Sunday, May 5, 2013

Bumpy Cake, Coneys and the Crying Girl

Last Saturday dawned bright and sunny, the first true spring day after a very long winter. It was also a holiday. Sanders, a Detroit institution known for their many delicious confections, was celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the Bumpy Cake! If you haven't had it, I'm sorry. It is quite the most delicious cake I've ever tried! My mom always made sure I had Bumpy Cake for my birthday.

In honor of this celebration, Sanders was giving away a free slice of Bumpy Cake! Yippee! I eagerly went to claim my slice. After some errands, I stopped for lunch at National Coney Island, another Detroit institution. I had a craving for a Hani. They were quite busy, no doubt everyone wanting to be out, enjoying our fine weather. There was an older couple seated in the booth in front of me. They had the ease and quiet happiness of couple who've been married a long time. The wife, seated facing my direction, caught my eye and smiled. I was drawn in by their relaxed conversation and happy attitude. She caught my eye again. I asked her if she had claimed her free slice of Bumpy Cake. She eagerly asked me where was the nearest location. We will go after lunch, she said, twinkle in her eye. She thanked me for sharing with her.

I finished my lunch before they did, so as I went up to pay my bill I handed her one of the envelopes with the gift card and just said, thank you. They made me hopeful that a relationship with a great partner is indeed possible.

I'm having surgery in a couple weeks and needed to pay my bill with the surgeon. The office was empty except for the sounds of someone sobbing extremely loud. This was indeed odd for a doctor's office. Whoever was sobbing was also talking to themselves. "Don't be so stupid," she said. "Stop it." She came walking up to the desk and was startled by my presence. She was still crying. She said she hoped I hadn't been there long. I said no, only a minute or so. She explained she had slammed her finger in a drawer retrieving a patient file and it hurt so bad. She went on to say that her grandfather had passed away the previous day and she was so sad. She apologized to me for being so stupid, as she put it. I told her she wasn't stupid and I'm sure that her finger hurt, but it was probably more the loss she experienced to bring on the tears. I told her that our emotions are what they are and they will come out one way or the other. Although her finger hurt, it was the loss of her grandpa that really caused her pain. After I settled my business, I handed her an envelope and said I hope this would brighten her day a bit. Hopefully it did.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Envelope #3/Cynical

On Saturday I took a trip to my happy place, Target. They've recently remodeled my store to include a Starbucks. So not only am I in my happy place, I am sipping a latte at the same time. Nirvana? Pretty much.

After gathering up what I needed and, of course, several things I didn't, I began to load my car. It was cool and rainy so I was trying to do this quickly. As I was loading, I was approached by a young woman in her middle twenties. She approached me timidly, almost ashamed at what she was about to ask me. She said she was stranded without bus fare and did I have any change? I'm embarrassed to say I gave my knee-jerk reaction response and said no. She had very sad eyes and if her chronological age was 25, she looked 40. She walked away, head down towards the bus stop enclosure.

Immediately I second-guessed myself. Why did I shoot her down so quickly? Why was I so cynical, so quickly? I could feel in my gut instincts that she wasn't trying to scam me. She seemed so defeated. I did not feel so good about myself at that moment.

I hurriedly got in my car and drove down to the bus stop enclosure where I saw her waiting. I called out to her and waved her over. I handed her some money and told her, " get yourself some lunch too." Then I handed her an envelope with the gift card inside and said, here's something extra for you. She thanked me profusely and went on to tell me I had no idea what a horrible day she was having. I realized in that moment, I really didn't have any idea and how blessed I am. I knew I would never want to trade her life for mine not even knowing the circumstances.

My lesson that came from this, drop the cynicism. People are hurting, people are sad and need help. Just do it. I felt redeemed after that.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Message/The First Envelope

I decided to keep the message inside the card short. I wrote, "you've received this because in some way you've shown me a kindness and I appreciate it. You don't have to do anything, but if you can, will you pay this kindness forward? Thank you, Michelle."

I had quite a few errands to run today, so I left with a feeling of excitement. Would I give one out today? Several? None? Would I just know when it would be the right time? My mind was swirling!

The first two stops I made, nothing. Then I went to Nino Salvaggio's a local gourmet fruit market. I had almost forgotten by this point. There was a young man, an employee by the cheesecake. Yes, I still love cheesecake. We chatted for a moment. He was engaging, polite and kind. I got so excited! I thanked him and pulled an envelope from my purse. I told him he made my day. He had a big smile on his face as he accepted the envelope and thanked me. I moved on toward the checkout, wondering about him opening it. Would he tell anyone? Would he pay it forward? No idea! But I have faith in the human race and think most who I give them to will follow through.

That was really fun! Who will I encounter for #2? I'm looking forward to the adventure!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

In the beginning.....

I am blessed, tremendously grateful for it. I grew up the only child of amazing parents. My mom stayed home and my dad worked hard for us. We were never wealthy but we always had what we needed.

My mom passed away almost 13 years ago and I lost my dad at the end of February. This has left me a little adrift in the world searching for a purpose. I'm starting to volunteer for different organizations I believe in but wanted to do something on my own. I figured out I wanted to share my gratitude for being so blessed.

So I decided to start today. I went to Target (my happy place) and bought gift cards. I bought 10, $5 gift cards and a package of notecards. In the notecard I will write a simple message, like, have an awesome day and I will enclose a gift card. I will ask them to pay forward the kindness they've received, however they can. Will everyone do it? Some will, some won't. But I am hopeful that if a small kindness from a stranger touches them, they will be inspired to pass it on.

I also need to come up with some other ideas. It won't always be gift cards. I'd appreciate any suggestions!

So as I go along, I'm going to write about my experiences, the people I meet and share kindness with. I'm excited to begin!

Thanks in advance for embarking on this journey with me. Not sure what to expect, but that's the beauty of it.