Kindness Catching On During Back-to-School Rush

There must be something in the water, or maybe back-to-school time brings out the best in people. Whatever the case, I’ve gotten to hear lots of great stories lately that I want to share with you.

Like this one from Sandy:

“The most awesome thing happened to me today. I am moved beyond words. I went to Wal-Mart to purchase my classroom supplies. I was purchasing notebooks, scissors, red pens, pencils, rulers, colored pencils and sharpeners for the kids who can’t afford them, choose not to purchase everything on the list, or just plain forget an item. I also bought some things to organize my classroom. My total was $122. As I was digging out my money, the lady behind me held out a check and said she was covering half the cost. She said she knew I was a teacher and she just really wanted to help. I protested but she wouldn’t hear of it. What an amazingly generous and kind thing to do for a total stranger! I am still beyond words and will definitely pay it forward!”

Here’s another great story from Shelly:

“I’ve had a rough week or so. I was sitting at home feeling awful for myself and missing my daughters, so I decided to go to the store. I was in the parking lot and an elderly lady in a motorized scooter asked me if I would return it to the store for her. Sure! Then I was looking at comforters and the mom of an incoming college student asked an associate a question the employee couldn’t answer, so I helped them out. Then I saw a friend who had a precarious load in her cart, and I helped her out so she wouldn’t lose all of her cupcakes on the ground. I feel so much better! Those little acts of kindness sure do a whole lot of good for the spirit!”

Kristi had a neat experience she wanted to share:

“I was shopping at Sam’s Club when something nice happened. My cart wasn’t full, but I had some bulky items. There were several employees standing at the cash register, so I began unloading. That was when one of them informed me that the checkout lane actually wasn’t open. I probably had an upset look on my face as I put the items back and found another checkout. When I finished the transaction, a manager approached me with a gift card. He apologized and suggested that the staff could have helped me. Customer service is alive and well at Sam’s Club.”

Finally, Arletta, wanted to say thank you to the stranger who went out of his way to save the day:

“I am a late evening clerk at the Family Fare in West Fargo. We are not allowed to keep purses at our till, so I keep my things with me in a plastic bag. I stopped at Wal-Mart on the way home for some bird seed that is not carried in our store and didn’t realize I’d left my wallet in a cart in the parking lot. The next morning, a man rang my doorbell and returned the wallet. I was so flustered I didn’t get his name. I ran an ad in the newspaper, but I just wanted to reach out one more way through this kindness column to try and tell him thank you.”

Whether it’s something in the water or just the time of year, I’m glad to see so much proof that kindness is catching on.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her column runs every Saturday. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.

Kindness is Not Put on Hold

I was speaking at an event recently when a woman raised her hand and asked me, “Have you found that kindness truly is contagious?”

What a great question. The answer I gave her was a resounding “Yes!” but I struggled to come up with an immediate specific example. Sometimes kindness comes directly back to us, and sometimes it’s passed on to the next person. There are so many stories, so I was embarrassed when my mind wouldn’t work quickly enough to filter through them all and find just one to share with the group.

I thought of that question when reading a story from my friend, Tania, about her trip to the grocery store. Tania is the type of person who has a smile and encouraging word for every person who happens to cross her path, whether she knows them or not. She found out the kindness she has been spreading is indeed contagious. Here’s her letter.

“Often we hear that kindness given will be returned to us, but seldom is it immediate. Today, it was immediate for me. I was running behind at the grocery store and rushing to check out. There was only one lane open.

“I had a full cart, so when I noticed a lady get in line behind me with only two items in her hand, I motioned for her to go ahead. She thanked me and went on. Then, as I continued to unload my cart of goodies, another older woman came up, asking if I minded her going in front of me because she only had one item and a friend was waiting for her. I’ve been the recipient of kindness too many times in my life to forgo this small gesture, so I said ‘of course,’ and on she went.

“Finally, it was my turn. Halfway through, as the cashier was ringing up my large amount of items, I felt this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I realized I didn’t have my debit card. This particular store accepts only debit or cash, and I had neither.

“I looked at the cashier and confessed, expecting I would have to slink out of the store in embarrassment (as there was now a long line behind me to witness my transgression). Immediately though, she said she’d finish ringing my order, call the manager to put the order on hold for later, and wheel my cart in the freezer to keep it cold. That would give me time to run home and get my card.

