I try my best to avoid Target’s dollar spot, but these hats are really earning their keep…
That’s it. A message so simple. So pure. Yet so powerful.
And, according to Jeannette Mare of Ben’s Bells Project, so life-saving.
Nine years ago today, her family suffered a loss greater than any heart can possibly bear alone. Jeannette says that after the sudden death of her younger son, small acts of kindness, often by strangers, served to give her hope. Over the years, that hope has blossomed into something breathtakingly beautiful. Ben’s Bells, while initially distributed in this sweet boy’s memory, are more living, breathing, growing movement than memorial.
They are gorgeous wind chimes crafted by at least ten different sets of hands, and then hung anonymously, to be found unexpectedly. They undoubtedly bring peace, joy, and gentle refocusing to their finder. Just read some of the moving stories here.
A weekly Ben’s Bell is also awarded to a worthy nominee who is impacting their community with kindness. Similar smaller versions of the wind chimes are available for purchase to be gifted to and from individuals.
This organization is drawing our Tucson community together in countless wonderful ways. There is the Kind Kids school outreach program that focuses on creating a culture of kindness in young people. There is the Kindness Corridor community art project (you have to see the pictures of the gorgeous mosaics). And even the BENevolent Brigade: a self-proclaimed “flash mob with purpose”.
What originally began as one family’s way of coping, has become a community message garnering national media attention. After Tucson’s January 8th, 2011 shootings, the project of quiet kindness was featured on MSNBC’s nightly news.
In case you can’t tell, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the studio and exploring their (really great!) website. I hope you will too. If you have a few minutes, I especially recommend the “What’s the Deal?” video in the right side bar of the homepage.
There are so many ways to get involved and get inspired to…
Seems so easy, but somehow can be so easy to forget…
*Photos are from the project’s own website.
Last week I had the privilege of attending Tucson’s very first Mom It Forward event at the courtyard adjoining the Ben’s Bells studios. (I hope you will return tomorrow for a very special post on the oh-so-unique Ben’s Bells. Both their story and their “be kind” message are beautiful.) As for today, the mommy part…
Mom It Forward is an organization that strives to bring moms together for worthy causes through social media and hosted get-togethers. Moms gather, have a good time, and help their communities- both local and worldwide. This is “girls’ night out” with a purpose.
It was simply a lovely event. Our hostesses were the ever-connectors and gorgeously gracious Becca and Linsay. They thought of everything! While enjoying the blissfully spring day, we painted bits of pottery that will eventually be part of a finished Ben’s Bell. There was tasty food from Creative Catering, some fun giveaways (check out these adorable bags from Kelly’s 31 Gifts), and even some divine freebies (Gadabout and t-shirts from Big Frog).
Now for the best part: the company! I got to spend a little time with my sweet friend Amanda , who somehow even manages to pull off unexpected bird droppings with the perfect mixture of hilarity and class. I’m also pretty sure she toned down her crafty talents so she could join me in joking about our painted pottery winding up in reject buckets somewhere. “Who painted that?” 😉
We were surrounded by so many amazing ladies. All these mamas chatting, painting, laughing, and helping one another. So many of them juggling multiple roles right before our very eyes: mother, friend, philanthropist, entrepreneur, teacher, blogger. It was inspiring and invigorating.
So, to you so many mama-types in my life, I just have to pose the question:
“How do you DO that?”
Juggle it all, that is. How do you find balance? Is it always a matter of prioritization, or is sometimes more complicated? How do you maintain normal life when you are feeling motivated by dreams or inspiration?
Lately, I’ve been struggling with the balance thing.
This little site is an outlet for me. It’s intended to be a way to document and share in the journey of living a better life and raising kids. And I find it just so exhilarating and exciting. The ideas for improvement and material for musings seem endless. The time to devote however… not so much. Sometimes I find myself so consumed by the fun details and possibilities of it all, that I start to neglect those important day-to-day activities like dishes, laundry, or, um, sleep- ouch.
I know that some of the struggle may be in the newness of the blogosphere, and that once I get systems created, I will be able to mostly just write. (Or am I wrong on that too?) I also know that at the point in which this venture gets in the way of me being present for my girls, it is simply no good. They are my main passion. I intentionally don’t get online when the girlies are up, so I basically have nap time (if!) and nighttime (hence the even darker circles).
So to all my mommy friends:
I really want to hear from you! How do you balance pursuing your dreams, hobbies, & passions with enjoying and caring for your family?
To all the bloggy mama friends:
I would love specifics on how you make it work ladies. Do you have a schedule? Do you have certain days or times you write, manage photos, reply to comments, maintain your site, learn!? How much do you read and comment on other blogs? Aren’t there just too many good ones?
Even more thanks to Becca for permission to use just a few of her lovely photos 🙂
Some days with the girls just seem to shine like gold. Not that the entire day is perfect. There are these moments though, that simply glow. Moments when I am consciously trying to burn images of them in this gorgeous golden sunlight as memories so deep I will never forget.
Last weekend our little family attended the Tucson Festival of Books. Yeah- that’s right. A festival… of books! I know you’re jealous. I mean, what more could a nerdy girl ask for? An Arizona spring day, university campus, festival trappings of food and music, and ahhh- the books.
I worked my night shift and then was picked up by my husband and the girls. The little ladies were wearing sunhats(!), sunscreen (!!), and shorts under their dresses (!!!). He is totally getting this “daddy-to-girls” thing down.
We traipse across the mall, reminiscing about our somewhat brief collegiate experiences. We visit wildcat statues, people-watch, dog-visit, and enjoy a delicious outdoor lunch.
