The Kindness Challenge: Week 7

The Kindness Challenge-Week 7

Well The Kindness Challenge has come to an end and I must say, that really opened my eyes to the world around me. There will be days that are harder than others, but on the hard days are when I look around me and watch the kindness that is unfolding right before my eyes.

This week was such a joyful week of random acts of kindness. I love being able to do little things for people and not letting them know. The simple joy it brings to my heart knowing I have made someones day is enough for me. I would like to think of myself as someone who gives for the sake of giving. Getting acknowledgement is something a step mom isn’t really use to getting, so getting a thank you from someone isn’t what I’m always looking for. Just the simple smile and hope that they will pass on the love and kindness that was given to them.

This journey I have taken the past 7 weeks is one that I will not forget. I strive each day to bring a little more kindness into everyone’s lives I might encounter. My dad told me today that every time I am around, it brings joy into everyone else’s lives that are around me. That made me smile and realize I am proud of who I have become and the direction my life is headed. My life might not be perfect, but it’s the perfect life for me, even on the hard days.

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6 

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Kindness Challenge: Week 6

When going through life you come across different people who become your role models. Every person in my family has been a role model to me in my life at one time or another. I have learned so much from both sets of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. I wouldn’t be who I am today with out each one of them.

As I have grown older I have come across more difficult obstacles. The one that has been the largest hurdle is being a step mom. There are little children who need my guidance, support, and knowledge to help them through life. What I say or do will forever impact them. No pressure, right? I wasn’t sure what to do when they were throwing temper tantrums. I wasn’t sure if what I was doing was right. I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to be good at this. I needed to talk to someone about this, someone who I knew wouldn’t judge me or think I was a failure.

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I began talking more with Matt’s mom, my mother-in-law. She would sit and listen to me tell her about all of my worries and issues. She treated me as if I was her daughter and would even cry with me at times when I just felt too overwhelmed. There are times as a parent where you feel like you just aren’t hacking it. You feel you aren’t doing the very best you can do. My MIL has always been quick to remind me that I am doing a wonderful job and how thankful she is for me to be in her son and grandchildren’s lives. Every time we leave Florida, I leave with tears streaming down my face. I am so grateful for God putting my in-laws in my life. I am so thankful to be surrounded by so much love and kindness when we visit Matt’s family. My heart is literally bursting with excitement when we plan vacations with them. I am truly a lucky woman and I’m proud to call them all my family.

There is something about my MIL that always makes me happy when I am around her. She gives off this positive vibe that I am just drawn to. She’s one of a kind and I am thankful to have her apart of my life. To show me that life will deal us cards that we might not think we can handle, but to not just give up because it isn’t the best hand. Life is too short to be anything but kind. Forgive those who have wronged you, forget the things you cannot change, because there is a life out there waiting to be lived and no one can live your life but YOU.

Kindness Challenge: Week 5

Week 5 is about focusing on being grateful for the kindness in your life. Remember kindness comes in many forms, take a moment to recognize how kindness shows itself in your life.

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What a fabulous week I had with being grateful for the kindness in my life. My in-laws were in town from Florida this past week and we had the kids for 12 days straight. We were all constantly doing something together each day. The kids got to go swimming and spend the night at the hotel with their grandparents over the weekend. They had a BLAST together. My in-laws got to watch a few of James’s baseball games, and so did Matt’s Aunt. We all were out in the 95 degree summer sun while cheering on our favorite little leaguer. After the game we headed to the local ice cream shop and cooled off with some tasty icy treats.

Just watching how everyone was coming together to support James was a sight to see. It was amazing watching ex spouses, new spouses, in-laws, parents, step siblings, brothers, sisters, all talking, laughing and getting along. It wasn’t weird. It wasn’t awkward (okay, I’ll admit, I was slightly nervous), but once everyone said hello and hugged, all of the nervousness went away. I was so proud. I was proud of our blended family. And all the while, the kids were just watching all of us adults getting along. It wasn’t that there would be fights before, but you could cut the tension in the air with a knife. Now, it’s just a big family, getting together to support one another, and it’s actually really fun!

I never thought I would be sitting here talking about all of us getting along. I was very worried for quite some time that the kids will never get to experience the true joys of having a blended family. That your parents being divorced isn’t the end of the world and that everyone really CAN get along. That through all of the pain you will find kindness again. I’m proud of what Stephanie and I have done for our families. I truly believe WE changed the dynamic, and it all began with the kindness we have extended to each other.

