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Friday, December 6, 2019

Unexpected Acts of Kindness

I thought long and hard about my first post for this group and then decided on one that influenced my outcome in life and explains a little about how I got here today.
Unexpected Kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change” ~Bob Kerrey
I am a huge proponent of kindness, both planned and unexpected. I can only wish more people in the world felt the same. Today though, I want to talk about unexpected kindness. The kindness that is given to perhaps a total stranger with no benefits for yourself.
I got married when I was sixteen and dropped out of school before end of tenth grade to start a family. I know this sounds crazy today but at the time, it wasn’t so much. My own Mother married at 15 and then there was the belief that if you weren’t married by X (usually early twenties), you were destined to be an old maid. I digress.
I always knew I was a fast learner and that was enhanced by my insatiable curiosity of the world. However, when I went for my first job interview, I was told I needed a high school diploma. My friends had graduated by then so I took my GED. I was scared and didn’t know what to expect but the kind man at the learning center gave me my test and I left. When the results came in, I was called to come back to the site and get the results. I think this was not common. They were usually mailed.
The gentleman, Mr. Jackson, called me into the room and told me I scored very high on the test and that I should take some CLEP test and go to college. I shyly admitted I wanted to go to college but didn’t have any idea how to do it or what a CLEP test was. He explained it was a college level placement exam that gave you credits if you passed. He also told me if I didn’t do it for me, I should do it for my son.
After his motivational pep talk, I took my Mama’s Psychology text book from her Highschool correspondence course and read it then went to take the test. I also took the test for two semesters of English. I passed the English and lacked one point on the Psychology. Later when I talked to the college entrance advisor, he didn’t make me take any of the college entrance exams or prerequisites because I had passed a CLEP test. I went on to finish a bachelors degree and later a masters. My daughter saw how education benefited me and got her masters as well. We will see if this cycle continues with her children.
I can honestly say if Mr. Jackson hadn’t lit that fire in me, I wouldn’t have had the courage or confidence to go to college but that one act of kindness, encouraging a young mother to continue her education- made a huge impact in my life.
Now to my second story, how I got here. I have wanted to be a writer all of my life and thus, have been working on one book or another for forty years. After I moved to Fort Worth, I was telling my cousin about it and she said, I have someone I want you to meet so she took me to this lady’s house. I will not name her but if she chooses to self-disclose, that’s great. I walked in with a few ideas and walked out with a rough outline for a novel and a lot of encouragement.
 I wrote diligently for the first year between my corporate job and my small sewing business and then lost confidence in my abilities. I spent several months listening to hours and hours of all sorts of books. I listen during my three plus hours a day commute to my day job. What I realized though is that I may not be on the best seller’s list but there are books out there for everyone and that mine will fit somewhere.   
So, I got back on the computer and finished the book. This lady, now my mentor, kindly read, critiqued and offered suggestions, even though she was in the midst of writing her own books. Thanks to some more help, I finally published my book in early November.
Now, this is a great story in itself, how this once stranger showed me what to do and encouraged me to write my novel, but it’s not the end.
My neighbor messaged me and said, I have been taking all these photographs from my recliner and have a collection I want to print but no publisher has taken me and asked about my publisher. I told him I self- published. Three weeks later, he texted back to tell me he self-published his photo book and also a booklet of stories his Grandpa told…still not the end.
My cousin has a novel she worked on twenty years ago that was accepted by a publisher but life got in the way. She said, you did it, I think I will publish mine too. She is now at 200 pages and on rewrites.
A friend messaged me and said, I have two novels I have been trying to get published and have to keep rewriting them for the publisher, maybe I will self-publish too.
I have at least six other friends, family and coworkers who were inspired my publishing and now are motivated to do the same.
This unexpected act of kindness to me has touched many lives and created a ripple effect of encouragement and possibility.
Do things for people, not because of who they are or what they do, but because of who you are.” ~ Harold S Kushner
So, as we go forward into the holiday season, be kind and remember, you never know whose life you may change and in what way just through simple words of encouragement or unexpected acts of kindness.
I would love to hear how unexpected acts of kindness have impacted your life- Please comment below.


  1. Years ago, four authors in my RWA chapter mentioned they had just sold to a publisher who was starting a new line to compete with Harlequin. They gave me the name of the editor with whom they'd dealt and I submitted and sold my first book. Of course the line folded--who can compete with Harlequin? I was still a published author! If those authors had not been kind enough to share their information, who knows how long it would have taken me to secure a publisher?

  2. Lots of kindness, all unexpected. I was about to quit the entire gig when one of my favorite authors got dumped. I knew then that if the market was that tough, I'd never sell to NY, and from that day forward I quit writing to the market and started creating stories that I wanted to tell, how I wanted to tell them. And now that favorite author is doing very well publishing on her own. Not only that, we're best friends.

    Another author and close friend published the first scene of Honey Beaulieu at the back of one of the books from her bestselling paranormal mystery series. That garnered lots of new readers for me. I was really taken back that she'd do such a thing.

    I can't even begin to list all the kindness I've received from my author friends. I love your post because kindness is something we should talk about a lot more. There is kindness everywhere, but the headlines suffocate the good. Awesome first post, Sherri!

    1. I might add that "got dumped" was my gut feeling, thus the harsh wording.

  3. What a lovely post! Kindness can often be the difference between moving forward and utter despair. I think being the recipient of unexpected kindness is a gift beyond words and makes one more apt to "pass it on" and give that gift to someone else. (Btw, please introduce yourself! I'd love to put a name to this post.)

  4. Sherri, what a great life story that should be shared with others who have no one to support them as they make their way through life. I spent many years as a director of adult literacy (GED and career development) and was able to see many young women reach unbelievable heights--just by having someone who believed in them and showed them the way. Very worthy post. Happy Holidays.

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  6. Such nice responses! Thank you for reading!
    So about me: I just published my first book a couple of months ago- A Love to Call My Own which was inspired by stories my mom told of growing up poor during the depression. To make matters worse, they lived in the rugged bottom land of East Texas near Mount Pleasant and her Dad was a moonshiner. These stories just can't be made up.
    I grew up on a farm very near to where Mom did and experienced the hog killing, gardening, hunting and the country lifestyle I wrote about. I also spent a lot of time in that bottom land looking for Indian arrowheads and relics.
    I was the youngest of five kids- twenty years apart. My parents were older when they had me and had lots of the old country ways. My mother made her own lye soap, butter and buttermilk, jelly and canned our food from the garden. She was an incredible seamstress.

    Today I work in Strategy for Boeing during the day and clear my mind with my sewing/embroidery business by night- I love to write and have started many stories over the years so maybe this will be a catalyst for me. All of you are such an inspiration!
    I live in Fort Worth with my dogs-a Shihtzu named Snookie and my Lhaso, Bandit and my tuxedo cat Button and my Manx Bobbin.
    I love my pets but these cats! I am pretty sure I need to write a story about Button and Bobbin: Keeping me in Stitches.

  7. What an inspiring story, Sherri, and all because of one act of kindness--someone who believed in me. I had a couple of teachers who encourage me, too. Sad to say I was in my 40s when after 20 something years in a textile factory, I went to college. I don't regret it because I learned how to use Microsoft Word. Otherwise, I would not be an author now. I enjoyed this very much. Thank you.


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