It was our turn to host the Christmas family dinner. It had been a few years since it had taken place at our house. Three deaths had occurred in the intervening years, family elders. And there was the considerable loss that went with that. One of them, the mother of my son-in-law, had died almost exactly a year earlier. She and her husband had hosted many family gatherings at their large home. The gatherings there would never be the same again without her. And so my wife and I both felt both the need and the strong wish to provide a warm setting for a healing gathering. Some years earlier a secret Santa strategy had been settled upon to help reduce the financial burden of gift exchange. The names of all would be written on separate slips and then drawn by family members. You would give a gift to the person ... Read Full Story >>
I am writing this story because it is not too late for me to talk to my parents. I realized this last night when visiting their house while they were away. I went to freshen it up for their return, and being at their house without them home made me sad. As I went into their bedroom, I saw little reminders of them -- some Christmas gifts still in boxes and family photos that must have a special meaning to them. What took my breath away was seeing my dad's tags from his military service to our country. My father never talked about the Korean War. As I looked at those tags hanging proudly with all the photos that he treasures, I realized that this was an important part of his life, and I never took the time to talk with him about it. The photos of my mom with friends made ... Read Full Story >>
I wanted to share a story from a time in my childhood when I was living with my step mother. She worked all day so I was responsible for doing the household chores and taking care of my younger half brother. During that time in our life, my dad was not present much, but I didn’t mind, my step mother took great care of my little brother and I in any way that she could. I loved her and always wished she could spend more time with us but she worked Monday through Saturday between the hours of 8:00 am and 10:00 pm. At that time my little brother was about 4 years old and he missed her so much all the time. He would always wait up for her but would fall asleep many times before she returned and when she left for work he would be asleep. One day, ... Read Full Story >>
My brother and I were shopping at a department store one day. My mother had taken him home separately and had returned to get me. As we were walking towards the car, I saw a homeless man sitting outside the department store we were shopping at.
I told my mom to hold on a minute. I walked towards the man, and handed him a twenty dollar bill. I usually wouldn't do this, but I knew that I had to this time. When I handed it to him, a tear ran down his eyes, as he said "God bless you".
When I returned to the car my mom told me she was so proud. I asked her why and said that I felt that when people need help, and we have the urge to help, we need to just help them. She then told me that my brother, who she had taken home earlier, did the exact same thing.
Perhaps forty years ago Sadie left her drunk and violent husband. Needing shelter for herself and her young son she took a job as a warden in a housing project for elderly people. It meant she could live "on site" in one of the flats. Eventually, she got to know the residents. One resident, Archie, didn't have a family of his own but his nephew's wife and her kids would pop in from time to time. The nephew's wife was there to help the old guy but the kids were probably more of a nuisance than anything else. Still, they would visit and Archie would give them a few pennies for sweets whenever he could. Sadie helped care for Archie as he battled illness and it was she who called the doctor who diagnosed his terminal cancer. She remembers him fondly as a sweet old man. Time passed. Sadie's son grew up, got ... Read Full Story >>
We had our first child in January and were so overwhelmed by all the love and kind wishes that people from around the world shared with us and our little one. She was showered with blessings, flowers and gifts from near and far and in some cases from people we didn't even know personally! :) My husband's business friend had a shirt made with her name on it for the football team he supports, another lady in Ireland (who we have never even met!) had candles made with her name on them, another friend in India had dresses made for her, our aunt knitted lovely hats and sweaters for her, friends bought her loads and loads of adorable clothes, another friend from New York had a blanket made with her name on it, another friend sent us cupcakes from a famous bakery that spelled out "Welcome Sareena," another friend gifted her ... Read Full Story >>
18 years ago I discovered I was unexpectedly pregnant, I was on my own and in an extremely limited financial situation. I worked at a pet shop, a job I loved, but cleaning cages with unrelenting nausea was pretty awful to deal with. Having little money, and unable to keep anything down, I started losing weight instead of gaining it. There was a neighbor woman I had visited with a couple of times, and to my surprise, she started working at the pet shop too. Everyday, for lunch, she would produce large, organic salads and other very healthy meals. To my surprise she insisted that I have some of her lunch. I tried to refuse, but she was determined. Puzzled, I managed to eat, and when I admitted to everyone at work that I was pregnant, she was very excited, and kept on feeding me, despite the fact that I couldn't hold it ... Read Full Story >>
My now 7 year old grandson, who lives 100 miles away, has had my mobile phone number memorized since he was 4. Since then, he has called me every night before he goes to bed to tell me about his day or just to say "Good Night Gramma". He also frequently calls me at other times during the day just to share a happy or sad moment. Many times he's dribbling a basketball with one hand, or laughing with a friend about something that I never quite catch on about, or crying about something he may or may not want to talk about while I'm on the other end of the phone. I just listen and empathize or laugh with him - just share his current emotion. I always let him be in charge of the subject, the emotion, and the amount of time he's on the phone with me. Many ... Read Full Story >>
