Our Best Selves

People talk about things in such a black and white way.  Let’s use the hot button topic of climate change as an example.  There’s a lot of talk on both sides of the issue about how the other side is ignorant and “our way” is the best way.  Our truth is the only truth.  Bullshit. 

The climate is changing.  We can all agree on that.  What is also true is that there are many factors that are causing the climate to change.  There is a cycle, we’re in it.  The sun influences it as well.  And… the way we live, how we pollute, also affects it.  It’s not any one thing.  It’s all things together, contributing.

My point isn’t to start up a debate here about climate change.  My point is to say that, as with all things, black and white thinking gets us nowhere, but divided. The truth, as I’m always saying about little life things, is in the middle.  Parts of both are true.

We’re such a landscape of extremes.  Putting our dukes up, getting our feathers ruffled, pointing fingers, talking trash.  So many people talking trash.  And here’s the thing about that.  Talk trash in your own homes, or out to your friends, but do it amongst yourselves.  You don’t agree with something, fine, don’t agree with it.  You think something or someone is stupid, fine, think they are stupid. Keep it to yourselves, or your circle.  I don’t want to hear it unless you’re my wife, or friend, or family member and we’re having a debate or discussion or bitch session in person.  

I hate to say it, but people make themselves look bad.  They don’t show us anything about the person they are deriding, they show us their own backsides.  I get the frustration with how things are.  I do.  I get being disgusted, upset, angry even.  I get that.  But c’mon people.

I used to work with at-risk kids.  I did the job well.  I did it for a long time.  I had many talks about bullying, about common decency, about respecting other people because we don’t know their stories, or why they believe what they believe.  About how we aren’t always going to understand another person, but they are people just the same, with hopes and fears and upsets we know nothing about.  So be respectful, be kind, be generous of spirit.  Be your best selves.

I’ve tried to say this in many different ways on this and my other blog.  I have.  I’ve tried to say it and know I’m shouting in the wind.  People are passionate, they feel they must say something.  Anything.  They feel they can.

But I guess I’ll say this again as well.  Would you talk like that in public?  To actual people?  Would you call names and talk down to and be disrespectful to people in person.  If so, I guess it’s not surprising you’d do it in public on social media.  But if not, if you wouldn’t call people names or use derogatory slurs, then what makes you think it’s OK to do it on Facebook?  

I want to believe we are all people who love and want happiness for ourselves, our friends, our families, and our neighbors.  I want to believe we are all, most of us, kind and caring people.  

Not one of us has all the answers.  To think our way is the only way… well, that’s arrogance.  And isolating.  And just… sad.

The truth is in the middle, people.  Right there, in the middle.  Life is never black and white.  Look at your fellow humans with love, with kindness, and with the understanding that you don’t know someone, or why they think and believe the way they do.  Everyone has a story.  Before calling names, why not ask?  Why not try for understanding?  

Be our best selves.  We can.  It’s possible.

To use a Star Wars reference, because why not, stretch out with your feelings.

from Tumblr https://breakopenthesky.tumblr.com/post/189493019026

Our Best Selves

People talk about things in such a black and white way.  Let’s use the hot button topic of climate change as an example.  There’s a lot of talk on both sides of the issue about how the other side is ignorant and “our way” is the best way.  Our truth is the only truth.  Bullshit. 

The climate is changing.  We can all agree on that.  What is also true is that there are many factors that are causing the climate to change.  There is a cycle, we’re in it.  The sun influences it as well.  And… the way we live, how we pollute, also affects it.  It’s not any one thing.  It’s all things together, contributing.

My point isn’t to start up a debate here about climate change.  My point is to say that, as with all things, black and white thinking gets us nowhere, but divided. The truth, as I’m always saying about little life things, is in the middle.  Parts of both are true.

We’re such a landscape of extremes.  Putting our dukes up, getting our feathers ruffled, pointing fingers, talking trash.  So many people talking trash.  And here’s the thing about that.  Talk trash in your own homes, or out to your friends, but do it amongst yourselves.  You don’t agree with something, fine, don’t agree with it.  You think something or someone is stupid, fine, think they are stupid. Keep it to yourselves, or your circle.  I don’t want to hear it unless you’re my wife, or friend, or family member and we’re having a debate or discussion or bitch session in person.  

