A Cardiff woman is aiming to bring some positivity into people's lives with a simple, random act of kindness -- passing notes with a small message and hopeful sketch.
Sharon Belknap shares her Tidbits of Love — small, squares with original drawings and sayings like, "follow your intuition and fly" and "make a wish from your heart" — with people she comes across in her life.
Hopefully, the idea of sharing these messages with strangers will catch on to more and more people across the world to bring some needed positivity, she said. She noted the Tidbits -- which are available online and at some retail locations -- have already found their way into several countries and states.
Belknap recently spoke about the Tidbits and the difference she believes they are making.
This Q&A has been edited and shortened for length.
Q: What's the story behind these Tidbits of Love?
A: It's been four years since I started making these. I was an art major in college and converted my love of drawing into graphic design and created a career out of that. Four years ago, I heard about an online art class community called Sketchbook School. I lit up with the idea of beginning, again, to draw. ...
When I began sketching, I started sharing on Facebook. It wasn't too long into my sketching that a friend challenged me to create seven consecutive days of positive Facebook posts with a sketch. I wanted to accept the challenge but create something that was a very small piece of art that I could just pull from my imagination, which is nature. It was the sunshine, a wave, a butterfly and a few others.
When I posted my little sketches to the Sketchbook School community, which is global, the responses and comments that came flooding in were so overwhelming, and the one that really triggered my graphic designer and product developer mind was, 'These sketches exude joy.' In that moment, I realized, if I can put joy in a box for people to give to one another, I will have done a really good thing with my gift.
Q: Would you describe this as a pay-it-forward kind of idea?
A: Absolutely. It's a random act of kindness. What's happened is I realized that when you have something of an abundance — there are 40 tidbits in a box — you're more out to look for opportunities to give them away. Just going out into the world with the attitude of, 'How can I give away what I have so much of?' you start looking at the world a different way. You start seeing people as someone you want to connect with so you can hand them a Tidbit of Love. I admit it takes a bit of courage to do that, but that's a practice worth developing.
Q: How do you come up with the sayings for the Tidbits?
A: They really came from my heart, the human condition. 'Be brave, believe in you.' You need to hear that. You want to hear that. 'Enjoy the journey, it's all yours.' It helps you to recalibrate, to go back to your true north, whatever yours is. 'Inhale, exhale, smile.' That we can do in the midst of everything. 'Be true to the essence that is you.' Giving someone permission to go within to what is their essence is a beautiful thing to consider and to be guided to be true to. The words come from a place of love, compassion and empathy.
Q: What has the response been like? People tend to seem more reserved nowadays and don't even know their neighbors as much.
A: You really do use your judgment. There is a cadence and timing to it. I admit I was awkward in the beginning. For example, I leave them on tip trays with tips. I hand them to a cashier when they hand me a receipt. You start with the easy people. ... Can you imagine the kinds of smiles you get and the rollout that happens following those simple acts of giving? You can leave them anonymously. ... When you keep Tidbits of Love close at hand, opportunities will show up for you to give them. ... Tidbits of Love create ripples of magic.
Q: Do you have any favorite stories of handing these out?
A: I was just in New York and going across the Staten Island Ferry. I was drawing this sketch of the Statue of Liberty and skyline, and to my right was this man who kept looking over into my drawing. I included him in the sketch. Little did I know, all the people around me were watching me sketch, and they all laughed when they saw that I included him. I handed everyone a Tidbit of Love. It turns out that this man is a teacher in Manchester, England. I handed him the bumblebee, which is the symbol of Manchester since the 2017 bombings. He reached out to me, we connected. He has conducted assemblies at his high school on coincidences and random acts of kindness. I shipped over hundreds of Tidbits to the school. Our plan is now for me to go to Manchester, England in May for the anniversary of the bombing and teach the children how to draw bumblebees and make their own Tidbits of Love. ...
I just heard this story about a woman who was sitting on the tracks in Carlsbad. [My friend] Sydney told me there was a young woman sitting on the tracks. She approached her with a handful of Tidbits of Love, the woman chose one and Sydney watched her expression shift. In that moment, Sydney asked her to come off the tracks, and we were able to get her support.
Q: What does it mean to you to know you're making a difference with this little act?
A: It's interesting. What it means to me, more than anything, is that I get to see inside people's lives and into their hearts. The Tidbits of Love create a vulnerability, and the sharing, the smiles, the hugs are such genuine expressions. One of the first things I lost when I was giving out Tidbits of Love was my ego. I went into them as the gift giver, and I quickly realized I was the gift receiver.
Q: What are your goals with this?
A: In many ways, I feel like each box is on its own little mission. ... The goal is that they reach as many people as possible so that more people of all ages, gender identification, cultures can experience what I have and what so many people have and that these ripples of magic get bigger and bigger. ... Tidbits of Love have shown me that there are unlimited possibilities, unlimited potential, in the acts of kindness.
For more information and to order Tidbits of Love to help spread the positivity, visit www.tidbitsoflove.com.