Daily Archives: August 16, 2010

Jane Comes Out Of The Closet And Then, She Confesses

Wait.

Reverse that.

First, I’m going to confess. Then we’ll get to that other thing.

Remember that RAOK post that garnered so much attention? And then I commented on the comments and challenged myself to take it a step further?

Well. I slept on it. And in the morning my challenge sounded a bit….impossible. And improbable. 

Let me explain.

I decided, in my spontaneous and do-gooder charged wisdom, to attempt a random act of kindness every day (or at least weekly) and then post about it on a separate tab on my blog.

Sounded good at the time.

And then I thought…how random is random if I’m planning on doing it?  And what if, by 10 o’clock at night, when I’m tired and spent and ready to go to bed, I haven’t done anything especially random? What about all the other kind activities I do daily, without even thinking about it? Helping a woman with a stroller or holding doors open or reaching something high on a shelf for someone in the grocery store or the random snail mail cards I send to friends and family far away or letting that poor woman with five kids go ahead of me at Target because I’ve managed to procure a blissful hour alone to shop?

That’s my life. I do little bits of random every single day.

Or what about the bigger acts of kindness that I participate in? Volunteering at my kid’s school. Making dinner for someone who: had a recent death in the family, had a baby, extended illness, just moved to the neighborhood or is moving away. Watching out for an elderly neighbor. Or, how, whenever we bake I always split it and share with a neighbor or friend.

A dear neighbor recently said to me, “I can always count on you!” And she’s right. I may not always have my full heart into it (because I’m human and have a busy, full life) but I find it very difficult to say “no” to someone in need.

And then I started thinking about the two or three comments (out of 200) that criticized my good deed. (Isn’t it funny how we always focus on the negative no matter how inconsequential they may be?)  They felt that forking over $3.18 to “help” someone who was already prepared to fork over $3.18 for an overpriced coffee was self-indulgent and frivolous. That it only made the giver feel good about giving something that wasn’t necessary in the first place. Do I really want to invite more criticism, no matter how far and few between?

And that mildly annoyed me. Because we ‘re talking about kindness. Bringing a smile to a stranger’s face. Who cares if the person was prepared to pay for it anyway? I know, when it happened to me in the drive-thru – when some sweet woman paid for my coffee three summers ago and the cashier handed me  a “Moms Rock!” scribbled on a napkin as way of explanation from the anonymous giver, I looked in the rearview mirror at my feisty, fighting 3 and 4-year-old boys and thought, “Thank you, dear sweet woman for a little joy today!”

Which brings me to this.

Joy.

One of you out there once told me that some weeks, it’s hard to find joy. I thought, oh goodness, how sad. A whole week without joy. I find joy in every day – no matter how small. I’m not saying it’s easy. Some days I have to look. Real hard. But I find it. So, I challenged myself to document joy every day.

And I’m doing that……here. At Every Day Joy. Have been for 251 days now. I’ve kept it very, very quiet. I’ve been doing it for me. To make sure that every day I stop and recognize the bounty that is my life. I’m only sharing it here with you now to say….

Random acts of kindness should be random. I shouldn’t plan for it. I shouldn’t schedule them.

And that challenge to myself helped me to take stock of my life and realize each day is chock full to the brim. With taking care of children and a husband. With lots of dear friends and some family. I try, each day, to be thoughtful, compassionate and considerate.  I practice kindness. Both deliberately and randomly. Both have their place and purpose.

There it is. Out of the closet.

I say things I sometimes have to take back.

And.

I have a quiet, secret little blog about celebrating joy.

That’s not so secret anymore.

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Filed under Growing Up, Lessons Learned