31 days of kindness, who is in?



Dear Readers,

Last year in efforts to keep my attitude of gratitude I did a 100 day happy challenge.. Some of you may remember it, and some of you may not.. It was taking pictures and posting what made YOU happy.

For those who need a refresher– here is that post


Well I am at it again, this time with slightly shorter span of time.. can you be in with me? 31 days of kindness. There is no denying that a little kindness goes pretty far… so will join me in this 31 days of thinking of others? doing things that bring joy to other people? Let this be starting off point for you.. their ideas are great.. but the more personal you make it, the better. Here is the list…

DAY 1 (August 1st) – Write a handwritten thank you letter
The hardest part about this act of kindness might be to remember where your stamps are or to drive to the post office to get them. Take time to get a letter written and sent out to someone in your circle of friends, family or community who you can encourage, inspire or thank! 

DAY 2 – Pick up a piece of trash
There is always trash on the ground and we can do something about it! Think what would happen if everyone picked up one piece of trash everyday? Let’s keep our eyes peeled for what piece of trash we can pick up to clean up our streets, sidewalks or neighborhood!

DAY 3 – Buy someone coffee/tea or a drink
Most of us take time out of our day to go and grab a drink of coffee, tea or late night drink. Take the time to buy the person’s coffee behind you. If you don’t drink coffee or tea, pull through a drive though coffee shop pay $3 for the person behind you and drive away! See how good you feel!

DAY 4 – Compliment a stranger
Walk by and complement a stranger on what they are wearing, their hair or smile. Bonus points if you give them a high-five when you walk by!

DAY 5 –Donate an item of your choosing
Most of us can agree we have more than we need. What is in your closet that you can donate to a local shelter or Goodwill and have someone else get benefit from your amazing fashion sense? What about kitchen goods or toys?

DAY 6 – Pick something up that has fallen down
If you are walking down the street and see one of those fallen sandwich boards or you are in the grocery store and see something that fell off the shelf, find a way to put it back up! This might encourage others to do the same when they see you going out of your way to do something kind for others!

DAY 7 – Treat Yo’ Self!
We had this idea brought to our attention from a participant of #31DaysofKindess! He reminded us that many of us often need to be kinder to ourselves – so true! Treat yo’ self to a pedicure, a new book, leaving work 30 minutes earlier or fine leather goods. If you need more ideas, see where this idea stems from.

DAY 8 –  Donate at least $5 to an organization you have never donated to before
Research a cause you believe in and donate at least $5 to their mission. It might not sound like a lot but those little donations add up for organizations and can be a big benefit if a lot of people do this. When 100+ of us do this, we will have given more than $500 collectively today to good causes around the world! 

DAY 9 – Give/send someone a small, anonymous gift
Of course receiving gifts on birthdays and holidays are fun but even better is a random gift for no reason! You could look up someone’s ‘wishlist’ on Amazon and send them something. You could leave a coffee gift card on your coworkers desk. You could also buy a small something, leave it in a park with a note saying “For you!”

DAY 10 –Recycle something
It blows my mind how many people still do not recycle! This is one of the easiest ways to give back and be kind to our environment. Take time to recycle and if you don’t have recycling at your office or home, what can you do today to help make that a reality in your area? 

DAY 11 – Bring snacks to work to share
Oh this is my favorite because my wife is my only co-worker and she is participating in this challenge with us! I hope she bakes something good! Take time to make something homemade or go to the store and grab something for your fellow co-workers. If you are unemployed at the time, go and bring a snack to a friend or a nearby office (shoot, even deliver snacks to the office where you want to work!)

DAY 12 – Support local
Instead of grabbing a bite at Subway or getting a few items at your local Target, stop by a local shop and support your community entrepreneurs by eating at a local restaurant or buying what you need at a local shop. 

31 days of kindness

DAY 13 – Create a care package for a soldier
I invite you to take time and invite others to join in especially your family or friends to help you with this one. You don’t need to spend a lot of money (you don’t even need to spend money at all). You can write letters, send candy or books and so much more. Here is a good site to use called Any Soldier. If you are outside of the USA, see what your government allows and how you can support your troops. Give thanks to those who provide us with our everyday freedoms. 

