April 30, 2009
it’s been awhiiiileee. but hey, i got something in the inbox and true to my word…here’s someone’s story of kindness to share. feel free to share yours!
dated february 26, 2009:
When I was coming to Romania from New York on Christmas, on the way I spent a few days in Dublin, and over there on the way to the airport I met an Italian Girl who moved to Ireland to learn English, and she was so excited I was coming from the US where I got an education that we had a experience sharing our stories to each other.
So I gave her my favorite book in English as a Christmas present.
October 29, 2008
in keeping count of kind acts done unto me or stories retold to me, i am going to keep the same tally. the first feature at #1 was unnamed muni bus driver for the 24 divis line. i’m happy to announce barack obama as #2. no – he didn’t hit up my email inbox personally – thank you to sukari for the forward :)
also, many thanks to leisha at http://leishacamden.blogspot.com for the translation.
excited my busy bee butt found some goodness to share with yall.
The Norwegian newspaper VG has reported a truly amazing story about a newly-wed trying to get to Norway to be with her husband, and the stranger who helped pay an unexpected luggage surcharge. The blog “Leisha’s Random Thoughts” has translated the story.
It was 1988, and Mary Andersen was at the Miami airport checking in for a long flight to Norway to be with her husband when the airline representative informed her that she wouldn’t be able to check her luggage without paying a 100 surcharge:
When it was finally Mary’s turn, she got the message that would crush her bubbling feeling of happiness.
-You’ll have to pay a 103 dollar surcharge if you want to bring both those suitcases to Norway, the man behind the counter said.
Mary had no money. Her new husband had travelled ahead of her to Norway, and she had no one else to call.
-I was completely desperate and tried to think which of my things I could manage without. But I had already made such a careful selection of my most prized possessions, says Mary.
As tears streamed down her face, she heard a “gentle and friendly voice” behind her saying, “That’s okay, I’ll pay for her.”
Mary turned around to see a tall man whom she had never seen before.
-He had a gentle and kind voice that was still firm and decisive. The first thing I thought was, Who is this man?
Although this happened 20 years ago, Mary still remembers the authority that radiated from the man.
-He was nicely dressed, fashionably dressed with brown leather shoes, a cotton shirt open at the throat and khaki pants, says Mary.
She was thrilled to be able to bring both her suitcases to Norway and assured the stranger that he would get his money back. The man wrote his name and address on a piece of paper that he gave to Mary. She thanked him repeatedly. When she finally walked off towards the security checkpoint, he waved goodbye to her.
Who was the man?
Twenty years later, she is thrilled that the friendly stranger at the airport may be the next President and has voted for him already and donated 100 dollars to his campaign:
-He was my knight in shining armor, says Mary, smiling.
She paid the 103 dollars back to Obama the day after she arrived in Norway. At that time he had just finished his job as a poorly paid community worker* in Chicago, and had started his law studies at prestigious Harvard university.
Mary even convinced her parents to vote for him:
In the spring of 2006 Mary’s parents had heard that Obama was considering a run for president, but that he had still not decided. They chose to write a letter in which they told him that he would receive their votes. At the same time, they thanked Obama for helping their daughter 18 years earlier.
And Obama replied:
In a letter to Mary’s parents dated May 4th, 2006 and stamped ‘United States Senate, Washington DC’, Barack Obama writes:
‘I want to thank you for the lovely things you wrote about me and for reminding me of what happened at Miami airport. I’m happy I could help back then, and I’m delighted to hear that your daughter is happy in Norway. Please send her my best wishes. Sincerely, Barack Obama, United States Senator’.
The parents sent the letter on to Mary.
Mary says that when her friends and associates talk about the election, especially when race relations is the heated subject, she relates the story of the kind man who helped out a stranger-in-need over twenty years ago, years before he had even thought about running for high office.
October 9, 2008
ok. let me reiterate: anything i do from here on out, unless otherwise stated, will be totally noncommittal. haha! no promise on consistency dudes – but i will let the wind move me. deal? deal.
over the course of the 30 days project i had some folks do some really dope things for me. i had meant to write about them but keeping up with the regular posts proved to be challenge enough. so now, as i wait for you all to send your stories to me…*nudge* … i’ll try and share other folks’ good deeds here.
nice person i know #1: unnamed muni bus driver for the 24 divisadero line
today. i was late to work for the billllllionth time or so. and i mean…i’ve crossed all thresholds of shamelessness…pretty much everyday. but there’s one threshold i’ve tried to at least diligently avoid – the 10am mark (mind you i’m supposed to be at work between 8.30-9am. not.)
so yeah, that 10am mark was hella about to happen. everyday when i get off the elevator pathetically late, i say: bismillah ir rahman ir rahim, which in arabic means in the name of God the most Merciful the most Kind. i always fear that today will be the day i’m fired for being so late, again :D so i say this phrase as i get off the elevator every morning so that if i do get fired, i can feel a little better that God maybe willed it since i started my descent from the elevator in God’s name. hahaha – yeah, i’m weird.
