Oh my goodness. Life got WILD.
For still unknown reasons, my concussive symptoms just exploded in February. There have been days I’ve slept 12 hours and others where I have barely slept through the night. I’ve had 10/10 headaches and neck pain, dizziness and lightheadedness that has literally knocked me down and so much trouble with word retrieval.
These are some of my many excuses for not following through with this challenge. But, reflecting back on the past year, I’m still going to call it a success.
I learned how to treat myself so much more kindly. I accept that I need more rest and allow myself to take plenty of naps, go to bed early and ask for help with high-energy tasks. I get so excited by small achievements, like completing a tough sudoku or writing for 15 minutes. And I’m indulging in so many great things to mark those achievements. Soy lattes from Lila’s on the way home from therapy? Yes please!
And I’ve noticed that I tend to do kind things for people on a pretty daily basis. I share snacks with people asking for help on street corners, organize clothing swaps to help low-income folks and save energy to do housework to alleviate some of the pressure on my partner.
What I’m missing is doing one big thing for a person each month. Letting this project slip to the back burner was an act of kindness towards myself, but the break has also let me reflect and see the flaws (I’m already doing small things daily) and the huge benefits (learning self-care and having motivation to organize larger acts of kindness).
I’m starting occupational therapy next week and just had my first session back at physical therapy, on top of speech therapy, neurobiofeedback and regular doctor’s appointments, so I’m going to continue going easy on myself for now. But in 2019, I might just be starting this project over again, with new guidelines and challenges for myself.
This past month has been kind of scary. I slipped on the ice in late January. Although I didn’t hit my head–or even actually fall–the fast forward-back motion injured my already twice concussed brain. Since I haven’t really been feeling better, my partner made me an appointment with a physical therapist who specializes in concussions.
That was this Tuesday and it was terrifying. There are lots of things wrong with my spine, neck, brain and other things. It was too much for my concussed brain to take in, especially when she was doing tests that were extremely draining.
This all makes me so proud of how My Kindest Year has been going. I’ve continued to do a kind thing for at least one person a day. I’m still sending out letters of appreciation. I’ve been making food or gathering my favourite junk food to give to people. I’ve checked in with friends who aren’t doing well.
Being kind to myself has looked very different. Being re-injured and not healing has been frustrating. I want to work to earn money to contribute to my family. I want to cook and clean so my partner doesn’t have to do most of it. I really just want to be able to participate in life. The kind acts towards myself have included finding the positives in this situation, checking in with my body to see what’s going on and doing what is best for my brain even when I really, really would rather keep listening to audio books than take a nap.
I’ve also been keeping up with doing one huge nice thing for someone each month. In January, I organized a few people sending a good friend of mine a basket of self-care items for Valentine’s Day and in February I planned a surprise birthday party for my mother-in-law with my partner.
After an awesome brainstorming session with Jenna Anderson, I came up with a few more things I’d like to do and am already working on two! I may start doing more than one a month.
Life has been frustrating for me, but looking back on the past month and seeing that I’m still managing to stay on top of my goals while never sacrificing my health makes me so happy and proud. Being concussed feels a little less awful when I know I’m still accomplishing things with my life.
This week in My Kindest Year went just great.
There were a couple days where I felt like I didn’t put much effort in, but then on other days I did a little extra.
For myself, I went to sleep at 9 p.m. one night. Another night, I took a long, hot bath and used a face mask. Another hot bath was with a mineral soak for joint pain which I’ve been saving, followed my using a spicy chai lotion I’ve also been saving. While I’m not officially figuring this into this project, I also worked much harder on not making myself feel guilty when I’m not being productive by reminding myself that I need breaks (especially as my wrists and fingers are in quite a bit of pain) and trying not to sweat the small things, like being late when it’s out of my control.
For others, I sent some tea to an Etsy buyer who made a large purchase this week and sent my younger brother a nice text. I wrote letters to two friends listing my favourite qualities about them (check out my article on Vent Over Tea about gratitude letters) and sent another card to yet another person whose cat recently passed. I feel great about all these acts of kindness. A couple only took a few seconds while others took a half hour, but they’re all giving people the feeling I wanted this project to give people; I want them to feel loved and cared about, and to get to have a moment of joy in experiencing something out of the ordinary.
On of my 2018 goals was to do one huge thing for a friend each month, so this week I’ll be focusing on that while continuing these daily acts of kindness.
After planning this project, my cat became very ill and needed emergency surgery. He’s home now and recovering, but recovery is slow. I also received my work permit in early January, after months of waiting.
