year of kindness challenge: wrap-up + reflections

year of kindness button

Last week’s kindness challenge — the final challenge in this Year of Kindness — was to forgive someone. I am a fierce believer in forgiveness. When you forgive someone, you set yourself free from the cage of anger and pain and bitterness. As I mentioned before, this past year was a tough one for me at times. There was so much love and growth and laughter, but there was a lot of pain, too. The hardest part was knowing that I caused others pain, in particular two people I cared for deeply. I can’t know, and can’t control, whether they ever forgive me. But this past week, crossing the bridge from 2013 into the sparkling new year 2014, I knew I had to forgive myself.

Sometimes, real life is messy and difficult. Sometimes, being true to yourself and listening to your gut creates collateral damage. Sometimes, you are confronted with a decision and there is no pain-free choice to make. But I know in my heart that I made the right one. Sometimes, pain is necessary to avoid a much greater avalanche of pain in the future.

So this week, I finally wrote a letter of forgiveness. To myself. And I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. It was a fitting end to this year of kind acts: being kind to myself.

I learned and grew so much from this year of kindness challenge.

kindness collage

Here are my top 5 take-aways:

1. Aesop is right: “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” This year has solidified my belief that even small acts of compassion and joy — smiles, cards, a few minutes out of your day to help someone — can make a big difference. You never know how very much your kindness might mean to someone!

2. Want to be happy? Be kind. I learned that if I’m in a sad or grumpy mood for whatever reason, the quickest way to turn my day around is to do an act of kindness for someone else.

3. Little by little, big things can happen. This time last year, the idea of doing 52 unique random acts of kindness seemed like a huge, overwhelming task. But by focusing on one act per week and integrating it into my routine, doing acts of kindness became a habit — something I soon looked forward to every week! I was also so inspired by the support and encouraging words I received from readers and fellow bloggers. Special thanks to Lauren, Lindsay, Danica, and Gayle for contributing kindness act ideas for the project!

4. Being brave and putting yourself out there is SO worth it. There were times I was nervous to do acts of kindness. Striking up conversations with strangers, buying coffee for people in line behind me, reaching outside my comfort zone … it can be scary to put yourself out there! But every single time, I was left with a huge smile on my face and gratitude in my heart.

5. Have faith. It’s a magical world we live in. Time and again, I have been blown away this past year by the wonderful connections and coincidences that have happened — and by the acts of kindness that others have done for me! Keeping track of acts of kindness has also made me more aware that we are all connected.

bday girl

As always, in love & kindness,
❤ Dallas

P.S.: Head on over to this Year of Kindness Challenge page to see all the archived posts from the entire year!

Questions of the day:

  • What is something you need to forgive yourself for?
  • What are your final thoughts & reflections on this year of kindness?

year of kindness challenge: week 36

year of kindness button

Happy Monday, friends! How was your weekend? It was H-O-T here in Danville … you can bet I’ve been drinking a ton of smoothies and iced tea! This weekend I went with my grandparents to see Eugene O’Neill’s play “Anna Christie” and it was fantastic! The actors were so talented and the writing was superb. It was very inspiring to me, as I’ve lately been working on a full-length play of my own.

Even though it still feels like summer, since it is now officially September and football season has begun and the pumpkin-flavored drinks are back at Starbucks, on Saturday I decided to bake my first pumpkin pie! It turned out great {much better than my disastrous pie that longtime blog readers might remember from last autumn, haha.} I also had a lovely lunch at CPK with my aunt and cousin, and yesterday I went to another cousin’s soccer game — she scored two goals! I was bursting with pride. It’s such a blessing to get to spend lots of time with my extended family.

