Wednesday, November 26, 2014

An Antidote to Negativity...Random Acts of Kindness

Sometimes the questions are complicated
and the answers are simple. 
                                             -Dr. Seuss

From time to time I over-think and over-analyze what goes on. Several weeks ago, negativity hit my door with a loud bang, and I stewed and fretted and ruminated and prayed. And then I prayed some more. And then, since I am an extrovert, I processed. I tried to make sense of that which just didn't make any sense at all. I'm not sure if you have ever done that, but if you have you know how it feels. More and more complicated. I was awash in the questions. Why, why why?

My beloved husband has only seen me stewing like this a very few times in our thirty plus years of marriage. When that happens, Bert knows to"let me be," as he puts it. He walked by while I was journaling about it all, paused and almost whispered, "The answer is simple, Linda." I looked up and knew he was up to something."I'll take you out to breakfast at Hogans. That always helps."And it did. 

Kindness is always a powerful antidote to wash away the impact of negativity, meanness and hurt.

So once we sat in our usual booth at Hogans and got our usual menus and ordered our usual meals with our fabulous and usual server, Katie, the fog started to clear. All at once, I knew what was required. It literally hit me like a bolt of lightening. The answer was simple.

Counteract what had happened with kindness, LOTS of kindness. Penetrate the space around me, the people around me with all of the love and care and kindness and gratitude that my heart could muster.

And what specifically hit me was that while Bert and I are generous tippers to those who so graciously help us and serve us, and we had always done so for Katie, I had never once, never ever tipped our cook at Hogans, the guy who makes our breakfasts. I knew in my deepest heart of hearts that this had to change and it had to change NOW!

So I quietly asked Katie if tips were split between those who worked there and her facial expression said no, they weren't. So I went to the owner of the cafe, who always works on Saturdays and Sundays, and asked if it would be okay to tip Aaron, the cook. Now Aaron is no small guy. He's actually quite huge, covered in tattoos, and usually wears a Seahawks t-shirt while he slings those hash browns from one side of the grill to another. While he breaks eggs
and makes pancakes...well it's a sight to behold. One of our rituals in Hogans, an old fashioned 1950s neighborhood hangout in Spokane, is to yell to Aaron "Thanks for the great breakfast!" each time we leave. Since the grill is out in the open in the restaurant, and Aaron makes breakfast in front of a crowd at the counter, he usually looks up and grins. Not a huge grin, but a small grin, a grinning from the inside kind of grin. 

He's used to it now, that yell of "thanks!" He even waves to us when we come in. And we are "regulars!"

So, since the owner said "yes, you can tip him but no one does and he'd never expect it," I couldn't wait to pull off this unexpected surprise. I dug deep into my purse where I carry various and sundry items you never know when you'll need, and pulled out an envelope. Then Bert and I started to unload the bills in our wallets into it. Five twenty dollar bills to be exact. We had planned to do some Christmas shopping with that money, but that could wait. 
I just knew this had to happen right his minute.

Aaron was up to his eyeballs in orders and both hands and arms were flying around with the bacon and the eggs, so I gave the envelope to the owner with one request. "Please tell him that his great breakfasts feed our stomachs and our hearts." The owner looked puzzled. I said, "He'll  know what I mean." We yelled our "Thanks for the great breakfast!" and left.

I immediately felt better. The hurt was gone, the fear was gone, and I couldn't wait to get to
the grocery store where Tom's Turkey drive was going on. That's where you buy a bag of groceries for a family, a turkey comes with it and on Turkey Tuesday the meals are given to 11,000 needy families. We do it every year.

Rosauers is not far from Hogans, so off we went. Bert, who always loves to clown around and sometimes swing dances with me in the grocery store if the music is just right, rolled down his  car window and proclaimed, loud enough for anyone in close proximity to hear, 
                                                      "She's back!"

And I was. My heart was back. My spirit was back. My gusto was back.
I was doing kind things for others and I felt alive again! Ahhhh...I think there is a life lesson here!

