#Capture Kindness: Week 8

Last week’s challenge was to be kind to yourself. This might seem odd, but it frequently one of the hardest things to do.

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There’s something that I’m sure we’ve all experienced called “negative self-talk.” This refers to all those times that you’ve told yourself that you’re not good enough, smart enough, strong enough, fast enough, attractive enough, whatever. Everybody thinks these things at least once in a while. These thoughts are sneaky and don’t ask permission before entering your brain. (Sometimes, they’re also called “brain weasels.”) In some cases, these thoughts can motivate a person to try harder, but usually they just make us feel bad about ourselves. But the good news is: you don’t have to let the brain weasels run your life. Brain weasels lie and distort the truth all the time. So, it’s your job to set the record straight.

Every time you notice yourself thinking something negative, squash it by telling yourself two positive things about yourself. If your brain tells you that you suck because you didn’t beat your previous time when running a mile, remind yourself that it’s okay not to be perfect at everything (no one is.) and even though you might not be a fast runner, you’re a kind, considerate friend and you aced that algebra test last week. Say it out loud to yourself in front of a mirror. (Yes, it feels silly the first few times, but it helps; I swear!) Remind yourself that you are a miracle. Seriously. You are an amazing person capable of so much! And you *are* good enough. You are worthy of love and respect and friendship.

This has been kind of a long, wordy post, but self-care and self-love are things that I’m pretty passionate about. Everyone deserves to know just how awesome they truly are. *You* deserve it. Yet, too many people go through life disliking or even hating themselves, their bodies, and their lives. So, don’t let the brain weasels win. Tell yourself that You. Are. Enough. And, more importantly, believe it!

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Tara

 

#Capture Kindness: Week 7

Hello, all!

I hope everyone has had a fantastic holiday season regardless of which or whether you celebrate any winter holidays!

Last week’s kindness challenge was to be kind during the holidays. This can be a really stressful time for a lot of people with family obligations, shopping, cooking, travel, and just a whole lot of demands on our time. That also means there are a lot of opportunities for kindness and lending a hand to someone who needs it.

Food drives for the homeless or economically challenged, delivering meals to those who cannot (for whatever reason) leave their homes, or even inviting over a neighbor or friend that doesn’t have any family in the area so that they don’t have to spend a holiday alone are all hugely kind things to do during the holidays. As always, though, kindness doesn’t have to be huge. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t spend your entire winter break delivering toys to children in the hospital. Mad props to you if you did, but that level of generosity is simply more than many people can manage. Did you help wrap presents? Did you clear your stuff off the table when your parents asked? Did you spend some time talking to your senile Auntie Grizelda and brighten her day? Seriously. Small things. Big impact.

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I spent the weekend of Christmas at my sister’s place with some of my favorite people. We have a typical “blended family” with step-siblings and people that may not be related to me by blood but are family nonetheless. We come from five different homes throughout Illinois and Wisconsin so it can be hard to find time to get together. My kindnesses included planning and organizing to get us together, finding a way to get my 83-year-old father to the celebration, asking people to bring food (so the burden wasn’t all on my sister), preparing parts of the feast, bringing a few fondue pots and crock pots for our traditional fondue feast, cleaning up, and spending time swapping silly stories with my youngest nephew who sometimes feels left out because he’s the only one under the age of 25. (He loves to tell me about his Dungeons & Dragons character A LOT.) So, yeah, nothing huge. However, all those small kindnesses helped to make the weekend a lot less stressful for everyone involved.

This week’s challenge is to be kind to yourself. Check back in next week to see how I handled this challenge!

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Tara

#Capture Kindness; Week 6

Week 6 (December 17-23) challenged us all to be nice to or, if you are a kid, with kids. I am not a mother, except to my cats and, while I’m an aunt, most of my babies are in their 20s. I do work with teens all week, but that’s my job; it felt like these added kindnesses should be something I don’t recieve a paycheck for. So, how’m I supposed to be nice to kids when there are no kids around?

Luckily, I meet up with Faith, an old friend from college, every few weeks to chat and catch up and *she* has (drum roll, please) …KIDS! Allyn is a mischievous and adorable 2-year-old and Éowyn  is a talkative and independant 4-year-old. (Yes, Éowyn , like the Lord of the Rings character who slew the Witch-King of Angmar. She totally lives up to the name.)

If you recall, last Tuesday was so unseasonably warm that I’m pretty sure witchcraft was involved somehow. So, Faith, the kids and I grabbed some brunch and headed out to a park. (A park! In late December! Witchcraft!) At one part of the park, there was rope-web-nest-thing that Éowyn loved climbing. And Allyn did a pretty darn good job of working his way up the ropey-laddery bit. It quickly became our “spiderweb” and all of us were the “spiders.”  Éowyn was the Mommy Spider, she dubbed Allyn the Daddy Spider, and Faith and I got to be the babies.  (I even celebrated my first Spider Birthday, complete with a wood chip cake, well, several woodchip cakes. Allyn was very interested in the wood chips.)

We were soon joined by a few more kids, there with their grandmother. For the most part, all four kids got along really well – that is, until one of them discovered a large stick that made a lovely dinging sound when smacked against the metal swingset. At that point sharing became difficult. There may have been some mild shoving involved. However, the grandmother stepped in, the stick was removed, apologies were made and we all went back to being a happy Pirate-Spider Family again! (Did I forget to mention the pirate aspect? I’m not really sure where it came from; we were just suddenly pirates in addition to being spiders. It’s best not to ask too many questions.)

