Small Kindnesses

Fiona Robyn is hosting a Small Kindnesses Blogsplash today, (here is a full list of the blogs participating). Her novel Small Kindnesses (the Kindle version) is free today, so she invited others to share their stories. She explains why this way,

Kindness is a Very Good Thing. Even teensy compassionate acts help the world go round. Let’s celebrate these Small Kindnesses

It might be an extra-thoughtful Christmas present you’ve never forgotten, or the unexpected kindness of a stranger, or a small gesture that rescued you from a dark place. It might have happened this week or twenty years ago.

It might be a simple list of the small kindnesses you’ve received this week, or today. It might be a small kindness you’ve been inspired to perform. Follow your inspiration…

Ever since she suggested it and I agreed to take part, I’ve been thinking about it, all the small kindnesses, ones I’ve received and all those I’ve given away, and to be honest, kind and gentle reader, if I think about it for too long, I get completely undone by the overwhelming amount of kindness I’ve witnessed and generated in my lifetime. Sometimes I love us so much, my heart feels like it will break. I could write a thousand posts sharing all the small kindnesses, but I decided to keep it to just two, something old and something new.

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. ~Dalai Lama

A Small Kindness from Long Ago and Far Away

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved flowers. From early on, I understood their value as a gift, as a way of showing you loved someone, adored their tender beauty. Our next door neighbors, the sweetest older couple, Mr. and Mrs. Kindred (yes, that was their real name–you can’t make this stuff up), had gorgeous flowers growing just on the other side of our yard. I can’t remember exactly what all they were, but I do remember there were peonies, (whether there actually were or not is irrelevant, I remember them).

One day, at about four years old, I got it in my head that I should pick some flowers for my mom, so I did, pulling them one by one from Mrs. Kindred’s bushes. I was so proud of myself when I offered them to her, and she was horrified. She marched me next door and made me apologize to Mrs. Kindred. Of course, Mrs. Kindred didn’t mind, but she knew my mom was embarrassed and upset so she let me make my apology and reluctantly took the flowers back. However, after that, sometimes when Mrs. Kindred cut flowers, she made sure to make me a bouquet. It made me so happy that she hadn’t been mad at me, and that she remembered how much I loved flowers, that she liked me enough to give me some.

The Kindreds had a gray poodle named Puddles. He (She? it was so long ago I can’t be sure) was one of the first dogs I ever loved, and as far as I remember, s/he loved me too. The other thing I remember is how later, Mrs. Kindred got very sick and weak, and needed extra rest, so she stayed on the couch most days. My mom didn’t want me to bother her, but the Kindreds insisted that they liked me coming over, so I used to go visit her and we’d play board games (or cards, or eat cookies–good stuff). I was too little to understand, but Mrs. Kindred had cancer, and eventually died.

We all just want to be validated, appreciated, seen, loved. Remembering this story also reminds me of something Toni Morrison said on the Oprah show, “Does your face light up when your child enters the room?” because that is how they know that they are loved, how they know what is in your heart. I still remember Mrs. Kindred, her husband, Puddles, and the flowers, and how good it felt the way they smiled at me, how they where always so happy to see me. We all need that, we can all give that, even if it’s as little as smiling at our own reflection in the mirror, (seriously, try it the next time you are looking in one and see if it doesn’t make you feel just a little bit better, maybe even say “I love you. You are amazing, a beautiful, brilliant, glorious mess.”).

A More Recent Small Kindness

This summer, I went to the World Domination Summit, a conference held in Portland, Oregon. I’d first heard about it when Andrea Scher wrote about presenting the first year, A story of Yes. I was so excited (and scared out of my mind) to attend because so many people I had loved from afar, followed and read and taken classes with, were going to be there, giving workshops or speaking or simply attending like me. I would certainly see some of them, and if I could be brave, I might even meet a few.

I had no idea the magic that was actually going to happen because of an act of small kindness. Kelly Rae Roberts and Andrea Scher planned an event at Kelly Rae’s studio to kick off the weekend. So many amazing women were going to be in town, they wanted to get them all together. Andrea (and I’m still not really sure why) invited ME. Imagine, dear reader, that every person you ever wanted to meet were all in the same room together with you–this is exactly what it was like for me walking into the studio that day. It felt like I was in a dream.

I got to meet some of my most favorite women: Jamie Ridler, Courtney Carver, Jennifer Louden, Hannah Marcotti, Flora Bowley, etc. etc. It blew my mind.

come on in and sit down, stay awhile

When I say it’s a small kindness, what I mean is that it didn’t require much effort on Andrea’s part to invite me–she had the thought and sent me an email. And yet, for me it was no small thing. I was no longer pretending to be part of this tribe of women, it wasn’t just me daydreaming, I was physically in a room with them. Yes, I was so freaked out I could barely talk to any of them. Yes, it was kind of like being the math tutor that got invited to the cool kids party, or the sixth grader hanging out with the high school seniors, but I was there, that happened.

Seeing them, being invited, made me understand that my wishes aren’t so wild, that the life I want is possible, that the dream I have is so much closer than I thought. Time and time again, Andrea’s gift to me, her kindness is to expand my idea of what is possible, to inspire me to dream bigger and to have faith in my own superpowers.

P.S. Andrea is having a Cyber Monday Super Sale, only $49 for any of her classes! Just enter the coupon code INSPIRE49, good until midnight tonight.

6 thoughts on “Small Kindnesses

    1. jillsalahub Post author

      You’re welcome. They really were wonderful, Paula–considering I still remember them 40 years later! I wish every kid were lucky enough to have Kindreds.

  1. Naomi Wittlin

    Wow. I am so intimidated by those women, I’m sure my mind would be blown too. Sometimes I feel I know them so well from reading their blogs, and sometimes (like now) I compare myself to them and feel so inadequate, which I’m sure they would frown upon. Good for you!!!!

    1. jillsalahub Post author

      Naomi, it really was intimidating, but it was joyfear not pure terror–but more than that, it showed me that in so many ways, they were no different from me, that the things they were doing were things I could do, if that was what I wanted. The next time you start to compare yourself, remember like I do that you are probably comparing your bloopers to their highlight reel.


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