Monthly Archives: June 2016

Kindness counts

Before starting this project we were, in my opinion, already kind people. That’s who she made us to be. I use ‘made’ figuratively of course – we are kind because we grew up around her kindness not because it was forced upon us. I remember her telling me that she once came across an old lady in the street who had died. She wrapped a blanket around her and sat with her while an ambulance came. When other people asked if the lady was ok, she pretended that she was fine just so as not to upset other people. Another time, one of LJM1’s colleagues abroad was planning to spend Christmas alone.  There was no question – she would spend Christmas with us. Even during that time, the time of her first diagnosis (Christmas eve of all days) she went out of her way for other people. She made her feel welcome in a time of family, of tradition, when many don’t let the outside in. I wonder what she would make of the political nightmare our country is going through now. She had no common language with our guest but that didn’t matter. She would never have bought into the anti-immigration rhetoric.

Whenever I get upset that my children won’t know what she was like or when I worry about being a good mum my husband always says something along the lines of “yes they will, they’ll know her through you” and “she taught you how to be a good mum by demonstration”.

This week I have done two things that you might call kind. I am not, however, counting them towards our Random Acts of Kindness. For one, they are borne out of guilt and two, they are based on things I should have done but didn’t.

I forgot my best friend’s birthday six months ago. Well, I say forgot when really I remembered too late and she came round and I realised I hadn’t even got her a card. I’ve felt guilty about that for six whole months, so guilty that I’ve never even brought it up with her! This week I sent her some flowers as a half-birthday present. It’s obviously a nice thing to do but it replaces a present I would have got her anyway (and alleviates my guilt massively). The second thing is I created and mailed a photobook of my children to a distant relative. I realised this week that  I don’t even know when her birthday is yet she always sends me a card and sends things to the children.  I feel guilty because she hasn’t even met my youngest child yet. I am going to make sure I see her soon, next time I’m up in her vicinity. Again, a nice thing to do but based on what? Guilt. I’ll draw your attention back to this post.

It’s true that some of the Acts of Kindness we’ve blogged about we would have done anyway. That’s not to say they’re not worthy of noting and counting towards our project. Kindness counts every day and there are many kind things we do that we don’t note. All of the times we hold doors open, smile at strangers, pick something up for someone… they all count. This week’s two acts, however I’m not counting. Instead, I’m using them to improve myself – I’m going to make sure they don’t need to happen because I’d have paid them the proper attention they deserved in the first place.

LJM2

 

 

 

Food for Thought

It’s been a tough few days for the UK, whichever side of the fence you’re on. Division everywhere. Not least division between the rich and the poor. 

Growing up, I can’t remember seeing or hearing about foodbanks. Even a decade ago I am not sure I knew of one. Today there  are many and ‘foodbank’ is a word that is frequently heard. When I was little, we weren’t rich: a typical working-class family. But we were far from poor. We always had food on the table. The thought that people are struggling day to day to provide for their families is saddening. The thought of people going to bed hungry and cold or panicking about where their next meal is coming from is truly harrowing. 

Today, I spotted a drop-off point in a Morrison’s store and swiftly decided to go and fill a basket. I hope that the simple gift of food will make someone smile, make someone reassured, make them not panic for a day or two and fill up the bellies of their children. 

Food is a gift and shouldn’t be taken for granted yet it so often is, by me too. Spotting the drop off bin gave me food for thought indeed.  Bon appetit! 



It could be you! 

It’s a Saturday (and a sunny one for a change!) and LJM 1&2 are together. Saturdays when we were children often involved visiting our grandparents and having tea with them. We’d watch Saturday night TV such as Gladiators (we were scared of Wolf), the Generation Game (we tried to remember all the items on the conveyer belt) and Big Break (“Snookering you, snookering you tonight!”). In 1994, I think it was November, the National Lottery appeared. I remember we chose our numbers excitedly  (numbers which were used by our parents for  years thereafter) and waited for the draw. “It could be you!” they said. It never was! Though we often talked of all our plans for what we’d do if we won. Her plans were mostly thinking of others, rather than herself: buying grandad a new car, for example. 

But tonight it could be five other families. Tonight five families may watch the Lotto draw, excitedly hoping they’ve beaten the 14 million to one odds, or maybe humbly hoping for a tenner! 

We went to the supermarket this lunch time and bought five lottery tickets and handed them out to five shoppers leaving the store. We hope you win! And if not, that a little excitement has been brought into your day. 

Death 

This blog is meant to be uplifting, though its ‘uplift’ has stemmed from loss. Tonight, I can’t help feeling consumed by sadness at our world and the evil that seemingly resides in it.

I did not know Jo Cox. I had never even heard of Jo Cox. Yet tonight I am deeply sad and moved to tears watching the news. A woman, not that much older than me with children of similar ages to mine, murdered in her home town. Two children who will barely remember their mother, who will grow up without her.

