Monday, November 28, 2011

How Far Would You Go?

I got this in my email this morning as one of those you read and say, "Ahhh!" So I just knew I had to share this with you. Often times we wonder just how we can extend ourselves especially in these hard, economic times and this is a perfect way to help for FREE! I hope you enjoy it~ Love and Hugs ~ Kat


Many years ago I lived in a western country. My very first job saw me employed in the city and I was thrilled to commute to the office by public transport! I had never been employed before and my chances of traveling on a bus by myself had always been very remote.

So, I was very happy with my new lifestyle!

I left home each morning in time to catch the 8.05 bus from the main road. One Autumn morning I could see the bus approaching. I could also see an elderly lady walking with an adorable dog beside her. There were some youngsters behind her.

The bus arrived and we got on. Unlike in eastern countries only eight passengers were permitted to travel standing. I was inside the bus when the conducter called, "Only eight standing passengers! Could the last one to get on please get off?" I saw those youngsters inside, right in front of me, and it occured that they had skipped the queue!

I thought it was me who now had to get off. I turned and saw the elderly lady with her dog about to get off instead. I moved quickly to get in front of her. I encouraged her to stay and got off knowing very well I would be late that morning, but it didn't bother me.

I hadn't noticed at the bus stop. It was only as I moved past her to get off the bus that I realised - she was blind! Her adorable companion was her guide dog!

Well, I eventually got to the office. After the day's work I went to the bus stand in front of my office to make the return journey. What a pleasant surprise! The lady and her dog were there! I was really pleased because I would get a better chance to speak with her. I opened the conversation and she recognized my Asian accent! She asked if I was the same person who helped her that morning. Amazing! From there onwards it was one long happy conversation.

The bus arrived, we got on, and were able to choose any seat as the bus was empty. Knowing that it would make things easy for her I suggested we sat on the long side way seats with her guide dog between us.

Our journey started, and so did her story.

She told me that her husband was a World War Two veteran. He had lost his left arm and part of his left leg in the war. She told me that 10% of the government jobs were reserved for disabled people (at that time) and preference was always to the spouses of war veterans. Because of this they were managing with her salary and his pension.

About half way through the journey the conductor called out again. "NO STANDING ... GET OFF! GET OFF!" Now what?

I looked around only to see the very same youngsters being unruly again! Now it was their turn to be put off the bus!

We arrived at our destination, her special companion on one side and her new-found companion on the other. I helped her cross the road to where an elderly, broad shouldered gentleman with an artificial leg was waiting for her.

It really touched my heart to see how the three of them, helping each other, walked on into the distance. But before we parted I offered to be there every morning and evening to help her get on the bus. Her husband was very pleased with this as it was a real effort for him to walk that far.
Eventually I returned to my home country. Before that I always wondered how they would manage as she had gotten used to me being there? To my delight her retirement arrived just before my departure.

These beautiful memories are still fresh in my mind. When I walk back down memory lane encounters like this one fill my heart with peace and contentment!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Make Invisible People Feel Visible!

You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink. ~G.K. Chesterton

Idea of the Week

Four years ago I decided to make it my gift to those around me that I express to them how much they mean to me..... not JUST my friends and family, but all the people I encounter in my day. That included the baggers at the grocery store, the cashiers at the pharmacy, the bus driver, the garbage pickup man, the mailman, and many others. The more invisible the person (like the garbage pick up man), the more I focused on them. I complimented them on their work, how grateful I was for their contributions to my life, and how appreciative I was for their kindnesses to me. As a result of that single campaign, I am now on a wave-at basis with so many of these individuals! It wasn't that I did anything special; it was that I noticed how special THEY were, and told them so. Who doesn't like to hear that about themselves? I simply wanted to give of my heart and my time to acknowledge how special they were to me.......but in the end, I got WAY more than I ever gave. And now they bring that fabric to life! How blessed I feel with every wave, every smile, every "how ya doing?

Friday, November 11, 2011

It Takes Two to Feed A Hungry Soul

I wanted to share a story that showed up in my email this morning even though the author is unknown. I hope you enjoy it and in return take something away that will touch your heart. Happy Veteran's Day!

