Be Kind

Tom and I recently updated our wills. As part of this process, we reached out to the organizations we have designated and let them know that they are a beneficiaries.

While they were grateful (& gracious), they also asked some really interesting questions. “Why us?” “What do you find as valuable about our services?” “Why is it important for you to plan for the future?” “How do our core values align with your world view?”….

For such an administrative (and seemingly morose action), it certainly has caused me some deep thinking! I really wasn’t ready to answer these questions beyond the slightly tongue in cheek response of …We don’t want our kids to get their hands on ALL our money;).

In reality why DO we support these organizations (see list below) and why did they make it into our estate planning process? We support them not just with our dollars but with our time (volunteering and board work), networking (inviting friends to their events) and advocacy (connecting them with other mutually beneficial organizations).

And, while they are each very different organizations with different missions, after some deep reflection they DO all have something in common. They believe in, and are creating, a kinder future. A future where people connect as individuals and where everyone can find not only support and acceptance but a place to thrive.

Which, when I really really think about it, is one of our core family values. While school and sports are important, as parents, we have always been much more concerned about our kids being good friends and kind to everyone. Standing up to bullies. Inviting the new kid at school to have lunch with you. Cheering on your team mates. Helping others with school work. Thanking their coaches and teachers. A common theme you will hear at our dinner time is “I don’t care if you are popular, are you nice to everyone?”. A few examples…

Jimmy has been a teachers assistance in a class for kids with disabilities the last 2 years. He LOVES it. He helps with homework, takes kids to gym and basically has a blast just hanging out and helping.

Kay has ALWAYS stood up to bullies and made sure the “underdog” has a voice. She’s a force to be reckoned with! Bullies Beware!

Billy is even kind to his siblings. When is friend couldn’t join us on spring break, he offered that Jimmy could bring 2 friends in place of his friend.

And, remember, kind doesn’t mean that you are a pushover or passive or don’t have a backbone (see Kay). You can be fierce and assertive and action oriented and opinionated and STILL be kind. Being kind is a mindset and belief that everyone has value and something to contribute.

So, my challenge to you…Where do you give your time and energy? Why? Is there an underlying theme, value, belief that you use to help make your big (& little) life decisions?

If your answer is “yes!”, then I encourage you to memorialize that as you plan for the future; in your estate planning, how you are raising your kids and how you treat others.  Don’t you want your legacy to reflect your values?

For me, I’m going to support people and organizations that are creating a brave and kinder future, together!!

Organizations that we support…..

Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery – Supporting families in times of crisis; giving kids tools to build resiliency, help themselves, learn to trust adults and practice ways to be kind and support each other.

Bellis – Creating a community which encourages people with an adoption connection to share their stories, debunk myths and honor the heartbreak and miracle of adoption.

Childrens Home Society – Helping kids find their forever families. They were our adoption agency and I’ve always been impressed with their ability to nurture the best possible outcome for everyone involved with grace and humility.

Gift of Adoption – An organization that helps families become families through their support of adoption, often during the darkest time when people don’t even know how to ask for help.

MPR – Specifically The Current (89.3). We LOVE that they do their own thing in a world of analytically derived & preprogrammed media. Telling stories, promoting local artists and finding a way to share joy in music that crosses all genres.