I am beginning a new project, and I would like to invite you all to join me!! This is not exactly an art project, it’s a life project.
What is the Giving Warmth Project?
It’s a project to start giving warmth to the people in your life by sharing the truth about what you value about them. Giving them a warm hug they can hold to their hearts on the days when they are cold.
At our wedding, people said some unbelievably awesome things about us and about how they felt about us. While I will forever regret not having them in writing and that there is no video of this, I will hug their words to my heart for the rest of my life.
Shortly after that, a friend struggling with depression posted a public call asking for friends and family to write down what they valued about him so that he would have these notes to forever pull out and read when he was low.
And I started thinking about how much I needed those same notes, but was unable to ask for them (and people never say the same things they do with requests like that as they do at your wedding or funeral), and I thought about how much we all have a need for these kind of notes, but never get them. So this year for my husband’s birthday, I asked people for notes for him. And the notes were a fascinating blend of naked honesty and glossy self-protection that all nonetheless meant ‘I love you’ in some way.
I have always wondered why we go through life flinching back from raw honesty and saying simple “I love you” or “luv ya, bro” or the meaningful backslap half-hug that men often do, or all these other ways we have to convey love and affection without fully pulling back the veil and revealing not just our naked feelings but the SPECIFIC ways and whys we love someone. Parents can easily relate to the feeling that while they may love their children equally, they love very specific DIFFERENT things about each child. But if we ever do say these same things about the adults in our life, we wait until their weddings and stutter out a toast, or their funerals when we sob out a eulogy.
We are uncomfortable with emotion – our own or someone else’s, and while the extent of that discomfort varies by culture, family, and individual, nonetheless, we never say these things.
So why should we wait for funerals and weddings and hope that brilliance strikes, rather than taking a moment to compose a thoughtful – even if brief – note about what someone has meant in your life? There are so many people who gave me a little lift whose timing just made so much difference in my life, I would like them to know that, and I would like to ask you to join me in telling the people in your life how they helped you or what they mean/meant to you.
I’m not really comfortable with saying this…
No one understands this better than I! I don’t like exposing my emotions, being vulnerable, being PUBLIC with my feelings… But this is not about being comfortable. It’s about sending things out into the world without any expectation of anything, just to give someone a warmth that they can hug to their heart on days when they are coldest.
How will this work?
Set a goal for yourself, once a month? Once a quarter? to write a note – short or long, it can be an email, a snail mail card (I personally love the act of sending and receiving snail mail – especially in this electronic day!), posted publicly on social media, sent privately via PM, even a text – but it MUST be WRITTEN!! – to a person who means or has meant something in your life or who got your back or stood by you when you needed it or tossed you a lifeline when you were drowning or whatever moment you cherish. The person can be alive or dead, a current friend or an ex, someone you know in real life or someone you’ve never even met.
You expect nothing in return. They may reply, they may not. They may be really uncomfortable reading your note since we are afraid of honesty (please see parameters below!).
The Giving Warmth Project is about creating warmth in the lives of others while they are still alive enough to enjoy it! This is NOT a time to tell your ex how they ruined your life, confront others with what you don’t like about them, or use as an excuse to send creepy stalker messages.
Keep the tone light, warm, friendly (the reaction you ideally provoke is, “Awww, how sweet! I never knew they thought that!). DO NOT be possessive, sexual, hysterical, or otherwise inappropriate. If you are not sure if you are crossing that line, you probably are.
I encourage you to include a link to this post or just explain that you are participating in The Giving Warmth Project – it will help them understand why you sent it and that you expect nothing in return, and hopefully they will also participate!
I would love to hear what you do with this project!!
You can also join in on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GivingWarmthProject/