One of my favorite pet-centric ideas for the Kindness Challenge is making pet treat bundles. It's so easy and so fun to make and then handing them out is equally fun!
One year, I taught a fund-raising summer camp. They would learn some cute songs and skits to perform at the end of the week for parents and friends, but we would also create something to sell in order to raise money for a charity. This particular year, they chose the local animal shelter to support. We asked for donations of dog treats, cat treats, small animal treats and bird treats. We cut out square of scrap fabric and tulle and set to work.
You set a clump of treats in the center of the square, then gather up the corners and bind them together with a ribbon or a thin strip of fabric. They were SO adorable!!
Then I sent the kids home to sell them for $2 a piece. (There were prizes for whomever sold the most!). They had so much fun! At the end of the week, the kids were able to present the animal shelter with a check for all the money they raised. (They had also asked the audience during intermission, if they would donate any extra money.).
It was such a great time. And such a valuable lesson about charity and kindness. (Plus, the program was super cute too!)
So I've kept this idea close and every other year or so, I create little pet bundles. Not to sell, but to just give away to those who have pets. I add a little tag on them to make sure they know it is NOT human food!! Lol!
I give them to people and neighbors I know that have furbabies, and if I'm ever stuck with too many leftovers, a quick stop at a local dog park helps alleviate that problem! And for a few moments, I am Queen of the Dog Park!
If you want to make this a full day activity with the family, there are so many pup treats recipes that you could even make your own! And, since I'm extra, I had to buy all of the adorable pet-type cookie cutters too! But there are some that you just roll and bake. You don't have to make it fancy or difficult, there are lots of super simple options too.
These slow-motion photos of pups "trying" to catch treats make me laugh out loud every single time!
A Simple Recipe for Dog Treats:
Peanut Butter: make sure that the peanut butter you use is natural peanut butter. The only ingredient should be peanuts. Do not use processed peanut butter that contains added oils, sugars, and salt. That stuff is basically frosting and is bad for our pups. Peanut butter is a great source of protein and healthy fats for our dogs as well as vitamins B and E, and niacin.
Banana: this is the perfect recipe to use up those bananas that are getting a bit old. Bananas have potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, fiber, and magnesium which are all healthy nutrients for dogs.
Oats: you can use whole oats, 1- minute oats, or instant oats, as long as there aren't any added sugars or other ingredients. In this recipe, I grind the oats into a powder to make homemade oat flour. If you have a food processor or blender, this takes just a few seconds to do and is usually more affordable than buying premade oat flour. I also always have oats on hand so it's nice that I don't have to go out to get anything special. Oats are very healthy for our pooches as they are high in fiber, contain vitamin B, and omega-6 fatty acid among other good nutrients.
Preheat your oven to 300F (150C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Add the oats to a food processor and grind until they reach a fine powder. (If you do not have a food processor, see the recipe notes for other options).
Add the bananas and peanut butter and blend until a sticky dough is formed.
Remove from the food processor and roll out on a lightly floured surface. (Use whole wheat flour, more ground oats, or another dog-safe flour that you have on hand). I used a heart cookie cutter to cut out these homemade dog treats but you could use any cookie cutter, or just cut them into squares with a knife or pizza cutter.Lay the treats on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the treats are puffed up a bit, dry and dark brown on the bottoms, (they will still feel soft when first removed from the oven). The treats will get a bit more firm once they are cool but will still be a slightly softer dog treat. Let cool before giving one to your pup.Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or I like to store them in my freezer which makes them firmer and makes them stay fresh a long time.
This recipe came from: @itdoesnttastelikechicken on Instagram. If you make these at home, be sure to give them a holler on Instagram!!
Simple Cat Treat Recipe
You only need 3 ingredients to make these healthy homemade cat treats. And you might already have them all in your pantry!
This recipe came from @thecookierookie on Instagram! If you make this recipe, make sure you give them a shout-out!!
Today we are looking at how you can help the humans AND the fur babies. We touched on some of these activities back in the "help your neighbor" week, but I'll bring them up here.
