Tag Archives: #lovejoinme

Kindness Rocks! 

Kindness Rocks! It does indeed! 

LJM2 visited me last weekend and together we collected a few beach rocks and decorated them with the children’s paints and some varnish. 



On Thursday I took the rocks on holiday with me to the highlands of Scotland where we are staying on holiday. This morning we went for a walk around the small loch in the village and my little LJMs helped leave them in places by the water-side footpath. We also left a couple of posters at the entrance points to the Loch to explain what they were.


Our hope is that the rocks end up spread far and wide and that people will take them home or take them and leave them somewhere new for someone else to find. The rocks are designed to bring happiness to the finder and as such they may pass on that happiness in the form of kindness to others. 

If you have found one of our rocks please let us know. Leave a comment on our blog or tweet us! We’d love to know where our rocks end up. 

This Random Act of Kindness is our 50th! How exciting is that! 

That’s the thing about grief 

Grief is a mess. A big steaming pile of … spaghetti soup. 


I remember being told that her days were numbered (as I returned from a honeymoon break no less) and feeling utter shock and disbelief. Was this really my life? Her life? It was like some kind of dystopian reality where nothing made sense anymore. Arriving at the hospital, I tactlessly announced that my phone was about to die. The irony of that was lost on no one.  Everyone else seemed absurdly calm whereas I was not. The days all blurred. Bizarrely, there was laughter and comfort and games of scrabble. One afternoon, I laid my head next to hers and picked up her almost-lifeless arm and draped it around me. I fell asleep there like that for a while, at peace where I had always felt at home. I never got to talk to her but I know she knew I was there.  

Months after her death, LJM2 and I had a few conversations about how grief was not what we had feared. The fear of death happening was worse in many ways. It didn’t mean that it wasn’t significant, that it was not bad (believe me, grieving a parent is horrific); we meant that we were surprised by our ability to cope and adapt and to still live.  Like she said in a radio interview just before her death: when asked “how do you cope?” she said,

You just do; you have no choice. 

It has now been six and half years since she died. You will notice that I refrain from using euphemisms which soften the harshness of death words. I always do. She’s not sleeping, with the angles, she’s not passed. She is dead and that is the reality we have to live with. 

In that time, we have lived through many stages of grief, even seeking answers as to when this will feel better. The truth is: it won’t. There is a new grief every day. We mostly accept that but it feels impossibly hard with every new experience. Every new moment brings her absence to the fore. She is not there. She does not know her grandchildren. I struggle to understand how some of the people who I love most in the world have not met each other. 

My children will not know how the tip of her nose always felt cold, how her body always felt soft, how she made a little click noise when she gave a kiss, the concentration face that she pulled.  Furthermore, each time the little LJMs do something amazing I want to tell her. I ask questions that will never get answered. Just this week the biggest little one tried out school. Was he like me? Was I that brave? Her absence is felt so profoundly each day.


Others seemingly forget. Others move on (and that is ok).  Some expect you to be over it. I’m even imagining all sorts of eye-rolling at the mere discovery of this project and blog. However, this is our reality. This project is helping. It’s helping us and it’s helping others. The last stage of grief? 


But that’s the thing about grief. There is no last stage. The grief dies with you, leaving someone else’s new grief in its wake

46 – Race for Life

A sea of pink came down the hill over the horizon. I had my whistle and my foam hand at the ready.  I was positioned well; I could hear the start so I knew it wouldn’t be long before they approached. Having run a Race for Life before I remember seeing marshals at the side of the route, cheering and clapping and showing the way.  I never really thought about who they were and why they were there until now. Here I was with my own story, my life affected and changed by the terrible disease they were running for. There were thousands of them, I’m not sure exactly how many, but what surprised me was how many different people were doing it. There were older ladies, small children, teenagers, even young babies in slings and prams. One woman had a toddler on her back and a baby on her front! Let’s not forget the dogs!