I hate to say it, but people make themselves look bad.  They don’t show us anything about the person they are deriding, they show us their own backsides.  I get the frustration with how things are.  I do.  I get being disgusted, upset, angry even.  I get that.  But c’mon people.

I used to work with at-risk kids.  I did the job well.  I did it for a long time.  I had many talks about bullying, about common decency, about respecting other people because we don’t know their stories, or why they believe what they believe.  About how we aren’t always going to understand another person, but they are people just the same, with hopes and fears and upsets we know nothing about.  So be respectful, be kind, be generous of spirit.  Be your best selves.

I’ve tried to say this in many different ways on this and my other blog.  I have.  I’ve tried to say it and know I’m shouting in the wind.  People are passionate, they feel they must say something.  Anything.  They feel they can.

But I guess I’ll say this again as well.  Would you talk like that in public?  To actual people?  Would you call names and talk down to and be disrespectful to people in person.  If so, I guess it’s not surprising you’d do it in public on social media.  But if not, if you wouldn’t call people names or use derogatory slurs, then what makes you think it’s OK to do it on Facebook?  

I want to believe we are all people who love and want happiness for ourselves, our friends, our families, and our neighbors.  I want to believe we are all, most of us, kind and caring people.  

Not one of us has all the answers.  To think our way is the only way… well, that’s arrogance.  And isolating.  And just… sad.

The truth is in the middle, people.  Right there, in the middle.  Life is never black and white.  Look at your fellow humans with love, with kindness, and with the understanding that you don’t know someone, or why they think and believe the way they do.  Everyone has a story.  Before calling names, why not ask?  Why not try for understanding?  

Be our best selves.  We can.  It’s possible.

To use a Star Wars reference, because why not, stretch out with your feelings.

from Tumblr https://breakopenthesky.tumblr.com/post/189493019026

10 Word Review – Ebertfest: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Kindness. Human. Love. Respect. Empathy. Caring. Validating. Joy. Depth. Yes.

Eight Years

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Photo by TJ Parker

Eight years ago today a doctor walked into my hospital room and told me I had leukemia.

Since then I’ve periodically asked a question of myself.  Not, as you might expect, why me, or even just why.  There is no why.  It was random, not predictable, and as far as we know not preventable.  It just was.  So the question isn’t why, but who.  Who was I then, am I the same person now, what did I learn from the experience?

I’ve written here about my philosophy of life a bit… which is basically kindness is key, our love for the people we love and who love us is all that really matters, find joy in the every day, and don’t lose hope about the things that matter to you.  But as this day rolls around every year I find myself doing a bit of an assessment.

I believe in forgiveness, in kindness, joy, hope, and love.  But, I’m not always the best at those things.  And on this day I find myself trying to remind myself who I am.  I find myself trying to forgive myself for the ways I know I’ve hurt people, which doesn’t let me off the hook for those slights, but it does let me employ one of my strongly held beliefs which is that each of us is doing the best we know how at the moment.  Sometimes our efforts aren’t that great, and we don’t handle things well, but at the moment we are only doing what we can with what we have.   It still means we have to try and do better, be better.  We owe our people that.  But, we also can’t continually beat ourselves up for the things we’ve done.  This is where apologizing comes in.  Sincere apology.  We admit what we’ve done, we feel it in our bones, the ways we’ve hurt someone, and then we say we’re sorry for it.  The apology is freeing for both people.  So I ask, have I apologized enough and meant it.  Have I forgiven others, have I forgiven myself?

Kindness.  Have I been kind?  To my people, to strangers, to myself.  Am I moving through the world as a kind person?  Do I say thank you, look people in the eyes, empathize, treat people with respect, watch out for their feelings, simply honor people as the beautiful human beings they are?  Am I kind to myself?  I hope so, I hope I do all of these things, but I know the answer is, I don’t always.  So I need to be more kind.  We can always be kinder.  I think there’s always another level of kindness to strive for.  I think the key for me is to be aware, to be present with people.  If I am, I’m kinder.

