A couple months back, an old friend posted a message on Facebook asking which 5 friends of his would participate in a Pay it Forward Initiative for 2014. “I WILL!!!” I said (probably adding a smiley face- ok, more like 3 smiley faces). I agreed to send some type of small gift or mail to surprise 5 different people during the remainder of the year (besides birthdays or holidays). This post is not to brag about doing something nice. So many other people participated in this effort throughout the year…it’s not about me. But I want to share my part and what I learned from the Pay it Forward Initiative to hopefully inspire others to do something similar.
A while back, Charity Elise, the artist of the first featured piece above sent me her most popular image after we conversed online. I had fallen in love with her art posters long ago and was excited to finally find her shop! In my mind, she sort of kicked off PI.F. for me by doing something so kind and generous. I imagine you have seen her work before on social media or Pinterest. This particular image and quote is extremely popular, especially in the chronic illness community. It’s not surprising people who are not feeling well are so drawn to such a vibrant image with an encouraging quote to match. Her beautiful Voltaire quote piece is hanging on my wall beside my bed and I am inspired by both her artwork and her kindness daily.
When I signed up for P.I.F. a few months later, my Voltaire print from Charity Elise called out to me (Send me! Send me!). When a fresh print arrived to my new acquaintance, she was being hospitalized after an emergency health scare. She said the artwork from a new friend helped to brighten up a dark time. When people have chronic illness, we are sick every day and might be in the hospital frequently. We don’t get flowers or cards that say “get well soon.” So getting something from a friend now and then that says, “I still care you are sick“ can mean the world.
These adorable spoon earrings went to my “Spoonie” friend who collects jewelry. Aren’t they soooooper cute?! Something else lovely happened with this purchase I just HAVE to share. Heidi, the creator of the Hammered Spoons shop was so inspired by the Pay it Forward Initiative, she refunded my payment and sent them herself! Amazing, right?! Heidi is a chronic illness survivor as well, and supports awareness causes through her hammered spoon sales. Like one giant hug of goodness going on!
My good friend and I were talking a while back about how her favorite face cream had been discontinued after using it for 30+ years. She hasn’t found anything else she isn’t sensitive to in the years since having to stop using it. I did a little digging and learned that her favorite product is actually still being sold; so, I was very excited to surprise her with a tube of her long-time face product! Reunited and it feels so good!
I read Still Me by Christopher Reeve about 10 years ago when I was first diagnosed. I remember listening to it on audio in my car with tears streaming down my face, but his amazing story empowered me to persevere. I still think about that book often and how much Reeve’s story has impacted me and so many others. A family member has recently been diagnosed with Arthritis, so I sent her this book. I pray she finds the same comfort and encouragement that I have found in his powerful words.
Lastly, I made something special for my Facebook friend who is going back to school. I covered a notebook with a magazine clippings collage. While I was doing this craft, the past month has been increasingly difficult for my friend. I wish I lived closer so I could give her a big hug, but this little creation will be my hug to her. I hope every day she is at school, she will keep it with her and know how proud I am that she is pursuing her degree despite all of the challenges in her life.
Pay it Forward is not like a chain letter. I’m not supposed to be GETTING 5 gifts in return. However, since signing up for P.I.F., I’ve been receiving sweet little things in the mail from different friends of mine. One was a beautiful, unexpected painting my friends created. It’s so bright and colorful- I love that it reminds me of our long-time friendship. Another friend sent wonderful handmade stationary she put so much effort into making.
I have received more in my spirit through the giving process than I can put into words here. The biggest surprise with P.I.F. was that each of the people I sent something to truly needed a pick-me-up and each felt the timing of the gift was perfect. Sending something out of the blue to a friend or acquaintance… just a post card or a little unexpected “I’m thinking of you” snail mail can interrupt someone’s day with kindness and light like you wouldn’t believe.
Hey you…Yes YOU!!! I would like to challenge YOU reading this to Pay it Forward to 5 people in 2015. I would love to hear how you sprinkled kindness over your world in the coming year. I hope you see blessings in abundance rain down on YOUR own life in 2015. Peace.