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Sometimes Unexpected Circumstances Demand Unexpected Decisions

I’ve never been a backpacker. To be honest, I prefer a double room en suite and a rental car for my vacations. However, sometimes unexpected circumstances demand unexpected decisions and sometimes only 6,000 miles are enough to escape the demons plaguing you.

So, even though Munich is a nice city to live in, I needed to get out immediately. I got a backpack, a flight ticket, a traveler’s bus pass and – just in case – a travel guide together with many exciting opportunities and practical travel tips from my family and friends. There I was, ready to depart to the United States of America for three weeks – alone.

I flew into Boston, where I stayed for a few days and my next stop was an island in Maine. I had done all my planning using the internet and had the information for a shuttle service to get me to my destination. Based on the information from the website, there was a daily shuttle service from the bus stop to the island where I was planning a stay at a youth hostel.

“Reservations required, call here!” So I did. Unfortunately, when I called, the woman who answered said “I’m so sorry, but it’s the last week of season and we aren’t planning to make any more stops today. The next time I could pick you up is tomorrow.”

Darn, I was already on my way, calling her on my cell phone and without any idea at all what to expect in Maine. Bugger! I should have called when I was still in Boston so I could stay another night at the youth hostel there. The lady on the phone repeated her sincere apology.

Not sure what to do next, I thanked herthe best I could with my broken English and started to hang up the phone. However, just a second before I was hanging up, she stopped me and said to call her back in 1 hour!

When I called her back, she said she had rescheduled some errands and would pick me up at the bus stop anyway.

Great! WOW! How lucky I am! I survived my first backpacking “crisis”! (I mean, the first morning in Boston when a cute and very kind man unlocked my accidentally locked backpack by breaking the locker doesn’t count as a real crisis – he was a blessing.)

Time to get off the bus. After a 6.5 hour live introduction to American culture and geography – much more exciting than hearing it in my classroom back home in Germany – I arrived safe and sound in Maine.

I have to admit my first impression was, “I’m in the middle of nowhere!”. Between the dusky skies and being the only traveler, the feeling was even stronger!

Ok, where is the shuttle service to pick me up? Ten minutes later, 20 minutes later, 30 minutes later, nobody showed up. Was it the wrong stop?

Well done, I am 6,000 miles from home and lost somewhere in Maine. Nobody around me, it’s already dark, I have no idea where the heck I really am, where to go, or what to do. The shuttle service must have forgotten to pick me up or is waiting at a different stop. I have no place to stay and to top all this, for some reason my mobile doesn’t work, bugger!

Who had this trip idea anyway? Although I had never thought about any “horrible” consequences, I could suddenly hear all the fears as a single female traveler I was going to experience creeping in around the edges of my excitement.

Suddenly a headlight flasher wakened me from my nightmares and a minivan was coming my direction. It took a load off my mind when the car stopped and a woman in her forties jumped out of the car and said: “Hi! Welcome, it’s great to have you here. Sorry for my delay but the traffic was a mess.” When she started the car and we headed to the island, she told me it is about a 1.25 hour drive to get to the hostel. As we drove through the countryside, I said, “Thank you very much! I had no idea it would be a 2.5 hour drive for you.”

She answered, “you know what, for some reason I felt I just had to pick you up.” Wow, her words impressed me so much. She made a 2.5 hour trip “just” because she had the feeling to pick me up?! Awesome, how kind is that! I thought “not everybody would make such a long drive at night to pick up a complete stranger.”

My thoughts got interrupted by her, “we are very close but unfortunately due to the darkness we can’t see the ocean, do you want to taste it anyway?” And before I even could translate and answer her surprising question, she had already opened all windows of the car. Immediately a strong gust of wind hit us.

However, a marvelous salty breeze of freedom flows through the car, saying:

sometimes unexpected circumstances demand unexpected decisions.

Silke, Munich, Germany

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Kindness Starts at Home–Yours!

Lately I’ve been on this kick of watching HGTV…several of the shows fascinate me even though I don’t have any plans to redecorate or sell my home or do any of that kind of stuff. Not quite sure what it is about and I figure it is a pretty harmless hobby (until I quit taking care of other stuff!).

As I was listening to their promos, their phrase “Start at Home” really struck a chord in me.

Now the home you’re thinking of right now may be a physical place, like the ones HGTV hosts are talking about. It may be where you live, where you hang out with friends or family, get chores done, work on homework, or mow the yard, where you visit, or where you run from.

The home I’m thinking of at this moment is none of those. It is the home you carry with you wherever you roam, whatever you become, whatever you choose, whomever you meet, whatever you do.

It is your heart.

The center of your very humanness and beingness. The place where love resides, joy flourishes, and amazingness happens. And the physical place which some scientists call the “second brain”.

So I see “start at home” in a new light. What if we “start at home” by clearing away the debris and rubble in our own hearts? Gentling our own hearts, being love and kindness in our own hearts?

Not someone else’s…our own. Because truly, we can’t do anything about what someone else feels or thinks or does. We can only “do” this for ourselves!

Love you! Accept you! Be gentle with you! Be kind to you!

And when you start there, your light spreads out from you as if powered by the biggest generator in the world.