Take note of how you can help your neighbors with their pet care needs. Is someone feeling unwell? Recovering from surgery? A broken bone? Just had a baby? Covid? Or elderly and tired? Or maybe they just had a bad day?
Can you take the pup out for a walk? Can you make sure the babies have all been fed and have clean water? Maybe take some time to help scoop poop? Or if you were planning on bringing a gift, perhaps you could add on a bag of food, litter, snacks or bedding?
There are really awesome services for these types of things as well, such as Rover, if your schedule won't allow you to help, or your a few states away, perhaps you could hire someone for them or gift them a service?
When we are feeling under the weather, it is SUCH A GIFT to have help with all the other daily duties of life so we can concentrate on getting well. And many times, our critters get dropped on the priority list. Especially if they aren't "in your face begging for food"!
How can you help your neighborhood or family & friends humans AND critters?
Welcome to Week Four of the Leading With Love Kindness Challenge!
This week we are focusing in on our furry, feathery, scaly, slimy, four-legged, two-legged, no-legged animal friends!
Even though I include animal challenges each year, I was encouraged to make it a full week of activities; ways we can help show kindness to our animal friends who are 100%, completely dependant on our kindness.
And the best place to start, is right in your own home.
The obvious choice would be to bring them an extra treat or a new toy or a new climbing thing for their habitats.
But we can also use this first day to take a closer look at some things we might have neglected.
Is it time to update the litter box, food and water bowls, switch out the tank liners, filters or wash the plastic plants? Is it time to wash the cat and pup beds? Do they have their flea and tick medications for the summer? Are they up to date on their shots? Do they have identification chips or tags? Do some of their toys need to get pitched or donated? Have your reptilian children outgrown their hideaways? Have your furry children outgrown their beds? Do your feathered children need a bit more wingspan room and you've been putting off upgrading their cage?
These are all great ways to kick off our final week of showing kindness to our animal friends! Be sure to share lots of photos over on the socials!!
Let me count the ways...
There are so many! Your neighborhood is the place you likely spend most of your time in. Many, since Covid, work from home so they don't even leave their communities for work! It sounds like an excellent place to "give back".
Just look around as you take a walk or are driving to the grocery store... what can you do? How can you help? I can guarantee you there are already groups formed with meetings and likely emails that have plenty of ways you can help the community.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Beautification. Food pantries. Churches with Outreach programs. Legal & Government change. Donate Blood. Buy local. Donate money to a local fund-raiser. Tutor students at the local schools. Donate goods to homeless shelters and food banks. Coach a Youth sports team. Volunteer at the library. Help out at the Voting Booths.... SO MANY OPTIONS!!
What are areas you love to serve? What are passions you have that you could teach others? What age group do you love working with? Where do you find happiness? Inside or outside?
Go where it makes you happy. Give what brings you joy.
You could focus just on your own block. Every little bit helps. Every small act of kindness counts.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Mow a neighbor's lawn. Pull their garbage cans to and from the curb. pick up groceries. Share produce from your garden. Prepare a meal. Leave a gift card. Leave a bottle of water or a snack for the postal workers, the garbage men, the package delivery folks- it gets hot out there!
Drop some sneaky thank you cards or even include a gift card for librarians, teachers, nurses, bus drivers, volunteers...
Make gift baskets for the local homeless, the fire department, the police department, nurses stations, librarians, toll booth workers, elderly neighbors,
The options are endless! It doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't have to be grand... it just needs to be done. Please, take some time and a little bit of effort to show others that you care. It will be returned to you TEN-FOLD.
A lot of people who join me for the Kindness Challenge, especially in the early years, often thought kindness was connected to donations. And that can be true, and while it's obviously not the ONLY way to make a generous impact on your community, it is still most welcomed and very effective. So, we are including it here.
This is a win-win act of kindness. We get the benefit of cleaning our homes and shedding some unwanted items, and the donation facility of your choice receives good, quality items that can be used to benefit others.
So let's get creative here.
Clothing that hasn't been worn, outgrown, or you're "just not feeling it" articles can all be washed, bagged and donated to several charities. There are several- SEVERAL options in your state if you look. (P.S. Goodwill, while they make it SUPER easy for you to donate your items- is not necessarily a charity. They are a business.). There are homeless shelters, women's shelters, military organizations, family services... choose what would work best for the items being donated.
