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Not from kindess and generosity. Take a break from mindless busy-ness and uneccessary work. Take a day to renew your spirit and love your loved ones without watching the clock. This is the fuel that powers up your generous nature. You’ll want to top off that tank. ūüôā

That’s the lesson being reinforced today as my family of 4 (including one who is four) enjoys a lovely jaunt across half the country in a Ford Fusion that seems much smaller than it was yesterday…

Patience. I could easily let the edginess I feel boil over, leaving everyone feeling worse (okay, maybe I already did that). But it only took a moment to realize I wouldn’t trade a single moment of these 17 hours. I’m lucky to have them. So instead, for the rest of the trip I choose patience.

The thing is, patience is in many ways a tougher sell than kindness. You can’t take a picture of it. It’s hard to brag about how you didn’t lose it. Being patient is not glamorous either. But it is the perfect antidote to the anger and agitation in the world, so I am going to try to cultivate some. How ’bout you?

Today is a strange day. Have you stopped to contemplate how it is possible that we are all talking about how today was supposed to be the end of the world? None of us believed it. None of us knew anyone who believed. None of us would have even heard of it if media outlets weren’t busy drumming it up, making it a sensational story, telling us that somewhere, someone thought it was true. Why would they do that? It is so strange to me.

Today is a dark day. The darkest day of the year. And the shortest. On the shortest day of the year, one of my favorite quotes becomes even more appropriate: “It is better to light one candle than curse the darkness.” I love that image and it’s powerful reminder that I always have a choice. I’m thankful for you and your choice to do acts of kindness.

What act of kindness did you do yesterday?

Good comes in all shapes and sizes. I hope that contemplating the sorrow and senselessness of the act at Newtown has dispelled all darkness from your heart. But there is a chance that what you’ve seen and heard recently has left you with doubt, despair and feelings that are worse than when this happened. Today, immerse yourself in stories of hope and gladness. Read about these acts of kindness and warm your heart by their glow. I hope that you will be filled with the desire to love more deeply and care more generously.

Let’s add our own stories to the inspiration!!

  • Stacy responded to Ann Curry’s call for #26acts with her own blog. She is doing very simple things which add up to a lot. As she said on day 3, “This is too easy. Why has this taken me so long?” I think we all assume we’re doing good because we aren’t doing anything bad. It’s no longer enough to just avoid stirring up trouble, is? Keep it up, Stacy!!
  • The readers of this blog responded overwhelmingly to ensure hundreds of kids are able to receive a Christmas present this year when it looked as though, due to many extenuating circumstances, there would be none.
  • This seemingly never-ending list of small acts causes me to tear up everytime.
  • If you are running out of ideas and want to find a way to help out Newtown directly, this news site has a collection of links to various efforts that support the community.
  • This story encourages me to know that town of Newtown is already receiving lots of help. The pizza is free! Can you imagine?
  • The story that seems to have been the one that sent the message of 26 acts of kindness viral is keeping tabs on many of the stories. Another long, inspiring list. Enjoy!

How are you spreading the love? As Stacy says, “This is too easy.” The only question truly is, why haven’t we been doing this all along?

I have been so encouraged by the fact that more and more of what I am encountering in others’ writing on the tragedy at Newtown tends towrd the good. The tone sounds more like “we all have to work together” than anything I have ever heard in the past. I still see plenty of folks using the opportunity to push their agenda — don’t get me wrong; we both know they are out there — but I am thankful that their voices are being drowned out by the voice of reason. More and more, the calls for kindness, civility, commonality are going out. I can’t deny that I am overjoyed to know that in the face of yet another circumstance that truly has brought us to our knees, we are lifting one another back up instead of bullying and blaming. If that doesn’t honor the victims of this, I don’t know what else would.

It is Day Four for me. Which, in normal “old-me” language, means “it’s quittin’ time.” Day four of a diet? “Having a cookie (or several), because I’ve been sooooo goooood.” Day four of running training for that 5K? “Well, don’t you know you are supposed to rest when you are training? Yes, 3 days in a row is fine…” Day four of ? “Uhhhh…. Not really sure why I even said I wanted to do this.”

This time Day Four is different. I’m not especially motivated to change the world on this particular Wednesday, but I’m moving forward anyway because it is the right thing to do. Kindness and a loving attitude are habits, just as sarcasm and impatience are. Even though I may not *feel* like it, I am here. And I am going about my day with as much compassion and charity as I am capable of. You know the amazing part? My capacity for these things is growing. I am growing. I will spare you the laundry list of things I could pat myself on the back for doing, but as I have to remind my daughter: You don’t get rewards for doing what is expected of you. I’ve just now returned to the level of doing the bare minimum of what is expected of me. On the one hand you could say how very sad that is, but as an eternal optimist I can’t help but be grateful that I’m on a better path and that I’m shining a little brighter. I’m a better person, even if it is just in a small way now.

