Once upon a time, back in high school, I was called over to the cool kids’ table. No, not the lunch table, but the table they were occupying in the library of our school.
I really didn’t know what they wanted, but being friendly with almost everyone in the school, I didn’t fear the conversation. I was, as many described, a Mother Teresa wannabe who floated through the social sphere like a nomad in the desert.
It turns out they wanted me to join the cool kids. Yeah, I was surprised too. Really, they wanted me to pledge allegiance to the cool kids’ clique. They asked me why I hung out with certain people and groups of people (those who weren’t good for my status). They told me how pretty I was. Or rather, they told me how pretty I would be with a makeover. Okay, I thought. That’s fair. My hair is crazy and unmanageable. And yes, I have a weird sporty surfer girl look, that didn’t quite fit my very lacking athletic abilities.
Then came the oddest of the qualifications.
They asked me how much my house was worth. I didn’t know, it was my parents’ house, not mine. I guessed. I said “Uh, probably 100k?” The response was, “Oh good. You see, none of us have houses that are worth less than 100k, so you fit right in.”
I what? I…how? Gah….WHAT?
I nodded, still really confused as to what had just happened, and got up and headed for class.
I never did take them up on the offer for a makeover sleepover party. I didn’t give up hanging out with the kids who were bad for my reputation. I still worked hard to be a Mother Teresa wannabe–perhaps I’ll explain that more another time in another place.
I knew I didn’t belong at the cool kid table back then. I was too confident in who I was, back then, to want to be someone I wasn’t. So… I continued on with my crazy wild hair. I continued making time to chat and joke with the computer programmers and gamers. I sought out the ESL students. I didn’t need a cool table.
Now, I see a different cool table before me. A table of all these people who have similar life goals as mine. They may carry them out in completely different ways. They may look at the world through a completely different set of glasses. However, they are doing amazing things. Things I just wish to be near. I want to sit at their table. I want to hear the stories, to be asked to help out with their projects. To be invited to their sleepovers, and to have the sort of life makeovers that would result from friendship with them.
But… I haven’t been called over to even make an introduction. I wave when I can. Smile as best I can from a distance. It’s just so awkward when you see or hear of people, and “know” you’re meant to be friends. To support and inspire one another… but you’re still that nomad nobody wandering around the social sphere.
After each hello, I become afraid that they will only thing I want to bask in the glow of their popularity…like so many others. When really, I imagine chatting in a quiet corner, sharing dreams, hopes, of conspiring for good. Of confiding fears and discouragement. Of reciprocal support and encouragement. Of laughing and celebrating over the successes and joys.
You know, those actually meaningful friendships that seem so rare in this busy busy world.
I wanted the message of #1000smallways to get out there, and I was thinking of cards and other small merchandise, however, when the light bulb went off the other day, I also immediately thought of t-shirt. I know what you’re thinking…yeah, maybe I am crazy.
These are the first few that I put together today so that I could announce it. They are running on a 14-21 day campaign, so if you want any of them that is your window of time.
I hope to use the money from these to further the scope of #1000smallways. Since I have no income currently, I can’t really expand what I am covering very much, but with money I can travel to volunteer and do interviews to start bringing my readers good news from various locations. I will also be able to pay for my daily expenses so that I can continue to study love, encouragement, etc. So that I can become an expert.
I also have been in dialog with an illustrator today, and my first children’s story could be/should be in the works in the early parts of this coming year.
All these and more variations are available here.
I awoke to thoughts dancing around my mind like people in a ballroom dance competition. Last night I was surfing the web, trying to determine what gifts I still need to buy, if any. I grew more and more disillusioned with Christmas. At least, how it is portrayed in the media and celebrated in most homes in America.
Christmas is a school of lessons, and our children are learning these lessons. It is for our best interest to monitor and influence what lessons they learn. They are the ones whom hold the most potential to change our world. So often Christmas teaches consumerism, materialism, and selfishness by rewarding these things with gifts, reinforcing these behaviors.
I’m not saying Christmas is bad, I’m just saying it could stand for some added kindness and valuable life lessons.
Ways to Put [More] Kindness into Christmas:
1. Trade Gifts for a Cause.
Once you’ve wrapped gifts for under the tree, count how many there are. Tell your children about various needs locally and globally, and give examples of how they can help. Send them off to their supply of toys, clothes, craft supplies and canned goods, and have them pick an equal number of gifts to give. They can create cards, pack up toys, or sort out clothes. You could also pack up a food box, if that’s what they decide they want to do. By allowing them ownership in the items to give, the place to give them to, they will learn that they can make a difference.
