The Act May Seem Random, But Kindness Is Purposeful

It’s true, don’t you think?

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“Practice random acts of kindess and senseless acts of beauty.” Anne Herbert

Kindness is considered a virture. In that it is defined as being “helpfulness towards someone in need, not in return for anything, nor for the advantage of the helper himself, but for that of the person helped”. Or so Wikipedia insists. But I don’t think anyone would dispute it.

“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” Lao Tzu

But when I got out of bed this morning my first thoughts weren’t how can I be randomly kind today. They ran more along the lines of the huge rash my daughter has, the dishes from the Father’s Day celebration held here yesterday that are still spread all over my kitchen. I remembered I had to pay the Weed Man. Make a doctor’s appointment. That I have a another appointment later on today. A meeting tonight.

And random acts of seneless beauty? What is that even? I thought I should be checking Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. And how I really needed to write a blog post. So people will notice me and like me and I’ll sell more books.

Me. Me. Me.

Good gravy, marketing is exhausting.

Sounds a tad whiny, doesn’t it?

It’s okay, you don’t lose points for agreeing. Then I saw something about kindness. A light bulb went on and I was all “Thank you, Universe. For providing.” I needed to work some kindness into my day. For others. And myself. Attitude adjustment time.

I scrolled through websites and Pinterest, in the name of research of course, and I came across what I thought was a gem of an idea from a 30 Day Kindess Challenge. It suggested you “Leave a funny note or a little bit of cash in your favourite library book.”

Isn’t that the sweetest idea? Perhaps not the cash bit. A little bit of cash would probably be considered a dollar or two. I’m from Canada, we don’t have one dollar bills anymore. We have one dollar coins we call loonies and two dollar coins we call toonies. I don’t think that would work, nor would the library police enjoy coins taped to the inside of their books. And call me cheap, but leaving a fiver or a ten seems a bit much. But a note? Or a quote? Or why this particular page is your favourite? Or if you like this book you should try this other book? Or just a scribble. I think that’s an awesome idea. You could slip a note in books you loan out. I could slip them in books I sell. In fact, I think I will.

Kindness doesn’t have to be complicated. (Unless your Miriam Toews and your novel is called A Complicated Kindness and the story has to have conflict and be, you know, complicated. AWESOME book by the way!) It just has to be heartfelt. It has to be about the other person. And maybe that’s what marketing myself should be about, with the focus being the reader. What helps them? What would make their day better? Make them smile? Feel engaged. Connected. Important.

In case you’re wondering where to begin you can go here: How to Practice Random Acts of Kindness.

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5 Reasons To Make Reading An Absolute Priority This Summer

Besides the obvious, which is because we want to!

1. You can do it for free! And who doesn’t love free! If funds are tight it’s mandatory. Or you can save your money for mojitos and margaritas. Or the fabulous day trip you’ve been planning (don’t forget to pack a book). Get a pedicure! You can pick up print books from the library shelves, or borrow ebooks. God bless libraries. I consider them an essential service! They give you the opportunity to try a book you might not chance buying. You might discover a new-to-you author. Their backlist. Then there’s no stopping you.

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2. You can be an Extreme Reader and not risk your life! This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Unless you need me to tell you not to walk and read. Or maybe that’s only my clumsy self.

3. You can do it on the beach. In a hammock. In the park. In the shade. In a hotel room. In the airpost. Waiting for the ferry. On the bus. In your campsite. Any where. Any how. Any way. You might make a new friend over discussing the books you’re each reading. Also, reading is sexy. So…you know, it might help you score. Do the kids still use that word?

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4. Reading has absolutely zero calories. If you’re interested in that kind of thing. Or concerned about calories. But where’s the fun in that. It also pairs well with wine. Popcorn. Veggies and dip. Fresh berries. Reading is very versitile in that regard and I’m sure Gordon Ramsey would concure. Do it while eating pizza, burgers, or Chinese food. I’m a firm believer that a book look tattered and torn when finished. Unless you get it from a library. Or a friend. Then you might want to keep the crumbs to yourself.

5. Reading helps you chill out. Have stress? And who of us doesn’t? Books can take you away from your day-to-day troubles for a little while and help you relax. So go ahead, let a good book sweep you off your feet. Fall in love with a fictional character. Live in a fantasy world for a few minutes. Go back in time. Help solve a mystery. Play detective. Blush over the sexy bits. Get chills and thrills and crime.

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You can set yourself a summer reading challenge. Do a group read with friends. Or family. Like my sister, mom, and I are reading The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. I’ve pre-ordered Kristen Ashley’s Ride Steady (Chaos #3). I want to read Searching for Sunday: Loving, Learning, and Finding the Church by Rachel Evans Held. Maybe J.R. Ward’s The Bourbon Kings. HelenKay Dimon’s Playing Dirty. Oh, who am I kidding, there are too many to mention.

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Read! Nothing goes with summer like a good book! What books are you looking forward to reading this summer? Also, share your recommendations!

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June Book Club Thoughts

Tonight is book club night. One of my favourite nights! We sit. We eat. We drink. We share. We talk about a book.

Tonight the book is The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi.

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Kabul, 2007: The Taliban rules the streets. With a drug-addicted father and no brothers, Rahima and her sisters can rarely leave the house or attend school. Their only hope lies in the ancient Afghan custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress and be treated as a son until she is of marriageable age. As a boy, she has the kind of freedom that was previously unimaginable . . . freedom that will transform her forever.

But Rahima is not the first in her family to adopt this unusual custom. A century earlier, her great-great-grandmother Shekiba, left orphaned by an epidemic, saved herself and built a new life in the same way—the change took her on a journey from the deprivation of life in a rural village to the opulence of a king’s palace in the bustling metropolis of Kabul.

Crisscrossing in time, The Pearl That Broke Its Shell interweaves the stories of these two remarkable women who are separated by a century but share the same courage and dreams. What will happen once Rahima is old enough to marry? How long can Shekiba pass as a man? And if Rahima cannot adapt to life as a bride, how will she survive?

My thoughts:

Honestly, I wasn’t looking forward to this pick. I just didn’t know if I had the emotional energy to read what I felt was sure to be a depressing story. I know, such a whiner! It’s embarassing to admit how much of one I must have seemed. But kudos to Nadia Hashimi. She wrote a powerful story that covered very difficult topics and brought to life the reality of exsistence in Afghan for women under the rule of the Taliban. And she made it readable and inspiring and hopeful.

Reading this book reminded me of the time my son came home from a school trip to El Salvador. Their purpose for being there was not to offer charity. They did not go to build houses or schools. Not that there’s anything wrong with wanting to help your fellow human beings. But that was not what their trip was about. They were there to listen to the stories of the people. It was hard. Heartbreaking. At times, unbelievable. They stood on the spot Oscar Romero was assassinated. Stood on the banks of the river where so many people died. Other places too. And they listened. Because that’s what the people who had invited them in wanted. Sometimes that’s the hardest thing that can be expected of you.

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell is fiction, and at the same time not.

“Ultimately, I wrote this story to share the experience of Afghan women in a fictional work that is made up of a thousand truths.” Nadia Hashimi

They brought the stories of their hosts back and gave a face and humanity to a people I’d only thought of in the abstract. That is what this book made me think of: those stories that need to be listened to and repeated. The importance of education. Of how powerfully motivating the taste of freedom can be, even if you’ve only been given a morsel. Of how much a human being can take and still be able to stand.

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