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Spurring Kindness

Three weeks ago, as I shared in recent blogs, I had the pleasure of visiting Nashville for a fan event with some of my Days of our Lives castmates. And this week, I was excited to find that my suitcase from the trip had finally arrived back at the studio. Not my actual suitcase, but one that was thoughtfully assembled by some amazing fans. Inside was literally a treasure of goodies that these wonderful ladies brought from all over the country – each one representing the area in which they live.

blog89_3The thoughtfulness and generosity of people continues to astounds me at events like this … it’s always unexpected and very much appreciated. But, in the rush of Nashville, I hadn’t really had time to go through all of the wonderful things. So, as I sat in my dressing room earlier this week and began to unpack this big suitcase, I was amazed – inspirational t-shirts and coffee mugs, hot pads, dishtowels, bracelets, a cookbook, pictures, sweet notes and delicious foods from all of these wonderful places. Each and every item stood out to me, and I could tell how much care went into to putting it all together.

And then there were these spurs! I love boots, but I’ve never had a pair of spurs … never really had a cause to wear them. But here they were … super groovy and clearly custom built for me! How cool! Then I got a video from Cindy Nelson about the making of this special gift and I just had to share it with you.

So we reached out to Cindy to get a little more background, and what we found was even better than I could have imagined.

When I started PLANK, I envisioned a platform for inspiration … not just a place for me to share my own stories and advice, but a place where all of us could learn from and inspire each other. And since the beginning, I’ve loved reading your comments … to hear from you about how a topic resonated with you or helped you in some way in your own life. I remember reading Cindy’s comments before … but hearing her whole story makes me so proud of what we’ve created here (and by we, I mean all of you too!).


CINDY’S STORY

Cindy Nelson lives in Lubbock, TX … a place where rodeos are a way of life and spurs are just a piece of the trade.

“I’ve rodeoed my entire life, and in that world everyone wears spurs,” said Cindy. “My granddad made my first pair and I watched him make them. He’s my idol, and when he died, I retired the spurs.”

In need of a new pair, Cindy contacted a friend about making her a pair of custom spurs, but he said it would be more than a year before he could get to them. So, Cindy took matters into her own hands.

“I decided I would just make my own. So, I Googled some information and watched some videos, then a friend’s husband agreed to teach me the basics.”

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A few of the spurs Cindy has made over the years.

Cindy worked at it and eventually had her own pair of custom spurs. In the years since then she’s made about a dozen pairs for friends and family. But the process isn’t quick. “There isn’t any electric machinery, except the drill to make the holes. Everything is cut out and soldered by hand,” Cindy explained. And because each set is designed and detailed to the specifications of the owner, the entire process can take up to 20 hours.

So why spurs for Mary Beth?

“I found PLANK last year and read it regularly,” said Cindy, an elementary school special education teacher whose students have autism. “But when Mary Beth wrote the What Happened to the Crayons blog back in March, I was inspired.” Cindy shared the blog with her students, many of whom are bullied at school, and they discussed what they’d learned from it. “Our class had always been seen as the different one, and most of my students didn’t have any friends. So I challenged them to see if we could change that. From there launched our own little #KindnessIs campaign.”

blog89_5Cindy gave each student a weekly assignment – write down, on an index card, a quote about kindness or something that represented kindness to them, and then share that with a student outside of their classroom. Her students loved it … and so did students throughout the school. By the end of the year, the project was such a success that the principal recognized the class at an assembly, giving each of her students a certificate.

“I stood there crying, watching these kids get something they’d never had before – recognition. The whole school gave them a standing ovation, and many of them shared with me that, for the first time ever, they had friends.”

And PLANK wasn’t just a one-time thing in Cindy’s class. “They look forward to reading it every Thursday. I was even able to use it as a reward for good behavior,” she shared. And Cindy class’ “kindness cards” have carried on too! “At the beginning of this year, I got a call from a teacher at the middle school wanting to know what these kindness cards were that her kids were talking about,” Cindy shared with a laugh.

So when the announcement came that Mary Beth would be in Nashville, Cindy knew she had to go. And when she learned from some friends that they were putting together a gift bag, Cindy thought about spurs. But she was unsure.

“Here, they’re a way of life, but what in the world would Mary Beth do with spurs in Los Angeles? So I asked my kids, at school and at home, and everyone said spurs.” And when she was at a loss for what to put on the spurs, Cindy turned to her kids again. “After reading PLANK for so many weeks, they all had ideas and suggestions. So together we put together a design that we thought fit Mary Beth.”

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(l) Cindy’s initial design drafts, (c) Cindy uses a jewelry saw to cut the letters, (r) Spurs in progress

But after 19 hours of work and second–guessing her decision on more than one occasion, Cindy’s spurs almost didn’t make it to Nashville. “When I got to the airport they said I couldn’t board the plane with them because they were a weapon. I pleaded and finally they let me board, with the condition that once I was on the plane I immediately hand them to a steward for safe-keeping.”

The spurs did make it to Nashville, and now finally to L.A., where they await the spur straps needed to attach them to Mary Beth’s cowboy boots. “I didn’t think she’d actually wear them, so I didn’t include straps,” says Cindy. “But I can’t wait to see a picture of her wearing my spurs!”

16 Comments

  1. ILoveMySnK

    Just wanted to follow up and say I found the perfect “thank you” gift for my daughter’s teacher. I was so excited to be able to get it to her b/f fall break. It’s a Winnie the Pooh framed picture that says “It makes such a difference, said Pooh, to have someone who believes in you” I don’t think there is a more perfect quote befitting this special teacher and all special teachers like her.

