Week #2 of my December writing project draws to a conclusion. I had a near miss one day on a post that didn’t get up until 11:30 p.m. In fact I had actually given up on the streak on a busy holiday Friday until I noticed a message on my phone while in the bathroom at Martyr’s Bar that saved the day. I also stirred a small bit of controversy along the way, but it was diffused by another friend and fellow kindness seeker. I noticed cookie bakers, elevator holders and tree planters. All in all it was a great week. Here’s a recount of my seven daily gratitude posts for last week. Here’s hoping I can keep the roll going for another week!
Thank you to a Stranger #8
Finally I’ve got one that’s short and funny, just like the guy who caused it! Yesterday I walked up the the Maitre D’ stand at Joes and said welcome to a single guest who had walked in while I was back in the kitchen. I asked how he was doing and this is how he responded:
“Well I’m short, I’m fat and I’m bald and I’m still having a great day. I’m going to have lunch in the bar by myself…”
His energy was so bright and positive and his delivery was so funny. All I could think to say in return was “I love everything about you!”
So thank you to the funny short guy who reminded me that we can either focus on what it is or what it isn’t. And thank you for making me smile big!
Thank you to s stranger #9
Monday night I found myself walking on Michigan Avenue during the post-work rush hour. Michigan Avenue is always a scene, but even more so in December. The mix of local workers, shoppers, out of town tourists and homeless people looking for help are just a few of the souls who fill the streets. It can be beautiful and overwhelming all at the same time.
I saw many of the typical scenes in the people I passed on the streets. I saw people Face timing in their phones as they walked. I saw people dashing into traffic to cross the street even when they didn’t have the right of way. I heard cars honking angrily at other cars that didn’t move fast enough. Then as I crossed Superior as I walked south on Michigan Avenue I saw this:
I saw a man and a woman in wheelchairs rolling side by side at a casual pace and they were holding hands. I’ve seen countless wheelchairs on the streets of Chicago in my 25 years but I’ve never seen two people in wheelchairs holding hands. I made eye contact with the gentleman and smiled. He smiled back. Then I just stood there and watched them roll south. The scene defined such a simple beauty of all that is right in this world.
So thank you to the couple in the wheelchairs on Michigan avenue who reminded me that even in the hustle and bustle of the December rush hour, there is time to slow down, to love, the help each other and to touch our fellow humans in any way possible.
Thank you to a Stranger #10
For my first 24 years in Chicago I lived within a stone’s throw of the intersection of Roosevelt and Clark. When Christiana and I moved to the north edge of the city a year and a half ago it was very unsettling to me.
Over time I’ve come to appreciate the many beautiful places I have to enjoy in my north side home. I enjoy traveling on new streets that I have not explored before. I enjoy eating in restaurants. I love the park behind the house. The north side has truly become my home.
Of all the beautiful places in my neighborhood, I think my favorite might just be a sign on Foster Avenue near Ashland that simply says “You are Beautiful.” I’ve seen it a bunch of times, but yesterday when I saw it I wanted to know more.
Sure enough it is a global project started in Chicago by artist Matthew Hoffman. It’s an amazing story. He started with bumper stickers. He raised money to put up signs. He’s even been on Super Soul Sunday. You can read more about it if you life at youarebeautiful.com.
So thank you Matthew Hoffman for helping me love my new neighborhood even more and thank you for taking your vision and making it happen while at the same time making the world a better place. You may be a stranger now but I hope to meet you someday.
Thank you to a stranger #11
And there I was at the end of a 19 hour holiday December day of non stop insanity thinking it finally happened. I finally missed a daily post. If it had happened it would have been okay. I could have accepted that it was supposed to be that way. It’s not an all or nothing proposition.
But then I noticed I got a Facebook message from someone who started following me at some point along the way. Somebody I had never met before. It simply said, “I missed seeing you post today.”
So there it is. Thank you for noticing. Looks like the streak is alive…
Thank you to a Stranger #12
Do you ever walk around in a park and wonder who planted the trees you are looking at? I know that a good number of them grew from seed or sapling that occurred naturally, but some of them were definitely planted with intention.
One of my favorite people on the planet is a tree planter. Mike Dooley, author of Infinite Possibilities is a secret tree planter and if I remember correctly he said he’s planted over a thousand trees in his days. My Dad was a tree planter too. He would collect the seedlings of the maples in our yard and cultivate them in pots until they were big enough to plant in the soil.
As I’ve been doing this series of little stories I’ve gradually been shaking off the rust of a one month absence from writing. I’m doing pretty well in my mind. I’ve also been trying to shake off the rust and get back into my early morning outdoor park workouts where I do a little yoga and my martial arts. Let’s just say I haven’t been quite as consistent there yet.
This morning though, I managed to get outside and enjoy some time with my many tree friends in the park. I love them all but I do have a particular favorite. It’s a white pine and if I Had to guess I’d say it’s about 20-25 years old. It has a perfect branch structure and an imperfect lean that makes it even more perfect. It’s right outside my garage.
I know in my heart that somebody planted this tree with intention. I’ll never get to tell them directly how much joy they have brought to my life as I gaze at the tree in between poses or katas, but I can tell them here.
So thank to the stranger that planted the pine tree that has become such an important part of the last year and a half of my journey. I wonder if you knew at the time you were creating such a joyful friendship? Maybe I’ll plant one of my own out there too!
Thank you to a stranger #13
Sometimes it’s the simplest of things that change the direction of your day:
As I said in my post yesterday, I’ve been working on getting my early morning activity mojo back in gear. I decided to go to hot yoga this morning but was pressed for time because I wanted to stop and get a few things at the store on the way so I could get home to Christiana and have breakfast right after class.
As I was leaving the store with an armful of bags I was sure that I was going miss the elevator that was about to close in the distance. Even the 90 seconds of delay might have put my arrival at class on time in question. Sure enough the lady in the elevator saw me approaching and held the doors.
As a result I made my class just in time. It was a wonderful class that I totally needed. I came out of class in a great place mentally which helped me a good deal when we attended shiva this afternoon for a co-worker who left his body earlier this week.
As we sit at home tonight and finish decorating our Christmas tree I think back the first person I interacted with in the early hours of the morning. I am grateful for the fact that you took the time to wait a second to save me a minute which quite possibly changed the direction of my day. Even the simple acts of courtesy and kindness can have a exponential effect…
Thank you to a Stranger #14
The Power of Cookies
While many of the days in December are full of activity at the restaurant, there are a few quieter days along the way and today was one of those. About halfway through the afternoon a lady who I recognized by face but didn’t know by name walked through the front door carrying a holiday gift tin.
She walked right up to me and said, “I hope your diet allows for you to eat some cookies. You are always so nice to me and to everybody for that matter so when I was baking yesterday I made you some of my old fashioned oatmeal cookies. They are the ones from the recipe that used to be on the Quaker oats tin back in the 50s and 60s but you can’t find the recipe anymore. My mom used to make them too I hope you’ll enjoy”
I thanked her and told her that I would have one right after my lunch in an hour or so. See I don’t even like oatmeal cookies, but I figured if there was a good one on the planet it would be these ones. The box smelled divinely of three things; fresh oats, butter and vanilla.
So after lunch I made a cup of expresso and ate the most delicious oatmeal cookie I’ve ever tasted. I think the reason it was so tasty was because they were baked with love, they came with a great story and they were an act of thoughtfulness that said so much more than a simple compliment might say.
So thank you to the lady who baked me oatmeal cookies. You kindness made a quiet December Monday oh so special!