Kindness is a simple answer in a sometimes difficult and challenging world. I know that to be true. For a long time now it has been my mission to acknowledge and appreciate all people and to encourage others to do the same. When my 7 year old grand-daughter, Skylar, and I go out, we have a contest called “Who can make the most people smile. “ It makes for a wonderful glorious day. We will be walking in the supermarket and someone will be walking down the aisle with her head down. Skylar walks up to her and gives her a big smile. I watch her walk down the aisle, turn around and smile at Skylar again or perhaps smile at someone else. Kindness is a chain that pulls us all together. Anything that lifts another person is kindness. Every single act of kindness has a ripple effect. In 2002, my dad had a series of strokes and other illness. At that ... Read Full Story >>
Good sense might have suggested I stay in today. There was snow on the ground and we really don't have any money to be spending right now. But, there were a couple of things I needed, so I gathered what cash I had together and hopped on to the bus to the next town (hoping it wouldn't slip off the road on an icy patch.) Once in town one of the first thing I saw was a brass band! They had taken over an empty shop and were setting up to perform in the window. I didn't get to hear a toot out of them, but I did see they were "busking" for donations. The money raised would buy gifts for local needy children. A I slipped a note into the collection bucket the woman holding it finished a sentence to another man with the words, "... even the bad times are ... Read Full Story >>
In June 2009 the New Jersey Star-Ledger ran a series called "The Chain of Life" about kidney donation chains. These are enabled by one non-related donor giving a kidney to a recipient whose donor (usually a relative) was not compatible. That non-compatible donor then donates to someone else in the same position and thus four or six people could receive new kidneys. I decided I could do that. I contacted the National Kidney Registry and started a six month process that ended with my donating a kidney to a doctor who had been on home dialysis for two years. I didn't know his identity until several months later when we had a very meaningful and emotional introduction. His wife donated her kidney, the same day as our surgery, to someone else, whose donor donated theirs to someone else on the other side of the country! The surgery lasted two hours; I was ... Read Full Story >>
I wrote earlier about my gift home makeover project - Etseth and I would like to tell you about a very special family that I have recently done a makeover for! The mum of this family, was a victim of severe domestic abuse 12 years ago. After years of the being subjected to violence, she summoned enough courage to leave, she moved from England to Wales with her three children and moved into a woman’s refuge. Further down the line, she met someone, got married and they eventually had two more children. Their two oldest have moved out so they are left with three children who are 14,11 and 9 years old. My project was to plaster the lounge/dining room. Whilst I was doing this project, their oldest daughter returned from serving in Afghanistan. Unbeknownst to the family, the daughter had spent lots of her army pay to take the family away for a 2 week holiday. As the ... Read Full Story >>
One very cold and rainy night my husband and I were in fast food restaurant. Just as we were about to begin our meal, a man walked in. He was completely soaked from the rain and went straight into the men's room. I watched him go by, then I said to my husband, "That man has had nothing to eat in a long time." When the guy came out of the men's room he just found a seat, not going anywhere near the food counter. I guessed he didn't have any money for food and simply wanted to dry off for a while. I just couldn't eat my food knowing that someone else was sitting hungry only a few tables away. So, I handed a $20.00 bill fom my food shopping money to my husband. "Please get him dinner," I said. "We can do with less this week." My husband approached the man and ... Read Full Story >>
[Amidst the tragedy of the quake, tsunami and the subsequent nuclear plant explosions, the narrative of hope can often get lost. Below is an excerpt of some truly heart warming moments of oneness that unfolded in the aftermath of the tragic Tsunami.] You can see my full note here. Below are the some of the heart warming anecdotes that I have witnessed and heard from others ... Someone overseas called me on my cell. She said she wanted to connect to anyone who is in Japan, and so she called the country code and their own mobile number, which happened to be the same as mine. I didn't fully understand everything she said, because it was English, but I knew enough to know that she really wanted to support the Japanese people. It really gave me so much hope. Last night when I was walking home (since all traffic had stopped), I saw an old lady ... Read Full Story >>
The car went through the stop sign and into the intersection. With no where to go or time to get there, my taxi hit the car dead on. For the next three months I was out of work. I had no savings to speak of. No family to help me. I was in dire straights to be sure. The lady who ran the stop sign had little insurance, barely enough to cover the medical expenses with little left over to pay my living expenses. Just after the accident Justin came to see me in the hospital. We had been co-drivers with the taxi company. We knew each other and worked well together. We were not what one might consider to be friends but we liked each other. He asked me what was going to happen and I told him I didn't know. I was in deep trouble financially until a settlement ... Read Full Story >>
