Kindness Challenge|Week 6: Kindness Without Expectation

KindnessWeek #6 focused on expressing kindness to others without expecting anything in return.

I’m happy to say that growing older has taught me that being kind is a gift in itself. I like how it makes me feel.

Sure, I hope that the other person feels the pleasure as well, but if they’re too busy or distracted to really notice I’m okay with that. 

Last Saturday was a good example. I attended a wedding celebration and was saving a seat for my friend who went to the restroom.

A young mother with a toddler on her hip stopped at the open chair across from me and deposited her youngster. I assumed she was planning to sit down and quickly told her that the seat was already taken. There were a plate and beverage marking the spot, but she looked frazzled and may not have noticed.

” Oh, no, we’re not sitting here, I just need a moment…” her voice trailing off.

“Sure, no problem,” I answered.


Photo credit: Darius Soodmand/Unsplash

She looked around distractedly as the child started to fuss. Within seconds she picked up the little girl. When she did the girl spotted two cookies on the plate in front of me and leaned hard, reaching for them. 

“No, no,” the mother said. “Those aren’t yours.”

The child started to cry and I quickly offered one of the sweet treats.

The mother took it and gave it to the girl who promptly took a bite and smiled happily. At that point, the parent walked off and I waved to the girl who continued to munch on the cookie. She waved back.

I noted that the mother didn’t thank me, nor encourage the child to say thank you. But, the whole point of offering the cookie was to quiet the little one and bring some peace to the frazzled looking parent (I’ve been in her shoes!)

I achieved both and felt pretty satisfied.

Which is why showing kindness to others is about making me feel good as much as them!


Kindness Challenge|Week 6: Kindness Without Expectation


Kindness Challenge|Week 4: Kindness Role Model

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Dear Grandma,

When it was suggested, in the 2017 Kindness Challenge, to write a letter to a role model, I immediately thought of you. Your 4 ft. 8 in. frame belied the giant that you truly were. For the 36 years that we spent together, your spirit of generosity and sacrifice never ceased to amaze me. 

As far back as I can remember, you were the happiest when giving to others. Whether it was financial assistance or help of some other kind, you were the first to step up and offer. Your Christian faith and love for God motivated your charitable nature.

I also remember what a hard worker you were. With only a sixth-grade education you had to leave school and go to work as domestic help for more well-to-do households. The money you earned was turned over to your parents to help with expenses for a large, but poor German family.

“In everything, I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  Acts 20:35

Elderly HandsREVYou cleaned, scrubbed, and provided childcare for others and then came home and did some more. You ran errands that involved walking long distances in all kinds of weather. You had to grow up before your time and missed out on the joys of being a kid.

This kind of menial labor continued until you retired at 65. 

Your hands were the reflection of this lifetime of hard work. No smooth, soft skin or manicured nails. No jewelry. Just rough-hewn palms and translucent skin, mottled with age spots and a lacework of veins.  

I recall these hands clearly. Smallish, yet capable of so much. From kneading floured dough to fixing my broken toys to pointing out the Bible verses as I followed along.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

You didn’t earn much money but managed to save most of it. You lived very simply and wasted nothing, repurposing long before it became fashionable. Clothes and cars were second-hand, but your treatment of others was first-rate. You had very little in the way of material possessions, yet you wanted for nothing.

Despite the many hardships you never became bitter. It’s easy to show kindness and generosity when life has been good. But, it’s not as simple when life has been harsh. We tend to look at others and wonder why we don’t have the same opportunities. 

I never heard you complain about any aspect of your life. Your attitude of gratitude was nothing short of amazing, which is why I consider you a true role model.

I’ve learned to appreciate the basic necessities of life without always wanting something more. You taught me this. I feel sorry for those who define themselves by their material possessions. You explained that they’re trying to fill up the emptiness inside.

You always took pride in your work and reminded me that no matter what the job is we should always do our best. 

Your advice was to try to help others whenever possible and always with a smile. I may not be able to give in large ways, but I try to give in a lot of small ways.

“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  2 Corinthians 9: 6-7

The lessons in kindness, generosity, and humility that you always taught by example shaped the very best parts of me and I’ll be forever grateful. Thankful for your love and all that you gave with such a caring heart.

I miss you a lot and hope that you’re proud of my efforts as a daughter, mother, partner, and friend. I try to give my best to all the people in my life, just as you did in yours.

With much love & gratitude…xoxoxo


Kindness Challenge|Week 3: Self-Acceptance


Week #3 wraps up the “self” portion of the Kindness Challenge with self-acceptance.

Unfortunately, I’ve fallen behind (we’re actually in Week #5.) Luckily, Niki structures this as a “work at your own pace” challenge. She knows that life gets busy and we have to devote more time to other things. I hope to get caught up later this week.

Self-acceptance is something many people struggle with. We often feel dissatisfied in our lives, constantly questioning the choices we make or comparing ourselves to others. 

It may be a negative voice from our childhoods reminding us of what we’ve done wrong. Or, the assault of advertisements for products to help us become “new and improved” with the underlying message that we’re not good enough.

Hindsight bias is an especially cruel dictator. It’s easy to see a situation more clearly once we know the actual outcome of one choice over another. Yet we criticize ourselves for not being a bit more psychic!

We’ve been groomed to feel like failures if we can’t achieve perfectionism, something that is completely unattainable. People who aspire to perfection are often hiding some type of shame and attempting to mitigate judgment from others. 

But, it’s important to remember that perfectionism isn’t the same thing as striving to be our best selves. The various skills we acquire throughout life are divided into two types:

  • Hard skills are easily measurable (reading, math, computer coding, etc.)
  • Soft skills are harder to quantify (proper etiquette, listening, getting along with others, etc.)

Hard skills are improved upon with training. Soft skills require honest self-examination to pinpoint areas that need work. Once these are identified we must study and practice change. Sometimes, therapy is required.

It’s no wonder that self-acceptance is so hard! However, the ability to show true kindness to ourselves and others is dependent upon this first step.

 Self CompassionAs the second option of this week’s exercises, Niki suggests listing a few positive character traits and then discussing things you do that don’t fit those traits:

  • Patience
  • Empathy

When it comes to patience I have plenty to offer other people. I’m able to recognize their strengths and weaknesses and quickly remind myself that no one is perfect. 

But, sometimes I forget to do this for myself. When something negative happens I believe it must be my fault. I didn’t think it through enough. I should’ve known better, I could’ve prevented this, or I would’ve done better if I had tried harder. 

Rather than recognizing that some things are simply out of our control, I berate myself for being human.

Likewise, I’m quick to empathize with others. I listen intently to their problem and try to offer reassurance that things will work out. I remind them of their limitations and the fact that they can’t predict ahead of time how things will go.

Regrettably, I forget to exercise this same care with myself. 

I’ve gotten much better in recent years because I left a toxic relationship that reinforced negativity and feelings of incompetence. The road to recovery is ongoing. I returned to school and earned my degree while working full-time. I’ve also made some hard choices that required a lot of courage and changes that depend upon faith in me.

Today, I treat myself with more kindness and respect than ever before. Thankfully, this enables me to treat others in the same way!

Week 3|Self-acceptance