Monday, July 26, 2010

Ideas and #34 - Random act of Kindness

Too many of my thoughts lately have been taken up with negative things I don't have control of. Things I want to be able to 'fix' or change but things I simply can't.

I realized just moments ago I need to let go of the negative and once again do my best to focus on the positive. I'm no pro at this so clearly it's a great opportunity for me to practice.

As I am almost through my dreaded July and heading into a more acceptable August (Yay!!) I am beginning to look ahead to my (hopefully) successful September. (I'm not sure what that means I just liked the two s's).

Now is he perfect time to start thinking about what I want my work schedule to look like. How many hours I want to have. What I want to do with the extra time I should be setting aside. Relationships I want to nurture. Books I want to read. Goals I have. And ... so much more.

I've never really had this dilemma before. It's a good one to have I think.

My time with Dee will be over yet my challenge may not yet be fulfilled. I think I'll be close but probably not there. I will still have that to work on.

Hmmmmm ... I've been thinking a lot about family and how Wally and I can better stay connected with them. We haven't paid nearly enough attention to our grandmother's as of late and really would like to see both of them (sad that we've not been more vigilant about these very precious relationships).

We also feel as though since finishing school we haven't kept in as good of contact with friends as we used to, so we'd like to entertain more and nurture some of those relationships.

I haven't been to my home church in over a year now and would like to get reconnected.

I have a ton of scrap booking to do however I admit that I find it overwhelming. I know though when I get it done I feel good. I think I should make an effort.

I'd like to read more.

I've talked to Wally about my job and how I love what I do but feel that I have many things I would like to try that I don't get to do right now in my job. For example: I miss teaching - I would love to do that again. Not sure how but it's something to think about. I also just realized I could probably write for the agency newsletter - I've heard that they are always looking for stuff. I love being creative with fundraisers and I have an idea for a big one that would be lots of fun but lots of work - I may just look into it. Wally mentioned that it wouldn't be horrible to work on my resume a bit in that regard so I think I will look for opportunities to do that.

Of course this degree thing is floating in the air - we'll see. I love learning.

Wally and I are thinking seriously about starting to research the kid thing in the fall. We realize it could take a while so now might be a good time to look into it.

One huge thing that has been on my mind a lot lately is how I can better give back - you know, to the world, my community and stuff. I've been thinking about my orphan babies (ok so they aren't mine but in my head they are). They are so ingrained in my heart that I was thinking of them last night as I was going to sleep wishing I could hold them. I know that likely makes me sounds a tad on the psychotic side but I'm at peace with this.

I just feel that there is more that I should or could be doing than wishing I was with them or just visiting for a mere 10 days. I want to connect with them. I want to do something other than give a monthly PAP (pre-authorized payment). It seems like a waste of longing to just sit here and cry about how I can't blah, blah, and blah when I am perfectly capable of taking the initiative to get involved myself.

Of course I'm not sure how or what I will do but as I am writing I am deciding that I will do something soon in this area. Hmmmm ... now I'm excited.

Ok so onto my community idea ... This sort of relates to the random act of kindness number I had on my list. I told you that Wally and I completed it and right now am wondering why I haven't told you about it already. How 'bout now?

I know I may be judged as boastful for sharing but I share only to encourage you all to do the same (only maybe better as we're not perfect at it).

Initially when I added this to my second '40 day adventure' I figured I would end up loading my car with granola bars and water bottles and just start handing them out while at intersections with homeless people asking for money. Of course this is a good idea, one I hope to do soon as I've just mentioned it but for some reason it wasn't resonating with me as a 'challenge'.

I let this one go for quite a while because I couldn't think of what I (or should I say we) should do. Until, out of the blue, an opportunity seemed to come to us that definitely challenged us.

I was sitting the garage where we go to service our cars and as I am sitting there reading my book, pretending to be waiting patiently, in walks Wanda a schoolmate of Wally's who is around our parents' ages. She graduated along with Wally and has been out of school 6 months and is yet to find a job.

