I just had to share this pic, taken from the Maria Montessori site on Facebook.
Pure, simple, utter joy.
May you have a little in your day today.
I just had to share this pic, taken from the Maria Montessori site on Facebook.
Pure, simple, utter joy.
May you have a little in your day today.
I saw this story awhile ago.
It warmed my heart then.
It warms my heart now.
Freddie Wieczorek works part-time at Walt Disney World, checking the bags of the guests who flock to Magic Kingdom. Encouraged to spread the magic, as all Disney employees are encouraged to do, he bought an autograph book and began asking the children who came through the gates dressed in costume for their autograph.
In his 4+ years at Disney he’s collected over 1,400 signatures (sometimes scribbles, depending on the age.) To see their faces light up when they’ve been “mistaken for the real thing” brings him such joy. And he is spreading joy to the child, the parents and those who witness the scene.
It’s no secret I love Walt Disney and the empire he began. I love the magic. I love the joy. I love the many, many employees like Mr. Wieczorek who embrace the Disney philosophy and take it that extra step.
Seeing this photo again reminded me that I don’t have to wait to go to Disney World to experience the magic. I can make my own right here, right now.
What will you do to spread some magic today?
We all carry our favorite delusions around in our back pocket:
There are things we want to believe because it makes us happy. There are things we believe because it provides order and an explanation, no matter how irrational the belief may be. There are things we want to believe because it gives us hope. There are things we believe, not because we want to, but because we’re too lazy to look it up.
There are things we choose to believe because it’s the world we have created for ourselves and we like it that way.
Put me in that category.
I like my rose colored glasses.
I choose to believe that there can be a world without the need for war or weaponry. I believe in Disney magic and Santa Claus. I believe that the Mayan calendar would start all over again if the Mayans were here to produce a new one. I believe in the 5 second rule. (Depending on the surface on which it falls, of course.)
I choose to believe the unseen truths that comprise my faith. I believe that someday my mortgage will no longer be upside down. I choose to believe that I will not turn into my mother. I believe that if I break a cookie in half the calories will fall out. I believe in fairy tales and miracles. I believe that people are born good and fate has a nasty way of twisting those who succumb to evil. I believe in goodness and light and kindness and joy.
Call me delusional.
I don’t care.
I’m much happier this way.
It’s my birthday!
No. Really. It is. Today. My birthday.
Awww, don’t feel bad that you didn’t get me anything. I just sprung it on you – I gave you no time to shop. But you can make it up to me. I have an idea for a really awesome gift for yours truly. Hang on until the end of this post and I’ll let you know what it is.
You have to suffer through this little story first…
I was at the grocery store. Again. My cupboard is bare. (Little old Mother Hubbard that I am.) I have participated in 3 (count ’em, 1-2-3) canned good drives already and it’s only the first of December. So, I was at the grocery store buying “spare” canned goods for the drive this weekend. And I pulled up to a stoplight.
A man is standing there with a cardboard sign, “Stranded. Need Help!”
A woman a few cars up, rolls down her window and hands him a small wad of cash. He takes it. Nods his thanks. I’m sitting in my car with bags of canned goods. I can’t hand him a can. (I’m guessing he doesn’t have a can-opener on him) And I can’t hand him cash.
Well, I could. But I’m a Give-A-Man-A-Fish-He-Eats-For-A-Day-But-Teach-A-Man-To-Fish-He Eats-For-A-Lifetime kind of girl.
And I’m on my way to Starbucks, right across the street. (Spoiled little suburbanite – that’s me!) So, I’ll get him a coffee. It’s cold, wet and rainy. A cup of coffee will warm him up a bit.
I’m waiting in line. And it’s a scene straight out of “Animal House.”
Angel Jane: A cup of coffee? Don’t be such a cheap skate. Get him some food!
Devil Jane: Food? What he really wants is cash to support his meth habit. Put your money away.
Angel Jane: But what if he really needs help?
Devil Jane: There are two churches right down the street. Goodwill around the corner. And a whole host of other charitable organizations just itching to help someone this time of year. AND – you’ve already donated to a bunch of them already. If he needs help, it’s easy to find.
Angel Jane: A little food. What’s the harm in that? Now…how about the protein plate? Apples, cheese, hardboiled egg and grapes. It’s only $4.75!
Devil Jane: A protein plate? Are you kidding? He wants another beer I’m tellin’ ya. Now put your money away!
