You know when you ask people how they’ve been or how their day is going and their answer is almost always the same. Busy. I feel like I hear this word over and over again. Every time I ask, I know I will get the same answer. Busy. My life is busy. And while I realize we all have things going in our lives, schedules to keep, commitments to commit to, I also believe that we really aren’t THAT busy. I’ve thought about this a lot lately as I’ve been feeling rather run down from my daily grind. And as I was responding to an email early this evening with the word busy to describe my week, I became disgusted with myself.
I hate that word, busy. I feel like it is a cop out to avoid the things you really should be doing.
For example, I set myself up for failure earlier last month when I decided to take on a 40 day blog challenge. And as you can see, I’ve failed. I kept putting it off while thinking of ways to explain why I completely blew off something that I wanted to work hard at to accomplish. The only word I could come up with was…busy.
Sometimes I wish we would slow down for a few moments, unwind as the experts would tell us to do. Last night I walked around outside after getting home and took time to appreciate the moon that was glowing in the sky. And then, I tweeted about it. Tonight, I’ve found myself enjoying the silence, only listening to my key strokes as I type my thoughts to all of you. And suddenly, I don’t feel so busy anymore.
Think about how this applies to kindness…this thought of being busy. We’re too busy to hold the door for someone, or too busy to let someone go ahead of us in line even though they have fewer items than us, too busy to care about the feelings of others as we say whatever we thinking without fully caring about how the recipient of that message may feel. We pack our agendas full with meetings, coffee dates, classes, work, errands, etc. that we quickly forget to slow it down a bit and keep things in perspective. Lately I have found that I’ve lost sight of the slowing it down theory and rather, have tried to push my way through situations while most likely, stepping on some toes along the way. And so, it’s always good for a little reality check to bring awareness.
Slow it down. Stop using the excuse of busy. Do things for others and do things that benefit YOU.
The things that you do when no one is looking are the things that define you.
We’ve been waiting for this day to come all year. We’ve counted the days and circled the date on our calendars, but alas, it is finally upon us. The question we’ve been asked for weeks leading up to it, “what are you giving up for Lent?” can finally be answered. And before you close out of this post, hear me out. This is not some religious plea to get you all to give up something for Lent, but rather, to express my interest in participating in this yearly ritual.
I’ve always liked the idea of going without something for a duration of time. Maybe it’s giving up a food/beverage item you’ve been trying to avoid since your New Year’s resolution failed miserably. Or, maybe it’s giving up watching TV so that you can focus on other things. Whatever it is, I think the challenge for ourselves is something to be admired. In past, it’s been pretty easy for me to choose what I will go without for 40 days. I’ve given up coffee (never a good idea), red meat, etc. but for some reason, this year was a challenge in terms of deciding what my one thing would be. And so it got me thinking about the idea of doing more rather than giving up. So first I thought, why not actually take your lunch break for once and walk each day. Well, I am ashamed to say, I have failed miserably at idea my first attempt. But not to worry, I have not given up….as every girl should have a back-up plan. So onto idea number two!
I am going to post every day for the next 40 days. You may be thinking like this is some super easy thing to do, but I can’t just pull words out of my ass; writing, like everything else, requires motivation. So while I feel like there is a lot of kindness to share with the world, I also realize that I am human, I get tired, I get cranky, and more often than not, it is easy for me to neglect my blog because it is the last thing I think about on my to-do list. So yeah, haters…this is going to be a challenge for me. But a challenge that I am excited to take on, because I do like writing - I just need to actively make myself do it each day. So get ready as I plan to share 40 amazing days of kindness with all of you. I hope, for all of us, that I can pull this off. Be rooting for me. xoxo
It’s officially been a week after the day devoted to love and if you are all stuffed with chocolate and nursing toothaches from all of the sweets you’ve consumed from leftover candy like I am then I think it is safe to assume that we all enjoyed our day of l-o-v-e. In true form, this day had mixed reviews for many. It was a day filled with pictures of hearts, flowers, and candy (oh my!) as well as posts, tweets, personal monologues cursing this day and anyone who is attached. Me personally…I love reading the reviews, it is actually quite entertaining. One minute you are reading a paragraph stating why this individual has the best partner in the world and she doesn’t care who thinks differently and the next thing you read or witness is someone freaking out or declaring their hatred for Singles Awareness Day. Why do people think this day has to only be about the love we have for one other person? Because really, it shouldn’t just be about the love we share with our better half, but all of the wonderful people in our lives.
