Category Archives: Kindness

Kindness Day: In remembrance of Ellie #AutoimmuneDisease #JuvenileArthritis

🌼Kindness Day🌼

Eight year old Ellie Pruitt passed away suddenly this past February from complications of the autoimmune disease, Juvenile Arthritis.

Though Ellie was only 8 years old, her impact has been incalculable. In her short life, she helped raise thousands of dollars and broadened awareness for the Juvenile Arthritis Foundation through her family’s fundraisers at her elementary school in the Atlanta area.

Just after her tragic passing, Ellie’s “Kindness List” went viral, reaching all around the state of Georgia, as shops and restaurants changed their marquee signs in remembrance, elementary schools and churches honored her memory, along with social media and news outlets all sharing her message to “Have Fun & Love Always.”

This past Tuesday, to celebrate what would have been Ellie’s 9th birthday, October 20th, 2020, was named, “Kindness Day” by her town. To observe this special holiday, we wore her favorite color, yellow and celebrated her birthday by doing intentional acts of kindness.💛

Many on social media changed their profile pictures to yellow, while others shared kindness-centered memes, hashtagging their posts with #ElliesDay.

One woman cashed in her spare coins to leave a generous tip for her waitress on Tuesday. Another woman handed out gift cards to children for ice cream- YUM! And another young lady shared a photo of herself at a blood bank, donating in Ellie’s honor!

Legacy Ridge Assisted Living in Woodstock, GA organized a special balloon release to commemorate Kindness Day. Even though Covid19 prevents the residents from seeing their loved ones inside the facility, quarantine didn’t stop them from enjoying the beautiful fall day! They look lovely posing with their yellow smiling balloons. One resident loved Ellie’s list so much, she pledged to abide by the 5th rule: “Love Always.”

Legacy Ridge Assisted Living at Neece Road

There were many more noteworthy acts to mention, but the people who don’t have access to social media are the ones who truly did the most in remembrance of #ElliesDay…the kids! Hundreds of kids from all around the area rocked their yellow, and quietly acted on intentional kindnesses to help others and give to their fellow students, teachers and family members in celebration of Ellie Pruitt’s heavenly birthday.

I dare say that the youngest participants will be the most influenced by this event, learning the values of love and kindness, to carry with them throughout their lives.

At the end of the day, Ellie’s family shared a post on social media to thank everyone who participated in the celebration of their late daughter’s birthday. They were clearly touched by how many individuals and businesses participated.

The below message was shared by Ellie’s mother, Heather Pruitt:

“I am blown away by what a huge success #Elliesday was. I started the day trying to keep a list of all the acts of kindness that I was hearing about but by about 8 am I had already lost track! I know that Ellie was smiling down on each one of these kind acts throughout the day and had the best birthday ever partying with Jesus! Thank you to everyone for making this a day for us to look forward to and not be afraid of. It was full of all kinds of emotions but we certainly felt all the love!💛”

Ellie’s Kindness List

This is Ellie’s loving, living legacy which she left with us to remind us all how we should treat one another.

Thank you, dear Ellie💛 We all need this reminder right now!💛

#KindnessDay #AlwaysLove #ElliesDay

More info below:

Kindness Matters image

AJC- Ellie’s List

Arthritis.org Ellie Pruitt

AutoimmuneWarrior.org- Ellie Priutt

What to say when you don’t know what to say…

In the face of pain, heartbreak, and crisis, most of us don’t know how to react or respond. We want to be an encouragement, we want to comfort, we want to relate in some way…

Words often seem so empty and useless in the wake of tragedy.
 
Most of us have comfortable responses we share when we don’t know just what to say: 
“It’s going to be ok”
“You’re strong”
“You’re going to get through this”
“I’m praying for you”
“God is in control”
 
All of these are true, yes! But is it what you’re truly thinking? Sometimes the truth isn’t always comforting, and sometimes honesty is exactly what someone needs to be met with when they are feeling vulnerable. 
 
Maybe you’re speechless, and aren’t sure you have the right words for such an enormous moment. What if you said that?
 
Maybe you’re angry that this is happening to someone you care about so deeply. What if you expressed that emotion?
 
Sometimes it’s a comfort to hear that others are experiencing a range of emotions when you’re trying to process your own. When a friend steps into a crisis situation, they may feel numb at first. When you express your emotions for what they are going through, it can help them begin the healing journey.
 
Most of us feel helpless when people we care about are in trouble, because in truth, we would rather solve the problems than stand by and watch them struggle.
 
I wish after all these years I were confident that I have the right words to comfort and encourage. I don’t always know what to say or how to feel, but drawing from honest feelings and thoughts is better than a canned response, even if I’m certain the words I have to offer are imperfect and insufficient.
 
