GREAT STORIES about perspective

Morocco-by-campervan-sidi-kaouki-beach-fireThe only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.

Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements and to store his few possessions. But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky.

The worst had happened; everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. “God, how could you do this to me!” he cried. Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. “How did you know I was here?” asked the weary man of his rescuers. “We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.

It is easy to get discouraged when things are going badly. But we shouldn’t lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering. Remember, next time your little hut is burning to the ground–it just may be a smoke signal that summons The Grace of God.

“Sometimes a change of perspective is all it takes to see the light.”                                   -Dan Brown

main_900This story reminds me of the zen parable of the Chinese farmer

Once there was a  farmer who worked his poor farm together with his son and their horse. When the horse ran off one day, neighbors came to say, “How unfortunate for you!” The farmer replied, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”

When the horse returned, followed by a herd of wild horses, the neighbors gathered around and exclaimed, “What good luck for you!” The farmer stayed calm and replied, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”
While trying to tame one of wild horses, the farmer’s son fell, and broke his leg. He had to rest up and couldn’t help with the farm chores. “How sad for you,” the neighbors cried. “Maybe yes, maybe no,” said the farmer.
Shortly thereafter, a neighboring army threatened the farmer’s village. All the young men in the village were drafted to fight the invaders. Many died. But the farmer’s son had been left out of the fighting because of his broken leg. People said to the farmer, “What a good thing your son couldn’t fight!” “Maybe yes, maybe no,” was all the farmer said.

 

vishen-lahkiani-book-list-reading-change-perspective-socialSometimes you just need to change your perspective. Enjoy your day!  

 

GREAT STORY

6eb60d5fcde77af6bd352606ef09bb3eI have been reading Pam Grout’s newest book, “Thank & Grow Rich” which has been a great read. THANK YOU, Pam!! She has some great stories and I wanted to share one that truly shares how money cannot buy happiness.

I think it is easy for all of us to think if we had more money, a bigger house, a better car…we would be finally HAPPY. Even though we have heard time and time again by the richest of rich that money doesn’t buy happiness, we still wonder. Reading stories like the following reminds us of the reality of what is truly important. Enjoy!

Here is the story from Pam’s book…

The only thing the one-percenters have over the average Joes is this: They already know that accumulating money doesn’t bring lasting happiness. They’ve already figured out that having a gazillion dollars in the bank doesn’t produce the profound contentment after which the rest of us lust.

Take Ken Behring, for example. Growing up in Depression-era Wisconsin in a house without central heat or hot water, Behring fell for the lie that he’d be happy if only he were rich. As a young boy, he mowed lawns, caddied at golf courses, delivered newspapers.

He had spunk and drive and eventually became an uber-successful real estate developer. By the time he was 27, he was a millionaire. And he got all the stuff he thought he wanted: a big house, a boat, fancy cars.

When that didn’t bring any real happiness, he tried “better stuff”: bigger houses, a bigger yacht, fancier cars.

Eventually, that began to reek like the other stuff. Maybe he was going for the “wrong stuff”; maybe he should try “different stuff.” Maybe buying the Seattle Seahawks would make him happy.

Nope, foiled again. He eventually sold his professional football team and started hunting in Africa, flying over in his private jet. When he could, he’d take supplies, books and medicine for the local guides and their families.

LDS philanthropies (the charitable branch of the Church of Latter-day Saints) heard about his trips and asked if he’d be willing to make a detour, to drop off supplies to Kosovo war refugees. After loading up 15 tons of canned meat, they noticed extra room and added six wheelchairs.

While in Romania, Behring, who passed out the wheelchairs himself, was grabbed by one of the young refugees, who had stepped on a land mine and lost his legs. “Don’t leave just yet,” said the grateful young boy, who refused to let go of Behring’s leg. “I want to memorize your face so when we meet again in heaven, I can thank you one more time.”

“It was the first time I ever felt real joy,” says Behring, who has since given away nearly a million bright red wheelchairs. “It changed my life. This [charitable work] is the greatest thing I have ever achieved in my life.”

