Commentary #103: “The Elegance of Kindness”

Image Credit: Found on Gratitude and Trust

This post started with an email and a YouTube link. Thanks, Momma V.!

Al’s mom sent this link to me, asking if I’d seen it: Story Behind the Song: The Rainbow Connection

I hadn’t, so I clicked on it. It’s a bit dated now – It was posted in October 2016. However, what I clicked on and witnessed was nearly 12 minutes of magic and appreciation. It was an interview where Paul Williams discusses how “The Rainbow Connection” came to be. In the middle, Williams mentioned his website, Gratitude and Trust, along a post he wrote called “The Elegance of Kindness” about Jim Henson. I paused the video, grabbed a Post-It note, scribbled that down, and continued the video.

Visiting the website a little while later, I noticed that Paul posted it in September 2013. But, dates don’t matter.

As I started reading, all I felt was warmth when I digested Paul’s words. What an amazing life he’s had as a songwriter. He’s also a recovering alcoholic, a major feat by itself. And, to meet AND work with Jim Henson! Wow.

He told the same story in the video as he did in his blog post, about not wanting to throw any surprises at Jim when he and Kenny Ascher were beginning to produce the music for The Muppet Movie (1979).

Jim smiled, and reassured Paul with these words, “Oh, that’s all right Paul. I’m sure they’ll be wonderful. I’ll hear them in the studio when we record them.”

Hearing Jim say that immediately allayed Paul’s fears and worries. He also told this story in the liner notes when the soundtrack was re-released for the nearly 35th anniversary of the movie. And, in a way, this meeting paved the way for one of the most memorable and warm songs that has ever been created.

But the point here is “the elegance of kindness.” As I was telling Al about the video and the blog post, he immediately nodded and said, “Yes, exactly. That’s how many people have described Jim Henson. How kind he was.”

Jim Henson died in 1990. I wasn’t quite two years old when he left the world. But, I’ve learned who he was. And what an impact he has made! In his short 53 years, he became a legend. He created the Muppets, helped develop characters for Sesame Street, produced The Muppet Show, started the Jim Henson Foundation, and founded Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.

I made the same connection that Paul did about Jim. With kindness comes trust. With kindness and trust, magical things can bloom and grow. I don’t think “Rainbow Connection” would have been written if Jim Henson didn’t trust Williams and Ascher. There have been so many issues with trust, time and time again, with the world of entertainment. And it’s not limited to entertainment, either.

I write this post as the pandemic continues. I’m frustrated and appalled at the President of the United States and other leaders who have spouted clear lies, and they have incited great fear among millions of people. Millions of people who have gotten so many mixed messages at the worst possible time. No wonder I have trust issues! And there’s not a shred of kindness from the top. Sadly.

However, my spirit has been renewed. There is kindness, still.

Some Good News with John Krasinski is AWESOME!

I’ve loved Steve Hartman since he started reporting with CBS News in the 1990s (Remember Assignment America? And throwing a dart at a map of the U.S.?). A while ago, he did a four-part series called Kindness 101. Not only are his kids adorable, but he’s sharing many of his stories, old and new, and reminding everyone who’s watching what the important things are in life. Character. Gratitude. Empathy. Optimism. Purpose. I’ve watched all of them, and I’m excited the series is continuing.

Just today, I read a father’s account of his daughter, Emerson, and her letters. Her handwritten letters and decorated envelopes. She wrote a letter to her mailman, Doug, expressing her appreciation for him to help her mail her letters. Now, it’s gone all over the country, through thousands of people and postal workers. I’m inspired to be a pen pal again.

And, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Sesame Street’s theme is now “Smarter, Stronger, Kinder.” The elegance of kindness can, and should, be embraced as young as possible. But, you’re not too old to start. You’re never too old to embrace something like kindness.

Enjoy a special performance of “Rainbow Connection” from Kermit that posted to YouTube last week.

Stay safe, stay well, friends.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #36: The 44 For Bill Movement


Image Credit: 44 for Bill

Dr. B. holds a special place in my heart. I only took one class with him during my time at Longwood. Sadly, he passed away at the age of 44 on September 9, 2012.

Every year, on September 9th, the #44forBill movement takes hold. The idea is to spread random acts of kindness throughout our communities, neighborhoods, and even our world.

From the 44 For Bill event page on Facebook:

“We are honoring Bill Stuart’s life by performing random acts of kindness to help others. September 9, 2016. Please join us.

Random acts of kindness are great because they can be anything, big or small, anonymous or credited, for someone you know or a stranger … the possibilities are endless.”

For me, I was at a loss this year. I wasn’t sure what to do for 2016.

In the past few years, this is a few of the things I’ve done on September 9th:

  • Paid it forward in the Starbucks drive-thru
  • Handed out individual candies with little notes of love and encouragement to strangers during the day
  • Written notes of encouragement to my co-workers and others in my office
  • Supported local school supply drives
  • Donated to a local diaper bank

So, in frustration and desperation, I turned to the good old Internet.

I was flooded with ideas – Literal information overload.

I really enjoyed writing notes of love and encouragement in the past, so I focused on that idea.

Here’s what I found:

After mulling my research, I decided to give to two organizations.

Throughout the day today:

  • I planned out 22 “Letters of Love” for Love For The Elderly
  • I planned out 22 letters for Operation Gratitude
  • I wrote 12 out of 44 letters in a span of a few hours tonight – My hand gave out!

This was the best $10.00 I ever spent – Markers and colorful paper!

The six of 22 letters for Operation Gratitude.

The six of 22 letters for Love for the Elderly.

I’m so excited about this!

As soon as the rest of the letters are finished, I’ll be sending these to their destinations!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