Posted in Kindness

The Unthinkable

“Be an opener of doors for such as come after thee.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

One Saturday afternoon, over a month ago, I tweeted that I was considering changing my blog’s theme. There were things that I wanted to try and I was hoping to get a new look and feel…something fresher, cleaner, and more modern, so I asked for some opinions and feedback.

My generous and talented friend, Ashley, quickly responded to my tweet.

She advised me and gave me some things to think about.

Then, she did the unthinkable.

She offered to help me.

I have since wondered how many times she regretted answering my tweet.

She was so incredibly patient with me as I tried to boil down exactly what it was that I wanted.

She listened to me rattle on about font choices, plug in options, SEO questions, and which shade of brown I should use, the toasty brown or the grayish brown?

Sigh. Poor Ashley.

When Craig reached out to her today to thank her for her patience (read: insanity), she replied that she loves to “pay it forward.”

That she did. And then some.

Thank you, Ashley. You are an amazing friend and I will never forget your generosity. I only hope that I can help you similarly one day soon.

Ashley blogs over at Just Another Mom of 2. Please leave a comment for her here telling her how amazing (read: crazy) she is and then pay her a visit on her blog and say hello. You can also find her on Twitter, where I do hope that she learned a lesson about offering help. ;)

My full weight

She secured the final yellow elder flower in my hair, handed me my simple, yet glorious bouquet, walked me to the beginning of the path, and wished me luck, her voice like golden honey, thick with her melodious West Indies accent.

“I wish you tremendous joy…” she pronounced, her hands warm and kind, her eyes clear and deep.

I started down the path, alone, fatherless, joyfully anticipating all that awaited me.

Even before I saw him waiting for me, I could sense his radiant love.  I could feel his joy at my slow approach.

I knew he would be there.

I knew he would always be there.

With each step I took, the satin of my white dress slid across my bare legs, whooshing and gently grazing the sandy ground, shifting ever so gently beneath my golden shoes, just as my present and my future solidified before me.

The air was heavy with moisture. The sun shone overhead in a sky so blue it rivaled the ethereal, glistening sea, which sat directly in front of me.

I stepped forward…each step I had taken in my life, every ache, every loss, had brought me closer to him…to this very moment.

From this moment on, every joy, every failure, would be wrapped in his love and support, buffered by his love.

The heady scent of plumeria carried me past the last turn in my path.

He stood at the end of the winding path, his golden face lit with love and anticipation.

Though my feet continued, my mind paused…caught in that moment…hoping to etch that feeling in my mind, memory, and heart. Hoping to always remember what it felt like to have someone look at me with such adoration, with acceptance that knows no bounds.

He waited. For me.

No guests. Just the two of us. The way we had begun, the way we needed it to be.

For the first time in my life, I knew that I was part of a whole.

I could set down my worries and lean with my full weight into true and unconditional love. I could stumble and fall without fear of losing everything. I could stop being the one who things happened to and I could start making my own life happen.  Making our life happen.  Together.

I stepped forward to a place of acceptance, safety, and unconditional love.

I stepped foward.

Into us.

Forever.

Photos? Well, of course, I have photos…

This post is linked up with the Red Dress Club’s memoir prompt, which asked: “imagine that after you have died and your daughter/son will be given the gift of seeing a single five-minute period of your life through your eyes, feeling and experiencing those moments as you did when they occurred. What five minutes would you have him/her see? Tell us about them in the finest detail.”

He was kind

Have you ever been lucky enough to meet someone with whom you were immediate friends? Someone who has lived through many of the same experiences that you have and immediately gets you? I’ve been fortunate enough just a handful of times to have immediate friendships like these. Today, one of these special friends is here to share a small moment with us.

I am so happy to hand this space over to my lovely friend Cheryl, who blogs over at Mommy Pants and The Red Dress Club.

He Was Kind – by Cheryl

l was 21 and there was this guy.

He was nice. Really, really nice.

We worked together. He was a few years older.

He had a sweet smile and brown eyes and a trace of Boston in his voice. He didn’t mind explaining which numbers corresponded to which position on the local minor league baseball team’s box score.

It was my first official newspaper job. I was finishing up some courses so I was living at school that summer and driving 40 minutes to work in Hartford at night.

The other nights? Were filled with nothing but a little homework and Cheers and the insistent chirping of crickets in the woods behind the apartment complex.

So I decided I’d ask Paul to the movies.

Because he was kind. And cute.

He wasn’t sure if it was just a friendly thing or a Date.

It was SO a date.

We decided to go to a bar downtown on our next date. As we walked down the street on that muggy night, he took my hand.