The good news is that because our financial system us an antiquated cultural story, it can be changed.

It starts with a new definition of wealth: the ease and freedom to be generous. The ease and freedom to pursue your dreams. The ease and freedom to live for the upliftment of all creation.

Choosing the joy and gratitude frequency generates a different kind of capital, one that feeds the soul, one that serves your real desires–to be of service, to be a channel for love, to create insanely beautiful things.

 

I LOVE THAT STORY. I hope anyone who reads this (or her book) will walk away feeling that life is about a higher purpose and that we are the instruments to channel the good things of this world. I hope we can all begin to see the larger scale of humanity and the direct connections we all have and begin to use our gifts and talents to touch the lives of others.

Peace and Love to you today.  -H

Fairytale Truths

offterdinger_schneewitchen_2We are all ah struck by the childhood fairytales we are told as children. It is the beginning of tales of good vs evil, the wicked step-mother, the beautiful princess, the love story that always ends happily.

The other day I was watching a show & they mentioned how the story of Snow White truly came to be. We all thought it was the whimsical tale of the Grimm Brothers, BUT historians have found evidence there seems to have been real characters–a beautiful princess, a castle, evil step-mother and seven dwarfs.  What? you say! My sentiments exactly, so I thought I would put together some real life fairytale stories for your enjoyment. The first of course…Snow White.

09-21-14-16wMaria Sophia Margaretha Catharina von Erthal, to be known as Maria from here on out. Born in 1729, Maria grew up in a castle in Lohr, Germany. The castle is a museum today, and if you visit, you’ll be able to look into a certain famous mirror. It’s believed that Maria’s father, Prince Philipp Christoph von Erthal, gave the looking glass to his second wife as a gift. Sounding a little familiar? Maria’s outlook under her stepmother wasn’t quite so bleak – there was no huntsman seeking internal organs for proof of Maria’s death – but scholars think it wasn’t an easy existence. “Presumably the hard reality of life for Maria Sophia under this woman was recast as a fairy story by the Brothers Grimm,” Dr. Karlheinz Bartels, a Snow White scholar, has said. Oh, and Maria’s story boasts “dwarves” in a fashion similar to Margarethe’s: it’s said that only smaller-statured men were able to fit in the nearby mine tunnels of Bieber. -Mental Floss.com

170px-spiegleinOne additional, interesting note…the mirror that was gifted to the step-mother said, Amour Propre or “Self-Love” The mirror was likely a gift from Philipp Christoph to Claudia Elisabeth. It was a product of the Lohr Mirror Manufacture (Kurmainzische Spiegelmanufaktur). The mirror “talked” predominantly in aphorisms. The upper right corner of “The Talking Mirror” contains a clear reference to self-love (Amour Propre). Moreover, mirrors from Lohr were so elaborately worked that they were accorded the reputation of “always speaking the truth”. They became a favorite gift at European crown and aristocratic courts.[4] -Wikpedia

 

rapunzel-pdRapunzel

Rapunzel draws upon an early Christian story. In the third century A.D. a prosperous pagan merchant, living in Asia Minor, so adored his beautiful daughter he forbade her to have suitors. Accordingly he locked her in a tower when he traveled. -huff

 

tumblr_mw48o5l7zj1s6t5fio6_400Princess Grace Kelly

She seemed to have it all, her dreams of acting came true and she was at the highest point of her career & the highest paid & most respected actress. Then a Prince came along and swept her off her feet. The dated and their courtship was depicted as a fairytale romance. They married after a year. She saw a deeper calling for her life and gave up all the glam and fame to become the Princess of Monaco. And with any fairytale there is tragedy…in 1982, Princess Grace and her young daughter were in a car accident. Princess Grace was in a coma for 24 hours before passing away.

 

sleeping-beauty-lTrue True Loves Kiss

But perhaps true love’s kiss really can do the trick. In 2009, a woman in England suffered a heart attack and fell into a coma. She began to stir two weeks later only when her husband pleaded her for a kiss— she apparently obliged by turning her head and puckering up, according to the Daily Mail. -Live Science

Well, I hope that was a fun read into the real stories of our beloved fairytales.

