Nobody can make it through life alone. We all need the support of others as we embark on our own individual paths — even if it comes from a stranger.
While Ashley Jost (pictured below with her grandmother) wasn’t necessarily going through a rough time when she received a random but profound message, it’s what inspired her to pay it forward to others who needed a little pick-me-up.
The 27-year-old college administrator recently made a pledge with her friends to read more books, so she picked one up while shopping at a Target in Columbia, Missouri. The self-help book by Rachel Hollis is titled, “Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals” but it was what Ashley found tucked between the pages that impacted her the most.
At home, after finishing a chapter, Ashley tossed the book aside to check on her barking dog. When she came back, she found a five dollar bill on the floor. She doesn’t normally carry any cash, so she picked up the book and flipped through the pages. Near the end, she found a pink Post-it note with the most loving handwritten message.
“To the person who buys this book: I am having a tough day,” the note reads. “I thought maybe I could brighten someone else’s with this little surprise. Go buy a coffee, a donut or a face mask. Practice some self care today. Remember that you are loved, you are amazing, you are strong. Love, Lisa”
Ashley was so touched she shared a photo of the note and the money on Twitter, where she says “It sort of caught fire.” Hundreds retweeted the photo, which then inspired others to follow Lisa’s lead and share their own acts of kindness.
Ashley felt compelled to join in as well. “I decided to maximize it,” she said. “We live in a college town where there are so many people living paycheck to paycheck, so I decided I wanted to do one random act of kindness every day this week, each worth $5.” So far, she’s hidden notes similar to Lisa’s alongside Starbucks cards.
Since receiving that first letter of love, Ashley has wondered about Lisa. Did things get better for her? But as it turns out, the mysterious woman had heard about Ashley paying it forward and sent a second letter to thank her. She didn’t leave a return address.
“She said it made her cry in a good way,” Ashley said, adding Lisa explained she’d set out “to create something positive — she never really expected this to happen the way it has.”
Whoever you are and wherever you are, thank you, Lisa, for spreading the love. Remember that you are loved, you are amazing, you are strong.
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