 

Reflection on Kindness Challenge: Week 4

Kindness begins from within. Once I accepted that, kindness around me began to be easier to recognize and it became more natural to act and react with kindness. Now I am focusing on showing kindness to others. Giving without expecting anything in return, which is something I love to do. The look on people’s faces is priceless and worth every second of my time.

I took a week and a half off work to stay with the kids and Noah (my step kid’s half brother – Stephanie and Paul’s son) while the two of them went on a five day vacation with some friends. I will write another post about our time together later!

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Matt’s parents will be in town starting this week to surprise the kids for Jordan’s dance recital and a couple of James’s baseball games. We’ve kept it a surprise from them, which is super hard for me to do. They didn’t know that they were staying longer at our house after Stephanie and Paul get home. They are really in for a treat this week!

I took Jordan to her dance rehearsal Friday. It was about a 45 minute drive with traffic and a three hour rehearsal. She was pretty upset when she walked out of school that day because she was missing out on her school’s annual end of the year Fun Fair. I had made a special stop at the gas station before picking her up and got her some sugary snacks and juice. This is quite a treat for her and made the tears disappear within minutes.

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Tuesday, a friend got a flat tire on her way back from Ohio. She was about an hour and a half away from home and it was just after midnight. She had already been waiting a couple hours for the tow truck in the middle of no where. She said if it didn’t show up when it did she was going to call me because she knew if she needed someone to come get her, I would in a heartbeat. I didn’t get that phone call, but hearing her say she knew she could count on me, no matter what time, meant more to me than she knows. And she is 100% correct, I would of totally done it. That’s just who I am as a person and friend. If you need me, I’m there.

I wrote about how my mom said something that upset me earlier this week. It was still bothering me after work that day so when I stopped at Taco Bell I paid for the car’s bill behind me. I needed some sort of instant happiness. It was only like $4, but the feeling I got after made me forget the crappy feeling I had earlier. The cashier was in shock and said…”What if they had a $20 bill?” and I told him “Then I guess I would of handed you a 20 instead of a 5 dollar bill.” He replied to he has never seen anyone do that before and that made him feel like there was still hope for humanity.

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Wednesday, James had a baseball game. Everyone knew I wasn’t going to be able to make it to the game. It was pretty slow at work so I skated on out of there just in time to make it to his game! I surprised everyone – even Matt. It began raining during the game and Matt had grabbed our huge umbrella out of the car earlier. I stood behind Stephanie and her dad with it and covered the three of us the best that I could. I know they had their own they could of held, but I know they both just worked a long day and wanted to focus on watching James play – not hold an umbrella.

One night at work I was talking to one of my co workers about the Kindness Challenge I was participating in. I explained that this week was focusing on things such as random acts of kindness. She thought it was a great idea and sent me this picture of the sidewalk outside of her house. She thought it would be a great way to cheer someone up who is out for a walk and needed a little pick-me-up. I think she nailed it!

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Giving kindness is one of the easiest tasks to do. You don’t have to spend money, you don’t have to go totally out of your way, you just have to respond and act with a kind heart. A smile to a stranger on the street can change their whole day around. Paying for the lady’s coffee behind you before work in the morning might cause a chain reaction of kindness. Children are watching us adults in our every day lives. We preach to them to be kind, be nice, and treat others how you want to be treated. It begins from within. It begins with me and then the contagiousness of kindness will spread like wild fire.

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Kindness Challenge: Week 3 – Showing Kindness

This week for the Kindness Challenge we are focusing on acting and reacting from a place of kindness.

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I would say this past month I have found myself acting and reacting from a place of kindness more than ever before. My demeanor has changed. My positive attitude is just radiating from me when I’m going about my day, and I think I have Stephanie to thank for a lot of that. The understanding and kindness we have shown each other the past month has helped me in more ways than she will ever know. It has taken this weight off of my shoulders and allowed me to appreciate the kindness surrounding me everyday. My worry and angst has settled and my kindness has a larger window to shine through now.

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This week was full of fun and spontaneous events! Michigan weather has finally hit a constant temperature with the sun shining and it was just what the doctor had ordered. We all needed some extra vitamin D so the kids and I hit the local 7-11 and got slurpees Monday AND Tuesday. Who doesn’t love some icy goodness on a hot spring day? Then spent the rest of the evening outside playing together as a family  with some of our neighbors and their children. Laughter, fun, and great conversation! I just love our neighborhood and the bond we all have.

