29 October 2010

MISSION: Flash Mob of Kindness and Day Brightening

You know what I love?

A good flash mob.

My incredible Number Two organized this awesome flash mob today that took place at noon in Pittsburgh's Market Square.  With the help and kindness of the Point Park University Conservatory of Dance's extremely talented (and darling!) dancers, some happy sunflowers complete with Secret Agent L business cards attached to them, and some fun music, we managed to give cold, dreary Pittsburgh something to feel warm and sunny about during the lunch hour.

Date: Friday, 29 October 2010

Location: Market Square; Pittsburgh, PA

Time: 12:00 p.m.

{It was really windy, so please make sure your sound is turned all the way up so you can hear the music!}

After the dance number, the dancers handed out the sunflowers to onlookers.  

The applause and smiles on people's faces made our day!!  Hooray for kindness and day brightening!!  And THANK YOU to Point Park University's INCREDIBLE DANCERS!  I love you guys!!!

28 October 2010

MISSION: Park, Treat, and Eat

I have a sweet tooth.  And not just any sweet tooth.  A serious, professional, I-should-get-paid-to-eat-as-much-sugar-as-I-do sweet tooth.  It's amazing that my teeth haven't rotted out of my head.  But it explains why I have an arsenal of tooth-cleaning supplies at my apartment.  

For the very reason I love treats, I love this mission from Affiliated Agent A in Fayetteville, Arkansas. It's just plain sweet.

Date: Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Location: Harmon Avenue Parking Garage; University of Arkansas; Fayetteville, Arkansas

Time: 4 p.m.

Let's see how Affiliated Agent A's first mission went!

I spend a lot of time at the University of Arkansas so many of my missions will probably be on campus.  I won’t say whether I work there, teach there, am a student there, or just really LOVE the Razorbacks.   I wanted to leave someone a little treat on his/her vehicle and since it was rainy and overcast in Fayetteville, the garage seemed like a perfect place.  Also this garage is where I park when I am running late in the morning (that’s been happening a lot recently for me).  And since this was my first mission, I thought the garage would be a good place to be covert and to gain confidence. 

I was armed with a card, a package of Baskin Robbins hard candy and a box of Cracker Jacks.  

At first I intended to leave this on a car parked close to mine, but there was someone nearby who got into a vehicle and just sat for awhile.  I stalled as long as I could, slowly placing one-by-one my umbrella, lunch bag and attaché into my car, hoping that the person would leave soon.  I decided to drive around the garage and find another car.  I drove up one level and parked in between two cars at the far end of the garage - a later model BMW and an older Toyota just like mine except a different color!   The Toyota had to be the one.  There was not a university sticker on the car so I wasn’t sure if it was a staff member, faculty member or a student.  It probably was a visitor.  There wasn’t anyone around.  I placed everything on the front windshield and snapped a few pictures. 

This was so much fun.  I can't wait to do another one soon!

I can't wait to see what you do, Affiliated Agent A.  This was so sweet!  (Okay, pun intended!)

27 October 2010

MISSION: Merry Matrimony

I'm heading to a wedding out of town next weekend, so I thought it'd be perfect to post Affiliated Agent V's mission in the spirit of my upcoming trip.  Even though I'm not married or engaged, I've known enough brides and brides-to-be to know that wedding planning can be a pretty stressful time!  Affiliated Agent V of Indiana came up with a really thoughtful way to help a bride-to-be de-stress herself and keep things in perspective as she prepares for the big day!

Date: Sunday, 26 September 2010

Location: Jo Ann Fabrics; Greenwood, Indiana

Time: 2:30 p.m.

Affiliated Agent V tells us about her first mission:

I completed my first "mission" this weekend. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I was going to do and what type of person I wanted to target. In between getting ready for my bridal shower, checking my bridal checklist, and paying wedding vendors, I realized that so much of my free time right now is taken up with wedding plans. Then I realized that a large portion of the stress in my life right now is also because of the wedding planning, so I thought "Why not do something special for a fellow bride?" That's when it all came to me... I went to Target and got a $5 gift card, because who doesn't like Target? Then I decided that I would pass on a book that was given to me, "Chicken Soup for the Bride's Soul". Once I gathered everything I needed, I set to writing a little note to go with my gift and figuring out a place to leave it.

After my little RAK was ready, I thought long and hard about where to leave it. I realized the perfect place to put it was the bridal aisle at my local JoAnn Fabrics. Originally I planned to put it behind a box of invitations, but as I scoped out the aisle, there was a couple looking at invitations and programs. Since it didn't look like they were going to leave anytime soon I decided to be sneaky and place the book at the other end of the aisle while they were looking the other direction. I found the perfect place on a shelf just under the main display area, next to flower girl baskets and ring bearer pillow.

