Random Acts of Kindness

Read the full story and check out more pictures at the source.

Today, there was a great article in the Huffington Post about 9 women who kept a secret for over thirty years. With all the stories about scandals and deceit, this secret is probably not what you expect.

These women, who like to be called the Nine Nanas had a wish to help people and for over three decades, they secretly did good deeds for strangers. They made small changes in their lives that freed up money they were already spending and used that money towards their vision of doing good.

They were inspired to do this because five of them were taken in and raised by “MaMaw and PaPaw.” The generosity and love they learned from them has fueled an anonymous campaign of kindness which has led to them contributing over “$900,000 of happiness.” Eventually one of their husbands wised up to them and soon all the husbands knew of their secret mission. Now, they have their own website Happiness-Happens which is inspiring and beautiful. This all started over a card game. A small idea implemented with modest means which has given people, one cake or gesture at a time for decades.

From Needs for Sale, this painting “Education for Girls” went for $500.

Our acts of kindness, whether we offer a smile to someone, pay for a meal, take time to listen, give a loan or share a meal, are transformative. When we help one person, we are helping all of humanity.
Let us live the types of lives that inspire like the Nine Nanas, these pictures or needs for sale. There is nothing stopping us. We have an infinite capacity to love and care for each other. Lets start right now.

Engagement Rings

I remember that when Feraz and I decided to get engaged, I asked for an engagement ring. I had never really cared about rings and had always thought its as wrong to spend a ton of money on a piece of jewelry but once we had decided to get married, I suddenly really wanted one. I blame it on reading some article about engagement rings where a woman said that one day when you are on your hands and knees scrubbing the toilet, you are going to want to see a big rock on that finger. ??? That story must have left an impression because I told Feraz that I was still on the market until I had a ring. (For the record, I have never found myself in the position of scrubbing a toilet whilst being reassured by the ring I had on my finger.)

Feraz wasn’t working at the time and couldn’t really afford much but we went to a jewelry store and picked out something that was around a thousand or two thousand. It doesn’t seem like much now but at the time, it was a huge undertaking and Feraz started substitute teaching so he could pay for it. I remember at the time that gesture made me feel that Feraz would always take care of me, and he has not let me down.

After I got the ring, I needed to have it resized and took it back to the jewelry store we had gotten it from. While I was waiting to be helped, a man walked in the store and pulled out a gun. Since I have seen a lot of movies, I immediately dropped to the floor and laid flat down. I looked around and noticed nobody else was getting down. Too embarrassed and scared to get back up, I stayed down as everyone else in the store remained inexplicably calm. A security guard came from the back and started pushing the guy out until he was in the secured vestibule. And that was the end of that.

Although I don’t wear my ring much, when I think about the stories that surround it and the fact that a boy gave me that ring when I was 19 and he still sleeps next to me, I feel incredibly happy.

This post was brought on by this sweet series of pictures I saw earlier today. Isn’t that a beautiful ring? Wouldn’t it be fun to design a ring for the person you love?

Who would you be if you were not afraid?

Lately I have been doing an exercise to help me better understand who I am. This was prompted by a discussion Feraz and I had a few months ago. I was having some friends over for dinner and Feraz didn’t want to “come” to the dinner party.

He asked if it would be alright if he went out and did something else and I was really offended. I told him he had to come. He pushed back and said that wasn’t fair because he didn’t know anyone who would be coming and he wouldn’t have anything to talk to them about. My defense was that I would look like a fool if my own husband didn’t come to my dinner party. Feraz countered that I shouldn’t care what other people think.

He ended up coming to the dinner party because I communicated that I would feel hurt if he didn’t and we care enough about each other to make compromises to protect each other from hurt. But the conversation got me thinking. Who would I be if I was not afraid?

Whether a person is more like our parent’s generation and dictates each action by how it would be received by the community or if a person is self-proclaimed free spirit who is not moved by the masses, it seems an alarming amount of people base their life decisions less on internal factors but more on external perception.

People stay in relationships, jobs, religions, and many other situations that are not right for them because they are guided by fear. They are afraid of seeming to have failed if they leave something, even if it is destructive to them. They are afraid of taking a risk because if they fail, people will say I told you. They are afraid of leaving someone who is bad for them because they fear begin alone. They are afraid they are not lovable. They are afraid that they are frauds. They are afraid they are not enough.

Since that dinner party, I have been trying to evaluate each decision I make and judging what is motivating my action. Is it something I am doing because I feel it is expected of me? Because I enjoy it? Because I am afraid of people’s judgment if I do or don’t do it? With each decision, I was able to see that the things that made me happy were born from an internal desire, principal or value. The things that were making me unhappy were born of external pressures regarding success or appearances.

As I evaluate the actions I am taking, I recognize the fear that is motivating certain behaviors, I acknowledge it and then I let it go. By doing this, I am becoming more closely aligned to who I want to be as a person. In Islam, there is a concept of the fitra. It is like an internal compass that we are all born with. This compass has already taught us everything we need to know about goodness, compassion and rightness. It is an affirmation that our natural state is that of goodness. If we can believe in this principle or a like-principle, then we do not have to fear discovering who we are and living a life that is sincere and honors that fundamental part of our self.

So, who would you be if you stopped being afraid?

Praying With Conviction

When I was younger, I used to think that there was something very special about me. All my prayers used to come true! If I would pray for guidance, reconciliation or even material comforts, those things would be provided for me. Somewhere in my life, I started to lose my faith. Not necessarily in my belief in God or in the teachings I practiced but in the belief that God loved me and would provide for me. I continued to pray but over time, I noticed that even my most fervent prayers were no longer being answered.

When you pray for something and believe that it is going to come true, then you approach that issue with hope and positivity and there is a chance that you may receive what you are praying for. But if you pray for something while being convinced it will never happen, then you have no chance of attaining it.  Sometimes we may be afraid of what will happen if our prayers are actually answered. Sometimes you may feel you don’t deserve happiness or peace. You do.

When I was young I believed my prayers would come true and so I took actions that would help them come to fruition. There is a quote attributed to Frederick Douglass that speaks to this. He said, “I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.”  For our prayers to be answered we must have faith that they can be answered and when we have that faith we are no long afraid of taking the risks or putting in the work that it will take to help them be answered.

Today when I offered my prayers and made my supplication at the end, I did so with the peaceful knowledge that God will answer my prayers and if He doesn’t He will bless me with patience so I no longer desire what I once did.