You can clean out your garage and donate tools to Habitat for Humanity, trade schools, Big Brother/Big Sister.
You can clean out the kid's toy boxes and release the toys that they have outgrown and put them in the hands of children who may not have anything at all if not for your kindness.
Clean out the pantry for can goods or overstocked box meals. Many churches offer a food pantry that families can come and select items they could use.
This also works for the bathroom panty too? Did you get a bit overzealous about the toothpaste that went on sale? Toilet paper, tooth brushes, extra towels, feminine products (maybe you don't need them anymore?), shampoo, conditioner, soap bars, liquid soap, bandaids, travel size everythings...
Nothing expired, of course, but you could also toss in, aspirin, suntan lotion, chapstick (does anyone buy just one?), calamine lotion, antibiotic lotion, wet wipes, razors, shaving cream, hand lotion...
Got extra snacks? Make some packages for the local homeless in your area. Maybe head to the Dollar Store and grab a couple extra items to tuck inside too... if you wanted.
Let's. not forget books! Some people love to hang on to their favorite books and others are a read 'em and let 'em go. I'm a little bit of both and am never in short supply of acquiring more! Lol! There are lots of places you can donate books, CDs, DVDs, even videos... even cassettes!! I love leaving books behind at those tiny lending libraries, at laundromats, bus stops, train stations and airports, clinics, parks... (Bonus, add a bookmark letting them know this book is not lost, but left behind on purpose as a "found gift for them"!)
Children's books are often most welcome at many places too. Church day care centers, low income schools, low income libraries...
You can donate coloring books to hospitals!
So many options! Get creative and Get cleaning!
You'll love the extra space and you'll sleep well knowing you've helped someone else.
This has become my annual event, where I purge all my "extra" items. I live in a small space and really don't have room for extras, so this works out perfectly for me. Wherever I happen to be in June, is where I donate.
As the saying goes, "One man's trash is another man's treasure." Don't let perfectly, usable items go to waste by just tossing them in the trash. Give them a new life in the hands of those who could use a little bit of help right now. You'll be glad you did.
Welcome to Day Seventeen! We are in the "Neighborhood" week of the 30 Day Challenge. So this week we are stepping a little bit further out from our inner circle to help support the community we live in.
There are so many small ways we can show kindness to those who live in the same area.
When you go for a walk, you could pick up random pieces of trash. (Ugh! Litter... one of my biggest pet peeves!). For some reason, people don't seem to "see" the litter that they literally walk on or step over. Just pick it up. I promise you there is a trash receptacle somewhere close by. But for our walking example, bring along a small grocery bag to collect the pieces of trash in.
You could take it one step further and scoop up the kids and get to your local park. Get everyone on board of picking up at least five pieces of trash.
Grab a few friends or others interested in cleaning up the community and concentrate on one location... like the park, a specific residential block (maybe an area where older residents live?), choose a section of beach to walk down and clean. How about a river clean up? Trash doesn't just disappear when you drop it in water! (Ugh! I hate litter.)
create pretty potted flowers and set them outside the doors of small businesses (with their permission,of course) and at the end of the season, you can go collect your supplies to do it again next year!
You could raise money for one particular thing the city is working toward. A new fountain, a new park, a new biking/walking trail. "Buy a brick" or participate in whatever fund raiser the city, itself, is doing.
When you look around your neighborhood- what do you see? How can you pitch in to help make your community one that you love to come home to every day?
These are just suggestions... no one is saying you have to build a 25 volunteer team to beautify the city... the Challenge is not to overwhelm you or add stress to your already busy life. If nothing else, it will change the way you see things. Perhaps open your eyes to new things. And maybe even tug at your heart to want to change things. It doesn't have to be a team of 25... it can start with you.
Have a happy day, friends!
Well, we have crossed over the halfway point- not only of the month, but of the YEAR! Can you believe it? I think the older you get, time seems to go by more quickly. I guess that's why I'm more conscious of how I spend my time anymore. Nothing is promised and I don't feel as young, that's for sure.
