Words that ‘stick’ to the heart

Someone’s having a hard day and you can’t think of anything encouraging to tell them?
Write a nice note and stick it on their desks. Tell them what a wonderful person they are. Don’t even mention the problems. Giving your name is optional. Just tell them how great they are and how much you appreciate what they do.
It’s saved my day so many times– you will feel great, and they will feel even better.

Thinking about others

Play breakout was at our school  this week. I got a fairly minor part, but this isn’t about me.

Even though I had promised myself that I wouldn’t get upset, that for various reasons a big part wouldn’t be practical for me, and that if I was honest, I simply couldn’t act well enough, it did hurt a little. The mains are well, so amazing. Really cool this year. You know what I mean- if our play was a 5000 page novel, I’d read it just for them.

So when someone, (not a close friend but I’m working on getting along with her,) asked me what part I had, I couldn’t keep a slight note of regret out of my voice.

She told me what I’d been telling myself all along, but she made it seem real. “You know, it’s really the little parts that make a difference. They’re the ones everyone remembers. In Aladdin, the genie has an even smaller part than the tiger. But without him, there would be no story.” Of course, I’m paraphrasing, but how could I remember something so perfect word for word?

I thanked her for her sincere words and walked away, remembering that at least I got a part at all. And it wasn’t even just two lines. And then I remembered something.

“So, what about you? What part did you get?”

“Oh, me? I’m (insert main part here.)”

Unbelievable.

Dovid’s prayers

My school has a program where, at lunch break once a week, those who are interested crowd into one of the classrooms. The purpose is not to break the world record for the game sardines- I don’t think there are enough of us for it- but to say Tehillim. The goal is to say the entire Tehillim once over.

I say crowd not only because the room is fairly small, but also because there are more of us than usual. At the beginning, it was a struggle to get enough people to do all about 50 cards. Attendance has fluctuated since, but we have, at some points, done the entire Tehillim twice.

Today, when a few others and I got in a minute or so late- rather than the five it often takes to start- there were no cards left! The entire room was free of chatter, texting, side conversations- just the soft murmur of Dovid’s Prayers.

Thank you- no, thank YOU

I e-mailed someone- an artist who put his work up for public use- to let them know that I had used their creation, and really enjoyed it. I tried to be as positive and cheerful as I could without writing something sounding like hero warship. Convinced I had something that was polite but still enthusiastic, I sent it off.

A day or two later, I got my reply. Polite and gracious, of course, but also very very cheerful. It really did sound as though my few kind words had made this person’s day.

And hearing that another person so appreciated what I had to say (even though most of it was one long compliment, so I should hope it was appreciated!) had me float on air the entire day.

It drove home again the lesson about giving to others. A bit of a sobering thought, but it’s true: Ultimately, at the end of our lives, the only things that we still can call our own are what we’ve given to the world.

Possessions- handed down or thrown away. One’s house, car, money- the best one can hope is that it’s given to family, or to a good cause.

Talent- what good is latent talent if it’s never used? Everything that you’ve been able to do and haven’t- what value does it now have?

Achievements- did you spend your life chasing good deeds? Or recognition?

But the kindness that a person does is passed forward forever. A ripple effect that never fades.

A smile a day- Part 2

This next post finds me in better spirits. I was going out for lunch one day, (out for lunch, not out to lunch!), and rather cheery. The occasional treat- even if it’s only a tuna wrap and soda- will do that to a person.

And on the way I spotted someone who looked a little less cheerful than me. A women standing outside wearing one of those walking poster signs. In the cold- with a warm coat and and hat- but still standing out in the cold during lunchtime. And I thought how if that was me, I, along with anyone with basic intellectual capability, would go nuts standing out there. To have a job like that, you’ve either got to be really desperate, have a really positive attitude, or both!

So shy little me summoned up enough courage to yell out a ‘hello’ as I walked by. And the way her face lit up was priceless! It made what was an ok day get about a million times better.

Stay tuned for part three!

Asking about others

I ran into an acquaintance the other day, a really sweet women who’s been going through a bunch of major challenges (details, as always, obscured for privacy). But when she spoke to me, all she wanted to know was how I was, having gone though something much more minor. She was so concerned that I nearly forgot to ask about her!

While what I had gone though was more or less over, she was still in pain. While for the most part, my life was normal (as much as it can ever be), her’s was still not. But all she saw was the common denominator- that we were both trying to have ordinary lives while they were anything but.

It’s ok to get sympathy, and definitely ok to tell the truth when someone asks how you are (assuming, of course, that they honestly want to know, and not just to be polite), but sometimes it’s nice to remember the other side of the story.

Even if what you’ve gone through is so much more major than what someone else is faced with- remember my friend E. And take a moment to go beyond your self.

A smile a day- Part 1

One day, I was totally down in the dumps. Walking from a friends house where things… just didn’t go as planned. And I was sulking a little when I realized that what I could really use right now was a smile. And also that I had made a commitment to try to say Good Shabbat to every Jewish person I was brave enough to speak up to. I decided that I’d had enough moping, and wished the elderly person walking beside me a loud ‘Shabbat Shalom!’

I wish you could have seen the way his face lit up. It really did seem as though I’d made his day.

Right then and there I learned ‘You’re never nothing if you have the ability to make another person smile.’

Part 2 coming soon!