Tag Archives: #rak

Second heroes

Back in January I did some training at work and in one of the sessions of the day we were asked to think of someone who we considered to be our hero. We were then asked to put that person aside for a moment and think about the next person who came to mind. I believe the thinking behind it was that the first person is often your mum (correct!) and the second is a person who you truly aspire to be. I’d love to read more into the thinking behind it but my Google research techniques have failed on that account (although I did stumble upon this nice video about a ripple of kindness, which reminded me of this post I wrote!).

I found this concept interesting. It may be obvious to you that my number 1 was my mum. She is my daily inspiration, there’s no doubt about it. Does this mean that my number 2 is actually my number 1? That she’s been ‘bumped down’ my hero list? I had a think about it and for a very short while I panicked “she’s not my number one?!” which I then laughed about (internally of course, I was still in a quite room of colleagues who might have thought a sudden outburst of laughter a bit strange) because it doesn’t actually change anything. It was her after all that inspired us both to do this project and to keep it going. It does however, make me hold hero 2 in even higher regard, if that’s even possible, and I was eager to explore my second choice and spend some time thinking about him. 

It was easy. The person was already there in my mind and I found that I really wanted to talk about him to my colleagues and I gushed about how great he is. I can’t remember exactly what I told them but here are some reasons why he is my hero. 

  • He helps people every day: his wife, neighbours, friends. Shopping, errands, repairs – an endless list and countless hours
  • His helpfulness is unremitting. I mean, he probably doesn’t even give it a second thought; to him being helpful is just how he lives his life and always has done.  He doesn’t seem to tire of it or if he does you would never know. 
  • He is humble 
  • He gives great hugs
  • He always says he loves me

So, Grandad Tom, this one is dedicated to you! Laura and I have always talked to each other about how great you are. We love you so much! 

Louise 

P.S. you still owe me a dance! 

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National Random Acts of Kindness day

Today is National Random Acts of Kindness Day. I’d never heard of it before beginning this project and think it definitely needs more publicity. 

Despite the lack of blog posts, Love Join Me continues to operate in the background and we have a different year-long project on the go.  

We also continue to do RAKs whenever the opportunity arises but we’re struggling evem more with the true-altruism concept now our identities are known! Our most recent RAK was a goody bag for a homeless man. What surprised me about doing it was how much I cared about the nutrient content. I took the same amount of care that I would when choosing food for my children and I took a long time to decide what would be best to buy! I’m certain he wouldn’t have minded whatever I had given him but I wondered how long it had been since someone had cared for him in that way. 

I blinded him with my car lights when leaving. He sat there almost as if under a spotlight, holding the bag. I didn’t see him look inside. He held onto it tightly shut.  Out of respect? Pride? I don’t know. 

On my drive home I thought of his life and wondered how he ended up living on the streets. I imagined him being held as a baby, unaware of where life would take him, and wondered if there had been a single moment that had led him to where he is now. It made me incredibly sad and I had to force myself to stop thinking about it for a while. I haven’t seen him since. 

A ripple of coffee rak

Today I experienced a true ripple of kindness. All along we wanted this project to ripple out and spread kindness and today I witnessed that first hand. I’ve often passed Motore Cafe on my way into town and until now haven’t bought a coffee there despite wanting to every time I pass (I’m always pushing a double buggy so it makes it difficult!). The coffee always smells delicious and the cakes and biscuits always look so tasty too! What I love about this place is that it’s a small local business that prides itself on quality. We’ve done quite a few coffee-based RAKs but these have  involved big chain coffee shops. This time I wanted to support a local business. 


Today it was really early when I set off into town with my little Love Join Mes – too early even for the shops to be open – and I approached Motore Cafe intending to purchase 3 of his most popular coffees for the next three orders. As I was getting my purse out a man ordered his coffee. He was clearly a regular customer and I liked that so I told him I would like to pay for his coffee along with my order. I briefly explained the project to them; it was the most detail I’ve gone into when talking about it in person. A wonderful thing happened: the ripple! The man whose coffee I paid for also Paid it Forward. What’s more, I was also on the receiving end too – I was given a delicious cookie with my order. 

There was another man, Shaun, who had joined in the conversation. He was heading for breakfast in town so he didn’t want a coffee but I talked to him for a good 5 minutes as our journeys followed the same path. He mentioned how expensive it must be doing this so I explained how yes, some of our RAKs have cost us but many more have not and how because I rarely buy things for myself I choose to spend small amounts doing kind things instead. 

