Got on the plane in Minneapolis for the two hour and nine minute flight to NY. Spent the first nine minutes of it talking to the young curly-brown-haired passenger with long sideburns. In the first three minutes of talking to him I noticed on the back of his hand a ball-point-pen tattoo. One word. "Lost". And for some reason that touched me. In the same inexplicable way that "Help Wanted" signs in store windows do sometimes. That people would be so honest, so open about their vulnerability. I wonder what he is going through. This fellow passenger with his friendly manner who freelances for the magazine "Popular Photography" and moved back to his hometown in Lawrence, Kansas from NY- because even though there's a lot you can do in NY there's a lot that you can't do there when you're broke. And now he's learning how to do video editing and trying to ... Read Full Story >>
Yesterday, was a beautiful Saturday morning, Memorial Day Weekend in New Jersey. My partner and I decided to invite our friends for an all Day BBQ, cocktails, food and some volleyball. In the summers, we love to have lots of people visit us. While I was in our patio, setting up the volleyball net, I saw this little tiny newborn bird that appeared to have just fallen from a huge tree. I was amazed at how tiny he was! He was not moving at all, but his little eyes were open and looking all around. So I grabbed him and he just stayed there in my hand and opened his mouth really wide. :) "Oh yes, he's hungry," I said to myself. I went inside the house, and gave him water with a little baby pump and tiny pieces of bread. He ate it all. Although I couldn't see any ... Read Full Story >>
As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children an untruth. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. However, that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy. Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. In addition, Teddy could be unpleasant. It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then putting a big 'F' at the top of his papers. At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's past records and she ... Read Full Story >>
I spent most of my early adult life looking through them. I was busy. I was working. I was raising a family and running errands. I had things to do. If you didn't look at them they weren't there, right? You know, those bedraggled looking people on the corner with a sign in their hand. I only wanted the light to turn green fast enough so that I wouldn't have to keep pretending not to see them. They were mostly invisible to me. I refused to see them, and that's how I wanted it. Because I just didn't have the time. Then, one day, as I was holding the hand of my best friend who was way too young to be dying of breast cancer, she told me that she made every moment count by slowing down-- by being in the moment, and by seeing everything. I held her hand for five years ... Read Full Story >>
My friend, Gayla and I were traveling to Phoenix from Chicago. I misread the ticket, and we missed our flight. I was busy being upset about my failed plans when Gayla suggested we just fly wherever we want instead, since we had the time. I think about missing my flight to Phoenix and going to San Francisco instead. It taught me a lot about being open to what is, not attached to what I want, and how things unexpected can happen. Long story but while Gayla and I were in San Fran, this strange thing happened. It made me think maybe I should start to trust the natural course of things more, instead of always thinking I know what is best and trying to control things. Did I see an angel or go or santa while in San Francisco? I don’t know what he was, but he was not of this ... Read Full Story >>
Our son is my newest "Hockey Hero." He plays goalie on his small hometown ice hockey team. One weekend on matchday, we arrived a bit late and quickly found our seats and settled in. As I looked around, I noticed we were sitting with a family who had a mentally and physically handicapped child. We could hear the exciement in his voice when he said, "Mom, look the goalie is going to get the puck now!" Shamelessly, I listened to him and the excitment and joy in his voice as praised the goalie time and time again. During the break, we went and told our son what was happening in the bleachers and, bless his heart, he went up into the bleachers, introduced himself to the parents and sat next to this young lad. He started talking to him and before long the boy was trying on our son's gloves, blocker and helment. When the game was about to start again, my ... Read Full Story >>
My four grown children were all home visiting this weekend so we decided to go out for brunch. The centre of attention was my toddler granddaughter. She had never had pancakes before so we were excited about her trying them. We always try to make our family meals special so this time we decided to order every kind of pancake they had and asked that they be served on one big family-style platter! We each took turns digging in and also feeding it to the baby, who loved them. There was a lovely environment at the table and lots of smiles. As I was looking around the table, enjoying this wonderful scene, a gentleman at a nearby table caught my eye. He was eating his breakfast alone quietly, in the corner. He frequently looked over and smiled as my granddaughter continued to entertain us all. Suddenly, I had a great idea. I dug ... Read Full Story >>
