Random Cups of Kindness

Did you get one of these??

Did you get one of these??

Has it really been a month since I was wandering around surprising people with “Random Cups of Kindness” courtesy of Tim Hortons? What a week that was!! I got to do something that I had talked about doing for a long time. I got to surprise random people with a small gift to help brighten their day. It was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done!!

For the past two years, a friend of mine, Jo and I had talked about doing exactly what Tim Hortons was doing for their customers. We had planned to go and buy a handful of gift cards with enough on each card to get a coffee and then proceed to hand them out to random people. We wanted to give back or as some say, “Pay it Forward”. Putting positive energy into the universe always seems to help. With everything that has happened in the world in 2012, we sure could use some positive energy, don’t you think??

Our friends at Tim Hortons contacted Jo and asked him to help them spread good cheer with an initiative called, #RandomCupsofKindness. Their initiative encompassed people in social media giving out gift cards, random people on Twitter being awarded a gift card and random people in their stores receiving their order “for free”. A perfect tie in for what Jo and I had been talking about.

By participating in this initiative, I was able to surprise many random people. There quite a few stories from the people I surprised.  Some of the highlights and memorable ones were:

– The Service Advisor at a garage I use. He was taking a lot of grief about an exhaust system from a customer on December 19. The guy was upset but also difficult and not pleasant. The Service Advisor stayed calm and positive and did his best to help the customer. I overheard it all and before I left I quietly slipped him a gift card.

– The person in line at Tim Hortons in Hamilton that was standing in front of me, consumed in their thoughts and frowning. When they stepped up to the cash, I stepped forward and offered them a gift card. The frown became a smile and they said, “It’s amazing how little things can brighten your day”. I later saw them with their spouse and children getting pictures with Santa. It felt good to help a young family at Christmas.

– The group of people who I surprised at Tim Hortons on Yonge St in Toronto, that I later saw in the Eaton Centre where they were still smiling, drinking their coffee and wishing me a, “Merry Christmas”!!

– The two police officers that I surprised, while they were working on a cold evening in Toronto, at the entrance to a construction site, directing vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

– The lady the was so startled by the kindness that she was sure I was up to no good. After a few reassurances, I convinced her that I was, in fact, simply being kind and the card was from legitimate sources.

There were many more instances and many more people who received a #RandomCupsofKindness. Even my friend, Julie, was inspired by all my tweets and posts on Facebook.  She surprised someone at a Tim Hortons in Grand Rapids, MI with a #RandomCupsofKindness!!

At a time when the news media was reporting on the #26Acts initiative taking place in memory of the victims in Newtown, CT, it felt good to be able to brighten a few days and help make the day a little easier at Christmas.

I was truly inspired to read about the Tim Hortons in Winnipeg, where over 3 hours, 228 people in a row treated the person behind them for a coffee!!  An amazing story that makes me smile even when I just think about it!!

I have to thank Tim Hortons, because with their help, I was able to do something I had wanted to do for a very long time. They also helped me see that even a small gift can make a big difference sometimes. It is something I will definitely do again. Probably before Christmas is here again.

Money Challenge for 2013 – Week #3 – Have you started??

Total Saved to date: $6
Balance in ING Savings Account: $6

Last week I talked about saving money and using a system where you save one more dollar each week for an entire year. An interesting idea that requires you to save no more than $52 in one week. That seems manageable, doesn’t it?? That post started a discussion about the merits of the system and what method would be best to use to be successful.

Can you save $1 more each week for a year?

Can you save $1 more each week for a year? (souce: unknown)

Did you get started this week? It’s not too late. If you use the conventional method that is outlined in the challenge, you are still less than $10 to catch up. Remember that ING offers a great savings account that is easy to use to save for something like this.  It integrates with your existing bank account seamlessly.  If you open a new account with them (it will take $100 to get it open, but that could be Week #52 & #51 almost taken care of ) and use the “refer a friend” option, we can goth get a $25 bonus.  That’s one more week taken care of (Week #25), for both of us!!  Just use my Orange Key – 15735432S1.

Let me know how your efforts are going and please follow along on Twitter using the hashtag – #Saver13.  Tell me about what you’re saving for.  Tell how easy or difficult you’ve found this so far.

Next week, I am going to talk about the different methods people are using for this inititative and how they may or may not work.  I have had a lot of interesting feedback since this conversation started!!  Maybe we should all plan a group trip to celebrate our success at the end of the year!?!  What a great way to start 2014??  What do you think??

Money Challenge for 2013 – Can you save over $1,300??

