Hello Again

Last week I challenged you to say hello to at least 5 strangers. The point of the challenge is for us to become more aware of those around us. Let’s keep saying hello but go further and start a conversation.

I had a couple of interesting encounters but mostly I say “hey” and smile and the other person does the same. Some people don’t say anything but smile as they walk past me. I’ve noticed if I’m waiting in line and say hello a conversation usually takes place. Today I had a really nice talk with an older gentleman as we sat in the waiting room of the dental office. He told me about his wife and praised her biscuit making skills. She makes them for him every morning.

When I took this challenge a couple of years ago, I met Edna at my local library. She’s an older woman with white hair. She told me she can’t type very well.hello

I also met Mr.Grocery Guy. Although I didn’t get his name, I found out he’s working on his degree in finance and he turned down a great intern opportunity to marry the love of his life. He and his love are now divorced after 2 years of marriage. I told him I was sorry and he told me it was okay. He is back on track with his finance career goals. I learned all of this while he was helping me get my groceries to my car. I told him good luck with his endeavors and he said a hearty “thank you”.

The most interesting conversation was with a young mother in the parking lot at the library. I noticed her talking on her cellphone very loudly and I smiled at her. When I came out of the library she stopped me as she was driving out of the parking lot. She apologized for her shouting. She explained that she doesn’t always do that then shared more about her situation. Her husband is out of work and instead of going with her to look for a job as planned, he went with his friends to make a drug run. I put my hand on hers and asked her name, then her husband’s name. I told her I was sorry about what she’s going through and she drove off.

I’m unsure of why she felt like she needed to share that.

Except this: she wants someone to know. She wants to feel less alone in her fight. Her heart is breaking for her children and she needs to know someone cares. She needs hope.

Do these encounters matter? I think so. I know they matter to me. They keep me connected to others and their hurts. While I’m worrying what to fix for dinner the young mother from the library parking lot is worrying for the safety of her children. That shakes me up. It forces me to get out of my comfortable middle class world and get out there and do something…..anything that can help give people hope.

There’s lots of ways to help. Serve meals to the homeless, teach a class to women at a transition home, volunteer at your local schools, tutor kids, mentor young people, visit nursing home residents or those in prison, become certified as foster parents. These are all ways to make a difference.

Or you could buy a house in a deprived neighborhood, fix it up, and live there. I have friends who are doing this. This isn’t a year long project or a temporary deal either. They’ve been there 6 years. They’re living right where the help is needed, building life-giving relationships and making a difference in their neighborhood.

It’s called living on purpose. It’s called living like it matters.

And it can start with hello.

I will issue another challenge soon.  Until then, keep saying hello.

If We Pay Attention

You are to pay special attention to those who by accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you. ~ Saint Augustine

We came into closer connection with a lot of people on our trip to Colorado.

Smiles or nods were exchanged with most of the people we saw. Or a slight raise of the hand as I passed fellow runners on the trails. Hikers seem especially courteous.

Words were exchanged with some of the people. An older gentleman commented on the collegiate sweatshirt my daughter was wearing while eating breakfast one day. While strolling downtown, a shopkeeper let us know she could see we weren’t from around there. That started a really nice conversation with her.

The waiter at the restaurant chuckled when my daughter ordered sweet tea then offered her something else.

We met a mother and daughter from Chicago on one of our hikes. The daughter is looking at the local college. Her mother was nervous on the hike, worried about bears and mountain lions but mostly the edges of the mountains and going higher and higher.

We met our son’s friends for the first time. We cooked for them and ate with them. We looked them in the eyes and talked with them and asked them about their lives. I think we were more interested in them than they were in us.

But it was so good to come into closer connection with them.

We learn from others. About them and ourselves. About who we were and who we are and sometimes about who we want to be. We learn about humanity in general.

If we pay attention.

Each one of us has a story. An important one. And we are changed by them.

If we pay attention.

Even from a distance we can be changed and learn from others. I don’t know the climber pictured here on the mountain. When I saw him I was impressed with his smallness. From observing him, I learn that he is brave and he invested a lot of time to be on that mountain.

I’m sure he felt his smallness and that his heart was full of awe and wonder.

Mine was.

Saintly

This part of the Three Quotes for Three Days Challenge issued by my friend Vanessa at Simple Joys.  Thank you Vanessa.

Embrace the New

When I began this post, I didn’t realize this was going to be another installment in my Live Like it Matters Challenge. But it is.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the challenge of getting back to my running routine since we’ve moved to our new home in a post called My Groove. There are no long quiet country roads like in our previous place. To get to any roads that would work for me, I’d have to cross a busy highway. A few times I ran on our little road without crossing the highway…..back and forth and back and forth, to the highway and back down…..again and again. It wasn’t terrible but it was terribly boring.

My husband reminded me of the park in town but I wouldn’t think of it. I like to walk out my front door and start running. I don’t want to drive to the park to run.

But last week, I drove to the park to run. And I did it again two days later. And I’ve done it again a couple of times since.

So I guess the park is part of my new groove and I’m glad it is.image

First, it’s forced me to rethink my fitness. I still run, but not daily. I’ve included other things into my fitness and I needed to do that anyway.

Second, I’ve met some really cool people at the park. Like Mark. He’s an older gentlemen with 3 dogs and a disability. He doesn’t work. His wife passed away several years ago with cancer. In the only conversation we’ve ever had, he told me about his father, his wife, his disability, his dogs, the mission trips his father took, and some other things about his life. I listened.

I think he needed someone to listen.

I also met Adam. I saw his t-shirt when he ran passed me in the opposite direction and I made a comment. When I saw him again he was running in my direction and slowed down to speak. He and his family live near the park. He loves to run and has recently competed in a Spartan Race, which is where he got the t-shirt. I’ve heard about the Spartan Races and thought about doing one. I found out more information and…..who knows. I may see him at a Spartan Race one day.

Now I understand that this “new” thing, this new groove of mine, is another opportunity to Live Like it Matters.

There’a always going to be something new in our lives. Some new things are big. Some are small. A new job, a changed job description, or a layoff. A different house, another kid, a friend moves away, your dog dies or your water heater bursts and ruins every floor in your house.

New is different and sometimes it hurts. But any new thing in your life can be an opportunity.

There’s really no other option but to embrace it and make the best out of it if you want to be a happy person.

Because you matter and what you do matters.