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Monday, November 16, 2015

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one...


"In a gentle way, you can shake the world." - Mahatma Gandhi
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I’ve been introspective, emotional and a deep thinker since I was young. It’s difficult to not be affected by sadness I see in the world. I’ve been told that I care “too much” and it's hard for me to let go. I constantly hear, “You can’t save the world.” My mom has been telling me my whole life, “Kare, sometimes you just have to let it go.” (many of those being times when she has to remind me that I can’t bring home EVERY animal I find on the street and yes, I know she has a point, but it's a very hard thing for me to accept, you guys). 

I will admit, I need to learn how to be better at letting some things go, especially things I cannot change or control. I'm learning to understand that God has a plan and I can’t fix people or situations overnight, as much as I often wish I could. 
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I was walking on some of my favorite trails yesterday, talking to God, talking to myself, contemplating life, and I was thinking about kindness, how I use my time and how I can have a more positive impact on the world.

I was talking to God about how I feel helpless and lost in certain situations in my life. I asked him, do the things I try to do even matter? Does trying to open my heart and give kindness to someone or trust someone even matter? Because it sucks when it backfires or when I get let down or disappointed. Wouldn't it just be easier if I didn't care so much? Can I really change the world? 

God has this way of boldly hitting me with answers when I ask him questions. I sort of feel like it’s payback for all the years that he put answers to my questions and my prayers right in front of me and I refused to acknowledge them and then complained that he never gave me any answers or help. Now, just to be sure I get his messages, he'll put them right in front of me in the most fantastically blunt way. 

I looked up the trail a little ways and saw this young girl, her little brother and their dad sitting on a bench with plastic pails on the ground in front of them. I kind of just watched them for a couple seconds in their special moment together. As I walked by the little girl looked up at me with the brightest brown eyes, waved her hand enthusiastically and said, “Hi!” 

“Hello!” I responded, thinking that would be the end of our exchange. 

“Whatcha doing?” She asked. 

“Oh just walking, it’s such a pretty day.” I answered.

“Oh. Wanna know what we’re doing?” She asked. 

By that point I had stopped walking and I was standing on the trail in front of them.

“Sure,” I answered. Her dad gave me a smile. 

“Well," she said, "we are collecting leaves and acorns to make fall crafts! See!” She tilted her bucket of acorns toward me.

“Holy smokes! That sounds so cool! What are you gonna make?” 

“We’re gonna put sparkles on the acorns and make ornaments and hang them and we’re gonna make the leaves light up!" 

Her dad interjected, “We’re going to put the leaves and lights inside vases and make some cool decorations, huh?” 

“Yes!” She said, it’s going to be so fun!” Her little brother’s face lit up at the mention of "fun."

“Well, that sounds so neat you guys. I hope you have so much fun!” 

By this point another couple who had been walking by with their dog also stopped so the little boy could pet the dog, and were inadvertently in on the conversation about the sparkly acorns.

“Do you want one?” She asked me. “We could make you one if you want one.” Her dad smiled again. “We're going to give lots of them away to people." 

"Oh you are?" I asked. 

"Yeah. I like leaves a lot and I want to make them for people who don’t have anything like that and then I could give them one of these and then it will make them happy.” 

This is that part where I always imagine God leaning back, looking at me with a smirk on his face asking, ‘Is that enough? Do you need some more clarification on your questions, orrrr?” 

[Yup, I got it, God. Thanks.] 

I knelt down in front of her and I said, “I think that is the nicest thing I’ve ever heard of someone doing. You are going to make so many people smile with your kindness. They are going to see all the sparkles and be so happy!”

“I know!” She said, agreeing with the brightest smile on her face. “I can’t wait! I like making people happy!” I gave her a high five and told her I hoped they all had the best time and stood back up to go. Her dad mouthed, “Thank you,” and smiled. 

As I walked away I couldn’t help but smile and I was immediately inspired to do something nice for someone.

Little things matter. 

That little girl just inspired kindness in me and the other couple who stopped with the idea of sparkly acorns and leaves. How could any gesture of kindness, no matter how big, not matter? 

Holding the door open for someone, smiling at someone, giving up your seat to a person on the bus, looking up from your phone and saying hello to someone as they walk by, being patient with the mom in front of you at the grocery store with three kids crawling all over the cart who just needs an extra minute to find her wallet, it all matters. 

We are self-involved people following our own agendas. All of us. It's the world we live in and we go days without thinking about how anything we are do affects someone else's well-being. Think about how much generosity and consideration would be floating around this world if we all took a couple minutes out of each day to help someone. It really can be as simple as smiling and saying hello to a stranger. I think we get so used to seeing tragedy and heartbreak and hearing gossip and bad news that we forget the power of one smile or one kind gesture. One small act of love can change someone’s entire day. That’s huge! Every time you do something kind for someone it sparks kindness in them and others around who witness it. Those moments of kindness stay with people and inspire them to be kinder the next time they are in a situation where they can help someone.

