Almost losing my husband, followed by a laundry list of painful events, was my lemon. Building a website and community around building strong character in kids and inspiring kindness, even in adversity, is my lemonade.
Life can be hard. Your husband might end up in a coma during your first child’s birth and suffer a traumatic brain injury. On August 27, 2004, this was my story. After a long night of contractions, the doctor asked me a question and my husband turned to say something – but he collapsed. I remember seeing him on the ground in a pool of blood. Everything happened so fast, and in an instant he was gone. I remember vividly thinking, what’s going on? I’ll never be able to erase that memory. I called my mom, and one-by-one family and friends started to arrive. No one would tell me the depth of my husband’s injuries in fear for my safety and that of our unborn child.
I delivered my baby nine hours later. The doctors came in and told me that they weren’t sure if my husband would live through the night. I held my baby on my chest and prayed out loud, don’t take him now, we need him, over and over and over. He was in a coma, in intensive care. While I was on one floor of the hospital holding our child, he was on another fighting for his life. It took me a day before I would allow my sister to wheel me into the ICU to see him, on our first wedding anniversary. I sat with him in the ICU holding his hand, listening to the ticking of the clock. I told him we had a healthy baby girl and that she couldn’t wait to meet him. As I held his hand, I assured him he was going to be OK and wished him a happy anniversary. Then I went back to my room.
I left the hospital after three days, but waited another two weeks for my husband to come home. He was given a clean bill of health a few months later and returned to work. I look back now and realize I was in survival mode. Caring for a toddler (my husband’s first-born), nursing our newborn, working as a mortgage broker, and caring for my recovering husband, well, it was a lot to balance.
After the accident, there were a series of unfortunate events over the following few years: the economy suffered a complete meltdown, and we were forced to sell our dream home.A dear friend and her husband died tragically in a motorcycle accident, leaving their two children orphans. Their children’s newguardian, a police officer, was killed nine months later in the line of duty. After we sold our dream home, our rental home was burglarized and we had yet to buy renters’ insurance. I lost my grandmother. I lost my mother who was my best friend. I did a business favor for a friend who then sued me and served me the day before my mom’s funeral. But here’s the kicker: I WAS STILL GRATEFUL.
People ask how I was able to endure, so I decided that I needed to share my outlook with others who might be in pain or facing severe adversity in their lives. Indeed, the reality of losing so many loved ones so quickly compelled me to think more deeply about my life. I became highly aware of how important it was for me to teach my children to live with gratitude each day. Soon after, I recognized how “gratitude” was simply one of many essential character traits necessary to live a good and happy life.
I began to want to inspire strong character values not only in my children, but inkids everywhere. I realized the power of gratitude and wanted to spread gratitude and kindness in the world as a way of coping and helping others cope and thrive through the tough times. And so Kindness U was born.
What started as a journaling site to help others track the happy times in their lives has blossomed into a community of kind and caring individuals who want to make the world a better – kinder – place. I am proud every day to be at the helm of Kindness U and truly believe we can change the world.
At Kindness U we encourage kids of all ages to follow our Kindness Rules, which I’ve listed below. These rules are guidelines that will help us build a better world, one act of kindness at a time.
- Treat people as you’d like to be treated
- Say “I love you”
- Write loving notes
- Say “please” and “thank you” — and mean it!
- Respect everyone
- Don’t hurt others on the inside or outside
- Feel that it’s nice to be nice
- Say “Good Morning”
- Open doors
- Give away your old clothes and other things you no longer need or use
- Give flowers
- Let everyone play
- Play fair
- Do all the good you can in all the ways you can
- Join the movement! Be kind!