Hello lovely people and a happy new year! Internet is back, and so am I :) Today has been an exciting day. I have a small herd of goats, and it's kidding season. Goats generally give birth independently, and only once before have I had to assist. But as I was taking them out for their walk this morning I noticed that one had a little head sticking out behind. Further investigation also revealed a little foot. Aaarg! - intervention required! After some efforts to find the second leg I decided I needed help and we telephoned a neighbour, a wonderful soft spoken man who used to keep goats but seems to have a way with all animals. He arrived within minutes, slipped his jacket of and got to work whilst I held and comforted Mummy Goat. He too was not having any success at finding that second leg, but I could ... Read Full Story >>
I've had a really rough week. So many lessons about kindness learnt. I have a friend I chat to via the computer. A couple of times now she's closed her messages with 'Can I do anything for you?'. It's just dawned on me how hugely supportive I've found that simple question. In reality there's little she could have done from many miles away, but just the offer meant the world.
A day or so ago I posted a photo of a pile of cross stitch kits that I had been gifted. I couldn't possibly use them all so I decided to give them away to ladies in my community who like to have a project in their hands. I packed them all into a box and decided to start with the lady who runs my local bar as she's perfectly charming and so good to me. I took her out to my car and showed her the box. I was holding it in my arms whilst she looked when another car drew up next to us with two other ladies in it. Within moments I was crushed against my car behind the weight of rummaging elderly ladies and had to fight my way out to put the box on a table. Well between the three of them they took every single item ... Read Full Story >>
Halloween is not the big event here that it is in some parts of the world, but I want to tell you about some Halloween kindnesses that we received yesterday. My youngest son has been introduced to the idea of Halloween celebrations via the school (not something I applaud, but that's another story). Anyway, I had no plans to do anything special. However, he was banging on about Halloween to our farm volunteers and a wonderful American girl organised a scavenger hunt for him yesterday. He had clues that sent him all over the farm (minor panic when we thought the goats may have eaten one of the clues!) and culminated in some treats hidden in a bowl of garlic! He also wanted to do a Halloween party, but we're lacking the space and the people to provide one. But we managed to clear a space on the patio where we could ... Read Full Story >>
A little while ago I mentioned that a friend of mine was involved with an organization providing relief to refugees and others in the camp known as The Jungle in Calais. Last weekend she and her teenage son went there to distribute donations collected in their area and to assess what is most needed over the coming months. I admire her so much and really feel that her son's help there should be shouted from the rooftops as a counter to all the negativity we hear about young people today.
The photo is one she took when footballs were distributed! So many of the 'men' in the camp are actually youngsters and there were many games of football going on so the balls went down very well :)
Here's a piece she wrote about their trip. http://www.alisonmthompson.co.uk/calais-jungle
I've not been around here much recently as I have been exceptionally busy with courses etc these last months. One of the courses we host is a Permaculture Design Course, and I want to tell you about the 'Kindness Angel' that our teacher has introduced into this year's events. On the wall of the classroom are taped envelopes, and each has on it the name of someone on site. Those names are also written on slips of paper and one is randomly slipped into each envelope. When you go to 'your' envelope, this slip of paper is the name of the person that you are going to act as 'Kindness Angel' for for the duration of the event. Of course, people are away from home and have limited resources to create large or flashy kindnesses, so they're being inventive. It is marvelous to see people sneaking away other people's dishes to wash, ... Read Full Story >>
In the supermarket today my family and I were standing by the bakery counter waiting for assistance when another lady came along and pointed out the take a ticket machine. Ooops! I then took a ticket, but only after this lady plus another had theirs and were ahead of me in the queue.