Several years ago my young daughter and I moved into the upstairs apartment where we now live. While my loving, wonderful friends helped me move in, the downstairs neighbors began to complain about the noise. That did not bode well for living above them. After all, how can anyone move in quietly? As I suspected, the complaints continued on a daily basis -- well after that initial day. We walked "too loudly" down the stairs, we flushed the toilet too much ... Their child had problems with my child and they complained to me as well. I soon learned that they had driven out the last few families who had lived above them and that each situation had erupted into feuds and yelling. So, I had the information I needed and I tried to think of the situation from a spiritual point of view. I realized that I could fight with my ... Read Full Story >>
Last week as I pulled into the parking lot with my son for his baseball game, I saw a woman trying to change her flat tire. I told my son I would get him over to his practice field and then I was going back to help the woman change her tire. When I got back to the parking lot, nobody had stopped to help her. I went over and offered. She tried to be nice and said that she was fine, but I could see otherwise so I insisted. Besides, my mother as she watches me from above would have cut a deal to send a pigeon to deliver a “special present” for me if her son had walked by and done nothing. Another woman parked nearby and said she had some wipes in the car, as I was getting dirty from the tire. She waited for us to finish ... Read Full Story >>
I was twenty-four years old and three months pregnant when my husband died. I was a widow and an expectant mother in the same day. We had bought a new home and I had filled our two bedroom apartment with nursery items in anticipation of moving in. Now the house would be taken away. I knew I would have to go back to my parents' home, at least until I delivered the baby. And the shock of my husband's sudden death had made losing the baby a very real possibility. I moved back into my old bedroom. My twin bed, a crib and a dresser was all that could fit in the 8 x 10 foot bedroom. The rest of our furniture had to go into storage. I was able to pay for three months worth of storage and then I would have to sell all the new furniture we had bought for ... Read Full Story >>
I consider myself one of the luckiest people I know. I lost my biological mother when I was nine years old and when she was alive she was not much of a mother to me. I met my step-mom for the first time when I moved to America to be reunited with my father. From the beginning she made sure to let me know that I was safe and welcome. I remember when I first saw her at the airport. It was different but not uncomfortable. Over the past several years there is nothing I needed that she did not provide. I am the young woman I am today because she made sure to raise me properly. Yesterday I went to see her for Mother’s Day. When I gave her my gifts she held my face in both of her hands and kissed me straight on the mouth - even though I had the ... Read Full Story >>
I work as a volunteer for a hospice agency. One of my longer-term patients has been slowly deterioriating in health and mental functions. He slept a lot during his last few weeks.
I would sit by his side while he slept, which was very ackward for me because I felt that I should be doing something actively to help this man. At times, I felt like sneaking away and letting him sleep, but I stayed.
During one of my visits he had been dozing off during our conversation and then finally went to sleep. I was just about ready to go and he woke, looking into my eyes with one of the biggest smiles I had ever seen from him. He said, "I really like it when you are here, it's so peaceful."
I have found, during my years of hospice volunteering, that just being there makes a world of difference for lonely people. We don't have to talk, we don't have to do something, we just have to be there for each other.
I have never lived in the same province as my only niece but she and I have a special bond. Since she was two years old I have written her a letter every week! We refer to them as my Thursday letters because my day off used to be Thursday and the first thing I would do would be to write to Brooke. She is ten now and quite grown up, but I continue to cherish the times when I write to her. I have only missed six Thursdays in eight years; because of a mail strike and a hospital stay. When Brooke was four she was talking with my mom. "Auntie Steph writes me a letter every week," she said "That's a lot of letters," my mom replied. "What does she write about?" "Well ..." Brooke thought about it. "She tells me that she loves me! Sometimes she says it long and sometimes ... Read Full Story >>
For the last two and a half years I have been giving out Smile Cards whenever I find an opportunity. I am sad to admit that my family and I are homeless, we live in a trailer which we were so kindly given by a family member. During this period, I have given out over 200 Smile Cards. I have always tried to find something kind to do, even when my husband lost his job and we were fighting to get by. I have started giving out coupons for free food, plus money for people to get at least one meal, on me. I always put my coupon, gift and Smile Card in a envelope that says "For whoever finds this". Once I left an envelope on someone's work truck and got back into our trailer. I just happened to look out at the bus later and I saw the guy open my envelope and find the gift. He read the card and then he looked ... Read Full Story >>
This year, instead of birthday presents, dinners, etc, my husband and I decided to pool our resources and request acts of kindness, compassion and generosity be done on our behalf.
My favorite so far involves my girlfriend's 12 year old daughter who got so inspired that she's currently brainstorming things she can do to be kind and generous.
