Sunday, May 30, 2010

Toy Packages

"It is not the magnitude of our actions, but the amount of love that is put into them, that matters." -- Mother Teresa

Idea of the Week

"I have a soft spot in my heart for the young and the elderly. A few days back, my husband and I went out for lunch. We sat across from what I assumed were a father and daughter, sharing a meal together. Before returning to the car, I stopped at one of the gumball and candy machines located near the exit. I placed two quarters in the machine and out came a plastic ball containing a toy. With toy in hand, I went back and placed the toy in front of the little girl and said, "Have a nice day!" She smiled big and said, "Thank you!" I hope that made her time with her father a little more special.

Today's Tip: Thank a member of someone who is in the service or who has family that is serving. Be thankful for all they do to shed their blood to keep our country free and our nation blessed.

Don't forget to check out the latest summer book Sing on my other blog Heart 2 Heart.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A New Kind of Hero

This video does not come accompanied with sound but the picture is worth more you'll know. See just what this dog does for his Act of Random Kindness in Alaska.

Today's Tip: Do something nice for you pet today, take them out on a special walk, the beach or just extra play time.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Doing Our Part to Reduce Waste

Good News of the Day:
"Any time I throw something away, I think of you." It sounds like an insult, but to Amy and Adam Korst, it's a typical compliment. Since July 2009, the young couple have been on a quest to answer the question: "Is it possible for a couple to live an entire year without placing trash in a landfill, in a country that produces more waste each year than any other country in the world?"

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American produces 4.6 pounds of garbage every day. By this July, the Korsts will have kept one ton of garbage out of the landfill. And they still enjoy comfortable 21st century lifestyles: buying groceries, enjoying restaurants, and working as a teacher and photojournalist. "It's a typical misconception that in order to be an environmentalist, you have to give up everything you love," Amy explains. "I want people to feel like they can do something for the environment and not lose their creature comforts, and live a completely normal life." [ more ]

Be The Change:
Test out Amy and Adam's tips for reducing waste: [ more ]

Thursday, May 27, 2010

How Blessed We Truly Are

Sometimes, we don't know how blessed we are until we get a little perspective.

Here goes: If we could shrink the earth's population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following. There would be:

57 Asians

21 Europeans

14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south (that includes us here in the United States).

8 would be Africans

52 would be female

48 would be male

70 would be non-white
30 would be white

70 would be non-Christian
30 would be Christian

89 would be heterosexual
11 would be homosexual

6 people would possess 59% of the entire world's wealth and all 6 would be from the United States.

80 would live in substandard housing

70 would be unable to read

50 would suffer from malnutrition

(ONE)1 would be near death;

(ONE)1 would be near birth;

(ONE)1 (yes, only 1) would have a college education;

(ONE)1 (yes, only 1) would own a computer.

When one considers our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for acceptance, understanding and education becomes glaringly apparent.

And, therefore . . .

If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.

If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.

If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful, you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.

If you can read this message, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.

As you read this and are reminded how life is in the rest of the world, remember just how blessed you really are!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

FREE Bike?

Here is a great story about how our kids can even be a part of doing random acts of kindness. Enjoy and let's get the momentum going!


A couple of weeks back, my friend had a yard sale, and she offered to sell some of our stuff for us. I thought it would be a good opportunity to clean my 7 year old son's room and get rid of some toys that he had long outgrown. We agreed that whatever we sold in toys would be his money.

The night before the sale, we loaded up the truck with toys and a little bike that he was now too tall for. He had taken the bike for a final spin before we left home but happily put it on the truck for the sale. This little bike had had at least 2 previous owners that we knew of. It was not in the best shape and it certainly was not shiny new but it was still a bike, and the tires were still good.

We put a price of $10 on it but it didn't sell. So, after the sale was over, my friend put it on the sidewalk with a sign that said "FREE BIKE" . Within five minutes her doorbell rang. A little boy was standing there. His English was not very good but he asked if the sign was right...was the price of the bike really free? She said yes, she said that he could have it for nothing. He smiled, hopped on the bike and rode away.