I surprised Matt with Detroit Tigers tickets this week. With our crazy spring schedules we don’t get to go to many games early in the season. He has been talking about it for weeks (HA! and he thinks I have selective hearing LOL) so I got work all squared away and told him to put on his Justin Verlander shirt (a Detroit Tigers pitcher) because we were going to a game! He looked like a kid in a candy shop, he was so beyond excited and it made me feel pretty great to do something for the man who does SO much for our family.

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Friday I made some chocolate chip cookies and brought them to our neighbors. Everyone has been outside this past week working on their lawns and gardening. It has been a hot one too, but everyone’s yard looks superb! All of that hard work to make our little neighborhood look absolutely breath taking. So for all of their hard work I decided to present them with some of my famous cookies. Most of our neighbors are older and retired. They all remind me of different parts of my grandparents. The smiles on their faces always light up my day. They think I’m helping them, but in reality their warm conversations and sincere interest in our family mean the world to me. Each one of them gave me huge hugs and thank you’s for the cookies – THAT was an amazing feeling to experience.

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Kindness is all around us and it doesn’t always have to start with someone else initiating it. It starts with US. It starts with ME. I am in charge of my own happiness and giving to others or just being a listening ear doesn’t only do good for the other person’s soul, but mine as well.

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Kindness Challenge: Observing Kindness

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This week for the Kindness Challenge, we were focusing on observing kindness around us.

Sunday night, James had a baseball game, in like 40 degree temperature. Sunday also was the day that Aunt Flow decided to have her monthly visit . Like brings you to your knees in complete tears kind of visit. Matt was at work late and James had to be at the field by 5:45. Before we left the house I asked James probably ten times if he had everything he needed for the game, by the tenth time I got the “Jessssssssssss, I got everything, I promiseeee! Can we just go now!” We pull up to the field, park, and James runs out of the car. I look at the top of his head and guess what was missing? His baseball hat. That he NEEDS to be able to play on the field during the game. I asked him where it was and his face turned from excited happy smile to the fear of death. He left it at home.

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Jojo (our nickname for Jordan) and I jumped in the car and rushed the 30 minutes home and back (keep in mind the intense cramps I was having). When we pulled up to the field and walked up to where Stephanie, Paul, Noah and her dad were sitting, she had this look on her face that she was about to feel bad for what she was going to tell me. She told me James hit a triple and got his team’s first run of the season…and I missed it. It took all of me not to just cry right then and there because of stupid my hormones going crazy. Jordan sat down next to me, told me she was sorry we had to miss that and gave me a kiss. Noah (Steph and Paul’s 3 year old son) came up to us, put his arm around both of us and said “Hey guys, how are you!” and it put an instant smile on my face. He entertained us during breaks between innings of the game with his kung fu moves he learned from watching Kung Fu Panda. By the end of the game he was sitting on my lap under a blanket and we watched James hit a home run! Matt showed up just before it happened too! The feeling I got watching James run all of those bases with the biggest grin on his face, was so worth the 30 minute drive.

We got home from the freezing cold game and everyone chowed down on Taco Bell before the kids headed to bed. After they had their PJs on, the kids said they were going to pack their lunches for me so I could lay on the couch with my heating pad and relax. Um, thanks for the instant tears kiddos. What amazing little people we are raising. Seeing the kindness they give out so freely makes you feel very proud as a parent. Not to mention, it made me totally forget about James forgetting his baseball hat.

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The rest of my week was pretty disappointing and trust me when I say I really looked for kindness everywhere around me. Even dropping the kids off at school was out of control. Parents were selfishly weaving in and out of cars in the school parking lot and disregarding rules that are in place to protect the children in the drop off lane. We also have a lot of construction going on in our Metro Detroit area. Major highways closed or shut down so the state can fix our crappy roads and we can all stop blowing our tires over pot holes that are deeper than Jordan is tall. Of course no one shows kindness in gridlock traffic during rush hour. No matter how many people I “let it” to get over after passing 30 other cars in a closed lane.