I hope the ripple continues! It was such a lovely experience. 

I won’t walk past in future – pushing the buggy with my coffee in hand wasn’t too bad after all. The coffee was great and I would highly recommend it – Motore cafe, Howard Street, Sheffield. 

Milk 


Browsing the internet one day I came across a story about a baby who had received donor breastmilk while in special care. I wasn’t aware such a practice existed so I researched further. Now, here I am, a few weeks down the line expressing my own breast milk into bottles and storing them in my freezer ready to be collected in a few weeks. 

I’ve always had a pretty good milk supply (my record is 10 ounces expressed in 20 minutes) so I knew it was something I would be able to do. 

There are a few rules to follow – hygiene of course being extremely important – but basically I sterilise my equipment (I use a manual hand pump), express milk, put the expressed milk in a bottle, write my name & date on it, pop it in a bag & store it in my freezer. I also keep a record of my freezer temperature on a daily basis. 

When the time comes to collect, a volunteer courier will come from Chester to my house, collect my milk and take it back to Chester.  When the courier picks up my first batch of milk I will get a form to have a blood screening test from my doctor to make sure I’m free of infectious diseases. 

When the milk is received it is pasteurised and tested for its macronutrient content (its composition of fat, carbohydrate, total solids and calories per 100ml). It is then refrozen and issued to hospitals. 

This is probably one of the most time-consuming RAKs for me as it is something I really have to do every day to ensure I can keep providing enough milk (the body’s production of milk works on a supply and demand basis). It’s not a chore though – bizarrely I enjoy watching it collect in the little bottle knowing it will help a sick or premature baby in the future. Also, I see it as a way of giving something back to the NHS. I’m looking forward to my first batch being collected and processed.

http://www.northwesthmb.org.uk 

An honourable person 

It would be an honour to tell you all about this RAK, but I’m afraid I can’t. You see, it has to be a secret, that’s the rule. It will also remain a secret for at least 12 months, more likely 18.  This act of kindness from us could amount to nothing but, equally, it could be massive. HUGE. We so hope it is. We hope that others will come to know about an amazing person’s way of life, through this RAK.  If this does not pan out the way we hope it will, we will still celebrate in our own way, and we will share what this post is all about in more detail. 

For now,  I will tell you some things about the person for whom this RAK is dedicated. This person is the most selfless of people and even she, for whom this project is dedicated, would have conceded that this person trumps all others in this way. She held this person in such high regard, as do we, and she would be ecstatic that we are attempting to do this for them (apologies for the gender-neutral pronouns, I’m trying to keep it as secret as possible!)

Given that this project will reach its end before we know of the status of this RAK, I need to remain vague as I would not want the person to recognise themselves or work out what this is all about nor for others to either. Suffice to say that this RAK is the one that has taken me the most time in preparing, even longer than the hours I spent running in the May My Marathon! The idea first came to me well over a year ago. I have spent hours, if not days, working on it, researching, and asking others for help. People were only too willing to contribute to this and I value their contributions greatly. Furthermore, having spoken to people about our RAK recipient, it has only made me prouder and more determined to make this work out for them.  For they have no idea, no idea whatsoever, just how extraordinary they are, how they are held in the highest of high regards by so many. They do not seek thanks or praise and are humble. There are not enough superlatives in the English language to do this person justice. 

Very few people know about this RAK, such is its nature. I can think of 8 if you include LJM1 and LJM2 and my husband. They have all been sworn to secrecy for the recipient is not to find out unless it is all a success. I hope that in two years’ time, if not before, I am updating you all with good news and that this person’s kindness and honourable nature can be celebrated in the way that we have planned. Kindness and altruism are at the fore of this RAK, and not from us. Ours is an act of kindness like no other in this project. It is not so much random and about us being kind but it is unique and rather special, rather like its recipient. 

p.s. There are a few clues in this post (picture included). But if you work it out, keep schtum! 

Living eulogies & obituaries 


There were perhaps 200 people at her funeral. The church was packed, even more than it had been 18 days previously when she walked down the same aisle arm in arm with the very same vicar before she watched her eldest daughter marry. 

