Wednesday, June 25, 2014

It's my birthday... 5 years of kindness

Hello my beautiful friends, 

So today is my birthday and I'm left remembering what the last 5 years have brought me! Why only the last 5 years you ask? You see the last 5 years have been such an interesting experience for me, because 5 years ago today I started what was to be a year Long project, called Project 25 -Random Acts of Kindness. It started on my 24th birthday & was to be completed by my 25th birthday! I asked people all over the world to do a kind deed and report it to me! Then I could have (for my next birthday) a book (I'm a bibliophile after all) of all these awesome things people had done because I'd asked them to do it! And I was going to participate too! :) 

I wanted a 1000 kindnesses over the space of a year! 

What I got was...36! 

Okay so it didn't quite go to plan, but I learnt something so profound that I decided to give it a go. I learnt that if I wanted people to do a kindness, I had to do it too! I had to show them that they weren't alone, that I wasn't just asking them to do something I wasn't prepared to do myself! I had to lead by example! 

So I decided when the new year came around i would start this whole thing a fresh and show people just how simple, easy and yet life changing kindness could be! And this is how 365days of kindness begun! And the way I was going to show people how easy this could be was by doing a kind deed a day and blogging about it! 

I am the first to admit I am not a "regular blogger"! And by that I mean, I write everyday for two weeks and then not again for a few months. I'm as unpredictable as a busy woman trying to hold onto a scrap of sanity (perfect description for this year in particular). But you have stuck in there and supported me. People from all over the world have started following me, on this blog! whether they started following me by accident or on purpose I'll never know, but i am grateful for your encouragement and support! I'm not perfect, or regular in my blogging but I have shared photos, stories, friends, family, inspirations, books, cakes, weddings, celebrations, links, blogs and videos with you all in my attempt to tell you what kindness means to me! 

Life has not been easy, and I know there are people out there who are struggling with a thousand times worse problems than I have! That's why kindnes is so important. We can share the loss, sadness, grief, but also the hope, love and gentleness we have found in friends and strangers who have helped us & given us kindness in our hardest and even in our best times! 

I want to acknowledge a few people, the original supporters! The few who had followed me from day one, (mainly because I originally brow beat you in to it! Lol) And they are... my family! 

To my mum who I most definitely wouldn't be here without! She spent 26weeks in the hospital trying not to have me! She survived with a semblance of sanity after those 26 weeks of bed rest away from the rest of her family so I could be born! And Even then I wasn't a well baby! And she's been working pretty hard to keep me alive ever since! This is a woman who believes all mums should get the presents on the child's birthday because they put all the effort in on the day the child celebrates! And after all the effort she put in to making me a reality... Well...I definitely agree! mum, about the present, I'll see what I can do for you! ;) lol! Thanks for encouraging me and pointing out those kindnesses I don't see sometimes! :) You are one of the strongest women I know & you are beautiful! :) thank you for all your hard work, your love and support! :) 

My sister, who was one of the first people to do a kindness for the original project, and who continues her support today with the Facebook page! She is a gem! Another tough woman who is filled with a strong sense of justice and a willingness to make the world a better place! Thanks for being an encourager and a champion for this world! Thanks babe! 

My dad, who is no longer with us, would listen as I read out my blogs and dutifully flip through the pages of my kindness albums (even when he wasn't too sure what was going on)! Thanks for being a great role model and leading by example! You were always there to help anyone who needed it! Thanks dad! Miss you! 

My brother in law... One of the best men I know! Thanks for supporting all of us. And agreeing with V to let me stay so I has somewhere to go when my life was falling apart! Thanks for being strong for your wife and your kids through some really hard times! For leading by example and doing lots of "extracurricular activities" to support your kids! :) thanks for being a rock! Us gals, we ain't easy to be around! But you've done a great job! :) 

My niece & nephew continually teach me what kindness is! They have placed such trust in me as a "good role model" for them! Thank you for reminding me to have fun & "bounce", for sharing in kindnesses, nerdiness & books! And for loving me even when I'm grumpy or I tell you off! You really are great kids! :) don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise! 

