In the midst of our grief after our only child passed away, a parent who had suffered the same terrible loss, came to our house. She didn't talk much -- she was basically sitting shiva with us -- a beautiful Jewish custom where the family of the deceased gathers in one home and receives visitors. When she talked, we could listen. She taught me the importance of just being there for someone with your presence, and without all the answers. It's amazing how much can be communicated without words. And how much is said by simply showing up.
Kindness makes the world go round. I am now on a plane somewhere above Russia after a wonderful journey to the USA. And during this journey I encountered so much kindness from different people. There is Elandra in New Orleans, who walked with my husband and me in an effort to find a museum that we couldn't find because we got the wrong address. And she remembered our faces from the previous day when we ordered something at the restaurant where she works. The warmth of the people of Louisiana will always stay with me. In Maine, the people at the local laundry helped us find our way around there because we were not quite familiar with the washing machines. And they talked with us and shared a bit of their life. And in New York we experienced the locals as very helpful: When we were on the wrong subway train, they directed us. We never experienced ... Read Full Story >>
In the country where I was born, eleven official languages are spoken. Yep, not kidding! (I can speak two fluently.) One of these languages, Zulu, has a splendid greeting: , which means literally: ‘I see you’. Isn’t this just a magnificent way of recognition? Not just the stereotyped forms of greeting, like ‘How are you’ (and not really waiting for or interested in the answer), ‘Hey’ or ‘Good Day’, but actually a powerful acknowledgement hidden in one word. And the Zulu response in this regard, is ‘Ngikhona’ – with the literal meaning of ‘I am here’. In this grateful response lies the awareness of: ‘Until you saw me, I didn’t exist. By recognizing me, you brought me into existence’. It made me think. When my daughter passed away nearly six years ago, I couldn’t stand it when people asked me afterwards how I am. I wanted to yell at them: ‘How can you ask ... Read Full Story >>
I read an interesting quote today: "You could spend your entire life chasing the horizon ... but you won't even scrape the surface of our universe.'' That made me think. Perhaps there are many times when we think we cannot make a difference in life, but for other people, we may be their universe.
Before I rushed off to office this morning, I picked a few tomatoes from my tiny garden (they grow in pots) for one of my colleagues. She lives in a flat and she was so grateful.
In reflecting on this gesture, I didn't really try to do a good deed. Rather, I simply intended to share the abundance that I have. And it didn't cost me anything. After a huge loss in my life, I discovered the importance of wounded healers. They came to me when I needed them, and it's now up to me to pass on the relay stick. It's amazing how much we can share when we begin to see the extraordinary in the ordinary, everyday aspects of life.
Today I was reminded again how kindness spreads her soft, lingering perfume across the globe. My husband and I are in Marseilles this week as part of our journey to Provence for my birthday. In this vibrant city which is a melting pot of hues, smells and sounds, I had a short and sweet encounter with one of the residents. At a marketplace in town, I saw an unfamiliar peach variety that is not available in my country. I decided to buy only one peach to find out what it tastes like. A Muslim woman, Feiza, who was also in the shop, then came forward and insisted on gifting me four of those strange, flat peaches! Feiza's unexpected kindness was a magical moment in our day. While police walk around in crowded tourist spots to protect people against possible harm, a local women shared her genuine kindness, almost on the spur of the ... Read Full Story >>
Today I bought two tiny dolls for two special little girls in my husband's family. The smiles on their faces were priceless. I realized again that a small gesture like this can make a huge difference.
May all of you have a kind, kind, kind 2016.
''Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'' I reflected on these touching words while reading a Huffington Post article about a luggage handler who manifested as one of the early heroes in the Brussels airport attack. In the aftermath of the abhorrent atrocities, this employee remained calm and helped people to safety. One person honored him as a true ''helper'' as described below by Fred Rogers. a.k.a. Mr. Rogers- "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world." In times like this, the true heroes emerge in the world. Sometimes unseen. Usually unnoticed. The ... Read Full Story >>
Last week, the same day when I received the devastating news about an old friend's death, I decided to make a difference in someone else's life.
I took a break at the office to go out and buy a bunch of flowers for a clerk at the bank. She walked an extra mile to help to solve a problem regarding our travel insurance documents that we should have received by that time -- and the problem wasn't even caused by her department.
Because of her competence and work ethic, we received our documents that same afternoon. So I guess she deserved every petal of that bunch of flowers. I also informed her line manager about her excellent service.
Although my heart still aches about my friend who passed away too soon, I realize I can still make a difference with the life I live.
I am currently visiting Greece (after almost 22 years since my first one-day visit) and I am really overwhelmed with the kindness of the people my husband and I encounter here. When we arrived on the charming island of Spétses, our host (a woman, who's husband works at sea) insisted on helping me to carry my suitcase for the last few steps to our room. When we left for Athens this morning, she helped me again with my luggage. And when we paid our bill, she also gave us a small token of appreciation: jams she made herself. I will always remember Vasiliki from Spétses and her kindness during these three days. I treasure all these pebbles of kindness on a foreign trip: people taking time to talk to you in a quaint little shop, answering our questions in their best Greek English possible; my husband buying me a delicate pendant (the Greek ... Read Full Story >>
This morning, while working on my manuscript, I suddenly got the urge to reach out to two people in the condominium where we live.
Recently I bought a huge glass bottle with delicious butter cookies, and I decided to fill two gift bags with some of these cookies -- and off I went.
Firstly, I gave one gift bag to the lady of the home owners' society who assists us with our water readings, and secondly I surprised the lady who recently moved in with another bag of cookies.
I realized again it's not necessary to give something huge -- but by giving small tokens of kindness, you give so much of yourself.
There is a guy selling newspapers on the corner of a street I pass every day on my way to work. He cannot earn a lot of money with this job, but he is always smiling and waving at me.
You all know that feeling, I suppose – some days are more grueling than others, and some days I wonder where my life is exactly going to – we are sometimes so struck in routine and what others expect from us.
Then I have to remind myself about this guy on the street corner. He has a zest for life, no matter what. The other day I surprised him with a few oranges and tangerines when the traffic light was red for me. And his honest gratitude just warmed my heart.