“I looked at her with gratitude in my eyes, believing I was receiving kindness because I’d given kindness. I promised a quick return and headed out of the store, believing this to be the end of my kindness moment. Yet, God wasn’t done giving me a wink (as a friend of mine so lovingly puts it).

“I was almost to my car when the store manager came out after me. He walked up to me, stated that he’d personally pay for my order, so I could take it home, if I’d only come back later today and pay him back.

“For what seemed like too long, I simply stared at him. I couldn’t believe he was offering to do this for me. I said thank you, got my bags, and headed home.

“My heart was full of gratitude and clarity. I’d said ‘hi’ to this man every time I’d entered his store, never expecting for anything to come of the simple act, but today something did. Kindness does come back around and everyone does understand it. Needless to say, this gentleman’s kindness was quite unnecessary, but it didn’t go unnoticed and it will be returned many times over.”

Thanks, Tania. It’s pretty amazing when we get to give and receive kindness, when all we planned to do was buy groceries.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her column runs every Saturday. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.

Kindness Can Clean Up the Biggest of Messes

I had the strangest thing happen to me the other day. Someone totally burst my kindness bubble, and I was left standing in the middle of my bedroom wondering if I should scream, cry or just go back to bed and pretend it never happened.

I was home, recovering from my mastectomy surgery and unable to do anything for myself. Literally, I was told not to lift anything heavier than a can of soup. No pouring my own milk, no putting dishes in the dishwasher, no scrubbing down kitchen counters.

Perhaps you can imagine with three active children in the house how incredibly sticky and gooey a home can become in a few short hours. Well, it had been two weeks since my house had seen a vacuum or a washcloth, so in a pinch, I took a suggestion and called a cleaning lady who came highly referred by a good friend.

The day of the cleaning arrived, and I was beyond excited to see the woman arrive at the predetermined time. I walked her through the house and showed her where everything was and explained what needed to be done. I left her a check for $125. Expensive, but this was going to be an all-day job.

I thought it would be best to just get out of her way for a bit, so my girlfriend drove me uptown to get my hair washed, since that, too, is something I couldn’t do on my own.

Just over two hours later, I returned home.

Maybe you can guess what happened, but I would never in a million years have imagined that a person could look me in the eye, agree to do a job, and then basically take the money and run.

Yep. I’d been had.

I called the woman and asked if perhaps she was out having lunch and planned to return soon to complete the job.

She sounded confused and then said, “No. I finished the job. Well, my son got sick so I had to leave, but I finished the job.”

Let’s just say that the conversation deteriorated from there. I may have, in my very kindest voice, asked her to explain exactly what she had cleaned since I could not see any strong evidence of her existence.

I hung up the phone, not proud of myself and not proud of people in general. All of a sudden, the world, and everyone in it, including myself, looked very, very dark.

I stood in my bedroom trying to figure out what to do next. Should I cry? Should I scream? Should I head back to bed? Someone I didn’t even know had offended me, and I was coming unglued.

I have learned that you are supposed to pray for your enemies, and at that moment, that lady felt like an enemy. So I prayed. I asked God to show me both my behavior and her behavior from his perspective. I asked him to forgive me and to forgive her. I asked him to make that horrible feeling in my stomach go away. I never thought he’d use kindness to answer my prayer.

At just that moment, the back door opened, and I heard the the voice of my 5-year-old son who was hanging out with his favorite baby sitter for the day. They were not supposed to be home for another four hours, because I was supposed to be sleeping and recovering from surgery.

Baby sitter Kelsey took one look at me and said, “What’s wrong?” I spilled the whole story, while Ben ate his lunch and Kelsey listened sympathetically. Then she said, “You need to sleep. I’ll take care of it.”

Four hours later, when I walked out of my bedroom, still feeling groggy from sleep and painkillers, I smelled oranges and lemons and freshness.

My house was clean. From top to bottom, every inch of my house had been turbo-cleaned in four hours by the world’s best baby sitter (I also call her my friend) and her 5-year-old sidekick.

The horrible feeling in my stomach had been replaced by immense gratitude.

Now, when I think of that day and that cleaning lady and my not-so-kind behavior, all I can think about is the amazing power of kindness to turn something bitter into something beautiful.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her column runs every Saturday. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.

