Day 19: Mom and Dad

Today, call Mom and/or Dad and tell them thanks. It doesn’t matter what you thank them for, but be as sincere as possible. Thank them for teaching you a skill you’ve needed, for making you eat your broccoli, for not letting you give up in band class, or for surviving past your teenage years.

dare

Let me interject with stating that for some, I know that this is not possible. Instead, pick a role model you’ve looked up to and thank them. Someone was there in your life when you needed a motherly or fatherly figure. Thank them for being there for you.

I highly suggest writing it down. Then you’ll have a chance to say just what you want to say just how you want to say it.

Interestingly enough, I came across this video yesterday. Oddly appropriate (okay, probably not odd. It’s November. Gratitude is the buzzword of the month).

[warning]Oh, there is one word I don’t approve of that they don’t bleep, and there is one word that they do bleep. I wont be offended if you just mute it from 5:15-5:25. She just says that they wanted her to write a letter and then read it. She just doesn’t have the same language taboos that I do. [/warning]

To recap:

  1. Tell yourself it’s going to be a good day.
  2. Take thirty seconds to just be thankful.
  3. look at the bright side.
  4. Tell someone thank you (Today it’s a parent).
  5. Serve someone or give something.
  6. Write 3 paragraphs of gratitude.

See? Still 6 steps. That’s doable.

Day 18: The Gift of You

We’ve been serving and giving for a few days, and now the task is to give of ourselves. It may seem like we’ve already done that over and over. Service is giving of ourselves, giving things we love is giving of ourselves. How is this challenge possibly different? Well, lets get into it.

dareIs there a way to give of ourselves that isn’t open service? Or exchanging any possessions? Let’s talk love languages here. Service is a love language. Gifts is a love language. but there are 3 other love languages! Each of them, along with the previous two can be considered giving of oneself. Today, focus on an unused love language.

Give of your ears.  Listen to someone; Really listen.Give positive feedback. Validate them.This is more than a thank you note, although, technically, that works too. We’re really focusing more on the listening. When was the last time you just listened without giving advice? Or listened without thinking of all the things you have to do in a day?

Give of your time. Play a game with your children, sans devices and apps. Give them 100% of your attention. How long has it been since you played a game with them without checking Facebook/Pinterest/emails/text messages [I’m feeling a bit guilty, here]? Others could use your time, too. Just to be with them. Make eye contact. Work on a project together.

Give of your respect. Treat people kindly, honestly, and considerately. Treat them like they’re the sons and daughters of God like they are. let them know they matter to you through your body language and your words.

Give of your friendship. Include someone new into your acquaintances. Include an acquaintance into your friendship circle. Do something friendly. Have a girl’s night out, maybe? Be a friend.

Give of your memories. Write a letter to you children or a friend from the past. Journal. Write something down that can be remembered in the future. Or go and make new memories, and document it with pictures. Capture this moment in time.

Give of your knowledge. Teach a new skill. Speak up in class or in the workplace, and share what you know that will benefit others. Write your testimony down. Share the gospel. When we share knowledge about something we know, in a solicited situation (unsolicited advice is rarely accepted), we grow closer to the person we’re sharing it with. Because then it’s a shared gift instead on one given only to you. It gives you something in common. And it’s fun.

There are many ways to give of yourself that don’t require much effort. Today, focus on one area you feel the strongest about, and see what happens.

Day 17: Surprise

dareOkay, so for me personally, yesterday was hard and today is fun. I guess that evens out.

Today, surprise someone. With something. Somehow. Don’t get caught.

Let the fun begin! It’s a blast to leave goodies on doorsteps, notes in car windows, and return addresses blank. Today, loosen up, smile, and get into the spirit of giving.

I know the last two posts have been short, but really, how much explaining is needed? make it fun, use you’re imagination, and get going.

Day 16: Ownership

Giving something you own… On the one hand it seems cheap, lazy and unthoughtful. On the other hand, giving something you own can be giving a piece of your heart. The difference is if you treasure it or not.

dareClearly, I’m talking about giving in the later sense. Today, find something you love, and give it away. There are a million excuses, but most of them aren’t any good. Find someone who needs something you have, and give it to them, no strings attached.

Somehow, there are few words needed, and yet it still seems so complicated…

Day 15: Give

In sticking with the service theme, today find something to give. Anything. A quarter to a child, a present to a friend, a hug to a stranger; give whatever comes to your mind.

In trying to think about what to say, I did a little perusing, and found a study by The University at Buffalo, written this year, that discuss the benefits of giving versus receiving. I know that they can prove just about anything they want nowadays, truth or not,  but this study speaks a deeper level truth. It’s something our souls knew long before our brains had proof. Giving is better for your health. It is better to give than to receive.

