The end is just the beginning

25 days of kindness – December 25th

Happy Holidays everyone! My 25 days of kindness blogging challenge has finally come to a close and I must admit, I’m glad to see the back of it.

Not because I found trying to be kind difficult. On the contrary, bursting the bubble of self-absorption and consciously thinking of others was liberating and refreshing. I realised how easy it is to be kind and that a small, seemingly insignificant act could be a vital step towards restoring somebody’s faith in humanity.

No, the difficulty of this challenge lay in cooking up a host of original good deeds which would benefit a variety of people whilst fitting in with my pre-existing plans for the day. Often I would find myself driving out to the nearest town purely to carry out my act of kindness, but by doing so I was unnecessarily burning fuel which is hardly kind to the environment.

What this challenge has done, therefore, is teach me to constantly be on the look out for opportunities to show kindness rather than worry about creating the opportunities. That said, it is definitely worth going out of your way to do a good and selfless deed, provided that the effects are overwhelming positive without repercussions for other people or our planet.

Anonymous season's greetings

So, to complete the challenge, I resorted back to my ever diminishing post-it notes. On Christmas morning, I wrote “Merry Christmas! x” on several of the little snowmen and posted them through random letter boxes in the village.

Though this is the final act in my blog, it is just the beginning of my journey to becoming a better person.

Love,

Mary x

Right on track

25 days of kindness – December 23rd

Only two more sleeps ’til Christmas! My Inner Child (and outer musical theatre fanatic) had booked a ticket to The Christmasaurus at the Hammersmith Apollo, so I got up bright and early, drove to the station and hopped on a train to London. As I was waiting on the platform to board the train, I noticed the lady in front of me had a rather heavy looking suitcase in tow. Though she was probably only in her late sixties and the suitcase was relatively small, I know how awkward it can be clambering up onto the carriage at the best of times, so I offered her a hand. Clearly weighing up the different options in her head, she eventually decided it wouldn’t be the worst idea and accepted. Good deed done, I thought to myself, and a classic one at that. Now to relax and enjoy the day!

Not quite. On reflection, I realised that helping somebody with their luggage is something I would always do if the opportunity arose, hardly an additional act of kindness, so I threw something else in for good measure.

Since starting this blog, I have developed a habit of bringing my snowman post-it notes wherever I go. Noticing the flip-back part of the table by the seat next to me, I scribbled a quick “Have a lovely day! x” on one of my good old snowy samaritans and stuck it underneath. That way, the next person to lift it up would see the nice message and hopefully crack a smile.

Satisfied, I took out my Inspector Montalbano book and managed only a few pages before snoozing the rest of the way to Euston.

Love,

Mary x

Books are my bag

25 days of kindness – December 16th

It seems that yesterday’s self-kindness paid off since I managed a solid 9 HOURS of sleep. Well, I say solid… apparently I have started ‘sleep-checking’ my phone whenever it vibrates… definitely time for a big switch-off!

Plan A

My body and mind well rested, I was determined to hit it big style with my extra act of kindness. I gathered a bunch of magazines and a virtually blank puzzle book (minus the codebreakers – they are my favourites!) and brought them to my local doctor’s surgery. An anxious patient myself, I totally empathise with those in need of distraction whilst they sit nervously anticipating a potentially upsetting or embarrassing appointment, so I had intended to leave the magazines on the table in the waiting area. Intended being the operative word; it was closed. I thought that the doctor’s offered appointments on Saturday mornings, but evidently not this Saturday. Not to worry! By now I am well accustomed to good deed failed attempts, so I had a back-up plan.

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Plan B

Careful not to slip on the ice, I made my way up the hill and around the corner to the library. As inconspicuously as possible, I began perusing the shelves until I spotted a novel I had recently read and loved: Aleph by Paulo Coelho. Pretending to read the inside cover, I surreptitiously slipped a pre-written note inside wishing its next reader a lovely day, slotted the book back in its place and strolled out of the library as nonchalantly as I could, making a mental note to go there more often.

In other news, a positive consequence of the daily pressure of this challenge is that I have become very proactive and much more efficient in general. Whenever I have a job to do, I try to plan ahead so that it coincides with my act of kindness or vice versa, and I get it done that same day. I just hope that this will continue once blogmas is over!

Love,

Mary x

Be kind to yourself

25 days of kindness – December 15th

Being kind to others is a way of being good to yourself.

