Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Random Acts of Kindness--How Author Stephen Covey Changed My Life

Cade and I performed as homeless street musicians. We'd play the guitar and violin for hours each night, hoping to draw a crowd. Days went by and we only made a few dollars. I stopped wearing belly shirts because my ribs stuck out. Starving and not being able to afford food made me feel desperate. 
     “God,” I prayed, “please help us make some money so we won’t starve. I came to Hawaii trying to find myself. Instead I’m realizing how much I hate starvation.” 
    We finally played another song, a fast one we called “Famous for a Moment” because it pulled people in. That’s when a fancy car drove up behind us.  
    “Hey, you two musicians,” a man said from the driver’s seat.
    “Us?” Cade asked. 

    “Yeah. Would the two of you like to play at a party? I’ll pay you well. Food and drinks will be there. You can help yourselves and eat as much as you like.”
     That was all I needed to hear, because food was my weakness. “Absolutely. I’m in if you are,” I said to Cade.     
     After a second of studying the man’s fancy car, Cade nodded. “It sounds legit.” With that, we grabbed our packs and our instruments and got into the back seat.     
     “You two are talented,” the man said.    
      “Thank you,” I replied. “We’ve had a lot of fun in Hawaii.”
We drove for a while, and I thought how fun it felt being inside a car. When we got to the house, gorgeous plants grew everywhere. The place was very fancy in a tasteful sort of way. It made me wish I’d done my makeup or at least been able to afford the good kind.

     “Wow,” Cade gasped. 
     “This is somethin’ else.”     
     We walked in and the nicest people greeted us. But before we talked too much, the man who’d hired us insisted that we eat. And then perform. Just looking at the food seemed like being in Heaven. I tried acting sophisticated, as if I wasn’t starving and I actually lived in a home and not on the street. I felt so low-class, but those people remained kind, visiting with us as we slowly ate the elegant food that I wanted to wolf down.    
    I met one photographer who’d written a book about Hawaii. He’d taken all of the pictures for it and as I looked at his work, it amazed me. “How beautiful!” He gave me a copy of his book and I put it in my pack. I’d always wanted to be an author, so meeting a real live photographer and writer was a dream come true.     
     I wrote a ninety-page book when I was in elementary school. Then in junior high I was on the school newspaper. It wasn’t until high school that I gave up my dream of being a writer. I’d applied to be in the Honors Writing Program. The program’s teacher just required some poetry, short stories, and outlines. I got everything together and gave them to her. She called me in after school. I couldn’t wait to talk with her because she held all of my hopes in her hands.     
      “Elisa,” she said slowly. “Some people aren’t meant to write. They’ll never be good at it. Even if they try, it just isn’t a gift they have. You . . . I’m sorry to say that you are one of those people. Keep pursuing music. You have real talent with that.”      
     I gave up writing and promised myself I’d never get rejected again. But just looking at that book in Hawaii made me want to try writing again. 
    We played on and off for a couple of hours. The whole time I thought about writing and how someone knew I wasn’t good at it.     
     After we finished playing, the host visited with us for a long time and I wonder now if he knew how much his words would change my life. “Both of you are very unique, special people,” he said. “I’d like to give you something.” He handed me a book. “My son wrote this. I think I was supposed to meet you, to give you this book. It’s about becoming the person you’re meant to be.”      
     I traced the book’s cover and read aloud. “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.”    
    “We met another author here too,” Cade said. “So unreal.”     
    “This is one of the most amazing nights of my life. Good food. Wonderful people. I feel like royalty. Really,” I said.    
      Our host chuckled. “I’m glad I followed my instincts and asked both of you to come here.”    
      “Me, too. It’s inspiring talking with all of you. It was always one of my biggest dreams to be an author.”    
      “Then maybe you’ll write a book someday,” the host said. “Believe in yourself and you’ll accomplish great things.”     
     “Thank you.” All through the rest of the night I kept thinking about how much love shone in his eyes when he talked about his son. That was one lucky kid.     
     The host paid us five hundred dollars! Then he ended up asking us to stay the night in his son’s room—which was practically a whole house. We stayed, cleaned up, and sneaked away the next morning. Sleeping in a real bed just once felt so good. That money had made us rich. But more than anything, the kindness from the previous night stayed with me.      
     When we got to the strip, a fellow street performer sat next to us. “Both of you seem pretty happy. What happened when that man picked you up last night?”     
     “We played at the most wonderful party,” I said. “It felt like a dream. Oh—and we got two books. One is from a photographer and then this one was written by the host’s son.” I opened my pack and showed the books to him.    
    “Do you know who Sean Covey is?” he asked.    
    “No, why?”    
    “This author is very well known, but his father—the man who picked you up—he’s also an author. Stephen Covey!”     
     “No way. I wonder why he didn’t say anything?”      
     “I don’t know. If I were him I’d be telling everyone. His book alone has sold millions of copies.”    
      “What’s it about?” I asked.    
      “Becoming the person you’re meant to be. Pursuing your dreams. He was really nice to you?”    
      “So nice, I almost swore God sent him our way.”    
      “Now there’s one author who practices what he preaches.”    
      I smiled broadly and sat on the sidewalk. Not only did we get a good meal, but I felt as if another part of my journey had been fulfilled. I was discovering myself. Maybe I would take Stephen Covey’s advice. I didn’t think I’d ever write again since other people told me I wasn’t meant to be a writer, but I could do other things. I just needed to believe in myself, develop necessary skills, and hopefully my destiny would follow. 
-Excerpt from "Homeless in Hawaii"

