Categories
To Others

Generosity – what does it mean?

 

Generosity.

What does it mean to you?  Is it the same as giving?  Is it more than giving?  What exactly is it and how do we know it when it’s happening?

My grandmother was a generous person.

As a child, I remember walking to her house with my parents for Sunday lunch.  Being working class, salt of the earth type people, money was tight, but the meal was wholesome and hearty.  It usually consisted of the typical English dinner of roast meat, potato, two veg and gravy.  This would be  followed by a dessert of some kind – usually of the sponge pudding or jelly variety, served with custard.

My grandmother was a sociable woman, unlike my grandfather who was extremely introverted – give him a garden patch in solitude any day.  But my grandmother, oh how she used to love to have a good natter with a friend or two.  And so it was that it was not uncommon that just as were about to sit down for our Sunday lunch people would knock at the door for an impromptu visit.

My grandmother would never turn anyone away.  The food would just be redistributed between the amount of people sitting at the dinner table.  Once, so many people stopped by that all that was left on our plates were three peas each.  It didn’t matter, Nanna just buttered more bread and cooked more mashed potato.  No-one ever went without.  Everyone was always welcome.

Looking back, I realise that this was my first lesson in generosity.

Giving is all well and good and giving when you have plentiful is easy.

Generosity, on the other hand, to me, is a different kettle of fish altogether.  It means giving even when you really can’t afford to give, and that can mean time instead of money.  It is also means giving without strings.

My grandmother didn’t make a song and dance about the redistribution of food.   She just got on and did it.  And she loved it.  Not only was she generous at the table, but she was generous of spirit too.

Of course, I now realise that it is by design that some of those people timed their impromptu visits to coincide with my grandmother’s roast dinner, and I am certain she knew it too.  I would also wager that Sunday meal was the only cooked meal a couple of those people got all week.

And the tradition continued.  My mom would always welcome people to the table.  I had friends’ parents who made me wait in the lounge whilst they ate their dinner (which in retrospect seems so mean now) but my mom welcomed everyone.  When people would protest, she would hush them, saying it wasn’t any trouble at all.  And for her it wasn’t.  Food and care were her love language.  It gave her life meaning.

And now, as Christmas approaches, I think of all the tables that will be filled with people, laughing and loving, but wonder how busy our lives have become that we forget those that need our love and generosity the most.

My parent’s table would often be filled with recovering alcoholics, early in their recovery, who had lost their families due to their addiction, showering them with food and love.  As a teenager, I used to resent the endless cups of tea I was forced to make for these people, ruining my Christmas day.  Now I look back and think of how lucky I was to be subjected to, to be born to, such generous parents.

I find myself thinking about City Life, an organisation that opens its doors on christmas day to the homeless so that they may eat a beautifully cooked christmas meal, only made possible by volunteers that leave their own loved ones in order to cook for and serve the homeless on the 25th of December.  This is what true generosity means.

As I sit down at my Christmas table with my friends and family, I will think of my mom and grandmother, and imagine them sitting wherever it is souls go, around a table, with many other souls, and I shall salute them.  I shall salute them for the generosity they brought to this world.  And I shall salute all those people around the world that make this a better place to live in through their kindness and generosity; who make an enormous difference to the people around them through nothing more than small gestures that warm the heart.

Generosity is something that can not be bought, or given, it just is.  It comes from a place within the soul that requires no reciprocation.  It just wants to help its fellow man, to ease his pain, to help him find joy, to help him on the journey of living.  Generosity is kindness and compassion melded with action.  It is at its heart true humanitarianism.  And thank goodness it exists.  For without it the world would not be a very nice place to be.

Until next time,

 

SHW Signature

 

 

 

 

This post was written as part of #reverb14 – a blogging initiative hosted by Kat McNally.  The month of December is a good time to reflect on the year that was and for us to contemplate the reverberations that we send out into the world.  Please do hop on over to Kat’s blog and if you feel moved to do so, please join in.  Today is Day 10 of the initiative.
Categories
To Others To You

Piece of mind vs Peace of mind

If you had the opportunity, would you go back to that one person who hurt you so badly and let them have it?  All that visceral anger that you have been harbouring, unleashed.

