A friend and fellow teacher and I were talking, making plans after attending the Greater Good Summer Institute in Berkeley this summer. We both work in an inner-city elementary school, where needs are great and burnout is high. We wanted to try an experiment to see if we could begin a movement toward a more compassionate, kind community, and in the process, renew ourselves. This is how the Kindness Coalition was born. We submitted the idea to KindSpring, and won the monthly prize! In the two months that have passed, amazing things have taken root. We began by giving everyone on staff a personally grown, small potted plant, along with a kindness quote, and encouragement to pass it forward. Since then, we buy small gifts and anonymously place them in mailboxes or workspaces, along with a quote and a tag from the Kindness Coalition. We keep track of people we've tagged, and ... Read Full Story >>
Our fifth grade girls have been having some ongoing issues with each other. Last week, I brought them together as a group and did some dyad (deep listening) practice with them, talked about "I"statements, forgiveness and friendships. They asked if we could meet once a week, "just to talk!" While telling this story to a friend, she mentioned keeping a 'bliss' journal, so that naturally led to a late night trip to the dollar store. While we were in line, my friend took half of the journals and said they were her contribution to the girls. What a pleasant surprise, and a great way to start the topic for the day: kindness! They loved the journals, and kept the kindness quotes I had provided, sticking them on or inside the covers. I am constantly reminded or the responsiveness of children to this work and of the great need for it. They are ... Read Full Story >>
Like so many others here on KindSpring, I try to incorporate kindness in my life on a daily basis. I'm not as prolific or as creative as some are on this site, but I give it my best shot. Some acts are easier to do than others, but all are important. For instance, doing random kind acts at work is fairly easy for me now, as is paying for the person behind me at a drive through. In person, random is a bit harder. Today, while I was admiring the peonies at a local store, an older woman stopped and commented on how beautiful they were and that they were her favorite flower. She went on with her shopping without picking any up and I picked up two bunches. When I got to the cashier, I paid separately for one, then after buying my groceries, went off in search of her. When I ... Read Full Story >>
I live in a city where the waste collection is handled by private companies. They send huge automated trucks to pick up waste, recycling, and yard clippings. The driver of the recycling truck frequently goes out of his way to move my can to the street when I haven't put it out. This week I left a thank you card with a gift card for lunch on me taped to the trash can. I wonder how often these workers get appreciated? Felt good to pass it on just a little to someone who has been so kind to me.
Today I came across an amazing story of a kindness chain in action. This happened in a small town in California, but has spread ripples much farther. It was written and shared by Robert Langdon, an employee at the store where it happened - these are his words: With all the hate, bitterness and pettiness going on in this nation today, I wanted to share what has turned out to be one of the top 10 days of my entire life. I work for Vons in Bishop and today we had a bunch of military personnel come in to the store on their way to Bridgeport. A customer came to me and said that she wanted to buy all of their purchases. All of them! She asked how it could be done so that she could be anonymous. I told her that she could purchase a gift card and that I would open ... Read Full Story >>
Tomorrow will be my last day working as an elementary teacher. I'm retiring and moving on to look at other possibilities. Meanwhile, I wanted to do a final RAK for the staff at the school where I currently work. I contacted the parent of one of our students who owns a small pizzeria and ordered food to be delivered today for the entire staff. Paid for it in advance, went in and set up the area, and brought one friend in on the deal so she could tip the driver and get it taken to the area. Many people came and had something to eat and expressed thanks, wanting to know who had done this. I kept quiet and enjoyed watching them eat the delicious lunch. So many multiple kindnesses involved: helped the struggling family restaurant, sharing food as a way of saying goodbye and having a "secret" as well. Like so many ... Read Full Story >>
I love reading the amazing stories of kindness published here, but rarely post my own. It's not that I don't do RAK, but rather, as others have said, sometimes those acts seem kind of sacred and aren't crying out to be shared. Today, on Christmas Eve, I went to the local grocery store for a forgotten item for our family baking. Waiting in line, with my item, I heard the friendly voice of a clerk who has been working at this store for many years, always cheerful, always respectful of all the shoppers in his lane. So I got out of the lane I was in, detoured and picked up a gift card for a local sandwich shop,then got back in line in his lane. Two people ahead of me was a young father with two children and some groceries in his cart. He tried to pay with his credit card, but ... Read Full Story >>
"To those whom much is given, much is expected." There are so many of you on this site, living out the second part of this quote on a daily basis - being kind in unexpected ways, sharing the bounty of your lives with others. I, like many here, volunteer some of my time in order to give back just a little of what I am so blessed to have. This month, I had an incredible opportunity to step up my game a little, and step out of my comfort zone a lot. I volunteered to go to Guatemala with an eyeglass team from International Relief Teams - an organization I have supported in other ways for many years. Our team went to a small town in Guatemala, San Augustin. We set up our tables and packages of pre-made glasses in the dirt courtyard of a clinic, put up the Snellen chart taped ... Read Full Story >>
In appreciation for the upcoming teacher's week, I released some stealthy messenger doves today. Some had bookmarks from a trip I recently took, some had small gift cards for local lunch places, some had SMILE cards.