2. Create an Advent Calendar of random acts of kindness.
Make an advent calendar (there are many free templates, here is the link to the pictured set ), and instead of some small gift, have a card that lists a random act of kindness that must be accomplished that day (Here are a couple lists of activities, you can find more on pinterest. 50 Random Acts of Kindness for Christmas & 60 Random Acts of Kindness for Kids)
3. Consider the types of toys you are buying, if they are age appropriate, and what lesson they teach.
For example, a few years back I saw a gun war set that was labeled for 3+. That struck me as a bad time to be reinforcing guns and violence.
Children learn through play (which is why it is so sad we have so little play in the curriculum for children), so please shop thoughtfully. Ask yourself, “what lesson does this toy teach?” and “is this toy age appropriate?”
I have seen some really heart-warming-love-promoting-life-lesson-teaching toys, books, and activity sets out there. They are there, and I’m sure you will find them if you look!
4. Bend Trends toward Kindness and Love.
Elf on the Shelf is so popular, but what if each day the activity pointed the children toward kindness? You can create your own version of a Kindness Elf, or you can find some products that already do this. Recently I discovered: Good Deed Manger , Kindness Elves, The Giving Manger just to name a few that I’ve seen. I’m sure a google and/or pinterest search would result in more).
Be an example of the change you want to see.
No children? No problem! We all have the opportunity for influence, and with some work we can grow our influence too. You can give this Christmas according to the ideas above, and join A Thousand Small Ways (on facebook) and #1000smallways (on twitter) which seeks to share with people small ways that they can make a difference, to encourage people that what they have to give is enough, and promote a culture that puts love and kindness as a priority in our day-to-day lives. You can join the community, share your ideas, brainstorm with others on small ways, and encourage one another. One drop of water might not seem like a lot, but when the drops come together an ocean can be formed. So, come bring your most valuable drop of water and help create a movement of good deeds and positive influences. We need you. The world needs you.
I am kindness-idea tagging. This means that I’m asking another person to share 5 more tips for adding kindness and love into the world. I am tagging my friend and blogger, Alicia over at The Modern Biblical Family. I will also be tweeting about this, asking individuals on twitter for their ideas with the hashtag #1000smallways. See you there! If you join the challenge and blog your 5 ideas, please link back to me and/or comment so I can find your posts!
Go forth and be a hummingbird!
Bleary eyed, I opened my computer this morning. Somehow during my sleep I had come up with my agenda for the day. First thing, first. I had a few friends to check in with, send a quick message to, inquiring about how things were going. I’ve been trying to be more intentional about reaching out and connecting with others.
I’ve realized that while I do often make to do lists, I don’t often follow them closely. I run on intuition. Not only on deciding what I need to do next, but also in the kitchen and with my creative adventures. Even with my words. They just come intuitively, and I don’t reread and question them. I trust that the words that come are authentic, when they come quickly. I don’t trust them when they seem forced. I have no idea just how many blog posts I’ve deleted before publishing, because I just couldn’t speak (write) naturally.
And then, suddenly, I couldn’t remember a thing on my to do list. I complained to a friend that I had forgotten it all, and they said that perhaps it was meant to be forgotten.
So I forgot it, and started again. I networked with three people/companies. I shared my dream with them. I experimented with an editing process in photoshop to make my photos look like infrared images. I connected with a couple more people, read a chapter in “Love Does,” and I prepared for my next giving adventure.
I create a lot of things. I tried to have my own business selling crafted and plant items, and I have so many items left that haven’t found homes, that I decided to send them off into the world with a note of encouragement. Hopefully they find their way into the hands of individuals who will value them. I know I could always try to sell them, but they are taking up space and not bringing anyone joy in the meantime. And this is the time when I want them to be out there, doing their job, not sitting in a box in my basement.
I do not have a lot of resources, but I have these…so I will give them.
When I paused to rest from my morning activities, a friend said to me “you are doing so many things :)” and encouraged me to keep up the good work. I was caught off guard, and wondered why. I realized that it clashed with the engrained belief that if I was truly working hard, I would be getting paid. The truth is, I’m getting the opposite message. I know people think I’m being lazy or irresponsible. But I’m not, I’m just not getting paid. There is a difference. And to have a friend who sees that difference, meant a lot.