Over the five years of the study, we found that when dealing with stressful situations, those who had helped others during the previous year were less likely to die than those who had not helped [lightbox title=”Michael J. Poulin, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at the University at Buffalo. source: University at Buffalo. Arts, Humanities, Public Health, Social Sciences. Study Finds It Actually Is Better (and Healthier) to Give than to ReceiveUniversity at Buffalo. N.p., 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.” url=”PageURL” width=”900″ height=”500″]others[/lightbox].

But I think it’s more than that, too. Giving reduces your need for “stuff.” It severs that carnal connection and allows you to focus on a stronger connection with yourself and with deity. “Stuff” creates a separate pull for your attention. And then there’s the happy vibes from doing good and being good. That helps any stressful day. And seeing the joy you can create. That’s gotta fit in there somehow, too.

[disclaim]note: this counts as the service for today. [/disclaim]dare

Weighing In

So, it’s day 14. I’ve been sort of keeping up… Meaning I’ve fallen behind on writing, but I’m all caught up now. At any rate, I just wanted to weigh in. How is the challenge working for anyone else? Is anyone even doing it?

I wanted to share an anecdote from my day. Testimonial from the source. It’s lunch time, and I’d had a bowl of soup already (I love soup. fyi. In case you really wanted to know), but I was still hungry. So I made myself a peanut butter sandwich. I reached in and got a butterknife, looked over at all of the dishes I’d managed to get dirty just by feeding my family breakfast and lunch, and instead of thinking ugh. Dishes. It stinks that so many get dirty. I thought,

I am so blessed to have clean dishes when I go to reach for some.

No joke! Score a point for the home team, it’s working!

also, here are some excerpts of what I am thankful for. I haven’t posted them on here, because I wanted the chance to actually get personal with them, but I’ve chosen some to share here. I thought it was appropriate.

[warning]This first one might be gruesome for some. [/warning]

I am blessed to have people I can rely on in an emergency. Tonight at the Relief Society activity, my daughter’s nose started bleeding rampantly. This is her 4th nosebleed in 36 hours. I rushed her to the bathroom to clean it up and get it to stop bleeding. I couldn’t get it to stop. And then, as we were pulling the tissue away, we pulled out a 2” clump (seriously, not an exaggeration), that wasn’t attached to anything, just clotting in her nose since there was so much blood and the stuff on the walls of the nose was still fresh and oozing. So I opened the door in the RS room, asked the first person I saw if they had a vehicle and if they could drive us to our house. Instead, we bypassed the house and went straight for the ER. She even stayed with us and gave us a ride back home. I was so grateful! We got the nose all cleared up… right before the doc walks in, naturally. I’m pretty sure that it was about an hour’s worth of bleeding. He checked for anemia, didn’t see any signs. Needless to say, we’re adapting to the Vaseline in the nose routine at our house. I think I’ve perfected it, because she doesn’t hate it nearly as much as I used to. It’s all about breathing out while you’re stuffing that cue tip up your nose.

I’m blessed for soup. My friend gave me the recipe last year, and it has been such a blessing to my life! I have been able to share it with others, and it has blessed their lives as well. Something about this soup made from ingredients I grew, that is hearty and healthy… It’s soul food. I’m so lucky to have such an amazing resource at my disposal. It’s also quick and easy to grab in nights that we’re in a hurry.

Nov

I am blessed to have a husband that encourages me to take time off. The world makes husbands out to be a “what did you do all day” sort of person, but Ranger has never even implied that I was lazy; quite the contrary. He often rejoices in a day taken just for myself. I am so grateful that he encourages me in resting. He makes me feel accomplished even when I didn’t do anything, because it meant I was taking care of myself. And I love him for that.

I am blessed by bears that say prayers. My daughter had her bear kneel down with us during prayers tonight. I didn’t see her do it, I just opened my eyes, and he was there. That is a childhood memory I want to keep. So sweet and innocent. She is such a breath of fresh air. Nov

I’m blessed to have a past. Because of my past, I see things in others. Because of my past, I have warning signs to notify me of danger. But I can also show a level of compassion not available from a soul that has not also suffered. The human existence needs other humans to succeed. We need to be understood, and I’m grateful to have that level of understanding.

 

Day 14: A Matter of Fortunes

dareYesterday, you served someone that needed a hand up. It wasn’t so hard. At least mentally. Right? How glorious and like the savior, to lift someone up, lighten a load, and carry a burden.

