Beautiful, soulful, real, inspiring, caring people are in all of our day to day lives. If we would just stop. Choose not to hurry by, keep judgments from clouding our vision, plugging our ears. What if we looked at every soul who passed us by with love. What if we gave love by simply smiling and saying hello, genuinely. We would see more love in return. We would see love with our eyes open and with our eyes closed. The more we love one another, the more we choose to love ourselves. When we love ourselves, we can more easily love our neighbors, strangers, and our loved ones (who we inadvertently take for granted when we get lost in the mundane routines of our everyday lives).
Each Wednesday, I wait for my daughter while she participates in karate. After chatting with a few people, I settle into myself and admittedly bury my face into my phone. I look down. I check out with the world around me. I read articles (my favorite), catch up on email, and scroll through social media. This week was different. Mother nature called me outside, asked me to sit with her on a bench, and enjoy the hints of fall in the air. As I was sitting there, an older gentleman sat next to me and said, “You’re going to go blind with that thing”. I looked up and saw a sweet soul sitting next to me. I turned my phone off. It just seemed like the appropriate thing to do. We began chatting and a young girl of 15 sat down on the bench with us. She was, she is, beautiful. Her easy smile and honest eyes held my attention. At first, I didn’t realize the older man and this young woman knew one another. I was confused, as he acted fatherly towards her, but the age difference didn’t make sense and their races were different. Was I on the verge of passing judgment? Through his story of praying for a 2.5 lb baby in the neonatal intensive care unit, I learned he was her grandfather, but had adopted her as his own. I could feel the prayers he sent out to that tiny baby and the relief he felt when she left the hospital. She smiled as she carefully listened to him recount a story I am sure she had heard many times before.
I listened to how that tiny determined premature baby grew into a determined young woman named Haley. A father proud of his daughter’s accomplishments, a father who obviously encouraged her along the way. Haley is a celebrated student at her high school, where she takes AP classes (in tenth grade). I noticed her text books were her companions, as she waited for her younger brother to finish karate. The man left, as her grandmother (mother) arrived. While they were transitioning, Haley and I began to speak. She opened up more while having a genuine interest in me. She was inquisitive and perceptive. I learned she loves to volunteer, that helping others is what energizes her. She glowed as she talked about volunteering and her humanitarian goals. Haley has a vision of her future: she wants to help people. She is a big dreamer, but I can tell she is a big doer as well. She spoke of wanting to become a lawyer to help people in crisis and dreams even bigger, seeing herself as the President one day. I love the ambition that drives her. But what I loved about her even more, was the genuineness that emanated from her.
Haley then turned our focus towards her grandmother, praising her for being everyone’s mother. She said with such pride, “Mamma has been raising babies for over 25 years.” This older woman then began to tell me about all the babies she has taken care of in her daycare. Those babies grew up but didn’t forget her. They still come around and return the love she gave to them all those years. She said, “I was their mother when they needed one and their own couldn’t be there”.
Along the way, I shared some stores about myself, talked about my own kids, my own visions, and how I spend my time. At the end of the conversation, Haley said to me, “Wow, can you believe we just started talking and shared so much. Can you imagine if everyone just did what we did?”
And what did we do? We showed love, compassion, and a genuine interest in one another. Now picture a world where this happens more frequently. Harmony. Gratitude. Gratefulness. Compassion. Seeing love. Feeling love. Kindness. No judgement. Sincerity. These positive interactions are what changes the world, starting with changes within us. The ripple effects of encounters like these are profound. They wake us up. I feel love and loved. And I know Haley does too. I cannot wait to visit with her again.
The following morning, I took a yoga class with Liz at Y2. My heart felt like it was going to explode, as she opened up with the following quote by Nick Ortner:
LOOK UP, YOU’LL SEE THE SKY.
LOOK DOWN YOU’LL SEE THE GROUND.
LOOK FOR ANGER. YOU’LL FiND IT.
LOOK FOR JOY. THERE IT IS.
LOOK FOR FEAR. FIND IT STARING BACK AT YOU.
LOOK FOR HOPE. FEEL ITS WARM EMBRACE.
YOU DECIDE WHERE TO LOOK.
Where did I look that evening? I decided to look up, away from my phone. I decided to look into the eyes of the people on the bench with me. And what did I find? I found joy, hope, and love. The energy from that evening still lifts me. As you go about your day, decide what you are looking for and what you want to receive. You set the vibration of your day. One last takeaway from that evening (for me), is to put the distractions away. Be present and you will be gifted.