Number 21 – Thank you letters to rubbish collectors

I have written letters to our rubbish collectors, as they do such an important job that is often under-appreciated.

I am also counting this as the act for day 5 in the ‘Do Lent Generously’ challenge, which asked us to say thank you to someone that does not often hear it. I decided to count it as a separate act as well, because I made the act bigger than what was suggested.

IMG_20140331_152237

I believe minimising waste can really help protect the planet.  A website that gives ideas and advice on how to reduce household waste is:

http://myzerowaste.com/2009/05/beginners-tips-for-reducing-household-waste

http://www.recycling-guide.org.uk/importance.html

Number 20 – Earth Hour

Last night I celebrated Earth Hour.

Begun by the WWF in 2007, Earth Hour is an annual international event where individuals, businesses and whole cities turn off non-essential appliances that use electricity for an hour, as an act of environmentalism.

This event saves a huge amount of energy across the world, and stops many, many tons of carbon dioxide being emitted in to the atmosphere. (Results from Earth Hour 2013 can be found here: http://theenergycollective.com/sbattaglia/203061/earth-hour-2013-results-are).

I celebrated by going out with my new friend Gail (see post ‘Number 14’), who really wanted to go and see an event that was on near us where hot air balloons are blown up and illuminated in the darkness. I was not that keen to go because it was a bit late for me on a night where I have to work the next day, but I knew she really wanted to and so decided I would as well, as otherwise she would have missed it. I actually had a really good time and am glad I went, plus I am extra happy that she had a lovely evening.

http://www.earthhour.org

http://www.worldwildlife.org

 

Number 19 – Sweets for special needs children charity

Earlier today a lady knocked on the door raising money for children with special needs by selling sweets. I bought some, but then decided to give the sweets to my step-sister-in-law (I am vegetarian and they had gelatine in them).

Even though that technically counts as an altruistic act , I wanted to make the act a bit more special and so also spent some time learning about different special needs. I decided to particularly read about intellectual disabilities because of joining the befriending programme with Gail (post ‘Number 14’).

http://www.ihc.org.nz

http://www.childrenwithspecialneeds.com

Number 18 – Donated to an Eating Disorder Charity

Yesterday I gave a donation to EDANZ, the Eating Disorder Association New Zealand. I picked this charity as it offers help, advice and support for parents and carers of people suffering from eating disorders, and is an issue close to my heart because without such support I would not be alive today.

If anyone reading this is affected by an eating disorder (directly, or if someone you love is) I want to give this important message: there is always hope and full recovery is possible. My parents and I were told on multiple occasions over several years and by different doctors that there was no hope, that recovery was no longer possible, that there would always be health problems, even that funeral plans should be made. Today, I am am healthy  and live in harmony with my body. Recovery is possible. My sincere thanks to my parents and friends who gave unwavering love and support.

http://www.edanz.org.nz

Another great website for information and support on working through eating disorders is

http://www.something-fishy.org

I am also counting this action as number 18 on the ‘Do Lent Generously’ challenge.

Number 17 – Rehydrated a homeless man

Today as I was leaving work there was a man sleeping on the pavement outside, so I got him a bottle of water and a banana, and left them in the crook of his arm.

As I was walking away I saw a couple of school kids looking at what I was doing. I felt good about that, as who I am today is definitely at least partly a result of being inspired by the actions of others that I have seen, and I’d love it if them seeing me do that might influence them to do something similar one day.

Number 16 – Saved a hedgehog

A few days ago we discovered a couple of baby hedgehogs in our garden. The next day, one of them was lying in the middle of the lawn with flies all around it and we thought it was dead at first. Upon closer inspection, I realised it was still alive and so rushed off to the SPCA but fearing it might even die on the way there because it looked so ill. At the SPCA they told me they could not take it but that I could take it to a vet, which I did.

At the vet, two assistants spend nearly half an hour picking fly eggs from its skin and they gave it a check over. They said they were not sure if the vet would be able to do anything else, and printed off some information for me because I said I wanted to look after it until it got better. They also gave me some free kitten food to feed it with.