To my "adopted" family who have and continue to encourage & support me in both my kindnesses & in my day to day "ordinary life": Tanya, Isaac, Eva, Liam, Taylor, Laura, Jamie, Big D, Ben, Lisa, Bobbie, Sandie, Terry, Paulene, Bev, Judy, Faye, Sarah, Dino, Autumn, Bel, Cat, Lance, Kayleigh, Matthew, Lorraine, Chris... And I know there are so many more! Please forgive me if I haven't names you specifically (it's 2.30am my brain isn't working at it's optimum). But please know I am so very grateful to you all for you love, support and encouragement! 

Who would have thought a little idea 5 years ago would have been so successful! Maybe not every one has taken up doing a kindness a day... But imagine if they did?! There would be so many lives changed and more lives altered for the better! :) even if everyone did an intentional kind act this week? it won't make any real difference to me, but to a stranger their lives will be a little lighter and a little better for a little while! And that's all we can ever hope to do! 

Hope you all enjoy my 29th birthday with me and that you bring a smile to someone's face, today in particular! :) it's a good day to be kind! 

Much love to you all 
<3 Daena x

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Kindness and all its problems... a rule book of sorts to maintain a healthy state of kindness!

Hello beautiful people,
It was so good to get my words on a page last week, so I am back for some more. But this time for something a little different.

One of the biggest hurdles people have when doing something like 365 days of kindness is that they burn out fast. So I have written a tiny rule book for those who are brave enough to embark on this journey for themselves. And PLEASE try doing a version of this kindness yourselves!!! It really is amazing! :)

One of the reasons that people burn out is that they forget to look after themselves. And I don't mean that they forget to eat or sleep or drink (although Im sure my family could remind me that occasionally I have done all of all these things). Sometimes people forget to be kind to themselves. I forget to be kind to myself too. Most of the time, and particularly lately, I expect too much from myself. Yes, I want to change the world, but that's not going to mean that the world changes overnight! Which is a bummer really because everything would be so much easier if it were that simple, not to mention that much faster! I have been frustrated that I couldn't help someone, or that I didn't see someone that needed help (or at least not until I was thinking about it later ), or sometimes I'm not fast enough to perform an act of kindness and I feel like I'm letting the world down. The reality is I am only ONE PERSON and I am the only one being let down, because I expect so much of myself! Yes, every kindness makes the world a better place, but every kindness you do is one more beautiful thing that exists in the world! After all that lady over there with the heavy shopping, she doesn't expect me to help her with her shopping... That guy in the wheelchair going through the door does not expect me to hold the door open for him (in fact he has become quite adept at doing it without any help), the screaming baby doesn't expect me to stop it crying by making faces at it in the shopping center and neither does the babies mum. I think that is why kindness is so important though, because we do not expect people to perform acts of kindness, that is why they are so powerful. But I need to be kinder to myself. RULE NUMBER ONE: Be Kinder to Yourself! I have started doing a kindness for myself as regularly as possible. It may be buying a new book (yes i still am a bibliophile), or getting a massage, or buying myself a "Soy Chai Latte", or it could be giving myself the morning off from caring for mum by letting myself sleep in(when she needs sleep too), or visiting someone I know will perk my mood up. Yet, it is so important to care for yourself, because if you don't look after yourself, then you will be of no use to anyone... including yourself!!!!

A second pitfall for a kind person is forgetting how blessed we really are. When you are doing things for others a lot, you can see how others live and get jealous or even "preachy" about how people should live their lives. It may seem funny that people who are being Kind all the time can be like this... but it happens. Oh boy, does it happen. I have found myself being jealous of the things I have done for others because I've begun to expect people to do the same things for me. Now this might, to the outsider, seem logical. After all you are giving, therefore you should receive! Right? But to someone who is trying to live the "kind life" its not always this simple. If you always expect the same thing from others, you will be perpetually disappointed. Not everyone is going to want to make YOU a cup of tea in the morning, carry YOUR groceries, bring in YOUR Rubbish/Garbage bin, or buy YOU lunch! After all not everyone has the same wage as you, or want to spend it the same way YOU do. Or have the same ability to brew tea, carry heavy loads or the time to bring in your garbage bin. One of the greatest ways to be a kindness ambassador is to not expect anything from anyone. This is not a rule, just a really helpful note! If you expect it you will be unsatisfied, but if you don't expect something, then it is always always a blessing when something comes your way. I like to think Karma exists, but it might not be a one-for-one deal (as in you do a kind deed and someone does exactly the same in return), and Karma almost never comes the way you want it to or expect it too.
RULE NUMBER TWO: Be grateful! When you are grateful for what you have and what you can do for others you don't have time to be jealous. 

