kindness activist

kindness activist

Monday, January 23, 2017

Knit Hat Kindness

If you have read any of my writing you can pretty much figure out which “team” I am on.  I try not to look at the world in such black and white terms, but I guess this is a time where to tell the whole story clearly I need to announce that I am proud to be a bleeding heart liberal feminist.  My friends all know that, so they assumed that I would be going to the Women’s March in DC on January 21.  I mean, it was taking place practically in my backyard.

Women's March logo
Only, quietly, I knew I was not going…  I hadn’t talked about it.  I hadn’t really even formulated the reasons for skipping it in my own head.  But I was not going. 

I wasn’t scared to march.  I wasn’t apathetic about the issues.  I was very worried and concerned about the election results.  I was EXTREMELY nervous about the rights of women, immigrants, people of color, and the LGBTQ communities being hurt by the new administration. But I just could not find the motivation, the SPARK, to march.

A friend asked if we might be able to house his girlfriend and her friend who were coming for the march.  “Sure,” I said, knowing I myself wasn’t going (but not telling him that) but thinking, “We can drop them off at metro and they can go march”.

People talked about what they were going to write on their signs.  People went on about how excited they were to march.  People were booking hotels, buying plane tickets, ordering t-shirts and buttons, and I was quietly, dully going about my daily life.  I know part of it was a general malaise, perhaps a depression, about the state of the country.  I felt lost and helpless, and I wasn’t sure what showing up on the national mall with a handmade sign the day after inauguration would do to change any of that.


Do I know Karen from Chicago?
I asked my partner, “David, do you know someone named Karen Hoyer from Chicago?”.  He confirmed that he knew her, and that she is a clown in children’s hospitals like he is.  Here is the post she tagged me in:

      “Susan Thompson-Gaines(2 more people tagged) are you going to the Washington Women's               March? I am at a knit-a-long to make PussyHats for women to wear - Would you wear it if I sent           it to you? (You can say "no I have a hat already" and my feelings won't be hurt!                            

Yes, out of the blue, a woman who at the time I thought was a complete stranger (but it turns out I had met once in Chicago) was offering to HAND KNIT ME A PUSSY HAT.  I was NOT planning to march, and I had been feeling rather on the fence about the whole idea of the pussy hats, but then suddenly someone I do not know offers to make me one, and that act of kindness was the nudge I needed!!!

Seriously, from the time she asked if I would like her to make me a hat, I was 100% in.  I don’t know if it was the “invitation” I needed to feel included, the nudge in the butt I deserved to get in action, or what, but it WORKED. 

Let’s be clear:  I do not knit. I am in awe of anyone who can.  Many people who made hats for the march poo-pooed the idea that they were difficult.  “Oh, it is nothing!”   “I can make one lickety-split!”  “Those hats are so easy!”. 


To someone who looks at a ball of yarn and wonders how in the hell THAT could ever turn into a sweater, I tell you that KNIT HATS ARE AMAZING.

Karen in her hat on the way to the march in Chicago!
So just like that!  Karen gave me the nudge I needed.  One afternoon I peeked out on our porch to find a little manila envelope with my very own pink hat inside.  It fits well.  It is warm.  It is lovely.  And it is powerful.

My hat, my sign, my main squeeze, and my capitol in the background.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR KINDNESS, KAREN.  When I marched, you marched.  The issues you told me that you care about: equal pay, reproductive rights, freedom of the press, a ban on handguns, and poverty are also issues that are close to my heart.  I appreciate your nudge.  The march was something I NEEDED, but I didn’t even know it.  Spending the day jam packed on the National Mall with millions of diverse, caring, passionate people was a spark that ignited a fire in me.  My shoulder blades are as sore as can be from holding my sign up high all day, but every time I feel a twinge of pain in them it makes me smile.   

A sea of humanity, dotted by little clouds of PINK everywhere you looked.
You, Karen Hoyer, are a Kindness Activist.  And you are #WhyIMarch  

A marcher in DC - isn't her sign awesome?

Friday, January 13, 2017

Coffee Kindness

Today's Kindness Activist won't be shown in photos in this piece, because I just happened upon her and didn't get any photos.  Rats.  But she deserves a shout out here, so that she will get!!

I am on a mission to use my Starbucks "January Tumbler" as best as I can!!  It was a gift from my nephew and nephew-in-law and I love it.  It is a special Starbucks cup that you can bring into any Starbucks location and get a free tea or coffee every day in January!!  Isn't that the coolest??  I love it and have made it my goal to get a refill every single day in January at a different Starbucks (well, except January 1, I got the cup that evening so didn't get to use it that day...).  Today is January 13th and I have filled the cup 12 times in 6 different states!!  I am taking a photo of every fill (you are not surprised, are you?).  In the pictures I am using sign language to show what number fill I am on.  Here is today - fill 12!