Fighting Cancer with Kindness

I’ve held the belief for a while now that if you truly want to be happy and feel fulfilled, you have to get your mind off yourself and onto the needs of others.

Constant introspection makes your problems bigger, your pain more acute and your life pretty dismal. When you can get out of your own head and your own little world, and fix your focus on the needs of the people around you, your troubles become less troublesome.

At least that’s my theory.

Cancer has given me a unique opportunity to test out that theory.

There have been plenty of days when I have wanted to accept the invitation to my own personal pity party. To be honest, there have been plenty of days when I have.

But not every day. Most days I fight the urge to go down that black hole using my No. 1 weapon: kindness.

I remember one day, early on in my diagnosis when I was haunted by dark feelings. I just couldn’t escape myself and my sad/angry/spiteful attitude. I was being particularly ugly to my children and my husband, who had no choice but to stand there and take it. Mom has breast cancer, after all. We wouldn’t want to upset her by gently pointing out that she is being a nasty beast.

Anyway, I was driving down a street a few miles from my home when I noticed a woman my age whom I’d seen around town. She was homeless, but living in a tent in a neighbor’s yard. I had picked her up a few times and driven her to wherever she was going.

On this particular day, she was walking along the side of the road. I pulled over and rolled down my window. “Hi! Need a ride?”

She thanked me, but declined.

My fiercely independent new friend had just gotten a job that required her to wake up at 4 a.m. so she could walk several miles to get to her job before her 6 a.m. shift started.

For several nights in a row, I had been lying in bed in the wee morning hours listening to the thunder and thinking of my friend walking in the rain.

Now, today, I was face-to-face with her and I had a choice. I could ask her what I was thinking or I could let her fend for herself.

Even in my growly mood, I chose kindness.

“Are you still walking to work? Do you need me to drive you? Or pick you up after your shift?” I asked.

“Actually, I’m saving up for a bike,” she replied.

All of a sudden, a lightbulb went on. I told her to stop by my house and pick up the extra bike that was sitting in my garage.

That evening, she shyly walked up to my house to retrieve the bicycle.

“I’ll bring it back as soon as I get paid and can get my own.”

“No,” I said. “It’s a gift. I want you to keep it.”

She stood looking at me in a state of total disbelief.

I went on to explain that I had noticed how hard she had been working to get her life back on track. I told her she was an inspiration to the people around her, including me.

She didn’t know quite what to say as I stood there desperately trying to speak life into her soul. With tears streaming down her face, she gave me a hug.

All of sudden, I didn’t have cancer. I didn’t have a black cloud hanging over my head. I didn’t have a feeling of ugliness painted like tar across my lungs.

I was light and I was free.

I had tested out my theory on kindness, and it was true. When you get out of your own head and fix your focus on the needs around you, your troubles become less troublesome.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her column runs every Saturday. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.

Be Kind Enough to Say I’m Sorry

I had to apologize to my neighbor for being so crabby to her and her grandchildren. We all went to a party at the community center, and I was off. Way off. Nothing was right. I should have been quarantined in a room by myself, but unfortunately, I wasn’t, and no one was safe from my venom.

That was nearly a year ago, and I still remember it like it was last night.

Then there was that time when I totally laid into my husband about forgetting to put the baby sitter’s phone number into his phone. That was not our best date night ever.

Then there was the time when I … well, never mind. I think you get the point. This lady who loves kindness can get really ugly in a hurry.

But the thing about incorporating kindness into your daily life is that when you are unkind, you can feel it in a hurry. And that feeling does not sit well.

Having to apologize is humbling, humiliating even, but it provides another avenue to being kind.

My friend’s husband is a doctor. He is really good at what he does, but I think he’d agree that he is a much better doctor, and a better person, than he used to be because he has learned that income and education and titles don’t make you better than anyone else.

Not too long ago, he was heading out of town for some sort of camping trip. He realized he had forgotten his utility knife, so he popped into Wal-Mart for a new one.

He found exactly what he needed on the shelf right above the $29.99 price tag. Happy to be on his way, he walked up to the checkout, only to find out his $29.99 knife was ringing up at $80.

A manager was called over and quickly asserted that the knife was placed on the wrong shelf. It was indeed $80, and because of the huge cost difference, the store couldn’t honor the lower price.

