Awareness, Community, Personal Development

Paying It Forward + Book Giveaway

I tend to believe in karma — that the positive energy that you put out into the world returns to you in one way or another (often in ways that are unpredictable). I also believe in doing good — not just because it leads to that good karma, but because it’s our inherent responsibility, it’s what makes us human.

That’s why I love the idea of paying it forward. Such simple acts of kindness can change a life in unimaginable ways: hold open a door for someone, wave someone on in traffic, say thank you (and mean it).


You never know when someone will need that helping hand, when your generosity can help them get where they’re going, and how far your appreciation can carry them.

 You never know just what a smile can mean.


France 2008. It’s hard to believe that it’s been two years already since that trip, as it still remains so vivid in my mind. I was traveling completely on my own for the first time to a foreign country where I knew no one upon arriving. I was ready; I was excited. I was homesick; I was terrified. Yet all through that journey complete strangers were there to guide me along, to calm those emotions, and to help me see the beauty in this adventure.

 An older gentleman refused to take a tip after showing me the taxi line and conversing with the driver about directions to the inn in which I was staying, claiming “c’est de mon coeur.” On the way home again, after missing my flight to Paris due to a train delay, exhausted, weary, and out of tears, I studied the contents of a vending machine only to have the cleaning woman ask me what I was looking for — food or drink? After admitting that I was famished for both, she pulled a packaged sandwich out of her cart and offered it to me.

 If I didn’t believe in everyday angels before, I certainly did now.

 Safe and sound in the Charles de Gaulle airport the next day, an hour or so before boarding my flight back to Philadelphia, I stood in line to pay for my lunch. Ahead of me, a young Asian man rooted through the coins in his hands, only having enough money for the drink beside his selected sandwich. After I had purchased my own meal, I wandered over to the waiting area and settled in. A moment later, I recognized the young man near me. I barely hesitated.

He didn’t understand English or French, and I didn’t know his language, but we understood each other. I held out a 2 Euro coin and gestured to the cafe. He smiled, nodded, and ran off to buy something to eat.

 There are so many instances in our lives where we have the opportunity for kindness, to lift each other up with our actions or our words. We may not be able to donate an entire paycheck to charity or volunteer all of our time to the cause we feel most passionate about, but we can do more in what seems like simple ways to us, but may mean the world to someone else.

 When it comes down to it, we have to watch out for each other.

 Because when it comes down to it, we only have each other.

 The Givaway

 I first heard of this book via Grace Boyle’s Small Hands, Big Ideas giveaway; a few days later, I was contacted with a gracious request to review the book, to which I gratefully accepted.

 But Operation Beautiful by Caitlin Boyle (no relation to Grace, I hear) has such a powerful message that I asked if I could do my own giveaway for you.

Fed up with the negative way in which women have a habit of seeing themselves, Caitlin started a movement — a powerful movement — with one little post-it note that she slapped on the mirror of a public bathroom:


 You are. Every single one of you. And that’s why I love the message of this book.  You are smart, you are good, you are loved.

 And you deserve to be loved.

 And you deserve to be reminded of this every single day.

 I can only imagine what that first person thought when they saw Caitlin’s post-it note on that bathroom mirror, but the thousands of women who have responded with their own pay-it-forward attitude, their own positive post-it notes and messages of empowerment among the many described in the book, is a testament to this power of positivity.

The Details

 As my own way of spreading this message, I’m giving away a copy of Operation Beautiful: Transforming the Way You See Yourself One Post-It Note At A Time by Caitlin Boyle. Simply post a comment below telling your own story of how you pay it forward or how you’ve experienced this transfer of empowerment and positivity. One reader will be selected via a random drawing on Wednesday, August 25

So get to it and spread the word! 

(And be sure to check out the fantastic responses to Grace’s giveaway.)


 Congratulations to PositivePresent, recipient of the Operation Beautiful book giveaway! 

Thanks to everyone for sharing their own stories and for helping to spread the word.

Bloggers around the web are continuing to pay it forward with giveaways for Operation Beautiful. Check out Elisa’s giveaway for another chance to win! 

(Note: recipients are chosen based on a random drawing.)