DAY 14 – Leave a $2 bill on the ground and watch them pick it up
This is one of the best and most interesting acts of kindness we will do. First off, go to your local bank and ask for a $2 (they will love you for taking those off their hands). Then go and place it somewhere a random person will see it and pick it up. You might be surprised by how many people walk by it before one person notices it!

DAY 15 – Lend your skills/services for free (answer questions)
There are several ways you can do this. Use the #question on Twitter or Facebook. Post on your social media that you can help <BLANK> with <BLANK> and the first person to reach out gets <BLANK> minutes of support. Go and volunteer for an hour or put your skills to the test. This one will make you think and question, what value can I add to others and who can use my skills/services? 

DAY 16 – Promote a cause you believe in
There are so many great causes and organizations working hard to create positive change in our world. Talk about one of these causes that is important to you either in person with people and/or social media.

DAY 17 – Send a nice email to a company
We might take the time to send a complaint to a company who did us wrong but how often do we send an email or letter to a company who we appreciate is doing the right thing or treating their customers with respect? Send a nice email thanking that company for what they do, the products they offer and services they provide! 

DAY 18 – Let someone go in front of you in line
Whether this is at the grocery store, at the coffee shop or waiting to pick up your burrito, this is a kind gesture to extend to someone!

DAY 19 – Share an uplifting quote
You never know what kind of day someone is having and often when we see positive or uplifting quotes, it can help reset our minds. Share an uplifting quote with a friend or via social media.

DAY 20 – Hold the door for someone
This one is another tricky one because we have to be on the look out all day for this opportunity. Take the time to look around for when someone might need the door opened for them. Smile, maybe give them a high-five and do it as many times as you can! 

DAY 21 – Treat yo’ self and someone else
Reference day 7 for what this means except this time, include someone else! Treat your mom to a pedicure, your dad to lunch or your friend to that delicious cupcake in addition to yourself! Throw kindness around like confetti! 

DAY 22 – Donate a used book to the library
Your local library could really enjoy some of your old childhood books or best-sellers that you never read anymore. Children, adults and teens can really benefit from those books we don’t use so select some off the shelf, drive by your local library and donate them!

DAY 23 – Introduce yourself to a stranger
Say “hi” to someone you walk by. Sit next to someone else at lunch. I bet there might be people at your office you don’t know fully, say hi and introduce yourself.  A hi can go a long way!

DAY 24 – Share an article to a friend who could benefit from it
Have you read a great article recently that you know could benefit a close friend, peer or family member? Take time to show you care by sending them an article with an email to say “Hey, saw this and was thinking about you. Thought you would enjoy it.” Please don’t send one of those obnoxious FWDs. Send an article that adds real value to their life. 

DAY 25 – Leave a 100% tip
This one will make your day! It does not have to be on a $50 meal. It can be on a $2 coffee you buy or $8 lunch you purchase. Leave that 100% tip and talk about doing a HUGE act of kindness. Those waiters will be talking about that for a while and you spread more kindness that way because they in turn go and talk about what just happened to their friends and family! 

DAY 26 – Leave a fun treat for your mail carrier in your mail box
I would recommend nothing that can melt in the southern states this summer but pick something that is fun, sweet and says thank you! You can even write a note letting them know how much you appreciate always delivering your mail. 

DAY 27 – Send a love letter to someone
There is something magical about receiving a letter in the mail and something extra magical when it’s a love letter! While we recommend sending one to your significant other if you have one, there are plenty of other family and friends you love in your life!

DAY 28 – Forgive Someone 
This one is tough but we never said this challenge would be easy. Let’s be kind today by forgiving someone that hurt us, let us down or disappointed us. This will make room in your heart and mind for more kindness when you release resentment. You could let this person know they are forgiven by a letter, phone call or meeting. Another option would be to write a letter forgiving them and put it away without mailing it because the action is more important for you.

DAY 29 – Give thanks to one community servant you don’t personally know
Is there a firefighter, police office, civic servant or someone in your community who is adding value to your community that you need to thank? Go to their office, write them a letter or give them a call to say thank you for all they do to make our community safe!

DAY 30 – Smile at 10 people throughout the day
You know that feeling when you randomly lock eyes with a stranger and he or she flashes you a pleasant smile, which you hopefully return? Now it’s your turn to be the one intentional about putting on a literal happy face and smiling to at least 10 people throughout the day!