More important than searching for the perfect words to say when you’re caught off guard is to be around afterward. Check in, mail a note, be available, show up. More than what you say, it’s what you do that makes all the difference.

 

Woodstock Elementary Supports RSD Awareness

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On the morning of November 6th, in a suburb just north of Atlanta, GA, the students and teachers of Woodstock Elementary School arrived wearing orange in support of individuals living with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome/RSD. “It was a sea of orange today,” said Principal Kim Montalbano, who organized the awareness event.

WES orange

Each November for CRPS/RSD Awareness month, people around the world participate in Color the World Orange, and this year, for the first time, the students and faculty of Woodstock Elementary School joined the cause!

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My mother, a long-time teacher at W.E.S. was overwhelmed by the support shown to people living with severe daily pain and families affected by the debilitating neurological disorder, RSD/CRPS. When she arrived to work that morning, my mother was excited that the children in her own classroom would be sporting orange; instead however, she saw orange everywhere she looked! “It was a very emotional moment when I realized the entire school was supporting you today,” she told me that evening with tears in her eyes.

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Many of my mother’s colleagues know that I have grown more disabled over the years, however she was encouraged to share my story in more detail on the 6th along with information on the condition that started it all:

I sprained my ankle when I was a healthy, active and focused 22-year-old; Complex Regional Pain Syndrome/RSD began immediately following the injury. The constant pain has spread to other parts of my body over the last 11 years and I now have several other disabling chronic illnesses. They say that RSD/CRPS is the most painful condition- more painful than childbirth or amputation, but people like myself don’t get a break from the pain. I have traveled to see specialists, I have stayed in hospitals like Emory and Mayo among others, I have utilized western medicine, alternative, and holistic type treatments and therapies. Because of the enhanced awareness in recent years, new treatments for RSD/CRPS are being developed so there is always hope for remission! Anyone can contract RSD/CRPS from a minor injury, but research shows taking vitamin C after sprain, fracture or surgery will reduce your chances by helping your nerves heal. It is an extremely difficult condition to manage, but a loving family, faith, online support groups, and doctors who truly care make a world of difference for people like myself.

Mcgill pain index

 

A few of my mother’s co-workers shared that they struggle with their own chronic pain conditions and felt that no one understood what they lived with on a daily basis. A mother of one of the students wrote a note to my mom saying that she has had CRPS/RSD for years and has always felt very alone in her pain. She was so overwhelmed with the support of the entire school and was extremely grateful it was being recognized so near her home. She thanked my mother specifically for educating her child’s class on RSD and extended a special thank you to Principal Montalbano for organizing such a meaningful awareness event.

Several of the students tried to understand why wearing orange would make a difference. Some were disturbed by the idea of living every day in pain. One student asked my mother, “Can’t your daughter just take medicine to feel better?” Another asked his teacher how his orange t-shirt would help people in pain recover. His teacher explained that it wouldn’t, but for people like my mother and myself, his support would be “a very big deal.” He then felt compelled to run down to my mother’s classroom to show her his orange shirt, and to say, “I hope your daughter feels better soon.”

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Because of this incredible awareness event at W.E.S., classes upon classes of children know what RSD is. Their parents, who read the memo and found them something orange to wear that day, are now familiar with the term “RSD”. Faculty who helped explain the illness all day will recognize it whenever they hear the term again. The next time a person they care for is diagnosed, it won’t seem like the most foreign illness on the planet and they will know treatment must be sought out immediately.

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When I shared pictures of the children wearing orange to my Facebook timeline, my friends were so touched and inspired by this amazing gift of support. We all feel incredibly uplifted and deeply moved by the entire school of Woodstock Elementary. On behalf of myself, my family, and my extended family of survivors living with indescribable pain, thank you W.E.S. for your support, your kindness, and for raising awareness for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome/RSD.

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An Act of Kindness

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This is just a sampling of years of photographs that my good friend has taken and shared with me since I can no longer enjoy the outdoors.
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Now, my friends on Facebook who are also home-bound look forward to her photographs.
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She has been snapping and sharing pictures of her nature walks for the past few years because I have been confined to a bed and unable to go outside due to chronic illness. She brings the outdoors to me through the art of photography.
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In our friendship, nature has always been an important aspect, so we connect now through her breathtaking cloud photos, landscapes, and plants. Without her, I wouldn’t see the wondrous sky, I’d never know when the leaves were changing, or get to experience the colorful spring flowers. I write that with tears in my eyes for all of the beauty she lends on some of my darkest days. Even though I tell her, I doubt I have aptly expressed how deeply her labor of love has truly meant to me over the years.
She inspires me to do more creatively, she exemplifies the importance of meeting small needs, and she is a reminder how acts of kindness can make huge differences in people’s lives.
10457963_10202353246604935_5388975173777239688_nI hope she has encouraged you to find the opportunities and needs around you, and find ways you can make an impact. Be well!