Later that evening when I told my son how much money he had made at the yard sale, he was very excited. Tomorrow we were going to take the money to the bank. He asked about a few of his things, wondering if they sold. When he asked about the bike, I told him about the little boy that he had made smile because he got the bike for free. The grin on my son's face was truly priceless, much more than when I told him how much he had made. He was so thrilled to hear that someone else would get good use out of that little bike.

The bike was given to us, so in this way, I guess we got to pay it forward!

Today's Tip: Consider doing something similar and offer some FREE things to children who really can't afford much. Watch the smile pay it forward for you!

Check out a great pre-teen book today on my blog Heart to Heart. Click here to view it. While you're there also enter two giveaways that will end this week.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Coupon Blessings

"Never get tired of doing little things for others. Sometimes, those little things occupy the biggest part of their hearts." -- Author Unknown

Idea of the Week

"I frequently get clothing store coupons in the mail, and usually, I end up tossing them out. But this week, when a friend asked me to accompany her to the mall, I had an idea: why not take the coupons with me and go to those stores and give them to someone making a purchase? I'm sure this is not a unique idea, but we had a lot of fun doing it and shared in the joy of knowing that we we made a few people smile by saving them some money :)" -- Anonymous

Don't forget if you're interested in participating in my Bible Study for Mondays, click here to visit my main blog Heart2Heart.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Giving In A Big Way

Here's another wonderful way to spread some love to those hardworking restaurant employees if you are daring enough to try it. I got this email this morning and had to pass it along. Author Unknown. Enjoy!

On Labor Day last year my husband went out for a meal at a restaurant. After we had finished, I asked him if he'd ever given a waiter/waitress a 100% tip. He gave me this funny look (probably because he was thinking about how much our dinner added up to be!) and said he hadn't.

I said that since it was Labor Day and our waitress was working this holiday, it would be fun to give her a 100% tip and see what her reaction would be. He told me I was crazy but agreed anyway!

Our dinner bill came to $32.18 so that's the exact tip we left, $32.18. We tried to hand her our dinner bill folder but she kept telling us to leave it on the table and she would get to it. So we left and we never got to see her reaction. I wondered off and on, and still do to this day, what her reaction was to that tip. I wondered if she would be confused? But then I realised it doesn't matter that we didn't see her reaction - just making the decision to leave a 100% tip was such an awesome feeling and I don't even miss the $32.18! It was worth every penny.

Try it sometime yourself!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Feeling Inspired?

Want to feel completely inspired? Watch this and leave your comments!

If it loads slowly, click on the video itself and watch it directly from YouTube!

Free Meals?

Good News of the Day:
Dawn Frierdich stood at the counter. Surrounded by the rich aroma of freshly baked breads, pastries, and cookies, she finally settled on three loaves of bread and an iced tea. But when it came time to pay, her cashier, Mike Miller, redirected her to the donation jar on the counter. This week, Panera Bread Company, a national bakery and restaurant chain, launched its new nonprofit store in Clayton, Missouri with the same menu as its 1,400 other locations. But the prices are a little different- there aren't any. Customers are told to donate what they want for a meal, whether it's the suggested price, a penny, or $100. This new store is the first of what Panera hopes to be many around the nation. And based on the success of similar experiments, their prospects are high. Salt Lake City's One World Everybody Eat restaurant has been running on the honor system since 2003. "It somehow stays in balance," says One World restaurant founder Denise Cerreta, "I think people are ultimately good. They want to contribute." [ more ]

Be The Change:
Trust in others: Use the honor system in some aspect of your life today.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

God of Second Chances

Check out this amazing video of Carlos Whitaker singing God of Second Chances when a homeless comes along to join him.