What would it be this morning -- a warm Blueberry Lemon? Banana Nut? Cranberry Orange? Oatmeal Raisin? There is always a warm muffin or two tucked into a white napkin and placed next to the morning newspaper, waiting for me once I open my front door. Who is the Mystery Muffin Giver? I try to wake up early to see if I can catch him/her in the act so far I've been unsuccessful. But no matter what, I've got those goodies and a good read to dwell on! [Now for the background story!] My Mom lives in a Retirement community and she moved in after my Dad passed. She loves it. Most of her neighbors in the apartments are widows just like her and they keep each other good company. In this community, though, while lunches and dinners are prepared in the dining room, there's no breakfast. Now, my mom is an early -- and ... Read Full Story >>
It's a late night on the streets of New York. Larger-than-life size billboards come alive with their glitz, trying to make you want things that you don't really need. Up ahead, I notice a homeless man who doesn't have the things he really does need. Ironic. "Gift size chocolate bar, one dollar, one dollar," he says while showing a candy bar to people walking by. He's rejected. "Just one dollar." Rejected again. "Candy bar, candy bar for you," he shows it to a child walking with her mom. The mom jerks her kid away and moved further. They say that homeless are used to taking rejections, but seeing the charades ahead of me, I couldn't help but feel sorry for him. As I stand next to him, shoulder to shoulder, I pause to see if he will try to sell me ... Read Full Story >>
"One day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry. He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door. Instead of a meal, he asked for a drink of water. She thought he looked hungry and so she brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it slowly, and then asked, "How much do I owe you?" "You don't owe me anything," she replied. "Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness." He said, "Then I thank you from my heart." As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strengthened also. He had been ready to give up and ... Read Full Story >>
I was in the drive-thru at Tim Hortons by my house and had just ordered a coffee and croissant. I waited to get to the window and they handed me my order and said it had been paid for already. I curiously asked, "Who paid for it?" And the girl said, "The woman ahead of you. She does it all the time for people. And all she asks me to tell you is 'pay it forward.'"
This made my entire day, and I made sure to tell everyone at work about it!
The next time I was in the same drive through, I paid for the person behind me. The best part about the whole thing was that I could spend the rest of the day imagining how that person felt. I know how good it made me feel, and it stuck with me.
You never know how someones day is going, and a small act like paying for a persons coffee can turn their entire day around.
Numbly, I left my husband, Marty, at the hospital where I had been visiting two of my children and headed for the grocery store. Since it was eleven p.m., I drove to the only store I knew was open twenty-four hours a day. I turned my car motor off and rested my head against the seat. What a day, I thought to myself. With two of my young children in the hospital, and a third waiting at Grandma’s, I was truly spread thin. Today I had actually passed the infant CPR exam required before I could take eight-week-old Joel home from the hospital. Would I remember how to perform CPR in a moment of crisis? A cold chill ran down my spine as I debated my answer. Exhausted, I reached for my grocery list that resembled more of a scientific equation than the food for the week. For the past several days, ... Read Full Story >>
I travel a fair amount for work, and almost every hotel room I stay in has at least one pen. If I pick it up even once to jot down a voice mail message or to scribble down a random idea that pops into my head, the pen usually ends up in my backpack and no matter how many times I have scolded myself to "LEAVE THE PENS" they somehow sneak home with me. A few years ago on a trip home I was waiting in line at the airport gate counter and the agent was frustrated because a customer had inadvertently walked off with her last pen. I opened up my backpack and sure enough there were 5 pens, so I handed over all five and said, "Keep the change!" She was so appreciative of the small gesture that I began packing 5 pens for every trip. The airline employees ... Read Full Story >>
My cousin Heidi was stricken around age 16 with a debilitating disease, which took her life about 20 years later. As the disease progressed, she became wheelchair bound and unable to easily communicate (I'm not sure of the disease -- it may have been a combination, including Parkinson's). When she was in her late 20's, she would often have her mother take her out into the front yard when the weather was nice so that she could sit in her wheelchair and watch the cars pass by. One day, my aunt was doing dishes and looked out the window to see a car pulled to the side of the road and a man approaching Heidi. In a panic, she ran outside, wondering who this person was that was approaching her daughter. When she arrived where my cousin was sitting, the man was kneeling before her placing a bouquet of flowers in her lap ... Read Full Story >>