I hope it brought a smile, a laugh, or even just a little bit of stress relief for a bride like me.

Affiliated Agent V, I LOVE this mission!  Your thoughtfulness is so beautiful, and your words are so kind.  I'm sure that the woman who found this smiled for the rest of the day!  Thank you!

25 October 2010

MISSION: Beacon of Light

I've been going through some stuff in my life lately that's been rather difficult.  Some of those things have been resolved, and today I finally started to feel the positive effects from that resolve.  Just earlier today, I sent an email to someone telling him that I felt light.  And when I was going through my inbox a little bit ago to decide which mission to post, I came across this sweet one from Affiliated Agent M in Atlanta, and I knew it was totally appropriate for today!  We should all be so blessed to feel light and to share our light with others.

Date: Friday, 13 August 2010

Location: Dunbar Community Center; Atlanta, Georgia

Time: 1:45 p.m.

Let's hear about Affiliated Agent M's first mission!

I was so excited to become an affiliated agent that I could not wait to get that first mission under my belt.  I was on my way out of town for a long, fun weekend and I was feeling light, so I wanted to share that with someone else.  So, I bought a little LED flashlight and took it to a local community center.  

Because there were so many people around I left it in the women's bathroom so that I could be sure no one would see me and so I could be sure that it would be found at random.

Affiliated Agent M, I LOVE this mission.  Your witty play on words is so sweet, and these little flashlights really do come in handy!  

22 October 2010

MISSION: Make the Earth Better

When I was growing up, I was convinced that I would single-handedly save the planet.  I had dolphin photos all over my room, a Greenpeace calendar every single year (from Santa, of course), and I always made sure I cut up those plastic soda rings into millions of little pieces.  I even went so far as to paint a giant earth on my bedroom closet's white door, much to the shock of my parents.

I was a serious tree-hugger.

I still am, to some extent, because I love this planet and the creatures on it.  I'm a vegetarian, I recycle like crazy, and I use my reusable shopping bags for everything. 

Speaking of reusable shopping bags, Affiliated Agent M of Enfield, Connecticut, completed her first mission recently, which involved, of course, kindness..AND homemade love!

Date: Thursday, 21 October 2010

Location: Enfield Public Library; Enfield, CT

Time: 9:25 p.m.

Affiliated Agent M tells us about her first mission:

Hi Laura!

I am soooo excited to finally be writing to you about my mission. When I first signed on, I had lots of ideas swimming in my head (I hope to use all of them over time) but I wanted my first one to really be a piece of me. I am a very environmentally conscious person and try daily to make a difference for the planet when I can, i.e. recycling, shutting off the water, using a water filter and especially reusable bags! I try to always have one in my purse and at the ready.

That being said, I decided to try and make my own bags from random fabric. I took an idea from a gift my sister gave me and ran with it. It is a reusable bag that folds up into a little pouch with a loop to fit on a keyring. I can't tell you how handy it is~especially at the drugstore when picking up just a few things. So I whipped out my little Shark sewing machine, with no real sewing experience to speak of and got busy. I spent a rainy Friday evening watching movies and made six different bags! I was so excited, but still unsure about the actual mission itself. I wanted the first place to be really random, but still in a place where someone might readily be able to use it too.

Then it hit me! I needed to return my library book and the movies I had watched to the Enfield Library in Enfield, CT. The best part, they have a book drop that you can drive up to after hours. It was perfect! I wrote up a card about the bag/mission using a beautiful original notecard paitend by my best friend Marla. Then I enclosed a Secret Agent L card and sealed the envelope. Because I was leaving it outside on a cool, autumn New England evening, I put it in a ziplock freezer back for protection. I grabbed my keys, camera and industrial packing tape and hit the road at 9:25 PM on Thursday Ocotber 21, 2010.

It was so exciting to be performing my first mission and it was even more so because it was night time and I felt so "Secret Agent-y". I pulled into the library and made sure there were no cars in the parking lot. The last thing I wanted was to be caught my first time out. I taped the bag to the outside of the bin with the note in plain sight and took a few quick pictures. As I pulled out of the parking lot, I felt absolutely giddy! Now I am even more excited to strategically place the remaining 5 bags. I think I may bring one to NH this weekend when we go to visit my daughter for her college's parents' weekend!

Laura, thank you again for the inspiration, and I promise this is only the beginning for me!

