25 Days of Giving Day Eighteen: Make Someone Laugh

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The Giving Challenge for today is to Make Someone Laugh. If you’re not feeling particularly funny, just tickle someone, preferably not a cop, priest, or your parole officer.

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One from the archives. Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

 I, Gemini Girl, have interrupted my non-existent programming to bring you the 25 Days of Giving Challenge. Please join me in my quest, over the next 25 days, to make people happy. I’ll share stories of giving escapades that will be sure to wow, delight, or at least not annoy anyone who chooses to participate. Each Day of Giving will be conveniently brought to you via email if you follow this blog. And if you’re already a follower? Pass it onto your friends. If we work together we can change the world, or at least dramatically improve my hit ratio.

25 Days of Giving Day Seventeen: Check Your Ego At The Door

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Birmingham, AL: $481.00. Charleston, WV: $1,000.00. Moraine, OH: $15,000.00. Bellingham, MA: $20,000.00.

All the denominations listed above are payments that Secret Santas across the country have donated towards items, often toys and children’s clothes, held on layaway. I love the anonymity of these acts because secretly extending a helping hand to another person is the purist form of giving. The reward is internal, not external, yet the act is powerful, emanating from the most complicated organ any of us possess: the heart.

With that in mind, The Giving Challenge for today is to Do Something Anonymous. Even though the generous folks in the scenarios above parted with cash for their anonymous acts of kindness, you don’t have to spend money to secretly do something nice. If you’re having trouble figuring out what that might be, use the photos below for inspiration. It took me about 60 seconds to roam the house this morning for examples of how a child (let’s say mine), could anonymously make someone’s day (again, let’s use me as an example), by doing something kind in secret (one more time, for me).

 

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Thanks to mysterious shadowing created by the iconic IKEA Maskros pendant light, you can’t even tell that my middle child’s bed is never made. Like ever. Not in the history of never is it ever made. What a gift from the heavens, if, just once, I could walk into her room and not see, you know…this.

 

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One of my top Secret Santa wishes is that my kids will someday hang up the clean clothes that I wash, dry, fold, and organize into neat piles to be put away. This is a picture of those very treasured possessions, thrown in a heap onto a dresser by my youngest daughter. While no animals were harmed in the making of these photos, our dog is seriously scared shitless to go into Essa’s room.

 

We are the world. We are the children. We are the ones who make a brighter day when we f****** hang up our towels.

We are the world.
We are the children.
We are the ones who make a brighter day when we f****** hang up our towels.

 

We are the world. We are the children. We are the ones who make a brighter day when we f******* close our dresser drawers.

Ahhh, the infamous “I’ve got way too much homework to close my drawers” excuse. Full discloser: nothing in this picture was photoshopped to make my kids’ crap look skinnier than it is.

 

No words for this one.

No words for this one. Not one.

So there you have it. Several real-world examples of how to anonymously make someone’s day. With those thoughts in mind, go out and do something secretly fantastic, and stop by my house if you need some inspiration.

I, Gemini Girl, have interrupted my non-existent programming to bring you the 25 Days of Giving Challenge. Please join me in my quest, over the next 25 days, to make people happy. I’ll share stories of giving escapades that will be sure to wow, delight, or at least not annoy anyone who chooses to participate. Each Day of Giving will be conveniently brought to you via email if you follow this blog. And if you’re already a follower? Pass it onto your friends. If we work together we can change the world, or at least dramatically improve my hit ratio.

25 Days of Giving Day Sixteen: If You Can’t Say Something Nice Don’t Say Anything At All

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I know how to use my words, and when I’m angry, they quickly become weapons. There’s nothing like cutting someone down to build yourself up. It feels great. For about five seconds. Then the rush of self-righteous adrenaline that so efficiently fueled your vocabulary dump completely dissipates, and you’re left wondering what made you so mad in the first place. Even worse, your reflection in the mirror becomes distorted as you ask yourself, over and over, why the person staring back felt the need to be so mean.

The Task for Day 25 is to Say Something Nice. Period. If someone is rude to you? Walk away. When annoyance escalates to irritation? Take a deep breath. Avoid talking behind anyone’s back. For an entire day, compliment instead of criticize, then see how you feel at the end of it…up or down, happy or sad, empty or full. Not only will the world be better for your effort, I have a feeling I know where you’ll end up.

