Posted in happiness, Life, love, mindfulness, Musings, People

These Little Things

little things

 

The other morning, I was driving Camryn to school. We were stopped at a light, and it was quiet in the car. Out of nowhere, Cam says “I love you, mom.”, and it was one of those moments…I don’t know how to explain it. My kids and I say “I love you” ALLLLLL the time, it’s not a rarity at all. But the way she said it, out of nowhere, in this quiet, thoughtful, sincere voice. As if she’d been studying me without me noticing, and she was speaking straight from her heart. I felt it differently, if that makes sense. “I love you, too!” I said, with tears stinging my eyes.

The next morning I got a text from my mom, out of the blue, at seven a.m. “I love you, Court.”

Two days in a row, I got hit with little love bombs, during a time when I needed them quite badly…and there is no way either my mom or my daughter could have known that. I’ve been struggling a lot, but I certainly try not to let my eight year old see it, and I hadn’t spoken much to my mom about it, so…it meant a lot to me.

Friday, the tall, dark, handsome man I’ve been seeing (although I’ve been seeing him so little lately that he’s almost a tall, dark, handsome stranger at this point) called me and asked “Are we still going out tonight?” (translation: “Are you going to cancel on me again?”) “Of course!” I replied (translation: “I am trying very hard to not let this funk I am in destroy our relationship, let’s pretend I am normal, okay?”) “Where would you like to eat?” he asked. I felt my soul wither. “Can you just figure it out?” I asked, “I can’t deal with thinking right now.” “Absolutely. I’ll take care of everything- don’t worry your pretty little head about a thing.” (He actually said that. LOL.)

A few minutes later he texted that dinner was at seven, and he wouldn’t say where. He took me to a Greek restaurant owned by a friend of his, and he’d even ordered some flaming cheese dish ahead of time to cheer me up. We had the best table, right at the front window, and…I just really appreciated the effort he put in. He recognized that I needed a little extra kindness, and rather than be put out by that or turned off, he leaned in and did more, just because he felt like it.

It sounds like such a basic little thing, but it isn’t. It matters. All of these little things matter so much to me. I have been down and hurting lately, and we all know that people are not easy or fun when they are like that. After all, we have our own shit, right? It’s so easy to just get frustrated, or say “You know what? This is not what I signed up for- I have to think about my own peace of mind, sorry.” And in our current culture, this is not only acceptable, it’s kind of encouraged. But he didn’t do that at all. He went out of his way to make my life easier and happier, and I am so grateful for that. So touched by it. I am so grateful and touched by the loving gestures from my family, too.

So now, I’m paying attention, right? Yesterday, my daughter, who is at her dads for the weekend, came home so that I could wash her hair- she had a birthday party to go to, and she needed some help getting ready. I mentioned briefly that I’d forgotten to pick up my bubbly water (you know, the fancy carbonated La Croix that are all the rage now? Yeah, I have an embarrassing addiction to those.) when I was at the store. I washed her hair and got her ready to go, and about an hour later, I took a nap. I woke up hours later and thought I heard someone saying “Mom!”. I was confused, but I listened, and there it was again! I got up, and ran to the door in my underwear…and there she was, with two cans of La Croix she’d smuggled out of the party for me. “I thought you might want these.” She said. She’d made her dad bring her by just to give them to me. Like, how sweet is that?

At the beach yesterday, my dog, Lucy, lost her ball. She spent a good portion of our walk down the beach stalking other dog owners with balls, and I had to keep explaining that she’d lost hers, sorry, sorry, sorry. On the way back up the beach, I passed a man I’d had to apologize to earlier. “Hey! I found your ball!” He said. He’d picked up our dirty old tennis ball in hopes that we’d cross paths again. He didn’t have to do that, but he did, just to be nice. My dog was thrilled, and so was I.

Yesterday, I dropped off two big bins of sea glass to a friend of mine, for a friend of hers who needs it for a project she wants to start. This morning, I sent my brother a book from Amazon-it’s a really long, really involved fantasy series, and if he likes the first one, I’ll send him more. When I’m done with this, I’m going to write him a letter, too.

Because I’ve come to realize something over the past few days- big things are great! Grand gestures and big to-do’s are wonderful things. But it is the little things- the “I love you”sĀ  for no reason, the extra effort, the small kindnesses…they are so powerful. When someone is feeling hopeless and spent, a small gesture is a really big deal. A kind word means everything. Unexpected sweetness is sort of a miracle. Being nice just to be nice, being thoughtful, doing a little more than you need to…it’s just everything.

Today, I ask that you pay attention to the kindness you see in the world around you, and that you receive any that comes your way with the gratitude which it deserves. I hope that you can find a way to do a little more for someone than they expect, so that you can feel your own burdens suddenly become lighter. These little things carry a startling amount of love inside of them, and you cannot really know how much that love might mean, how much it might matter, to someone.

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Posted in Addiction, Depression, faith, happiness, inner peace, Life, Musings, People, random, Uncategorized

Kindness

kindness

Once upon a time, I was a very, very messed up young lady. Not messed up in the everyday, average, run-of-the-mill way I am now. I’m not talking about depression or anxiety this time, which I seem to suffer from in a very “normal” way, judging by the lives and comments from my friends. I don’t know many people who make it to this age in life without some baggage, vague mental illness, and/or flat out jadedness. I’m not saying this is a good or even acceptable thing, I’m just saying…it’s kind of part of the deal.

