November always gives us a gentle nudge to be kinder, more grateful, and more thoughtful of what someone else might be experiencing...Friday the 13th was World Kindness Day; the 26th is Thanksgiving. I've been recording 3 things I'm grateful for each day in my Papertrey Ink Moments Inked planner and now I'm motivated to take it a step further by paying it forward. I have a lot to share today; a few RAKs, a little bit of packaging, what the diligent practice of mindfully being thankful every day has done for me, and even a fun way to upcycle those inspiring quote pages at the beginning of each month in the MI planner. Read on!
I've tried to spend a little time each night preparing for the next day. I like the way the pages in the MI planner are laid out and I've tried to use them as a guide for my daily tasks as much as I can. Admittedly, I am not habitual about this, and sometimes, life throws curves at me, and my moments of reflection and preparation must be nixed in favor of a hectic workload, time with family, or much-needed sleep. But the one part of the page that I am habitual about (and will even go back several days later to fill in) is the gratitude section. I've heard from several sources that taking the time to write down 3 things you are grateful for each day makes a significantly positive impact on your life.
So I've been trying it out. When I received my planner in February, I noted that I would be using these pages every day and tracking my progress. I will be honest and tell you that I was big-time slacking through July. And it showed in my mood, motivation, and health. How do I know? Because I've been really good about keeping up with this portion (especially the Be Grateful part) since August and there's been a huge improvement. I won't go into all the specifics, but I'm feeling better, more positive, and it has put a lot of things in perspective. There were things I wasn't seeing--or didn't want to see--and things I wasn't doing, and I was spending a lot of time focusing on subjects that just weren't important. When I started to use the page as a lifestyle guide, positive changes began to occur. Thinking ahead about meal planning instead of ordering takeout because I was working until 6 and then had no clue what to have for dinner meant more of a variety and better nutrition for my family (and a lot less guilt for me). It also meant dropping 15 pounds! Looking ahead to the major tasks of the next day meant less time running around unhinged because I was no longer dropping the ball and forgetting important due dates and appointments.
(I won't make this sound like all you have to do is write a few things down in your journal and major life changes will fall into your lap, because that's not what happens. This system doesn't work unless you do. It does take mindful effort and thought, but the results are worth it.)
Another thing I've been thinking and making mental notes about is being kinder. There is always someone worse off than you. When you're having a bad day and nothing is going right and everyone is demanding your time, it's difficult to remember (or even care) that someone is battling a terminal disease, has just lost a loved one, or is living in a war-torn country far, far away from your own little world, and these issues you're facing today are minute in comparison to that. This isn't a lecture--I, too, am guilty of forgetting the plights of others--it's simply a reminder. When I started paying attention to the many reasons I had to be thankful instead of the few reasons I had to be angry and spiteful, my mindset changed and, soon after, so did my outlook on life.
That being said, the second part of this post is about paying it forward. There are beautiful quotes at the beginning of each month in the MI planner and they are great reminders of these same feelings I've been having lately. Let's show kindness instead of anger, love instead of hate, encouragement instead of spite. You can show kindness in small ways--just being polite and saying thank you when someone holds the door for you is kindness in a small way. Then when it's your turn, hold the door for someone else. Doesn't it make you feel good when a complete stranger pays you a compliment or says hello with a smile? Try doing the same for another person. Small gestures, yet they mean so much and don't cost a thing.
Then again, sometimes it's nice to spend a few dollars on a friend who's going through a rough time. A random act of kindness is a nice way to show you care. With just a few supplies and framed MI quotes, I made meaningful gifts to pass on to friends.
The first gift is a 'just because you're my friend' present and is truly random. I trimmed and framed July's quote about rising each morning and responding with love and kindness. Next, I decorated a small muslin bag with some tassels and an Aqua Mist felt bow (made from the dies in the Beaded Holiday kit as seen in this post). I made a small tag with the Divided die and stamped RAK on it. You can find the RAK stamp in the Planner Banners stamp set. I packed up some winter face balm (that I bought solely because of the gorgeous tin!) and together, they make a thoughtful, inexpensive gift for a dear friend.
The second set of gifties I put together was inspired by April's quote, and is random in the fact that the recipient will not be expecting it. A friend of my mother-in-law is going through a difficult time and she is one of the kindest souls on earth. The outlook embodied in this quote is so fitting for her, because I know that despite her current hardship, she is not feeling sorry for herself. In her situation, I'm not sure I would be able to exhibit the same strength. She is incredibly thoughtful and I'm hoping my small gesture will let her know that she, in turn, is thought of often.
I used the tiniest of tiny heart stamps to decorate a plain white bag, big enough to hold a gift card. I stamped the heart repeatedly on the bag with Melon Berry ink and then added a few embellishments--tassels again, some gold trims, Melon Berry twill ribbon, and 2 banner die cuts.
I used the RAK stamp again here; the bitty heart is from the same set, Planner Banners.
You don't have to spend a lot of money or time to be a good friend or to work toward a positive lifestyle change. Baby steps and small efforts are enough to get the ball rolling, but it does take commitment and a willingness to try. Is it hard? Sometimes, yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely!
Papertrey Ink Supplies used:
Moments Inked 2015 Memory Planner (planner and quotes)
Stamps: MI Planner Banners
Ink: Melon Berry
Ribbon: Melon Berry Twill
Felt: Aqua Mist