A friend gave me a beautiful bracelet engraved with an interesting phrase. It says, “Be a silver lining.” Not “Be the silver lining,” but “Be a silver lining.” I love that. It takes the pressure off when you realize you don’t have to be all things to all people, but rather just do what you can do when you can do it.
I made a big decision the other day. I decided to dig the dusty “Kindness is Contagious” manuscript out of the deep recesses of my computer’s archive and bring it to life.
It’s a compilation of 101 stories I’ve written for this column that share the heart of people who have stepped out in kindness. I’ve been working on it, on and off, for several years, but I let it go, because I couldn’t really see the value in re-printing and binding articles that had already been published. But then I had a change of heart.
People long to feel significant. We all want to know we are making a difference in our family or circle of friends or community. Kindness is like an arrow that shoots straight to the heart of a person needing to feel significant. By being kind to others, we remind ourselves that our actions matter, that we matter.
So I’m going to charge on with my idea to publish the book, in hopes that people who read the stories back to back will be compelled to try kindness out for themselves.
I sat down at my computer, opened the 200-page document and began looking forward to a kindness revolution. And then I hit a wall.
A person can only read and re-read something so many times before everything starts to blur. I needed outside vision. Big time.
I mentioned to a few friends that I’d love someone to read the manuscript, but then quickly back-tracked before they could offer to help. I couldn’t possibly ask busy moms to tackle such a huge project.
On a whim, I turned to my email subscription list. These are people who have subscribed to an email I send out about once a month. I basically explained my plight and asked for four volunteers, four people who would read all of my columns and help me figure out which stories to include in the book. As I clicked on the button that would send my plea out to 493 cyberspace strangers, I felt dejected. Who would ever agree to do that for someone? Who could possibly give that much of their time?
My mind wandered. Maybe I could get by with just one or two people reading it. That would be a start at least. I let it go and walked away from my computer.
When I sat down a few hours later, I was greeted with nearly 100 reply emails from people offering to help.
I’m still speechless.
I had to turn people away.
I never in a million years imagined that so many people would be willing to walk this path of publication with me, and to think of it, even now, is humbling. It makes me leak a little from my eyes.
Every one of those people has become a silver lining for me, surrounding this mountain of a task.
You can’t be the silver lining for every person who crosses your path. There are some things people have to do for themselves. I have to write this book on my own. No one can do it for me.
You probably have a Goliath in your life that you need to face on your own, too. But I hope you’ll take a moment in the midst of your battle to see the silver linings and then take one more moment to be a silver lining.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 in The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.