Saturday, 9 January 2016

kind: resolutions and debts

I'm thinking of this as a resolution, or, as my daughter, beautifully keeps mispronouncing it, a revolution.

A change in the way I behave. A little thing done every day differently.

I was inspired by a friend who said that every day she made a point to perform an act of random kindness, and I thought how good. How angelic, and warm, and even magical, and what goodness must come to you if you put that kind of goodness out.

And I wondered how she did it. And I wished I was a little bit more like her.

And then a friend died. A different friend.

My friend JC was not old enough to die, although he lived very hard, and received so much love. Why? Because he gave so much. You may have come across him before, even if you've not had the pleasure of meeting him. He wrote a guest post on his angioplasty, which is a fascinating read and you'll find it here. And here is a video that someone kindly shared of him playing guitar and being sociable, which was JC all over.

Anyway, long ago and far from here, I had run out of money and was living in a place where I knew hardly anyone, and not feeling very welcome at all. I was really unhappy, and feeling really lost. JC lived on my road, and one day he saw me in the window and knocked on the door. Did I want to go to the pub?

I did. Of course I did, but I didn't have any money. JC didn't have a lot either, but he said he'd pay. I told him I coulnd't pay him back and he explained that that was not how it worked. Rather, he'd do something good for me, and I would do something good for someone else and all the universal good would eventually come back to him.

That was the start of me making friends. And it was a much bigger deal than a mere trip to the pub might sound.

So when JC seemed to be constantly sick over the last few months, that debt I owed him kept coming to mind. What could I possibly do that would be as big a deal as what he did?

I didn't know. So I made him a hat, and posted it off to him. I don't know if he ever got a chance to wear it. I wore it before I sent it to him, to put a little bit of strength and warmth and thank you into it.

Anyway, I got the news, while visiting with my brother's family for Christmas, that JC had passed away. I hadn't seen the man for years, but I was so sorry to hear that news. A light has gone out. And I kept finding myself crying because I hadn't ever repaid the debt I owed him.

Luckily, I've got a wonderful husband who reminded me that I could still put good things into the world. And so I made a resolution, to do what my friend does, and do one kind thing (or more), every day.

I thought I'd share with you how I got on in my first week.

1st I dragged my son off screens and took him for a walk around town. This wasn't about kindness, but about mental health, and unfortunately he hates going for walks without a purpose, so my first random act of kindness this year was a suggestion I found online to leave pennies around for people to find and get good luck. See a penny, pick it up, all day long you'll have good luck. We didn't want anyone to spot us so we treated it as a secret mission. Which was great fun. We will definitely do this one again. 10p for lots of entertainment and to bring luck to others. Plus, fresh air, great views, and a bit of exercise. Win!

2nd I have a thing I already love about trying to do an act of kindness each day. You find yourself always looking for opportunities. You get into a kind mindset, I'm calling it a kindset (#kindset). Today my opportunity came at Ikea (there isn't a lot to do in Scotland on the 2nd January) when I noticed a lady struggling to get her trolley onto a curb. I just picked it up for her, but she was really grateful. Honestly, it was no skin off my nose but I don't think I would have noticed the opportunity to help before, and I love that I noticed today.

I also sent my dad a calendar after realising he didn't have one yet. He's never managed to get up to Largs to visit us, so I sent him one of our hometown, so at least he'll know what it looks like.

3rd I sorted out some of the girls things and gave a bag of clothes to a friend for her daughters. I like to know that things still get used, and hope they like what's in there.

4th I gave away a voucher for someone who can use it.

5th Today was about small things, like letting someone through the traffic, and picking up a neighbours bin. I also found out that my kindness in giving away that voucher begat kindness in the person I gave it to. She donated something else to a raffle because of it. I love that kindness begets kindness.

6th I gave some time to a local organisation to help publicise their events. I keep this organisation's webpage running and their social media accounts, but had never thought of it as kindness until now. It's made me feel better about myself.

7th I gave a jumper to a friend it will suit better.

I'm writing this on the 8th, and this morning my act of kindness was to tidy my kids rooms for them. I wouldn't have thought of this as kindness before either, but it is, and feeling that way about the task made me feel better about doing it.

I love being in the kindset, so far. I intend to keep it up.

What are you resolving to do this year?