We are kicking off a new Uncommon season!
So! For the next few months, we are focusing on serving others. Around here, we find such joy and fulfillment in giving to those around us. That's why we created the Uncommon Acts of Kindness, why we celebrate our teammates, and why we support businesses we love.
We know we could all use a little extra care these days, so we want to share some ideas for how you can show up for those around you.
Ultimately, we have learned how to care for others by being cared for by others, and we want to share as many of those stories with you as we can. To be honest, when we sat down to think about all the ways others have shown up for us, it was overwhelming! We had a hard time narrowing down our stories of love and support, so we are just gonna share them all with you. Sound good?! :)
In Times of Loss
Katie shared, “This past summer we lost our sweet gram. She passed in July and a dear friend of mine, Liz, is no stranger to grief. She's been there and walked that road after losing her mama to cancer. As the weeks went by, I continually got a text from Liz checking in on me ... every few days she'd just ask how I was. Nothing profound or pushy, just a way to show she cared. It was the consistency that reminded me of how showing up for others doesn't have to be huge, it just has to be consistent.”
Sarah shared, “After a rough break-up, I remember my sister Amber really being there for me. Honestly, I don't remember what exactly either of us said in our conversations, but I remember that she really listened to me. She supported me without judgment, and she could totally empathize with exactly what I was going through because she had been through something very similar. But through it all, she didn't project story onto mine; she just knew that what I needed was permission to not be okay for a bit. To this day, I am so, so grateful. Overall, the times I've felt most supported were when the people around me listened, shared, and were there in whatever ways they could be. I don’t know if this makes sense, but sometimes I can feel obligated to make someone else feel better about what I’m going through, or like I need to take care of their feelings while I'm so unsure of my own. And I feel the most loved when someone just lets me be in the mess I’m in. They know it’s not their job to make me feel better instantly; they just have to be there with me, right where I am.”
In Times of Growth
Katie shared, “In May of 2022, Uncommon will celebrate 10 years in business! Like... what?!! Yahoooo!! I think back to my humble beginnings and there are SO many people that I can mention but 2 specifically come to mind. Terri Gold is a production design and art department lead in the film industry. The Lord crossed our paths back in December of 2011. Terri took me under her wing, showed me the art department ropes, and is always available to answer questions. I can't imagine my journey without her. She gave me a chance to grow and learn in a safe environment where I could ask questions and explore art department work.”
Katie added, “I also think of Jerry Johanning, a studio photographer that took my resume to the right people and advocated for me to be hired for freelance work. He didn't have to, but he did and because of his kindness, I just celebrated 9 years at that photo studio. That one act of kindness has materialized to hundreds of days on set! Thanks, Jerry J... you are one of the best!! ;)”
Sarah said, “My dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer about a year and a half ago. I'm happy to report that he is doing well now, but as anyone who has been through something similar knows, it is something that we will watch over time. Earlier this year, I was able to sit with him during one of his chemo treatments. Dealing with some of my own personal struggles and self-doubt around that time, I could tell that I wasn't fully present with him, as much as I wanted to be. My dad has such an easy time sharing stories that he easily carried on the conversation, even when I wasn't pulling my weight. He asked about how things were going for me, and I shared some struggles I'd been having with work, some of my own health concerns, and the uncertainty and confusion I hadn’t fully shared up to that point. He was so supportive. He shared stories of his own, like when he was around my age. He told me about when he went through hard times and how he listened to some of the inklings he was sensing. He told me that he knew I'd figure it out, and that I can trust and listen to what God is showing me. Here he was, dealing with his own challenges, really listening to me and giving me support. He did it in a way that didn't make me feel like he was taking anything away from my experiences. It just felt like we were two adults sharing and talking to each other, and I am so grateful for getting to spend that time with him, even given the hard circumstances that brought us there.”
Janie shared, “Recently, our family has grown. Not just by one tiny human but TWO. Some days I honestly have to stop and recognize that fact. It sounds silly, but when you're elbows deep in diapers, assembly-line style, it doesn't really dawn on you that yes, indeed, we had TWINS. Having kids is like a confetti cannon, it's beautiful, intense, and MESSY all at the same time. Big and small, I've seen and experienced so much service - I honestly get choked up thinking about it. Granted, our triple stroller - literally named the BIG CABOOSE - draws a crowd, and I'm thankful to have connected with so many random, kind humans since pushing that thing around. "Can I help you load that into your trunk?" and "Does that thing fit in your car?" are two phrases that make me giggle and are reminders of small acts of kindness.”
Janie shared, “In my professional life, I owe Lori, my graduate program advisor, so many thank yous. When I receive emails with the phrase "and I thought of you," I know it's going to be a game-changer. She has always been in my corner and up to bat for me. She has been the one to help me walk through some pretty neat professional doors that God has opened and continues to "think of me" when new opportunities arise. It shows me that just being mindful of others - literally, thinking of others - is one great act of service.”
