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Small Kindnesses

One day in the past year or so, I was walking one of my dogs in a neighborhood near my home. Two dogs escaped their yard and began following us, barking and growling. I wasn’t concerned that the lab and its small terrier companion would bite me, but I did think they were picking a fight with my dog, Roxy, who barked back and tugged at her harness. I hollered at the dogs to go home. I stomped my feet, but they only inched back to advance again.

A black Mercedes SUV pulled out of a driveway and the woman peering from the driver’s window asked if she could help me.

“Would you distract these dogs so I can get to the corner?” I asked. “I think if I’m out of their sight we’ll be OK.”

She hopped out and tried hustling the dogs away from me, but they wouldn’t be dissuaded, even when the woman and I yelled at them in concert. She was wearing dressy sandals and colorful Capri pants, and her pixie hair was stylishly groomed. A couple of gift bags sat on her car’s back seat. Obviously en route to an afternoon party, she was now delayed by trying to help me. Finally, she popped open the back of her SUV and said, “I’m just going to take you home.”

She might have stood five-foot-three in her kitten heels. Yet, before I could say another word she bent her slight frame over Roxy, a 60-pound lab mix, and hoisted her in the back of the vehicle and commanded me to ride shotgun.

I remembered this woman when I saw a tweet from Fiona Robyn, author of a novel titled Small Kindnesses. She wanted to know what small kindnesses others had experienced, and asked if we would blog about them today. This request felt timely because it seems that in the Christmas rush of consumerism we tend to forget that what is most relevant to the human spirit is often a small gift of kindness.

At this time of year, I loathe setting foot in a store. Sure, I like the holiday lights and I’m a sucker for some of the old Christmas movies. But arguments over parking spaces at malls and town squares, and news stories about people fighting over a last sale item or being crushed in Black Friday stampedes gives me a stomachache. These incidents sometimes make me despair for the human race. Do material things really mean so much to us? Is it really impossible to walk a little bit further because we couldn’t get the spot right in front of the store?

I’m grateful to Fiona for reminding me about this instance. The woman in the SUV didn't have to put my dog into her luxury car. She didn't even have to stop to help me. Hers was an unexpected kindness given at a moment when I really needed it. The truth is that if I choose to focus on the kindnesses, I can think of many others – a man who picked my mother up off the ground when she tripped and fell, a couple who gave my husband and me free hotel breakfast tickets they weren’t going to use, friends who keep our dogs when we travel, a friend in Arizona who offered to meet me in El Paso and help me when it's my turn to care for my sick mother. Another truth: acknowledging these small kindnesses encourages me to pay them forward.

A few days after Roxy got a ride home in a luxury SUV, I spotted a neighbor’s border collies running loose down the street. I caught them as they were entering a national hiking trail by the lake a mile from their house. The two dogs were smelly and drooly. They barely fit in the back seat of my Cooper, but I delivered them home safe and sound, if a little disappointed that their adventure had been cut short.

Perhaps if I continue to focus on the kindnesses, not only those given to me but those I can give to others, it will open a spiritual door to something beyond the material trappings of the season. No telling what doors may open if, as Fiona suggests, we do this collectively.

And if you need a little inspiration, you can download Fiona's book free of charge today by clicking here:


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    No doubt with your organized and skillful education you actually recognize yourself and also become able to find out everything in the society and become the healthy, educated, well disciplined and well manner member of the community. We cannot ignore this fact and importance of education in our life.
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    I faced the same situation when I walked with my pumerian in the streets of New York last month. But luckily we escaped by getting into our car which is far away from us. We thanked god for saving us.

Reader Comments (5)

What a beautiful story! I love the picture of that woman, all dressed up for a party taking care of you and your dog!

November 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDave

I think we have many opportunities throughout the day to show kindness to others in small and big ways. Those things help to make my day, as they do other people. There are some individuals who have become so jaded that they look for an ulterior motive behind every act of kindness, or try to abuse a situation.

For this reason, we have to display wisdom even when we are being kind. As the Bible says, we should be wise as serpents but harmless as doves. We don't have to harm others but we should still be aware that even acts of kindness should be done with wisdom.

December 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPat@uprinting

Thank you to both Dave and Pat for your comments. I love being reminded that we can make a person's day better just by doing small things that have a lot of meaning. Some days a small kindness goes a very long way.

December 18, 2012 | Registered CommenterBeatriz Terrazas

I have emailed you once or twice before. My grandmother suffered from dementia. Unfortunately she passed away unexpectedly back in January. She was 91 years old, so it wasn't THAT unexpected, but it still hurt just the same.
Anyway, I wanted to share with you my story of kindness. Back in December I had anonymously bought the order of the person behind me in the Starbuck's drive thru. Without any intent on being "repaid" in any shape or form. Well back in January I stopped for a frappuccino before my grandmother's viewing. I was emotionally exhausted and tense for the evening that was ahead of me. As I pulled up to the window, the Starbucks worker told me that the person in front of me had paid for my order. I immediately got tears in my eyes. What a wonderful surprise. The act of kindness had come full circle back to me, at a time when I needed it most.
Thought you'd enjoy that little story =)

March 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKristan


So wonderful to hear from you again! I am so sorry to hear about your grandmother. No matter how prepared we are, it always hurts. And thank you for sharing your story of kindness coming full circle. I think next time I'm in the Starbucks line, I will buy for the person behind me. Maybe I will brighten someone's day. Thank you again for dropping by. I hope that grief aside, you are doing well!


March 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterBeatriz Terrazas
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