It makes me cry because I never got to tell Stephen Covey thank you.  I always planned on finishing my book Homeless in Hawaii and then sending it to him.  For a kid who had NOTHING--to be treated with such kindness and generosity is astounding . . . So today I decided to write this and say, "Thank you, Stephen.  From a girl who had a small chance of accomplishing anything.  I grew up, and because of kind people like you, I became a published author . . .  Thank you for taking a chance on a homeless kid--you inspired me to accomplish great things.  You inspired me to try." 


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"Homeless in Hawaii" has been marked down to 99 cents for the Random Acts of Kindness Blogfest HERE.  

Also, don't forget to check out the FREE eBooks from Wayman Publishing and the amazing posts below.


  1. God bless Stephen Covey. You know, there are some great teachers in this world (like Dee, who teaches me something every time I talk to her or read her blog and obviously was a wonderful high school teacher), and then there's the other kind of teacher, like the one you had in high school. She was a Dream Stealer.


  2. Elisa, the more you write the more impressed I become with you, Cade, your kids, your music...everything.

    God has brought some key and amazing people into your life. He has plans for you & yours that extend beyond your vision. Thank you for blessing my life with yours. Susan

  3. Damn it, Elisa--will you please stop making me cry?

  4. He was sure a nice guy indeed, you always meet quite the characters.

  5. I have never heard of Stephen Covey but he sounds like a great guy and was godsent to you at a time when you really need him

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  7. What an awesome story, and it makes me like Stephen Covey even more. Wow- he was a gamechanger in every sense of the word.

    But you know, I've just retired after 29 years of teaching and I am a nonviolent person, but I want to smack that teacher who told you that. Good for you, girl, for proving her wrong.

  8. That's great that you got to meet an author and even greater that you met Covey. I love that book! Thanks for sharing!

  9. It is people like this that renew my faith in humanity. What an amazing story, talk about being in the right place at the right time.

  10. Interesting that your life came full circle like that. :)

    OH, incidentally, I bought 2 books while in the airport this weekend (Fish ducky's masterpiece and How to avoid sex...which I might say is pretty sneaky!:) But I have no idea how to produce receipts from my kindle.

    Any way I can still get entered?

  11. I am so glad he invited you to his house. I guess when I have time, I need to re-read Homeless in Hawaii.

    My "adopted" sister downloaded your books but decided she can't read Golden Sky yet - she looked and it would hurt too mush to read it now.

  12. Maybe he had estimable good sense, & was quick to spot talent :-). ~Mary