kindness activist

kindness activist

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Relationship Kindness

So, today was the last day I was going to write a short piece about kindness for the week.  I had set a goal – one piece per day – and this was to be IT.

But the day is practically over, and I had not been inspired.  When I thought about it, I panicked a little.  I didn’t want to “fail” at this easy goal.  But if there was no kindness to write about that happened today, then no kindness story, right??

Then I realized something:  how my partner David and I treat one another is KIND.

I think of it as just “us” – I mean – it is just the way we are, the way we interact.  We have been together for 29 years, it is just “how we do”.  I don’t think either of us consciously does kind acts for the other, they just sort of happen. 

Here are the examples I thought of today:  last night I set my alarm super early.  I am NOT a morning person, but I always love it when I can get to the beach and watch sunrise.  I love it, I just don’t DO IT, because I hate waking up so early.  But last night I decided, today was the day, I would wake up and walk to the beach to watch the glorious sunrise.

Then this morning the alarm went off…

And all of the sudden, the whole idea of watching the sunrise didn’t seem that great.  It seemed downright silly, really.  And the pull of the toasty bed was very strong.  So strong, in fact, that after I turned off the dumb alarm I crawled right back into bed and announced I would watch sunrise “another day”.

David doesn’t enjoy mornings, either.  And he isn’t even all that into sunrises (crazy, no???).  But he knows I LOVE THEM.  So, do you know what he did??  Even though it was MY plan, and I don’t even think he was originally planning to get up and go to the beach this morning, he crawled out of bed and said, “Let’s go watch the sun rise today”. 

He was kind.

That was all I needed – the little nudge to get my lazy bones out of bed, throw on some clothes, and walk to the beach.  He went with me, and it was as lovely as I expected.  (Not to mention we just crawled right back into bed after we came home.)

Why don't I get up early EVERY MORNING to watch this?  
Then, this evening, it came time for him to do something HE enjoys – trimming the trees and bushes.  This is a chore he really likes.  The limbs and brush are picked up every Tuesday and David always wants to have a nice neat pile out there waiting to be collected.  But he hadn’t done any trimming this week and we are planning to be out most of the day tomorrow, so really, this evening was his last chance for the week.  So out he went – chop, chop, chop.

We had just come back from the beach and showered.  I was nice and clean.  I had on clean clothes.  Honestly, the last thing I wanted to do was start hauling branches around to the front of the house to make the pile.  But I did it, without being asked.  I was kind.  And I know David appreciated it.  He isn’t the type of person to ask for help, but that “division of duties” – him trim and me lug – works well for yard work, and I was glad to pitch in.

David taking out an old, dead bush.  He loves that stuff!

January morning - David, in his jammies, watering Trixie (our fruit cocktail tree!)
So there.  Thinking about those 2 things reminded me that kindness doesn’t even have to be a deliberate act.  Kindness can just be something that is sort of “built into” your actions, your relationships, your communication. 

Sunrise selfie 
The colors of sunrise amaze and delight me
Thanks for sharing this week of “small kindnesses” with me.  More kindness – large and small – to follow in this blog.  Be on the lookout for kindness and please share it with me!!  I would love more examples to share with the world!  Email me at:  kindnessactivist@gmail.com

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Scepter Kindness

This is the 6th short piece in the week-long drive to write one kindness story everyday about “small kindnesses” I see, do, or hear about.  This one was lovely!!

We were waiting in line at Office Depot to get some things laminated.  We noticed a little girl with a super pretty bracelet and summer dress with her mom in line ahead of us.  Little did we know that very soon we would be twirling and spinning with that girl!

But, you see, it happened…  Instead of boring elevator muzak, Abba’s “Dancing Queen” came on, and, well, when “Dancing Queen” comes on, how are ya gonna hold back???  