Joy.  It’s easy to get discouraged in life.  About our place in it, circumstances we find ourselves in, the state of the world.  The enemy of joy is fear.  So the key is to not be fearful.  But, that’s a tough one.  Having gone through this whole life-threatening experience I find myself afraid of the random and unknown.  Afraid of what could happen, suddenly, without warning.  This fear has no face or name or even bearing on what’s actually happening in my life at the time.  It just comes with large amounts of anxiety.  And when it comes it eats my joy whole.  Like a kipper snack.  So I find myself searching for ways to lessen the fear and find the joy.  I’m innately a silly, joyful person.  I’m a dork.  I can find joy in the smallest things when I’m not afraid.   So I’ve spent some time working on and continue to work on trying to be present in the small moments of life, which I feel is where joy lives.  In smiles and sunsets and dogs and wind in the trees and whispered secrets from grandchildren and laughs over nothing at all.  I try to remind myself to be present.  Nothing is promised to us, which certainly includes time, so we have to live now.  Be alive now.  Be joyous now.  This is a tough one, but I’m trying.  The wind chimes are going strong right now on the front porch, and the sound is magical, and there is joy in that.

Hope. It’s tough to be hopeful when all you see is the stuff that’s not working out.  But as I’m taking a look this year I find myself reminding myself that life is perception.  We see what we want.  Which brings me to one of my favorite quotes of all time.  It comes from the movie, The Abyss, “We all see what we want to see. Coffey looks and he sees Russians. He sees hate and fear. You have to look with better eyes than that.”  At the time the film was made the cold war was still in full swing, so the Russians were the bad guys.  But the point isn’t that part of the quote.  The point is the essence of it which to me means we see what we want to see, which is frequently driven by our personal fears, and we have to look with better eyes.  So, I can either see the world from a place of love and forgiveness and hope, or I can see fear, I can see enemies.  I try to come from a place of seeing people as friendly, as human, as trying.  Again, I don’t always succeed in this, but when I do, hope springs and the world looks different somehow.  Brighter, fuller, rich in color and possibility.  It is hopeful.

Love.  I believe in connection and responsibility to and for that connection.  Life is about love.  Who we love, who loves us.  It’s about how we love.  Do we say it?  Do we show it?  Do we let the people we love feel the love we have for them?  For me, this brings gratitude into my life and makes me want to share that gratitude.  To say how grateful I feel for the people and love in my life doesn’t even cover it.  I am sometimes overwhelmed by the waves of it.  Struck profoundly silent by the weight of all the love I know I have in my life.  But, it’s sometimes too easy to see what we don’t have in life, what we think we’re missing.  And in the muck of that, we sometimes forget to take stock of what we have, or even to recognize that it’s there.  Who we have and what that means to us.  Love is all around us.  It’s all around me.  So, as I go through this day I let that wave of gratitude for enormous and profound love wash over me.  Hold me up.  It did when I was sick.  It’s what got me through.  Even though I was semi-isolated when I was sick, I felt the love pouring into me.  Lifting me up.  Holding me.  I felt it.  And luckily, I feel it still.  If I sit with it for a few moments I cry.  Out of a gratitude so overwhelming it crushes me in all the right ways.  That’s where I want to live, where I try to live.  Even when things are tough, the love is there.  I have it, and I try to give it back.  We’re responsible for giving it back.  For loving, and loving well.

Eight years.  If I think of all the beautiful and strange and magical and messy things that have happened in my life in the last eight years I’m amazed and so moved by it all.  It has definitely not all been easy, and there have definitely been sad and heart-breaking times, but there have also been so many moments of joy and laughter and love.  And I guess maybe that’s the point of taking stock.  Which is to say, it’s a messy thing, life.  But it’s in the middle of all that mess we find love and hope, kindness, and joy.  And I remind myself, isn’t that an amazing and beautiful thing?

Eight years.  Eight years on top of the nearly 45 years before those.

Wow.  What a ride it’s been so far.

 

 

 

 

 

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Photo by TJ Parker

“There is no small act of kindness. Every compassionate act makes large the world.” —Mary Anne Radmacher

 

So, Why Learn Spanish?

