The state of our beloved country has been extremely volatile in recent days. I lived in New York for 30 years and I’ve been a Floridian for the past 14 years. I’m blessed with friends from all over the globe. However, my current Facebook feed looks like I’m living in the middle of a civil war! It is really disheartening. I’m not telling anyone to keep quiet or not to speak their opinion. I respect the fact that each of us has our own individual views. However, I fear that with all the division as a focus, the animosity toward each other will grow and the things that unite us will be crushed forever. Therefore, I am using my blog this week as a tool to concentrate on a topic that I think most of us can get behind—I’m talking about kindness.
The other day, the “Scripture of the Day” on my Bible app was “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24 NIV) BUT, no worries, my non-religious friends, you don’t have to be spiritual to believe in this one. We can all agree that kindness feels good—and what’s even more awesome—it feels good for the giver AND the receiver!
I work at a local primary school that has approximately 750 kids from Kindergarten thru 2nd grade. That’s A LOT of little people! Our fabulous guidance counselor, Stacey Price treated us to The Great Kindness Challenge last week. In addition to giving guidance lessons on kindness and giving/receiving compliments, she received a grant and together with our phenomenal art teacher, Janie Seal, they purchased books, river rocks, and paint. All week long, our students painted rocks in an effort to spread kindness around to the community. They were instructed that they were not allowed to keep their rocks. They were to either give them to someone or leave them somewhere so that they could be found.
I was fortunate enough to receive a rock. My second grade reading group students found this rock on the school’s playground.
They wanted me to have it, but they gave me strict orders to pass it on. I wrote on the back of my rock so that if someone finds it, they will have a choice…
“If found, keep it or pass it on to spread kindness.”
I then brought my rock to Pensacola. I left it on a bench at a popular restaurant called the Fish House. I hope that whoever finds it is having the kind of day that warrants a little love in the form of some primary school artistry.
Here’s an article that was written in our local paper about the event. http://www.srpressgazette.com/news/20170127/ss-dixon-students-inspirational-rocks-challenge-residents
Every other week, a group of my co-workers and I get together (outside of work hours 🙂 to discuss a weekly devotional and pray for the needs of our colleagues, families, and students. Once again, thanks to Mrs. Price, each of the members of our group received a blank note card and we were instructed to write notes of encouragement, love, and kindness to one of our fellow co-workers. We were told we could do it anonymously, or not, it was completely up to us. As a result, one of the note’s recipients sent an email saying that it made her day! Wow! How cool is it that written words on a piece of cardstock have the power to do that?!
Every morning, I am assigned to car rider duty. A group of us stands outside and as cars in the line pull up, we open the car doors and assist students to get out with their backpacks, etc. We are out there for 30 minutes every day. Last week, a parent gave us these packets of cookies as a token of her appreciation.
She said especially on days when she doesn’t feel like going to work, she sees us standing outside wearing smiling faces in the heat, cold, or rain, and she is grateful for us and what we do for her kindergartner.
Now I must admit, ever since this Kindness Challenge has been brought to the forefront of my mind, I am looking for other ways to spread the love. If you have any great ideas, leave them in the comments section of my blog or on Facebook. Selfishly, I don’t think there is a greater feeling than that which comes from giving and being kind.
I’ve heard of people leaving a bag of popcorn taped to the Redbox machine or even putting a few bucks in the DVD case when they return their movie so the next person who rents it gets a surprise. Many have paid it forward at drive-thru restaurants or at toll booths. I’ve also seen money taped to vending machines with a note for whoever wants a snack or a drink.
The great thing about kindness is that it doesn’t have to cost anything. It could be as simple as picking up trash, letting someone cut in front of you in line at the supermarket, giving up your seat on a bus or the subway, sending a text message to someone to let them know that you’re thinking about them, or even thanking someone for doing a difficult job.
I’ve also noticed that kindness is somewhat contagious. Have you ever been at a 4-way stop and everybody just waves for each other to go? What about holding open a door—you offer a person to go ahead of you and then they walk past and grab the door and offer for you to go ahead of them?
It is in these acts of kindness that we treat each other with love and respect–the way it should be. We don’t ask for each other’s political affiliations. We don’t check for religious backgrounds. We do it because it’s “sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” And let’s face it, kindness ROCKS! So please feel free to pass it on!