People are kind. They ask me how I’m doing. It’s been ten months since Eric passed and I’m more able to answer that question these days without dissolving into a puddle. I don’t mean that it’s an “accomplishment” to be crying less. It’s more convenient, though, and it’s easier to talk to people I love. I buy less Kleenex.
You know, time really does heal. But when I mentioned this old saying to a wise friend recently, she said, “Yes, honey, but it depends on how you spend your time. You spend it well.”
Oh. True. Yes. There’s that.
What the last ten months have done for me is tenderize me. I didn’t think it was possible for the center of me to be more tender, but it is. It just is.
Kind gestures and natural ways of being especially move me.
The three young women I met this week in the Mills River Family Dental office, honestly, they blew me away. They were awake in their heart, alive in their eyes and their intelligence. They were attentive and aware of anything I might want to know about being a new patient there. This “hello, nice to meet you, what can I do for you” sort of thing is so simple in a way, and yet it makes quite a positive difference to someone like me, walking into their office for the first time.
Then there was the dentist himself, Dr. Stohl, a young guy, a straight shooter. I can say (and mean it) that I look forward to working with him on the lovely project in my mouth.
At Unity of the Blue Ridge last Sunday a dear woman came up to me and gave me a hug. She said, “I wanted to tell you how much I love your writing and the subjects you talk about. Your words have helped me so much. I don’t comment on everything, or let you know that I’ve read it. I just want you to know how your words move me.” Her eyes welled up and she gave me another hug.
Well isn’t that a nice thing to hear? Isn’t that a nice thing to know? Yes. So there’s that kind of tender, too, when someone reaches out and thanks you for who you are and what you do.
Monday evening at Womansong choir rehearsal, director Althea (one of my favorite people on this Earth) did the nicest and most simple, simple thing. I’m the Section Leader for the Middles, and I was dragging my feet about rescheduling the Sectional, which had been cancelled due to weather. (A sectional is a focused practice session scheduled outside of regular choir practice.) Althea and I had a conversation without words about fifteen feet from each other.
She caught my gaze very clearly as if to say, “How ’bout it, Terri, did you reschedule?” I signaled to her that I hadn’t. Did she become upset or cross? Nope. Did she take the opportunity to give a lecture to me or the choir about getting sectionals scheduled in a timely manner? Nope.
She smiled back. Yes, she smiled. As if my “no, I haven’t done it” was entertaining or at least no big deal, nothing to worry about.
And when Althea got home Monday night, she sent me a cheery email with simple details about her availability and a location that made re-scheduling a breeze. So I rescheduled the practice session. Done. That was easy. Because of kindness.
These examples of simple kindness happened inside two days.
In the face of world leaders playing with nuclear threats as if they were on their Xbox, or Rep. Tom Marino’s role in the opioid crisis…
Or learning of the death of investigative journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia of Malta, who did her best to oust corruption…
Or the tidal wave created by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein…
Or how even Canada, a government with the reputation for taking care of the people, seems to be going after the little guy, the working class citizen.
Get this. Canada, debt-burdened and scraping for revenue, recently proposed taxing free meals eaten in restaurants by servers and staff, as well as taxing the discounted portion of clothing purchased in the store by employees.
This produced citizen outrage, though, thanks to social media, and Canadian officials eventually backed off. But not on other high-impact items, like (heavily) taxing a family farm passed to the children.
Maybe each week’s news is simply a new episode of “Humans Behaving Badly.”
When Eric didn’t understand human behavior, he used to shake his head and say “People are funny people…” which, for him, helped take the edge off what seemed to be odd choices or any hope of understanding.
What might help ease things?
Maybe a wise person should stand and speak, one who calms the waters of anyone’s soul, no matter the trouble underfoot.
How about Naomi?
I think so.
It’s quite possible that one good poet could save us all from getting under winter covers and sleeping until spring.
Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things, feel the future dissolve in a moment like salt in a weakened broth. What you held in your hand, what you counted and carefully saved, all this must go so you know how desolate the landscape can be between the regions of kindness. How you ride and ride thinking the bus will never stop, the passengers eating maize and chicken will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness, you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho lies dead by the side of the road. You must see how this could be you, how he too was someone who journeyed through the night with plans and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. You must wake up with sorrow. You must speak to it till your voice catches the thread of all sorrows and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore, only kindness that ties your shoes and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread, only kindness that raises its head from the crowd of the world to say it is I you have been looking for, and then goes with you every where like a shadow or a friend.
