random act of kindness
The other day I received an email from a friend, Christy Berning, that was sent to a large number of us. It told the story of a little boy and his family in an unfamiliar city living temporarily in our Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center as they battle health issues no little boy should have to face. They are on the waiting list for the Ronald McDonald House, which is about 20 days+.
Braylon – like Christy’s neice – has Dandy Walker Syndrome, a congenital brain malformation involving the cerebellum (an area at the back of the brain that controls movement) and the fluid filled spaces around it that causes seizures, physical and cognitive delays and many scary surgeries and hospital visits like the one he is experiencing now.
Doctors suspect that he may have a defect in his T-cells and are running some tests to determine whether he would be a candidate for a bone marrow transplant. If this is the case, it is a very long six-month process where they would completely wipe out his immune system starting with chemotherapy and rebuild it from scratch.
He would need to wait, however, until they could get his infection under control, because he is currently not stable enough to undergo the treatments. Additionally, Braylon has some major GI issues, and is currently connected to a central line for feeding. Prayers that they can get his feeding better to remove the line, since these lines carry with them a very high risk of infection.
I have been to our Children’s Hospital so many times. It is an incredible place where hallways are lined with bright colors and on any given day you may see therapy dogs or clowns or other volunteers roaming to take the seriousness away even for just a few moments.
Families like Braylon’s come from around the globe for the opportunity to seek medical treatment from the very best. Still, all in all, it can be a lonely journey with long hours of waiting, worrying, wondering and hoping.
So people like Christy who take it upon themselves to reach out and organize efforts to build a community around a family living at the bedside of their child are so incredibly meaningful. Christy asked us to write a card, contribute to a welcome basket or send another token gift, cook a meal, or just keep the family in our thoughts and prayers.
I’ll be sending along a card and Mylar balloons.
Christy and I had lunch this week, and we talked about how acts of kindness have such broad spread impact not only on the receiver but also on the giver. It is such a powerful gift we can give others and ourselves. And it has a way of spreading. I am in awe of Christy’s beautiful heart, and am inspired to give kindness to others.
When I look back on my long career, I have so many reasons to smile. I have been so fortunate to have worked on so many truly heart-touching, community-strengthening and even fun causes and organizations. I have worked side by side some of the most passionate people who dedicate their days to improving the lives of others.
For me, it is great fulfillment knowing I have been a part of helping those people and those causes to further their ability to impact positive change. I admire them and am inspired them constantly, learning so many important life lessons from their example.
This week I was reminded of one of those lessons. On a steamy hot Cincinnati summer day, I walked into my bank with an envelope in my hand.
However, as I walked up to the table where I fill out my deposit slip, I had no idea how my day was about to change. There, in the envelope, resting on top of my check was $30 in cash with a hand written note from my client. The note reads, “Lisa – Thanks for everything! Great work. Take yourself to your favorite restaurant.” (and then signed by my client)
The smile that swept across my face was for the most part stuck there the rest of that day. I shared what had just happened with the bank teller, with an old friend who I happened to run into at a restaurant, and with my friend who I was meeting for lunch. Actually I think I shared it with everyone with whom I spoke.
When I got back to my desk, I was feeling so happy. I was more creative in my thoughts, more productive in my work, more enthusiastic about goals. Later I reached out to a few people who I hadn’t talked to in way too long, one being someone I had helped years back.
It is amazing what appreciation and a random act of kindness can do to a person, and the ripple effect. Day in and day out we are so used to our daily routines. We work long hours to meet deadlines and goals. We try our best to manage many demands on our time. And as we go about our way, it is easy to forget to let others know we appreciate them and the good effort they put in; to smile at a stranger as we hurriedly rush to a meeting; or to help someone who is having a bad day.
As humans, whether we admit it or not, we all have a basic need to feel valued. It is how we get the most out of ourselves, others, and our relationships with them.
A random act of kindness is just that. It is random. It can be as simple as a smile or a hug, writing a note of encouragement, or opening a door. But it is also a deliberate act that brightens someone’s day.
My challenge to you is this: today and every day, find simple ways to let those around you know that you value them; and be conscious to look for opportunities to spread kindness. Let’s keep this ripple flowing.