For weeks I have been lucky enough to be staying near the ocean. One house back from the beach to be exact. It was not a luxury unappreciated; from walks along the water’s edge to listening to the waves from my bed at night it was an experience I savoured. They say all good things must come to an end though and so it goes that three nights ago was my last night at the beach house.
I lay in bed in the early hours of the morning listening to the sound of the waves rolling in; the ocean kissing the shore. I found myself thinking about all the places I have lived. That is a lot of places, lovely people. Lots of different houses both during my childhood and as an adult. On my last night in the beach house I lay there and let the anxiety of the unknown wash over me. I felt the sadness of leaving the beach, with the acknowledgement that being there had soothed my soul. But the new day dawned, as they always do and my time at the beach house came to an end.
So many things have happened over the last couple of months. 2016 has been a huge year and we are not even a third of the way into it. I woke this morning to the news Prince had died and felt the metaphorical sands shift, once again, under my feet. So much change. So much happening. Throughout it all I am lucky to have good people in my life. Friends who have travelled far with me and those who have just connected. I am blessed to have known great kindness and I feel a deep responsibility to keep paying that kindness forward.
Someone thanked me this week, for checking in with them during a difficult time and for being happy for them when their situation resolved. It was someone I don’t know very well but the reality is that it cost me nothing. Two emails and a few kind words. Just before Easter a young guy asked if I had any change. He had planned to walk home but it looked like rain and he didn’t want the fluffy bunny rabbit he had bought to get wet. I only had a dollar in change but I gave him the dollar and his face lit up like a Christmas tree as he thanked me profusely. When the time came for him to get off the bus he said ‘Hey, thanks again’ but I felt like he’d brightened my day so we broke about even in my book.
I offered to take some photos for a friend of mine and she invited me to her son’s first birthday party to take a few snaps of the big event. My friend and her gorgeous boy were the only two people at the party I had met before and as more and more guests wandered in I could feel my chest tighten as my social anxiety reared it’s ugly head. I took my camera from it’s case and felt the weight of it in my hands and the memories associated with it. It was the first time I had used it in weeks and it felt good to be doing something I loved. Especially at such a happy celebration. Earlier this week my friend contacted me to tell me how much she loved the photos and, just like that, my investment of time and effort was repayed ten fold.
Just be kind to each other. That is all we have to do to make the world a better place. In my life and in the last few weeks I have known huge kindnesses. Letting people be kind to you gives them something too. It’s a win-win, really. It doesn’t have to be a huge gesture. A smile in an elevator can change someone’s day. A five minute phone call can change someone’s life. Sometimes you will never know the difference you made. Sometimes there is no acknowledgement. Sometimes there’s just the warm glow inside from knowing you did a good thing. And that is more than enough.
Just be kind to each other. Fight the good fight, one act of kindness at a time.
Safe onward travel x
So much has happened since last we spoke. I wrote my birthday message to Sam to commemorate her 27th birthday. My gorgeous friend Eden of Edenland was generous enough to share my post on facebook. Eden had already inspired the title of the birthday post – ‘Beautiful Pain‘ – from a song she had shared earlier in the day. Once Eden shared my little post it took off around the world with thousands of views from dozens of countries. Because Eden shared my post it come to the attention of Kidspot, who published it on their site. I had the opportunity to work with lovely Kidspot editor Alex. And more and more people read my words about my beautiful Daughter Number One, my amazing Sam.
Some of those people, who read my words, left me their words in return. Kind, loving, gentle words that I pulled tight around me and allowed to seep in with their warmth. There were many kind words from those who know me and love me and the words of beautiful strangers who had let me reach out and touch them. It was a profoundly humbling experience and an awesome birthday gift to my Sam.
In the days that followed two more wonderful things happened. I had a message from someone who had not been a friend of Sam’s but who had gone to the same school. He recounted meeting Sam on his first day, how she showed him some kindness and left him with a message that shaped the rest of his educational career. A message that he carries with him still, all these years later. His story was Sam all over and reading what he’d written was like having her walk into the room with me. It was typical Sam; loving, inclusive, champion of the underdog. Sam’s legacy astounds me, then, when I think about it, surprises me not at all. I am SO PROUD.
I have spoken here before of the police officer that worked Sam’s case and the difference he made to me at such a difficult time. The former police officer also wrote to me after Sam’s birthday. A lovely long message that made me smile. More kind words to keep me warm. He said he hoped my family knew how lucky they are to have me. Are they? I don’t know. What I do know is that I am so blessed to have my family of the heart, not necessarily related by blood but bound by love and loyalty. He said he had seen my strength, all those years ago when we had met under such traumatic circumstances. As I’ve said here before, I do not know if it is strength. My mind rebels at the word because I do not feel strong at all. What I am sure I had then and what I am lucky enough to have still, are people willing to stand beside me and hold me up when I falter. People who love me and believe in me when I am doubting myself. If it is strength that I have, then that is not me, it is all of you.
After Sam’s birthday and my post, a friend disclosed her history of sexual abuse as a child and extended me the kindness of explaining why she had not told her mother. What grace that takes! Sometimes such kindness feels like more than I deserve.
I was in a taxi the other day, completely hysterical. Absolutely beside myself, contorted with sobs. After about ten minutes the taxi driver said to me softly in his Eastern European accent “Would you like a cup of coffee? I buy you a cup of coffee.” I demurred “No thank you. That is very kind of you but it is not necessary, thank you”. After another ten minutes the driver said “This service station here, they make good coffee. I going to stop. Get you a coffee. You wait. I turn off the meter.” So I asked him if he could make it a hot chocolate instead, because it was easier to acquiesce than to continue to resist. And he did. He stopped the cab, got out of the car and came back with a bottle of water, a croissant and a hot chocolate. He gave me instructions to eat the croissant with the hot chocolate – “Will make you feel better!”. Oh guys, people are good! On the whole, people are good. I really believe that.
I don’t know if I am brave or strong or any of that, and I certainly don’t feel it, but I know that it is a small world. I know that little things matter. I know that in ways we cannot fathom we are connected to each other. I know that when all else is gone love is what remains.
Love is what remains.
(The police officer’s nephew, Fletcher, is on Australia’s Got Talent in the semi final tonight. He’s fab! Go give him some love x)