130. Poem Written in 1991

When the Soviet Union Was Disintegrating

by Ursula K. Le Guin

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Photo by TJ Parker

The reason why I’m learning Spanish
by reading Neruda one word at a time
looking most of them up in the dictionary
and the reason why I’m reading
Dickinson one poem at a time
and still not understanding
or liking much, and the reason
why I keep thinking about
what might be a story
and the reason why I’m sitting
here writing this, is that I’m trying
to make this thing.
I am shy to name it.
My father didn’t like words like “soul.”
He shaved with Occam’s razor.
Why make up stuff
when there’s enough already?
But I do fiction. I make up.
There is never enough stuff.
So I guess I can call it what I want to.
Anyhow it isn’t made yet.
I am trying one way and another
all words — So it’s made out of words, is it?
No. I think the best ones
must be made out of brave and kind acts,
and belong to people who look after things
with all their heart,
and include the ocean at twilight.
That’s the highest quality
of this thing I am making:
kindness, courage, twilight, and the ocean.
That kind is pure silk.
Mine’s only rayon. Words won’t wash.
It won’t wear long.
But then I haven’t long to wear it.
At my age I should have made it
long ago, it should be me,
clapping and singing at every tatter,
like Willy said. But the “mortal dress,”
man, that’s me. That’s not clothes.
That is me tattered.
That is me mortal.
This thing I am making is my clothing soul.
I’d like it to be immortal armor,
sure, but I haven’t got the makings.
I just have scraps of rayon.
I know I’ll end up naked
in the ground or on the wind.
So, why learn Spanish?
Because of the beauty of the words of poets,
and if I don’t know Spanish
I can’t read them. Because praise
may be the thing I’m making.
And when I’m unmade
I’d like it to be what’s left,
a wisp of cheap cloth,
a color in the earth,
a whisper on the wind. 

Una palabra, un aliento.

ii

So now I’ll turn right round
and unburden an embittered mind
that would rejoice to rejoice
in the second Revolution in Russia
but can’t, because it has got old
and wise and mean and womanly
and says: So. The men
having spent seventy years in the name of something
killing men, women, and children,
torturing, running slave camps,
telling lies and making profits,
have now decided
that that something wasn’t the right one,
so they’ll do something else the same way.

Seventy years for nothing.

And the dream that came before the betrayal,
the justice glimpsed before the murders,
the truth that shone before the lies,
all that is thrown away.
It didn’t matter anyway
because all that matters
is who has the sayso.

Once I sang freedom, freedom,
sweet as a mockingbird.
But I have learned Real Politics.
No freedom for our children
in the world of the sayso.
Only the listening.
The silence all around the sayso.
The never stopping listening.
So I will listen
to women and our children
and powerless men,
my people. And I will honor only
my people, the powerless.

–Ursula K. Le Guin
1991

Spiral

We Need to Remember

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Photo by TJ Parker

“If we are to survive the most divisive presidency in generations, it’s up to us to climb down our family trees and better understand how we got here. It’s up to us to ask fellow countrymen “where are you from?” with a lot less fear and a lot more wonder.” – Bill Weir, States of Change

 

We need to understand what drives us, our opinions, our ways of being and thinking in the world.  Why do we denigrate people with views different from our own?  Where is the wonder? Where is the respect?  Where is the humanity?

I was reading the transcript from CNN’s Bill Weir’s program called, States of Change, Homecoming.  His show, one I haven’t watched all the way through to fully disclose, is an exploration of his roots.  They are interesting to be sure, but that’s not what grabbed me. What grabbed me was the thought that we have opinions, some virulent, strong, unchanged despite our best efforts to be open.  Why is that?  Where do they come from?  Shouldn’t we be interested in that?

It’s easy to pronounce our opinions, to put down other opinions, to think we know best and act as if we do by spouting and re-posting article after article or meme after meme putting other’s opinions, lives, views, down.  Way down. That’s low if you think about it. Our opinions are made.  Made from our experiences and our feelings about those experiences.  We forget this.  We forget to put that big old magnifying glass we so easily point at others back at ourselves.  We are, none of us, without flaws.  Our views, even though we might passionately hold them, are not rule of law, are not even always a greater truth.  They are just our truth, our views.  We forget that.