That's probably why the Kindness Challenge means more to me year after year. How I leave my mark on this world has become a priority. Will those I love, know how much they are loved? Will it be enough to carry with them forever? For those that I only have a season with, did I leave a happy memory? And for those I only meet in an instance, will our interaction leave them smiling?
It's really not that hard to be kind to others. Every day. All the time. Zero exceptions. And, as I mentioned, it becomes more important as the days go by. For me, being a Christian, it adds a bit more relevance as, when I do pass and make it to the pearly gates, how I long to hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
We all "serve" in our own ways and have been called in a variety of options, but I do know that we are ALL required to love one another. And kindness is a great way to show it.
With this passing of half the month, it brings us to a new week. This week is called Where You Live. How can we show kindness in the place we call home. Last week was the intimate settings of home. Our family and friends, co-workers, close neighbors,etc. This week we expand our reach just a bit. To those that share our community, our schools, post office, grocery stores...
I'd like to start off this week honoring our police officers, firefighters, EMTs and other "first responder" employees.
Not a week goes by (when I'm living in a city environment) that I don't hear the sirens go off in the background. These are reminders that there are those working at all hours, 24/7, protecting the space I'm in. I am grateful for that.
For those who have chosen a career to willingly put their safety on the line in service for others should never be taken for granted... but it is. All too often.
These people have families of their own but still feel called to a greater mission. Their hours are long and hard and when those sirens go off, they have no idea what they could be facing.
So today's challenge is to show them some extra love and kindness. At the very least, thank them. Maybe, if they aren't busy ( and are so inclined) you could offer a hug. It may be the very thing they needed but didn't know to ask for it.
Their shifts are sometimes long and they are away from their families. Why not take them a snack basket to the station. (It doesn't have to be homemade cookies or muffins, although I doubt they'd be upset with that... but just grab a few things they can snack on while they wait for the next emergency.)
You and the family could send them a home-made card to say "thanks".
You could write a simple social media post thanking them for their service.
Kindness doesn't have to cost billions. There's something we can all do today.
God bless our police officers, detectives and on up the line.
God bless our firefighters, EMTs and volunteers that. spring to action when they are called upon.
Thank you, for your unwavering protection.
Today's mission is pretty self explanatory, so I won't waste much time in detailing the aspects of hugging. It's something we pretty much all know HOW to do... BUT do we implement it? Not nearly enough, in my mind. And apparently, I'm not alone. There are surveys out there that are measuring hugging - the amount and the effects! What a great job!
They have found that hugs not only increase the release of oxytocin, the "love hormone" or as some refer to it, the "cuddle chemical" but also the endogenous opioid system (which I didn't know I had) but these are neurons found in the brain that can produce "soothing" chemicals, to help deflect stress or anxiety and even to feel "safer and cared for".
And there is something to be said for children receiving hugs when the are upset, emotionally, or physically as that same collection of neurons also helps relieve physical pain and reduce fear.
Did you know that hugging also helps reduce "conflict exposure"? Meaning, that if you hug on the regular, you are less inclined to dive head first into a conflict. Your brain, literally calms you down, or at the very least slows the anger trajectory! Why we all aren't hugging our people on a regular basis, is beyond me.
Need another reason? How about- hugging can be shown to reduce high blood pressure, it increases our sense of "belonging", and helps keep the brain active and healthy.
I think I've found my new retirement strategy- hugging babies and elderly... Is there a job posting for that??
Needless to say, your assignment today is to get out there and start hugging! Start in your own household to get some good practice in before you take it out to the streets. My one caution is you might want to ask permission before you start throwing your arms around complete strangers. The Leading with Love Kindness Challenge does not have a built in Bail Money Fund. Hug with caution.
I do have one more request. Please share an image of your hugging adventure within the Facebook post.
Seeing hugs as well as the smiles they produce has great benefits as well. No one judge you for not hugging enough, or hugging too many, or hugging puppies or how and who you may choose to hug. It's a FREE HUG ZONE!!
Happy Hugging everyone!!
