topic_interest is exactly kindness
Free drinks?I was working at Target in Fullerton, CA while I was going to school for my bachelors degree, as the first year of covid-19 was winding down to its end. On my lunch break, I would usually grab a drink from the Starbucks located inside the store at the front. Usually working there would be a young woman around the same age as myself. Around this time of year I would get myself an iced peppermint mocha, and the first time that I got one there, I asked how much it would be, but the barista smiled behind her mask and said there was no charge. I thought this was a nice perk of the job and thought nothing of it. This became a regular thing until one day I ordered a drink with a different barista working behind the counter. He took my order and then expectantly told me how much my drink would be. I expressed my confusion, but he insisted, and I did not argue. I paid for my drink and went back to the break room. I told some of my coworkers how the barista had made me pay for my drink, and I was met with a confused "yeah... we all pay for our drinks." I probed a little more, and they all assured me that it was not a part of our job to get free drinks at the Starbucks. I smiled as I thought of the usual barista and how special she had made me feel. I was the only one who did not have to pay for my drink while she was working. Maybe that meant that she had feelings for me, or maybe she just decided to express a subtle act of kindness to me in particular. Either way, I felt deeply appreciated in a way that almost no one else made me feel during that year. In a time when strangers could almost have no meaningful interactions, with their faces almost entirely obscured by masks, this person that I didn't even know made me feel more seen than any stranger had in previous years. That peppermint mocha tasted sweeter than any of the others had because of her, even though it was the only one that hadn't been made by her. I still remember the sensation of it.
I wear a mask in public for three reasonsThis is an Instagram post by spacegrd. This is an infographic on why someone would choose to wear a mask. The three reasons are: humility, kindness, and community.
Painted rocks on Iron Horse Regional TrailThese are a series of photos I took on July 5, 2020, of a set of painted rocks I found on the Iron Horse Trail in Danville. The rocks say: "BE KIND" "STRONGER TOGETHER" "DANVILLE GOT HEART" "WHEN THERE'S NO PEACE ON EARTH THERE IS PEACE IN CHRIST" "SRV '20" (in reference to nearby San Ramon Valley High School) "SMILE! 🙂" "EMBRACE THE PAUSE!" "count your BLESSINGS" "Learn from Yesterday" "LOVE has many COLORS" (with a painted Pride flag in the background) "TOGETHER we will PERSEVERE" The rocks are all positive in tone, with a rock celebrating the recently-graduated seniors at the local high school, a rock advocating for queer people, a variety of rocks with generic inspirational messages, and a message urging others to find solace in religion. There is also one rock that references Danville's community explicitly.
Working at a Restaurant, Winter 2020In the wintertime, I work at a restaurant inside a ski resort. This past winter, NYS had just opened up restaurants with very tight restrictions: no more than 4 to a table, close at 10 pm, must order food with alcohol.... and so on. Anyway, as the restaurant floor manager, it was my responsibility to police all these restrictions. Some people were very kind and understanding about the whole situation. They would split up their party of 5 in two groups; one of three and the other of two, and thank us for our willingness to work during this time. Others, however, were not thrilled about the restrictions and argued with us, as if it was our idea to put in place all the restrictions. We had so many people complain about the rules as if we could actually do something about it. Many left or demanded free drinks because of their inconveniences. It was very stressful to deal with this! Be kind to your servers!!
Pandemic KindnessThe pandemic has caused so much death, destruction, and sadness. I wanted to share something positive that has happened to me during this difficult event. While this begins in tragedy, I promise it turns around... My service dog passed away suddenly from cancer one month after his first birthday. It was April and the virus was spreading rapidly so there were new restrictions being imposed everywhere. I had to go through the process of my dog passing away all on my own and my dog had to spend a lot of the time alone in a cage in the vet's office while I was forced to wait in my car. My mind was plagued with thoughts of my dog long after he had passed. I could no longer ride in my car that I had spent so much of my dog's last hours in. Everything was closed because of the pandemic so I was forced to stay at home and everything in my house reminded me of my dog. I became very depressed and barely came out of my room. I forced myself to get up and get a blanket from the living room and I saw a rock on the table near my daughter's crafts. I don't know what it was, but I just decided to paint one. One had a triangular shape and I turned it into a shark head because it reminded me of a shark tooth. I had never drawn or painted prior to this but I was proud of my work and, at the end of it all, I realized that I had spent hours in my living room! I decided to get up the next day and paint another rock. I did this for a week and once I gathered a small pile, I put a few in my pocket and went for a walk, dropping painted rocks in random places along the way. The rocks had made me so happy at one of the darkest moments of my life and I wanted to spread that feeling to others. The whole thing really taught me how something really small can make a big difference. Painting rocks has helped keep me connected with others during the pandemic. I've found communities of rock artists and we share ideas with one another. I've also discovered I have a talent for drawing and painting and have recently begun taking commissioned art requests. I still make sure to paint plenty of "freebies" and I leave them everywhere from gas pumps to hidden in trees. I am so grateful to be able to spread even a little bit of kindness during this difficult time.
