Kindness Cures

frock-files-peony

Welcome to a new week! While I usually create a post about something visual on Mondays, I thought we’d jump into this week with a thought-driven post that could shine some happiness into the next seven days of our lives.

Occasionally, I hear people talk about blogging as though it’s a selfish endeavor — a place where it’s all me, me, me, all the time. The more I think about that perspective, the more I believe that it’s wrong. The bloggers I know and admire create their blogs to enrich other people’s lives, whether it’s by providing inspiration through fashion, food, words, crafts, travel, photos, or videos. We’re sharing our experiences of life and that’s what connects us. It’s a powerful thing.

That said, I think that as a culture we do tend to turn in to ourselves often. As Pema Chodron points out, “Generally speaking, the human species does make things a very big deal. Our problems are a big deal for us.” And while I think it’s important to focus on our own happiness, I think it’s also true that contributing to other people’s happiness boosts your own. I know that when I think my problems are earth shattering it always helps to extract myself from my small universe, even if only for a moment, and one way of doing that is by taking the time to help someone else.

Our local NPR station is running an experimental project called A Kind World, in which listeners tell stories about random acts of kindness they’ve encountered. This idea got me thinking about how we could remember to perform acts of kindness, not just once in a blue moon but on a regular basis. Every other Monday I’ll be bringing you a post dedicated to kindness boosting (and, in turn, happiness boosting) ideas.

Since this month’s theme is Let’s Get Local, I’d like to propose that we all think about one thing we can do in our own neighborhoods to boost someone’s happiness. It could be as simple as leaving tulips from your garden on your neighbor’s doorstep.

Want to join in? I’m thrilled! Leave a comment with an idea about how you might brighten someone’s day this week.

For Love of Boston

Frock Files | Boston Will Rise

Most Fridays, I join James on his commute into the city, and if the weather is nice, I take the T to Copley Square to work out of the beautiful public library. Sometimes, in the summertime and in early autumn, I bring a big bag to fill up on vegetables and fruits from the farmer’s market just across the street. I used to work in a building one block away.

Copley Square is, to me, the heart of Boston. As we watched the news loop the footage of the explosions over and over from our hotel room in Portland on Monday, it felt surreal to see Copley filled with smoke and a flurry of panic, splattered with blood. Even now, more than 24 hours later, my brain has difficulty reconciling this familiar place with this terrible act.

Back in 2006, I was preparing for a trip to London when I heard the news that two explosions had gone off there. One was on a bus, detonated immediately across the square from the apartment my beloved professor, Ruth, and her husband lived in, in Bloomsbury. When I arrived there, windows were blown out of the building that was nearest to the explosion. Flowers were scattered about with notes attached to them. The city was running in full again, but it felt different — on edge, tense, despite the warmth of summer.

It felt that way when we touched down at Logan airport yesterday. There were police officers all over the airport, cop cars lined up along the Charles River and throughout Kendall Square. We turned on the radio, scanned the stations, and heard the words “tragedy,” “bomb,” and “terrifying” so many times that we eventually turned it off. As we drove through the tunnels that connect the airport to the city we hit traffic, and for the first time ever, I felt panic creep in until we were mercifully released back into the sunshine washing over Storrow Drive.

For everyone who calls Boston home, there is now the eerie feeling of violation and uncertainty. Those who were gruesomely injured, their loved ones, and the loved ones of those killed (I cry every time I think of that little boy), have to deal with the coupling of these uncomfortable feelings and a new, more difficult life. But this is a city of big hearted, tough people, and there’s no doubt in my mind that Boston will rise from this stronger than before. As Jim Walsh of Boston’s public radio station explains, “Boston is not the biggest city in America; it is not the most politically powerful. But it has an inner determination and power that only the foolish ignore.”

This is our home.

Want to help? The Red Cross and Boston Children’s Hospital are accepting donations. Our friends at Caravan Shoppe have created a free printable to fight the darkness with light and beauty.

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