Make mine a double

25 days of kindness – December 6th

Day six, il 6 dicembre, and it has to be said, I was looking forward to this act of kindness.

I’d arranged with my Auntie, an EAL tutor, to help with her new 6-year-old Italian pupil. The poor boy appears to be suffering from Selective Mutism, so the hope was that, with my Auntie’s teaching skills and my Italian knowledge, we might at least be able to make some progress with his English comprehension.

After negotiating with my Dad to take his car and deciding against using Google maps (then inevitably getting lost along the way), I arrived at the school just in time for our lesson. Sporting my visitor’s badge with pride, I was led to the reading room where we waited for our pupil… and we waited… until the school secretary came apologetically to inform us that today was his first ever day off sick. Typical.

The secretary thought it might be worth calling home to see if he wanted to come in just for an hour for our lesson. Having had plenty of experience with Italian mothers in the past, I knew there was not a cat in hell’s chance of his mother bringing her feverish child into school for a nanosecond, let alone an hour, but I agreed, had a nice chat with her in Italian and promised to come back again next week.

After another long day of career planning and application writing, I was explaining to my Dad how I’d made him cycle to work for nothing (well, not quite nothing – my Dad is glad of any excuse to ride his bike!) and that I’d yet again flopped in my kindness challenge. Cheerily, he piped up, “Don’t worry, you can do us a favour and take me and the lads to the pub!”. So that, my friends, is exactly what I did.

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Love,

Mary x

 

Letter box lottery

25 days of kindness – December 5th

So far in my challenge, my acts of kindness have been aimed at specific people or causes. With that in mind, today I decided to be a little more ‘love actually’ on the cliché scale and do something completely anonymously for a total stranger.

Whilst I was in the local supermarket stocking up on emergency chocolate, I picked up a scratchcard with a top prize of £100 000. Just to clarify, I do not encourage gambling – you should only play if you can afford to lose – but I’ll occasionally slot a scratchcard inside a friend’s birthday card as an I’m-too-poor-to-buy-you-a-real-present-but-I’d-buy-you-a-big-one-if-I-could kind of gesture.

Pen and post-it note at the ready, I scribbled a short message, stuck it to the card, and posted them through the first letter box I passed.

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Bizarrely, I felt myself speeding up as I walked away, as if I’d done something wrong. I know I’d be absolutely mortified if I was caught in the act, but why? Surely I should be proud to own up to my action? Then I started to panic. What if the recipient thought they were being considered a charity case and took offence? Or worse, what if they are a recovering gambling addict?!

I suppose that, even with the best will in the world, you can’t always please everyone… but it doesn’t hurt to try. At best, they could win a hefty Christmas bonus, but if nothing else, I hope it makes them smile.

Love,

Mary x

 

Pride and Penguin bars

25 days of kindness – December 4th

It’s the start of a new week, and time to up my good deed game.

Brain frazzled and backside burning from sitting for hours writing job applications, I closed my laptop, booted up and, armed with a bobble hat and bin liner, set off on a brisk walk, cleaning the countryside as I went.

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This is not a self-portrait.

It wasn’t long after greeting my nosy neighbour (excuse the pun) that I came across my first offender. BINGO. Or rather, PINGU. However careless it is to litter, I couldn’t fault the culprit’s taste in biscuits.

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Many chocolate wrappers, coffee cups, plastic bottles and beer cans later, I sorted a full bag of rubbish into the recycling bins and headed home, a slight spring in my step. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t happy to have found so much litter – Proud Preston should definitely consider changing its motto – but it was satisfying to think that such a small act can make a positive difference to the world we live in. And what a beautiful world it is.

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Love,

Mary x

Roast lamb with a side of spam

25 days of kindness – December 3rd

Pear-shaped. Or if we’re being festive, partridge-in-a-pear-tree-shaped.

It’s only day three of my Christmas kindness blogging challenge, and already things aren’t quite going to plan. I am aware that being considerate shouldn’t have to be considered. But consciously acting kindly requires a certain amount of preparation when you’re attempting to write about it the very same day. This is hardly as romantically spontaneous as the rom-com random acts of kindness which lead boy to meet girl and live happily ever after, but the intention is genuine.

Road Trip

Anyway, my initial idea for today was to be a “selfless” road user. I was going to drive to my Grandpa Joe’s and bring him to our house for a Sunday roast, putting all the other drivers and pedestrians first as I went. Fool proof. On the whole, I would say I’m a responsible and considerate driver, letting the odd car out in front of me, etc. It’s the least I can do, because when it comes to manoeuvring, I fully rely on the patience and/or assistance of everyone in the vicinity to get me through the ordeal (see post-script for irrelevant anecdote).

So, I buckled up, hit the road, and… nothing. There was not a single chance to show consideration towards another driver, pedestrian, cyclist, horse-rider, bobsled team, you name it. On the way back, my 89-year-old grandfather’s rants on housing estates, window cleaning and the time when Waitrose ran out of Ferrero Rochers were so difficult to follow that, forget giving way unnecessarily, I could have run 10 red lights for all I know!

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Positive spamming

So, my highway mission aborted, I opted for something accessible from home that was within my control and bank balance-friendly. A self-confessed YouTube addict, I have been subscribed to various vlogging channels for a number of years, yet I have never taken the time to show the creators my appreciation. In this age where trolling and cyber-bullying are as rife as salt in the sea, I decided to share some virtual love by actually commenting on their videos with some honest, positive feedback.

