Our Reverse Advent Calendar donation today is a jar of jam, Lucy’s choice of what we should put in.
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!
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?
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.
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!