kindness activist

kindness activist

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Kindness Rocks

It has been over a month since I last wrote about kindness.  That feels like a big confession.  It is not that I have not done kind things during that time, and it for SURE is not that I have not witnessed kindness.  It is just that sometime I (and maybe all of us?) let “life” get in the way and get too carried away with our “to do” lists to really relax, take in, and appreciate all that is around us.

Then something slaps us in the face and gives us a big reminder that the hustle bustle, hurried life is not a FULFILLED one, and we take a step back (and a deep breath) and re-set.

So, let’s re-set, shall we?

Focus. Breathe.  Re-set.  
I want to share a story of incredible kindness with you. 

I wrote about our neighbor in Florida, Carol, in this blog a few months ago.*  She is a dear, sweet, funny, and KIND woman.  I haven’t gotten to spend as much time with her as I would like, as each time we come to Florida we fill our waking hours with home repair, remote work, swimming, and beach time, so simple things like “visit the neighbors” get overlooked. 

This summer I helped Carol clean out her laundry room.  She had a bee in her bonnet that it needed sorting, so we tackled it.  One of the things we found high up on a shelf was her collection of paints and brushes.  I didn’t know she liked to paint, so we talked about it some as we cleaned.  I told her about the popular new hobby of ROCK PAINTING.  People in many cities are now getting smooth rocks and painting beautiful scenes on them, then hiding them for strangers to find!  Isn’t that lovely?  I had been wanting to try to paint a rock, and when I found out Carol thought it sounded fun to, I put it on my mental to do list; PAINT ROCKS WITH CAROL.

Then I got distracted.  We painted the front of the house.  We went to movies.  We rode our stand-up paddleboard…  And before you knew it, our time in Florida was up and we had to drive back to DC. 

I knew Carol was sick with lung cancer, she had been for a while.  But we come to Florida every few months, and she lives right next door, so, “We can paint rocks next time I am in town,” was the excuse I gave myself.

Then we got the news from her family that the cancer had spread.  And I had crammed my calendar so full of work and travel that I could not find a way to escape to Florida.  The whole situation made me super sad.  I really, really wanted to spend time with my friend, and damn it, I wanted to paint rocks with her!

I am a member of a Facebook group of rock painters called Volusia County Rocks.  I follow their posts and am amazed by the beautiful things they paint on rocks!  They are incredible!  So, after checking with my friend’s daughter to make sure it would be alright, I made a post to the group, asking if anyone would be willing to paint a rock for my friend and deliver it to her home. 

Very quickly, messages started coming in!  It was “rockers” saying things like, “Sure!  I would love to paint a rock for your friend” and “I would be happy to take one over to her”.  My heart melted.  I couldn’t be there to sit with Carol and paint rocks, but these rockers, strangers who I have never met, were kind enough to jump in. 

I told the family to start looking outside the front door to see if anything showed up, and before long, gorgeous rocks started arriving.  Carol’s husband would bring them in to her, and they were both so pleased!!  Carol thought they were beautiful, and her husband, well, he fixated on the rocks themselves – how big and smooth they were – and surmised that they simply had to be from another state…  😊

A sea turtle!  Perfect for Florida

What a fun, happy little rock!  With a hairband! :)

A serene sea scene
We made it to town in time to see Carol.  It has been so nice to sit with her.  She has all of the rocks lined up in her “Florida room”, where she rests in a hospital bed.  Her family and hospice are taking good care of her and keeping her comfortable.  She and I looked through the rocks together, and she held one in her hand.  It made me smile to see – and made my heart sing at the thought of the KINDNESS OF STRANGERS, willing to share their art and their love with my friend.

This marbled effect is so pretty

A MERMAID!  Isn't she beautiful?

It is well.  Simply stated, and so poignant
Love you Carol.  And thank you, rockers.  Your kindness rocks.

The collection.  Kindness in the form of rocks.  
P.S. - I am not here to preach or tell you what to do, but please learn from my mistake:  make time to do the little things you want to do NOW.  Don't put them off.  

*Here is a link to the story of CAROL’S kindness, posted earlier this year:  Coke Kindness

**If you would like to get involved in painting rocks, Google and see if your area is doing it!  Many places are, and it is awesome.

