Can we share some #AstonishingKindness?

The world is so bleak.

 

I’m lucky, I can make ready and prepare. I do what I can to protect hearth and home, to keep my children fed, clothed and housed. But, with what’s ahead promises a lot of suffering for a lot of people, many of them will suffer and are suffering before we will.

 

This week alone we’ve seen ahomeless man set on fire as he slept, extinction-prone sharks turning up in dishes in UK restaurants and a foodbank plundered and frozen food deliberately spoiled by the thieves. That’s just a little sample of the legion of horrors written of in the UK press. Callousness abounds, even if we ignore the likely cliff edge that approaches on March 29, and divisions are widening each day.

 

It’s enough to make you think of turning away from the world, for running away and keeping close only those things we love, for shutting the door to anything else. Preserve what you love, the rest of it can go to the wall.

 

But this world will not heal if we only reach within ourselves, within our smallest possible groupings. We have to reach out beyond this, make our worlds large, our knowledge wide and our generosity a way of life. The world will not stay away and to ignore it is as good as to condone it.

 

I’ve always loved the words of Maya Angelou. Her writing offers comfort, direction and above all an understanding that vulnerability is at the core of humanity, that mistakes are the mother of opportunities to improve. When I came across this excerpt from a poem titled “Continue”, a piece she wrote for her “daughter” and friend Oprah Winfrey, I found a sentiment that is so very needed at this time.

 

My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart.”

Maya Angelou

 

Astonishing a mean world with kindness is so very much needed. Again and again until it gets boring, until it becomes commonplace, until kindness is the norm.

 

So, to do my little bit, in the month of love, I’ll be using the hashtag #AstonishingKindness throughout February to do a daily blast of five tweets to bring more beauty, truth and love into the darkness.

 

Tweet 1. Highlighting foodbanks in the UK who have the highest demand in the lead up to Brexit in March and putting aside an item a day that I’ll contribute to MK Foodbank at the end of the month.

 

Tweet 2. Promoting a social enterprise which is doing real good in communities here in the UK.

 

Tweet 3. Identifying community projects in the UK who are bringing people together and making change for those in most need.

 

Tweet 4. Recommendations for brilliant and beautifuls reads – poetry, fiction, essays – anything that brings beauty, truth and love into the world.

 

Tweet 5. A story of real kindness – with a beautiful image to inspire hope for the day.

 

Of course I’ll need suggestions and contributions – most of all I’ll need your support. That’s what’s needed right now – support for each other in taking steps to draw people together, to push forward the idea that the world should be full of kindness, honesty and love, to prove that we can be better.

 

I’ll leave you with more words from Maya Angelou, words spoken as eulogy to Coretta Scott King:

 

“I pledge to you, my sister, I will never cease. I mean to say, I want to see a better world. I mean to say, I want to see some peace somewhere. I mean to say, I want to see some honesty, some fair play. I want to see kindness and justice. This is what I want to see.”

The Home Front: War On Plastics

Plastic bottles are driving me to distraction.

In our family of seven we get through far too many items of plastic – shampoo bottles, conditioner bottles, spray bottles, food trays – the list is endless and depressing. I cast my eyes upon the recycling basket with a sense of woe. It endlessly refills and is not empty for long after I’ve skipped it out into the recycling bin. I’ve watched the Attenborough documentaries, I’ve seen news reports about the energy required to produce plastic goods, the scientific advice around how long they take to decompose, and it paints an increasingly bleak picture. We’re suffocating the earth with our plastic habit. This is about more than just my sanity viz clutter, it is about giving our children a fighting chance.

As they say, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, so I’m starting small on my attempts to change. I know that I have the ability to do this – apart from a small slip involving a particularly pretty yellow blouse (in my defence I was having a particularly bad few weeks around my post-twins shape) – I remain committed after two years to avoiding fast fashion by being a devout recycler and sourcing second hand clothes exclusively in charity and thrift stores.

In my new campaign to improve my habits, my small start is around my biggest bugbears – the number of bottles we take into the shower and deodorant.

Shower gel is an irritant to my sensibilities. It hardly seems to last, it is too easy to use more than is necessary (usually with a considerable globule plopping straight down the drain) and we always seem to have about eight different flavours on the go at once. I decide this needs to be replaced by soap. Happily, I received a Christmas gift of a selection of Bomb Cosmetics, from an incredibly lovely friend (hence free to me!), including a Festive Ginger Soap Cake.

In considering the shampoo and conditioner conundrum, which means elimination of two plastic bottles, I considered an array of solid shampoo bars, ultimately opting for a Funky Soap Butter Bar Shampoo. Helpfully this bar includes advice on natural alternatives to conditioner and recommends using one part of apple cider vinegar to two parts of water.

Finally my plastic free solution to deodorant comes in the way of an ammonium alum crystal – from Puro Mineral bought as a set of three via Amazon. To use you moisten the crystal and rub it on the underarms.

So, with myself and the other half as willing guinea pigs, I have started my experimental war on plastic.

Report on how we go to follow…

* For note the items I have chosen have NOT been provided by the makers or any other company. Unless otherwise stated I buy the items myself so that there is no obligation to be positive about any products.