One of the traits of someone living with depression is that we tend to ruminate, especially on those people or incidents that left us feeling unvalued, hurt, humiliated.  We tend to play over and over in our minds the details of the offending event, imagining what it would have been like if only we had been braver, more succinct, able to think better on our feet.

Oh my how that person would suffer at the hand of our witty, but cutting, repartee.  The look of abject horror in their eyes, knowing full well that they had been non-violently beaten into submission.  We would turn on our heals and leave, their dropped jaw gleefully seared into our brains, and we would know that, finally, we had won.  Vindication would be ours.

But it never quite happens that way.  Victory is rarely won by any form of confrontation.

In humanity, there are people who delight in causing mayhem and harm to others.  They are ignorant, unaware, pigheaded.  There is no reasoning with them and whenever you are in their company they always leave you feeling less than, never valued.  Often they create drama wherever they go and they always seem to pull you into their web.  You don’t want to be there, but somehow you are powerless to avoid it.  More often than not if you were to ask them what type of person they were, they would reply that they are good, kind people who only want to bring goodness into the world, completely unaware of how their bombastic ways leave people feeling.  This is part of the human condition.  It is unavoidable.  We cannot change this.

It can all feel so disempowering.  And it is that feeling of disempowerment that leaves us with residue anger that can live with us for years.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

It doesn’t seem right, I know, but the single most liberating thing you can do is to let them go, to let the incident go, to move forward, to live free.  Free yourself of the weight of the anger, frustration, injustice.

It isn’t easy.  The brain tends to replay incidents in our minds.  It is a biological response, you see, to replay that incident that caused us harm.  It is a way of protecting ourselves, preparing ourselves if the incident should ever happen again.  And our body can’t differentiate between what is real or imagined.  When we ruminate, it is as if we are living in the moment of that incident.  We feel wretched, angry, hurt all over again.  We are stuck.

The only way to stop the cycle is to let it go.

In recent years I have had a couple of incidents that have left me reeling.  And I carried them with me like medals of a battle I should have won.

I was torturing myself.  Every time I was alone, it seemed, with nothing but my own thoughts to keep me company, I would replay those incidents over and over again.  A stuck record, searing a scar so deep into my brain it felt like I would never be free of the misery.

But then I realised that I am master of my own destiny.  I do have control over my thoughts.  I do have control over how they dance across my mind.

I consciously chose to sublimate those thoughts.  It isn’t easy and it can be a good few minutes of ruminating, self talking, imagining my responses before I become aware of them.  But then I close my eyes.  I breathe in and breath out.  I say the words “breathe in, breathe out.”  You see, it takes conscious effort to speak.  It diverts your mind from those ruminating negative thoughts to your voice.  “breathe in, breathe out.

Before I know it, my heart rate has lowered, my breathing has slowed and a calmness has settled over my mind.

It takes practice.  A lot of it.  Sometimes, it is a real struggle.  My mind fights with me.  It wants to be heard.  It wants to warn me of the impending danger, remind me of the pain and hurt I felt so that I can be better prepared next time.

But I have learned.  It isn’t real.  The hurt and anger is futile.  The event has passed.  Retribution isn’t coming, and it is pointless to hold onto it.  And so I consciously let the person go.  I say the words, “You can no longer hurt me, and I let you go.  Breathe in, breath out.  I let you go. Breathe in, breathe out.

I also choose never to have anything to do with them.

This seems harsh, and it wasn’t a decision taken lightly.  But I believe in my right to choose whom I have in my life.  After a lifetime of allowing people to dictate my worth, I have taken ownership of it.  And so I choose to let them go.  Not with hatred.  For they acted in response to their own demons.  And I take ownership of my part, for there are always two sides to any story, good or bad.