14 thoughts on “Paying It Forward + Book Giveaway”

  1. Oh Susan, what a great post! Definitely makes you think about how everyday angels can make such a huge impact on people’s lives 🙂

    My pay-it-forward moment happened just before Christmas 2006. I was living in Utah with my now-hubby and we had plans to fly back to Philadelphia to spend the holidays with our family. My hubby’s flights were canceled because of snowstorms, but I was able to fly out as planned (we booked separately because of my work schedule). This didn’t seem like a major concern; he would get into Philly two days after me, not the end of the world, right? Then I realized I would have to do all our Christmas shopping for BOTH families alone. (We decided to hold off on buying presents because we didn’t want to fly with them.) I sighed. I whined. I pouted. But it had to be done.

    Since I had flown home, I didn’t have my car at my disposal, but thankfully, my Dad lent me his Durango (yay for trunk space!) for my shopping expedition. I set off for the King of Prussia Mall determined to get all of the presents crossed of my list by the end of the day. After several hours of intense shopping, I was tired and cranky but I was DONE. I loaded up the car and started to head back to my Dad’s house.

    I must make a confession here – I am terrible at directions. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve driven somewhere; it’s completely possible for me to get lost. Or take a wrong turn. Which is EXACTLY what I did. Instead of driving toward my house, I mistakenly got onto 76 in the WRONG direction, which put my on the turnpike. Not a huge deal, right? Just get off at the next exit and turn around. Right. Except that the next exit was a toll road. And when I peeked into my wallet, I discovered I had NO CASH. None. And there weren’t even any spare coins lying around my Dad’s car (he had just cleaned it).

    So in a rising panic, I drive along, hoping to see a sign for a rest stop with an ATM. No such luck. I pulled over and called my Mom in tears. She told me if I went to the far right toll booth, I could pay with my debit card. YAY! I was saved! So I got off at the next exit and went to the far right toll booth and asked to pay with my card. Apparently, my Mom was wrong. Very, very wrong. I couldn’t pay with my card. I immediately burst into tears. Blubbering, I explained to the toll booth cashier what had happened – I wasn’t driving my car (which always has a few spare dollars in it), I had no cash on me and I wasn’t even going in the right direction. The line of cars behind me kept getting longer and longer and I just kept crying.

    The cashier took pity on me. He kindly offered to pay my toll. In exchange, he gave me an envelope with his ID number on it and said I could put the money I owed him in there and leave it with the cashier when I got back on the turnpike to go home. It was only $2, but it felt like a million bucks to me.

    I was able to find an ATM and withdrew some cash. I put a $10 bill in the envelope and handed it to the cashier when I got back on the turnpike. And then I handed her $20 and asked her to cover the toll for as many cars after me as she could…just in case someone else was in the same situation as me. I don’t know if it made a difference or if anyone was even grateful, but I knew I needed to pass on that cashier’s kindness. Hopefully someone benefitted and passed on the kind gesture 🙂

    1. Meghan: What an amazing story! Sometimes we just end up in these tough situations that just can’t be easily fixed. Luckily, there are sympathetic, compassionate strangers who are willing to extend that hand and help out a girl down on her luck. We all need people like that in the world…It’s beautiful that you repaid that kindness with your own — you never know when someone can use it!

      1. Exactly, Susan! It may seem like such a small gesture to some, but to the person on the receiving end, that small bit of kindness can make a huge difference.

  2. I don’t have such an inspiring story as Meghan’s, but I try to make “paying it forward” part of my personality:
    I believe you should smile at strangers. Always.
    Give cupcakes whether they are needed or not
    Pay for the coffee (or the drink) for your pal when their day is going great (or not so great)
    Don’t participate in random kindness, but all-the-time-generosity
    Those are just my ideas. They are a work in progress – thanks for such a wonderful story about your trip to France. I’d love to visit someday.

      1. I wholeheartedly concur with both of you — nothing makes someone’s day better than baked goods =P

        Raven: I love that you say you try to make paying it forward part of your personality. If only more people adhered to that!

  3. What a wonderful post, Susan, and a create way to pay it forward. I’m always interested in people who are spreading positivity because it’s what I spend most of my time trying to do over at Positively Present. It’s taken me quite awhile to get to a place where I feel positive about myself and my life and I now strive to do what I can to pass my knowledge of and everyday experiences with positivity on to my readers. Thanks for doing this giveaway! Even if I’m not the winner, I’ve been inspired by this post!

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  8. I’ve become known as the networker – someone who has built contacts in multiple fields and nurtured a professional relationship with them. In turn, when a friend tells me they’re looking for help for xy or z reason in a certain area, I immediately think of who I might know that could help. I’ve set people up with paid gigs, interviewees, suppliers and consultants. I like to think of it as my contribution to the advancement of my friends and hope they will return the favor to me when I need it!

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