On Kindness and Making the World a Better Place

Last Thursday I had the honour of seeing Leon Logothetis of “The Kindness Diaries” speak. He was speaking at a fundraiser for Mom2Mom Africa, a local Cambridge group. Mom2Mom’s vision is “to empower students in Tanzania, and supporters worldwide, through education”.
My dad came from Tanzania (although when he lived there it was called Tanganyika), and I am always looking for ways to support the nation. So I was there due to the Tanzanian connection. Quite frankly, I did not even know who Leon Logothetis was. It’s true! I don’t have Netflix, and, in fact, I have no cable connection at all. I can hear the gasp from some of you. But, to be honest, as a writer, I would far prefer spending my time reading.
So for those of you who are like me and who have never seen “The Kindness Diaries”, here is a trailer for it.

It looks pretty impressive, and I do hope that I can see it someday. I am already reading the book.
Despite not knowing who he is, I was impressed with Logothetis’ message. He believes that one of the biggest problems in western society is that we lack community. We no longer need each other. He also believes that a solution to this is kindness. Kindness is free. It also allows people to be seen, and we all want to be seen. Kindness says that we are not alone.
One of Logothetis’ projects is a postcard one. He gave members of the audience postcards. Our homework was to write to him on the postcard we received with an act of kindness we had done. For every postcard he receives, he will donate a book to a child, up to 10,000 books. What a fantastic idea! If you are a teacher and wish to receive postcards for your class, you can contact him on Facebook with your request.


Another thing that Logothetis talked about is the media’s fascination with the negative in the world. They put a microscope to everything that is bad. If that is the case, he asked, why could they not put a microscope to the good? To be honest, this is another reason why I stopped watching TV, especially the news, a long time ago.
This leads me to my book review, which addresses a similar issue. In “Come with me” by Holly M. McGhee, a little girl is frightened by the anger and hatred she sees on the news all over the world. So she asks how she could make the world a better place. First her papa and then her mama take her out into their community and show how her what to do. When she asks to go by herself, the parents hesitate but then decide that “They would not live in fear” and so allow her to go. She invites her neighbour, the boy across the hall, to go out into the community with her in order to make the world a better place.

This is a brilliant book and one that is appropriate for all ages. I challenge you to turn off the TV, read the book, and then go out into your community. Because, as the back cover says, “Because as small as it may seem, your part matters to the world.”
I have already sent out my postcard to Leon Logothetis telling him that my daughter and I made rocks and bookmarks with inspirational words on them for people to find. Maybe you think this is a small act, but if everyone lifted up each other with positive messages, imagine what kind of world we would live in.

What random act of kindness have you done lately? I love to read your comments.

Have You Got the Creative Blahs?

Sometimes we all need to kickstart our creative side. When I am feeling that need there are several books I turn to.

1. “Rip the Page: Adventures in Creative Writing” by Karen Benke
This book is full of creativity exercises, which are interspersed with pieces of advice from writers.
One of my favourite creativity exercises from this book is “list poems”. “You can make a poem from a list of just about anything…” states Benke at the beginning of the exercise. She goes on to give several examples such as, “10 Things I Thought About As I Walked From School Today” or “What My Father Taught Me”.
Here is an example that I did in April:
10 Things that make me happy
A rainbow, especially if it’s a double one
Waking up to the sound of birds singing
Violets covering the lawn
Taking a walk in the sunshine
Laughing with people
Colouring in my colouring book
Something yummy baking–mmmm
Cream in my tea
A purring cat
Sitting in front of a fire

2. “Leap Write IN! Adventures in Creative Writing” by Karen Benke
This is the followup book to the first one. It is similar in format to the first one without the writers’ advice.
One of my favourite exercises in this book is found poems. Benke has this to say about found poems: “OK, so all you need to find found-poem treasure is to copy down words, phrases, fragments, and entire sentences exactly as you see them written or hear them spoken…They’re everywhere…On ordinary road signs. The covers of magazines. In book titles, chapter headings, and newspaper articles. Written on candy wrappers…”
One place that this is fun to do is in the car, especially on a long drive.
Here’s one I wrote in May from 1 newspaper headline, 2 notices written by my student, 1 sentence from a colouring set, and 1 sentence from a letter from school.

3. “Unjournalling” by Dawn DiPrince and Cheryl Miller Thurston

This book promises exercises that are “NOT introspective, NOT personal, and NOT boring”. Certainly the exercises are fun.
One exercise asks you to write about “What are the best reasons for doing nothing? List them.” Another asks “How many ways can you find to say no…without using the word no?” What do you think?

These books are ones I also like to use with my daughter and my writing student, who are both in grade 5.
Leave me a list poem or found poem in the comments below, if you want. I’d love to read it.