Have you ever wondered how to save for that vacation each year? Done the calculations and tried to figure out what to do so that you have the funds for Christmas shopping in December? I have.  I now have a few things I do to make sure that I have some extra funds at Christmas time and for other events through the year.

This year, I came across a chart that showed how you can save over $1,300 in one year.  The premise is that you start saving one dollar in the first week of the year.  You then increase your savings by one dollar each week, so that by the last week of the year you are saving $52.  Seems relatively easy and certainly following the holidays, starting at a dollar isn’t difficult.

I have opened a new @SuperStarSaver account with ING and I am going to give this a try.  I certainly would welcome almost $1,400 (when interest is added) at the start of January 2014.  Worst case scenario is that I end up with somewhere between zero and $1,400 saved, even if the savings get, “too heavy” to keep up as November and December creep up.

This chart (which I found on the internet – I am not sure of the source as none was given), shows the math and was what sold me on the idea.  It is easy to follow and seems like it is a manageable program.  I am sure that it will get tough when it gets up to $30-50 per week going to savings, but really that is only one dinner or one night out in those weeks.  That vacation at the end of it all would be worth it, I think.MoneyChallenge

If you would like to join me on this journey, I encourage you to jump on board.  I will be talking about it as the year progresses on social media (using the hashtag #Saver13 – which covers the total saved and the year 2013).  If you don’t already have an ING account, check them out.  If you want to open an account, feel free to use my “Orange Key” which helps both you and I get a bonus.  You can connect with ING here and my Orange Key is – 15735432S1.  What an excellent addition to our savings for the year.

I welcome your comments and thoughts on this idea and I look forward to sharing my progress with you as 2013 progresses!!

Win a $100 Gift Card from Sport Chek for Christmas!!

Lately I have been inspired.  I recently read two articles that encouraged me and motivated me to get started at the gym again.  Both these stories started with small steps on a bigger journey to better health.  The key is that you can make a difference with some effort each day.  If you are looking for a story or two to motivate you and help you find your way back to the gym, check out this article from, The Hamilton Spectator, that featured my friend Shannon and her journey to better health that started in January 2009.

I was also inspired by someone I heard about through social media channels.  His name is Andy and his journey to better health started in December 2011.  He recently wrote on his blog about losing over 100 pounds and what a positive change it has made for his health and his life.  I invite you to read the post he wrote on the one year anniversary of his journey to better health.

It’s amazing what you can do when you set your mind to it.  Hopefully we all have stories like these two, to share as 2013 draws to a close!!

With the help of my friends at Sport Chek, I would like to offer you the opportunity to win a $100 gift card for Sport Chek!!

Use this card to get yourself motivated or perhaps inspire someone you know (since it is the time of year for gifts)!! The contest will be open from December 15, 2012 to December 19, 2012 at 8pm (Eastern Time).  In order to be entered, you need to do the following:

1 – Follow @SportChek on Twitter

2 – Follow @Canadian88 on Twitter

3 – Tweet me the following:

@Canadian88 I am inspired & want to win a Gift Card from @SportChek to help me be #MyBetterMVPWin

Don’t forget the hashtag & be sure to tweet each day, to help improve your chances.  The winner will be selected randomly via Twitter Twitter Chicken Dinner on December 20, 2012.

Please feel free to share your stories in the comments here and good luck!!

Year End and a New Beginning…to Be a Better Me…

Time to get this blog caught up!!  I seem to have taken a break for about…seven months.  Not on purpose, things just happened.  What happened? Well, my mom passed away, a good friend passed away, I took a vacation to New York City, played summer slo-pitch, enjoyed the warm weather and basically took a break from blogging.  I apologize.

That said, I also took a break from my fitness efforts.  That is going to change.  It is the start of the most “dangerous” month on the calendar, December.  The month where there are endless parties, trays of cookies, baking and goodies.  Chocolate seems to fall from the sky!!  I am determined that I am going to get myself back to the gym and committed to a regular workout schedule.

New shoes, gear and a book on running!! Awesome!!

I have to thank my friends at SportChek for helping motivate me.  They heard about my Couch to 5K efforts and wanted to inspire me to continue my journey to better fitness and good health.  They were kind enough to send over an “Inspiration Kit” to help motivate me to get back to the gym, as part of their #MyBetterMVP initiative.  I can hardly wait to get back in the gym and give my new Nike Free Run 3 runners a try.  They feel awesome on my feet!!

How could presents in this paper not inspire you!?!

The good news for you is that they want to help inspire you too!! I will be talking about my adventure back to the gym over the next few weeks and I will also have some stuff for you to “win” to help inspire you to, “Be a Better You”!!  Keep your eyes open for an upcoming post which will have all the details, just in time for Christmas!!