We’re drawn in to a performance by a local high school’s band. They’re playing “Higher Love” on a slew of steel drums. (I didn’t even know I liked that song, but on the steel drums it’s amazing). And I sway and I bounce the tiny grinning toddler on my hip. I watch as the preschooler gleefully picks her way through the crowd to get closer to the danceable beat.
And suddenly I am overcome.
Goosebumps in the morning sun. I’m not sure if it is the sleep deprivation, the sweetly metallic music, or the Americano that I downed after work, but I have tears of joy at seeing my girls experience these sights and sounds.
The band starts in on the requisite but always chill Bob Marley, and after a few minutes, we move on. We have important literary figures to meet (Curious George, Madeline, Pigs with Pancakes- you know the type).
And Irish step dancing to watch. Song after song of it. The big sis just can’t get enough of Irish step dancing. Who can blame her?
When I remember this day, I am thankful that I ambled camera-less. I was there. With my mind’s eye and all my senses snapping images faster and more indelible than any fancy camera could.
They lead the way. These little girls, already with their opinions about fashion, food, and (apparently) festivals. I follow behind their sweet sun-hat clad heads. Watching smiles warm the faces of the people who notice them. Watching their trailing ribbons and bouncing girlishness as they explore their world with complete wonder. Watching their strong, confident legs striding, almost skipping.
And I am in awe.
In awe of these precious ones who, not too long ago, were as close as a heartbeat; growing inside my very core.
And somehow they will always be in there… and yet, they are out here.
This aching joy.
This drawing close. This letting go.
This is motherhood.
It is the purest gold.
“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”
The girls’ brilliant and well-traveled equine-vet auntie recently sent them these little gems…
She said that she found them in Vancouver in a boutique that carries nothing but “horsey” clothing for little girls. Oh my!
They are cute, comfy, and clever. These super softies are made by a neat family company called Hatley.
Look at some of the special details on the pajamas:
The company logo is part of the grippy feet!
These little hearts are sweetly stitched on the shoulder.
The site has all sorts of fun stuff worth at least window shopping.
(Insert awesome bloggy giveaway here… Sorry, just kidding! I know, that was mean. Maybe someday when I get my act together;) For now, the company just gets a little free publicity.)
Please indulge me in just a couple more silly gratuitous kid shots:
Uh-oh… starting to get the look…
Aaaaand, we’re done!
I’m trying to stay positive here. Really, I am!
But sometimes you just have those days. You know the ones. The days where you deal with things like:
I don’t know about you, but these are the things that just wear me down. They seem to make it so much harder to focus on the really big stuff. More difficult to deal with the important things.
But then, there are hidden blessings:
So I guess there really is a way to give thanks in everything.
I may just have to scrape off some dirt, cock my head sideways a little, and squint really hard to see it clearly.
…and giving each and every day.
This is the Sheaffer family and some months ago they had a little dream. Ok- a big dream. More like a family vision. That turned into a mission. That is now an actual adventure. A very real reality.
While living their fairly “normal” life here in southern Arizona, they started feeling like their little family could live in an even more radical way and Give Every Day. So, long story short, they sold almost everything they owned, bought an RV, and committed to this journey.
Sounds crazy, right? Maybe not quite as crazy as you would first think. You see, this crew has already been successful at some pretty amazing things. (Check out Stephanie’s incredible blog for example). They are entrepreneurs, planners, and great parents to their delightful (and portable) little girls.
So, a little more than a month ago, off they went. It has clearly not been easy thus far. It started with a blown transmission on… um, Day 1. Ugh. Some dental emergencies, homesickness, some real sickness. But still, somehow, they have found a way to literally give every single day. (And write about it- beautifully). It may not be easy… but it continues to be inspiring.
They have given in some of those wonderful “bigger” ways like feeding the homeless and volunteering at food banks or shelters. They have often highlighted some really amazing organizations like Mercy House Kenya, Morgan’s Wonderland (you have GOT to check this place out), Kiva, and World Vision.
But some of the smaller ways have been especially inspiring in their “do-ablity.” Stuff we can all do right where we are, right now. Stuff like donating blood, surprising the next person in line or a cashier, remembering birthdays, letting a spouse sleep in, baking cookies, calling grandparents. When they give like this, I am reminded that there are really no “small” ways. I am reminded that all giving makes a difference.
So I hope you’ll join me in following their journey, encouraging their compasssionate hearts, and applauding them in their sense of adventure, courage, and determination.
Please excuse my link-littering here, but the blog is just that good. And I wanted to catch you up :). I hope you will support them by leaving them a comment, doing your Amazon shopping through their button, or inviting them over when they hit your town! Seriously.
Hmmm, how am I going to give this day?
Comments are closed here so you can go on over and say “hey!” at giveeveryday.com.
Lately around here, it has been a bit chaotic, confusing, or complicated to say the least. I haven’t felt very organized in putting together my thoughts, much less words.
That’s why I know that I’m really thankful for you. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for checking back in. I am blessed by such wonderful friends.
The other day we had another rare treat to be thankful for…
We awoke to a different light glowing white through our bedroom windows.
A snowy morning. In the desert.
Isn’t there something so peaceful and still about silent snow falling overnight?
In the early daylight, there was an inch or so of soft white blanketing our rocky sharp edges and pokey plants.
So for now, I’m praying that you will continue to be patient and just join me in enjoying some pictures of desert girls playing in the remnants of the cold white stuff.
And later that day, the best part: a sunny afternoon with clear views of powder-dusted mountains.
A girl can breathe out here…