This past week’s kindness challenge was to compliment a salesman to his or her manager. I went shopping at Whole Foods for the first time {after reading for months now about how amazing WF is on Robyn’s lovely blog The Real Life RD} and a very nice saleswoman helped me find coconut flour. When I told her it was my first time shopping at Whole Foods and that I’ve recently started going gluten-free, she also helpfully pointed out other gluten-free products. So I made sure to catch her name, and before I left I spoke to the manager about how wonderful she was. It took all of two minutes, and it certainly gave my day a boost!

That simple act of kindness also made me think about how often the feedback we give to others, especially in corporate or business situations, is negative. I think most of us are more likely to go through the trouble of contacting a company with a complaint or write a product review warning others not to purchase the product than we are to give compliments or positive reviews. So, the Week 36 Kindness Challenge is to fill out a feedback form with five star ratings, write a positive review of a book or product you love, or even call that “How am I driving?” phone number on the back of a semi-truck and rave about the truck driver’s wonderful driving skills. 

Here’s a related quote that my dad sent to me that I absolutely love:

“You have it easily in your power to increase the sum total of this world’s happiness now. How? By giving a few words of sincere appreciation to someone who is lonely or discouraged. Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish them over a lifetime.” — Dale Carnegie

As always, blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com.

Have a fun-filled Monday!
– Dallas

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year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
– week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold
– week 5 challenge: do something kind for a neighbor
– week 6 challenge: deliver valentines to a nursing home
– week 7 challenge: donate to a food pantry
– week 8 challenge: donate toiletries to a shelter
– week 9 challenge: post a kind note in a public place
– week 10 challenge: do something kind for a child
– week 11 challenge: thank someone in a genuine & meaningful way
– week 12 challenge: deliver baked goods to a fire station
– week 13 challenge: give someone flowers
– week 14 challenge: donate books
– week 15 challenge: reach out and spend time with people
– week 16 challenge: smile at everyone you meet
– week 17 challenge: pick up litter/trash
– week 18 challenge: write a kind note to a mom figure in your life
– week 19 challenge: leave an extra-generous tip
– week 20 challenge: donate blood/join bone marrow registry
– week 21 challenge: visit a cemetery and pay respect
– week 22 challenge: practice a little patience
– week 23 challenge: call 3 loved ones on the phone
– week 24 challenge: do something kind for a senior citizen
– week 25 challenge: pay for someone’s public transportation
– week 26 challenge: volunteer at a food pantry or soup kitchen
– week 27 challenge: send a care package to someone in the military
– week 28 challenge: give at least one compliment every day
– week 29 challenge: do a favor for someone else
– week 30 challenge: scatter lucky pennies around a playground
– week 31 challenge: mail an empowering postcard
– week 32 challenge: plant something
– week 33 challenge: donate school supplies
– week 34 challenge: give a sandwich to a homeless person
week 35 challenge: compliment a salesperson to their manager

year of kindness challenge: week 25

year of kindness button

Hi everyone! Hope your week is off to a great start! And welcome to our new subscribers — so happy to have you joining us! Thank you to everyone for letting my blog be part of your day. It really means a lot to me!

My weekend was filled with wedding craziness — I was a bridesmaid in my dear cousin Amanda’s wedding! Full wedding recap coming tomorrow; for now, here’s a sneak peak picture of me and the beautiful bride just a few minutes before she walked down the aisle:

cuz bride!

Now, on to the kindness! Last week’s Kindness Challenge was do something kind for a senior citizen. This could mean calling or writing a note to a grandparent, offering to carry an elderly person’s groceries to their car, bringing in the mail for an elderly neighbor, visiting people at a nursing home … or whatever inspires you!

I recently connected with a new friend, Jeri, through a local volunteer organization called Caregivers that serves senior citizens. {Longtime blog readers might remember my friend Jewell, who I met in high school while volunteering through Caregivers and whose memory inspired me to bring Christmas cards and cookies to her former nursing home this past holiday season.} Jeri is a friendly, sweet elderly woman who can no longer drive due to health issues and failing eyesight. This past week, I drove her across town to her church, where she taught an hour-long line-dancing class to half a dozen other elderly women, and then I drove her home. I enjoyed visiting with her and listening to her many interesting life stories — she used to own a Dude Ranch! — and it was so inspiring and fun to watch the ladies line dance! They had SO much more rhythm than I do!