Peace and Love,
Affiliated Agent M

18 October 2010

MISSION: Mellon Hall Happiness

Well!  Life sure has a way of sneaking up on us, doesn't it?  I'm so sorry it's been days since I posted a mission.


I'm so excited to post today's mission because...well...I participated in it!  I didn't complete the mission alone.  In fact, I was merely there for photo-taking and moral support.  I accompanied new Affiliated Agent MB on her very first mission.  I prepped it, but she carried it out.  Way to go, Affiliated Agent MB!

Date: Monday, 18 October 2010

Location: lounge area; Department of Biological Sciences; Mellon Hall; Duquesne University; Pittsburgh, PA

Time: 4:34 p.m.

If I may, I'll provide the narrative for today's double-agent mission.

It was a long day, no doubt.  Filing papers, answering phone calls, processing paperwork, answering emails, putting out fires...our work in our department is never done.  On my way out for the day, I mentioned to my colleague that I'd planned on doing a mission.  She was very interested in what I planned on doing, but I was so tired, that I hadn't really thought that far in advance.  I had the gift in my bag; that was as far as I'd gotten.

I'd wanted to complete this mission over a week ago, during Mental Health Awareness Week.  But, as it is known for doing, life got all crazy and messy.  And the mission never happened.  But, better late than never, right?  So I suggested to Affiliated Agent MB that she carry out this mission, regardless of its lateness.  She got SO excited.  

Thus began our tandem effort of kindness.

My accomplice and I aren't involved in the science side of academia.  We're Liberal Arts people.  But we know how hard students work to study the sciences.  We know the demands and sacrifices that faculty members and staff members have endured and made to be where they are.  My Affiliated Agent decided that we should target them for our mission.  I agreed.

We headed out of our building at the end of the work day and made our way across campus to the science building.

We made our way inside, trying to determine the best location for The Drop.  The first floor lecture hall was filled with students, so we went to the second floor--the Biological Sciences Department.

We scouted the area for a few minutes, hoping to find the perfect place.  Affiliated Agent MB turned the corner and spotted this lovely little lounge area.  

Rumor has it that a pretty big Chemistry exam is coming up tomorrow.  I imagine that some of the people in the Biology Department are also in Chemistry.  And chances are, they'll be taking that monster exam.  

Affiliated Agent MB knew right away that this was The Spot.  She picked a chair and put the gift on it.  (And, yes, she squealed with delight from the excitement of it all.)

And she said she felt so good afterward.  Yes!  Mission accomplished!

13 October 2010

MISSION: Men are Marvelous

First, THANK YOU everyone for being so patient after my website crashed yesterday.  That was so frustrating!  But I want to publicly thank two of my most favorite men in the world, Norm (@mrdirby) and Andy (@techburgh) for working their magic and getting me back online.

Speaking of wonderful men, I'm always so excited when I get a mission from a male Affiliated Agent.  I love that men are stepping up and showing their more caring, softer sides.  And when both women AND men are out there sharing kindness with the world, the world has that much more of a chance to heal.  Don't you agree?

Affiliated Agent C of Pittsburgh (yay!), who also happens to be a friend of mine, completed his first mission recently.  And I'm proud of him.  Well done, friend.

Date: Saturday, 25 September 2010

Location: Seattle's Best Coffee; Borders Bookstore; North Hills; Pittsburgh, PA

Time: 7:15 p.m.

Let's hear about his very first mission!

Truth be told, I struggled as to how to carry out this mission. Reading the previous mission reports, I wanted to do something different, but eventually realized that if I didn't start, I'd be just over-thinking things, knowing that I just had to go out there and see what happens. So I did this past Saturday night.

Inspired by a tweet SAL sent earlier in the week, I used a quote as a springboard for the mission. Truth be told, part of the reason I had trouble doing missions were how to present them while striking the right tone. I honestly don't know if I accomplished this, but I gave it my best shot.

When I arrived at the target location, I went into the store, and went straight to the Seattle's Best Coffee store. After inquiring, I learned that they did not give out gift cards for SBC, so I pulled out $5 from my pocket and placed it in the prepared card.

Seeing that a quote was supposed to be the theme, I felt that the quote should stand alone with no explanation.

With the standard SAL card inserted into the card and envelop along with the money, I handed it over to the waitress minding the register, handed over the envelope, with instructions to give the card to the next customer. I know that you usually ask for us to photograph where any materials are left at the target location, but in this specific case, I felt that discretion was the better part of valor.

Again, I hope I did this right, seeing that this was my first mission as an Agent. If not, I hp to do better in the future.

Affiliated Agent C, you absolutely did this right!  I love the little added touch of handing it to the cashier and giving instructions to give it to the next person.  Keep that kindness coming!

