Got kindness?

Sure, as human types, we’ve all got a massive capacity for kindness.  Having been blessed to receive and witness countless kindnesses over my lifetime, I’m constantly blown away by how kind people can be.  Want to be.

Sometimes where I stumble is by not knowing where to begin in the face of the gaping wide need that there is for kindness.  Yesterday, I could only get through a few moving newspaper articles before being consumed by a sense of worthlessness since I couldn’t head off immediately to Brooklyn to help the hurricane victims and I couldn’t volunteer all day at the local food pantry.

How could I make my contribution to add the sparkle of kindness to this splendid and careworn world as I also needed to attend to a family emergency and prepare for Thanksgiving after going to the grocery store?  Initially paralyzed by my own powerlessness, I suddenly thought, START ANYWHERE.

Oh, right.  If I can be kind to anyone anywhere, even a little, it could help.  Better yet, if I’m kind to many most of the time, it may matter.  To someone.  Because I do believe very deeply in the wise words of Plato (or whoever actually said): “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

So, after I made a donation to some hurricane relief efforts and the food pantry,  I tossed on my Santa Hat to head out on my errands.  It may seem small, even inconsequential at times, my wearing this Hat.  But as I navigated the grocery store crowded with hurrying, tense shoppers and staff, I saw the many smiles and I heard the joy in people’s comments. I felt the warmth of human connection.

The deli staff person teased me.  The lovely cashier was tickled that I’m not with an organization, that I just wear the Hat to spread whimsy.  She had so many pointed questions about my Santa experiences, I wondered if I’ll soon see her wearing a Santa Hat.

When I tried to buy the stranger behind me a coffee, he was so flustered, he couldn’t remember his order.  Why would I want to do that, buy him a coffee?  Just because.  Happy Thanksgiving.  The little girl next to me tugged on her mom’s sleeve and gleefully cried “Santa!”  People shouted “ho ho ho” at me and called out “love your Hat” in the parking lot.

Yes, they’re just moments, gone in a flash of a smile or a twinkle of an eye.  But maybe they give someone a teeny tiny lift.  The ride is a whole lot more easeful and joyful with those little boosts.  And maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to contribute more.

In the meantime,  Wordsworth’s sage observation resonates. “[T]hat best portion of a good man’s life, His little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love….” (thanks, Angie,  Happy Thanksgiving….

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Thank you

I’ll make this brief.

When I started writing exactly one year ago, I sought to provide a bit of shine to the world for a few weeks over the holidays by sharing some heartwarming stories that mattered to me.  I’d hoped I would create a record of some of my adventures in my Santa Hat. I had wondered what writing would be like and figured it was worth a go for the brief holiday season.

Who would have thought I’d discover a fresh and exciting passion!   No, I never anticipated the deep fulfillment and thrilling rollercoaster ride of writing that had previously been offered only by my dancing. I never expected to hear back from readers from all over the world and from right next door.  I never dreamed that I would find in writing this blog and her daughter blog, Sirena Tales, an outlet to express creativity and a vehicle to explore what’s enchanting and deeply meaningful to me.

Writing is a new friend that helps me focus my lens on the world, and fine tune how I wish to experience and make my contribution to it.

Funny. I didn’t expect magic, but I got it.

So, if you’re reading this or if you’ve ever read any of my posts, and especially if you’ve ever given me any feedback, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.  This writing thing has been transformative and wondrous.  I can’t wait to keep at it, as lonely and uncertain as it may feel sometimes. Because it’s enchanting.  And I’m grateful.

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You wear your Santa Hat for the kids…in all of us

You’re not sure you’ll start wearing the Hat today.  You’re just going for a short walk around the block and then to an open art studio.  There won’t be many people about and the sunshine provided by Mother Nature seems to be offering lots of sparkle.  Maybe the world doesn’t need yours.

Plus, you feel vulnerable to possible critics who may tell you you’re too early.  Which makes you wonder again just how much joy is too much?  Your joy quota, as it were.   Hmmmmm.  Why is it that we often seem to accept, and even feed, a spate of negativity but dole out the joy vouchers pretty stingily?  You’ll never ever understand that.

You put on your Santa Hat.

Within minutes, you’re reminded of why.  Why do you ever doubt it? Same thing, year after year after year after spangly year.  Nine or ten years, actually, of wearing your Santa Hat as you go about your life.  In big cities and farm country, at the seashore and in your suburban neighborhood.  With good friends and complete strangers, the same lovely, heartwarming experience of people seeking to laugh, be playful, connect.

Passersby volunteer that they like your Hat or call out “Ho ho ho” with a knowing smile.  Total strangers tell you they’ve been good this year.  A neighbor you’ve passed so many times with no contact whatsoever now chuckles over your chapeau and exchanges best wishes with you for Thanksgiving and the holidays.  A woman at the gallery offers that “we should all be wearing one of those.” OK!

And then the piece de resistance. You don’t even see it coming because you’re crossing the street, momentarily blinded by the sun’s radiance.  But as you’re regaining your vision and the sidewalk, a young voice a few feet away attests gleefully “I LOVE your Santa Hat!”  You turn to see 2 little girls, standing with their mom, shining smiles a bit wonderingly up at you. Emboldened to call out to you by the Santa Hat.

Those twinkling, slightly quizzical smiles.  You’ve seen them before.  These wee ones are not sure whether you’re actually part of the Santa band or just a grownup who wants to spread the joy.  But as you and they all know, either way, it’s magic.

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Santa Hat Countdown: ‘Still going for it

Some of the response I received on my last post, “The tough job of being joyful,” has gotten me to examining my world view and my mission to spread joy.  As I rev up for my 9th or so year of wearing my Santa Hat during the holidays, I’m standing here, fingering my freshly cleaned, ruby red Hat, wondering.