When the assistant finally appeared, the lady pressed her ticket into my hand and swapped it for mine, taking herself from first to last in the queue so that I could go first. I was really touched. It really did give me a tremendous boost to be the recipient of a kindness like that. :-)
I spent most of yesterday at a clinic having various medical tests. It was a private clinic and so there was no discussion of the results. The staff were polite and efficient and very good at what they did. So efficient in fact that I felt like a package to be processed and came away feeling hollow and empty and really really lonely even though I'd come into contact with many people. Later, at the supermarket, there was a man begging. Maybe it was my frame of mind which encouraged me to give to him, as I don't commonly in such situations. I gave him a small banknote. Later, when I was returning my trolley, I couldn't see the line. He caught my eye and pointed it out to me. Do you know, in a whole day interacting with people, I felt that he was the only one to 'see' me ... Read Full Story >>
Racing home, I stopped at the supermarket and sent my son in to buy a few items. The wait was long, and my frustration bubbled under the surface. Then the cashier (it was a small supermarket with just one cashier) came out with a couple of bags and placed them behind a car. Then, sheappeared again to assist a disabled customer down the steps and back to his car, where she loaded them for him. Suddenly my frustration disappeared and I felt very grateful to live in a community where such kindnesses are commonplace.
I walk my goats daily, basically just following them about to make sure they don't eat any of the young trees or break into the farm. At this time of year, it can be cold and damp. For the last couple of days, after about 40 minutes, when my fingers are freezing, my husband has shown up with a nice hot mug of tea for me. He then hangs around to chat until it's time to take them in. Little gestures are as special as big ones.
This truck belongs to my friend, who was helping me move some stuff I'd bought, including the pile of hay bales in the trailer. The idea was to move the hay bales bit by bit in my car, but when we arrived to load up the other stuff, the man I was buying from suggested we borrow his trailer and take the whole lot in one go.
Thankfully my friend has a tow hitch and adequate license, and it took us one journey instead of multiple (plus a second to take it back). So incredibly grateful to that man, who had only met me once previously and never my friend, and trusted us to bring his expensive trailer back undamaged.
Life is never dull! Last night we had a call from a neighbour to say that there was a foreign car parked up in the village, and was it someone heading to our project? We weren't expecting anyone, but my partner headed down to check they were OK. It was a single lady who said she was searching for somewhere but had decided to park overnight as visibility was low. She didn't want any help, so my partner told her where to find us if required and then came home. So this morning I find a strange car in the driveway and she's wanting to use our toilet. No problem! I put the kettle on whilst she was busy and invited her in for a chat. Knowing we're lacking local shops etc. I checked if she'd had breakfast. So we sat down to chat, her equipped with porridge and tea, and it turns ... Read Full Story >>
Stopped by the side of the road the other day to make a call, I noticed that someone had dumped a couple of bin liners full of fabrics in the undergrowth. Investigations revealed clothing, bedding and other bits.
I retrieved and bundled into the car, and I've laundered and sorted. Some has been damaged by it's adventures, but the stuff protected by the bags is mainly quality clothing. I've bagged that up to donate. The stuff that's damaged has been sorted into good fabric which will go to a friend who sews, and rags to use here. My partner has a couple of old bed sheets to protect his wine making fermentation tanks from fruit flies.
Waste not, want not! Kindness to the environment by cleaning up, and giving things another use.
She Was Crying And Feeling Lonely In The Hospital, When Her Roommate Stepped In And Called The Nurse
Wanted to share a really nice story from the hospital. There was one night where I was feeling particularly lonely. I'd been away from home for just over a month before this happened so it had been ages since I'd spent time with the kids, the Easter holidays were nearly over and my husband wasn't able to visit much. After I tucked myself up for the night I was having a little cry to myself. Obviously not as subtly as I thought as the lady in the next bed noticed and called one of the ward assistants in. She came and chivvied me up, passed me tissues and forced me to talk. My Portuguese isn't spectacular and I just wanted to be left alone, but these two ladies wouldn't let me be. When I said I was lonely they told me their stories too, and suddenly we were talking. I went ... Read Full Story >>
I messaged my Kenyan friend to wish him a 'Happy Birthday!'. He told me that instead of spending money on a party, he chose to visit a juvenile facility and spend the money on donations. He donated personal items like toilet tissue and soap which are not provided by the state.
What a tremendous way to spend a birthday!