In many ways the work environment has changed. More people are working from home or participating in a hybrid -half office/half home situation. But then for the rest, it's work as usual.
You get up, get dressed and spend the majority of your day with co-workers. It is a different kind of "family" where you don't get to choose who you spend the bulk of your day with.
All different backgrounds. All different work styles. All different attitudes. All different likes and dislikes. Sometimes it works beautifully and the environment can be peaceful... sometimes downright pleasant. Other times it can be irritating or even toxic. Putting people together to accomplish specific tasks is always an adventure with several "unknown" factors that don't reveal themselves... until they do.
Many times, we spend MORE time with our work family than we do our home family.
It's helpful if each person does what they can to keep things at an even keel and do their best to get along with everyone else.
We're all humans, right? We have that same ribbon of humanity woven through us and we have a deep longing to belong, no matter what face we put out front.
Today's challenge is to do something nice for the people in your workspace.
Bring a flowering plant or cut flowers in to brighten the place up.
Bring in homemade cookies or stop by the donut shop on your way in and grab a dozen.
If you see something that need to be do, just do it. As long as it doesn't distract you from your job, just do it.
Compliment your co-workers. They are away from their homes and families too.
Leave an encouraging note in the breakroom.
Leave early from home, so you won't be late. Be on time for your clients and be prepared. These are ways of showing kindness as well.
Smile. Greet each other.
Be easy to get along with... approachable. (When I say things like this it does not mean being a "doormat". Kindness is no longer kindness when it is abused. Being a kind person is not synonymous with being a "people pleaser"! Make sure you have your boundaries in place. But you can do it with a smile! Lol!)
Romans 12:18 says (paraphrased) As much as is possible; as is under your control, live peaceably with others. This one verse has held me accountable when the co-worker situation got tough. A lot of biting my tongue and moving along! Lol.
Do all that you can to be happy in your place of employment. And if you love your job and the people you work with, this challenge isn't too tough. Maybe the challenege is to "out do" your last act of kindness! Lol!
And if it is a struggle to make yourself go to work every day, be sure to always look for the good. The good in the people. The good in the job. The good in the fruits of your labors. It's there... sometimes you might have to squint, but it's there.
Have an amazing Day 14, friends! Go be kind.
When I was younger, the neighbors all knew each other. They would all watch over each other's children, they would hand out the best candies or treats at Halloween, they would give small gifts to one another. These days, not many people know their neighbors. I am guilty of this myself. I am a forever smile and wave-er, but I am also very much an introvert and sometimes it gets way too peopley out there!
I had always thought that I might want to live in those kinds of neighborhoods that had the group yard sales and the street wide barbeques on the holidays but that's just not me as much as I love to admire it from afar.
But we can still do kind things for those who happen to live around us.
Here's a few suggestions you could try to pour out some love to those who live nearby.
-You could mow the lawn or shovel snow for those who are elderly or ill or who have just had a baby! (You'll know by the balloons!)
-You could make them a meal. If you're making one for yourself, you could easily double it!
-If you have a new neighbor move in, please do something to make them feel welcome! Leave them a basket of cleaning supplies, or paint brushes, packaged snacks, toilet paper, or light bulbs, maybe a potted plant. Maybe pet treats if they have furbabies. Or an outdoor game for kids if they arrive with those too. It's an uncomfortable and exciting thing starting a life in a new place. Do what you can to ease them into it!
-You could leave a flower, a gift card, a basket of goodies on their doorstep.
-You could purchase some groceries for those who may be having a rough time.
-You could strike up a conversation with no motive... just to say hi. Weird, I know.
-You could pull their trash cans back from the curb- or vice versa.
-You could do a donation collection- leave them a note saying you're getting ready to drop off items at the local Salvation Army or women's shelter, or children's home and the day you'll be by to pick it up. All they have to do is leave it on their porch in a plastic trash bag with a note, so you know what to take... and then... take it.
- You could organize a community garden.
-You could organize a street food drive.
-And yes, it could be YOU that got that annual BBQ or yard sale tradition started.
There are so many things we can do to be kind to each other without having to be uncomfortable. Choose your level of social comfort and decide what you can do!