Sprinkle Happiness: Pay it Forward Initiative 2014

A couple months back, an old friend posted a message on Facebook asking which 5 friends of his would participate in a Pay it Forward Initiative for 2014. “I WILL!!!” I said (probably adding a smiley face- ok, more like 3 smiley faces). I agreed to send some type of small gift or mail to surprise 5 different people during the remainder of the year (besides birthdays or holidays). This post is not to brag about doing something nice. So many other people participated in this effort throughout the year…it’s not about me. But I want to share my part and what I learned from the Pay it Forward Initiative to hopefully inspire others to do something similar.

A while back, Charity Elise, the artist of the first featured piece above sent me her most popular image after we conversed online. I had fallen in love with her art posters long ago and was excited to finally find her shop! In my mind, she sort of kicked off PI.F. for me by doing something so kind and generous. I imagine you have seen her work before on social media or Pinterest. This particular image and quote is extremely popular, especially in the chronic illness community. It’s not surprising people who are not feeling well are so drawn to such a vibrant image with an encouraging quote to match. Her beautiful Voltaire quote piece is hanging on my wall beside my bed and I am inspired by both her artwork and her kindness daily.

When I signed up for P.I.F. a few months later, my Voltaire print from Charity Elise called out to me (Send me! Send me!). When a fresh print arrived to my new acquaintance, she was being hospitalized after an emergency health scare. She said the artwork from a new friend helped to brighten up a dark time. When people have chronic illness, we are sick every day and might be in the hospital frequently. We don’t get flowers or cards that say “get well soon.” So getting something from a friend now and then that says, “I still care you are sick can mean the world.

These adorable spoon earrings went to my “Spoonie” friend who collects jewelry. Aren’t they soooooper cute?! Something else lovely happened with this purchase I just HAVE to share. Heidi, the creator of the Hammered Spoons shop was so inspired by the Pay it Forward Initiative, she refunded my payment and sent them herself! Amazing, right?! Heidi is a chronic illness survivor as well, and supports awareness causes through her hammered spoon sales. Like one giant hug of goodness going on!

My good friend and I were talking a while back about how her favorite face cream had been discontinued after using it for 30+ years. She hasn’t found anything else she isn’t sensitive to in the years since having to stop using it. I did a little digging and learned that her favorite product is actually still being sold; so, I was very excited to surprise her with a tube of her long-time face product! Reunited and it feels so good!

Still me

I read Still Me by Christopher Reeve about 10 years ago when I was first diagnosed. I remember listening to it on audio in my car with tears streaming down my face, but his amazing story empowered me to persevere. I still think about that book often and how much Reeve’s story has impacted me and so many others. A family member has recently been diagnosed with Arthritis, so I sent her this book. I pray she finds the same comfort and encouragement that I have found in his powerful words.

Lastly, I made something special for my Facebook friend who is going back to school. I covered a notebook with a magazine clippings collage. While I was doing this craft, the past month has been increasingly difficult for my friend. I wish I lived closer so I could give her a big hug, but this little creation will be my hug to her. I hope every day she is at school, she will keep it with her and know how proud I am that she is pursuing her degree despite all of the challenges in her life.

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Pay it Forward is not like a chain letter. I’m not supposed to be GETTING 5 gifts in return. However, since signing up for P.I.F., I’ve been receiving sweet little things in the mail from different friends of mine. One was a beautiful, unexpected painting my friends created. It’s so bright and colorful- I love that it reminds me of our long-time friendship. Another friend sent wonderful handmade stationary she put so much effort into making.

I have received more in my spirit through the giving process than I can put into words here. The biggest surprise with P.I.F. was that each of the people I sent something to truly needed a pick-me-up and each felt the timing of the gift was perfect. Sending something out of the blue to a friend or acquaintance… just a post card or a little unexpected “I’m thinking of you” snail mail can interrupt someone’s day with kindness and light like you wouldn’t believe.

Hey you…Yes YOU!!! I would like to challenge YOU reading this to Pay it Forward to 5 people in 2015. I would love to hear how you sprinkled kindness over your world in the coming year. I hope you see blessings in abundance rain down on YOUR own life in 2015. Peace.

******

Voltaire Quote Art Print by CharityElise | Sprinkle Kindness: Pay it Forward 2014 article #generosity #dosomethinggood #abodyofhope #Spoonie

Thank you Charity Elise for allowing your fabulous Voltaire Quote artwork to be featured today. Please check out her other vibrant prints and sweet ceramics on Etsy. 

www.Facebook/ChARiTyEliseDesigns

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