Click here if you wanna dance - Dancing Queen by Abba

At first, I managed to stand still.  Then I noticed the little girl swaying.  And raising her arms a bit…  And, well, the music got the best of me!  I grabbed David and we spent the time in line dancing.  We were quiet, but with our spins and dancing “beauty”, well, the little girl turned around and noticed us.  And boy, did she grin.  So, of coooourse she was invited into our groove, and she joined in eagerly!!!  She wasn’t shy at ALL.  Pretty soon the 3 of us were cutting a rug right there in Office Depot – spinnnnning and twirrrrrling and oh so synchronized.  We were great!!!!

When the song was done she smiled a huge, huge smile and said, “That was GREAT!!!”.  Turns out, dancing with strangers is a terrific conversation starter, cuz once we finished dancing we could ask her about that awesome bracelet she was sporting!

She told us her name is ABBY and she is 6 years old.  She and her mom were at Office Depot to get a pretty rainbow poster laminated for an upcoming birthday party.  She explained to us that her bracelet is part of an outfit she has that looks like one of her favorite characters, Elena of Avalor.  We had never heard of this character, but Abby told us all about one special part of Elena’s costume that she didn’t have yet – a SCEPTER.  I brainstormed with her different ideas to make a scepter – she was thinking stick or something like that, then I came up with empty paper towel roll.  We were talking about how she might paint it and what to put on the end – it was a pretty detailed craft discussion. 😊  . 

As Abby animatedly talked through all of this, unbeknownst to us, the Office Depot employee in the copy department, Kelly, had been listening in.  Pretty soon Kelly reached over the counter and handed Abby a BEAUTIFUL long, empty tube – perfect scepter making material!!!!!  Abby’s little face lit up!  What might have been trash to someone else was A COSTUME IN THE MAKING to this adorable girl.  She knew just what ball she was going to have her mom hot glue to the end of this tube, and she had blue glitter at home just waiting to be used on this project!!!

Meet Abby - the sweetest, kindness, most genuine 6 year old the world could ask for.
And isn't the tube GREAT for scepter making?
I talked to Abby’s mom about the Kindness Activist project and she told me that Abby spreads kindness wherever she goes.  She said recently Abby had cheered up a stranger at the grocery store, just because she innately knew that person wasn’t having a good day.  AT SIX, this little girl is chock full of kindness.
This is the front of the Elena of Avalor CD - isn't she a great looking princess??
And the scepter is obviously a super important part of her costume!!
This story was meant to be about the kindness of the Office Depot employee Kelly helping a little girl make the costume of her dreams, I must also applaud Abby for being a ray of sunshine and kindness for the world.

Thanks for introducing me to Elena of Avalor, Abby.  From what I see online she seems very similar to YOU – smart, a great leader, and kind. 


And to Abby’s mom – if you see this, when Abby makes that scepter, please post a photo in the comments!!!  I so want to see the shining finished product!!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Turtle Kindness

Here is today’s entry in the week-long “Write About A Small Kindness Everyday” series.  😊

Lately I have been scouring Facebook events to find fun stuff to do.  It is a great way to happen on things wherever you are – I recommend it!!  One thing I found was a TURTLE RELEASE – 2 turtles had been rehabbed and were healthy enough to get released back into the ocean today!  “Turtle Release”???  You don’t have to invite me twice, I’m there!!!

We normally go to the beach with practically nothing – just us, our hats, and sunglasses.  But we were not sure how long we would be there today so we packed the car with all of the items “reasonable” people bring to the beach (that we never do…) and headed out.

It was suuuuper hot today and the release was scheduled for 1:00 pm – meaning the sun was bright and right overhead.  We brought a “beach sheet” to lay out to sit on, but quickly realized that laying it out would be as much for holding our spot to get a good view of the turtles as it would be for resting.  We nabbed a spot right on the rope where we were told the turtle would “parade” before being set free.

We were waiting around, excited, when I noticed a woman holding a toddler in a baby carrier.  If I was hot, I couldn’t imagine how toasty it would be with a tiny human snuggled up against me!  I asked her if they had a place to sit, and when she said they didn’t offered her space on our sheet.  She was super grateful and then pointed out that it was not just her and the baby – there were 3 other adorable kids that belonged to her.  Of course, we said they were all invited to share the sheet to sit. 