(I put my $10 back in my wallet and pull out a $20)
Angel Jane: She’s right. A protein plate is silly. And the Turkey/Swiss sandwich is only $5.95. Get that. It’s more filling.
Devil Jane: He wants cash. For drugs. Put that money back in your wallet!
This goes on for quite a while. The drive-thru line is long. And I’m honestly pulling out a $10, putting it back in my wallet and then pulling out a $20, putting that back and pulling out the $10 again. On and on it goes.
Finally, it’s my turn. I hand the cashier my $20. (Angel Jane won!)
“The woman ahead of you paid for your drink,” the barista says to me, “She wanted me to wish you a Merry Christmas!”
Someone pulled a Random Act of Kindness on Jane! Me! Lil’ ol’ me! Three days before my birthday! Woo-hoo!
“Then I’m really supposed to do this,” I say to the cashier. “Can I please have a turkey sandwich, as well?”
I pay for the sandwich. (Still so stunned that someone bought me a coffee that I don’t think to pay for the car behind me until I’m driving away. Doh!)
And as I’m waiting at the light to cross the intersection I see the police car picking him up. Apparently, stranded beggars are not allowed on this street corner.
So, I tried. And after that whole exchange between Angel me and Devil me I’ve decided Angel me should win. With a sandwich, at least. I will still not hand out cash but what’s the harm in handing someone a sandwich?
And did I tell you it’s my birthday?
Can you guess what I want for my birthday?
(Ah. You know me so well!)
Yes. I’d like all of you to spread a random acts over the weekend. Yes you, Angel Joe, Angel Wendy, Angel Shannon, Angel Elastamom and Angel Steven! No hiding Angel subwow, Angel Lisa, Angel Mel, Angel Jeanne, Angel Rudrip and Angel Gale. C’mon Angels Kenzie and Katybeth and Kristen and Carol. Calling Angel Thoughtsappear, Angel Aiden, Angel Teachergirl, Angel Lynn, Angel Beary, Angel Lies. And even two of my favorite, lovable (and self-proclaimed) curmudgeons Angel Shout and Angel Kitch. No ducking out on this one! (Boy. Aren’t you all sorry you welcomed me back? 😉 )
ALL of you Angel Jane readers out there – c’mon. It’ll be fun! A little joy for a stranger. It doesn’t have to be a cup of (overpriced) coffee. It could be a sandwich. Or loading their groceries while they buckle their kids in the car. Or purchasing a little poinsettia plant and leaving it anonymously on your elderly neighbor’s doorstep. You could make cookies for your local firefighters. Pay the toll for the person behind you or put quarters in the parking meter. Bring some books you’ve already read to a nursing home. Or one of your brilliant ideas. Any charitable act will do!
That’s all I want for my birthday. Because you all know how much I love a little Random Act of Kindess. Nothin’ big. Nothin’ fancy. But something that is sure to put you into the holiday spirit, too!
Two weeks ago, my brother-in-law died.
Yesterday was the anniversary of my daughter’s boyfriend’s death.
Today, my aunt died.
It’s been a rough few weeks. To make matters worse, my aunt wasn’t doing well for the past week or so and I had no idea. She lives over 2000 miles away and we kept in touch through emails and holiday cards. My parents knew. But chose not to tell me. (Dysfunction is alive and well in my family.) I already live with the regret of my last visit with my grandmother. And while I feel good about how I maintained my relationship with my aunt, it bothers me in this moment that I didn’t get the chance to talk to her one more time. If I had known she wasn’t doing well, I would have called her. She’s not the type to email me and tell me she’s suffering. And I had no idea.
Take your pick.
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.
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.
I have a quiet, secret little blog about celebrating joy.
That’s not so secret anymore.
It’s been quite a week. Wait, make that month. Soccer camp. Dreaded trip to Michigan. Little league baseball games. A teen without a car. Committee meetings (I’m a serial volunteer.)
Kids underfoot. All. The. Time.
And me? Designated driver (or car provider) for the activities of three children. Designated entertainer for all moments in-between.
I love this !!! project. I need this !!! project. But I’m so intimidated by the cute little !!! tags others use for their pics that I just left them off this week. I need to work on crafting my own. Until then, plain pictures must suffice.
My !!! moments this week include:
Hydrangea. They just say summer to me. We have three bushes in our landscape and I’m always finagling to make room for more.
My youngest son’s photo skills…on THIS pic. The one he took just before this one? Of my cleavage. No, you can’t see it. It was deleted immediately.