Have a beautiful day. -H

Coincidence?

af43a248d6cc1057e22de55c2c78a428

 

sunflower-featureLast night I bought a sunflower to put on the windshield of someone I’m smitten with. After some consideration I decided not to since we had only been on one date, the night previous. Don’t want to come off too strong, right? Anyway, I grabbed the flower on my way out this morning with the intention to give it to someone on my way to work so it didn’t die alone. What happened next has left me changed in ways I don’t even have words for yet.

While I was sitting and drinking my morning joe at the coffee shop (which I typically take to go), I saw a woman reading something with tears quietly and quickly sliding down her pale face. It was like there was a magnet in the sunflower that was being drawn to her, because I knew in that moment she was who I was going to give the sunflower to; she was who I had to give it to.

When I got to her table I said, ‘hey, pardon me. I have this sunflower that I was hoping to give to someone special and that someone I had in mind didn’t work out, but I can feel that you’re special too, so I want you to have it.’

Before I could even hand her the sunflower, this complete stranger flew into my arms with tears flowing, and gratitude spewing, as if I was someone she once loved, and lost. It’s what she said next that I’m still trying to grip.She was crying because her fiancé had died the week before, just months before they were going to get married. On their first date he brought her a sunflower and from then on, got her sunflowers, never roses, because she was the light of his life.

Today, through me, he was able to show her that she’ll always be the light of his life and how we as humans have a message to carry that goes far beyond words.

I’m shaken, awaken and feeling raw. You never know how much a simple gesture of giving someone a $5 flower will change their life, as well as yours. Life is about giving and being of service to others. I challenge you all to find a way to make someone else’s life just a little bit brighter today and be of service. You never know the impact you could have.   -From Faithit.com

 

jumbo-jet-wtc-twin-towers-911-620x264

9/11 

(CNN) — Greer Epstein never took breaks.

An executive director at Morgan Stanley, she rarely left her office on the 67th floor because she never had time.

But 20 minutes before 9 a.m., one of her buddies called. “How about getting a cigarette?” He wanted to talk about an upcoming work meeting. It was a calm day with clear blue skies — the most beautiful day she had ever seen from her view from the World Trade Center. Epstein figured why not.

While riding down the elevator, she felt a jolt, but ignored it since the elevators had always acted strangely.

When she stepped outside to light up her Benson & Hedges, she saw people frozen in place, their eyes fixed to the sky. Paper rained down like chaotic confetti. As she stared at the fire and smoke billowing from a hole in the North Tower, she wondered: “How do they fix something like that?”

That’s when a plane flew through her office in the South Tower.

A cigarette break saved her life.

 

elite-daily-titanicThe future of the Titanic: Morgan Robertson, in 1898, wrote “Futility”. It described the maiden voyage of a transatlantic luxury liner named the Titan. Although it was touted as being unsinkable, it strikes an iceberg and sinks with much loss of life. In 1912 the Titanic, a transatlantic luxury liner widely touted as unsinkable strikes an iceberg and sinks with great loss of life on her maiden voyage. In the Book, the Month of the Wreck was April, same as in the real event. There were 3,000 passengers on the book; in reality, 2,207. In the Book, there were 24 Lifeboats; in reality, 20.

“Months after the Titanic sank, a tramp steamer was traveling through the foggy Atlantic with only a young boy on watch. It came into his head that it had been thereabouts that the Titanic had sunk, and he was suddenly terrified by the thought of the name of his ship – the Titanian. Panic-stricken, he sounded the warning. The ship stopped, just in time: a huge iceberg loomed out of the fog directly in their path. The Titanian was saved.”  -From Canyouactually.com

 

arewell-funeral-plannersfuneralsirelandabraham-lincolnjohn-f-kennedyjfkThe Kennedy/Lincoln Link

