Hello again! How was your first week of 2012? Hopefully it’s off to a bangin’ start. In a good bangin’ way of course.
I am so happy to be continuing my little Kindness Project. In the last post I shared how I got started on this little journey and what I ended up doing for days 1 – 6 of the 12 Days of Kindness.
Now, let’s get right into days 7 – 12…
Day 7 – I don’t know if it’s the same on every island, but one of the things you have to get used to here in Curacao is grocery shopping. There are quite a variety of grocery stores, and they’re all different, and they all sell different types of stuff, and they NEVER have the same stuff all the time or even on the same shelves. So, in the course of a couple weeks I could end up at 4 different grocery stores just to get my usuals.
At one particular store there is a guy who loiters outside. He’s there all the time, he sometimes offers to help unload your groceries in your car, he collects carts from the parking lot, stuff like that. But, he’s definitely not employed by the store. He is just always there, but I don’t believe that he is all there, if you know what I mean. I’m actually quite curious what his story is, but we don’t speak the same language.
I saw him on my way into the store and decided to buy him a cold drink with my groceries. (We average a temperature of about 90 degrees daily). Turns out he was at the car next to mine when I came out (maybe just a little odd…) but I gave him the cold drink and said Bon Pasku (Merry Christmas in the local language, Papiamentu). He stared me down, looked at the drink like he had never seen it before (it was an Arizona Iced Tea), opened it, took a sip and then drank about the whole thing in one sip and walked away without saying a word. Who knows, could have been the only thing he had to eat or drink all day…or maybe he lives in a mansion by the water.
Day 8 – I paid for the groceries of the women behind me in line at the grocery store. Since I was just getting a few
bottles of wine holiday essentials, I was in the express lane so I knew I wasn’t going to be gifting hundreds of dollars. But, when she came behind me in line she actually laid her basket down almost in front of me, kind of like she was trying to cut. And since it was just a few days before Christmas the store was a mad house. Literally, I had to park down the street because there weren’t any spots even on the curb, my usual go to parking spot.
As lady behind me was bullying her way through the express lane I was totally enamored by cute old man in front of me. He had a perma-grin and seemed to know everyone. That’s when the idea to pay for someone’s groceries hit me. My instinct was cute old man in front of me, but then I thought lady behind me might just need a little kindness to put a smile on her face. So I perused her items, to make sure she wasn’t just getting bourbon and cigarettes.
Seriously, I did this and all I was buying was wine. Hey judgmental, what up?!? :/
But, she had a random selection of things that made me think she was getting some last minute essentials for Christmas dinner so after my items had been all rung up I offered to pay for her groceries. Turns out she didn’t understand English so the cashier worked as our translator. Lady behind me seemed initially a little skeptical but then this cute little grin came on her face and we exchanged a few holiday pleasantries in Papiamentu, the local language here in Curacao. She was very appreciative and I felt like a million bucks, a win-win I say.
Day 9 – I emailed a friend of mine who’s husband is in the military and asked for her help. I wanted to send a care package to someone serving our nation and protecting our freedom. She sent me a name and address and I wrote a little thank you note and plan to put it in the package. As I write, I have not yet done my care package shopping. I knew I would be traveling to the US in January and that my money would go farther if I waited to do my care package shopping and mailing. (I am kind, but definitely not frivolous. Give me an opportunity to save a buck and I will) Since the idea was intended as part of the Kindness Project I stand strong on it’s inclusion. And since the project is my idea, and I don’t really have any rules, it’s inclusion is affirmed.
I hate to say that this is something I think of doing every year but just don’t. I don’t know why. But it took this little Kindness Project to push me over the care package edge. Sometimes I just need a swift kick in the right direction.
Update: I am in Maine and did the shopping, included the letter and mailed the package yesterday. Pics to come.