Still, I choose not to dance with them any longer, to not engage in their little game that seems to drive them, thrill them, control them.  That is their internal fight, not mine.  I choose to walk away.

And I feel so much better for it.

Do I wish I could yell and shout, and give them a piece of my mind?  Sometimes.  But mostly, I choose peace of mind and that makes all the difference.

Much love,

SHW Signature

 

 

 

This post was written as part of #reverb14 – a blogging initiative hosted by Kat McNally.  The month of December is a good time to reflect on the year that was and for us to contemplate the reverberations that we send out into the world.  Please do hop on over to Kat’s blog and if you feel moved to do so, please join in.  
Categories
To Others

What I can say with certainty is that kindness matters!

 

Today is Monday, and it is also the 1st December.  The first day of summer for those of us in Australia.  The first day of the advent calendar countdown for Christmas.

It is a good day to begin the process of contemplation.  Contemplating the year that was.  Contemplating the year that might be.

On Friday, our family came over for BBQ.  It is a fortnightly thing.  The entire family comes over after work and we eat and talk and laugh and connect.  It is my most favourite time.  We don’t put in much effort – it is very much a “just rock up and have whatever is going” affair.

Kindness matters

My mother-in-law has Alzheimers Disease.  I have known her for nearly 20 years and she is a shadow of the person I once knew.  If you ask her directly about people, places and events, her recollection is very hit and miss.  But she can still hold a conversation as long as the topic isn’t too specific.

On Friday, she noticed that I was looking a bit sad.  I told her that Christmas has lost some of its sparkle for me since my mom died four years ago.  When she passed, I broke down and I guess, whilst I have glued the pieces pretty much back together, it isn’t the same.  And at this time of year a kind of melancholy, uninvited, unwanted, seems to settle on my shoulders.

She looked at me, telling me how she understood.  She used to love Christmas, she said.

Christmas was such a special time.  We were never allowed into the front room, ever.  That room was for Best.  But at Christmas, oh we were allowed into that room then.  I remember all of us being in that room.  The christmas tree, the presents.  I don’t know how mum did it, but it was always a special time.”

As she spoke, my mother-in-law’s eyes lit up.  She clasped her hands together, savouring that moment, that bygone era.  As I looked at her, I imagined a young girl in the 1950s, warm fire going, with her parents and three sisters.  Times were tough for people after the war and it is times like those Christmases that people allowed themselves to relax, to enjoy, to savour life.

Those Christmases were special.  After that it all changed.  My one sister found a new family and we have never heard from her since.  And my other sister didn’t have time for us, her working class family.”

Neither of these statements are really true.  Her one sister married and moved to Australia with her new family.  We have since moved to Australia ourselves and she has seen her sister at least twice since being here.  Her other sister remains in good contact and is in fact quite concerned about the mental health of my mother in law.

But in that moment, in that statement, in our conversation, I realised something.  I realised that what I can say with certainty right now is that it doesn’t matter what we do, where we go, or how we act, it is the feeling we leave behind that is the most important.

Moving to Australia in the 1950s was a big undertaking and communication would have been scant at best.  I realised that mother-in-law, as the youngest child, felt abandoned by her sister, probably not understanding the situation.  Even as an adult, knowing full well that her sister emigrated, that original feeling of abandonment never left her and now she doesn’t remember the emigration, just that she “never heard from her again.”

My mother-in-law cannot remember specific details.  She was asked how many children she had and their names recently in yet another assessment.  She became agitated because she could not remember them, despite two of them sitting in the room with her.

But if you listen to her talk about her children, she remembers them by how they made her feel.

Oh Mr A always sends me flowers on Mother’s day.

Ms M always used to go shopping with me.”

Mr D was always so helpful, never gave me any trouble.

If you asked her what shops she went to with her daughter, or what flowers were her favourite, or what things she used to do with Mr C, she could not tell you.  Those memories are long gone.

