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The Surprise That Made Me Tear Up…

Published on January 18, 2021

Recently, we received a letter from a complete stranger, a man named Phillip, whose return address showed him living a couple of blocks away from our Chicago home.
The letter read, in part: “This is likely an odd letter to receive but I feel compelled to tell you how much joy your home brings me. I walk down [your street] regularly, and every time I pass your house, I smile. (…) It was on my heart and I wanted to share it with you.”
I felt myself tearing up at this uninvited missive from a neighbor. Phillip’s compliment was all the sweeter given how much we’d been through to build this house, which we moved into 5-1/2 years ago. It took 50% longer than expected and we ran into so many problems we ended up firing our GC! But it was well worth the headaches. I feel so grateful every time I drive up to it and I derive so much joy from living in it—yep, I’m a true homebody.
I was able to track Phillip down via Google and found out he’s a licensed clinical social worker who also offers “walk and talk” therapy (brilliant!). I emailed him to thank him and let him know how much his letter had touched us. I also asked if I could share his website and he said sure! I hope we’ll get to meet him in person once Covid is behind us.
Phillip’s thoughtful letter reminds me how small acts of kindness bring so much joy. You don’t have to pen a letter. Even complimenting someone on their shoes or their smile (or their mask!) can brighten a person’s day.

YOUR TURN: Today, find a way to extend kindness to a total stranger.

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Hélène Stelian, the Midlife Empowerment Coach

I’m Hélène, the Midlife Empowerment Coach. I help women who are struggling in midlife—who wonder if their best years are behind them and what’s next for them. I show them how to put themselves first, reclaim their identity, figure out what’s next, and feel excited about their future.


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