Am I being false and deluded donning this Santa Hat, year after year, seeking to sprinkle sparkle in an often dark world?  Am I failing to value the darkness by shining light?  Am I taking an easier path by focusing, when I can, on that light?

I say no.  (Hey, at least I asked the questions :)).

Here’s what I’m thinking:  We each have something unique and wonderful that we alone can offer the world, that we need to offer the world.  As much as we can, we’ve got to try to figure out what the heck that is and bring it.

Sometimes things go swimmingly and sometimes stuff gets in the way. Distracts, deters, drains and, sometimes, defeats us.  Other folks moving down their paths alongside us have their own cool, resplendent selves that they’re developing, and, ideally, contributing to the ever-evolving cosmic stew.

Something I personally love to and can foster is a sense of joy and beauty.  And by beauty, I don’t mean merely the pretty, because ugliness can glitter in its own magical way.  So, if I can, I will try to scatter some spangles into the universe as I stumble, crawl, gambol, leap, slink, fall, get up and try to get going again on my path.

I hear from many fellow travelers that they appreciate this, that it helps them on their own ride.  Whether it’s my wearing my Santa Hat  or giving voice to my love of dance and creativity or my gallows humor.  It makes them smile or feel hopeful, inspired or joyful. Excellent.

Some days it takes more effort than others for me to do this. Some days, the ride is so bumpy that I can’t even say sparkle let alone embody it.

But if I possibly can, as I steer like crazy navigating this wild ride, I will continue to work the joy.  I will take the time to notice and appreciate the souls I meet in my daily round, the cashiers and the dental staff and the person next to me in the grocery line.  I will go out of my way to support and say thank you.  I will wish a lovely Thanksgiving to as many as I can and make an extra batch of cookies for folks I don’t know and find ways to connect to people.

I see and feel the darkness, sure.  I just want to be aware that if I’m giving my energy to that, it’s the result of a conscious choice, not an unconscious reflex.  And when I possibly can, I’m adding sparkle to the mix; ‘makes the world taste richer, more complex and ideally happier.  I expect others add a limitless array of other gifts and I value that.

So, heck yeah, as I’m sitting here at the computer, I just put on my Santa Hat, fluffier than ever (thank you cleaners!).  I crank up Beyonce, and start dancing in my robe amidst the remnants of the morning.  The bad news mixed with the laughter, the dirty dishes, the sunshine, the difficult phone call.  And I’m shouting  LOVE!!

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Surf, Santa and a HAPPY New Year

Yes.  The Santa Hat and I made the trip to Coast Guard Beach on Outer Cape Cod.  I think it was The Hat’s maiden voyage to that magical sea home to so many of my treasures.  Experiences, memories.  Dreams.

Near gale-force winds roiled the ocean into huge waves that thhhuuuRRRRRooommed onshore.  And whipped and yanked at The Santa Hat.

I kept grabbing at it and clutching it to keep it on my head.  Just as I try to hold onto The Santa Hat’s magic, as it and I get jostled and tossed by life’s challenges.  (Nice imagery, Mother Nature).

When I returned home and went for a walk today, sans Santa Hat, I was reminded by the eyes of passersby of why I love wearing that Hat.  I smile the same smile, reach with my eyes across the chasm between me and other people.

But, no.  The doubletakes and grins, the openness, the sense of possibility are often gone.  Just like when I walked in the dark recently.  I passed one house just as the homeowner drew the curtains across the twinkling lights, warmth and color inside.  And I stood outside facing a blank.

So, as I was being blown around at the ocean, I asked her how to keep alive this sense of possibility, connection and adventure. The answer was rich and right there in front of me.  The sea!!

So, I’ll pack Ye Olde Santa Hat away in the Christmas Box, thankful for another year of laughs and cookies and connections.  I may write once in awhile about that Hat.  But mostly, I’ll be writing in my new blog,  About beauty and the sea and things that enchant me.  Hope you’ll visit.  And I wish you a gorgeous and happy 2012. LOVE    


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Merry Christmas–oops– and a question

Merry Christmas!!  I was sending those wishes all day yesterday, Christmas Day.  I hope you had a lovely day.

Why didn’t I post that? I guess because I kept speaking it and my Hat kept saying it.  I assumed everybody heard me.

And, truth be told, although I thought about this blog a lot on Christmas Day, it was mostly that I kept trying, trying to work out how to proceed.

Sure, there are a few more days of The Hat.  Like today, when I was wearing my Santa Hat to the pharmacy and an older gentleman cried out in dismay that I’d missed his house last night!  And passersby continued to comment and smile.

But as these adventures wane for another year, I’m realizing how much I’ve loved writing.  How much I’ll miss it.  And I’m wondering whether there may be something else to write about till next Christmas.

So, tomorrow I’m taking The Hat on a road trip.  To the ocean.  And I’m hoping that the sea will once again give me an answer.

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How Do I Hold Onto It?

I get to this point every year.  As my time wearing The Santa Hat winds down for another season, I wonder how I can even come close to having this sense of connection with other people? 

Sure, I try smiling and looking for opportunities to chat with folks.  But The Hat sends such a strong signal of openness, playfulness, lightness.  I can’t seem to approximate that without The Hat.  And people don’t respond in the same way.

My younger son suggests that I wear The Santa Hat way beyond the holidays.  Hmmmm.  I’m not quite ready to do that, although it could definitely be an interesting social experiment :).

I guess for now, I’ll go back over this season’s memories and hold them as close to my heart as possible.  And in a few days when I put away The Santa Hat  for another year, I’ll try to pretend for as long as possible that I’m still wearing it!

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