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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Year of Giving

Writing everyday on My Dear Trash is an adventure to find value in something, whether it is a garage sale/thrift store find, a good book, an idea and even myself.

We live in a throw-away society (not just trash, but relationships too, like through divorce or holding a grudge against someone we once loved), but there can be value in something or someone we may not have seen at first, even our own abilities to accomplish something we maybe didn’t think we could do (like have 5 children and still be somewhat coherent to what’s going in life).

Today I came across an inspiring blog that finds value in everyday experiences and ordinary people. Reed Sandridge is the author of the blog A Year of Giving.

Image found here.

When Sandridge lost his job this last year, he turned to a philosophy his mother taught him; to give away and expect nothing in return.

His mother said: When you're going through tough times, that's when you most need to give back.

Instead of feeling sorry for his un-employed self, he’s done just that. Everyday, for a year, he is giving a $10.00 bill to someone he meets on his life’s path. Currently, he is on day 121.

He blogs about the people he meets and the experiences he has with them. He picks a variety of people to share with: an active duty officer in the military, a book store clerk, a homeless person, a man who stands outside the Vatican’s nunciature to the US protesting against sexual abuse in the church, a sketch artist and so on. He loves when people sit down and really open up. Sandridge finds value in meeting people and learning something new from them. That’s kind’ve a dying art, don’t you think?

Sandridge is calling June 15 a Worldwide Day of Giving, where he's asking everyone who has heard his story or been to his Website to do what he's doing, for just one day: to give $10 to a stranger and then write about their experience on his site.

I believe what goes around comes around. I have the perfect illustration of this concept and it is all because of a barrette.

When I was in New York, I lost my special barrette.

Image found here.

I’d just made it back to my girlfriend’s place, by myself, on the subway with the rats and the scary stinky homeless guy, in 17 degrees, walking past Central Park and up five flights of stairs and I realized, my barrette was missing.

This just wasn’t any barrette. Several years ago for Christmas the counselor gave me a fancy crystal studded barrette he’d seen Drew Barrymore wearing in one of those gossip fashion magazines that I keep around the house. Such a waste of time, I know, but we do love them, don’t we ladies. Anyway, the counselor had seen this cute barrette on Drew and wanted it for me, so he contacted the designer Renee Rivera and for $60.00, he ordered one for me. Christmas morning, 2005, I opened my small gift-wrapped box and there was the barrette and price tag starring back at me. Unable to get past the price, I told the counselor I really didn’t need something this fancy and he shouldn’t spend that type of money on me. My lovely husband is a “What ever you say, Dear,” type of man, so he’s reaction was a bit out of character.

He said, “Why won’t you let me express my love to you?”

Of course, I swallowed my pride and realized it was more important I let my hard working husband indulge in me than worry about grocery money.
So. . . my barrette, I lost my dear “lesson-learned” barrette. That night I tossed and turned in bed in Upper West Harlem and although I was sad, I thought, “My barrette will be my gift to New York. Hopefully some poor over-worked aging woman will find it and wear it and feel pretty again.” I was at peace with it.

The next morning as I rushed down the stairs with my briefcase (I hated carrying a briefcase, mermaids do not carry a briefcase) to catch the subway I stopped on the fourth floor, because low and behold, my barrette was teetering on the stair-rail banister, just so, like someone had seen it on the floor and realized it must belong to someone special and perhaps that person would walk the same path again. I picked up my barrette and started laughing, in a reverent sort of way, and I felt like God was looking out for me. I wrote a note of gratitude on bright yellow paper and left it teetering on the fourth-floor banister.

Now, even more then before, I wanted to leave a gift to New York, so I started my day looking; really looking for someone to serve. Who looked sad, tired, poor or just like they needed a hug? It didn’t take long before I was on the subway and that’s when I found the perfect candidate. While in New York I saw very few mothers out with small children, so when I noticed this mother nursing her baby on the train she caught my attention. She was beautiful, with her hair wrapped in a scarf. Her eyes were closed, allowing the subway to rock her and her baby to their destination. When she reached her exit, she (and about a million other people) walked past me.

I stood up and dropped some money in her diaper bag. She looked surprised and hesitant and didn’t know what to say.

“You have a beautiful baby,” I said and the door was about to close and the woman said “Thank you” with the sweetest look of gratitude. That was my best day in New York. The feeling of service followed me around. and even still, when I wear my Renee Rivera barrette I feel the energy from that experience.

I’m writing on my calendar date June 15th a Worldwide Day of Giving and hope you will too. If you write a story up for Sandridge’s site, please send it over to My Dear Trash as well and we’ll have a day to share our experiences with each other.


  1. Wow. Wow. And Wow. We are blessed to be a blessing, aren't we? Great story about NY. Off to see the other site.

  2. I can't remember "where" I found your blog and started following. But your post today made me so GRATEFUL to see your post. I just got home from the grocery store where my bank is inside. I had to deposit a check. On my way in, there is a homeless guy sitting with his stuff, and I didn't ignore him when he held up his sign. I just said, "sorry, I don't have my purse" which I didn't. As I deposited my check, they always ask if you want any cash back. I just asked for a five dollar bill. Not a huge amount of money, but thought it might help with the other bit of money he was collecting. What you receive back, "the smile, and God bless you" I received in the parking lot makes it all worthwhile, you know? I own an antique "mall" (ate the word mall) and my blog is called "Just Practicing Random Acts of Kindness". I do have a story I wrote awhile back and will send it over to Reed Sandridge and be following his blog. Again, thanks for your post today, it was very inspirational!
    Take care, Sue

  3. Thank you, Renee Rivera for your gracious email.

    -----Original Message-----
    Sent: Tue, Apr 20, 2010 6:59 pm
    Subject: Your Blog

    Hello Laura,

    Thank you for contacting me. I have to say, that when I feel like I work so
    hard designing beautiful hair accessories there are times when it feels
    like nobody notices... Until special women like yourself cross my path. I
    just read your blog and it brought tears to my eyes! What a wonderful story
    and life lesson. I am so glad you love your sparkling barrette and you can
    still wear it!!
    I remember helping your husband. It is rare that a man will phone to order a
    hair accessory and I thought it was so sweet that he made such a nice effort
    for his wife :)

    Thank you again, you made my day!!



    Renée Rivera
    Couture ~ Bridal ~ Resort
    2295 Chestnut Street, Upstairs
    San Francisco, Ca 94123
    Phone: 415 776-6613
    Fax: 415 776-6643
    Cell: 415 999-3140

    December 2008 Bergdorf Goodman Christmas Window ~ Fifth Avenue
    February 3, 2009 Paula Abdul, American Idol episode,
    February 5, 2009 Grey's Anatomy episode
    March 2009 InStyle Weddings Magazine
    March 2009 INSIDE Weddings Magazine
    June 2009 InStyle Weddings Magazine
    August 2009 INSIDE Weddings Magazine
    September 2009 California Style Magazine
    October 2009,
    January 2010 Zitomer Catalog
    April 2010 Shape Magazine


    It is so nice to hear from you. My husband is a dear man and I need to let him spoil me more. I love when he sees beautiful things, like your designs, he thinks of me. Plus, he's told me I remind him of Drew Barrymore (ultimate compliment)!
    I am so thrilled by your success. It just goes to prove hard work and talent really pay off.
    I hope to bring some new customers your way. Keep up the beautiful work and it's a pleasure to wear your barrette, my own reminder that I'm loved.

  4. Beautiful story Laura. Thank you.

  5. Just another reason to remind me of what an amazing, beautiful person you are!!! Love ya Laura