Does a good deed count if it feels easy?

imageOur building management have made my advent good deeds easy this year. There’s a coat drive and toy drive. Two huge boxes in the lobby that we walk past at least twice a day. So of course we’ve put stuff in – two coats in the coat drive and two toys in the toy box. One of which kiddo number one selected from the Lego store. We did worry he would struggle to part with it when we got back to the building, but I’m happy to report that he dropped it straight into the box for children of veterans. He’s now obsessed with the box and wants to check in the morning if there are any more toys in there (and I suspect so he can check the Lego is still there!)

Usually doing a ‘good deed’ for the day makes me feel good… It’s my selfish reason for doing it, but this one just felt too easy. Does it still count of it’s as easy as dropping a few things into a box? Maybe they should all be this easy. That way we’d all be doing them on a daily basis and the world would be a little nicer for everyone.

Does it count though? What do you think?

 

 

Smile

Ever heard of RBF (Resting Bitch Face)? I hadn’t, until yesterday. But it turns out, I have one. Oh yes.

A resting bitch face is basically a scowl that you don’t know you’re wearing. Do you have one? Find out here.

My RBF is the reason my hubby often asks me what’s wrong when I am perfectly fine (and no, I don’t mean fine as in the fine you say when you mean anything but fine!)

It’s also the reason I often think ‘who the hell is that looking back at me?’ when I connect to FaceTime (It’s me. I’m just wearing that scowl I didn’t know about.)

Here are a few more things bothering people with a RBF.

So today for my one good thing, I tried to keep the RBF to a minimum and greet everyone I saw. Two or so years ago this would have been a pretty easy feat. It would have been my husband and kid, maybe the mail guy, maybe one of my neighbours, the people I worked with, the cashiers wherever I bought lunch and that’s about it. Today it’s a different story… (And pretty daunting for an INFJ.)

Before I’d even left the building this morning I shared the elevator with three people (just one good morning and smiles all round), then there was the doorman and porter on the way out. In the street there were numerous families on their way to school, people on their way to work and plenty of dog walkers in the park. By lunchtime I was a little horse. By three thirty my cheeks ached from smiling so much, and I was losing track. I accidentally said morning to a guy walking his five dogs and said hello twice to the same woman.

The response ranged from bemusement and bewilderment to downright rudeness. A lot of people flat-out ignored me. This is New York after all.

Unluckily for my husband I’ve worn out the smiles and my resting bitch face will be back on tonight (after I’ve said my final good evening to anyone in the elevator on the way home).

Have a good night.
Phew. Bitch face back on.

One more card for a very worthy cause

After yesterday’s post, the lovely Dallas from Skilledwithkids sent me a message about someone else To add to my Christmas card list this year.

Safyre Terry lost her whole family in fire when she was just 5 years old. She was discovered under her father’s body who died trying to protect her. I know. I KNOW.

This brave girl lost her daddy, and 3 younger siblings. She suffered burns across 75 percent of her body. She’s had multiple surgeries and lost a foot and a hand. And yet…

And yet all she wants for Christmas is some cards from around the world. So today I sent a card to Safyre, at:

P.O. Box 6126, Schenectady, NY 12306, USA

I’m sure she’ll appreciate it, but a card from NY to NY is not really a big deal. I know most of you guys reading are in the UK, and there’s also some of you in Brazil, and even further afield so please, please can you spare one Christmas card to make a little girl’s Christmas wish come true? Don’t put it off. Do it now. Thank you.

Send your card to: Safyre, P.O. Box 6126, Schenectady, NY 12306

Making merry – for the lonely and forgotten

imageTo anyone reading this who has two or more kids, I’m sure this won’t come as a surprise… Today was a tough day. For no particular reason (in fact both the baby and the pre-schooler slept well which is a first for a while!). There was whining, crying, shouting, screaming. And that was just me!

It got me thinking about my good thing… And I tried to come up with a way to keep us all entertained this afternoon whilst doing a kindness act for the day. And something to cheer us all up too.

One of my favourite things on last year’s Advent of Good Things was sending Christmas cards to people who ordinarily wouldn’t get them.