Her sons were super into collecting jelly fish from the beach, and her daughter, it turned out, is a MERMAID FAN (as am I!).  Lucky I had on my “Mermaids Are Real” t-shirt so the two of us could spot each other.  😊 My new little friend and I made a mermaid connection (she has a tail, as do I!  She has been to Weeki Wachee, as have I!!!).  She was adorable.  

Just a couple of mermaid fans, waiting for turtles!
We hung out and got to see Mean Joe Green and Tamatoa get released.  It was lovely!!  David was out in the water as the two turtles swam off.  So fun!!!  We stayed and swam a while, but our new friends took off. 
I am not sure if this is Mean Joe Green or Tamatoa, but isn't he cute???

Each turtle took a quick "lap" to meet the adoring fans before being released into the ocean

All healthy now and ready to go home to the ocean!!!
There is another turtle event tomorrow evening – they are cleaning out a turtle nest that recently hatched to see if there are any live turtles still in there.  We are hoping to go to that, and I hope I get to see my friend and her family again.  I need to show her my new mermaid kite!

In the meantime, sharing our beach sheet turned out to be a super fun kind thing to do, cuz we got to meet that sweet family.

Being kind is FUN!!!
Do you have something you can share - an umbrella, some grapes, a pencil?  Seems like we shared more when we were kids...  I say it is time to bring sharing back!  It’s easy, will make you feel good, and might make someone else’s day a little easier.

Bonus photo - David got hungry and "ate" a jelly fish...  :)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Confederate Kindness

This is a story about kindness, and about making generalities, and about prejudice.  My prejudice.

Recently we were driving down the road in Florida and got passed by a vehicle.  We get passed by vehicles often, we drive sort of slow, but this vehicle that passed us was memorable.  It was a big pick-up truck, the kind up on large tires, with a confederate flag strapped to it that was flapping in the breeze.

I don’t think I said anything out loud this time, I often do, but I know that inside I felt it: disgust, resentment, anger, and a judging – that these people who would so brazenly wave such a racist symbol were ignorant, mean, and unkind.

Stock image of a confederate flag, I did NOT take a photo of the truck passing us
They drove on.

Then, at some point, the pick-up truck and our little Prius, yes, our tree hugging, politically correct hybrid, ended up next to each other at a red light.

We didn’t even look their direction.  Inside our air conditioned car we were talking or singing or something or other. 

Then they HONKED.  At us.  To get our attention.

I jumped.  And my first reaction was fear.  I was SCARED of people I didn’t even know, had never even SEEN before, because of what I perceived as a symbol of hatred being displayed by them.

My partner David was driving, and he rolled down the window to see why they had honked.  A 20-something woman leaned out the truck window, which towered above our window, and said, “Hi.  Your brake lights are out”.  She didn’t say it angrily, or judgementally, or anything negatively at all. 

She said it KINDLY.

She was simply being kind – letting us know that we needed to get our brake lights repaired.

The light changed.  We all drove on.  David and I continued talking about whatever we had been discussing, but later in the evening came back to that moment.  It turns out, he had thought the worst, too.  We had both ASSUMED incorrectly that these people would be unkind.

And we were wrong. 


It was a good lesson in not stereotyping.  And that kindness can be displayed by anyoneBy everyone.  It was a lesson I needed, and I am glad that woman took the time to teach it to me.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Art-O-Mat Kindness

This week I am going to write of one “small” act of kindness every day.  Lately I have been lax in noticing kindness, and I think by taking time to sit down and think about, then tell you about one seemingly tiny act of kindness given or received everyday, I will get back into the groove of being alert and receptive to kindness.  And I hope the stories of “little” kindnesses will help you to be more alert and notice them in your lives, too.

