When I read about Lyric Kinard’s (Bead It Like You Mean It) project for December, I had to share, so I asked her to tell us more.
A: It’s simple, really. Find one thing to do each day that will make the world a better place. It can be as small as changing to an energy efficient lightbulb or saying hello with eye contact and a warm smile. It can be as big as volunteering your time at a shelter or making quilts for a charity. I’m asking people to post about their acts of service in the comment section of my blog so that we can give each other ideas and so that I can send out random little thank-you gifts here and there. (It’s a good way to de-clutter the studio!)
After just a few days I was so touched by what people were doing, and how they were passing on the idea, that I thought we should make it a little more official and actually ask people to spread the idea. I’ve got a button that you can add to your own blog and ask your friends to participate as well.
Not only does it bring a little joy into someone else’s life when you serve them, but the joy you get from helping someone is so good for the soul. It’s become my favorite part of the day to check my comments and see how many kind and wonderful people there are out there. Sometimes I give an idea for what to focus on, like thanking a teacher or someone who works invisibly at a job that makes your life just a little easier (think about your garbage collector!) or ways to give little gifts. Most of these ideas come straight from my readers who are inspiring me every day with the amazing, and often simple and beautiful ways they are making the world a better place.
Q: What gave you the idea for this project?
A: Every December I try to find service projects for my family to participate in – it keeps my children outwardly focused instead of being overwhelmed by the “Christmas Gimmees.” Sometimes we do a big family project, sometimes it’s one child at a time shopping with me for the school’s “angel tree.” Sometimes it’s just small things on the spur of the moment. Their very favorite is “ring and run.” They dress up like spies and sneak around in the bushes and leave treats on someone’s doorstep then ring the doorbell and run and hide. We always leave a simple little “we love you” note.
This year I’ve also thought a lot about what I wanted to do with my business and my blog and how I really don’t want spend time on it unless it is something that will make the world a better place. My motto has become “Find Joy, Be Inspired, Create Beauty.” It’s what I want for my self, and what I want for anyone who reads my blog.
The Joy In Service project was something that grew organically from these two things. December is a natural time to focus on service and bringing my readers in is a win-win. I get more ideas for things to do, my readers and I get to share some of that Joy, and by the end of the month I might be able to see my work table again!
Q:It seems so many people spend their time online promoting themselves and trying to get people to follow them and buy their stuff. What makes you do things differently?
A: I believe that the more you give, the more you receive. I make art to uplift people or to convey a message that is important to me. I teach because it is SO much fun to see someone tap into the creativity they always had but were afraid to acknowledge. (See workshops here) I write and make DVD’s as a way to reach a wider audience than I can reach with live classes (See publications here). When a student or a reader is able to discover the joy that can be had through making art I literally get all giddy.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not by any means “anti-marketing.” I’m not shy at all about telling people about my publications or products or classes. BUT -I’m constantly thinking of ways I can reach my readers and bring them joy. I post my artwork and photography or the work of other artists to help inspire them. There is so much beauty around, even in ordinary things. I post tutorials and book reviews to give readers the tools to tap into their own creative abilities. I try to make sure the classes and the products I create, be they art or instructional DVD’s follow along with those ideas – to inspire and uplift and help people to create.
Q: What do you hope the outcome of Joy in Service will be?
A: I don’t have grand ideas or goals. Often we don’t see the results of the good things we do immediately except in our own hearts. Just think about mothering – it can be the hardest thing in the world with no “thanks” and nothing but the child fighting you every step of the way. Society doesn’t often seem to think the service mothers provide is worthwhile either. But it’s the most important thing I will ever do to make the world a better place whether or not I see immediate, or even any positive results. Children do, after all, make their own decisions. But I can feel at peace knowing I gave that child my love and guidance so that they can be people who will, in turn, make the world a better place.
Through the Joy in Service project, I simply want people to feel at peace and to feel the joy that comes through lifting another. I honestly believe that is what we are here on the earth for and whether it’s creating beauty in our art, lifting or sharing the burden of a friend or a stranger, small and simple acts of service WILL make the world a better place. A very small thing can change a life. If enough people do small acts of service, if we can look outside ourselves to lift a stranger – they won’t be the “other” any more. If we all did it – we could change the world. (OK – I guess I lied about the grandiose ideas part.)
Q: We’d love to hear a couple of your favorite stories from the project so far.
A: There are so many wonderful things that have happened! A woman who works with the elderly made an effort to smile and say hello instead of just passing the residents in the halls. Someone bought flowers at the grocery store and gave them to a stranger in the parking lot. Someone took the time to hold a friend while she cried on her shoulder, someone packed up the kitchen of a new mother who was preparing to move. Gene is collecting lap quilts for a youth program.
People have stopped to really take time to comfort a patient or client, made lunch for a family member, they’ve sewn coffee cozies to give to friends and strangers or knitted prayer shawls and caps for soldiers. Some have recycled, picked up trash, or even found ways to make their homes more energy efficient. One of my favorites is a woman who packs up a thermos of cocoa or coffee and drives around to give a hot cup to all of the Salvation Army ringers she can find. But usually, it’s the one-on-one acts of kindness where you look into someone’s eyes and let them know you care that make my eyes tear up. We all need to know someone cares for us, even a stranger.
Q: Is there still time for people to get involved? What do they need to do? Is there a fee?
A: There isn’t a fee, December still has a long way to go – and you can be kind ANY and EVERY day of the year. Stop by to pick up a button, or stop by my blog any day to tell me how you made the world a better place!
Ricë also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.
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