I definitely wanted to do it again but knew writing out cards wouldn’t be high on my son’s list of things to do. So we came up with a plan. He loves stickers – he spent a good two hours with a few sticker packs decorating some plain paper gift bags the other day (it was what gave me the idea for one of the fifty non-toy gift ideas)

So we made cards! We bought a few packs of Christmas stickers (which were reduced to 50cents) and some plain cards and envelopes, collected his ink pads and stamps and some crayons and got to work. I’m hoping the personal touch will help spread some holiday cheer to those who are without loved ones.

If you have spare cards, or have a child who wants to make some please, please do this. There are homes all over the world in the following list. Pick one. Pick a few. Pick them all. Just please do it. The ratio of effort in to joy out is immeasurable. Last year I received a few replies and it really brightened my day.

Here are the instructions copied from the Facebook page. (Please excuse formatting).

Below is a “list” of addresses for nursing facilities and other organizations worldwide that help the lonely and forgotten elderly. Here, you may collect the addresses and send cards, letters, postcards, photos, and/or small gifts that fit in an envelope.
Choose one address or many. It is always nice if you select addresses outside of your country, state or province if possible – just to make it a bit more interesting or exciting for the recipient.
You may send one card, or many in one large envelope or a flat rate box from the Post Office. Address it to the home or organization listed along with the street address etc. If you are only sending one card – add “to any resident” or “to any lonely resident”. The residents themselves are not likely to see the envelope if you are worried about offending them. Also, always add to the front of the envelope, “Attention Activities Director” whether sending one card, or many in one large envelope.
If you will be sending several cards to one place in a large envelope or box, you may want to include an additional note inside, asking them to deliver the cards to those most in need of some cheer.
You may use a generic greeting in your card or letter – for example a simple “Hello!”. Some people type and print several copies of a letter to include inside their cards. You could tell them about yourself, your family, kids, grandkids, pets, hobbies, travels etc. and include photos, or postcards from where you live or have traveled. It can be as simple or involved as you want to make it.

Many folks have shared this list with their schools, churches, clubs and other community organizations. Others involve their kids, grandkids and friends – getting together to make homemade cards. If you like, you can hand deliver them yourself locally. Be as creative as you like!

Do not expect a response as the resident may be unable to write. However, you may include a self addressed, stamped envelope just in case.

Some residents may not fully understand ‘who’ the card is from or may believe it is from someone they know – a long lost loved one. That is just fine. The point is, they know somone remembers they are there – someone is thinking of them – cares about them- and for a moment… they feel loved.
Please share this project, this page, this letter and list, with your friends on Facebook, friends at home, or your community. Also, feel free to add addresses in the comments of places that you would like posted on this page. Please do not include the names of residents for privacy and security.
Remember, volunteering to visit the lonely and forgotten elderly is always the best gift you could give them.
I am always happy to receive feed back, stories and photos of your card sending ideas. So, feel free to message me anytime.
Thank you in advance for your particpation. It means the world to me, and will mean even more to our lonely and forgotten elders.
Much love and thanks to you all!
Addresses:
Kachina Point Nursing home
505 Jacks Canyon Road
Sedona, AZ 86351
attn: Activities Director

Presbyterian Home & Rehabilitation Center
4290 Middle Settlement Road
P.O. Box 1144
New Hartford, New York 13413
attn: Activities Director

Rocky Mountain Hospice
2110 Overland Ave, Suite 111
Billings, MT 59102
Attn: For anyone in need of cheer

Paradise Valley Nursing Home
11645 N 25th Pl.
Phoenix, AZ 85028
attn: Activities Director

Tockwotton Home Long term Care
500 Waterfront Dr East
Providence, RI 02903
attn: Activities Director

Trinity Care Center – Nursing Home
S State St, 
Salt Lake City, UT 84115
attn: Activities Diector

