Oooooops!!!!

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Oooooops!!!!

A funny thing happened on the way to doing our planned Act of Kindness…..but STAY TUNED! We’re working on a clothing drive for foster children in our area.  And in the interim, Jacki has sent girl scout cookies to our troops stationed overseas! I have no doubt that our soldiers can devour sleeves of Thin Mints in the blink of an eye! And a taste of home is always a good thing……

On The Receiving End

February 7, 2013

“Well, things have been a little slow in the Acts of Kindness area. We definitely need something inspiring or even an opportunity to do some sort of kindness.” Those were my thoughts this morning as I headed off to the gym.

I have sort of a routine during the week when possible. My friends know that this annoys me, the whole routine thing, but I have my youngest son home with me this year, and he thrives on routine, so routine it is!! One of the things that he and I do together when we go to the gym is a 30 minute cardio activity. I get him set up on a stationary bike and I usually run on the treadmill. Due to some of my son’s difficulties, navigating the gym is challenging for him. He wears sunglasses, headphones, and clings to my arm as we make our way to the cardio area. Our main obstacle is the stairs. There is an elevator in the gym, and we usually take that on our way down, but over time we’ve added going UP the stairs to our routine. It’s kind of a process. I hold all our stuff and he holds on to the railing with one hand and my arm with the other. I have to walk directly next to him so we essentially take up the entire staircase. We take the stairs slowly, one step at a time. We go at a time that isn’t too crowded, and almost without exception people can see that we need an extra moment or two and are usually very polite. I try to smile brightly and distract my son a bit so that we can get up the stairs with a minimum of fuss. My son doesn’t seem to notice, but our ascent does attract a bit of notice.

Today our climb went fairly smoothly and we were nearing the top of the stairs. A woman started to come down but noticed that we needed the space so waited at the top until we had safely passed. I smiled at her and said thank you. And then she did something that has stayed with me all day. She simply put her hand gently on my shoulder and gave me a warm smile. No words were necessary.

Some days a warm smile and a gentle touch are the biggest kindnesses of all. It was wonderful to be on the receiving end of kindness today, and it helped me realize that sometimes our actions don’t need to be grand. They just need to be sincere and from the heart.

 

Paying It Forward

January 19,2013

Now THIS is an interesting development! Turns out that finding Acts of Kindness is not as easy as one would think. When we started this project we kind of thought that we would stumble across ways to show kindness without it being a big deal. And that has been true to a certain extent. We all are kind, usually polite, and fairly courteous (OK, let’s leave the whole driving issue out of it…;)) and yet we’ve had trouble pinpointing things that happen during the course of a normal day as real “Acts”. I mean, is it an act of kindness to let someone go in front of you in the grocery store line? Is it an act of kindness to listen patiently as somebody talks your ear off about something important to them, but not so much to you, especially when you have a million things to do? And what about the concept of paying it forward?

We were out this weekend doing what we do. Think errands, shopping, lunch…. with lots of chatting and laughing thrown in. We crack each other up regularly and this particular day was no exception. We were having a great day and as our conversations often do, started at “A”, zigzagged wildly to “Z”, and then came back around again to “A.” During the course of this process our kindness project came up and we were excited about all being together and possibly finding some Act of Kindness to do together. But it was weird…nothing really jumped out at us as something that would truly be considered an Act of Kindness. So we decided we would do the next best thing. The act of Paying it Forward. It was kind of exciting really. We were in the drive-thru at Starbucks (big surprise) and we decided that we would pay for the people in the car behind us. We pulled up and explained to the barista what we were doing and about our project. She was so enthusiastic about it, which made it even more fun for us. It turned out that the order was a small one, but it did still feel like just the idea of surprising someone like that out of the blue was a good one.

So I’m left to wonder, are we going to need to plan some service projects in order to complete the 50 Acts? Our intention at the beginning was to find small, everyday things that would add drops of kindness into everyday life. We do have the whole year to see how this develops. So maybe between some random Acts, some planned Acts, and some plain old Paying it Forward type things we’ll end up with a year that just might create those ripples of kindness we were hoping for.

Between Acts

January 7, 2013

I thought while we’re waiting for our next real Act, I’d take a moment and point out that No, not poking your co-worker’s eye out with a pen in frustration (ummm….JACKI), does not really constitute an Act of Kindness! Keep up the good work though!! 😉

Act 2

January 2, 2013

So, it’s only January 2nd, and Susan in her usual efficient way has already found the next Act of Kindness! I’m not surprised at all and in fact won’t be surprised in the least if we end up with many more than 50!

As I re-read my first post it occurred to me that I want to make it clear that this project isn’t about trying to grab credit for being nice. We’re generally pretty nice people anyway! It’s  more about maybe thinking consciously about our own intentions and actions, and to hold us somewhat accountable for doing something  positive. And let’s be honest, there is no way I will be able to remember the details of all this unless I WRITE IT DOWN!!!!