I, Gemini Girl, have interrupted my non-existent programming to bring you the 25 Days of Giving Challenge. Please join me in my quest, over the next 25 days, to make people happy. I’ll share stories of giving escapades that will be sure to wow, delight, or at least not annoy anyone who chooses to participate. Each Day of Giving will be conveniently brought to you via email if you follow this blog. And if you’re already a follower? Pass it onto your friends. If we work together we can change the world, or at least dramatically improve my hit ratio.

25 Days of Giving Day Fifteen: Speak Up for Someone Who Can’t Speak for Themselves

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Not long ago, I found myself rushing to the grocery store to get something one of my kids needed the next day for school. It was late and I was tired, preoccupied, and annoyed. Like most moms, I was running behind an endless to-do list that seemed to square itself and multiply whenever I wasn’t looking. Snow swirled outside, it was an unusually frigid night, and a humid chill was biting, snapping, and pushing people indoors. All I wanted to do was get what I needed, check out, and go home.

Turning down the frozen food aisle, I came upon a young boy, about my son’s age, and an old man. The man was huge; well over six feet tall, unshaven, wearing dirty old jeans, suspenders, and an untucked shirt.

The boy? Small. Cowering. A little disheveled as he gazed up at the man while simultaneously trying to avoid meeting the harsh gaze in his eyes. He reached for a frozen pizza, and the old man smacked it out of his hand, mocked his sagging posture, and demanded, “What do you think I am, an ATM?”

The boy looked down at his feet and didn’t say a word.

In that moment, I knew something was wrong.

I slowed down, eased up close, cleared my throat, and tried to make myself known. The old man realized I was there, made eye contact, and didn’t smile. I didn’t smile back. Then he grabbed the boy by the shoulder, threw a glare in my direction, and dragged him toward the door.

I felt a mixture of emotions in that moment…anger, confusion, pain, sadness…but the one that overwhelmed me and now makes me feel ashamed?

Fear.

That man scared me, and in a split second I used fear to assess and rationalize what I was about to not do…my husband was out of town, the kids were home alone, and the storm outside was getting worse. In an attempt to justify my inaction, I convinced myself that the old man was probably the boy’s grandfather, unemployed, and having a bad day.

Except my gut told me that wasn’t the case. The little boy needed help, and I didn’t extend my hand.

I’d give anything to have that moment in the grocery store back, to actually listen to my sixth sense instead of brushing it aside, to have made a different choice. But it’s gone. Left alone, the voice of indecision becomes that of regret, and it doesn’t go away.

I’m now haunted by that innocent child in the grocery store, wondering where he is, and at the same time, who I failed to be. The Challenge for Day Fifteen is to speak for someone who can’t speak for themselves. I realize this opportunity may not present itself today, but it will in the not too distant future. Whether it’s helping an elderly woman who’s struggling to get her groceries from the cart to her car, saying “hi” to a kid at school who seems to always end up on the wrong side of everyone’s jokes, or diffusing a tense situation with a smile, whenever you take the opportunity to help someone who’s in a worse place than you, you give them a voice.

If you’d like to help an innocent child, please visit http://www.casaforchildren.org.

I, Gemini Girl, have interrupted my non-existent programming to bring you the 25 Days of Giving Challenge. Please join me in my quest, over the next 25 days, to make people happy. I’ll share stories of giving escapades that will be sure to wow, delight, or at least not annoy anyone who chooses to participate. Each Day of Giving will be conveniently brought to you via email if you follow this blog. And if you’re already a follower? Pass it onto your friends. If we work together we can change the world, or at least dramatically improve my hit ratio.

25 Days of Giving Day 13: Stop and Listen

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When I was a child, I was so quiet that my parents nicknamed me “Mouse”. It suited me perfectly, because instead of speaking up, I was much happier keeping still, burying my nose in a book, and staying out of the conversation. Then I turned 13. Ready to face the world in my Capezio shoes, pleather pants, and a super-sweet, unicorn-inspired Swatch watch, I moonwalked my way into teendom and haven’t stopped talking since.