Garden Valley Manor Nursing Home
8575 N Granby Ave
Kansas City, MO 64154
attn: Activities Director
Shylo Nursing & Home Healthcare
410-1917 4th Ave W
Vancouver, BC V6J 1M7 
Canada
attn: Activities director
Rathdowne Place – Long term Care
497 Rathdowne St, Carlton VIC 3053
Canada
attn: Activities Director
Beechwood Aged Care – Long term
3-17 Albert St, Revesby NSW 2212
Australia
attn: Activities Director
Princeton View Aged Care
29 Heathfield Rd, Brighton East VIC 3187
Austrailia
attn: Activities Director
Gardner Nursing Center
Attn: Joann McDaniel
702 North Drew ST, Star City, AR 71667
Lakeview Christian Home of The Southwest
c/o Michelle Whitzel
Development Administrative Assistant
1905 West Pierce Street
Carlsbad, NM 88220
Please add this facility to your list. Lots of wonderful people that could always use a pick me up. 
Windsor HealthCare Residence
1025 West Yeagua Street
P.O. Box 29
Groesbeck, Texas 76642
Hartford Health Care
217 Toro Rd
Hartford, AL 36344
A1 SNEHANJALI Elder Care Home
Marciana Bungalow
D’silva Nagar, Nala Village
Nalasopara West, (Mumbai W.Rly), Taluka Vasai, Dist.
Thane, Maharashtra. India. 401203
Bentwood Manor
550 W Berkshire Blvd,
Sioux Falls, SD 57106
attn:Activities Director
ManorCare Health Services-Fargo
1315 University Dr S,
Fargo, ND 58103
attn: Activities director – long term care
Ironwood Health and Rehabilitation Center
1950 Ridgedale Rd,
South Bend, IN 46614
attn: Activities director -long term care
Cedarwood Plaza
12504 Cedar Rd,
Cleveland, OH 44106
attn: Activities director – long term care
Oakmont Nursing Centers
600 Sulphur Springs Rd,
Greenville, SC 29617
attn: Activities director – log term care
Meadowbrook Acres Nursing Center
2149 Greenbrier St,
Charleston, WV 25311
attn:Activities director
Maine Veterans’ Home
290 US Route 1,
Scarborough, ME 04074
attn: Activities Diector – lonf=g term care
Comfort Care Homes
11725 Arbor St Ste 210,
Omaha, NE 68144
attn: Activities director
Cypress Springs of Tulsa- Alzheimer’s & Memory Support Residence
7210 S Yale Ave,
Tulsa, OK 74136
attn:Activities director
Future Care Nursing Home
22 S Athol Ave,
Baltimore, MD 21229
attn: Activities director – long term care
Oakwood Nursing & Rehabilitation Center
5520 Indian River Rd,
Virginia Beach, VA 23464
attn: Activities director – long term care
Tucker House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center 
1001-11 Wallace Street 
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19123 
attn: Activities director – Nursing Home
Bhakti Shyama Care Centre 
1 Balham New Road
London SW12 9PH
attn: Activities director
Riddargarden ligger nara Odenplan
Norrtullsgatan 12 L
113 27 Stockholm, Sweden

Bergen Red Cross Nursing Home
Ellerhusens vei 35
5043 Bergen, Norway
The Charity Home
Szent Vince u. 2.
8083 Csákvár , Hungary
(cares for elderly nuns and Catholic ladies)
Dům S Pečovatelskou Službou 
Křižíkova 46 
186 00 Prague
Czech Republic
St Anne Nursing & Rehab Center
3540 NE 110th St,
Seattle, WA 98125
attn: Activities director – long term care
Appletree Court
870 West Arapaho Road
Richardson, TX 75080 USA
License #010312

Haugvoll Sykehjem
Myrvoldveien 21 
1743 Klavestadhaugen 
Norway

Tahanan ni Maria / House of Mary
Brgy. Lantic, Carmona
Cavite, Philippines

Greater Harlem Nursing Home
30 W 138th St
New York, NY
10037
 
This home is for women only. So many of the women there have no family. No one visits them.

The Bristol Home
1500 Main Street
Buffalo, NY. 14209

Little Sisters of the Poor St. Joseph’s Home 
43 Gilmore Place
Edinburgh EH3 9NG, SCOTLAND, UK

The address below is not a nursing home, rather, a foundation that helps the poor elderly. You may address cards and/or packages to “male or female elder”. This address comes from a dear friend of both of my pages. Please send some love to this wonderful foundation. See photos and names on my page of people you’ll be helping!

