Today You Are You


Days 9 – 12: There are moments in life where you are able to take a step back and see yourself as others might see you. Sometimes this is a wonderfully self-affirming experience as you realise you haven’t been giving yourself enough credit. Sometimes it is a painfully confronting experience as you begin to wonder whether you have been giving yourself too much. And on rare occassions, its both.

This week has been a strange chapter in my kindness journey. After giving blood on Tuesday I was still feeling very light-headed and hazy the next few days. I decided to be kind to myself and make my tasks relatively easy: on Wednesday I decided to say only positive things for the whole day. On Thursday at lunch my friend K and I sat next to a lady who chimed in to our conversation to offer us some motherly advice. I decided to annonymously pay for her coffee – which the waiter was incredibly confused by. He promptly told me she had already paid for it herself and jokingly said, “You can’t be nice around here, sorry.” I bought her a cookie instead. I’ve no idea what the lady would have thought upon recieving it, but at least I proved  you can be nice anywhere if you really put your mind to it!  

Friday I attended my uncle’s birthday party and my small kindness was to keep an eye out for people sitting on their own and go over and talk to them. It felt a little strange at first but it’s never nice to feel out of place and I certainly would appreciate someone making the effort if I were in that situation.

Saturday I decided it was time I challenged myself to do a slightly bigger kindness. I was nervous as I went a bought a bunch of flowers and stood outside the supermarket to wait for the right recipient to walk by. I deliberated for a long time – It would have to be a lady. That one? No, some one older. That one? No, someone who wasn’t carrying too much shopping. I needed to stop procrastinating. A middle-aged lady approached, looking like she wasn’t having the best morning and I stepped forward. “I know this is a little bit strange, but I’d like to give you these flowers …” She was taken aback, confused, then apologetic: she was going on a long drive today and so couldn’t take them for practical reasons. I was disappointed. Did I really have to start again? Of course I did, and I had to hurry up or I’d miss my bus. I would just give them to the next lady I saw and that would be that. I only managed to get out a polite “Excuse me?” before she began to speed up, avoiding eye-contact. Of all the reactions, I honestly never expected that. Did I look scary? Or like someone begging for money? Did she think I was trying to sell her something? How did she know I wasn’t just going to ask for directions? Trying to shake it off, walked straight up to the next lady without analysing and offered her the flowers. She was very sorry but she couldn’t take them because she had two cats who would try to eat them. I felt an overwhelming sense of defeat. The first lady walked back past and said, “Still trying?” My bus came and went. As people hurried past me I had a kind of out-of-body experience, looking down on myself in dismay, a lone girl standing in the street trying to give away a stupid bunch of flowers that nobody wanted. And for what? What on earth was I thinking? Had I actually gone mad? What the hell was I trying to achieve anyway?   

Then the lady with the cats walked back over. She asked why I was giving away the flowers, what motivated me to do a whole year of kindness? She said it was such a lovely idea; if only more people thought the same way; that really, when you thought about it, we could solve all the world’s problems with kindness. I felt the little positive Pollyanna within me slowly awakening again. She said that she would sit with me and help me find someone to give the flowers to. We spoke about her cats, her children and grandchildren, the beauty of flowers, and many other things. I was ready to try again. This lady was perfectly receptive as I approached and instantly overjoyed: “Oh, really? That’s so sweet. Let me give you a kiss and a hug!”  She was in town visiting her daughter who wasn’t well, and had been having a very stressful time. I was so relieved. I had (eventually) managed to brighten up someone’s day! After feeling like a complete lunatic, I now felt like I was doing something that was perhaps even more worthwhile than I realised. It reminded me that one of the hardest things in life is putting yourself out there to be judged and possibly rejected – whether it be actively living the change you want to see in the world, going for a job interview or giving your heart to someone. Sometimes it’s hard to follow your instincts when it would seemingly be so much easier (and more logical) to give up completely. But whether you’re holding a bunch of flowers, your resume, or your heart, you have to have faith that whatever you are offering to the world, eventually someone will walk by who accepts and appreciates it completely and joyfully, and there really is no better feeling.

29 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kristin Hernandez
    Apr 17, 2011 @ 18:11:58

    You brighten my day without even trying! 🙂


  2. Sanaz
    Apr 18, 2011 @ 13:57:32

    You are a source of inspiration. Keep going.


  3. Eric Winger
    Apr 19, 2011 @ 02:21:58

    Just found your blog. Looks like you’re off to a great start!


  4. Lexy Raine
    Apr 19, 2011 @ 05:24:25

    I’m so happy to hear that you stuck it out with the flowers and eventually found the right person! I agree with Sanaz above, you truly are a source of inspiration. Keep it up! 🙂


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  7. Linda Cohen
    Jun 01, 2011 @ 22:00:19

    What an amazing conclusion you had when you struggled to give away a lovely bunch of flowers. Sometimes kindness isn’t as easy as we think it will be. I loved how you impacted two people and were able to have a genuine and heartfelt connection with both of these women in the process. Sounds like your experiment is teaching you wonderful things. I love reading about them.



    • happydancecat
      Jun 13, 2011 @ 19:30:50

      Thanks Linda! And thanks for the shout-out on your blog. Finally got around to posting about a few of my favorite blogs, including yours. Yes, you know as well as anyone the amazing lessons learnt from trying to spread kindness!


