Day 7 & Day 8: Quality Dad Time - No Drive-by Gifting Here!

4/9

Day 7: Quality Time w/ Dad- I woke up not feeling so hot. Thank goodness it was Sunday, I was able to give in to my body's pleads not to move out of bed, well at least for a lot longer than if it was a week day. My initial intentions were to do some house keeping for my mom as my intentional act of kindness. But not able to shake the lethargic vibe I had, that didn't happen. Instead, I opted for something a little more low-key. I mustard up some emotional energy, went, sat & chatted with my dad for a while. I turned the T.V. off and had an actual conversation, full focused quality time. He showed me pictures of his Utah trip, talked about his goal and hope to take my mom to Salt Lake City next summer and other small conversations. My parents' situation is different than most people in their 70's, it doesn't allow for retirement and relaxation like they would like. It's nice to create a moment where he had the chance to talk about something positive.  

4/10

Day 8: Surprise, I made time to spend with you and give you this "I thought of you gift!"- As one of my earlier acts of kindness, I randomly bought a small gift that reminded me of a dear friend of mine. Today is the day I'm going to give it to him. But not in a "drive-by gifting" way, we had a pancake & coffee dinner friend date planned. 

Something I struggle with is my flakiness. The ironic part is it's one of my biggest pet-peeves when it's done to me, so I'm super hard on myself when I'm flaky towards a friend. But, sadly, this doesn't stop me. I can use my anxiety and bouts of regular depression as an excuse but no matter the reason, I'm still letting down my friends. This I'm very aware of. My anxiety allows that evil lady & her over-thinking friend into my head and have full control of it. The exact thoughts and worry can change depending on the situation and person but it boils down to being completely worried of having to be good enough, friendly enough, entertaining enough and perfect enough for the person I'm with. This is such an exhausting thought because I know how much energy doing so & pretending to be consumes. And that anxiety causes me to cancel plans more than I would like to admit. It's not just a worry or nervous feeling, I get hose too. Well it kinda is, but multiply it by a million and imagine that worry to consume every thought in your head to where you feel it in your body. Pretty sure it feels like my soul is about to explode. The only relief comes when I know I don't have to do it anymore. Of course, there is the guilt that comes after, so I'm not totally off the hook with myself. 

Honestly, if I wasn't holding myself accountable for my daily acts of kindness, I would've allowed for another mental forfeit and canceled with my friend. I even threw out a "sort of" excuse to see if he would bite (it was a somewhat valid excuse) but he didn't, so I sucked it up, put some make-up on and went. You know what? It turned out to be a fantastic night!

 

Day 6: I saw this & thought "You gotta have it!"

April 8th

Day 6: I bought a "Saw this & thought of you" gift for a friend - This day was up in the air on what my intentional act of kindness was going to be. I had a full day planned (that wasn't work stuff, yay!) On Saturdays, I always make sure to do a fun activity with my 5 year old niece, Amelia. Because I had plans for the later part of the day, I made sure to get the time in with her first thing in the morning. We went out for our favorite, chocolate chip pancakes! I didn't count this as my act of kindness because the point of the challenge is to try to get you to do something that you wouldn't do otherwise. The activity isn't always what we do, but Amelia knows on Saturdays, her & Aunt Susie will do something fun together! So #ReminderChallenge or no challenge, this would've happened. Later in the day, I met up with a friend of mine (a friend I have a crush on :) to go to the Deep Ellum Arts Festival. It was so cool! I had great company, the art exhibits was full of talent and I even ran into a significant person from my past. One of the booths I was checking out had coasters, mugs, etc. with pictures of iconic spots in the DFW area. Many of the sites brought back feelings of nostalgia, so I get why their products were really selling. As I was going through the many pictures, one stood out. Not because I liked it but because it reminded me of one of my best friends. This boy is obsessed with tacos, I mean obsessed! We are even in talks of doing a road trip to Austin (the taco capital of the U.S.) and only eat tacos for every meal. So when I saw the iconic wall in Austin that says "I Love You So Much" but the "You" was crossed out & "tacos" was inserted instead, I knew I had to get that for him. And since he's addicted to coffee, a coffee mug would go to good use. Can't wait to give it to him!

