There are so many terrible, violent, and heartbreaking things happening in the world. I want to be informed, but I also want to stay far away from the media. It seems like anytime I allow myself to read about what’s going on, it paralyzes me. It scares me. I feel small, unable, and uncertain.
I had a short post ready all set to go. And as often happens when there are huge, grief-filled events in the world, I wonder about my place in at all. My work is about helping people love and appreciate themselves and their loved ones. It can feel extraneous or fluffy in light of horrific acts of violence around the world.
But the truth is, I really do believe in the power of love. I know that sounds woo-woo, new age, and all that. But regardless, it is what I believe.
I believe that every act of kindness can have huge ripple effects. I believe that we can never know the impact of even the smallest acts of love. I believe that if we each take responsibility for being present, aware, conscious, and intentional, that there would be far fewer acts of violence in the world.
I believe that love strengthens us and gives us courage to assist those who are grieving or oppressed.
So in the midst of anger, hatred, violence, and injustice, I once again take refuge in love. It’s what I know.
So skip the rest of this post if you want. But I decided to share it anyway. Because it is about a seemingly small act of kindness. But one that has echoed in me every since it happened. This is what kindness does. It reverberates. And quite possibly because the person in the story was generous and kind, she opened the door for me to feel more open and kind. And perhaps I was gentle with my neighbor. And perhaps I sent some money to orphans in Africa. And perhaps I was open and loving to people on the bus.
And maybe each of them felt a bit more open and loving. And maybe those small ripples created waves of compassion.
I want to believe so.
A small story of a big gift
See the photo above? This beautiful painting, which hangs in my studio, was created by Valerie Tookes a couple years ago. She didn’t make it for me. But when I saw it, I fell in love with it and told her how much it touched me.
Valerie smiled and said, “Would you like it?'” And she gave me the painting.
Just like that.
She didn’t hesitate.
I couldn’t believe she would gift me with something that she had spent the whole day creating. I’m sure she loved it even more than I did, because it represented her own creativity. It was the result of a day of shared color, joy, and delight with other folks taking the “Opening the Creative Channel” workshop with Laurie Wagner and Andrea Scher.
Earlier this week, I was re-appreciating the beauty of this painting. But even more so, I was re-appreciating the generosity and heart that Valerie offered in that moment. The painting is infused with the story of how she gifted it to me. And it is a gift every time I intentionally appreciate it!
I posted a photo of the painting online and tagged Valerie to let her know that her gift was still making me so happy.
It has me thinking this morning about the power of re-appreciating gifts we’ve received. Let them know there is something they’ve done for you or given to you that you still feel so grateful for. It can be such a wonderful way to connect with people in our lives.
This practice also infuses our belongings and memories with more love. They shine a little brighter. They bring even greater joy.
Do you have something in your home that you see right now that was a gift you love? Can you take a few minutes to write a short note to mail to the person who gave you the gift? Just say, “I’m looking at the ___ you gave me and it fills me with joy. I’ve loved it all the years. And I love you for the gift of this ___ and for your friendship.”
Try it. Let me know how it goes.
Be gentle with yourself + offer as much love as you’ve got right now,
Wanna meet the generous gal who gave me that painting? Valerie Tookes, owner of Her Holistic Health, is a lifestyle and wellness coach who works with women to change the relationship that they have with their body. Visit her website to find out more about her work