give what you can, take what you need…

February 14, 2012

from our friends at James River High School, Richmond, Va.

I’ve been meeting with some kids from the Leadership Center at James River High. I was introduced to them by their Ethics teacher Mr. Couillard, affectionately called Mr. C.

I thought I was going to share my story, inspire a bit, blah, blah, blah….but the universe pulled this HUGE switcheroo on me.

I was stunned by these kids, their heart, their intentions, their focus on kindness and change…So when I got their list of plans for a You Are Loveable campaign at their school, I think my heart just melted. The Junior class took this original idea and ran so far with it with so much soul and creativity, I was blown away.

A bunch of guys giving girls lame pick up lines to make them smile

Somebody to LOVE by Queen playing on the intercom

A post-it kindness blast in the school parking lot

Sidewalks chalked with messages of love

I have looked at the list all week, with this silly grin on my face, imagining the kindness descending on that school in a big, big way.

But then today… Mr C. sent me the picture above of the bulletin boards filled with messages- Give What You Can, Take What You Need…and I started to cry a little…realizing this is the heart of kindness, I have something to give and I need to take something too.

I thought of all the sweet things planned for today- the You Are Loveable messages all over, the Cotton Candy Kindness later this afternoon…those are my Give What You Can sort of things…and then there are the Take What You Need things swirling…I don’t think I’ve taken it and I need it today.

Today I need:

Peace while I wait to find out if a big opportunity is going to happen to carry this message so much further (it feels sort of bleak at the moment, your good thoughts would be appreciated)

Community to gather and stand in some more complicated kindness- like the kind where you have to navigate different needs and still stand in what you believe in- in this case, it’s a skate park and finding the sweet middle place of compromise where everyone is valued and heard

Protection for a tender heart and clarity to see this work and this life for all its beauty- the comparison gremlin is knocking at the door of my soul hard right now.

SO on this day of love, please Give What You Can and Take What You Need in the comments…it can be our virtual bulletin board today inspired by Mr. C and the kids.

And just imagine all those high school kids kindness bombing their school, and people finding a message reminding them we are all loveable, and some grown kid eating pink fluffy candy goodness in the park…and know that kindness changes everything.



19 Responses to “give what you can, take what you need…”

  1. Pam Says:

    Sending good thoughts for your dreams coming true. Your kindness and your stories always tug at my heart strings and bring tears of joy to my eyes.

  2. Because of you, when I’m completely overwhelmed by my own life and just getting through the day-to-day of being a mom, wife, woman, career gal, I take a few minutes every time I see a post from you to remember how good it feels to be kind, to have someone be kind back… your work is important and powerful. THANK YOU!

  3. Kim Bean Says:

    Patience, Patience…everything in it’s perfect time! All will fall into place when it is supposed to! And you will be able to see with the clarity of hindsight and wisdom that the timing was perfect! I am so happy to have stumbled onto you (I don’t even know how I found you). I must tell you that you are me…your vision is the epitome of all that I am! I love doing things to make others feel better about themselves and making this world a little nicer. Today, I am doing your Guerrilla Goodness VDay 11 and I have challenged my friends on fb to do the same! (i posted your link on my fb page) Will keep you “posted” (hot pink for vday of course) on how it went. Keep smiling and thank you for the work you do!

  4. Mr. Doyle, JRHS Says:

    Something I have learned as a high school teacher: Smile and greet everyone you can as you move through the day. You will be giving what you can, and will intrinsically get what you need. I love what you are doing here!!!

  5. Danny Says:

    I am with Lydia – your posts totally make me think about my kids and hubby and it reminds me to be greatful and thankful. The way you write and express yourself is awesome/powerful/real.

    It makes me be brave enough to mail a thank you card to the guy down the street that put up a GAINT snowman up at Christmas – really how crazy is that to send a Thank you card for a Snowman??? (I even addressed it to the Snowman) – but when I thought about chickening out…I thought about all the stuff that you actually do – and off to the mail box we went 🙂

  6. Melinda Says:

    Today I need Patience. Thank you for being you.

  7. Jennifer Says:

    You know my credo, right? Find the grateful place and the rest comes together. The universe provides what we need. We simply have to celebrate the potential of its presence in our lives and it flows on in. Welcome it! It’s yours.

    Today, I am deeply grateful for you and your messages of love and kindness. My life is richer for your prompts and ideas. Through gratitude and kindness, MY tender heart is shored up and what I need is delivered by providing something else to another person. I am strengthed by communiing with the human beings thrown into my path and I am learning to pause and to celebrate each experience. (That really drives my colleagues and classmates to distraction, by the way!)

    Sending you some fragment of the energy that I imagine it must take fueling your love!

  8. Bessie Says:

    Giving what I can amounted to some encouraging posts on facebook about the powerful force of love in action and the ways I witnessed it today, giving thoughtful Valentine’s cards to two of my nephews, three of my nieces, my youngest sister, Momma and my cousin and her family with fruit snacks and sweethearts and praying for those who lack love in their life.

