Phyllis was “loving, happy and funny.” She was her family’s biggest cheerleader – something that meant the world to her granddaughter Windy Lawson. “She loved her family and cherished being a grandmother,” said Windy. “I’m pretty sure she was born to be a grandmother, toting her grandchildren to the beach, spoiling us at Christmas and making her signature pineapple salad for holiday meals.” After Phyllis passed away in June of 2014, things got bleak for Windy. She missed her grandmother dearly, but rather than remain in the abyss, Windy decided to find a way “out of the funk.”
“I told myself, ‘Windy, you need to stop thinking about yourself. What can you do to help other people? What if you consistently did random acts of kindness? For 30 days?’ Then I thought, ‘Well, if I started on November 1 and went until my birthday, that would be 40 days, and 40 days is so significant in the Bible. And my birthday would mark the sixth month anniversary of my grandmother’s passing ….’ It just felt like that was what I was supposed to do, 40 days of random acts of kindness.”
She started brainstorming ideas, and realized random acts could quickly get expensive. She didn’t want to give up on the idea, so she made up her mind: Windy would dedicate the project to her grandmother, connect the acts to aspects of her grandmother’s life, and use some of the money her grandmother had left her to make a difference. For example, back when Windy went off to college, Phyllis had sent her a huge care package stuffed with anything and everything she could possibly need. She even included several brands of deodorant “because she wasn’t sure which one I used,” joked Windy. So for one of Windy’s random acts, she planned to send a care package to a soldier overseas.
That November, she launched her sneak attacks of kindness. She covered diners’ bills at the restaurant. She bought coffee at Starbucks. She paid for foster children to enjoy a meal at Chick-Fil-A and a Tampa Bay Rowdies game, while their foster parents were treated to a dinner out. The list goes on and on – paying for pedicures, car washes, even a pizza party for residents of the Alpha House of Pinellas County, which provides housing for homeless pregnant women and teens.
A BRIGHTER LIFE
Not only was she brightening other people’s days, but for Windy, the much-needed light finally began to pour in. “Every day I was posting a picture of my grandmother along with a story about her, and it became very healing. I also made these little cards, because I wanted my acts of kindness to be anonymous to the people who received them. They read, ‘You are special. You matter. I hope this brightens your day. This is done in my memory of my grandmother. #InMemoryOfPhyllis #40dok.’”
Windy recognizes that giving back gave her a new sparkle in life – and that understanding was life-changing. She said, “With my day job, I am the director of marketing for a performing arts center, so I work a lot of nights and weekends. Before my 40 Days of Kindness project, I would have told you I don’t have time to do one more thing, but I found out with that project I do have time. If we choose to, we can always find time for the things that matter.”
While she was mid-project, Windy also discovered Origami Owl®, creating several lockets to give as gifts that Christmas of 2014. She decided to learn more about the company and fell in love with its mission. “I thought, ‘This is something special. This company wants to be a Force for Good. I want to be a Force for Good!’ So I became a Designer.”
Not surprisingly, she uses the extra money she makes as a Leading Designer with Origami Owl to maintain her random acts of kindness—something she continues to this day. For example, in honor of Global Pay It Forward Day 2016, she wanted to find a way to help children at her local domestic violence shelter, CASA, do something special for their mothers. She decided to donate all 26 lockets and chains and over 100 charms for each child to create a Living Locket. “I want them on their Mother’s Day to have just a little minute of sunshine, a little bit of joy in their lives,” said Windy. She’s a beautiful example of turning sorrow into joy through service, and we’re pretty sure that somewhere, Windy’s grandmother is still cheering her on.
To read about Windy’s 40 Days of Kindness – and her grandmother’s vibrant, giving life – visit 40dok.wordpress.com.