I Come Empty Handed

Historically, I have not handled criticism terribly well. Anyone remember this mental breakdown from last year? Perhaps one of my finest public shame spirals, if I may be so bold. I have learned and grown a lot in the past year, so I decided that since more than 5,000 people have already read Day 1, this year I am going to get ahead of some of the most common questions and critiques. This time, not because of my insecurity, but because I want to convince you that we are doing good work together, and you should definitely consider getting involved. Let’s take a look at question/comment #1...

Q: For starters, shouldn’t we all just perform acts of kindness anyways? And shouldn’t we do it anonymously? Isn’t it really self-serving to post kind acts so publicly?

A: I can appreciate this question because, at first glance, I would probably tend to find a public bragfest to be quite off-putting. However, I do not believe that people are doing this to “brag about being kind.” I have been doing this for seven years now and I have had the honor and pleasure of watching this idea grow into an initiative and then develop even further, into a movement. It has caused people to move.

I have seen angry, bitter, hurting people move toward softness, toward healing. I have seen people who are fearful and guarded, move toward openness and vulnerability. I have seen people who are trudging through the same heavy, thick grief move toward peace and freedom, toward levity. Kindness moves people to become more kind. Kindness had the redemptive and restorative power to heal people, to invite them in to something bigger and more meaningful than themselves. I have seen this month of kindness give people purpose. We can be privately kind for 11 months out of the year, but for one month… let’s be out loud and in your face about the impact kindness can have. Because, that is what moves people. That is what makes it contagious.

Q: Aren’t you just trying to get attention? Shouldn’t you be over this by now?

A: Eh nope! Okay admittedly, I haven’t received this particular question (to my face) since high school. However, as my brother’s story is being circulated by strangers multiple times over, its reach gets further and further removed from me. That is exactly the goal! What tends to happen though, is that people feel freer to make potentially hurtful remarks like “get over it by now.” To that question I would say a few things: 1) You, sir, are lucky that I am stable enough in this moment that I will not hunt you down and throat punch you for your insensitivity. 2) You, sir, are quite fortunate that you do not understand the depths of timeless grief because that means that you have never lost someone who you loved so much that you can’t “get over it,” 3) You will someday, and you will want to apologize for what you said, 4) I already forgive you. But also 5) Shut up so much.

When Adam was killed so suddenly, I was still just a girl. For a child to navigate an ocean of grief without the maturity and capacity of an adult, the grieving process is delayed. While I do not think we should compare our grieving process to another person’s process, I think it is understandable to do so. What is even more misguided, would be comparing an adult’s grief to a child’s. I am not saying either is harder or easier… but I am saying that a child will need to first become an adult in order to fully and effectively grieve. So, that is what I have done. I started this process seven years ago. And now it feels like Adam died 7 years ago. In reality, Adam was killed in 1993. But my process started many years after that. So, see #5 above and have a blessed day.

Finally, my favorite frequently asked question:

Q: What if I forget to post? What if I run out of ideas? What if my acts of kindness are just very small?

IT’S ALL OKAY. Trust me, after you read what I did for Day #2, you are going to feel a lot less worried or pressured to do something epic. I LOVE the creative ideas that people are already coming up with! Here’s the thing though, we aren’t all in that space. I have five children people… there were years where I counted the absence of an outburst in my home an act of kindness. There are times that I have done nothing at all, so instead I made a terrible video explaining myself. There have been times, like today, where I totally failed at my kindness altogether!

You will forget. It’s okay to double up, or to give yourself a pass. If you run out of ideas, type #AdamsActs into Google, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and you will find a butt ton of ideas. If you are sick or tired or feeling particularly lazy - SHARE MY POSTS! Liking, commenting, reposting… all these easy actions are a kindness to me, and they put this kindness campaign in front of more eyes. It helps us connect with more people who could use a little kindness in their lives. If you are consistent, but feeling as if your kindnesses are “small” then I want to challenge you to try this exercise:

Think of three of the kindest people you know. Now think of something nice each of them said or did. Were they all huge, life-changing things? Or were they smaller, consistent efforts to encourage you? In the same way that small things can trigger big feelings of grief, small acts of kindness can make a big impact on someone’s day. One compliment, one encouraging message, one extra moment to make a human connection… these are the things that, if done consistently over time, have the potential to change someone’s life. Remember that our cumulative efforts are what make the biggest difference.

Now, without further ado, my Day #2. I made a very sizable donation to a fundraiser that my sweet friend Anna is involved with to raise money for her High School’s production of Pride and Prejudice - which is one of my all time favorite books and I also love the movie. In related news,  I think that the BBC version was well done in regards to character development (many thanks to Pete Nesbitt for that astute observation), but I don’t care what anyone says Keira Nightly is a better Lizzie. Okay, I know that was a really self-indulgent moment but this technically is still my blog and you can see #5 above if you have any further questions. Back to my sizable donation. By “sizable donation” I mean that I bought a five dollar raffle ticket, And by “bought” I mean I forgot to pay for it. So, for Day #2, I stole. From a child.

Here is the ticket I stole:

Oh wait, that’s just an empty hand. Because after stealing the ticket, I lost the ticket.

Oh wait, that’s just an empty hand. Because after stealing the ticket, I lost the ticket.

See? Bar set super low! Now, go, and be as kind as you possibly can be. Give joyfully! Steal accidentally! I mean, pay people back and stuff, but don’t beat yourself up about it! And it’s okay to tell the world. It’s also okay to keep it private. Whatever would stretch you the most, then do that thing. At the end of the day it won’t be the recipients of our kindness/theft that will be most impacted, it will be us.