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That’s me on the right in my 8th grade yearbook, my bestie Susan in the middle, and my friend Alicia on the left, who had clearly taken the Sunday afternoon modeling class at the mall. Me? Still struggling to look at the camera.

Except when I do. Stop talking, that is. Back when I learned that all you had to do to solve Nancy Drew’s problems was skip to the last page, I also unintentionally discovered something else…the value of listening. I was so quiet that conversations went on around me as if I wasn’t there. But I was, and I learned the nuances of pregnant pauses, skipping a beat to absorb a thought, and that, in conversation, it’s O.K. to take a moment to reflect before responding.

So the task for Day 13 of the Kindness Challenge is to stop and listen. To everyone…husband, child, stranger, friend. If you’re not sure exactly how to do this, I have a foolproof method for success. Don’t interrupt. When you let someone else’s conversation flow without acting on the impulse to immediately interject your opinion (and, let’s face it, ego), you open a door to true engagement. Everyone wants to be heard, so make that happen today by simply slowing down, pulling back, and letting someone else talk.

I, Gemini Girl, have interrupted my non-existent programming to bring you the 25 Days of Giving Challenge. Please join me in my quest, over the next 25 days, to make people happy. I’ll share stories of giving escapades that will be sure to wow, delight, or at least not annoy anyone who chooses to participate. Each Day of Giving will be conveniently brought to you via email if you follow this blog. And if you’re already a follower? Pass it onto your friends. If we work together we can change the world, or at least dramatically improve my hit ratio.

25 Days of Giving: A Week of Saying I Love You

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Love is one of those rare things in life that you can buy never get or give too much of…three words that, used often, will win friends and influence people gain exponential power and potency over time.

With this thought in mind, the Challenge for Days Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, and Twelve is to say “I Love You”. Because it’s late I want to focus on my family, I did a little too much fa-la-la-la-laing this weekend I need to get through my daily affirmations, and Gemini are known to be non-commital creative, I’m only writing one post upping the ante and asking you to say “I love you” this week in five different ways.

Monday – Obvious: husband, child, brother, grandma. This is the “duh” special kind of love that we all take for granted should pay more attention to than we realize. It’s the love we trash when we’re in a bad mood assume will always be there, and is the most expensive painful when it’s taken away.

Tuesday – Unexpected: This category is often dominated by, but not limited to, your mother-in-law someone you have a hard time communicating with. Today is a day to just tell her how you really feel about her cooking get over it and say what you’ve wanted to all along: “he loves me more” “I love you.”

Wednesday – Overdue: This one acts just like it sounds. Stop throwing away money at the track procrastinating and dipping into your kids’ 529s, making excuses. Pick up the phone, call someone you haven’t spoken with in a while and say “can I borrow some money?” “I love you.”

Thursday – Unrelated: someone you aren’t connected to through years and years of extortion by blood.

Friday – Anonymous: someone you tend to stalk don’t know. I have a simple vision of some duct tape, an x-acto knife, and Depends a piece of paper, a Sharpie, and a car windshield. All you have to do is say is “don’t move or you’ll lose a bicuspid” “somebody loves you,” then run for your life, start the weekend with a smile, you’ve just gotten away with murder completed five incredible acts of kindness.

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I, Gemini Girl, have interrupted my non-existent programming to bring you the 25 Days of Giving Challenge. Please join me in my quest, over the next 25 days, to make people happy. I’ll share stories of giving escapades that will be sure to wow, delight, or at least not annoy anyone who chooses to participate. Each Day of Giving will be conveniently brought to you via email if you follow this blog. And if you’re already a follower? Pass it onto your friends. If we work together we can change the world, or at least dramatically improve my hit ratio.

25 Days of Giving Days Six and Seven: Get Inked

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I’m a textbook discarder. Anytime my husband brings something into the house, I’m on my way through a different door hauling something out. I’m all about clean lines, order, and lists. Lots and lots of lists.

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The Story of My Life. Literally.

Giving away unnecessary stuff makes me feel good, and a lack of clutter equals a lack of complication in some kind of metaphysical, big life meaning thingy that I haven’t quite figured out.

