An already divided country, chewing at its own seams. Alliances forged and lost. So much hate and anger in the wake of an ugly soul’s election to office. As much as I like to think of myself as a compassionate person with tolerance for everyone, I have still not been able to talk to my own mother for singing while the Capitol burned. And Leonard. Oh, God, not him, but yes.

I got a spark of inspiration working for one of my favorite clients, Tasha Wahl, who runs a microphilanthropy effort called The Butterfly Effect; as well as my dear friend Linda Perkins, who created 37 Vibrations, love stories that travel throughout the world in bottles. Their models count on generosity and love being contagious and rippling through the world, creating major change. So Grace and I got to work. We decorated about 100 wooden, foam and cardstock hearts, headed to the park with the dog, and set up shop with a cardboard sign that read, “Need #ExtraLove” today?”  We spent the afternoon giving them away. We started with zero expectations, so we were delighted when friends came by and helped us color and sticker. Some people were wary that we might be peddling religion or that there was a catch. Some were just busy. But most people loved the extra love.

One woman and her daughter passed Grace $2 for a carousel ticket. A recent Armenian immigrant and his 3-year-old daughter camped out with us for a while. One  man, wearing bright tropical shorts and a red shirt, said that yes, he would love some extra love when we asked him. “It’s my birthday. It’s been a little rough. I want you to know I’m keeping this forever,” he said, holding our heart to his heart, his eyes shimmering with what could possibly become tears.

At the end, Grace wanted to give love to nature, so she put a special flower cutout she’d decorated with hearts, stickers and the hashtag #hellolove on a mighty tree.

We will do this again. We changed people’s day, just a little. And we are changed too.

Vanessa McGrady#ExtraLove

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