Love Join Me

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.

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Just 4

My littlest one was four in January. I say ‘littlest’ but in real terms (of centiles and sibling/cousin comparison) she’s the biggest. Size 12 feet when she was just 3! Anyway, she’s not long turned four.

A few weeks ago I mentioned cutting her hair thinking it’s more than time for a trim. For perspective, the last trim she had was last June when I lobbed off an inch or so with the kitchen scissors when she was in the bath amidst a relatively minor but still bork-inducing nit-infested panic. This time, Lucy asked to have her hair cut like her brother’s. She has said this before and the feminist in me is all ‘hell yea you’d rock a boy cut’ and ‘oh God that’d be so much easier than trying to rake a brush through your hair every day*’.

I showed her some pictures and she decided she wanted it short and that she wanted to donate the hair like her Auntie Louise did in January. She knows I did mine too but doesn’t remember. I drew the line at shaving her head though, despite the fact she would suit it I bet. So we sorted a mobile hair dresser and every day following I reminded her that she was going to get it cut just to make sure that she was sure. She did say that I should get my hair ‘cut long’ at one point so I wondered if she realised the permanence of the whole thing.

We talked about donating her hair like Louise and I did and she thought that it would be brilliant to give it to someone who doesn’t have any hair (and suggested auntie Louise could have it now she’s bald!). I was asked about sponsorship. To be honest, I’d not thought much about it at this point as we were just going to donate her hair. When I explained to Lucy that people wanted to sponsor her she thought it was a great idea, not least because she thought that she would be the recipient of all that money! However, once I explained how it worked she was cool with it!

Today was the day and she’s been asking what time Donna was coming all day. However, once she did arrive Lucy was in the middle of building an intricate train track with her brother and didn’t want to be disturbed (typical!). However, my persuasion tactics of a digestive biscuit and bloody Elsia and Annia videos on YouTube (seriously, avoid!) worked their magic and she had the hair chopped!

The next bit was trickier as she wouldn’t stay still! But she totally rocks her new ‘do. She’s been so laid back about the whole thing and went straight back to her train track when finished!

She’s totally wonderfully brilliant and I’m so proud of her. I wish I had her style and nonchalance!

My beautiful Lucy.

*a couple of times a week at best

What do you want to be good at?

I watched a video the other day where a young boy was saying something along the lines of:

If you let yourself get angry, you become really good at it. In fact you will find it easier and easier to get angry. If you let yourself get worried, you will become really good at it and you will find it easier and easier to get worried.

Then he asked:

What do you want to be good at?

Ultimately, what he was saying was ‘practice makes perfect’ and if you practise negative feelings, you live them more and more. It’s hard to get off that road sometimes, especially when others are dragging you down their path, but you must.

It’s ok to say ‘no’ or ‘enough is enough’. Just this week I’ve supported someone who’s done just that and I quoted the video above. I reminded them that you can listen to someone else’s negativity but you don’t have to accept it. Being kind to yourself is still being kind in the same way that showing someone that you won’t be a pushover, isn’t being unkind.

So, what do you want to be good at?

And don’t forget:

Dishing out the blue balloons! Happy RAK Day!

Louise told me this morning that it was Random Acts of Kindness Day today, something that had completely slipped me by this year. To be honest, I somehow managed to forget about it again until this evening in Asda whilst at the checkout. Quickly, I picked up a random gift card and added it to my shopping. I love doing this RAK because it really is random. Noone was coming to follow me to my checkout (probably because I had a fair bit of shopping!) but I loved the randomness of the people eyeing up the checkout and the fact that my RAK was based on who decided to follow me. No matter what kind of day this person has had, this RAK will have made it better. If their day had been terrible, average or even brilliant, it will have risen them.

Quite often when I have difficult days or moments (and I’ve certainly had a few of those this week) I have the urge to do RAKs to counteract the negativity I’ve felt or have faced, so doing this has brightened my day too, which is a welcome side effect this week!