 

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Day 5: Sometimes, you just don't get ice cream

April 7th

Day 5: I planned an Ice Cream Date w/ Mom & Dad - I was all set for my intentional act of kindness for the day, I planned ahead. I made an ice cream date with my parents. I see them often but don't really spend quality time together. My dad just got back from driving my older sister to Utah, so I wanted to catch up. Plus, getting out is a treat for them My parents are givers to a fault. They are always focused on doing for their family and others. Growing up I remembered if someone needed something, the answer was yes and you figured out how to make it happen after. Going out of your way was just what you did. This stuck with me. Going into adulthood, I was in for a real shock and disappointment when I saw this wasn't the case for most others. Dating was an eye opener too. The realization my dad broke the mold when it came to good guys came quickly, but hasn't stopped me from continuing to search. (This is a whole other topic that I may get into another time) I bring up my parents selflessness because I wanted you to truly understand this next part. My parents idea of a big night out is making a trip to the neighborhood Braums and splitting a banana split. They're so concerned about giving to their 5 kids and supporting the youngest granddaughter, splurging on a treat like this is a big deal. Plus, it's pretty cute to me too. My dad only likes vanilla ice cream with strawberry topping then he let's my mom choose the other 2 flavors and toppings. My dad can't eat chocolate (so sad, I know!), so one of my mom's choices is always chocolate-free so my dad could try a bite of hers. Their life together has always been symbolic of this. Every decision that is made has the consideration of the other. I adore it! One of the reasons they have made it this far together, I'm sure.

But back to our plans, I wanted to spend some quality time talking with them and also wanted to treat them. But, it didn't happen. I'm not too sure why but we rescheduled for another night. I didn't want my day to go without an act of kindness so I decided to reach out to a friend of mine who I know is battling a bout of depression. I sent out the invite and a few hours later got a reply that it wasn't a good night. This didn't surprise me, I would've been more surprised if he had said yes, but I was hoping. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, most people going through a depression have a hard time accepting any social invites. Just answering a text is a big deal & takes a good amount of energy. But the effort of the invite doesn't go unnoticed, they may not be able to express it but kindness does make a difference. The lack of it too. (Remember this the next time someone you know is being unresponsive or not themselves. It's not personal towards you, it's very normal. Don't be defensive, pushy or quit making an effort. Just be there, that is the best way to help.) 

So, not from a lack of trying, I didn't get to treat anyone to ice cream :( Luckily, I had a helper to make sure I still achieved my act of kindness. My 5 year old niece and I were chatting, I asked her if she wanted to help me do something nice for someone we know. "Sure! But for who" She mentioned one of her school friends I didn't know, asked for other ideas. She mentioned someone else, perfect! (I'm keeping it quiet because they haven't received their present yet.) We went to Dollar Tree, picked out a card and a few other little "thinking of you gifts", including one for my mom/her grandma. It was a fun outing and only cost me $5.60. Not bad for getting to surprise 3 people! 

Day 4: Smile, I texted you!

April 6th

Day 4: Today I used the power of words! There are always people on our mind, those we know we should check on, those that just had a big life event or simply those that it has been too long since you said "hi". So I decided to actually act on those thoughts, since they can't read my mind. (How much easier would life be if they could??) Every time someone popped into my head, I added their name to my list. At the end of the day I got comfy and sent out my "from the heart" messages. One was to my sister who just did a big cross-country move with her family. I know how hard all of it has been on her, wanted to make sure she knew I recognized her genuine motives and that I was here for her, anytime! Her response was one that made me feel she needed to hear those words of encouragement and support as much as I needed to tell her. There were several more messages I made an effort to send, a few "hi, how are you's", a "know I'm thinking of you" and even made a phone call to someone I know that has been having a rough go of it lately. The phone call went unanswered, which didn't surprise me. When someone is suffering from depression, it's hard for them to be present. Energy to be social is very rare. But I know they will notice the effort and it does make a difference. 

