Nicole J. Phillips
There is a wedding dress out there that's just missing its bride. Could it be you or someone you know? I got this letter from Gail Richardson, who is keeping the gown until the perfect bride steps forward.
People often ask me about maintaining their safety while pursuing a brave and kind life. How do we know if we're supposed to give a homeless person money, or stop to help the car on the side of the road? My answer might sound flippant, but I mean it sincerely: follow your heart. If your heart says "stop," then stop. If your heart says, "Not this time," then take that as a cue to keep moving. A husband and wife were on the same page as far as hearts go when they recently came across a person who needed someone to see him.
Have you ever heard anyone say, "Oh yay! I get to go to the hospital!" Other than the occasional pregnant lady, I doubt it. I imagine, like me, you're glad you have access to quality medical care, but hope you don't have to use it very often. However, many times we find the greatest kindness when we are physically or emotionally wounded and can finally get the help we need.
Some people say I have a new book out. I say you have a new book out. Two years ago, I took 100 of my favorite kindness stories, the ones you have been sending in since 2011, and I put them in a book. We called that book "Kindness is Contagious: 100 Stories to Remind You God is Good and So Are Most People." The stories came from people all over the country who either gave kindness or received it at just the right moment. Some of the stories make me laugh and some of them make me cry, but they all move me the way they moved the people who first experienced them.
Are you on the treadmill? Do you wake up each day knowing there are more things to be done than could actually be accomplished? Does it feel like everyone needs a piece of you? When I begin to feel that way, I know it's time to close my eyes.
Have you ever had kindness show up just when you needed it? If your answer if yes, when you've finished your morning coffee, please send me your story. That's what this column is all about. We share stories of the kindness you've given and how it made you feel, or the times a kind act happened when you needed it the most. Kindness has the power to change the way we see people. It has the ability to break through our hard shells, because we want to help another human the way someone else has helped us. Kindness becomes contagious when it connects with gratitude.
FARGO — Can you remember what you got for your seventh birthday? How about your eighth? Ninth? Maybe there's one special present that stands out, but for me, it's all pretty fuzzy. It's not the big celebrations or occasions that I remember from my childhood. My brain chooses to hold onto things that are much more random. For instance, I remember when I was about 9 or 10, my mom would drive me to the "big city" to run errands. We lived in the little town of Reedsburg, Wis., and Madison was about an hour away.
FARGO — Did you have a good summer? People ask each other that question all the time, but this time, I hope you'll take a moment to think about it. What moments of your summer mattered? My guess is they were the ones that were filled with kindness. When we show up in people's lives and notice them and love on them, we take an otherwise ordinary day and make it extraordinary.
FARGO — Life is often made in the margins. Those are the little segments of time on our calendars we don't have planned. They are the 15 minutes before we need to be out the door to our kid's soccer practice, the 30 minutes before our next meeting or, in the case of the woman who sent in the following story, the hour before we pick up a friend. If we use those gaps of time well, the life we create can be filled with joy we could never map out. "Hello Nicole,
FARGO — There is something to be said about being in the right place at the right time. It feels fortuitous, almost like someone is watching out for us or that our interactions are predetermined. But instead of hoping to be in the right place at the right time, I long to be more aware of my surroundings. I want to be attentive enough to the people around me to know when they need a helping hand or an extra dose of generosity.