But what about all of those above you on life’s totem pole? The funny thing is, that totem pole is all inside your own head. Everyone has something dragging them down. And if they say they don’t they either have a good attitude or they’re lying. And I doubt it’s all good attitude, maybe partially, but not entirely. Everyone has bad days. It’s part of the plan. Everyone has something to work on, something to overcome and something to learn. Or they wouldn’t be here.

As humans, we tend to find things others have that we lack. Someone has all the money they need to pay the bills and actually gets to buy their wants. Someone has all the faith it takes to overcome the obstacles. Someone’s burdens are lighter. Someone has angel children. Someone has lots of children.

Think of someone who you think has “everything.” I bet it was pretty easy to find them in your mind. Now find a way to serve them.

The interesting thing is, by so doing, you will realize how much pride comes into play in your heart. And when you realize it’s there, send it packing. Pride and gratitude don’t mix, and it’s time for ours to take a vacation. A long one. Possibly forever. Perhaps that is one of the biggest blinders man has that God doesn’t. Pride distorts our views of our fellow beings. It keeps us from seeing people as they really are. God doesn’t have those distortions. Everyone has something to love about them, and something they’re working on.

so today, see people as God sees them. Serve them.

Day 13: service

If you aced yesterday’s Anyway Principle, you’ll have no problems with today. We’re simply taking a step up. Yesterday’s anyway principle showed us how easy service can be. It’s just one extra step in a direction we were going anyway. But that’s not the all-encompassing direction of service. Sometimes service is out of our way. Sometimes it isn’t something we are doing anyway. But it still needs done, and sometimes we are the best person for the job. Today, do one act of service that is out of your way. [tooltip text=”Bigweld; Robots, 2005″]See a need, fill an need.[/tooltip] Observe and serve. And then if you revert back to the Anyway service, that’s okay, too.

dare

Day 12: Anyway

Once when I was a teenager, I learned a concept that stood out to me. I brought it home to my family, and we realized how much a part of our life the concept is. We always called it the Anyway Principle.

If you’re going to make dinner anyway, why not make extra and give it to the family of a sick mother?

If you’re going to go to an activity anyway, why not fill the empty seats in the car with someone who needs a ride?

If you’re at your desk anyway, why not write a “just thinking of you” note to someone on your mind?

When I googled the Anyway principle, it came to my attention that there is more than one “Anyway Principle,” and that my version is all but obsolete. The other principle, which is more of an “Anyway Challenge,” discusses a few paradoxical commandments, written by Kent M. Keith.

dare

Although at first the principles seemed so different to me, I thought about it, did some research, and studied a bit of the grammar that I love. Whether something is negative or not, like in the paradoxical commandments, it doesn’t change the word (from what I can tell, the direction you’re looking – positive or negative – is the only difference between the paradoxical commandments and the anyway principle I knew: one states the opposition to the plan, while the other focuses on the proactive side of the plan. It doesn’t change the use of the word. Both mean “regardless,” “in any  case,” or “nevertheless”). If you are going to do something anyway, do it. Don’t let something stand in your way. Do something good no matter what opposition you face. If you’re going to reach out, who cares who tries to stop you! Especially if the person trying to stop you is yourself. Do it anyway.

But to me, grammar aside, there is still a difference I can’t ignore. One is active, the other is proactive. One is looking back and saying “I will move forward, anyway.” The other says, “I will move forward anyway, so what’s one more step.” One looks back and sees all the reasons not to do something. The other ignores all the reasons not to, and just looks at what they can do, and how much further they can go. If you are doing something anyway, is there someone you can bring along with you or something you can do while you’re out? If you’re cooking dinner anyway, can you make extra? 

The difference in the word "anyway"
The difference in the word “anyway”

I guess it’s the anyway principle inside of the anyway principle. You can choose to follow Kent M. Keith’s anyway principle (it’s still forward movement, so it counts. And some days, that might be all you can handle. Smile anyway…), but if you’re going to do it anyway…

Day 11: Noted

dareI feel that as long as you’re thanking someone, it counts as thanking them. If you only write one thank you note, that’s okay. At least write one. For the rest of November, thank someone however feels the most real to you.

The benefit of thank you notes is that they can be kept after you write them. A compliment is forgotten quickly, but a thank you note can be seen and recalled to memory often.

And an added bonus: I am so much better at writing than I am at speaking.

So, our daily checklist looks something like this:

  1. Wake up and say it’s a glorious day
  2. Take 30 seconds to just be glad you’re alive.
  3. Look for the silver lining.
  4. Go for a walk
  5. write down 3 paragraphs about how you are blessed.
  6. Tell someone thank you.

See, we’re on day 11 and only have 6 things per day to do! That’s not too complicated. Ahh, the benefits of expounding instead of expanding.