Today's Tip: Offer to donate your time or some personal belongings to a homeless shelter and offer someone a second chance to change their life.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

City Repair

Come see how the city of Portland, Oregon neighbors are taking back their neighborhoods and streets and making them places to gather and celebrate!

Today's Tip: Consider what you could do in your neighborhood to help make it a better place!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tips on Sleeping Better!

A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow. --Charlotte Bronte

Tip of the Day:
If sleep has plunged to the bottom of your to-do list, you're not alone. Although the National Sleep Foundation recommends getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night, the average American logs only 6 hours and 40 minutes. But before turning to over-the-counter medications, Karen Asp recommends eight natural remedies that can soothe anxieties and help you get a good night's sleep. She introduces unorthodox remedies like wild lettuce, which is known to calm restlessness and reduce anxiety, or L-theanine, an amino acid that boosts daytime alertness and deeper nighttime sleep, to help in catching those zzz's. Other remedies include melatonin, aromatherapy, yoga or meditation, and valarian. [ more ]

Be The Change:
If you're having restless sleep, try out one of these remedies.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Course in Miracles

Here is a great story I got in my email tonight. Enjoy!

Arriving in a new city last Thursday, I had the strangest first week of graduate school. I fell and broke my leg within 48 hours of arriving there! I was really amazed by the kindness shown by my new room mate, someone who I had only just met. "We are family now", she said when she found me lying in my room with a swollen leg, unable to move, in a strange city with no family except across three oceans.

She took me to the student health center by cab to get my leg examined. The cab driver was so nice and said to me how lucky I was to have a friend like that. After that, my roommate didn't stop helping me - she made me amazing meals and brought them to and made me comfortable despite my insistence that I could do things on my own. When I protested, "I really like helping people", she said , "I believe what goes around always comes around..." and this was from someone who I had been paired with randomly!

I was seriously touched by the kindness of everyone - the girl in the elevator, people on the bus, the doctors and nurses - people who were so considerate and concerned. Feeling lonely and homesick, so many blessings I never expected came my way.

The small acts stayed in my mind - the bus shuttle drivers gave me the luxury of being picked up from any point where and made sure I could get the connections to wherever I needed to go... or the many people who held the door open for me - small things that were incredibly hard with crutches. In whatever way I could, I tried to repay the universe for its blessings.

Inspired by a story I read on DailyGood (the man who does magic with his crutches), I tried to make people laugh. I made a ton of silly jokes about my situation - ranging from "it's good practice for the ski season" to "I think my brain kind of took the term 'Fall Semester' too seriously" ! Either to other people or even in my mind I tried not to complain a single time about what happened. I clowned around with my crutches and tried not to feel bad about my leg even though I was in a lot of pain.

"I'm so proud of you", the nurse said, "We don't have many students who are so cheerful after a bad fall." I began noticing other students on crutches - I never knew there were so many students with broken legs! I tried to be very considerate towards them now that I was in the same situation. I took time to smile and chat with a paraplegic girl in a wheelchair who I noticed always ate lunch alone.

I realised soon enough that pain can be diminished by mental strength. The metaphorical value of using crutches and getting rid of them soon enough was not lost either. I could see that although for some time I was using physical crutches, there are a hundred of mental crutches I desperately cling on to. Sometimes the worst situations are also sometimes blessings, chances to witness great kindness from the universe.

Like the quote by Einstein, "You can move through life seeing nothing as a miracle, or seeing everything as a miracle." My first week of grad school, I was made to attend a class that I never signed up for - A Course in Miracles.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Little ARKs All Around Us

The best portion of a good man's life is his little, nameless unremembered acts of kindness and of love. --William Wordsworth

