Friday, February 26, 2010

Kindness Lessons

I don't often devote much time to the effort required to understand why we as individuals are not, as a rule, more kind, generous, compassionate. I prefer to focus on outcomes, solutions and encouragement. However, as a researcher I also know that it is important to understand the factors and variables that contribute to concerns and issues. As such, and because a recent personal experience hijacked my assumptions I've been forced to redirect my energies.

While I believe that our communities do reflect the side effects of an increasingly selfish nature, I do not think it correlates directly with a lack of kindness. There are individuals who are more selfish by nature perhaps, so lets assume that these people are at the 'no acts of kindness' end of our continuum. You also have people who are inherently selfless, these people are at the other end of our continuum - 'daily acts of kindness'. Finally there are those that fall somewhere in-between. We should expect that everyone from the halfway point to the daily end are contributing acts of kindness more frequently than not, and yet that doesn't appear to be the case. There are many practical reasons I know, but the premise behind the dakband concept is that we need to learn kindness, expand our definition of it, and celebrate it as the glue that holds our communities and relationships together.

I am beginning to think that time is the real culprit. This realization came not by epiphany but experience, sadly. I was shopping with my four year old at our local Costco, my wrist adorned with dakbands, when I witnessed a gentleman struggling to load an enormous box onto his cart. To my great satisfaction another gentleman stopped to help and then quickly went on his way. It was the perfect dak. Yet, I actually found myself debating whether or not it was worth chasing him down to give him some bands. I was in hurry, my eldest son was waiting at the front for us, the four year old was cranky.....the list went on....I did not offer him any bands.

I was wrong. Kindness is ALWAYS worth the time it takes to recognize it.

This video appeared on Karma Tube today. When we think of time and kindness, lets think of these children. Can you imagine how the kindness expressed in this village is changing the world?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Places to Inspire Kindness 2

Unfortunately the photo in this post is not mine, my photos are about twenty years old and not of a quality even worth scanning. Yet, the picture in my mind is so crisp and clear that it includes a sound track as well.

The Cliffs of Mohr stretch for an impressive 8 kilometers along the west coast of Ireland in County Clare. They fall precipitously to the edge of the ocean seven hundred feet below. Along the grassy fields above, there are no guard rails, no fences, just a line where the earth meets sky.

I spent an afternoon there. A glorious, solitary, cloudless September afternoon. I found a spot in the field with grass so deep I was invisible to passersby when I laid down - which is exactly what I did. I was close enough to the cliffs edge to feel daring, but far enough away to feel safe. I closed my eyes and allowed the concert of crashing waves and sea birds to seep into my soul. When I finally opened my eyes again, it was dusk. For four hours I had been cradled in a peace so profound that I was afraid to get up for fear I would never experience it again. I found God there. Or should I say, He found me.

What could be kinder?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

exceptional kindness

A couple of days ago I posted about a woman who is leading a wonderful study of Joyce Meyer's The Love Revolution, Tara. I need to share an example of exceptional kindness that typifies Tara.

Last week my cardiologist told my husband and I that I would be admitted to the hospital mid-week (yesterday). I was in desperate need of a Miss Clairol moment and decided that I better visit Tara - she is my hairstylist - before I went in the hospital or they might mistakenly admit me to the geriatric floor :) As it turns out, Tara wasn't scheduled to work before I was expecting to go in. However, when she learned of my predicament she made arrangements, which included bringing her eight month old baby with her, to come into the salon and do my hair.

This is the type of love that fills the gap. It is a practical, conscious expression of kindness. The kind of love that Christ referred to when he said, "Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." John 13-35

Tara and Madeline

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Olympic Kindness

I may be the last to know, which makes this post somewhat redundant, but it is worth mentioning anyway because it is just plain cool.

The Toronto Star is free during the period of the Olympic Games. As a newspaper addict, I reeeeaaaalllly appreciate this unique and bold marketing concept!