At home, I made a little house for it in the kitchen and by the evening it was looking a bit better. I kept it for another day and it continued to get stronger. Yesterday I decided it was time to let it go again, so I covered it in oil, as the vet nurses suggested (to drown any remaining fly eggs that might have been on it), put it near its original nest with some food, and let it go. In the evening I heard it scuttling about and hopefully it is back to full health now.

IMG_20140322_121422

http://www.petsonthenet.co.nz/hedgehog

Number 15 – Spread the altruistic actions challenge

This happened quite accidentally, but I have decided to count it: I told my mum a few weeks ago about my challenge to do 100 altruistic actions this year. Last week, she told me it had inspired her to start her own challenge, of at least one altruistic action per month.

It happened because I had made too much food one evening and so had prepared a packed lunch that I wanted to give a homeless person the next day. She came with me as I went searching for someone to give it to, but when we found someone, I lost my nerve at the last second for some reason (I don’t know what happened, I think I was scared I might offend him). My mum stepped up and gave him the food, and he was thrilled and touched. I said it was her act, not mine, as it was her that had showed the kindness and moved him, and she said that’s when she realised it was easy to help other people, and decided to start her own challenge. She insisted I counted this as an act as she says she would not have come up with her challenge if I hadn’t started mine. So I will. And I intend to complete my original act one day, too, and not let nerves get in the way again!

Number 10 (part 4 of 4) – ‘Do Lent generously’ challenge

This is a continuation of act number 10, the ‘Do Lent Generously’ challenge (detailed further down in this blog). Detailed below are the acts for days 31 to 40 of the 40 day challenge.

Day 31: Create something for someone – For our first anniversary I had made a piece of art (a collage of photos and prose) for my partner, which we have hanging on our bedroom wall. We recently moved and it got damaged by rain. To complete this challenge I restored it so that it looks as good as new.

Day 32: Give unused things to charity – See post ‘Number 27’.

Day 33: Sign a petition – See post ‘Number 28’.

Day 34: Plan an Easter party for ‘Easter Saturday’ – I will be inviting my friend who will be alone over Easter for dinner with our family.

Day 35: Spread the Gospel – I have interpreted this in a way that makes it relevant for me: I am not spreading the Gospel, but I attempted to spread the very important message that is respect and compassion for others.

Yesterday, a friend/acquaintance of mine on Facebook posted what I found to be an offensive statement about homeless people (using the Australian derogatory slang ‘feral’, meaning dirty and un-kept). It made me really sad and I felt I had to say something, but was not sure how to approach the subject as I do not know her that well (we only know each other from when I lived for a short time in Australia, and we are no longer in regular contact).

The conversation is posted below. Even though I don’t know if the way she sees other people has changed, I felt there was at least some difference in how she talked at the beginning of the post to at the end, so perhaps there was some impact, even if it was just small. And who knows if maybe it will grow and be reinforced by others in the future.

I feel my part in this conversation was minor, as ‘D’ and ‘H’ are closer and ‘D’ was obviously more moved by what ‘H’ said. However, I decided to count this as an act because even though my influence in the conversation appears to be minor, it was with the greatest intentions of spreading love and compassion in a non-intrusive way, and even the smallest of impacts can still help ideas grow.

feral 1 feral 2 compassion

Day 36: Share your lunch – I went out today (the day before Easter Sunday) to share lunch with a homeless person.  I saw a gentleman on the other side of the road and popped in to a cafe to order two portions of chips and juice for us. But while I was waiting for the chips to be prepared, it started to rain and the man left. I looked for him (or someone else) afterwards, but to no avail. While I am not counting this as my act completed (I intend to complete this act -hopefully many times- in the near future), I am nevertheless counting the intention with regard to being able to complete the ‘Do Lent Generously’ challenge.

Day 37: Put yourself second – I feel this is already part of my daily life (at least with regard to being there for my family, friends and work, and sometimes also beyond that). And I am not saying this with any pretence of nobleness, or with any bitterness, for that matter: it is just how it is, or perhaps who I am. And I know many other people that put the needs of others first, almost instinctively. I had never really thought about it before. When I do it, I don’t feel like it is special. However, saying that I have always had a lot of respect and admiration for people I see as selfless. So to complete this act, I guess I will consider my actions for the day, and consciously choose to listen to what others want, and put effort in to fulfilling these needs where I can.

