love is love is love

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photo by Abby Paterson

“Sometimes our intuition shines brightest in our darkest moments.” – Molly Carroll from Trust Within;Letting Intuition Lead

While getting a pedicure a few weeks ago, I felt wholly taken care of. It was such a treat. We will call the angel woman giving me the pedicure, Alice. (She must be an angel to work with feet every day). Her touch was gentle and tender and she had kindness flecks like little remnants of star dust in her eyes. She told me about working hard and how she loved her kids.

Something about recalling this memory now feels sleepy, like a lullaby, like falling asleep as a child surrounded by stuffed animals and celestial mysteries swirling around my nighttime ceiling sky lit up by glow and the dark star stickers.

I miss my mom. I miss being a daughter. But here, here is love and I’ll take it. In whatever form it arrives. My mom’s love is not contained, it is everywhere. It is in these hands touching me and the color in my son’s eyes.

It brought back memories of my friend Phyllis, a woman I  met when I was in my early twenties when I volunteered for Hospice. She quickly became a dear friend and a spiritual teacher. I gave her weekly massages and spent cherished hours chatting with her about everything under the sun.

Once, she told me about a trip she took to Lourdes, France. Lourdes is a sacred pilgrimage site known for it’s healing waters and miraculous cures. She spoke of how loved she felt when the women there got her dressed after she bathed in the magical water. Their touch, she said, was patient and careful as they graciously put her clothes back on. It seemed that when she spoke, she was reliving the experience and how each moment was marked with an infusion of sacredness and grateful attention. We paused together marveling at the thought of this, the thought of every action being created from love, light and a deep sense of gratitude and peace.

As Alice massaged my feet a few weeks ago, my shoulders dropped and I relaxed completely in the oversized leather chair, the one that massages and vibrates (sometimes so much so that it makes me wish I had worn a sports bra). I let go. I stopped thinking so much. And I just allowed this transfer of energy, of complete kindness from a stranger, to swirl out of her fingertips and into me.

I feel this too in yoga when my teacher friend comes around while I lay still in savasana and she cups her palms on the sides of my face. It is hard to explain but it too feels celestial, almost other worldly, and it feels like grace. And home. I feel like a child again. Tears often well up in my eyes and a smile springs to my face.

I feel this in the morning when the sun slowly wipes away the sleepy sand from her eyes as I lay on the couch next to my kids, our legs intertwined with blankies and my nose rests on their soft sweet smelling heads.

Love.

Love is available to us in so many different ways. And I cannot help but believe our loved one’s spirits shower down on us through blessings manifested in our dreams, beauty, and kindness.

Life, inevitably at times, is overwhelming and sad. In these moments though, we can still give love, receive love, and be love. Because we always are, whatever our mood or station in life, part of this web of interconnection. Part of this loving exchange of energy and part of what makes good things happen. You provide love and you receive love. You are love.

This exchange happens with your permission and participation. If you are curious, open, and accepting. And if you allow it. The dream you had, it was a miracle, a blessing and a gift. But only should you choose to see it as such. Your mind may interfere but your heart knows. Maybe all we really have to do, no matter what we’re doing, is be love.

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Kindfulness

 

“Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness.” – Tolstoy

“Surrender to kindness.” – Stephanee Howell at http://www.makebelieveboutigue.com

Kindness is like a tree. It grows from a tiny seed and then roots and sprouts in different directions creating new life and beauty along the way. We can’t see how deep or how far reaching the roots travel or know how many lives have benefited from the shade and oxygen the leaves provide.

When thinking about kindness, the Mother Theresa quote, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love,” comes to mind.

And no where is this more true for me than at the grocery store.

I often complain about going to the grocery store. There, I have bumped into people, hid from people, thrown up in a reusable shopping bag when pregnant with my second child, and strolled around with an older bagger who pushed my cart while I held my new born baby not knowing where to put him while I shopped.

Once, I had a panic attack when I left my two year old daughter in the shopping cart and sent her for a “ride” with my groceries in the very steep cart escalator. I screamed and flailed and freaked out until an employee came over, stopped the escalator, walked up the other side and grabbed her, fortunately unharmed, out of the cart. She was holding my phone at the time and had, unbeknownst to me, recorded the whole ridiculous event. She seemed to not think much of the whole ordeal while I found it terrifying and humiliating.

Another time, I had a meaningful chat about life after death by the nuts (maybe not a coincidence.) And the day I lost my dad, the clerk at the register lifted up a bag of prunes forgotten by a miserable man who had scolded me after I spilled a container of yogurt, and declared that, justice had been served!

Last week after shopping, I watched a man help an elderly woman struggling to push her shopping cart over a ramp. Before I could put my cart aside to help her, he eagerly asked her with a voice like liquid honey, “Do you need some help?” I smiled at him and he winked back with a twinkle in his eye.

Seconds later, feeling bolstered by the kindness I had just witnessed, I watched as a young guy stopped his car in the middle of the parking lot on a busy Sunday afternoon to usher an adorable family of ducklings across the street to safety.

I stood with goosebumps and tears in my eyes.

And just the other day when I started in on a long winded diatribe about chicken pot pies to a woman who I had never seen before working at the register, she didn’t look at me like I was crazy. She simply listened. And then cried.

I explained to her that I was disappointed that they didn’t have the chicken pot pie in the deli that I like. I wanted that particular variety because I thought my mom would like it. She was coming into town for the first time since starting chemo and it was hard to find the right food to eat. As I rambled on, she stopped scanning my groceries and looked at me with tears in her eyes. She told me she understood how difficult it is to watch those we love go through something so hard.

Then she asked me if she could hug me. It was my turn to cry. And I cried. And cried. And cried.

It was like any other day, but it wasn’t.

Sometimes I want to do more to help others. I feel like I am not doing enough.

But If I have learned anything from these kind interactions with strangers while engaging in such an ordinary task like grocery shopping, it is that small kindnesses do matter. And they are contagious.

“There are only proofs of love”, Gretchen Rubin writes in her book, The Happiness Project. Most people cannot read minds and don’t know how loved and appreciated they are unless we show and tell them.

When I grocery shop, I always forget something important like toilet paper or cookies. Or I spend too much money. Or I am there for too long. Or I would rather be doing something else. But I am starting to change my tune because I have experienced great kindness there too.

And I will never forget that hug and how it changed not only my day, but me.

For a very sad but touching tale about the impact of kindness: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/pay-it-forward-said-california-man-matthew-jackson-who-died-one-day-later/