Message between magazines (Letter#16)

It’s been a couple of weeks since I wrote my last blog post, partially because I’ve been busy, but mostly because I haven’t had much to write about.  With a busy schedule comes less time to write kindness letters and then missed opportunities to hide those letters when I’m out running errands.  However, I did manage to write and hide one letter this week and I plan to spend part of my weekend writing more letters.

Last Tuesday I had a physical therapy appointment in the late morning.  I had a little time earlier in the morning so I did something I’ve never done before.  I wrote a letter completely based on where I would be leaving it and what type of person might potentially read it.  I planned to hide it somewhere in the waiting room at the physical therapy office, so I wrote the letter to a physical therapy patient.  When I went to my appointment later that day I hid the letter between two magazines that were stacked on a table in the waiting room.

In other news, I checked my city’s library website today and found out that two of the books I returned a couple of weeks ago have already been checked out.  This means the letters I hid in those books before I returned them have been received!  I have 3 more books I’ll be returning to the library next week and I will be hiding letters in those as well.

Coming soon…

As much as I love hiding kindness letters for people to find, I find myself wanting to do even more to help others. So I’ve been working on a little something I will share with you very soon!

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Library Letters (#13, #14, and #15)

My library books are due tomorrow so I spent part of last night writing letters to put inside them before I return them. This letter focuses on God’s love (which is a big theme in my letters because people need to hear it) as well as trusting God with all your worries and struggles. I wrote the usual John 3:16, my church’s web address, as well as my blog’s web address on the back of each letter.

I wrote on smaller paper this time because I planned to slide them into the books without folding them. A folded letter could fall out more easily or is more likely to be discovered by the library staff. But an unfolded piece of paper smaller than the pages of a book probably won’t be found until the next reader flips to the page where it’s hidden.

The thing I love about leaving kindness letters in library books is I know that the recipients of those letters are great people I would get along with because they have the same taste in books as I do! Speaking of books, when I go to the library tomorrow I’ll be sure to check out a few more so I can hide even more letters and keep the cycle going!

Kindness happens among straws and napkins (Letters #11 and #12)

A couple of weeks ago I wrote the letters shown in this post. I was supposed to hide them all around Portland while I was there but only ended up hiding 2. I hid the other 2 last Friday and Saturday.

On Friday we went out to a barbecue place for dinner. It’s the type of restaurant that has red and white checkered tablecloths and a bucket full of napkins on each table. As I sat there in the middle of the long and messy process of eating ribs I looked at the bucket of napkins and thought now that would be a great place to hide a kindness letter! So when I was finished with my dinner and had wiped my hands clean I took one of the remaining letters out of my purse and hid it under the top third of the napkin stack.

The next day we met up with my in-laws at a pizza place. I was itching to get the last letter off my hands but I had to be sneaky about it because my in-laws don’t know anything about my kindness letters. Only a select few people in my personal life do. When we were almost done with our meal I offered to get soda refills for my husband and father-in-law. I had the letter as well as my cellphone in my back pocket. The soda machine was on the other side of the room. Once I refilled their drinks, I put them down on the counter and then quickly got out the letter and hid it in the straws and snapped a picture. Then I came back to our table with the drinks. They were so deep in conversation, they didn’t notice I had done anything out of the ordinary.

I’m especially excited about these two letters because they are the first ones I’ve written my blog address on! I recently decided I want to provide a way for the recipients of my letters to reach out to me. Not because I want gratitude and recognition but because I want to know who my letters are reaching and if they’re making a difference. I will let you all know if and when I hear back from anyone who has received one of my hidden letters of kindness. In the meantime, it’s time for me to start writing more letters.

Why I Write Anonymous Letters of Kindness – Part 1

In my last post I mentioned that I would be taking some time to explain why I write anonymous letters of kindness and encouragement and hide them in different locations for people to find.  In my introductory blog post I wrote that I do it because I want to add a positive contribution to the lives of strangers.  But there is a great deal more to it than that.  One of the main reasons why I do it is because of where I live.