We stood there at the pulpit LJM1 & I, and read her eulogy. We took it in turns, a paragraph each. I laughed at recalling a memory involving a donkey. I didn’t cry, not until everything was over and we were outside the crematorium. I felt remarkably strong, just as she had been when confronting what was facing her. 

She didn’t tell us she was dying. We knew there was no cure and that she was running out of options but she hid it well (she had planned to tell us but she didn’t have as long as she thought in the end). It’s not as though you can prepare yourself anyway; knowing outright wouldn’t have made it any easier. She made sure she left plans, made things straight forward. Shortly after her death I found a notebook in which she listed the steps to go through. She thought of everything: bank accounts, death registration, pension. I remember touching the page of the notebook where her hand probably rested. She also told me something one afternoon in LJM1’s old bedroom. I don’t know why we were in there but we were gazing out of the window looking down the street and she told me to help our dad find someone else. I kept it to myself for a long time, until it was needed. Even when faced with the most horrific outcome for herself, she made a decision that would have broken her heart to vocalise. She was truly selfless.
One of the RAKs that is in the pipeline got me thinking about her eulogy and about living obituaries. I wish she could have heard what we said and I wish she could have read everything we’ve written about her in this blog. Perhaps then, we should take the time to write a living obituary to our loved ones? Show those around us how much we value them now in the present day and not wait until they are no longer around to hear what we have to say? 

Perhaps we could use it as a self-evaluation tool? What would people say about me? What would I want them to say? We encounter self-evaluation in work all the time, but realistically how many of us evaluate ourselves & try to improve ourselves in our day-to-day lives? We don’t set ourselves ‘targets to improve’ bar an often light-hearted New Year’s Resolution that lasts a couple of weeks. Perhaps it’s time we did. I guess that’s what we’ve done these past 11 months. We’ve definitely thought about others in a different way, looked into their lives more and tried to understand them. But what about when our initial project is over? It certainly won’t be the end… It’ll soon be time to evaluate and improve once more!

No Australia update…

I’m worried! 34 days since I posted the Australia parcel for this RAK and I’ve not heard anything. Here are possible scenarios:

  1. It’s on its way – I have no idea how long it takes to get to a remote island off the coast of Brisbane!
  2. I got the wrong address (I didn’t ask my cousin as I wanted it to be a surprise)
  3. It’s arrived but they didn’t notice my name in tiny print on the customs sticker and haven’t shared it on social media, for whatever reason
  4. It’s arrived but hasn’t found its way to them (I have emailed their place of work/address to see if it’s arrived but have had no response). 
  5. It arrived but Australian customs have rejected it (tea bags allowed?) and it’s on its way back.

So, M & N, when this project is revealed and you still haven’t got your surprises, I am so sorry! I owe you some chocolate/sweets/cups of tea upon your return, if not before! 

In the meantime, I really hope it arrives!

A little Treat for 47

Sometimes we need a little treat, 

For no reason, just ’cause it’s sweet. 

So here you go, enjoy from us, 

We hope it gives you a little buzz.

This was our message in a Treat Box ordered anonymously for someone. The box was ordered for no other reason than we thought it was a nice thing to do for that person. We hope it will give her a little moment of calm in her busy life. We left it anonymous as we’re not quite ready to reveal Love Join Me yet and she would definitely work out who we are! We know that she, the original LJM, always thought about our treatbox’s recipient. 


Inside we chose to put a bath bomb, a lip balm, a pencil, notebook and pocket mirror. We hope that she shares her surprise on social media (when the parcel arrives in a few days) so that we can update you as to its reception – hopefully with a photo! 

To order or build one of these fab boxes or to subscribe, click here*.

*please note we’re not in any way affiliated.

Close To You


Yesterday was World Blood Donor day (I happened to stumble upon this on Twitter). It just so happens that today, I was booked into to give blood.

Giving blood is an Act of Kindness that hundreds of people do every day. I have done it twice myself before aged 17/18 but it has been a long time since then. During the 14ish years since my last donation, a lot has changed.