Gifts from the Heart
Katie said, “Last winter, near Christmas time, I received two white business envelopes at separate times in the mail. Both were addressed to me with no return address. I had never seen the penmanship before so I was stumped as to who sent them. Inside one was a Target gift card and the other was a note with cash. Incredible acts of kindness that I received going through a hard season of the pandemic. I later found out that the Target gift card was sent by my sweet friend, Moll, who ALWAYS shows up in the most thoughtful of ways. I still don't know who sent the cash so if you are reading this and you sent that, THANK YOU!”
Katie added, “As I am typing this, I am sipping on espresso with some pumpkin cream cold foam. Jane and I recently purchased a Nespresso (yes, we purchased it together and we plan to pass the machine back and forth between our homes!!) and our sweet friend Moll gave us a "Welcome to the Nespresso family" pod gift to get us started in making yummy drinks. Such a simple but sweet gesture!”
Those We Love
Katie and Janie both shared sweet moments about their loving parents :)
Katie shared, “My parents! There isn't a blog post big enough to cover all the ways they have shown up for me over my 31 years of life. Each year just gets sweeter in the ways they serve and show up. From the smallest acts of kindness, like my dad lending me every tool in his shop to my mama always wearing her Uncommon shirt proudly... These two are the OGs of showing me how to show up. I can't thank them enough for being the best examples.”
Janie shared, “My mama is on the receiving end of all my "mamahood" texts and calls. She receives each one with love and thoughtfulness. I always feel so encouraged hearing her tell stories of similar happenings when she was being a stay-at-home mama for Tom, Katie, and me. Not only does she offer her expertise and wisdom, she always follows up with me to check in. It's such a God hug. I know she is always a soft place to land as I navigate life with these tiny humans that did not come with an owner's manual!!”
Katie shared, “Janie! Similar to the statement above with my parents... I could write an entire novel about how Jane has and does show up in my life. I'll spare ya the long-winded answer and note one I just experienced again the other morning... Jane encourages me through books. I swear it's one of her love languages. She'll pick me up a book and ALWAYS writes the sweetest/most encouraging message on the inside cover. I love opening those books and rereading how Jane encouraged me in that particular time. She has given me everything from children's books to novels to devotionals and even my study bible.”
Janie shared, “Jordan. My teammate in and through all of this. It's the little things that he does that keep me feeling like, "We CAN do this!" One week that was a little more weighty than others, he sensed my deflating spirit and by Friday he brought two bottles of wine home "with a theme" (is what he told me). The labels read "Mommy's Time Out" and "Relax". In this season of life, we love spending time on our screen porch, sipping wine, listening to YEE YEE radio, and chatting. I can't even put into words the encouragement I feel when I'll mention something I prayed about or continue to pray for and he asks "Well, do you want to pray together?" To have a husband and teammate that intercedes with and for me in prayer is so life-giving.”
Janie shared, “I'll never forget being within weeks of my induction date and truthfully having one fully functioning leg. I was miserable. In lots of pain and discomfort, carrying around 11 pounds of baby. Our 18-month-old at the time was just cranking up the speed notch, and meanwhile, I was slowing down and feeling all the feels. My mother-in-law - shout-out to Tammy! - who is also a twin mama, offered to take Ri on a fun adventure/outing to Sea Quest, and I got to tag along to see my sweet, feisty Riley light up at all the animals, particularly a tortoise named Norman. Tammy showed up when I was in need, not just for me, but for Riley who didn't quite understand why I was hobbling along, and why our "adventures" seemed to be few and far between.”
Janie shared, “Katie - the Uncommon OG - has shown up in countless ways recently, but two specific examples that stick out happened when all three of our kiddos were sick. Let's talk about urgent care during a pandemic with three kiddos under two years old. YIKES. WOOF. OOFDA. In both instances, Katie showed up at our house to deliver food in the midst of so many boogies and temp checks! The first time she had our favorite local Mexican food in hand, and the second time, she packed a cooler full of MN State Fair food, since we were missing the fair due to our kiddos being....well, sick. I felt seen, heard, and FULLY encouraged.”
Janie shared, “FRIENDS. SO many sweet, sweet friends. An entire meal train was set up (shout out to Katie!) where friends and family members made homemade meals to stock our freezer for those first few weeks of being a family of 5. Every time I opened our freezer, I honestly had a lump in my throat. If you're reading this and you were one of those kind souls who made us a meal or gifted us a food gift card, we still reflect on your graciousness and encouragement. Karly, Tanya, Ashley - you ladies have helped with diaper changes, two-year-old meltdowns, fueled me with coffee, and spoke so much truth into this season of life....you've even gone with me to an oil change to help juggle all three kiddos as we waited for the car to be serviced. Talk about showing up!”
