Christmas is over… now what?

When I started this project December 1, I knew that it couldn’t just be about December. It’s eas(ier) to get people interested when a cause or charity is focused around the holidays. Trust me! I saw the donations POUR in to the homeless shelter the week before Christmas. But who is going to be there this week and next to sort through those donations?? Kindness and charity don’t stop December 25. They are just as needed, and maybe more so, the days, weeks, and months after.

The logical next step is 365 days of kindness. That’s a great goal, sure. But is it realistic? What about the days where you just feel grumpy? Or the days when you are sick and just getting out of bed is a challenge? An act a day for the next year isn’t my goal. Instead, I am going to write about my journey to add more kindness into my life. Where I have realized I need to concentrate those acts is toward myself and my family, which, for me, are the places I struggle the most.

I hope you will continue on this journey with me and share the ways that you are adding more kindness, more compassion, more love into your life.

I’m Sorry

I pushed the stroller four paces behind him.

We were on a skinny dirt path, I reasoned. I can justify walking in a single file line.

This wasn’t the walk I had envisioned when I went to bed last night. A week of chaos was winding down. Our lovely guests would be leaving bright and early. And I could finally sit in relative silence (at least for two minutes before one of the kids started crying). We would take a walk in the brisk air, reflect on his brother’s visit, plan for the week.

Instead, hurtful words were exchanged minutes before we left, words that revealed damage that had been done over seven years earlier. I had said something unkind, not intentionally malicious but unkind all the same. We had visited those words before, briefly. I didn’t expect to be swallowing them again in this moment.

Who is going to talk first? I wonder. I always start the conversation. I don’t want to today. Instead, I let thoughts percolate in my mind. I get angry. Even when I try to refocus my thoughts, I get angry.

Doesn’t he know how much he’s hurt me?

It’s been SEVEN years.

I am not that person anymore.

I shouldn’t be blamed for something so long ago. 

We stopped. He talked. I listened. And just as I was about to get defensive, I hear myself say, “I’m sorry.”

I’m sorry.

Two little words that make a big difference.

I’m not good at saying I’m sorry. It’s far easier to be right, to deflect blame. But I knew I had been wrong, that version of me had been wrong to say what I did. I wanted to remind him I was different, had changed. He didn’t need that reminder. He needed an apology.

It was in that moment, our words changed, our tone changed, our defenses lowered. I’m Sorry.

Is there someone in your life who needs an apology? Make that a part of your month of kindness. I’m sorry. Such simple words that much such a difference.

Abundance

I started clearing my house out last week. Too much clutter. Too much stuff.

My house burned down four years ago. I had nothing: no toothbrush, no pillow, no change of clothes. But we rebuilt. And we acquired. And acquired. And acquired. If you were to walk through my house now you would have no idea that I lost all my “stuff” only four years ago.

For one, we had kids (a month after the fire to be exact). And kids tend to require a lot of “stuff.” After the first, we saved all of our baby items for the eventuality of the second, who made his appearance last February. I have consigned much of our baby goods, and some of it I continue to save for the next sale, hoping to finally rid my house of this “stuff” I no longer need.

Enough.

I have enough. All of these baby items, all of this stuff, is just taking up space in my house, space I would like to use to move, to breathe. Even if it’s just in the garage, this stuff is weighing me down. I knew about the fundraiser for the women’s shelter and had planned to go. But instead of just going, I decided I would sort through all of my things, try to get rid of that which I no longer needed, all of the stuff that was sitting in my closet or a tub in the garage or on a back shelf that was no longer serving me. It still has purpose. It still has a need.

 

Today I donated a pack n play, maternity pants, a baby tub, blankets, lotion, diapers, diapers, diapers, tylenol, vitamin C. I took a car load of items to help this shelter. Part of their mission is helping those recovering from addiction as well as the homeless.

In addition to the items donated, they raised over $6000 today for the shelter at this fundraiser. The director of the program told us that was enough to cover the cost of food for a YEAR for their programs. A year of food. Oh, we have enough.

What I have realized in the 5 days so far of this challenge is that we all have something to give, even those moms who are recipients of that charity. It might not be money. It might not be time. But we are all capable of generosity. We all have enough of something. Our lives are abundant.

 

Kind words

I’m a yeller.