Day 3: 100 Days of Intentional Kindness

April 4th

Day 3: I made time for a friend- This is one we can all relate to, on both sides of the situation. A new friend of mine had been reaching out to me, several times, to get together. Each time, I had to turn down the invite. Not because I was trying to avoid time with him, but because I always felt too busy to get away. Between my day job, launching and being determined to make a success of my new non-profit, and having my 5 year old niece 50% of the time, I always have an endless list of "to-do's". As much as I want a social life and to continue dating (so I can find my person and stop dating), I haven't been so good at finding that happy balance. I either do nothing but focus on my to-do list, which makes me feel accomplished (even if it's only for a day) but then feel lame for not having done anything fun. I can partly blame my funds being tight too. Being social takes money, but so does bank-rolling a non-profit. The non-profit has been winning that battle. I'm still searching for regular donors, it's not a strength of mine. Or If I plan a social butterfly schedule, I usually always have fun but feel guilty for not getting enough done and the strain on my budget. My social anxiety is a big decision maker on my home-body ruts, as well. So it's a work in progress. I have decided, mentally, I just need to embrace allowing myself to do both and be OK with it. 

Luckily, with the 100 days of kindness, I'm constantly thinking of ways to make others in my life feel that they matter. I recognized I have turned my friend down way too many times in the last week. I always had a good excuse but the problem with saying no, is if you do it too often, people stop asking. The thing is, I don't want my friends to stop asking! Actually, there is too many times I see friends on Facebook doing something and get that left out feeling. I hate that feeling! So I decided I needed to make time. I realized I didn't have a lunch meeting and I could invite him out for lunch. When he said he was free and we made the plans, it actually felt nice to know I was going to have to break myself away from my laptop for a little while and actually get food for lunch. Besides a location mix-up, it was fun! I learned many cool things I didn't know before. Plus we took advantage of the nice weather and went for a short walk outside. Nature is good for the soul, right? Eventually, I had to get back to the laptop but I did notice a less stressed feeling about myself. Plus, focusing on different thoughts and conversations helped me reset my work priorities. I initially reached out to my friend and set time aside to make sure he knew I cared but in the end, I came out better too.  

-Susie

 

ReminderChallenge Day 1 & Day 2

April 5, 2017

First off, I have to admit, having the #ReminderChallange on my mind these last few days, has given me a giddy feeling, been enjoying the extra positivity on my mind. It's there for a couple reasons: 1) It's fun thinking of who and how I'm going to surprise someone I care about with an act of kindness. I have also caught myself paying more attention to the people in my life, rather than only my own all about me thoughts. I'm naturally paying more attention to find inspiration of ways to help or to notice those who may need a love boost. The truth is, people will let you know what they need, you just need to open all your senses: eyes, ears, and most importantly, your gut. Because, most likely, they won't tell you directly or with specifics but they will with small mentions or comments (sometimes it can across as nagging or passive aggressive), sighs and unresponsiveness and even body language. 2) Knowing and hoping there are others out there doing acts of kindness for special people in their life makes me happy! I know the value of feeling special to someone and how it's not usually an occurrence that comes along as often as it should. So, knowing that there is someone who is being gifted the feeling of "I matter" is exciting for me! Because the opposite of feeling loved can be a lonely place. I don't want anyone to feel that way. The pain of that sort of depression still haunts me. Being able to think that feeling is being lifted or avoided by someone else gives me as much peace as the actual feeling does.