Day 10 – I made a driftwood Christmas ornament for a friend of mine. She is actually another American who used to be my neighbor and was part of the same Spanish class I was in. We aren’t at all the kind of “friends” who would exchange gifts. But she just had a baby in November and doesn’t have any family here and made a comment that she couldn’t find any good 1st Christmas ornaments. So I thought it would be a nice gesture to make her one. And, I knew she liked the driftwood stuff because she not only had bought one of my trees but showed it off to her friend who then also bought one. (more on the trees here, here and here) Thanks Sarah!
Now she’s definitely not a stranger but unsuspecting all the same so it counts in my book.
Day 11 – I cleared out a hiking trail I frequent regularly with the dogs. We are getting toward the end of rainy season here and last year around this time I remember hiking down the trail and seeing that it had been widened (after getting VERY overgrown) and thinking that was so nice of whoever did it. So this year I figured I could do the clearing and hopefully 1) give the person who did it last year a break and 2) inspire someone else who hikes the same trail to think “man, that was really kind of someone to clear the trail for us all”.
Hmmm, who played around with editing and made the photos look totally different colors? Sorry!
And, am I the only one who thinks it looks like I didn’t really do anything but put my dogs in the way to make the trail look crowded? Honestly, I did some trimming. The loose ends that were hanging into the trail, basically anything that I would have had to walk through I cut. I don’t know why it looks the same in the before an after, I trimmed, I swear. I’m tempted to go back and take pics of the clippings…but I won’t.
At the end, the four of us ended up here.
Day 12 – A resolution of kindness everyday. Now, I had other ideas that I had thought I would accomplish as part of this project and for one reason or another I didn’t. (More on that in a minute.) But, I also wasn’t counting a lot of the things I make a habit of doing, that through this little process I realized weren’t necessarily habitual to the general public. Not only did this kindness project make me consistently focus on how my reactions to every single situation would first come from kindness, but it made me realize how much I enjoy that mind set. So, on the final day of this project, in celebration of a resolution of kindness everyday, here are a few things I resolve to continue to practice on a habitual basis:
- open the door for people and let them go first
- let someone with only a few items go ahead of me in line at a store
- be a patient and courteous driver
- make eye contact, wave, smile and say hi to strangers
- offer to help someone who is in obvious need (can’t reach something from a shelf, carrying too many things at once, tourists wanting a group picture together)
Now, I am so happy with this little project. Some of you might be thinking I didn’t do anything monumental, and I agree. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect from myself. But, the bigger picture is that I accomplished what I set out to do and felt great about it. And, I definitely can carry this forward and take it to greater lengths.
Here are a few of my ideas that didn’t come to fruition for some reason:
- I emailed a friend who lives on this island but was visiting her family in England for 3 weeks to find out at which kennel her dogs were. I wanted to visit them and walk them while she was gone. This is something that would mean a lot to me and thought it would have to her as well. But she never emailed me back so her loss. I’ll do it for you next time you go Carol.
- Contribute to someone’s gas tank fill up
- Pay for someone’s movie ticket
- Buy someone coffee or in general pay someone’s tab at a restaurant
- Buy a family a Christmas tree or donate one of my handmade driftwood trees
- Give someone waiting for the bus a ride. I’m not convinced this is a safe idea to do with strangers and don’t recommend it. But, I know a fair amount of people who take public transportation and I thought if I had seen any of them during this project I would stop and offer a ride. The bus system here is terribly inconsistent and always behind whatever schedule they pretend to keep.
I had pictured this project to be a more spontaneous act of kindness so I was happy with the challenge of doing something kind every time I was out instead of going out specifically to do something kind. Make sense? Not that there’s anything wrong with going out specifically to do something kind. Obviously.
According to the end all and be all of information…Wikipedia, the definition of a Random act of Kindness is:
a selfless act performed by a person or people wishing to either assist or cheer up an individual person or people.
In this respect I feel ultimately successful in my 12 Days of Kindness journey.
So, tell me, do you practice random acts of kindness? Are you a pay it forward kind of person? Do you have specific go-to kindness moves I need to know about? Are you a “smile, wave and say hi” or a “get out of my way, I’m just going through my day” kind of gal?
Here’s to a Kind 2012 for us all.