At the end of November 2017 after a pretty tough year and during a 3am moment of insanity, I found myself questioning the good in the world and in people. Earlier in the day, I quite literally saw a teenager push past an older lady. She dropped her shopping. The teenager did not look back or help. I decided to conduct a little experiment whereby I randomly placed self-designed “Christmas Kindness” cards around Perth encouraging people to undertake an act of kindness and send me an email. I left the cards in random places; supermarket magazines, community notice boards, public toilets, on the swing at the park, in the menu on an aeroplane. I didn’t expect a response. I also didn’t tell anyone. Not my husband, my Mum, my Dad or best friend.
I have three words for you at this point. Yes, I’m. Crazy.
I have no words for what followed and my belief in human nature was restored as the responses started to come in.
Fast forward to today. A week ago, I emailed The West Australian newspaper who immediately responded and printed the story on page 3 (02.01.2018) that afternoon, I was interviewed on live radio (882 6PR) by Nine News reporter, Michael Genovese. Although the most nerve-racking moment of my life, after about two minutes, I pulled myself together and managed to sound somewhat intelligent. The concept was one I was only going to do over Christmas but the response has been so overwhelming, leading to you reading this today and introducing “The Cool To Be Kind Project”. Primary goal? For people to realise that kindness is free, kindness is contagious and kindness does have the ability to change someone’s day. We all deserve this. Where it leads, I don’t know but I am tenacious, determined and lucky to be able to embark on a project which has been so positively received.
Some of the responses I have received so far:
“The idea that I could be the reason someone has a better day makes me smile. So my act is to stop just sending messages to people on their birthday. I have made a promise to call, or to write a letter to the people I am closest too. I know how much I love to get mail that isn’t a bill or junk so thank you. really inspiring and a selfless act. Hope your good fortune continues”.
“I was in the car today and heard a story on the radio that seemed familiar. I realised I had picked up a card at Joondalup. I hadn’t done anything with it and when I heard the interview I felt very guilty. You should be so proud that something so simple has gathered a following. It’s my turn to take the direction and try to make someone’s day. I hope that 2018 brings you all the good fortune you deserve. Not many people can say they have been called the nicest person in Perth”.
“Today I knew was a hard day for a friend being the day her divorce was finalised. Even though it was a long time coming, I knew she would struggle. I sent her some flowers and a box of donuts. Nothing big but just to let her know I was thinking of her and her children”.
“Happy Christmas firstly. Yesterday I went to a thrift shop thing. I bought little trinkets and hygiene products. Went to the city. Handed them to homeless people with $5. I spent $100. I learned a priceless lesson. They are just people. With stories. With hope, faith and love. I couldn’t sleep last night with the meaning of Christmas finally becoming clear. It’s not about spending money, buying gifts that are usually used once but it’s about the people who have fuck all (sorry) but still smile and you know what? They said thank you whereas any people don’t have manners. A very sad fact of our current world”.
“For the first time in my life, I have volunteered today to help out at a homeless shelter. Just for a few hours. I am being a bit selfish though because I want to see what it is like and to give me perspective. I have cancer and have been very self absorbed. Not by choice as such but by the grimm reality that I may not be here next year. I am also very lucky, loved and fortunate. I want to feel the spirit from people that really, it is all they have. Thank you for trying to change how we view ourselves. If that is what you are doing. Is it okay if I contact you again with how today goes. Happy Blessings”.
“To Christmas Kindness 2017. What you are doing is incredible. I found your card at Target Joondalup and although I haven’t yet done my good, I wanted to thank you for trying to get people to think of others. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and I will be in touch once I do my good. Have passed the task to my three children and husband too”.
“One person with a good heart, willing to try to make others happy. What a group you guys are. Would love to be involved if there is ever an opportunity. I own a local shop and an elderly couple have been coming in for milk every couple of days. still holding hands. banter about milk brands. then last week, nothing, until about 5 days later. he came in alone after his wife passed away. he said he didn’t want to drink milk anymore but that she would tell him to keep his calcium levels up. he cried. I shut the shop and I walked him to his little house. The next day, I bought him a rose which we planted in his wife’s honour. It wasn’t a big gesture but he was exhaustively happy”.
“I joined the gym. How is this kindness? I’m a big bloke, never felt the need to diet or exercise but age caught up with me. My wife is so worried I’ll “drop dead” – her terms, not mine. I can see the stress on her face when I struggle to get up .Seeing the card on a community notice board was not coincidence. I joined a gym. Scary thought but she is worth it. My kids and grand-kids too. Can’t wait until Christmas morning. Now to work out a good way to tell her”.
