Life Lesson In Kindness

Life lessons abound these days. I suppose it’s because I’m listening. I feel the winds of change blowing and it has made me slow down and take stock of not just what’s going on inside of me but those around me as well. It’s fascinating when we open ourselves up, even a smidgen, to hear what the Universe wants us to hear. The tools we need right now to grow and learn the lessons we are supposed to learn. Some days those lessons are like a slap and are uncomfortable, but necessary. Other days, it is as though the sun breaks through the clouds and I feel the warmth of  love radiate.

 

Today brought an interesting encounter which has made me ponder the presence of life lessons. Let me take you back to a few days before Christmas to set the scene. I had been out with some friends and we were all headed back to our cars when one of my friends and I noticed that we each had a parking ticket. I felt rather perturbed at this fact since I was less than ten minutes from my allotted time running out. At almost the exact moment I noticed the ticket on my windshield, a homeless man approached me and asked me for a twoonie (that’s a two dollar Canadian coin, just in case you weren’t sure). I was so caught up in my own thoughts I instantly apologized that I didn’t have any change (which I honestly didn’t) and moaned about having just gotten a ticket. The man apologized to me…for my having a ticket. I felt like a self-absorbed, entitled brat for having said what I did. This man’s kindness made me stop and think about my flippant thought process. Lesson learned, or so I thought.

 

I don’t go downtown often, but when I do parking is scarce and I always remember that less than stellar parking ticket incident. Today I was running downtown to pick up lunch for a friend that is temporarily housebound and myself. I scored a great parking spot right by the location I was headed to and there was even time still left on the meter! My footsteps were light…I counted myself lucky. As I was walking away from my car, a man approached me and asked me for a twoonie. Normally, I am ashamed to admit, I feel a bit apprehensive about handing people money. I’d much prefer to supply them with a cup of coffee or something to eat if I have the opportunity and means to do so. However, my hand instinctively slid into my pocket and pulled out a two dollar coin and handed it to the man. As I set it in his palm I looked him directly in the eye as he thanked me and said “Bless you.” To my surprise, this was the same man who I had moaned about my parking ticket to before Christmas. It was an instant realization that I was given another opportunity to learn my lesson. To think first and foremost with kindness, to send out the consideration of another person’s needs in the moment, to not judge based on a preconceived idea. Sure, this man could be a millionaire that poses as someone in need. He may have a substance abuse problem. He could be whatever nonsense we tell ourselves to validate our fears of avoiding  lending a kindness to a stranger. I’d like to think that he is first and foremost a man who needs a bit of human kindness and a couple of dollars.

 

 

be kind

Advertisements

Summer of Revelations

I have learned a lot this summer. About myself and life in general. I’d say that I am sad that summer is coming to a close but that would be a lie. I am elated at the prospect of change. Change of the season to Autumn, change of daily routine, and change in temperature. I respond well to change, I think. It keeps me on my toes and makes everything  fresh!

 

 

I never thought of myself as a Being of Summer. Boy, how things have changed. The heat and humidity are not high on the fun-factor scale for me but I can deal with it which I never used to be able to. This summer I have developed the look I always sought when younger but could never accomplish; hair bleached by the sun, tanned limbs and absorbing vitamin D in the form of sunshine like nobody’s business! This really hit home when my Grannie said to me a week or so ago, “You are definitely an outdoor girl.”  I used to be the girl who hid from the sun to keep my  pale skin from freckling and turning the shade of a cooked lobster. Now I work in the sunshine daily and am trying to be smart about precautions while maintaining reality. I certainly don’t spend my days off laying in the sun!

 

 

“I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things…

I play with leaves.

I skip down the street

and run against the wind.”

– Leo Buscaglia

Yesterday, I realized something quite extraordinary – I am only twelve pounds away from the weight I was throughout high school! Mind you, after having two children, the joy of passing time, and working a very physically-demanding job my body shape has changed significantly (for the better, I think). So, I plan on saying goodbye to those clinging twelve pounds before the end of this work season and accomplishing a task I had never thought was all that important until now since I am so very close to accomplishing it. Weight in terms of the scale is not all that important to me but how my body responds to exertion through work and play is paramount. I have become strong and more defined muscle-wise over the past two work seasons and am liking how I feel! I intend to keep getting better in terms of health and strength. My lazy and uninspired days are behind me.

