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The Struggle is Real: On Writing + Paying It Forward

For weeks now, I've this amazing post written in my head. It intertwined a bunch of unrelated things—the Dr. Death podcast, my refound affinity for classical music, repeatedly telling myself having all the time I need, rereading the Four Agreements, loving the upright stationary bike at the gym—and ideally ended with this empowering messagea bout finding more quiet and space, both in the world and in my head.

And then I tried to actually write it today, a day when the pumpkin cake balls + generous pours of white wine from last nights holiday's party were still lingering; our heat crapped out on the second floor (I like a chilly bedroom, but 55 degrees is ambitious); and Ben continued playing this marble maze thing nonstop for about 24 hours (better than a screen, but marbles don't drop quietly).

So I wasn't exactly in a calm spot, and two paragraphs—and 50 minutes in—I gave up, pissed that wasn't as easy as I led myself to believe.

Procrastinating, I slid onto the Stride into the Holidays Facebook page, and remembered that this Sunday was our #payitforward day; each weekly rest day comes with a small task. Could be a nap, could be making a double batch of dinner to freeze for a busy night, or could be putting some kindness out into the world. #Payitforward Sunday comes with this disclaimer: Know that duration does not equate to the level of importance. Swipe a credit card or spend the day cleaning your mom’s attic: It’s all good. This shouldn’t add stress to your load; it should put a smile on your—and somebody else’s—face.

Seeing the good stuff that these ladies were putting into the world made me teary.

While I fully admit I'm PMS'ing (can you tell?), I also love that Terrri's lottery ticket purchase and Kathy going to hang with a friend who had hit some speed bumps brought me back to a conversation I had last night with my friend Andrea, a generous spirit with a sparkly stud in her nose and two girls: one in 8th grade, one in 5th. She was an avid elementary school volunteer, but, as you likely know, those duties wane in middle + high school. She was talking about potentially becoming a guardian ad litem; and if that didn't fit, figuring out how she could continue to put herself out in the world, give people in need her smile, energy, love.

As I downed cake balls, I realized we were talking and getting really excited about something beautifully basic: simple goodness.

Sometimes it's crazy challenging to find more quiet + space—and it's likely impossible to create a seamless essay that intertwines a doctor who severed people's spines with the agreement to "Speak Impeccably." So don't wait up: That post may never see the light of the blog.

As we enter the month of December, when frantic is the norm, simple, simple good things are the ones that make a day—and a memory. Andrea inspired me to #payitforward; one thing I did do today was (finally) complete my background check for Reading Partners, so I can go do one of my favorite things: read with a student once a week.

Check out how these #motherrunners paid it forward--and if you're feeling PMS'y, needing some quiet or space, or otherwise challenged, we encourage you to put some simple goodness out in the world this week.

Terri: My dad is in a nursing home and I got him 20 lottery tickets to give out to people. He used to like to do that but today I don’t know if he even understood when I left them. It’s ok, I wanted to empower him to give gifts if he could.

Lisa: Today was my shopping day, for my pay it forward I bought some snacks for a water station and toys, and filled up a bag with gently used clothes for the Millinocket Marathon & Half next Saturday. If you have a chance please read about the race, it has hit me in all the feels.

Colleen: Paid it forward by shopping for groceries with the kids for our church's Christmas food baskets. (Then hydrated after my run so I can properly cheer on the Steelers!)

Amanda: I felt crappy and had to DNF my marathon. But....I felt good enough to go back and help get my brother to the finish line, which was awesome.

Kathy: A friend has had a tough week. On my way with a hug and a listening ear...and treats.

Lisa: Treated myself to a latte on the way home (from a run I didn't want to go on--thanks to an accountability partner in Stride!) and treated the car behind me to theirs.

Jan: Sunday is my standing date with the dogs at our local shelter. We walk, run, sniff and poo (they always want to run after they poo 😁), and sometimes just take a break for an ear rub. This is Bo, who was so beat after our run, he flopped onto his bed as soon as we got back!

Sara: A friend of mine was facing the first birthday celebration after her mom I did what good southerners do and brought her a meal! In BAMR style I bought it instead of making it myself...she’ll enjoy it more that way too.

Susan: May I count passing out Nuun tabs at the end of California International Marathon? It was cold, it was long, but it was a blast and I got to cheer on several BAMRs!

Ok, chime in if you'd like: How have you recently—or will you—#payitforward?

8 responses to “The Struggle is Real: On Writing + Paying It Forward

  1. I LOVE paying it forward! I honestly try to do it every day. I fell behind on it last year when our family was the recipient of so many of this kind of kindness after my husband’s stage 4 colorectal cancer diagnosis. So thank you for the reminder, and for the joy the Pay It Forward stories brought to my heart.

    I donated to the scholarship fund for 3 kids who lost their dad to colorectal cancer last month. Today I’m taking homemade white chili to my BIL at the hospital while he waits for his wife to come out of surgery.

  2. Paid for coffee of the person behind me at Dunkin. Donating my 3 year old’s outgrown toys, puzzles, and clothes to the mom group at my church for other moms who can use them.

  3. so excited about your friend considering becoming a guardian ad litem (we call them CASA – court appointed special advocates). through our entire adoption process, this was the only person (other than my husband and myself) who I felt truly had my son’s best interest in mind. very sad considering how many people are involved but they all seemed to have their own agendas that didn’t place him first.

  4. Today I’m mailing out the last of the care packages to our church’s college kids that our Bible Study sends out at exam time.

  5. Helped a new mommy who was traveling alone with her small infant by getting her stroller and seat from the plane side check. Her near tears of gratitude made my heart smile

  6. Attended and donated at a yoga class in honor of a local woman who was killed by her husband…the $$ goes to her two children. Paid for the coffee of the car behind me in the Starbuck’s line.

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