  2. Stacey AKA BraveWidowMama

    Mary Beth,
    Thank you for providing a place for all of these wonderful women from across the country to “meet” and share our lives. I became a second career teacher in 2010 and can tell you that special education teachers, especially those in autism programs, are some of the most amazing people. I always tell them that they are doing God’s work. It most definitely takes a special kind of soul to be an outstanding educator. It’s no surprise that so many of the awesome ladies here and on the other S&K social media sites are teachers. It’s so refreshing to communicate with people who lift each other up rather than knocking one another down. Thanks to the Twitter Girls and the Instagram “S&K Mafia” for all of the fun and kindness!

  3. That’s such a sweet story and very inspirational !!
    Kindness is very rare nowadays that’s a great lesson to teach any child! Great job!!

  4. Donna Mackie

    What an amazing woman… Thank you for the post Mary Beth. Living proof that one dedicated, determined, compassionate human can make such a difference in the lives of others.

  5. ILoveMySnK

    I love this story. My daughter is not autistic, but she is special needs. She has several “delays”. Me being a bit of an overachiever, this was difficult to accept. She receives special-ed –some in the “normal” class and some outside. I don’t think she has real friends either. She plays beside her “friends”, not really with them. Social skills aren’t there for her yet.
    But, it’s teachers like Cindy, that I think will help her grow into a terrific adult (she’s already a loving and terrific kid). Her “normal” classroom teacher sent me a message the other day of how proud she is of my girl and the progress she’s made. She has no idea how much the few words touched my heart and made my day.

    To Cindy: Thank you for representing my home state (and 2nd home town) so well- “Strive for honor, evermore” – that you did!

    And MB, my tender-hearted special girl gladly handed over her Olaf stickers, and we placed them all over the envelope of a card sent to you. She wanted to give them to “Mama’s friend” to whom the card was being sent, and she also included a picture she colored special for you- a princess, of course 🙂

  6. Cindy Nelson

    Thank you Mary Beth for the opportunity to be a part of PLANK it meant a lot to my kiddos at school and myself included there too. They are still so excited about being mentioned and seeing their kindness cards on the blog. I can’t believe all of this over a pair of spurs! Glad you like them and I loved meeting you in Nashville and am so thankful that event was a spring board to making such great friendships. TY for WHERE HAVE THE CRAYONS GONE it has made my job so much easier and much more pleasant and more than anything it has increased my personal awareness to the fact that it doesn’t take much to give a kind word or a smile to someone! Biggest lesson learned it makes me feel so much better to share kindness.

  7. Great story, Cindy! Inspired to do kindness cards with the kids.

  8. Mary Beth,
    I loved your blog post today so much!! The women who went to Nashville are all such amazing and caring ladies who I have had the pleasure of ‘talking’ to on Twitter. I love how much thought went into each of their gifts. Being from all over the country, I thought it was so cool how unique and different each person’s gift was.
    I was actually fortunate enough to meet and have lunch with Cindy a few weeks ago. She is one of the most kind, caring, and down to earth people I know. Not only is she talented in making amazing spurs, but I think what she has done with and for her students is incredible! She has made an impact in their lives, and now they are making an impact in the lives of so many others. Both you and Cindy have created ripple effects of kindness that touch so many lives. Thank you both for being an inspiration!

  9. I love the spurs Cindy made for you! I also adore how she has brought #Kindnessis into her classroom. Everyone deserves to be treated kindly, and it is so sweet that her students are happily spreading the word!

    Mary Beth, #Kindnessis has inspired so many of us fans, and I really appreciate your weekly bits of fun and inspiration!

    Thank you so much for sharing Cindy’s story with us!

  10. Julie McCray

    I saw the spurs in Nashville, and I was totally blown away by them. I am even more blown away by what Cindy has done in her classroom with her students. She’s changed their lives and they are changing the lives of others. #kindnessis in action…I love it!! I am blessed to have had the opportunity to meet Cindy and Mary Beth in Nashville!

  11. Barb levy

    Cindy, what a wonderful gift to represent Lubbock Texas. A true labor of love. I have lived in San Antonio for the last 35 years( originally from NY). To take MB ‘s acts of kindness and change your student’/s lives is such a wonderful additional gift. Everyone hopes they will make a difference in someone’s lives. You managed to give MB two wonderful gifts- spurs and how you used what she has shared in her blogs to change the lives of your students – very special! Thanks MB and Cindy for sharing.

  12. Krista Buerster

    Such an inspiring story. Mary Beth, I can tell you that Cindy is one of the nicest most caring individuals I have met. So glad you shared her story to inspire others.

  13. Love you Cindy! Glad I’ve connected to another sp ed teacher that gets me and my craziness…..can’t wait for LA!

  14. Susan Denaux

    Aww, I love the Spurs and the story behind them. Thanks for sharing kindness!!

  15. Nancy McCarthy

    This is so great! See what an inspiration you are to us Mary Beth! Great job Cindy! Can’t wait to meet you both in November!

    • What I love is that Plank can give us a little nudge in the write direction to make changes
      Changes that can help us achieve what we want to be. I continue to enjoy Plank and quite often I forget that it was written by “Kayla”…but I now see it as a weekly pep talk to encourage me to make my life the best it can be. I love the kindness cards with the special needs kids too. Everyone deserves to appreciate and be appreciated. Well done everyone.

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