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  10. movementsmoments
    Jul 13, 2011 @ 03:29:14

    I just stumbled across your blog, and I am so inspired. This post in particular was interesting to me. A couple years ago on Valentine’s Day, I had nothing better to do so I went out into the city and bought two dozen roses, and spent the entire morning walking around handing them one-by-one to strangers. I figured if I was single, dateless, and a bit lonely, but not feeling too bad, there were probably lots of other people who were even lonelier and probably sadder than I, so rather than mope around home all day I could try to brighten a few gloomy Valentine’s Days. It was definitely a scary and interesting experience. Most people thought I was selling them, and I had to be insistent (“no, it’s free, for you! Happy Valentine’s Day!”), which is so not in my character. After a couple hours, I’d run out of flowers and bought another dozen to give to the staff at my favorite cafe – and later, with my last remaining rose, I made a very interesting friend who I spent the rest of the day with. Overall, it was an amazing and wonderful experience. I’m glad you tried again.


    • happydancecat
      Aug 14, 2011 @ 17:27:30

      Wow, that sounds like a pretty wonderful way to spend a Valentine’s Day, MM. I’m thinking of doing something similar for the next V-Day that rolls around. It’s always pretty interesting and challenging to perform grand acts of kindness for strangers, because it is not something people are used to and therefore provokes some very interesting reactions! I hope it didn’t put you off doing something like that again – it does get easier and I know people do appreciate it even if they don’t all show it at the time. 🙂


  11. creativecaterpillar
    Jul 13, 2011 @ 06:09:43

    love this idea! and also your last statements about what we may be offering to the world.

    What a cool idea!


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  14. Pocket Perspectives
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 14:25:40

    Oh, your experience was so special…and your persistence took courage. I can relate to so much of the ups and downs of that experience.. And your ending… “you have to have faith that whatever you are offering to the world, eventually someone will walk by who accepts and appreciates it completely and joyfully, and there really is no better feeling.” ….that comment is so inspiring..thank you! (I’m going to print out that quote and put it by my computer monitor!) Thanks!


  15. happydancecat
    Aug 14, 2011 @ 17:30:49

    It was wonderful but it was also very hard. I’ve learned you cannot take it personally when someone refuses your kindness, but its a difficult lesson! As is the lesson that you have to keep trying and having faith in what you’re offering to the world. I’m so glad you were inspired, PP!


  16. Pocket Perspectives
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 10:21:40

    Oh thank goodness…I finally remembered/found where I got the wonderful quote that I wrote about in my comment above. I do have that quote on a “page” and taped up on the side of the monitor and on the window in front of the kitchen sink. At times when I thought I was a bit “mistaken” in continuing to offer out pages on my blog, with very limited numbers of hits per day….I would look at your quote and think…”well, maybe someday…eventually…. someone might notice and see the pages being “offered” and be helped by them”…well, it seems to have happened, at least for these few days. And so your words really inspired and sustained me…thank you soooooooo much. I would really like to put the page I made that include your words onto my own blog…your words are so special. Would that be okay with you? It’s a very pretty page… I’ll reference who it’s from and link to your post…hopefully I can find this post again!
    And funny coincidence…with your name…I just made a page a few minutes ago with the wish on it “may I dance brightly”….a variation on another post I had. made. And so may we both dance brightly…. : )


    • happydancecat
      Sep 08, 2011 @ 15:48:39

      Hey PP,

      I remember seeing an interview once with Jon Stewart (host of The Daily Show) and Oprah asked if he took it personally when the audience reacted negatively to his material. He responded that he feels successful when he has worked really, really hard to put together material that he knows is the best he can give. He refuses to measure his success by ratings or reviews because it that would be placing too much value on the opinion of others when what really matters is how we feel about ourselves and what we are giving to the world. A very wise man. 🙂

      Of course you can use those words on your blog, I am touched that you have found it so inspiring.

      I love that quote “may I dance brightly”, it just conjures up such a beautiful image! Keep on blogging, and believe in yourself and your blog because both are truly gorgeous and unique.



  17. Trackback: “Have faith that whatever you are offering to the world…” | Pocket Perspectives
  18. Pat Cegan
    Sep 11, 2011 @ 06:37:44

    Hi, I read about you on FB from Kathy of Pocket Perspectives. I love what you are doing and what you wrote about it. I believe that each loving act creates energy that goes out and helps heal the world. When I started my blog, “Source of Inspiration,” a year ago this mid-October, I had no idea that so many people would read it and from countries all over the world. We can not possible know how the smallest loving act can ripple across the lives of others. And change our lives, too! I have posted your link on FB and will also put it on my site. Keep going! We need to send out these acts of love to and change the world to one of love and peace. Hugs, pat


  19. S Jayanth
    Oct 31, 2011 @ 13:16:47

    the idea is absolutely wonderful. amazing. and your will to accomplish what you started is an inspiration. keep it u. people who are moved by efforts like this will definitely follow suite. 🙂


    • happydancecat
      Dec 10, 2011 @ 09:09:16

      Thanks S Jayanth. I will definitely continue the Year of Kindness, but I’m feeling unsure about whether I will keep going with the blog, so its very nice to have that feedback!


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