Hope the first few days of the new year have been good to you!
Don’t you just love the new year? I do. Fresh starts, new beginnings, it’s like a clean slate of opportunity that I always hope to make the most of. I don’t make any resolutions or anything like that. I just like the feeling of starting with a whole year ahead of me and endless possibilities to live a wonderful life. Like turning to a fresh, empty sheet of paper that I can fill with whatever my little heart desires. Or laying in bed with crisp clean sheets, I heart clean sheets. Bliss!
Not the idea for the sign, the idea for a 12 Days of Kindness project.
I had seen all of the great advent calendars people were making in the beginning of December. But, with just Joel and I in the house with the dogs, a Christmas countdown felt kind of … silly. I mean, we already know how to count, and read a calendar, and eat holiday treats whenever we want, so the whole advent countdown just wasn’t suited for us.
But a countdown of kindness? Heck yeah! And sometimes genuine kindness really can’t be planned. So I skipped the whole calendar with itemized acts of kindness on each day. My goal was to do something kind for some unexpected
victim person at least once a day until Christmas. Is there really any better way to celebrate the spirit of the season?
And it just so happened to be the night of December 11th so I had about 12 days until Christmas. What fun!
Seriously, I tell ya, this little idea had me smiling for the rest of the month. Every time I was out and about I was plotting kindness, I was scoping out unsuspecting souls who might become a beneficiary of the daily act. What a great way to interact with the world everyday. I am definitely keeping this outlook going, it just makes my time in the world happy, and focused on kindness All. The. Time. Smile.
It seemed so appropriate to post about it at the first of the year. I’m getting out of my bed of clean sheets, flipping my page in my book to the next which is empty with possibility and starting with the ultimate of positive messages. Smile (again)!
Now, I am notoriously frugal so I didn’t want everything to involve money. But, given said frugality, I knew kind financial gestures would be extra
painful meaningful. ;)
So, I really wasn’t sure how my 12 Days of Kindness would turn out, but here is what I came up with.
Day 1 – On this little island the baggers (not beggers) at the grocery store are abundant. They aren’t actually paid employees of the store, they are working for tips and trying to make a living. I don’t normally need any help (unless I’m stocking up on wine) since I only shop for two people and will save a few guilders (currency in Curacao) whenever I can. But on this day I took the help, had a pleasant conversation with the nice young man and gave him 5 times the amount he would have expected.
Now, he quickly turned to hustle back into the store with his money. I’m sure he was thinking “silly tourist, probably doesn’t know how much she gave me”. And I was left thinking, what a waste of kindness. Uhhh, really…is kindness ever a waste?
This little idea might just teach me a few lessons I need to learn.
Day 1 of Project Kindness off to a bit of a rocky start. But I’m not easily deterred.
Day 2 – I was at the gym in the morning (I workout, as LMFAO says) doing calf raises and I thought of a good friend of mine from college who had been quick to point out our sophomore year when I had lost all calf muscle definition. We were close enough that I could know he was right without wanting to suffocate him in any inhumane way. But, that little exchange has led me to think of him every. single. time. I’ve work out my calves since then. At the time, we were living in Switzerland for an exchange program and I didn’t really do anything
but drink beer and eat Swiss chocolate athletic. Jay was a very close friend of mine for exactly one year and for some reason we just didn’t keep it going.
Through the magic of Facebook we are in touch today. For as much as commenting on one’s status constitutes being in touch. :)
Without necessarily thinking “this is an act of kindness” I posted on Jay’s wall that day just to tell him what had happened that morning at the gym. And he just so happened to comment back.
Sometimes telling someone the thought of them makes you smile is the kindest thing you can do.
Day 3 – I called someone who I knew was going through a very difficult time, whom I had been thinking about a lot and just hadn’t reached out to be of support. I believe that showing someone genuine, unconditional love and support in times of challenge is a gift. Sometimes our own thoughts or feelings can get in the way, our opinions or beliefs can prevent us from giving the support we may want if we were in such a situation. We make excuses and time passes and we miss our chance to make a difference. I am of the opinion that we all get a finite number of opportunities in our life to make a grand gesture of unconditional love to those important in our lives. I am glad that I didn’t miss this one.