I live in Silicon Valley – home of Apple, Google, Facebook, and countless other famous tech companies.  This makes my city one of the busiest in the country.  People are working themselves to the ground, stressing about projects and deadlines, not spending enough time with their families, and they are generally too busy to do much socializing.  They have their own cubicles or work pods which means they spend most of their days in seclusion.  And even when they have opportunities to interact with others, like while taking public transportation to and from work, most will spend that time looking down at their cell phones catching up on texts and emails.  When and where in the course of their day is there time for them to show kindness to each other and encourage one another?  I’m pretty sure most people are not getting too many pats on the back.

The hardworking people of Silicon Valley could use some kindness and encouragement.  Sure a raise, bonus, or promotion is great in the workplace, but that’s based on merit.  I like the fact that whoever finds any of my letters is basically being told “Hey, I don’t know who you are but God loves you and I also think you’re pretty great, just for being you!  No strings attached.  You don’t have to prove anything to me.  I’m already in your corner.  Hang in there and keep being amazing!”

Now I’m not saying that Silicon Valley is busier than any other parts of the country, and I’m not saying that every single person who lives here has such a busy life.   But I am saying that I’m proud of where I live and proud to be contributing to the lives of those around me in my own special way.

Letters #9 and #10

I went to Portland, Oregon over the weekend and was hoping to leave behind four anonymous kindness letters, but I was only able to leave two. I went to Portland to visit family, so we ended up staying in and catching up more so than exploring the city.

When I first arrived, I decided to hide one of the letters between two chairs at the airport.

Then later we went out for pizza and when we got up to leave the table I left a letter behind the napkin dispenser.

On another note, I’ve decided to start writing the website address to this blog on all my letters from now on. That way if the recipients are curious they can check out the blog to find out why I write anonymous letters of kindness and they can even reach out if they want to.

Not much of an update from me this time around, but in my next post I will be starting a series explaining why I write these letters and what I’m hoping will come out of it.

Portland and Potato Chips (Letter #8 and a new city to hide letters in!)

Last week I made two copies of the letter I showed you all in this post. I left one at a frozen yogurt place. That was what my blog post was about. On Wednesday I went out to a sandwich place with my family and left the other copy of the letter in their chip display on my way out. The next person who was craving BBQ chips got a nice encouraging letter. I just wish I could have been there to see it.

My next hidden kindness adventure begins today! I am at the airport right now, waiting to board my flight to Portland, Oregon where I will be spending the holiday weekend. Last night I prayed about what kind of letters I should write to the people of Portland and decided on the topic of forgiveness. So I wrote 4 copies of the same letter and I will be hiding them in different spots throughout my trip.

I’m looking forward to telling you all about it when I return!

Cancer and Cucumbers

This post has nothing to do with kindness letters or anonymous acts of kindness, but I wanted to tell you all about it anyway.

A couple of months ago a friend told me she had just been diagnosed with cancer. It was caught somewhat early but even after having surgery to get it removed she found out she would be needing additional treatment.

She started chemotherapy last week and I had been trying to figure out what I can do for her. She doesn’t want anyone cooking for her, cleaning, doing laundry, or anything else like that. She’s a very private person and I am respecting her wishes.

But I felt like there had to be something I could do to make her feel better and feel thought of. So Sunday morning I started thinking about everything I knew about her. And then I remembered a certain cucumber dish she loves from a Chinese restaurant we’ve frequented for years. We like to do girls night out with two of our other friends, and half the time we end up going to this particular restaurant. The last time we went there my friend was disappointed because they had taken the cucumber dish off the menu.

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Sunday after church I went to the restaurant and tried to order the cucumber dish to go.

“We don’t make that anymore,” the lady behind the to-go counter informed me.

“I know, but is there any way you could make it just this once?” I asked. “My friend just started chemo a few days ago and it’s her favorite side dish.”

The lady thought about it for a moment and then said “I’ll ask the kitchen if they can make it.” She disappeared for a minute and then came back and told me they would make it.

“Thanks so much!” I replied with gratitude.

