30 August 2010

MISSION: Gettin' Your Read On.

It's no secret that I love to read. If I could put into words how much I love curling up with a good book, a cup of tea (decaf, please), while wearing comfy pants and a t-shirt, they would probably sound something like this:


Plus, having a Master's degree in English Literature kinda explains it, too. Just don't tell my professors and graduate director that my favorite books are British chic lit. (Oh,
Sophie Kinsella, let's be BFFs!) Somehow I doubt they'll think that's intellectually stimulating enough.

So when I got today's mission from Affiliated Agent J in Bonney Lake in Washington State, my heart did a little swooning. He really had the right idea! Hooray for books!

Date: Thursday, 26 August 2010

Location: various locations; Bellevue, Washington

Time: agent did not specif

Let's hear about Affiliated Agent J's first mission:

So today I completed my first mission while I was up in Bellevue, WA. I love to read and often stop by Barnes & Nobles Bookseller to browse the aisles. I decided this would be a great opportunity to share my passion with others.

So before I left I purchased 5 x $5 gift cards. I set the first one up with a note from myself and the SAL business card.

I then went to the Bellevue Square mall and drove through the parking garage until I saw a car with a child's sippy cup left on the roof. A perfect target for a RAK.

I pulled in beside the car and looked around waiting until there were no people nearby. I have to admit I was kind of nervous placing this first gift. I jumped out of my car, stuck the package under the the windshield wiper, snapped a pic on my iPhone, and jumped back in my car. As I drove away I noticed my heart was racing and a smile was on my face. "What would be the recipient's reaction when they found the gift on their windshield?" was just one of the thought racing through my mind.

After running some errands I went back to Barnes & Nobles to complete another RAK mission.

This time I went into the store and decided to drop a package between some books on a shelf. This worked out wonderfully.

Yes, Affiliated Agent J, it did. It most certainly did. *high five*

29 August 2010

MISSION: Hang On, Sloopy. Hang On.

You've heard me say it before: one of the recurring themes I hear from people who contact me about the SAL Project is that they and those around them are carrying burdens. They feel like they can't hold on some days.

I've been there.

That's why I believe the SAL Project is so crucial. We need to be reminded that we're not alone, even when we feel like we can't hold on another second. That's where community comes in. We tie a knot at the end of our rope, hang on, and ask those around us to help give us strength.

That's just one reason why I chose to do this particular mission on Friday.

Date: Friday, 27 August 2010

Location: park bench; 43rd and Butler Streets; Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh, PA

Time: 7:57 p.m.

On Friday night, I was invited to a lovely fundraiser at a really cool, local card and gift shop. The fundraiser was for one of my all-time favorite organizations: Animal Friends. When you combine paper products, puppies, and people, I'm in heaven. Needless to say, I attended and had a wonderful time.

Upon leaving, I realized I still had a mission ready to go in my purse, so I figured that was the perfect time to complete it.

Because I hear so often from people who are struggling, I wanted to remind them that they will persevere through those tough times if they just hang on.

Hang on to the end of the rope, hang on to those around them, hang on to themselves.

I also want people to know that kindness can help them through those rough patches. There's nothing more healing than extending your heart to those around you.

Sometimes we just need a little nudge...

...and a little inspiration.

And someone extending kindness can be just that.

The Lawrenceville neighborhood in Pittsburgh is quite the up-and-coming place. Lots of little shops, cafes, galleries...it's so refreshing!

The fundraiser was at Wild Card, which is now one of my Most Favorite Places Ever.

And I will definitely be spending more time in Lawrenceville.

My Number Two, Vivian, was with me and snapped a photo of me completing this particular mission. How wonderful it is to no longer be anonymous!

I hope that whoever walked by this bench had the courage to pick up this little gift.

And I hope they felt stronger for doing so.

27 August 2010

MISSION: Chemotherapy and Caring.