Inspiration of the Day:
In the wake of a hurricane, Beverly Jordan goes door to door, delivering emergency relief. At one dilapidated house, the young owners respond to Jordan's arrival by offering a bag of diapers and five bags of food for her to pass on to others in need. In his senior year of college, Peter Strupp finds himself penniless, seeking refuge in soup kitchens, and unable to afford his rent. The night before he plans to tell his housemates of his departure, one housemates stops him alone in the kitchen and hands him a check for the next month's rent. Before Strupp can respond, his housemate blurts, "Don't pay me back." Acts of kindness and generosity come in different forms, and have many unseen, long-lasting ripples. These encounters with good deeds are gems that color our lifetimes, as well as ou legacies. [ more ]

Be The Change:
Take a moment to remember a little act of of kindness that you've witnessed in your own life.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Birds and Mailboxes

I got this in an email this afternoon and really wanted to share this with all of you. Acts of Random Kindness can happen anywhere.

Just this afternoon before posting this, I noticed our bird feeders were out of bird seed, so I thought I would go outside and wash down all the dropping off the patio. While doing this I noticed as I moved past one of our feeders a flapping of wings. I thought it was odd that this bird didn't fly away as soon as I passed.

So I stopped watering and noticed the poor little bird had his head stuck inside one of the holes on the feeder. He had tried to back his head out and got his beak stuck in the process, like his head down. I quickly got a screwdriver and unscrewed the opening for the feeder and gently pushed his beak back into the feeder. Once I did this, he was able to easily pull his head out, and quickly flew away. So there is my simple act that God brought to my attention today. They are all around you if you only look. Here the example I got in my email today:

I was on my way to the post office. I hadn’t found a parking place on my first pass up the street and was now making a left turn into a small parking lot in order to loop back towards the post office, in effect accomplishing a U-turn legally. It’s a tight space and there’s a mail box set up right inside the lot so people can pull in, roll down their window and reach out to stick a letter into the box without getting out of their cars.

As I completed my turn into the lot, I saw a four-door Buick pulled up alongside the mailbox in front of me. I would be delayed while the driver ahead reached out to put mail into the mail slot.

I happened to be in a high-energy mode and at first was impatient as I watched the hand tentatively trying to get a small package into the mailbox. But as I watched the ineffectual groping, I began to find it interesting. It was impossible to see the driver through the rear window, but I could barely make out the dim outline of a head that reached just above the seat. Part of the problem, it soon became apparent, was that the arm was too short. But also, there seemed to be a problem with motor skills. The hand balanced the package and gave it a weak fingertip push toward the mail slot. Nothing doing. The package now twisted to one side where it teetered. This prompted a crude stab at securing another grip on the package. No luck. And then it was falling and on its way to the ground. By this point, I’d been rooting for the drama’s successful conclusion. And it was a tiny shock to see the package disappear under the car.

For a moment my mind just came to a stop and I sat there a like a stump. But suddenly, a light went on; I realized I could jump out of my car and grab that package myself and stick it in the mailbox, probably quicker than the mystery driver could. And instantly, something inside just lit up. I knew I had to act fast, otherwise the opportunity would be gone. The driver in front would struggle out of her car and start looking around on the ground.

I flung my door open and in a few quick steps had bent over and retrieved the package. It was surprisingly light, I noticed. And as I stuck it into the mailbox, I looked in through the driver’s side window where I saw a very elderly woman smiling up at me.

I smiled back as she said “thank you. “ Heading back to my car, I saw there was another car that had pulled in behind me, a little sports car with a young woman at the wheel. She had watched the whole thing. The moment our eyes connected she gave me a big thumbs up. It was a total ambush of positive energy. This only served to bump my already good feelings about how things had unfolded a couple of notches higher. It all happened so fast. It was like getting hit with two quick judo-joy-chops. I drove out of that little parking lot with a huge smile on my face. So that’s how generosity creates abundance, I thought.

So what act of random kindness did you complete today?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

An Unlikely Angel

"Watch out! You nearly broad sided that car!" My father yelled at me. "Can't you do anything right?"

Those words hurt worse than blows. I turned my head toward the elderly man in the seat beside me, daring me to challenge him. A lump rose in my throat as I averted my eyes. I wasn't prepared for another battle.