It’s sad to think that people are alone because they don’t have a partner at the one time of the year when it seems like love should matter the most. But, shouldn’t love matter all year round? And if people would just open their eyes for a hot minute, they would see that they are loved by so many others. Personally, I feel that I am surrounded by love every single day. And it goes beyond the love from my family as that is a love that is most important to me. But it is also the love I feel throughout the year from kind acts, kind words, having shoulders to cry on, friends to giggle with…my list could go on forever.
We all have a list of people who have worth in our life, who contribute positively to your dreams and hopes, and who you can say you love. Now, don’t get all mushy on me because love is a very powerful word and changes everything. But, my hope this Valentine’s Day (and moving forward) is that the focus of love will be placed on love for all rather than feeling alone or feeling that our love must be shared with one person and one person only. Because as I have come to find, we are not alone nor should we be selfish with our love. There is plenty to share with those who are close to us or perhaps a passing stranger.
Sometimes I think we get caught up in measuring the size of the act instead of seeing each act of kindness that we are able to provide to someone as a positive contribution. We are so focused on larger acts have more impact, more recognition. But, I don’t think that is necessarily the case. I was thinking about this as I was exiting my apartment complex the other morning. I exit the same door of the building every day and nine times out of ten, I let the door slam behind me, knowing that it must get super old to be the tenants of that particular unit who have to hear a door slam over and over and over again. And so, since recognizing my annoying behavior, I have made the conscious effort to catch the door and close it quietly.
I know what you’re thinking. What does that have to do with acting kindly? Does that really count? How hard is it to just shut a door quietly? Trust me, I’ve thought about it, too. And really, it has nothing to do with a door, but rather, the simple things that most people overlook and don’t recognize…..paying attention to something so small, makes the biggest difference. Sure, my fellow apartment dwellers have no idea that I walk out that door each day and make sure it doesn’t slam, but I notice and I make the effort. That is all that really matters. I am making a choice to be kind on top of respectful. And so can you.
So, here is my challenge to all of you. Think small, think about the acts that you may think there is no way in hell that it will make a difference or mean something to someone. Because chances are…IT WILL. Think small to make the biggest impact.
I’ve been thinking a lot about reassurance lately - what it means to each of us and why we need it so badly to feel like we are making an impact or doing something good with our lives. I think about this a great deal when I first begin a semester. Since I’ve started teaching, I seem to feel that maybe I am not the best suited to be speaking in front of an array of students, hoping to mold them into better public speakers. As I was walking to my car tonight, I nearly picked up my phone to text/call a friend and ask the question “do you think I am a good teacher?” And then I suddenly stopped rummaging through my purse on my quest to obtain my cellular telephone. Why do I need to call someone right now? I love what I’m doing and each and every time I stand up in front of that class, I have the ability to make a difference.
This kind of reassurance that we seem to feel we need in order to be reassured we are doing good with our lives is really working against us, no? Think about all of the decisions you make in your life and while yes, you are your own person and make decisions based on what you want…how many times can you recall where you ran to a friend/family member/mentor, etc asking for reassurance that you in fact, made the correct decision? So here’s the reverse of this….because sometimes reassurance is super important AND needed. There are times when things get bad and we feel low - this is a perfect time for us to reach out. But what I’m talking about is the feelings we have when we are truly doing something great for us - something that makes us happy. There wasn’t any doubt when we decided to proceed with that decision, so why should we think differently now? We can’t allow ourselves to get caught up in doubt….that is when we are really in danger of becoming scared and forgetting all the good we have to offer.
There is something amazing that happens when a five minute video comes together with a powerful piece of music to showcase the positive or beautiful sides of something we may overlook. Five minutes of the simplest shots of a city we all love but maybe forget about? And it’s not the passing views of the skyline or the shots of graffiti on the walls that makes this video so powerful - it’s the people - smiling and laughing - enjoying life as it is presented to them. It puts things into perspective when we start to think about what we worry about in life or how much energy we are putting into each and every day.
Remember the simple things: http://mashable.com/2011/11/05/year-in-new-york-video/
A few days ago, a pretty important set of my keys suddenly went missing. Between my random panic attacks, calls to the locksmiths and searching every nook and cranny known to man, I had every intention of waving the white flag and giving up hope. When suddenly, on a random Thursday afternoon, I see that Vera Bradley key chain appear, with both keys attached! Luckily, I had included my business card with the keys which some kind soul graciously returned.
