I love celebrating holidays, a lot. I think I get it from my mom, who always had our house decorated for each holiday and was known for making various colors of pancakes to commemorate each day: pink hearts for Valentines Day, green for St. Patrick’s Day and so forth. Celebrating is in my blood.
With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I brainstormed on how I could make Valentine’s memorable this year. On the evening of January 31st, I came up with the idea of “14 Days of Sharing Love” meaning I would focus on sharing service each day. Over the last two weeks I did various acts of service, such as sending a package to my sister-in-law (who is out of the country), sending various emails, letters and texts letting people know I love them, helping my friend pack up her house as the moving truck waited outside even though I had a lot to do at home, inviting my mom over for dinner and more. This is what I have learned…
Service can be a tricky thing. We often think we know what someone needs/wants, but we can be way off the mark. For one of my days of sharing love, I chose to focus on LM, my toddler boy, for the majority of the day. I had plans of introducing him to finger paints, reading books for as long as he wanted and watching his favorite show. He was terrified of the finger paints and freaked out when he couldn’t get it off his hands. He cried through his whole bath and got bored with reading much quicker than I expected. All day he just kept pounding on the door to go outside in the freezing weather. Once it had warmed up a little in the afternoon, I finally relented and bundled him up so we could into the frigid gloom. We walked up and down the street for almost an hour. He would stop every so often to poke at the crusty snow or stomp his little feet in the slush. He was in snowy paradise and my service to him was not rushing him from doing what he really wanted.
Second, I know I talk a lot about balance, but I was reminded that balance is needed, even when doing good things. There were a few days where so much of my energy was going to others, that I was running out patience for my own family when I returned home. This seemed so backwards to me. For my second week of sharing love, I toned down my efforts to one or two acts of service a day, so I wouldn’t burn myself out. One night, I sat in the bathroom, soaking my feet and gave myself a pedicure while listening to some of my favorite tunes. Recharging isn’t just a good idea, it is a necessity.
There are various renditions of this idea: karma, you reap what you sow, sending positive energy into the universe, etc. However you want to describe this idea, I have to say I found it to be true. On the first day of my love experiment, after sending an email to a friend who was having a hard time, I got a text from a different friend I haven’t seen or heard from in over a year saying she was thinking of me and we should get together. The next day, after standing in a long line at the post office to mail off my sis-in-law’s package with a crying toddler, a sympathetic woman helped get the door for me and smiled at my teary eyed child and said, “I have a 3-year-old and a 4-year-old, I totally get it. Hang in there and have a good day.” I could have hugged her in that moment. Another day, a neighbor brought over cupcakes to thank me for giving her girls some old craft items that I wanted to get rid of. This service experiment really has solidified in my mind that whatever you do is like a boomerang, it comes back to you. In my efforts to reach out to others, I found dozens of others willing to do the same to me. Love, it’s a beautiful thing.