I can’t pretend to know how that feels. Losing her was the hardest thing I have ever endured but I was an adult, able to process my emotions, try and understand it, almost prepare for it (though nothing can prepare you). These are two small children. How can they even begin to process where their mummy is tonight? When I was out giving blood last night my husband put our children to bed, little LJM2 asking repeatedly for ‘mummy’, as she always does. I wasn’t there and she slept. I can’t comprehend how that, for those children, that is forever. Mummy isn’t coming back. My heart is breaking for those children.

Losing a mum is like a special sort of ugly club that you don’t want to belong to.  At the same time you find people who understand you and it. No one wants to be in that club. No one wants others to join them. When they do, the club members feel like they should have the words to say to the newly bereaved but they can’t find them. At that moment, there’s nothing more awful and nothing anyone can say to make it better. I am a lucky member as I joined fully grown. There should be no children in it but now there are two more.  A mum is a guiding light, there to raise you to adulthood. In all intents and purposes, mine fulfilled that role. Jo never got the chance. She was a wife, a daughter and a million other things too, a rising political star by all accounts.

I am angry as well as sad tonight that someone thought that it was ok to take her life. Just why? When did anything become more important than life itself? We will probably never know the answers. Tonight our thoughts are of her.

Close To You


Yesterday was World Blood Donor day (I happened to stumble upon this on Twitter). It just so happens that today, I was booked into to give blood.

Giving blood is an Act of Kindness that hundreds of people do every day. I have done it twice myself before aged 17/18 but it has been a long time since then. During the 14ish years since my last donation, a lot has changed.

All that time ago, she regularly donated blood. It was one of the things that she was passionate about. I remember her telling us she was proud of us for doing it and proud when we signed up to be on the Bone Marrow register.  So, when she was no longer able to donate blood after her illness, she was incredibly upset that she could not continue to help others. It was her turn for the help. During her treatment she had a few blood transfusions. They were never going to save her life, not in her case. But the difference in her after a transfusion was incredible. She went from breathless and pale to relatively normal-looking (and breathing!) straight away. It improved her quality of life.
I have always intended to get back into giving blood. I lapsed due to moving to university and then abroad and I never started again despite meaning to. I wanted to do it for her, to repay the blood she used and more. Maybe I will help someone like her? Maybe if I’d still been donating all those years ago she could have had my blood, the blood she created, the very same type. Tonight I did it.

Walking into the donation room was familiar; I had been in the church hall many times before, a lot of them with her. When I walked in and sat down the song on the radio was one by The Carpenters: Close to You.

Just like me, they long to be, 

Close to you.

And I felt it. I was doing something she was proud of, listening to a song that reminded me intensely of her.

So they sprinkled moon dust in your hair and starlight in your eyes of blue. 

A memory came to me whilst in the toilet, of all places. I had been there before, with her. Only not just her, she was helping a small child. They girl was perhaps five. We had been watching a pantomime there and the girl was desperate for the toilet but the people she was with would not accompany her. She took her. I remember it clearly because the girl was covered in severe eczema and was uncomfortable. I remembered watching the kindness she showed, the poor sweet girl’s silent gratitude as she helped her and took her back to her seat. A small and almost forgotten memory but another showing her character.

Just like me, they long to be, 

Close to you. 

As I lay there, needle in arm watching interestedly as my blood was collected, my progress measured by the blood being weighed, I thought about all the others in the room. There were loads of people. What was their motivation? Where had mine been for all these missed years? I saw some familiar faces, a father I recognised whose daughter had had leukaemia. Was she his motivation? Everyone has some inspiration, some motivation, a reason for being there. I had mine. This project spurred me into action but I wish I had gone back sooner.

It was painless and easy and I’m already booked in again for next time. If you’re reading this and you’ve lapsed from giving blood or have never given it then please let this spur you on. You never know who you might help. You may save a live, prolong a life or improve a life. What a gift!

Deep Thought, it’s #42 of course 

Any Douglas Adams fans will know that the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and everything is 42. For RAK #42 I wanted to give people answers to their problems like Deep Thought did in A Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, albeit figuratively.

I decided to have a bit of fun and make a poster like the ones advertising spare rooms you see around a university campus with tags you can rip off. On the tags I wrote different things that I thought people in my chosen poster-pinning place might want or need… that being the baby change at soft play. Of course, it’s just a bit of fun but I hope it makes people think and reflect about what they and others around them need or want. If I’m honest, I could do with everything on that poster in my life right now and I’m sure many of our readers will feel the same!

This RAK was so easy and cost nothing. There are many RAKs that cost nothing and I hope this inspires someone out there to carry out a RAK of some kind!

Sprinkles and Magic: Conversations with Little LoveJoinMe1

There are four little LoveJoinMes. The eldest is four. He is very inquisitive and is very good with numbers and maths. Today in the car he asked the question “when we get to a big number, do we go back down and get to zero like when I was a baby?” I explained that your age just keeps getting bigger and then stops when you die. He asked why it stops and I explained that that’s when the person ‘stops’. Only they don’t in so many ways.  He asked me to explain dying (I have before but it’s a bit of a tricky concept for him to understand). I told him that it’s when someone’s really poorly or their body stops working properly, like with her. I said that his auntie and I are doing a project and we are doing kind things for people to honour, remember and celebrate her. He said, “like when we went to the countryside (cemetery) and left the cards of seeds!”.

