The Kindness project.

each january, for the past couple of years, i've started a year-long photography project. these personal projects have taught me an incredible amount about myself and have also been invaluable to my growth as an artist. but i've also felt like these projects have been lacking purpose. so this year i would like to shift my focus. i want the projects i do this year to feel more purposeful and hopefully have a greater impact on those around me.

and so this week i will be starting 'the kindness project.' each week i will focus on one specific action that will hopefully spread a little bit of kindness into the world. i will be posting on social media mostly for accountability but also to allow others to join in if they want. i will be posting a new action each week, so feel free to participate or even create your own.

let's spend our time focused on what really matters. 



Week 1: stay off your phone in public. instead make eye contact with other humans. smile and say hello to strangers you pass on the street.

this seems simple enough, but i have realized that i have become quite attached to the apps on my phone. and when i am absorbed in all of the things distracting me on my device, I am ultimately unaware of those around me.

so this week i will be choosing to stay off my phone in public and will instead engage with the humans around me. because i want people to know that they matter to me more than what is on my phone.



Week 2: each day sincerely compliment a stranger.

this past week, three different strangers complimented my eyes. this is not something that happens to me very often, and honestly, i can't remember the last time i was complimented by a stranger. so i have no doubt that it happened only because of my intention last week: to stay off my phone in public and engage with the humans around me.

and so this week, i am choosing to pay it forward with compliments. at least once a day, i will try to genuinely compliment someone i do not know. will you join me?



Week 3: genuinely thank the people who serve you.

saying "thank you" is a pretty easy and conditioned thing to do when someone else does something nice for you. but i also think there is a difference between casually and reflexively saying "thank you" and intentionally seeking out people who serve us on a daily basis (and often go unnoticed) and offering our thanks in a genuine way.

so this week i will find ways to acknowledge and sincerely thank those who serve me. some examples of what i will be doing: 
writing a thank you note to the mailman and leaving it in my mailbox. 
learning my servers name and writing "thank you for serving us, (name)" on the credit card receipt. 
saying "thanks for driving safely" and offering a high-five to the bus driver. 
telling the garbage (wo)men how much i appreciate their hard and invaluable work. 
emailing a company to let them know that i received excellent customer service.



last week was intense. heavy. and emotional. it was difficult not to get absorbed in the news and the chatter and the despair. and as a result, i have been feeling anxious, tired, and overwhelmed. i know that there is a long road ahead, and i have realized that if i do not practice self-care, i will not survive the trenches. i want to be ready and willing to fight alongside those who need allies, and i don't want to be operating from a place of anxiety and overwhelm. since that just often leads to paralysis and inaction.

i know that when i am depleted and empty it is much harder for me to serve others. so this week i am going to be intentional about being kind to myself and starting specific self-care practices. here are some things i will be doing to hopefully alleviate some stress and help "fill me up" so that i can give more of myself to others:
stay off of social media. meditate. get a massage. spend time at the beach. sleep 8 hours a night. get my apartment cleaned.



this week's action is inspired by my friend josh, who is an all-around awesome human being and also probably one of the best encouragers i know. he has a gift for encouraging others through writing and for years has written anonymous love notes and left them in places for strangers to find. he also started Hello Happiness Card Company to inspire others to also use their words to encourage others. he's doing beautiful things for this world.

so this week i will be writing messages of encouragement on post-it notes and placing them on parked cars around the city. with the hope of spreading a little bit of joy and possibly brightening someone's day.



one of the best birthday gifts i ever received was from my dad while i was in college. he gave me $100 in cash to spend not on myself, but on others. he told me that i could use the money however i wanted, as long as it was used to bless strangers and/or friends. i spent the next month getting to surprise people with unexpected love gifts: leaving cash for a homeless family, paying a stranger's lunch bill, filling up someone's gas. i obviously could have done all these things with my own money, but the gift gave that money a purpose and by giving me the task of using it in a certain way, it made the joy of giving it away that much sweeter.

so this week i will choose a couple of individuals to give money to with the task of spending it on others. the intention will be to give others the opportunity to pay it forward.



i like driving fast. which also means i can get pretty impatient and angry with other drivers.

so this week i am going to be intentional about how i act towards others while i am in my car. which for me, means slowing down, not being so quick to get angry or impatient, letting others merge, and waving/smiling at other drivers.



this week's action is inspired by the website: more love letters, an organization dedicated to encouraging people to write and mail love letters to strangers around the world.

AND I NEED YOUR HELP. in honor of international women's day, i would like to write letters specifically to women who have been struggling and are in need of support. if you know someone who needs some encouragement, i would love to send her a handwritten letter. i've created a form for folks to fill out: click here (all information is confidential) and i will spend this week writing to everyone who is submitted.

because "women who support women, support women. and the whole world."

thanks ya'll. and happy #internationalwomensday.



the past two weeks have been tough. so i took a little bit of a break from this project. and i'm allowing myself to be okay with that.

i'm also been much more aware of the importance of physical touch. i've received so many wonderful hugs the past couple of weeks. and they have not only conveyed affection and sympathy but they have also been healing.

so this week i want to be intentional about giving out hugs. and not just "greeting" hugs but hugs that are genuine and heartfelt. hugs that last longer than 2 seconds. hugs that offer connection and love.

i might even attempt to step outside my comfort zone and offer a hug to a stranger. but we'll see how that goes.