Six months after Zoe died, I wanted to do something to mark her birthday, on April 4th, and The Angel Zoe Kindness Project was born. That year I invited people to carry out an act of kindness in Zoe’s name, people told me what they had done and we attached each story to a helium balloon and released them at the beach.
I was inspired to keep the spirit of the project going, which I have done with more energy and focus at some times than others! Continue reading
If you’ve read my previous post, you might understand I’ve been having a little trouble seeing the kindness in the world lately, perhaps we all have. There seems to be an awful lot of intolerance and hate around lately, invading media and our social newsfeeds. I don’t now about you, but I’m ready for a dose of kindness to reset my perspective. So here are a few things that have caught my attention recently:
For the mistake makers, the messy hearts and dreamers
This is a beautiful post by Darla Halyk on her blog New World Mom. A simple encounter in the middle of a busy life that encompasses thoughts on judgement, compassion and tutus. Read it here, but first here’s a photo of Zoe in a tutu, just because…
A decade today since I first held my baby girl in my arms and named her; Zoe Michelle.
The last birthday Zoe celebrated was her sixth, but I’ve continued to celebrate them for her and to mark the anniversary of the day she passed. I began The Angel Zoe Kindness Project for her 7th birthday, the first after her passing. I’ve always included others who knew her, but have wondered if they feel it’s getting inappropriate, just a social duty now, especially for the children who were young when she died.
A few days ago, we held an early celebration since Zoe’s Dad was in town. One of the children who usually comes couldn’t make it, but she sent the beautiful card at the top of this post. She was five when Zoe died. It made me realise that Zoe does still mean something to a lot of people, so I asked friends their thoughts about her on her 10th birthday. It turned out some were about Zoe, some were about me.
I wasn’t going to post the ones about me, but they are so intertwined, and I realised it’s because Zoe’s soul has blazed through the centre of me, has changed me so profoundly, that we are deeply intertwined, in other people’s hearts as well.
I’m so honoured they allowed me to share their thoughts here. Continue reading
Yesterday I cycled around handing out Easter eggs for The Angel Zoe Kindness Project (and to burn off calories from consumption of Easter treats). Everyone I met was happy to take the Easter eggs and exchange a few words.
On my way down to the cycle-way, I encountered someone I see from time to time asking for money outside the local supermarket. When I see him I usually give him a couple of dollars or buy some food to give him on the way out. Sometimes he’s left before I come back with the food, even if I ask him to stay. Continue reading
A few things about kindness that recently caught my eye from around the internet. Some I have already posted on my facebook page.
Choosing kindness when everyone else walked away
These young men stayed behind to care for elderly residents with nowhere to go in a rest home that closed down unexpectedly. Click the photo to hear the story in their own words.
Three long years since you left us baby girl. You would now be entering tweenhood, but I find that so hard to imagine. The little girls my eyes always linger on are the ones that are all the ages you were, not the ones you never got to be. The toddlers wearing gumboots and tutus, pre-schoolers wearing glittery star t-shirts and choosing buns covered in sprinkles at the bakery, gaggles of giggling six year olds.
Some days, when something jogs a forgotten memory, or a photo unexpectedly brings a rush of emotion and I can recall the exact sound, smell, touch of you in that moment, I feel so close I could almost touch you. Other days I feel I am drifting further from you, despite hoarding memories, photographs and all your possessions. Continue reading
It still haunts me to know that being bullied was a feature of the last few months of my daughter’s life, that in the beginning it wasn’t handled very well and that I failed her in this.
Early in her second year at school, around the time she turned 6, Zoe told me that some older girls were seeking her out every day at lunchtime to tease her, particularly about the way she spoke. Zoe had some speech issues relating to nerve damage either from her cancer or the radiation treatment. She had undergone surgery to her palette before the school year started and along with speech therapy, this was greatly improving the situation, but it was enough to single her out as a victim in the eyes of these girls (I want to say bullies, but that label seems to make them less human than they really are).
I took her in to school early one morning to catch her teacher before others started arriving and explained to the teacher what had been happening. Her teacher’s first response was “Well, I hate to tell you Zoe, but some people just aren’t very nice.” She went on to say that the next time it happened, Zoe should find the teacher on duty and point out who the girls were. While I was a little shocked at the comment, I felt there was a plan of action. And as a busy working solo mum, I didn’t want to rock the boat and be “one of those” parents. I assumed the school had it’s way of dealing with these things.
You know that saying – “Insanity is hereditary, you get if from your kids”?
Well, I think I inherited compassion from my daughter.
Until recently it was widely believed (in Western cultures anyway) that babies were born innately selfish, that it was our moral duty as parents to turn them from self obsessed little savages into beings fit for human society, through training them with reward and punishment. It seemed to make sense – after all, newborns are famously demanding in getting their own needs met no matter how exhausted their parents. Continue reading
Here are all the things people have told us they did for The Angel Zoe Kindness Project, with photos of the balloon release at the end.
Olivia made cookies for Ronald MacDonald House.
Izania spread the kindness by asking friends to perform random acts of kindness for her birthday
Isobel paid for three other year 3 children to do a math workshop with her birthday money.
Wendy gave some home baking to a neighbour who wasn’t well.
Kiri put scented soaps into random lockers at the gym with a little note. Continue reading
On the 4th of April I woke up, as I thought I would (or maybe willed myself to do) at 3.40am, the time Zoe was born in 2006.
Many grieving parents say that it’s often not the specials days themselves – birthdays, anniversaries, Mothers Day, Christmas – that are hard, it’s the days leading up to them and the anticipation of them. I’d had a rough few days. I couldn’t concentrate and just wanted all the swirling thoughts in my head to go away. I was having trouble keeping the momentum for The Angel Zoe Kindness Project going when I just wanted to hide away in my bed instead and not speak to anyone. For the first time I felt I was not coping and started considering grief counselling. Continue reading