***If you, like me, believe that reading/hearing about kindness is inspiring and makes you more "alert" and receptive to see it in the world, "like" Kindness Activist (this project) on Facebook.  I post stories and photos of kindness there.  

Bonus photo - sea scene with a lighthouse!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Cookie Kindness

Guys, I am so behind on kindness…  It makes my heart sad, really.  When my head (and my heart) are in a good place, a positive place, I can see kindness everywhere!  And I am inspired to DO kind things, which in turns puts me in an even better place.  Know what I mean?

But if I start feeling out of sorts, down, and buried with “life in general”, then I overlook the kindness around me.  It is as if I put on a pair of kindness blinders – I just MISS IT.  So, I, in turn, DO less kind things…  And that makes me feel even worse, even more “in my head” and consumed with “to do lists”.

It is a vicious cycle.  And it is one I need to work on breaking!  If I can just bring myself around to focus on kindness again, I know my spirits will lift and my eyes will be less foggy – and therefore my outlook on the world will be better!  I mean, that’s the whole PREMISE behind this project – share about kindness you see, do, or receive, and spread the kindness like a ripple to those who read about it.  SO HERE WE GO!

This is a kindness that I heard about way back in August, and I am just now writing about in November.  Sigh.  I apologize.  It is a sweet one and will inspire you!

My friend Vanessa was sick.  She was overwhelmed at work, had lost her voice, and was just having one of those days.  Her friend from college, Heather, was chatting with her over GChat, listening while Vanessa whined (her words, not mine!). 

Heather and Vanessa - friends for over 15 years but now live very far away from each other
Only, Heather did more than just listen.  Heather decided to cheer her friend up in a fun, silly way.  SHE SENT COOKIES!!  From all the way across the country!

Yup, cookies.  Vanessa said she was confused when a call came in and she didn’t recognize the caller ID, but she answered anyway.  “The guy on the other line said, ‘Vanessa, I’m downstairs with a cookie delivery.’  I was like, ‘Huh?  I didn’t order cookies…’ “.  So, Vanessa went to the lobby of her building and sure enough, there stood a cookie man!  The card with the cookies read, “Keep your chin up, buttercup!  Love from Wyoming!”.  Vanessa told me, “My reaction was to tear up.  Everyone has tough days that really seem silly the next day, but not everyone has amazing people who go out of their way to cheer them up.” 

Vanessa and Heather relaxing - now THAT DAY does not look stressful!
I totally agree!!  How many days do you notice a friend who is struggling, down in the dumps, and just having a tough time in general?  If you are like me, it is pretty often.  Yet not once have I thought, “I know what she needs – COOKIES!!”.  But seriously, consider it – wouldn’t ANY DAY get better with a couple of cookies??  I think so!  I had to ask Heather how she decided to treat her friend with such a swell gift, and she said, “I could tell she needed a pick-me-up.  I remembered seeing a cookies and milk delivery service in the DC area and thought, this is a perfect time to surprise her with something nice like that”.  Isn’t that the most thoughtful gesture??  I mean, flowers are nice to get and all, but COOKIES AND MILK takes the cake (pun intended).

I asked Vanessa why she thought her friend went out of her way to send the treats, and she told me, “Really, she just sent those cookies because that is who she is.  She is thoughtful, selfless, and wonderful. She is the founder of People Spread Love ( People Spread Love link) , a social movement that spreads love to individuals through simple notes of love composed by volunteers.  She literally dedicates her life to spreading love because her heart if overflowing with it, obviously.  She sends me handwritten cards all of the time, just because…  When my friend in Puerto Rico was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Heather was one of my biggest rocks from afar (Wyoming).  Ever since college this girl has brought nothing but sunshine and adventure into my life.”

