Inspiring

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    Years ago I was standing at our library's parking payment kiosk and rooting frantically through my purse to find some change for the parking meter when a passing woman stopped and handed me a few quarters. "Here you go," she said cheerfully. Such a small gesture, but I've never forgotten it.

    A tiny act of unexpected kindness has the ability to change the trajectory of your entire day, don't you think? In the spirit of spreading more of those good feelings around, here are 8 under-$10 ways you can easily bring some happiness to a stranger's life (and your own, of course, because making other people happy feels awesome).

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    When I was a little girl, I loved going for walks with my father. I remember feeling so secure as he took my teeny, tiny hand in his big calloused palm, looking both ways as we zipped across the streets. I remember his interesting perspectives and made-up stories about the people and animals we passed along the way. I remember feeling so happy, special, and loved.

    And I’ll always remember the lesson I learned when I picked up a penny.

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    If you could use a restoration of your faith in humanity, look no further than the inspiring turn of events that transpired recently when a father named Nathen Steffel posted a photo of his infant daughter Sophia on Reddit, writing, "My daughter recently passed away after a long battle in the children's hospital. Since she was in the hospital her whole life we never were able to get a photo without all her tubes. Can someone remove the tubes from this photo?" Tragically, little Sophia suffered a hepatic hemangioma in her liver at just 6 weeks old.

    Incredibly, people responded big time to Steffel's request. Users posted a slew of PhotoShopped, painted, or drawn portraits. But that's not all ... Steffel got even more than the photos, way more than he ever bargained for.

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    Billy Joel's mama was obviously special to him, so it's probably with a very heavy heart that he said goodbye to her on Sunday, July 13. Rosalind Nyman Joel was 92, so it's not like she didn't live a long and full life, but it's still never easy to let go of someone close to you.

    Roz, as she was affectionately known, was apparently very well loved by her family. She was the inspiration behind Joel's song "Rosalinda's Eyes" from the 1978 album 52nd Street, and she obviously roused tender feelings in her former daughter-in-law Christie Brinkley too. Soon after the public announcement of Rosalind's passing, the model took to Instagram to post a special tribute.

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    The praises of a New Jersey mom named Lisa Ryder should be sung far and wide today, after she jumped to her daughter's defense via social media. You see, her 9-year-old "loves science; She especially enjoys learning about ocean life and outer space. She has read more books on sharks than I ever knew existed, follows NASA news, and hopes to be an astronaut one day."

    But when she and her daughter were flipping through the Land's End catalog, they noticed the science-themed t-shirt designs were exclusive to the boys' section. And in the girls' section, "instead of science-themed art, we were treated to sparkly tees with rhinestones, non-realistic looking stars, and a design featuring a dog dressed like a princess and wearing a tutu." In turn, Ryder took to Land's End's Facebook page to post a passionate letter about the experience.

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    Justin Timberlake recently showed what an awesome guy he is for the eight millionth time when he arranged for young Robbie Twible to have the experience of a lifetime. The 12-year-old suffers from a rare and painful debilitating skin disease, but he got to forget his worries for a night when JT sent a limo for him and his whole family, and sat them front and center for his performance at the Hammerstein Ballroom.

    Robbie said it was "amazing," and likely died of happiness when his idol dedicated his last song of the evening, "Mirrors," to him. Robbie says he loves Timberlake because of his talent and his big heart. "He can sing, dance and act, and he gives to charity," said Robbie. "He’s very talented."

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    Ashley Salazar is having a rough life at the moment. The 16 and Pregnant star recently miscarried during her second pregnancy, and now she's confronting a huge demon in her life -- alcoholism. 

    The reality star took to her blog this week and completely opened up about her addiction to alcohol, how it has wrecked relationships in her life, and the struggle she's having just four days into sobriety.

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    When it comes to crying babies, fussy infants, or tantrumy toddlers, many parents reach for the path of least resistance: Technology. It's not exactly a surprise, being that, well, crying babies, fussy infants, and tantrumy toddlers can be really stressful and unpleasant to be around. But at the end of the day, the iPhone, iPad, or iWhatever can't hold a candle to good old fashioned human contact.

    A Thai technology company called DTac recently released a video called "The Power of Love" that beautifully demonstrates how a parent's love, affection, and attention can trump a smartphone any day of the week.

    Check out the heartwarming video and prepare to unplug tonight.

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    Hers is a story we've heard all too often. Back in March, Shereen Matera says she was told by an assistant manager to "cover up or leave" while breastfeeding her son at a Barnes & Noble in Nanuet, New York. Although it must have initially been all sorts of upsetting for Matera, she responded boldly -- suing the bookstore chain for mistreatment. Thankfully, she also got a ton of back-up!

    After hearing about the incident, 15 other breastfeeding moms jumped to Matera's defense, joining her in a "nurse-in" at the store, to the disapproval of another store manager. Later, after Matera's complaint to the Barnes & Noble corporate office led nowhere, she went to the New York's Attorney General's office. And today, she's celebrating her settlement and victory in the case.

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    Leah Calvert's daughter Aliannah Simms never ceases to inspire and amaze us. We've watched this 4-year-old's journey ever since her mama was pregnant with her and her twin sister Aleeah back in the day on MTV's 16 & Pregnant. Then all the tears on Teen Mom 2 as Leah and her ex-husband Corey Simms struggled for answers about her medical condition.

    It turns out Ali has a rare form of the degenerative disease muscular dystrophy, but even with all the odds stacked against her, she has defied them all. Doctors once thought she'd never even walk, but Leah says this little dollface not only does that -- she runs!

    Leah shared Ali's latest ambition on Twitter Monday night, and even though it's a lofty goal, we think this gal might just have enough determination to make it happen.

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