Hello and Happy Monday,
I've heard from so many of you and your wonderful stories of shared kindness. First I want to tell you about how I practiced kindness this weekend, well, eventually.
I had my children home with us this weekend, which always makes for a better weekend for us. We had lots of plans - on Saturday my son had three of his friends over. I did a project with Melissa and the house was loud and messy with all those kids playing. Then they all disappeared into the basement to play board games and video games and all the things 10 and 11-year-olds do. I went to check on them when it had been super quiet for a while, they were fine, but there was a giant puddle on the floor of the [carpeted] basement. Turns out one of the blow-up tire blockade things we have, that has water in the bottom to keep it upright, leaked, a lot. This is not the first time one of these things has leaked so I was annoyed that no one told me. Melissa said she had soaked up most of the water, but I kid you not, soaking wet. I was calm, I didn't yell, I had her and Michael and his friends help clean it up. During the "play-date", now that they are in 5th grade I don't know if it's called that anymore. But during the hang out, I was upstairs baking a berry tart, we were going to our neighbors for dinner. We got to our neighbors, who made a delicious dinner - and my children didn't touch the food - they are the pickiest of picky eaters, but I wasn't upset. When we got home I told them to feed themselves, like it was no big deal.
Then Sunday morning rolled around and I messed up - we were late to Michael's baseball assessment - to decide what team he will be on - and I was in utter confusion as to stay or go. And the beating up of myself started. First I blame, I blamed my ex-husband for never doing anything, that I have to set up everything when it comes to our children. Then I shame, I shamed myself, that I am incapable of having too much on my plate, if I only paid more attention to the email that went out about this. Then I complain. I complained to my friend, who quickly said, "remember yesterday when you didn't torture your kids over spilled water? Kids don't get a mom who can let go of things like that and also always get the appointment time exactly right. That lady only exists in 50s TV shows." Thank goodness for amazing friends. It took time, but I was finally kind and I forgave myself for my behavior.
I know the work I have to do, I have been studying the Polyvagal Theory for almost 3 years, I know that the neurons in my brain are wired to do that, and it takes time to change that. Donald Hebb is a neuropsychologist and is quoted saying, "neurons that fire together, wire together". It means the more we think, feel, or behave in a certain way, the more ingrained the patterns become, on a neuro level. Difficult to remember moment to moment, like when you (or I) mess up the time of the baseball assessment and think that you have taken away your son's chances of trying out for baseball. I know I can rewire my brain, I can change my nervous system, and by practicing yoga, meditation, gratitude, and kindness are all part of that.
I wanted to share two stories of kindness - one is from a woman who shared this story with me in 2017 when I did a month of pay-it-forward classes - this story has always stuck with me. The other I just heard last week and is very touching. I have titled them both.
No Red Lights in Love
Seven (now 10) years ago we suddenly got the news that my husband, had to have a quadruple bypass. The morning of the operation, I left our home in Alexandria very early to get to Washington Hospital Center in time to see him before surgery, but when I got downtown there were a bunch of streets closed around the Mall. My Garmon kept sending me in circles and I was starting to have a panic attack. I must have been driving erratically, because a van pulled up next to me and the driver rolled down his window and asked whether I was OK. I told him the situation, and he simply said: "follow me." He drove me all of the way from the Capital to Washington Hospital Center, always making sure I was behind him. I got to the hospital and ran from the parking lot to my husband's room just in time to kiss him and tell him I loved him before they took him into surgery. I'll never forget that driver's kindness!!
I was really struggling with life, in several ways several years ago. One a trip back to VA from visiting my family, my engine light came on. I took it to the dealer and was waiting for them to do the testing to figure out what was wrong, and to fix the problem. In the meantime, more people came thru, but one individual started to talk to me, just casual conversation. Cedric.
We talked about random stuff, about finances (he was giving me advice as I had been laid off of work a few months prior and the restaurant was slow), why he moved to the area, etc. As the morning wore on, and the mechanics gave us each our estimates. Mine was nearly $350, which would put an incredible strain on me. His was considerably less, at only around $100. He offered to exchange bills with him. I'd pay his $100, and he'd pay my $350. Just his offer alone touched me and made me cry then and there. However, I declined the help. I told him I can't ask him to do that. He pointed out that I didn't ask, he offered, and that he would not offer unless he was able to do so comfortably. I said thank you several times, that kindness alone touched me, but I still declined the help.
We continued talking for a bit before he was called up to pay for his bill. As he passed me, he handed me a note, wished me well, then left. I was called up to pay for my bill before I had the chance to look at it. When I got into my car, I opened the note and found $250 in cash in it. The difference between his bill and mine. I lost it, I couldn't stop crying at that point.
I can't ever repay Cedric, for what he did for me. So I try to do little things for people on a regular basis, strangers and friends alike. Tie a shoe, visit a neighbor, return a shopping cart... And I can share the story, so other people can hear how sometimes, just one small act of kindness for one person can make a big difference in someone else's life.
Thank you for reading today. Be kind to yourself.
With Love & Kindness,