Day 1: Coming up with my act of kindness for day 1 was actually pretty easy. I have a professional acquaintance turned friend who has been volunteering his time to help me out with a big project. I was actually talking to him on Monday, conveniently, the fact that he deserved some extra gratitude was right in front of me. I made a stop on my way home from work, picked out a Thank-You card, wrote a personal message and stuck it in the mail. Took me only an extra 15 minutes and $3.50. But the sentiment behind it and the acknowledgement he'll feel is worth so much more!

Day 2: I decided to help out a close friend of mine who sales Rodan+Fields Skincare. As someone who is also in a sales position, I understand the struggle of getting the word out and finding potential clients. Every extra mention helps! But I also love the product, it makes it easy to share. They have this foaming self-tanner that is my most favorite! It's hard to find a good one and this stuff definitely rocks! (If you want to hear more about it and pictures, check out the Facebook posts or email me). Rodan+Fields has tons of other awesome products I want to try too but only because of my budget I haven't yet. I made a post on my social media with a personal review of the superb self tanner. She eventually saw the few posts I made and gave a genuine thank-you. I could tell it meant a lot to her because it has been a slow go for her lately. It may or may not pan out anything for her, but now she knows I care about her as a friend and her success. And if she does get some business out of it, that's icing on the cake!

             -Susie, Here's Your Reminder Creator

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Did I Just Get Called Out?!

April 2nd 2017

I was out on a first date, a little while back, and it was going well: he looked like his pictures, (those that do online dating know how risky that part can be), pretty darn cute, he was being super nice and conversation was flowing easily. All huge positives, especially for a first date. We were getting through the cliche, first date "get to know you" questions that always come up. My big AHA moment happened when he asked about my work, I answered then followed it up with "But my real passion is my Kindness Project I recently launched." He was curious to hear more. I love talking about it so I was happy to share: "It's called Here's Your Reminder Project. Our mission is to combat depression and broken relationships by inspiring everyday kindness in our everyday people." He commented that he thought it sounded like a pretty cool thing to create and do. We discussed more details about it: how I also advocate for depression and anxiety, the project works with local businesses to help create our own acts of kindness for those in need while creating attention for the business as well. Then I said "But the main goal we try to encourage is for our followers to do 1 Not-So-Random-Act-of-Kindness everyday for someone is their life, this is where the real difference is going to be made, in the actions of many." "I love it" he said. Then the next thing he asked really got the wheels in my head going and even made me blush, "What kindness did you do today?" Ummmmmmmm. . . . my mind was blank, I had nothing. I shockingly realized that I just got called out! I had to think for too long and still didn't have the answer that I should. Here I am, this director of a non-profit who sets out ideas, inspirations and promotes everyday acts of kindness for others but I didn't have a personal example to give. How embarrassing! But I'm owning up to it now. Sure, I'm nice to others and do nice things but that doesn't count, not really, not for this. This conversation stuck with me, it really bothered me. I gave myself a hard time for days. I was determined that this wasn't going to happen again. I decided there needed to be some accountability, I needed and wanted to be a better example. So here it is, as a result of getting called out and my embarrassment: 100 Days of Intentional Kindness - #ReminderChallange was formed. 

It's said it takes 21 days to break a bad habit. But that's not what we're doing, we're trying to create a good habit, a new lifestyle. 100 seemed like a nice round number and enough time to make an impact. At least, I hope so! I want to make a splash with this, grab everyone's attention, but even more importantly, get them involved. I can lead but without others, true change is not going to happen. I created HYR to help prevent others from feeling the despair of a deep depression and the self torture that goes along with it. Make relationships stronger where support can come easier. So change is what I want. That is what many, many people need. 

To you, ya you! The one reading this, follow along with me (Susie) and HYR, on our social media, website and our events, for the next 100 days and see our progress. Use our examples for yourself and create your own. I would love it if you share some of your acts of kindness with us and the reactions that went along with them. The more we have to inspire the better! Plus, seeing yours will help keep me motivated. I put all this out there but never really know if it's really making a difference, much less being read. The main thing to remember is kindness doesn't have to be this big, flashy action, it can be small and simple. Just needs to be heartfelt. There is truth to the line "It's the small things in life" Only rule is it needs to be unexpected. If your "chore" is to take the trash out and that's something you already do every night, then no, that doesn't count. But good for you for being useful :) 

I'm excited to see what I come up with, especially towards the end of the 100 days. I know there will be days that I'll struggle through, but I need that push. And you will too! I'm looking forward to seeing the affects it has, not only on my loved ones, but on me. 