I wanted to use one of my Smile Cards today, so I went to the bank and withdrew $20. I went out on my lunch break, and walked around looking out for someone to give the money and the Smile Card to. I spotted a couple of people who I thought about giving it to but then I remembered that the Smile Card says to do it anonymously. So I decided to find a way to give away the $20 without the person knowing where it came from. I got in my car and drove to the mall and walked around praying for God to show me what to do. As I walked passed a dollar store I saw five pay phones by it. I took the $20 and neatly wrapped it around the Smile Card. I left if by the first pay phone and prayed that someone who really needed ... Read Full Story >>
When I was 23 years old I was in a dangerous relationship with the man who was my financee at the time. I was being physically and verbally abused on a daily basis. I was financially tied to him (after he spent all my savings to pay his debts) but I wanted to be free! For the longest time I was too embarrassed to tell my mother about the situation. She had warned me about him. But, eventually, I worked up the courage to tell her and she sent me the money I needed to leave. Before the money arrived he found out what I planned to do. I was so scared of what he might do I decided to leave all my things and just get out of there. Then, on my way to safety, my car died! I had automobile insurance (thanks to my mom) so I called the AAA and had them tow ... Read Full Story >>
I was walking home from work on a busy city street with lots of people. I wasn't looking forward to going home and my friends weren't able to hang out with me. That's when I walked past a homeless person that I hadn't seen before. He was moving back and forth to stay warm, and very gently asking for change. He spoke so quietly I could barely hear him. Something made me stop, turn around, and walk up to him. All the while anxious thoughts whirled around in my head like, 'What do you think you're doing?' 'You're alone, it's dark out and you're a woman,' Before I knew what I was saying I asked him if he had had dinner yet and would he like to join me at a nearby restaurant. He said he hadn't eaten and he would like to. So, he walked with me a few yards to the restaurant and held the door ... Read Full Story >>
My brother and I were shopping at a department store one day. My mother had taken him home separately and had returned to get me. As we were walking towards the car, I saw a homeless man sitting outside the department store we were shopping at.
I told my mom to hold on a minute. I walked towards the man, and handed him a twenty dollar bill. I usually wouldn't do this, but I knew that I had to this time. When I handed it to him, a tear ran down his eyes, as he said "God bless you".
When I returned to the car my mom told me she was so proud. I asked her why and said that I felt that when people need help, and we have the urge to help, we need to just help them. She then told me that my brother, who she had taken home earlier, did the exact same thing.
I truly believe in the power of paying it forward and I have always gotten enjoyment and fulfilment from it. Last year, I was waiting at the traffic lights on my way to work, when my car was rammed from behind. After pulling over, a flustered young man admitted his fault and proceed to apologise and explain why he had not been ‘in the moment’ whilst driving. He told me that he had just been evicted and that his insurance had just run out. I could feel his genuine stress, and as he gave me his details and promised to find a way to pay for it, I tried to comfort him and told him to not worry too much; we will work it out and to please have a great day. When I got to work, my work colleagues hounded me to get a quote quickly and were appalled that I had not collected ... Read Full Story >>
On my first visit to India with my partner, Barry, we met a really nice woman on the plane who was flying from Canada to India to move back with her family in Chennai. Talking with Uma, a dentist, who had been trained in England, made the long flight from the US go by much faster. When we arrived in Chennai, we learned that our bags had somehow not made the trip with our plane. As we filled out the missing luggage forms, we couldn't help noticing the mountain of unclaimed baggage in a corner of the terminal. Would we ever see our belongings again? This was not an auspicious beginning to our 6-week trip. It was now 4 a.m. Saturday morning. The officials had told us there was no point in checking to see if our bags had arrived until Monday. What should we do next? As we stood there wondering, ... Read Full Story >>
18 years ago I discovered I was unexpectedly pregnant, I was on my own and in an extremely limited financial situation. I worked at a pet shop, a job I loved, but cleaning cages with unrelenting nausea was pretty awful to deal with. Having little money, and unable to keep anything down, I started losing weight instead of gaining it. There was a neighbor woman I had visited with a couple of times, and to my surprise, she started working at the pet shop too. Everyday, for lunch, she would produce large, organic salads and other very healthy meals. To my surprise she insisted that I have some of her lunch. I tried to refuse, but she was determined. Puzzled, I managed to eat, and when I admitted to everyone at work that I was pregnant, she was very excited, and kept on feeding me, despite the fact that I couldn't hold it ... Read Full Story >>
