When you lose someone you love you spend time thinking about who they were as a person: thoughtful, kind, selfless perhaps. That’s what she was. Love Join Me continues with that modus operandi: to pass on kindness and love to others. Like the light of a star shines bright for millennia after its death, kindness can persist through the selfless acts that we undertake in memory of her.
Love Join Me is born. The timing is significant, as will be revealed in due course. Perhaps you have found this blog because you have been on the receiving end of one of our Random Acts of Kindness. If so, please tweet us @lovejoinme60 or comment if you see your RAK in a post here. But, most importantly, pass on the kindness (and the hashtag! #lovejoinme #ljm)
Love! Join Me.
This morning I stumbled upon a post on a running Facebook group (Run Mummy Run) which made me and many other fellow runners click the ‘angry’ emoji. This lady was upset because when she showed her boss pictures of her running waist-deep in water and completely covered in mud, his only comment was that she looked big. She used the acronym CW to describe him (Google it) and it is definitely what he is.
Having only recently got back into running, I’ve experienced some negativity too (I’ve been deliberately rammed by a pram, jeered at, beeped at…) and it can be really demoralising.
What is amazing about this lady’s story however, is that a few hours later she received a bunch of flowers at work (hopefully in front of her CW boss!). A fellow runner had seen her post, looked on her profile to see where she worked and decided to cheer her up. What a lovely thing to do! There really are some kind-hearted people in this world.
Her boss is a fool. Not only did she not look big at all, she looked strong, fit and bloody amazing!
An over-used word. Or so I was led to believe English lessons. It’s a boring adjective. It lacks imagination.
But, what’s wrong with nice? Nice is good. Being nice costs nothing but it sometimes means everything.
Today my Act of Kindness is one for your mind. It’s giving yourself a shake, a kick up the backside or a good talking to.
It’s become obvious to me that I work best when I have a set goal. Through the course of Love Join Me last year we had many goals: to do 60 RAK in a year, to grow my hair without a haircut for over 12 months, to run a marathon in a month to name a few. Each of these goals was met and with it came an unexpected sense of satisfaction.
Since the project ended I’ve been a bit lax on my own personal goals. I didn’t feel the need to set any. However, in the last few months I was lacking in something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. My life was once again swallowed by work and working-mum guilt and the stresses were starting to get to me. I’d also read about how sedentary lifestyles are the new smoking, and being sedentary is attributed to an increased risk of many diseases and a shorter life expectancy. I am far from sedentary, but I decided I wanted to become fitter, to do something that was self-improving . I joined a bootcamp and started going back out for runs. Louise and I decided to do 10,000 steps a day throughout June for no other reason than it was a goal to set and stick to. Given that we are both active generally, most days it wasn’t hard to stick to. However, it didn’t allow for the odd lazy day that we were used to: those Sundays when it’s raining and you try to stick a film on or do something crafty. Despite this, I found myself motivated, easily fitting in the steps, choosing to go the long way round when the short way was quicker.
I also made the conscious decision that I would eat better, at least during the week. I have stuck to this also and feel encouraged to keep going and making myself healthier. I didn’t think that any of this was having an impact on me physically but then I ran the park run on Saturday and I found I was motivated and comfortable running. Don’t get me wrong, it was hard and as I crossed the finish line my hands fell to my knees to prop myself up for a few seconds as the lights flickered due to the heat. But, unexpectedly I had wiped two minutes and 40 seconds from my previous fastest time. I couldn’t believe it. It has made me realise that activity and eating right have made me do this but also that it’s mostly in the mind. I wanted to run faster and beat my time and I did. I really tried.
A few weeks ago, after a similar park run, I was demotivated. I couldn’t get faster or get a better time. I found it hard and couldn’t see a time when I would be faster. I wanted to stop because I thought there was no point. Now I am spurred on by my time. I want to get close to that again. I can’t see me beating it for a long time but who knows?
I’m setting myself goals and I’m sticking to them. I’ve now set myself more goals: to complete a 30-day fitness challenge and to continue with running and eating better.
So, if you’re feeling in a rut for any reason, be kind to yourself and make a goal, however small. Make goals that you are motivated towards achieving and that sense of achievement is a real boost.
Today I had a conversation with a group of teenagers about the atrocities that unfolded in Manchester on Monday evening. I don’t have memories of such events from when I was their age. The IRA bombings that occurred in my childhood seemed too distant from me and I don’t remember feeling at risk. Even in my late teens when the World Trade Centre was hit, I still felt safe in my little town and would think to myself what would they want in Guisborough? Everything bad in the world seemed so remote and in some ways, you could shield yourself, or be shielded from it. The young people I spoke to today are so much closer to what’s happened: they know people who were there and they know people who were injured. They knew of the attack before they even rose from their beds on Tuesday morning, some before they fell asleep on Monday night. They know details, they’ve seen pictures on their phones, they’ve speculated and debated. Some of them have probably cried. I look at my own children and am pleased they are too young to know what’s happened and, naively, I hope that by the time they are of an age to understand, that acts of terrorism are events in history books.
