Borders are closed, families are separated. But you know what has no borders? Kindness. Here’s what I’m doing to spread some kindness…
My brother Dan and his family live in country New South Wales, a little town called Gravesend about 45 minutes outside Moree. Dan and his wife Jody have four children and they are growing so fast. It takes us about 6 hours to drive to stay with them, heading down by Warwick, Texas and Warialda. We have all the stops marked out based on the best toasted sandwiches and cleanest toilets.
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It’s a trip our family enjoys taking because it leads us to some of the people we love most.
After not making it down to my brother’s home in 2020 and having school holidays take a hit with local lockdowns in 2021, we came up with a plan. We decided to take a couple of days out of school with the kids and head down to Gravesend to watch my nephews play the Grand Final. My sister was going to round up her husband and little one and come too.
I don’t really understand footy but I know to cheer loudly when I see our boys running with the ball.
When the borders between Queensland and New South Wales closed again last week, a quick round of texts flowed between my brother, sister and me. The consensus: the trip was off and we’re all disappointed. Live streaming will never replace throwing our arms around our family.
We’re not alone, I know that. Families across Australia are feeling the distance and the disappointment, again and still.
Across the Churchill team, our families are living in so many parts of Australia.
Leonie’s Dad turns 70 this year and he lives in country Victoria. His girls are spread much further afield. Coming together for a milestone birthday is important and yet can’t be counted on.
Nick hails from Tassie, and Carina’s Mum is in regional New South Wales.
Weddings and reunions in times of life altering illnesses have been knocked off the calendar by COVID.
Some days, it feels like it has been forever since we have all been free to head to family without a care.
How I’m feeling:
Some people say we should be used to COVID by now but I’m not sure I ever want to get so comfortable with its sting.
I see so much compassion coming out through these times. And perhaps a greater sense of appreciation.
The flip side of uncertainty is the times we do manage to scrape in are all the sweeter.
My brother seized the chance to head to Brisbane in June to see our 92 year old grandmother and celebrate his newly minted teenager’s birthday together. It was a weekend of laughter, shared meals and contentment.
And the disappointments we feel along the way remind us of what we care about.
Rather than feel powerless, I have been employing one simple strategy to remind me of what I can do.
I have been allowing myself the disappointed feeling … and then I have been looking for ways to be kind to other people from strangers, to acquaintances, friends and family.
To remind myself that kindness has no borders, I have been setting a goal to deliberately connect with kindness to at least one person each day. I mark the goal off on my phone using a habit app, called Momentum.
The science tells us what our hearts know to be true: kindness is good for our mental health. And it is good for other people’s health too.
What am I doing?
Mostly really simple things that just involve me stopping my world long enough to have a true conversation with another person.
Connecting eyes and giving someone a big smile when I ask about their day at the checkout.
Calling people – yes, telephones still do work – and asking them how they are travelling today?
Doing a little baking to share.
Dropping a little note to someone.
Taking the time to leave positive feedback.
Waving someone into the traffic break.
That’s the true beauty of kindness – it is rarely grand gestures.
It is found in the simple things that make us feel seen and cared for in this world.
Maybe you could use an act of kindness right now. A quick note or a simple call. I have had practice in both so if you need either, I’m on standby.
Maybe you could use distributing an act of kindness right now. If so, I’m lining up right beside you. Let’s share this kindness bug together.
In the meantime, stay safe, friends.
And as always, if you could use a hand in receiving the recognition your experience deserves, reach out.