Between these two things, I’m busy af. David hasn’t regained full use of his bladder, so he leaks bloody urine all over. This means the washing machine is always rocking over here lately. I’m cleaning up and comforting him between sending out pitches and writing, wildly trying to find some paid work ASAP.
When it comes to My Kindest Year, I’ve got a lot of excuses for having phoned it in a bit, this week. Yesterday, my nice thing for someone else was going to see live music with Luke, something he loves doing, and my nice thing to myself was forcing myself to go out and have fun instead of cleaning the house.
This week’s been hard and I’m not beating myself up for putting this project on the back burner, scrambling every evening to think of nice things to do, but I’d like to be doing things that are much more involved and out of my ordinary.
For next week, I’ve decided to pre-plan the kinds things I want to do. I won’t necessarily do all them as I may come up with other ideas, but at least I’ve got something to work with.
For someone else
- Write a friend a letter listing all my favourite qualities of theirs.
- Send someone a book they might like.
- Craft something for my mom and younger brother with grandma’s broken dishes.
- Shovel my neighbour’s walkway.
- Leave the postal worker cookies.
- Take Miles to play fetch (yup, kind things for animal count).
- Make Luke his morning oatmeal (yuck!).
- Make myself vegan cheese.
- Order hair dye.
- Play piano.
- Spend an hour reading, eating olives and drinking tea, in peace.
- Make myself a reading nook.
- Craft something for me with grandma’s broken dishes.
- Take an afternoon off to wander downtown.
I’m super open to hearing suggestions on kind things I can do for myself and others that don’t require much money! Comment below if you’ve got anything for me.
The first five days of my challenge to do one kind act for someone else and one kind act towards myself each day has been interesting.
I made my partner breakfast, baked my neurobiofeedback counsellor cookies, wrote my mom a letter of thanks and gave my mother-in-law a book. I’m still deciding what to do today, but I think I’m going to mail a book to a friend.
Where I’m struggling is doing nice things for myself. On January 1, I let myself read for hours without feeling guilty about not doing anything productive. That was awesome.
Next day, I went to bed early to read. Okay. Not a great act of kindness, but something.
Wednesday, I decided to go to bed to sleep at 9:30 p.m. But then my partner had some car troubles. I got out of bed and didn’t get back in until after midnight. Last night, I’d planned on popping my pjs in the dryer for a few before tucking in, but by the time it was close to bed I was just too exhausted to go downstairs, come back up to wait, then go back down to get them; I just wanted to go straight to bed.
My lesson from this week is that I need to find kind things to do for myself earlier in the day. I need to make them a priority so I don’t bump them. However, I’m struggling a bit in finding kind things to do for myself that don’t involve spending money.
In 2018, I’m going to do one kind thing each day for someone else and one kind thing each day for myself.
There are a few reasons.
First, I’ve realized that relationships are one of my highest values, so I want to spend more time focusing on them. A few of my 2018 goals reflect this, but I wanted to do something bigger. Spreading love through small, daily acts seemed like that something bigger I was looking for.
Second, 2017 sucked. I lost a lot of the faith I had in humanity. I let go of a few friendships because of the way they backed right off after my car accident and I’ve struggled to not be bitter about the friends who weren’t there at all but who are still in my life. A lot of my feelings are totally valid and I do need to re-evaluate how much I put into relationships and how much I get back. But my desire to pull back from everyone and refuse to support those who haven’t supported me has been kind of scary. That’s just not me. I’m hoping that spending a year consciously being kind to others and to myself will help me work through some of these feelings somehow.
Third, I’ve decided (for the 1,000th time) to give quitting drinking a serious go. While I’ve managed to stay sober for months at a time in the past, I’ve never stayed sober permanently. I feel a project like this will help give me something to focus on as I tackle my drinking problem, once and for all. This isn’t something I’m terribly comfortable discussing publicly at length, yet.
What will it look like?
I’ve set some rules up for myself.
- Stitching Hearts projects don’t count because I’d be doing those anyways.
- If I decide to do something kind that takes multiple days (such as knitting someone a scarf), it will only count for one day.
- If I miss a day, the act of kindness towards myself will be forgiveness without making a big deal of it.
I’ll send postcards to friends, plan parties for loved ones and buy strangers’ coffee. I’ll take hot baths, spend afternoons reading in coffee shops and cook delicious meals for one.
Watch my blog for daily to weekly updates on how it’s going.