I have not had the good fortune of meeting Heather in person, but just from how Vanessa describes her it is clear she is someone very special.  And listen to the kinds of things Heather does in her home town: “I do things most often in the Jackson, WY area (where I live) through the non-profit organization I started called People Spread Love. I organize random acts of kindness in the community on a monthly basis.  I give free hugs on occasion, leave Heart Reminders on trailheads, airplanes and park benches. Last winter we showed gratitude to our snowplow drivers.  We had the biggest snow fall in 100 years and we wanted to share our gratitude, so 5 volunteers and I got up at 3 am and brought coffee, donuts and held up signs to show them our appreciation. We were all pretty sleepy after that, but it was completely worth it. We have also shown gratitude to our postal workers, because they have so much stress in what they do, especially during the holidays.  So we hold up signs to show our appreciation while we wait in line for our packages.”  I don’t know about the rest of you reading this, but lightbulbs went off in my head when I heard the cool, kind things Heather and her group do!  There are so many opportunities to be kind in the world, we just need to seek them out. 

People Spread Love logo
People Spread Love looks like an amazing organization, one I want to get involved with.  The premise is quite simple as Heather explains it, “People Spread Love gave me an outlet to do kind things for people and to encourage others to do the same. The main purpose of what we do is write notes of love to those facing adversity all over the country and the world. We have Meet & Make public events where we write notes of love together as a community. The circumstances do not matter; whether you lost your job, your dog passed away, you have had a run of bad luck, you are lonely, you need appreciation for all you do, or are sick, we send love to all that need a little extra.”

How lucky Vanessa is to have such an amazing woman in her life.  Friends like the two of them – friends who are there for one another, listen, and act with compassion and love – are rare and valuable.  What I think is great is that Heather went out of her way and sent cookies on THAT DAY.  Like, it was not a horrible, no good, very bad day…  Her friend was feeling overwhelmed, grumpy, and didn’t have a voice, but it wasn’t like Vanessa had just gotten fired or received bad test results from the doctor.  It was “normal crap”, you know?  Vanessa said, “No matter how small the problem, the person experiencing it may feel it tenfold.  These little gestures are always so incredible to receive.  They also inspire those receiving the tokens of love to spread it forward.  It’s amazing what some cookies and big love can do.  Those cookies gave me a BIG AHA moment:  Work is work, my voice would come back eventually, but most importantly, I am beyond lucky to have people in my life to love and inspire me”.  I couldn’t agree more!!  You are so lucky to have a friend like Heather!

Fun times are even better when shared with great friends
P.S. – One part of this story that I thought was so funny is that the cookie order was actually wrong…  Heather had ordered CHOCOLATE MILK to go with the cookies, but for some reason the cookie guy didn’t deliver it.  So, while it all seemed so beautiful and perfect to Vanessa, in the background Heather was going, “Hey, where’s the milk??”.  😊

P.P.S. – Please make sure to check out the People Spread Love website and GET INVOLVED!  Like them on Facebook, their posts will inspire you.  Link to the website here:

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Kindness Kindness

I was the recipient of a really sweet act of kindness last week.

I was in the middle of what can only be described a STRESSFUL out of town assignment.  Many factors contributed to the stress, but the end result was me feeling frazzled and at my wits end.

Then one night my phone wiggled, and I checked my texts.  It was a co-worker, a friend, sending me an apology.  We had a rift almost a year ago - ruffled feathers.  That caused our relationship to be a bit strained, but of course we maintained our professionalism throughout it all.  But here they were, in the midst of this stress that they too were experiencing, offering a sincere apology.

I was so touched.  It was honestly very lovely.

The next morning the co-worker was seated at a table while I was working in another space.  When I came back to the table and opened my purse to get something out, I found THIS:
Kindness Changes Everything - coin purse
And I smiled.

And inside of THAT, I found THIS:

Kindness coin
And I smiled even bigger.

Apologies go a long way.  They wipe the slate clean.  They establish a new, more firm footing to a relationship.  People who offer apologies are BRAVE.  And they are KIND.

Thank you for your kindness friend.  I am grateful for it (and for you).  And I agree, Kindness Changes Everything.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Healing Horse Kindness

My friend Michelle told me a story this spring that was so inspirational.  Then “life” happened and I got distracted by summer – swimming, traveling, hosting guests…  I am sorry to say, I didn’t write much.  And not only that, I didn’t open my eyes all that widely to look for kindness, either.  And that makes me sad.

