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What do you think the most thankless job in America is? I had my own idea but decided to take an informal poll among friends, family, and of course Facebook. It turns out, garbage collectors won by a landslide. I can’t say I was surprised. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, we create an additional one million tons of waste, which is a whopping 25% more that our collectors have to pick up and haul away.

These are people that are part of our lives, in our backyards or front sidewalk, taking away all our decay, the stuff we don’t want or no longer serves us. Yet even though these guys are in my living space every week, I really had no idea what they might look like or what their names were. I started to wonder so I woke up early one Friday morning and waited for them to roll down my alley.

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I must have looked like a total loon waving my hands and carrying my camera but they stopped the truck and hopped out at my back gate. I introduced myself while Vejay, Lionel and Joe pulled off work gloves to shake my hand. We chatted for a moment and I told them I was interested in doing a kindness project for garbage collectors. I asked them what kind of kindness they thought was needed.

Joe leaned against the garbage can and said, “You know, we just need a little respect.”

“Yep, pretty sure everyone needs and deserves that, huh?” I replied.

“Yes, they do. Yes they do.” Joe said.

The kindness mission was sparked. What could be a more lovely and simple message of respect than saying, “I see you, I value your contribution to my community and I thank you.”?

Sometimes it is the smallest act of kindness that makes the greatest impact on a person. Meeting a basic human need may be all it takes to make a change. All I could imagine was Joe lifting can after can with notes of gratitude attached, throughout an entire neighborhood, maybe even a whole city.

So I asked the kids in my daughter’s kindergarten class if they would like to join me in writing thank you notes since they had just been learning about community helpers. The kids were stoked to take the mission on and the kindness started moving. Word traveled and seven more schools wanted in.

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awesome thank you note from the kids at Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts

Here is the kindness mission, if you would like to join us:

1. Write a note of thanks to your garbage collector sometime from now until February 3rd.

2. You may want to include a gift card for coffee from your local coffee shop or gas station.

3. Attach it to your garbage can on pick up day for your collector to find.

4. Take a picture and send it to patience@kindnessgirl.com or upload it to our Guerrilla Goodness Flickr pool.

5. Tell us in the comments what city you are from so we can see how far our garbage gratitude is traveling. If you invited your school to join us, let us know the school too. Some schools are including their custodians in on the thank you note kindness too!

6. Hit the Facebook or Twitter button below to share or like…we all know Facebook and Twitter rule the world!

Can you imagine if there was a wave of gratitude across an entire nation? Garbage collectors may get kicked off the top of that most thankless job list. I imagine Joe would be just fine with that.

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birthday tattoos, one for each wrist

I woke up to 35 yesterday, so many blessing to count. After some just okay years, as far as birthdays go- I could have never imagined the doozy of a day that was waiting for me. There are years when you are sort of surviving your life, happy to at least be still truckin’ and then there are other years when you celebrate livin’ life- really living and knowing you are standing in yourself, right where you are meant to be.

This was a living year.

Around 11:30am I checked in with social media to find this on Richmond.com:

Yesterday we shared the story of Richmonder Patience Salgado and her Guerrilla Goodness missions. Salgado, known on Twitter as @kindnessgirl, is featured in this month’s O, The Oprah Magazine for her everyday acts of kindness and today, Thursday, Sept. 15, Richmond is celebrating Salgado’s birthday by doing the good for her.

Salgado’s friend, Kira Siddall stealthily used Twitter to send out a message to all of Salgado’s friends and follower with a simple birthday request:

“Do a small act of kindness. Tweet details to @kindnessgirl. It’s her 35th bday, let’s make RVA kinder to celebrate. SPREAD THE WORD.”

Needless to say, I was floored, speechless. After such a week with so much genuine joy, love and well wishes, now my beloved city, would show their love and kindness in this way- it was overwhelming. So I went to my Twitter account and there they were, tweet after tweet after tweet, all with small acts of kindness. 200 Facebook friends shared Kindness Day on their walls and so it spread...a city taken over by kindness.

Things like:

@MDPartner:  Honoring @kindnessgirl and all births today, we played DingDongDitch at OneMonumentAvenue. Anybody hear our smiles?
@busse: drew my kids pictures to find at the breakfast table tomorrow morning Happy Birthday! #smallactsofkindness

@MolleeRVA : I mailed a tiny pumpkin and a thinking-of-you note to a friend who recently moved. #smallactsofkindness

@jenniferemiller: I bought groceries for my elderly neighbor.

@PaulaBHough: brought chocolate bars to mothers grp + xtra 2 share. Then gave bars to random strangers in your honor.

@Julie_Bondy: sent birthday cards to friends this week instead of the usual FB post. Real mail is more fun!