DAY 31 – Leave behind a note of kindness
Get your sticky notes or a piece of paper ready and leave a note (or notes!) of kindness somewhere along your day. This could be on a bathroom mirror at a restaurant, on a bookshelf in a library or even on someone’s windshield. To get your creative juices flowing, here are a few examples:

“You matter and you are important!”

“The world needs your specific creativity and energy!”

“Have a marvelous day!”

make sure you launder your kindness pants and put them on starting  monday 8/1/2016 because #31DaysofKindness is going to be a great one this year!


If you are in.. go here to sign up with Chelsea and Ryan !


I am planning to add a picture a day.. don’t forget that hashtag y’all!


Think about it… what difference could you make to JUST one person!



Married Five years… what have we learned?

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Dear Readers, My husband and I celebrated our five year anniversary on Sunday (hard to believe this picture is from five years ago!) so much has happened since then! It got me thinking about milestones and where we were 5 years ago and where we are now and the lessons learned and things that I have taken away from the experience of being married.

So without further ado, here is a list of 10 things I have learned in 5 years.

  1. Go to bed angry. This is contrary to a lot of advice I got over the years– I think it’s best noted in this quote “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger” In five years, I have discovered “hashing it out RIGHT NOW” can actually do a lot more harm than good. Sometimes tabling it, and waiting till you have both calmed down can lead to a better result for the conflict.
  2. Connect every day. Yeah, I know seems simple.. but I am amazed at how many times I or he will come in and we launch right into “how was your day?” and don’t immediately kiss each other or hug each other or say, “I love you”- There is a great exercise I learned from Chelsea and Ryan Avery  (here is her blog post about it)
  3. http://thenewwifestyle.com/4-ways-to-fall-asleep-more-in-love/But here is the gist, you provide 4 statements we would share with each other.

    1. today, my favorite thing about you was…

    2. today, my favorite thing about myself was…

    3. today, i gave back by…

    4. today, i am thankful for…

  4. Making each other laugh is important. There is nothing I enjoy more than knowing I “got” Jeremy and the reward is that belly laugh of his that comes from such a sincerely silly place that I cherish that NO one else gets to see him share.
  5. Make date night a real thing.. It doesn’t have to be lavish.. We do pizza and netflix a lot (but then again, we have been pinching pennies to get out of debt and now save for le petite bebe) but it’s time we set aside to say “Date night” a few have included but not limited to– “taking a walk around the block with the dog”, “Painting with a Twist”, “going to the movies and pretending it’s a first date” (that was a fun one.. (see this blog post for more details) https://jenniferhastonsays.wordpress.com//?s=date+night+with+a+stranger&search=Go
  6. No Name Calling or attacking the other person- I am an Irish woman with a temper and passions certainly flare.. but knowing how important it is to protect our relationship even when I am angry , we don’t name call even at our angriest.
  7. Be willing to try what the other person likes even if you DON’T. For example, wrestling.. I still don’t get it but watch it here and there so I can occasionally surprise my husband with the snippets I have gleaned and this lets him know I take an interest in what he likes. He, in turn, while not in love with theatre, will go see it and give it a chance. In addition, he came to a few Toastmasters Meetings (to learn about the world I love there) and wound up really enjoying it and excelling at it himself..
  8. Be nice to each other. Do things just because you know they like it.. For instance, I love it when he makes the bed. He hates it but knows how much I love it, and most days he gets up after I do so it makes sense for him to make it but he doesn’t always.. so when he does I love it.
  9. Surprise each other! * (this is one you can skip if you don’t like surprises) We happen to love them so it’s a great way to show how much we care. One of my love languages is small gifts so “surprising me with one” is a great way to show love.
  10. You are on the same team! Any time you are saying to yourself, “they don’t understand and they never will” stop yourself and say.. you know what, I married my partner and we are in this together.. I need to change my thinking and my approach! Something we say always is “We will always figure it out”! and we do.
  11. I know, I said 10.. but you know us folks from Louisiana, we love our lagniappe (something extra) – Work on your marriage/relationship/partnership- It’s a labor of love, but it is work.

No two relationships are the same, but I invite you to look at your relationship and see if there is anything that you might adopt from my list. The fun thing about that is you would be adding to your own existing awesome way of doing things.. There is no one way to have a great marriage, the fun is YOU BOTH get to design the relationship you want!