Ironically though, the only thing I won’t let go of is memories. Not the painful ones that wake you up in the middle of the night with a big, fat “why?” staring down from the ceiling. Those conveniently go out with the trash as soon as I can gather them up. I’m talking about the good ones. The real, sometimes raw, but more often relevant things from the past that have made a big contribution to my present. I have every high school note, my letters from college, cards given back and forth for special events…all of it. It’s a treasure trove of boyfriends, break-ups, and besties that I can’t live without.

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But thanks to the worldwide web and the ghost of Steve Jobs, collecting memories is harder today than it used to be. We email instead of pulling out paper and pen, and thank you notes have almost become a thing of the past because it’s so much easier to text a quick line or two instead. Just like that, some of our best memories are deleted instead of being filed away for a rainy day.

Life is busy, and even though any kind of connection counts, there’s nothing like opening the mailbox expecting bills and finding a letter from a friend. So the task for Days 6 and 7 is to write a letter, because it’s a foolproof way to make someone you care about smile. Even though it takes more time than an email or a text, the reward is well worth the investment. All the way around.

So who are you going to write this weekend? We’re all writing to Aunt Mid, who at 96 has thrown in the towel for her annual holiday trip from Nebraska to Colorado. She’s an amazing woman, and hopefully our letters will help make her Christmas a little more shiny and bright.

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Aunt Mid at the tender age of 94.

I, Gemini Girl, have interrupted my non-existent programming to bring you the 25 Days of Giving Challenge. Please join me in my quest, over the next 25 days, to make people happy. I’ll share stories of giving escapades that will be sure to wow, delight, or at least not annoy anyone who chooses to participate. Each Day of Giving will be conveniently brought to you via email if you follow this blog. And if you’re already a follower? Pass it onto your friends. If we work together we can change the world, or at least dramatically improve my hit ratio.

25 Days of Giving Day Five: Ask Someone’s Opinion

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Everyone wants to be heard. When you really listen to another person (like, drop the cell phone, tune out your surroundings, serious eye contact kind of focus) whether it’s a spouse, friend, child, client, or stranger, you take a meaningful step toward making them feel important.

With this thought in mind the Challenge for Day Five is to ask someone’s opinion. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some hypothetical questions ripped straight from today’s headlines. Sort of.

1. “Is the U.S secretly attempting to bankrupt Russia’s economy with low gas prices or is some jokester in the Department of Energy really just trying to get Vladimir Putin to take off his shirt?

“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.” Image via huffpost.com

2. “Are you gonna get the new vaccine for that STD, gingivitis?”

This book is the gift that keeps on giving for the guy in your life who has it all. Image via amazon.com. Seriously.

3. “What do you think about ending all of the partisan politics in D.C. and making Las Vegas the capital of the United States?”

Winning ticket for 2016? Image via backstagebusiness.wordpress.com

4. “What do you think your limited edition, autographed Bill Cosby album is worth now?”

“and then I became…a sexual predator.” Image via phillymag.com

5. “What do you think about Obamacare?” (Just kidding. If you like your teeth, don’t ask anyone this question. Ever.)

“Whatevs dude. I paid for these myself.” Image via reveal.co.uk.

So that’s it. Today’s task should be simple. Make it a point to let someone be heard because it’s a gift of grace, understanding, acceptance, and respect…four things we could all use a lot more of in this world.

* I googled “everyone wants to be heard” after I used it as my opening line, and apparently, it’s is a quote from Oprah’s last show. I didn’t see that show, but I love Oprah, so I’m hereby giving her credit for the quote and volunteering to pick up where she left off as the most loved person in America. If I also become insanely rich by doing this good deed? All the better.

** When I introduced the giving topic of the day to my children this morning, my selfie-oriented, Teen Vogue-obsessed middle child wanted to know if she could ask someone’s opinion of the outfit she’s wearing to school. This is not the kind of interactive engagement I’m looking for.

*** For those of you who are new to Gemini Girl in a Random World, I write in two distinct voices on this blog. I know, right? I’m totally creeped out too. Anyway, the snarkier side of my voice generally comes out when I’m writing late at night, when I need to take an emotional break from my softer side, when it’s that time of the month, or all of the above. So there.

