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Nicole Phillips, Published October 07 2011

Phillips: Opportunities for kindness come at unexpected times

I’ve heard it’s sinful to do something nice and then tell everyone about it. Well, hopefully the Man Upstairs will forgive me for this.

This past summer I was at the Fargo North pool with my three kids. We walk in, and my 7-year-old daughter chooses the one lounge chair next to an 18-year-old in a shiny gold bikini. Wearing my one-piece swimsuit with a head-to-toe cover-up, this is not exactly my idea of an ideal location. Alas, I was hoping no one was there to do body comparisons.

My 15-month-old son starts sharing Cheerios with the 15-month-old girl being watched by Gold Bikini Girl. So jealous as I am of her gorgeousness, I start talking to the woman. The kids were born a week apart. This little girl, Audrey, begins using sign language to say “more” and “thank you.” The woman tells me she’s been teaching Audrey signs for more than a year.

After more conversation, I learn all sorts of things about Gold Bikini Girl. She is actually the mom of Audrey (um, how do you go through childbirth and still rock a bikini?!). She is raising her daughter on her own and living in a nearby apartment.

Before we left the pool that day I felt compelled to tell Gold Bikini Girl just what an amazing mom I think she is. She was so engaged in her daughter’s life. I have a husband to help co-parent, and I still barely have the energy to make it out of the house. Wow. We should all have it so totally together.

As I walked to my new 2011 minivan, I saw the woman walk to the other side of the parking lot to a compact car that had probably seen many previous owners. My heart told me to stop. I reached into my purse and pulled out some cash.

I drove over to the woman and interrupted her while she was buckling up little Audrey. My words went something like this: “I don’t know you, but I need to tell you something. When I was 30, my best friend, Heather, died of cancer. Heather always believed in the power of people to lift each other up. Each month, in honor of Heather, I give to someone who touches my soul – someone who may be going through a tough time, but who will overcome. I believe you will do amazing things with your life. Please take this money and know that you have touched my heart.”

The woman burst into tears. I think she was grateful that instead of receiving a nod of disapproval, she was getting a pat on the back.

But guess what? I got WAY more out of it than she did. I walked around for days thinking about how this young mother had inspired me with her courage and grace.

It’s hard to write about giving without sounding self-righteous, but the bottom line is I want people to feel the way I felt.

Here’s where you come in. These stories of kindness are everywhere. Since moving to Fargo, I have been on the receiving end too many times to count. The downfall of being from a place where we are so humble is that we don’t get to feel the joy that comes from sharing the experience of giving.

I want you to share your stories with me. Stories of times you’ve done something nice for a total stranger or stories of times someone has gone out of their way to help you.

Email me at nphillips@hotmail.com. If kind works set into motion other acts of kindness, imagine how amazing this life could be.


Nicole Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is the mother of three kids and the wife of Bison men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.