I honestly can’t tell you exactly when or where I met Caroline, but I know she’s one of the sweetest people you can know. Her kindness is authentic and real. The love for her husband and two young daughters will warm your heart. Last year, I was lucky enough to have her family move into my neighborhood.
Over the past couple of years, we have all seen a lot of ugliness and hate. As I sat down with Caroline recently, she reminded me that intentionally choosing and practicing kindness every day is so important.
“I really do believe in the power of being a good neighbor and being kind to the people around you. All of those things, I think they matter. They really do have rippling effects,” Caroline said. “It’s small. But I think every little thing that you do in kindness and goodness and love, I think that the rippling effects have the potential to be bigger.”
I think we can all agree choosing kindness is not always as easy as it sounds. It takes work and a change of heart. Caroline knew that for herself and she wanted to create something to help her and others.
In January 2019, Caroline published The Kind Journal.
“A friend of mine and I were talking and thinking of ideas of what we thought we could contribute to making the world better. We talked about what problems we recognized. I do journal daily and I have for years and years since I was a kid.”
The Kind Journal includes questions and daily prompts to help guide you. For example, “How did you show love to others/the world?”
It created opportunities and reminders for Caroline to be intentionally better to herself. It encourages her to be better at self talk and look for ways to be kind to others.
“I think I try to be kind and be good to people, but I think without being intentional so much time can go by and we sometimes forget,” Caroline said.
“Depending on who I’m around I can be more critical or be more gracious. I think being more intentional with your thoughts is important. Starting my day out that way helps me and I thought it could help others as well.”
What if we all took the time to be kinder to ourselves and those around us? Imagine if we did that every day. Caroline wants to talk to herself like she hopes her daughters talk to themselves as they get older.
It seems important to tell a young girl to love herself and to embrace everything about herself. So why can’t we do that for ourselves?
“I think love creates more love and hate creates more hate. What you feed grows,” Caroline told me.
It seems simple, and yet it’s often a forgotten sentiment. But it’s something Caroline hopes to teach her daughters, 10-year-old Peyton and 5-year-old Azalia.
When kids are unkind to her daughters at school, Caroline sits down with them and helps them realize that we don’t always know what someone is going through or what they have experienced.
“People that are happy, loved and feel secure really have no reason to attack other people or be unkind and malicious,” Caroline would tell her daughters. “Teaching her to recognize that is really important. You have an opportunity to try and help make this person’s heart more tender.”
I hope we can all learn to be more compassionate and show more grace to those that cross our paths. Kindness -- true, authentic kindness -- can remind others and ourselves how valuable we all are. We need each other.
If you are looking to try something new or looking for ways to be more kind to yourself and others, give The Kind Journal a try. Or create something that works for you.
I think we can all agree we need more love and kindness in this world. For Caroline, journaling is the outlet she needs to find more peace.
“I don’t journal because I think it’s good for me. I need it. I’m a verbal processor. I think it does contribute to a clear and healthy mind and a positive outlook. I ask myself ‘What are some of the things that I journal about that I think are helpful in creating the kind of world I want to live in and the kind of world I want my kids to live in?’”
So, what clears your mind? What do you do to start or end your day with gratitude?
Written and photographed by: Sarah Elkins