But what is left, what is indelibly marked onto the neurones of our brains, and is so evident in my mother-in-law, is how a person makes us feel.

And that bares thinking about, don’t you think?

So often we say and do things without really thinking.  We live in a culture that says our needs and wants should come before all others.  We plunder along, believing in our right to treat others as we see fit, because, well,l it’s important our voice is heard and by god, we are going to make sure it is.  We do this without consequence, without thinking how our words and deeds might make others feel.

We don’t think it is important, but it is.  It is so very important.  So very very important.

Kindness Matters!

When all is said and done, when we have lost our minds and our memories, all we have are our feelings.  All we have is how people that we knew made us feel.  They are our last bastion, those feelings.  They determine the quality of our final years.  Are we left all warm and fuzzy, or cold and stark?

Kindness and consideration costs nothing.  But the impression left will last a lifetime.  A simple letter to let loved ones know how you are doing, a simple phone call, even a simple smile.  All of these things add to the feelings we create in that other person.

I know that as I go about my business this coming silly season, rather than snap at my children or my husband because I am feeling sad at the loss of my own mom, or tired with all the work this time of year brings, I am going to practice more patience, more gentility in my words, simply more kindness.  Because I know for certain that, when their memories of me as a person might be gone, I want them to feel warmth when they think of me.  That is the feeling I want to leave behind.

Have a wonderful Monday lovely.

Until next time,

SHW Signature

 

 

 

This post was written as part of #reverb14 – a blogging initiative hosted by Kat McNally.  The month of December is a good time to reflect on the year that was and for us to contemplate the reverberations that we send out into the world.  Please do hop on over to Kat’s blog and if you feel moved to do so, please join in.  
Categories
To Others

Customer Service 101 – Go the extra mile

Gosh, what a day it has been, and it is only 2pm.  Thank goodness it is Friday, right?

We are renovating our bedroom.  It’s not so much as renovating as decorating, but either way it needed a serious upgrade so when Mr C got a bit of a bonus, we knew immediately where the money was going.

I’ve been thinking about our bedroom for a while now (as you will know from this post) and I really wanted to go all out.  The problem was that we were on a budget and we couldn’t really deviate from that.

So, I set about trying to recreate the look on the limited funds I had.

I managed to snag some bargains, and was lucky enough to walk into a store on the one day they were having a 30% off sale on some quite large ticket items.  It takes work to decorate on a budget, but it can be done.  I will certainly give you a tour once we are done, but this isn’t the point of my post today.

We decided to buy our bedside tables from what one could call a mid-low end store.  The look of the tables was exactly what I was looking for and because they are bedroom tables, in our bedroom, they didn’t have to be as durable as say a living room item.  Our budget just simply wouldn’t stretch to the high end look so we went ahead and purchased them.

At the same time, we also purchased from the same store a chaise lounge sofa for our spare lounge, which our 16 year old son uses.  It was not massively expensive, but not cheap either.

Both the tables and the sofa were delivered today.

Two things happened.

Firstly, the delivery guys refused to unwrap the items and take away the packaging.  Apparently, it is this store’s new policy not to do that as it “takes too much time”.

Secondly, whilst the sofa is too large for me to unwrap on my own, I decided to unbox the side tables.  Our new bed is also arriving today so I was keen to get them unboxed so that I could start putting the room together.

Imagine my dismay when not one, but both tables had nicks in them.  These nicks had clearly happened before the painting process, as they had been painted over.  This was obviously a quality control issue.

I phoned the store immediately who informed me that I had two options – I could either keep the damaged goods and a $40 refund per table would be given to me, or I could replace them with new ones which would take 3 weeks as they no longer had them in stock.

Neither of those choices suited me particularly but I plumbed for the second one.  I refuse to live with damaged furniture.