La Vie Foundation,
P. O. Box 2160,
Nairobi. Code 00200,
Kenya.

Hillcrest Nursing Center
1740 Circuit Court
Round Lake Beach, IL 60073

Kingsland Hills Care Center 
3727 West Ranch Rd. 1431 
Kingsland, Tx 78639
 
A R Goudie

Eventide Home
369 Frederick Street
Kitchener
Ontario
N2H 2P1 Canada

The Grace Care center of Lufkin
504 North John Redditt Drive
Lufkin, Texas 75904

Little Sisters of the Poor
St-Joseph’s Home, 52 Plymouth Grove West
Manchester M13 0AR, ENGLAND, UK

Venture Home Again
610 F M Stafford Ave
Paintsville, KY41240
 
Mountainside Nursing Center
1301 Church Street
Jasper, GA 30143

Grandview Health Care Center
618 Gennett Dr
Jasper GA 30143

AUXILIARY of LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR
300 LAKE STREET SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94118

Heritage House of Castlewoods
140 Castlewoods Boulevard
Brandon, MS 39047 USA

Green Acres Nursing Home
313 Allen Memorial Dr Sw
Milledgeville, GA 31061 USA

Christian Care Home 
114 Jacqueline Terrace
Milledgeville, Georgia 31061 USA

Little Sisters of the Poor
112B St George’s Road, P.O. Box 117
Northcote, Victoria 3070, AUSTRALIA

The Good Samaritan Home
601 N. Boeke Road
Evansville, IN 47711

Little Sisters of the Poor, Home for the Aged
Opp. Koppuravaru Road, Guntur Dist. A.P.
Nambur 522508, INDIA

Little Sisters of the Poor
St-Joseph’s Home, 52 Plymouth Grove West
Manchester M13 0AR, ENGLAND, UK

Petites Soeurs des Pauvres
Ma Maison St Joseph, 5605 Beaubien Est
Montreal, P.Q., H1T 1X4, CANADA

Little Sisters of the Poor St. Joseph’s Home 
43 Gilmore Place
Edinburgh EH3 9NG, SCOTLAND, UK

The Laurels of Shane Hill
10731 St. Rt. 118
Rockford, Ohio, 45882
Renfrew Care Centre
1880 Renfrew Street
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

BUPA Highgate Care Home
610 Old Edinburgh Road Uddingston North Lanarkshire Glasgow G71 6HQ
Scotland

Ailesbury Nursing Home
58 Park Avenue Sandymount Dublin 4, Ireland

İHTİYARLARA MAHSUS CEMİYET-İ HAYRİYE 
DERNEĞİ AZINLIK HUZUREVLERİ
Selbaşı Sok. No:5 Harbiye /İSTANBUL Turkey

BALIKLI RUM HUZUREVİ 
Belgratkapı Yolu No:2 Zeytinburnu /İSTANBUL Turkey

Little Sisters of the Poor, Home for the Aged
Opp. Koppuravaru Road, Guntur Dist. A.P.
Nambur 522508, INDIA

Heritage House of Castlewoods
140 Castlewoods Boulevard
Brandon, MS 39047 USA

Chestnut Court Care Home
Frizlands Lane
Dagenham RM10 7YD UK

Little Sisters of the Poor – Queen of Peace Residence
110-30 221st Street
Queens Village, NY 11429-2597, USA

Little Sisters of the Poor
Villa Guadalupe, 1900 Mark Avenue
Gallup, NM 87301-4822, USA

Little Sisters of the Poor
1028 Benton Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

“The address below is a very small nursing home in a poor, rural area of Kentucky. It is the kind of place where residents are lined up in wheelchairs in the hallways right outside the residents’ rooms. It is not a bad nursing home; just a poor one without many financial resources. Thank you so much for considering this one.”
South Shore Nursing & Rehabilitation Center
405 S.M. Robertson Drive
South Shore, KY 41175
 
View

 

The Forgotten Ones: International Card Exchange for the Elderly at:
www.facebook.com/thelonelyelderly
 
View The Forgotten Ones: Compassion for the Elderly at:
www.facebook.com/compassionfortheelderly
 
Learn more and/or contact Pam O’Halloran at:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/pamohalloran
http://pamohalloran.brandyourself.com/
http://facebook.com/pamohalloran1

Baby number two

This year has been an expensive one. Really expensive.