Day 4 – I didn’t punch my neighbor. Now you’re probably thinking, this is just normal adult behavior and shouldn’t really be considered an act of kindness. Well, here’s the deal. Our new neighbor, who moved into the house across the street about 3 months ago has 5 dogs. Now, if you have been following along, you know I am a dog lover. Like crazy. I tear up at the Sarah McLaughlin ASPCA commercials, I have had dogs all of my life, I feel more connected to my dogs than most humans I know. I. AM. DOG. LOVER! (Picture me swinging from trees, pounding me chest, talking like Tarzan.)
But, new neighbor’s dogs can jump her fence and get out of her yard. That in itself is bearable. They even often instigate our dogs by lunging out our fence while barking. Also for the most part bearable, my girls are too old for such puppy games
most of the time. BUT, the week before Project Kindness began, as the girls and I were leaving our yard for our evening (leash bound) walk around the hood 2 of new neighbor’s dogs jumped her fence and attacked my dogs. Now, now, settle down. There was no blood. It was more of an “I’m in charge of this street” attack than an “I am going to kill you” attack. But, (Really, does every sentence need to start with but?) facts are facts, there was biting by new neighbor’s dogs and submission by my dogs, and you, new neighbor, need to find a way to keep those beasts in your yard.
She wasn’t home at the time so I couldn’t address it with her. It festered for a week while I talked myself on and off the ledge of
punching giving new neighbor a piece of my mind. But, the truth is, I am a believer in second chances. I like to think that when people are educated on a situation they can make a positive impact on, if given the opportunity, they will make said impact. Sooooo, when the girls and I were leaving for our evening walk on Day 3 and new neighbor’s dogs jumped the fenced and tried to play King of the Street while I yelled “NO” as loud as I could over and over while trying to prevent my dogs from strangling themselves as they were trying to hide behind our Jeep while still on their leashes and new neighbor scrambled frantically to get a grip of herself and her pets I approached the situation with kindness. We discussed her covering this one spot that they can escape the yard. I mentioned the previous attack and explained that I was worried about the well being of all dogs involved, it’s never safe to have dogs running unattended near streets, especially in areas where there are a lot of unfamiliar dogs. I hoped thought we were on the same page.
So, when day 4 came around and we had a repeat of day 3 and all I wanted to do was deck the old hag in the kisser and instead I said “Did you have any luck getting the new piece of fencing to cover that spot where they jump out?” I was feeling very kind! With a side of anxiety and high blood pressure.
I mean who wants an adversarial relationship with their neighbors?
To my delight when I was heading out in the morning of day 5 new neighbor was attaching new, higher fencing around her trouble spots and apologized profusely and offered to give me a free massage for all of my trouble (she is a masseuse). Now, there won’t be any massaging going on, but I am happy that we will be able to move past this awkward situation without any ill will.
Big score for Kindness!!!
Day 5 – I baked cupcakes and, along with some store bought holiday cookies, brought them to some great people. They are staff at a place I frequent A LOT and they are always smiling, hospitable and just down right awesome! It felt great to do something so simple and unexpected and give them all a smile. Honestly, I smiled the whole time I was baking and frosting just knowing how much these guys would enjoy them.
These kindness smiles are contagious. :-)
Yes, I asked for good penmanship and the ability to spell neighbor right on the first try for Christmas, no luck. :/
This is a neighbor that I have never really met. We wave from a distance and smile as we pass, he is an adorable man probably old enough to be my grandfather. I don’t know if he lives with anyone, or has any other family close by. I just loved the idea of giving an anonymous card thanking him for being so pleasant. I hope it made him smile and believe the world would be a nicer place if we all just waved and smiled when we don’t have to.
So, the first half of Project Kindness is complete and I am just down right In. Love. with this process. It is so enlightening to be constantly thinking of how I can be kind to people that won’t necessarily expect it. Now, clearly, I’m not pulling off any Oprah’s Favorite Things type of kindness, but is there really any limit to what amount of kindness is enough?
How would our daily interactions with strangers differ if we always approached them with kindness? How happier would we all be if we were always focused on creating happiness? I don’t know, but it sure seems worth a try.
Project Kindness days 7-12 coming soon to a
theater blog post near you.