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Being near the start meant that it wasn’t long before the back markers passed and I was able to wander back to the start and finish line. I was really surprised that the front runner beat me back – now that was a fast time! I managed to watch as the second and third runners came in and was surprised by a young girl who came in the top ten. It was so inspiring.  There were people selling flowers to raise money and the radio was encouraging you to buy them to give to family and friends running the race. I bought one and waited a while until a little girl ran near me and I gave her the flower.

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I decided to wander back to the volunteering tent and on my way went via the board where people were putting their back signs – signs that showed who they were doing it for. It was moving – so many people affected by cancer, so many people whose lives have been changed because of this terrible disease. There was even someone who’d dedicated their run to Caroline Aherne, who had died aged 52 just the previous day.  Many were running simply for “a cure” and I really hope the money raised today helps find just that.

I watched and clapped as the final people crossed the line. One of the final finishers was a young boy aged 8. He is called Kasabian and has been battling cancer since the age of 2. He has just finished 5 days chemotherapy and yet got round the whole 5km course. What an inspiring young man. 

We really need to find a cure! 

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

 

 

 

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.

The RAK list

  1.  Cakes for the staff at the Trinity Holisitc Centre
  2.  Free balls for dogs on the beach
  3.  Donation to Save The Children
  4.  Morning coffee for a drive-thru customer
  5.  Cake Sale for Syria
  6.  Costa for a stranger
  7.  Free rice for someone hungry
  8.  Biscuits for the nursing home
  9.  Email for an old friend
  10.  Flowers for someone who has been having a hard time
  11.  Soup and bread for a homeless person
  12.  Money left for a train ticket
  13.  Money left in a vending machine
  14.  Helping a little boy get his bike
  15.  Donating and Remebering for World Cancer Day
  16.  Wearing Red and donating to the British Heart Foundation
  17.  An issue of the Big Issue
  18.  Work Pigeon Hole gifts
  19.  Surprise coffee for neighbours
  20.  Breast Feeding video for new mums
  21. Crochet squares for a blanket
  22.  Toys sent to the Children’s Day Unit at the hospital
  23.  The Bells leaving Easter Eggs for students in France
  24. From LJM2 to LJM1 – a not so random act
  25. Blurt BuddyBox
  26. IVF goody bag
  27. Signing up to be an organ donor
  28. Cream cake for Big Issue Seller
  29. Bringing the outside in
  30. Bouncy Balls in the park
  31. Post cards to random addresses
  32. Hand cream sent to a long-lost friend
  33. Bus fare for a stranger
  34. JungleJog donation for Huntington’s Disease
  35. Lucky Pennies in the park
  36. Forget-me-not seeds
  37. Supermarket gift
  38. Money raised for the British Heart Foundation’s My Marathon
  39.  Dear Richard, Liverpool
  40. Rosie the Dulux dog
  41. All the way to Oz
  42. Take what you need
  43. Close to you – donating blood
  44.  It could be you! Lotto tickets
  45.  Food for thought (Foodbank)
  46.  Race for Life Marshalling
  47. A little treat (box)
  48. An honourable person
  49. Book Rescue
  50. Kindness Rocks!
  51. Marie Curie baby clothes
  52. Seeking Refuge
  53. Flowers for old friends
  54. Flowers for Strangers
  55. Woolly Sheep
  56. Water painting for dementia sufferers
  57. Milk
  58. Coffee ripple
  59. Fabric for a refugee peace blanket
  60. Donation of 16 inches of hair to the Little Princess Trust

 

Pigeon Hole Positivity #18

Tomorrow I plan to deposit chocolate gifts and notes of appreciation in my colleagues’ pigeon holes at work. This poses a big risk in being “discovered” but I’m hoping that those on the receiving end appreciate the anonymity of our kindness campaign if they do figure it out!  The people I’ve chosen to be on the receiving end of this RAK are not those I work particularly closely with on a day to day basis. Instead, they are people who are always positive. Their smiles are genuine, their “how are yous” real and far from a formality.

Every single one of them has, at some point, made me think “s/he is a really nice person” and I want to show my appreciation. Work places need people like you!

So, to those on the receiving end, THANK YOU for having a positive impact on my working life.

LoveJoinMe