Friday, December 17, 2010

Making a Kind Choice

One of the things I do is blog for a group created by Yahoo! called the Motherboard. It's a terrific collection of women writers who inspire me on a daily basis.

When I attended a Yahoo! Motherboard Summit this past spring in California we spent a lot of time learning about Yahoo! and getting a chance to meet each other in person (instead of just online, which is how so many of us moms communicate these days - even if we live around the block from each other, right?)

Anyway - while I was there I heard a lot about Yahoo's program called a "Ripple of Kindness."
The idea is random acts of kindness; one woman said last year she paid for people's postage as everyone was waiting in line to mail off their holiday packages. This sweet, simple, sudden acts of kindness can inspire people to, in turn, create their own act of kindness.

I remember thinking, well that is kind of cool - but what about changing the world? (I have a problem sometimes with these big global, over-arching ambitions....)

Then something interesting happened. Yahoo! sent the Motherboard members EACH a check and with that money we were supposed to go out and make our own ripples of kindness splash across the universe.

I cashed the check and kept the money, with little cards explaining the program, in my purse. And there it sat. I kept waiting for inspiration, or the best opportunity/cause to give the money away. Should I give all of it in one big chunk to a worthy cause? Should I dole it out and spread more ripples?

In the end I went with the multiple acts of kindness and it was thrilling and fun. I felt a little bit like a mischievous holiday elf, out to do good. I still want to change the world, end war and poverty, eliminate discrimination, racism, sexism, homophobia, cure my mother's cancer and make sure children everywhere learn to read and have enough to eat. But for the past few weeks I have simply made a few choices about creating a ripple of kindness.

This week was my daughter's birthday, and I brought donuts to her classroom. As my husband and I sat crossed-legged on the floor with her and her classmates, we watched the children take turns doing show and tell (which they call "share.")

When one little boy got up to show off a toy that makes sounds, a little girl in the class was ignoring him. She was sitting on the floor turning pages of her sticker book (which of course was of interest to the kids sitting next to her.)

The teacher saw this and stopped everything. "Your friend is sharing," she said. "Didn't he pay attention when it was your turn to share? Can you make a kind choice right now and listen to him while he shares?"

I hear them talking about kindness at school all the time (in fact this week the class had a "kindness party" - which including balloons and chocolate chips - because they had performed so many acts of kindness they had earned the party.)

Sitting in the class it just brought it all full circle to me. One of those - "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" moments.

Being kind makes the world work better. If we were always acting from a place of love and respect and kindness, how different would our planet be? Idealistic day-dreaming, I know. But it seems in keeping with the spirit of the season.

Here are the random acts of kindness I have been able to accompolish because of the Yahoo! program. (And I still have some money left - so watch out! Another ripple could happen at any time!)

I donated books, through Barnes & Noble, for disadvantaged children.

I gave money to Gilda's Club - specifically for Noogieland - the play space that offers programming for children who have been affected by a loved one's cancer diagnosis.

I bought a round of drinks for an older couple that came into a hotel bar where my husband and I were enjoying a few moments rest in between holiday shopping.

I gave money to a woman shopping in a toy store for a gift for her 1-year-old granddaughter.

It felt wonderful and I can't wait to create a few more ripples.