Think about it!


We need action, not silence

Dear Readers,

I spend a lot of time avoiding topics like current events or politics as I don’t want to alienate people and to be painfully transparent with you, I don’t want to embarrass myself by talking about things that I don’t know enough about to speak on with any authority. I still don’t have enough knowledge to stop worrying about that, but I am no longer willing to let that be an excuse to keep me quiet.

Case in point, the shootings that have given us all pause over the last few weeks. Perhaps it is because I am going to be a mom soon and am anticipating the questions I will get from my little girl or thinking about my own stamp on the world and the part I play.

It started for me a few months ago, but I don’t think I was ready to admit that I play a role and an important one. I am a professional speaker, I am a Toastmaster, I am a wife, a mother, citizen.. the list goes on. As I have 1437 of you who are listening/reading and I have a responsibility to share with you what I experience, what I am thinking about and doing.

We ALL do. After the tragedy in Orlando, I felt so helpless, and I used this blog to highlight the names of the victims, and  it became clear to me that it’s not enough to do something after the fact, it’s not enough to post pictures showing our support on Facebook or like or comment.. – it’s certainly a start and I was doing that for a while before I got HERE so I get that it’s a progression. But for me, passive acts are NO longer enough.

It’s not enough to stand on the side of the road, after an accident happens and say, “Oh, what a shame, I wish there was something I could do”- We all have the power to do something, or say something to help ELIMINATE the idea that ALL people (regardless of race, creed, religion, sex) do not deserve our respect. It could be -if you hear someone telling a racist joke, stop them, It doesn’t have to be ugly.. it can be “I wish you wouldn’t tell jokes like that, it’s not kind”- or if someone tries to gossip with you with that same spirit, say, “you know, I really don’t like gossip” In that spirit, I went to a Community Outreach group on Monday in Austin, – here is the full telecast if you are interested in what was said and who spoke-


and while it’s a step in the right direction, that is by no means where I am stopping. I am going to tell you the God’s honest truth. I don’t know the right words to say, and I am absolutely going to say the wrong things from time to time, but I have a heart to serve and to help.. and listen, so I can’t let that FEAR stop me any more.  I had several people after this event tell me to “keep trying, even if you mess up, it’s better than being silent” The thing that kept being brought home to me over and over again during this event is that there are multiple groups that are working hard to bring respect to multiple groups and so the good news is there is no need to “Reinvent the wheel”.. It’s not as if there aren’t already GREAT efforts going on. Look at these groups, decide where and how you want to plug in and then do it. (if you aren’t in Austin, do some local digging- )


DO something, I IMPLORE you, even if it’s to say hi to someone you wouldn’t normally talk to, reach out and be kinder (that includes the people you know already but don’t really like for whatever reason) Maybe think about why you don’t like them? Do they remind you of something in you that you don’t like? Do they rub you the wrong way? Try chalking that up to personality styles and find something you genuinely like about them and focus on that.

Pay for someone’s coffee or lunch– Go read a few articles on one of these websites.  Don’t let the fear of saying something wrong stop you from doing something. Learn what you can, that is my next step, and then figure out what you CAN do.

Think about it, yes.. but DO SOMETHING- How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time-

so I ask you, what will you do? How can you help? What’s your next step? eatanelephant


Mom…. (who me?)

Dear Readers,

I have alluded to my horrid family of origin a few times but never really given a lot of detail. I don’t feel the need to dwell on the past because honestly, who would it help?

There is something to be said for telling it like it is, and working through your stuff with a professional and I have definitely spent time doing that.

However, a fellow Toastmaster gave me a note recently about a speech I gave that made me reconsider. “I love hearing about how you overcame your childhood and more of your personal story”– Since my goal is to always speak/write from the heart. I feel compelled to share a little more than I normally do. So here goes.. (deep breath)

When your mother sends you to live with her secretary at the age of 17 (citing the betterment of her 4th marriage as the reason you are being kicked out of the house) and leaves you to fend for yourself, you think twice about having kids and whether you yourself are fit to be a parent.

When your father tells you that he chooses his younger child over you over and over again with his actions, and isn’t present at your high school graduation and chooses to not be part of you life, voluntarily it makes it easy to see why I might be scared even a little bit of that is in me.

