Community: Kindness & Connection

In Community

Have you ever thought about how we’re all connected?  It goes beyond photography, beyond neighborhoods, beyond borders and beyond definitions.  We are all human.  We all make mistakes.  We all want the same feelings of love and acceptance despite our imperfections.  When I’m feeling a little less than connected, I have to remember to reach inside my gratitude and recall small kindnesses.  Things that may not have been a big deal to someone else, but they mattered to me and made me feel a part of something bigger than myself.  Just yesterday, in the grocery store parking lot, I noticed a man get in his car.  My daughter had just taken our cart to the basket return and she hadn’t seen that he was going to back up.  I watched the man carefully check all his mirrors and see her, knowing that she would likely cross his path.  He waited patiently for her to get safely past his vehicle before smiling, waving and backing out.  I was so thankful for his vigilance, because even though I was watching, he made it a point to notice his surroundings and care for another person’s child, too.  I felt like we shared community in that quick moment.

In the spirit of love for Community, the Viewfinders are sharing hearts and thoughts of the simple kindnesses that connect us all.

1-IMG_3057I discovered this heart drawn on a calling card stuck in my car window one morning after finishing up my workout at the Y.  I quickly realized it was put there by my boyfriend, who had been at the Y, too, and had left ahead of me.  We were about 1 year into our relationship, and it delighted me that he had left me a reminder of his love in such a public way.  Four years later, he still gives me surprise tokens of his love.  I still have that heart-card in my car, where I stumble upon in now and then, and it makes me wonder how we might change someone’s day if we left a little hand-drawn heart in the window of a perfect stranger?   –lucy

Heart-glasses_rsFriends, you know I’m all about this post. Love is my mantra, my guidepost, my superpower. In that vein, I try to look at life with love, in all capacities. Including with heart sunglasses. —Meghan

1200heartI’ve met wonderful people through my blog, Instagram, and the online workshops that I lead. Really amazing people. Two special women I “met” in this way sent me the hearts you see above – one of smooth wood, the other of felted wool. I cannot tell you what it meant to me when these beautiful hearts arrived, along with handwritten notes, in my mailbox one day. What kindness. What generosity. They rest on my desk where I see them everyday.   Where I am reminded of the kind women who sent them. Where I am reminded of the love that rests in our world.  –Michelle

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Sometimes it’s these itsy bitsy little reminders that we’re in this together. The tiniest heart on the smallest little stone – who knows how long it’s been there, who else has smiled even a little bit by noticing it. I like to imagine the connection between me and the last person who saw it, how we were both brought a little higher, made a little more aware for even just a little while. –Alison

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There’s love all around us! Sometimes we have to find just the right perspective to see it. – Holly

UntitledEarlier this year I was training for a fairly big race. Which meant running even when we were on vacation. Truth be told, I love a good excuse to get out on foot while somewhere new. This particular weekend, we were camping in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. I had done some research and found that there was a six mile trail loop at our campground. So, I got up early and headed out. The trail was tricky, lots of rocks and stumps and plants. There was also a sign posted at the beginning of the trail warning of bears… I was on high alert, to say the least. At one point I lost the trail, but when I finally found it again, and had gotten my  stride back, I flew past this. I felt like a cartoon character as my feet screeched to a halt and my body had to catch up with the plan. There it was, a heart. At about mile 4. A little message to those fellow hikers and trail hoppers to remember they are loved, to trust in that and soak it up. Thank you random stranger on the path before me… your little message meant more than you will know.  Vanessa

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Every year I do my able best to combat our invasive morning glories. I pull every little volunteer I see for a solid few months each spring and early summer. Then it gets Mid-Atlantic hot and humid, and I grow a little less vigilant. Overnight, it seems, some portion of our yard becomes a riot of bright green heart-shaped leaves punctuated by magenta and purple and white striped flowers in the morning, come trumpets by afternoon,  and home to a happy society of bees. So I make peace with the morning glories for one more season. –Debbie

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Our boy has a tough year ahead of him. Our family has all spent a lot of the holidays working with him, studying, guiding and inspiring him. But on my last day of the holidays with him, I decided not to do any studying with him and just enjoy being connected. As I lay on the beach, he told me to stay where he was. He had a plan. He had a workspace, as he called it. He would call me over when it was good and ready. I watched the people on the beach, listened to all the voices, saw the people splash in the sea. And then he called me over. And I melted. I hope his dreams come true. He has the sweetest heart. And I hope that through this difficult year, he can remember this moment. I know I will. – kirstin

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I have been in a season of endings and beginnings and have not been sure of my role. I have taken care of the kids for so long that my identity somehow got lost in it.  Being reminded by my husband and friends of what they see in me is exactly the love boost I needed to discover all the parts of my own heart. – Staci Lee

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This school year I am teaching an inclusion Kindergarten class with students with special needs. I am trying so hard to make a meaningful connection with my unique little people and their parents, and I know they are too. The moments we spend together are not easy, but they are definitely interesting! And fun. And happy. And precious. I am thankful that I love the idea of sharing nine months of their lives with them. – Maite

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While perusing my photos for inspiration, I considered photos of “found” hearts – in trees trunks, in tangles of grass – and pondered what my message might be.  But when I rolled over this morning in bed, the felt heart that my daughter sewed for me a few years ago had fallen from the headboard and was on top of my head.  I got the message.  Sometimes when we buy the groceries and make the lunches and pick them up from volleyball practice, we assume they know we love them.  But to say the words, or hand them a tangible example of love?  I need to remember that too.  She does. — Kim

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It’s no secret to those who know me that I enjoy going out for coffee. A great cup of coffee just hits the spot. But you know what? It’s the companionship that goes with that delicious drink that makes it special. It’s a simple way of connecting, yet it’s an excuse to slow down, catch up, and let someone know you care about them. ~Leslie

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It’s the little things, isn’t it?  I inherited a great many things when my mother died — clothing, photo albums, family quilts, a favorite ring I wear everyday —- but her collection of heart-shaped rocks is one of my dearest possessions.  She collected them over the years and displayed them on a window sill in her bedroom.  They now live in my home.  My children and I add to the collection as we walk local beaches, go on hikes, or travel.   When we find one we like it gives me a chance to reinforce her memory in a playful way and I think that is so important.  It’s as if she is scattering heart-shaped rocks wherever we are in the world.  We only need to take the time to look for them. ~Deb

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For September, I’ll be teaching my students at Angela House a curriculum that combines the practice of photography with the ideas and concepts of kindness, gratitude and connection.  I’d love to show them how connected we all are by tagging our heart images with #connectingAH.  Do you have a heart shot in your archives?  Maybe you see one on your path and snap a shot?  Maybe you create something new especially for this project?  Don’t forget to tag it with #viewfindersio too!

Connecting through Kindness – Angie

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3 Comments

  1. Gosh, I sure do LOVE all of you ladies!
    Huge hugs and love.
    Thanks Ang for putting together such a special post!

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