It got me thinking about all of the stuff we drop on a daily basis. Or maybe we walk by things and don’t even give them a second glance. But for someone who doesn’t even know me to pick up my lost belongings and then walk it over to my office took effort and time out of their day. Not only was it a huge sigh of relief but it was also a pretty amazing act of kindness.
Thank you random, kind person who brought back my keys who I never got a chance to meet. You rock! :)
When’s the last time you told someone that you are proud of them? I was thinking about this the other evening as I was enjoying the company of friends. I just so happened to find myself in a conversation with one of my friends about a project he is working on to better himself. And as I was listening to his accomplishments thus far in the process, I found myself overwhelmed with excitement and pride….which I decided to share with him. I said “I’m proud of you” which got me thinking about how often I say this to people. It unfortunately left me with the answer of, not very often.
We are all doing so many amazing things in our lives. But, I know that with the over abundance of work and dedication these projects usually carry with them, it easy to give up or become frustrated. I know it is unrealistic to be praised for every good deed we do for others or ourselves. In fact, the entire premise in which this blog is based is the randomness of acts of kindness - those deeds that normally go unnoticed. I talk a lot about doing good and not receiving recognition, that we should feel self assured that the deeds we do are making an impact. However, encouragement is always appropriate and always appreciated. We should know this because think of the times when someone praises you for doing a good job or supports something you are passionate about. It puts a little extra pep in our step, no?
Let me circle back to the word pride. I feel like this is a word that is not utilized to its fullest potential. When I hear pride or if someone says “I’m proud of you” that makes me feel like I am doing something that others think is pretty awesome and well, that makes me feel awesome. So now, in addition to incorporating the word “dashing” into my vocabulary this fall, I also plan to add “pride” to the list…
This morning, in the midst of running around a crowded office with phones ringing, questions flying and piles of paperwork, I was suddenly stopped when a colleague wanted to speak with me on the phone. I walked up to the phone thinking, what could this be about, when I was greeted with the words “Good morning, Erika. Just wanted to say ‘hi’ and wish you a good day.” Our conversation ended quickly after and I went on with my morning, a little more optimistic than five minutes earlier.
It’s just amazing the randomness of kind acts. Unexpected, yet appreciated more than words can describe. It’s helpful to know that other people out there are rooting for us and it just takes one phone call and a few, simple words to realize that we are not alone and we’re going to make it through the day, no matter what obstacles are in front of us.
Thanks, Maxine!! :)
Oh hey blog, remember me? It’s been about what…a month? Sorry that my life has been one heck of a ride the past few weeks but that’s no excuse, I shouldn’t neglect you or the acts of kindness that are happening all the time.
So now that that’s out of the way….let me drop the gift of kind updates on you all.
The fall is my most absolute favorite time of the year; everyone is excited for the new school year and I always love any excuse to buy new office/school supplies. Aside from my unhealthy obsessions with pens, pencils, and notebook paper there is also the pumpkin flavored everythings, the picking of apples, the reappearance of fall scarves, and the crisp air that can make the most miserable person happy. Well, unless you hate the cold I guess. And true to form, as the fall semester has started, I am overcome by the warmth of the people around me. From the amazing crossing guards who I secretly obsess over coming back to help the youngsters safely cross roads to the welcoming faces that take your pumpkin spice latte order at Starbucks….kindness is everywhere. Here are just a few highlights, a taste, if you will:
I woke up the other morning with the sudden urge to wave at everyone I saw. Of course people were thinking, who is this chick frantically waving at me, but who cares? It’s fall. I can do what I want. Go pick a pumpkin, I say.
I’ve also been greeted with baked goods prepared by interns and colleagues of mine which is probably one of THE most appreciated acts of kindness I can think of.
A friend of mine is also helping a fellow student learn English and taking time out of her day to make sure he is set in his academic endeavors.
My dad has recently joined an organization in my hometown with the purpose to serve others, especially within our community. My sister will be participating in a trip through her church to help those in need. And my mom, well she is a mom….the most selfless person I’ve ever met. Go Bev.
Another friend of mine has recently started his critical care nursing residency and could there be any bigger impact than saving someone’s life? What an amazing gift that he has to share.
Oh yeah, and did I mention the lattes that wonderful interns have brought me just because? Can we say super kind? Some people must really know the way to my heart :)
I’ve been really trying lately to tell the people around me how much of impact they have on my life, whether it be inspiration or just general appreciation for their support. I think it’s easy for us to forget how many people surround us and we certainly use the excuse of being “too busy” to sit down and thank them. So speak up peeps! Tell ‘em how you feel.
