Tag Archives: paying it forward

Be more

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my recent Give more and Do more posts! Thanks to all of you who took part in the Do more challenge I shared on Valentine’s day, there were some great examples of paying it forward among those who got involved….

There were a lot of people doing lovely things for friends – champagne bought to celebrate a new job, fresh bread rolls baked for dinner and a mood enhancing walk for a friend who was down. There was also some charity/volunteer work and a simple cheerful ‘hello’ to a stranger walking a dog, which got a big smile in return. It doesn’t take much sometimes. I was also on the receiving end of some love myself this past month – a surprise gift from a friend and a lovely compliment from a stranger lifted my mood on an otherwise stressful day.

To all of those who shared their love spreading with me, thank you! Whether you shared or not, if you spent any time spreading the love over the past month, that’s great! Feels good, right..? I’m sure there’s still plenty of love to go around, too.

This past week I have been thinking a bit more about what I’m doing under the Be more heading and, at the moment, it’s not much. I’ve had pockets of time when I have written some small stones as an exercise in mindfulness but it’s not been often and, if I’m honest, I really haven’t done anything else in this category. I certainly haven’t made time for those deep, lung expanding, life fulfilling breaths I talked about last month.

So, although I will continue to Give more and Do more throughout the year, this month my focus is all about Being more. In order to do this I’ll need to take some time out. It’s my birthday next week, and my gift to myself is time. Time to meditate, think, reflect and breathe. I might even do a bit of yoga. This means that I won’t be writing any blog posts here for a couple of weeks. I’ll still be around, I’ll just be a lot quieter than I have been this past month. I have mixed feelings about this as I often feel that I need to be busy, and that other people ‘should’ come first. I expect this leaks through in my tone, if not my actions, with friends and family sometimes, judging by some tough conversations I’ve had recently. So perhaps putting myself first will benefit them just as much as me.

How about you? How do you feel about taking time for yourself? What do you do when everything gets a bit much and you need to take a step back?

When’s the last time you let yourself… Be?

Be  more

Be more

Do more – Let’s spread a little love…

Hello again!

Remember last month I said my motto for 2013 would be Give more. Do more. Be more? Well, I started with Give more, telling you what I’m doing this year under this heading and asking for your help to raise awareness of (and funds for, if the cause compelled you) Dost, a small charitable organisation in London (UK).

For the rest of this month, let’s Do more, together.

I have been true to my word, and so far this year I’ve been paying it forward as often I can. I won’t list everything I’ve done here, because that’s not why I’m doing it, but examples range from telling the lady who works in our local corner shop how much my son looks forward to seeing her and misses her when she’s not there, to paying for someone else’s morning coffee and croissant (anonymously, before they buy it. Interestingly, some people are very suspicious of this!)

Tomorrow is Valentines Day. The second most celebrated holiday around the world (only after New Year’s Day), it first became associated with romantic love in the middle ages and evolved into a day for lovers to express their love for each other around the 15th century. Mass produced greeting cards didn’t make an appearance until four centuries later and here in the UK, we now spend a ridiculous amount of money each year telling our loved ones how much they mean to us.  It doesn’t need to cost this much, and it doesn’t need to be Valentine’s day, to tell people that we love them, but there’s nothing stopping us from going all out on today if we feel like it. This year, however, I have a suggestion…

As well as using this opportunity to tell our loved ones how much they mean to us, why don’t we use the rest of month to spread a little love a lot further? I’m going to anyway, and I’d like to invite you to join me.

For the rest of the month, I will make a point of doing something every day for someone else. Whether that’s something for someone I don’t know, such as  offering my seat on the tube to someone else (who isn’t obviously in need – otherwise I’d give it anyway), or something for someone closer to home, like sending an unexpected gift to a family member I don’t see often. Earlier this month, I also signed up to More Love Letters.  Based in the U.S, they send love letters to wherever they are needed, all over the world. If you know someone who could do with a parcel of love to uplift them, or simply love letter writing yourself and want to get involved, head over to their website to find out more.

I want to spread some love too!

Great! To join in, simply do one thing for someone else before the end of this month. It doesn’t have to be big but it should be something you don’t usually do anyway. Telling your kids you love them doesn’t count if you tell them every day but if you rarely talk emotions with your teenager, for example, telling them you love them and specifically, why, does. Even if their response is ‘like, yeah. Whatever.’ Post a comment below with the details, or tweet with the hashtag #spreadfeblove and let’s see how much love we can put out there this month!

