Creating, Living

Small Act Blooms

March 17, 2017


This post is part of an acts of kindness event. You can read other participants posts here.

Full disclosure: I hardly know anything about Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

In fact, before this month, the (probably) first and last time I’d knowingly encountered her work was when I stumbled upon The Beckoning of Lovely on the internet with this video:

Yes. The woman with the yellow umbrella who gathered a bunch of strangers on the internet before Instagram and flashmobs were a thing.

Recently, I started seeing You May Want To Marry My Husband shared by many of the lovely artists, writers and coaches I follow. Through the piece Amy relayed she was sick and losing a battle with ovarian cancer.

Another confession: I haven’t read it. Turns out, being a new-ish mom makes you susceptible to crying jags of overwhelm from both happy and sad emotion, and I don’t have the energy reserves right now. The past few weeks have been a mixture of hard and wonderful. Baby A and I spent our first 36+hrs apart as I flew to SF for a work trip, and when I returned the exhaustion (me) and routine change (her) threw us for a loop. We’re going on two weeks now of a sleep pattern that is, to be honest, lacking in sleep. It seems to be combination of hunger/supply, disrupted routine, and her first cold.

(I’m writing this at 3am, so there’s that. But, I digress.)

One of these lovely artists I know, Sherry, decided to hold a “plant a kiss kindness” event to “send love and light to Amy”. She created a Facebook group. 100 people joined and committed to doing small acts of kindness between March 3-14 and then would share on March 17. Here is mine:

We live in a small cluster of townhome units where we’re the youngest by ~20 years. Our neighbors are older, single women and one married couple where the wife’s been fighting (and winning) her own battle with cancer. I wanted to do something sweet for them and easy enough for me (remember: baby).

Thus, plants. After the baby fell asleep Wednesday night, I drove to the grocery store, picked up four succulents and bows, raced home to tie notes & bows, and went to bed. Yesterday, I placed a plant on the front porch of each neighbor and went about my day.

The notes read “I hope this plant encourages you to remember to soak up the sun, drink enough water, and grow. Love, your neighbor”. I thought it was extra fun to not sign my name so that they’d all think maybe the other had done it. I hope it brighten their day a bit.

Amy’s is quoted with saying, “Make the most of your time here” and now with my own wonderful husband, my own little girl, I hold those words in my mind. I know the daily grind can make us lose sight of the bigger picture, that we’re here now, and only, and, as Mary Oliver says, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do. With your one wild and precious life?”

I know what Amy did, and I can only hope I’ll do half as much as she. Those four plants felt like a good place to start.

For more on Amy read the New York Times, watch a Tedx Talk, and listen to her in conversation with Andrea Scher or with her daughter.

P.S. You can read other stories from Sherry’s participants on the blogroll here: Plant A Kiss. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to add an act of kindness to your day. If you do, thank you. We need more and more of this right now in our communities, and in the world.

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  • Reply sherry Richert Belul March 17, 2017 at 7:42 am

    ohhhhhhh … Justine. Tears sprung to my eyes unexpectedly when I read about your plants. I love that your kindness was something living + life-affirming. I love that you thought up something so loving and yet also doable for you with your (adorable) baby. I love that you made the time for this when it would have been so easy to say, “I’m too busy.” Thank you for opening my heart this morning with your beautiful act of surprise kindness. Will you let me know any response you get from neighbors? <3

  • Reply sherry Richert Belul March 17, 2017 at 7:44 am

    P.S. I just realized your kindness is anonymous! You may not get a response. I’m grinning … thinking of the pure joy this surprise will bring people.
    P.P.S. Read Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal. You will smile all the way through it.

    • Reply jtao21 August 3, 2017 at 8:53 pm

      Thanks Sherry!! One neighbor caught me and said thanks, the others probably aren’t sure who did it, and I’m totally find with that. I still think of Amy and her work often. So glad you organized the project. I’ll check out her book xo

  • Reply Katie March 17, 2017 at 8:24 am

    I love this so much, J! <3 What a simple, kind and beautiful gesture.

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