This one is an old story, but worth recounting because it is so unusual. It revolves around an unusual number of coincidences that occurred between Presidents Kennedy and Lincoln in regards to their assassination. For example, both men were elected 100 years apart (Lincoln in 1860, Kennedy in 1960); they were both succeeded by Southerners named Johnson, and the two Johnsons were born 100 years apart (Andrew in 1808, Lyndon in 1908). Both assassins were born 100 years apart (Booth in 1839 and Oswald in 1939) and both died before they could be brought to trial. Lincoln was shot in a theater and his assassin was cornered in a warehouse, while Kennedy was shot from a warehouse and his assassin was captured in a theater. Finally, Lincoln was shot in Ford’s theater, while Kennedy was shot while riding in a Ford Lincoln, and to top it all off, Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln (Evelyn Lincoln) while Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy. The list goes on from there and has been the source of considerable debate ever since.

Another Lincoln coincidence: In an interesting coincidence, Edwin Booth saved Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert, from serious injury or even death. The incident occurred on a train platform in Jersey City, New Jersey. The exact date of the incident is uncertain, but it is believed to have taken place in late 1864 or early 1865, shortly before Edwin’s brother, John Wilkes Booth, assassinated President Lincoln. Lincoln, was waiting on a narrow, crowded platform for a train in Jersey City, New Jersey when he lost his footing and fell beneath the slowly moving carriage of a departing train. Pulled to safety before any harm befell him, he turned to thank his rescuer and was surprised to see it was the well known actor Edwin Booth, the brother of John Wilkes. In what could only be considered one of the most remarkable coincidences in history, the son of a president was rescued by the brother of that president’s assassin!

 

us-original-declaration-1776Though both men turned out to be bitter political rivals later in their careers (Jefferson was Adams Vice-President until he went on to beat his own boss in the election of 1800) the two men did share their love for country. As such, both men were instrumental in drafting the Declaration of Independence which, as everyone knows, was first signed on July 4, 1776. What most people don’t know, however, is that both men were also to die on the same day, July 4, 1826, exactly fifty years to the day the document was first ratified. How’s that for timing?
143779-love-quotes-about-coincidence
Here is a link to people’s personal accounts of their own coincidences if you feel like reading more. Enjoy. http://improbability-principle.com/tales-of-strange-coincidences/
I hope these stories help you see…
images194640015115428637fbzvw55tc

Great Stories

I LOVE a great story. You can never share enough of the ‘good stuff’ that puts a little positive perspective out there. I hope you enjoy this story as much as I did.

 

New+York+New+Jersey+Continue+Recover+Superstorm+bZDA4KrliNJlIf you missed the May Oprah magazine, you missed a great story I want to share by Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat Pray Love). Enjoy.

Some years ago, I was stuck on a crosstown bus in New York City during rush hour. Traffic was barely moving. The bus was filled with cold, tired people who were deeply irritated–with one another; with the rainy, sleety weather; with the world itself. Two men barked at each other about a shove that might or might not have been intentional. A pregnant woman got on, and nobody offered her a seat. Rage was in the air; no mercy would be found here.

But as the bus approached Seventh Avenue, the driver got on the intercom. “Folks,” he said, “I know you’ve had a rough day and you’re frustrated. I can’t do anything about the weather or traffic, but here’s what I can do. As each one of you gets off the bus. I will reach out my hand to you. As you walk by, drop your troubles into the palm of my hand, okay? Don’t take your problems home to your families tonight–just leave ’em with me. My route goes right by the Hudson River, and when I drive by there later, I’ll open the window and throw your troubles in the water. Sound good?”

It was as if a spell had lifted. Everyone burst out laughing. Faces gleamed with surprised delight. People who’d been pretending for the past hour not to notice each other’s existence were suddenly grinning at each other like, is this guy serious?

Oh, he was serious.

At the next stop–just as promised–the driver reached out his had, palm up and waited. One by one, all the exiting commuters placed their hand just above his and mimed the gesture of dropping something into his palm. Some people laughed as they did this, some teared up–but everyone did it. The driver repeated the same lovely ritual at the next stop too. And the next. All the way to the river.

