Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Not an End, Only a Beginning

Day 365
Wow.  We did it. 

I’ll admit.  I’ve been dragging my heels a bit in the sand anxious to type up our last random act.  Although this year has clearly changed the way we think about kindness and finding ways to incorporate it into our daily lives, typing Day 365 still felt like an end to something. 

That’s when I realized it was only the beginning. 

For the last several weeks, I’ve met with some folks to help plan a permanent kindness club for Cincinnati.  (The real kudos go to Kasey and Meghan.  I’m more the idea-person and the person-who-brings-people person.) 

From our cluttered table at Panera filled with community-minded folks who want to see kindness spread sprang the Cincinnati Kindness Movement.  This grassroots initiative will bring strangers together on a regular basis to commit a service project and reinforce the idea that kindness is a seed we plant and nurture if we want it to blossom and grow.

We have big plans, Cincinnati.  Plans so large, Cincinnati might not be able to contain them.  My deepest hope is that similar clubs will take root in other cities.  It could happen.   

This Sunday we held our inaugural meeting. 

The boys came.  Chaz, of course, was there.  My friend Victoria braved the snow and found our gathering.  Kasey and her family were there.  Meghan, Emily and the Starfire girls.  I’m giving a shout out to Susan who tried to come but wrote down the wrong address and ended up somewhere across town.  Her intentions were good.  In total, nearly two-dozen folks gathered to celebrate kindness. 

The movement’s growing.  Every day more join us on Facebook.

 People stop and ask me how they can get involved.  It’s an amazing feeling to see it germinate from idea to actuality.   

When the boys and I started our year, we didn’t have any expectations.  I wanted us to live this experiment one day at a time and see where it took us.  The road less traveled led us to a community where kindness wins.  The boys and I started looking for kindness in others as we searched for ways we could be more kind. 

All around us, we saw others helping strangers, neighbors helping neighbors, friends helping friends.  The experience has forever changed me because I know no matter where we go or whatever we do, we can find ways to make something better by being kind.  

For those who found my blog offensive or self-serving, I say this.  This year was about finding ways to incorporate kindness into my children’s lives and to make it as natural to them as playing ball.  We, as parents, can teach our kids to find opportunities to help in their community.  They watch us with big, open eyes.  They mirror what we do.  Yes, this was a public platform to show them, and show them I did.  For that, I’m not sorry. 

People ask me what did I want my boys to learn from our year.  To this, I answer to be kind.  To always be kind. 

So what now?  Besides The Cincinnati Kindness Movement?  I’ll be shifting my energies to finishing The Bully Antidote, a fiction book aimed at middle school readers.  My son’s promise to his class that I’d read it to them weighs on me.  I always did do better with a hard deadline. 

I’ll be posting chapters on this space so I hope you’ll be back to visit.  Feel free to comment and/or share.  I don’t know how the story ends but am confident I’ll figure it out.  If I can type Day 1 with no plan, I can certainly figure out how to get to The End.    

Friday, March 29, 2013

Friend Wagon

Day 364
I’ve always said that no one knows what happens inside a marriage but the two who are in it. 

Still, when my friend tells me last week that she and her husband are divorcing I feel sad: for her, for her husband and for her daughter.  I’m sad for all their dreams they shared as they started their life together as a couple.  I’m sad for all the plans they made as parents of a young child, a new family of three.  I’m sad for how those dreams shifted and split as years and circumstances changed both them and the things they wanted or needed. 

“Don’t be sad,” she says, promising me that she is thrilled for her future and excited about starting this new chapter.  I tell her I won’t.  Ultimately, I want what’s best for her. 

Being a friend means supporting choices.  Whether it be divorcing or staying together, parenting styles or lifestyle choices, a friend is a friend. 

It’s been a crazy day with the boys but I know without a doubt that I need to make the effort and stop by my friend’s housewarming party.  A. and I pick up something to bring and we schlep over. 

My spirits and energy immediately lift as I see her in her new kitchen smiling and laughing.  “Welcome,” she calls from her barstool throne.  “Welcome to me new home!” 

She offers me hot tea, something to eat, a hug.  All things that say home.  She outlines her plans for her new space as we walk from room to room.  “I’m going to knock out this wall,” she says pointing.  “And redo this bathroom.” 

I offer my SUV for moving this week.  “Whatever you need,” I say.  “You’ll call?” 

She smiles yes.  And I know, without a doubt, that she’s going to be OK.      

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Teacher. Teacher.

Day 363
Each spring, Montgomery Elementary hosts a staff appreciation luncheon for the hard-working folks at our sister school in Over-The-Rhine. 

I drag A. along to Costco to pick up sandwiches and enough cake to feed an army.  Another mom shops for several door prizes and gift cards to be given away.  Other parents work from home, chopping and creating salads they’ll bring to school for today’s feast.

I explain to A. that it’s a team effort.  Lots of hands will help today.  My friend and I are only lucky enough to be the delivery crew. 

“Why us?” he asks.  He wants to know why Montgomery Elementary.  Why our school?  Why our families? 

What’s the right answer?  Because when you have a lot you have a responsibility to share?  Because teachers pour their hearts into their kids and deserve our thanks? 

“Because teachers help all of you,” I say.  “You, your brothers, your friends.”  I search for words to explain. 

“Teachers everywhere, right now, are helping to shape all the little people who will one day grow up and be all the big people.  All those big people will be what our country becomes.  All the doctors, lawyers, electricians, plumbers.  Even the president.  Somewhere, the person who will be president when you are an adult is sitting in a classroom somewhere listening to a teacher.” 

A. considers this. 

“Important job those teachers have, right?  A good reason to say thank you?” 

A. nods yes. 

I’m feeling pretty proud of myself for making this luncheon into a lesson that stretches farther than our little five-mile radius town.  “Any questions?” 

A. looks at the sheet cakes stacked in our cart.  “So teachers must really like cake.”

Pride is a dangerous vice.