But, lucky for you and lucky for ME, I am now sitting down and putting “pen to paper” (which is a complete fabrication, because I am actually putting keys to keyboard, but that doesn’t flow as well in English, does it?).  Are you ready to be inspired by Michelle’s story??  Let me share it.

First off, here is MICHELLE. 

Michelle and nature
Isn’t she gorgeous??  I think she should model, but that is a discussion for another time.

Now, to understand that story of her kindness, you need to know about something that I had never heard of until she told me:  NATIVE AMERICAN FETISHES.  She collects fetishes, and here is how she explained what they are to me, “‘Fetish’ is a term used to describe the carvings that Native Americans believed to hold special powers.  According to Native Americans, stone animal fetishes were a source of aid to a person in a time of need.  Some examples are:
Bears are for strength and self-introspection
Frogs for fertility
Owls are protectors of the home
And the list goes on….

Michelle collects these fetishes.  She isn’t sure that she is Native American, but her grandfather believed that the family was.  Michelle would love to find out for sure though!

Michelle and her fun loving son
Another thing about Michelle, she is deaf.  And maybe because of that, and because of the difficulties communication with strangers can bring, she does not like talking to people she doesn’t know. She explained, “Being deaf, I’m always afraid I won’t be able to read their lips.  If that happens, the conversation can get awkward really fast.” 

And one last thing about Michelle before I tell you the story of her kindness, she is a private person.  She does not share a lot on social media, and I rarely see her in person.  So, I was super honored when she opened up and shared this beautiful story:

“Last year I was on a trip and had a layover in Baltimore.  I was in the pre-board area waiting to board my flight, and I notice a VERY ill woman in a wheelchair whose husband was rubbing her back.  She clearly had cancer and was in an incredible amount of pain.  I couldn’t look at her without sobbing.  I was just so heartbroken for her and her husband that it wrecked me.

I boarded the flight after the woman and sat diagonally behind her.  I watched her and I cried the entire flight.  I kept thinking to myself that I wanted so badly to help her, but there was nothing to be done.  I mean, seriously, what could I do?!  And as I was thinking that to myself, I didn’t realize I was holding my necklace and praying into it.  And that is when it occurred to me:  I was wearing my horse fetish necklace

Anyone who knows me knows that I collect Native American fetishes.  Native Americans believe that animals have powers:  buffalo for power, bears for strength, horses for healing…  It was at that moment that I knew my necklace really belonged to her.  My beloved horse had served his purpose with me and now need to go with her. 

Once I realized that I needed to give it to her, I rehearsed in my head what I would say.  I had never given a fetish to a complete stranger before, but I just knew this had to be done – she needed it.  But would she accept it?  Would she be offended??  Might she smile?  Would she throw it back at me – yell?  And if she didn’t accept it, then what would I do??  I was so nervous...

When our plane landed in New Mexico I stayed behind while she got off.  My heart was pounding so hard I could feel it in my head – I thought I might pass out.  I finally got off the plane and saw my aunt waiting for me.  I started bawling again and explained the situation to her.  She then joined my mission to help me get the fetish to the woman.

We caught up with the woman and her husband just outside security, and my aunt ran ahead to stop them and said to her, “My niece has something she would like to say to you”.  I got down on my knees next to the woman and, with a shaking voice, told her how nervous I was.  I explained how I hated seeing her in so much pain.  I asked if she knew about Native American fetishes and their meaning – she did not.  I put the horse in her hand and told her that horses are known for healing powers and strength, and that this horse belonged to her now.  I looked at her husband, who was ready to cry, and told him to keep taking such great care of her.  Then I looked back at the frail woman, closed the horse in her hand, and told her to be well.”

Isn’t that such a beautiful story of kindness???  Michelle took time to notice, to show compassion, and to act.  So often we see others in pain and we think, like Michelle did, “What can I do??”.  Most of us stop there.  Michelle was amazingly kind in sharing of herself, her horse, and most importantly I think – her genuine compassion and feelings.  I think that she not only made the woman feel loved, but I am sure that the husband was also deeply touched.  I wouldn’t be surprised if that couple has told the story of “the nice woman with the horse in the airport” many, many more times than Michelle has!