When I discovered a lump in my left breast four years ago at the age of 28, I was definitely scared. When the surgeon removed it and the pathologist reported that it was an atypical papilloma, I was even more scared. When I took my first trip to the Hillman Cancer Center here in Pittsburgh to get a mammogram to see if there was anything else bad going on in my breast, I was Officially Scared. And when the radiologist brought me back to her screening room after my mammogram, showed me the linear-shaped calcifications that often indicate cancer and said I needed to have another surgery right away, I was at Level Defcon 5 of Terror. I couldn't fathom the idea of cancer in my body. Not at the age of 28. Not ever.

Luckily, the second surgery showed no cancer, and now I just go to the Hillman Cancer Center every 6 months to be watched like a hawk in case The Big C does decide to show up. But still, I live with the fear that cancer will ultimately take up residency in my body some day.

So, when I received a mission today from Affiliated Agent J from right here in Pittsburgh, I knew I had to post it right away. While I don't have cancer, I, like many, have been touched by it in some way--either through a friend or family member, or, of course, through my own too-close-for-comfort experience.

Grab your tissues, dear readers. This is a powerful mission.

Date: Friday, 27 August 2010

Location: Allegheny Cancer Center; Allegheny General Hospital; Pittsburgh, PA

Time: 1:00 p.m.

Affiliated Agent J shares with us the amazing experience she had on her mission toda

My older brother has brain cancer and he has been fighting it now off and on for almost four years. There have been times during this four year period where he has been cancer free and has been fine, but during the times he's been in treatment he gets chemotherapy at the Allegheny Cancer Center at AGH. These days, he is there for a chemo every other Friday. My parents and I go with him and sit in the treatment room and talk to help pass the time.

I am always struck by the mood in the infusion room; it's not grim and sad like you might think, but rather it's kind of a cheery, hopeful place. There have been times when we've been there that small groups of friends of family have gathered around someone to laugh or play cards.

The nursing staff is so overwhelmingly kind and sensitive and inevitably there are homemade pastries or other goodies that someone has brought to share with the patients, families and staff. I thought this would be a good place to do my first mission because I just wanted to add to the feeling of hope and kindness in that room.

When I arrived in the infusion room today my brother was already in a chair and a nurse was getting is IV ready and strangely enough there was only one other person there for a treatment. Usually the place is rather busy. But, I figured that this was my chance to put my card somewhere where someone would find it easily find it, and I wouldn't get caught.

I put the card on one of the infusion chairs and snapped a quick photo before almost getting caught by one of the nurses! Then I casually walked away to see how my brother was doing.

Not 5 minutes later one of the nurses found my card, read the front and figured someone had accidentally left it there. She then gave it to the one other patient in the treatment room, an older woman who was receiving chemo and her daughter who was sitting with her! I was so excited that I would be there to actually see someone open my package!

The woman opened the card and read it aloud and her daughter said she had heard of people doing these random acts of kindness before and couldn't believe that they were the recipients of such a thing! I had to pretend that I wasn't listening, but really I was so happy that they liked the card and gift!

Affiliated Agent J: we say prayers for your brother, for you, and for your entire family. We send love and comfort to you all and to every person who has been touched by cancer in some way. And because of your mission of kindness, we are reminded that we are never, ever alone. Thank you, dear friend.

{To see another mission completed at Allegheny General Hospital in honor of all those affected by cancer, click here.}

26 August 2010

MISSION: Coolin' Off.

I love ice cream. I didn't always, believe it or not. But once I started dating my boyfriend, the Ross-a-tron, I quickly learned how amazing--and delightful--ice cream really is. Whenever we celebrate something (a good semester, a good day at work, a Tuesday), we have ice cream. And not just any ice cream. We almost always have Breyers Cookies & Cream, topped with Smucker's Special Recipe Hot Fudge and Reese's Pieces.

It's so good it should be illegal.

Affiliated Agent M of Houston also sees the importance of ice cream in daily life, especially during the hot summer down there in the south!

Date: Friday, 13 August 2010

Kroger parking lot; Houston, Texas

Time: 3:00 p.m. CST

She tells us about her first mission:

It has been really, really hot and humid here in Houston lately. It’s typical summer weather for us, but that certainly doesn’t make it easier.

When it’s this hot I always feel bad for retail workers at stores with carts. I see men and women of all ages corralling up carts that shoppers leave in the parking lot. It’s hot work that’s typically unappreciated.

