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December 21, 2016

Yellow Envelopes: A Kindness Revolution.

Yellow Envelopes

About five years ago I was at a major crossroads in my life.

Though I lived in a wonderful city (Portland, Oregon) and had a job I loved working in the environmental field, I was increasingly filled with a sinking feeling that the life I was living wasn’t quite the life I’d once dreamed of.

I wasn’t unhappy, not exactly, but I’d lost the passion and sense of possibility I’d once felt for my life.

So I took a major leap of faith.

I sold all of my stuff, quit my job and together with my husband, set out on an open-ended trip around the world.

Right before our departure we had dinner with our friends, Michele and Glenn. As the evening wrapped up Michele dug into her handbag and produced a yellow envelope, which she passed across the table to me.

When I opened it, I found a check inside and a letter asking us to give the money away around the world in ways that made us happy and made our hearts sing.

There were three simple rules.

1. Don’t overthink it.

2. Don’t feel pressured to give it all away.

3. Share your experiences, but only if you want to.

We traveled for nearly three years, met innumerable kind and amazing people and, yes, we gave the money away (that story is the topic of my forthcoming memoir The Yellow Envelope).

Like many of you, I have been feeling very down since Election Day. A mixture of fear and anger often consumes me.

I’ll be feeling okay and then another wave of despair hits.

Loss is like that, I think.

After writing furiously in my journal one day, I closed my notebook and noticed the sticker I’d slapped on the cover months before. It said,

“Action Cures Fear.”

I thought of the yellow envelope.

The next day I appealed to the readers of my blog. I wanted to do something to shed some light in this dark time.

I asked my readers if I could mail them a yellow envelope.

The only catch was that they had to use the envelope as a vehicle for kindness: write a letter to someone they loved, mail a donation to their favorite organization or tuck a gift card inside and give it to a stranger.

It didn’t matter what they did with their envelope as long as they used it to commit a small act of love.

I bought 100 yellow envelopes and was shocked when requests for envelopes came pouring in from all over the U.S. and beyond.

Two days later I’d run out of envelopes. But then a blog reader donated money so I could buy more, then another donated, then another.

In the past four weeks, I have mailed nearly 250 envelopes to people in 32 states and 16 countries. I started a Facebook page and the stories of giving are beginning to roll in.

It’s a grassroots campaign of kindness and it gives me hope. The truth about giving a yellow envelope (or any face-to-face random act of kindness) is that it can be awkward.

You can feel like you are overstepping or worried that you might offend. And yet, every day people around the world are distributing yellow envelopes, putting their own uncomfortable feelings aside and committing acts of kindness anyway.

It’s inspiring. It’s uplifting.

And now I’m wondering if the elephant journal community would like to get involved.

So, how about it? Can I mail you a yellow envelope? Once it arrives in your mailbox consider it your invitation to spread the love.

To request an envelope you can visit The Yellow Envelope Facebook Page and send your address by using the “Send Message” button. Or, email your address directly to me.

Let’s start a kindness revolution in yellow envelopes. Remember, action cures fear, but kindness stifles hate.

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Author: Kim Dinan

Image: Courtesy of the author.

Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith/Editor:Travis May

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Kim Dinan