Earlier this week, a friend of mine in Toronto, who I will refer to as "M" wrote about her recent experience on the way to work. "M" has been experimenting with acts of kindness and has been challenging her prior beliefs and attitudes toward it - this experience below provides a glimpse of her transformative inner journey and serves to inspire others as many of us can relate to her inner dialogue. Enjoy:

Any passenger on the subway who caught a glimpse of me may have already thought that I was strange as I was smiling while reading Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground. In particular this one gentleman sitting diagonal from me was staring at me, at the cheese bun on the floor in front of me, and then back at me. “Next stop, St. Patrick Station” – my stop was quickly coming up. I had minutes to either take the cheese bun, which nobody else was claiming (as a passenger probably dropped it by mistake and got off at a previous stop), or leave it there and hope that it didn’t go to waste.

In those few minutes I felt my pride getting in the way. “What would other people on this subway think of me if I took the cheese bun? Would they think that I wanted it for myself? Would they think that I was poor and hungry? Would they think that I’m stealing?”

The ignorant thing to do was say “yes” to any of those self-imposed questions, which would only justify my ego and not put my self in an uncomfortable position. But then I’d get off the subway, walk a block up the street to my office, get settled at my desk, and despite feeling comfortable, warm, and being well-fed myself for the whole day, there would be a weight of guilt and regret weighing on my consciousness.

My thoughts were pushing me towards pride and ignorance when the truth was evident: this missing cheese bun is a gift. For a homeless person who is hungry and cold in this morning’s -25 degree weather. For me to overcome a little bit of ego and pass along so much kindness that has been selflessly given to me. For both the homeless person and me to connect (earlier this week I gave a homeless man a bag of peanuts but I didn’t even make an effort to say hello or connect with him which I felt really bad about). It was clear that the homeless person who would receive this cheese bun needed it just as much as I did.

I remembered Lila Watson’s words: “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time; but if you are here because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together."

Just as the doors opened at my stop I grabbed the cheese bun and exited the subway. It felt awesome and I didn’t care if people were looking or what they thought. Instead of going directly to my office as usual, I walked a few more blocks up to Queen’s Park where I have seen a homeless man sitting outside many times on my walk from the gym to my office. I always wanted to give him something. There he was this morning, wrapped in a sleeping bag, wearing a baseball cap with the word “Jesus” stitched on, and his makeshift cardboard sign propped up behind two Tim Horton’s cups for spare change.

I sat down to his level, smiled, and said good morning. He was receptive and just started talking. His name is Wayne and he’s from the east coast of Canada. He looked clean but very cold as his cheeks and nose were red. When I asked him if he knows about Hope Shelter five minutes away on College Street, he cringed and began to describe the shelter situation to me – how unsanitary they are, how there are so many drug addicts there, and how the beds and services are horrible. Like many homeless people, he prefers being on the street. He has been sober and clean for three years, sits alone on the streets to stay away from the addicts, and goes to a job training agency every afternoon. He is really trying to make a better life for himself and get off the street.

Wayne told me how hundreds of people walk by him every morning without even glancing at him, as if he didn’t exist. He just wants to be acknowledged. He was thankful for the cheese bun that I gave him as he tucked it under his sleeping bag for later.

I didn’t expect to receive anything from him but he told me something that I hadn’t realized I needed to hear. With his genuine and kind tone, he reassured me that even if I had nothing to give him, just say hello.

That really eased a lot of the stress that I often have when it comes to giving to others. Sometimes I don’t give anything because I don’t have spare change or food, and I just walk past homeless people with a look of longing…longing to give them something. This morning Wayne reminded me that even when I don’t have money, even when I don’t have food, even when I don’t have anything, I can give myself. I can say hello in recognition that we exist together. So thank you, Wayne, for making me feel full, warm, and comfortable. The cheese bun pales in comparison to the fullness in my soul because of you. I hope you have a great day and I will definitely say hello next time! :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Stop, Look and Listen

I got this story in my email this morning and had to share it because I think it's relevant to our time and our generation. With everything going so quickly, I think we forget the most important things in our day, people! Let us learn from this lesson to Stop, Look and Listen every single day. It may be the most important thing we do all day. ~ Love and Hugs ~ Kat

Its never too late to be what you might have been. -- George Elliot

Idea of the Week

"I was just in town and standing in front of a store. A bearded man came by and politely asked another man who was passing by, "Excuse me, can you help me?" This other man, much more affluent by the look of his clothes, replied in a very rude and abrupt tone, "I dont have time for that right now!!" and kept walking. I suppose he thought the bearded man was going to ask him for money. But that wasn't the case. After he stomped off this man turned to me and asked the same question. It turned out all he wanted was for someone to unclip a watch that was clipped to the back of his pack so he could go in and buy a battery for it. Not a huge request. I was glad to be able to help after the first man had treated him so rudely. This experience reminded me how important it is to stop, look, and listen."