Yes, kindness really does start at home! Wow, who knew a cable channel slogan could carry so much information.

Love and light, hugs and blessings

“Home is where the heart is.”
Pliny the Elder

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Is Kindness A Religion?

My heart sings when I see the quote from the Dalai Lama which says “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” I dance for joy. I see possibility. I see peace. And I’m spurred on to be kindness even more.

So is kindness a religion? To me, the simple answer is “yes”. I am definitely aligned with the Dalai Lama on this one, especially if you look at one definition of religion from

“a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects.”

I’ve always been fascinated by different cultures. Their belief systems, cultural norms, history, everything. In fact, before I went and got all practical and adult, I dreamed of being a cultural anthropologist…traveling to exotic places, building understanding among cultures and peoples, learning different languages. That didn’t happen…I traveled the road of business and practicality for the next 30 years. However, I never lost my passion for encouraging others through word and deed (although sometimes you wouldn’t know it as I got lost on the byways of sadness, depression, and cynicism).

Even with my immersion in the world of business and family and divorces and, well, life, I continued to study and observe other cultures. And one thing I found is that all of them have kindness and respect in common. It may look different ways or only be extended to members of their own tribe or be called something else. And it is there.

Kindness crosses every barrier there is and is not illegal, immoral or otherwise “not allowed” in any culture I am aware of.

Regardless of evidence to the contrary (if you read the news reports you might not believe there is kindness anywhere!), there is kindness to be found…by the ton! And now is the time in our evolution to focus on it and make it a “religion” of unity and acceptance.


Because without it, our world is doomed to tear itself apart at the seams and come crashing down around our ears.

Although 50, I am, in many ways, still the bright eyed little girl of 5 who believed in goodness and kindness. The more I clear away the learned crap, take my machete to the overgrowth of negativity that has grown up around me, and step into acceptance, the more I realize I believe in the power of a religion called “kindness”.

It drives me. It is my passion. It is my belief that it is one of the lights that chases away the darkness.

And I believe it is possible to change our focus and see kindness in all its forms, small or large.

So how about you? Are you ready for a religion that unifies rather than separates and divides?

What say you?

Love and light, hugs and blessings

“Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.”
Anne Frank

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Uncommon Decency In the World of Sports

I was talking with a techie client of mine a couple of weeks ago and, since we have an amazing relationship, I also told her about what I was doing with A Million Stories of Kindness. She loved it and shared a story with me, then a link to the story in an online paper.

This week I got to spend time with Wes Hopper (check him out on and I had found his great booklet on practicing the “attitude of gratitude” and joined his mailing list. I was given the great blessing of a one-on-one telephone call with him and we found we shared many of the same beliefs in the power of gratitude (what a surprise…grin) and in many other areas of life. Lo and behold, he shares this story with me too!

So I figured it was time to put it on this site! Rumours to the contrary, I don’t need a 2×4 upside the head to get the message (at least some of the time).

Last week, Sara Tucholsky, a 5-foot-2-inch softball player in her senior year for Western Oregon University, was playing in a big game with Central Washington University. Both teams were vying for the Division II NCAA playoffs. Sara, who was batting less than .200 all season, hit the ball over the fence with two runners on.

She had never hit a ball out of the park before, even in practice. She was so excited, she missed first base. Realizing this, she turned to go back but collapsed in agony as her knee gave out. Her first-base coach yelled that she had to crawl back to first base because if anyone on Sara’s team touched her, she’d be out and her home run would be nullified. Her coach encouraged her to try to crawl around the other bases to preserve her home run, but it was out of the question.

That’s when the star player on the other team, Mallory Holtman, asked the umpire if she and a teammate could carry Sara around the bases. It was an unprecedented request from an opponent fighting for a playoff berth, but the rules allowed it. Without hesitation, Mallory and shortstop Liz Wallace lifted Sara and carried her, lowering her to touch each base with her good leg.

To Mallory it was simple: “In the end, it’s not about winning and losing so much; it was about this girl. She hit it over the fence and was in pain and deserved a home run.”

Mallory was right. It’s just common decency.

Sadly, such kindness isn’t common at all in sports, and that’s why all the coaches, players, and spectators who were stunned by this spontaneous act of sportsmanship wept. And that’s how Mallory became a national hero.

By the way, her team lost 4-2, but in my eyes, everyone won.

I get tears in my eyes when I read this story…it touches me so much when I see the power of kindness at work in all areas of life. When we step out of our competitions and power struggles, and step into what I believe is our core state, lovingness, we can look through the eyes of another and provide what is wanted and needed in the moment.

Love and light, hugs and blessings

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Respect The Elderly

Not enough of us respect our elders. Maybe it’s just the way I was raised, or the fact that I am a parent now, and getting older and trying to instill these values in my own children… but I am very aware of it.

We were at a school function for the kids about a week ago, and there was a disabled woman near the front door. She was leaning on a walker and clearly was intimidated by the thought of navigating the crowds, through a narrow area jammed with kids, so that she could get closer to the stage and see everything.

My 4 year old son and I asked her if she would like a place to sit, and when she gratefully accepted we grabbed a chair, parted the crowd for her, and took her to the front. It’s a little thing, bit in this big world it’s the little things that matter:)

Erik, United States