers

Sometimes, life gives you an opportunity to be a good person, to help someone in need…and it’s all up to you whether or not you choose to take it.

On my way home from work today, I passed by a Hobby Lobby to pick up some arts and crafts items that I needed. As I was getting out of my car, I noticed a mom with a little toddler trying to juggle all her purchases while carrying the little munchkin as well. She was obviously struggling. My immediate response was to run over and offer her some help. She was immensely grateful and so I carried the big crate she just purchased filled with numerous other items while she carried the little one to their car.

For a split second I doubted my response to offer help since some people could get freaked out. But my desire to simply help outweighed any concerns…and she ended up accepting the help and was very grateful for it!

In this day and age, sometimes we can be weary to help others or accept help from strangers. I mean, with all the news stories, crazy tv shows and movies nowadays, strangers can be a little scary. But I’m glad that I offered and this person accepted. It reminded me that it’s still necessary to see good in all people. It’ll do the world a lot of good if we keep seeing each other as good people…because it’ll make us want to be good people.

And with that, I’m off to bed!

Until tomorrow…
vmo

Day 57: It’s Raining (Fire) Men!

Today was full of excitement for me! I came to work expecting another ordinary Thursday and got an awesome text that pretty much kept me on the edge of my seat excited…my cousin informed me that one of my favorite shows, Chicago Fire, was filming in my hometown! I immediately decided it was in my best interest to ditch Zumba and my Volleyball game so that I could do a little star stalking. Haha!

With the excitement of possibly seeing the firemen that I swoon over on a weekly basis, I came up with an idea for today’s act of kindness: with the “fake” firemen getting all the attention in Skokie, I felt it necessary to give the real firemen some attention as well! So, before heading to the shooting location, I stopped by a bakery and purchased some goodies with the intent of dropping it off at the local firehouse afterwards.

My plans to see Jesse Spencer (Casey) or Taylor Kinney (Severide) didn’t work out, but I did get to meet Eeamonn Walker (Chief Boden), David Eigenberg (Herrmann) and Christian Stolte (Mouch)! After waiting in the freezing cold for a while, they finally came out and took a few pictures with us.

Afterwards, my sister and I took the bakery treats over to the local Skokie Fire Department and spoke with one firefighter for a little bit. He was probably a bit confused as to why we randomly dropped off food for them, but I hope he ended up enjoying some of it! I just smiled it off and thanked him for doing his job. Then I was back on my way home.

It was cold and I’m still defrosting as I write this, but was totally well worth it! Thanks must go out to my cousin Aliza for the heads up…she, unfortunately, had to miss out because she had work. And also, I want to apologize to my cousin Adam Jo for not knowing how to use his cell phone and ultimately missing his photo opportunity with the cast members! I am SOOOOOOOO sorry! I did ask one of the girls to e-mail me their copy of your group picture and did ask everyone else to text theirs to you…so that must count for something, right? :)

And on that note, here’s a shot of my sister and I with Mouch and Herrmann.

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Until tomorrow…
vmo