A Week of Gratitude: Monday
A Week of Gratitude: Wednesday

A Week of Gratitude: Tuesday

It's Thanksgiving week here in the US . . . a week traditionally spent cooking, gathering with friends and family, and reflecting on our many blessings. I've decided to take a little break from my usual blog "structure" (such as it is) to focus on gratitude this week.

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When I was a growing up, my mom had many "Mom-isms" that she used to repeat to my sister and I. You know ... those words-of-wisdom that you roll your eyes at when you're a kid and swear you'll never say if you have kids someday. But, well. They tend to stick. Because they were usually true and right and worth noting.

Anyway. One of my mom's frequently-used phrases (that I particularly chafed at) was . . . You'll catch more flies with honey.

I really didn't like this one. Because first of all . . . ewwww. Not a picture I like to hold in my mind, really. But mostly because when I was a kid, I rarely saw (or could quite imagine) a payoff from being "nice" to people I didn't want to be "nice" to, mostly because they weren't being "nice" to me in the first place. But I was a good girl and I (mostly) listened to my mom and I did try to be "nice" to people I didn't want to be "nice" to (mostly).

And, of course, like so many things my mom used to repeat . . . she was right. You DO catch more flies with honey! And . . . being "nice" - which is really being KIND - is a simple way to spread reciprocal joy and gratitude!

"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile."
        --- Mother Teresa

(Yep. Mother Teresa again.) (Because she isn't a saint for nothing.)

When I'm out and about in the world (which, granted, isn't as often as it used to be these days), I try to keep my mom's words - and Mother Teresa's sentiments, too, when it comes right down to it - in mind (and in my heart). I do try to be kind to all people I encounter - friends or strangers, happy or grumpy, calm or frazzled. I don't mean that I'm Miss Jolly Sunshine everywhere I go or anything, here . . . but . . . 

I smile. (Even when I'm wearing a mask.) 
I meet eyes.
I might chit-chat.
I say thank you. And please.
I even give random compliments.

If I have an opportunity to make someone else feel good - to put a smile on their face - why be stingy about it? Why hold back? It's easy to smile. To say thank you. Or even to pass along a random genuine compliment. 

There are no strings attached when it comes to kindness.
And . . . it forges a human connection that fosters gratitude.

And we all need more of that right now!

(So, thanks, Mom. I was listening even when you thought I wasn't.)

==

And now, a poem. . . 

==

A Gift
Kathryn Starbuck

Who is that creature   
and who does he want?   
Me, I trust. I do not   
attempt to call out his   
name for fear he will   
tread on me. What do   
you believe, he asks.   
 
That we all want to be   
alone, I reply, except when   
we do not; that the world   
was open to my sorrow   
and ate most of it; that   
today is a gift and I am   
ready to receive you.
 
=
 
Today's poem was published in the journal Poetry, March 2009. Click here for more information about the poet (who has a wonderful personal story about becoming a poet in her 60s, by the way).

 

Comments

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Vicki

Mom. <3

Juliann

I like that - no strings attached.

Bonny

Mother Teresa and your Mom were full of wisdom! Ever since the cashier at the grocery store said she could tell I was smiling from my eyes, I've also made it a point to try and make others smile. It's fun sharing reciprocal joy.

Patty

I'm with you on the smiles. I waved at a woman in the doggie daycare car line today and she actually scowled at me! I can't wait to wave at her again. :-)

Dee

My Dad was the one with all the sayings.

The one that stuck most with me was ..."this too shall pass".

It used to drive me nuts. Stephen would be in a phase where I didn't think I'd let him live to be three and my dad would say ...................this too shall pass. AAAAAARRRRRRRRGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

But you know what ....................he's right.

Carolyn

I notice I have to remind myself more and more to reach out in this way, even as (especially as) more and more people are retreating. It feels so...strange, I guess I'd say....when someone passes you in a store aisle, and we mutually look away, exhale, get as close to the shelves as possible so everyone can safely pass. (I should be getting used to it, but it still feels strange.) It's so easy to smile, give a passing compliment...even if it only raises your own endorphins a little bit! (Thinking of Patty's scowler, here!)

Carole

I'm so glad you had a good mom who taught you wisely. You are a very kind person, in case you don't know it.

Vera

Smiling with a mask is a fun thing to do...and it does get noticed. Mom-isms are so good (now that I'm older). I had to run to the grocery store earlier today just for a "couple of things" ($75 later). The store was a tad crowded and there were only two cashier lines open. BUT...everyone was pleasant and smiling and making small talk (behind masks). I almost didn't mind waiting longer than usual.

Debbie

Your mom was a wise woman. My dad always encouraged use to be kind to difficult people, he would tell us “You don’t know what that person’s life is like, you haven’t walked in his/her shoes. Something as simple as a smile goes a long way to brightening someone’s day!

kathy b

It was fun to read your mom's wisdom.

My grandmother would prepare huge meals for the 6 of us kids and our parents. We'd sit down to eat: and she'd say
There's nothing to do but eat!

And she meant it! She loved us to clean our plates. She was a great cook

Mary

Mom-isms are the best, aren't they. My sister and I were chatting last week that it seems like folks are already acting kinder towards one another. Make America Kind Again. one smile at a time!

Sarah

I've really been trying to spread more kindness this year, especially since the pandemic started. It really costs nothing but has such a huge impact. In these times, when there are such big problems that so few of us can do much to solve, it seems like anything we can do to lift another's mood is a big help. I know we all rolled our eyes at our mothers, but I think we all know now how wise they were!

kmkat

When I first started volunteering at our library. ~20 years ago, the librarian was a sweet little old lady (who could be salty if there were no patrons around) who used to give compliments to people. "I love your tie!" "Have you lost weight?" "What a pretty sweater!" I picked up that habit from her when I saw how nearly every time the recipient would glow at the compliment. It's the little things!

Margene

This is an important lesson to remember, Kym, and one I have been shocked to see is not in full effect out in the real world, even in this time of stressfulness. How hard would it be to just say "excuse me"? Anyway, for the most part people are trying very hard to do what they were taught and to be kind and helpful, or to, at the very least, just step aside and give some space. Even going to the grocery can be an exercise in patience toward a rude person (stand down girl) or in giving up your space to someone who clearly isn't into Ms. Manners. For the most part, everyone is bending over backwards to be kind and generous. I hope people will not become tired of kindness or become tired in general and turn to rudeness. We all have a lot to lose if they do.

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