What I’m saying is, we should be looking at our own views, at ourselves, to really examine why we feel as we do, and then, shockingly, be open to others who might feel differently.  They’ve had different experiences, different influences, leading to different views.  It doesn’t make them, or ourselves, idiots. Just makes us humans with different opinions.  I can believe something to be true that you do not believe it true, and vice versa, you can believe something I don’t believe, that’s OK.  Different opinions lead to varying solutions.  Varying solutions solve our problems.

I was also watching coverage of the Harvey rescue efforts.  Two rescued sisters were interviewed.  During that interview, they said they thought it was beautiful that in these divisive times, when people are standing firmly on either side of an invisible line, both racially and politically, that all is forgotten and the community comes together, no color lines, no political lines, to help.  It is beautiful.  What’s sad is that we need some disaster to remind us that we’re all human, that we should and do love each other.  No qualifiers.

I don’t know what all this means.  I feel I need to shout out into the void occasionally to say, remember… remember to love.  Remember to be kind.  Remember we’re, most of us, just doing the best we can to live our lives.  Remember we’re different, we’ve had different experiences.  Remember that’s OK.  Forget fear.  Remember to have wonder. Remember to be fair.  Remember to be gracious.  Remember to be gentle with the feelings of others.  Remember.  If we can, if we do, everything changes.  Love prevails, even in small moments, or big ones, like what’s happening in Houston.

We need to remember.

Time to Look in the Mirror

 

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Photo by TJ Parker

We see what we want to see.  That’s part of the problem.

I was perusing Facebook, which I must say prompts many posts on this blog, and I saw a theme.  Negativity.  Plain and simple.

There were posts about “those” people.  Of one sort of another.  You know them, the idiots, the ridiculous, the terrible, the stupid, the crazy, the deluded, the poor things… them.   They seem to be everywhere, “these” people.  They must be.  Everyone is talking about them.

Then it hit me.

We are a beautiful lot, humanity.  A tapestry like no other.  Preferences, likes and dislikes, and ways of being in the world that differ from each other.  We are sad or happy, diet coke or Pepsi, Chevy or Ford, Republican or Democrat,  dressing on the side or on the salad, rural or city,  cream or taking it black, gay or straight, married or single, serious or silly, tomAto or tomato, and on and on and on.  We love our families the best way we know how, we want the best for our kids or grandkids, we want to earn a decent living, take vacations, laugh a lot, and we want the right to live peacefully, with joy.  Each and every one of us.

But it’s not that simple.  Because what I noticed today, as I was perusing, was that people see what they want to see.  They notice what they want to notice.  I bet they don’t even know they’re doing it.  We seize on information, posts, articles, videos, that speak to us.  Things that in some way support our world view.  There’s probably a theme to how we post, what we post, etc., only we don’t even know it.

We need to pay attention.  To ourselves.  Instead of looking out at what that idiot said or didn’t say, which by the way, in and of itself, that language on its own, is wrong.  I would hope no one would put me in a class of “those idiots”, just because I happen to align myself with a certain ideology.  But they do.  Friends have posted many things about liberals being idiots or crazy or wrong or disturbed or… it goes on.  I’m shocked by it, every time.  Just as I’m sure some of my more conservative friends feel shocked or hurt when a liberal friend of theirs posts something about those idiotic conservatives.  Let’s be honest… none of us are idiotic.  We just don’t agree with each other.  That doesn’t make me an idiot, it just makes a person with a different opinion.

But I digress.   This doesn’t just apply to politics.  I noticed it applies to many things… the videos people choose to post, the things they choose to put out into the world under their own names…. it’s interesting.  Are you a person who posts things that are generally positive, generally informative, upbeat, things that speak to beauty and light and love.  I’ve seen those people, and honestly, I hope I’m one of them.  Or are you someone who sees the dark and the crazy and the wrong in everything and then feels the need to put it out there?  And if so, why? So others like you can agree how bad everything is, or so that you can enlighten those of us who may be Pollyannas who try to look for the good?  I’m not being rhetorical.  I really want to know.