My youngest son’s self-portrait. Oh, he cracks me up!
My daughter and her best friend, with all their laughter and silliness and fun! Pure !!!
!!! to you all! If I had a group pic of my dear readers, you’d be in this collage, too! Thanks for everything this week. Your love was felt and treasured.
My lack of sleep is making me grumpy. And I almost featured a grumpy song today. But I don’t want to be grumpy. Music always pulls me out of a funk and this funky song made me smile. It reminded me that bad moods are fleeting. Just hang on another day. And keep trying.
“Sometimes, i feel like i can do anything
Sometimes i’m so alive…so alive” – I’ve experienced this invincibility more now that I’ve had children. Of course, they reinforce that with their expectation that I can fix anything from xBox remotes to scraped knees. I am most alive when I am around them, feeding off their energy. And yes, sometimes I feel like Supermom.
“Sometimes, i wanna cry” – Every parent has deep, dark moments. I am no exception. Overwhelmed. Scared they’ll show up on the Dr. Phil show one day. Paranoid that they’ll only have bad memories of their childhood. Or a flood of tears hearing about another parent struggle with a child with cancer or an untimely death. Please spare me that pain, I pray silently.
“Most people try to aim to please
But a lot of them are kinda weak at the knees” – That’s me. I’m not the pleaser I used to be but I still hate to say “No.” Especially to my kids. I’m easily manipulated. I’m a master at avoidance. This trait has not served me well.
“One minute gotcha holdin’ an ace
The next minute gotcha fall on yer face” – Mostly an optimistic person. But there are times when things are going so well I hold my breath, waiting for my luck to change. And then it sneaks up on you. Bam!
“A mean city is a nasty place
Only a rat can win a rat race!” – Isn’t that the truth? We moved closer to “The Big City” to expose our children to more diversity. And sometimes it was more than we bargained for. The price of an education.
“Peace to the people who be fallin’ away
To make it home today
And peace to the people who be tryin’ to find
Some kinda life” – But we all want acceptance and love. We all want to be recognized for our talents and contributions. We’re all in the same boat. Striving for perfection. Just trying to do what’s best for the ones we love.
“Biggest mistakes are the humanest kind
Judge not, lest you be judged
The court room or the billy club” – We all make them. Yes, even parents. I try so hard to forgive myself. Learn from it. Move on. I can try to be the perfect mother. But I will never be perfect. I will, however, be the perfect mother for my children. Of that, I am certain.
“Peace to the people who be losin’ their head
Peace to the people who be needin’ a bed
Love to the people who be feelin’ alone
Spreadin’ love upon the microphone
Hope to the people to be feelin’ down
Smile to the people who be wearin’ a frown
Faith to the people who be seekin’ the truth y’all
All of the time…My love never stops….Never stops”
(I suppose I’m on a Michael Franti & Spearhead kick because I’ve featured Say Hey on another post. He’s just that good! Happy Tuesday, y’all!)
My husband taught me the phrase “psychic vampire.” (I thought it was his own but I just Googled it and apparently it garners a spot in the Urban Dictionary) It refers to the people in your life who need constant reassurance and validation. They’re never satisfied. They feed on your self-confidence and security. It wears you down. You’re exhausted after an encounter with them. You know the type. I see you nodding your heads out there.
Well, I have been slowly eliminating psychic vampires from my life. And I’ve been pretty successful.
The ones I will never be able to eliminate from my life, because they’re less sinister and less predictable, are the “joy suckers.” (Now, I thought I had created that phrase. But upon Googling it I discovered there are quite a few people using it. Either I acquired it so long ago, from an unknown source, that I don’t remember first hearing it OR, trend setter that I am, I did create it and the world has embraced my phrase. I’d like to think it’s the latter definition and not the former.)
My definition of a joy sucker is quite simple. They simply suck the joy right out of life. Not all the time. That would be a psychic vampire. And because they’re so unpredictable you don’t see them coming. No, a joy sucker comes along when you least expect it.
You’re bouncing along one day, you smile and say, “What a beautiful, sunny day!” and they say, “Sure, if you like skin cancer.” Or, while enjoying a delicious icy cold Coca-Cola and someone reminds you, “You do know sugar is like rocket fuel for that cold you’re struggling with?” Or, you’re having a wonderful holiday treat, one that you made from scratch and the joy sucker says, “If I ate that (wink, wink) it would go straight to my ass.”
Sucking the joy right out of the moment one sentence at a time.