My friend’s husband handled the situation, shall we say, less than delicately. He went on to say some not-so-nice things and pretty much verbally attacked the store manager. Then he marched out of Wal-Mart, got in his car and drove away.

And then he started to think.

He wasn’t too far down the road when the weight of his words hit him in the gut full force.

The kind doctor stopped the car, pulled out his phone and called the store. When the manager got on the phone, the conversation went something like this, “Sir, I’m the guy who was just yelling at you in the checkout lane. I just want to say I’m very, very sorry. You don’t deserve that treatment, and I am ashamed of myself. Will you please forgive me?”

The manager went on to say things like that happened all the time, but he had never before had anyone call to apologize.

It was probably a humbling experience for both men and one they will long remember.

Sure, it’s best when we can totally control our words and emotions and act with kindness from the get-go, but when that doesn’t work, being kind enough to say, “I’m sorry” is pretty powerful, too.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107. Read more from Nicole at www.nicolejphillips.com.

 

Say ‘Yes’ to Kindness

I remember Saul talking to the children earlier this month. It was about two weeks before my July 14 mastectomy. Our three kids were acting like kids sometimes act in the middle of summer: squirrely. They were fighting with each other and complaining about what was or wasn’t in the refrigerator and pretending they couldn’t hear me when I asked them to separate the laundry and unload the dishwasher.

Saul gathered them up quickly for a team meeting while I was out of the room. Among other things, he reminded the kids that I have breast cancer and it would be awfully kind of them to attempt to make my life less stressful.

I only know of this conversation because the 5-year-old, Ben, ratted him out.

Ben walked up to me later in the afternoon and said, “Mom, you have breast cancer, right? Not cancer, ’cause cancer is the one you die from, right? But you only have breast cancer.”

Somehow in five short years of life, Ben had picked up on something that we had never taught him and that certainly isn’t true. He had created a distinction in his mind.

While I did my best to assure him that everything was going to be OK, I started wondering what other beliefs his young mind was holding. I can only hope that somehow, someway, he is picking up on the importance of things like kindness and integrity and generosity.

These are the things that Fargo resident Erica Forster was taught through example by her mother, too. She sent me this letter:

“My mother, Joanne, was an amazing woman. She would help anyone she could. She passed away at the young age of 47 in 2011 to a brain tumor. When her family and friends got together to celebrate her life, I didn’t expect to hear a story of my mother’s kindness that I hadn’t already heard, for I thought I knew them all.

“My mom’s friend, Candace, came to her funeral service. She walked to the podium to speak and of course began telling everyone of how special Joanne was. Then she went on to tell a story of a time my mother helped her unexpectedly.

“Joanne went to work one day at a little store in Rochester, Minn., called The Bread Baker, where Candace also worked. Candace told my mom how her car had finally broken down and that she was going to look at a new car but didn’t think she was going to be able to afford it. Candace was a single mom with three boys.

“Joanne asked if she could come along when she went to look at the car, and after work, the two of them went to check it out. Candace fell in love with the car, but was still doubtful that she could pay for it. As my mom and Candace started driving away, Candace had no idea what my mom was about to do.

“The next place they stopped was my mom’s bank. My mother took Candace inside and got a loan so she could buy the car she loved! She told Candace to pay her payments when she was able to. Never once did it cross Candace’s mind that day that my mother would help her in such an unimaginable way. Candace ended her story saying she will never forget that day and how she will forever be grateful for my mother and their friendship.

“That’s just who my mom was, she had this saying that she could never say no, not to her kids or to a complete stranger or a best friend. She has passed her kindness on to me, for I can’t say no either.”

Thank you for sharing, Erica. I’m certain my kids can pinpoint quite a few times when I’ve said “no,” but I’m hoping they will remember I always said “yes” when it came to kindness.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her column runs every Saturday. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.

Don’t Let Kindness Skate Past You

Isn’t it interesting how easily your day can be interrupted? You wake up in the morning with big plans, and your day is laid out perfectly. Sometimes the plans are fun and sometimes they are mundane, but inevitably, they are all susceptible to change, whether you like it or not.

