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Posts Tagged ‘kindness’

“There is no way that writers can be tamed and rendered civilized, or even cured. The only solution known to science is to provide the patient with an isolation room, where (s)he can endure the acute stages in private and where food can be poked in with a stick.”

~ Robert A. Heinlein

Boo is much better.  He has had good days since Andy dropped him back at his residence on Monday, and he has made only a few, easily-redirected attempts at touching his eye.  Next Wednesday he will return to the surgeon doc so she can take a look at his progress.  I am extremely grateful today – for this good news of Boo…for my mother, whose calm & clean routine (and psyche) were so severely disrupted for far too long.  For my therapist and his insights…for all the friends and strangers and work clients who have reached out to me with such sincere caring and concerned support.

Today, though, I am particularly grateful for a new path I have chosen – one, in fact, chosen when I was perhaps just 8 or 9 years old: the path of the writer.  It is about as easy a path at which to eke out a living as is any art, which is hard as hell.  Finally, though, at the tender age of 43, I have done it – and in the most spectacularly amazing way, completely befitting my personality and skill-set.  Now I make my living entirely from writing, and from home, on my computer, often in my jammies.  Somehow I work far fewer hours and earn plenty — definitely enough — have amazing benefits and health insurance, and am working for (and with) an incredible group of philanthropists!  It is only my first week and already they have expressed great pleasure at my work.  The president actually told me it was an honor to be working with me.  Me!

I write and I write and I write, with the peaceful company of Jack the dog and Almanzo the cat as comfort and companions.  It is the bliss of one left alone to enter “the zone” a writer must find in order to have uninterrupted quiet to do what writers must do – what writers are compelled to do.  I am blessed enough to have always known who I am and what I should be doing; I am doubly blessed today to be actually doing it; I am thrice blessed to be working for a charity unlike no other – helping the working poor to become self-sufficient.  In fact the charity gives such a high percentage of its money to the people (and not to administrative costs) that it was a 2012 winner of the BBB’s “great non-profits top-rated award.”  There are anonymous donors matching contributions all the time, so there is virtually nothing that does not get to the people for whom these grant programs are designed to help.

I’ve been a faithful donor to this charity for more than 10 years, as it has always made sense to me as a place to give my money — where hard-working people can find one-time help to get past a roadblock which would otherwise send them spiraling into the cycle of poverty.  Now we are launching an exciting new grant program – and I get to be a part of doing all this good, while doing exactly what I love.  I can’t express my gratitude enough and am constantly uttering thank you…thank you…thank you….for this is all I have ever dreamed of and more.

There is the temptation to express disappointment and hurt at the deafening silence from my ex co-workers who have evidently forgotten me & the many kindnesses, acts of support, and affirmation I have shown to them over the years when any of them were faced with family tragedy, personal challenges, illnesses, or just because I felt like committing acts of kindness – for not a single one of them has shown me any support or even acknowledged me with so much as a card – and there were a handful there I really did consider friends.  But the hurt melts away when I realize I do not need to harbor any resentment or anger at all (and in fact it would be a waste of time) – for I am free now, and so very happy.  I can only wish them all the same.  Remember when Amy used to work here?

Thank you, God.

“Anyway” by Mother Teresa

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

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It’s been almost 6 days since I have seen my boo.  I’ve learned a lot of things in those 6 days – a quick, hard, University of Life experience I never applied for and didn’t want to attend.

In 6 days God created the world, they say.  Well, I did too, in a way.  A new world for me.  And a new world for boo.

My world is now near-free of dread.  I don’t mean the “damn, tomorrow is Monday and I have to go to work” dread.  I mean the dread that lives inside you and owns you.  The kind that makes you steel-stiff & come unglued – the kind that’s unrelenting, ubiquitous – there all at once, all the time, even in your dreams, for whatever the reason. ‘Capital D’ Dread.  It’s gone.  I am not going to randomly show up at work with scratches on my arms & face and I am not going to trudge into LensCrafters again and again with broken glasses to have them repaired by S, who I’ve seen so many times we are almost-friends.  She told me she uses my story at work as an example of what their optional “protection plan” can be like, and for whom it can be downright necessary.

And of, course, no more dread of Jonah going away – of counting weeks, days, clinging to him even as he tries to bite or hit me, longing to keep him at our side.  That dread is gone too, and it’ feels like setting down a load of bricks I’ve been carrying, sharp and hot in the summer sun.

From what Anderson School has told me, Jonah is acclimating well and more quickly than expected.  He adores their playground, their pool, and all his caregivers.  They e-mail, talk to us on the phone, send pictures (here’s another one),

and communicate with compassion and understanding, even though you know their days have to be difficult and tiring at best.  Some have told me how they have already grown to like him a lot.  I am grateful.  How happy he looks in the pictures they send!

And all this support, from everywhere – people I know, people who read my blog, teachers and friends, co-workers and relatives — it is overwhelming and humbling.