Sarah shared, “My husband, Jared, and I moved to Seattle in 2019. In this season, we spend so much of our time with just the two of us, so he is top of mind! Jared knows how helpful it is for me when encourages me to slow down. With a lot on my mind lately, Jared gives me space when I need it, he listens, he makes me laugh, and he tells me that whatever I’m feeling is okay to feel. My very favorite thing is when he turns some music on and starts singing to himself while making us coffee in the morning. It is the most simple thing, but listening to Hozier or Kaleo or anything he’s in the mood for while he is just enjoying the moment really puts things into perspective for me. Sometimes, he’ll take my hand and we’ll start dancing around the living room. When we’re in those moments, all I can think is, ‘what else even matters?!’ It takes me out of anything that might be stressing me out and into what truly matters to me.”
Other Stories We Love
Sarah shared, “When my now-husband, Jared, and I were dating, we went through a really scary time. Long story short, after months of intense headaches, Jared landed in the ER and then was rushed to neurological ICU, where we learned that he had a tumor and cyst on his brain. He was in and out of ICU for fifteen days, where he underwent two brain surgeries. Jared is healthy and well now - thank goodness! - but needless to say, that experience was a whirlwind and one of the most difficult times for anyone who loves and cares about Jared. Overall, we were truly overwhelmed with the amount of love and support we received during those days. People went out of their way to visit, send cards, put food together, and check in on us. We were incredibly humbled. I remember driving home from the hospital each night clutching my chest because it just felt like my heart was lit up! I probably cried as many happy tears as sad/scared tears during those days. One moment, in particular, stands out. While Jared was in the hospital, I spent one night going out for frozen yogurt with some friends and then trying to get some rest. One of those friends, Peter, had just gone through a really, really difficult time of his own. He called me beforehand to see if I wanted a ride to get our froyo, and I made a passing comment that it would be best if he drove because I probably wouldn't have time to get gas beforehand. He came to pick me up, asked how I was doing, and then asked what he could do for me. Specifically, he asked if he could put gas in my car for me. It sounds so simple and I didn't even end up taking him up on it, but it really meant a lot to me. I know, I know, it sounds silly. But he had really listened to what I had said. I remember it when I’m speaking to someone going through a difficult time - I can remember to show up and offer to do something practical to help at the moment, no matter how small it may seem.”
Katie said, “My sweet neighbors, Roger & Jean. What a God hug they are to me. I moved into my new house in April of 2020, right at the beginning of the pandemic. At that time, we were in lockdown, but I'll never forget the day Roger met me out front in my yard to say hi and to welcome me to the neighborhood. Since that day, those two have shown up for me in countless ways. Roger has helped me change my tractor battery, they've had me over for a diet soda on their driveway, and most recently they moved a few packages from my front stoop to my back stoop while I was away. They show me what it truly means to love your neighbors.
Janie shared, “Sweet strangers have shown me that service isn't confined to who we know. I was one week post-partum, waiting in line at the Target pharmacy and a woman came up to me to share that she has 10-year-old twins and that it's a challenging journey but wanted me to know I could do it. On a different day, a Starbucks barista took one look at our BIG CABOOSE stroller and asked "Ma'am, would you like this venti, five shots of espresso over ice? There's nothing wrong with it, the order ticket was incorrect."....cue all the hallelujahs!!!”
Janie shared, “Finally, I've listened to two women who, in my opinion, deliver the most encouraging TRUTH BOMBS. Lauren Akins, yes, Thomas Rhett's wife, hosted a podcast based on her book Living in Love. The podcast is fantastic! It met me exactly where I'm at and encouraged me in my marriage, my parenting, and my purpose. I'd highly suggest checking it out! One thing that has stuck with me is when she said - "If the enemy can't get you to sin, he will keep you busy" ... That has been so powerful for me as I go step by step through my days. The second woman is Priscilla Shirer. Katie, my mom, and I went to listen to her speak at Grace Church in August. I walked out of that conference feeling equipped and encouraged. One of my favorite takeaways from her message was that we need to remain...abide...in a leaving culture (John 15:4). Google her. She is an incredible woman of God!”
Feeling like humanity might just be okay?! Us, too!
To wrap all of this up, here are a few tangible ideas we came up with so that you, too, can be of service to those around you:
Make a phone call, send a text, or write a note. It can be simple but you never know the difference it could make.
Create a care package or make it even easier if you are short on time by having someone else pull something together for you!
While putting someone together personally is the best way to connect, we know we sometimes need an “easy” button. Enter: Minny & Paul! You can order curated care packages of local products to share with your loved ones. With a service like this, there’s no reason you can’t show someone how much you love them!
Nominate someone for the Uncommon Acts of Kindness! We select one winner per month, and we consider your nominee’s favorite food, color, drinks, etc. when we build care packages for our winners!
Compliment someone! Tell them how you love their wit, their smile, their ambition, and how much joy they bring you.
Make a meal for someone that’s easy to store in the fridge or freezer, and be sure to consider any dietary restrictions!
Drop off some coffee from a local business, like Gus Dean Coffee and top it off with a hug!
Make it all even easier by digitally sending a gift card, like through the Starbucks app!
Get out in the community! We love volunteering for organizations like Habitat for Humanity, and we had a blast putting together an afternoon of Bingo at Orono Senior Living for our Uncommon Creatives!