“I found a card under my wiper at the shops. Wasn’t on every car so though I had a ticket. Quietly pleased it wasn’t but intrigued. I thought about it for weeks as I like to think that as a Dad of 3 girls I am kind. I didn’t feel I should need an elaborate act. Instead, I thought about the meaning and of Christmas specifically. Two of my best mates lost people in their lives this year. So all I did was pick up the phone and say hi. Told them I was thinking of them. One thing led to another and suddenly we were at the pub. Reminiscing. Smiling. Laughing. Big guys crying. Worth every second and sideways look. Thanks for showing me there is still hope outside my pretty much perfect life”.
“My act of kindness? Perth had a big storm about a week ago. I was driving on the freeway and I stopped to help a lady with a baby that had broken down. It was such crap weather but in my mind, my hair will dry but a baby getting sick at this time of year. Not so lucky. We even exchanged numbers and are catching up for coffee in the new year. Thanks and Merry Kindness Christmas. MKC has a nice ring to it.”.
“Don’t even know if this shit it real. If it is, kudos my friends. We need more people wanting to make a difference, especially this time of year. I forfeited my place at our Christmas lunch, instead, I got a refund, left my office, and went and treated a homeless man, who I often say hi to but never asked his name, to our own lunch. Hands down best thing I’ve ever done. Cheers for putting it out there. How do I go about continuing to spread the message? Cheers and HNY to you and yours”.
“I know my next door neighbour is old and finds this time of year hard. I never thought about it before and realised I have never said Merry Christmas. So I baked some mince pies and took them to her. She was so delighted and thankful. My baking is shit so the mince pies may not have been the best but how I felt was unbelievable. Thanks for turning something so simple into something i hope you do every Christmas”.
“I washed Mum’s car without her asking. she was pretty stoked”.
“Pretty happy to find someone who is happy to pay it forward in real life, not just in social media. Don’t know who you are but you deserve to have a very happy xmas. I found the idea in the menu of my seat on a plane. My pay it forward, put the card in the toilet, and helped someone with getting luggage down. Not a huge help but the lady was so grateful. I felt happy. Merry Christmas”.
“Gave my parking ticket to someone else”.
“Wow. This was random. Hope you are getting a response. I took your idea of smiling at strangers except I said hello to 10 strangers”.
“Just found a card the airport. the lady I was sitting with on the plane didn’t like sitting on the window so I swapped seats with her. She was so grateful and it felt really good. I’m not going to keep this specifically to Christmas. Whoever you are. thank you. And Merry Christmas”.
“My act of kindness was to help a young mum with a baby load the shopping in to her car”.
“Found the card at the petrol station and wanted to say thanks for bringing the spirit of Christmas back. I paid for another person’s petrol and watched when they were told”
Those who know me are aware that I have a blog Be More Mimi supporting other women struggling with infertility and having to have a hysterectomy (I had mine in 2015). The response when it went live in October was very humbling. Between last Thursday and about 30 seconds ago, it has received over 5,400 unique page views which has rendered me speechless (a rarity apparently according to my Dad!)
I am getting messages of support from all over the world, making this the best start to a year I have ever had and it’s only the 8th January!
Although in its infancy, “The Cool To Be Kind Project” does have a Facebook page and I am currently designing cards without the Christmas theme attached to them.
I would love to hear from anyone who has any ideas about the concept and would be willing to help. The project has already been linked to Canada and England simply with offers of help and my belief this could become a global movement grows with every new story and every page like.
Motivated. Yes. Mad. Most definitely. Scared. No.
To the people who took the time to respond, I am so grateful. We often find ourselves time poor, especially at Christmas, so to take notice of a card, read it, keep it and act on it is incredible. You are the ones who are making the difference.
To Kate Emery, Nic Ellis and The West Australian. Thank you for not disregarding my email, writing such a wonderful piece and for actually making me look semi-presentable on New Year’s Day.
To 882 6PR, Tayla Divitini and Michael Genovese. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to tell my story on live radio, even though I was so nervous that I actually made Matt go and listen to it in the car.
To Heidi. For answering my original email and suggesting it as a post on this website. I am so very humbled because you must get so many emails and stories. It is a privilege for me to be able to share not only my story from a medical standpoint but to show people there is still good in the world, you just have to be confident you will find it.
To my family, friends and followers. For commenting, sharing and responding, thank you. It is because of you that this project can begin. The avenues of social media have meant it has been seen all over the world and over 5,000 unique hits on Be More Mimi alone, is mind-boggling.
Sorry this is so long but I had to share the responses with you because they are so damn moving! I still tear up when I read some of them.
In love and kindness