Being a 25-year Suicide Survivor and my QPR (Question Persuade Refer) Suicide Prevention Training Save a Life of a Total Stranger 2000 miles awayI just wanted to send you the story about meeting Chaz Ah You, the young man that went from a total stranger to another son. He is a football player at BYU. It was a very emotional meeting but one I'll never forget and treasure ALWAYS. I was able to save Chaz's life through divine intervention and QPR Suicide Prevention Training. That is why we can't sugarcoat the importance of addressing suicide prevention head-on. It's not a comfortable conversation nor is it warm and fuzzy, but we have to have those uncomfortable conversations to become comfortable to evoke change. I am so glad Chaz is here. We will continue to have these uncomfortable conversations to change not only how people view suicide but to educate and break down the walls of stigma to STOP suicide. Have some tissues when you view this story. Everyone should take QPR Suicide Prevention Training! It saves lives! 25-years ago, my Aunt Kellie nicknamed "Aunt Spankie" saved my life when I called and told her, "She could have my shoes," she didn't hesitate to have me involuntarily committed. She's a HERO in my eyes because she did whatever it took to save my life. She didn't worry about me getting mad at her, my mother, or my grandmother being mad. As bad as February 14th, 1995, was to be involuntarily committed, handcuffed, and taken to a mental health facility, it saved my life and started me on the long road to recovery. It also awakened me to help others like me, especially in my culture and people of color. Mental health isn't one size fits all. Today, I'm a board member with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) NC, a volunteer with AFSP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention), MHA (Mental Health America) of Central Carolinas, an NC certified Peer Support Specialist, a certified Mental Health First Aid for Youth Instructor and a certified QPR (Question Persuade Refer) Suicide Prevention Instructor. When the Governor of NC issued the Stay Home Order in March, I was given the opportunity to do QPR Suicide Prevention Training online. I had no idea I was going to train so many. I started training on March 26th, through May 30th and trained 600 people from 23 states and 5 countries for FREE. I took a break in June and started back training in July, finishing on December 19th. To date, I have trained over 1000 people from 24 states and 5 countries . I am not done. I plan on continuing my quest to stop suicide through paid and free training online until the QPR Institute tells us to stop training online and go back to face to face. That's over 1000 people that are now certified "Gatekeepers that can and will save a life through positive action while providing HOPE. I have trained people from all walks of life, sports psychologists, directors of sports medicine, directors of nutrition, teachers, a congressional aid, social workers, student-athletes, pastors, an NFL player, therapists, social workers, college professors, 10-D1 college football coaches (Michigan, AZ, Wake Forest, BYU, Navy, Perdue, and others) former Charlotte Mayor, Jennifer Roberts, DA Spencer Merriweather, 36 nursing students from NCCU, sorority sisters (AKA & ZETA), colleges students, two CBS News producers, a CBS News reporter, a local news reporter, nurses, an entire college conference (Sunshine State Conference), 56 student-athletes from the Sunshine State Conference, 80 student-athletes from WSSU, a Native American reservation, directors of sports wellness, numerous college athletic trainers (Carolina, Ohio State, UMASS, Liberty University, Howard University, South Carolina, UCF, UT, Clemson, High Point University, UVA, UGA, WSSU, FAMU, Notre Dame College, UMass, and Eastern Washington to name a few) and many others have taken the training. In an hour and a half, that is how long the training is, I can train anyone how to recognize someone in crisis or suicidal, talk and listen to them in a nonjudgmental way and help them to get the help they need all the while providing HOPE and positive interaction. The training teaches you that anyone can save a life while being positive and providing HOPE. I also use my own suicide attempt to dispel the stigma that surrounds mental health and to show you can get the help you need, you can recover and you can have a good life. You don't have to be a professional to save a life. You just have to care.
A Postcard From a FriendSent to me by a friend who lives less than half an hour from me, this is an example of how the world has reverted in some ways during the pandemic. Written letters and postcards are largely objects of the past, yet this was an effort at analog connection in the digital world, one that required thought and care to produce.