I've had a lot on my mind lately. My brain is full with long term planning decisions, chewing on my petty jealousies and thinking too much of the unfairness of life. (Earthquakes, devastation, violent political revolutions, union busting, and of course my own personal shit.) I tend to get sucked into the vortex of my own over-thinking and general ennui on occasion. I've had a nasty sinus thing since Sunday night, felt bedraggled and achy and lethargic and from there it's a quick slide into the mopes. These are short term mopes but still, the mopes taste bland and gray and interminable. And then this thing landed in my lap to snap me out of it today.
I was catching up on my Google Reader feed and stumbled upon this wonderful post from a baker, Amanda Rettke, whose blog I love to read. Amanda had put up a contest offering to bake two dozen cookies for a few people who really needed the pick me up. She opened up her comments to choose the lucky recipients from stories that people posted and then was inundated with hundreds of deserving people wanting a little sugar love. She felt overwhelmed and unable to accommodate all the needs. And so she asked her readers to help. She asked people to volunteer to make cookies for a stranger. Take the time and money to make and ship cookies off into the world to someone you've never met. And I signed up to do it. For purely selfish reasons, because I like to bake, I like putting a smile on someone's face, and it made me feel good immediately. The mere idea of participating in this project made me feel better than I've felt in days. And I firmly believe we should do things that make us feel good. I broke out into a huge toothy grin just reading all the comments from people agreeing to help. Is this an enormous life changing commitment to bake cookies for some family in need? Nope. But it is a small delight just for someone else.
It got me thinking. What other small delightful projects are out there that I can participate in to help other people? I'm not volunteering anywhere right now and I miss that. But I think I can find a good way to help other people with my own skills while taking a tiny small burden off of someone else's shoulders for a moment, just with a homemade treat, or new earrings, or a donated book or an offer to babysit, or an extra quarter in their meter.
I've been reading How to Be Good by Nick Hornby (it's funny and awkward and deeply good.) And while the extreme ends that this family in the story are going to to help people in their community, radical and kooky ends, it also has gotten me thinking: what else can I do? I've been incredibly blessed with good health, friends, family, job and all of that. Yes, Joe and I donate financially to causes that we support. I've volunteered regularly throughout my life and I work for a nonprofit. But how much of that is actually about helping and thinking about other people's needs, in tangible, immediate ways?
I'm on the look out for those tiny delightful opportunities. I've got a few people in mind that I think I'm going to give some attention. But I would love any recommendations about people you think are deserving of a little pick me up. Just email me or post a comment if you think I could help. Now I'm starting to think about what cookies I need to bake for my stranger next week!