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A few weeks ago, I was waiting in the drive-thru line at Wendy's for a BLT salad, my favorite lunch for those days when I'm running short on time. When I drove up to the window to pay, I learned that the stranger in line ahead of me had already done so.
Wendy's employees told me that the gentleman said to tell me that Jesus wanted me to be blessed that day. I did feel blessed, hugging that feeling to myself throughout the entire day. And since then, several other people have told me stories of similar experiences.
Then, the very next week, I received information in the mail about Campbellsville Active Day clients' plan to participate in Pay It Forward Day on April 28. We published a story about it ... and I also made my own personal plan to participate.
I remember how I felt that day when a complete stranger bought my lunch. I felt special. And as the day went on, I thought about how I wanted to make someone else feel that special.
According to the website www.payitforwardday.com, the project is all about making a positive difference in someone's life. At last count, the site states, there were more than 235,000 people in 28 countries around the world participating in Pay It Forward Day. The website even provides free "Pay It Forward" cards that can be given out, explaining what the project is about.
For years I've heard stories about "random acts of kindness." It's certainly not a new idea; my parents always emphasized the importance of being kind to others. But an organized movement is a way to spread the idea to even more people.
Some other ideas suggested on the website are:
So here's my plea: Let's all give it a shot. Next Thursday, April 28, I encourage everyone to go out of their way and do something nice for another person, whether it's a stranger or someone you know.
You'll be amazed at how good you'll feel inside.
Next on my list is a project aimed at ending negative self-talk by women. I think we've all "been there, done that."
Operation Beautiful has a simple premise: leave anonymous positive messages in public places - restrooms, car windshields, gyms, grocery stores, mirrors, etc. Caitlyn Boyle is the project's founder.
At www.operationbeautiful.com, Boyle states that negative self-talk or "fat talk" hurts a person emotionally, spiritually and physically.
"My personal goal is to leave as many Operation Beautiful notes as I can," Boyle states. "Maybe some people read them and just smile, but I bet some people are truly touched by the effort of a random stranger."
Boyle encourages women to leave positive, motivating notes and she also posts photos on her website of notes that people have found.
I contacted Boyle for permission to use a photo from her website with my column, and she said she has received more than 7,000 notes from all over the world, including Asia, Europe and Africa since beginning her website in June 2009.
"I was inspired to start Operation Beautiful after having a really bad day at work," Boyle wrote. "I wanted to do something small and simple for someone else to make me feel better.
She said too many women today struggle with self-esteem issues.
"There is a lot of negative messaging in our society, and the issues start young - did you know the average girl goes on her first diet when she's 8 years old? The biggest mistake we make is beating ourselves up for not looking like models or celebrities.
"It's time we stop emulating or striving for a type of perfection that doesn't even exist in the real world. It's OK to look like a human!"
As a side note, teenage girls at Colleyville Heritage High School in Colleyville, Texas, girls formed a club "Redefining Beautiful: One Girl at a Time." Members of the club made a pact: Each Tuesday, they put away their makeup and go to class with clean faces.
The girls told an ABC News reporter last year that makeup can sometimes become a crutch for teens seeking to achieve an image of magazine-style perfection.
"They rely so much on their self image that they forget, 'I'm here to learn. I'm here to make a difference,'" one senior said.
What's even neater is that boys at the school formed a group to support and encourage the girls.
Since then, similar clubs have formed at other schools.
All of this is indicative of the growing disgust many are finally beginning to have about the message of "perfection" that is being promoted by television shows and magazines.
A woman does not have to be perfect looking to be beautiful. Who wants to look like a Barbie doll? I've had three children. And you know what? Each one of my stretch marks is beautiful ... because I know why they're there.
So ... have a great day, Beautiful!
The CKNJ Bookmarks reading group met Sunday afternoon to discuss the book "A God Who Hates," by Wafa Sultan. Sultan tells of her experience with the Muslim faith.
Next up is the book "Freedom" by Jonathan Franzen. The next meeting is set for 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 17.
According to an Amazon.com review, Franzen's book is "A wrenching, funny and forgiving portrait of a Midwestern family. Patty and Walter Berglund find each other early: a pretty jock, focused on the court and a little lost off it, and a stolid budding lawyer, besotted with her and almost burdened by his integrity. They make a family and a life together, and, over time, slowly lose track of each other."