But mostly, I’ve just been so inspired lately by the people I’ve come across and I couldn’t be more excited. And so here is the part where I give you my big takeaway. You ready? Maybe it’s the fall air, but we need to remember the simple things and appreciate what we have. It wasn’t until I started writing this post that I realized how many wonderful things have happened from the previous month. As I say, kindness is always around and so this fall, what will you do to act kindly to others?
I’ve been thinking a lot about the term reboot. If something goes wrong with your computer - maybe you’ve gotten the blue screen of death or the screen freezes up, what do you do? You reboot. Not a complete system shutdown, but a little bit of a refresher for your computer, if you will. I was talking about rebooting last night with a dear friend of mine, not so much in terms of our computers, but rather our lives. I think certain points arise in everyone’s life where we start to question our purpose, maybe we’ve experienced some heartbreak and so we question ourselves, or maybe we are just searching for what it is that we really want to do. We’ve all been there and it is an endless game you play with your mind. Your body is telling you to get ahold of yourself, get it together, pick yourself up all the while your mind continues to engulf you in memories, guilt, happiness, failures, etc.
This is where the idea of rebooting comes in. I’ve really been doing a lot of thinking about these minds traps or holes we tend to find ourselves in, some might even call them ruts. But, whatever the term you use, I think the best way to find fulfillness and joy is by helping others. Granted, this will not make any problem or worriment disappear but it can at least help you while you are helping others. One thing I tend to think about is where I find enjoyment and it truly lies with making people laugh and so that has sort of become my purpose and my way to move past these mind barriers. But, it could also be reaching out to someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time, volunteering, stopping by to chat with someone, the list continues. We become so obsessed with our problem that it begins to take over and rather than pushing past the issue, we allow it to encompass our daily activities. It is important to find a way to achieve something and help others as a way to help ourselves.
One of the things I love about twitter is that people retweet others posts. And what I find a lot of people retweeting is something along the lines of “it’s a beautiful day, go share your smile” or “make a difference, help a friend in need.” I am speaking generally of course, but it is so true, we need to stop feeling sorry for ourselves, get off our butts and give back. It can be a way for us to reboot…shut down for a bit, while we find joy in helping others and listening to their problems rather than our own. And in turn, we are giving our minds a rest. I fully believe in the power that helping others, volunteering, showing someone you care, reaching out, etc. can have on our minds in terms of achievement and essentially, a way to “reboot” our minds as a way of restarting; a simple idea with a big impact.
One of my most favorite things is listening to others. I am definitely one of those people who listens more than she speaks; I like to sit back and enjoy the stories of others while offering my little tid bits here and there. I think this is why I get so giddy when someone asks if we can sit down to have a chat or if someone wants my opinion. I feel extremely honored to be the individual they wanted to confide in because there is a great deal of trust that goes into opening up to another person. Last week I had a few instances where I was able to put my listening skills to work and just be there for that person in their time of grief or overwhelming problems. I feel fortunate to offer suggestions, advice, and to ultimately, be a sounding board for their concerns.
Listening is a wonderful act of kindness. It is also a selfless act because it is not about you, but rather, the other person. You are lending your ears for the other person to essentially, talk right off. But unfortunately, I think listening is a skill that not everyone is accustomed to and often times, we are speaking over one another as if it were some kind of competition to see who can talk the most. It is important to remember that while we all have something to contribute to a conversation, listening is just as important. I have found that when someone is coming to you for advice or to just talk, they are usually hoping to have the opportunity to speak without judgement. So, open those ears and listen. It will be the easiest act of kindness yet.
CHARITY WISH FROM DYING GIRL -
This is a pretty amazing story. As many of you know, I am obsessed with the efforts of the organization, charity:water. This is an inspiring story of a 9-year-old girl who started a charity:water campaign for her birthday. She gave up her birthday and decided that instead of gifts this year, she wanted people to donate to her campaign. Unfortunately, Rachel was unable to see her campaign complete its goal; she died from a spinal chord injury after being in a car accident a few days ago. But, her story has caught the attention of thousands and people all over the world are donating to her campaign which grows by the second. It is unfortunate and sad that a true act of kindness has ended in tragedy, but Rachel’s story and compassion to help others is truly an inspiration.
To donate to Rachel’s campaign, check out: http://mycharitywater.org/rachels9thbirthday