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Thursday, 13 May 2010

Random acts of generosity (part 1 of 2)

There is something very special about receiving a gift in the post. The excitement of not knowing what is in the parcel when it lands with a thump on the doormat. The anticipation as you peel back the crackling brown paper, and reveal a hidden chunk of thoughtfulness, wrapped in a pretty paper. Thus was my delight when this treasure dropped through my letterbox from the adorable Danielle over at Le Petit Studio.

This gorgeous handmade token of friendship had winged its way from Canada across the seas to me, here in England. Thank you Danielle, for creating something so lovely, and for sharing it so generously.

Which got me thinking about random acts of generosity. I am continually blown away by how kind and generous people (often strangers) are, for no particular reason at all. I will give you an example. 

When I was in Paris recently, I wandered into this working art studio for a bit of a nosey, and the lovely owner Marie invited me to stay and take a sculpting workshop for free. You can imagine the smile on my face as I sat moulding cool squidgy clay, listening to the quiet chatter of the others in the class, as they talked about how sculpting has calmed them, how Paris has changed in the past 50 years, how they dream of their own studios.  And all whilst indulging in homemade fruit cake.  Ahhhh bliss.

Silently hugging myself at my good fortune, I made the one on the left (be gentle, it was my first ever attempt at sculpting!)

I would love to be able to say I also made this gorgeous creation below, but that was the result of two months' hard work by my new classmate Muriel. 

This reminded me of one of the most incredible random acts of generosity I have ever received, when I went to live in Yamagata, a mountainous area in the north of Japan.

When I first moved to this remote snowy place, I had temporary accommodation for a couple of weeks but no place to stay after that. One day after work, I headed to the station to catch my train 'home' but missed it by a couple of minutes, and there was not another one for an hour. Hearing smooth jazz wafting over from a nearby cafĂ© like steam off coffee on a cold day, I wandered over to wait it out in 1920s America. I was stood at the bar soaking up the atmosphere when the lead singer of the jazz band took a break and came over to get a drink. Her name was Kyoko, and she was a tiny ball of energy, with crazy curly hair like no Japanese woman I had ever seen, with kind eyes and an infectious smile. We got talking and within ten minutes she said “why don’t you come and live with me and my husband (Adachi, the bass player)?” Well, I thought, why not?

And so began an incredible adventure, living for free with this wonderful couple, in their house with a jazz studio and cocktail bar where we would host parties for all the foreigners within 50 miles, entertain jamming sessions twice a week and I would wake up on a Sunday to the sound of the grand piano. Ten years later Kyoko and Adachi are still like family to me, they still play jazz, pass beers round and open their sliding doors to new friends with an openness which is quite astounding.

Two of the most generous souls I know.  I wish you could meet them.

Random acts of generosity part 2 to follow shortly (with a giveaway!)...

What random acts of generosity have you experienced recently?


  1. Seriously woman! You continue to AMAZE me on so many levels! I love imagining you waking to that piano, I am betting with a smile. You really are leading such a wonderfully inspiring life.

    I am looking forward to "Part II'...


  2. so nice to hear all of these wonderful act of kindness. absolutely makes me remember to spot them out more often and give thanks and maybe tell a few others about them too. loving danielle's beautiful artwork :)

    best wishes, juliette

  3. I recognized that beautiful art that you received from a precious heart in Canada! It's amazing the goodness that goes around and around. I would have loved to have been following you around in Paris and happen upon a free sculpting lesson or to have had your adventure in Japan. I'm so glad you share those little bits of generousity with us and remind us to look around for the same.

  4. I knew that Kyoko and Adachi were wonderful to live with but I had no idea how you met them. And I remember the wonderful times we had at their place... I love good memories!

  5. OH my sweet friend...One day, I will fly to London just to be able to sit across from you and listen to your stories face to face with a hot cup of tea in hand. My heart is full knowing my little bundle made it safely to your part of the world. Keep listening to your heart because you are inspiring SO MANY!!!

    Danielle xoxox

  6. Hi Beth. When we went to Goa about 5 yeras ago, we were walking outside the hotel compound and this lady came up to us and asked where we were from etc. She was so interested in us. Then out of the blue she said, pointing to a modest house in the distant, thats where I live, please come and have a meal with me.Part of both our experiences is the hospitable culture of people in a way that we never see in the west. Still think you are a wonderful human being!


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