Perhaps since starting our Love Join Me project I’m more drawn towards the good things that go on in the wake of such attacks but I’ve noticed something. The more terror I see, the more kindness I see. Take away the one man (I won’t speculate on whether he acted alone) and you have hundreds, if not thousands of kind people who are willing to help others.
People held strangers, comforted children, pulled nails out of faces, searched for people they’d never met, offered free rides, food and drink, places to stay, warmth and a listening ear. They gave blood, they gave time and ultimately they gave hope. The ripple happened too. A homeless man who selflessly ran to help the injured and the dying now has a home, some money and has been offered a job.
When the hubbub goes, the stadium opens again and the Manchester attack takes its place in history, we won’t forget the horror but we mustn’t forget the kindness either.
“It’s humbling being around a person such as you who despite being hurt can still be kind where kindness isn’t due”.
This was said to me by a dear friend and it stopped me in my tracks and made me think. I’d called myself ‘a mug’ and this was this person’s response.
Sometimes I need to remind myself to describe myself in positive adjectives rather than negative.
This person also said:
“Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon. No matter how good you are the pigeon will sh*t on the board and strut around like it won anyway”.
If I didn’t know it already, my friend is wise! Next time I’m feeling bogged down with pettiness, I might just sh*t on the chess board first. Or maybe I’ll just carry on being me.
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!
P.S. you still owe me a dance!
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.
I was reminded of our innate kindness post just now in playing a game of piggy in the middle with my 4 and 2 year olds. Given that I’ve been struggling with illness the last few days this was no mean feat and it lasted all of five minutes! However, during the game (which was never going to be a huge success given the throwing and catching abilities of my two), I feigned falling over in a run for the ball so that my two year stood a chance of getting to it first. But, instead of going for the ball, she came over to me and said “you OK, mummy?”. I laughed and told her to go and get the ball to win. So she did. Only she came straight back to me with it (I was still on the grass enjoying my feigned injury rest!) and said “there you go mummy!”.
I’m sure she just doesn’t understand the rules of piggy in the middle. But I’m enjoying her frequent attentiveness and “you ok now, mummy?” questions while it lasts.
If you know me (and actually, many of you now do!), you will know that I’m not a jewellery person. I wear the same jewellery all the time and only swap it on rare occasions. I never take off my wedding band and I only take off my other jewellery for swimming. On my right hand is a silver ring with a black stone. It was the last gift mum gave to me in person on the eve of Laura’s wedding. I had worn a ring for years that she had worn from age 15. It was a silver ring with a hematite stone that ‘clicked’ as it was a bit loose. I loved turning that ring around on my finger and ‘clicking’ the stone.
A couple of months before she died I arrived at work one day and went to ‘click’ the stone (I am aware this sounds a bit odd haha!) and it was gone, just the silver remained. I was really upset. Anyway, the night before Laura’s wedding mum and Laura gave me a box with this ring in it and I’ve worn in ever since.
The second thing I always wear is a silver necklace. It is my most treasured gift ever and the only gift I’ve cried at receiving. It was given to me by Laura on the eve of my own wedding and on mum’s birthday two years ago. I remember opening the box and seeing the word “mum”. On closer inspection I read the words “love mum X”. In her handwriting! Can you imagine the amazement I had to receive such a gift the day before I got married without her there?! Laura had thought so hard, had hunted a birthday card with the perfect words written in her handwriting and got it printed into silver. She also got me a beautiful vintage locket bracelet with her photo in that I wore around my wrist all day so she was ‘there’. What wonderful and thoughtful gifts!
The last gift I gave to mum was meant to be her Christmas present. On arriving at the hospital, being told she only had days, I sent Daniel back to the car to retrieve it – a star to name. The last conversation I had with her was about what to name this star. Though she didn’t really talk, she was adamant it wouldn’t be called Lesley. We went with MaddisonLJ. Somewhere, visible from the Southern Hemisphere, shines MaddisonLJ.
So, we’ve revealed ourselves to the world! That was a bit scary!
Here’s our video summing up all 60 of our Random Acts of Kindness over the last 12 months.
Love Join Me 60 RAKs
Thank you to everyone for all your positive feedback. It was definitely unexpected!
Blogging feels like a whole new ball game now you know who I am!
LJM1, erm, Laura!