Monday, December 31, 2012

Practicing Kindness


I'm pretty lame about blogging when life gets busy, but this time I actually tried to put together some posts while I was away. The only spanner in the works was the internet in Mauritius, which did everything possible to ensure that I completely unplugged. That meant I couldn't really do much of anything, even just pressing 'Publish'.  In hindsight, it was probably a good thing that forced me to relax and be fully present in the experience. 

Now I've got tons of posts I cannot wait to share, included a guest post from a non-blogger, best friend in real life, that just kicked some major legal butt and passed the bar. Aerin wrote a beautiful post about spreading kindness after the recent tragedy. Without further ado...

Like many people around the country and around the world, news of the Sandy Hook elementary school shootings shook me to the core. I felt angry, affected, and helpless. I was at my parents’ house when the news broke, and I asked what people could do to help people. My father, the man with every answer, didn’t have anything to say. The people of Newtown, CT didn’t necessarily need money, they didn’t need shelter, and they didn’t need supplies. This was no ordinary disaster. I felt frustrated until I saw an idea from Ann Curry. Ann suggested a way to help that I could do—spread kindness. She suggested doing twenty good deeds to honor each of the children who died in the massacre. I decided to take her challenge. I didn’t set a timeframe, just a goal. I began the next morning.
1. Get out of bed before the BF to turn on the heater and make coffee. Usually I’m a huge baby and beg for him to bring me coffee before I even think about leaving the warm covers. This may seem trivial, but it was a start.
2. On this first day, it happened to be the day that my monthly housekeeper comes. As a side note, I cannot afford a housekeeper, but I can also not afford to be as big of slob as I am. Without Jen, my house would look like an episode of hoarders. No joke. Before I left for work, I made sure that dishes were done and laundry was put away to make her job a little easier. I wrote her a check and added a little extra for the holidays.
I went into work and began to look for good deed opportunities. I chatted with a girlfriend about the plan, and told her how I was having trouble brainstorming. “I just said something snide to a coworker that I don’t like, but then I said sorry. Does that count?”   
“No,” she said. Moving on.
3. On my lunch break, I went to Target. On my way into the store I brought in three carts. The BF always says this is counter-productive, because it’s someone’s job to bring them in. He figures that by bringing the carts, I’m losing jobs. I beg to differ.
4. My name is Aerin and I’m an extreme couponer. Yep, I said it. And I’m not ashamed. Maybe if Sierra let’s me guest-post again, that will be the topic. I have a binder full of deals, and I’m great at using them. However, I NEVER use every coupon that I clip. Today, I took some coupons that I wasn’t going to use, and taped them on their corresponding products for someone else to find.    
5. I also had a few general coupons-- $5 off a grocery purchase, $10 of a $35 toy purchase, etc. I found some people in the right areas of the store, and gave them my coupons. Even though they were skeptical at first (I think they thought I was selling something as I approached), everyone was very happy to take them off my hands.
6. When I got to the checkout stand, I knew that I would be using coupons on my own transaction. I really try to be organized, but sometimes the machines glitch or I’ve figured out a specific deal incorrectly, and my checkout takes longer than expected. Today, I let the people in front of me cut, just in case.
7. All day I made a concerted effort to be a good driver. No texting, no phone calls, no being distracted, no road rage. I give myself a B+ on this effort. Okay, maybe a B.
8. In the evening, I went to the grocer. On my original mental list of random acts of kindness, I thought of paying for someone’s groceries that didn’t have enough money at the check stand, but I quickly dismissed that because I thought that kind of thing never happens. As luck would have it, the man in front of me didn’t have enough cash to cover his $25 purchase. My internal voice went crazy. First I thought of how I could really use all of the money in my bank account right now. Having just finished law school, I’m crazy in debt, and still waiting for my dream job to offer itself to me. Then I thought, “Aerin, shut up. God or the universe or something put you in this spot right here today. You thought of this earlier. Now is the time.” I quietly told the checker to just put it on my tab. The man was gracious, and offered me the cash he had. I told him to help someone else with it. I have to admit, at this point, I was on top of the world. My heart was swollen with the unmistakable feeling of having done a random act of kindness. I felt great. It was then that I looked in his buggy and saw that all he bought was beer…. Meh…. But I guess if it makes him happy?
9. When I got home, the BF told me that he was having a friend over for dinner. All I wanted to do was pour myself a glass of wine, slip into some yoga pants, and veg out. But instead, I made dinner and picked up the house without complaint (which wasn’t actually too bad since Jen had done such an amazing job). I’m glad I did—we ended up having a great night with great company. He even let my dog sit on his lap after we were done eating.
10. The next morning, I woke up before the alarm and took the trash out. This is normally the BF’s chore.
11. to 16. Time to show some gratitude. I got out my stationary are wrote thank-you notes to the first responders, teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary, and an individual who I read about who sheltered and comforted students fleeing the school. If you’re so inclined, I invite you to send them too:
            Sandy Hook Elementary School
12 Dickinson Drive
Sandy Hook, CT 06482

Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corp.
77 Main St.
Newtown, CT 06470

            Sandy Hook Vol. Fire and Rescue
PO Box 783
18-20 Riverside Rd
Sandy Hook, CT 06482

Connecticut State Police
Public Information Office
1111 Country Club Road
Middletown, Connecticut 06457

Newtown Police Department
3 Main Street
Newtown, CT 06470

Gene Rosen
22 Riverside Rd.
Sandy Hook, CT 06482

While I was at the post office, I also shipped a package to Texas for a friend who was down there visiting his family. His presents for them had been delivered to his house in California after he had already left, and there wasn’t time for him to order more to be delivered where he was.
17. Leave hand warmers and a gift card for the mailman. He is always on time, and we’ve never had mail lost that I know of. When we get boxes delivered, he always brings them all the way up to our door, and actively shields the package from view to make sure it’s safe. I didn’t see him today, but the card was gone and the mail delivered! **Side note: mail carriers are allowed to receive gifts that value up to $20, but may not accept cash.
18. Day three. Take neighbor to the airport for his 7:00 a.m. flight on a Saturday morning. This is usually my time to sleep in and lay in bed (anyone notice a trend of sacrificing sleep being a big one for me?) Adding to my desire was the torrential rain and thunder outside, making my covers even more inviting than usual. However, it was nice to get up early and get a jump-start on my day.
19. Kindness is not limited to humans. My dogs teach me about unconditional love and selfless kindness EVERY DAY. They’re my two little buddies. My life would be a lot more gloomy and a lot less cuddly if it weren’t for Darla and Beau. This morning, I made sausage at breakfast and poured the pan grease into their food. Maybe not an act of kindness for everyone, but they certainly seemed pleased. 
20. Are we at twenty already? My last act of love is a work in progress. In July of this year, my sister and her husband gave birth to the most perfect, beautiful, smiling, loving baby girl. I pledge that for the rest of my life, I will be a role model to her. I will encourage her to be smart and brave and funny and strong and kind. I will teach her what I’ve learned from this world, and make sure that any influence I have on her is positive. I will do everything I can to make sure this little girl grows up never questioning how much she is loved.

Lessons learned: This is something I need to be actively thinking about every single day. Most of this list didn’t cost any money, and most didn’t even take any more time than I was already spending. They all, however, made me feel good (with the possible exception of providing the beer, but even that one made me laugh). And as an added bonus, I had kindness and love returned. Smiles from the women accepting my coupons. Extra patience from the BF. Two big, wet, sloppy kisses from my pooches. And this text message:
  
That’s right—I saved Christmas.

2 comments:

Traci G said...

This was a great post by Aerin! Twenty acts of kindness seems like the perfect way to remember those lost at Sandy Hook and I going to start my acts of kindness today!

casey said...

Aerin!!! I love this!! :) This made my day and totally inspired me to do something similar—sleeping is absolutely my hardest thing to sacrifice..so way to go!! Thanks for sharing Sierra + Aerin :)

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