We live in a hard world, my friends. Sometimes it’s extra difficult to be a human being. SOmetimes you have a bad day. SOmetimes you have a bad day theta lasts for several years. You struggle and fall. You lose jobs, money, friends, faith and love. You witness horrible events unfolding in the news, and you become fearful and withdrawn. There are times when everything seems cloaked in darkness. You long for the light but don’t know where to find it.

But what if you are the light? What if you’re the very agent of illumination that a dark situation begs for?

That’s what this bus driver taught me–that anyone can be the light, at any moment. This guy wasn’t some big power player. He wasn’t a spiritual leader. He wasn’t some media-savvy leader. He was a bus driver–one of society’s most invisible workers. But he possessed real power, and he used it beautifully for our benefit.

When life feels especially grim, or when I feel particularly powerless in the face of the world’s troubles, I think of this man and ask myself, What can I do, right now, to be the light? Of course, I can’t personally end all wars, or solve global warming, or transform vexing people into entirely different creatures. I definitely can’t control traffic. But I do have some influence on everyone I brush up against, even if we never speak or learn each other’s name. How we behave matters because within human society everything is contagious–sadness and anger, yes, but also patience and generosity. Which means we all have more influence than we realize.

No matter who you are, or where you are, or how mundane or tough your situation may seem, I believe you can illuminate your world. In fact, I believe this is the only way the world will ever be illuminated–one bright act of grace at a time, all the way to the river.

-taken from Oprah, May 2016 by Elizabeth Gilbert

GREAT STORIES: Forgiveness

150618170814-napalm-girl-vietnam-full-169

Picture of Kim Phuc taken by Nick Ut

Story taken from The Heart of Goodness by Jo Ann Larsen

“Nor does caring ignore circumstances, perpetuated by itself, that have unintentionally hurt someone. An extreme example of this is the story of Reverend John Plummer, as told by Anne Gearan, a newspaper writer.

Plummer, in June 1972, ordered bombers to rain fire on the village of Trang Bang during the Vietnam War. The mission was a success and “South Vietnamese bombers smoothly dropped heavy explosives and napalm canisters on the village twenty-five miles west of Saigon.”

After, by radio, the American adviser thanked Plummer and, pleased the mission had been a success, Plummer turned his mind to other matters. Plummer was pleased, that is, until he saw the newspaper picture of an anguished nine-year-old Vietnamese girl screaming and running naked toward the lens of a camera as she fled an American-led assault on her village that killed her two brothers. The picture of Kim, taken by Nick Ut, was to become a Pulitzer Prize winner and one the world would come to know. The picture itself, one of the most indelible images of the Vietnam War, ultimately helped turn American public opinion against the war. Says Gearan of the picture, “a brutal image from a brutal war, it is imprinted on the American psyche.”

The young girl’s name was Phan Thi Kim Phuc. And Plummer will never forget the moment he saw the picture, “the anguished face of a little boy about his son’s age, and, behind him, Kim.” The napalm had incinerated Kim’s clothes. Her eyes were “screwed shut, her mouth spread wide in terror and uncomprehending pain.” And “her arms flapped awkwardly, as though she did not recognize them as her own.”

For Plummer, the shock was profound. He had been told there were no civilians in the village. He could hardly comprehend the picture, which “knocked him to his knees.” After that, Plummer struggled for the next twenty-five years with his conscience, never able to disengage from unanticipated flashes of the famous picture. Now it was Plummer who was in agony. He drank. He divorced several times. He searched for, and finally found, God. But he rarely talked about his experience. And he never preached about it—until he experienced the following event.

It was June 1997, while Plummer was absently watching television, that a photo of Kim flashed across the screen and an announcement “promised a story about the girl in the photo, grown now and with a child of her own.” Again, Plummer was in shock. He had never known whether or not the young girl had lived. Watching the special, he “saw for the first time the thick white scars the splashing napalm left on Kim’s neck, arm and back. He learned how she had seventeen operations but still lives with pain.”

Later, learning a week before Veterans Day that Kim was making a rare appearance in Washington, D.C., ninety minutes from his home, Plummer knew he had to see her.  “It took a long time, but I came to realize I would never have any peace unless I could talk to Kim, ” he said. “I had to look her in the eyes and say how sorry I am.”

