Each year on November 13, I get a little giddy. To many, it’s just another day on the calendar, but to me, it’s a day of celebration – celebrating kindness, that is! Throughout the years, I’ve shared my experiences through blog posts and journal entries, trying to capture the joy of surprising others with small acts of kindness. This year was especially poignant because I was several states away in New York City!
My time in the Big Apple actually began several days prior with a huge act of kindness provided by my husband’s workplace, T-Mobile. They honored 100 of their employees who were military veterans with an all-inclusive trip to NYC which included an invitation to march in the NYC Veterans Day Parade! On the morning of 11/11, they surprised the veterans by allowing their guests to march in the parade as well. What a thrill to receive such an incredible act of kindness as a precursor to World Kindness Day!
While my acts of kindness aren’t quite as grand as T-Mobile’s (this one was over the top!), I am a firm believer that every act of kindness makes a difference, no matter how small. I was excited to get started, so the day before, I stopped in a little café near my hotel and wrote positive messages on sticky notes to place around the city. I left notes on bathroom mirrors, gift shop shelves, subway seats, and inside books.
While at the café, I discovered huge black-and-white cookies along the checkout counter which made me laugh, immediately remembering the Seinfeld episode years ago that addressed racial harmony using this cookie as an example. I quickly grabbed a few dollars and hid it behind a cookie so someone else could enjoy this sweet surprise.
I had additional surprises on World Kindness Day, one being the realization that my sweet friend, Tisha Richmond (@tishrich) was also in the Big Apple at the same time! What were the chances that friends from Oregon and Virginia would be in the same place, at the same time, so many miles from home?
Tisha’s book, Make Learning Magical, was published by Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. five months before mine and she was a wonderful mentor for my author journey, with our paths crossing several times during our book launches. It was such a joy to meet her and her husband, Russ, for coffee! Although the coffee shop we chose was closed, we were blessed to see an open diner across the street which provided space to chat and many refills of coffee. (I also made sure to snag the check before they could grab it – kindness cultivators have to be quick on the stick sometimes!)
One of my kindness stops was visiting the Museum of Modern Art. I arrived in a downpour of rain with the entrance line wrapped 3/4 around the block. While it would have been easy to grumble and complain in my frustration (after all, I had registered earlier that morning for a timed ticket), I waited patiently in line and made sure to thank each employee I encountered as the line inched forward.
At the entrance of the museum, they provided a place to store our wet umbrellas, which I thought was extremely kind. Seeing how many people stored their umbrellas here, I decided to do the same and snapped a quick photo before I began exploring the museum. Ironically, my kindness extended a bit farther than I anticipated as this was the last photo I ever took with my umbrella – it was missing from the stack when I went to retrieve it hours later. Egads!
At that moment, I was reminded of an adage I try to follow each day: “I can’t control the actions of others, but I can control my reaction to them.” Instead of getting angry or upset, I made a conscious decision to imagine a stranger choosing my umbrella by mistake and said a quick prayer that whoever had my umbrella would appreciate it in the storms of life. I then said another prayer of appreciation for sunny skies and the ability to purchase another umbrella for the loss.
While in the museum, I was drawn to my favorite artist, Vincent van Gogh. His painting Starry Night was one of the most popular exhibits with a constant crowd nearby. I was thrilled to finally make my way to the front for a closer view of this iconic painting!
I noticed a sitting bench in the midst of the crowd and decided to leave a copy of my book, A Passion for Kindness, for someone else to discover. (Every time I visit a new city, I always bring a few books to leave in random places.)
After leaving the museum, I grabbed a quick bite to eat at a local restaurant and made sure to overtip the server (although I forgot to take a photo of the receipt.)
Later, as my husband and I were visiting the American Museum of Natural History, I saw a penny souvenir machine and couldn’t resist leaving money for someone else to make a penny. Such fun! I left more post-it notes to be discovered throughout the museum with a couple of dollar bills stashed away in the kid’s section of the gift shop, too.
On the way back to the hotel, we still had $6.00 credit on our Metro subway passes, so we handed them to a stranger at our last stop. We received a huge smile and “Thank you!” in return!
Coming full circle back to my new favorite NYC café, The Times Eatery, I decided to leave another copy of my book here. Reflecting on my conversation with Tisha that morning, I decided to add a few dollars inside my book for someone else to get a cup of coffee or a muffin ($2.50 + tax). I slid the surprise on page 124 where I mentioned my favorite novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith. It was only fitting to reference New York while doing acts of kindness here!
Even though it’s been a week since World Kindness Day arrived, the kindness never stops! I’ve experienced kindness given (purchasing games on Amazon for a teacher I’ve never met to give to her students as holiday gifts) and kindness received (enjoying a delicious meal provided by my school’s PTA). The kindness boomerang continues with each positive gesture sent out into the world!
To read more about my World Kindness Day adventures from past years, visit the blog posts below. I hope you are inspired to create your own traditions as you celebrate kindness wherever you go!