Do more

Do more

Give more – Doing it for Dost

Last month I posted a ‘strapline’ – a kind of guide for how I want to be in 2013: Give more. Do more. Be more. In it, I mentioned that one of my aims this year is to give more – that is, to do more charitable work – whether that’s donating time and/or money, fundraising, or volunteering in some way.

There are so many causes out there worthy of support and it’s impossible to give to all of them so I have decided to focus on just a few this year. As promised, I am now donating a percentage of my earnings to charity. In addition to this, I am also lending my voice to one off campaigns (such as Save the Children’s Enough Food IF… campaign) and Grassroots advocacy and campaigning organization ONE, who fight poverty and preventable disease in Africa simply by raising awareness via various social media platforms (interested? Find out more and sign up now!).

Can you help me ‘pay it forward’ for a small charitable organisation in the UK?

In addition to the above better known organisations, I’ve also recently started working with Dost, a small charitable organisation in the UK, which has been going for over ten years but recently has been in danger of being shut down due to lack of funding. Recent grants from the City Bridge Trust and the Tudor Trust have helped to ensure that Dost stays open but it’s not enough to meet the high level of need for their services. I’m helping a little by offering my services for free but I want to do more…

So, dear readers, I’ve decided to ask for your help. I’ve seen the power of social media before. There are several success stories but my recent favourite has to be when Matt Madeiro asked his blog and twitter followers to help him to raise enough funds to buy a school bus for the children of Kopila Valley (in fact, Matt is one of those who has inspired me to start giving more). I’m asking for just a little help, a little closer to home.*

Tell me more about Dost
Dost was set up in 2000, to respond to the needs of children who have arrived in the UK alone seeking protection from violence, abuse and persecution in their home countries. ‘Dost’ means ‘friend’ in several languages and at the heart of the work the team does are the relationships they build with the children and young people they work with. This approach recognises the need for consistent, long-term practical and emotional support provided by a trusted adult as a means of bringing about positive change. Find out more about the work Dost does.

Why should I help?
Dost is a very small organisation with only one member of the team working full time. With more and more children and young people needing their help, they are limited as to the services they can offer and long term projects they are able to deliver over and above the core work they do with the young people. At present, Dost have been fundraising to stay open but their priority for 2013 is to secure core costs to enable them to provide ongoing support for more children and young people.

How can I help?
There are lots of ways you can help, and you don’t necessarily need to give money. If you would like to donate funds, you can do so: 

Online: Donate securely via Dost’s ‘Just Giving’ site
By Text: Text DOST12 + £Amount to 70070   e.g. DOST12 £5

You could also:

  • Organise a fundraising event or take part in a sponsored activity to raise funds for Dost
  • Help to raise awareness of Dost and the work they do by blogging about it (make sure you post a link to your blog below, or tweet it to @Dostcentre using the hashtag #Dostpost)
  • Follow Dost on twitter
  • Tweet about Dost using the hashtag #Dostctr

What’s in it for me?
Various studies have shown that doing good makes you feel good. From smiling at a stranger (and getting that smile returned!) to giving time and/or money to charity, acting in a positive way has been proven to not only have a positive influence on the world around you, but also on your mood and the way you view the world. So helping Dost will help them to deliver essential support and it will also make you feel good. Need more reasons? Here’s what some of the young people who have worked with Dost are saying:

“Dost is a safety net if all else fails… They are a backbone with their support. Dost is the thing you can fall back on.”
Petras (arrived from Lithuania aged 12)

“They helped me psychologically because I was depressed. They are there to actually listen to you. What I wanted was someone I could just talk to, to listen to me. I didn’t want someone to tell me it was OK and stuff, I just wanted to say everything that was on my mind.”
– Christelle (arrived from Democratic Republic of Congo aged 14)

They try to help you in any way, to live your life positively. You are not depressed because no one is helping you – you have got somewhere to go. If I didn’t come here to Dost I am 100% sure that I would have ended up in jail or I was gonna die.”
– Hamid (arrived from Afghanistan aged 15)

Dost

Dost’s Founder/Director, Yesim Deveci, says, ‘This year we have just about managed to stay open.  Our priority now is to secure our core costs so we can increase our capacity and offer support to many more children and young people. We don’t want to turn away anyone that needs our help.’