There are people who feel the need to fight everything, against life and what they see as wrongdoing.  I get trying to fight for what you think is right.  I get speaking your mind and your truth.  What I don’t get is a person coming across some debasing or derogatory or hurtful thing and re-posting it.  What’s the purpose of spreading that kind of negativity?  If you have strong opinions, if you feel things are wrong in the world and need fixing, find what you think are some solutions, speak to issues from the place of problem-solving, not finger-pointing.  Re-posting terrible things, some not even based on truth, just for the sake of talking bad about someone or something, is wrong.  You aren’t shining a light on them, you’re shining a terrible light on yourself.

We need to look at ourselves.  Decide if we want to be people who create solutions, who seek a more beautiful world for all of us, or are we people who debase, make fun of, and act from fear.  Who do we want to be?  How do we want to live?  What do we want to be putting out there into the world?  What do we want to be teaching our kids about how to be in the world?  Hurtful to others, or uplifting to others.  It’s up to us.

Look in a mirror.  Look at your personal news feeds.  Look at everything you’ve posted in the last year and judge for yourself.  What kind of person are you?  Are you happy with that?  If not.  Change.  Let’s lift people up.  Let’s inspire with kindness and goodness and love. Let’s try to speak from joy.  From positivity.  From a place of understanding, humility, and love.

I know there are things wrong in the world.  I know there are things that need to be changed.  One of those things is people calling other people idiots or other derogatory names.  One of those things is people being hurtful just, it seems, to be hurtful.  Let’s start being, and communicating, like intelligent humans.  After all, we are.  Sometimes I think we just forget ourselves.  Get swept up.  Let’s be better.  Let’s look with better eyes and hearts at a world that is a beautiful, wondrous place.  Let’s talk about that.

52 Thoughts – Ninth Thought

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Photo by TJ Parker

Be kind in big ways and small even when it seems a tad difficult.  Be present.  Listen more, talk less. Close my eyes, turn my face to the sun or the wind or both at the same time and breathe deeply.  Spend time on or near the water.  Go on long walks with the pups. Drink life in.  Be silly and dorky and unafraid to make a fool of myself.  We are bombarded with information every day so choose wisely.  Life is a matter of perception so remember I can see things in a negative or positive light. Act to change things in ways I feel I can.  Meet the world with love and good intentions in my heart instead of fear and anger.  Smile at people I know and don’t know.  Bridge gaps.  Notice a glint of sun.  Appreciate the natural world.  Think about what it might be like for others.  Cuddle the pups often.  Laugh and play with the grandkids. Write letters. Tell people I love them.  Be honest even when it’s uncomfortable.  Share. Recognize joy. Believe in hope. Dance. Cry. Be curious. Give lots of hugs. Accept compliments. Hold my honey’s hand every chance I can.

52 Thoughts: Sixth Thought

Kindness. Hope. Love. Joy.

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Photo by TJ Parker

 

Candy Coated Kindness

candy-caneWe were out and about again today, running more errands, getting ready for some upcoming Christmas festivities.  Since we were going out we thought today would be a good day for the candy cane caper.  Sounds more adventurous or slightly naughty than it was, but it ended up being pretty nice.  We’d purchased a box of big sized candy canes a while back in preparation and today we took them around and passed them out to people, saying Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, giving people a smile as we did.  Librarians, people sitting at a cafe, the ladies who work at the coffee roasters we go to, a couple of policemen, and a girl sitting outside waiting for a ride were all recipients.  My honey is really good at this.  Her smile can light up a room.  Every single person who got a candy cane smiled back at us.  We gave a few of the people two candy canes telling them one was for them and one was for them to hand out to someone else.  A sweet bit of shared kindness.

Kindness Hits You Where You Live

Today might have been the most simple act of kindness we’ve done to date.  We were kind to each other.  We slept in, laughed, talked, shopped, did laundry, cooked, did dishes, drank our nightly decaf, held hands, showed each other cool photos online, took the pups for a nice walk, problem solved a couple of things, said I love you and thanks honey a few times, and had a pretty quiet day together.  It’s important to be aware of your spouse, to be kind to them.  We do a pretty good job of that most of the time, but it’s good to talk about it, good to be present with it.  It’s a form of kindness that’s not talked about enough.  It’s great and important to be kind to others, but it’s equally important, if not more so, to be kind to the people you are closest to, people who you share your life with.  

