Uncommon Kindness-thoughts for the new week

Last Fall I visited my mother’s youngest sister and my uncle. It was so good to be back in the ‘home’ state of my parents, both already long passed.  After picking me up in the middle of a thunderstorm, we drove in the dark, with slick streets, and little to see.  We talked for a while, of course, but soon the three-hour time difference made it clear that it was time to turn in.

The next morning I got up early and the house was quiet, but my nose informed me that coffee was brewing. I quietly made my way to the kitchen and on the counter saw the coffee maker doing its job. As I looked in the cabinet above the coffee maker and took down a cup, I noticed  steam curling and rising above two cups, already sitting on the counter, and  filled with hot water. Uncle Jim came around the corner, smiled at me, and told me he sets up the coffee maker before going to bed each night, and then being the first one up, he adds hot water to warm the cups–his and hers–so the coffee stays warm longer.

He also braved whatever the early morning weather and filled the bird feeder, refreshed the birds’ water, and brought in the newspapers. I thought how lucky my aunt was–to have found a spouse that knew the value of uncommon kindness. Simple acts that make another’s day better! My uncle reassured me that he was the lucky one to have found such a good-hearted, humorous woman for his second wife.

That trip has stayed with me in many ways. Not only the sights of the homeland’s trees in full fall colors or the long visits the stirred so many memories, but also I’ve continued to think about acts of kindness unexpected.

Upon returning to my work with private clients, I thought about what I had available to me for sharing special acts of giving and kindnesses like I had seen between my aunt and uncle.  So whenever possible I have hot tea or coffee, not just available, but waiting.  Even in full daylight I often light a candle, both for the warmth and aroma it shares. For a long time I’ve incorporated water elements in my offices. A desktop water fountain helps me to quiet and deepen myself before responding. I guess an act of kindness to myself lightens my own mood.

I am not sure what people notice or deduce from these small acts of consideration. I’ve heard clients use “homey” or “comfortable” and “familiar” to describe the setting. Most have expressed being more relaxed upon leaving a counseling session than when they entered–regardless of how difficult the session’s subject matter.

These blue chairs have been very useful! When a person has been trying to find the strength–true inner fortitude–to dispute the many unkind and even cruel words and labels others have placed on them (a verbally abusive spouse, sibling, boss, stranger, or classmates) I often remind them that if someone called them a “blue chair,” like the one they are sitting in, they would have no doubt that the comment was off-kilter, did not apply to them, and that the person who had suggested such a thing was definitely in need of having their eyes checked!

Often, even if there have been tears with unspoken fears that the hurtful labels and words are somehow true, there are smiles as together we touch the blue chair. There is something special when we reach out to someone filled with self-doubt. An act of kindness, I hope, is not uncommon.  The lessons learned are that no matter how much fear we attach to worry about our personal characteristics or concern with our shortcomings–we are not the Blue Chair! So therefore, maybe, just maybe, we also are not whatever negative labels others have tried to place on us.

Soon I will be taking my blue chairs home. My office mates have told me that some new high-tech, modern black office chairs will be in place to replace the old, soft blue chairs. I felt a little hurt and maybe even a little judged for wanting to keep the office comfortable—by my terms anyway! It has taken some deeper thinking and some non-judgment drawing upon my own Mindfulness to allow for this change.

I’ve reflected upon how accepting Ruffles and Mae-be are with items I bring home! So, into a small sitting room the blue chairs (and matching footstools) will go! I look forward to seeing how Mae-be and Ruffles will search and sniff and I wonder if they will find any suggestion of the many emotional contacts still lingering in the soft material.

I like the idea of making a pre-warmed cup of tea, lifting my current book of interest and having Mae-be snoring at my feet! Ruffles I expect will be comfortably curled up in the other chair.

As a new week gives us fresh opportunity, I hope you will have and be prepared to give many acts of Uncommon Kindness.

Blessings, Beth and the Girls

14 thoughts on “Uncommon Kindness-thoughts for the new week

    • Thank you, Kathy! Cousins mean so much -don’t they? On that Fall trip I was able to re-connect with a number of my cousins. At one point my cousin Paula came from the open kitchen and said “I could of sworn I was hearing Aunt Sylvia’s laugh!” Apparently, I have inherited my mother’s laugh!! I bet you have fun times with Debra!
      Please come again! Beth and the Girls

  1. This reflective posting encourages all of us to embrace small acts of uncommon kindness. I’m glad to do so, for I’ve experienced that kindness from so many people in so many disparate situations. Those acts shine forth in my memory, but one that speaks to me always is when I sprained my ankle in Scotland, took the train to London, and then traveled by ferry and train to Paris. By then the ankle was elephant size. A friend forwent going to Versailles so as to find a place that sold bandages and salve to bind up my ankle. That was in 1976 and always that act speaks gently to me of friendship and compassion and kindness. Thank you for reminding me of this.

  2. Your “blue chair” post is so heartwarming. I have had the pleasure of sitting in the blue chair and yes, it has a life of its own. It welcomes you when you first sit. It holds you close as if to say “come sit with me and be comfortable, I will give you soft hugs while we are together”.
    Years back when my children were little, I suffered a collapsed lung and was on bed rest. A kind neighbor showed up at my front door with her vacuum and chicken noodle soup, she was “my angel’ that day. You are so right, uncommon acts of kindness should never go out of style.
    Your post is a wonderful reminder.

    • That neighbor was what I call an ‘Earth Angel’– what s kindness to a weary Mom with three children!! Your acts of kindness go before you- and with my gratitude and others! Thank you, Ruth, for knowing that Blue Chair!! And may you always remember the wisdom of knowing what you are NOT ! :-) Blessings, Beth

  3. I loved this post, too. Welcome is priceless, far more than we realise as we hurtle through our lives. I would curl up in our chairs gratefully, especially if a cup of tea were nearby. Phil took one look at your two little companions and laughed out loud: they are such characters. Built for comfort :-)

    • Oh, thank you Kate, and Phil! It is easy to see what anti-depressants Mae-be and Ruffles are! I really should have named them Zoloft and Wellbutin- lol! We three do enjoy a ‘curl-up’. Good to see you ! Beth and the Girls

  4. Dear Debra, thank for your kind words in your comment on my Saturday posting about splotching and spotting. I’ve always been doubtful about my writing ability. My words always, to me, seem so pedestrian and unimaginative–not like the lyricism of some of the novels I read. So when someone like you compliments me on my writing, I find myself absurdly pleased. The resultant grin stretches my face into a beaming of delight. Thank you.

    Peace.

    • I think the strength of your writing is very clearly that you come through as “real” and warm. It’s a wonderful writing quality. And I think you possess plenty of lyricism in each post’s writing style. I’m glad to encourage you on…because I enjoy reading what you have to say! :-) Debra

  5. What a beautiful post and so touching too… I fell in the love with those blue chairs and I agree it’s a pity they will be moved…. Your uncle and his wife made my heart sing. Hope your week is bright and kind! :-)

    • Oh, thank you for getting the Blues’ importance! My aunt and uncle inspire me, too! And you have made my week already better– I do hope we experience the joys of sharing a smile again! The Girls would love to hear more about kind humans! Blessings, Beth & the Girls

    • Carolyne, thank you so much. I think I added a link to your blog almost immediately upon finding it, because I really love the depth of your intimate sharing! You write so beautifully about both struggles and success! I really admire the way you have been willing to share such an intensely personal journey, and you encourage me with my sometimes very small complaints! And I do love to hear how yoga is an important part of your own well-being! Thank you for your kind attention! Debra

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