The one piece of advice from mum that I remember and recite the most is “Rise above it” (I talked about this here). I hope, in doing this RAK today, I’ve helped someone Rise Above whatever has been troubling them recently. Doing it has certainly helped me to be my inner giraffe.

That’s me: the giraffe. Sometimes, like this week, I dip below the clouds but I try to Rise Above and, in going about my life, I try to spend time with other giraffes and dish out as many blue balloons as I can along the way.

Brave

Growing up I was always the “brave” one. The one who was made to go downstairs first when we were meant to be asleep and were sneaking down. Having said that, Louise has done some far braver things than I have over the years! Including today: Braving the Shave!

Lots of people said I was “brave” for cutting off 17 inches of hair in August 2016. Well, today Louise not only cut off her plaits (actually, I did two plaits and eight school kids paid money to do the rest!), she also had her head shaved to a number 3! She certainly Braved the Shave!

The school audience gave masses of whoops, cheers and applause and have donated a lot of money! She still doesn’t have a final total but it will definitely be over £500 for Macmillan and 10 plaits for the Little Princess Trust! Amazing! Still, she and I both know that the bravest of people aren’t the ones who cut their hair and donate it, the bravest ones are those who need that hair, those who shave their hair off before it falls out and those who have to watch their children lose their hair.

I was really proud of my sister today. She has turned into a celebrity in her school with everyone wanting to stroke her newly balded head! I think she totally ROCKS her new style like many women before her. To donate: https://bravetheshave.macmillan.org.uk/shavers/louise-woffindin

Advent Random Acts of Kindness

As well as the Reverse Advent Calendar, we are also doing a random act of kindness a day throughout December.

I hadn’t really thought much about what we will do each day so yesterday the RAKs just happened themselves (which is really how it should be, if kindness is the path you choose to take in life – and it is a choice you can make, and a choice many don’t).

Yesterday we had a disagregated training day and so it allowed me to help out at my son’s school Christmas fayre in the afternoon, whilst my husband took him and his best friend around the stalls. When my son came running along to me on the cake and sweet stall with all his winnings from the tombola, teddy bear raffle and his homemade Christmas decorations, he chose a cupcake for himself and also chose a little Freddo chocolate for his sister who was still at her nursery. He also offered his marshmallow Santa’s Rolo hat to me as well as saying that a massive bar of Galaxy he won on the tombola was for mummy, daddy and his sister to share. Okay, so he has a milk allergy and can’t eat them himself, but as a five year old he could have kicked off and got upset that he couldn’t have what he won. Instead, he didn’t bat an eyelid at winning something so awesome for his family to enjoy (and it’s Galaxy chocolate so I totally will – post detox completion of course!).

Later, I went to pick up our daughter from nursery. On the way home she likes to tell me about her day (which is novel because her brother never has). She told me how her friend at nursery had said to another girl “I don’t like you”. She told me how, in response to this, she had said to the other girl,

“Don’t worry, xxxxxx, because I LOVE you”

and later, to the girl who wasn’t being kind,

“That wasn’t a very kind thing to say to xxxxxx”.

I’m really pleased that, at three, my daughter is not only trying to make sad people better but she’s also standing up for kindness and isn’t afraid to stand up and say if something isn’t right.

I am aware that she’s only 3 and this story may or may not be entirely as it seems, and there are, of course, many times where she is most definitely a typical ego-centric preschooler (in fact, she told me I wasn’t her best friend any more the other day because I wanted her to settle down for bed!). But, I can see her mind working and her empathy growing, showing us little hints into her growing-up personality, which is more selfless.

So those were the children’s 1st of December Random Acts of Kindness. Let’s see what the rest of December will bring!

Advent

It’s the First of December and the LoveJoinMes are finally beginning to indulge a bit of Christmas!