I came across this quote by Harold Kushner today and I am completely on board. Not only does consciously being kind improve our feeling of self worth, but seeing someone appreciate our action can leave us with that warm and fuzzy feeling.

Yet after a difficult day and hours spent compiling lists of potential acts of kindness, nothing seemed a viable option… until I saw the following suggestion: be kind to yourself. And that’s when I realised that Harold Kushner’s idea concept can also work in reverse. Sometimes, you have to be good to yourself in order to be kind to others. Whether that’s taking a hot bath, sitting down to eat something delicious and nutritious, or in my case, drinking a big glass water, closing my laptop and getting an early night. It’s time to stop beating myself up about things I can’t change and to wake up tomorrow ready again to kill it with kindness.

Love,

Mary x

P.S. My cheek swab kit arrived today from DKMS blood stem cell donation! (See my post ‘Bloody Mary’ from December 7th).

Mirror, Mirror on the wall…

If you can’t feel festive and fabulous at your office Christmas party, then when can you?

Rocking a whole lot of glitter, tinsel and an elasticated waistband, I was ready for an evening of eating and dancing with the La Tete Et Tout girls.

But not before one of my favourite Christmas activities: Secret Santa. With a £10 budget, we all brought a present for an unknown recipient and swapped them around the table. I absolutely adore buying and wrapping gifts, so for me this was a present in itself. Having contributed a beautifully scented and locally sourced soy candle from Pale Barn, I was secretly hoping to receive my own gift. I did not, so, Pale Barn, feel free to send me all of your stock! All was not lost, though, since I am now the proud owner of a trio of floral body butters and two miniature bottles of flavoured gin!

I was having such a great night that I almost forgot about my act of kindness. Rummaging through my over-filled clutch, I found my pen and post-it notes and ran to the ladies’ loos to stick this on the mirror. All too often we are made to feel insignificant or worthless, so I just hoped this might remind some one that this is far from the case.

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My own regret is having written ‘you LOOK beautiful’ and not ‘you ARE beautiful’, because as we all know, beauty is everything but superficial.

Love,

Mary x

 

Lucky for some

25 days of kindness – December 13th

In my blog last Wednesday, I talked about going into a primary school with my Auntie to give an ESL lesson to an Italian boy struggling with Selective Mutism. Unfortunately the poor soul was stuck in bed with a fever, but this week I am pleased to report that he was fit and healthy and we were able to do some English exercises with him. Maybe the 13th isn’t so unlucky after all!

I’m not sure if it was through my ability to speak his mother tongue or just my pure goofiness, but by the end of the hour I managed to get him giggling – result! I knew the chances of him feeling comfortable enough to speak to me were very low, but the positive response and the closing high five made me believe it was all worthwhile.

On a rather unrelated note, whilst I try to take photographs daily to accompany my blog posts, naturally that was not possible today. However, in keeping with the Italian theme, I thought I would share a panorama I took earlier this year of Mount Etna in Sicily instead. And on a completely unrelated, here’s a picture of my new festive socks. Aren’t they fun and fluffy?

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Love,

Mary x

Feeling rotten

25 days of kindness – December 12th

There are few ways to feel more festive than by reading a children’s Christmas story.

I was skimming though The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher, purely to check if it might be a suitable gift for my Goddaughter, of course, and not at all for my own enjoyment… I’m a grown 23-year-old adult after all…

It was absolutely lovely and funny and silly as kids’ books should be, until a particular paragraph caught me off guard and I found myself completely choked.

Feeling rotten is much worse than just feeling bad or sad. Feeling rotten is when it seems like no one else in the world understands how you’re feeling.

Even though the story is written for children, it approaches a subject which people of all ages can relate to, whether you call it depression, being down in the dumps or “feeling rotten”. And whilst Christmas for many is a time of celebration, we mustn’t forget that for others it can be extremely isolating and lonely.

talk to us

I was immediately reminded of a post I had seen on my Facebook News Feed earlier today and felt I just had to share it.

It’s okay not to be okay 💙
Sometimes it’s easier talking to a stranger…
With Christmas adverts shouting about the ‘perfect’ life, this is more important than usual. The Samaritans, free call 116 123 (UK). A simple copy and paste might save a life.
Would 3 of my Facebook friends please copy this post?
#SuicideAwareness #MentalHealth #ItsGoodToTalk

It’s such a small and simple act, yet if seen at a critical moment, it could be life-saving.

Look out for each other… 💙

Love,

Mary x