January Tumbler fill #12!
I am in Omaha right now to celebrate my nephew Jordan's wedding (he and his fiancĂ© are the ones who gave me the cup).  Things are hectic - tonight is the wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner and the wedding is tomorrow.  But that doesn't mean I am going to miss a Starbucks fill!  So this evening we rushed to the nearest Starbucks, which happened to be at 17396 West Center Road in Omaha.  I rushed in and got in line.  The two gentlemen ahead of me were ordering a small coffee.  There was a bit of a language barrier with the person placing the order, I am not sure what his native language was but it was not English.  The other man with him seemed to be mentally disabled and stood by patiently waiting.  When the barista, Messy, gave them the total ($2.14 I think), the man took out a small Ziploc baggy filled with change, mostly pennies.  He started to put coins on the counter and slowly count out enough money for his purchase.

Messy smiled at him and told him, "It is ok".  He did not understand this kind sentiment, that she was trying to politely tell him he did not need to pay.  So he continued to count change, slowly.  Messy smiled again and said, "No, no, it is alright.  There is no need".  He still did not understand, so she told him, "I will get this for you.  It is only one coffee.  It is fine".  Her smile was so genuine, so KIND, not at all judgmental or demeaning. He understood, thanked her, and went to sit at a table, drink the coffee with his friend, and count his coins.

This type of kindness - pure, genuine, and respectful - is so needed in our world.  People like Messy make the world a much better place, and not just for the men who felt welcome in that establishment, but for people like me who get to witness the kindness. 

Keep your eyes open friends.  The world feels quite dark and scary these days but kindness is still all around.  It might take a while to see it, but trust me, it is there.  And when you see it your heart feels lighter and your day gets better.

To coffee.  To KINDNESS.  And to love. 


Sunday, January 1, 2017

.06 Cents of Kindness

The other day we discovered the DOLLAR TREE.  Or the Dollar Store.  Or Family Dollar – it was something like that.  I have heard people rave about it, and we had walked though one before but I hadn’t found anything except what looked like expired crackers and really flimsy plastic plates…  But this time, oh man, this time we found TREASURES!  And get this, everything was ONE DOLLAR!  We were so excited that I giggled out loud as we roamed up and down the (somewhat messy) aisles. 

We ended up with a little stack of items, mostly prizes for a game I am planning.  But we also found 4 little dishwasher soap pods (I wonder if I got a regular sized bag and did the math if this tiny bag was a rip off or not, but no matter, I was thrilled to find a Barbie sized bag of dishwashing pods!).  I also got some super cute little wooden doll furniture that I want to paint for a tiny friend.  Anyway, we liked the Dollar Store experience a lot, so when we passed by another Dollar Store, I said, “Let’s pop into that one, too!” (this behavior could really make you late for lots of appointments if you live in Florida, since there seem to be varieties of Dollar Stores at most busy intersections…).

Check out the new shirt I got for Christmas!  Isn't it fabulous?  And I was SECRETLY wearing it the night we were at the Dollar Store!  It wasn't meant to be a secret, but I got chilly and pulled a sweater over it so the cool shirt was hidden. 
At that second Dollar Store we picked up one item – David fell in love with some round fake Tupperware containers and just had to have them.  We checked out, and he majestically presented his dollar bill to pay for the big purchase.  Only, we had forgotten TAX.  He owed $1.06, and he had no change at all.  Drat.  So, he did what we usually do, pulled out a credit card to pay for it that way.  Only, the sweet cashier said, “That’s okay, I have 6 cents, I will put it in.”  Isn’t that kind??  But guess what?  The lady in line behind us was ALSO KIND!  She said, “Here, I have 6 cents for them,” and paid the cashier!!  We didn’t know her at all, hadn’t even seen her as we shopped.  But she was happy to pay the tax for us, complete strangers.  I promptly pulled out a Kindness Activist button and gave it to her!!

The moral of this story is:  6 cents isn’t much in the grand scheme of things.  But that 6 cents that she gave us sure made me HAPPY.  It felt like such a kind gesture.  So, if you are ever in line behind someone who needs a buck to complete their purchase, might I suggest that you pitch it in?  Trust me, the receiver will be thankful and happy.  And I bet you will feel mighty darn good for doing it.

First beach day of 2017 - Happy New Year!
Happy New Year Kindness Activists.  May 2017 be a year full of KINDNESS.