All that time ago, she regularly donated blood. It was one of the things that she was passionate about. I remember her telling us she was proud of us for doing it and proud when we signed up to be on the Bone Marrow register.  So, when she was no longer able to donate blood after her illness, she was incredibly upset that she could not continue to help others. It was her turn for the help. During her treatment she had a few blood transfusions. They were never going to save her life, not in her case. But the difference in her after a transfusion was incredible. She went from breathless and pale to relatively normal-looking (and breathing!) straight away. It improved her quality of life.
I have always intended to get back into giving blood. I lapsed due to moving to university and then abroad and I never started again despite meaning to. I wanted to do it for her, to repay the blood she used and more. Maybe I will help someone like her? Maybe if I’d still been donating all those years ago she could have had my blood, the blood she created, the very same type. Tonight I did it.

Walking into the donation room was familiar; I had been in the church hall many times before, a lot of them with her. When I walked in and sat down the song on the radio was one by The Carpenters: Close to You.

Just like me, they long to be, 

Close to you.

And I felt it. I was doing something she was proud of, listening to a song that reminded me intensely of her.

So they sprinkled moon dust in your hair and starlight in your eyes of blue. 

A memory came to me whilst in the toilet, of all places. I had been there before, with her. Only not just her, she was helping a small child. They girl was perhaps five. We had been watching a pantomime there and the girl was desperate for the toilet but the people she was with would not accompany her. She took her. I remember it clearly because the girl was covered in severe eczema and was uncomfortable. I remembered watching the kindness she showed, the poor sweet girl’s silent gratitude as she helped her and took her back to her seat. A small and almost forgotten memory but another showing her character.

Just like me, they long to be, 

Close to you. 

As I lay there, needle in arm watching interestedly as my blood was collected, my progress measured by the blood being weighed, I thought about all the others in the room. There were loads of people. What was their motivation? Where had mine been for all these missed years? I saw some familiar faces, a father I recognised whose daughter had had leukaemia. Was she his motivation? Everyone has some inspiration, some motivation, a reason for being there. I had mine. This project spurred me into action but I wish I had gone back sooner.

It was painless and easy and I’m already booked in again for next time. If you’re reading this and you’ve lapsed from giving blood or have never given it then please let this spur you on. You never know who you might help. You may save a live, prolong a life or improve a life. What a gift!

The RAK list

  1.  Cakes for the staff at the Trinity Holisitc Centre
  2.  Free balls for dogs on the beach
  3.  Donation to Save The Children
  4.  Morning coffee for a drive-thru customer
  5.  Cake Sale for Syria
  6.  Costa for a stranger
  7.  Free rice for someone hungry
  8.  Biscuits for the nursing home
  9.  Email for an old friend
  10.  Flowers for someone who has been having a hard time
  11.  Soup and bread for a homeless person
  12.  Money left for a train ticket
  13.  Money left in a vending machine
  14.  Helping a little boy get his bike
  15.  Donating and Remebering for World Cancer Day
  16.  Wearing Red and donating to the British Heart Foundation
  17.  An issue of the Big Issue
  18.  Work Pigeon Hole gifts
  19.  Surprise coffee for neighbours
  20.  Breast Feeding video for new mums
  21. Crochet squares for a blanket
  22.  Toys sent to the Children’s Day Unit at the hospital
  23.  The Bells leaving Easter Eggs for students in France
  24. From LJM2 to LJM1 – a not so random act
  25. Blurt BuddyBox
  26. IVF goody bag
  27. Signing up to be an organ donor
  28. Cream cake for Big Issue Seller
  29. Bringing the outside in
  30. Bouncy Balls in the park
  31. Post cards to random addresses
  32. Hand cream sent to a long-lost friend
  33. Bus fare for a stranger
  34. JungleJog donation for Huntington’s Disease
  35. Lucky Pennies in the park
  36. Forget-me-not seeds
  37. Supermarket gift
  38. Money raised for the British Heart Foundation’s My Marathon
  39.  Dear Richard, Liverpool
  40. Rosie the Dulux dog
  41. All the way to Oz
  42. Take what you need
  43. Close to you – donating blood
  44.  It could be you! Lotto tickets
  45.  Food for thought (Foodbank)
  46.  Race for Life Marshalling
  47. A little treat (box)
  48. An honourable person
  49. Book Rescue
  50. Kindness Rocks!
  51. Marie Curie baby clothes
  52. Seeking Refuge
  53. Flowers for old friends
  54. Flowers for Strangers
  55. Woolly Sheep
  56. Water painting for dementia sufferers
  57. Milk
  58. Coffee ripple
  59. Fabric for a refugee peace blanket
  60. Donation of 16 inches of hair to the Little Princess Trust