Seven years ago, my mom died. For me, this was the worst thing that possibly could have happened. Mom was my person. My biggest fan. My best friend. My role model. And then, all of that was gone. I broke up with my boyfriend, who I loved, and I immediately ran away from everything. Literally. I left the apartment in NYC that I shared with my two best friends. I left three different jobs. And I left my family and bought a one-way ticket to the Caribbean. Only to find out that running away, in fact, solves nothing. She was still gone. And every time I went home, it still hurt. I was always a positive person, so it weighed on me that I had become so depressed. Before Mom died, I had thought of a project inspired by something she said during a phone call we had on December 14, 2012. Earlier that morning I had told her two different stories. One of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings and one of a small act of kindness that had just happened to my co-worker. She encouraged me to focus on the act of kindness, saying, “There will always be horrible things that will inevitably happen in our lives and in the world, but there will always be more good out there…if we look for it.” That conversation changed my life. My perspective. And eventually, became the life raft I hung on to after I lost her. After spending a lot of time in a hospital waiting room during my mother’s cancer diagnosis, I became increasingly aware of the need for some hope in those spaces. I decided I wanted to create something for them. A book. More specifically, a book of hope. It would be inspired by her message, that there will always be more good, “if we look for it.” First, I had to go look for it. From October of 2016 to November of 2019 I spent my life on the road, alone in her old car, traveling to every single state. I relied on the kindness of strangers for my journey. 154 homes fed me and sheltered me. A few more hundred shared stories with me, bought me a coffee, and helped with my gas tank. I put 43,000 miles on the car. And I collected stories of small (and large) acts of kindness along the entire way. Today I sit, inundated with material, and beginning to weave the stories together. And someday, when all of the stories are compiled into a book, I will donate them to hospital waiting rooms across the country. Seven years ago, my mom died. For many years, I believed I died with her. I struggled to find meaning in trying to live in a world without my mom. So instead, I made a world for myself where she still lived. I brought her words and message to every single state. I introduced her to everyone I met, and I channeled her endless positivity and ability to empathize with anyone as best I could and created something to honor her. Someday, because of her, there will be a book of stories of hope for you to read in a hospital waiting room. Life will always be scary. There will always be things to worry about and reasons to hold ourselves back from our own leaps of faith. But for me, the thought of sitting still and letting the pain sink me…well, that wasn’t going to work for me. I refused to live my life in fear. I refused to listen to people say, “You’re traveling alone as a young woman? Aren’t you scared?” And I refused to let myself wallow any longer. Maybe if I could go out into the world and listen to people’s stories of heartache and pain, too, I could help them. Maybe, that would help me. If three years on the road taught me anything, it was three huge personal reminders. Find a way to help people, it will be the best thing you can do to heal yourself. Never let fear stop you from doing the things you want to do. And don’t run away from something. Run towards something instead. Letting yourself head into the unknown might just be the thing that will bring you back to life.