Day three:

Art-O-Mats*, if you have never been lucky enough to happen upon one, are old cigarette machines repurposed to dispense ART.  I am kinda sorta in love with Art-O-Mats.  We have one in DC at the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery, and I am a huge fan of it!!!  Anytime I take a visitor to that museum I make sure to take them to the out-of-the-way room that houses the Art-O-Mat, and I try and make sure my enthusiasm is clear and contagious so that they will invest in art!!

The thing about Art-O-Mats is, see, they are a SURPRISE!!  You put your money in, then choose a knob to pull, and bam, just like that, your little piece of real live art pops out!  You can have a general sense of what you are getting – there is one little space for the artist to “advertise” their work, but trust me, it is a total crap shoot.  (Side note:  once my sister Sherry and I laughed soooo hard we cried when the art I got turned out to be, well, not really something we thought was attractive…  That artwork is now proudly displayed on our mantle.  Another Art-O-Mat piece hangs in our hallway.)
Art-O-Mat in DC



My sister and I examining our choices...













Anyway, recently we went to the Appleton Museum of Art in Ocala, Florida and I was thrilled to see an Art-O-Mat!!!!  I got the required token ($5) from the gift shop and headed back to the machine to make my big decision on which knob to pull!

When I got there, 2 young girls were also intrigued by the machine.  “You have to get a token!!  You put it in there!!!  Then you pull a handle!!!!!” they excitedly told me.  “I know!  Isn’t it great???” I replied.  The three of us nervously examined all of the choices – it is so hard to pick!  One girl really thought I should invest in the “mystery” choice – whose only “sneak peek” was a bunch of question marks…  But I had my heart set on a Florida artist, and I didn’t know where the question mark artist was from, so I moved on… 

I finally decided I wanted to pull the knob of the art whose provocation was “Wednesdsay: Washday, World’s Smallest Solar Dryer” crafted by Washday Miracle Clark Houck from Deland, Florida.  (The fine print said, “Wow is it tiny!” 😊 )  My two new friends were happy with that choice. I put in my token.  And let me just tell you, those two little girls and I were psyched!! 

Can't you just feel the excitement???
Then I decided to let the little girls pull the knob for me.

Maybe that doesn’t seem like a lot to you.  And I agree, it is not a huge thing.

But, for me, it was a tiny act of kindness.  Cuz, let me just be honest here, I really wanted to pull that knob myself…  I don’t have kids, and I guess I am a pretty independent person.  And really, the fun part of Art-O-Mat machines is pulling that knob and seeing your artwork pop out…  But those little girls deserved that fun, too, so I was happy to say, “Do you want to pull the knob for me??”.

Well, I thought they would pull it together, but it turns out the older sister was maybe a bit bossy, so she pulled that sucker out on her own, which was fine, the younger girl was happy just to be a part of it all I guess.  And that older girl quickly ripped the box holding my artwork opened, and the three of us smiled and marveled at what was revealed: it was indeed the world’s smallest solar dryer!!!!

Isn’t it fabulous?

Look!!!  It is the World's Smallest Solar Dryer!  Thanks, Clark Houck!  It is terrific.
Close up, with hand for size :)
* In writing this piece I did a bit of Googling and found some info on Art-O-Mati.  You can learn more about them here:  http://www.artomat.org/

Keep your eyes open for kindness, and keep buying art!






Tuesday, July 11, 2017

SUP Kindness

This week I am going to write of one “small” act of kindness every day.  Lately I have been lax in noticing kindness, and I think by taking time to sit down and think about, then tell you about one seemingly tiny act of kindness given or received everyday, I will get back into the groove of being alert and receptive to kindness.  And I hope the stories of “little” kindnesses will help you to be more alert and notice them in your lives, too.

Day two:  We recently got a Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP) and are having a blast with it.  It is a blow-up SUP, and you pump it up using a manual pump, which takes quite a bit of work and energy.  We have been leaving it blown up so that we don’t have to keep re-pumping it, but that means lugging it back and forth to the beach. 

