Thursday, January 31, 2013

Be Bright: The Twelve Months of Christmas

[creative spark]

Here we are. The evening of January 31st. Already?

Over this past year, I've decided that resolutions are actually made from a great place. Of good intentions. But do you remember your resolution for 2013?

Are you doing it?

When there's a horrible event, or a bizarre weather catastrophe, or yes, even that simple flip to a new calendar year, we all seem to pull together. With well-intended ideas. Something that jolts us out of our routine can easily spark something deep inside of us. But it's up to us on those not-so-sparky-days to keep at it. Keep it alive. Those ideas can often fade to be replaced by some other event, or just our busy lives throughout the year.

And I wonder if you remember the resolution you made last year? In 2012?

I do.

I'm actually not a resolution-maker. And, well, I didn't actually 'make' my 2012 resolution either. But I did listen to the one that seemed to find me.

We don't often know the details or deep joys or pains of those around us. And maybe it's not ours to know. But for some reason, someone very close to me shared an extraordinarily generous gift over Christmas 2011. For a number of reasons, this humbled me. I was and still am extraordinarily grateful. This person had not only brought me into the world but, in many ways, also showed me the world. So much of my exploring spirit, and courage, is rooted in this person. Someone who can reach out to strangers, but has a harder time reaching inside. When this gift was given to me, an idea seemed to swoop down into my soul right along with it:

Share it.

And so I did.

Now before I continue, I feel compelled to say that I was tentative on sharing this story as it was a private decision ever since the idea struck in December 2011 with the gift I received. But as I got to thinking, what if this inspires someone else? Then this gift multiplies.

So that's it.

I decided to get one $10 gift card each month throughout the year. I don't care to hand out actual money, but decided that the gift cards should be for: Groceries, Restaurant, Transportation, Clothes... then repeat.

And I did.

I love when ideas hit you that you can't even explain. Just smile, pay attention, hand it to someone in need, and carry on. I also decided to write a simple message to each person each month. And here's what 2012 looked like. 

JANUARY -- to an older black woman near the Silver Spring Metro Starbucks

FEBRUARY -- older man with blond hair in the median heading north on Colesville near Marvin UMC
MARCH -- 40-something white guy at Dale and Georgia Ave. He was holding a sign asking for money for medicine

APRIL -- Homeless black man asleep on a bench in Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring, I just placed it by his things
MAY -- Average-looking older black man on Rockville Pike in front of White Flint Mall

JUNE -- Homeless hispanic woman on Old Democracy in the 270 spur in front of Balducci's
JULY -- Very tall black man at Shepherd's Table, this is the first time that I had to ask 'who takes the metro.'

AUGUST -- Homeless black woman around 9pm in the parking lot outside Panera after my first meeting with my soon-to-be real estate agent to look for my own house. This encounter was bittersweet.

SEPTEMBER -- White man down on his luck sitting outside the Starbucks at Woodmoor. He asked for spare change, I said I didn't have any, but gave him the card. He said, thank you. Thank you very much. 
OCTOBER -- This was 'the' woman. I was on L Street walking to my Metro from my new job. She was on the corner asking for spare change. A black woman about my age. And I walked up, gave this to her, gently smiled, and walked on... I could tell it took her a minute but there was a giddy-ness in her voice when she yelled 'thank you' that reminded me how we ALL could use a touch of compassion. We ALL have the same needs and desires, fears and dreams. And Lord knows these days at the drop of a hat your life can change just like a magic show right before your eyes. For good or for bad. THAT is precisely WHY compassion is needed even more. We don't KNOW the battles other are facing. But we can offer a smile, consideration, respect, and share the things that we are blessed to have receive. Compassion is SO desperately needed.
NOVEMBER -- Loved the child-like eagerness in this question... I was on break during work and passed by a CVS with a black woman sitting out front. I handed the card to her. She smiled, looked at it and asked "how much is on the card?" I said it's on there. And carried on.

DECEMBER -- Of course. "Be Bright." Indeed. This time the final person in this string of 'sharing' a gift given to me, was an older Vietnam Vet, a black man on the corner of... well... Corner Bakery. I just dropped it in his had and kept going.

I think the thing that stands out from this... is that we do not know the troubles and joys and pains that others feel. Sometimes not even those closest to us. Maybe one of those people who had received one of these cards is online and is reading this now?

But we do know this... we are each better when someone extends respect, compassion, generosity, hope, and patience. Even in a very simple, tiny way.

And my hope in this new-ish year is that we each will be bright. No, BRILLIANT! Let your little light shine. FIND the thing that sparks your life and GO after it. And be kind along the way.
But don't just go after it in January.

Don't just be motivated and inspired this month.

'Be bright' all of the twelve months of 2013.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

It's human

[ creative spark ]
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