The Week 25 Kindness Challenge comes from my lovely blogger friend Ashley at A Happy Lass {if you haven’t checked out her blog, I would highly recommend popping on over! It’s wonderful!} and it is to do something kind for people riding public transportation. Ashley says, “I ride a bus and a train to work and was thinking I could do something for the people there. Maybe I’ll pay the bus fare for the person behind me on my way into work and back home. I’ve done this before and, usually, their faces light up, it seems to brighten their commute.”

As always, blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com.

Have a wonderful week!
Dallas

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year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
– week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold
– week 5 challenge: do something kind for a neighbor
– week 6 challenge: deliver valentines to a nursing home
– week 7 challenge: donate to a food pantry
– week 8 challenge: donate toiletries to a shelter
– week 9 challenge: post a kind note in a public place
– week 10 challenge: do something kind for a child
– week 11 challenge: thank someone in a genuine & meaningful way
– week 12 challenge: deliver baked goods to a fire station
– week 13 challenge: give someone flowers
– week 14 challenge: donate books
– week 15 challenge: reach out and spend time with people
– week 16 challenge: smile at everyone you meet
– week 17 challenge: pick up litter/trash
– week 18 challenge: write a kind note to a mom figure in your life
– week 19 challenge: leave an extra-generous tip
– week 20 challenge: donate blood/join bone marrow registry
– week 21 challenge: visit a cemetery and pay respect
– week 22 challenge: practice a little patience
– week 23 challenge: call 3 loved ones on the phone
week 24 challenge: do something kind for a senior citizen

year of kindness challenge: week 22

year of kindness button

Happy Wednesday, friends! I made my first smoothie of the summer for breakfast this morning and it was fabulous! I just threw a random assortment of fruit that I had in my fridge into the blender: a handful of strawberries, some honeydew, some cantaloupe, a small container of blueberry greek yogurt, ice, spinach, and some coconut water to get things movin’. It tasted delicious! Definitely going to be making a lot of smoothies this summer! I’d love to hear some of your favorite smoothie recipes — please share in the comments below! 🙂

There has been SO much kindness happening in my world this week! The thing about kindness is, once you start to notice and pay attention to it, you see kind acts everywhere! That might be my favorite thing about this #yearofkindness challenge: becoming more aware and attuned to kindness in the world around me.

Here’s just a sampling of kindness I noticed this week:

  • I saw many doors held open for people — at the bank, at the grocery store, at a restaurant. Proof that chivalry {and kindness} are alive & well!
  • I spoke and taught writing workshops at my alma mater middle school, and two students wrote me very sweet, handwritten notes of gratitude. Made my week!
  • Many, many friends and acquaintances, in daily life and in the blogosphere, have preordered copies of my dad’s new book WOODEN & ME … I can’t even tell you how much your support means to me and my family!!
  • My friend and mentor Tania took the time to talk about a painful recurring dream I was having … with her compassion and guidance, I was able to work through some things and come to a place of healing. I am so so grateful for her friendship!
  • On a recent walk on the beachfront path in my town, I noticed an older couple walking along with a trash-bag and one of those trash pick-up gripper sticks, picking up litter all along the beach.

I also loved this Huffington Post piece by Marlo Thomas recapping some random acts of kindness that popped up in the news! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marlo-thomas/12-acts-of-random-kindness_b_3312193.html?utm_hp_ref=tw#slide=more298511

The Week 22 Kindness Challenge is to do an act of patience. This could mean staying calm and not getting upset when someone cuts you off in traffic; or letting someone go ahead of you in line; or politely telling that telemarketer, “Thanks but no thanks” instead of saying something rude. Maybe it means patiently reading your child their favorite book three times in a row, or patiently listening to a friend’s long, drawn-out story on the phone without interrupting. Approach these acts of patience with an open heart and thoughts of kindness, and what once seemed like a chore might turn out to be surprisingly enjoyable — perhaps even full of grace.