So that autumn, “Plummer went to Washington, to hear Kim address the Veterans Day observance at the black granite monument that bears the name of each American who never came home from war a generation ago. And, sitting in the audience, he heard something he never expected to hear: ‘If I could talk face-to-face with the pilot who dropped the bombs,’ Kim said, “I would tell him we cannot change history but we should try to do good things for the present and for the future to promote peace.’

“Plummer gasped. It was as though she was talking directly to him.”

He scribbled a note–“Kim, I am that man” and asked a police officer to carry the note to her; thereafter he began pushing his way through the crowd toward Kim. Informed that Plummer was behind her, Kim took a few steps away, and then she stopped. “I couldn’t move anymore. I stop and I turn, and he looked at me,” she said.

“No news photographer took this picture,” notes Gearan. “But in the lee of the Vietnam War Memorial, the soldier, now forty-nine, and the child, now thirty-three, embraced.”

Says Plummer of the experience, “She just opened her arms to me. I fell into her arms sobbing. All I could says is, “I’m so sorry. I’m just so sorry.”

Kim “patted Plummer’s back. ‘It’s all right,’ she told him. ‘I forgive, I forgive.”

 

Wow, I do not know about you, but every time I read this story I am in tears. I hope it touches your heart and makes you feel a place we all can strive to be—at peace, willing to forgive those people and circumstances in our lives that make us better people in the end.

Have a beautiful day.  -H

LOVE Stories you don’t want to miss

My heart melted when I came across this story. What a beautiful, lasting gesture. I thought about his sweet wife looking down from heaven with such LOVE. Please read the full story.

Heart made with LOVEarticle-2173055-140C3C9F000005DC-35_634x416

When Janet Howes died suddenly 17 years ago, her devoted husband Winston decided he wanted to create a lasting tribute to her.

The farmer planted thousands of oak saplings in a six-acre  field – but left a heart-shaped  area in the middle, with the  point facing towards his wife’s childhood home.

And as the remarkable picture here shows, his romantic labour of love has now grown into a mature meadow, a peaceful oasis where Mr Howes can sit and remember his wife of 33 years.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2173055/A-real-labour-love-Devoted-farmer-creates-heart-shaped-meadow-planting-thousands-oak-trees-tribute-late-wife.html

**********************************************************************

i-love-u-so-much-images-and-wallpaper-4THE LAST VALENTINE

Several days ago I rummaged through my jewelry box. The action evoked a ton of memories. The bejeweled necklaces, lovely rings, bracelets, earrings – all Valentine’s Day gifts from my husband Ernest throughout our 48 years together. All accompanied with cards that were the best Hallmark produced – and thank God for that. Ernest was born and raised in Argentina, and just like Desi Arnaz, he fractured the English language.

I enjoyed the beauty of the jewelry and the many perfume vials – but they are only material possessions. I then raised my eyes to view the most cherished of all Ernest’s valentine gifts. Hanging on our bedroom wall. His last valentine gift to me.

It was Valentine’s Day 2003. I drove into our garage after attending my exercise class. I viewed hanging on the garage wall, in front of my car, what appeared to be the Styrofoam cover of a cooler. As I gazed closer, I noted that a heart was drawn on the Styrofoam in a red pen with the words “Happy Valentine – I love you forever – Me.”

I removed the cover from the wall and quickly entered the dining room where Ernest was seated next to his walker. I smilingly questioned him, “This is what I get for Valentine’s Day?” With his usual impish grin, he lifted both his hands toward me, palms up, and said, “It’s the best I can do, for I am your prisoner.”

Indeed he was! For the last five years Ernest had battled cancer and the “monster” had left him seriously debilitated – totally dependent on me. Seven months later, Ernest passed away.

A few months after Ernest left this life, my youngest son, then age 36, was organizing the content of the garage and barreled into my kitchen waving the Styrofoam cover demanding, “Hey Mom, what do you want to do with this? It was in the garage!” I turned and gasped for I had forgotten about “my last Valentine.”