I decided to help one of these workers cool off with a gift card to Cold Stone Creamery. After work I stopped at a nearby Kroger grocery store. I found a cart that had been left way far out from the store, away from the corrals.

I tied my gift onto the basket so that the employee who ended up walking way out there would find a fun surprise.

This was my first mission and I really enjoyed it! Can’t wait for mission 2.

We can't wait for your Mission #2, either! Thanks for your kindness and for thinking of those people who do the jobs we take for granted. Way to go!

25 August 2010

MISSION: Lucky Lotto

I've never played the lottery. Don't get me wrong--I've thought about it. I guess I never think I'll win, so I never buy the ticket. But then, you can't win if you don't play!

Affiliated Agent GM from Derby, Kansas thought he'd pass along some potential good fortune to an unsuspecting individual. That's my kind of Affiliated Agent.

Date: Sunday, 22 August 2010

Location: local high school parking lot; Derby, Kansas

Time: 8:00 a.m.

Affiliated Agent GM's report:

Today's mission was a little easier given the fact it was an early Sunday morning in my sleepy little town of Derby, KS.

0730: My fridge was low on some wholesome OJ so I decided to multitask and make my drop since my "kindness" gift was sitting in my car for 2 days after it was packaged. I drove to the grocery store and looked for a good place to drop it, but found none. Instead, I went in and bought my OJ.

0800: On the way home I thought why not drop it off at one the High School? So, I drove up to the teacher parking lot and made my move, dropping it off in the branches of a tree on the way to the doors of the teacher's entrance.

0830: Mission accomplished and drove home before anyone knew what happened.

Next week I fly to Springfield, Mass so, I'm looking forward to bringing a little "Sunflower State" kindness to the good ol' New England area that is closer to home. (Go New York!)

Well done, Affiliated Agent GM! But I'm confused--are you from Kansas or New York? No matter! We're just glad you're on the team! Can't wait till your next mission--maybe the one you do in Springfield. Thanks for your kindness!

{You can see Affiliated Agent GM's other mission here.}

24 August 2010

MISSION: Groceries and Goodies

I live near one of the nicest grocery stores in Pittsburgh: the Giant Eagle Market District. It's clean, stocked to the brim, and even has a live cooking area where shoppers can sit and watch expert chefs make delicious dishes while using microphones attached to their smocks. It's very fancy. Even on the days when the store is crowded, the lines are slow, and I'm thwarted by other shopping carts at every turn, I am so thankful that I have the ability to buy the food I need when I know there are so many people who go without.

The grocery store can be stressful, as I indicate above. Those long lines, those crowded aisles, those high prices...it all can take its toll on the shopper and his or her experience. Affiliated Agent N of Northbridge, Massachusetts, has probably experienced just that! So to help remedy the same situation that someone else might encounter, she decided to do her mission of kindness at her local grocery store.

Date: Thursday, 12 August 2010

Location: Shaw's Supermarket; Providence Road; Northbridge, Massachusetts

Time: 12:07 p.m.

Affiliated Agent N shares her excitement with us:

For my mission, I decided that greeting cards would be best for making someone's day better. I bought two cards, both filed under the "Thinking of You" section. I wrote a short, encouraging message in each one and filled the empty spaces with inspirational quotes. In each envelope I also included a longer message (with instructions for it to be read later) where each sentence starts with "I hope you know..." with things like "you're beautiful," "the world is lucky to have a person like you," and "your imperfections make you beautiful."

I decided that the best places to put my cards would be in the entrance of the local supermarket. Because of how small my town is, Shaw's is where a lot of people go to grocery shop. I thought that because it was around lunch time, there wouldn't be many people shopping there. I was wrong. I had to stand outside the entrance, pretending to talk on the phone or look for something in my bag.

When people weren't around I walked in to the area where shopping carts are kept and put a card on top of one. Further inside the store there's a stack of shopping baskets so I put the other card inside one and casually walked back out.

I had so much fun with this! I felt like a spy and all I could think of were the looks on the faces of the people who found my cards. I can't wait to do this again!