There is really no point in the day that I can screencap and say “There! That’s where I was kind to children.” It was just kind of an ongoing theme of the day. I was kind to the kids and my friend. They were kind to each other and to me. Faith and her husband, Fred, had done an amazing job of modeling positive behaviors for their kids. So, brunch was full of pleases, thank yous, and silly stories, with a hefty dose of sharing. The park excursion was full of encouragement, compromise, helping, and even new friends.

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You might have noticed a recurring trend in my #CaptureKindness posts; kindness doesn’t have to be a huge, organized event. It’s a constant, ongoing process. It’s in the way you treat people everyday – even when you’re tired, even when you’re hangry, even when you’d really like everyone to just go away so you can be alone for a while. It’s a smile, a compliment, or an offer to help.

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Remember to be kind during the holidays and check back next week to read about my Week 7 Challenge!

 

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Tara

#Capture Kindness: Week 5

Last week’s challenge was to be kind to strangers.

I’m not gonna lie; this one was hard for me – not because I find it hard to be kind to strangers, but it’s difficult to capture such interactions on film.  So, this week, I have no pictures to share, but I do have a story.

On Friday, I went downtown to meet a friend for lunch.  If you’ve spent any time in Chicago, particularly the Loop, you’ve probably been approached and asked for money. If you’re like me, this can be so heart-breaking. I want to be able to help everybody who needs it, but I can’t. I have limited funds with which to help. So, do I give all my money to the first person that asks or spread it out and give each person one dollar? What is a dollar really going to do; what can you buy with one measly dollar? But, if I give one person $10, then I have nothing to give anyone else. The whole thing just becomes the saddest math story problem ever.

So, instead, I offer food. Granola bards and apples are pretty easy to stash in a medium-sized purse or backpack. Not everybody wants an apple, and that’s okay. I hope they get their needs met another way, but at least I know I tried. And, for those who did take the proffered food, I hope I made their day a little easier.

Next week, I’ll tell you all about my kindness to kids!

Until then, keep making the world a kinder place to live!

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Tara

#Capture Kindness: Week 4

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In case you haven’t been following along, I am participating in RAK’s #CaptureKindness campaign and challenging myself to do something kind each week. Each week has a theme so I have a bit of inspiration and don’t have to think up something on my own. (Phew!)

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Last week’s theme was “Be Kind to the Environment.” There are sooooooooo many things that you can do to be kind to the world around you! You can put out seeds or other food for birds, squirrels and other critters that haven’t gone on winter vacay or snuggled up into a burrow for the season. You can clean up some litter. You can buy and use recycled items. You can switch your outdoor lights to solar-powered ones. You can volunteer at a wildlife refuge. You can dedicate your life to designing devices that run on clean energy. Personally, I went a simpler route. While, I *usually* use a reusable cup for my coffee at work and I *generally* recycle everything I can, I sometimes get lazy and don’t feel like rinsing out my yogurt cup to recycle it or don’t want to go upstairs to get my coffee cup so I’ll just use the non-biodegradable Styrofoam cup that is free and right in front of me.

For my week of kindness to the environment, I said “no” to the lazies and made sure to reuse when I could recycle whenever possible. These are small steps. But it showed me that these things can be done. If I can do it for a week, I can do it for a year. If I can do it for a year, I can do it for always. And, if I can do these small things, what other, bigger steps can I also accomplish?

This week’s theme is to be kind to strangers! Check in next week to see more pictures!

In the meantime, how will YOU change the world?

 

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Tara

#Capture Kindness: Week 3

Hello, all, and welcome back to #CaptureKindness! Last week’s theme was “be kind online.” I feel like this is an especially important one. It’s sometimes easy to forget that behind all the blogs and tweets and posts and random photos online, are real people with real feelings and the things that you say and do while on social media can have real-life consequences. I know that sounds extremely boring and parent-y, but it’s true. Have you ever posted a pic or vid or just a thought online and received a nasty comment? It didn’t feel good, I’ll bet. Think about that before commenting or posting online.

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Okay, my lecture is over. For my online kindness, I chose to make a .jpg (above) to remind people that they are important and loved. Please feel free to copy and share. There are also sites like Sarahah that allow you to leave anonymous messages to perk someone up. I’ve also recommended artist, Emm Roy. Her doodles are perfect for sending to people who need a smile. (Always remember to credit the artist, though.)

Reminder: this week, be kind to the environment! I’ll be back next week with my report and images!

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Tara

#CaptureKindness

Last year, the Vortex took some inspiration from Random Acts of Kindness and built a kindness tree.  This year the organization is back with a 14-week challenge called #CaptureKindness.

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Each week between World Kindness Day on November 13 through Random Acts of Kindness Day on February 17, participants are challenged to do something nice for someone else (or even themselves), take a photo of the kind act, and post it to social media with the hashtag, #CaptureKindness. Each week has a different theme so you don’t even have to rack your brain coming up with ideas.

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And, if kindness itself isn’t its own reward, you can also win prizes for posting your pics! Visit Random Acts of Kindness Foundation for more information and to sign up. You can sign up starting on November 13.

And check in here each week to see my photos as I challenge myself to bring more kindness and smiles into the world!

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Tara