My brother and I were driving home together and became engrossed in a conversation. Because of this distraction my brother took a wrong turn. Unfortunately, the wrong turn took us towards a bridge and we had no way to turn back. Grudgingly, my brother paid the bridge toll and drove on. He was clearly frustrated by the mistake and the needless waste of $4. We eventually reached an exit slip-way and, as we took it, my brother noticed a beat-up black Mustang pulled over to the side or the road. A young guy was standing nearby trying to phone someone. I was busy trying to figure out which way we went next but my brother pulled over and asked the guy if he needed any help. And he did. He had a flat tire and needed a wrench to get it off. My brother gave him a wrench, then proceed to help him ... Read Full Story >>
I started a Really Really Free Market in my town as a way to bring the community together. A Really Really Free Market is like a cross between a farmer's market and a garage/yard sale, except everything is free! People show up with stuff to give away and take what they need from other people's abundance. It took a little while to catch on but now it seems fairly busy and I am trying to make it bigger and more fun so that more people have access to the wonder that is giving without expectation of reward and receiving without being judged. It runs once a month on a Saturday afternoon and there are clothes, books, plants, biscuits, pasta, fruit, furniture, ornaments - and lots of other stuff. The kids all play together (it's at a park) and sometimes one family brings playdough, beads and colouring-in pictures for the children to play with. I ... Read Full Story >>
When I was about 6 years old I lived in Kenya. There was a lot of poverty and there were always street children on the roads asking for money. There was such a big divide between those children and me and I grew up very aware of being so fortunate. We had a wonderful and very kind driver, John, who had been working with my family for decades. He used to take us to and from school. One day we had to take a detour on the way to school and whilst we were stopped in traffic a young street child, probably no more than 10 years old, called out with a friendly greeting. “Jambo, John!” He approached the car and shook John’s hand. John then gave him a little bit of money and waved him off with a smile before we carried on our way to school. I had watched the whole ... Read Full Story >>
As you probably know Nepal a small country full of diverse religions and populations. As the daughter of a Hindu family there are many aspects of my religion that I have to bear in mind. But, even while keeping such strictures in mind, I want to be ale to live a life of kindness to others. When I was sixteen my friends and I were going to watch a movie. We sat waiting for the bus but it was very late. While we were waiting another bus came by and a old lady of about seventy got off. She had bags full of her possessions in one hand and a walking stick in the other. After a few minutes I noticed that she seemed to be looking for something. She approached a shopkeeper for help - but it wasn't forthcoming. So, I went over and asked, "What's the matter grandmother?" She told me she ... Read Full Story >>
Any passenger on the subway who caught a glimpse of me may have already thought that I was strange as I was smiling while reading Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground. In particular this one gentleman sitting diagonal from me was staring at me, at the cheese bun on the floor in front of me, and then back at me. “Next stop, St. Patrick Station” – my stop was quickly coming up. I had minutes to either take the cheese bun, which nobody else was claiming (as a passenger probably dropped it by mistake and got off at a previous stop), or leave it there and hope that it didn’t go to waste. In those few minutes I felt my pride getting in the way. “What would other people on this subway think of me if I took the cheese bun? Would they think that I wanted it for myself? Would they think ... Read Full Story >>
Many years ago I lived in a western country. My very first job saw me employed in the city and I was thrilled to commute to the office by public transport! I had never been employed before and my chances of travelling on a bus by myself had always been very remote. So, I was very happy with my new lifestyle! I left home each morning in time to catch the 8.05 bus from the main road. One Autumn morning I could see the bus approaching. I could also see an elderly lady walking with an adorable dog beside her. There were some youngsters behind her. The bus arrived and we got on. Unlike in eastern countries only eight passengers were permitted to travel standing. I was inside the bus when the conducter called, "Only eight standing passengers! Could the last one to get on please get off?" I saw those youngsters ... Read Full Story >>
Last December, following the Friday night performance of our Winter Solstice Celebration, my wife Chez had gone to the Cathedral parking lot to get some gear before taking a taxi to our hotel. When I finally got to the hotel a couple of hours later, Chez realized she was missing a small bag and was sure she’d left it on the ground outside the car. So I said I’d go back and look for it. It was quite a dark and wintry night, and when I arrived back at the Cathedral around 1:30am, the whole area was deserted. I found the all-night security guard and asked him to unlock the gate to the parking lot for me. We walked back to Amsterdam Ave. and up past the front of the Cathedral to the north lot entrance. We were about 50 yards into the lot when we heard a woman’s voice calling ... Read Full Story >>
My task was to knock on 10 doors and give them a treat -- a "reverse trick-or-treat" kindness mission! I took a wicker basket and filled it with wrapped treats, including Emergen-C Joint Health packets, ThinkThin Crunch protein bars, and Kashi Honey Oat and Flax energy bars -- all fairly healthy items. The Smile Deck Card said to knock on 10 doors, but I took it a step further and knocked on all of the 30+ doors in my apartment building. The results were on the whole quite positive. However, my ambivalence with doing this deed stemmed from my fear that the neighbors would be suspicious of someone knocking on their door inside of a gated building. This turned out to be the case with a number of neighbors, but that was part of the challenge for me -- to maintain positive, giving intentions amidst people's doubt and suspicion. I found that first ... Read Full Story >>