I like the challenge of no one seeing the random acts, and I like the feeling of being able to share a little of what I am fortunate to have. This week I also brought in some spring carnations for the secretary's desks and shared a salad I made with ingredients from my daughter's produce box. I like knowing that every time I make an effort to share, I'm sharing love with myself as well. Beautiful circles and ripples.
I love the reminder at the top of this page asking us "How did you practice today?" Whenever I read it, I am reminded of all of the opportunities to practice - and feel challenged to just pick something and intentionally do it, in the spirit of kindness, and in the effort to make kindness go viral in this world.
So, from yesterday, I practiced small acts of kindness as I worked with my elementary students: I bought some interesting books and gave them away to my struggling fifth grade readers, I shared my lunch with our afternoon custodian, and I thanked our temporary custodian who is leaving and then left a surprise dove and gift card for him to find.
Whether we think our acts are small or large, no matter if they are hard or easy for us to do - each of us knows that truly nothing is small and all acts matter. How did you practice today?
During this frantic season, I often stop and reflect on the abundance all around me, as well as the abundance in my own life. I have enough, I have shelter, food, clothing, family and friends to love and be loved by. I don't need, or want, more things. And that goes for most of the people I know. So, a small thing I do every year is to sign-up with a local service organization and "adopt" children to shop for. These children are victims of domestic violence who otherwise would have a very meager Christmas. Their wishes are never extensive and usually include clothing sizes and favorite colors. I like to think of this as a way of showing families in need that others care about them and to give out a little extra love. An added bonus is that the shopping experience is a lot more enjoyable.
There are probably many others like myself, wondering how to continue to practice and spread kindness and compassion in this extraordinary time. Many of us are confined to home, with limited ability to physically be with others. I applaud and support all who are making the effort to help curtail this pandemic by staying home and by practicing physical distancing from each other. We will get through this and any kindnesses we share will continue to ripple in the world. With that in mind here are some loving kindness practices we can do every day. Stay connected with friends and family. Use whatever technology you can to reach out. Face time people, make a real phone call, smile at your neighbors, extend your love in appropriately distanced activities. If you can go outside, do it. When walking through your neighborhood, take time to notice the beauty of this world. As I walked this ... Read Full Story >>
"You just need to be a flea against injustice. Enough committed fleas biting strategically can make even the biggest dog uncomfortable and transform even the biggest nation." Marian Wright Edelman I am a committed flea. When I feel that my small actions could never be enough, I remember that we are all connected, that ripple effects extend well beyond the actual action, and that not taking action, is in itself, an action with consequences. Even amidst quarantine, my small actions can be taken. I can send emails, make phone calls, write letters, talk to friends, donate to causes addressing injustice, read and learn more about the history of injustice in my own country and around the world, practice mindfulness and loving kindness, smile at neighbors, and be aware of how I am in this world. I can be grateful for all of my privileges and understand that they allow me to ... Read Full Story >>