    Taking what I need; patience as I begin a new job in a new position with people who are pretty great, but are bursting my bubble of personal space; which made me question my sociability; strength to continue plodding along as my family prepares for the one year memorial ceremony for my late sister and missing her like crazy in the midst of it and I need to find that sense of peace in my life that will allow me to rest my body and rest my mind.

  9. Shan Says:

    This is kind of exactly why I find myself here today. It was meant to be. I have come to your site to peruse several different times and have even completed 2-3 of your ideas before, but today, I come here for a slightly different reason. I need to give what I can so I can take what I need…badly!!!!!!!! I have had some really hurtful things said to me over the last few days. Instead of dishing them back hastily or getting super-down on myself, I want to go out and do kindness today! I want to do something to make others feel good. I have taken the mean statements directed towards me, in stride (as much as I can), and as hurtful as those things are and with how easy it is for us to just bark back at people to keep this never ending cycle of meanness going, I have decided to do the harder thing. To take the more difficult path and “take” the mental/verbal attacks and then go out and make others’ day. So, here I am looking for a good idea. This is spur-of-the-moment, so there is not much budget today, but I really came for a “give what you can, take what you need” purpose. Thank you. I encourage everyone to do this. To stop the cycle of “people-bashing,” and go out and do kind for others instead of snapping back impulsively when hurtful things are said. I will follow-up after completion! Thank you!

  10. Brenda Says:

    Patience…I just send sooo much love to you right now…even though it may be after the fact…you are due for some big opportunity to just spring into your lap!!! You are kindnessgirl…kind things will come to you…You are so lovely. I’ve been completely overwhelmed lately…being a mom…educator…friend…trying to be in a hundred different places at once…and do you know what?? ALL of those places I go, I try to do something unexpectedly kind. It is sort of selfish because it brings kindness to me and my day, but I also do it because of you and your kind, kind heart. So much love goes out to you today and everyday. I love the bulletin boards in your pictures…you give me so many wonderful ideas…sometimes I’m a little late on them…like the italian dinner—two weeks late…or the trash can kindness—a week late…how about LOVE and valentines…all week this week?? It’s how I am and what I do…late but the sentiment is still there and even moreso because I actually have the energy to embrace it!!! Thank you for you, kindnessgirl.

  11. Lauren Says:

    You are in my thoughts and in my prayers and what I need is for everyone who posts to do the same for me.

  12. Shani Says:

    I’ve only recently discovered your blog, but I thoroughly enjoy it, and it brightens my day everytime I read something that you’ve written from your heart. Really great creative and fun ideas in this post for how we can all increase the love in our lives.
    Just wanted to say that I absoloutely love you and everything that you stand for! You really inspire me, and our world just needs more people like you in it 😀 xo

  13. Jill Says:

    I am a School Therapeutic Support Clinician and also an art therapist at an Inner City School in Philadelphia. I found your blog today because a colleague introduced me to the idea of “give what you can, take what you need.” This is such a simple way to convey such a profound idea and I will be using it in our classroom this year- I am big on teaching the kids “Be the change…” and a big believer in harnessing your own loving energy to spread it around and make positive changes! Thank you for your work!

  14. Crista Says:

    I am so thankful that God has led me to this site. It’s encouraging and spiritually uplifting to read about all the positive impact teachers and other people even in the private sector. Your ideas will be a definite part of my classroom environment.

  15. […] Give What You Need, Take What You Can Bulletin Board: […]

  16. What a lovely idea. I think sometimes people are so busy with their own problems, work, big decisions, etc that they forget other people are dealing with similar things… and that it would be nice to stop and send a bit of kindness or thoughtfulness out into the world. So, with that in mind…

    Thank you for the inspiration and kind thoughts! You’re a ray of sunshine. 🙂

  17. […] with my high school students that has been close to my heart. The initiative is called, “Give What You Can, Take What You Need.” Essentially, I’ve been encouraging my adolescents to write an encouraging message for […]

  18. […] This post is from a blogger, Kindnessgirl, after her visit to a high school where a You Are Lovable campaign was in progress.  Check out the photo of the “Give What You Can, Take What You Need” bulletin board. […]

  19. Becky Bujwid Says:

    Hello! I love this idea for our county fair, I work for a mental health non profit group and we will have a booth at the fair. I think this idea would certainly help to promote good mental and physical health. However, I need some guidance as to how to do this properly. The “Take what you need” would that be statements like “peace” “patience”, “ice cream” etc.? Would the booth workers write out these statements or would the participants, or both? On the “Give what you can” would these be from both the booth workers and participants or mostly what the participants want to give to others? Like “I wish you peace today,” “A good game of golf”, etc.
    I am so excited with the possibilities of this activity and just want to make it the best it can be. Just need some guidance so I present it correctly to the community.
    Thank you!

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