As I have mentioned before, I always find that the fall is a whirlwind of constant activity. From class coffees to weekend soccer, we seem to be racing at breakneck speeds to squeeze it all in. Sadly, amidst the chaos I often wonder if in my life kindness and grace get left by the wayside as I manage my stressful schedule. I too often feel frazzled and act insensitive to what is going on around me. Last week I was leaving the gym and a woman was walking directly ahead of me. She was texting on her phone and allowed the door to swiftly swing shut nearly knocking me over. She never once looked back to see if anyone was coming out the door behind her. It made me wonder how I often I have been "multi-tasking" and neglected to notice the person behind me. Then this week I was zipping along the Post Road when the person in front of me turned right onto a side road without using their turn signal. I silently cursed their thoughtlessness -- smugly noting to myself that there were so many bad drivers on the road these days. It was later that afternoon when I distractedly realized I was about to miss my turn that I hooked a sudden left and neglected to use my signal, probably causing the car behind me to swerve to avoid hitting my car. There I found myself again in the land of judgment and denial. I thought to myself, "Perhaps next time I won't be so quick to assume the person who doesn't use their turn signal is self-absorbed and inconsiderate. Maybe just distracted by a complicated life. "
These little moments caused me to pause and reflect. And maybe you too need time to take a breath. Do we all have our right foot pressed so firmly to the gas pedal that we are speeding along neglecting to see the little ways in which we are avoiding kindness and compassion? Are we taking the time to ask, "What might that person be going through?" before judging them or, "How often have I worn those very same shoes and not noticed the error of my own ways?" And while it is important that we look outwardly at the world around us -- I'd say it's almost more important that we look inwardly at those living in our own home. I want to speak more kindly to my children and listen more attentively to my husband. I need more being kind and less "getting it done" in this sacred space I call home. And in that same vein -- be kind to yourself. We are all so self-critical -- judging ourselves and always coming up short of our own expectations. Let's make this fall, this moment, about kindness, patience, and compassion. There is not enough of it around these days and if there were more I know we would all be happier. This is my fall resolution.
This fall don't forget to:
- Hold the door for the person behind you.
- Take the time to thank your child's teacher for making the transition into the new school year a smooth one.
- Tell your spouse you love them and appreciate the hard work they do whether it be at-home parenting or slugging it out at a desk all day.
- Be kind to yourself. Sit down and drink a warm cup of tea or coffee. As the seasons change our bodies are more susceptible to illness. Warm drinks are healing and take the chill out of the fall air.
- Send a thoughtful note to a friend you haven't talked to in a long time. The written word is NOT dead. It often means more than an email that is too easily deleted...
- Read your child a book. In the middle of the day on the weekend while resisting the urge to check email or text messages.
- Bake cookies. From scratch. And deliver them to a friend who you know needs them this week.
- Give someone a genuine compliment.
- Wait 10 seconds longer and let the person whose car arrived at the two-way stop sign at the same time as you proceed before you. It just might make their day a little happier.
- Be grateful.
- Be graceful
- Be good.
*And an added bonus -- this sermon was delivered to my bible study on Sept. 18th by Nathan Hart, the assistant pastor at Stanwich Church in Greenwich, CT. It really resonated with me and had me thinking about changes big and small that need to be made in my life right now. http://nathanhart.org/rivulets/