-Susie 

 

Depression - A Soul Sucking Creature

Darkness comes in all shapes, sizes and names. Many people have a story of their own personal darkness, it's just a matter of digging deep enough to find it. Some choose to bury it. Others choose to attack it head on. Some of us are a victim to it. Others have embraced it, letting it be part of us but knowing it's the past. I have darkness in my past. My darkness is named Depression with it's close friend, anxiety. Depression crept up on me overtime, while anxiety has always been a player in my life. Honestly, I had no idea what was happening until the darkness was more blinding than my light. Then admitting and fighting it's existence was a whole other journey.

The only way I know how to describe depression, so that those who have never experienced it will understand it, is Soul Sucking. It truly sucks & drains out every bit of mental and physical energy you have, leaving you only with the feeling of despair. Sounds dramatic, huh? That's because it is! Everyone's trigger towards depression is different. The first emotion I remember feeling was abandonment. I felt all those who mattered to me either just tossed me to the side or didn't really care about me. I felt very alone. Was this reality? Maybe for a few people, but over-all, no. I still had friends and family. This just added to the darkness. Part of me knew these feelings weren't reality but that feeling of "nobody cares" was way too strong, I couldn't fight it. So, I ended up feeling more worthless because something was wrong with me and I couldn't control it or "just get over it"!

I had my own self-run business, it started to fall apart due to the fact that my capacity for caring was gone, sucked out of me. It was impossible to get out of bed. The simple task of changing into clothes and making myself presentable was overwhelming. Even running the business from home was a struggle. Talking to potential clients was like a boxing match in my head, with both fighters being me. Constantly throwing and landing punches. I had no self-confidence or assurance in myself. The only thing I was convinced of was that no one wanted to be bothered by me, I would only annoy them. Then they would judge and mock me for thinking I was anything worth their time. Since I saw my business going down the tubes and no energy to stop it, caused me to sink lower in my darkness. Again, I then beat myself up for being so worthless that I couldn't even be successful with my business. Then the next domino effect of emotions, I jumped to the thought that caused a big sickness in my stomach, having to get another horrible 9-5 job where I would be a glorified secretary, because that was the only thing anyone would think I good enough for. A job that didn't show my strengths or passions. But wait, I didn't have any anyways so it didn't matter. Or so the Depression made me think. 

All the things I enjoyed was no longer enjoyable for me. They actually felt more like a chore. I became attached to my bed for months. Being social turned into something that sounded like an awful idea. The thought of having a conversation or small talk was so frightening, I couldn't take the chance. Thinking of enough to say, simply to respond to a text, was very straining. Many went unanswered. It would bring tears to my eyes. Thinking back on that, maybe it was because I knew something in me was missing. I felt it. It made me sad. I had thoughts of suicide. Not too serious. But enough to know they were there. Thankfully, my mind would jump to my parents and my big sister. I felt so guilty just thinking about doing that to them. I knew how much they would hurt because of me. Luckily, I didn't allow It as an option. 

My business wasn't the only failure I dwelled on, trust me, I thought of plenty. My memories gave me an extreme amount to critique: all my failed relationships, why I'm so easy to leave & still single, why I'm a failure as an adult and had to move back in with the parents, why I didn't have any real friends, why I didn't have any true accomplishments, so on & so on. Every negative thought felt so natural. Like it was part of me and completely normal. But why, I would think, what is wrong with me that I can't do anything right?? My soul, my spirit was suffocated by the darkness. No light, no hope, no positivity was left to be seen. It was such a devastating feeling that the only way I felt I could survive was to quiet my thoughts and take Xanax. Xanax would numb me to the crap thoughts that came up every time I would think and it allow me to sleep. The only way to stop the breath choking grip of the darkness.

