Nicole J. Phillips
FARGO -- We never really know what someone’s going through, do we? The clerk at the grocery store who stands on her feet all day and then goes home to take care of an ailing parent. The teacher who pours lessons of kindness and sharing into beautiful little hearts and then realizes she’s been sharing her husband with another woman. The teen who spews anger and disrespect throughout the hallways of his school because his self-talk tells him he’s too stupid to learn.
I’m a sucker for a Hallmark movie. Love is in the air when the owner of a small-town bakery falls for the big-city developer who intends to shut her down, but then has a change of heart and sweeps in to save the building from demolition. Somebody hand me a bucket of popcorn and a hot cocoa. In real life, love is a bit more complicated, but as Laurel Baxter shares, it’s still magical and memorable when it’s filled with kindness.
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.
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,