Sunday, April 25, 2021

Sometimes it just takes a small group to start.....

 Sometimes, all it takes is ONE. There is a children’s book with this theme. One color is being bullied by another color and all the other colors get smaller and smaller as the bullying gets worse and larger. Then, ONE comes along and forms a support network for 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. Finally, as the bully realizes the group is stronger together, he/s pops and becomes number 8- part of the support network. 

This came to mind today as I arrived to help out with food distribution at a local affordable housing complex. A small group of woman banded together and formed a support network designed to provide for the growing needs of the lower income population- those living in affordable housing complexes. These are probably the most likely people to become homeless. These organizers are thorough. When I arrive for food distribution I just stand around and watch and take directions- they have left no stone unturned. Many who show up for the fresh food- donated before expiration from local grocers- are elderly and many do not speak English. Helping these people carry food to their apartments is often my job.  But today- I found another one. Last Thanksgiving I sponsored a family for Thanksgiving. Many grocery stores offer premade holiday meals for people unable to cook. The commitment was just for a meal. However, today someone told me they were planning to drop off an item for a family they met through the program. I asked how they knew the person and they told me through the Thanksgiving sponsorship. Bingo! I found a job- I filled a bag full of the produce from overflowing boxes of fruit and vegetables- so abundant the leftovers will rot before it reaches a hungry person- and dropped it on her porch. She texted me back with praise and thanks- very helpful for her right now in her strapped financial situation. It would never have occurred to me to do this simple, inexpensive gesture of kindness without the idea from my friend. A single bag full of fresh fruit/vegetables is not what most of us consider “a treat” (from her text message).

I find many times it just takes one or two people to start a waterfall. In this case, alleviating hunger. And it is getting worse- the Union Tribune reported that homelessness has doubled in 2020. And now we are in 2021- that statistic was not quoted.

Maybe others will show up, fill a bag and drop it at the home of someone strapped for cash. Seriously, before it ends up rotten in a landfill. Sometimes even the smallest act of kindness can save someone. All it takes is ONE.

Friday, April 09, 2021

Just Keep Moving....

A family photo at the top and individual pictures on the exact day of someone’s birthday

 The spring brings flowers, showers, sunshine, new life and re-emerged beauty from the blandness of winter. It also brings a large swath of birthdays in my extended family. For me this timing seems to certify the reality of spring- the long empty winter has ended and the outdoor parties have begun. Turning a year older brings a newness that suggests possibility, room to grow, and fresh goals.

One of the ways we recognize these milestones in my family is with a calendar of photos from the previous year. Someone in the family designates themself as the person in charge- for many years this was my mother. Then, everybody sends that person their favorite pictures taken since the previous year. Traditionally this process took place in the fall because we presented the calendar to my grandmother in her nursing facility for Christmas. However, my grandmother passed away almost ten years ago and we have continued the tradition without her- because it creates such a piece of art for family historical records.

Since my grandmother passed away, the person in charge has changed a bit- I’ve done it a few times and some of my aunts volunteered. Every Christmas, the person in charge sends out an artistically arranged calendar for the kitchen/living room wall. It used to be targeted for Grandma, now a copy is sent to everyone involved. Every day our favorite memories are displayed in front of us for nostalgia- to remember how lucky with are to have each other and the support of a wonderful family. It is also so that everybody knows exactly which day to send out birthday cards. I learned that putting someone’s picture on the little square that represents their birthday really does make a difference- the visual seems to prompt me to send a card. With just the words “Mom’s Birthday” it is easy for the eyes to gloss over the event that day- the picture makes it ostentatiously advertised each time I see it on the wall. With a photo reminder, I cannot forget that person’s birthday.

Every birthday, just like every New Year’s Eve, brings the possibility for change, and for reflection. I like my father’s advice- “Just keep moving, don’t stop.” This applies to when you are on a winning streak- perhaps collecting qualifying events for the next level of swimming championship, playing the piano for a scholarship, or running a 5K race. It’s easy to keep moving when things are going well. When things are hard it is even more important to keep moving- you don’t want to stay stuck in the place where things are hard. Finish something that is hard- move through it and bring it to completion. Then, try to take on a project that perhaps brings more success. But don’t stop moving. And while you are moving keep a point of inspiration in front of you- in my case the family calendar. Somehow-looking at those photos on my wall gives me the inspiration to keep moving- not just when things are going well.

Good quotation

“Failure after long perseverance is much grander than never to have a striving good enough to be called a failure.” -- George Eliot, Middlemarch