It’s not something I’m proud of, and it’s not something I will readily admit most days. But I am. I grew up with yellers. And it’s how I’ve learned to get someone’s attention, whether it’s my husband, my kids, or someone caught in the crossfire.

I don’t yell at everyone. I rarely yell at strangers. I rarely yell in public. (I do write a sharp letter every so often though laying my feelings out on the line.) Those I am most likely to yell at are those closest to me.

Last spring I received a phone call that opened my eyes to the destruction yelling was doing to my family. I own a web design and development company, and this client wanted a blog about her challenge, the Orange Rhino Challenge she called it, to stop yelling at her FOUR kids… for a whole year. I admittedly thought she was crazy. In some ways I admired this challenge. In other ways, I thought it was… well, wrong isn’t the right word. It’s not that I admired yelling, it’s just that I looked at it as my parenting tool. I don’t spank my kids, so I still needed a way to let them know they were in trouble.

The thing is, yelling wasn’t really all that effective. I’ve always said that I felt like spanking didn’t really teach my kids anything and teaching was the ultimate goal of discipline… and the biggest tool in the parenting toolbox. Spanking to me was about release of anger for the parents. When I considered it, yelling didn’t really teach anything either and was more about me than my kids. Sure, it made me feel better for about half a second, at which point I got even angrier about whatever I was yelling about.The more I thought about it though, I realized that yelling was my spanking. And that didn’t make me feel very good.

My goal was to try to avoid yelling for the entire 25 day challenge; if our client could do it for a year, surely I could make it 25 days. And then Sunday happened (a whole day and a half – go me!). Family drama ensued. And we all raised our voices. And we all ended up feeling really badly. A day, surely I could do it for a day. I set myself up today, prepared mentally to not yell. And yet, I woke up this morning and my day started off like it always does: I’m awake, my husband isn’t, the four year old comes into our room and immediately hurts himself and starts crying for a band-aid for the cut the size of a poppy seed and then the baby starts crying and needs to be held and changed, and it’s already 7:20 and my son needs to be at school by 8:30, and the dogs still need to be let out and fed, and the kids need to be dressed and fed, and… well, my mornings are really challenging. I felt myself getting worked up. I had been awake for twenty minutes and already had forgotten about the challenge. I was starting to raise my voice. I caught myself. I breathed and remembered and calmed down and didn’t yell.

It’s ok, Brooke. 

I found this quote yesterday and it has been playing through my head all day: “Raise your words, not your voice. It’s rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” Raise your words. Raise your thoughts. 

It’s so easy, I think, for us to get caught up in our chaos, and even as we slow down and do for others, we forget about the smallest (and yet the most powerful) part of our day: our thoughts. Kind thoughts breed kind words that make kind actions. Kindness starts with our thoughts. Today, think kind thoughts. Speak kind words. Grow flowers.

Request for cards

One of the Acts I had planned this month was to ask for all of your help. You see, I love cards. I lost the ones I had saved for twenty years in the fire. But I got cards and cards and more cards after. Cards from people I never met. Cards from people I hadn’t spoken to in years. Cards from people whose lives I impacted but didn’t know. And those cards mean the world to me. I want to give the gift of cards to someone else. But who?

Last night, that who was introduced to me by way of a Facebook post. A little boy with Down Syndrome who was diagnosed with cancer at age 3. He is sick now, and I want to give this family some love, let them know that they are being held up by strangers, by those whose only connection to them is a simple sentence.

Will you send a card? Will you have your children make a card for this little boy? Will you add his family to your Christmas card list? I would love to have the cards by December 15th if possible (2 weeks). The address to send them to is my office:

Digavise
c/o Cards for Kean
910 W Main St. Suite 354
Boise, ID 83702

About 25 Days of Kindness

25 Days of Kindness was an idea inspired by Brooke’s 30 Acts of Kindness on her 30th Birthday. The goal of 25 Days is to spread love and charity throughout the month of December by focusing on Acts of Kindness and generosity toward others. You can join Brooke by performing your own acts of kindness, sharing the acts on this blog, or contributing to the 25 Days of Kindness fund to ensure that we are able to maximize charity throughout the month. 100% of contributions (minus the fee GoFundMe charges) will be spent on this challenge.