Kindness. Matters.

img_2288Today, while in a restaurant that was busier than normal due to a weather-related event cancelation, I witnessed several scenes that made me realize just how much kindness matters in this world we live in.

We managed to claim a booth in the seat-yourself restaurant, which had not been cleaned up yet. The diners before us left the worst mess possible. I felt sad for the waitress as she came over looking frantic trying to make sure we had a clean place to eat. I could tell it had already been a rough breakfast shift for her and the others. It took a while to get drinks and much longer than that for food, but, I knew this was going to be the case. I didn’t mind. I took the opportunity to take a break from the cold rain, the hustle of homework and just enjoy the company I had.

At a table in front of me I witnessed a lady yell at a waitress because her food took too long. The waitress politely apologized and walked away. The lady continued to sit at the table looking angry. I turned to my own waitress, thanked her for her hard work to which she replied “thank you. It’s people like you that are understanding that make this bearable.”

Kindness.

Similar scenes like this continued to play out — I wondered what would happen if every table was a little more understanding. Or if the circumstances were reversed and they were the ones having to deal with people just like them.

Another scene played out at a table across from me where a customer was very loudly airing his political beliefs, making sure as many people heard him as possible, even looking around to see who might be paying attention. I won’t go into detail as I do not want to polarize my blog, but his words were very unkind, inhumane and insulting. And it made me so sad. I do not understand the need to spout hate, sending a series poisoned arrows out to see how many people you can hurt. What is the purpose of that? What kind of person do you have to be on the inside? I believe it must be a very dark head space in which to live in…But, that’s not really what I came to write about.

Moments like these remind of who I do NOT want to be — it reaffirms why I do what I do — by writing handwritten thank you notes, by leaving my gratitude cards in places like that busy restaurant and other random acts of kindness that I choose to do quietly without anyone knowing. People that I encountered and listened to today are my inspiration for spreading kindness.

I hope if you’re reading this you’ll consider performing a random act of kindness or simply saying thank you to your busy waitress or anyone else who is in the service industry. Reach out to someone who is hurting. Take chocolate to a coworker having a hard day. Send an email to a friend you haven’t heard from in a while. Or a host of other kind acts.

Friday, I wrote a thank-you note to a colleague who had sent popcorn to our office. She emailed me, thanked me and said the note wasn’t necessary. To which I replied “it was TOTALLY necessary.” What I didn’t include on this email is kindness, which took the form of that thank-you note in response to her popcorn she sent, is absolutely necessary in this world.  Kindness matters. It really matters.

600 days of gratitude

wpid-20150805_065052.jpgA couple of days ago I hit day 600 in my personal Facebook gratitude posts. SIX HUNDRED. Six hundred days of posting what I’m grateful for. Six hundred days. That’s a lot of days and it blows me away that I’ve kept it up this long. Call it dedicated, compulsive, whatever, but I’ve never been sorry I’ve kept it going this long.

The only break I’ve taken since I started these some 600 days ago is when I had surgery last month and once I was back online, I simply started where I left off.

Every 100 days or so, I try to explain how I got started and why I do this. I started this nearly two years ago as part of a 30-day Thanksgiving challenge. I had attempted it before but it never stuck — it never became a habit to me. A couple weeks into the challenge, my father was killed in a house fire. Those were dark days for our family and throughout the days of aftermath, I found things to be thankful for — even in the darkness.

December rolled around and I wasn’t ready to stop. So I kept going. Thirty days turned into 60. Sixty turned int0 100 and now I’m past 600. For me it’s a daily time to reflect on one thing I’m thankful for. Sure there are days I put more effort into it than others. And sure, some days I post just to get my daily thankful in. After 600 days, you’re going to have days where you do it just to get it done. But, it’s a part of my daily life now and I have no intention of stopping anytime soon.

Continuing these thankfuls have kept me centered on gratitude. You can find gratitude in the darkest of situations — and yes, sometimes you have to really flipping work for it. For me, gratitude doesn’t just happen. Just this morning I was driving to work with a lot on my mind and feeling very ungrateful and disgruntled. Between surgery recovery and some other challenges, I’ve been exhausted and overwhelmed, especially this week. These words from another blog came to mind: “Fulfillment and happiness in everyday life doesn’t just happen.  We have to work for it.  We have to make choices.  Part of that is choosing to be positive and not feed the fear and anger.”

Pretty much sums it up. Credit for blog above: I Got A Dumpster Family. I’ve been a reader of this blog for years. You should too, you won’t be sorry. You can find the complete post from her blog here.

A man and his dog

wpid-20150731_202640.jpgI haven’t been able to do nearly as much as I used to in these few weeks since surgery…major surgery will do that to you. But last night I was able to get out and see the world. I was thrilled to see a road we usually take was open after floods. Finally! They hadn’t done any work to it, but it was dry and passable.

An amazing, wonderful, post-flood world awaited. The views were stunning and the photos were incredible.

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This is algae under the trees.

The highlight of the evening was running into an equally-enthusiastic man on a fishing mission. We’d seen him before on these rides. He drives an old truck and always has his old black lab with him. While standing outside marveling at the incredible views that we haven’t been able to see for months, the man parked, let his dog out, caught a few minnows in hopes of a really big fish in return and then joined us further down the road.

wpid-20150731_203203.jpgIn listening to this man we learned he is a Vietnam veteran, with Agent Orange. He’s had a tough life dealing with broken relationships, nightmares from the war and fighting for his disability rights that took him over 40 years to obtain.

“I  just had two nightmares last night,” he said. “Man, I hope they don’t come true.”

We listened to his war stories, the government’s denial of his benefits and his stories of joy, hope and happiness. Last night it was just him and his dog. The previous night he had been fishing with family members and they had caught several fish — many were gar — which was much to his dismay. He loves to fish, hunt and enjoy his life. These are his stomping grounds too.

“If you know a woman who likes to fish, look me up,” were some of his parting words.

This man was a generous man, offering to let us fish with him, offering us beverages and plenty of stories. On that lone dirt road, we met a true gem — and I imagine a legend of sorts in the area. The next time I run into this man, I hope to do a photo shoot of sorts with him — a photo essay capturing the essence of his life, his struggles and his perseverance over it all. There’s a story in everyone, I promise. It’s just that some people are more open and willing to share than others.

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Baby armadillos were spotted!

wpid-20150731_200034.jpgIt’s those moments in life that makes the rest of the stresses melt away — in those moments listening to him tell stories about his life the rest of the world felt so far away. It was an important lesson — if we live in the moment — and allow that moment to consume us — the rest will fall away. Even if it’s just for a bit. Truthfully, the stresses of the world will be there waiting for us when we’re ready to return.

The evening was capped off with a stunning sunset over the marshes, many critters and a great feeling of joy.