awareness, mental health

Universe Whispers

There are days when I feel the universe is whispering to me. Subtle little hints that I’m in the right place, at the right time with people who are meant to be in my path.

The path could be a connection at the grocery store. A person I meet through work. An interaction with a stranger. The person next to me on a plane ride. An attendee at an event I am hosting. The list goes on.

I spoke to a woman recently about an encounter with her child. A chance encounter at that. In my path for no other reason than chance. I knew neither mom nor daughter before this date. No common denominators. The paths crossed unexpectedly. The timing was right. Crisis averted.

Our chance meeting led to outcomes. Outcomes led to more interactions. Actions, smiles, cheerleading of sorts. The relationship may not blossom past this point but that is okay. The universe wanted a chance encounter at that moment. The rest will fall into place as it should be. Below is a message I received weeks later to confirm my universe whisper:

The impact made shows the importance of my timing. My active listening to know there was a need at the moment to be present for somebody aside from me. The importance is I was there when needed. A universe whisper of sorts. There are many examples I can think of yet this one rings true today. In the now. Everyone needs a pick me up from time to time and kindness matters. How you treat others will come back to you in time. Some call it karma. I call it fate.

I hope my post makes you think about how you treat others and how a chance meeting may be olive branch of life or even hope to get through tomorrow.

author moments, awareness

Parts Unknown

My radio in my car was on the fritz. I was missing my Sirius XM something fierce. Finally, at long last, it was all fixed up a couple of weeks ago.

What did I miss most? The 80s channel? Yacht Rock Radio? I love those. But both can sort of be replicated on Spotify. Honestly, what I missed the most, what I couldn’t replace, was the CNN Originals channel.

More specifically, I missed listening to episodes of Anthony Bourdain’s show Parts Unknown. On a long car trip this week, I listened to his travels through San Sebastian and London.

It’s a travel show, about food. Originally presented in a visual medium. So sometimes there are long stretches of listening to people just eat. Plates clanking. Sipping from glasses. Mouth noises.

Then there are the paragraphs in other languages. I’d bet there are subtitles on TV. On the radio, just the original language.

Why would I listen to this?

Honestly, it’s for the writing. The passion in Bourdain’s voice. They say when you lose one of your senses, the others can become heightened. Listening to his description of foods, of people, of places…you hear his thoughtful, meaningful, often funny and insightful words even more clearly. He is just so damn smart.

When I taught writing to future teachers, I would often use examples from Anthony Bourdain’s TV shows that stunned me with their clarity, their originality, their sheer impact. He would make jaw-droppingly smart comparisons. I often felt like I was sitting at the table with him, enjoying a meal, even though we were separated by a screen.

Now we are separated by much more than a screen. His loss still stirs emotions in me. Listening to his voice, his perspective on life, culture, and food, is still something I savor.

Whose writing or perspective on life do you admire?

awareness

The Chance Encounter

I met a girl.

Her name was Val for short.

Life had her down on her luck.

Valentine was sad. Mascara running down her face from her bloodshot eyes. Disheveled attire. Jittery all around. I could see her emotional pain from head to toe.

She spilled some of her story. Sad to hear. She was ready for a fresh start. Fate brought us together. A chance interaction.

I listened. I didn’t pass judgment. I passed a smile or two. I thought about my recent journal entry I wrote challenging myself to meet new people this summer. I did just that. A chance encounter. As random as it gets. I made conversation. I listened. I learned.

Today I thought about my chance encounter when I sweated a heart at the gym. Made me reflect on Valentine. Hoping her days ahead were going to be on the upswing. May sound corny but I took the sweaty heart as a sign that our paths were meant to cross on a chance encounter. As random as the heart on my shirt made from sweat.

Before the final proof read on this post, I had another chance encounter. I was making a purchase off an online marketplace. I met a cool dude. His name was Eric. He had a husband. He collected interesting items. One of which I wanted!  An old timey outhouse. I’ve been fascinated with having an outhouse for yard art. I’ve been waiting for the best looking yet vintage one I could find.

Can’t wait to put it to use. To think my chance encounter led me straight to the crapper. What are the odds?

I love meeting new people. Hearing their stories. Living my best life includes chance encounters. Loving my day today and the randomness it involved. 

awareness

I Went to Jail

I legit went to jail. Not in cuffs, not as a visitor. I went as a contractor. This vantage point was different. I got to observe the inmates cleaning. It’s their job to keep that place immaculate.

I got to observe the line formations by gender. I saw the orange jumpsuit uniforms. I heard the specific directives while in line such as “eyes forward, no talking.”

It was a lot to take in. I thought about all my freedoms. My ability to choose. My ability to say yes or no. Inmates have no choice, no independence, no rights, and certainly no individuality.  I couldn’t last a day in jail. 

I love my freedom to choose.  I love my independence. I love my individuality. Having a glimpse of what this life looked like is confirmation I never want to be there. I certainly applaud those who make it through the challenges of incarceration for those serving time as well as those outside the walls supporting them.

Today I got to leave the jail.  I didn’t get to share a smile. This was hard for me because I like to offer hope through positive actions and not being able to share a smile is hard. Maybe next visit I’ll find a way to share hope. Maybe I’ll work on my winks.

As you read this post think about those incarcerated who are suffering today. Say a prayer for them tonight.  

awareness, perspective

Struggles

Everyone has struggles in life. Some dwell on them while other move past them. Sometimes struggles are magnified and lead to homelessness. Maybe not any one reason gets that person to such a state but there is a homeless population.

Some have drug and alcohol riddled backgrounds. Others may have some bad luck and financial woes. There may even be criminals lurking to hide out. Whatever the case they are human beings living through a struggle of life.

This past week I visited a homeless shelter. It was a big one and I came around the time where many were loitering outside in the cold. I stuck out like a sore thumb. I was a dressed in business attire for my work- related visit. How I felt the pit in my stomach as I strutted by those not as fortunate as me.

I heard comments about my shoes, my jacket and so on. It was a humbling experience before I even got in the door. Once I got in the building I had to clear the metal detector and other safety measures. Something I didn’t even think was needed but that shows you how naive I am.

The lobby was full of a diverse group of people. I could share my mental picture in this post however I’m opting to keep it to myself as I think many need to experience a visit for themselves to appreciate what they have and offer kindness to others.

I was escorted to the second floor on this day. I was meeting with 50 men working to better themselves through a residential program. Each had their own stories and struggles that they will soon overcome. Each was blessed to be in the program. Each was making strides today for a better tomorrow.

It was a great experience. I met some people who may not have otherwise crossed my path. My experience gave me many things to think about.

How many will graduate the program?

How many will relapse?

How many will end up in jail?

How many will not live to tell their story?

How many will help others?

How many people don’t ever get the chance to spend time with people who are trying to better themselves, to go from hopeless to hopeful? 

I will never know the answers to these questions. What I will know is I worked to improve communities today. I was kind. I extended an olive branch to others. I provide valuable information to others and my hope is that at just one received my message. The point of this post is just one. Just one person can make a difference. Just one person impacted can then make another difference. The domino effect impacts positive change. Positive actions are free. We all have the ability to offer hope and kindness to others less fortunate than us.

Never lose sight of who you are, where you came from, your life struggles and how you can impact others. I share my story today to help anyone near or far who needs hope.