"I saw the car, Dad. Please don't yell at me when I'm driving."

My voice was measured and steady, sounding far calmer than I really felt.

Dad glared at me, then turned away and settled back. At home I left Dad in front of the television and went outside to collect my thoughts. Dark, heavy clouds hung in the air with a promise of rain. The rumble of distant thunder seemed to echo my inner turmoil. What could I do about him?

Dad had been a lumberjack in Washington and Oregon He had enjoyed being outdoors and had reveled in pitting his strength against the forces of nature. He had entered grueling lumberjack competitions, and had placed often.

The shelves in his house were filled with trophies that attested to his powers.

The years marched on relentlessly. The first time he couldn't lift a heavy log, he joked about it; but later that same day I saw him outside alone, straining to lift it. He became irritable whenever anyone teased him about his advancing age, or when he couldn't do something he had done as a younger man.

Four days after his sixty-seventh birthday, he had a heart attack. An ambulance sped him to the hospital while a paramedic administered CPR to keep blood and oxygen flowing.

At the hospital, Dad was rushed into an operating room. He was lucky; he survived... But something inside Dad died. His zest for life was gone He obstinately refused to follow doctor's orders. Suggestions and offers of help were turned aside with sarcasm and insults. The number of visitors thinned, then finally stopped altogether. Dad was left alone.

My husband, Dick, and I asked Dad to come live with us on our small farm. We hoped the fresh air and rustic atmosphere would help him adjust.

Within a week after he moved in, I regretted the invitation. It seemed nothing was satisfactory. He criticized everything I did. I became frustrated and moody. Soon I was taking my pent-up anger out on Dick. We began to bicker and argue..

Alarmed, Dick sought out our pastor and explained the situation. The clergyman set up weekly counseling appointments for us. At the close of each session he prayed, asking God to soothe Dad's
troubled mind.

But the months wore on and God was silent. Something had to be done and it was up to me to do it.

The next day I sat down with the phone book and methodically called each of the mental health clinics listed in the Yellow Pages. I explained my problem to each of the sympathetic voices that answered in vain.

Just when I was giving up hope, one of the voices suddenly exclaimed, "I just read something that might help you! Let me go get the article."

I listened as she read.. The article described a remarkable study done at a nursing home. All of the patients were under treatment for chronic depression. Yet their attitudes had improved dramatically when they were given responsibility for a dog.

I drove to the animal shelter that afternoon. After I filled out a questionnaire, a uniformed officer led me to the kennels. The odor of disinfectant stung my nostrils as I moved down the row of pens. Each contained five to seven dogs. Long-haired dogs, curly-haired dogs, black dogs, spotted dogs all jumped up, trying to reach me. I studied each one but rejected one after the other for various reasons too big, too small, too much hair. As I neared the last pen a dog in the shadows of the far corner struggled to his feet, walked to the front of the run and sat down. It was a pointer, one of the dog world's aristocrats. But this was a caricature of the breed..

Years had etched his face and muzzle with shades of gray. His hipbones jutted out in lopsided triangles. But it was his eyes that caught and held my attention.. Calm and clear, they beheld me unwaveringly.

I pointed to the dog "Can you tell me about him?"

The officer looked, then shook his head in puzzlement. "He's a funny one. Appeared out of nowhere and sat in front of the gate. We brought him in, figuring someone would be right down to claim him. That was two weeks ago and we've heard nothing. His time is up tomorrow.." He gestured helplessly.

As the words sank in I turned to the man in horror. "You mean you're going to kill him?"

"Ma'am," he said gently, "that's our policy. We don't have room for every unclaimed dog."

I looked at the pointer again. The calm brown eyes awaited my decision. "I'll take him," I said..

I drove home with the dog on the front seat beside me. When I reached the house I honked the horn twice. I was helping my prize out of the car when Dad shuffled onto the front porch. "Ta-da! Look what I got for you, Dad!" I said excitedly.

