Woman finds note and cash in book; says it felt surreal

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COLUMBIA - A note found in a book from a Columbia Target says: "Remember that you are loved, you are amazing, you are strong."

Ashley Jost found the note, and $5 in cash, after a shopping trip on Sunday.

Jost was getting groceries and walked down the book aisle, when she spotted "Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals” by Rachel Hollis. 

Jost said she was starting a challenge with her friends in which each had to read at least 10 pages a day for 75 days. 

"I keep hearing this book is an easy read and kind of inspirational, so I thought okay, 17 bucks, I'll just grab this book and it'll be my first read of this challenge," she said.

When she got home a few hours later, Jost started reading through the first chapter. Her dog started barking, so she tossed the book aside. When she got back, she noticed something on the ground.

"Five dollars fell out, and it took me a second where I was like, 'Wait, what just happened?'" Jost said.

She thumbed through the book, and in one of the last pages, there was a pink Post-it.

The note reads, "To the person who buys this book: I am having a tough day. I thought maybe I could brighten someone else’s with this little surprise. Go buy a coffee, a donut or a face mask. Practice some self care today. Remember that you are loved, you are amazing, you are strong. - Lisa”

"I read it once, and I read it again and I thought, 'dang this is really neat,'" Jost said.

She said it "felt surreal."

"Like this is something that only happens to strangers on the internet, not some random person in the middle of Missouri who just happens to decide in the heat of the moment to buy this book at Target," she said.

Jost decided to post a photo of the note and the money on Twitter. As of Tuesday afternoon, it has almost 300 retweets and 3000 favorites. The story has shown up on numerous Facebook threads.

Jost said she was surprised with the attention she's gotten. Even the BBC asked if it could use the story. She says she thinks the response she's gotten speaks to something "we all need."

"I think the engagement is an indicator that people just sort of need the pick-me-up," Jost said. "We need it all the time, but particularly we do heading into the work week and in this busy time of year for everybody."

Since she posted the tweet, Jost has gotten messages and replies from others who are paying it forward or we're positively affected by Lisa's note.

"In that moment, I didn't necessarily need the pick-me-up, but I feel obligated to share it, and I'm hearing back from people who did," Jost said. "The ripple effect is pretty incredible."

Jost is adding to that ripple effect, saying she now feels obligated to pay it forward. 

"I decided to maximize it," Jost said. "We live in a college town where there are so many people living paycheck to paycheck, so I decided I wanted to do one random act of kindness every day this week, each worth $5."

On Monday, she sent a $5 Starbucks gift card to a friend. She said she hasn't decided what to do the rest of the week but mentioned possibly paying off the meters by MU.

She said if she ever met Lisa, she would thank her for the gesture.

"I hope wherever she is, hopefully her day has improved, her chapter of life has improved, and I would definitely tell her thank you."