As always, blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com.

Have a wonderful week!
Dallas

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year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
– week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold
– week 5 challenge: do something kind for a neighbor
– week 6 challenge: deliver valentines to a nursing home
– week 7 challenge: donate to a food pantry
– week 8 challenge: donate toiletries to a shelter
– week 9 challenge: post a kind note in a public place
– week 10 challenge: do something kind for a child
– week 11 challenge: thank someone in a genuine & meaningful way
– week 12 challenge: deliver baked goods to a fire station
– week 13 challenge: give someone flowers
– week 14 challenge: donate books
– week 15 challenge: reach out and spend time with people
– week 16 challenge: smile at everyone you meet
– week 17 challenge: pick up litter/trash
– week 18 challenge: write a kind note to a mom figure in your life
– week 19 challenge: leave an extra-generous tip
– week 20 challenge: donate blood/join bone marrow registry
week 21 challenge: visit a cemetery and pay respect

my birthday wish: a kindness chain

Hi, friends! Today is my 26th birthday!

my birthday wish

Do you know what would be the best present ever? If you would take a few minutes today to do an act of kindness. Leave a comment below letting me know what you did. I would be so honored if you would form a kindness chain with me!

I’m planning to celebrate today by taking flowers to the local nursing home, paying for someone else’s coffee during a chai latte date with my friend Erica, picking up litter during a run at the park, leaving some kind notes in public places, and visiting the preemies at my local hospital {I was a preemie myself, born three months prematurely, and it is a birthday tradition to visit the parents of preemies in the NICU.} And of course I’m looking forward to spending time with my friends and family, eating yummy food, baking something delicious, and curling up with a good book or one of my favorite chick flicks!

Thank you for celebrating with me! I have a good feeling that it’s going to be one of my most special birthdays yet! 🙂

guest post on AndreaDekker.com!

Hi everyone! I’m excited to share that my guest post “A Random Acts of Kindness Challenge” is being featured on one of my favorite blogs, AndreaDekker.com! In the post I share five easy, inexpensive kind acts that you can do today to brighten the lives of others.

random-acts-of-kindness

Read it here: http://andreadekker.com/random-acts-of-kindness-challenge/

Happy Friday! Hope you have a lovely day and enjoy the long weekend!

year of kindness challenge: week 18

year of kindness button

Hi friends! Here’s to a new week! Hope your Monday is off to a fantastic start!

I had one of those restorative, rejuvenating weekends … slept well, made homemade enchiladas and my special California white chicken chili, 3-hour coffee date with my friend Erica, long visits with my Gramps, quality reading time, yoga, fro yo with Mom, some lovely walks, and a thought-provoking sermon at church where I was welcomed home with open arms. Life is good and I feel so grateful and blessed!

Last week’s kindness challenge was to pick up litter! I went on a walk at one of my favorite spots, the path in my neighborhood that winds along this beautiful barranca and lemon orchards.

barranca path

barranca path 2

I filled up this plastic grocery bag with trash!

trash bag

trash bag 2

On my walk I had another opportunity for kindness: one of the sprinklers on the path was broken and gushing up a ton of water, like a geyser. As soon as I got home, I called the city parks service and let them know, and they promised to get on it right away! Hopefully we saved some water from being wasted!

Here are a couple articles I came across this week about kind acts that warmed my heart:

The Week 18 Kindness Challenge, in honor of Mother’s Day this Sunday, is to write a note to a mother of one of your friends who has had an influence in your life. Alternatively, you could write to another mother-figure in your life, such as an aunt or family friend. Thank them for all the joy and love they have brought into your life!

As always, blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com.