@johnhaydon: @kindnessgirl Happy Birthday. I’m making a donation to a local animal shelter. #kindbirthdaywish

@horhey: In honor of @kindnessgirl , paid someone’s toll this AM. #smallactsofkindness

@fyeahmotherhood: In honor of @kindnessgirl’s birthday, I’m tonguekissing everyone I meet today. Kindness for all!

@ksiddall: Happy bday @kindnessgirl! I’m guerrilla Goodnessing w/ Starbucks cards to celebrate! Be kind today RVA 🙂 http://t.co/oeMlHVGU

@heyart: Buying extra McNuggets to share with all of my mates at work today in honor of @kindnessgirl’s birthday!

@sheenajeffers: In honor of @kindnessgirl’s birthday, I donated $50 to wounded soldiers (thank you ALL for inspiring me to be and do better)!

@gregorysheldon: In honor of @kindnessgirl’s birthday, I gave my favorite barista a $5 tip. cc: @KSiddall

@rvafamilymag: In honor of @kindnessgirl , took my CSA share veggies to daughter’s school for the teachers. #smallactsofkindness

you can read some of the rest here.

I know, I know the potential power of this thing, but to see it move, to watch people gather and find their own way to express it- well, it wakes something up inside you didn’t even think was asleep, and invites you to imagine what can come next. It makes you feel hella proud to be living together, side by side with these people…and makes you want to share and make the circle wider- so wide you can’t even see to the other side but just feel your hand wrapped around the person next to you.

So someone wrote me this week and asked if they could start a Guerrilla Goodness chapter in their town/city- With a resounding “YES!” my e-mail was returned to her through the internets. If this is something you might be interested in, please write me at patience@kidnessgirl.com. I am a total mess right now, not even sure where to start to organize and plan, but I would love to help you (if you feel called) so you can join in this deep joy of living life in a kind city too.

Thank you Wren, Jen, Kira and Chad for the sweetest celebration and to The Empress (new friends Melissa and Carly) for offering your soulful space and amazing  food with us. We can’t wait to come back!

Oh, and I got TATTOOS!!! So ridiculously exciting…and a story for another day! Thank you all for making my birthday one I will never forget.

AND chocolates are coming friends, they sure are!

There are about 57,000 other things I should be doing right now…like answering e-mails for instance! All I can think about is chocolate…and your outpouring of kindness to me from all the O excitement. I feel like I just had a baby, emotionally exhausted and totally blissed out.

So I wrote last night to the Facebook crew (so nice to have new friends, please join us!!):

“GUYS! I think we need some sort of kindness chocolate chain letter exchange…don’t you need a little something chocolatey like right now?”

And you answered because we all need a little bit of something chocolatey…and Laura had an awesome idea of buying a chocolate bar for yourself and then one for a  friend and passing it on, and on, and on…and I thought that was fantastic…imagining how far the chocolate chain might go! So instead of laundry and an insane amount work, I promptly went out and bought an obscene amount of very lovely chocolate this morning.

So here’s the deal:

1. If you are not totally freaked out to Facebook friend a complete stranger or send me a mailing address to patience@kindnessgirl.com, I will SO happily send you a 2 bars of chocolate- one for you, one for a friend or one for you to leave some where anonymously.

2. Along with the bar, you will leave a little encouraging note asking the next person to do the same.

3. If strangers isn’t your thing, start your own chain! The encouraging news is chocolate is almost everywhere (thank God!)

4. If you are in Richmond and want to join in on the chocolate postal kindness magic or chip in with some bars, contact me and we’ll gather chocolate and mail these babies out together!

I can only imagine what chocolate and kindness can do together!!

(for all the pretty lovers- the sunflower doilies were found at the dollar store! The dollar store, I KNOW!)

ETA on 10/2- I have now reached my chocolate gifting limit loves (100 bars! woohoo!!! if you e-mailed me before the 2nd, yours is still coming), but YOU can start your own chocolate chain!! Do it, it’s so much fun!!!

It’s been sweltering, that Virginia kind of southern heat. All I can think about when things are so sticky is

1. I think Virginia might even be hotter than Miami.
2. Somewhere right now Ashley Judd is makin’ a movie with her glistening self with magnolias in the background. I wish I glistened, but we pretty much sweat around here.

We were hankerin’ for some popsicles so off we went to buy a ridiculous amount for both ourselves and Monroe Park. Monroe Park is sort of a haven for homeless folks in our town but is also right next to a university and smack dab in the city. Lots of people that might be interested in some fruity frozen sweetness.

We didn’t have any guerrilla goodness cards with us so Josiah made that awesome sign to stick on the box and MacGyver-ed it with a band-aid at the top. See it? It’s amazing what you can find in the glove box in a pinch, if only there had been some wipes in there it would have been awesome!


