Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Kindness Tea Party - Alternative Narratives

Three Graces by Marie Bracquemond,
1880 oil.See it at Musee d'Orsay, Paris
"Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Desmond Tutu

“All I'm saying is, kindness don't have no boundaries.”
Kathryn Stockett, The Help

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Leo Buscaglia

We live in a world that is constantly telling us stories. These narratives have a way of shaping our lives.Their plot lines describe what or who to be afraid of; what is a beautiful face or body type; what we should eat; how you should act; or what success looks like. It is hard to escape these stories because they are reinforced by the media and the number of hearts and the reposts. I often find it hard to escape from their grip of my subconscious. Sociologists call these stories the dominant narrative

Jeyne Roberts writes, “There are three sides to every story. Yours. Mine. What really happened.” The dominant narrative is a one-sided story. It pits my story against your story. If your story wins. It becomes the story that is perceived as valid and real. However, there’s a problem with listening to only one side, you don’t get to hear the stories from other perspectives. By not hearing all the stories, I believe you miss out on the nuances of the story. And, if you hear a similar story, you may jump to a conclusion influenced by past plot lines.

I a firm believer of making your own decisions and coming up with your own solutions to problems.  Following the CCWWW philosophy, you need to put on your lab coat and unearth different viewpoints.  You also need to make sure your solutions consider others wants and needs.  By hearing only one viewpoint and choosing the dominant narrative or one story, puts you in conflict with the CCWWW philosophy.  Meaning: everyone should feel like they belong, they are valued and they are heard.  (It doesn’t mean you have to agree with the other person’s story only hear them out).


You don’t listen to what I say.
When I lean towards you in the car
You simply smile and turn away.

It’s been like this most of the day,
sitting and sipping, bar after bar:
You don’t listen to what I say.

You squeeze a lemon from a tray,
And if you guess how dear you are
You simply smile and turn away.

Beyond the hairline of the bay
the steamers call that shore is far.
You don’t listen to what I say:

Surely there’s another way?
The waiter brings a small guitar.
You simply smile and turn away.

Sometimes I think you are too gay,
smiling and smiling, hour after hour.
You don’t listen to what I say.
You simply smile and turn away.

Fuller, John. “Song.” Collected Poems.  London: Chatto & Windus, 1996. 

Kindness Tea Party
I have been doing a lot of reflecting at the end of the year.  One story I have stumbled on is the number of people who state they feel like don’t belong or they are not heard.  I keep hearing and reading in the news and in my Facebook feed.  I’ve also noticed that this story doesn’t seem to fit with the dominant narratives playing out in the media: us versus them, liberals versus conservatives… It makes the story a little more complicated because both us and them are telling this tale. 

The first time I heard about this story of not feeling connected was in a random essay on Facebook.  The story immediately made me think of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and number 3 on his pyramid: love and belonging; (and the OSU professor who droned on in a large, hot lecture hall).  Maslow identified that humans need to feel that they belong and are accepted in a group.  We are mammals that require social connection to love and be loved.  This loving connection has increases our survival as a species.  If this need isn’t met than the affected human may develop a laundry list of psychosis: loneliness, social anxiety, depression, and ultimately people who can’t form a relationship. 

And, how do you prevent or fix this problem?

One activity I am launching this year with another co-worker, is a Kindness Tea Party in the work setting. The Tea Party is a magical opportunity for people at my work to connect through food and listening. We are holding it in the late afternoon. I’ve sent the invitation out to about 100 people (paper and via e-mail) and asked them to bring their own cups (fancy hats are welcomed too). Twenty people have responded saying they are planning on coming.

Equipment Needed:
Electric Coffee Urn (Earl Gray Tea)
Electric Pot to heat water for (Hibiscus tea and Green Tea)
Two containers to make the other two teas
Cream container
Food (shortbread, brownies and a tin of lemon cookies)

No tea is complete without fortunes.  We decided to print off fortune cookie messages and place them in a bowl. 

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Hi all - I really like your comments, but have had a change of heart regarding anonymous comments. My CCWWW beliefs are that you need to stand behind what you say and what you do. Peace out.