We live 1 and a half blocks away from the ocean.  Yes, that is very close, but when David is balancing a 10 foot long, 33 inches wide SUP on his head for the walk, it is not that easy!!  Especially because, to get to the beach, we have to cross A1A, a highway that goes down the coast of Florida and sometimes has a bit of traffic.

But you know what??  David told me that he noticed that every time he gets to A1A and is standing, SUP on head, ready to cross, traffic stops for him.  Cars give him the right of way, even though he is not crossing in a pedestrian crosswalk!  Isn’t that kind??

Thank you, random strangers driving down the road.  Your acts of kindness – stopping to let David cross – have not gone unnoticed.

David rocking the SUP - in the waves!
And now – surf’s up!!


Monday, July 10, 2017

Peachy Kindness

This week I am going to write of one “small” act of kindness every day.  Lately I have been lax in noticing kindness, and I think by taking time to sit down and think about, then tell you about one seemingly tiny act of kindness given or received everyday, I will get back into the groove of being alert and receptive to kindness.  And I hope the stories of “little” kindnesses will help you to be more alert and notice them in your lives, too.

Day one:  We stopped at a roadside produce stand.  I used to love those, but the last couple of years they tend to disappoint me.  The produce often doesn’t seem “fresh” – it looks more like someone just bought a bunch of the same boxes of fruits and veggies the grocery stores sell and laid it all out on tables on the side of the road.

And that was the case with the stand we pulled over for yesterday.  Many of the veggies had STICKERS on them, just like you find at Safeway or Wal-Mart.  Disappointing!  If I wanted regular old produce, I would get it at the grocery store… 

David did pick up a basket of oranges to make juice, even though (when asked) the “farmer” told us they were from California (we are currently in Florida…).  Ooookkkk, so once again, these are probably the same oranges we could get at any big grocery store.  Sigh.

But as we were leaving, we saw some pretty peaches.  David eyed them, then asked the old man working where THOSE came from.  “Carolina!” he replied, and then gave us a toothless smile.  “They ain’t never been chilled or nuttin’.  Just picked.”

One lovely, juicy, fresh picked, full of kindness peach
“How much?” asked David. 

“$2 a pound,” replied the toothless man.

David picked up one peach and said, “We will take this one.”  He handed it to the old man, who put it in a bag for us and handed it back to David, who was getting money out to pay. 

“It’s yours,” the old man said, and gave David a wink and a toothless grin. 

Thanks, sir.  That juicy peach is a perfect reminder to me that small gestures of kindness can make my heart happy.  

Friday, July 7, 2017

Kindness is Contagious

One of the main premises of this Kindness Activist project is:  KINDNESS IS CONTAGIOUS.  When we see kindness, receive kindness, or even hear about kindness, we are in turn inspired to go out into the world and CREATE KINDNESS – SHARE IT!  One little act of kindness can be a ripple that goes out into the world and makes more ripples – spreading, expanding, and filling the space with KINDNESS.

That is what I have seen to be true.  That is what I believe.

With that concept in mind, that sharing about kindness inspires more kindness, I set up something special on our front gate. 

We live on a very busy intersection right outside Washington DC.  Cars pass by day and night, as do bicyclists, walkers, and runners.  I wanted to see how many people would be willing to stop and get involved if they spotted THIS sign:

Kindness is Contagious sign - day one!!!
It was quite bright, neon in fact!  And it was really noticeable.  Hanging from it was a bag of post-it notes and markers, and another bag with Kindness Activist cards with contact info. 

But these days so many of us (myself included) have our heads buried in our cell phones or our minds focused on “more important” things than what is right in front of us…  So how many people would, a: NOTICE the sign, and more importantly, b: be willing to get involved and share a message???

I started by putting my own message on the board.  I invited my partner to post his.  Then I waited and hoped people would join in.

