Pay it Forward Challenge

I step on my Serious Soapbox today, so if you’re looking for the funny, be warned. That being said, I have a challenge for everyone this week. A link is live HERE until the end of Friday, September 23rd.

There is a lot of anger in this world. Hate. Fear. Despair.

It is so easy to let it rule....

The Darkside, if you will.

It is easy to let it take over and rule your world.

Sometimes, as the ten year anniversary of 9-11 reminds us, the Darkside attacks the innocent.

Because people let hate take over.

Hate over someone’s race, religion, sexuality makes no sense to me. Whether they are choices or how they were born, people just are. I continue to be amazed (sadly so) how some attack people for these very things.

But it isn’t just “the big three” reasons that bring the Darkside out in us.

Sleep deprivation shortens one’s fuse, snapping when you might otherwise smile, or ignore.

Children, innocent but devious, will push a parent’s buttons to test their limits – seeking the snapping point.

The idiot in front of you on the highway who cuts you off then slams on the brakes and nearly causes a pile up is also quite good at raising the wrath rate.

But we all make mistakes.


We are human. We are fallible.

We can choose to let the Darkside fill as we spew creative curse words because our children are in the back seat.

“Why are you saying that, Mommy?” my son asks, when I cannot hold back the anger of the moment.

“Because the car did something very dangerous and Mommy was scared we’d get into an accident.”

Our anger and venom are often a weapon: to attack fear.

Sometimes they are used to wield power over another.

But it is still because they’re afraid.

Kelly, why are you going off about the Darkside on this very unlike-you tangent?

I’m glad you asked.

I spent much of last weekend watching hate and anger rip apart a family.

I watched rants and tirades spew from someone’s lips because their child dared associate with a musical group made up of people who were not heterosexual.

I read threats and ultimatums to renounce “the evil”.

Or else.

Granted, this parent has psychological issues – PTSD being the minor of two.

But the venom.

The hate.

Spouting bastardized Bible to do it.

It made me sad for her. For this world.

Because God to me is love. Acceptance. Forgiveness.

Not hate and damnation.

My husband and I plan to teach our children to accept others for their differences.

To embrace the good and leave the bad.

Another friend,  Wheelchair Mommy, inspires me every time I see her. Today is the twelfth anniversary of an accident that left her paralyzed and in a wheelchair.

Did she mope? Did she let it defeat her?

No. She found love. She married. She has three boys (I’m still in awe over this, given my very active Tackler).

She faces everything with a smile.

I want the world to be like her.

These two friends inspired me to issue a challenge today, should you choose to accept it.

Pay it Forward Challenge

1.  Avoid the Dark Side: If you feel anger at someone, try to smile. If you want to scream, sing your favorite song instead. If someone cuts you off, be sure to let the next person in instead of passing on the anger. Keep a level head if your children test you. And if you have one of those really, really bad days, try to get someone to give you a small break, call a friend who would understand, or say you need virtual hugs on Facebook/Twitter. Just don’t pass on the frustration to another.

2. Pay it Forward: Do something random to help a stranger. Pay extra money at a toll for a car (or two) behind you. Give your waitress an extra tip if she was nice. Bring doughnuts to the early morning meeting. Buy a stranger’s coffee. Smile at anyone who makes eye contact. If anyone asks you why, just say, “Pay it forward and do the same for someone else.”

3. Show “I Love You”: Try to avoid taking out negative feelings on those closest to you. Hug your children more than usual. Smile at them more. Create a new tradition. Laugh together. Cuddle with your spouse. Buy them flowers or a favorite treat just because you love them. Or make a mix tape/CD/iTunes play list for them. Send a friend a thank you email for something awesome they did for you. Call up an old friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. Tell your mother/father/grandparent/sibling/cousins you love them. Show your family and friends that you accept and love them for who they are, not what they are.

4. Post this as your status on Facebook and/or Twitter sometime this week and ask others to pass it on:

“I accept people for who they are as a person. I don’t base it on the color of their skin or if they are straight or gay. I don’t care if they follow the Koran, The Bible, or something else, as long as they treat everyone with respect.”

5.  Grab the button and blog about numbers 1 -3 above that you and/or someone else did. Or just add it to the comments below. A linky is live at Writing with Chaos (my other blog is self-hosted so you can see the links, whereas this one is free WordPress and blocks the scripts) and everyone can link up their posts of what they did this week to meet the challenge.