anyway. i run up to my bus stop (i’d walk to bart, but – i’m always late) to find the 24 divisadero bus stopped in front of me. it never turns onto mission so i figured maybe it was the 14 mislabeled or something. the doors open and some passengers get out. i look up at the bus driver hopeful that my hypothesis is correct. she looks back at me like, “nah, dude” aka “this the 24, buddy.” i’m looking forlorn at this point – picture this expression amidst my sleepy ass looking half awake – so it’s that half ‘i care but don’t care’ expression…since i’m so tired. ahhh, limbo.
the bus driver ends up feeling sorry for me, i think – so she asks me where i’m going. “24th and mission” i tell her. she tells me she’s going down to 25th anyway so if i don’t mind walking a block – get on. i still didn’t get why the divis was going down mission, but whatever – i got on.
turns out she was at the end of her shift and was going back to return the bus. so – i also happened to get “express” service – straight shot to my destination, no stops.
was hella late, still. but maybe 10+ minutes less late. i did beat the 10am mark (if it wasn’t for my bus lady, i otherwise probably would have shamed even myself).
i got to make faces at the baby on bart, though. lip trilling and grunt competitions ensued.
started off my morning so wrong but so right.
October 8, 2008
yes. i delayed for almost a week on the last post. sincere apologies. i wanted to initially do something else for the last post but wasn’t able to find time to do it. so, i decided to get off my laggin behind and write about another simple yet very relevant topic instead. i had such a steady flow – had to mess with the forces for the last day, huh?
i hope you all enjoyed the journey with me. i have never ever posted every day for more than a few days or so straight…in my life. it was very much a challenge: coming up with an idea for a different act everyday, making sure it was doable within my schedule, doing it, and then taking the time to write a thoughtful post about it. but it was very rewarding in many ways; a lot of fun times that indeed felt like “missions.” and also very interesting to constantly be so conscious and reflective of my actions.
thank you so much for all the positive feedback. it was amazing to hear that the blog inspired folks to pay it forward and do some kind acts of their own! definitely was a (hopeful) goal. your participation in this process has made everything all the more meaningful no doubt. so thank you thank you thank you for your support and smiles :)
the rehes is trying to maintain her facade of being ultra-busy lady (i.e. maybe teaching myself to be productive in other departments), so the frequency of my personal posting here is questionable. i will try to post something in regards to acts of kindness or general inspiration/positivity now and then, if that is of interest to folks. i still haven’t figured out the model for the next project…but it’ll be hosted here as well – everything TBD/TBA/alla’that.
but. but. buttttttt!!!! i would love to post your stories up here. acts of kindnesss you’ve done, have been done unto you, or that you have observed. peep the “submit” section on here for a bit more detail. feel free to email me with any ideas or musings or stories ;)
a lotta lotta lovinnnnnnn,
October 8, 2008
- pay a stranger a sincere compliment
i’ve been meaning to do this one for a while, i’ve done it very casually a few times this month, but decided to write about this particular occurence. it was nothing crazy at all:
this past friday marked the near-close of a tiring week. i can’t say i was in the best mood. i was probably in a non-mood mood. yeah, one of those. i had run out of the office to do something or another and on my way back up to my box aka cubicle i found myself in the elevator with another young lady.
she had on an off white sweater and this awesome periwinkle colored scarf. she looked so comfy. and the colors went so well…felt light and airy. so i decided to tell her: “i really like your scarf and how it complements your sweater.” she beamed, “thank you!” as she tossed a part of her scarf up in the air, “i always get compliments on this! i got it for like $15 at gap!”
yessssss. the victory of a random cheap find complimented. isn’t that the best? my little dropling of goodness garnered yet more happy energy from miss lady and in turn made me smile aaaaannnd the circle of goodness thus continues. rock out.
complimenting strangers, friends, acquaintances, and sometimes even people i don’t quite like much – really anyone – is a habit i formed a while back. it’s kinda like – why not? i mean, even with people you don’t particularly like or have consistently had awkward social encounters with, a compliment seriously goes a long way. try it: next time, tell that weirdo or “mean person” you always see around something sincerely nice about themselves. get out your marshmallows and watch them warm right up. aaaoow.
the premise is basic: we spend so much time talking ish that it’s become commonplace. routine. accepted. aka whack. why not instead take some time to be intentionally proactive in our positivity? instead of looking at another woman and saying, “awww, damnnnnn. look at her hair!” why don’t we take some more time to say things like, “hey, girl, those are some dope earrings.” maybe even try on a huge third-grade cheese after said compliment.
there is something very raw, connecting, and jarring about a random but sincere compliment from a stranger. i think it’s a beautiful way to color the human experience.
