Project 52: “Focus” on Kindness

If you follow me on facebook you’ve likely noticed a bit of a theme over the past couple weeks.  I’ve been posting a lot more links to local service opportunities.  I’ve been talking about some crazy photo project called “Project 52″.  Today I wanted to take a minute to explain some of that (with more detailed explanations to come in the first week of 2013) and to invite you to participate along with my family in what I think will be a centering and meaningful year-long family project.

Let’s go back a bit before I explain the project itself.

For the last few months I’ve been in a transition – leaving the world of professional real estate photography and working to merge my photography interests with my training in education and my role and goals as a mom.  I’m working hard to try to figure out exactly how to focus my interests and skills to meet the needs of my family, myself, my world.

Wanting to be a better me.

Wanting to make a difference.

One thing I seem to always come back to is my belief in kindness… in service… in giving… in helping one another.

I believe deep down that we must engage in spreading love with whatever talents we possess.

More than that I believe in teaching our children this sense of service and giving as a central, core value in our lives.  I believe we must actively engage them in these lessons just as we do in mathematics, reading, science and social studies.  I believe it must be intentional.

And I believe this is how we change the world.

But…

I quite often feel like I fall short at “fitting it in.”

Don’t get me wrong… we are constantly talking about kindness (especially in the midst of sibling struggles).  And we do participate in service projects when the opportunities arise.  But if I look back honestly over the past year I have to say we are inconsistent at best and we don’t do as much as I would like to do.

Weeks go by, sometimes even months, between “projects” because it’s easy to get swept up on autopilot and lost in the maze of homework and activities and cleaning and work.

But it doesn’t change the fact that I want service to others to be a bigger part of our lives.  A more intentional, more consistent part of our lives.  I want to raise my children to be givers.  To love.  To empathize.

To feel empowered amidst a world that can all too often leave us feeling powerless.  

To own the understanding that we, as individuals, can all make a difference.

So this year I am setting only one New Year’s Resolution and it’s a Family one.  We are going to attempt to complete at least one act of service or kindness each week in 2013.  Honestly – we should be consciously spreading smiles every day so I think it should not be too hard… but in setting the weekly goal it will give us a reason to focus and to not allow weeks or months to slip into autopilot.

With the children, we’ll have family meetings and discuss what we can do as individuals and as a family to make the world a better place – for each other – for our neighborhood – for our community – for the world.  My kids are in 3rd grade and I think the perfect age for this.  They’re excited about it and my husband is too.  So it’s a go!

So what’s this project 52 thing?

Since Photography is my thing I had been contemplating taking on another year-long photography project in 2013.  The two main projects that people consider are a project 365 (where you take a photo every day for a year and share it somewhere – online or in an album), and a Project 52 where you choose one photo a week to feature.  I did a 365 project in 2009 and it literally changed my life… it motivated me to learn photography, helped me see my life in a new way, helped me notice details often overlooked.  But I don’t know that I want to take on a daily photo project again this year so I was leaning towards a project 52.  Often Project 52s are designed around a theme or a series of weekly prompts.

Which got me thinking…

Why not merge the project 52 and this Focus on Kindness in the new year?

At the end of the year we’ll have a photo album with reminders of the family fun we had and the weekly “assignment” of a photo project to help us stay on track.  If others are joining us in this adventure we have the added accountability that comes with a group project.  The beauty of photography is that my kids will be able to look back on this year and see our projects even if their memories fade (since they are still young enough that memories can be fleeting).

So I’m calling it Project 52: “Focus” on Kindness.

And I am hoping you will join us!

One act of kindness (intentional or random) or act of service each week – photographed by you as a reminder of your family adventures, shared with others to help inform all of us of the many, many ways that we can, as individuals and families, change the world.

Sometimes it’s not a matter of not wanting to serve or not having time… sometimes it’s just not knowing what to do.

If we share a photo each week – linking them all from my post here – then we can learn dozens of new ideas each week from one another.  These are ideas which we can then try with our own children.

I will try to post as many links as I can to lists of ideas and local service opportunities that are family friendly.  Maybe those of us who are local can even have some service-related meet-ups!

For those who are worried about time – remember – it doesn’t have to be an organized project to be an act of kindness.  Something as simple as hiding post it notes with loving messages in Daddy’s car one day is a wonderful act of kindness that even young children can participate in.  I think I may make a personal goal of one organized service effort per month with the other three weeks focused on smaller (but not any less important) acts of kindness toward family, friends and strangers.  If your family is already a part of a regular service project you could even focus once a week on that project to raise awareness (for instance, I have a relative that “crafts for a cure” to raise money for breast cancer research… she could take a photo each week of her efforts in this endeavor through the course of the year).

If there is one thing I think this world needs – it’s more love.  We can never have enough.

So let’s do this!

Will you join us at spreading some smiles in the year 2013?  If you’re not a photographer no worries!  No need to be!  Cell phone cameras, point and shoots, instagram… whatever it takes!  Let’s just capture these family moments and use our photography to inform others about the opportunities out there.  And maybe along the way I’ll throw in some photo tips too for those of you who are wanting to learn a little more about your cameras.

It’ll be fun!  And I’m hoping it’ll be life-changing.

See you in 2013!

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Barb L - December 31, 2012 - 1:41 am

This is wonderful, Catina!! Great ideas, inspiration and acts of kindness set in motion. You are planting beautiful seeds in the world. Blessings & much success in all your endeavors to you and your family. Happy New Year!!!

[...] weeks project in 2013 with a focus on completing acts of kindness with her kids. Read more about it HERE and think about joining her if this speaks to [...]

Kathy Adams - January 2, 2013 - 2:46 am

Catina, I think I’d like to do this project with you.

eaca71997 - January 2, 2013 - 4:18 pm

Hooray!! That’s awesome Kathy!! Can’t wait to see what projects you come up with too!

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