Have a wonderful week!
Dallas

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year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
– week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold
– week 5 challenge: do something kind for a neighbor
– week 6 challenge: deliver valentines to a nursing home
– week 7 challenge: donate to a food pantry
– week 8 challenge: donate toiletries to a shelter
– week 9 challenge: post a kind note in a public place
– week 10 challenge: do something kind for a child
– week 11 challenge: thank someone in a genuine & meaningful way
– week 12 challenge: deliver baked goods to a fire station
– week 13 challenge: give someone flowers
– week 14 challenge: donate books
– week 15 challenge: reach out and spend time with people
– week 16 challenge: smile at everyone you meet
week 17 challenge: pick up litter/trash

year of kindness challenge: week 17

year of kindness button

Hello from California! I have moved back to my home state after finishing up my last semester of grad school, and it feels so nice to be back home in the sunshine with my family!

Last week flew by as I tried to get all my stuff packed up, my furniture sold on Craigslist, my apartment cleaned out … not to mention saying goodbye to the wonderful friends I made at Purdue! I was glad that the kindness challenge this past week was to focus on smiling at everyone you meet, because I was sad about having to say goodbye to people I love, and the extra smiles were a big boost that got me through an emotional week.

with friends

Saying goodbye to some friends at one of our favorite restaurants, an Irish pub

fiction friends

Saying goodbye to MFA friends Natalie and Tiffany.

My mom was so sweet and took off work the whole week to stay with me and help me get ready to move. We worked hard all day and in the evenings had a great time cooking dinner to use up the food left in my pantry, drinking wine and watching marathons of Friday Night Lights. I am a lucky daughter!

Here are some other kind acts I am grateful for that happened this past week:

  • my friend Terrance helped carry carried all by himself two heavy boxes of my stuff to ship home via UPS
  • my friends Shavonne and Tiffany gave me rides to the store and a professor’s goodbye party after I had sold my car and didn’t have transportation
  • my aunt Annie left a sweet message on my voicemail just checking in to see how I was doing
  • a group of students on Purdue’s campus were passing out free popcorn to boost spirits during finals week
  • I received a nice email from one of my students thanking me for “being a great teacher”

The Week 17 Kindness Challenge is to fight back against the litterbugs! Go on a walk at one of your favorite spots, bring along a plastic grocery bag, and pick up every piece of trash you see. Another option would be to challenge yourself to pick up at least one piece of litter every day this week. Or do both! 🙂

As always, blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com.

Have a wonderful week!
Dallas

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year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
– week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold
– week 5 challenge: do something kind for a neighbor
– week 6 challenge: deliver valentines to a nursing home
– week 7 challenge: donate to a food pantry
– week 8 challenge: donate toiletries to a shelter
– week 9 challenge: post a kind note in a public place
– week 10 challenge: do something kind for a child
– week 11 challenge: thank someone in a genuine & meaningful way
– week 12 challenge: deliver baked goods to a fire station
– week 13 challenge: give someone flowers
– week 14 challenge: donate books
– week 15 challenge: reach out and spend time with people
week 16 challenge: smile at everyone you meet

year of kindness challenge: week 5

year of kindness button

Happy Monday, everyone! I’ve heard that it takes four weeks of a behavior before it really becomes a habit. Perhaps that is true, because these kindness challenges are becoming a habit — one that I am loving! It is brightening my everyday life and way of thinking. Concentrating on doing kind acts for others has made more aware of the kindnesses that are done to me. Quite simply, even after just one month, it has made me a more grateful and happy person!

This past week was my favorite yet for the #yearofkindness challenge! The Week 4 Kindness Challenge was to give hot chocolate or coffee to someone out in the cold who could use a bit of warmth. I immediately knew who I wanted to reach out to: the kind older man who works as the parking lot attendant for the local public library, which is just a couple blocks from Purdue’s campus. He reminds me a little of my Gramps and whenever I go to the library, I always wave hello to him.