Here's a bit of Wanda's story: She is a mother of 4 grown children (the last one just finished high school a couple of years ago), she has 2 or 3 grand children (sorry I can't remember) and she raised her kids by herself mostly during the past 15 years or so. She had a degree and a college diploma already when she decided to go back to school again.

Wanda did not have an easy time getting through school but she did it. She also hasn't always had an easy time raising her kids but she did that too. She's a tough lady who is very thoughtful and generous with her time and talents. Her parents are from Holland and you'd know it. She is someone I'm glad to know.

Anyways, Wanda walked into the garage and was waiting to talk to the own when she saw me and we started chatting. I already knew her car was not well as the school gang had just gotten together the week before and she mentioned it. We chatted and then she was able to relay her car problems to the owner of the garage whom apparently is very good with people in dire financial situations (or at least he has been with her in the past). She was telling him her situation and that when she said she had no money it meant she had NO money. No grocery money, no car fixing money.

They talked further and it was decided that he would look at her car. She made it clear that she just needed to know that she could drive it until the wheels fell off. He basically told her that he felt that's exactly what would be happening if she didnt' get it fixed pronto. They set a date for further inspection and she left.

I had listened to their entire conversation (I was sitting right there) and thought about it. Hmmmm...Wally and I have certainly been in her position: serious car troubles and no job. At the time we were on the brink of disaster and, well, it's a long story involving cranberries that I think I'll share with you soon.

Anyways I knew instantly that this was or should be our random act of kindness. The problem was it was a little bigger of an act than I anticipated. As I over heard the conversation Wanda's car problem could be any where from $500-$1000 to fix! Not exactly a box of granola bars and a case of water.

Initially I thought we could just offer the mechanic a couple hundred dollars to 'help' out the cause and then Wanda would only have to worry about the rest. That would get our point across right? For some reason that wasnt' enough, especially when both Wally and I were working and had money in the bank. We could commit to whatever was wrong.

I thought about it more and then brought the idea up to Wally. When he whole heartedly agreed that this was the thing to do I figured out that worst case scenario would likely be $1000 and we could, if we had to, pay it off in 3 months - if we had to.

Wally called the garage the next day and told the owner that we would pay to have anything fixed on Wanda's car, but she was NOT to know anything about it. There was some back and forth but finally Wanda's car went in to be fixed the following week. We got the bill and it was only $275!! We were so glad we just went ahead to pay the whole thing.

We were even more elated when Wanda put this on her facebook status:

" Wanda is incredibly grateful.... please know that you have made a difference not only in my life, but in my attitude. I will pay it forward when I can."

Wow! That was worth way more than the $275!!!

Wanda is still looking for a job and I ask you to pray for her or think of her with hopes of getting one soon. Our desire in doing this for her was not to be able to brag but to give her hope in a situation that has brought her much discouragement.

As I mentioned earlier I would love to start something, perhaps a bit more organized that could spontaneously help or give hope, or even just relief for regular people who are just trying to make their way in the world. We all stumble upon hard times, discouraging times or just plain burn out. How great would it be if in that situation you got encouragement in whatever form.

Right now I am thinking of a lady who works where I do. She too is a mother of four grown children (still in college but grown) and is divorced. She works two jobs and I don't think has a day to herself, because last time I asked when she was getting a break she said she had 2 days off in August, one of which she would be taking her son to college. She shared that she too felt burnt out but I got the sense that she was doing what she had to do to keep things together.

She's a lovely lady and since my retreat she's been on my mind. It's kind of weird because I barely see her. I was thinking she could benefit from a couple of days away on her own just to enjoy doing nothing. She may be my next surprise. She also mentioned how her gardens needed help and I immediately thought I should gather a team of people together to surprise her with getting that done (as you would not want to set me loose in a garden alone, as I would likely end up ripping up all the perennials and leaving all the weeds!)

Anyways, these are just some thoughts I've been having lately on things I could do to feel like I have an ounce of meaning in my life. If you have thoughts or ideas or share interest in helping let me know. I'm thinking I could post a few connections on my blog once I figure out what I want to become involved in.

I think the fall could be a wonderful new beginning for me. And maybe for you too!