It’s been a hard couple of weeks, y’all. We’re all tired and I’d like to help ease the weariness today with a thing of beauty.
Just take a deep breath. Rest your eyes on a beautiful scene and imagine yourself there just simply resting and at peace.
Think about kindness, caring, gentleness, compassion.
Unplugged, no phones, no internet, no social media, no anger or harsh words.
We’re all stressed to the max and if we just take a moment to meditate – or pray – whatever you choose, we can find joy and beauty in life.
Whether you believe it or not, we’re all connected.
I’ve had the word blessing on my mind a lot lately. I’m blessed to have each one of you in my community. You uplift me, you honor me with your kind words and your business. I’m so very grateful for you.
Today, in honor of my Irish heritage, I’d like to offer you the traditional Irish Blessing:
May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm on your face, The rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
May God be with you and bless you, May you see your children’s children. May you be poor misfortune, Rich in blessings, May you know nothing but happiness From this day forward.
May the road rise to meet you May the wind always be at your back, May the warm rays of sun fall upon your home, And may the hand of a friend always be near.
As always, thank you for sharing your inbox with me. Thank you for taking the time to open the emails that I send. Thank you for coming to the fairs, festivals and markets and hugging my neck and telling me that I’ve made a difference in your life.
People are what you make them. A scornful look turns into a complete fool a man of average intelligence. A contemptuous indifference turns into an enemy a woman who, well treated, might have been an angel. Andre Maurois
When’s the last time you thought about an angel in disguise? I am a fan of motivational quotes. They always seem to trip a trigger in my brain. Lately, I’ve worked to keep my eyes open to all the “serendipities” of life and when thinking about this week’s entry, the above quote jumped out on my screen.
And it got me to thinking…
People walk around hoping to present to the world how they see themselves, but often we see them through the lens of our life experiences and judgments. I believe we make those harsh judgments of others based on our own personal notion of “normal.”
Normal? Relative to what? What is normal anyway?
Maybe what I see as “normal” is ridiculously boring and absolutely out of the question for you. Maybe I’m the really weird one in the world and everyone else is sane. Maybe your coworker or best friend is fighting a demon or struggling with a problem and it comes across to you as a snarky comment or contemptuous indifference.
It’s the contemptuous indifference that just absolutely makes me crazy. All of this to say: Kindness.
We all have problems and we want them solved. We go looking for answers and – OMG – what if YOU are the answer to someone’s problem that day? What if just by showing up and being kind, you made them feel less alone and more “normal?”
Because of kindness, what if you give somebody a big smile in spite of the bitchy comment they just threw out? You become the angel in disguise because instead of biting back, you empathized with someone who might look and act completely different than you. You cleaned up someone else’s screw-up without telling the whole world and they know there really is good in the world.
Years ago, I lived in this tiny rent house in a cul de sac just off a very busy highway. One summer day, I was home alone as my son was playing at his friend’s house. Since I didn’t have air conditioning, the windows and doors were wide open.
I can’t remember what I was doing – just putzing around the house on a Saturday afternoon. An older man – who had seen much better days – knocked on my screen door and asked for a glass of water. I brought a glass of water to the door and he sucked it down and asked for another. I brought another glass of water and he quickly drank that, too. He asked for a third and so I went to the kitchen and poured the water, but when I got back to the front door, he was gone.
He disappeared into thin air.
I have no idea what happened to him. He was old and dirty and I didn’t have a clue who he was or where he came from. No one in the other neighborhood houses even saw him.
Was he an angel in disguise waiting to see what I would do? I don’t know. When I told my mother about the experience, she freaked out and started screaming that I could have been killed and what was I thinking and how could I have been so stupid?
All I did was give a glass of water to a thirsty man. I didn’t feel stupid and I didn’t feel threatened at the time that this event took place. Someone was thirsty so I solved a problem (albeit for the short term) and helped another human being.
I simply treated him with kindness instead of cold indifference or even worse — apathy. I don’t know if I really have a guardian angel but, in that instance, some force was watching over me very closely. Call it what you want – guardian angels or serendipity – it all comes down to the same thing – angels in disguise.
My Own Angel In Disguise
One time I dropped a box of business cards all over a downtown street corner. I was late, frustrated and near tears picking up a thousand business cards when a kind soul said “May I help you?” In my frustration I simply said a terse “no thank you” and kept picking up the cards. She said “are you sure?” and I uttered no thanks – then I looked up.
Here was a young woman with studs coming out of her nose, lips, eyebrows, tongue – you name it! She wore odd clothes and had really different hair – I will never forget her.
I wished now I would have said “yes, thank you so much for your help.” But I didn’t – I simply gave her a terse “no thank you.”
I still feel ashamed when I think back on that incident – what if she were struggling that day and by extending a hand of kindness to a stranger, she was trying to reach out as all “normal” human beings do?
Instead of letting her help me, my angel in disguise was promptly rebuffed. I was so uncomfortable allowing (and receiving) help that I couldn’t even say yes, thank you.