A mystery person even left flowers for me and a bottle of water for the flowers on top of my air conditioner outside the apartment:

That was pretty cool.

I miss my boo, but I know I have made it over the mountain.  Jonah will too.  And Andy. I know it.  I feel very blessed.

If I were asked to give advice based on other things I’ve learned quick & hard, I would say:

1) Don’t get all mercenary and clingy with possessions, money, or anything else.  Watch “The Gods Must Be Crazy” (even if you’ve seen it before) and it will remind you why.

2) Everything is impermanent.  True story.

3) Judgment of others is wasteful arrogance, and the judgment almost never assesses its target correctly.

4) Kindness is never a mistake.  When in doubt, be kind.  Choose it every time and you will never be wrong.  Do kindness.  Not just when the opportunity crosses your path.  Practice conscious kindness.  It comes back to you.  Trust me.  In amazing, incredible, miraculous ways -often when you least expect it and most need it.

5) Calm the hell down when driving, running, working, going shopping, dealing with children, people you like and dislike.  Just calm the hell down.  Breathe deeply.  For God’s sake, breathe.

6)  Love.  Love as much and as hard and as completely as you can.  If you have lost someone and still care for them, love them anyway – even if they’ll never know it.  Love the seasons, the cold and the rain as well as the sun and the warmth.  Help someone.  Do something.  Care!  Don’t watch the news and shake your head and say that’s too bad.  Find ways to make a difference, even if it’s just to one person.

Before I get carried away, and I suppose I could type all day, I want to say I have not conquered these lessons – only that I believe them to be true and my goal is to follow them, as much as possible, from now on.

Oh – and one from my dad:

Before you say something to someone, ask yourself if it is true and if it will benefit the other person in any positive way.  If not, don’t say it.

That’s a good one, dad.

My father’s doing volunteer work now; he drives people to the food pantry in a van, which makes me prouder of him than anything else he could do.  He also is letting me live my life and make my own decisions, something which must be difficult for him, because he loves me and doesn’t want to see me hurt.  He has had to trust my smarts and my own judgment, and he’s doing it all while still remaining supportive.

My mom is counting the minutes til we go see her precious grandson – I think we’ll go for a picnic next Saturday with him if it is nice, and Jonah can play on the playground.   She has been an enormous support, especially for Andy, when no one else was.  She has opened her home to Jonah (and whomever is watching him) over and over and over again, withstood a broken TV and other household items, scratches, tantrums, bathwater splashed everywhere, and toys scattered about.  She is a true testament to the love between a grandmother and her grandson.

Andy is proving both courageous and Superdad by moving so close to Jonah, so he can see him (and oversee him) as much as possible.  Although we are separating, I will never choose to remember the bad things.  Only the good – his kind heart and earnest, helpful spirit that always, unfailingly, reaches out to others when they need anything at all.  Here is a man who, quite literally, would give you the shirt off his back, and I will always love him.

I don’t know how this turned into an awards ceremony but if I am going to spend paragraphs giving mom, dad, and Andy kudos, then I certainly cannot forget M – the man who holds me so close in his arms I am completely coated in love…the man who took so many days off work to be there, with or for me, time and time again…the man who slept between Jonah and me on a cold hard floor at a psychiatric center for three nights just to protect me…the man who drove 40 minutes to visit me every day at yet another psychiatric center, bringing colorfully beautiful flowers when I’d gone suicidal…the man who came with me several times a week for months to help me watch Jonah, taking on the tantrums and scratches and screams of a child not his own — all because he loved Jonah’s mother in spite of everything.  The one I go places with, read to, watch movies and take long rides and visit the Almanzo Wilder Farm with.  The man I love.

Here are some pictures from when we visited the farm one day this week, just for respite, traveling slowly through the Adirondacks until stepping reverently over the threshold of Laura‘s husband’s childhood home (yes, I am that into them):

Me, grinning under the historical sign

This massive tree is thought to be 200 years old.  Almanzo climbed it!

…and his home, restored.

I have a dozen or more pictures but I mustn’t forget that I can always start a Laura Ingalls Wilder blog and ramble on about her there.

It was a peaceful, pleasant day. Some weird part of me feels like this week off work is over and so not only will I be going back to work but to the Jonah routine too.  This has not really hit me quite yet, I think.  And there are definitely two sides to this coin – loss/pain and relief/freedom.  I hadn’t even thought about the second side, really, in a positive way, but my therapist has helped me with perspective, so finally there is very little associated guilt, which I was full of…thoughts like “I shouldn’t be having a good time since I sent my boy to live in a home.”  No.  We should all be having a good life.  We all deserve to be happy.  Jonah too.  Jonah especially!

Please continue to send good energies and prayers to my little Boo.   (I can’t wait to hug him)!

And once again, my prayer is simply thank you.

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