In fact, I have to be honest, it happened twice today. I know it must be because I need to hear it, but earlier I was told that I was being an inspiration to many. I stopped to consider if this was true. I’m still not sure. “Many” I wondered….”does my reach really extend to many?” I immediately began to doubt myself and pull out all the evidence to the contrary. My average blog post gets only a few views a day for the first few days of its existence, before it is forgotten. My facebook posts rarely have a reach above 10 on my photography page (where I also share these posts).
“Many!” I laughed to myself. Finding the word many a joke, and inspiration much too grand a word for what I do and who I am to others. “Don’t these people know I’m the one out looking for inspiration, seeking a mentor, networking, and inspiration-media bingeing?”
Then my own words came back to me. I remembered the video I created promoting out even our “one drop of water,” can make a difference when we all come together. So, even if my “many” is nowhere near “many enough,” it’s more than nothing. And even if my inspiration isn’t up to TED talk level, it can make a difference. I am giving what I have, and that’s all I can do until I have more.
So, even if you don’t have a lot. If your influence is 1 or a million or more, remember that each individual drop of water you have is valuable. Don’t doubt it, like I just did. Or if you do, as I know it is human nature to do so, I hope that reason wins out and you remember that what you have to give is valuable. That you are enough. That what you have to give is enough, and so long as you give it, that is enough. When you have more to give, then give it… but leave your drops of water to evaporate because they are just a drop.
A Thousand Small Ways to Change the World #1000smallways
If you are creative, like myself, you can “release” some of your art into the “wild,” and if you are not, fear not…because whatever you have to give is important and valuable. I am offering here that if anyone needs inspiration that I may be able to provide (we will see if I am or not), that I’m here. You can make the same offer to those in your circle either verbally or just by seeking out people to encourage.
It is basically sharing a small thing someone can do to pour love into the world and change the world.
Why don’t we try to do some small acts of kindness and share them in our networks with that hashtag (#1000smallways) . Then we can track what each other is doing. This will be great, and if we are ALL doing random acts of kindness at the same time, surely the impact will be felt!
1). think of a small way that you can share kindness–that just about anyone could also do.
2). Carry it out, share what you did and give whatever insights you’d like in your online post…and remember…
3). include the hashtags: #1000smallways and #randomactsofkindness on your posts, and share the links in comments of this post to any blog posts you may write about the topic.
REMEMBER–each small act may be as small as a drop of water, but it can make a difference:
Today was a hard day.
I heard so much about them.
Through history there have been a lot of them. Those them got treated poorly, because they weren’t like us.
Those them were marginalized, dehumanized, mistreated, and often killed. Many of those them grew up to be us, but we forgot that we were once them.
We forget, in the face of fear or ignorance, that when we make them them and us us, we draw a line between us, making it easier and easier to treat them like things rather than beings.
It’s easier to be mean to them than us.
It’s easier to be kind to us than them.
In experiments where a false division is made, so that there is an us vs. them, it is shown that each side tends to work to deny the other team positive rewards, even if it means that they suffer in some way to do so. They also will go to great lengths to promote one of their own—even if the group divisions are completely arbitrary with NO basis.
But while the groups are arbitrary, the results can be reliably predicted by simply creating the division.
So, yes… I agree the problem is with them.
So throw the word out of your vocabulary and mentality. See every problem and offense as an attack against humankind. See their pain as pain of someone in your group, since we are all one. Value cooperation above competition. Sharing of resources over storing up. Understanding over ignorance. Empathy instead of distain. Love instead of hate or complacency.
Us vs. them is the mentality that leads people to become extremist and terrorist, prejudice and racist, or simply complacent.
Keep the goal before you, what will a better world look like?
Now, how do we get there? Do we get there by separate but equal? (Been there, done that).
Can love be true if it is captive to fear? If love is rated and handed out along geographic, philosophical, religious, or personal difference lines, is it truly love?
Why do we rob love of its power?
I don’t say this from a place of getting it all right, I say this from a place of wanting to get it right. And wanting other people to struggle to get it right with me, so that love’s power can be restored. So that individual cases of hate being poured out can quit finding each other, and building their own little ponds of hateful people, when there are so many others who have love to share but aren’t sharing it, thinking it too little or too dangerous to do so.
We, those who have love to give, are those who must unite.
And yes…. Doing so will be scary, and yes it can be dangerous, and YES it can change the world.
Let’s change the world.
I was once told that just as we do not measure the presence of cold, because cold is merely the absence of heat. So too hate is not a thing, it is merely the absence of love. Do you think this be true?
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And remember, whatever positive thing you do, it does matter and I can make a difference, so don’t give up. You may want to look for people with similar passions and get together to do some good.