Updated: Dec 14, 2020

My mom passed away three and a half years ago of ovarian cancer (ladies ask for a CA-125 test at your check-ups). That being said, the months prior to this and the few years after this were some of my darkest years. My mom was "MY PERSON;" she was the one that knew me best and was always there for me no matter what. The year prior to this we lost my grandmother, who was my second person. After my mom passed I lost both of my beloved dogs within a year and a half.

Why am I sharing this on a kindness blog you may wonder? Well, let me say that we are all experiencing some form of loss and grief right now, whether it is the loss of "normal," the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, or any number of other things right now. I have learned through my losses that unless someone has experienced similar loss as you it is a very difficult thing to find support with. People will check on you and bring you food (which is nice) but the feeling of your loss is very isolating and lonely. Now especially when we feel a sense of loss and grief we are further limited by confinement.

I had two young girls I was trying to care for, a husband that was struggling with his own depression battle, and myself fighting situational depression. I tell you this because the feelings of depression and loneliness are real. No matter how big or small your loss may seem, these feelings are very real, especially now in a time of great isolation and upheaval.

People would call and check in occasionally, but then life would go back to normal and those brief interactions would fade and leave me to my own thoughts. I went to a therapist and I remember her telling me to set my bar so low that all I basically had to do was keep my kids out of Child Protective Services. Honestly, her giving me the permission to do the very bare minimum kind of got me up and out of bed in the mornings. It made me feel like "man, I can do better than that." The truth is some days I could and some days I could not.

So how does this wrap up into our kindness challenge? Well, the thought of my girls loving me the way I loved my mom has pushed me to get through all those very challenging times in my life. The reminder to myself that "I AM LOVED" made me push through those hard and sometimes dark days. I just learned recently in one of my Psychology classes that kids that practiced kindness regularly were more willing to give away their stickers. Yes, stickers! Between learning about this and realizing I have now broken about 6 sticker chains in the last 5 years I thought what better way to tell people they are loved and practice kindness than to give them a sticker.

I have now in my possession the 10,000 (yes your read that right) stickers that I ordered and are ready to be passed out. For this challenge the girls and I will be trying to pass out 10,000 stickers that say "YOU ARE LOVED". We will be taking them to adult care facilities and grocery stores - among other places - and are welcoming any help we can get! If you and your family would like to help disperse these stickers please send us a message I will send you a batch, just let me know how many. Knowing that this is a time of trying to avoid contact we have placed several stipulations on people wanting to pass out stickers: the stickers must always be handled with gloves and must always be passed out with face masks on, in an outdoor setting. Some people may want to offer hugs (you never know) but we respectfully ask that if a hug is offered that you settle for an air hug instead. We are trying to spread love and kindness, not germs!!

FINAL NOTE: Be kind to yourselves and be kind to your kids. It is ok if you all can just do the bare minimum some days! Remember no matter what you are all LOVED!

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