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.
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.
I’ve never particularly got along with blood. That isn’t to say I’m not thrilled that my pint-sized body seems to be filled with the stuff and it’s whizzing oxygen around and doing whatever else good blood likes to do. I just don’t feel the need to a) talk at length about it or b) see it.
I’ve had a few tests done in the past in which my blood was stolen from me, but the thought of actually willingly donating it makes me feel physically sick. Sitting there, hooked to a machine, watching the essence of my own body being pumped into a bag… no thank you.
So naturally, I felt I had to register as a donor. After all, if giving someone part of your body and soul isn’t kindness, then what is? Well, I am over the moon to announce that giving blood was not my act of kindness for the day, and nor will it be any time soon. It appears that my love for exploring far off places means I am currently ineligible as a donor. Oh, how my heart bleeds.
However, I am not completely off the hook. My new sister-in-law shared a link with me today, suggesting I register with DKMS. It’s a non-profit organisation dedicated to matching blood cancer patients with blood stem cell donors so that they can have a potentially life-saving transplant. Accepting that this really is a cause worth supporting, I signed up and am now awaiting my free cheek swab kit. The odds are that I’ll never be needed, but if so, I’ll just have to face my fear and focus on the big cup of tea and chocolate biscuit which surely must follow.
P.S. If you were wondering what the feature image is, it was the beautiful parcel sent to me today by my dear friend and fellow blogger, Benjamin Barnabas. Be sure to check out his page!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.