I just lost my stepson last week. He was 37. I had been with him for 9 years and two years ago, when his father died, I became his guardian. Rodney had down syndrome and was delightful. Today is his memorial service and we plan to have some readings along this very theme. It reminds me of how lucky we were that Rodney taught us this in person. I wrote a poem for him, that I'll read at the service and then we're going to listen to the Beach Boys and have root beer floats (two of his favorite things). Thank you for this. Ten Things to Live By As Taught by Rodney Throw back your head and enjoy life Laugh until the tears come Dance while the music is playing Give hugs to anyone who needs one Taste everything good Cuddle the animals Never pass up an opportunity for a friend Smile really big Remember to say you're sorry AND ... Read Full Story >>
One of my favorite things in life is my monthly date night with my daughter. We try to include some kind of Smile Card activity whenever we can. This time was no exception! It was 119 degrees today where we live so we thought we would make our kindness act something cool. After eating we went to an ice cream shop. As we paid for our ice cream we told the woman behind the counter that we were doing a random act of kindness and we would like to buy ice cream for the next person who came to the counter. We handed her the Smile Card to give them and told her how we would like to remain anonymous. She read it and told us she thought what we were doing was awesome. She said she would do it and we sat down at the table near the counter. My daughter wanted ... Read Full Story >>
My mom only had one eye. I hated her... she was such an embarrassment. My mom ran a small shop at a flea market. She collected little weeds and such to sell... anything for the money we needed she was such an embarrassment. There was this one day during elementary school. I remember that it was field day, and my mom came. I was so embarrassed. How could she do this to me? I threw her a hateful look and ran out. The next day at school..."Your mom only has one eye?!" and they taunted me. I wished that my mom would just disappear from this world so I said to my mom, "Mom, why don't you have the other eye?! You're only going to make me a laughingstock. Why don't you just die?" My mom did not respond. I guess I felt a little bad, but at the same time, it ... Read Full Story >>
Today was a harvesting day as coolness is in the air and the garden and wood needed to be tended. So as a family we worked together, my son and his wifely one, myself and my husband.
We laid the garden to rest, thanking the soil, the sun, the rain, the seeds for growing into these amazing plants. We cut and split wood and filled our wood shed full - all working together and it felt so good.
Now we have tomatoes to ripen and can, apples and plums to process, and in the end we will give some away to people who will appreciate a fresh jar of jam or some fruit leather or....
This is one of my favorite kindnesses - to work together with my family - being warm, kind, and helpful.
I could not make it home for my Father's 80th birthday, because of some health challenges I'm having. Instead, I completed, using a template on Word, and highlighters, a "fun"ky art project, listing 80 things I appreciated and loved about my father.
We were never really close...and this act was healing for both of us. Miraculously, it has shifted how we see each other and our relationship.
I opened up a series of e-mails this morning telling me that I had been tagged in a photo on Facebook by my brother, there were numerous comments. When I opened up the photo, it was breathtaking. The caption read: "Trailer Park Tuesdays" and the photo was a snapshot of my mom and dad sitting on lawn chairs, each holding a boy on their laps, one is me circa 4 years old, the other my brother, 1 or 2. We're captured au naturale in front of our mobile home. My father, in cut-off shorts and a t-shirt, holds a cigarette in one hand as I lay sprawling, my face so dirty it looks like I'd been in a rumble. My mom and brother are much more presentable, but in the backdrop you can clearly make out an old oil barrel that had haphazardly been converted into a BBQ pit. I couldn't stop ... Read Full Story >>
You know what? I think that working on gratitude and my spiritual practice is TRULY helping me to be more patient, to smile, and to appreciate those who support me. Here's my example: My wife was upset with me this morning and I was already sped up and trying to get to work. I managed to acknowledge that she had good reason to be upset, and rather than pout like I sometimes do, I smiled and thought "this is an opportunity to be patient and enjoy my morning with her anyway." Although, I didn't want to get groceries, I decided we should go together and make the best of it. When I got to the store 2 separate employees were cheerful and friendly to me. I gave them my full attention and smiled back, even though I was having a challenging morning and needed to get to work. I'm grateful that I took ... Read Full Story >>
Two weeks before my wife's birthday, I contacted some of her friends from university and requested that they send a video wishing her a "Happy Birthday". I asked them to recount any pleasant memories they had from their university days. I received seven videos from friends she had not been in touch with for eight years! Many of them described fun memories from college and talked about how they miss those times. When I showed the videos to my wife on her birthday, she could not stop smiling. She was very happy and I saw tears of happiness in her eyes. A simple gesture made her birthday special by connecting her to old friends.
I am taking a piece of my husband's birthday cake to my dad. My father, known for his sweet tooth, always has dessert. I remember when he would take all his grandchildren out for breakfast and order them each a piece of their favorite pie for their breakfast dessert! I don't think our daughter ever quite understood why we didn't do that at home. :)