Misha Collins and the Tweet that Started It All

As a writer, I love a good backstory. And after I discovered Misha Collins and Random Acts, I wanted to know theirs. How did they get their start? What was the “defining moment” that put the wheels into motion?

Turns out, it was all about a tweet.

Misha Collins: The Man Behind Random Acts

Random Acts was co-founded by actor Misha Collins, best known as Castiel from the tv show Supernatural. Now, celebrities diving into charitable endeavors is certainly nothing new. But I wondered what motivated him into starting this. So, I did some digging.

I didn’t have to look far, because I quickly found this video:
 

There was just something about that collective positive energy–as harnessed by the internet–that really grabbed my attention. Sure, the internet is flooded with garbage “news” articles, trolls making unintelligent commentary, and worse. But this! This was proof that we could do better. It continues to be that proof.

Although there are many reasons why I admire and appreciate Random Acts, one of the things that keeps it close to my heart is the fact that it’s a place where that positive collective energy can go. We don’t have to sit idly by, shaking our heads at the negativity of others. We don’t have to just wish we could think of “something” we could do. Change is happening–here, and elsewhere–and they welcome all of us to be a part of it.

That’s why this year, I’m “donating” my birthday to Random Acts and their message. It’s my way of saying “thank you” to an organization that does so much, and inspires me and so many others to “conquer the world, one random act of kindness at a time”. I hope you’ll visit their website to learn more about them. And if you like, make a small contribution through my CrowdRise birthday campaign. Together, we can change the world.

It’s already begun.

Code For Kindness

In case you didn’t know, all the pictures from my blog posts for this month come from my recent Pecha Kucha talk about Random Acts and why kindness matters. Because I’m shameless, I’m going to remind you that you can watch said talk right here. (Thanks again, PK!)

A little over a year ago, I had an idea of something I could do to help support this new organization I had kind of fallen in love with. I had done a couple of “acts” already, and was talking to folks about possibly joining the staff (someday…). But I wanted to do something else. Something unique.

One of the ways I like to spend my spare time–when I have it!–is by making jewelry. I never seem to find pieces I like, so I just kind of play around with stuff until I like what I see. One day I got the idea to make bracelets with little hidden messages in them. My method of choice? Seed beads that spell out secret letters in Morse code.

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“One Random Act of Kindness at a Time”

I was originally going to make these as my endurance project for Random Acts’ Endure4Kindness event, but it was months away! And I was impatient. So I asked if I could make bracelets that spelled “get kind” and sell them as an actual fundraiser, and I was approved to do so! So I opened up a little online shop and got to work. (Here’s the link if you’re curious.)

As it turned out, I still made them for E4K, and gave away everything I made. Donors got a bracelet, donors who gave more got custom bracelets, and I sent the rest to Random Acts. They were planning another volunteer trip to Nicaragua, and I wanted to give them a little something to cheer them on. Help the helpers, so to speak. And in response, I got this lovely tweet from the team:

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I can’t tell you how happy that little gesture made me! It made me feel like a little part of me was there, supporting the team in their work. It’s funny, but for the past week, I’ve had a little bit of Lord of the Rings in my head, where Samwise says to Frodo, “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you.” I can’t step away from work and family responsibilities at this stage in my life–though I hope it won’t always be that way–but I can send a small gift of support to those who can. (Also, you can see what the Nicaragua team has been doing right here.)

I’m not selling Morse code bracelets at this time, but I plan to bring them back for next year’s E4K. Or, if you’d like one now, just donate to my birthday fundraiser and I’ll make you one! (See what I did there?)

Every Step Matters

I’ll admit, I kind of admire runners. Like, running isn’t my thing. Never has been, never will be. But I have an number of friends who regularly run 5Ks, half marathons, and full marathons. Some run for various charities, some run just for fun. At least, I think some people find it fun…. (I kid!)

Recently, my church has taken a more active role in the life of the outside community. Sure, we support homeless shelters and deliver food to needy families, and other things that churches usually do. But someone had the cool idea of helping with the Illinois Marathon by handing out jelly beans to the runners on their way. Neat, right? I personally never would have thought of that! But I loved the idea of being able to sort-of participate in a marathon–just by cheering for the runners rather than taking the trek myself. Pretty sure that’s not something I can do!