What I’m talking about here is my “former life”. The life I began at 19, the part where I wound up on drugs for such a long time. When I tell you that I was bad, I need you to believe me. There were no days off, not if I could help it. I lived, breathed and existed for my drugs. It was my life. I wish that it weren’t true, but facts are facts.

What I don’t often talk about is the kindness that was shown to me through those years. The people who saw something more in me, something good, and gave me chances, reached out a hand, tried to help. There are more kind and giving people in this world than you would ever imagine, if you have never needed help the way I used to.

I was homeless, periodically, many times throughout those years. And yet I never once had to sleep in my car- not ever. My friends would take me in for various lengths of time, never asking for for anything in return. I was always fed when I was hungry, I always managed to have a pack of cigarettes, I never remember feeling afraid or having nowhere to go. I was asked to house-sit, invited to stay over. My clothes got washed, I showered. I honestly don’t know how I got so lucky, but I always felt that I was. Even in the worst of times, I recognized that my life could be so much worse.

Did I disappoint people? Oh, yes. Regularly. The remorse I feel for the people I let down is almost a living thing, sometimes. It’s better now that I’ve made something of my life. I don’t feel it so acutely, with the passage of time. When I think about those years of my life, it honestly feels like I am viewing the memories of another person…someone I could never possibly have been, except that I was. I took advantage, overstayed my welcome, pilfered change from pockets, ate food that wasn’t meant for me. I was given jobs that I casually didn’t show up for, and borrowed money I could never pay back. In short, I was kind of a nightmare. Looked like a sweet kid, behaved like a monster.

And still…people helped me. My friend Debbie, who I’ve lost track of over the years, replaced my headlights when she was scraping by on a waitresses salary. The number of nights I spent in her apartment, blasting Aretha Franklin and driving her nuts, I couldn’t count. A lady named Suzi that I worked with asked me to “house-sit” for her every time she left town, knowing what a risk I was. People rolled the dice on me all the time, and I was not a safe bet. But I’ve never forgotten. I have never forgotten the kindnesses I’ve been shown.

One time, I was at the welfare office in Nevada, in a desperate situation. I needed money, I needed food- at this time I had a small daughter, and I had waited too long to look for help. There was no way I was making rent. I had called the Catholic charities, I had tried to figure it out,Ā  but things were dire. It was winter time, I remember that, and things were not looking good in that welfare office. It was harder to get help in Nevada than it had been in California, and I knew things weren’t going to work in my favor for once.

There was a woman working there…she was probably the age I am now, mid forties, a heavy-set black woman. She had this beautiful necklace on- a simple chain with this big, shiny, single rhinestone hanging from it. In the midst of all the bullshit I was spewing, wired out of my mind, I said “I really love your necklace.” Because I did. I will never, ever forget what happened next. She said “You know, I never wear this thing. I felt called to wear it this morning, and now I know why.” And she took it off her neck and handed it to me. She GAVE it to me.

You know, that meant something to me. It might have just been a little piece of costume jewelry, but that wasn’t the point. The point was, she did something incredibly kind in that moment. She made me feel worthy and special and less like that desperate, messed up young woman I was. I don’t know how to explain it. But it gave me a boost that I needed so much right then. I will never forget it. I still have that necklace, and I wish I could find that lady and tell her I turned out okay after all. She might not remember me, but I will always remember her.

Another time, and this story is very strange, I was at the beach- a beach I frequent, even to this day. I was at the end of my last run, really strung out, really miserable, feeling like I had reached the end of my rope. I didn’t know what to do with myself anymore…I had realized that no one was going to come along to save me, that I was going to have to rely on myself, and that thought terrified me. I just remember feeling incredibly down that day. The beach was nearly deserted, and out of nowhere, this woman approached me. She had on a skirt, I remember, a longish skirt, and she seemed out of place. She had a bag of sea glass with her, and she showed me her finds. I would guess she was in her fifties or sixties, and she seemed a little odd, though friendly enough. All of the sudden she told me she felt called to pray over me and asked if it was okay. Normally, this would have been SO not okay with me. But that day…I really needed it. It was the strangest thing. She held my hands, and she prayed for me, right there in broad daylight on that deserted beach. I get tears in my eyes just thinking about it. I never saw her again.

I don’t know where I am going with this, except…I’m just really grateful for the kindness I’ve been on the receiving end of over the years. I have hurt people and let them down, ripped them off and fucked them over. Yet I never saw the end of that kindness. It always kept coming, and always when I needed it most. I forget that sometimes- how kind people are when it matters most. Having been self-sufficient for so long now, relying on the news and social media to tell me how the world is, I let myself forget. But that’s not the truth, the things you see online, or on your phone. The truth is, people are mostly good, they want to help. I bet you know this about yourself. I bet you see it in others.

I would not be here without the kindness of strangers, the giving hearts of my friends. I know that much is true. Never stop reaching out, even when you think it’s a lost cause. You just never know the impact you might have on someone.