The other day something occurred to me when I was listening to an acquaintance talking. This individual had mentioned how difficult and time-consuming it was to be environmentally friendly. WHAT? This came as a shock to me as it was in that moment I suddenly realized that I basically run on autopilot when it comes to issues of environmental responsibility. Sure, I’m not perfect and I sometimes make poor decisions but overall I feel responsible for my actions and have integrated this thinking into the every day so it is the norm in my world. It seems so archaic and offensive not to care about the planet we all share and its inhabitants. I seriously don’t understand the unconcerned mindset.

 

 

One of the biggest revelations this summer has been that sometimes, there is no going back home. Recently I went back to my hometown to visit family and friends. I quickly realized that this may be their home but it is no longer mine; I am merely a visitor. At first this thought made me uncomfortable so I dug a bit deeper to understand the reason for my discomfort. I think part of the parcel is that my parents are aging (as we all are) and I have moved in a different direction as offspring are supposed to do. When I first moved away from home at the age of 19 to St. Catharines, I knew no one here. It was not only an adventure but it was sometimes lonely and scary until I made friends and connected with others. Luckily, this was only a matter of days that I wound up in the company of good people. This city has become my home over the years and has replaced my hometown as the place I identify with. I no longer consider myself a Peterborough girl  and this puts a bit of a lump in my throat. Honestly though, the Niagara Region has opened its arms wide with welcome and I am now enfolded in its embrace. I love living here!

 

 

This summer has also shown me more of the incredible natural beauty that surrounds us here in the Niagara Region. We have such a diverse landscape that is teaming with incredible natural wonders. The Niagara Region is tucked between two of the Great Lakes – Lake Ontario (I live on the south shore) and Lake Erie. There are over 200 walking, hiking and cycling trails to be enjoyed and shared with incredible flora and fauna at every step. The Region has created many naturalized sites to encourage wildlife to do its thing and give a safe haven for many species. One of my favorite hikes/walks is up the escarpment by Niagara College. It has a feeling of such intense history to be with these particular trees and rocks and gives an all-encompassing feeling of being a part of Nature not just an outsider looking in. These photos were taken in the late Fall a couple years ago but the escarpment is beautiful in every season.

 

 

 

One of my favorite walking trails on the Niagara Escarpment

One of my favorite walking trails on the Niagara Escarpment

Ericsson 2012 343

 

 

 

Within a short walking distance from my home is the Welland Canal. Even though I’ve lived in St. Catharines half of my life I still find the Canal interesting. It is fascinating that these huge freighters and  sea-going ships make their way through a system of locks up the Niagara Escarpment. For a brief description of the Welland Canal see this link. When my kids were itty-bitty, they used to love to go sit at the locks with me and watch as the ships went through. They were thrilled to bits when the workers on the massive ships would wave to them. Recently I have visited the Canal again a few times and realized that it doesn’t matter how old or young you are or where you come from the Welland Canal is an incredible feat of engineering.

 

 

I’m sure I need not dwell on the prominence of wineries in this region but seriously, they are worth a visit and the trip along the wine route. Wineries play a huge supporting role in the area’s mindset and activities. Good food and great wine are the specialties of an area filled with orchards, farms and vineyards. It’s easy to eat well here.

 

 

Another huge revelation for me and I think the most important of all – I need to live the life I envision for myself. We all have dreams, desires and are called deep from within our Soul to certain places, people and actions. Respecting someone else’s dream is essential to living our own.

 

 

Learning to love the Life we have and moving forward instead of stagnating or going backward is on my mind. I see movement in my future…I strive for joy each and every day through learning new Truths…to treat myself and others with kindness…to appreciate all that is on offer.

 

 

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open

where there were only walls.”

