I was touched by a movie long ago. The movie, Pay It Forward, has compelled me to think beyond myself. I have integrated the challenge to pay it forward and to commit random acts of kindness in my life. In my role as a teacher or in youth programs, I challenge people to do the same. I do this not because I want recognition or atta-boys. Really.
The idea is to do something for someone a person normally wouldn’t do something for. The act can be big or small. The act can be anonymous or, at times, not. The key is this—the recipient finds a way to pay it forward threefold. I don’t start there with my students. I start with one simple act and asking them to pay it forward and to pass it on. One simple act to over 100 recipients which then is paid forward. Who knows what life will be touched.
One class came up with recognizing the efforts of someone they had noticed trying in PE. She is not athletic and she is quite insecure. She is also someone that others overlook in middle school. She is the girl I once was. This class with some very rambunctious boys noticed her efforts and her improvements. On their own, they encourage her and try to help her. My heart has been touched. I never saw that kindness coming. This girl is blossoming and trying that much harder.
Many, many people did many kind acts for me—still do. As undeserving as I am, people have reached out to me and done so many small acts of kindness—chocolate, cards, socks, coffee, polka dots, books, messages, and I could go on and on. I have always been a lone ranger who stands quiet and unsure. I am still unsure, but the acts of kindness in my darkest hours have forever changed me. I no longer hide in the shadows even though that is where I am comfortable.
This stepping into the light of day is exactly what making a career change is about. Teaching PE would be the easy choice, yet the picture is so much bigger. I could stay in my cocoon of comfort, or I can take a tentative step and possibly make a difference with a larger impact on military families. I may fail, but the dream and fire are raging. Maybe my story can change one small factor in building positive resiliency in military youth. Maybe my life thus far has readied me for this vision. I hope so.
The key is this. We all have talents. We all are busy with our own lives and we all have little thoughts of knowing a person might need a soft touch. My challenge for today is to pay it forward this month. Three simple, or not so simple acts. Do it and then share so that we all can see the tide of change. This isn’t about kudos or recognition, rather it is about changing the paradigms and thinking outside of the box. I challenge you today. Make a difference and pay it forward.