Shortly after this, our new king size bed arrived.  We have been so excited to get this puppy.  We spent the majority of our budget on it.  Mr C recently had spinal surgery and we were advised that whilst many people don’t think of it, a good bed is really vital for back health.

Again, despite the fact that what we paid for that thing could easily have paid for a good second hand car, the delivery men just dropped it off without unpacking it.  “We don’t do that,” they said as they carted off the old mattress, for which we had to pay a further fee.

I recently read a quote by Roger Staubach who said that “there are no traffic jams along the extra mile”.

Seth Godin, a highly regarded marketer, constantly talks about how a business can add value to the customer experience, highlighting that it is through this added value that customers become loyal to you and your brand (think Apple here).

Is it that hard to go the extra mile these days?  Is it that hard for a business, no matter how small, to ask “How can we make it easier for the customer to buy from us.  How can we make them want to buy from us?”  Is this not a fundamental thing businesses should be asking themselves?

These are big ticket items which makes it very difficult to dispose of the packaging.  We can’t just pop it in our waste.  We have to take it down to the dump for which there is another $40 fee, after having already paid a $90 delivery fee.  This inconvenience has certainly taken the shine off the purchase, not least because I can’t do anything with the furniture since I am not able to unpack it on my own.  It was just unceremoniously dumped in my house.  And I am not happy.

Where has the customer service gone?  Why is it okay to take hard earned money off people, but not leave them with the feeling that they made a good purchase full of value for money.  All of these items came from a spread of stores so it isn’t unique to just the cheaper items.

Why is that?

Is it that we need more competition, forcing businesses to go the extra mile to satisfy their customers?

Is it any wonder that people are turning more and more to online purchases, where the price is cheaper and often times, the service is better.

Retailers, I think it is time you woke up to the fact that competition is fierce and that simple things, like removing packaging for those really big ticket items, can make all the difference.

This may seem like a “first world problem”, a term I absolutely abhor, but I am living in a first world country, spending hard earned money that helps keep the economy in this first world country ticking over.  A little bit extra for that I don’t think is a lot to ask.  There are companies that do offer the “unpack and remove” service, as it was done with our lounge suite a couple of years ago, which is probably where my expectation of this service began.

Rant over.  I’m off now to make a cup of tea and wait for Master J to get home, so he can help me get all the packaging off!

Until next time,

SHW Signature

 

 

Categories
To Others

Hello! Let’s just talk

 

Okay, so here’s the thing.  The new format isn’t really working for me.  Is it working for you?  No?  Good.

I just cannot be pigeonholed into a routine.  I just can’t.  I know that is what creates a community – regular postings on certain things – because, you know, us humans do like routine, but honestly it is just too freaking hard.  Not only that, it stifles my own creativity.  The words just don’t seem to flow if I HAVE to write something.

So how about we just talk?  And I might throw in a card and scrapbook page every now and again.    Let’s just see how it rolls okay?

I would love to hear from you, you know.  Do feel free to leave a comment below.

So let’s get down to it.

Today is Remembrance day.  We don’t get a holiday here in Australia, but we do mention it, and I know of a few people that honour the two minutes’ silence at 11am.

I can never remember frankly.  It’s not that I am not grateful for all those men and women that gave up their life so that I may have the freedom I enjoy now, it is just, well, life is so very busy.  Which I know is the point.  You should slow down, close your eyes and remember.  I know.  Maybe next year.  I’ll try to remember it next year.

What I did think of, though is my grandfather.  He fought in the second world war in Africa and Italy until he was injured in Rome.  He never spoke about the war, but when he hit his nineties he got dementia and then he would think he was back in the war.  He would make his bed like he was back in the army barracks and there was shouting about saving a child whilst he held a blanket in his arms as if he was holding a baby.

War totally and utterly sucks, especially for those that have to live and fight in it.

I hate war.

I hate the capacity of humanity to turn on each other and do the atrocious things we do.

It saddens me and feeds my already spiralling depression.

