Think Kindness Challenge of The Month: Write a Letter

It was a typical crazy morning at home getting the kids ready for school, lunches assembled, breakfasts done, kids dressed, and the spare 8 minutes to get myself ready for work. I was a bit nervous because I had two potentially confrontational meetings scheduled at work that day and wasn’t looking forward to them. In preparation for the day ahead, I took a quick glance at my email and was caught by surprise: a message from a friend I worked with over 11 years ago waited in my Inbox.

There is something I don’t know if I ever told you, but I feel very strongly that it’s important I tell you now. Ever since I had the pleasure of working with you and for you, I’ve greatly admired you. Everything you taught me about writing and language style has stuck with me; I’ve long held you as a standard for my management style, my writing, my communication, and how to be a brilliant, down-to-earth, beautiful, and balanced woman. (I also have the world’s highest standard for the perfect boss since that time ;). You made a deep impression on me and in my life and I’m grateful for that. Thank you.

I had to sit down. I had to re-read it again. I had to grab a tissue to dab at the wet substance leaking from my eyes. I can’t express enough how deeply it touched me. This woman wrote to me completely out of the blue and it set the course of my day, heck, my week. I drove in to work filled with so much confidence and those potentially confrontational meetings went beautifully – and free from confrontation. I was reminded that, by-darn, I am a great writer. And apparently, I’m also a great mentor…this blast from the past was certainly an illustration of that.

Beyond treasuring the loving words from this past co-worker and friend, it was inspiring. I wanted to harness how her email made me feel and make others feel the same. And that’s how my family challenge of the month began: Write to someone you haven’t talked to in a while and tell them something you appreciate about them.

My 10-year-old decided to write to a woman who was a substitute teacher when he was 7. His regular teacher went on maternity leave…and while she was terrific, there was something about the 3-month substitute that just clicked with my son. He still talks about her and how much he learned from her. So, he wrote her a letter telling her just that. The best part was watching his smile as he thought about the impact his letter will have on her.

My husband chose to write to a childhood friend he’s lost touch with. He appreciated how this friend helped him through some tough times when he was a teenager. My 6-year-old chose to write to my mom, her Nana, who she only sees a few times a year. She said she appreciates how Nana is always happy and nice. As for me? I wrote back to my friend and co-worker. And then I sent a new message to a friend I had lost touch with but I thought of nearly daily – and I told her just that: how I couldn’t drive by the street of her old house without thinking of her, how I treasured my beautiful silk scarf she gave me and how much I thought of her every time I wore it.

It can be a simple email, an elegant hand-written note, or even a drawing (for the youngest of kindness givers). Take the time to let someone know they’re in your thoughts and how they impacted your life. Do it because it will make you feel great; do it because it will make them feel great!