Commentary: Shared talents increase everyone's joy
FARGO — I went to a conference earlier this month that was basically a two-day party for people who love kindness. Every night, a few folks would stand up and share a five-minute story about their favorite acts of kindness.
I wish I would have had the foresight to record their messages. I would have had enough material to fill this column for the next three years.
One woman never talked about her particular brand of kindness, but we all ended up being the recipients.
This woman, who is probably in her 70s, loves to collect, fix up and repurpose jewelry. She literally brought bracelets and necklaces for all 75 of us. Only the handful of men in attendance went home empty-handed.
I was so inspired by the way she took her time and her talent and turned it into something that could bring a smile to another person's face. When I talked to her about it, she also mentioned that she loves to throw parties and often includes a piece of custom-made jewelry in the invitation.
Edith Cook, from Fargo, sent me a letter about her friend, Peg, who also loves to bring people together in fun and kindness.
"My friend, Peg Ranney, plays bridge in Perham, Minn., and at Otter Tail Lake.
"Every August, she hosts a bridge party for 40 ladies. This is an awesome affair. She chooses a theme and then caters the event with matching food. We also are asked to dress according to the theme. She spends her winters making decorations and planning the event.
"I don't know what the theme will be this year, but past parties included 'Bear,' 'Cowboy' and 'Red Shoes.' One year it was a 'High Tea.' Peg had prizes galore, including a bone china tea set!
"Peg is a most beautiful, gracious, 90-year-old lady. I've had the pleasure of going to about 10 of her parties, but she has been hosting them for many, many years."
Thanks for your letter, Edith!
Both the woman who loves to make jewelry and the one who throws bridge parties use their passions to show kindness to others. Their examples are powerful reminders that inside each of us is something that can be shared.
Are you an avid golfer? There is someone out there who would love a free lesson.
Are you handy in the kitchen? I know I would benefit from some side-by-side coaching.
Are you a fan of children's literature? There are classrooms full of kids who would love to sit next to you.
We often think we have to be the best at something to be the one to share it, but in reality, we only have to be the one who is willing. Giving others a piece of your joy won't mean less for you — it will mean more for everyone.
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.