A genuine heart and a kind soul
Michelle told me, “I was sobbing on the plane.  But when I actually spoke with the woman, I didn’t cry at all, I held it back.  When we parted ways, I started crying again.  After I gave the necklace to her, I felt every bit of tension leave my body. This was a truly different experience for me.  It touched my soul.  I felt like I truly, genuinely did something good for someone.”

I agree 100% Michelle – you did do something good, something amazing.  Michelle said, “Her husband never said a word, he just listened and cried.  And the woman tried to take in everything I was saying and just said, ‘Thank you’.  I could see the smile behind the pain in her eyes.  I didn’t want to drag out a conversation with her.  I just knew this had to be done – that horse belonged to her.  I knew if I didn’t do it, I would regret it.  Words didn’t really need to be said.”

Michelle, thank you for your kindness.  You are an inspiration.  May we all work to be as aware, as compassionate, and as kind as you.  

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Little Gestures Mean A LOT Kindness

Do you ever have “those days”?  I think we all do…  Days when stuff just doesn’t feel “right”?  Maybe nothing major happens – you don’t find a dent in your car, you might not be late for an appointment or anything, but it just doesn’t feel like YOUR DAY…

That is the sort of day my friend Sharaine was having recently.  She was feeling a bit out of sorts, a bit down, when out of the blue, a cashier made a big impact.

Sharaine (photo obviously taken on a day she was feeling great)
Sharaine was shopping at Smith’s, a local grocery store where she lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Sharaine is deaf, and when she checked out she used her voice to speak and her hands to sign to ask the cashier, Dawna, how she was doing.  Dawna replied, “Wonderful!”, to which Sharaine said, “Oh, that is a terrific answer!”. 

Dawna finished ringing up the groceries.  She tore off the cash register receipt, folded it, then did something odd – she came around the counter to personally hand it to Sharaine.  Only, as she handed over the paper, she gave Sharaine a BIG HUGA hug!!!!! 

Well, that was certainly something that had never happened to Sharaine at the grocery store before! 

And instead of being startled, or scared, or upset, Sharaine returned that big hug.  I wish I had been there to witness it – the cashier and the customer sharing a Wednesday afternoon hug!

Sharaine sent me a message telling me about the incident, and told me that the hug really made her feel good.  It brightened her day.  She told Dawna, “You have no idea how much I needed that,” to which the cashier replied, “I needed it more”.

Who knew the power of a single hug?  Sharaine sure does now!
It is such a SMALL gesture, a hug.  But offering a hug takes guts!  You never know how a hug will be received.  And when a hug is perfectly timed, like this one was, it can make a world of difference.
I was so happy to hear Sharaine’s version of the story, but I really felt the urge to talk to the cashier, Dawna, and get her take on it.  Hilariously, I had a ridiculously hard time reaching her.  I am on Eastern time, and she is on Mountain.  I called the grocery store where she works on about 8 occasions asking for her, trying at all different times of the day.  Each time, the people who answered were super sweet and put me on hold to page her or hunt for her.  But each time they came back with, “Nope, she is not here right now, sorry”. 

Sorry I kept calling and having you hunt for Dawna, people at Smith's!
But Sharaine surprised me one afternoon by texting and telling me that she just saw Dawna again at the store (and that she was wearing a “Be Kind” pin, not surprising!), and told her I was trying to track her down. Sharaine facilitated an exchange of phone numbers, and I finally got to talk to Dawna.  And let’s just say, I was very, very impressed but not surprised at how KIND she was, even just on the phone.

First off, I had to know – was Sharaine the only person she hugged, or is this “a thing” with Dawna??  Lucky for the customers at Smith’s, Dawna gives out hugs by the handfuls!!  She explained, “I interact with at least 200 people a day when I work.  I hear so many stories every day.  People love to share if you have the time (and take the time) to LISTEN.  I like to listen!”