I decided to try and observe children. Kids can be so kind to one another. I said something to a friend last week along the lines of, “I miss the days of being a kid and walking up to another kid and say ‘Wanna be friends?’ and that was that. End of story. You made a new friend for life. Easy as that. Instant loyalty and friendship.”

I volunteer in Jordan’s class room every week. What a perfect time to observe kindness! Within minutes of being in the classroom, one kid threw a hard covered book at another kid’s face and one little boy bitched out this little girl for using a pen on HER paper instead of a pencil which then caused the little girl to have a complete melt down. Well, looking for kindness here doesn’t look very promising today.

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I’m feeling discouraged. Why is it so hard to observe kindness around me this week? Am I just blocking out the kindness around and me and only seeing the negative? Am I being a negative nancy this week or has the world turned into a place where finding kindness every day is actually really that difficult?

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One of the tips I used from Niki was not watching the news this week. Which is usually something I do in the morning before the kids walk out of their bedrooms. I let them watch the weather, but as for the actual news, I always turn it off. Having the news off this week helped me to NOT start my days with such sadness of what is going on around the world or even in our own backyard. I sure hope next week is a better week then this one. I need someone to restore my faith that the world really hasn’t gone down the drain with kindness…

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Reblog: Kindness Challenge: Week 2- Observe Kindness Around You

The Richness of a Simple Life

Attention all 2016 Kindness Challenge participants!

Last week we focused on self-kindness, I encourage you to incorporate aspects from last week’s focus in the weeks ahead. Just because we move forward doesn’t mean that you’re expected to have it mastered in a week. If you feel lead to repeat last week, honor that! This is a journey, not a race! We might move onto new “assignments” but we can still review the exercises and the lessons.

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Kindness Challenge: Reflection on Self-Kindness

I’m participating in the Kindness Challenge over at The Richness of a Simple Life. Niki is hosting this challenge and I’m so happy I came across it. This week we were asked to focus on self-kindness.

“You have to love yourself before others can love you.”

Self-kindness. So just being kind to myself, right? That should be an easy task to accomplish this week. Until I realized, I’m pretty damn hard on myself and when was the last time I did something for ME?

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I started off the week very excited to start the challenge and focusing on self-kindness. Monday morning my husband’s alarm clock goes off at 6 AM and he is already in the shower. I still have another hour before I have to get up. I’m not a morning person, at all. Not even a little bit. I’ve TRIED for YEARS to work on it and I’m just not cut out for it. Normally, this situation would make me upset, but instead I got up as well and started my day early! I remember thinking “Be kind. Just breathe. Find the positive.” I ended up having a very productive morning. Cleaned the house, got the kids out the door for school, went grocery shopping, and got things set up for work for the week. So i decided to treat myself with my favorite guilty please, a McDonald’s coke.

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Mid-week I’m really starting to realize that I’m constantly putting everyone else’s needs before my own. When was the last time (besides my McDonald’s coke on Monday) I did something for ME? So, I decided to go big or go home this week.

On my way in to work, while thinking about how I was going to continue practicing self-kindness, I looked down at my odometer in my car and realized I was 120 miles until the mileage was up on my leased car. My lease isn’t up until September, and it’s May. I thought what the heck, I will call up to the dealership and see what they could do, if anything at all.

Turns out, I qualified for the early bird lease turn in, and I could come in any day this week for a new car. Yesterday and today was spent getting everything transferred over to get this new beauty!

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Everything seemed to line up for me this week. Just by stopping and saying to myself, “What do I need.” If I hadn’t stopped myself from focusing on everyone else, I wouldn’t of noticed the miles on my car, I would of been thinking about dinner plans for Sunday. I would of paid a butt load of money to the dealership on going over my miles, and I wouldn’t be sitting here, proud of myself for remembering to take care of ME.

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My Kindness Challenge Before Post

A few weeks ago, in the midst of the A-to-Z Challenge, I came across a post from Niki  at The Richness of a Simple Life about a Kindness Challenge she is hosting! I thought what a great idea, you should never stop improving yourself or your life…where do I sign up!? If I could write every day for a month, I KNOW I can conquer this Kindness Challenge. I’m looking forward to some more self-reflection. Right now in my life, I feel like I’m in a good place and I believe there is always room for improvement. This past week has blown my mind with how much kindness and love has been thrown around. I’m in such a thankful and grateful mood that I want to make it contagious. I look forward to infecting everyone around me with my kindness this month!

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