It wasn't only mental, the darkness affected me physically. My appetite was squashed. But even when I did convince myself I had to eat something, then the battle to find something and prepare it began. When I say that all my energy was sucked out of me, I sure hope you can understand the depth that means. Just getting up and walking to the restroom was pure exhaustion. My weight loss was dramatic. In total, I lost 30 pounds in a matter of just a few months. If you were to know me, you would know I didn't have this to lose in the first place. I was 5'7' and maybe 120 lbs to begin with. After, my body was depleted of nutrients, which I could feel the affects. I was pure skin & bones. None of my clothes fit. This caused even more mental anguish. I have always been someone who tried to dress and look their best. Something I actually enjoyed, I enjoyed being feminine, wearing nice outfits. Now this was also missing! I was so embarrassed how my clothes hung on me, I felt I looked ridiculous. I couldn't leave the house, because if I did I knew everyone would be starring, judging and thinking I was a homeless drug addict or at least I convinced myself of it. The darkness swallowed me more. I remember about the half-way point of the depression, a friend of mine convinced me to come to a party at her house. It wasn't an easy decision but felt I had to, didn't want her to be upset, I already felt I was pushing too many away, so I went. There were several people there I hadn't seen in months, before the darkness took over. Almost immediately someone commented about how skinny I was and if I was ok. There were several similar comments throughout the night. I remember being so uncomfortable in my own skin, I couldn't stand it! How I kept the tears back the whole 2 hours that I forced myself to stay was beyond me. 

One day, I reached for light again. I did come out of it. Crawl out it, actually. I will add a post soon about that part of the journey. I write about the memories and what it's like for two reasons: 1) To reach out to those who are currently suffering, letting you know you're not alone! These thoughts aren't yours alone. And there is hope. 2) To bring some awareness and understanding to the lucky ones who have never crossed that threshold into such a horrible period of life. Maybe hearing my story can make you aware that people do struggle. Possibly, those you are close to are dealing with similar issues. And once you can acknowledge it. you can be a support, which is a big key to recovery. 

Since I started talking about my darkness and openly sharing my struggle with others, I have been trusted with many stories and versions of their darkness. I know I'm not the worst case or the easiest example but in the end, the feelings are very real and we all need support to get through it. Just be there for your people. No, you won't be able to fix it and you may not even see the difference you're making. But trust me, you being there, acknowledging their struggles and them as a person who matters to you, is what really reaches us the most. And it does, most definitely, makes a difference. And to those of you that are struggling, don't feel you have to do it alone. Have a little more faith in those that surround you. Start the conversation, it can be simple as "I'm not doing very well and I need your support". I'm not promising everyone will step up as they should, but try. If that doesn't work, find a support group. Churches are a good resource. They have groups, counselors or can point you to the right direction. 

 

 

waiting on Perfection

This first blog post is about 3 months over-due. My excuse, I've been waiting on perfection: the perfect timing, the perfect topic, the perfect words and inspiration. And no, perfection still hasn't happened. No great epiphany. It's just guts. Sucking it up and doing it. I sat for 5 minutes on just the title alone. Since you guys (hopefully) will be reading this, I felt it had to be perfect! Say the exact right thing and represent me and my feelings perfectly. At this point I started laughing (and maybe some watery eyes). Nothing about me is perfect, no where close. Calling all aspects of my life a hot mess would be putting it nicely. So from this point on, expect anxiety on "paper", if that makes sense to you. (If it does, then we'll get along just fine) My raw feelings and experiences will be placed here. Hopefully there will be at least one or two posts that will help inspire you to be a little kinder to yourself and to others. Embracing your cracks (I've been told that's how the light gets in). And rocking your imperfections (isn't that what adds character?)