10 minutes later I walked out the door with the cucumber order and went straight to my friend’s house. Her husband opened the door and asked me to come in. He was whispering, which I took to mean she was asleep.

“No, I just wanted to drop this off. It’s her favorite side dish,” I whispered back.

I handed him the bag, he thanked me and I headed home. A few hours later I got a thank you text from her.

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What I did wasn’t anything big, it was just cucumbers. But I felt the need to do something and I found something unique to her so that she would know I’m thinking of her. Not only her cancer, but who she is as a person – her likes and dislikes. No one wants to be defined by what they’re suffering through, but they do want to feel special and taken care of. This was my little way to do just that.

Friendliness and Frozen Yogurt (Letter #7)

Last Saturday a friend of mine invited me to meet up with her at our usual frozen yogurt hang out spot. We like to get together every few months, usually after we’ve had dinner and put our kids to bed. This time around, I was looking forward to our visit even more than usual because I knew it would be a good place to leave a kindness letter. So before I left to meet her, I sat down and wrote 2 copies of the below letter.

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While my friend was sampling the different flavors I went over to the counter in the back and placed the letter behind one of the stacks of yogurt cups.

After we made our yogurt/topping  concoctions we found a table and took a seat. The only table available was the one that was furthest away from where I hid the letter. My friend sat down first, taking the spot at the table that faced the counter with the stacks of yogurt cups, leaving me to sit across from her with my back turned towards them. I was a little disappointed, but then I thought God probably wanted it that way.

I have yet to see anyone find and read any of my letters. I think that’s how it’s meant to be for right now. If the people who get my letters don’t get to find out who I am, it’s only fair that I don’t get to find out who they are. Besides, if I hadn’t been sitting with my back turned, I probably would have been too distracted to fully focus on my conversation with my friend.

When we did finally get up to leave a couple hours later, I glanced over at the cups and saw that the letter was gone. I smiled as I walked out the door to my car.

Notes for the New Year (Letters #5 and #6)

Last week I saw a couple of tweets that I thought would be perfect to write in my next letters of kindness. They had to do with looking back on 2017 as a year of growth, and best wishes for 2018! So I wrote out my letters and of course added a bible verse and my own Christian spin at the end. Credit for the tweets goes to @wordstionary.

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Then came the challenge of figuring out where to kind the letters. On Saturday I had to take my pet to the vet. While I was in the waiting room I thought really  anyone with a sick pet could use some kindness.  So I stuck one of the letters behind a plant on the little table next to the chair I was sitting on.

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Then yesterday I went out for a nice New Years Day meal with my family. When the meal was done and we all got up to leave from our table I stayed a little behind so that I could hide the second letter in the stand up drink menu.

I’m so relieved to have hidden those letters before the excitement of the new year is over. And now I will spend part of today writing new letters. But I’ll tell you about those next time!

Happy New Year!

Fuel and Folds (Letter #4)

In my previous post I mentioned that I had made two copies of the same letter but had only hidden one of them. Yesterday I found a place to leave the second one. I was running errands and stopped to fill up my gas tank. As the gas was pumping, the thought crossed my mind that a gas station would be a great place to leave a kindness letter. So I got back in the car and pulled the last letter I had out of the glove compartment. I snapped a quick photo of what the letter looked like folded up and then I got out of the car and stuck it into the right side of the pump in the spot circled in the picture below.

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This is what my letters look like once I fold them.

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I fold them in half first, then in half again. On the front I write “If you find this, it is meant for you. Yes, you!” On the inside fold I write John 3:16 because it is the Bible verse that sums up the Christian faith. Then above it I write down the address to my church’s website. I blocked it out in this picture for obvious reasons, but I’m hoping the recipients of my kindness letters check out the website and decide to come visit my church.

Something else I’ve considered doing now that my blog is up and running is writing down my blog’s web address somewhere on the letter. This way people who find my letters can check out the blog and find out more about my kindness letters and why I do what I do. What do you all think of that idea? I’d love to hear your opinions!