It can be as simple as not losing your cool when your kids found the permanent marker and decorated the white walls, tile, counters, clothes, and themselves, to not flipping off the person who really pissed you off, to paying for someone else’s coffee.

Please pass this post and challenge on to others. Share it on Facebook. Tweet it out. Heck, Stumble it if that’s your thing. Let’s try to have a mass of positive energy this week flow around the world.

About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos ( sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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44 Responses to Pay it Forward Challenge

  1. Amen, Kelly. And thank you. From the bottom of my brightside-embracing, tolerant and loving heart.

    You rock the good stuff here


  2. 2)It’s really funny you posted this. I prefer not to post about it but instead tell just a few people that happen to read your comments. 🙂
    Last night (9/11) we went out to eat. Will pointed discretely to a table across the restaurant.
    It was 4 men dressed in Army uniforms. I told him when they got up to leave he could go tell them “Thank you!!”
    I looked over at my husband and he had “that look”. You know the look. I’m sure your husband has it too. He gets it when he’s thinking about something and wants to ask my opinion.
    He said that given the day, he’d like to buy their dinner.
    So we did. They came over to thank us but we told them over and over that we wanted to thank THEM.
    It felt SO great to do something like that for these 4 amazingly selfless men. They are doing their part to make sure we are as safe as possible. It was the least we could do. I’ll take that satisfaction over new shoes or jeans any day.

    • This is yet another reason why you inspire me.

      I am usually so distracted entertaining my children when out to eat, I don’t even notice the people around me, or their uniforms.

      What a great act of kindness and way to say thank you to those who deserve it.

  3. I love this. And I will try. Just know stuff on my blog has been scheduled since August. 😉

  4. Trish Loye Elliott says:

    Awesome post. Inspiring. I definitely tend to take my darkside out on my family. I’ve been working on staying in the light. More hugs is definitely the way to go.

    • On sleep deprived days where each minute is an hour and each child is tempted to drive you insane – it is so easy to let the Darkside take over.

      I plan on focusing on that a lot this week, but I’d like to try paying it forward on some strangers as well.

  5. Candy Cohn says:

    Thanks for this inspiring post! I know I’ve been reflecting on the last 10 years a lot this week, and I’ve been feeling very thankful for everything I have. Sometimes old resentments surface, but I feel like I’m in a very good place at this moment. At Maine Arts Camp, we try very hard to teach kids and teens to not only accept everyone for who they are, but to celebrate it! I honestly try to live this way myself, seeing the beauty in everyone as best I can.

    • Your camp sounds inspiring and the message is a great one.

      I have another blog, I Survived the Mean Girls that talks of some of the less than stellar moments of the tween and teen years – and how life gets better.

      If more people took this message to heart, the world would be so much better.

      Thanks for doing your part.

      Maybe the kids could do their own version of “pay it forward”…

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  6. Amen, sistah. What’s the saying? Even the devil can cite scripture for his purposes.

    You’re a good friend. With a big heart.

    Thank you.

  7. Elena Aitken says:

    And so important.
    I also have been working on this. It’s way too easy to let the darkside overwhelm.

  8. Liz says:

    This is beautiful, Kelly. While I was saddened by your story about your friends’ last of acceptance, I am so proud of you for taking the initiative to make the world a better place with paying it forward. I couldn’t figure out the whole link up thing, but I’ll do my best to participate. Great idea, and great way to pay it forward. 🙂

    • The link up won’t be until Friday. It gives people a few days to participate and write about it. Feel free to grab the button if you post about it. And please, pass it on. I’d love to see people I’ve never heard of participating thanks to social media word of mouth.

  9. Phyllis says:

    As you well know, Kelly, I have a propensity to get flustered and blow up at work. Going to take your words to heart and work on being less volatile, to listening and helping more and flipping out less.

    As you also probably know, I volunteer with a youth group for GLBTQ youth, ages 14-23. I love these kids so much. It hurts my heart to hear the stories of ugliness they bring in some weeks, but in our group, at least, they know they are loved and appreciated, and are told this constantly — and told that it will get better. I do not understand the hatred and anger that non-standard gender and sexual orientations seem to ignite. I realize that for many, deviation from the norm is seen as a deviation from their religious morality. But to hate, vilify, bully as a result? Where is it prescribed in any religion that it is okay to do that?