I held it close and it suddenly became the most valuable Valentine I have ever had.

The cover now hangs on my bedroom wall, reminding me each morning, upon my awakening, of Kahlil Gibran’s words from “The Prophet” – “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”

Mary A. Ale, Santa Ana (found on the ocregister.com)

**********************************************************************

PhotoCredTiffanyFarley-16-crop-646x470.jpgPhoto credit: Tiffany Farley

LOVE letters to NY

I looked down at my shoes as people filled the train, and then I saw her. I saw her beat-up unlaced construction boots first. I followed the shoes, laceless hole by laceless hole, all the way up to the face of an old woman. She was tiny. She had a slight slump in her shoulders. She wore a bright red cap. Wisps of gray poked out from beneath it.

As I watched the woman, I thought about the letters my mother wrote and how she must have known an ordinary piece of loose-leaf paper morphs into a love letter when a person puts her self into it. Then I remembered the notebook in the belly of my bag. I would write the woman a note and give it to her as I exited the train, I decided. I could drop it at her feet.

I pulled the notebook out of my bag, turned to a new page, and began writing a letter. The words spilled out of me.

When I looked up, the woman was gone. I left the letter in my notebook, unsure of what to do with it now that she would never know that it was meant for her.

After I wrote that letter, more letters to other people I observed came marching out of me, one by one, until soon I had filled up the notebook.

Back on the train, just a few days later, the plan became clear. I was going to leave the letter I wrote to the woman on the subway for someone else to find. Then I would scatter other love letters all over New York City. And once I had set each one in its place, I would write even more. And you want to know why? Because it made me feel something.

I tried to imagine what would make me pick up a letter if I found it on a random subway train or in a coffee shop thinking it might have been for me all along. I settled on something simple: If you find this letter … then it’s for you. I wrote those words on my first letter. I folded the letter and placed it behind me. When I got to my stop, I planned to let the letter slip down onto the seat as I walked away.

I left the letters everywhere I could. I was playing Juliet to the city.

At Grand Central Terminal, I waited for the subway doors to open and then busted out of my seat quickly. Darting through the doors, I kept walking faster and faster once my feet hit the platform. My nerves surged. There was a whiff of adrenaline as I got farther away from the train, disappearing into the city.

During the fall of 2010, I kept tucking and leaving, tucking and leaving. I left the letters everywhere I could. I propped them on bathroom sinks. I slid them into coat pockets in department stores. I left them in fitting rooms. I would stick them into the seats at work when I would attend large meetings. I was playing Juliet to the city.

When 24-year-old Hannah Brencher moved to New York after college, she was hit by depression and overwhelming loneliness. One day she felt so alone, she wanted to reach out to someone. And so she put pen to paper and started writing letters. Letters to complete strangers.

But these weren’t sad letters about how she was feeling. They were happy letters, all about the other person, not her. She would write messages for people to have a “bright day” and tell strangers how brilliant they were, even if they thought no one else had noticed. Brencher began dropping the notes all over New York, in cafes, in library books, in parks and on the subway. It made her feel better, knowing that she might be making somebody’s day through just a few short, sweet words. It gave her something to focus on. And so, The World Needs More Love Letters was born.

The World Needs More Love Letters is all about writing letters – not emails, but proper, handwritten letters. Not conventional love letters, written to a real beloved, but surprise letters for strangers. They don’t necessarily say “I love you”, but they are full of kindness (that’s the love Brencher’s talking about) – telling people they are remarkable and special and all-round amazing. It’s the sort of stuff that most people don’t really say out loud even to the people they care about, let alone a total stranger.

Brencher’s initiative has now exploded. She has personally written hundreds, if not thousands of letters. Last year, she did a Ted talk. In it, she talks about a woman whose husband, a soldier, comes back from Afghanistan and they struggle to reconnect – “So she tucks love letters throughout the house as a way to say: ‘Come back to me. Find me when you can'” – and a university student who slips letters around her campus, only to suddenly find everyone is writing them and there are love letters hanging from the trees.

