Years ago when my first child was born I changed. Not only in the much expected ways of becoming a parent and no longer having time to enjoy a glass of wine at 5pm at end of work days. As many other moms know this so well, there is no end of work day when you become a mother. My life drastically changed and now revolved around my child. But it was during the few years after her birth that I started to notice a change within me that was much more permanent. After all, as much as we dread the midnight feedings, the diaper changing and the toddler defiant stages those all pass and make room for new challenges and triumphs. This “change” within me was much stronger and deeper, something that moved me to act upon it. What am I talking about? The need to make this world a better place for mine and all children.
I was inspired to make every action count in my life, that every move I made would be a positive impact of the course of our earth; both the earth as an environment and the earth as a society. At first it was just the little things that I could manage since my day to day pace was more in “survival mode”. Recycling my trash, making my own baby food using locally grown fruits and vegetables, donating the tons of baby clothes my daughter apparently “needed” at age newborn to 6 months, and of course, the yearly donation to the hospital where I work to help children fighting for their lives.
As my family begun a new chapter with our kids now beginning to understand actions and reactions, question the reasons why things are the way they are and demand explanations when they are confronted with unusual situations that I saw that “change” take new life. It is no longer just about doing the little things, but also about acting in example for these little eyes that are continuously watching our every move.
This brings me to my recent encounter (the whole reason I decided to share the story!). I was the lucky recipient at a famous coffee drive up counter of the “pay it forward” phenomena that spurred so much buzz in the social media. As I went to pull out for my wallet the young teen at the window smiled and said: “The car in front of you paid for your beverage! She said for you to have a nice day and smile!” I was the last car in the long line, no one behind me so I could return the favor or keep the good cosmic karma going. What is one to do… well, my 6 year old in the backseat spoke up. She questioned what had just happened, I explained, then came the intriguing and thought provoking comment from my soon to be first grader: “I guess that was nice, but everyone at the coffee line has money, I think we should buy coffee for people who don’t have money, that would make more sense”.
Yes! I had done something right! My little girl already had a sense of “helping others” and sharing with the most unfortunate instilled in her little mind. I smiled and repeated back her sentence to her by adding: Challenge accepted!
The next morning when we went grocery shopping I asked her to pick up an extra basket, in that basket she was asked to put some of the items she thinks we could not live without, maybe 10-12 items. She loved the assignment and amongst her “must haves” was of course bread and peanut butter! She also added milk, beans, tuna fish, bananas and even a watermelon. After we paid, we bagged her basket separately and took it to the nearest homeless shelter which is only 23 miles from our house. As a nutritionist, food blogger and meal expert there is nothing that touches my heart more deeply than knowing there are so many people who struggle without food in the world. That’s why we choose to help with food. Mission accomplished! We paid it forward, but in her words: To people who need it more than we do.
In the end, the most amazing “ah-ha” moment for me was how much we have to learn from children, their thoughts and mind are pure and often they use plain common sense. To pay it forward in places which will make it the most impact.
Next time I hit the coffee line (which is down to once weekly as I wean myself off this habit) I paid it forward as well, but I added a $5 donation to their “bucket for Ronald McDonald House” which was on their counter and asked the teen to tell the person behind me to do the same in lieu of buying someone else coffee please. I love the idea of spreading smiles and positive energy, but even more satisfying is passing forward to those who need it most!
… pay it forward,