For example, you may be having a great time with your family when all of a sudden, the tire pops on your car, and you wind up spending the next two hours waiting for a tow. Everyone is hungry, tired and has to use the bathroom. The fun family outing turns into the day that will never end.

Or you wake up feeling high on life until someone calls with bad news or even uses a tone of voice that sits prickly under your skin and kind of nags at you. Everything you do the rest of the day is colored by that one conversation.

Kindness works the same way, only instead of darkening your mood, it’s an immediate lift to your senses.

I truly believe that you can change your emotions and therefore turn a stormy day sunny just by doing intentional acts of kindness. But if you’re really lucky, like Kelsey from Fargo, the act of kindness will find you.

“I thought I was just taking my son to skate at a local indoor hockey rink on a day off from school, but it turned into such a rewarding experience.

“As we were skating around the rink, I noticed a guy who was trying to get his skates on for quite some time. I started talking with him and found out he was 75 and has Parkinson’s disease, which affected his movement. He hadn’t skated for a few years, and all he wanted to do was try one lap around the ice.

“When he got on the ice he was really struggling. I asked if I could help him. He was shy about it, but agreed. I put my arm around him and we went around about a dozen times nice and slow. My son ended up falling and getting hurt so I told the man to hold onto the boards until I could return. After kissing owies, and making my boy feel better, I turned around to check on the man. He had started to go around the rink by himself, holding onto the boards. Finally he let go and started going on his own.

“The conversation I had in those 30 minutes was probably the best conversation I’ve had in a long time, and the smile that he had after he was able to go around by himself seriously made my day. Still to this day, I’ll never forget that man and the life lesson he taught me that I was able to share with my son.”

Thanks for sharing your story, Kelsey. If you really want to turn around your day, never let a chance to be kind skate past you.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her column runs every Saturday. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.

Hunter Kids Get Shout Out for Kindness

Kindness is a big deal in our house. It’s cause for celebration. We don’t have confetti or banners or balloons that drop from the ceiling, but my kids know they’re going to get a big hug and see absolute joy in their momma’s face when I find out they’ve gone out of their way to be kind.

I, myself, haven’t mastered the act of being kind in all situations, but I have gotten pretty good at recognizing kindness when I see it. So has Carol Siegert of Hunter, N.D., who wanted to share this story of chivalry shown by three young people in her town.

“My husband had a life-threatening health issue in August and is now not able to do some of the activities he could do before, like lifting and carrying things.

“We had not been to town for groceries and other supplies for quite some time, so when we finally did go shopping, we had a ‘boatload’ of things to carry into our home. When we pulled up to our house, the neighbor’s son and two friends were shooting baskets next door.

“We made the attempt to start carrying the groceries and supplies inside when out of the blue (and without being asked or told), these three young boys stopped their basketball game and carried all of our bags into our home. Even the mother was impressed, as she had not asked them to do this.

“This is the type of kindness in our youth that we never read about. I wanted these boys to get the recognition they deserved for their kind act, so much to their embarrassment, I announced to the First Lutheran congregation in Hunter, N.D., what these three boys, Hunter, Logan and Michael, had done for us. Let’s hear it for our wonderful youth!

“Besides being honor students at Northern Cass School, Hunter, Logan and Michael seem to be involved in just about every extracurricular activity that Northern Cass offers.

“Beyond that, the same neighbor boy mows our yard each time he mows his own. How very much we appreciate this!

“In my opinion, these three are priceless and a beauty to our community and school.”

Thanks for calling the boys out on their kindness, Carol! They may be a little embarrassed by the attention, but at least they will know that their acts of kindness are noticed and appreciated. And I wouldn’t be surprised if all of the attention prompts them to look for even more ways to be kind in the future!

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her column runs every Saturday. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.

Be Kind and Give Yourself Some Grace

I don’t even care that I have breast cancer right now. I really don’t. Do you know what I’m distraught about? I’m grieved that the parents of two Park Christian students had to bury their sons this week. I’m grieved because it feels like the entire nation is divided over recent decisions by the Supreme Court. I’m grieved because a man in Fargo, 10 blocks from where I used to live, was killed when he answered the door to a guy asking for a glass of water. I’m grieved because nine people were killed in South Carolina during a Bible study. I’m grieved because I got an emergency phone call from the police department stating that a minivan was stolen with a child in the backseat.

Enough. It is enough.

