Monthly Archives: January 2016

Actor of Kindness

He may have played a murder consultant in Horrible Bosses, and answered to a nickname you’d never repeat in front of your kids (rhymes with smotherchucker). But movie star Jamie Foxx, in real life, does good. We know this because his foundation supports the health and welfare of children around the world. We know this because he’s put himself out there as the celebrity spokesperson for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. We know this because he’s been personally involved in raising money for groups like the Global Down Syndrome Foundation (bee-tee-dubs: his sister, DeOndra, has Down syndrome).

We also know this because when Jamie Foxx picks up on a commotion in his ’hood, he races outside to lend a hand.

Jamie Foxx told reporters that he heard the sound of a car crash from his home in southern California. He called 911, then rushed to find a pickup truck overturned and on fire, with the driver trapped inside. Jamie and an off-duty paramedic were able to smash through the window of the vehicle and haul the driver to safety… literally seconds before the entire truck was engulfed by the flames. They surely saved his life.

“I’m just so happy that it happened here, and they were the right people here,” said the tearful father of the driver, a 32-year-old man who suffered serious injuries but is recovering. “I think we want to be willing to jump in when it needs to be done, but how many others really would?”

And (apologies, apologies, apologies) what does the Foxx say?: “I don’t look at it as heroic,” he told the reporters. “I just look at it like, you know, you just had to do something.”

This celebrity’s no smotherchucker, that’s for sure. On the contrary, he joins the 50 Good Deeds hall of famous… along with the likes of Melissa Etheridge and John Malkovich, both of whom have been featured in past blog posts after doing sweet things. It’s all about being human.


“And for the most profoundly well executed good deed, the Oscar goes to…” (Photo courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti /

And They Really Do Rock

You know how sometimes you get a warm feeling when you think about a loved one who lives far away? Maybe they’ve been through a personal trial recently and could use a little cheerleading, a sweet note or a gift, a simple gesture to show you’re thinking of them. Your heart swells, your thoughts go out to them… and you get an intense urge to ship them a lump of granite rock.

Or is it just me?

If a gift like that sounds cold to you, let me elaborate. These one-of-a-kind stones are dazzling. They’re all decorated by hand in a gorgeous assortment of colours, using a dot-painting technique that a Nova Scotia resident adapted from an Aboriginal Australian art form.

The self-taught artist behind this project is a schoolteacher named Ginger LeBoutillier. She calls these Travelling Kindness Rocks – and she’ll send them, for free, to those in need of kindness. Trust me, anyone would feel uplifted after receiving one of these in the mail. Especially since it comes with a touching letter explaining why the person is getting a crafty chunk of stone.

The idea was initially inspired by a project Ginger led in her grade 5 and 6 classroom. Eventually, it spilled over into the community. She’s only been at it since August, but to date the rocks have been mailed all over Canada and the United States, to several countries in Europe, and to places as far away as Argentina, Australia and China. This week Ginger is shipping her 200th rock.

Travelling Kindness Rocks have been cherished by individuals dealing with serious illnesses, coping with grief, even battling suicidal thoughts. Typically, people express extreme joy when they learn their loved one will receive a rock.

Ginger loves finding out, often through social media, that a Travelling Kindness Rock has brought someone comfort. She’s usually heard a bit of their difficult backstory. “I feel blessed that I’m welcomed into so many people’s lives, all around the world… I have felt humbled that something I’ve created could mean so much to people,” she says. She adds, “We are all connected, and the TKRs are a physical way of representing this.”

Donations to the project help cover mailing costs. There’s also a lovely pile of merch for sale on the Travelling Kindness Rocks website, with part of the profits going back into the project – so when you shop on the site, you’re paying for these rocks to keep on rolling.

I’m in awe of this lady’s talents. Not only is she a creative teacher and artist, she’s also a mom to a five-year-old, she’s a violinist with her community orchestra, and she apparently has a reliable talent for producing a fresh apple pie. (Mmm… Ginger, do let me know when you’ve expanded to a line of Travelling Kindness Pies… I’ll wait right here.)


(Photo courtesy of Ginger LeBoutillier)

This is How He Scores

Here in Canada, we take our hockey seriously. If a kid is so passionate about the sport that he practises his goalie moves for hours on a patch of ice not much bigger than a welcome mat, well, he ought to play on a team. That’s how 14-year-old Bailey Monteith felt, anyhow, when he saw a Facebook video of Markus Stewart skating on a frozen puddle outside his home in Abbotsford, British Columbia. The 25-second video shows Markus guarding an invisible net and lunging to save imaginary pucks in very real, full-on goalie gear. By the time the CBC shared Markus’s story, his cutie clip had been watched more than 300,000 times. Four days later, it’s at well over half a million views.

The CBC interviewed Markus’s mom and reported that the family, which has five kids, found it a tad financially intimidating to sign everyone up for hockey. (A follow-up story explained that since Markus has epilepsy and has been advised to avoid full-contact sports, joining a hockey team would have meant shelling out for steep fees just to “sit on the bench and… play a little bit.”)

Bailey, who’s as smitten with hockey as Markus, felt driven to help. He started a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for registration fees or even a session of goalie camp, noting: “Affordability shouldn’t stop a kid from his or her dreams.” Bailey, who lives in Kamloops, B.C., and has been playing on hockey teams since he was five, told the CBC he wanted Markus to have that same opportunity: “Markus hasn’t had a chance to feel that yet, and I want to give him a chance to feel it.”

The crowdfunding page reached half its $2,000 goal in just half a day, and almost topped $3,500 two days later. That should be more than enough to cover Markus’s ice time. “Thank you so much for your kindness and generosity!” Bailey wrote on the page yesterday. “This experience has been one we will never forget and hopefully inspires others to work hard, practise every chance you get and never abandon a dream.”


There’s no puck, no rink and no opponents, but if you dream big enough, your imagination will fill in the blanks. (Facebook)

Words to Live 2016 By

Try this: Ring in the new year, wait a few hours, then take some time to scroll through your social media feed. The tide of benevolent messages is guaranteed to raise your spirits. (As for your hangover, we regret there’s not much we can do for that.)

On January 1, fueled by goodwill, folks have a tendency to log on and throw out a general smattering of new year’s wishes for all their friends and acquaintances. There are oodles of platitudes about prosperity and good health – I can get on board with those, as I happen to be a fan of prosperity and good health. But I’m touched by the notes of real compassion tucked in and amongst these messages. So many of you are concentrating on what we can and will do for others during the next 12 precious months.

I’ve collected a few New Year’s gems to share:

– “A new year… where we are all better people and are able to touch someone as much as they have touched us. Make a difference both in your life and others’ lives in 2016.” (posted by a thoughtful guy who used to help my husband with personal care)

–  “Let’s stand up & recognize our common humanity on this earth!” (posted by a politician I’ve known since our fun-filled university days together)

– “Be kind to all, for everyone is fighting some kind of battle.” (posted by a disability advocate and friend)

– “Because it is a leap year, we have 365 days left to look after ourselves so that we can look after others.” (posted by another esteemed colleague)

These sentiments are meaningful because I know the people who wrote them, and thus I know a little about their own struggles and triumphs. It’s remarkable to me that the people who’ve pushed through treacherous times are often the ones who are most focused on others. Is it because they know exactly how it feels to receive compassion, and yearn so strongly to pay it forward?

It’s inspiring, it’s uplifting, it’s an awesome attitude for a new year. If I haven’t said it already, happy 2016. And I do mean happy.