Yesterday I went to the nursing home to visit my step mom’s grandma. She just got out of the hospital recently where she underwent some serious operations. I wanted to surprise her after work so I stopped by for a quick visit. When I got there she was happy to see me. We hugged, kissed and exchanged greetings. Then I heard a woman crying. It was my great grandma’s roommate. The curtain was drawn so I could not see her. She started calling out a name that wasn't mine but she was definitely talking to me, begging me to go to her side of the room. I ignored her at first and continued visiting with my great grandma. Then she started begging and saying, “Please, come see me!" So I went to see her. When I drew the curtain back she looked so old and frail but flashed me the biggest smile! She opened ... Read Full Story >>
I was feeling a little blue because my mother had been laid off from her job and she had lots of bills to pay. It left me wondering what was going to happen to us now. But it reassured me some when my mother told me she was relieved to be leaving since her boss wasn't the nicest person to be around. I got off the college shuttle bus and started walking. That's when I heard piano music and singing rising above the noise of the people and the traffic. I walked a little slower so I could find out to where it was coming from. Through the crowd I saw a young lady sitting at a piano with a carriage next to her. She was singing songs about love, keeping on trying, and not underestimating the power within yourself. The way she was singing comforted me a bit. I stood there ... Read Full Story >>
Life is good, really good. Sometimes I feel like the good karma train picked me up, and simply refuses to let me off. I have an amazing wife, a teenage son that makes me glow with pride, good health, a wonderful family and the best friends a guy could ask for. I have a lot to be grateful for. For many years now, “thank you” has become my meditation as I start each day. But the truth is, life was not always this good. It wasn’t all that long ago, when the resume’ of my life looked radically different. At one time, my life was filled with nearly everything people try to avoid. Experiencing everything from unhappy relationships to financial struggles, poor health, depression, and an endless stream of negative habits was a part of my daily life. It seemed that no matter how hard I tried, happiness was constantly ... Read Full Story >>
I had just finished my monthly Free Hugs session in Union Square, NYC, and was walking back to Harlem where I lived. I save subway fare by walking as often as possible. Being a storyteller I don't have much money. That's when I saw a woman sitting on the pavement. The shopping cart to her was side piled high with her possessions. Her shoes were worn to nearly nothing. I got out my Free Hugs sign and approached her. I smiled gently and asked if she would like a hug. She looked at me with disbelief and asked, "You would hug me?" I opened my arms and walked closer to her. "If you want a hug," I sad. "Absolutely." She reached out for the hug and then told me she had not been touched in almost 20 years. I hugged her tighter. I apologized to her that I had no money to give her that ... Read Full Story >>
Here's an idea that brings lots of smiles-- go to your neighborhood crafts store (I went to Michael's), pick up some polished colored stones, hand-draw some smiles, and leave those smile-stones with the following poem at coffee shop tables or just about any public venue. Look a Smile Stone straight in the eye and you'll smile back not knowing why It's something about their lopsided grins, their lack of noses and of chins A twinkling something that's not-quite-art touches your heart Like snowflakes and fingerprints no two are the same But why? You ask- What's the point of this game? Somebody's hand drew those smiles for you To find and to keep and to give away too For when the smile fades from the stone Then you'll find it within And this is where you get to begin To share that smile where there's a lack All ... Read Full Story >>
I have recently thought about an incredible act of compassion extended to me many years ago.
In fourth grade we were suppose to bring in a dime for a folder to use in class. My parents were divorced and money was in short supply. Watching my mom fend off creditors, I did not have the nerve to ask her for a dime. When I got to school, I really wish I had asked my mother for the dime because everybody else in class had the dime ready on their desk for the teacher. I was embarrassed and felt silly.
Somehow, A girl named Karen, sitting next to me, saw my personal suffering and waited until the last second to put a dime on the corner of my desk. Even though I never said a word, she saw my quiet anguish and only wanted to relieve it. She said nothing and I was too embarrassed to say thank you. It was the most genuine, authentic act of kindness I've ever experienced.