So how is Day Four going for you? Maybe it isn’t even day one. Well, it isn’t too late to start. Especially if you happen to be stuck in a cycle of conversation that is not helping; if you are surrounded by people who just want to be right rather than make it right; if you are glued to the news coverage of who this guy was and what was he thinking? Please step away. Take time to yourself and read something positive. You are just as much a candidate for post-truamatic stress and depression from this event as anyone is, so please take good care of yourself. Turn off the noise that is bringing you down. Call a friend. Play music that brings you peace. Even though we are a quiet blog, you are welcome to post here. We need to do a better job looking out for one another. It used to be that you could look after your friends and neighbors without being accused of being in their business. I say bring back those days!! You are not alone. We are not alone. And we are going to get through this.

Together.

Update: HELLO Ann Curry!! Wow. I am ecstatic that 26 acts of kindness is catching on thanks to her conversation on the Today show. You can share your acts on Twitter with #26acts or #28DaysForNewtown. I said yesterday how I love it when I hear my thoughts come out of another person’s mouth. Especially one with an audience like hers!! Here’s to banding together and bringing the world together one act of love at a time.

There is nothing I love more than reading my thoughts on someone else’s page/book/blog/lips. Because it means I can spend less time writing and more time loving the people in the world around me. So, if you read anything today, I beg you to read this article on Cubepiphany called “Still Half Full.” It is long. But it encompasses every aspect of what 28 Days for Newtown is all about. Read it. Then come back and tell me….

What is the nicest thing a total stranger has ever done for you?

‚ÄúIf you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.‚ÄĚ – Abraham Lincoln

This website and the challenge associated with it began with a response to something that was being passed around Facebook. You might have seen your friends post the story of Mr. Rogers and how his mother taught him to “look for the helpers” during scary or tragic times. Even though my first response was “Don’t just LOOK for helpers, BE a helper” it occurs to me today that the first step to being a helpers is to look around. If you are looking at folks expecting to find something good there, you surely will find it.

In the face of a huge tragedy like the one we are all struggling to understand, looking for the good can be nearly impossible. But as surely as life goes on for the rest of us, the life we have is worth living and worth living well. If finding the good in faces you meet today is hard for you, know that every effort you make is contributing to the good of the world, even if it is a small sum. And if you find that the conversations you are participating in or the stories you read are looking for and finding the bad in folks, then please turn them off.

Peace cannot be won by force. Peace can only come when we embrace life. Life cannot be found in flinging mud or laying blame or stereotyping. Peace begins when we lay down our arms (which for you and I most often are our word) and we simply embrace one another as fellow humans.

You will begin to hear more and more anger and vitriol associated with this topic. There are going to be more opinions than we can count about how to address this situation. I still believe that had this young man had a few more “helpers” in his life, there would be nothing to talk about right now. We don’t need the government to bar us from having arms as much as we need friends to step in and say, “whatcha planning to do with that?” We don’t need preachers screaming about how sinful he was as much as we need to demonstrate the power of forgiveness to melt the hardended angry heart. Yes, you have an opinion about what could have prevented this, but we all do.

The best way you can help now is to make sure you aren’t contributing to the next person losing it. That is why the challenge began with a call to give up sarcasm, snark, vitriol and sharp remarks in favor of kindness, consolation and sincerity. The ability to curb your tongue comes from the ability to stop yourself before you speak, to see in the recipient of your words a fellow human being just like yourself, and to find the good.

Look for the good. It is closer than you realize.

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Update: Here is a link to an article with a video of one of the victim’s fathers speaking out. While the video does not show the comments, the article describes how late in the broadcast the father directly offered his prayers and condolences to the shooters family. He could easily allow his heart to be swalled by anger and hatred. But he chooses love and goodness. I hope we can all do the same.

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Thank you for taking this challenge with us. If you would be so kind as to invite someone else along on your journey, together we can all begin to turn this place around.

28 Days of doing good by others won’t amount to much if by the end you yourself haven’t changed.¬† There’s no better place to begin to change the world than with yourself.

Recognize that you are lucky to be here right now.¬† Those kids that were killed in Newtown, or the folks at the movie theater in Colorado or the mall in Oregon…¬† they were all innocent bystanders in a terrorist’s act of destruction.¬† It could have just as easily been in your hometown, your mall or your movie theater.¬† The fact that you are here now, able to live and breathe is a gift.

The stated goal of the 28 Days for Newton is to spend this time bringing more peace, kindness and compassion into the world.¬† But if you don’t possess those virtues, how will you ever be able to share them?¬† You have to cultivate them in yourself as well.

How do you do that?¬† How do you make peace?¬† I’m willing to bet you already know, you just probably don’t do it enough or ever.¬† You just have to stop what you are doing.¬† Close your eyes.¬† Experience a long moment of silence and solitude so that you can encounter the stillness deep within you.¬† You might say a prayer or you might just wait.¬†¬†It sems too¬†easy to be true, but that is what it is so amazing.¬† The¬†first step in¬†finding¬†the peace we want to bring into the world is so simple, many ignore it.

Peace is a special thing — it can’t be forced and it can’t be faked.¬†The good news is that if you haven’t got very much peace inside you¬†right now, or sitting quietly for a few minutes seems impossible,¬†these 28 days will help you find it.¬† You’ll be amazed what happens when you start doing good for others.¬† Keep trying those moments of silence throughout the day.¬† you’ll be tempted to rush through it and busy yourself again with you tasks for the day.¬†¬†Instead, ¬†Then, give that feeling a chance to grow.

Sit quietly.

Sit quietly.