It is incredible to me how much generosity and love really do exist in the world, often for perfect strangers, many times for the people we love, and if we are lucky...for ourselves.
This thought was sparked by a blanket my sister gave me at the awesome-beyond-words baby shower she threw for me this weekend. She had worked on all the details of this celebration from thousands of miles away with my mom & a dear friend here on the ground that I linked her up with. They had not met before my short email introduction, so a friend to me, but a stranger to my sister. Yet by the end of it, my sister was blown away with how many brilliant ideas my friend gave her & the level of support she provided when my sister wanted to bounce crazy ideas around. All the while, I lifted not one finger in the preparation for this gathering. In fact, someone asked me what time it started & I actually didn’t know. Not because of pregnancy brain...but because every detail was THAT handled by these 3 amazing women. Literally all I had to do was show up (once I figured out what time it started).
And speaking of showing up, I was beyond delighted that 6 very special out of town guests made the effort to be at my shower in person. My hometown bestie since forever, along with her mom & sister (aka-my 2nd family, whom I love as much as my own) and 3 of my military girlfriends (affectionately known as the “Helo Hotties” since we all flew helicopters together in the army) who have always had my back, particularly in some of my toughest times.
And then there were all the local friends who came to wish me & the baby well, each bearing amazing gifts & beautiful, supportive words for me as I plunge into this whole motherhood thing for the first time. I know about these supportive words because I alternately boo-hoo sobbed & belly laughed my way through them during a gorgeous Navajo rite-of-passage ceremony my sister led us through that resulted in a bracelet imbued with the love, support, advice, & kind words each woman offered as she picked a bead for this special keepsake.
Let’s not forget those who couldn’t come, whether due to schedule conflicts or last minute viruses they were NOT passing on to a pregnant mama. Many of these women also sent well wishes, gifts delivered by mail, & even one “doorbell ditch drop off” that made me smile from ear to ear (and still ensured I stay safe safely away from germs!).
One of the benefits to being a late bloomer, I suppose. If it takes a village, I sure to have a good one!
Any how...back to the blanket.
As if the shower itself & flying all the way across country to throw it wasn’t enough, my sister also got me an insanely thoughtful gift. Not one, but TWO handmade blankets modeled after my own childhood blanket (lovingly referred to as “Sattie-poo” because of his soft satin edges). Why two? One for the baby...and one for ME!!!
I am not embarrassed to admit I went to bed snuggling my new blanket that night, gently running its soft satin edges through my fingers (the quality of the satin edge far surpassed the so-so satin on the current blanket we have on our bed...she really nailed it with this gift).
As I laid there enjoying this little square of satin-edged fuzz, it occurred to me that my sister’s neighbor who made these blankets had never met me. I don’t even think she charged my sister to make these two precious little mementos. She had the sewing skill, my sister had a need, it was for a baby (well two, really...one yet to be born & one that’s 42 years old)...and so she just did it.
Perhaps the joy we get for doing kind things is reward enough sometimes. Maybe in the sharing of ourselves, our time, & our talents, we actually receive more than we give away. Or maybe everyone who wants to give or do something kind has at one time felt like I do today. So full with gratitude and wonder for the ridiculously amazing blessing that is life, that NOT being kind is no longer an option.
Even (or perhaps especially) on our worst days, we all benefit from kindness. It’s a salve for what ails us, a balm for our weary souls.
Now...if we can just remember that on our good days, perhaps WE can be to others what my sister’s blanket-making-neighbor has been to me.
So today I challenge you to take a few extra minutes or to extend some much needed grace to the cranky store clerk, who perhaps has a dying mother but can’t skip work if she wants to keep ends meeting.
Or the angry guy in traffic who cuts you off...because he’s racing home to his family before he completely loses it after being unexpectedly laid off.
What if...just WHAT IF...this moment is the chance for that person to experience a small dose of that amazing feeling by how you treat them RIGHT NOW?
Will it be easy? Perhaps not. But neither are the workouts my trainer has been putting me through lately with 33-weeks of baby jutting out in front of me. Yet I still do them. Why? Because I always feel better after I do. And each time I complete a workout...I feel a little stronger & more confident about the next one.
Being kind to those who need it most (including yourself, by the way...often the person last on your list of who to be kind to), without judging whether they/we “should” need it or not, is just another muscle.
You can build your kindness muscle big & strong...or simply let it atrophy.
I for one choose strength. Even if I never become a kindness power lifter (think Mother Teresa or Ghandi), I...and the world...become better with each repetition.
And what greater kindness can I show myself than to be a little bit better today than I was yesterday?!
Now if you’ll excuse me, there is a modern day Sattie-poo calling my name for a nap & a good snuggle.
This post brought to you by the Leslie Riley (formerly known as Leslie Stein) & the "Helo Hotties." Nothing beats a village full of badass women!