Day 38: Forgive someone – I do not like to hold on to anger and I try to resolve issues and restore peace in relationships as quickly as possible. There is only one person I have had a difficult time forgiving entirely. This person hurt me a lot in the past. I was manipulated and used over several years, but that is in the past and I have let go of the anger I felt about that. I really have. What I am finding very difficult to forgive is that this person continues to prey on, manipulate and abuse vulnerable people, but I am not in the position to do anything about it. I find forgiving him difficult because I feel he is causing injustice, and I should be able to stop it but I can’t. I forgive him as a person – we are all just humans, and I do not perceive the world as he does, so how can I know why he acts the way he does?- I just struggle to forgive his continued actions. In an attempt to complete this task, I shall continue to try and let go of the anger I feel towards this person: I shall try to forgive entirely. It is something I continually work on, and I do feel I get closer with time.

Day 39: Share your story – This act is to tell others about how you came to God. How I came to have the spirituality I have now was triggered by disillusionment with organised religion, developed through a reverence for nature, and continues to evolve as my understanding of the world increases. I am not interested in ‘converting’ people to my particular spiritual beliefs, but I do wish there was more love, compassion and respect in the world – for people, and other animals, and nature. I try to live my life in a way that is in accord with my aspirations of a love-filled, peaceful and respectful planet, and I guess all I would say to others who aspire for something similar is to believe it is possible, to start with yourself, and to spread the love. ❤

Day 40: Celebrate with your community – See post ‘Number 32’.

Number 10 (part 3 of 4) – ‘Do Lent Generously’ challenge

This is a continuation of act number 10, the ‘Do Lent Generously’ challenge (detailed further down). Detailed below are the acts for days 21 to 30 of the 40 day challenge.

Day 21: Pray for someone – I am not involved in any organised religion, and so at first I was a bit unsure about how I would complete this act. But I have hopes and wishes (for myself and others) and I direct these at a higher power, which is a form of praying. At the moment, a dear friend of mine is having a complicated pregnancy. I am directing deepest wishes and prayers of health and happiness towards her, and hoping all works out well.

Day 22: Unplug – Today’s act is to not use any screens (television, computer, phone, etc). It was challenging for me to find a day to do this, but once I picked my day, it was actually surprisingly easy! So yesterday I did 24 hours with no screens. And I had a really good time. I hung out with my friends during the day and in the evening we built a fire in their garden an talked until the early hours.

Day 23: Offer to make someone tea/coffee that you don’t usually ask – For a morning or so each week, I help out at my daughters daycare. Today, while I was cleaning up in the kitchen I offered to make a coffee for the staff.

Day 24: Make someone laugh – Through social media, I found a link to an article I found amusing and shared it with my partner, who laughed out loud several times when he read it. It was a lovely moment.

Day 25: Treasure hunt – Go to a public place and see what generous deed you can do. See post ‘Number 26’.

Day 26: Domino generosity – This is based on the principle of paying it forward. I had begun planning for a pay it forward gesture several weeks ago and completed it today – see post ‘Number 21 & 22’.

Day 27: Give someone flowers – I picked a bunch of wild flowers for my partner, to show my appreciation of how hard he works (he does shift work at the moment, and so my daughter and I barely see him it feels like, because he either leaves really early in the morning, or comes back really late). At first I wondered if they were as special as if I would have spent money and bought a bunch, but I think this bunch was prepared with even more love, because I had to go out and pick them, then trim them, and arrange them.

flowers for josh

Day 28: Guerrilla generosity – Today I visited a friend of mine who has a baby that is a few months old. While she was busy with the baby, I quickly cleaned and dried all her dishes. Having been in the same position a few months ago, I know how housework has a way of piling up with a baby in the house, so I am really happy I could do that for her,. Because even if it only saves her a few minutes, I know I was very appreciative when people helped me when I was struggling with a new baby.

