Ironically, I started my column using the words “good” and “bad,” yet I have learned that putting labels on events determines my perception of what has occurred. Last year, I put a lot of “bad” labels on things because of our political climate and the deaths that seemed to be coming at a faster and more frequent pace. Both scare me. This year, I am determined to focus my attention on just seeing the good in more things and finding wisdom in events.
Here are a couple of stories that have inspired me so far in 2018.
I was first moved by a story my son told me. Aiden works at a charter school for dropout recovery students. These students are behind in credits for various reasons: they have parents who are incarcerated, they have been expelled, they are teen parents or they have families living with financial challenges.
One student at Aiden’s school site doesn’t have a computer and dreams that one day he will be able to buy one. He is saving by recycling, and when he shared his dream with Aiden, he proudly said that he had saved $30 from his recycling efforts.
When I first heard this, my initial reaction was to give one of our older computers to this student, but Aiden told me there was no need. The school has put a box in the corner of its center, and amazingly, people have begun to bring in their recycling: teachers, staff and parents of other students. Even my brother, who heard this story, took three bags of his recycling to help this boy. I am not sure how long it will take this student to reach his dream, but what I do believe is that he will reach it in time.
Initially, I felt sorry for this student, but now as I look back, this student will probably have a greater sense of accomplishment because the success he achieves came through his own idea. This can go far in increasing his self-esteem and giving him confidence to reach for bigger dreams.
When I share my dreams with those who want to lift me up, I create a network of supporters and cheerleaders. But I have to be careful that I don’t share my dream with those who will feel threatened because they will pull me down and perhaps cause me to give up on my dream. I am rooting for this young boy and I hope you are too … .
The second story that moved me was one I read on Facebook. I got his permission to print the story, but he didn’t want to be named. He said this is not about me … .
Amazing things … SO I purchased a 1943 Hunt High School yearbook from the Minidoka concentration camp online. I planned to use it for the Pilgrimage (Minidoka) for people to search through.
But once I received it, I couldn’t help but notice the hundreds of autographs and inscriptions in it to the original owner. And thought … this should really go back to the family.
So, I did a little Internet sleuthing and found that the original owner had passed in 2002. But I was able to identify one of his daughters and reached out via FB.
I just got off the phone with his daughter, who relayed tears and gratitude for finding her and returning this precious object to her and her children. She said her dad was her best friend and her life hasn’t been the same since his passing.
Small world. Holiday miracles. It doesn’t make it yours just because you paid money for it.
I loved this story because here was a random act of kindness to a stranger. And we never know how much our kindness will mean to someone.
I hope this year I will find ways to be kind and generous just like this wonderful-hearted person, who lives in Seattle, has done. I thank him for sharing this story with me so I have a role model of what I can aspire to be in 2018.
I hope you share your dreams in 2018 with those who will support you, cheer for you and applaud your success. And if you fall short, I hope they will be there to say how proud they are that you tried. We all need someone who believes in us and sees the best in who we can be.
I also hope you find places to be kind in random ways. Have you ever paid for someone’s meal or cup of coffee anonymously, not waiting for appreciation? Have you written someone a note thanking him or her for something that really moved you or sent a thinking of you note to someone in a retirement home? A simple hug or compliment can go far to someone who may need something to brighten his or her day. I would love to hear your stories of kindness if you would like to share them with me … firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.”
— Helen Keller
Marsha Aizumi is an advocate in the LGBT community and the author of the book “Two Spirits, One Heart: A Mother, Her Transgender Son and Their Journey to Love and Acceptance.”