Kindness Week Day 4: Save the Planet

Today’s Kindness Prompt: Take care of Mother Earth.

The first job given to mankind–after populating the earth–was to take care of it. As we’ve advanced, we’ve found more ways to damage the earth than to maintain it. Let’s do our part to change that.

One of the things I absolutely loved about my son’s Montessori School is that the school focused on the development of the whole person as a citizen of the world. The children were taught how to care about all people and how to care for the earth. Ziploc bags, disposable utensils and containers were not allowed. Lunches, including yogurt, milk and juice, had to be placed in reusable containers. There was a no waste policy. The director and teachers taught the children to conserve water when washing their hands and brushing their teeth and many other tips for saving the environment. The children learned that the little things we do as individuals add up to a world of difference.

Through my son’s early education, I became more intentional about my role in taking care of the earth. The idea of single-handedly conquering the varied “earth” issues is absurd, but there are many little things we can do to preserve our planet for future generations.

Starting today, let’s be kind to the earth. If you don’t know where to begin, here are a few simple suggestions:

  • Use reusable containers, including water bottles and coffee cups
  • Unplug small appliances and phone chargers when they are not in use
  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth or lathering up
  • Use reusable grocery bags for shopping
  • Keep a trash bag in your car, so when you see litter you can pick it up. This also minimizes the temptation to toss the “beer can” out the window
  • Recycle and upcycle
  • Plant a tree, a shrub, flowers

If you already do these things, kudos! Now, it’s time to step up your game. There’s always more that can be done.

Note about today’s image: The gorgeous painting above was created by Lori-Anne C, one of my Love Notes pals. She created this for the latest Global heART Exchange. The theme was “Nature Quotes.” The back of the painting is just as beautiful as the front.

Just joining Kindness Week? Be sure to check out the previous posts:

Jusqu’à demain…

Kindness Week Day 3: Time with a Senior

Today’s Kindness Prompt: Visit, call, or write to a senior citizen.

This sounds like a kindness to them, but in many cases, you will soon find, you’re the one who’s benefiting most. Our seniors are wise and funny and full of history, experience, and stories. If you have children, take them along. This is a perfect opportunity to teach them to respect older adults and to learn that everyone has value.

Today is a holiday (in the USA), so start today. Take a break from the fireworks and hotdogs and give a senior a bit of your time.

After a certain age, growing older can be lonely and scary, particularly if family doesn’t live nearby. So be kind to our seniors. Stand in the gap, brighten a day, and become someone’s friend. In whatever form it takes, your company will be sincerely appreciated.

Be sure to make a visit, call, or letter a part of your life, not just a one-time thing. This week isn’t about random acts. This is about making the practice of kindness part of who you are.

If you’re starting with “Kindness Week” today, be sure to go back and look at the two previous prompts:

Note on the image: The roses above are from a senior (now retired) colleague’s garden. Along with another colleague, I had a brief visit with her recently. She had just turned 80! Beautiful roses grow in her front and backyard gardens; she excitedly shared them with me. I’m sure I’ll find an opportunity to show off more of her roses on the blog.

Hasta mañana…

Kindness Week Day 2: Be Nice to the Meanies

Today’s Kindness Prompt: Be kind to a person who isn’t so kind to you. I’m referring here to someone you see or interact with regularly–the acquaintance who always finds something snarky to say about you, your hair, your clothes, your goals. The coworker who works to criticize you, invalidate every word you speak or ignore your presence.

I know. I know. It’s so much easier to pay “evil for evil,” but think about what that does to your character and soul.

People’s meanness comes from a wounded place inside them. For some, it’s easier to strike out and hurt others than it is to deal with their inner demons.  In The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz counsels us, “Don’t take anything personally.” It’s the second agreement and one I embrace wholeheartedly. Very little of what others do is because of us. As Tarshia, one of my besties, puts it, “It’s not me. It’s them.” 😀

Bad behavior toward us can’t be justified, but how we respond can make a world of difference.