About Terri Crosby — I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains with Eric, my partner of 15 years, two cats and a dog, and as many flowers and vegetables as I can plant. I love delectable food, fantastic friends, and great relationships!
It turns out that whether or not a couple will stay together and be happy is jaw-droppingly predictable.
Researcher, John Gottman dedicates his life to studying couples. In a 1990 study, he set up a love laboratory to learn how partners either create a culture of love and intimacy, or squash it.
Gottman designed a lab on the University of Washington campus to look like a beautiful bed and breakfast retreat. He invited 130 newlywed couples to spend the day at this retreat and watched couples do what they do on vacation: eat, chat, hang out, cook, clean, and listen to music.
Making A Bid For Connection
Throughout the day, partners made requests or “bids” for connection. For instance, a wife might ask a question, make a comment, or start a conversation, hoping her husband will join in and show signs of interest and support.
Now her husband has a choice. He can “turn toward” the bid or “turn away.” If he turns toward her, he engages, and shows interest and support. When he comments back, smiles, or asks a question, he encourages intimacy and connection.
If he turns away, he keeps doing what he’s doing (watching TV, reading, checking his smartphone or iPad). He makes little or no eye contact, and responds minimally or brushes her off. He ignores, downplays, opposes, refuses or mumbles “uh huh.” He might even say or imply, “Stop interrupting me, can’t you see I’m watching the game?”
Take A Look At These Impressive Follow Up Stats
Here’s what John Gottman found.
Couples from his study who had broken up six years later had “turn-towards” responses 33 percent of the time. Only 3 out of 10 bids for emotional connection were met with intimacy.
The couples who were still together after six years had “turn-towards” moments 87 percent of the time, or 9 out of 10 times.
Quite a difference!
Gottman’s findings, by the way, apply whether a person is straight or gay, rich or poor, or has children or no children.
Gottman says successful couples are consistently looking to build a culture of respect and connection. He says these couples are on the look out for what to appreciate and say thank you for. On the other hand, couples who don’t stay together (or are chronically unhappy) are looking for their partners’ mistakes.Contempt, according to Gottman, is the number one thing that tears couples apart. And get this — when partners are focused on criticizing, they miss a whopping 50% of the positive things their spouse is doing, and see negativity when it’s not even there.
(Been there. Done that.)
Kindness on the other hand, is good glue, and bonds a couple together. It’s good to think of kindness as a muscle you can develop. That way, the longer you live together, the more kindness you create in your relationship.
And kindness tends to create more kindness, which is a very good thing in relationships!
About Terri Crosby — I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains with Eric, my partner of 15 years, two cats and a dog, and as many flowers and vegetables as I can plant. I love really good food, good friends, and great relationships!
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.
Today, I’m sharing a story about how I accidentally accomplished something on my bucket list. I ran through an exit gate while looking the other way. The hood of my car is scratched up, and one windshield wiper is a mess, but let’s have a good laugh about how we never expect what “getting what we want” includes!
It seems to be a growing fad these days to call someone a narcissist, or declare they are toxic.
Political name-calling is similar—we assign politicians and voters to categories, and brush them off as if they are unintelligent, inferior, or even worthless.
By labeling others, we miss their humanity. We gloss over their struggle, their best effort at dealing with life. We dismiss them.
We do to them what we believe they are doing to others.
Look past a label, and in the soft light of day, there stands a person like you or like me, coping as best they can. At the end of the day, no friend, parent, or lover making conscious choices intends to be mean, or to ignore, or to embellish. There is always more to the story.
If we label others, then for sure we label ourselves. We trap ourselves into believing we are less than. Or not enough. Or we don’t give ourselves the time and forgiveness to work through our “stuff.” Maybe, if we stopped accusing others of narcissism, we could forgive ourselves for those moments when we were narrow-minded, inconsiderate, or afraid.
When it comes to labels, nobody wins.
So, my dear people, I suggest we peer a little deeper into ourselves to investigate a need to separate ourselves from others by tacking them with a label filled with disdain or scorn.
It is my wish that you view this video and take it to heart.