No, I can’t save the world...not in one day. 

But I CAN save the world over time. 

I can. 
You can. 

We can save the world in tiny bits each day by being forces for good. When you think about it, what does putting negativity out into the world actually achieve? Five seconds of satisfaction when you hit the ‘post’ button on Facebook sharing how much your job sucks, or how much you hate your ex for being a cheater or how pissed you are at the people who live below you who’s baby never stops crying. What does that accomplish?

Nothing.
It accomplishes nothing.

Nothing except maybe a few worthless minutes of self gratification and drawing attention to a situation in a negative light. 

It doesn’t solve the real problem. 

It doesn’t make your job suck any less, or your ex any less of a cheater or your neighbor’s baby any less loud. 

The real problem is that we are constantly bombarded by garbage and negativity, and then we deal with it by sharing more garbage and negativity. We get so neck deep in our own issues that we can’t spare even a couple minutes to try to understand a situation before we complain about it. We're so busy wading through the garbage that we miss opportunities to do something decent for someone else. We miss the things that are good, the things that are right in front of us. 

Let’s change it. 

What if you made it a point to do one kind thing everyday. You don’t have to paint sparkles on acorns and make them into ornaments for strangers. It can be as simple as making eye contact with someone and smiling, writing someone a letter, calling a family member or a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, apologizing first, complimenting a good parent on the great job they're doing raising their kids, offering understanding to a situation that’s hard to understand, asking someone if they need a hand, holding the door for someone, buying a homeless person lunch, donating clothing or toys or food to the homeless shelter in your area, adopting a pet, deciding not to buy a certain product because it is not ethically produced, commenting something positive and uplifting or funny on your social media rather then something negative. 

You can do whatever is within your means, but do something

There are hundreds of simple ways we can help people. Many of these things can be done in the time it takes to scroll through your Instagram or Facebook feed, really. We just have to do it. 

Imagine the cycle of love and understanding we can create if we put kindness and positivity into the world everyday, if we think about our words and whether or not they are helpful or hurtful before we spit them out and if we spend a little bit more time each day being aware of what is happening around us. 

Because acts of kindness and love breed kindness and love in others. 

Imagine how our perspectives can change if we ask someone how they're doing and actually listen to their answer. How much can our lives change if we spend more time being grateful for the blessings we already have and less time thinking about what we don’t have? 

Let's spend more time outside. Let's use some of the seconds of our days to look at the sky, breath and actually think about how amazing the world is. Our lives can drastically change if we practice this sort of behavior.

You actually have the power to change the world. I mean, we all have that power, literally at our fingertips. That's incredible! We simply have to make a choice to use the power we have in a positive way. 

It doesn’t mean you have to be a sunshiny, sparkly beacon of positivity and light every single day. That’s unrealistic. We are human. We aren't perfect and sometimes we are just going to have a bad day. There are cruel things in this world and it's hard to spin every bad situation into something positive.

But in every situation, even the ones we can't control, the one thing we have complete control over is how we react and how we choose to deal with it.

We always have a choice to choose compassion and positivity. We can choose to refrain from spreading negativity and being mean even when that feels like the easiest route. Instead of spending 10 minutes writing a mean Facebook post complaining about your co-worker, we can choose to you send them a note asking if they want to get coffee. We can choose to try understanding their situation before we pass judgement on what type of person they are. Maybe they're going through a rough time at home. Maybe they have a learning disorder and they are doing their very best. Maybe they do suck and they aren’t ready to change, but what a relief for you, a lesson in being kind for them and an inspiring step it would be to take the higher road. 

Don’t we all want to live in a kinder, more understanding, more thoughtful and loving world? We can change the world for the better in small, significant ways. We just have to choose to do it and choose to believe that our kindness WILL matter.

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I used to get so mad a God for giving me a soft heart because it means I get my feelings hurt a lot. I get let down and disappointed and I feel the weight of the world often. It’s heavy and it’s hard to not get sucked into how bad things seem or how much things hurt. I’m not perfect. I get low and I find myself in dark places. I let anxiety and stress get the best of me. I get sad and I get angry. I make bad decisions. I say things I regret. It’s difficult for me to let go, even when I know I should. I lose sleep. I fall into the rabbit hole of negativity and worry and sometimes it takes its toll. But no matter how heavy it gets, the power of love always pulls me out and saves me. Always. 

I've learned to thank God more often for the people and situations (even the hard stuff) he continues to put in my life, because everyone I meet and every situation I find myself in teaches me something if I pay attention and allow myself to learn from it. More and more I learn that love always wins in the end, no matter what. I know I was given this heart for a reason and I guess it'd be a real shame if I never shared it with anyone. It took me a while to find this perspective and I forget it sometimes when I'm sad, but I have to try to live in a way where I choose to see light through the darkness.

Because I’d rather save the world in bits and pieces than not at all. 

...and if I can sprinkle some sparkly acorns around in the process, why not. :) 

Thanks for reading, guys. 

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Nothin’ but love. 



xo - Kari