Well done, Affiliated Agent N! I would have loved to stumble upon your kind gift!

23 August 2010

MISSION: YMCA and a little latte!

I'm not gonna lie. I love Starbucks. There's one on the campus of the university where I work. And it happens to be right next to the building where my office is. Tres convenient, n'est pas? My favorite drink is a decaf caramel mocha, extra hot, with whipped cream and drizzle on top.

Nom nom nom.

Sure, there's controversy around Starbucks, but I'm still a patron because it helps put food on the tables of those who work there, it provides a center for community, and it's a company that believes in providing health insurance for even its part-time workers. The second piece of hate mail I ever got once I started the SAL Project was from someone who was outraged that I supported Starbucks and proceeded to bash me full-steam for doing so. Needless to say, I didn't respond to that person's email. Instead, I went out and spread more kindness.

When one of my Affiliated Agents does a mission that involves Starbucks, what I ultimately focus on is the act of kindness itself. Not the politics that may (or may not) be potentially tied up in it.

I was thrilled to receive Affiliated Agent T's very first mission, which included a Starbucks gift card.

Date: Friday, 13 August 2010

Location: Mountain Brook YMCA Parking Lot; Birmingham, Alabama

Time: 9:00 a.m.

Affiliated Agent T's description of her mission:

I put a card and a $5 Starbuck's card on a car in the parking lot.

There were so many people walking through the parking lot at this time, I had to try hard not to get caught.... :)

It was so much fun...I wish I could have seen them when they got to the car!

It IS fun, isn't it?! Thanks for reaching out and spreading kindness. Looking forward to your next mission!

MISSION: That's Bank.

The only time I like going to the bank is when I'm depositing money. And that's not very often, unfortunately. So if I were to go to the bank to withdraw money, I'd definitely want to be smiling.

Affiliated Agent A of Florida wants the people at her local bank to smile when they come in, so she put together a fun mission of kindness and executed it quite well recently!

Date: Thursday, 12 August 2010

Location: Vystar Credit Union on Race Track Road; Fruit Cove, Florida

Time: approximately 8:00 p.m.

Affiliated Agent A explains:

I just finished my first mission. I am forever forgetting to carry a pen with me when I go to the drive thru at my bank. So I bought two very cheery little ink pens with funny faces and wiggly hair and took them to the automatic teller machine at the bank.

I actually had to make a withdrawal so I didn't look suspicious! (This being after I actually drove through the drive-thru area a couple of times trying to find a good place to leave the gift...AS IF that didn't look suspicious enough.) :)

But I think I was sneaky enough to pull it off so I'm hoping the recipient enjoys the pens.

Can't wait until my next mission.

Neither can we, Affiliated Agent A! Thanks for thinking up such a fun mission!

MISSION: Double the Kindness, Double the Fun!

And the missions resume! Thanks, everyone, for being so patient. It's been kind of crazy in my real life with my day job! Had to put my alter ego aside for a week or so! :)

Our next mission comes to us from an agent in North Carolina. She decided to do two drops during her mission--double the kindness, double the fun!

Date: Thursday, 12 August 2010

Location: Ladies Room; Starbucks; Charlotte, North Carolina AND Near Mailboxes in Office Building; Charlotte, North Carolina

Time: not specified

Affiliated Agent C states:

The first drop was a cute little card that I've been keeping on hand for the right moment.

I tucked 5 bucks in it and left it in the ladies room at Starbucks on the top of the mirror.

For the second drop, I wrapped up a blown glass necklace (that's long been ready to move on) from Esty.com called "Wild at Heart" and tucked it next to the mailboxes on the first floor of my office building.

Just knowing that someone would be surprised by an unexpected gift makes me feel better about starting my day.

Overall, I'd be happy to keep leaving gifts without taking pictures...it's difficult to take pictures in public without getting caught. :)

I'm looking forward to getting more creative with the drop next week, after my research paper is finished. :D

Affiliated Agent C, nice work! TWO drops! I'm sure whoever found your gifts felt that ripple of kindness. Can't wait to see what you do next time, after you finish your research paper. Good luck!