A few days after bringing home baby number two from the hospital we found out that our dog had cancer. This dog had ALWAYS been insured. That is, until we moved countries and just never got around to it. One expensive vet bill later and he is, thankfully, still with us.

Then in November the baby needed surgery. We knew it was going to be a tough time for the whole family so we called in support and flew in my brother from the UK at short notice. Those flights don’t come cheap!

We also expected all the usual baby expenses. But thanks to the kindness of friends and neighbours we haven’t had to buy much at all (and no, we haven’t gone this far!)

That’s why I’m making a point of passing on all the baby stuff we have. We already have a bag full of clothes and diapers to a colleague and he was very appreciative.

There are also great organisations like this one in the UK who will take your no longer needed items and give them to a family who really needs them.

 

 

 

 

Sparking joy – with a pre-Christmas clear out

32657-NYMYVO

Giving to others less fortunate is big on my list of family must-dos. This time of year it also gives us chance to make room before the festivities.

Today we persuaded our little one to send some toys to the church. It’s still not an easy conversation or an easy thing for him to do. Since last year he’s also learned to ask why to everything, and argues back with reason. (“If those boys and girls don’t have any toys why don’t they write to Santa and ask for some?” Erm, good question little guy!)

In the end he decided to donate a big bag full of toys to help ‘the children who don’t have any toys’. To make room for some new things from the man in red.

To help him part with his beloved firetruck (one of three) racing cars, (two of many), puzzles, games and dressing up items, the adults in the house also donated. This year I read the New York Times best-selling Marie Kondo book – she suggests getting rid of anything that doesn’t ‘spark joy’. It’s a great idea but if I followed her advice I’d be getting rid of the vacuum, ironing board and plenty more. (I would also be saying thank you to my handbags and folding rather than balling my socks to give them ‘a rest’!)

It did help me get rid of a lot of clothes though… Those jeans I’ll get back into ‘one day’ are not sparking any joy, neither are the distress purchase tops which still have their tags on.

So 5 bags to the church and a coat to the coat drive later and we’re all feeling good. There’s also space in the closets for the first time in a while.

Do you do a pre-Christmas clear out? How do you persuade children to take part? I’d love to hear your tips!

 

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Fifty non-toy gifts that are kind to everyone

12222-NO7LXCIn our household we’re in full gift buying mode right now. With a tiny apartment and a leaning towards minimalism I’m really trying hard to keep toys down to a minimum.

I can’t help thinking about the amount of toys in landfill… We’re certainly not doing our kids any favours by buying them mountains of plastic-battery-operated, light-up gifts.

So here are fifty ideas for non-toy gifts that are suitable for most ages. It’s a kindness gesture for our world and for future generations. We’ve already ticked off a few for our 3 year old and one or two for the 3 month old.