Now there are more than 10,000 people who join in all over the world. Sometimes, they write letters to order, to people who are lonely and down and just want someone to tell them that everything will be OK. Mostly, though, they scribble notes and leave them somewhere unlikely, for somebody to find.

In the months that followed, Brencher started her own site,MoreLoveLetters.com, about her project, inspiring others to write and leave letters in their own communities. Now the website connects her both to strangers in need of love letters and to those who want to write them.

About a year later, a woman wrote to me about her friend Briana, a single mother struggling to pay the rent. I typed out Briana’s story and published it on the website, encouraging anyone who read it to mail me letters of encouragement for Briana. I decided that at the end of the month, I’d send Briana a bundle of love letters.

A week later, my heart sank as I walked into the town post office and unlocked PO Box 2061. It was nearly empty. There was just a single yellow slip.

“This was left in my box,” I told the man at the front of the post office.

“Oh, box 2061,” he said. “You got too much mail, dear. We moved you to a bigger box.”

I walked away from the post office with a lot of mail—and a big idea about human beings: mainly that if you give them something to do, a mission, they will show up. At the end of that month, I marched the love letter bundle for Briana to the post office and mailed it off to her.

“They show you’re not alone and that you’re not struggling for nothing.”

A week later, I got a thank-you e-mail from Briana’s friend. “It’s not that the letters heal you,” she wrote. “They show you’re not alone and that you’re not struggling for nothing.”

After such an amazing response to Briana’s story, I was encouraged to continue. I’d post a new story on the site and then check for letters at the post office every couple of days. The postal worker would emerge from the back room with a heaping stack of letters or a mail crate, sometimes two.

I read every letter, then bundled it up with a note explaining how hundreds of people around the world had come together to write the letters now sitting in the hands of someone who didn’t expect to get mail beyond bills and coupons that day.

Most of us are good. I know that’s always up for debate, but it feels as if, at the core, we are good. And sometimes we lose. We fight for things. We lose the fight for things. We fail. We get lost. Sometimes we don’t show up at all.

We make mistakes. We hurt the people who mean more than the world to us. And we get hurt. We get rejected. We fail tests. We oversleep. We break promises. We break hearts. We doubt ourselves. We drink too much. We laugh too little. And we are hopeful.

We found out about Luke (not his real name) from his daughter. She got a rush of surprise one day when she came home and saw a package waiting for her. She knew it was the love letters she had requested for her father. Luke was in his last round of chemotherapy and having a rough morning when the bundle arrived.

Luke and his daughter sat together for hours and read every last one. She wrote, He was filled with so much energy after reading those letters—he’s even begun to make a collage out of them. He plans to frame the collage and hang it proudly on the wall of his office.

Then there was the soldier and his sister. He had the dirt of both Afghanistan and Iraq deep in the grooves of his boots. PTSD hung on his shoulders like a cloak when he finally came home. We mailed him a bundle. One day he called his sister, crying—sitting on the floor and unable to speak—over the letters strangers had sent cheering for him. She told me that one small act had renewed her faith in humanity.

Above all stories, I will always go back to Matt’s from Ohio. He e-mailed me one night about two years ago. Matt told me he was getting older. His family and he were disconnected. He didn’t have many friends. He was starting to believe he’d leave nothing behind and he’d be forgotten.

The message was sent with no return address attached. There was no way to write back to him, but I hope he reads these words:

Matt, I want you to know: You were wrong to think you’d be forgotten. And I was wrong to think people couldn’t walk into our lives and shift our histories in an instant. Because you did that for me.

From the book If You Find This Letter by Hannah Brencher. Copyright © 2015 by Hannah Brencher. reprinted by permission of Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., simonandschuster.com.

 

I think this is a great idea—I told my daughter about this story & she lit up. She grabbed her lap top & talked about how kids in middle school could use some good letters. She typed up her own letter & we made some copies. Her and her friend secretly have been slipping them in lockers to brighten kids days. Middle school is tough.

Where can you send some love? Drop a LOVE note somewhere. anywhere.

**********************************************************************