When one of your uncles promises to put you through your first year of college on the condition that you NOT have a job (because he will pay expenses and school costs) and then disappears 6 months into that agreement, you kind of start to doubt people will be there for you.

I must mention the good with the bad however, My Aunt Nancy, who has several children of her own, NEVER missed a birthday  or a Christmas, and for our wedding, she not only came in to help us plan, she was here and Cousin Eileen took our pictures as the wedding gift. My Aunt Peggy has supported my acting/directing career by always sending a thoughtful gift that pertains to whatever show I am currently in/doing. She always takes care to send presents and cards and doesn’t miss special occasions.

Onto the family of choice- I am grateful every day that I met Joan Ellen Young who is my mother of choice, it took a while for me to grasp, she will ALWAYS be there for me, whether it’s holding my feet to the fire on something I don’t want to face, or listening to me cry or vent and then offering advice (I pretty much know what she is going to say now) — but still want to hear her say it.. ALWAYS. Alan, who has been my best friend since 1997, and is always full of wise and sage advice as well as many “no taboo” moments of truth (this would involve saying something you may not want to hear) but have previously been given permission to say or ask anyway. I have a multitude of friends who are more like sisters and brothers (you know who you are) and they all help to form my family of choice. I would be remiss if I did not mention my husband. I really changed my mind about having kids when we got married..He is a wonderfully caring man and I have NO DOUBT whatsoever he will be an amazing Dad. It was in seeing that unconditional love and support from my spouse and partner (real partner, not just a label)  that made a “never, ever” to “maybe” and then “someday” then to a “yes”.

I am so excited for our daughter to have him as her dad.  Watching him paint her room and put up her clothes and toys and watching his unabashed glee as he talks about her future and what lessons she might take and I get so caught up the in excitement and it washes so many of my fears away. 

It was a slow evolution to be sure.. to go from “I AM NEVER HAVING KIDS”…. to “I want to be a mom”  took many, many, years and conversations and experiences with other people’s kids to show me that I could possibly do this mom thing. The miscarriage we had last year was awful but a silver lining to me (if there can ever be one from something like that) was the realization that made it all the more clear how much I wanted to be a mother.

My sweet friend, Rachel has a lovely daughter, Quinn Meissner, who will always hold a special place in my heart because while she is special to me for so many reasons the biggest one is this. It was in babysitting her and getting to know her her that I got to see what it might be like to be a mom. I got to see the good (those smiles she gives when she is really happy which doesn’t take much) and the bad (the crying that wouldn’t stop)  and the ugly (the first time I had to send her to bed without a story because she was having a tantrum).. so I feel like it was realistic not idealistic but I guess time will tell on that one.

Impending motherhood, the thoughts range from stark fear that I will drop the kid, damage the kid and kill the kid to well, there are lots of irrational fears that we can entertain or we can focus on the span of control we do have which is our own mindset.

I am doing several things to prepare for being a mom, (eating better mostly, exercising to be in good shape, avoiding foods and drinks that are possibly harmful to the little one) and of course, working so hard on getting our money cleaned up (debt free and saving for retirement) but at the end of the day, I have no idea what to expect, how I will feel, if I will love it or if I will hate it.. or a strange combination of both. So many people have been so supportive about my abilities as a mother that haven’t even been tested yet. They say, “you are going to be an amazing mom” .. which is so sweet and certainly I appreciate it, but I have my own doubts.

I do my best to be “real” on this blog and with you, my readers… I am equal parts excited and terrified. I can’t wait to hold our little girl and am terrified about all the ways we can screw her up or not be good parents.

Granted with the family of origin, the bar has been set pretty low, but I don’t want my parenting to be on par with anything that would be part of a conversation about that past or that “lack of care” — I guess what I am trying to say is I want to be perfect at something I have never done. YEAH, good luck with that. I do know that I have a fabulous village (also known as family of choice) waiting to help to support us and I need only ask to have help given. It is so hard to admit that you need help.. even when you are new at something. Seems silly, I would tell anyone asking that if you don’t know something, ask.. perhaps I will take my own advice. So in answer to this question. “mom. who me?” I say “yes, that is me.”

As my mom likes to say,

Think about it…