So let’s not talk about that.

Let’s talk about goodness, and kindness, and a world worth living in.

Let’s talk about how despite our capacity to annihilate ourselves and each other, we haven’t done that yet which must mean, on balance, there is way more good in then world than bad.  Right?

Let’s talk about all the beautiful, amazing, wondrous things there are in the world. (Here, here and here)

Let’s talk about at the incredible things that happen that just take our breath away.

Or we can talk about what you had for dinner.

Me, salmon and baked beans.

I know, right?  What’s with salmon and baked beans.  Well, I shall tell you.  I was meant to be making the vegetables that were to go with said salmon, except I got distracted (and this happens A LOT), so Mr C just opened a tin of baked beans instead.  It was in fact quite delicious.  One might even call it a winning combination, although probably not on Jamie Oliver’s list.  No photo I’m afraid, because, let’s face it, who really wants to look at other peoples’ dinners.  Not me.

Good chat.

Until next time,

SHW Signature

 

 

Categories
Advocacy To Others

The world needs Kindness Bombs + I need your help to do it

First of all, let me preface this with there has no thought been put into this.  No planning, no meetings, no marketing, no launch.

I just woke up this morning with an idea.  And I’m a shoot from the hip kind of girl.  I should probably wait, if for no other reason than I have maybe 30 readers of my blog.  A wise girl might wait for the impact to be bigger when greater numbers have built.  A wise girl might.

But if not now, when, and truly when is really a good time anyway?

So, here goes.

The world is messed up, right?  No matter where we go there is media coverage of some awful things.  Death, destruction and madness everywhere. No matter where we look we are bombarded with images of how mankind has lost its humankind.

I call bullshit to that.

I say that there is kindness out there, but we aren’t getting to see it.

I say that all we need to do is become aware of it and then let other people know about it, so that they can see it too.

I say we encourage people to find the kindness and be the kindness.

I say we unleash a torrent of almighty KINDNESS BOMBS

Like I said, no thought, just a dream.  A dream for a world that can see value in its own kind.  A dream for a world that can find the kindness and be the kindness.

So here is the plan:

I want to hear all about your kindness experience.  I want to hear about people who have been kind to you, people who are kind in the community, people who don’t know they are being kind.

I want to hear how you are being kind – to yourself, to others, to the environment, to the world.

I want you to make memes about kindness.

I want to hear about poems of kindness, quotes of kindness, blogs on kindness, companies that are kind.

Remember, ANY kindness thing counts.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t have to be huge.  Even the small things count.

Your baby stops to help an ant off the path before being crushed to death – that counts.

Your son puts the eggs away after your shopping – yep, that counts.

The bus driver stops for an old lady to get on when she has clearly missed the bus – that’s actually huge, that definitely counts.

In short, I want you to plaster kindness every-bloody-where and then I want you to let me know about it.

How can you let me know about it?

By using this hashtag on IG and Twitter and anywhere else you fancy:

#SHWKindnessbomb

 

Tag me in so I can see what you are doing:

Twitter: @sarahheartwrite (note there are no S’s due to the limit on characters)

Instagram: @sarahsheartwrites

Pinterest: @sarahheartwrite (again no S’s)

Facebook: Sarah’s Heart Writes

Now, I have to admit right off the bat I’m pretty weak in the social media department.  Facebook and pinning loads of stuff to pinterest is about my limit.  But I’m willing to learn.  For this, I am so willing to learn.

And for added ease, you can make really cool memes using the amazing, incredible app called Word Swag App (#WordSwagApp).  I only started using it a couple of days ago and I am already a massive fan.  I’ve been sending Mr C little love notes like this one, which is an Edward quote from the Twilight movie:

#SHWkindnessbomb

Are you in?  I’ll start the ball rolling.

Here is a meme on kindness – feel free to share:

#SHWkindnessbomb

Now it’s over to you – Kindness Bomb away!

Yours in kindness,

SHW Signature