Jeez – what an impression I left that day. At best, I was rude and at worst, I was insensitive to another human being who was simply being kind. Boy, do my wings ever need adjusting…
You never know what serendipity will bring when you least expect it so I’m keeping my eyes open for an angel in disguise. What about you? I would love to hear about your angel in disguise. Were you the angel? Or were you on the receiving end of an angel in disguise? Please leave a comment below and tell me your story – I’d love to know about your lovely coincidences.
As always, I would certainly appreciate a like on Facebook or a tweet on Twitter. It helps the Google fairies find Scented Balance and makes you an angel in disguise! ;o)
I was cleaning out more boxes (!) last week and came across the book “Highlighted in Yellow A Short Course In Living Wisely and Choosing Well“. It’s a sweet book with lots of quotes on kindness, generosity, simple pleasures and making the right choices in life. We could all use a refresher course on any of these subjects. The title is perfect because what needs our attention is usually highlighted in yellow.
Immediately, I stopped cleaning, sat down (I needed a rest anyway) and began thumbing through this little gem.
Highlighted in Yellow was written in 2001 with lots of quotes and stories to help you make good life choices based on decent human qualities. And sometimes, a book just falls off the shelf and lands at your feet which is a sign that I need to read that book.
Quotes just began jumping out at me and filled my heart with gratitude and hope. This time of the year is tough for many of us because of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and Highlighted in Yellow kept me company at just the right time. I hope it’s exactly the right time to share with you, too.
Kindness- or the lack thereof – has been on my heart a lot lately. If you watch television (especially the cable news) or hang out on social media, you know the world has gotten to be a tough place to stomach sometimes. There’s so much hatred and vitriol and nastiness – just because we can – and it hurts my heart.
Some years ago, I took a leap of faith and created a gratitude journal with quotes from all kinds of people to inspire and uplift each day. One of my favorite quotes that I found comes from Ralph Waldo Emerson and I used it as the introduction to the journal:
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.”
To me, this is the perfect definition of kindness. We can all aspire to greatness through a random act of kindness.
Henry James said it best when he commented:
“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.”
“I expect to pass through this world but once. Therefore, if there be any good that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again.” – William Penn
Many people believe that generosity has only to do with money. That’s not necessarily the case. You can be generous with your time, you can be generous with a sincere compliment and you can always be generous with your smile.
Not everyone has a lot of disposable income to show their generosity and I understand this all too well. Where I believe one of my gifts of generosity lies is in sensing when someone needs a warm hug at the right time.
“Let’s set aside our political and ideological differences and take a moment to love our families, hug our children, parents and grandparents and through love and respect, strengthen the bonds that made us the greatest nation on Earth.” – James Lankford
One of the ways mentioned in Highlighted in Yellow to practice generosity is to “contribute something to each Salvation Army Kettle you pass during the holidays”. Yes, I know it’s past the holidays. And I know not everyone has spare cash lying around but every single time I went to a store during the holidays, I always took ones and fives to put in the red bucket. I do it as much for the person ringing the bell as for the good the Salvation Army does in taking care of those less fortunate.
“Wherever tragedy or disaster has struck in any corner of the world, the American people have promptly and generously extended hands of mercy and help. Generosity has never impoverished the giver; it has enriched the lives of those who have practiced it.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
You can donate time and money to your local pet rescue shelter, to H.O.P.E. of Winston-Salem to help feed hungry local children or simply look and ask around for a special place that could use your generosity.
You’ll get much more than you give.
Modern life means being connected 24/7 via smartphones and social media, hurried, harried and packed schedules from dawn until dusk and a dizzying pace that can wear down the best of us.
Have you noticed how fast people drive these days? Everyone seems to nudge and push the speed limit as if there is only a destination and not a journey.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote in the Gift From The Sea:
“It is not the life of simplicity, but the life of multiplicity that the wise men warn us of. It leads not to unification, but to fragmentation. It does not bring grace, it destroys the soul.”
Our schedules and our children’s schedules are so tightly packed that we barely manage a meal together anymore. We grab a burger from the drive-thru window and eat on the way to the next stop. We drop off kids at one practice session, cram in homework and the ever-present video games, fall into bed exhausted only to do it all over again the next day.
I was stunned because I sold every one of them in the first 2 hours of the festival.
I see now that anxiety and depression are huge issues that society lives with. How much of it has to do with never slowing down long enough to draw a long breath, much less relax?
Thornton Wilder wrote the amazing play Our Town that explores simple, everyday life in small town America. In it, the character Emily Webb says:
“…clocks ticking…and Mama’s sunflowers. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths…and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.”
By packing our schedules so tightly, we are constantly on the move, filling our brains with noise, commotion, errands and chaos. We rarely take time to smell the roses along the way, enjoy the journey or explore our own hearts in peace and quiet.
“When we cannot bear to be alone it means we do not properly value or appreciate the only companion we will have from birth to death — ourselves.” – Eda LeShan
Take time this spring to plant a pot of flowers. Better yet, plant a garden with fruits, vegetables and flowers. Digging in the garden is one of life’s little pleasures and allows you to get your hands in the earth’s bounty and not only feed your family but your soul as well.
“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a home-grown tomato.” – Lewis Grizzard
I hope today that I have inspired you to take a moment for kindness, generosity and the simple pleasures of life. In this way, we all make a choice through the goodness of gratitude to send out our own special brand of magic and light up the world.