Dawna!!!  Doesn't her smile just radiate KINDNESS???
I asked Dawna, who has worked for Smith’s for 14 years, what made her decide to give Sharaine a hug that day.  She told me, “I believe that was the first time I have hugged her.  I could just feel the sadness in her for some reason.  Some people don’t like to voice their feelings, but I could just FEEL it.  So, I gave her a hug.”  Having spoken with Sharaine, I knew how she felt about the interaction, but how did it make Dawna feel?  “It made me feel WONDERFUL.  It was…  I don’t know if SHE needed it, but she RECEIVED it.  That is the wonderfulness I am talking about.  She embraced it, and that made me happy.  And, she said, ‘thank you’.”

Talking to Dawna made me wish I lived in Albuquerque so that I could shop at Smith’s and go through her line!  I surmised that shoppers search for her and go through her queue on purpose, and I was right.  “People get in my line and it gets backed up, but they do not want to move to another line.  Managers sometimes get upset, but it is quite funny.  I want everyone who comes in to grocery shop to walk out feeling GOOD INSIDE.  Now, they might not be too happy that they just spent $300 on groceries, but they feel happy that they feel good inside!  When I am not working sometimes customers ask for me.  I tell them, ‘I need a day off every now and again!’ .”

You know how some people are more “in tuned” to the energy around people than others?  Dawna definitely is.  She is good at reading people, tuning in.  “I don’t have to engage people if they do not want to talk.  I say, ‘Good morning’ and leave it at that.  But a possible conversation can ensue.  I see so many people during the day.  Of course, management wants us to scan groceries fast and get people out the door, but if my customers have something to tell me, I want to hear it.  I want to give them the respect of listening to them.  I may never see them again, but they leave knowing that I LISTENED.  It is all about giving people respect.  That’s all it is.  I don’t care who you are or what kind of day you have had.  If you need to say something, I am here to listen.  And some days I leave work so drained.  But I go home and “plug in my heart to recharge it”.  I think a lot of it is the  Holy Spirit working.”

Albuquerque Kindness
Sharaine noticed Dawna had a Kindness button on that said "Be Kind", so I asked her about it.  She says the simple act of wearing the button can “disarm someone with fire in their eyes”.  She reports that just wearing it can de-escalate a bad situation, because when people see it, it helps them calm down.  “Maybe they have been stuck in morning traffic, dealing with their kids…  But seeing the pin, with just 2 simple words, Be Kind, can change the focus of their day.  Seeing the button makes them take a breath.  It sends a message without saying a word.  Hopefully, it will inspire them to chill out a little bit,” she explained.  

Well Dawna, soon you will have a 2nd button to wear next to that one.  Your “Kindness Is My Super Power” pin is on the way to you!  And honestly, you are an amazing Kindness Activist and the perfect Ambassador for Smith's.  Your store, your managers, and most of all, your CUSTOMERS are lucky to have you around!

Your new button is on the way!
Thanks for being a KINDNESS ACTIVIST.  Your genuine interaction made a big difference in Sharaine’s day, and hearing about the story made a difference in mine.  I am going to seek out opportunities to be brave enough and open enough to listen to people and offer hugs. 

What about you, will you do the same?  The world could certainly use more hugs.

Do YOU know someone who has done something kind?  Please tell me about them!  Email me at: and “like” us on Facebook (Kindness Activist).

THANKS for telling me your story, Sharaine!  I love it.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Coke Kindness (and a bonus "Kindness Tip"!)

This is Carol.  She is part of the “James and Carol” duo that are our neighbors in Florida.

Carol, a very kind neighbor (and aren't her sunflowers pretty?)
(Photo of Carol, in a pink shirt, glasses, earrings, and a cross necklace.  She is standing
in  front of her house and next to her is a bright yellow, very tall sunflower.
David and I have been working in the hot sun and humidity for the last 2 days, digging dirt away from the base of the house, scraping paint, cleaning the cinder blocks, and putting on a primer coat of paint.  It has not been easy.  In fact, it has been downright TOUGH!!

I never realized how much painting the house would be a workout
(Photo of Susan, in a blue tank top and grey and white shorts, scrubbing the side of the house.
She is wearing yellow cleaning gloves, safety goggles, and a hat.  The house has chunks of paint missing.)
But today when we were halfway through the primer coat, over walked Carol.  And she was not just coming to see how our work was progressing – she was bringing us 2 cold Cokes!