And they did!!  One of the first person to be bold enough to participate wrote this:

I couldn't agree more, Georgia (who I have never met but would like to!)
You can’t imagine how much that made me smile!!! 

I wrote about the board on Facebook, and loads of friends gave me stories of kindness to post.  So those were added!  Two friends even wrote their own post-its from afar and sent them snail mail to add to board. 

And neighbors, passersby, continued to stop and share.  Their messages filled me with joy.  With happiness.  And I guess, ultimately, the messages filled me with HOPE.  Some days it is hard to believe in kindness – when the news is all negative and the workday seems to never end.  But on those days I would pop out to the front gate and find notes like this one:

I have often thought about doing this, buying a stranger's coffee, but have never
actually DONE it.   Thanks, whoever wrote this, for reminding me what a
KIND thing it is to do, and not difficult!
 Or this one!

Hey Mike at Safeway - your kindness made a big difference in
the day of the person who wrote this note!
And look at this one!

What a great way to give back to the world.
Even kids got involved, which really made me grin.

Because to help people    :)

Once I fell down and someone helped me get up.   :)
Some were very serious:

Amazing kindness

You are lucky to have such an inspirational friend, JH.  Thanks for
being open and honest and stopping to share!

I bet your friends were happy to be able to help
Others more light-hearted:

You are VERY WELCOME!  It was totally my pleasure.
I guess, in the end, this project was a tiny bit selfish…  I am certain that I received more than I pitched in on this one – all I had to do was make a sign and keep the bag stocked with markers and paper, passersby did the amazing work of opening their hearts and sharing kindness.  Thank you, kind souls, who took time to stop and share your stories of kindness.  

This project was a tangible way to remind myself, and to share with others, that KINDNESS IS CONTAGIOUS. 

Share some today, won't you?   


And if you know of a kind person, please tell me about them!  I am looking for more stories to share so that we can spread kindness even further.  Please email me at kindnessactivist@gmail.com to share YOUR story of kindness received, given, or witnessed.  THANKS!

Thank YOU!  After all, KINDNESS IS CONTAGIOUS!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Blue Kindness

This is a story of BLUE KINDNESS. 

Today was “National Hamburger Day”.  Of course it is a made-up holiday, but when you think about, what holiday isn’t??  My partner David got a very clever message from Smashburger (an awesome burger joint) that heralded the new holiday, and offered a buy one/get one free burger offer.  That was all the nudge we needed to head out for lunch.

We went to Smashburger in Alexandria, Virginia.  On our walk in, an older man stopped us and asked if we could spare any money for the homeless, and when I said, “No, sorry” he said, “I haven’t eaten in 4 days”.

And on we walked.

Of course, as we looked over the burger menu, my heart was heavy with guilt.  How could we eat TWO burgers when that man had NONE??  Sure, we didn’t know if he was being completely honest with us, but what does it matter really?  If a person is hard up enough to ask strangers for money or food I am of the opinion that if you can help them, you should. 

So, we ordered our two burgers, then added a third for the stranger outside.  Yeah, that sort of defeated the whole purpose of going out to get a free burger, but hey…

We went outside to sit at a table and wait for our order, and the man walked over to us as if he were going to ask for money again (perhaps he forgot he had already hit us up and we didn’t give).  Before he could talk, I said, “A burger is coming out for you soon”.  That seemed to make him happy, and he backed away a bit.  A guy gave him a buck, and he popped into the Starbucks next door.

Then a police car pulled up.  I figured they were just coming for coffee.  The homeless man came outside as the cops were ready to walk into Starbucks, and they said hi to him.  He immediately became defensive, to which the officer said, “Hey, it’s ok, I just said HELLO”…  That calmed him down, but it soon became clear that the cops were there on business, and the homeless man was the business.  They explained that Starbucks had called to report him and they were here to check up on the situation.

Alexandria Police vehicle (courtesy of the Alexandria PD Facebook page)
They started asking him a lot of questions, and from his response to them it seemed clear that he had gone through this type of thing before.  He didn’t argue with them and answered everything they asked.  He did get defensive at times, and the cops would gently calm him back down. 

