The Kindness of Strangers

“Rule 39” Leroy Jethro Gibbs

As I write this, I’m sitting at Gate C9 at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport waiting to board a flight home. It’s just a little after 7am on a Sunday morning, and the sun just rose on what promises to be a well-deserved beautiful day for the people in ATL. It’s been a pretty rainy summer here!!

I’ve never been a big fan of flying, especially now in the post-9/11 world, but sometimes you just have to suck it up and do what needs to be done. My mom is having some rather serious surgery tomorrow morning and I have to be there to support her & my dad.

Last night was not the best night for sleeping and I’ll admit to being a bit on the cranky side this morning. I couldn’t use the “no coffee yet” thing as an excuse since I’d already had breakfast AND coffee-I was just crabby from lack of sleep. I decided to try the self-tag kiosk to tag my bag (flying Southwest—bags fly free!!) but the scanner was not cooperating. I could not get it to scan the boarding pass from my phone screen to save my life. I started to walk away from the kiosk mumbling, “screw technology” under my breath but apparently I said it louder than I thought. A lady standing in line offered to help me and while I felt I didn’t deserve for someone to be nice to me with my bad attitude, I accepted her help. Her name is Andra, and she was WONDERFUL!! She keyed in my confirmation number, printed out my luggage tag, attached it to my bag, and printed out my boarding pass, “in case your phone dies,” all in a very calm voice with a beautiful smile on her face. She told me she flies almost every day for her job as a crisis manager. It appears to me she’s VERY good at her job!! She did all this for a cranky old lady she’d never met before because, in her words, “it’s just better to be nice to people.” She’s right-it is. I learned a valuable lesson this morning from a stranger whom I’ll probably never see again, but I won’t soon forget the kindness of this person who decided I was worth a few minutes of her busy time. Thank you, Andra. You’re a gem of a lady!!

I also noticed kindness is contagious-a gentleman who observed our interaction allowed us to go in front of him and check our bags. I didn’t get his name but I feel pretty certain he was affected by Andra’s kindness, too. I walked away from the airline counter wondering what I had done to warrant all these strangers being so nice to me. My plan is to pay it forward to someone I encounter who is having a bad day. I’ll let you know how it goes!!

So now I’m sitting at the gate waiting to board. One of my favorite Daffy Duck cartoons is on the gate monitor. They’re showing Boomerang (a division of Cartoon Network) instead of the usual CNN, which is a refreshing change…

[UPDATE] It’s one day later and, as I write this, I’m sitting with my dad waiting for my mom to be moved to her hospital room. According to her doctor, her procedure had the “Best Possible Outcome” and she could be home as early as tomorrow. Prayers answered! 🙂

[UPDATE #2] It’s day 2 post-op and Mom is home and doing well. I’m flying home to my guys today and will be sure to help anyone I see who is struggling with the travel technology. Life is GOOD!

So, have you encountered the kindness of a stranger? Have YOU been the stranger showing kindness to your fellow man with no expectation of anything except feeling good in return? Please share in the comments.

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

Practicing Gratitude

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” William Arthur Ward

I have been a lifetime member of Weight Watchers since 1997. If I could only stick to it, I’d STILL be a non-paying member but, alas, life happened and I’m a few pounds over my weight goal.  I’ve recently recommitted myself to dropping some weight and getting myself healthier so I’ve started attending weekly meetings. One of the things I absolutely LOVE that Weight Watchers has incorporated into their meetings actually has very little to do with food and EVERYTHING to do with attitude. Get your mind right and the rest just falls into place. Each attendee receives a small printed pamphlet each week dedicated to a different life lesson. The one I received this week I felt was worth sharing. It involves practicing gratitude.

It’s so easy sometimes to get caught up in the hustle & bustle of a busy life. It’s also VERY easy to focus on the negative in the world and forget how blessed we truly are. According to Forbes Magazine, an attitude of gratitude can improve both physical and psychological health. My own experience shows this to be true-I feel so much better about the world and my place in it when I make a conscious effort to stop and think about the good things in my life.

The suggested exercise for incorporating practicing gratitude into your routine involves listing out 3 good things that happened in your life in the last 24 hours. Write them down in as much detail as you can, and then write down how you felt during and after experiencing these good things. They don’t have to be big things; for example, one of the things I regularly observe in my world occurs when I’m pumping gas in my car. I can regularly fill my tank (even at the sometimes higher-than-I-like prices) without giving a second thought to how I’m going to pay for it. Some people have to trade off putting gas in the car or putting groceries on the table. There once was a day when I may have had to make that choice, but it’s not that way now. For that, I am truly grateful.

My challenge to you is this-set aside a few minutes 3 or 4 times per week to practice gratitude. It’s not always easy to see the good in life but it’s so important to your well-being to really make a conscious effort to look around and feel gratitude for the good things in your life. Even in your most challenging times, the good is there. Maybe it’s a little hard to see it, but it’s there. It might not be anything more than seeing a beautiful flower in bloom, a colorful butterfly perched on your window, or a happy child at play. Make it a habit to regularly focus on being grateful and before you know it you’ll start feeling more energized, more optimistic, and more positive. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…