Break from painting to DRINK A COLD COKE - ahhhh
(Photo of David in a School of Theater Mason Players t shirt,
 holding a paint brush with white paint on it while drinking a Coke.)
That might seem like a small gesture, but it sure was appreciated.  The chilly drink cooled us down and the caffeine and sugar gave us a much needed energy boost to keep on painting. 

Little gestures like that don’t cost a lot of money.  They don’t take a lot of time.  But they can sure go a long way to help someone else have a good day.

That’s today’s story of KINDNESS, and now here is a little kindness tip from an exhausted house painter: if you are walking or biking by someone’s house and you see them outside working hard – be it painting, roofing, replacing gutters, WHATEVER - pause and give them a little holler.  A simple, “Hey, looks great!” might be just the thing they need to hear.  Heck, even if it doesn’t quite look “great” yet, that little white lie won’t hurt a soul 😊

Thanks for the Cokes Carol!  Next time I see a neighbor working hard on their house, I will think, “What would Carol do?” and deliver them an ice cold treat.

Oops - I leaned against a part I had already painted...
(Photo of Susan on a ladder up by the eaves of the house.  She has a big plop of
white paint on her leg and is holding a paint brush, making a funny face.)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Lunch Time Kindness

This story of kindness makes me smile so big.  It is an act of kindness I have heard about, read about, even WROTE about near the beginning of this project* (see link at the bottom of this post), but this is the first time I was (almost) around to witness it!!

Ryan and Beth were in a restaurant eating lunch.  They were working at a conference, and had taken their hour-long break to grab a bite to eat.  But before you can understand the act of kindness and how cool it was, you need to understand Ryan and Beth and how cool THEY are!  Smiley face**.

Photo of Ryan and Beth seated and smiling.  Ryan is wearing a green short sleeve t shirt and Beth is wearing a short sleeve dark green shirt.  Beth wears glasses and a silver bracelet.  They are at a table in a restaurant.***
Beth is Deaf.  She lives in Seattle.  She is a “PAP” – Professional Access Provider.  Basically, that means she provides full communication and access to someone who is both Deaf AND Blind, a person who is known as DeafBlind.  Beth does many things in her PAP role – guiding, interpreting menus, interpreting conversations, traveling with a DeafBlind person – she does a LOT.  One thing she does NOT do is HELP.  She is not a HELPER, she is just there to facilitate the independence of the DeafBlind person.  And trust me, if you met her client Ryan, you would understand that he is not looking for HELP, smiley face.

Photo of Beth seated, smiling.  She is wearing a bright orange shirt that says "St.. Lucia"
Ryan is DeafBlind****.  He also lives in Seattle and is who Beth was working with on the day that this kindness occurred.  He communicates via tactile sign language, or preferably via "pro-tactile" - which conveys not only the WORDS that are spoken, but the visual environment and the non-manual responses of those around him (like head nods).  Ryan is wicked smart.  The things you and I “cheat” and look at our cell phones to confirm (you know, like someone’s phone number, the address of where we are staying, a credit card number…) – yeah, Ryan has all of that stuff MEMORIZED.  He communicates using American Sign Language (ASL) and braille.  His cell phone syncs with a Bluetooth braille reader, which gives him access to everything you and I take in with our eyes. 

Photo of Ryan.  He is standing outdoors, wearing a black shirt and smiling.
There are green trees, grass, and a light in the background.
So, on the day this kindness occurred Ryan was working at a booth at a conference and Beth was supporting him.  They took their lunch break, and when I saw them after they ate they were both smiling from ear to ear!!!  I talked with them to ask what made them so happy, and here is what they told me:

Beth: “I was with my client, Ryan.  He and I were wondering what to have for lunch and we decided on the Mexican restaurant, Mi Casa.” 
Ryan: “We wanted chicken salad, but couldn’t find any good looking salads, so we settled on MiCasa, where we had eaten a couple of days before.  We were hungry and pressed for time.”  
Beth:  “When we were finished with lunch, Ryan asked the waiter for the check and was told that the man who had been seated at a table behind us eating and had left had ALREADY PAID FOR US!  We both thought, ‘What???’.  Ryan asked the waiter who paid – what the person looked like and what his name was.  The waiter wrote down the person’s name and gave it to us.” 