Last week was a cold, snowy week in Indiana, especially on Wednesday. I woke up and thought, “Today’s the day! I’m doing my act of kindness!” During my lunch break, I walked to the Einstein Bros. that is right next to the library. I had a coupon for a free coffee or frappuccino, but I wasn’t sure if my friend would want caffeine, so I opted for a hot chocolate instead. My act of kindness was a team effort because the nice people working at Einstein Bros. let me use my coupon for a hot chocolate instead of a coffee. {Of course, I *would* have paid for the hot chocolate if need be, but I thought I might as well use the coupon that I had. It’s a frugal act of kindness!} 🙂

I felt a little nervous as I carried the warm cup of hot chocolate over to the parking garage. Doing acts of kindness can feel like putting yourself out on a limb, and I hoped he would like it.

Well, I should not have worried one bit! He smiled and waved hello when he saw me walking over. I said, “I thought you might like some hot chocolate on such a cold day” and handed him the cup, and he just lit up. It was such a neat moment! He smiled the biggest smile and said, “Thank you so much, dearie. That is so nice!”

I beamed the entire cold, snowy walk back to my office. It was the best part of my day and surely a highlight of my week!

Here are some other good things that happened in my world this past week:

  • I received a beautiful card from my dad telling me he loves me and is proud of me. I am incredibly lucky to have the best dad who tells me those two things all the time, but I could never get tired of hearing it! I miss him so much and it is always a wonderful surprise to see his handwriting on an envelope in my mailbox.
  • A waitress gave me a to-go glass of the tea I’d ordered in the restaurant so I could enjoy it on the drive home.
  • A kind maintenance worker came out to my apartment one evening when the heater stopped working. He not only got it working again, he also brought space heaters just in case and could not have been nicer. 

Now on to the Week 5 Kindness Challenge: do something kind for a neighbor. This might mean bringing the newspaper up from their driveway to their front door, shoveling their front walk after you shovel your own, taking their trash barrels up their driveway after the trash is collected, striking up a conversation in the hallway of your apartment complex, baking cookies or making a casserole to bring over … or whatever idea strikes you!

Blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com.

Have a marvelous week!
-Dallas

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year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold

year of kindness: week 3

Happy Monday, everyone! I made it back safe & sound to snowy Indiana. Today’s high is a whopping 12 degrees {yes, that’s Fahrenheit} … I feel like I’ve hopped straight from summer to winter! While I do miss the Florida sunshine, it is wonderful to be back home.

year of kindness button

How did last week’s kindness challenge go for you? I thought it was a quick and simple way to hopefully make someone smile. It made me feel great to think about someone lugging their laundry bag and soap down to the cold and cramped apartment basement, and then finding this note and quarters waiting for them on the communal laundry machines:

kindness challenge week 2

A couple bucks has never made me feel happier!

As I mentioned in last week’s post, this year of kindness challenge is already making me feel more attuned to acts of kindness done to/for me. Here are some lovely things that happened to me this past week:

  • a man helped me lift my heavy carry-on bag into the overhead compartment on my flight to Key West
  • I got to meet the incredibly kind and sweet Judy Blume, a literary icon of mine
  • a fantastic writer and person — and new friend who I met at the Key West conference — Gigi Amateau surprised my conference roommate {a fellow grad student} and me by generously picking up the check for dinner one night
  • everyone at the conference was so warm, friendly and welcoming

My dad also wrote a terrific column for the Ventura County Star newspaper this week featuring three beautiful acts of kindness! You can read it online here.

Now here’s the challenge for this week: write and send a kind note to someone who could use a bit of cheer. This could be a friend, relative, acquaintance, neighbor … anyone who pops into your head who perhaps you haven’t talked to in a while or who is going through a tough time.

Have a marvelous week! I would love to hear your stories of kindness in the comments section below, or feel free to email me at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com.

Till soon,
Dallas ❤