I want to lock my whole family in the house and refuse to let anyone in or out.

I want to stand on top of a mountain with a megaphone and scream for everyone to just BE KIND.

But since neither of those options will produce the results I’m longing for, I will do the next best thing. I will be kind. Me. I will be kind.

I will simply do what I can today to make the world a little bit better for the people around me. I won’t worry about what the fallout will be from smiling at a stranger or giving money to a neighbor in need. I will just do what I can do today.

We live in a free country where we can set off fireworks and buy guns and worship or not worship. That kind of freedom comes with risk. We are like children who are given a taste of adulthood and get to pick their own bedtime or eat as many treats as they’d like. But as we know, that sort of freedom means we have to pay bills and act responsibly, or we will wind up needing a nap and aching from too much sugar.

What I am trying to say is this: None of us has mastered life. We all get it wrong just as much as we get it right. So give the people around you some grace. When they are hurting because they have lost a child or a friend in some senseless accident, sit with them. Don’t worry about taking a side or getting angry on their behalf. Simply sit in the uncomfortable silence until it becomes comfortable. There is no “right thing to say,” so don’t worry about saying anything. Let your kindness speak for you.

When politics come between you and a friend, ask yourself, “Is it more important to be right or to salvage this relationship?”

Again, I implore you, give others some grace. We never know what path they are walking. And while you are at it, give yourself some grace, too.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her column runs every Saturday. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.

An Act of Kindness Could Last for Generations

We’ve all been there, in line at the grocery store, when either we came up short or the person in front of us did. Maybe that’s why last week’s column about the woman who paid for the elderly man’s groceries resonated with so many of you.

In the past week, I’ve been delighted to hear your stories. Each act of kindness is precious and unique. I’d like to share two of them with you now.

The first is from Alden Sprecher, who lives in Mapleton, N.D., and works at the Village West Hornbacher’s store.

“Last week around noon, a young lady in her 20s stopped at our deli for some lunch. She only spent about $3.50 or so, but when she swiped her EFT credit card, it was rejected. She tried two or three more times with the same result. She comes in quite often, so I knew her, and of course she was embarrassed. She then told me she would have to skip the order and do something else for lunch.

“Almost immediately, the next lady in line said, ‘Let me pay that for her,’ which she did, and the young lady thanked her for her generosity. When the transaction was finished, I thanked the lady myself. She said sometimes people just need to be shown a little kindness.

“Many times I’ve taken some money from my own pocket to help a customer who is short some coins, but sometimes I don’t think fast enough. I could have swiped one of my own credit cards and helped the young lady, but to my shame, I didn’t. I felt embarrassed myself.

“People in the FM area continue to amaze me with their generosity.”

Thanks for sharing your story, Alden, and just think, if you had quickly pulled out your own money, the other lady in line would not have been given such a special opportunity to save the day with kindness! I bet she walked out of the store feeling renewed and energized by her ability to help another woman in need.

Here’s another grocery store story that really touched my heart. It’s from a woman named Jessica.

“My grandpa, John Julius Novotny, passed away two years ago at the age of 92. He served in the Korean War, raised six children in a small home, and worked as a butcher at a neighborhood grocery store called Churchill’s for more than 50 years. In fact, after he ‘retired,’ they called him back to work, less to actually cut meat and more to just talk to the customers. He was a humble man and prayed on his knees every night until he couldn’t get down on his knees anymore.

“I knew he was a great guy, willing to give the shirt off his back to anyone who needed it, but someone told a story at the funeral that really made me stop in my tracks.

“A man in his late 50s walked up to the podium. He said when he was a kid, he was sent to Churchill’s for some ham, but he had already spent the money, so he was stealing the meat. My grandpa caught him in a corner. The guy was sure he was going to call the police. But instead, my grandpa pulled out his wallet, handed him a $5 bill, and said, ‘If you want the ham, you can’t just take it. Now go pay for it. And if you ever need anything again, come to me.’

“As a butcher with six children, my grandfather didn’t have a lot to give, but yet he still gave a lot. This story and my grandpa’s legacy of kindness have inspired me many times to do the kind thing.”

Thanks for sharing your story, Jessica. How long will our acts of kindness make an impact? I guess we never really know. It could be something people talk about for generations to come.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her column runs every Saturday. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.