why not go out of our way to tell our sisters how beautiful they look without makeup or show them support for standing their ground in a difficult or compromising public situation? especially with all the nonsensical preexisting totally unnecessary cattiness amongst us. forreal, us women need to band the eff together. uplift each other. we are all individually dope and there is no reason we can’t be collectively dope. yes, without hating. without competition.
how about we thank our brothers we see being good fathers and respectful of women? good men exist. let’s let them know they are appreciated and loved. it’s only through community and consistent support that we can sustain ourselves. and that doesn’t always mean only our everyday homie/proximal community. i also mean one-world community. feeeeeel me?
we can easily observe a lot of goodness walking down the street and take 5 seconds to brighten someone’s day. no note writing needed. no long conversations. no planning.
just presence in the moment and an appreciation for the beauty all around us.
October 2, 2008
- have a generally positive day on eid. try to smile and help others do the same.
- share your last bit
as i mentioned, yesterday was eid-ul fitr, the day marking the end of ramadan. it’s a blessed day full of thankfulness, lots of food and chillage, friends, and fam.
yesterday morning i woke up upset, struggling to get ready for the day. so i made my goal simple: to smile, keep it positive, and try to share some good energy with others.
i got to the eid prayer late but was able to catch the khutbah, or sermon, i guess you could say. shaykh hamza spoke about our society and community’s superficial worries compared to those who are really struggling. he talked about how the average upper-middle class person lives better than most kings did. we have it better than we know. that quickly forced me to humble myself of my troubles.
after the khutbah was over, i carried on the rest of the afternoon lightheartedly greeting folks and wishing them a happy eid. i walked around to a couple food stalls with my moms to sample the food – i always want to try everything. i ended up taking a liking to these certain samosas. so later, when i went back to grab myself a couple more, i randomly somehow decided to instead grab two dozen to hand out to people hanging around. it wasn’t really my ‘planned act’ for the day, it just kind of took the general theme of me trying to have a good positive day. my friend shereen asked if i had planned it as my act for the day – i laughed saying i didn’t but realized that it could be :D
i mostly handed samosas out to people i knew, but i even handed out one or two to some strangers. eid is a very communal time, so it wasn’t like people were particularly surprised by such an act of sharing. nonetheless, my randomness and excitement about food brought a smile to people’s faces. and me stuffing people’s faces always makes me happy.
it was funny, we came down to the last few samosas and i still hadn’t had one. i decided that giving them all away felt better, so i did. i didn’t eat even one from that batch. but i was full.
October 1, 2008
eid mubarak (eid blessings). eid ul-fitr is the muslim holiday that marks the end of ramadan. it was today :)
October 1, 2008
- call a friend i haven’t spoke to in a while
this particular mission wasn’t really planned. and i have to admit was more for selfish reasons than to purely reach out to homeboy. well. i’m not sure. i had been meaning to reach out to my good friend naj for a long while of late. we both suck at keeping in touch on the phone so we basically never talk on the phone. we mostly keep it online instant message nerd steelo. but every time i hear that dude’s voice, my spirit lights up.
i guess everything happens when it’s supposed to. numbed and exhausted from a sadness that overcame me yesterday, i wasn’t quite in the mood to talk about what was wrong, but suddenly felt the urge to call naj just to catch up. i really never call people to just chat so when i felt that urge, i pushed myself to act on it.
the phone rang…rang…rang. enough times that i thought i was about to get voicemail. and right as i was gearing up to hear the voicemail, naj picks up. to the point that i wasn’t sure if it was naj or his voicemail i was hearing on the other end at first. almost immediately, though, i realized i had gotten the real live naj :)
it felt good to shoot the isht and catch up on naj’s progress. he is in hustle mode to start a t-shirt line with a couple homies of his. and i just found out he got an investor! we both spoke about our respective daydreams about visiting eachother and eachother’s cities (he’s in dc).
i’ve been telling naj for months that i’m going to get him a webcam so we can video chat. we’re both pretty animated in-person people, so i think the phone doesn’t really do us much justice. we need that other level :D so i needa hook my najjie up with some online video lovin stalkerage. there are just so many options and price points! shopping for electronics is always a job because i find myself in endless feature comparisons and technical product research.
anyhoot. it was inevitable that i was going to breakdown and rant to naj about what had been on my mind. so he listened, like he always does. kept it real and kept it positive, like he always does. told me to have faith, keep on, etc. the usual. i talk that poor boy’s ear off and he still loves me. ha :)
it always feels good to stay connected to the people i love. i’ve been trying to get better with it. with time, i will.
and really, that’s the message. love those you love. tell them. show them. stay in touch, forreal…like, not for pretend – i.e. tell them you should keep in touch every time you see them without a peep in between meetings. staying in touch could even mean a two line note every now and then. a phone call when you can manage (or make yourself manage). that constancy of connection makes a world of difference. i think it’s what we live for. connection. we stay busy, but the truth is we’ll continue to stay busy…so take a breath to say: “hello. i love you.”
