While I haven’t blogged since the start of Lent, my Lenten journey this year was about giving to others, instead of giving something up. I have to say, it feels good to be at the end of the forty days and look back at all of the random acts of kindness that occurred, as well as think about how much satisfaction and kindness it ended up giving me in return.
I started the process, thinking that I would blog about it every few days, talking about what I did and what I learned. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that random acts of kindness should be just that – random. That writing about them daily took away from the whole idea that they were random. Like a millionaire who gives money to a charity to get the publicity, something did not feel right about shouting about what I’d done; and that, in itself, was the best lesson I could have ever learned.
There’s also that question of anonymity. Did that person go out of their way for me because they wanted to, or because I was some sort of output of a social experiment? I didn’t want anyone in my life wondering this. Doing nice things for others came extremely easy at times. At others, I had to remind and ask myself, “What have you done for someone else today?”.
But I will share a few things that I learned along the last forty days.
If you know me personally, or from reading my blog, you know that exercise is a huge part of my life. It is what keeps me sane, what allows me to get out of myself and my own way. My favorite thing to do is yoga, especially hot yoga. The practice allows you, no…mandates that you focus on your breathing (unless, of course, you’d prefer to pass out). In doing so, you are incapable of having a full and direct train of thought for the entire time. Sure, your thoughts come in and out and you are taught to listen to them, to examine them. Are they negative thoughts about yourself: “I can’t hold this pose for this long. The girl next to me can go farther in the pose than I can. My stomach looks like a giant blob like this, why is she making us stay like this for so long, I don’t want to look at myself anymore.” Yoga is about accepting yourself as you are in that moment, being kind to yourself. It’s a lesson I’d been sorely missing for the first thirty-one years of my life.
I know how stressful adulting can be on a daily basis. I know how much yoga has helped me, so thats why I’m always inviting people to join me. When I ask you to come with, it’s not because I want to show off my dancers pose (which is awesome, by the way), it’s because I want you to have the feeling that I do; a feeling of self-acceptance, of love. Then that person brings someone, and they bring someone else. We pass it along. Who wants to be the only person happy in a room full of others who are miserable? That’s zero fun. Help other people figure out how to be happy, how to be calmer, how to relax, even if it’s only for a little while…though yoga and swimming are the only two exercises that continue working in your body after you’ve stopped doing the actual act of them. For everyone who said “yes” to me dragging them to yoga during lent, for everyone who then invited someone else, thank you for helping to make this a truly meaningful forty days.
It was after yoga one Saturday morning, and I went to the farmers market on the way home. I needed to pick up some bee pollen for a friend with allergies and get my usual: a chicken pita from the Lebanese guy. Oh this chicken pita…soooo good. I got up to the table ordered my pita, along with a mom and daughter who came up shortly after. We chatted about what we’d purchased already and I shared that I’d bought a jar of lavender, grapefruit infused honey. “Oh!” said the mom, “You know what that’s really good with? Tequila! Just put a little honey and tequila in a shaker with ice. It’s amazing.” We got to talking about the milk guy and the fact that he has all kinds of options: whole, skim, chocolate, root beer (yes, root beer), strawberry, etc. The daughter showed me the glass bottles in her bag, “You just pay $1 deposit for the bottle and bring them back to him each week.” My pita was ready and Costas rang mine up.
I should mention that I don’t know if his name is really Costas, but that’s what I call him in my head, because he reminds me of the father of the Greek guy that Gilmore girl falls in love with in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, the one her grandmother tells her to stay away from…
Anyway, Costas adds it up on his iPhone and I say to him very quietly, “I’ll pay for there’s.”
Have I mentioned there is nothing quiet about Costas? “Oh, you paying for them today, woo hoo, ladies it’s your lucky day!” He laughs loudly and swipes my card.
“No, no, please, you don’t have to do that.” But I told her I wanted to. The tequila recipe was worth the cost of the pitas alone (just ask my friends that I made it for later that night).
I waved goodbye and went through the rest of the farmers market. I was buying some homemade dog biscuits when someone tapped my shoulder. It was the daughter with a glass bottle of chocolate milk.
“Here.” She handed it to me. “We want you to have this.” She walked away before I could even properly thank her.
I walked back to my car, fresh bottle of milk in my canvas Jets bag and thought, wow, see what happens when people are nice to each other? How often do we run about our day without stopping to make a connection with those we come in contact with.
P.S. That was the most amazing chocolate milk ever…
P.P.S. “But where’s the recipe” you ask? “Most of your blogs have recipes!” Oh my friend, but there is…two spoonfuls of lavender grapefruit honey, one cup of cold water, one cup of tequila, one cup of ice. Shake well and serve!
…and now, to figure out what my next writing journey will be…