I was on a holiday to the Bay area. On a cold, rainy day, me and my uncle went to have some fast food. While we waited for our order to be delivered, I watched a women who came in and sat in a corner. She just sat there. I thought she was just there to take cover from the rain. A few minutes passed and I had a feeling that she must be hungry and may be didn't have any money to buy food. I just went close to her and asked her if she was hungry and that if I can buy her some food. She replied in the affirmative. So I got her some food and gave the $10 that I had with me and told her that she can have it. I could see her face light up with smile and just before I took leave of her she ... 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 >>
My son, daughter, and I have been trying to write to people in our family and friends who are going through difficult times. So, recently we decided to make personal note cards for this purpose. My children sat down immediately and wrote to my brother with cancer, my sister with a sick husband, and an elderly friend living in a nursing center. I was so proud of them for being so thoughtful! Then, my son went out of the room and I heard a lot of whispering between my daughter and him. Well, my sister was over and had mentioned that a very close friend of hers (an elderly lady battling breast cancer) was having a birthday. Knowing that she loves angels, he and my daughter found a beautiful picture of an angel online, they printed it out, and he made her a gorgeous birthday card to cheer her day. ... Read Full Story >>
I am a sales rep and I travel all over England to visit my customers. I will frequently arrange to meet a client first thing in the morning and I usually have several visits to complete in a day. One cold February morning I was due to visit a store at 9am. I parked my car, bundled my scarf around me and headed up the street towards his shop front. The small lane where his store was located was partially blocked by two large, ruddy faced workmen who were tearing up the concrete. I braced myself for the expected cat calls. I was up early, out in the cold, and probably about to be made a spectacle of by two men I didn't even know. Then I stopped and remembered that my own father. Both he and my grandfather had spent much of their early careers working outside in similar jobs before ... Read Full Story >>
A few months ago an elderly lady from our meditation group dropped and broke her favorite cane. She was quite upset because it was her favorite cane and she could not afford to buy a new one. Being a wood carver I decided I would make her one. This lady is from a Native American background and I asked her what her spirit animal was. Some Native Americans believe they are guided on their journey through life by the spirit of an animal. Her spirit animal was a crow. This week I presented her with the finished cane. The top of the cane has a hand carved, highly detailed, painted and realistic looking crow head, actual size with glass eyes. Below that is a black suede braid around the shaft of the cane tied in a fancy knot called a Turk's Head knot, From the knot hung two black feathers with wooden ... Read Full Story >>
I had been spending some time in my home town and was about to return to my workplace. Arriving at the railway station I found my train was two hours late thanks to monsoon weather. I had arrived half an hour early, which meant I now had two and a half hours to wait in the bus station. I was more than a little worried about that! I took my luggage to a bench where only one other lady was sitting. Even sitting at the opposite end of the bench I couldn't help but notice how sad she looked. Her pretty face seemed very worried. Rather than sit in silence I asked her if she was waiting for the next train. She didn't respond. I asked her again. She replied, "Uhuh. Yes." Then she wiped her eyes. I moved closer and said, "Hey dear, what is wrong with you? Why are you weeping? ... Read Full Story >>
Some time ago, a man punished his 5 year old daughter for wasting a roll of expensive gold wrapping paper. Money was tight and he became more upset when the child pasted the gold paper so as to decorate a box to put under a Christmas tree. Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift box to her father next morning and said " This is for you daddy. " The father was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction , but his anger flared again when he found the box empty . He spoke to her in a harsh manner , " Don't you know young lady , when you give someone a present there's supposed to be something inside the package ? The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and said " Oh Daddy , it is not empty . I blew kisses into it until it was full." The father ... Read Full Story >>
I went through a drive-through this morning to get breakfast. I saw a woman behind me in line. She looked really tired and had a couple of kids with her.
I pulled up to the window and told the clerk I wanted to buy her breakfast and asked him to give her my Smile card. He seemed moved and said he would.
As I was waiting to pull into traffic, I paused long enough to see the clerk hand the woman in the car behind me the card and point in my direction while she stared in disbelief.
Then I pulled out and continued on my way, my car windows open, my hair blowing in the long-awaited cool breeze, my favorite music playing. The morning seemed even sweeter than before.