Concussed as hell, but still being kind

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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.

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Just struggling to be kind

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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!).

For me

  • 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.

Struggling with kindness towards me

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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.

Any suggestions?

What’s this?

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In 2018, I’m going to do one kind thing each day for someone else and one kind thing each day for myself.

Why?

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.

  1. Stitching Hearts projects don’t count because I’d be doing those anyways.
  2. If I decide to do something kind that takes multiple days (such as knitting someone a scarf), it will only count for one day.
  3. 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.

Meg’s guide to being nice

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I’m a little beat this week because people can be really fucking mean. Here’s my guide to being a decent human being on the most basic level.

  1. If someone says something you’re doing is making them uncomfortable, just stop.
  2. Someone’s upset you? Tell them what the problem is and talk it out. We’re adults. An entire relationship doesn’t need to be dropped because you’re afraid of talking about feelings. If they’re not going to respect those feelings, by all means walk away. But to walk away because someone hurt your feelings by not showing up to an event is ridiculous.
  3. Don’t say anything about a person that you wouldn’t say to their face. Chances are they’re going to hear what you’ve said, or at least get the feeling you’re talking shit about them, and it’s just you who’s going to look like the asshole.

In the words of my wise co-worker, Thomas Pashko, “It’s really easy to not be a violent asshole, and yet some people still feel the need to.” That statement rings true to me even if you take the “violent” out.

Being a nice human being does take a bit of extra work, but it’s still not that hard.

  1. Help others out. Through Cockroach’s Stitching Hearts projects, it doesn’t take much time, money or effort. Even go through life with some Dollarama snacks to hand out to folks who are hungry, whether that’s co-workers or people on the street.
  2. Send a supportive message to someone who’s struggling, without demanding anything of them in return.
  3. Make the world prettier by picking up garbage and leaving gifts for strangers in random places.

I’m heading back to Montana where no one really knows me so at least folks can only be assholes to me online.

See ya!


Photo by Beverley Goodwin.

Holy crap, people are nice.

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I received the above gift anonymously in the mail a couple of weeks ago after a particularly annoying day. I don’t remember what was going on, but I do remember feeling ridiculously stressed and anxious. A lot of that slipped away after I found this in my mailbox.

If you know me at all, you know I don’t go to theatres. What you might not know is that I don’t go because some months I barely slip by financially and going out to see a movie isn’t in the budget. Like, it hasn’t really been for more than a year. But the beautiful feather, kind note and lovely handmade envelope were just as special. I had to sit down for a minute and cry. Multiple times over the next 24-hours.

People are just so dang nice to me!

I’m not going to lie, after really enjoying receiving this gift, I put on my detective hat and tried to figure out who’d sent it. There were some telling clues, but I stopped myself before coming up with a list of suspects and instead shifted my focus to thinking about how damn lovely this was and how I want others to feel this way.

That’s sort of why I started Sending Love to Broken Hearts. But folks staying in women’s shelters over Valentine’s Day aren’t the only ones who need some love. Talking with a good friend, we decided to start getting together somewhat regularly to create nice little packages like this for people who we know are struggling, whether or not we really know that person.

Whoever sent this, thank you! I’m holding on to the love you sent me and making sure to spread it. You’re fucking beautiful, amazing and lovely.

 

Can’t we be kind everyday?

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This week, United Way held its Conscious Kindness Day.

“It’s really simple: just plan something sweet for your friends, family, co-workers, neighbours (or a total stranger!) and share it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #KindWPG,”  United Way posted on its website.

I think it’s bullshit that we need a campaign like this to get people doing nice things.

I’m frequently told that I’m a good person for spending the night at the home of someone who is suicidal and needs company, ditching work early to drive a seriously ill friend to the doctor and living a compassionate, vegan lifestyle.

I’m not a particularly good person. In my mind, this is the absolute minimum I should be doing. As a white, cis, able-bodied human being with an excellent support system, it’d be selfish of me to not do these simple acts to make life better for people who are going through a tough time.

And the same goes for everyone else. If you’re in a pretty decent life position, like I am, I think it’s your duty as a member of society to inconvenience or put stress on yourself from time-to-time to help someone in need out.

The things suggested for Winnipeggers to do on Conscious Kindness Day are things most of us should all be doing all the time, when we’re able.

Giving up your seat on the bus: I don’t bus much these days, but I remember so many times an elderly person clearly having trouble standing on a moving bus would make it nearly to the back of the before someone would give up their seat. Now, we can’t judge anyone for not standing up because you don’t know if there’s an invisible disability, injury or pregnancy that makes sitting more comfortable, but if that’s not you, get up. You’re helping yourself by doing so, too.

Sharing food: When I first moved out of my parents home, I didn’t have a safe home. I didn’t have much money and I went hungry a lot. But when I had food, I shared it. My close friend would bring hash browns home from work to share with me and the dude downstairs would make us meals with what he found in dumpsters. It’s not difficult to hand a granola bar to folks on the street asking for help. Dollarama sells food, for fucksakes. A woman who was in a pretty shitty place herself once tried to buy me a meal because she said I looked like I needed it. Now that’s real, above and beyond kindness. If you consistently go to bed without hunger pains, you really should be helping out those who do.

Asking how someone is and listening to the answer: Are people not doing this??? Seriously???

Let’s be honest, the world is a fucked up place. There are a lot of really selfish, shitty people out there. But there are also a lot of really amazing, kind and generous folks. And then there’s the people in the middle who go through life looking out for themselves until they’re told to pay-it-forward by buying a coffee for the person ahead of them in line at the Starbucks.

Imagine if we all stepped it up and took care of one another? What if giving up seats on the bus, sharing food, listening to how others are doing, taking care of people who are ill, donating used items to social agencies and smiling at strangers were just part of our everyday lives?

That’d be a hell of a lot of love that could really make a huge difference in the world.


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Living with anxiety sucks, I know. There are some specific challenges to dealing with it as a feminist, vegan and freelance writer, and I talk about those in this podcast. I’m no expert at chilling out and avoiding panic attacks, but I’m learning. Maybe we can learn together?

Podcast by Meg Crane, freelance journalist and editor. Music by Alannah Zeebeck. Artwork by Kate Winiarz and Meg Crane.

This week, I’m talking about anxiety brought on by spending too much time taking care of others. So, my plan is to take a day to take care of my needs each week and I challenge YOU to do something significant to help someone else out.