So, for the second year in a row, I stood in the rain with our rector, her husband, and a number of other fellow parishioners, giving out jelly beans and encouraging the runners as they passed by. Lots and lots of runners gratefully accepted the sugar hit. Many others who declined still took a moment to thank us for being there to support them. And I think all of my runner friends managed to find me and at least shout a hello as they ran by. One friend, whom I’ve known since high school and who comes to town just for the marathon, sought me out on the route and broke stride just to give me a hug. What an awesome example of how kindness is returned to you, often right in the moment of giving it.

Remember when I said above that I was pretty sure I couldn’t run a marathon? Well, Random Acts has recently given me an opportunity to come close! A few days ago, they announced a new event, called Steps For Kindness. It’s a 5K (so no, still no marathon for this chick!), but…it’s a virtual 5K! This is something I had never heard of before! A virtual 5K is something you do on your own schedule, at your own pace. You can even break your run (or walk, in my case) into multiple sessions if you want. Heck, you can even do it on a treadmill at the gym or in your home! Now that’s a 5K I can actually do! Think you can, too? Just follow Random Acts on Facebook or Twitter to get details as they come.

And if you’re looking for something kind to do right now, you could always give a little to my CrowdRise campaign for Random Acts! Spreading kindness: the best birthday gift ever.

My First Official “Random Act”

I won’t be so overly dramatic as to insinuate that I wasn’t a kind person before I encountered the phenomenon known as Random Acts. But I will tell you, they provide a great structure for being more intentionally kind, more often. For today’s blog post, I want to tell you about the first thing I did “for” Random Acts.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the major events Random Acts organizes each year is the Annual Melee of Kindness. People across the world make time on that day to do an act of kindness for someone else. Some collected food for homeless shelters, while others gave flowers to people they met on the street. Since I was doing this for the first time, and by myself, I chose to something smaller and a bit more anonymous. I bought a bunch of simple notecards, and wrote short affirmations on them. Then I headed out to a local bookstore and hid the notes inside random books there. I narrowly escaped getting caught by the booksellers, which I considered a personal victory.

When I wrote out the cards, I chose what I thought were fairly general sentiments. But when I found myself holding a book about learning a new language, I knew the right card was “You are smart enough”. When I found a book aimed at first-time parents, I could say, “I believe in you”. And on and on. Obviously, I have no idea who found any of those cards, or what happened next. But I like to think some are still hiding in a book somewhere, waiting for the right person.

At the end of each AMOK, Random Acts asks participants to fill out a form describing what they did. I figured it was mostly for research or statistics or whatever. And it probably is. But I also got a really sweet email response, specifically about what I did–not a form email or “canned” response. I was floored that such a small act of kindness received such a personal response. It truly made me feel valued as a person, not as a number, or a source of income, or whatever. I’ve given a lot of my time to a number of organizations over the years, and I can honestly say that Random Acts is where I feel most appreciated.

And to say thank you, I’m donating my birthday to Random Acts through CrowdRise! From now until September 21, you can give a little to help a lot. Just visit my page on CrowdRise.com – any amount is appreciated, and sharing is appreciated too.

It’s the Little Things

One of my biggest takeaways from my involvement with Random Acts over the past couple of years is that every act of kindness matters. Huge global projects are wonderful, but sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference. That means it can take a long while to conquer the world with small acts of kindness. But I believe it can happen. It IS happening.

When I was putting together my Pecha Kucha talk about kindness and Random Acts, I went where a lot of people do–to the internet! I have a lot of online friends who are also Random Acts supporters, so I asked them to tell me about something creative they did to show kindness. Some were creative in a proactive way, like a young woman who builds shelters for stray cats in her neighborhood. Like, builds them. By hand. I would never have even though of that, much less been able to do it.

The photo above is the one I ended up using for my presentation. Here’s what she told me:

A work friend’s husband has been battling cancer & my friend collects rubber ducks so to cheer her up, I made wings from a Kleenex for my Meta! Misha/Cas & put him next to the ducks to “tend” them.

I love that she took inspiration from something her friend already loved, and chose that as her way of sharing kindness. Along with being creative, I thought it was really sweet. (Thanks, Bridget!)

There’s a particular phrase that turns up in business leadership, in sports, in a number of places: “Help the Helper”. There are plenty of times when we can’t directly help a situation, or reach a person or a group of people. But we can support those who can. That’s what I’m doing right now, on CrowdRise. Random Acts inspires me to spread kindness where I can, and to give support to people who are helping others in places I just can’t reach. I would love it if you would consider donating to my CrowdRise fundraiser, which is running until September 21. Helping others spread kindness is exactly what I want for my birthday.

Thanks for reading, and for sharing.