So here’s the thing:  police officers often get a bad rap these days.  And yes, some of the things you hear and see on the news that happen between cops and citizens are horrible.  But seeing these two Alexandria, Virginia officers interact with this homeless man was such a good reminder of how helpful, respectful, and KIND police officers can be. 

The officers were just so genuine, so caring with him.  When he didn’t have an ID, they got his information verbally.  When he seemed offended that they would run his info to see if he had any warrants, they smiled and said they were just doing their job, and though they believed him, they needed to check.   When it started to rain, they walked him over to stand under an awning to keep dry.  One officer was inside talking to Starbucks employees while the other stood with the man, and he had calmed down so much and got so comfortable that I even heard him ask, “So, who do you think will win the NBA championship???”. 

It took a while to process everything, but every time during the interaction when he got agitated, they reminded him that they were not arresting him, that he wasn’t in trouble, but that Starbucks had called him in and they needed to check out the situation.

In the end, he got barred from Starbucks.  It looked like he had been barred from other places and he knew the drill.  He was ticked at the store, said they were lying about him.  And the officers were so sweet about it.  They didn’t side with the store, they just explained honestly that hey man, even if they are lying, it is their private business and they don’t want you in there, so don’t go in. 

The officers left, the burgers came, we gave him his, and off he went.  Not sure if we will ever see him again.  But I wish we could see those police officers again to thank them for doing their job with sincere respect and kindness.  They treated that man like an equal, and it was very impressive. 

Good on ya, Alexandria PD.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Belief In Kindness RESTORED

Here is a strange thing about kindness: sometimes the most UNKIND action can, in the end, lead to a KIND ACTION.  This happened to me a couple of months ago.

We live on a super busy street corner right outside Washington DC.  I sometimes have posters and signs up on our fence for passersby to see.  But twice, signs were stolen from our property.  Twice!  The first time I was mad, but the second time I was so angry!!  I mean, these signs were not offensive, they were not blocking anyone’s view, and they were MINE, and people STOLE THEM.  Some people tried to say they might have “blown away” (no), that someone might have “liked them so they took them to put up at their own house” (ummm, negative…) or that the county might have “taken them down” (NO).  When the second sign was stolen the jerks* who took it threw the metal sign holder down a few feet away on our sidewalk and left it there!  That is not something the county would do, or someone “borrowing” the sign to use in their own yard (and, by the way, who would do that??).)  No, this was clearly vandalism, and the fact that someone could be so callous as to rip-off signs about kindness honestly made me doubt my belief in kindness as a philosophy.

First this sign was stolen.  It was made by my brother-in-law shortly after
the election when we had a sign painting/dinner party.

This THIS sign was stolen.  It only hung a few days before someone was apparently so "offended"
by it that they ripped it down (link at bottom of post to order your own sign!)
To try and sort through my own feelings, and to loudly proclaim to the haters that they had not “won” this battle of the signs, I got the paint out and made a new sign:

My "kindness fighter", David, by the newest sign.  
Yes, in this one I announced to all passersby that vandals had taken my sign, but that I still believe in kindness.

It made me feel better to hang the new sign, and I wondered if the thieves would see it and rip it off, too.  It has been hanging for over a month now and has not been vandalized or stolen (yet). 

Making and displaying the new sign made me feel a little less violated.  And then something downright amazing happened that wholly restored my believe in the kindness of strangers.  I found THIS NOTE on my porch:

ISN'T THIS AN AMAZING ACT OF KINDNESS??
And with the note, was THIS SIGN!!

No matter where you are from, we're glad you're our neighbor
(link at the bottom of the post if you want to order a sign like this one!)
A complete stranger had seen my sign, stopped, and given me a brand new sign to hang!!!  ISN’T THAT SO KIND???