I asked him if he could think of any other kind things that we could do for someone. Without hesitation he said, “we could take some flowers to the people when their body stops working”. Just then we drove past the cemetery where we left the seeds and I explained that all the grave stones were where the people’s bodies were. He asked if we could take flowers to where hers was.  I reminded him that she is on the cliff, where we spread her ashes (I may have explained cremation using the words “sprinkles” after he asked what ashes and dust were! So he may now tell others that her sprinkles are on the grass on the cliff!). He said we should take flowers there at first and then he said “or we could take them to her house!” Death and its finality are still so lost on him. I explained we couldn’t, that she was gone and would always be gone and we can take them to the cliff like he said.   So we will one day soon. And we’ll carry on teaching him and the other little ones her ways of kindness too; how people’s bodies may stop but their love lingers, and that their effect on the world can be huge and can ripple through to reach others years after their death.

Just as we pulled up on the drive he said, “but, mummy, why can’t we just magic her back?”. “We can’t” I replied.

Oh to be four! With sprinkles not ashes, with magic and kisses fixing even the most difficult of things.

16 years

If I were her, I would have 16 years to go until my diagnosis and 21 years until my death. If I were to go when she did, my children would barely be adults.

Morbid? Perhaps. But thinking like this makes me realise how important it is not to get caught up in negativity. Like most things, that’s easy to say, but if you surround yourself with positive things and positive people then you’re half way there. Unfollow those people who annoy you on Facebook (it’s more positive than delete – they won’t know or get upset!). If you do positive things (like Random Acts of Kindness) you’re two thirds of the way there!

I am forced to consider myself lucky. After watching a tear-jerking episode of DIY SOS last night I do feel lucky – some people don’t even get what we had with her.

Cliché or not, life is too short, no matter what age you go. There will always be things you didn’t get to do and things you didn’t get to say. No one really knows when their ‘end’ will be; no one knows when their loved ones will go. So, be kind. Say your  I love yous. Surprise someone – a note, a text, a smile, forgiveness… whatever it may be. Spread positivity. 

Her last words to me were “I love you”, and mine to her. Not because she was going, but because that’s how we always ended things.  I wish I’d been inspired by a project like this when she’d been alive. She would have been on the receiving end of so many acts of kindness!

Love! Join me!

Anonymity and technology

When this project began I was so worried about people discovering our identity that I created a Facebook account in the name of Love Join-Me so that I could make a page. I didn’t realise that I could make one and no one would know who made it or who was admin! Well, because it was a fake account & I clearly don’t have photographic ID in the name of Love Join-Me, I have now been banned and so the page is no longer running (even though it may be visible – I can’t delete it)!

We have created a new page here – I wish I’d known all along that it wouldn’t have my name attached to it because it’s much easier to manage when you don’t have to log into a different account!

So here’s a plea, please like and share our new page. At the moment we have 0 likes and zero ways of reaching our likers from before!

Also, we welcome posts with the hashtag #lovejoinme whenever you commit a Random Act of Kindness.

Thank you,

Love Join Me

Is there such a thing as a truly selfless deed?

I remember the episode of Friends where Phoebe and Joey are trying to find the ultimate selfless good deed and how Phoebe learns that there’s no such thing because in doing a good deed one has a sense of pleasure or pride from having done it (something based on Immanuel Kant and true altruism, apparently).

This is true. For all of the good deeds that we have done so far we have experienced different emotions, enjoyment often being one of them. Our enjoyment is therefore juxtaposed with our purpose: to do things to make other people have a happy moment. I guess that’s why we’ve chosen to do keep the project as anonymous as possible. There are one or two people who may have worked out who we are but when it’s a risk that others will work it out (i.e. like the flowers for a relative or the Australia parcel) then we have left out the lovejoinme card and information and have separated the deed from the project name. The cards are there to inspire others to join in too with “pass on the kindness” and “Love. Join Me! ” on the reverse, as her altruism inspired us and she passed her kindness onto us.  The idea is that others join in too (let us know if you have!).

Given that this project is all about someone else and someone else’s kindness and is as much of a gift to that person (or that person’s memory), there will come a time soon where we will publicise what we have done and what we have learned through the process. Here’s where the altruism meets its shaky contender: pride. Should we be proud of our RAKs? We are certainly proud of her, the reason behind the project. So yes, maybe we should be proud of it but the pride doesn’t always sit comfortably. We are not doing this for us, for us to feel good. We are doing it because we want to help people and make others feel good. It’s not about saying “wow! Look what we did!”, it’s about saying “wow! Look what she did, look what she inspired”.

Look how her kindness is carrying on in selfless deeds in her honour and in her name: Love Join Me.  She did all this, not us.