We bounded into Rosauers and started taking bags off the shelf. We picked one out for every one of our grandkids, and said their names out loud. Those grand babies that range in age from 23 to 3 bring such light and love into our lives that we wanted to honor them as we got Thanksgiving dinner for 14 families. We've never felt better! Our Christmas fund was getting smaller, but our hearts were getting bigger! 

The shopping cart was full of bags and as we put them on the conveyer belt in front of the cashier, she smiled. "WOW!" was all she could muster. Bert grinned at her and said with glee in his voice, "These are in honor of our grandkids. They'd want us to do this." Then we left Rosauers and headed to our car, bundled up with our jackets and scarves to protect us from the 
freezing 30 degree Spokane weather.

What would our next kindness adventure be?

As we started to get into our car, we noticed all the freezing volunteers along the entrance to the grocery store parking lot. All of them were holding Tom's Turkey day signs as a reminder to passing motorists. They had been out on that curb as we drove by, headed to Hogans, and they were still on duty as we were leaving the Rosauer's parking lot. We just looked at each other and smiled.

We spied a drive thru espresso stand in the same complex and with a grin on or faces and joy
in our hearts, we drove up and ordered six hot chocolates. We were on a roll. We were smiling and laughing as the barrista asked, "Six? You want six?" "Yes, please,"I answered. "We need to get them to the volunteers over there." She started to grin and chat and said she couldn't wait to see their expressions when we delivered them, especially the teenage gal who had dressed in a turkey costume. The barrista's voice was now animated and full of kindness. She volunteered to donate six cookies to the sidewalk party.

Yes, doing random acts of kindness is contagious!

We delivered the hot chocolate and cookies, the teenage girl in the turkey costume cried she was so happy, everyone was stunned, including us. After some quick hugs we headed home. 

On the way home, we were both quiet, thinking about what had just taken place. Quiet is always unusual for me so Bert went first. "How do you feel now, honey?"And I started to cry. And truthfully, on and off I've been crying ever since. I managed to choke out, "I feel lots better." And he pulled over, stopped the car, reached over to hug me and I let the tears and the joy and the lessons all mix together as I sobbed and sobbed.

If it took having someone be less than kind to help me find how much you get back when you give kindness, then it was worth going through that pain. 

All of the complicated questions faded away. The answers were simple. When you feel bad and rotten and sad and scared, do something for someone else. Give your love, your heart, your pennies and it will come back tenfold to you.

And as Thanksgiving is here tomorrow, I am so grateful to be reminded of this lesson. 
I have SO MUCH to be grateful for!

May your Thanksgiving be full of love and joy and peace and gratitude.
May you see God's blessings at every turn.



Peggy Sue said...

Beautiful Linda! I learned this many years ago...through my hell years..and moments that I didnt know if I wanted to exsist those moments I went and did random acts of kindness for complete night I was in such pain...I went to a gas station and bought 5 velvet roses...I went to a strange neighborhood and placed these roses on doorsteps along with a note to have a wonderful day and I think I included a chocolate doing this..I got back much more then was given. My heart became light..My thoughts not on me but on giving and it healed is the most amazing gift of just be random and do act of the end the gift is HUGE to loved this. Would have loved to seen the cooks face!!! love you lady and your big heart!

Miss Myia said...

My dearest Linda....I read your post and your Ouch! post and I started to hurts my heart when I hear of someone being hurtful to you...You have always been kind, loving, giving and direct and to the point but done with love...anyone that meets you can see it, hear it, feel pours out of you! I do know that it's a process to go through and figure out what just doesn't seem to make sense when someone hurts us...I get it...I know that your day of kindness must have been a blast and I could SO see you and Bert doing each of these wonderful things. I love you, miss your face and sending lots of hugs...the hold on tight and not let go hugs! So again, I'm you, Myia

Vicky said...

Yayyy! And kindness too- love and kindness win in the end. Amen. This is brilliant and it doesn't surprise me in the slightest that you would do this. Ohhh- I feel so inspired :) Much love to you!

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