Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Kindness comes in all forms

Kindness seems simple enough, yet we rush through the day without giving its simple act a second thought.  Seriously, how hard is it to engage in these simple acts?  You know...  Tell someone to have a good day just to add a little cheer, hold the door for the person behind you on the way out of the store, carry someone's bag for them, give a little money to the homeless individual holding the sign (without judgement), letting a car get in front of you despite being in a hurry or a few minutes late, sending a text to say you care, so on and so forth.  Are we moving through life so quickly that we forget to be human?  Are we disconnecting ourselves further and further from one another that the simple act of kindness is outside of our reach?

There have been times that the simple act of kindness touched my soul so deeply and shed a little light in what seemed like utter darkness and for this I am grateful.  The majority of the time the individuals showing grace and kindness didn't know I was in my darkest hour, needing a "pick me up" or that I felt so terrible inside.  I have sought and received kindness in unlikely places.  I have been pleasantly surprised and felt loved when I needed it the most in my life.  

The quote above speaks volumes to a person's character, who they are, and how they make you feel, without receiving anything in return.  And today I pay tribute to the fine staff of Trader Joe's in Winston-Salem.  These people are incredible and they have lifted me up, sent a little love my way when I needed it the most, gave me hugs on days I needed it and days I didn't, and gave genuine acts of kindness all the while expecting nothing in return.  Shopping here I have experienced humanity at its best.  

Trader Joe's opened in Winston-Salem at the end of October 2012, which was a few months after my ex-husband and I separated.  As soon as it opened, I began shopping there because I believe in their mission to give healthy food choices at affordable prices and give the consumer information to make informed decisions about their food.  Beyond that they also deliver impeccable customer service.  Win-Win.  Now three years later I still shop there and I'm in there a few times per week.  I never in a million years thought I would  become as fond as I have of many of the workers.  

When I started shopping there, I wanted nutritionally sound food for the kids and I, but what I received was more than that.  When the ex and I split, as you can imagine I felt broken and alone.  There were days I didn't want to leave my house and facing the world seemed unbearable.  When feeding your family is imperative to health, I had no choice but to go to the grocery store.  I was always greeted with kindness, a smile, and a genuine friendliness.  I know what you are thinking...  Trader Joe's employees are over the top friendly, can seem insincere in their endeavors to be friendly, and they have a bubbliness that's borderline obnoxious and annoying.  I've read the reviews.  I can honestly say that Trader Joe's in Winston Salem isn't like that...  or at least I haven't encountered that.  Soon after I started shopping there, a few of the workers knew me by name and always greeted me.  Then they started giving me hugs.  None of them knew I was going through a really dark period in my life and during that time their hug meant the world to me.  There were times I would force myself to leave my house and go to Trader Joe's, because I needed the darkness to lift.  I needed to feel better.  The staff at Trader Joe's became my therapy and prescription to happiness.  So yes...  I received more than good food for my body, I received food for my soul.

Now, more than three years later, I'm not ashamed to say, I still go there to get a hug when I need one.  I have come to know several of the employees there and I have often asked myself how it was possible to have so many kind people in one spot?  My kids love many of the workers too and find themselves looking for them before they even enter the front door.  We have been showered with kindness time and time again by several of the employees, who we hold dear.  They have become our Trader Joe's family and we are forever grateful for each blessing they give us, each time they stop and chat with us asking about our day and life, each time they give us a hug or a bouquet of flowers, or just say hi.  There are several people at the store that we hold dear to our hearts and are quite fond of.

Kindness comes in all forms.  I'm grateful for the Winston Salem Trader Joe's employees and the unexpected kindness that they have given the kids and I, without expecting anything in return.  This is kindness in the purest form and a language that crosses all barriers.


Stacie said...

Toni, I just wanted to let you know that I stumbled upon your blog via a comment you left on Jamie's, and I have spent the last couple of days reading through every single post. All I can say is wow! You are a beautiful soul. I love your openness honesty, and authenticity. I love how you live your truth.

I can relate to your fear of exposing yourself on your blog. I have started and stopped blogging many times over the years, for just that reason. But now I feel it is time to simply be myself, complete with insecurities, unanswered questions and flaws, even in the midst of those who want to judge me or change my mind or my ways. I too have come to the realization over the years that I need write for myself for healing and self-discovery, and I need to share it. Even though sometimes I am criticized and it hurts, more often I am validated and loved and encouraged by being an open book.

Oh, and nature is absolutely my church too! I never feel so right as I do when I'm alone outside. Nature, music and art are my biggest healers too.

Your post about dancing with grief really touched me. I am sorry for all of the pain you have had to live through. I still remember when I got the news about Jon. I did not know him well, but I knew that he was well-loved, and his untimely death broke my heart.

I am sorry to hear about your marriage ending, and all the pain you faced over the past 3 years. I can only imagine how hard it must be. I am proud of you for growing through the pain, and coming out even brighter on the other side.

I loved the list you made on the post about dating. I knew most of those things about you, even though I barely know you. Your light shines so bright to me, and resonates with me, that I just knew all of it.

I loved every minute I spent reading your words, and have stumbled upon another kindred spirit in this world. One I already admire. I will be following you on your journey. :-)

Much love – Stacie Knapp

Toni Becker said...

Dearest Stacie,

I can't begin to express how deeply your comment touched me. With tears in my eyes and gratitude in my heart, I send love, light, and many blessings to you.

In this life, there have been many times I wanted to stay hidden and times when I have done so out of my own comfort or out of fear of someone else's discomfort. I have realized or I should say I am realizing, I only hurt myself when I do this.

So I send energy of strength for your journey as you stand tall with bravery and shine your light. Through your amazing comment, You have shown that when we shine our light it helps others shine theirs... I know we affect others through actions, words and behavior and today you reminded me of the importance to shine bright and big. Staying small and hidden only hurts us in the end.

Shine on! Thanks for reading and for your lovely comment. If you think my blog will be helpful to someone else, please pass it on.

Much love, a heart of gratitude, and a multitude of blessings,

Toni Becker said...
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