1. Tickets to something. Experiences always win out over gifts in our house. This Christmas my three and a half year old will be getting tickets on the Big Apple Circus, and I can’t wait!
2. A library card. It doesn’t cost a thing but gives so much. It also supports your local library. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it! Add a book bag of you want to add a ‘paid for’ element.
3. A CD player. Our iPad loving 3 year old surprised us this year by asking for one of these (they have one at school and use it to sing along, dance and listen to stories.) He already has a playlist on Spotify plus audio books – all of which we play through the iPad, but we are always in charge of it. The freedom of his own CD player and “story records” is the appeal I think!
4. Books – I’m a firm believer that kids can’t have too many books. Whether you make a special gift of buying them your favourite childhood book (anything by Roald Dahl) or choose something you know they’ll love, it will be a treasured gift.
5. Puzzles – I don’t really class these as a toy toy. They are educational, keep them quietly occupied and can last forever (my son still plays with puzzles that used to belong my my friend’s son – who is now 18!)
6. Passes to a class – whether it’s baby massage (for the newborns), mommy and me yoga or a season of soccer, a class pass is a great gift.
7. A homemade CD (if they have a CD player – see above) whether it’s a mix CD of their favourite songs or a recording of you reading a special story.
8. A photo album or photo book
9. A photo print or canvas for their wall
10. A watch – and a few lessons on how to tell the time.
11. An apron and kitchen utensils – a whisk, a bowl and the ingredients for their favourite cookie maybe?
12. A cook book. When my husband was 7, he received the best Christmas gift ever – a family cookbook. Upon opening he gave it to his mum and said: “I think I opened yours by mistake”. The mistake was his of course, and every week for the following few years he ‘cooked’ a family meal. Some were better than others, but 30 years later he’s a great cook. So everyone wins. You can either buy a special kids’ one, get an adult one (like my mother-in-law did) or create your own with a bunch of family recipes.
13. A musical instrument (if you are feeling brave and/or the children you’re buying for do not live with you!). My eldest LOVES his bongos!
14. Christmas PJs
15. A cute robe and slippers
16. A flashlight and something to make a reading den
17. Play silks or a play parachute
18. A globe or world map
19. A magazine or part works subscription – there are loads of kids options, including Little Passports for young minds, or how about National Geographic?
20. A sleeping bag
21. Sponsoring a child – we did this last year and it was a huge success.
22. Adopting an animal – a whale, a monkey, a snow leopard. The choice is yours.
23. The gift of time. With kids going from school to class to… bed, spending time with mum or dad can be a really special gift. Make gift cards with ‘mummy or daddy time’ which they can spend how they wish (within reason).
24. A dinner date at a favorite restaurant. When I was 13 my dad took me on a real life date to restaurant. It is one of my favorite childhood memories.
25. A day trip – a nearby city, the beach, a forest/country park – whatever you think would tickle their fancy.
26. A great getaway. Yes it’s a little more expensive, but if you were thinking of taking your kids to Disney (or Centre Parcs) anyway, why not make it into a gift? You can always get creative by wrapping up their own (or a new) suitcase.
27. Membership to something – a museum, zoo, aquarium… As long as it’s something you’ll visit often it will be worth it.
28. Gardening equipment and some seeds. Get them growing – vegetables, flowers, a tree.
29. A worm farm… Or ant farm. Yes they come with LIVE creatures. Yes it’s kinda gross. But kids will love it.
30. A plant. I know a seven year old who’s favourite gift was a Venus Flytrap. Yes really. Kids surprise us sometimes!
31. Their very own chair – arm chair, dining chair, desk chair, rocking chair… If it’s their very own, they’ll love it. (Bonus points if you personalise it).
32. Stickers and something to decorate!
33. A special knife and fork set like this one.
34. A plate and bowl set
35. Dressing up clothes/costumes – whether you go for the real thing like this, or raid a thrift store for random items, this is a gift that will really fire their imagination.
36. A backpack/lunch bag
37. A thermos
38. Sports equipment (roller blades, a football, a skipping rope)
39. Playing cards
40. Some good quality paints, brushes and paper or canvas.
41. Knitting needles and wool, plus a lesson on how to knit.
42. A camera
43. A sewing machine
44. A bird feeder and a book on birds
45. Some real binoculars
46. A nightlight (maybe even something like this which helps you get a little more sleep)
47. A tent (and a chance to camp out with you)
48. A clock – cuckoo, alarm, Thomas the Tank… Whatever they’d like.
49. The gift of giving. This is a radical one, but worthy none the less. Children understand more than we realize and explaining to them that there are other children who don’t have clothes or toys can really make them think. Get your kid(s) to pick a favorite, local (or national/international) charity and make a donation in their name.
50. Their dream come true (my kiddo really, really wants Mickey Mouse to come and play at our house, so I’m looking into getting a children’s entertainer to come and visit). Maybe the child in your life wants to ride a horse, be a zoo keeper (for a day) or ride around in a sports car. Be creative. They’ll love it, and the memory will last a lot longer than a piece of plastic.*

* Or maybe not. Those plastic toys in landfills are bound to take a few thousand years to decompose.

