Jackie Taylor shared the following story on Facebook and gave me permission to share it in my column this week: “I want to share an experience I had at Cravens on Sunday afternoon. I walked up to get in line (lengthy) and noticed the man in front of me was already there and only had 3 items – one item was a package of 12 individual ice cream cups. Another cashier opened and before he could switch lines some people with a basket FULL of food got there first. When my turn came to check out I glanced over and he was still patiently waiting. I called out to him and motioned for him to come and get in front of me and told him he was there before me. He said, ‘Really?’ and I said of course. He thanked me twice and left. When I checked out my cashier said the man had given him $5 towards my charge. Wasn’t that a nice thing to do?! I don’t know who he was (he was wearing a mask) but I hope he reads this because he has reconfirmed my faith in human kindness in these troubled times. I also want him to know I will pay it forward. No act of kindness is too small to have an effect.”

I have to be honest here, this week was a tough week. I was struggling to stay positive and to keep a smile on my face. There is an underlying current of negativism in our community, in our country. Election years don’t always bring out the best in people and when you add the stress and worry during a pandemic, protesters, riots, well it can quickly spin out of control and acts of kindness can become few and far between.

Reading social media isn’t always pleasant but if I look hard enough there is always something there that can inspire me again, return the smile to my face and restore my faith in the good we are all capable of showing. When I read Jackie’s post it really turned things back around. I needed to read that. Right after I read her post my daughter called and set up a visit for the weekend. Things were certainly looking up.

Things got better. The next day one of the kids I had in our 4H group years ago contacted me and wanted to come for a visit this weekend too. Wow, it’s been at least eleven years since we’ve seen each other. I immediately asked myself why, out of all the kids in our group, would she want to come and visit us after all this time? When she came, she spent the entire day just visiting with us and after hours of conversation she shared how important her time in 4H was to her.

She loved the kindness Sean and I showed her and the extra time we spent with her when it was obvious that the other kids weren’t so nice to her. Rachel was always very shy, the middle child of seven, and maybe since Sean and I are both middle children we just bonded with her in a way that maybe we didn’t with the other kids. Not sure exactly what it was specifically, it doesn’t really matter because the connection is still there, after all these years and we had a wonderful day. I always love time with my daughter Jessica and granddaughter Hayley so the stress of the week melted away like the candy bar I left in my bag. A few hours in the fridge and even my sweet tooth was satisfied.

Your kindness challenge for the week is to remember that real life connections like Jackie had at the grocery store, like I shared with family and friends happen offline. Connect with friends and family and recharge your smile.

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