Another problem that adds to the burn out, is that there is often the feeling that you are always giving and never receiving. Yes, we should all give generously, but that doesn't stop us from wanting kindness ourselves. When you are giving all the time it can seem that you are the only one who does this. But its not until you stop and pay attention you realize that other people are doing small kindnesses for you too. I think you all know that I write at least 10 or more things I am grateful for, that happened though out the day, every night before I go to sleep. I follow that up with my Kindness for the day. Recently I started taking account for the things other people do for me because I was so caught up with what I was doing for everyone else. I forgot to look for the things others were doing for me. RULE NUMBER THREE: Pay attention to what others do for you - add this to your blessings everyday! So I started paying attention. Whether it be your best friend who pays for a movie twice in a weekend (thanks Tanya), you sister who takes your mum for a night so you can have a night at your friends (thanks V), a friend who does your washing up after you've made a mess in their kitchen (Thanks Tanya & Kylee), or a friend who compliments you on an awesome job with a blog post (thanks Eva, Terry & Tahlienna), Or someone who gives you the opportunity to try something you have been wanting to do for ages (thanks Taylor). These are a few of my friend blessings that are from this week alone. I got stuck for a while not seeing all the amazing things my family and friends did for me, which was their kindness to me. 

One of the greatest pit falls a kindness ambassador can fall into is judging others and their worth. I have been on a few dozen kindness sites and really struggled with the reactions of some people. Sure, the best/easiest person to be kind to in the world is the ones who obviously need help, ie. Street people, those in financial struggles, the person crying at the shop, underprivileged people etc. One of the things I have noticed is the reaction people have is to those who come from wealthier parts of society. Yes they might have more money, more social status, more ability to do large acts of kindness but just because they have all this, does not mean that we should withhold kindness from them. I am not one who earns lots of money... although I make the most of what I do earn! My annual income is pretty low, yet I still find that EVERYBODY needs kindness. Sure they might not need a $50 gift card from your local supermarket, but they may need your spare change to help them get through the checkout faster. Another group that miss out, are those that are rude to us. Sure their hostility can be a warning, so be careful, but if you can safely ignore it, these people need the kindness more than ever! I once had a drive-thru lady sound rude and curt at the speaker box, others in the car commented on her manner, so i made the extra effort to be super cheery and thank her for her work and for getting our food promptly. The others in the car thought I was nuts, but she needed that! By the time we left, food in hand, she was smiling at least! It may have been because she also thought I was crazy, but if it meant the next car had a smiling server, it was exactly what I was meant to do! There is a quote that I always hear (sadly I don't know the writer) "You never know what people have been through! Everyone is fighting a hard battle".  The hardest part is that sometimes we don't even know we are judging others. So please be careful who you judge as worthy. Everyone is worthy of kindness... that is why it is so powerful and makes such a difference in the world. Not only is withholding kindness a cruelty to others but also to ourselves. We become limited in the impact we can make in the world. RULE NUMBER FOUR: Everybody Needs Kindness.

Okay, so in short my rule book is very simple:
RULE NUMBER ONE: Be Kinder to Yourself!
RULE NUMBER TWO: Be grateful!
RULE NUMBER THREE: Pay attention to what others do for you!
RULE NUMBER FOUR: Everybody Needs Kindness.  

I have been doing this project in its various forms for almost 5 years now. And I encourage anyone who wants to give "365 days of kindness" a go, to do it!!! Give it a go!! Even if you only last a week or a month, that is 7 to 31 more kindnesses in the world! And everyday you do it, that is one more kind deed out there in the world! :) Honestly, it can be hard for the first few weeks, but then you get into a pattern and realize that kindness is just a way of life. Then suddenly its 5 years later and you are doing kindnesses with joy and passion! :)

Think about it! If it is something you want to do, give me a buzz as I can help you out with a few resources! If you want them? You do not have to do a blog about it, you don't have to even keep a record! I like to keep one just to see all the things I have done! But Everyone is different! :)

I hope this helps anyone trying to live a kinder life.
With love and kindness,
Luv Daena