Day 29: Share your favourite Bible verse with others via social media – I have changed this act somewhat, so that it is more relevant to me: I shared a video clip which has a message of great importance and is truly inspirational:

http://blog.petflow.com/this-3-minute-video-made-me-cry-and-i-never-cry-must-see-for-everyone/

Day 30: Meet a need in your community – A few months ago I put my name down to volunteer at a local food bank. I haven’t heard back from them yet and so have written to them again, just in case they lost my contact details.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_bank

 

Number 10 (Part 2 of 4) – ‘Do Lent Generously’ challenge

This is a continuation of act number 10, the ‘Do Lent Generously’ challenge (detailed further down). Detailed below are the acts for days 11 to 20 of the 40 day challenge.

Day 11: One green thing – I am actually finding this one quite challenging as I already put in a lot of effort to making my life as ecologically-friendly as possible. Something I have become aware of is I am more car dependent living here than I have been in any other city. Even though I try to walk or cycle when possible, I still use the car more than I would like. So my ‘one green thing’ is to (re)pledge to walk and cycle as often as possible. Walking or cycling to work is not always possible for me, but my daughter is starting at a new day care next week, and part of my pledge is to walk here there and back each day, rather than drive. That is a realistic goal for me and something I am looking forward to.

Day 12: Not judge – The act for today is to treat people like equals, not assume things about them, and show them generosity, love and friendship for the day. This is not something I want to do for just a day, as showing compassion and love for others is something very important to me; I would even say it defines who I am as a person. I feel huge amounts of compassion for others and am distressed by people facing injustice or prejudice as if it were happening to me. Having said this, I am not claiming to be anywhere near perfect, and I undoubtedly have pre-conceived ideas about different people and the world. So I will also use this act to consciously think about and reflect on my thoughts and ideas about different people and situations, and re-assess ones that may be ill-informed.

Day 13: Go local – This act was to shop at or frequent a local business. I am very much in support of this, as shopping locally helps small-scale businesses and can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by avoiding long-distance travel of goods to supermarkets. I have also found it a good way to become acquainted with people in the area and generally become more involved in the community. To complete this act, I went out to lunch with my parents yesterday at a little cafe in a tiny village north of where I live, that we happened to be passing through.

Day 14: Anonymous gift – My new friend Gail (see post ‘Number 14’) recently moved in to how own home and is living independently. She is very proud of this, and I have bought here a nice doormat for when she welcomes people in to her home. I left it anonymously on her doorstep, today.

Day 15: Spread awareness about a campaign you care about – So this was just a ‘mini-campaign’ (I guess I mean this by what I would consider to be my ‘usual standards’), but today I joined the cancer-awareness campaign that is going around on Facebook at the moment, where you take a photo of yourself without make up. Wearing make up is not part of my daily routine, so my putting a(nother) photo of me without make up on is nothing special, really. And to me, it doesn’t actually matter if people wear or don’t wear make up, as long as they are happy with how they are expressing themselves (though I wish fewer people felt insecure without make up, as not wearing make up is beautiful, too). Having said that, I have enjoyed seeing my friends’ beautiful faces without make up over the past days. I captioned the photo with the sentiments expressed above, as well as a link to a website which contains information on which cosmetic brands do not test on animals, as that is another issue I care strongly about. To my dear aunt Monik who lost her battle with cancer, I love you lots. I send out my best wishes to anyone in that battle right now, and their families.

http://www.leapingbunny.org

http://www.cancer.net/coping-and-emotions/communicating-loved-ones/supporting-friend-who-has-cancer

Day 16: Bake for people – See post ‘Number 25’.

Day 17: P’s & Q’s – Today’s act is to put extra effort in to being polite and courteous to people, which I shall do.

Day 18: Give to a charity – See post ‘Number 17’.

Day 19: Leave a random note of encouragement for someone to find – I left this note near a staircase on university campus, where it was most likely one of the cleaners would find it:

IMG_20140328_100810

Day 20 : Talk to a stranger – Small talk is something I do not usually enjoy , nor am I very good at it. So I put in extra effort for this act. Yesterday I had a whole conversation with the check-out person while I was doing my groceries (usually I only manage a sentence or two, before pretending to be distracted by something in my bag, etc. It was actually not nearly as bad as I thought! And I will try to do this more often in future.