11 October 2010

MISSION: Dino-mite Kindness!

Dinosaurs.  They're pretty awesome.  We've got loads of dinosaurs all over the place here in Pittsburgh.  There's Dippy (she's adorable), and Creation Rex (personal friend of mine), a T-Rex dressed up as Mr. Rogers, and a host of others scattered here and there in statuesque form all over our beautiful 'Burgh.

Needless to say, when Affiliated Agent M from Portland, Maine, sent me his mission, I knew I had to post it pronto.


Date: Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Location: office; Portland, Maine

Time: not specified (but assuming during work hours)

Affiliated Agent M tells us of his first dinosaur-ific mission:

Well, it took me a while to do this. But, once I finally took the initiative – what a blast!

This task has been shuffled around my calendar on a daily basis. But finally, my inspiration came when I happened to be in an art supply store. As I was checking out, on the counter were these tiny rubber figurines, everything from gorillas, to dragons, to babies. Spinning the display, I saw one of my childhood favorites – a Tyrannosaurus Rex! The figurines are barely an inch tall, so this little guy had the perfect mix of snarling ferocity mixed with a bright, happy green color. I bought five.

My plan was simple. I would bring them to work and covertly prop them on random people’s desks to add a dose of mysterious fun in their day. Throughout Monday and Tuesday I placed the figures on keyboards, monitors, and desks, along with a Secret Agent card and message. As part of my profession write a fair amount, so I misspelled part of the message to avoid being busted by my peers.

The results are coming back as I write. The whole office is abuzz with trying to figure out who left these rogue dinosaurs on people’s desks! People are laughing and the theories are flying around.

This was a lot of fun. I forget how good something like this can make me feel. I’m looking forward to doing more!

Okay, seriously--this is one of my most favorite missions EVER. Clever, fun, and kind.  A trifecta of awesomeness!  

Creation Rex of Pittsburgh says:

"RAWR!" (which, in dino-speak, translates to "AWESOME!")
(photo from here)

09 October 2010

MISSION: Notes of Niceness

I'm a girl who loves words.  I love words so much that I decided to put myself through the tortures of graduate school to study them.  Quotes?  I've got books full of them.  I have them jotted down on pieces of scrap paper all over the place.  I have them on Post-Its stuck around my desk.  And Quotable Cards?  Well, let's just say we're in a long-term relationship.

Iowa Affiliated Agent L loves them, too.  She completed her first mission using them.  I particularly love this mission because Affiliated Agent L chose quotes that are uplifting, and seeing that this week is National Mental Health Awareness Week, it seems a perfectly fitting mission.  Sometimes, when depression or anxiety find their way into our lives, it can be a word or two of encouragement and love that helps us get through it.  Well done, Affiliated Agent L.

Date: Monday, 27 September 2010

Location: various locations around Iowa town

Time: 6:30 p.m.

Let's hear about her first mission!

I am so excited to have completed my first mission!  Let me tell you, it was quite an exhilarating experience. I had no idea how much of an adrenaline rush it would be!

I was in a discount store one night looking for a card of encouragement for a friend of mine who is struggling right now when I came across the perfect little "pick-me-ups" for my first official mission.  I was hoping these cheery sayings would be just the perfect thing to brighten someone's day.

I picked up enough "happy thoughts" cards for each of them...

...and found some happiness quotes to write inside the cards.

"The best vitamin to be a happy person is B1."  Author Unknown

"One joy scatters a hundred griefs." Chinese Proverb

"Some picture happiness; others create it." Author Unknown

My goal with this mission was simply to bring a smile to someone's face and put a little extra spring in their step for the day.  Just getting the stuff together was enough to make me smile!

Since I had several packages ready for this mission, I enlisted both my mom and sister-in-law to help me make these drops in
different locations.  Unfortunately I don't have pictures of their drop locations, but my mom chose to put hers in the restroom at her church.  My sister-in-law works at the university and chose to place hers somewhere on campus.  I know it made me happy just to watch the two of them walk out of my house with the packages in their purses!

My heart was pounding as I was driving around deciding on my first location which was a bus stop in town.  It took me several minutes to find an unoccupied bus stop without people milling around.

Just when I thought I had made it in and out quick enough to make the drop and snap a fast picture, I turned around to see a man sitting in his truck across the street looking at me through binoculars!  I just started giggling and hoped that he wasn't taking down my license plates and calling the police as I walked
back to my getaway vehicle :)

My next drop location was a park bench around a lake area where many people go to exercise, walk their dogs, and kayak or fish.  It was such a gorgeous night with many people out, but this drop was much easier as people seemed to be preoccupied with what they were doing.  I casually sat on a bench and gazed at the lake for awhile wondering who might be the one to find this and snuck away when no one was too close by.