Dad looked, then wrinkled his face in disgust. "If I had wanted a dog I would have gotten one. And I would have picked out a better specimen than that bag of bones. Keep it! I don't want it" Dad waved his arm scornfully and turned back toward the house.

Anger rose inside me It squeezed together my throat muscles and pounded into my temples. "You'd better get used to him, Dad. He's staying!"

Dad ignored me. "Did you hear me, Dad?" I screamed.

At those words Dad whirled angrily, his hands clenched at his sides, his eyes narrowed and blazing with hate.

We stood glaring at each other like duelists, when suddenly the pointer pulled free from my grasp. He wobbled toward my dad and sat down in front of him. Then slowly, carefully, he raised his paw.

Dad's lower jaw trembled as he stared at the uplifted paw. Confusion replaced the anger in his eyes. The pointer waited patiently. Then Dad was on his knees hugging the animal.

It was the beginning of a warm and intimate friendship. Dad named the pointer Cheyenne. Together he and Cheyenne explored the community. They spent long hours walking down dusty lanes. They spent reflective moments on the banks of streams, angling for tasty trout. They even started to attend Sunday services together, Dad sitting in a pew and Cheyenne lying quietly at his feet.

Dad and Cheyenne were inseparable throughout the next three years. Dad's bitterness faded, and he and Cheyenne made many friends. Then late one night I was startled to feel Cheyenne's cold nose burrowing through our bed covers. He had never before come into our bedroom at night. I woke Dick, put on my robe and ran into my father's room. Dad lay in his bed, his face serene. But his spirit had left quietly sometime during the night.

Two days later my shock and grief deepened when I discovered Cheyenne lying dead beside Dad's bed.. I wrapped his still form in the rag rug he had slept on. As Dick and I buried him near a favorite fishing hole, I silently thanked the dog for the help he had given me in restoring Dad's peace of mind.

The morning of Dad's funeral dawned overcast and dreary. This day looks like the way I feel, I thought, as I walked down the aisle to the pews reserved for family. I was surprised to see the many friends Dad and Cheyenne had made filling the church. The pastor began his eulogy. It was a tribute to both Dad and the dog who had changed his life. And then the pastor turned to Hebrews 13:2. "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it."

"I've often thanked God for sending that angel," he said.

For me, the past dropped into place, completing a puzzle that I had not seen before: the sympathetic voice that had just read the right article....

Cheyenne 's unexpected appearance at the animal shelter. .. ..his calm acceptance and complete devotion to my father. . and the proximity of their deaths. And suddenly I understood. I knew that God had answered my prayers after all.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A New Way to Enjoy Green!

After a day's walk everything has twice its usual value. --George Macauley Trevelyan

Fact of the Day:
Ever feel happier when you enter a park or nature setting? Just five minutes of exercise in a 'green space' such as a park can boost mental health, researchers say. In the latest analysis, UK researchers looked at evidence from 1,250 people in 10 studies and found fast improvements in mood and self-esteem. Study leader Jules Pretty of Essex University suggests, "Employers, for example, could encourage staff in stressful workplaces to take a short walk at lunchtime in the nearest park to improve mental health." Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, also points out that green exercise could can provide low-cost and drug-free therapy to improve mental well-being. "We would like to see all doctors considering exercise as a treatment where appropriate." [ more ]

Today's Tip:
Go for a walk during your lunch break.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Coffee Drinkers Picking Up The Tab

Birmingham area coffee shop customers perform random acts of kindness, pick up others' tabs

Posted by Rahkia Nance--Birmingham News April 13, 2009 6:15 AM

Random acts of kindness are popping up at Birmingham area coffee shops, as customers are anonymously picking up others' tabs.

Sharon Dierking was at a Starbucks on U.S. 280, placing an order for a mocha frappucino. When she pulled up to the window, the barista told her the driver in the car ahead of her had paid for her order.

