Extreme Kindness

Extreme Kindness

I’ve pondered this myself

I got a splendid question from someone the other day and thought y’all might enjoy both the question itself and just one possible answer. I’ve left out the person’s name to respect their privacy:


Hi Val,

I was reading your book last night and I have to say, you guys have done some pretty cool things. I am struggling right now because I feel to weighed down and overwhelmed with all the little details of my life and since I can’t/don’t feel compelled to just leave all that and take up a full-time vocation of extreme kindness, do you have any suggestions for how to incorporate it into my life style that already exists? Or does extreme kindness require some sort of upheaval or reorganization (at least of priorities)?



Great, GREAT question! In my expereience, all it requires is a little mental adjustment, a willingness to be open to accepting opportunities to be extremely kind. You don’t have to seek them out or reinvent your life. Moments to express your compassion will find you, but go ahead and ask the universe to start sending you some of those “moments”. You will attract only what you desire to do. You don’t need to spend nights on the street with the homeless but you can certainly comfort a freshman during a crisis by taking them out for a 20 minute coffee. Just be careful you don’t put out the “i-can-save-the-world” vibe: the universe will send you massive projects! Just be open to the little, but still profound and immeasurably great, acts of kindness. (A massive snowdrift is still made of perfect, microscopic snowflakes…)

Hope that helps, V.


Props for PLU!!!

We just got back from Tacoma, Washington, an epicentre of super-fly vibes and community minded life-lovers! Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) had us down to speak to about 120 students for their bi-annual “Meant to Live” conference. The question of the moment was: “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?” Well if the future is the next generation, then the future looks bright indeed. After our talk, a crew of 25 went to a local low-income school to clean and landscape a courtyard. Huge thank-yous PLU Crew for your positivity and smiles: you guys made my month. Jessica, huge kudos for driving us four crazies around and Penny, your pit stop at Krispy Kreme before the airport was a sugar-rush we will never forget.



the other day: a beautiful thing

A beautiful thing happened the other day.

On Sunday, I spent some QT with my cousin Lauren at the mall, she was cruising the perfume counters looking for the perfect eau-de-something. Between sneezing fits brought on by huffing vapors and coffee beans, we witnessed a heart-wrenching random act of kindness.

A group of ladies approached the counter and gave one of the female clerks a book. The women passing on the gift didn’t linger, but just said some nice words and thanked the clerk for helping them and sharing her story.

Always full of curiosity, I leaned forward over the counter and said with a smile, that was nice, what’s the book? The clerk was stunned but managed to show me the cover. I forget the exact title, but it was roughly Getting Over The Death Of A Loved-One. My smiling face turned to a blank stare; I didn’t know what to say.

A confused smile fluttered momentarily on the clerk’s face. She opened a drawer, removed a tissue and started to cry. That was so sweet, was all she said behind modest tears.

It felt like someone had cranked the heat in the room or just cranked the heat in me. I walked around the counter and just gave her a big, long hug.


The scent of possibility

Rubbing old-school goopy-white sunblock on my face turns me into a kid again. Remember how the smell of sunblock was synonymous with too much fun in the sun? You’d squint as mum or dad smeared it over your eyelids, nose and lips. Legs would be pumping with excitement: lemme go, lemme get out there! Your brother or sister was already out there shredding it because they beat you in the application line! You knew the day would be full of icy-cold juice boxes, squished sandwiches, raft-building and hair matted back by lake water. Or maybe salty from the sea.

It’s all there in the scent of SPF 15.

Man I can’t handle it: I’m back there! Can’t you feel the hot stones under your feet? The pop of blue berries in a mouth that laughs blue! Skinny, bony bodies working on beach projects that mum and dad have to approve every 15 minutes.

Go to the pharmacy and buy some Coppertone. Phone your bro, phone your sis and swing by dad’s office. Get him to slather you up and hit the beach, because life is too short and sweeter than sugar.

Thinking of y’all.


Detached or downright nice?

My recycling chores always grind to a halt when I reach the newspaper bin. All those printed words sitting on the page, unread! I can’t bare the thought of sending off the papers to be reincarnated without taking at least one last look through them.

And I’m stoked I did today. I found an article in the National Post titled, “Kindness is the new sign of cool”.