I, Gemini Girl, have interrupted my non-existent programming to bring you the 25 Days of Giving Challenge. Please join me in my quest, over the next 25 days, to make people happy. I’ll share stories of giving escapades that will be sure to wow, delight, or at least not annoy anyone who chooses to participate. Each Day of Giving will be conveniently brought to you via email if you follow this blog. And if you’re already a follower? Pass it onto your friends. If we work together we can change the world, or at least dramatically improve my hit ratio.

25 Days of Giving Day Four: Find the Silver Lining

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When I was two years old my parents got divorced. I was lucky in a way, because at the time I was too young to understand that separation, at it’s most basic level, is the physical manifestation of pain being split in two.

By the time I’d turned five Mom had remarried. We left Atlanta, where our entire family was from, and moved to Louisville, where I ultimately grew up. Back then, fathers didn’t have the same parenting rights as today, so with a brand new puppy under one arm and a pack of candy cigarettes in my hand, I waved goodbye to my father as my stepdad’s sleek, silver Thunderbird rolled down the driveway, through Tennessee (“See Rock City!”), and toward a new life.

As time went by, pieces of my old family became seedlings for another, and when my amazing baby brother was born, my new family was complete, but in a different kind of way. There was someone else present who, even though he wasn’t part of this new unit, was still in the mix because he was attached to me.

My father.

I wouldn’t say things were perfect between my mother and father, because even when bad memories fade they leave a scar. But Mom always held the door open for visits, and my father never missed an opportunity to take any time with me that she was willing to share.

As years passed and I became increasingly comfortable with my family dynamics, I began to see myself as lucky, even though it wasn’t always easy. I was a Whitten and everyone else I lived with was a Logan, I felt like a misfit in the world of seemingly perfect families on my block, and I sometimes had to paint a smile on my face when all I wanted to do was cry. But intermingled with the sad was something that no other kid I knew could match. Not only did I have one great dad, I had two, with different but equally important ideas, strengths, influences, opinions, and dreams…and one huge commonality. They both loved me, in a way that only a father can. Times two.

So the challenge, for Day Four, is to find the silver lining in a bad situation or event. In some unfortunate incidents it simply doesn’t exist, which, regrettably, is the true definition of tragedy. But in many cases, good can be salvaged from bad. If you can find happiness in something that at first only brought pain, it’s a gift to yourself that never goes away.

Divorce, like life, is complicated. It’s messy and raw, and carefully drawn colors end up bleeding outside the lines. Sometimes though, if we’re lucky, the things that hurt most end up helping us in the end.

I, Gemini Girl, have interrupted my non-existent programming to bring you the 25 Days of Giving Challenge. Please join me in my quest, over the next 25 days, to make people happy. I’ll share stories of giving escapades that will be sure to wow, impress, or at least not annoy anyone who chooses to participate. Each Day of Giving will be conveniently brought to you via email if you follow this blog. And if you’re already a follower? Pass it onto your friends. If we work together we can change the world, or at least dramatically improve my hit ratio.

25 Days of Giving Day Three: Free Up Some Space

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It never fails that when I’m in line at Costco with a double-wide full of everything I don’t need, some guy is patiently standing behind me with three packages of flan. So I step aside.

My definition of purgatory. Image via homelyplanet.com

I’m always surprised at how appreciative people are when I let them go first, but when I think about it more deeply, I realize that I’m always rushing, pressed for time, often trying to fit way too much into a day that simply can’t stretch beyond the bounds of a ticking clock. And so is everyone else.

When you give up space, you’re literally telling someone that for the moment you consider their needs more important than yours. It’s such a simple connection point and serves as a tangible way to tell somebody, often a stranger, that they matter.

So for Day Three I’m asking you to let someone else go first. Whether it’s a spot in line, a parking space at the mall, or simply pausing to let the person behind you walk through the door ahead of you, give it a try. It’s a kindness that costs next to nothing, and you’ll find that the reward is truly worth the wait.

I, Gemini Girl, have interrupted my non-existent programming to bring you the 25 Days of Giving Challenge. Please join me in my quest, over the next 25 days, to make people happy. I’ll share stories of giving escapades that will be sure to wow, delight, or at least not annoy anyone who chooses to participate. Each Day of Giving will be conveniently brought to you via email if you follow this blog. And if you’re already a follower? Pass it onto your friends. If we work together we can change the world, or at least dramatically improve my hit ratio.