"I was completely dumbfounded," Dierking said, "but I was thrilled."

Dierking wanted to return the kindness to another, but her car was last in line. A few days later, she was able to pay it forward at a Starbucks in Inverness.

"It makes you feel good and it brightens your day," she said.

Random acts of kindness are popping up at Birmingham area coffee shops, as customers are anonymously picking up others' tabs.

Stacie Elm, a barista at an Alabaster Starbucks, said a line of five cars recently paid it forward. Customers are in a bit of disbelief when they discover their order has been paid for, she said. "Most are like, 'You're kidding.'"

But the shock gives way to generosity as people are compelled to pass along the kind gesture.

Baristas at Starbucks shops in eastern Birmingham, Hoover and Vestavia Hills also reported episodes of paying it forward -- actually, backward, since the person in the front car paid for the person's order in line behind him.

A Starbucks spokeswoman said the Seattle-based company promoted a Cheer Pass program in 2007, designed to remind customers to spread kindness. However, the pay-it-forward phenomenon is "consumer-driven," she wrote.

And kindness comes in more forms than a cup of coffee. Dierking said she saw the practice once at a grocery store when a stranger paid for groceries that a woman could not afford.

The Pay It Forward Movement was launched in 2000 by Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of the book "Pay It Forward." The phrase refers to the concept of repaying kindness by doing kind things for other people.

The book later inspired a movie. Hyde was inspired to write the book after two strangers helped her when she was stranded on the side of a California road and her car caught fire.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Kindness from a Homeless Man

Once again another moving story from an email I got over the weekend. Enjoy!

This is a story that happened 15 years ago but it has always stayed with me since then.

On the way back from work every evening, more often than not there would be a homeless man standing at the exit of the freeway. He looked to be in his late 40's but was probably a lot younger. He had shoulder length straight black hair a short beard, and he was of average stature.

His eyes were what struck me the most about him, they were brown and they had a sparkle. Like an inside light that was beaming out of his eyes.

His eyes, I thought, represented the man in general. People say they can tell a lot from a person’s eyes. It was certainly true in his case. He always waved at every car, he was always happy and smiling and sometimes almost dancing.

Every day after work I would remember to gather any spare change, and put it aside to give to him if I saw him. A feeling of joy would come over me every time I saw him, as I came off the ramp. He had that effect.

I’d quickly roll down my window and give him the coins.

Occasionally the red light would be on for a minute and we would ask each other about our day. His answer would always be the same, “I’m blessed!”.

I knew what his answer was going to be every time, yet I would still ask. It amazed me that even in his situation of being homeless he was so positive, and his answer would remind me of how blessed I was.

A single mother of four amazing kids, with a place to call home and with a job to provide for my kids.

Then one day I was called into my boss’s office and was told that I was being laid off due to the economy. A feeling of worry engulfed me, and for the rest of that day all I could think of was “how am I going to provide for my kids, how am I going to pay rent, what am I going to do?”

Needless to say that on my way home that day I was very sad and upset. I didn’t remember to look for my spare change and keep it ready like I usually did. I wasn’t feeling the joy as I got off the ramp where the homeless man would be. Yet there he was as always, as I turned the ramp. He set his eyes on me, while still smiling and waving at others.

I’d hoped to catch the green light, but I missed it. While I was waiting for the red light to turn, he strolled over to my car. He had a big smile he looked me straight in the eyes and said “today I will give you a dollar”. He then reached into his pocket and pulled out a dollar bill. I was blown away. I burst into tears. I wanted to jump out of my car and hug him!

You see that day he gave me more than a dollar bill, he taught me a valuable lesson.

No matter what material things are taken from you, no one can take away your choice to be joyful. My ride home was smooth sailing, I had lost my job, had no savings, but I knew I was blessed!

Every time I’m faced with challenges, I think of the homeless man’s valuable lesson and remember that I am blessed.