Have you ever found yourself in a bit of a rut? A tad bit unmotivated to do the very same things that ordinarily bring you such peace and joy? Yes, I believe we can all relate to that feeling of just being stuck, unable to move (some more than others!) Being a self-proclaimed Pollyanna, I am always shocked and surprised to find myself in that place, especially because I rarely experience it. But this past month, I found myself there. Not just there, knocking at the door. I walked through the door, collapsed on the sofa and simply said, “Does any of this even matter to anyone but me??”
The day after my last RAK post, I came down with the flu. Influenza Type B to be exact. NOT FUN. For someone who operates at the speed of the Energizer Bunny (and that’s on my slow days!), to be confined to the bed for almost a week was simply incomprehensible. But it happened. I got the flu and it knocked me down so hard I honestly thought I would never be well again. Then following the flu was the non-stop dry cough where every other word you speak makes people wonder if they should call 911 on your behalf. My recovery time was a challenge because as many of you moms know, time stands still for no one. Dinners need to be made, children need to be dressed, and work needs to be done. In the midst of all that, my son’s sports schedule changed (put away the soccer ball, bring out the soccer cleats) and like a domino effect, the few spare moments I had available to myself slipped away with the turn of a calendar page.
In. A. Rut.
How on earth could I take the time to bless others? All I saw around me were items needing my attention: laundry piles, unfinished projects, stacks of mail, and an endless array of legos and toys that only a three year old could so brilliantly scatter in record-setting time. For the first time since I started this RAK project, I truly felt overwhelmed by the mere suggestion of blessing someone else. It just seemed like such an effort! And if it didn’t matter to anyone else but me, then why keep going forward with it?
That’s when I stopped. Literally. I stopped focusing on this blog and just let the chips fall where they may. And you know what? The moment I stopped was the moment other people began.
It started with a Facebook wall post from a gal I went to high school with. “I loaded an elderly woman’s groceries into her car for her today. It made me think of you & all your acts of kindness. Not that I’m an unkind person, but I normally just walk around in my own head & hardly ever notice people around me. You’ve made me be more aware and to look for opportunities. Thank you!” Wow! I wasn’t expecting to see that on my wall today. How nice! Free and easy, too! It reminded me of another high school friend who had written on my post about cleaning out store dressing rooms (yet another easy and free RAK to do.)
Another friend commented on one of my RAKs with, “Keep sharing your compassion and great ideas to inspire the rest of us.” Great ideas? Inspiring others? Me? Really?
The next week I checked my Celebrate Kindness email account and discovered an email from one of the recipients of my first RAK for Sandy Hook victims (read the story and her response here). She was asking for my address so she could mail me a $25 gift card to T.G.I.Fridays so I could pay it forward and keep the blessings going. REALLY?!? A gift card donation! WOW! My spirits were lifted at the thought of walking into a restaurant and paying the bill for a family with kids, not knowing their story, but blessing them just the same. How exciting!
This week, as Pollyanna peeked her smile back into my spirit, I received yet another message from a former co-worker. She has been blessing homeless people on the way to work and stated how good it makes her feel to perform her random acts of kindness. She also added that she reads my blog stories several times because each time she reads them they make her feel good inside and inspire her to do more.
Well, short of being hit over the head with a shovel, I received the message loud and clear: RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS MAKE A DIFFERENCE! It is very humbling to know something you do, even something so simple and seemingly unimportant, really does positively impact the life of another. The most ironic point of this entire story is that none of the people mentioned above knew I was in a rut. Seriously! It was LITERALLY divine intervention with a splash of perfect timing.
Speaking of perfect… I am not a perfect person. (Oh gosh, not even close!) I am human, just like you. I have up days and down days (although more up than down, thankfully.) I get caught up in the day-to-day trials and tribulations and lose focus along the way. But thanks to God whispering in the ears of those around me, I am brought back to the surface with kind words and deeds. As much as I enjoy blessing others, I am realizing the importance of allowing myself to be blessed along the way as well. With that spirit in mind, I would like to take a moment and let you know about the Random Acts of Kindness that were bestowed upon me recently:
- Two people offered to take a photo of me with my son when we were at the Children’s Museum. Granted, he wouldn’t smile for one photo (and actually refused the second offer by shrieking “No picture! No picture!”)… but the fact that someone else recongnized the importance of capturing this fleeting moment of motherhood brought tears to my eyes.
- As I was shopping at the grocery store picking up ingredients for my 3-2-1 Cup Cake (see recipe here), a stranger leaned over my shoulder and said, “You know what I like to make with Angel Food cake?” then proceeded to give me a super easy recipe for a new dessert I could try. I then shared my 3-2-1 Cup Cake recipe with her and she ended up adding the ingredients to her cart! How fun!
- Someone let me in front of them in the grocery store line. Little did they know I was in a rush and a little frustrated by the events of the day. Just something as simple as letting me go first changed my perspective in an instant!
- I was in a classroom teaching third grade students when I realized one of the students was the son of my husband’s best friend from high school, whom I hadn’t seen in 20 years. It just so happened that he was picking up his son from school Friday afternoon, so I was able to reconnect and say hello. What a great surprise! Although this may not have been an official “act of kindness”, the random surprise was still a delight!
- Four times this week I had students offer to open doors for me as I was carrying items or pushing netbook carts. Yes! Children can be kind, too!
- Three separate friends sent me messages saying they wanted to get together to catch up, to have some quality time together. Oh, how this brightened my day!
If I stop and start to list all the nice things people did for me, even in just this week, I am overwhelmed by such kindness. How can you NOT be inspired to bless others when you find yourself so blessed? After all, isn’t that what paying it forward is really all about?
So dear friends, my best advice for getting out of a rut is to just stop. Stop trying to be everything to everybody. Take time for yourself. Allow yourself to be in the moment, but don’t let the moment swallow you alive. Think of those who have blessed you this week, this month, this life (either people you know or complete strangers) and be inspired to do the same for someone else.
Random acts of kindness don’t have to cost money. They don’t have to be Herculean events. Many times the simply RAKs are the ones that mean the most. Listen to the God whispers and act upon them. You just never know how important that random smile may be.
Share the love and be inspired! Thanks for taking time out of your busy lives to spend some moments with me!