A couple of psychology grads from the University of British Columbia set out to discover what constitutes cool. They surveyed 800 people and asked them to rank on a scale of one to seven (one being uncool, seven being cool) over 90 adjectives. Detached, confident, friendly to name a few.

Some folks still thought those who rocked a rebellious, ironic vibe were where it’s at. But the landslide victory went to the emotionally open, compassionate, sentimental stallions. Score one for the Napoleon-Dynamite-Lyger-sketchers of the world! I wonder where the Fonz would have stood on this one?

Time to recycle your views on what’s hot and what’s rot. Speaking of which, back to work!


Ultraviolet echo

Dig this ultraviolet echo of alright made all-bright through you. Chew the super alfalfa, the succulent sprout of the mega all-mind: the translucent treat that’s all around and under your feet! Be a translator and inhale the CO2 of me-disappointment, make it the oxygen of us. Turn armor into chlorophyll, guns into afterthoughts then forgotten thoughts. Dream the waking synapse-explosions of little ones, then figure out how to squeeze those dreams into three-piece suits and sneak them into board meetings. Laugh so sloppy it shocks you and makes you cry. Then have seconds, thirds. Don’t talk; choreograph sentences! Make more than love, make that thing that giants want to copyright but can’t because it sets just before they can grab it. Plant trees in littered coffee cups and paint pictures on the insides of elevator doors that say, this is all for you.

Because it is.


Get high on the Love Drug.

Have you ever looked at a baby, let slip an awwwwww, and felt all your worries dissolve? Or maybe you’ve been fighting with someone and they’ve unexpectedly apologized or shown you some surprise tenderness and you can feel your Ph flip from acidic to lovesick?

Of course you have.

Ever wondered what’s happening in your body when you feel it physically go from granny-smith-bitter to maple-syrup-sweet?

Chances are your pituitary gland has released some oxytocin into your system. Oxytocin is a hormone produced in the body and also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. It is released when humans touch and show gentleness to one another or when we see something we’d call heart-warming, like good movie. Not surprisingly, oxytocin is found in very high levels in those that claim to be falling in love.

This hormone reduces blood pressure and cortisol levels which increases your tolerance to pain and reduces anxiety. Translation: doing good and being around those who spread love is good for your heart and will make you a healthier person.

So get out there and let the oxytocin flow, yo!


A Sunrise Surf Session

a drippy lash
soaked salty lets go
a single
onto a bliss-bent cheek
over pores gasping
for more,
past a freckle – the creation of a star!
- it glides
now pausing
at lower lip level
in it
a panoramic of
absolutely all,
an encyclopedic knowledge
in an instant
let go


The calculator and the smile.

If you paddle a kayak from Tofino, BC, to Vargas Island you will find a world where time doesn’t just stop: it never arrives.

Vargas Island is 4 kilometers-ish to the Northwest of Tofino. Lots of mossy cedars, wolves known only by their footprints and midnight ocean phosphorescence. The Buckles, the family that runs the Vargas Island Inn, have been homesteading there since 1908. The moist, spicy smell of cedar logs that they mill on property ticlkes the nose. When the small mill stops, the silence is deafening. Marilyn and Neil Buckle are isolated in many ways, but still hip to the ways of the world and its sad 6 o’clock news broadcasts.

When the big tsunami hit Southeast Asia a while ago the Buckles sent a care package to a tiny town in Indonesia. There is a picture of a boy, in one of their beach cabins, holding a calculator and wearing a huge smile.

He holds a sign that reads, Mr/Mrs Buckle: Thanks for your calculator, God bless you Bachtiar.

A huge smile.


Insects, water droplets and other ephemera.

An ephemerid is an insect. To a scientist it’s a small air-breathing arthropod, to you and me: a mayfly. Picture a small translucent butterfly with three tails as fine as sewing thread and you have it.

The word ephemerid, like the insect, fluttered through time from the ancient Greek word ephermeros which was the great-great-grandparent of today’s ephemeral. If something is ephemeral it’s short-lived, transitory, fleeting.

Like a flavor on your tongue. Like a drop of water on a dry tile floor. Like an apple blossom. Like life.

An adult ephemerid spreads it’s wings for two days, no more. Imagine an entire lifetime measured out in less than 48 hours: one-hundred and seventy-two-thousand, eight-hundred seconds. Life may look like a long sentence, but you will reach the final punctuation before you know it.

So where you gonna fly today?

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