Was I specific about it being EVERY day? I could have meant, a cumulative 365, no matter how long it takes to rack them up. No?
I’m not going to lie, I’m disappointed in myself. And yet I can see this miracle working. I am writing, 3, 4, sometimes five times a week. I am thinking of others and ways to serve every day though some days I get waylaid by my responsibilities to others. Responsibilities to others trumps service to strangers at this time in my journey. Especially when the “others” are only 8 and 5 years old. Or 11 months in the case of our labradoodle. Oh and the almost fifty year old husband.
As I’ve said before, I am encouraged by the intuit, the serenity and the improved compassion toward others I am manifesting as a result of where my attention, my INTENTION is focused.
For example, during her recent visit, my mother-in-law mentions in conversation that I turned her on to honey crisp apples. We go on about how they’re the best apple of them all. I say “but they’re impossible to get right now”. She disagrees. I specify, “I meant organic“. She continues on, glossing over my younger generation, produce snobbery and shares how much she loves them cold. She keeps them in the refrigerator at home. I share I like them room temperature. Sensitive teeth and I think they taste better that way.
Later, at my request, my husband buys a bag of conventionally grown honey crisp apples i.e. they are NOT organic, but awfully pretty and freaky large. They taste pretty great too. Still, apples are on the top ten list of items to try and buy organic when you can. Crazy pesticides and genetic modifications.
But I say nothing. I don’t lecture. I don’t complain. I simply wash the apples.
Within an inch of their rosy, giant, petri-dish-influenced lives.
I place three in the refrigerator.
My mother-in-law sees them later that day. She thanks me. I felt good about it before she even knew I had done it. In fact her “thank you” felt obligatory, almost dismissive. It didn’t matter. I took joy in caring for her.
This woman is a S-T-R-O-N-G woman. I will not extoll her many virtues or lament the handful of idiosyncrasies that have driven me nuts or triggered my insecurities in years past. We have laughed hard, enjoyed each other heartily, clenched our teeth at each other and darn near cried during our relationship.
During our visit I noticed shifts in my behavior with her. I noticed when something in her tone or question (she asks a lot of them; they feel more like challenges, inquisitions even, as opposed to polite curiosity) triggered me, driving me to respond to her from high atop my soap box. I would hear myself, stop and step down from said box. I noticed when she was right. And told her so.
I ASKED about her.
I shared with her how much I appreciate her and reprimanded my son in front of her for speaking to her in a disrespectful tone. She thanked me for that too.
She challenges me to be a better human being. Not in just that she challenges me to accept our differences but she directly challenges me! On one of our last visits to her home, in a rare private conversation, she urged me to write. She (remarkably) carefully cautioned me to be careful of being too concerned with my outer qualities, since “someone who looks like you is probably use to and has thrived on receiving great quantities of validation for it” (uber generous perspective and only partially true). She urged me to nurture my insides. My brain. To write. Because, she said, “it would be such a waste not to”.
We had a full five days with her here in our home. I started this post Tuesday, the afternoon after she left. I’ve been grappling with my son’s “dis-equalibrium”. But I am encouraged by several professionals that, while my son is strong willed, very smart, creative and deep feeling, he is pretty normal. Can this really be true? It doesn’t feel true lately.
I’m hanging my hat on the quote, “I hate to ruin the ending for you, but everything is going to be all right.”
My husband, bless his heart saw me hit a wall yesterday, depression sucked any animation from my face or voice. I had no fight in me. I somberly placed one foot in front of the other; suited up and showed up for everyone including myself. But I did it like Eyore on Demerol. For me, some days are just like that.
Anyway, my love said he needed me to do something. He needed me to continue doing for others and writing about it. I hadn’t given up but I wasn’t hurrying back. I said okay, fine. I grumbled about not knowing what to do. And I wasn’t inspired enough to think of anything. He threw out a few possibilities.
It’s 4 degrees F outside today. Sunshine was a cruel joke. FOUR degrees. That is not counting the negative degreed wind chill factor one feels cut through all the North Face/Sorrel bullish*t.
I live in a neighborhood with mostly empty nesters. And very, VERY long driveways.
Did I mention we received another EIGHT inches of snow yesterday? Cummulatively the snow is almost level with my patio table surface. The snow drifts are creeping up my back doors.
Still, I circled my neighborhood, threw my car in park, jabbed at the hazards and jogged four large recycle containers back to the garages of four homes. I don’t actually know three out of four of those neighbors. I feared for my safety a little.
Did I mention how long the driveways are? The cold?
But if it doesn’t inconvenience me somehow, in some way, even just a little, then it’s not really unselfish is it? It’s not really helpful if its easy. That’s the truth. You can argue but really, really look at what it takes to be HELPFUL. Even if you enjoy the work, it is nonetheless WORK.
It is sacrifice of your agenda, your time, your comfort, your laziness, your fear and sometimes your money.
The cold married with today’s act of service helped blow out the self pity storm that was hovering so low and close.
Isn’t it great? To witness how working this blog is working me? It’s doing exactly what I had wanted it to do.
Or maybe that’s what I’m suppose to think?!
I am being grown. Pruned. Shaped. By my own hand? Perhaps guided by the hand of God. Maybe I’m just an instrument; His or Her instrument used to love and serve others and so it would seem, I am included in those others. Could be that the motivation that I am doing this challenge and blog for myself is a paradox; a spiritual strategy for our, not just my, highest good. Perhaps the universe doesn’t care what we tell ourselves to do it or what vehicles we use as long as it gets done.
The results of aiming my intention, energy and footwork at loving and helping another is paying me back dividends that far exceed my investment.