Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Random Acts of Kindness Week

From All of Us on Butterfly Hill Farm (with Glinda as scribe):

O.K. We've marked our calendars and are getting ready for some very special intentional actions. February 11-17 is Random Acts of Kindness Week promoted by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. In a time when kindness seems set aside for other more efficient and brittle means of discourse, it's time we brought it back. Bringing kindness back these days may seem like a radical act. But when we get really good at it and integrate it into daily living, it will be the new normal and the tension of our times will become a distant memory. Now, that's a plan.

On our Blog and in our lives, we try to stick with experience and actions of the 3 partners. We respect that all living beings have their own paths and their own good reasons for doing the things they do. But if you would like to join us in actions of kindness, we would jump for joy!

We have put together a sampling of actions we feel fit the spirit of the week. They are ones we have done, observed, or would like to try. We are not suggesting these for others. We aren't even suggesting these for ourselves. Acts of kindness need to be done in the moment in ways that seem right for the journey. Make it fun. Play. We each know the things we want and need to do. Just make this the week to do it. Who knows? Maybe we will make Random Acts of Kindness Week a whole month, even a whole year, a lifetime.

Some preliminary reflections: (1) Most women and some men are more oriented toward relationships, kindness and service. That is beautiful indeed. However, exclusive service to others means we often forget ourselves. As a result, we run on "empty". But of course, we also need to treat ourselves kindly. Don't leave "me" out of the week's special opportunties and actions. (2) Kindness needs to be extended to other companions on the journey, including the those we do not know, Non-Human kin, the Earth herself. (3) Acts of kindness do not require money. Consider resources. Share what you have. First and foremost, share yourself. (4) Give freely without expectation of return.

Here's our list:
  • Bake a batch of cookies and share.
  • Greet people.
  • Say: "Hello. How are you?" Mean it. Listen closely to their response.
  • Walk a dog at the Humane Society.
  • Take your dog for a walk when s/he least expects it, or rather, let your dog take you for a walk. (You will need a large park for the latter.)
  • Have a pot luck for some friends with whom you have been wanting to get together. See who shows up and be grateful for any and all who do.
  • Pick up litter. Recyle what you can.
  • Read stories aloud.
  • Consider those folks to whom you have said: "Let's have coffee sometime, or lunch." "We'd like to have you over." But you haven't done a thing. This is the week: Do it.
  • Greet someone who routinely provides service that smooths your life, yet you don't even notice (clerk or bagger at grocery store, letter carrier, paper carrier, custodian). Thank them.
  • Write love letters.
  • Tell someone dear who you usually overlook: "I love you."
  • Make a donation to charity.
  • Volunteer for a worthwhile cause.
  • Give to the food cupboard, especially some of your favorite foods.
  • Take an armload of unscented toiletries to the women's shelter.
  • Invite a friend to tea.
  • Post that 5 year old's drawing on the refrigerator. This is easy.
  • Make a homemade meal for yourself and your family.
  • Give assistance to someone who needs it.
  • Open the door for someone.
  • Smile.
  • Call a friend you haven't connected with for ages.
  • Give someone a heartfelt compliment.
  • Sing to the birds. If no tunes come to mind, talk to them.
  • Share some of your breakfast with the birds.
  • Put out carrot peels for the bunny who shows up when you are out. This little guy has been trying to get your attention for some time.
  • Let someone else go first.
  • Bring someone flowers.
  • Say "I love you." Yes, we said that above. Say it again and again.
  • Laugh.
  • Try something organic, if you have not tried it before: an apple, a snack. Share something organic with a friend who may not have had it before.
  • Get eggs from a local farmer who raises free range chickens. Say "Thank you" to the chickens and the farmer.
  • Smile all the way to work.
  • Volunteer to baby-sit.
  • Take a meal to or spend some time with someone in need.
  • Spend time with an Elder; ask them to share their story.
  • Do something special you have been putting off until you have time.
  • Talk to a stranger.
  • Put a pretty stamp on a bill. Put "Thank you" on the back of the envelope. Mean it.
  • Say "Good Morning" when you answer the phone.
  • Hug a tree.
  • Imagine a world of peace, kindness and freedom for all beings. Dedicate one action toward that end.
  • Consider an individual to whom you usually respond with great tension. This could be a world leader or someone close by. Consider that s/he was placed in your life as teacher. What are lessons to be learned?
  • Consider an individual or a place where there is great tension. Send "metta", or loving kindness as our friends, the Buddhists, say.
  • Send loving energy to someone who needs it.
  • Pray.
  • Play, that gentle, loving, spontaneous play of a child, even if for 5 seconds.
  • Provide transportation to someone who needs it.
  • Pay attention to your foot steps on the Earth. Walk kindly.
  • Give up your favorite seat.
  • Give up that favorite parking place and park far away from work. Enjoy the walk.
  • Drop some lucky pennies in the parking lot, and imagine some unknown person who has been gifted a lucky day.
  • Consider what "kindness" means to you. Talk to someone about what kindness means to them.
  • Check quotes on kindness. Post them in appropriate places: mirror at home, your signature line, your web site, bulletin board at work, coffee shop, wherever.
  • Listen to someone else's story. Don't judge. Don't "one-up" the teller. Just listen.
  • Spend time with someone. Time is the most significant resource in showing another you care. Giving freely of your precious time speaks volumes and can make someone's day.
That's our starting list and it is not even Random Acts of Kindness Week. This stuff looks like so much fun, we think we will get started this week. What would you add, Dear Friend?
Glinda's Notes on Photo Above: When we were living in Grand Forks, Mary Morken, our next door neighbor, walked over one day and gave me this lovely Shamrock. She also gave one for Mother. My family has had many connections with Shamrocks over the years. My English Grandmother (Mother's Mother) enjoyed Shamrocks as a favorite plant. My German Grandfather (Mother's Father) found 4-leaf clovers anywhere he went; he would press them into his books. Although he died in the 1940s before I was born, we still occasionally find them among his things. My Father (Jack Bloskovich) was a master bricklayer. When he was in his late 30s, he and another bricklayer constructed St. Patrick's Church (St. Patrick, Missouri) which was a replica of an old church in Ireland. When the church was dedicated in the 1950s, a plane dropped Shamrocks from Ireland on the gathering below. My Father said in later years that of all his construction projects, he was most proud of his work on this church. I believe that St. Patrick's Church may well have set the standard for the work he did throughout his life. How did my neighbor Mary know Shamrocks were important in my family and that I had always wanted one? This little spontaneous gift brought forward and interwove threads from my family. Her simple act of kindness had ripples through my life. Thanks, Mary! I love the Shamrock. When I see it, I think of you and Al. And I smile.

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