Almost six years ago, I started a new job.
Having worked as a teacher, caterer, marketer, PR agent, government policy advisor, start-up founder, fundraiser, operations lead, and community builder, I was venturing into new territory, serving as executive director of an agency that focused on parents and children.
Other parents. Other people’s children. At least that’s what I thought.
I’ll confess now that I didn’t really know much about the organization I was going to be running. It was (still is) located in a large building that I mistakenly thought also housed administrative offices for another organization. I thought this thought because the building was, as I’ve mentioned, quite large, so surely there had to be other groups working in there, too. What all these groups did, I had no real idea, other than that it was loosely connected to parents and children, to anger and abuse. That’s what I thought.
Only I was wrong about all of that, and wrong about a few other things that are connected in ways that will take a bit of explaining. And I will explain, soon, but not tonight.
Tonight I’m writing to let you know just two things:
The first thing is that six months after my 56 day “write something every day” challenge, I recognize that everything works better for me when I write every day. Everything. Writing is like drinking 8 glasses of water, getting a good night’s sleep, meeting the daily fiber intake goal, and maybe having just a tiny piece of chocolate, all rolled into one dose of good self-care. When I write every day, or almost every day, my head is clearer and my heart lighter. I know this truth; I just don’t always honor it.
So, the first thing is that you’re stuck with another round of daily ramblings, which will probably be posted late at night, because even though I start writing, in my head, in the mornings, and even though I have every intention of sitting down to write, sometime in between waving goodbye to my daughter when she leaves for school and putting my own self in the car to go to work, it just doesn’t happen. The phone rings, or the dogs need to go out, or I get an email that can’t wait for a response, and the interruption gets me off course, and I get nothing written (and also, I forget whatever I’d composed in my head). Nighttime it is, then.
The second, unrelated thing is that I’ve been thinking quite a lot about kindness and what it means to be kind. More specifically, I’ve been thinking about how to cultivate kindness, about what the discipline of practicing kindness might look like. The signs and stickers and memes encouraging the world to “be kind” don’t really give enough detail on how to follow that direction. What’s the difference between kind and nice, for example, and how does kindness come into play when the grocery clerk makes an error or a stranger takes unfair advantage? How do we cultivate a kind world?
Tomorrow, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, maybe we’ll try matching up that question, how to cultivate kindness, with the creative framework. Sound fun? Of course it does.
My shaggy companion had a birthday this week, and I baked him a cake. He liked it. Here’s the recipe I used for the cake; for the frosting I whipped up some boiled potatoes with plain Greek yogurt. (Also, yes, I did taste the cake. It tasted pretty much like overly healthy peanut butter cookies.) The connection here is that this particular shaggy companion, rescued during the pandemic, needed a kindness intervention. It’s working. Slowly, but surely, it’s working.