I called Jessica (she had put her phone number on the note) and we talked.  What a sweetheart!!!!  I asked if I could write about her kindness here, and she agreed.  Here is what she told me:

She had bought not one but TEN signs from a man who wants to cover the city in welcoming signs. She said, “I figured I'd buy extras and give them to friends. The divisiveness in the media and during the election (and after) was really getting to me because I could only imagine how it was making some of my neighbors and friends feel. I wanted to do whatever I could to reinforce that wasn't how I felt.”  What an awesome idea – buying signs for friends to share the kindness!!  I love it!!

This is Jessica- a kind, kind person!
Jessica told me that she had overestimated how many signs she needed to give to her friends, so she had an extra one sitting in her car.  I asked how I happened to be lucky enough to receive one of the signs, and I love how she explained what happened, “I was sitting in traffic southbound on your road, and the words EQUALITY and KINDNESS caught my eye. When I read the sign, I thought how shitty it was for someone to steal a sign, so I made a quick u turn and dropped off the sign. It felt like the right thing to do, and I figured the sign wasn't helping anything sitting in my car : ) .”  I was the only stranger she graced with a sign!  And let me tell you, I was most certainly a happy recipient!   

I asked her how it felt to leave the sign on my porch.  I mean, she didn’t know me, and I didn’t know her, and here she was writing me a note and giving me a gift.  She said, “I was a little nervous. That probably sounds silly, but with the current political climate, you never really know. I figured I was doing a good thing and the worst thing that would probably happen is someone would yell at me so I decided to go for it. I was a little sad when I drove back by and didn't see the sign up and hadn't heard, but knew what I had done was coming from the right place, so I had almost forgotten about it when you called me; it was a very nice surprise.”

(What she didn’t know about me is that I am very slow to get things done…  I am sorry I made you sad by not hanging the sign right away, Jessica!  Actually, I have been nervous to hang signs, afraid they would get stolen.  But I figured out a new system to hang them more securely now so they are harder to get off the fence.  😊.)

OK, one more twist to the story.  It turns out that a couple of weeks earlier I had actually PURCHASED the exact same sign that Jessica gave me.  I bought one when the local Unitarian Universalist Church (in Arlington, VA) sent a message out offering to place a bulk order if anyone wanted to purchase one.  So, I HAD ONE, but had been too scare to hang it lest it get stolen.  I explained that to Jessica on the phone and asked if she would rather I give the sign she gifted me back to her so that she could re-gift it, or if I should pass the kindness on to someone else.  She said I should give the sign away, and yesterday the perfect opportunity to do that presented itself!!!

I was out watering plants on the front porch when a very sweet young lady on a bike stopped in front of our house.  She introduced herself as Emma and told me that she bikes by our house often and loves our garden and our signs.  We talked a while and I could tell she was a very kind woman, a neighbor who I had never had the pleasure of meeting.  Since she liked our signs, I asked if she had one of the “welcome neighbor” signs in her own yard.  When she said she did not, I asked if she would like one, and her eyes lit up.  I gave her the extra sign that Jessica had given me, and off she biked toward home to put it in her yard.  And thus, the message of kindness and acceptance spread a few blocks further in this world.

The sign found a perfect home!
I.  Love.  Kindness. 

The whole premise of this project, Kindness Activist, is that hearing about/seeing/reading about kindness inspires others to be kind.  I truly believe that.  So, go out and spread some kindness today, won’t you.  And tell me about your kindness, so I can share you story!  Send me a message on Facebook (Kindness Activist) or shoot me an email at kindnessactivist@gmail.com .  I would love to hear more stories of kindness and pass them on in the world.


Thanks!

Bonus photo!  We swung by my new friend Emma's house and she ALREADY HUNG THE SIGN!
P.S.- If you would like to order a "In This House We Believe" sign like the one that was nicked from our fence, you can find them here:  Cafe Press sign link

P.P.S. - If you would like to order a "No matter where you are from" neighbor sign, you can find them at this link:  We're Glad That You're Our Neighbor signs