Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Houston, we have liftoff


  What an incredible first day of The #KindnessExchange!  I woke up to enthusiastic emails about the project, and here I am, finishing off the day writing about it.  People all over are getting really excited about spreading kindness this holiday season.  A lady on Instagram told me that she's inspired, and is going to do one act of kindness each day till the New Year.  One of my guitar students brought me a can of Mountain Dew with a slip of paper reading "#KindnessExchange."  Confirmation rang in this afternoon for a songwriting workshop I'll be lucky enough to host for the homeless in Baltimore in a few weeks.  A kindergarten teacher in North Carolina is working on setting up a Skype call so her students can get involved in the project.  It is GOING CRAZY!

  And in between all the joyful emails and tweets and Facebook posting...I get quiet and remember her.  It was six years ago today.  The call came in, my mom sat down.  "What's wrong?" she asked, so concerned.  I stood by her chair as she crumbled and then staggered to sit up straight, gasping and gulping for air.  Her hand, so tightly clenched, scrawled out the news in the blackest ink you'd ever want to see...a darkness of cold that never ever really lets you go, chilling you to the bone with a sickening sort of bite.

  And so, I walked out into the physical cold and blackness this evening, stumbled around a bit in the garden by the outlet, and held the plug up so it was silhouetted against the moon blazing through the icy clouds.  "In her memory" I though.

  Coal from an ancient time under an ancient sun, transported by hardworking men covered in the dust, bored engineers and tired plant workers, was turned into electrons, running as fast as the light from the stars partially veiled overhead, blazed into a beacon of light, the photons returning to whence they came across the cosmos.

And the tree is lit.  And the tour starts.  And the light is shining in the darkness.

Keep on tagging those posts back to #KindnessExchange.  The world badly needs 'em.

- Josh 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Post 400! The #KindnessExchange


  OK, it's good to be back!  Wow, it's been a little while...Here's a cool way to start post FOUR HUNDRED!  Holy smokes, what a journey - thanks for being there with me for it!  Well, big news - time for a new tour.  It's only one week away - One week till The Kindness Exchange kicks off!

Next Wednesday, the tree gets lit, and the good deeds start.  

"What's this?" you say?  

Backing up a few...

The holidays are fast approaching, and well, it's a rather complex time for many.  I remember being a little kid, puzzled when my mom told me that some people had a hard time around this time of year.  My young brain couldn't fathom how Santa couldn't fix everything.  

As I grew older, and Life dished it's inevitable onto my plate, I begin to understand.  

Santa seemed a long ways off, almost as faded as the figurine of St. Nick that was my dad's.  "Bob's 1st Christmas" said the spidery pencil writing on the underside of the platform the Christmas ornament.  

But now - still very young, but with a balance of both good times and the bad, plus a dose of observation...I'm excited.  We can all beS anta...or at least that's what I'm setting out to do.  

When I was on my Search for Good Tour, I realized how neutral the world appears to be most of the time.  It struck me that it's often a blank canvas on which we can paint the picture that we'd truly like to see.  So, I'm excited to kick off a project of intentional painting, of creation, and of attempts small and large to help our fellow citizens through what can be a very difficult time of year.  

It's called The Kindness Exchange, and the idea is simple:  You do something nice for someone, and post it on social media using the hashtag #KindnessExchange.  I'll see the tagged post, print it out, and put it on a lit holiday tree - a literal beacon shining in the darkness!  

You can tell the recipient of the action if fitting, or you can keep it discrete.  I encourage you to tell the world what you've done, though, although if you feel uncomfortable, you can keep the action anonymous as well.  However, I think once we can "brag" about bettering the planet, well, maybe it will scale up to real global change.  Hey, the world "selfie" just landed in the dictionary, after all.  

So, at 11:00 am EST on Wednesday, November 20th - I'm lighting that tree up, and then I'm going out into the world and doing some things to make it a better place.  I hope you can join me.  

How?  Well, if you're stumped, start small.  Buy a friend or neighbor a cup of coffee.  Better yet, a stranger.  If you can't afford one, you can make something.  Hey, try going mobile!  My buddy Jim has a great thing that he does:  he carries around packs of snack crackers to give to the homeless guys begging at stoplights.  If you've got some extra time, volunteering in the community is a tremendous act of kindness - something as "cliche" as visiting a nursing home means the world - and is never "cliche" to the recipient.  

One of the main things that I’ll be doing is bringing music around the area.  I’ll be playing my guitar in hospitals, VA centers, nursing homes, homeless shelters, street corners, and other places that might not normally have tunes.  I’m looking forward to it!

Post it back!  Use the tag #KindnessExchange - and let's see all the good that you're doing!  In the meantime, if you have any questions, or would like to say hello, drop me an email at  And don't forget to visit the hub of the activity to see what people all over are doing:

We can bring some good to people - sort of like a grown-up Santa.  You never know who's life you'll save, or who's day you'll change.

Counting down till the 20th - see you out there!

- Josh