I do not really think about what we are doing when we go on kindness adventures, I don’t think about the impact or the purpose…we just sort of go and be in the moment, we meet people, collect stories, play…but this day it was almost as if I was just observing, watching over and it all hit me at once.

My little girls had no fear once we got going, nothing holding them back to connect with folks, offer what we had, become friends. I realized they had absolutely no idea that most of the people they were talking to probably had mental health issues, or struggle with addiction or even that they were homeless…it was just about popsicles, like you would pop a squat with a friend at preschool or tell your dad’s co-worker all about your new stuffed animal. This kind of touched me, seeing their innocence that comes with their age but also realizing, they have done this so many times, met so many people, they don’t really know any different…this is life, a hot summer afternoon.

I felt sort of proud, in that mother look-at-my-babies kind of way… hoping that when they get old, they will be able to make friends anywhere, feel at home in the world and in their heart… see, appreciate and know the beauty of love all around.

An adventure for you:

It’s hot almost everywhere!! Take a box of popsicles to the playground or park and pass them out.

Have fun and tell us how it went in the comments if you decide to play!

Notes:
*Disclaimer*- go at your own risk- go to a place you are familiar with and feel safe! Not everyone feels safe or comfortable mixing with strangers or a public place, it’s okay! You can take a box to the office, or your play date/group, or even the neighborhood!

(I also noticed how much I did NOT want to take pictures of this one, it felt weird…you don’t always have to document, sometimes it’s better to just be.)

 

I love chalkboards, I love them so much! (and we know how I feel about the magic of chalking!) I love writing on black, that nothing is permanent, how bright or simple or strong a message can be. I keep a small chalk board on my front porch, and every month I leave a message for myself and for whoever else might be strolling by.

It is good to see over and over again, to pass by and soak in the things I am hoping to know, trust or live. So Mother’s Day is quickly approaching and I started to wonder about the messages you most need to know when you are a mom.
Some years you really need to know all you are and have held are seen…appreciated and loved, other years it’s light and celebratory, some times reflective and hard, it can be all kinds of things. Truly.

This got me thinking…I love eavesdropping on kid’s conversations, the way they talk to other kids, how honest they are . You laugh and know whatever it is, it’s the truth.
So I had an idea, I wondered if together as a kid to some mom some where, WE could write our messages to our moms or to any mom, when they read it, they will know which message was for them, no matter who wrote it. It would be a community art/kindness project- The GREAT Wall of Motherly Kindness.
I reached out to my friends at a local retail store here in Richmond, Franklin Goose and asked if they would like to partner with me. I was so happy Sheri was down with the idea, but not surprised, she is kind like that!

So here’s how you can be part of the the GREAT Wall of Motherly Kindness:
1. If you live in RVA, please go do something nice for yourself in Carytown, drop by Franklin Goose and write your message on the wall or chalk the sidewalk! Kids are invited too- kid art is the best kindness to mothers! The wall will be up from now until Mother’s Day! (May 8th)
2. If you aren’t local, leave a message in the comment section or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and we will add your message to the wall! Don’t worry, I will friend or follow back! 🙂
3. Start your own wall! Do you have a place in your community where you could put a blackboard? I bet the friends in your city or town would love to share the love! We can also use your twitter feed as our virtual blackboard by using the hashtag #motherlykindness. Or add your blackboard, sidewalk message pictures to the Guerrilla Goodness Flickr Pool. …OR even head over to your mama’s house, grandma’s house, or some one that has been a mother to you and leave a chalk message for her!
4. Check back for pictures- yours and ours, we’ll be posting them all week!

Check out the wall and the all the buzz to love:

Behind the scenes: the real kindness story

Sheri so graciously got one blackboard going and then I started working on finding an old school rolling blackboard. It is at this point I must share with you how crazy kindness things unfold in my life. I was late for an appointment and school pick up, babysitting fell through, one huge chaotic event after the other, life as usual. I knew we needed the GREAT wall (i.e. blackboard) but had NO idea where I was going to find one or get it to the store. In the chaos of the tardy pick up, I quickly asked my dear friend Jean (L’s preschool teacher) if she had one we could borrow.
2 minutes later, she rolls this bad boy out in the parking lot! I start to laugh, there is no way I could take it. I don’t know what I thought I was going to do when I asked. She so kindly offered to bring it to my house for me. When she got to my house, she let me know the church just happened to be getting rid of some things that very day and the blackboard was mine to keep! My kindness brain was exploding with ideas. After all that, she asked all the right questions to reveal I had no way to transport it and she and Don took it to the store for me.

I can’t tell you how touched I am EVERY time, it is like this over and over again…and every time I am just as amazed by the power of kindness. SO thank you, THANK YOU Jean and Don…for such kindness to me.

Can’t wait to read your messages….much motherly love to you all!