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.
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.
Freesias were her favourite flowers. She loved how scented they were.
This Random Act of Kindness was for her two oldest friends who knew her the longest. We spent many holidays together growing up, had meals and played games at each other’s houses. There are many very happy memories that were created as a result of these friendships, friendships which will always be there somewhere even though she is no longer here.
This was a nerve-wracking RAK because, although it’s anonymous, I am pretty sure that they will work it out easily. Plus, one friend was most definitely in when I left the flowers on the doorstep and ran away. At the other house, it looked like no-one was home but, because of all the windows facing the paths to the house, I left the flowers by the back gate.
A boy of about 7 watched as I ran around with flowers and ran back to my car without them. I did have the thought of asking him to deliver them for me but thought that I should probably do it myself.
It’s quite a windy day. I hope the flowers are found soon before they blow away! I know she would have liked this RAK. Time passes but her memory lives on and her old friends will know that their friendship is never forgotten.
In recent years, I have become familiar with the effects that Domestic Violence and Abuse can have on women and children. It is an often surprising statistic that one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Let me just repeat that: ONE IN FOUR! That means that you probably know someone who has suffered it, whether you know of it or not. Since the start of this project I always knew that I wanted to help this cause in some way given that it has severely affected family members but, until now, I have been unsure of how I could make a difference specifically for this project .
Someone offered me kindness yesterday: they offered their hand in friendship to me and my biggest little one at a time when he and I feel very much on the outside and not sure what to expect with him starting school next month. It saddened me, though did not surprise me given the statistics, that she had experienced Domestic Violence and abuse. Her words were familiar to me in that another person who is very close to me has experienced similar. Whilst in many ways the violence is over, the abuse in different ways does not always end. Whilst the violence has ended, the after effects of it on the affected person and their children are immeasurable and have a permanent and changing effect on them as people.
So, this morning, I began to think of how I could help in some way. Neither of these incredibly strong and brave women needed to use directly the services of the charity Refuge but, thankfully, they have accessed support elsewhere. Having said that, many women and children do have to go to refuges. I cannot imagine how difficult that must be for them. Today I purchased an Emergency Pack on Refuge’s Website. The pack contains toiletries, clothing, food and children’s clothing & nappies (if needed) as well as providing emotional support and assessments with the specially trained staff.
This is a quote from the website as to how such things have helped someone:
“I have been welcomed with open arms. The refuge has been my home and it has changed my world. I have changed my outlook on life and being here has made me look at things positively. I can’t explain how grateful I am.” Lucy*, refuge resident (name changed).
I hope that, in some small way, our parcel will help someone who is fleeing from abuse. Having seen the effects first hand, it is so important that people have support and help and are offered, above all else, kindness and the ability to see that they have a future that is much better than the life that they are leaving behind.
A late evening trip to Asda was the next opportunity for a Random Act of Kindness. The spur of the moment took me and, alongside my teabags and toilet roll, I put a gift card on the coveyer belt.
In the meantime, two ladies arrived having done what looked like a weekly shop. One of the ladies was disabled and I inwardly panicked that it would be seen as an act of pity rather than a Random Act of Kindess. However, my decision was made and the gift card was already on the belt.
When The cashier was scanning through my shopping she thought that I was paying for my shopping with the giftcard and took the display card from the back of it. Realising her mistake she asked if it was a gift and I replied how it wasn’t a problem. I put £5 on the card and packed my shopping in my bag. I was shaking a little (these sorts of RAK make me nervous) and was texting messages like “proper nervous” to LJM2.
Once I’d packed and paid I gave the cashier the gift card back and asked her to take it off the shopping of the people behind. “What, theirs?” she replied, confused. I told her it was a Random Act of Kindess and turned and walked away (rather briskly I should add !).
This was a truly random act and no matter who had come up behind me in the checkout queue the outcome would have been the same. I hope it was well received.
Today I was wandering around town in the glorious sunshine thinking about my next RAK and what it could be – I’d just bought a new notebook and wanted to create a list so I wouldn’t forget any good ideas that I’d had.
One hundred metres or so down the road a middle-aged woman approached me with a smile. She said she was very embarrassed but that she had lost her house keys and needed some extra money for bus fare to go and get the spare set from her mother’s house as it was further away. I asked how much she needed and she said about £2. I gave her the money and she was really grateful and told me how she’d asked an older man but he swore at her and was horrible to her.
A year ago I probably would have said I couldn’t help her (I wouldn’t have been rude though) but since beginning my RAK journey I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. I have begun to notice many more people in need than I have in the past; I think about people’s life stories and where they’ve come from. I hope that the £2 I gave her didn’t just get her where she needed to go, but that it restored some of her faith in humanity in this ever cynical world.