Will my words ever be read? Maybe not, but they’ll never be unwritten.

Love,

Mary x

P.S. It was beautifully sunny this New Year’s day, so I had driven to our local woodland park to start the year with a lovely and crisp walk. I pulled into one of the car parks which I soon realised was absolutely packed, so tried to turn around, but fearing either bumping a car or falling into a ditch, I was stuck. A kind gentleman spent about 10 minutes of his time guiding me through the 101 point turn needed to get myself out of the car park. I was so embarrassed that I drove straight home without having so much as sniffed the fresh air.

Brews, boobs and billowing buns

25 days of kindness – December 2nd

It was as if fate empathised with my need for a Saturday morning lie-in.

From the warmth of my own bed, a prospective candidate for Day Two’s good deed appeared right before my very eyes.

As I was scrolling through Instagram, my phone virtually resting on my nose in an attempt to keep as much of my body under the duvet as possible, I happened upon an image reposted by mrsgifletcher (AKA the real-life Wonder Woman).

tassel tee

Much classier than (but not entirely dissimilar from) the look rocked by Regina George in Mean Girls, these tasselled TETTA tees are made by a team of fabulous breast cancer warriors to be worn with pride as a reminder to we girls (and boys) to check our boobs!

Aside from the cute design, Lucy and Georgia’s story is inspirational and it was an absolute pleasure to pledge a contribution to such a worthy campaign.

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From boobs to bake sale

Feeling motivated, I then set to work baking for my dear friend Ruth‘s coffee morning in aid of her upcoming charity work placement in Tanzania. Oh don’t worry, I am well aware of the irony. My friend is about to dedicate three months of her life providing an education for poverty-stricken children in Africa. Meanwhile, I’m here writing a blog about acts of kindness when all I have done today is pledge to buy a lovely t-shirt, bake some cupcakes and make some brews (tea and coffee, not beer). Not only that, but I could make a cup of tea blindfolded and I love baking, yet these cupcakes were the most deformed I have ever seen.

Yet somehow, I feel I must be doing something right. I was the 79th backer for TETTA‘s campaign. I guessed there were 79 sweets in the jar at my friend’s fundraiser and… so there were. A happy coincidence? I’ll leave that for you to decide.

Love,

Mary x

TETTA:    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1979835502/tetta-the-original-boob-tassel-tshirts-and-sweatsh

Ruth’s JustGiving page:   https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ruth-snalam?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=fundraisingpage&utm_content=Ruth-Snalam&utm_campaign=pfp-share

A less chocolatey advent calendar

25 days of kindness – December 1st

It’s that time of year again when Love Actually airs daily and we temporarily forget to complain about the cold.

And while I love donning the most garish Christmas jumper I can find as much as the next person, 2017 seems to have flown by and I’m not quite there yet on the festive-o-meter.

That’s why this year, I’ve decided to embrace the holiday spirit rather than the buzz which surrounds it. And who knows, I may end up feeling more festive than ever.

The POA (plan of action)

My idea is simple: every day from December 1st until Christmas day, I will consciously carry out an act of kindness that goes beyond what I ordinarily would do.

For the record, I am far from a saint. I’d say I’m a good person at heart, but all too often I become absorbed in my own bubble and forget somehow to make being kind to everyone a priority (which, by the way, it should ALWAYS be).

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Day One

So, it’s December 1st, day one, and what better place to start than in the comfort of my own home. After four years of studying away at university, living back with my mum and dad has… well, taken quite a bit of getting used to! I have definitely started taking them too much for granted, so I thought it could be nice to make more of an effort today to help around the house.

It’s worth mentioning that I thought the more subtle the act, the better, because I didn’t want my parents to think I was buttering them up to soften some kind of blow. (Unfortunately I can’t say that this has never happened before!)

Whilst my mum was out, I tidied up the kitchen a little, emptying and filling the dishwasher, washing up, wiping down the surfaces, etc. so it would be nice and neat for when she got home.

(Sharing this in public, I’m embarrassed to say I wouldn’t normally do this).

I then went to fetch the milk delivery from the end of the drive since it’s pretty chilly outside, and fed our two bonkers spaniels. I can’t even say I did that completely by myself because good old Karen had already portioned and labelled their kibble!

The outcome: nobody even noticed.

The kitchen worktops were still covered with stacks of magazines and recipe books so high that I doubt my 5ft mother could see past them to notice the pitiful amount of tidying I had done.

As for the dogs, I forgot to put away their bowls afterwards so my mum must have noticed… but the fact she didn’t say anything suggests either somehow I did it wrong, (is it even possible to feed a dog their pre-prepared meal incorrectly?), or she’d already fed them meaning our poor pooches are currently suffering from canine food comas…

Moral of the Story

Must try harder. I really don’t mind that my pathetic efforts went unnoticed since I couldn’t care less about gaining recognition… but it confirms that they really were pathetic.

And while it’s perhaps the thought that counts with kindness, being helpful requires listening to the other person to know what could help them rather than simply doing what would help you.

Love,

Mary x

P.S. It’s my first ever blog post so plz be nice. K thx bye.