Yesterday there was water gushing across the only road around my village. With freezing weather predicted at nightfall, I stopped my car and headed up the hillside by the road to locate the water channel I suspected was blocked up there. I was right, it was all blocked up with branches and debris. A few minutes pulling it all free and the water started running freely down the channel instead of down the hill and onto the road. Very cold hands and sodden trainers! ... Read Full Story >>
I noticed that one of our long term volunteers only ever wore rubber Wellington boots, even now that summer has hit us. A bit of investigation revealed that the only other footwear he had was a pair of Crocs which rubbed his feet. I was able to come up with a pair of my son's grown out of but still in good condition walking boots for him. The result was one happy man and a happy me for less clutter in my house.
The morning started on a bit of a low note, but brightened considerably with a simple courtesy. Driving my son to his girlfriend's, we were following a pickup laden with firewood.
As we entered the village, he pulled over. I assumed it was his house so carried on past, and parked myself by the side of the road whilst son ran his errand. The road through this village is very narrow, room to turn only in a square at the end.
Just after I stopped, the same pick up pulled up behind me. The chap explained that he was about to unload his wood and would block the road beyond where I was.
Now he could have just left me to reverse out, but very patiently waited for me to drive all the way to end of the road to turn around before he started. Such a little gesture, but very welcome.
I repaid his kindness by helping him fling his firewood over the wall whilst I waited for my son. That was quite fun!
Just before Christmas emergency services were searching the forest and mountains in our area for someone who had placed an emergency call after getting into difficulties. They called round to my house as the caller had spoken English and the local teams would potentially need help with translation. Some hours later a young woman staggered past my window. Running out, it didn't take long to work out that it was she that they were searching for. I recognized her, having given her directions and some food about 3 weeks previously. I took her in and made tea and porridge whilst informing the police that she was safe. It turned out that after she left here, she had been turned away by the people she was hoping to stay with and was on her way back here (myself being the only person in the country that she 'knew' following our last meeting!) when ... Read Full Story >>
My son has been in the hospital again, this time with an emergency admission. From our local health centre he was sent in an ambulance to the pediatric hospital which is just over an hour away from there. In this country most ambulances are driven and manned by bombeiros (firemen) and this was no exception. Whilst one drove, the other was in the back with me and son. He started chatting with my son as soon as he was strapped in, asking him whether he'd prefer English or Portuguese. When my son said either, the bombeiro requested English so that he could practice. Of course, that gave plenty of opportunity for him to draw my son into offering 'tuition' and the pair of them chatted on and off for the full hour. He'd obviously been tasked with keeping our boy awake, and did so so skillfully that our son didn't realise we ... Read Full Story >>
This photo wouldn't mean much to you, but it meant a huge amount to my Grandmum who suffers a little dementia and doesn't go out much anymore. When I arrived in the UK on the first leg of my recent trip, the person who met me at the airport was one of my wonderful friends from KindSpring. She was able to give me an old phone which was a fabulous kindness to me as I'd previously told her I'd be having to leave mine at home as I share it with my partner. It was massively valuable as I could keep in touch with people, but it's worth rocketed when I visited my Grandmum soon after. As I said, she doesn't really get out any more. I took the phone with me when I went out for a walk, and used it to take snaps of all the landmarks I passed. When ... Read Full Story >>
I've been busy this morning organising more donations for the fire relief efforts. By complete chance I saw a crowdfunder which mentioned that a small community school had been destroyed.
I didn't know the lady, but by contacting someone that I do know in the area I've just arranged the delivery of three crates of children's books which they can restock with. The lady I spoke to told me that they have had rather a lot of bedding donated to the community already, but lots of small children in the area so I've also been able to dig out a pile of cot bed bedding which should help.
My task this morning is to get it laundered and boxed up, then the friend who is taking me to the hospital later is going to drop it at another friend's for me, who will deliver it to a third friend in the fire affected area, and finally on to where it's required. Don't you just love that chain of people coming together to make something happen?
