Kindness Cultivator

Chapter 3 – Barbara Gruener

Share about your favorite kindness project. Which one resonates with you most and why?

Our longest-running kindness project is the Knitting Club, mentioned in Chapter 3 of A Passion for Kindness. Our most recent kindness project is the creation of our Peace Garden using the Kindness Rocks we painted in Art class alongside of those that we received from all over the nation as well as internationally. We used these rocks to create a restoration and healing spot for our students and community stakeholders who were adversely affected when Hurricane Harvey flooded our town. What incredible serenity this pathway to Peace brings, meandering through the heart-shaped creation surrounded by and wrapped up in the comfort of the inspirational Kindness Rocks which bear inscriptions like: Be Kind. You Are Enough. Kindness Matters. BE the rainbow in someone’s storm. You Rock. You are loved.

In the center of the garden, a special heart within the heart with rocks bearing the names of all of the schools that donated to the 2018 Kids For Peace Kind Coins collection. This generosity funded a new play space named the Playful Hearts Playground, adjacent to the garden, which is a permanent reminder of the supernatural kindness from all around the world that followed that natural disaster that threatened our very livelihood and lives.

What’s an example of kindness you share with others?

My mother taught me at a very young age how to cook and bake; I use this skill by sharing kindness from my kitchen. When I bake quick bread, for example, I always make a double batch with the intent to bring some to share. Maybe it’ll go in the teachers’ lounge. Sometimes it goes to NASA with my husband. Other times I put it in the mailbox for our mail carrier. We’ve shared with our mechanic, our bank tellers, the office administrators at our church, my hair stylist and pedicurist. The kids used to routinely take treats to their teachers and coaches; I often bring a plate of goodies to my former AP and teaching colleagues at the school next door.

If there’s a bake sale, kindness from our kitchen a fun way for us to contribute. If there’s a funeral, it’s a natural way for us to console and comfort. If there’s a fundraiser, a home-baked pie will generally bring a high bid. People especially like Dessert of the Month as an auction item; sweetness for the win.

What advice would you give to others who are trying to cultivate kindness in the world?

Start small; kind acts don’t have to be grand to be great. Kindness is contagious; give kind, get kind. First and foremost, model it. Beyond that, don’t leave anything as important as kindness to chance. Don’t think it’s just going to happen; MAKE it happen. Ask for the students’ help. In fact, let them lead. Plant your kindness seeds in fertile soil and prepare to experience incredible kindness as it blooms and grows. Then bask it its glow as kindness truly is the REAL global warming.

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Barbara’s Favorite Kindness Quote

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