Conserving Kindness

mead-quoteToday K and I made our yearly Christmas trip into Chicago.  We usually go to several places on our Christmas trip day, but this time we ended up just staying at the Lincoln Park Zoo all day.  We looked at the animals, had several different talks with zoo staff about various animals, ate some lunch, then strolled around the place a couple more times after the zoo lights came on.  We had meant to park at the zoo, take a bus downtown and check out the Bean, the Macy’s windows, some other sites we usually see at Christmas time, then get back to the zoo in the evening to see the zoo lights, but it didn’t happen that way.  At one point we just looked at each other and both kind of said we were having a great time, a very relaxing time, just wandering around, no rush, nice and mellow.  It was awesome.  While we were there we also decided to put our money where our mouths are and donate a bit to the conservation and research programs the zoo participates in.  Kindness through conservation.

A Morsel of Kindness

img_2468Everyone loves cookies and it just so happens my honey makes great M&M cookies.  Today’s kindness was a simple one.  She made cookies and we delivered them to three of our neighbors.  Needless to say they were surprised and very happy to get them.  Nothing like seeing people with big smiles on their faces.  Kindness through sugar overload.  That’s what we’re talking about.

A Pop of Kindness

img_2461We decided to go with a fun act of kindness today.  We taped a couple of packages of microwave popcorn to a Redbox outside a local Walgreens.  The signs said, “Enjoy some popcorn with your movie”.  We hope someone does!

Keeping The Cold at Bay With Kindness

hand-warmersWe found a big package of handwarmers at the bottom of our hat/scarf bin in our closet. At some point we bought them in bulk. Each little package is a pack of two handwarmers. It’s very cold out today so our act of kindness was to drive around our towns, both Champaign and Urbana, for a couple of hours handing out packs of handwarmers to people at bus stops and other people just walking around who looked really cold. We would pull up and K would roll down her window or jump out and offer up a package of handwarmers to the person. Some took them, others didn’t. One guy said he didn’t need them because he had socks on his hands. K tried to convince him socks weren’t warm enough. He smiled, laughed a little, and still refused. We gave that pack to the next cold looking person we saw. Even the people who refused them smiled at us. The people that took them were very grateful. Small kindnesses mean something.

Kindness Is No Joke

dog-knock-knockWe are very corny.  Silly even.  It’s something both K and I share, a genuine dorkiness.  It makes our lives fun, we laugh a lot.  Because we love to laugh, we love to make other people laugh.  Sharing laughter is a kindness.  To yourself, and to the person you shared the laugh with.  So today we recorded ourselves doing really corny knock knock jokes and sent them out to some people.  We totally cracked ourselves up.  I hope we made our people laugh as well.

Notes of Kindness

notesWe go to the library a lot.  I’m a huge fan.  All sorts of people use the libary, which is one of the things that makes it so awesome.  It’s an amazing resource.  One of the things we thought we would do as we go forward with this whole kindness adventure was to write out a bunch of positive notes on post-its and randomly place them around for people to find.  Since we go to the library a lot, and since there are all sorts of people there, we thought it would be a good place to put the notes.  Today was the day.  We note-bombed the library.  I don’t know how many notes we made up, there were a lot of them.  We each took part of the pack of them and snuck around putting them in places like seats, and on the copier, and on a book I was returning, and in the elevators.  We put them all over. They all said different things, like “you have a beautiful smile” or “you are braver than you know” or “you are loved”.  It was so much fun.  Everyone loves hearing something nice. We hope there will be a few extra smiles today at the library.

Smiling With Kindness

handsWe decided, really since we started this whole adventure, but today especially, that we would be mindful of being outwardly open, friendly, chatty, interested, and kind toward whoever we came in contact with.  In all actuality, we are like this for the most part, in our daily lives, but it puts an extra special twist on it when you do it mindfully.  So today, as we ran some errands, we made sure to look people in the eyes, smile at them, be silly, chat, make conversation, shake hands if it was possible.  We ended up getting a lot of smiles in return.  Again, sometimes it’s the smaller things that make all the difference in life.  A smile costs nothing.  Interest in other people as humans costs nothing.  Being a tad silly, and chatty, costs nothing.  And all of those things together show a kindness, an openness, toward other people, which might just make them feel more kind and open as they go through the rest of their day.  Maybe it starts a wave of kindness.  And if not, smiling at people generally gets them to smile back.  It’s worth it.