    You may not know that I am the mother of a transgender child. My daughter — who for now allows us to use the female in referring to her, though some day this may change — does not relate to being female. Neither does she particularly relate to being male. Gender identity is so much more fluid than the polar opposites of female and male. My daughter does not wish to be put into a box, or exchange one box for another. I understand this. My identity as female is solid, but I do not like to be put into boxes either. I do not like to be stereotyped, or restricted, based upon age, race, gender, whatever.

    Anyway. This is all very close to my heart, and I would love to see love spread and supplant hatred. My dream is for a world where we are all just people, together, respected for our uniqueness, celebrating life.

  10. Kristin Shaw says:

    Kelly, I started reading, wondering where you were going with this message. I read on, and started saying “Yes! Yes! Yes!” I love the messages of spreading the love. And thanking those who have helped us in some way or another. I like to show my thanks in words as well, and dedicated my blog today to thank a friend who helped me during Postpartum. It’s the people we love and love us back that make life as wonderful as it is, and help us put the Dark side in the corner.

  11. Katie says:

    Good post. I always worry that my kids will someday fall victim to the hatred and discrimination that you describe because they are of mixed race. We are lucky to be generally surrounded by tolerant and accepting people, but sometimes you find discrimination in surprising places.

    • Almost everyone is of mixed race in the US, in my opinion – the genetic differences are just less between certain mixes. I’m a German, Norwegian, Greek , & I think French mutt. I’m told there’s some Native American there and I was raised in the upper Midwest of the US.

      My children have all of that, plus some Slavic and Scot/Irish from CG. And they’re raised in Texas.

      So many of us are a blend of something, it’s just silly to judge anyone on what they are.

      Plus, your children are adorable. They’ll be heartbreakers.

  12. TheKirCorner says:

    Love this Kel!!! It’s perfect for this week and for us as human beings. YEA!!!!

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  14. Paige Morgan says:

    Awesome post! You are amazing!

    You and I are on the same wave-length. I bet you thought I no longer had a wave-length! If you read my post tomorrow, you’ll understand the motivation. I have already started the follow-up post on “my plan” which is now perfect for your challenge and I will link (assuming I overcome my technical incompetence!).

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  18. Rama says:

    Like this post. I was zen mommy this week, taking little dude for EEG, during EEG, and after. Didn’t freak out or tense at all. Wednesday, was nervous about MRI, but managed little dude so well (no nap, no lunch allowed)that he was really well behaved. Didn’t freak out when the sedation didn’t work and he woke up in the middle of the MRI, or when he was drugged and difficult to handle. I was calm when he spit medicine back at me because he didn’t want it.

    I was nervous while waiting for results yesterday, but calm. I was calm telling hubbie the results, too. I am soo overjoyed that his MRI is normal, that the abnormal EEG seems like nothing. Today I am thankful for my wonderful luck, and continue to focus on the positive. Like you, I am learning that staying calm makes a huge difference in how our children behave. And, learning that our loving hubbies love getting love from us.

    • You have been through the wringer. I know how hard it is to remain calm during such times. I am so proud of you.

      I shared this comment on the blog with the link up too so others could read about it.

      I’l be sure to put the little man in my prayers and thoughts.

  19. Wheelchair Mommy completely inspires me too. I try to live by the same, that we need to love and respect each others differences and remember that there is a story behind everyone’s actions.

  20. I need to give my spouse more affection. Poor guy is often the most neglected around here!

  21. Nothing good ever came from hate.

    In looking over your 5 steps, I thought a lot about the first. I frequently lose my temper over things that are silly, mundane, and pointless. Such as being cut off in traffic. I assume people do it on purpose, while expecting others to forgive me when I do it on accident. Expecting more than I’m willing to be isn’t the right way to treat others. Thank you for reminding me of that.

    • Traffic is one of those hot buttons, where we just react, which is why I mentioned it.

      I’ve found if someone irritates me, cranking up the music and singing for a song helps dissipate the negative stuff, so I’m less likely to what to take it out on other drivers.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  22. Bravo! I agree whole-heartedly. It makes me crazy when people twist the words of the Bible to hate monger.

  23. What a compelling and powerful post. I often wonder how hate has become the path of least resistance for so many.

    Your philosophy is one we should all embrace.

    I’m visiting you from the Weekend Link up. I’m number 71 on the list if you care to visit back.

    • I always try to visit everyone who leaves a comment, but I often get interrupted (or am on a mobile device) and don’t get around to leaving a comment.

      I think I did on yours.

      I with you on the hate. How is it so easy? If we could just bottle the infectious smiles of toddlers and spread them around, the world would be so much happier.

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