Following the terrible fires in my country recently, many farmers are struggling to feed their animals. There is simply nothing green for miles, winter stores of hay are burnt and the tremendous increase in demand for hard feed means it is completely sold out in some areas. A friend has been organising a collection of money and donations for fire victims and came across the details of one such farmer. She was having difficulty communicating with him as she doesn't speak Portuguese, but she really wanted to help. At my suggestion, my elder son telephoned the man on her behalf and determined his exact needs. On Wednesday, my friend will visit him with a truck load of the feed his animals most need. I have asked her to buy an extra couple of sacks from me to add to the delivery. In the midst of so much devastation, it's easy to feel overwhelmed ... Read Full Story >>
I met a friend for lunch and afterwards we met our husbands in a restaurant where we shared a large table with an elderly gentleman reading a book. Absolutely out of the blue he settled our bill. I had a chat with him then, and I suspect he did it just to have a reason to strike up conversation. He'd obviously heard our conversation, and was very pleased to speak English to me. He explained that it wasn't as good as he'd like following a stroke.
My friend's son is in hospital so her daughter is staying with me and I'm going up to the house to feed her dogs. When I was there yesterday I noticed that her washing machine was full of wet laundry so emptied out to hang.
Then I got inspired and collected up all the laundry. There was loads as her washing machine drain blocked last week and everything got wet and smelly.
I took it home and have so far washed and dried six loads. I'm hoping the majority will be ready for me to drop back at her house when I got to do the dogs later.
Today I'm going to give blood and be tested as a bone marrow match for a very ill local girl. I was supposed to do this a while ago, but it was canceled because of a shortage of nurses.
I am touched by the kindness of the staff, and I have not even been there yet. They have gone to all the trouble of finding an English speaking lady to telephone me with the new date. (So grateful to Patricia, your kindness and efforts are greatly appreciated!)
I'm also really grateful to my partner, who has agreed to drive me there and back even though he has a busy day. I have a tendency to go a bit peculiar an hour or so after anything to do with needles, so I'm not safe to drive.
Wish me luck please. Wouldn't it be tremendous if I could be of help?!
(EDITED to add: This didn't work out and I was not able to do it. But maybe you could. Please join a bone marrow register in your area. It would be nice if this story inspired even one person.)
My friend waited at home with me the other evening whilst her partner drove mine and my son to the health centre. In the course of our conversation we ended up looking inside a big wardrobe I have, where winter coats are stored. There was my very hippy knitted pixie hood jacket in there in the brightest of fiery colours. I could almost feel my friend's eyes light up and her arms reach out when she spotted it. So I gave it to her and she was so excited. She wore it for the rest of the evening, and if I'm honest with myself I enjoyed having it more than I enjoyed actually wearing it. Afterwards I realized how easy it had been to part with. I'm fortunate to have so much 'stuff' and friends to share it with. ... Read Full Story >>
We were shopping in the supermarket and there was an elderly lady hovering by the instant coffee who kept looking at me. I assumed she needed help reaching something from the top shelf and was wondering whether I looked approachable enough to ask, so I went over and asked if she needed help. It turned out that she couldn't read, and wanted help finding the sort of coffee that she liked at the right price. I showed her a couple of jars and explained the differences and the prices, and she chose some. It really brought it home to me how difficult doing something like shopping must be if you can't read the labels, and made me wonder how many other people there are struggling with the same problem but might be too embarrassed to ask. Yes, each of us is fighting our own battle. ... Read Full Story >>
As we were heading into town yesterday on little wiggly roads, we came up behind a huge heavily laden lorry which was crawling on the steep stretches. The very kind driver used his elevated position to signal to us when it was safe to pass, and gave us as much space as he could. I wonder if he realized how much he lifted my mood with that small act.
Once again, a shopping trip was a great opportunity to experience kindness given and received. With two trolleys full, I was surprised and very touched that other customers stood back to let me become first in line when the cashiers opened another checkout. Of course I let them go through first as my grocery pile was vast, but the gesture was really appreciated. The supermarket I use stacks boxes and boxes of 'specials' at the end of rows, and for some reason thinks all their customers are basketball player height. So, I helped an elderly lady who wasn't tall enough to reach into the box of eggs, then lifted a couple of crates down to make it easier to access for anyone else who forgot to pack their step ladder. As I was taking my trolley back I noticed a couple of ladies slowly ferrying their groceries, in bags and boxes, across ... Read Full Story >>