 

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A few things you should do once a year

Every January we all make New Year Resolutions. Get fit. Lose weight. Be more organised. Whatever it is, if you’re anything like me, by day three you’ve indulged in a big piece of cake and not made it to one gym class! That’s why I really loved this post via a Cup of Jo. ThoughtCatalog has but together 26 Things Every Person Should Do For Themselves At Least Once A Year.

There are some great ideas – like listening to a cd from your past. (Yes, I indulged in a bit of Oasis’ Definitely Maybe) and evaluating your life every year on your birthday (instead of Jan 1st.) Here are a couple more:

Go on a trip where the travel portion is just as crucial as the event or destination. It can be a long drive, car ride, train, flight, cross country road trip – whatever. Go have a blast along the way, make it insane. 

Take yourself out to dinner. Eating alone is, by contrast, often very calming (if you can get past the cultural notion that you should always eat with somebody, and I’m not saying you shouldn’t!) But eat dinner by yourself, at a restaurant, at least once. You’ll see what I mean.

But my personal favourite was this one:

Do something surprising and unbelievably kind for someone who will not expect it (send flowers to a random friend, Paypal someone $100 for a massage, buy someone you love a really nice, special dinner). Something that is so generous you couldn’t possibly do it regularly, but that would make somebody else’s year complete, to know that somebody cared enough about them to do something at that level.

These posts are usually the ones you read, share on Facebook or pin to your ‘must dos’ and then forget all about. So today I jumped right in. I paid for someone else’s parking ticket. Some almost-tears almost fell. It felt good. So one down 25 to go.

Any thoughts? What kind of things do you do once a year to help yourself or others (or both?). And what would you add to the list? I’d suggest getting a really, really good haircut (it’s the one thing you wear every day so totally worth the investment).

 

Small gifts, big impact

Note: this post was written yesterday but remained unpublished due to a much-needed meeting with the margarita mommies! Whoops!

Today I heard a kindness story that moved me to action. Our babysitter is training to be a teacher. As part of her training she works with ten-year-olds in a school in Spanish Harlem. At the end of last semester she bought the kids tiny gifts – pencils, erasers, things they could use in class. She had done this so many times before with other schools and always got a good reaction. However, to her surprise, this time a lot of the kids started crying.

They were just so grateful for the tiniest gift.

Unbeknownst to our babysitter, a lot of the children were living in a shelter nearby. It was so normal for the school that it wasn’t even part of the briefing process for new recruits. She realised later that most of the kids had the same backpack – given to them by the shelter.

She didn’t think anything of taking a few small presents into school on the last day. But these tiny gifts, a small but kind gesture, became something much, much bigger to the children.

This evening I’ll be searching for the shelter and adding those kids to my Christmas list. If you’re thinking of doing something similar here’s a quick list of the things they need:

Personal care items such as:

soap

deodorant

toothpaste

Stationery and school supplies including:

backpacks

pens

pencils

crayons

erasers

pencil cases

Plus small toys such as colouring books, playing cards, games and books.

Donate/give whatever you can. The smallest gift really does make a big difference.

 

 

A little kindness goes a long way

image.jpegToday was of those days. We had tantrums and tears before the front door had even closed on our way to school. It was pouring. We had to take the baby with us. I was hot and flustered and generally not having a great start to the day. Then, in the school corridor a few little words changed all that…

A mum I hardly know looked at me and smiled. Then she told me I was doing “a great job”.

“You’re doing a great job.” It reminded me of a lovely post from a Cup of Jo, and made me feel tons better. Because you know what, motherhood is HARD, working is HARD. Even just getting up and getting through the day is hard sometimes. So let’s give ourselves a break, tell ourselves we’re doing a good job (because we are)*, and spread a little kindness while we are at it.

I passed on this random act of kindness later when I told another mum of two walking down the street that her kids were very well behaved and she should be very proud. “You’re doing a good job” I said.

If you get chance today, or tomorrow, or any day, tell someone they are doing a good job. I guarantee they will appreciate it.

*This reminds me of this great piece of wisdom which got me through a lot of ‘those days’ with my first child:

Much better if you can get to the end of each day, put your feet up with a glass of wine or a G&T, and say cheerfully to each other, ‘What the hell… They’re all still alive so we must have got something right.’

(Rule 1 from the Rules of Parenting by Richard Templar).