So back to Susan….When the conversation started with “I’m so excited! I just found our 2nd Act! Woohoo… I jumped a guy in the gym parking lot!!”, I was thinking that maybe she was taking this kindness gig a bit too far! But here’s how the whole thing unfolded….

It was a pretty typical Wednesday. We met outside early for a quick run. Rushed around trying to get the day started and make it to our favorite class at the gym. This class is ridiculously challenging and normally in order to get in you have to arrive 30 minutes early, sign in to reserve a spot, then wait in line until the doors open. Even so , to secure a good space and to gather all the necessary equipment you have to move quickly and efficiently once the doors open or you’ll be stuck in the back with mismatched hand-weights and no red rubber Bender ball! So Wednesdays are not days to mess around getting to the gym. When Susan got to the gym parking lot it was packed as usual. She told me that she noticed a guy kind of looking around and thought maybe he couldn’t find his car. (Happens to me on a regular basis!)

When it became obvious that he was having car trouble and was looking for a BATTERY jump Susan told me that normally she might have just hurried into the gym, assuming help was on the way. I mean that’s what most people in a hurry would do. But with the 50 Acts fresh on her mind she decided to stop and help with the battery jump.

As karma would have it, the man went on his merry way and Susan made it into the class with a good space and even snagged an always-scarce-red-Bender ball! I guess “jumping a guy in the gym parking lot” turned out to be a good idea!

The Year of Fifty

January 1, 2013

Well, here it is. IT has finally arrived…. The year I hit the half century mark!!!!! I have to say, I have dreaded this year. Dread, horror, fear, disbelief…..all the expected and predictable reactions of a woman turning 50 years old! But a funny thing happened. Somewhere between the pages of the calendar changing from 2012 to 2013 some sort of shift occurred. Why be predictable? Why not be fluid, strong, and adaptable. Why spend this landmark year kicking and screaming about that which can not be changed? I think most people who know me expect this year to be a wild ride for everyone involved…..but what if I took it in a different direction?

My friend Susan helped me articulate what this year should really be about when she came up with the idea of “50 Acts of Kindness”. The premise is that between myself, Susan, and two of my other closest friends, Jacki and Lynn, we would find and share 50 acts of kindness to mark this year. We decided that any of us could perform any act of kindness, big or small, and that I would chronicle these moments so we could look back on the year with a sense that getting older may not be easy, but realizing that with age comes a certain sense of responsibility for leaving this world with just a little more kindness in the atmosphere .

Soooooo, for our first act of kindness……

Today was New Year’s Day, 2013. Susan, Jacki, and I decided to start the year off right with a scenic run in nearby Auburn. There are some beautiful trails in the area, with much less traffic and some beautiful scenery to boot! I’ve been running with these amazing women for close to 12 years and we do some of our best chatting, comforting, problem solving, commiserating, celebrating and just plain being there for each other on our runs! What better way to kick off this milestone year? To top off the run we thought it would be fun to have our families meet us for breakfast and celebrate the New Year with coffee, mimosas, and some of the best cinnamon roll French toast I’ve EVER tasted!

Even with missing a couple of kids we had a table for 11 and we realize that often times we are a crowd. But the restaurant didn’t seem busy and we weren’t really in a hurry so the girls and I sat down to enjoy our coffee before the rest of the gang arrived. It just went downhill from there……

Starting with the restaurant being cold, the restrooms being freezing, and the server mysteriously limiting our coffee consumption, we weren’t off to a good start. When everyone else arrived, the waitress was nowhere in sight. We waited forever to place our orders and the server was somewhat snippy when explaining the split charges. Our moods improved again with the delicious food (and finally more coffee) but upon waiting for almost 30 minutes to complete the bill paying process, we found ourselves feeling irritated with our server once again. Our inclination was to reflect that in the tip we planned to leave but then I think it was Jacki who said something to the effect of ” let’s start our acts of kindness with our server”. I’m sure the server didn’t want to work on New Years Day. I’m sure the temperature of the place was not her fault. The whole coffee mystery is a different issue, but in the spirit of the project we did end up with plenty of coffee. In short, we figured we would drop our complaints and judgements and just give the server a hefty tip. The funny thing was, I think WE all felt better after the decision and we left the restaurant with a much better feeling overall than if we had left a lame tip and walked out muttering nasty comments under our breaths!!

Who knows what this project will bring. Maybe one of us will make a huge impact with an elaborate idea to save the world. And that would be wonderful! But I’m betting that each of us, through awareness and small gestures will create a ripple of kindness in our wakes….and that makes it seem like The Year of Fifty might just be downright fabulous.