How did it make you feel when you realized he paid, I asked.
Beth:  “At first, I was kind of shocked.  Then I thought, “Man, that was totally out of the blue that he paid for us!”.  But it felt good.  It gave me shivers.  I thought, 'How generous for someone to do that!'."
Ryan:  “It was really unexpected, shocking, and nice.  It was a BIG PLUS! It was really inspirational.  I thought it was so nice of him to buy our meal!  It was a very unexpected random act of kindness.”

After they told me the story of what had happened, I could see that they really wanted to THANK this man.  Also, I wanted to make sure he knew how touched they were that he had treated them!  So, I set about FINDING him!!  We had his name from the slip of paper the waiter gave them, so I started where any amateur Private Investigator would start – FACEBOOK!! 

As luck would have it, the secret stranger has a super long (12 letters!) last name, so even though the waiter actually wrote it down wrong and skipped one letter, I FOUND THE MAN ON FB!  I could tell from the name, location, and job description that he was likely our guy!  I did a bit more detective work (part of which was walking around trying to read name tags of conference attendees, but that idea didn’t help much, grin).  But asking at the registration desk was very effective, and resulted in an email getting to the man asking him to come to Ryan’s booth.

Sure enough, about an hour later, up he walked!!!  He was very humble and a bit shy, but happily accepted Ryan and Beth’s profuse thanks.  He was also happy to receive an official KINDNESS ACTIVIST pin (which he said he would give to his daughter). 

The BEST PART of getting to meet the Kindness Activist was learning WHY he had paid for their lunch.  You might imagine it was because he saw them and wanted to “help”.  Or maybe because he is the type of person who likes to “pay it forward”.  But no – he bought them lunch, he explained, because they had helped HIM the day before!!!  He had come up to their booth (which was promoting Sprint IP Relay*****) and asked questions.  Ryan had answered them so well and explained the product he was representing so thoroughly and clearly that the man just wanted to quietly “thank them” by picking up their check!!  Isn’t that great? 

When I asked Beth why she thought he bought them lunch, she said, “I think just out of the goodness of his heart, really.”  Because the stranger paid "in secret" and because we only met him after I hunted for him, I will keep him anonymous and not call him out by name in this story.  But I am very glad we got to meet him!

I asked Ryan and Beth if that had ever happened to them before, that a stranger paid for their meal.  Remarkably, they BOTH had experienced it previously!  “This is the 2nd time this has happened to me, but this one was even more touching,” said Beth.  “The first time it happened was when we ate out and paid for some people from church.  When someone saw we had done that, THEY paid for us!  But this time it was totally out of the blue!”  Ryan said, “This wasn’t the first time it I had experienced something like that.  I had my meal paid for another time this month, too!”.  I told him this must be his LUCKY MONTH – smile. 

Like so many acts of kindness, this one inspired the recipients.  Beth said, “I think that next time we go out to eat we need to “pay it forward” and buy someone else’s meal.  We can inspire them!”  Ryan agreed; “Yes, this inspired me to pay for someone else’s meal, too.  I would rather pay for a disabled person’s meal”, to which Beth added that she, as his Professional Access Provider, can be on the look-out for a disabled person in a restaurant while they are eating.

I have a feeling that someday soon the “Ryan and Beth team” will be secretly picking up a stranger’s tab. 

Kindness – it just keeps on spreading!!

*Link to the previous piece in Kindness Activist about paying for a stranger’s meal:  Waffle Kindness

**You may have noticed that instead of using “emoticons” in this piece, a description of the emoticon was written out.  That is because people who use braille do not have access to emoticons.

***You may have also noticed that the captions on the photos for this post are descriptions of the photos.  That is so that people who are blind/low vision and use braille or a program that reads text aloud for them (a screen reader) can visualize what is shown in the photo.

****For more information about DeafBlindness, check out this link:  AADB FAQ 

*****More information about SprintIP, the product Ryan was promoting, can be found here:  SprintIP