Give, Get, Give

I mentioned before how speaking and thinking positively makes a difference; the more positive you are, the more positive things come your way. It’s exactly the same with negative thinking; if you get up, look out the window and say, “It’s going to be an awful day,” I’ll guarantee that you will have an awful day.

When I learned to speak “as if,” it made all the difference. If I was down to my last dollar, I’d say to myself, “that’s ok; there’ll be more money soon.” And behold and lo, there always was. I’m not saying I tripped over a stack of hundred dollars bills, just a bit of cash here and there when I needed it.

The times when I would wake up in a bad mood, I learned to clean out my brain and change my attitude by saying something like, ‘today is going to be GREAT.’ I would repeat it over and over again (by the way, experts in this field say that repeating the same phrase at least 13 times ‘cements’ it into your brain), and before long, I felt a lot better.

Anyone who has known me for a long time knows how cranky, crabby, spiteful, selfish, and passive-aggressive I was in the past (and still fight it from time to time), so it’s taken time to turn that around. Life is so much easier now with a better attitude.

If I have learned anything at all, it’s that change can show up out of left field. You don’t see it coming, but sure enough, it zeroes right in on you. Case in point: the Crankee Yankee has had his beloved old red 1993 Toyota T-100 sitting in the driveway with a For Sale sign on it. He had a lot of lookers, but no takers.

Last fall as my mother went into home Hospice, she and my dad gave me their wonderful KIA Rondo as they didn’t need two cars. It was such a welcome gift; our old car was on its last legs, and a neighbor bought it right after we got the KIA.

For the last year or so, a dear friend of ours, Ed, a widower and fellow model railroad enthusiast, became ill and needed several trips to Mass General Hospital in Boston. The Crankee Yankee drove him there and back many times, visited him often, and kept his spirits up. Ed had lost his wife a year or so ago, and wanted to sell his second vehicle, a Chevy truck. He and the Crankee Yankee had agreed on a very fair price, but as luck would have it, we had some expenses come up. So the deal was on hold indefinitely.

One day completely out of the blue, Ed insisted that he turn the truck title over to the Crankee Yankee. The agreement was ‘pay me or don’t pay me; I just want you to have the truck.’ So, again—a wonderful vehicle appeared when needed.

Back to the Crankee Yankee trying to sell his old T-100. He surprised the life out of me when he said, “You know, we have been gifted with two great vehicles. I’m not going to sell the T-100; I’m going to give it away. You never know, some kid might be able to fix it and use it and then he’ll have a vehicle.”

I was so proud of him I had to hold back tears. He was right; we were given much, and it was time to give back. Then, on the same day, a young guy showed up in the driveway, asking about the three windows we had for sale (the Crankee Yankee is slowly but surely replacing our downstairs windows). He bought them all for $200, which came in just when we needed it!

Coincidence? Nope, not at all.


The Kindness of Strangers

I am a big fan of the Kindness Blog; it showcases many acts of kindness, and often brings me to tears. It got me thinking about the many kindnesses I have received in my life—how they came seemingly out of nowhere. They were so appreciated, and when I am having a bad day, the memory of those kindnesses warms my heart.

When I was in my 30s, I was visiting my mom and dad. In the morning I found that my car wouldn’t start, and I had to get to work. Mom had just gotten a brand new orange VW bug (the first new car she ever had), and both she and Dad pressed me to borrow it. At first I said that I couldn’t do that, that I would have my car towed to the local station and wait for it.

However, I had just started my job, and worried about having to take time off right away. My parents assured me that it was no problem for me to borrow the car, and that they would see to my car. I thanked them and took the VW, but I was worried that something would happen while I had Mom’s new car.

Well, something DID happen. It was a cold morning, and there was ice on the roads. As I took my exit off the highway, the car slid all the way over to the right side of the exit. I wasn’t going fast, but the ice caused the car to boomerang from one side to the other, finally flipping it over completely.

I ended up right-side up, facing traffic, but out of the way. I was terrified; I knew  I shouldn’t have borrowed the car, and now the roof was smashed in and one window was broken. Back then there were no cell phones, and all I could think of to do was to stand beside the car, hoping that someone would stop.

Someone did—an older man with gray hair and blue eyes. He stopped beside the car, rolled down his window and took my hand. He asked me if I was all right; except for a few bumps and bruises, I was. Then I started crying and said, ‘but this is my mom’s new car!’

The man looked up at me and smiled. He said, ‘your mom will understand. The car can be fixed, but there is only one of YOU.” He told me that he would go straight to the nearest police station and send someone out to help me. I can still see this man’s kind face to this day. How lucky I was that he saw me and stopped.

There have been many acts of sheer kindness in my life, for which I am grateful. I try each day to extend kindness wherever I can, both to honor the givers in my life; remember them and to give back whenever possible. When I do, I vividly remember the man’s blue eyes and the kindness in them. Because of that man, I have tried to be an ‘instrument of peace,’ and to give back when I can.

How many acts of kindness have you experienced? Do you remember them all? I hope that there have been many. 🙂

We Are Bashert

I recently read this; “‘bashert’ is Yiddish for ‘meant to be together.'” Doesn’t that just say it all? When you are with someone you love and care for, whether it is for 10 years or 60 years, you get that ‘meant to be’ rightness of it all. And when that other person leaves your life through death, the feeling of bashert is still strong. The connection is still there.

Bashert’ resonated with me. It gave a name to what I have been feeling since my mother died on December 16 last year. Although I miss the sound of her voice and the sight of her smile, I know with my whole soul that she is still with me. She is free from the pain of the cancer that claimed her, free from worry, free from fear; she is free in all ways. In that freedom she can check in on my dad and me, and all those whom she loved.

The feeling of ‘meant to be together’ transcends death. Of course, there is grief. It’s not that you ever get over grief, you just learn how to live with it. It’s a lot like losing an arm or a leg; you are not the same any longer, but you can still survive well. The fact that we and those who have gone on are now in different planes of existence does not mean that we cannot still feel that never-ending love.

Just that simple word, ‘bashert,’ has already brought me peace and comfort. Going on the supposition that we choose our parents before we are born; we choose those who will help us evolve into the people we want/need to be. My mother used to tell me about her own growing up. She was the last of five children; a “surprise” her mother was not happy about. Her mother adored her sons, but wasn’t at all happy about having this one last girl.

But, as Mom said, although her childhood was hard and sometimes unhappy, she declared that it made her the strong person she became. She felt she had chosen people who would make sure that she would be strong and independent, and boy–was she!

There are deep mysteries we are not given to know while on earth, but my own belief is that we are in “school” during our time on earth. Here is where we learn how to use the gifts and talents we were given. Here is where we meet those who will be significant in our lives. Here is where we learn who we are and why we are here. Here is where we learn ‘bashert.’

I have referenced this before, but it bears repeating again:

“*Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:

The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,

Hath had elsewhere its setting,

And cometh from afar:

Not in entire forgetfulness,

And not in utter nakedness,

But trailing clouds of glory do we come.”

*From William Wordsworth’s “Ode — Intimations of Immortality for Recollections of Early Childhood”