Give more

Give more

Thanks for reading this post and (if you do) for supporting Dost in any way you feel comfortable with. If you came here looking for poetry (it’s been a while, I will try to post more poems soon!) and/or short stories, then you might want to wander over here (or here) for now and come back soon for more!

*Home for me is London, UK. Might not be so close to you but if you still want to help that would be great!

2013 – Give more. Do more. Be more.

Earlier this month, I posted a New Year blog, summing up the past two years. In it, I said that my future plans were pretty much more of the same. Well, they are and they’re not. I have some idea of what I would like to achieve this year and that is (kind of) more of the same… Lately though, I’ve been thinking more on how I want to be in 2013.

As you may have noticed, this blog carries the ‘strapline’ Writing. People. Poetry. This year, I’ve decided to try and live by three simple ‘rules,’ a kind of strapline for 2013, if you will. If you follow me on twitter, you may have seen it already:

Give more. Do more. Be more.

Give more. Do more. Be more.

Great, but what does that actually mean? Let me break it down:

Give more
In the past, my charitable giving has been sporadic. Sometimes I’ve given food to the homeless guy on the street, sometimes I haven’t. I’ve given a lot of text donations and supported friends’ fundraising efforts. I always put small change in collections boxes at till points. This year, I want to be more consistent. I plan to give a percentage of my earnings to two or three chosen charities, as well as do some kind of fundraising activity over the course of the year.

That said, giving doesn’t have to cost anything. I’m also a great believer in paying it forward. I used to do this all the time but lately I’ve been ‘busy.’ That was my excuse anyway. Now, I think that’s silly. Who’s too busy to smile at a stranger or help a neighbour carry her shopping? It doesn’t take much, really, to give more, which brings me on to…

Do more
I’m already ‘doing’ quite a lot of stuff. Over the past year I’ve taken on more since my son started nursery in March (you can read  more on my ‘About me‘ page and/or connect with me on LinkedIn) and as some of you know, I recently started writing a novel. If anything, I probably ought to think about doing a little less in order to do everything better. So, ‘do more’ in this case is more about…

Less Self, more Other. This is the theme of an art project, Acts of Kindness on the London Underground that struck a chord with me. I want to do more for others this year. I’ve been lucky enough to have had a lot of generous hearted people around me throughout my life. These people have thankfully had a greater influence on me than the more negative relationships I’ve had and I feel blessed to know or have known these people. My life isn’t perfect but who’s is? I think relatively speaking, that I’ve got it pretty good and I want to reflect that back out into the world. I’ve started with some small random acts of kindness. This past week, for example, I’ve lent some yoga DVDs to a pregnant colleague and bought a small thank you gift for a friend who has done me a lot of favours recently. It’s not much, but that’s kind of the point. Besides, it’s really more about shifting my state of mind. As I am thinking more and more of others, I will automatically ‘do more.’ It’s part of who I am, when I’m not getting caught up in what I’m doing, which brings me to…

Be more
I used to look back to the past. A lot. This wasn’t helpful and it contributed to recurrent bouts of mild depression. I’ve moved on from this now and my focus of the past few years has been moving forward. I am now much more focused on the future and as a result, much happier in myself. But… What about the present?

I’m often so busy thinking about what’s coming next that sometimes I miss what’s happening right now. I can be playing with my son and thinking about a blog post I want to write when he naps… Or I’m writing that blog post and thinking about an upcoming work project… Or I’m walking to the shops and thinking about the next chapter of my novel. I’m sure many of you can relate. Lately though, I’ve been thinking about what I’m missing. I’m too absorbed in my thoughts to notice how stunning the twilight sky looks as I walk back from the shops. Too ‘busy’ to notice the old man  struggling to reach something from the top shelf in the supermarket but too proud to ask for help… Too busy to breathe – I don’t mean the kind of breathing that keeps us alive, I mean really, to stop. Drop my shoulders, inhale, hold it, and… Exhale – Really breathe. Too busy to just… Be.

I mentioned in a recent post that writing small stones helps me to practice being mindful so you will be seeing more of these this year. If you’re interested in small stones, you can find lots of great ones on twitter by searching the hashtag #smallstones. As well as this, I also plan to do more yoga, spend more time offline and just breathe. More. Better. Deeper.

So, that’s me. Expect to see more posts this year under these headings. What about you…? How do you want to be this year..? Do share your thoughts, aims and dreams below and let’s help each other to keep on keeping on!