A Month of Kindness

Mom Grooves

October was a month of kindness for me. I was inspired by Teresa at Mom Grooves to participate in performing random acts of kindness wherever and whenever the urge struck. I had a similar experience last March when CodeName: Mama inspired many bloggers to participate in a month of kindness. It was actually through this month that I “met” Teresa. Part of my month of kindness was to comment on everyone’s blog posts during the month and I got to know Teresa’s tremendous heart and generous nature. She had a giveaway through her Rock Paper Tree store to the kindness participants and I won a beautiful gift set that I still enjoy daily. Teresa’s generosity inspired me to pay it forward and start two giveaways to the other participants that would also benefit my friends who have Etsy shops.

I learned about myself over that month. So, when Teresa announced a month of kindness for October, I jumped on board. I participated every day by looking for ways I could create little pockets of kindness. It was an enjoyable experience to stay fully present in the moment in order to look for opportunities.

There are too many experiences to relate for the entire month. So, here are some of my favorite experiences:

One thing I noticed over the month was that I still find it easiest to give kindnesses to strangers. The closer a person is to me, the more challenged I am to perform random acts of kindness for them. I find it especially hard to do something kind for myself without equivocating.

Mom Grooves

Part of the reason I was attracted to doing this again (and I hope CodeName: Mama will repeat hers in March, as well) was to see if I had gotten any better at finding random acts of kindness. I did find it easier to slip into the mindset because since my experience last March, I try to seize opportunities more often. But, I found it more difficult to do kind things for myself (I think this is due to some conflicted feelings I’m experiencing) and for my husband. I realized I was sitting in a tit for tat mindset with him. So, when he wasn’t noticing or reciprocating, I was mentally keeping track of that. This was not a nice headspace to be in. I did my best to break that pattern. It felt better to give to him without being attached to him noticing.

For example, I made a point of verbally thanking him when he did things that are in our normal routine: cooking, picking up, doing something with the kids-the usual co-parenting stuff. I tried to acknowledge that I value his contributions, that I notice them, and do not take him for granted. Before this month, I would do that and then note that he wasn’t reciprocating. I was less likely to compliment him a second time. Judging him by my standards just wasn’t appropriate. It’s not in his manner to communicate these things to me. But, it is in mine and I know it helps him feel appreciated. I made a point to touch him, make eye contact, see that he really heard me and that I didn’t expect anything in return. That was freeing to give without expectation of return.

I know he doesn’t have a clue, but I bit my tongue often over the month over little things. I just didn’t speak them. I did notice that keeping quiet made a small difference in how gently we spoke to one another. I try my best to use Non-Violent Communication when I voice a request, but I know from previous discussions, he hears criticism even when I speak only of my own needs. This random act of kindness over the month most likely would be a surprise to him, but I know about it and that makes a difference.

Yes! I'll Have What She's Having

Yes! I'll Have What She's Having

For my kids, I took extra care to find opportunities to speak kindness, hold my tongue, somehow find more patience, let things go and, most importantly, play more often. I said “Yes!”more often during the month. That’s usually my default answer, but I really worked at it. We had a few off the wall adventures like the day we blew off science class to hunt for pygmy goats, but we made enjoyable times out of them.

One of the things I did for someone outside of my family this month that I felt good about was to send a gift card for food to a special mama I know online who needed a helping hand. She’s breastfeeding and struggling hard to make ends meet. I remember being in a place where I didn’t have the money to eat. I remember how scary it was and I didn’t even have kids then.

Another of my favorite things this month was to help a mom out whose stroller wheel broke. I was watching her through the window at the library while I was writing. Her three little kids were running around while she pushed a stroller. The front axle snapped as she tried to push the stroller over a gap in the pavement. I watched her try to fix the wheel, but the axle was too bent. There she was with 3 little kids and a stroller without a wheel. I could see she was about to lose it. So, I quickly packed up my laptop and went outside. I told her I saw she was having trouble and offered to entertain her kids right there as she tried to fix the wheel or to help her fix the wheel. We traded off, but it was obvious she needed pliers to bend a metal piece. So, I went inside and ask for a maintenance person’s help. They couldn’t reach him. So, I walked to the police station next door. One of the officers was happy to grab some tools and help. He wasn’t able to fix it, but he was able to give her, her kids and the stroller a ride home to their house a few miles away.

The Random Acts of Kindness Barnstar may be aw...

Image via Wikipedia

Both of these acts stand out to me because I have been in situations where I needed help. I knew the immediacy of panic when there wasn’t going to be a way to repair the situation without help. Add into that the responsibility of caring for kids-which creates no wiggle room-and it can defeat the best of us. The times that I did receive help from a stranger lifted a huge weight from me and made things bearable.  It felt good knowing these moms gained a little breathing space.

I got so much juicy goodness from this month that I’ve continued going with random acts of kindness: things like giving parking spots, leaving nice notes, taking time for kind words, buying someone a cup of coffee, and supporting bloggers as much as I’m able, etc. Part of the reason I waited a few extra days to write my summary was because I wanted to see if it would stick around. It has. I’m making permanent changes to my priorities and looking for ways to find an act of kindness.

If you’ve helped a stranger in need (or someone you know) I would love to hear about it. What did you do and how did you feel afterward?

NaBloPoMo 2011

11 thoughts on “A Month of Kindness

  1. Pingback: Learning kindness | Dimension 6 New Zealand

  2. This is so beautiful. I can so understand your whole cycle with your husband. I have very similar ‘trends’. I find I can be more generous of spirit with him when I’m not so exhausted.
    You make me feel so special and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your lovely words and thoughts about me.
    the hugest of hugs to you!!!!
    xoxoxooo

  3. This is so inspiring, Zoie! My brain has been churning around the NVC concept of “giving from the heart,” but I haven’t transformed that thinking into much action. I know how good it feels to give of myself to others, but I don’t do it often enough. I would like to see that change! I’m so glad you shared this summary.

    • Thank you, Melissa. I’m grateful to Teresa for giving me the excuse to do this. I really needed it (which makes me want to change to doing more so that’s not the case.)

      Your comment reminds me of another post I’m planning to write. I’d better jot that down before I forget again.

  4. Your post was beautiful – thank you so much for sharing. I’ve tried to take part in this in the past and blog about it but I felt so self conscious.

    Sometimes I’m a real b**** to be around, so simply speaking calmly to my DD when she pushes my daughter can, to me, be an AOK whereas to most mothers they would never do anything else anyway. So in many ways the whole RAOK thing makes me feel inadequate and I get really tough on myself.

    Anyway, I loved what you did and how you shared with us the dynamic between you and your husband. You were so selfless and I really admire your honesty with this. Lots of food for thought for me 😉

    • Thank you for your comment, Mrs Green. It does feel self-conscious to write about doing kind things. I don’t want to seem like I’m saying, “Look at me. Ain’t I great for being kind?” Hopefully, it doesn’t come across that way. All I really see is how short I fall of where I want to be with RAOK and the feelings it gives me when I manage some of it. Funnily, it doesn’t bug me to share when I’ve been a b****, only when I’ve been nice…not going to go there right now. Heh.

  5. ((hugs))
    I can’t even explain how much I enjoyed reading this post. It was like a big cup of tea on a rainy day. I love getting to know you better and I am so inspired (as always!) by your beautiful honesty.

    Joy to you!

  6. My friend called me crying tonight because of a RAk an online friend did for her. After that, and reading this post, I’m inspired to try to do a few before Thanksgiving. If I blog about it, I’ll link back to your post and try to comment here again again letting you know.

I love comments and try to reply to each one. I look forward to connecting with you. Namaste

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