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With a little help from my friends (and family, colleagues, strangers ...)

Best wishes for 2008. How has your new year been so far? Mine has started with a series of minor problems that cumulatively could have threatened my equilibrium and wellbeing.

The first was the parking fine I got. In fact I had bought a ticket and placed it on the dashboard, but having no adhesive backing it must have blown off when I slammed the car door. I spent much time formulating a letter to the town council who have now waived it! I had been moaning to a neighbour about how unjust it felt and he convinced me I had a case to appeal. Bless him.

Next, just as a major training project at work was coming to fruition, my administrator pulled out! So the booking of venues, advertising to delegates, securing complex equipment, designing and ordering folders and publications, confirming details to delegates and numerous speakers, typing, making up packs, doing presentations, answering the press, the phone, the email, the fax and my mobile and the numerous messages that found their way to my desk totally fell on my shoulders. I worked long hours and lost sleep through anxiety. But I survived the crisis, with the support of work colleagues who saw my plight and rallied around, providing much-needed cups of tea and chocolate biscuits, abundant humour as well as their energy and precious time. Bless them.

Then my car broke down. Loaded to the gills with equipment for a 6am start the next day, strange noises started coming from under the bonnet. The recovery man could offer no help and predicted it was going to "be complicated and costly". He helped me unload my car, towed me to the dealership garage at 11.30pm, shared his coffee and Kit Kat, negotiated a replacement car and drove me 30 miles to get it - then called at 12.30 to be sure I'd got home safely! Bless him.

Two days later, my washing machine broke and flooded the kitchen. The repairman visited to inspect the situation, did not have the replacement parts, ordered them, came back to fit them, realised he'd ordered the wrong parts, reordered them and came back again. Taking time off work was impossible with a promise of an engineer calling "sometime between 8 and 12.30 or 1.30 and 6pm". Yet as I type this, my machine is swooshing away happily again. My mum saved the day and came to my house to wait for the engineer's three visits. She cancelled her pensioner's club, rearranged her shampoo and set and missed her armchair exercise session. Bless her.

Out of the blue, a friend telephoned as "she was thinking of me". She'd anticipated the profound sadness I was feeling on the anniversary of the death of a mutual friend. By the time we reminisced on the good, funny and crazy times we had as three friends I was laughing and happy. Bless her.

So, during the first two weeks of 2008, friends, a neighbour, family, colleagues and a stranger have all made bad situations better for me. I'm blessed. My new year's resolution is to be mindful of the power of human support and kindness. It brings harmony and studies have shown it aids physical and mental healing.

Who has brightened your day with a small kindness?