– Joseph Campbell

 

 

 

In The Moment

A few days ago, I heard a woman say something so simple yet so profound. She said, ” This makes me happy.” It struck me instantly how amazing these few words strung together really are. I found myself smiling at the knowledge this woman shared outwardly. So often we deny ourselves the emotion of just being happy. To realize in the exact moment of happiness what it is that makes us feel this way is truly wonderful. The comment led to a lovely conversation with my boss (and friend) as to how this comment made us feel upon hearing the woman say such a sentence. We both had a similar reaction of joy. A heartfelt outpouring of words that made us relish the moment and reflect. To be so in touch with a moment in time and our own reaction to it is in its essence very grounding.

 

 

 

Last weekend my sister and I hit some garden centres where we came across this gigantic flower-pot. If it helps to set the scene, I’m 5’9″ so this is a pretty tall vessel for plant material! I have a similar one that is a smidgen smaller but this one was seriously big enough to immerse myself in should I so choose. If I didn’t think my sister would have been embarrassed I probably would have climbed in to test my theory. Happiness is those small blips that make your Soul feel uplifted, whatever the cause. This moment was a blip in my day…although just being with my sister makes me incredibly happy in itself.

 

 

 

 

Although I am acting like a dork, I'm happy!

Although I am acting like a dork, I’m happy!

What makes you happy? Is there a moment you remember thinking “this makes me happy”?

“True happiness is…to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future.”  – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Compassion in the Face of Tragedy

I don’t normally blog about current events but yesterday’s Boston Marathon bomb fiasco has touched my psyche to the point where I feel the need to write down my thoughts. I was at work, nearing the end of my day when a co-worker mentioned what she had heard on the news in her truck. When she first said that there were two bombs that had exploded my first reaction was disbelief. I thought perhaps I had misunderstood. Then the bits and pieces that were known thus far were reported and my body went cold. You know that wash of cold that starts at the top of your head and rushes down every inch of your body? I felt numb. I needed more information so I could process what I was hearing while at the same time I didn’t want to hear more.

 

 

As I drove home after work yesterday, radio stations were awash with reports on what had taken place, the increasing tally of injured persons, and speculation as to who could be responsible. At this point, I am overcome with compassion for those that were affected by this horrid act. Those whose lives have been changed forever. My heart has been saddened by such a senseless attack on humanity. I would like to extend my condolences to loved ones of the victims as well as my wishes for a timely recovery for those that were wounded. My thoughts are with all of you that were in attendance as well. How could anyone want to injure others and families out for a day of cheering each other on while accomplishing great personal goals? My thoughts keep coming back to the question “what is wrong with people?” Seriously. Why are acts upon unthreatening and peaceful people committed? Although simplistic in essence, why can’t everyone just get along?

 

 

 

 

This got me thinking. Perhaps a simple state of mind is where we need to return to process this information. Back to the basics of human compassion. Let’s just all get along.

 

 

 Society seems to have this crazed need for retaliation at whatever cost. I’m sure that the media will be pointing their contorted fingers soon enough and getting everyone all riled up. Look at the greatest atrocities throughout history and it usually stems back to a dislike toward differing opinions such as religion, race, or gender. These acts in turn create a wave of persecution and hatred thrown in sweeping generalizations about certain communities. . If we just got down to the nitty-gritty we would understand that we are all human. We all feel emotions. We all need food and  water. We all want to be treated with kindness and compassion. What does it really matter where we live, what we look like, or how much money we have? It really doesn’t. There will always be a few bad apples on the tree of life but that doesn’t mean the tree should be chopped down. The goodness that is on the tree still exists whether the bad apples are there or not. Don’t ignore the amazing apples in light of the few spoiled ones. When we work together great things can evolve. Hopefully in light of the events that took place yesterday at the Boston Marathon we can try to keep from playing the blame game until the bad apple(s) fall from the tree. The person(s) that chose to plant these bombs acted out individually. They made that decision. At any point in time they could have had second thoughts and stopped themselves, but they didn’t. May I present to you the bad apple(s).  There are far too many horrific events taking place that we are needing to process. We are all in some way trying to take it all in. Blaming others doesn’t make the atrocity go away, it only makes us bitter. Use your energy to show compassion to others whether it be to those in attendance during  the events of yesterday or someone you know that just needs their spirits lifted. We can allow tragic events to dominate our thoughts or we can choose to spread kindness and confidence  in  humanity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” – Dalai Lama