My final drop was inside a tailgating tent in the university parking lot. I figured one of the students who park in that lot or someone setting up for a tailgate before this weekend's football game would have a nice little surprise.

The sheer joy this first mission brought to me was amazing. I can't wait to continue spreading random acts of kindness!

Thanks to you Secret Agent L for letting me join your ranks! 

Thank YOU, Affiliated Agent L, for your words and acts of kindness!

07 October 2010

Mini MISSION: Love at LuLu's Noodles

Here in Pittsburgh there's a really popular Chinese restaurant called LuLu's Noodles.  If you're from Pittsburgh, you know about this place.  It's right in the heart of Oakland, near the University of Pittsburgh's campus.  

I received the following email today from a fellow Pittsburgher, and it made my heart smile:

Today, I went to Lulu's Noodles in Oakland to pick up my lunch order.  There was a man sitting on the stoop just outside of the restaurant,asking people for spare change so that he could buy something to eat. I said, "Sorry." He said, "Maybe on your way back out?"

Upon entering the restaurant, I went to the register and asked if I could add something to my order. I picked something from the menu for him and paid. While waiting for the order to be ready, a woman behind the counter asked me, "Are you buying food for that guy out there?" I said, "Yes." She said, "Oh. Just so you know, there are about ten people buying food for him right now."

I was stunned! So many kind people at Lulu's today!  :)

A lot of people are hesitant to help people on the street.  We often think they just want money for drugs or alcohol.  But the truth is, we don't always know what they need, nor can we assume we do.  I am so proud of my fellow Pittsburghers who decided to take this man's request seriously and extend kindness to him by purchasing him some food.

When we start seeing people as unique, un-repeatable individuals, it's amazing the opportunities for kindness and love that will surface.

06 October 2010

MISSION: Kindness for the Cure

I've mentioned on more than one or two occasions here my own experience with a near breast cancer scare.  October is a very special month to me for just that reason.  When I think about the fact that I was diagnosed with an atypical papilloma at the age of 28, when I think about the fact that I've already had about 10 mammograms in my life (and I'm only 32), when I think about the fact that I have an oncologist who watches me like a hawk, and when I think about the fact that I'm now 5 times more likely to develop breast cancer in my lifetime, I want to scream out to every woman to let her know that she is unrepeatable, amazing, beautiful, precious, and loved-and that I want her to take care of herself.

This month, I encourage all of my Affiliated Agents to complete missions that center around Breast Cancer Awareness.  We WILL beat this disease.  I don't know when, and I don't know how, but we will.

I just received Affiliated Agent T's mission in my inbox this morning.  I knew I had to post it right away.  Thank you, Affiliated Agent T, for your kindness.

Date: Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Location: Sonic; Gibsonia, PA

Time: 6:00 p.m.

Affiliated Agent T tells us about her first--and very special--mission:

This was my first attempt at a mission.  I really wanted to do something that was not only kind, but had a real purpose.  October presented the perfect opportunity, since it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  I decided to go a little goodie bag of some products that would help raise awareness and support, while being practical.  A bonus was a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the items went to breast cancer research organizations.  Since pink is the color symbolic of breast cancer awareness and breast cancer survivors, I decided to bundle it all together in a pink bag, and write a note to go along with the bag.  The bag would contain a water bottle, a journal, and an awareness bracelet, along with the note.

I wanted the note to stress to the person finding it that she or he (because breast cancer affects us all) was important, and loved, and that it was important to take care of one’s self, as well as to encourage all the women we love to do self exams and get mammograms.  I wrote it on some paper with a pretty breast cancer awareness image on it, and sealed it up in an envelope.  I taped the envelope to the front of the bag, and then taped the bag closed.

The hardest part of the mission was deciding where to leave the bag.  I wanted to do it somewhere in my area, but not in my town.  Hubby and I were attending an event, and on our way, we stopped to grab a bite to eat at Sonic.  I realized that this was the perfect place to leave my package.  The weather was a little rainy, and the little car bays at Sonic, where you pull in for curb side service, are under an awning, so it would be protected.  We hung the bag off of the little area where you order your food, so someone was sure to see it.

I hope that someone not only enjoyed the little surprise, but also saw the opportunity to help continue spreading breast cancer awareness.  Together, we will find a cure!

Affiliated Agent T, thank you for opening your heart and for sharing your kindness with us!  Yes, together we WILL find a cure!