Like bullies, mean people need someone to stand up to them–not someone big and bad who can match them hit for hit, but someone who can hit them with nice. Think of it in terms of the phrase we’re all familiar with–“kill them with kindness.” Of course, we’re not literally harming anyone, but we’re killing the meanness, healing the hurt, or undoing the wiring that makes them behave terribly toward others.

This doesn’t always work, but at least your kindness will disarm them and you’ll get to walk away–hands clean and character intact–without the icky residuals of stooping to their level.  At most, you’ll change a heart and gain an amiable relationship, if not a friend. Besides, kindness always takes the high road, and you can always feel good about that.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that you run out and buy the big meanie a cup of coffee or curry favor in any way. I mean, respond to the slights with kindness–forgo the quick retorts, eye rolling, or backbiting. When the person who seems to be out to get you strikes, strike back in the most unexpected way–with kindness. You know what to do.

If you’re just joining “Kindness Week,” be sure to start with Day 1.

——————————————————-

Note about the postcard: Becky aka Dragongirl on swap-bot  sent the postcard for a swap in celebration of International Women’s Day 2018. It was purchased from postcardfair.com.

Until tomorrow…

Kindness Week Day 1: Kindness at Home

About a year ago, we “celebrated” kindness on Pics and Posts by featuring seven consecutive days of posts on kindness. The world can always benefit from a bit of kindness, so it’s Kindness Week again. Instead of sharing kindness-themed postcards and messages written by senders, I’m asking that we do more than read pretty words and inspiration. This week let’s focus on kindness at work.

I’ll drop in every day with a brief post and a general “kindness prompt.” I won’t be too specific because we all have our gifts, our ways, and our sense of what someone (or something) needs.

Since genuine kindness is altruistic, there’s no need to report or share your acts of kindness with others. This is not about show and tell or about social media and selfies. It’s about developing and exercising a truly kind spirit with no intention to gain–not even attention.

We’ll get the ball rolling by taking the advice of Mother Teresa and starting at home.

Today’s Kindness Prompt: Show kindness to your family members. You know them best, so you know the kindness they need. Keep in mind that kindness isn’t always tangible. A kind word spoken at the right moment can be all a person needs.

In addition to the prompt, I’ll share postcards, art, and photos because every blog post needs a bit of eye candy. 😉

Note on the image: A little more than two years ago my hubby and son planted zinnias outside my home office window. It’s the gift that keeps giving. For three summers the zinnias have bloomed beautifully and have beckoned the butterflies. This year’s first flower opened today. The image above was shot the first year the flowers bloomed; it is edited, of course.

If you’d like to (re)visit last year’s kindness posts, see the links below:

Postcard from Raven: Boston’s Historic Freedom Trail

My [now former] student Raven sent me a postcard! I can’t tell how much it brightened my day!

Recently liberated from college (Bachelor of Arts in English, of course), this sweet, quiet soul has stepped out and is making her way in the world. First stop, Boston.

“The Freedom Trail in Historical Boston.” Photos by Jonathan Klein and Alan Klein.

Raven mused about how coincidental it was for her to write to me on a postcard referencing freedom:

Here I am in Boston, independent, in my own skin, making my own decisions, in my own time. His time. [Christ’s] sacrifice freed me to be who I am. And where I am has much to do, also, with who I met. You.

Isn’t she sweet?

Thanks, Raven. You made a really challenging day tolerable. Hugs, Ladybug!

Note: The postcard features: Old South Meeting House, Old State House, King’s Chapel, State Capitol, Old North Church, and Paul Revere Statue (top); Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere’s House (center); Old Corner Bookstore, U.S.S. Constitution, Old Granary Burying Ground, Park Street Church, and Bunker Hill Monument (bottom).

Happy Weekend, Y’all!

Sweet Things Long Forgotten

A few days ago I told my bestie that I am thinking about deactivating my Facebook account because I am frustrated with the soul-tiring news that fills my feed. Today, I have another reason to deactivate.

Facebook stole my letters!