If you learn of any neat stories of kindness relating to the Olympics in any way, please share them as a comment and I will send you some dakbands!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Love Gap

I'm not sure what the Valentine's Day equivilent to Scrooge is, but you might just consider me one after reading this post. However, in my defense, I think that Love in general is an awesome cause for celebration and awareness. Having said that, let me frame this post for you:

Yesterday, I was invited to a womens' study group. A good friend (and excellent hair stylist), is co-leading the group through Joyce Meyer's new book, The Love Revolution. I took copious amounts of notes, and enjoyed every love filled moment. And I was a little frustrated at the same time. For two years I've been using the dakbands to encourage people to reach out and connect with people, to make a conscious choice to choose kindness as an expression of love and compassion. With the understanding that, this choice will change how we all live in the world. So, when, at the end of the session we were asked to pull a 'love task' out of a hat, complete it before the next session and come back willing to share our story about completing the task, I wanted to jump up and scream " hello everybody......dakbands!!" I mean, really, what is a 'love task' but a deliberate act of kindness? (I'm done whining. Sorry Tara!)

As I reviewed my notes last night I felt inspired by an analogy that suddenly became very clear to me. Over the past year, while working on my Master's Degree and spending an inordinate amount of time doing research, it has become clear to me (and every other researcher on the planet) that there is often a gap between research and application. Research is one hundred percent theory. And theories are great, but unless there is some practical application, they don't help us. For example, a researcher theorizes that smoking causes lung cancer. Until that theory is tested, and eventually programs/laws are put in place to help reduce those risks, the theory itself isn't that useful. Love is the theory. But it isn't enough to talk about love. For love to be useful, we need to bridge the gap. Love must be applied. Kindness is not only a fruit of the spirit, it is the practical application of 'perfect love' in our lives and communities.

Maybe I need to write a book, The Dakband Revolution?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Places to Inspire Kindness

This is the first in an occasional series that will feature photos from journeys that have inspired me. Moments captured for reflection and sharing, because sharing is a pillar of kindness.

Where best to start than the City of Brotherly Love, and it's famous Love Park.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Practice Kindness

I came across a quote this afternoon:

Practice hope. As hopefulness becomes a habit, you can achieve a permanently happy spirit.
Norman Vincent Peale

These days I am absolutely practicing hope. But it made me think about practicing kindness. Dakbands help us to practice kindness, to make kindness a habit, so that our character - the essence of who we are - becomes kind. I believe that kindness is the key to a happy spirit because it restores peace, both to ourselves and for those to whom we are kind. It replaces pettiness, criticalness, cynicism, jealousy and a myriad of other damaging behavior choices. Hopefulness helps us to achieve an optimistic spirit, which, according to researchers, promotes happiness. This is true. But hopefulness in itself, even if it becomes part of our character, a habit, does nothing for others. So, if you have to practice, practice kindness first. I think you'll find that hope follows.

Friday, February 5, 2010


I apologize for the long absence, although my first (and only) post of the New Year was about new beginnings, I'm really looking for a 'redo'. The new beginnings have been a little more than I bargained for quite frankly. Since that lonely post I have been diagnosed with a rather serious heart defect and as a result, lost my drivers license. Then, last weekend my husband was rushed to the hospital after suffering a serious seizure and he consequently lost his license! On the bright side I figure that if I didn't have a heart attack during that experience, I'll probably never have one.

I haven't given a dakband away in a month. A record for me. I think the shock of the diagnosis really stole my focus and concentration. I've had plenty of opportunities during my hospital stays, doctors visits, etc....but no motivation or energy. Yesterday for example, we arrived home to discover a laundry basket full of meals that had been prepared for us by our Home Church family. It was such a wonderful blessing and my first thought was, 'Oh I can blog about this'. But once the food was organized and put away I just curled up on the sofa to mope. Today, however, I had one of Oprah's ahah moments.

I received my daily value quote,

“Never talk defeat. Use words like hope, belief, faith, victory.”

Norman Vincent Peale
(1898-1993); author, preacher

It seemed like a personal message and it gave me a jolt that I haven't had since the doctor told me to cut all caffeine out of my diet (that might account for the depression :) As if that wasn't enough, as I was waiting for my daughter to pull the car around so I could load up all my Home Sense goodies, a complete stranger helped me carry the items to my car and load them - I wasn't even wearing my dakbands. It was definitely a message don't you think?

So, I am completely over myself, over the self pity, over the pouting, and ready to use words like hope, belief, faith, victory and best of all, kindness.