September 30, 2008
- be pleasant in even the simplest, routine instance
those are the bus lines i take to get home many days from bart. yesterday as the 14 sped off, i sulked for just a moment. but then i quickly remembered that the 49 is usually directly behind. i was right.
lost in thoughts from the day, to-do lists, and plans for the evening (including my initial planned act for the day), i stayed in my head. i’m usually in my head. and what might surprise many, those that know and don’t know me, i don’t usually smile when i’m out and about on my own. i often keep to myself and try to float about generally unnoticed, mean-mug defense mechanism on autopilot.
my default face is a mean mug – i can’t even help it. my mama gets on me about it all the time.
granted, there are the moments where i am flamboyant, full of life, and walk about taking everything around me in – staring life in the face and whatnot. but when i’m on my grind or routine, that approach to life for me is a little infrequent.
it’s largely random if i decide to say hello or smile at the busdriver as i enter the bus. usually i’m blank, looking down or ahead of me – lost in thought or impatiently awaiting solitude at home. there’s more of a chance i’ll say something when deboarding the bus – “thank you” or “have a good day” or “take care.” it depends on my mood, desire to take the extra energy, and level of introversion/focus on myself and thoughts in that moment.
i get all kinds of busdrivers: many are blank-faced on the grind, a few preemptively pissed the eff off and will let you know it, others very inward and hostile as they mutter to themselves, some are rules-nazis, a couple a tad awkward, some chill and coasting through the day, with yet others jovially greeting every passenger.
my busdriver yesterday was the delightful kind. she didn’t greet every person, but the vibrations of her voice were warm, her tone and inflection animated. she was clearly loving life.
i wasn’t planning on saying anything to her when getting off the bus, but her energy swayed me. on my way out – energy drenched from me and still relatively aloof, i half turned my head and let out a very even and light “have a good day.” not very animated, but it wasn’t flat – just mellow. coming from someone of my visible recluse disposition, i think she may have been surprised: “oh! you too!” she said merrily. i could feel her huge smile behind me. it compelled me to turn around and give one, albeit a small one, back.
i am usually the same introverted shadow of a person on the bus everyday. but i remember the times i have taken a purposeful moment to say something nice to busdrivers on my way out. more often than not, my gestures have been very warmly received. i remember one time sensing a particular bus driver being in a bad mood and making a point to say something pleasant to him or her on my way out. i immediately noticed how that gesture and connection uplifted their mood.
i want to try to challenge myself to exude outward positivity, warmness, and friendliness. even when i’m inward, focused and on my grind, exhausted, or just in a plain bad mood. i feel that good energy put out in and of itself has healing qualities both for the do-er and the receiver. it can flip a mood.
it’s really the simple things.
be well, yall.
September 29, 2008
- give a stranger a free pair of tickets to the sf moma
this past saturday, i was lucky enough to catch the very tail end of the frida exhibit at the sf moma. from what i know, the show was sold out, but i was able to get tickets from a limited pool saved for corporate members (a perk i get through my job).
i’ve never taken advantage of this perk – getting into the moma free. all i was told is that you show your ID badge to get in free with one guest. this friday i found out that they apparently print you two tickets. “brilliant!” i thought. “i can give away free tickets!”
so i made plans to go over to the moma sunday to try and get frida tickets for shak to see frida on closing day. it took me nearly an hour to find parking in soma. it was highly frustrating, especially since i had to go home to do work i had piled up. but alas, i was to be patient because i was trying to do something nice. was a struggle.
once i finally found a spot, i walked over to the moma membership table only to find that frida was sold out. i ended up getting two general admission tickets. i had made an agreement with shak that if i didn’t get her frida tickets for sunday, i’d get her general admission tickets for another day that suited her.
so i went outside to try and figure out who to give my tickets to. i sort of stood around the perimeter of the building for a few minutes, trying to see who was trying to get into the museum. there were a lot of people scattered about and i couldn’t really tell one way or another so i decided to approach people in line for tickets.
i caught a french couple at the end of the line: “are you trying to go see frida?” i asked. they told me they were but it was sold out. i told them i had general admission tickets if they wanted to see the other exhibits. i was trying to hand the man the tickets but he hesitated as he didn’t seem to be sure what i was doing. “wait. you had extra tickets or something?” i finally got him to grab the tickets. “no,” i said. “i’m trying to do something nice for someone everyday and decided that today i would give someone moma tickets for free.” “oh, ok,” said the man, still somewhat unsure what i was saying, but happy he was getting free tickets. the woman at this point went, “oh!” sounding pleasantly surprised.
they thanked me and delightfully made their way out of line and towards the museum doors.