I spent some time this morning going through a box of letters from my (mostly) teen years. I lingered a bit with a stack of letters from my mom and siblings. I literally rolled on the floor laughing at almost every letter. I also marveled at how much memory is stored in those letters: my baby sister Dani’s tween prattling; my younger sister Angie’s (still) wry humor; my older brother Dennis’ first thoughts about California; my oldest sister Val’s daily tasks as a new mother; the squabbles between the two youngest; my mom’s instructions for how to use enclosed money; the envelope full of newspaper pages from Pope John Paul II’s visit to New Orleans.

The letters are treasures, really. Mini-histories of our family life.

I used to send a long, newsy letter to family and friends at the end or beginning of each year. The year I activated a Facebook account, that ceased. Even though I enjoyed writing the letters and selecting the top photos of the year to enclose, I stopped. I reasoned since most family and friends are on Facebook, I can share that way. But it’s surely not the same. I don’t share everything via social media. In fact, I share very little. Besides, there are still a lot of people in my family and friends circle who do not use social media at all.

Moreover.

Status updates and photos online are fun, but, 30 years from now, I don’t think it will be as rewarding to go through decades and decades of (the future equivalent of) Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram feeds as it will be to go through stacks of letters from family and friends.

So, seriously. Pick up a pen. Grab some paper and write a letter; encourage  your parents, your siblings, your children to write as well. Write to family and life-long friends. Tell them to share the little joys of their day, their day-to-day interactions, their thoughts. Anything. Letters don’t have to be long. My mom was busy. Her letters were always short and sweet, but lovingly appreciated.

Years from now, when the cares of life burden your brain and you can barely remember which way is up, you’ll be glad for the little reminders of sweet things long forgotten.

Finding the Words: Flowers From That Garden

I spent some time last week in Montgomery, Alabama–the “cradle of the Civil Rights Movement”–visiting archives, museums, and exhibits. Several days later, I still have few words to explain the mix of strong feelings that have taken residence in my soul. Even though I’ve heard the stories, read the books, seen (some of) the images before, and even taught the material, I need time to process other ways of thinking through the atrocities of our nation’s past.

As I was there listening, reading, watching, taking notes, and snapping photos, I realized how much the past is echoed in our present, how little we have moved away from those heinous acts; in fact, in the two short days that I was studying the horrors of our past, we were creating more devastation. And instead of sitting at the table and finding solutions, we were casting blame and wasting time on foolish distractions.

Beyond the atrocities, I found my heart breaking at the impossibility of the thing we must conquer to actually make progress. We can march for civil and human rights, but our marches cannot change the thing that makes these protests necessary–the hate and fear that dwell in people’s hearts.

Is it possible?

Is it possible to undo the social conditioning that begins at the dinner table? The disdain for others that is cultivated via television and social media? The thing in (some of us) that convinces us that murdering “those” people and separating “those” children from their parents are justifiable?

One of the meaningful experiences I had while in Montgomery was visiting the church and home of Martin Luther King, Jr. (more on that later). Outside the home there is a peaceful garden–The King-Johns Garden for Reflection, commemorating the  work of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church’s renown pastors.  In the moment I was there, I grasped the possibilities of the principles Rev. Vernon Johns and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. embraced: Equality. Forgiveness. Hope. Peace. Understanding. Unity.

DeLinda contemplating forgiveness…

A plaque at the entrance to the garden reads [in part]:

In the serenity of this garden, you are invited to reflect upon six timeless themes about which Rev. Johns and Dr. King often preached, lectured, and wrote: Equality-Forgiveness-Hope-Peace-Understanding-Unity. We encourage you to ponder each one as it relates to you, your family, and your community. Here, in the shadow of Rev Johns’ and Dr. King’s pastoral home, may you find the personal fulfillment that is often the first step on the long journey to a better world.

Carlette contemplating equality…

The baby girl in the photograph that formed my previous post is my niece Tiffany’s daughter. I’m trying to hope that by the time she grows up, the horror story that my nation is wont to tell will have transformed into another type of tale–one of light, acceptance, respect, and freedom for all who cross its borders.

Maybe, if we can get the world to be quiet and still enough to contemplate the King-Johns principles, we can make true progress. Maybe, we can forge a better future, a brighter world for the upcoming generation and the generations that follow.

The flowers in this post are from that garden. They remind me despite all the ugly, beauty can survive.