Helping Hand of Kindness

ducksSometimes the kind thing is a thing you might do anyway.  Something as simple as helping out someone when they’re in need.  Kindness doesn’t have to be done in big grand gestures or deliberate acts for someone you don’t know.  It can be simple, and right at home.  The kid’s water heater went out.  They’ve had a couple of days of no hot water, which they’ve managed to deal with pretty well, but the one thing they couldn’t get done at home were baths for the kids.  So today they came over and the littles had a bath.  Kindness can be about just being there for someone when they need you to be.  And in fact, we should be kind like that as much as we can be.

Awash With Kindness

img_2360-1I spent 20 years of my life working with at-risk kids.  It was challenging work, but also very rewarding.  Initially I worked for several years with kids at a youth correction facility.  Later, and for most of my years doing the work, I worked as a Juvenile Probation Officer.  That involved a lot of things, one of those being sometimes trying to find a residential placement for a kid who needed treatment, or safety, or both.  I know a lot about residential kids, I have a huge place in my heart for them.  Which brings us to today’s act of kindness.  There is a residential program here in our town, the Cunningham Children’s Home.  We know someone who works there and asked her if they were accepting donations for the holidays.  She told us yes, gave us a few suggestions, then told us where to go to drop off the stuff (thanks so much, Evelyne!).  We just got done dropping off the goods.  If you are local here, consider a donation to Cunningham.  Kids in placement don’t usually have very much, they frequently feel unwanted, forgotten, and less-than.  They aren’t, but they don’t know that.  Just getting to pick out some cool stuff around the holidays helps a little.

Warm Up With Kindness

img_2358Sometimes acts of kindness are truly random.  We had nothing planned for today.  No act thought out ahead of time.  We were driving to our local Co-op, Common Ground, talking about what to do today when we pulled up and the answer was right there.  In the planters in front of the store, where during the rest of the year actual plants live, there were bare branches of trees sticking up, and tied to some of these branches were clear plastic bags with hats and gloves and scarves inside.  The sign on the planter said donate if you can, take something if you need it.  When we were done with our shopping we headed home, scoured our overflowing winter drawers and baskets for something to donate, found three scarves, neatly rolled them up and placed them all into a plastic bag, then drove back to Common Ground and hung them on a branch.  They were scarves we’ve had forever, scarves we don’t need, and the thought that someone may be out there who can use them, who might need them, well… that made us both feel good.  The weather has turned very very cold.  I hope next time we go by they are gone and that someone has one snuggly wrapped around their neck.

Postmarked With Kindness

fullsizerenderToday’s act of kindness involved sending a few notes to a few people we were thinking of and just wanted to say hello to.  Getting mail is cool.  It makes people smile.  Let’s them know you were thinking of them.  Mail is kind.  Send mail.

Dog Days of Kindness

img_2341As most everyone can tell, we love our pups very much.  They bring so much light, joy, and love into our lives.  We also know we aren’t the only ones who feel this way about our furry family members.  Because of this we wanted to do something kind for other people’s dog and cats.  We found out about an event put on by a local organization called Hospice Hearts that is meant to help out low income people by offering vet service, grooming services, and food at reduced rates.  So we bought some food and just dropped it off for the organizers to use at the event.  We have to remember to be kind to everyone, including our furry friends.  Spread the love.

Teaching Kindness

img_2340Sebastian is an amazing little guy. Has always been.  He started kindergarten this year and he’s flourished there, growing and maturing as the year has gone on.  Teaching is a hard business, and teaching kindergarten must be impossible at times.   Hopefully it’s also rewarding.   We think Sebastian’s teacher has been great with him, and his class, this year.  It has been a good first step for him into the regular school system and a large part of that has been due to her work.  So today’s act of kindness is to show our appreciation to her by giving her a gift card good for a couple of cups of coffee or tea or hot cocoa at a local coffee place.   It’s a small token for such a big thing.