Friday, December 12, 2014

Thoughts #18 - Pay It Forward

Wikipedia says (and we all know how reliable Wikipedia is):
Pay it forward is an expression for describing the beneficiary of a good deed repaying it to others instead of to the original benefactor. The concept is old, but the phrase may have been coined by Lily Hardy Hammond in her 1916 book In the Garden of Delight.

For the last few years, I've seen the concept of "pay it forward" floating around more often.  There was a rather emotional movie titled Pay It Forward.  There have been a few initiatives on facebook encouraging people to "pay it forward" that I've participated in.  I think it's great.  Doing something for someone and expecting absolutely nothing in return.  Others have done nice things for me as well.  It's a super nice feeling. 

I have been fortunate enough to receive care packages from a few people since moving here.  My mom and my stepmom have both sent things.  That's sweet, and I love them for it...but they are moms.  They are supposed to do things like that :)  I still get super excited to open one when it arrives.
Typical care package from mi madre
I had an acquaintance that I knew in Houston.  She's pretty crafty.  She saw me make a couple of comments about the Houston Texans football team, and she sent me Texans earrings that she made herself.  Another friend that I knew in high school sent me a care package with books, handwritten messages, favorite movies, and crunchy Cheetos (man, I love myself some crunchy Cheetos).  Another girl I knew in high school sent pasta shaped like Texas and pasta from my university, Texas A&M.  All of these packages have been so thoughtful and meant a lot to me...someone taking the time out of their day to send something to brighten my day.  Just fantastic!
Texas pasta from Barrie

So, this year, I saw something on facebook again about a "pay it forward" group. I decided that I wanted to pick someone that would not expect it and send a care package to them from Australia.  Honestly, I didn't think too hard about it.  I was scrolling through facebook and stumbled upon a picture that I just love.  In fact, I love almost all the pictures that Shelby posts.  I think the wacky, wonderful, fun relationship that she and her son share just jumps out of the pictures and grabs me.  I wasn't particularly close to Shelby, but she's one of those people that I reconnected with on social media, and I wish we lived in the same city because we'd totally hang out.

I reached out to Shelby and told her that I was wanting to "pay it forward", that I thought Preston looked like a cool kid, and that I thought she was the type of mom to teach him about "paying it forward".  She was appreciative and thrilled.  Months went by, and I did nothing (because I am a procrastinator and can have great intentions that don't always get acted upon).  Then, Shelby posted about some medical challenges she's been facing and how that has affected her son as well.  I thought "dang, Erin, send that boy his care package." So, I gathered a few odds and ends from Australia - a magnet, a keychain, some Tim Tams (which are like the Australian go-to biscuit/cookie), a Christmas ornament, and a super cool shirt with the Aussie flag in the Superman logo.  I should've taken a picture.  I didn't.  I wrote him a card and sent it through Australia post.

The reaction from Shelby and Preston since receiving the package has been phenomenal.  Not over-the-top.  Just totally, sincerely appreciative.  Shelby tells me that Preston is already coming up with ideas of how to "pay it forward".  I stand by my belief that he is a totally cool kid, and she is a special mom.

I am not writing this to receive any "way to go, Erin" comments.  I am writing because I challenge you to "PAY IT FORWARD".  If you are reading this, do something, anything, that is nice to someone that is not expecting it, and you expect nothing in return.  Buy a cup of coffee for a person in line at Starbuck's.  Send an actual handwritten card to a friend "just because".  Bake cookies and take them to a neighbor.  Send a care package.  Volunteer.  Whatever you feel motivated to do.  If each person who reads this (even if it's only two people) do something like this, then that is two nice things put out into the world.  And, I think the world needs more nice things in it. 


  1. well, way to go anyway :) seriously, its so nice of you. you have definitely inspired me to do something nice.
    um if you ever want anything american-y... i always want australian-y things, i'm sure we can help each other out! lol

  2. I love this, I think it's so sweet. I sent a friend a $5 Starbucks giftcard the other day just because she was having a hard time (and I actually had an extra $5). I try to do little things like that and I love it when others do too.
    If you want anything from Kansas, let me know :)


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