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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

RAK anyone?

Last Saturday, which happened to be the 40th anniversary of the day I was born, I invited you all to help me celebrate by performing a random act of kindness in honor of the occasion and reporting back to me. I'm calling it 4th Frog's Fab 40 Fest.

I've heard from a few people who did things that ranged from small to big. One of them made a bit teary. One was absolutely heart-felt. And another was so simple, yet I know so appreciated. I heard from a lot of other people who said they loved the idea and definitely wanted to participate. So how's it coming on your end? (In case you're shy, when I share the RAKs that were done, I won't share names of who did it.)

As for me, I've spent a lot of time thinking about what I want to do. And I have to admit that I'm not finding it so easy to commit a random act of kindness. It's not that I'm not nice to people, because I think that I am. But one thing I'm learning about myself through this is that maybe I'm not as other-centered as I should be. It seems that it's after I've pulled away from the drive-thru, after I've made it to my desk at work, after other opportunities have passed me by, that I think "Oh! I could have done that."

This eye toward myself has been something that I've kind of been feeling has been out of whack in my life for a while. I used to be the one who was constantly volunteering, always busy at church or with social groups, doing, doing, doing. But in the past several years, that's not been the case. I've become absorbed in my own life and haven't really sought out opportunities to look beyond myself.

Some of that is an occupational hazard for a mom of three kids who are busy with their own activities. Some of that is the result of having a job, where I didn't when the kids were younger. And some of it is the lack of effort on my part to see past my own family and my own circumstances.

The result of this focus on myself, my life, my trials and even my successes is that I think I'm not as patient, joyful, grateful, giving, happy as I could be.

So, I will do something to contribute to the Fab 40 Fest. But more importantly, I think this exercise has been a gift to myself -- the gift of realizing how internally focused I've been and much richer life can be if I just look past my own nose.


Momza said...

okay, so my bff, Nan keeps telling me, "You can count that!" or "That counts" whenever I do some service I always do anyways!
I tell her, "NO, this is going to be especially FOR Amy!" I'm working on it sister! By Friday!

Eternal Lizdom said...

Uh, so... what if we can't get it done by Friday? I might need Saturday...

I have my plan and will have a picture, though!!

Shauna said...

This whole thing seemed a lot easier in my head when I said I wanted to participate. I didn't really want it to be something I had to think about really hard. I wanted to be spontaneous and help people who are around me on a daily basis.

But it's hard, because even though I live in an apartment building with 8 floors, and 18 apartments on each floor, not very many people WANT to be helped. I tried helping one of my neighbors with her groceries and she refused. I tried to help a young mom out with her laundry (and three kids). I've tried numerous things that would seem ordinary and simple, but a lot of people seem hesitant to receive help. I know it's because of where we live. Big cities aren't really known for having that good neighbor feel. While people aren't mean or rude (most of the time), they keep to themselves. They don't ask for help, and they don't offer it.

So my plan was foiled! I still want to try and offer a friendly hand when I can, but not because of your birthday bash (though, your birthday bash has helped me see how much I CAN do for others but still choose not to). I want to continue to smile at my neighbors and offer to help them out, because I think maybe one person will accept. Maybe one person will be feeling lonely or desperate, and will not have the strength to ask for help. Maybe if I help someone, they'll pass it on and do the same for someone else. Even big city folk need some kindness from neighbors.

My random act of kindness for you, Amy, was to do something very uncomfortable and unpleasant, especially in my current state. I cleaned up the garbage chute room on our floor. People always leave their garbage on the floor instead of pushing it down the chute, and so I decided to clean it up. I don't know if it will actually help anyone (besides the cleaning lady, who really has enough to do without cleaning up other people's garbage), and no one will know it was me who did it. But while I held my breath and stuffed bags of my neighbors' trash down the chute, I hoped that maybe someone would be affected in a positive way by my sacrifice. ;)

Shell said...

I got burnt out with helping- not small things, but with volunteer work that took hours of each day and consumed me. So, I went from being heavily involved to being not involved at all. I will have to think about this challenge!

Anonymous said...

OK. Not sure if this qualifies as a RAK but last night my dad called me at 12:15 a.m. I could hear the anxiety in his voice. His feet were swollen, purple and numb. He wasn't sure if he should go to the emergency room or wait until the morning to see the family doctor. I offered to take him to the emergency room. So off I went to pick him up and sit w/ my father and mother in the emergency room. Made it home at 4:00 a.m. and was up again at 7:00 a.m. to get to work.

Oh, and I let a couple of people into my lane while driving today and stopped to let another clear the intersection. :)

Toronto, ON

Momza said...

Okay, so here ya go:

Last night, one of my good friends called me, right at dinner time and told me she needed the missionaries' phone number because she'd signed up to feed them dinner last night and needed to cancel because she was working late and it was Back-to-School Night. So I gave her the number. As soon as I did, I realized those two missionaries would still need dinner and though I had not planned on feeding two extra people, I determined in my mind that I would make enough anyway. About 20 minutes later,
there was a knock at the door--there stood those two missionaries.
One walked in and said, "Wow, it smells so good in here!" I just smiled and said, "You're here for dinner, aren't you?" His surprised look turned to gratitude. I told him that I knew his dinner appointment had been cancelled and had made enough so they could eat with us. He and his companion were indeed grateful. I told them it is I who is blessed to know that they would think of me as someone they could turn to in a pinch.
As they left, I thought of you--
kind, compassionate, selfless.
Happy 40th Dear Amy.

Anonymous said...

Hi Amy,
My RAK was to help a new 1st grade teacher set up her classroom and also to vacuum and wash the floor and walls of my sister's screened porch. It felt great to help someone else.:) Happy Birthday Amy!