This morning we opened picture advent calendars (we’re all for tradition here!) and talked through some ideas I had about advent this year. To us as a family, Christmas is about giving, about sharing joy and happy times with family and friends, and about food, of course! To the children, it naturally falls that it’s about receiving, which is ok in my book as to give to others is for them to receive too. But the message in our family is clear: giving and sharing is what it’s all about.

With that in mind we are doing a reverse advent calendar. Each day of advent we will choose something to go into our Advent box. At the end of advent, hopefully on Christmas Eve, we will drop off our Advent Box at a homeless shelter, a refuge drop off point or the food bank.

Here is today’s offering:

Soon the box will be full and we hope it will make someone happy at Christmas time. Of course, giving should be an all year round thing. However, it’s all too easy to fall out of habits of donating. Christmas is a good a time as any to start (or continue!) doing good. So, will anyone share a bit of love and join me?

More than another year goes by

Time is flying! It is already over a year since we finished our RAK project for mum’s 60th (I drafted this post around her birthday two months ago). Whilst we haven’t kept count of subsequent RAKs in these last months, we have most definitely made it a bigger part of our lives. They’ve been happening; we’ve seen the evidence on Facebook!

It seems surreal that it is over two years since this blog started: over two years since the cakes for the Holistic Centre, since “Balls for Dogs” on the beach. The project is also still waiting on the outcome of one of our RAKs. We hope to hear within the next six months.

Mum would’ve been 61 now. It’s hard to imagine how different our lives would’ve been had she been here. Most of the time it is becoming easier to accept that she isn’t here now (not that that makes it fair by any stretch!). Everything I’ve said about grief still stands but, if anything, losing her makes me want to live life to its fullest as you never know what’s around the corner. One thing I will say is that it is important for the grieving person to have their feelings acknowledged, even years later (so maybe ask them? Especially on birthdays, mother’s or father’s days and anniversaries – show them that you remember too!). It’s natural that she’s not at the forefront of people’s minds, but what’s a moment of reflection or a quick message to someone on a harder than normal day? I always endeavour to do this with friends and family who’ve lost loved ones. If you don’t, why don’t you? I promise it will not upset the person to have their loss acknowledged, even years later.

My mindset has changed over the last few years. I try to accept things and not wallow in self-pity as much as I used to. I figure that you can never try too hard to be a ‘better’ person. Everyone has times when they could do better but it’s important to recognise that and to work on self-improvement. And it is an effort! I’m always telling my students that you can’t sit back and expect good things to happen or for things to be easy, you have to make the effort. It’s the same for life in general. You get one shot at it. You may have had a crap time, rubbish GCSE results or whatever but what are you doing to change that? It is all in your control, even if it doesn’t feel like it. When things are going well but others are not supportive I often think of something mum taught me: not to let others bring you down. She often said “Rise above it”. Now, in my more well-read years, it reminds me of Maya Angelou. And I LOVE Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise

If you have wondered recently if it’s you, if you’ve observed people acting unkind towards you or just acted differently from how they used to be (as I have), keep reminding yourself that whatever issues people face, it is their issue. They own it, not me, not you. Strive to continue being YOU, to being the best version of you that you can. If that sits out of favour with some then you cannot help that. People drift in and out of our lives all the time for all sorts of reasons. We need not to pay attention to how this makes us feel but to focus on what matters. The less we care about the stuff we can’t change, the happier we will be.

I strongly believe that if people believed from within, if they trusted the person that they are is good enough (like she did), then they would be happier. They would subsequently treat others with kindness, they’d be respectful, they’d treat others the way they wish to be treated.

I saw this quote the other day and it made me think. Who was she when no one was watching? I often watched her when she didn’t think I was. I can honestly say that I only ever her saw her being kind and respectful to others. She did not ignore anyone. She helped. She saw the positive in any situation. She cared. She did not make anyone feel excluded, left out or left behind. A lot of people could learn lessons from that.

When no one is watching, we continue to do Random Acts of Kindness, big and small.

A runner’s RAK

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!