Fingers laced, each one firmly held between another.

Not like when you’re clutching your child’s hand in a vise-like grip to prevent escape into a busy parking lot.

This was a link, two equal parts joined together because each one wanted it that way.

And for someone like me, who’d spent my entire life up until that moment without ever having had a boy reach for my hand, without ever having one like me in THAT way, who’d watched my friends go through the rites of passage of first kiss, first boyfriend and everything that comes after without experiencing one moment for myself, who’d felt unloveable and ugly and lonely, well, when he took my hand?

Suddenly, I was no longer left behind.

Please make a trip over to see Cheryl at Mommy Pants.  I’ve even made you a cheat sheet of some of my favorite posts to get you started.

There’s a quality to Cheryl’s writing, a no-nonsense way about it, that is conversational and straight forward.  Her word is strong and true.  For a few vulnerable and honest examples, read Forgiveness, Riding with the top down, and Bullyhood.

And then there’s her maternal side that I adore.  She is engaged, present, intuitive, and proactive.  Her kids are gorgeous…wait, is there a word for beyond gorgeous?  To see just one example of the lengths to which she sacrifices for her children, read We’re Done.

She’s also a marathon runner (!) and puts an emphasis on her health so that she can remain strong, fit, and healthy for her children.  Be sure to read Fat, a moving piece on body image.

And once you’ve read those amazing posts, be sure to see her post for today, as I’m guest posting for her and sharing a story about a time when I had to put on my own “mommy pants.”

No Matter What This Year Brings

It always started with a piece of roast beef…the most expensive, central part of the meal.

Then came the carrots, cut into chunks, not coins.  Potatoes and onions, peeled and quartered.  Cabbage, halved.

Water.

And nothing else.

All in one pot, for hours.

This simplicity of this meal betrayed the weight of its meaning.

New England boiled dinner, prepared by my mother every New Year’s Eve, to be consumed at midnight.

Every single year, at midnight.

Dick Clark’s voice in the background, steaming broth, carrots, potatoes, roast beef, onions, and cabbage in front of us.

“No matter what this year brings,” my mother would say, “we will have started it off with a full stomach.”

She is from a family where this was a genuine concern.

I am from a family where this was a genuine concern.

There were many nights when my mother wouldn’t eat dinner with us.  She’d wave us off, claiming she wasn’t hungry or she had had a late lunch.  She would sit and ask us about school, tell us bits about her day.

But we saw her.  In the kitchen where she had carried our plates, eating straggling string beans, abandoned peas, the tough piece of meat that we pushed aside, the crust from our bread.

We saw her.

But, on New Year’s Eve, the roast was so tender that the gentle nudge of a spoon would break it.

The carrots, potatoes, onions, cabbage, plentiful.

We ate bowls full of New England boiled dinner.

My mother sacrificed so much so that we would feel the bite of having not enough just a little bit less.

No matter what the year ultimately brought, we had started it off with plenty.

Thank you, Mom, for each and every sacrifice you made for us. I will never forget all that you tried to shield us from.

Hooked

When I first began blogging, I had no absolutely no idea just how many of us were out there, sharing our life experiences through our blogs.  I quickly felt adrift in a sea of blogs and began to feel rather small.  After one conversation with Adrienne, of No Points for Style, I suddenly felt as though I had a voice…a place in this crazy blogosphere. 

Though I’ve known Adrienne for just five months, there’s a part of me that has known her for always.  She is one of those people who can see through to a part of me that I needn’t explain.  She knows when I’m full of it and pushes me to push myself.  She just gets me. Adrienne has what my grandmother would call “old fashioned pluck.”  She’s tough, genuine, true, and surprisingly funny. She is resilient, perseverant, and committed.

Thank you for sharing your small moment with us here on Small Moments Mondays, Adrienne.  And thank you for your friendship, your kindness, and for your undying commitment to remaining brutally honest and heartbreakingly open.  You are absolutely beautiful, inside and out, my friend.

Hooked — by Adrienne

I was 16 years old and the grocery store parking lot was so hot, I could feel the heat of the pavement through the soles of my shoes.

I hate that.

I walked out of the grocery store and I don’t remember what I was carrying or what I’d gone there for, but I had a shiny new driver’s license and I hated to miss an opportunity to use it. If my mom discovered she was lacking something – anything – in the kitchen, I offered to run over to Albertson’s and pick it up.

Walking across the parking lot and complaining to myself about my hot feet, I saw a woman, a young mother, struggling her way to her car. She was pushing a young baby in a stroller and balancing a huge stack of pizzas on top of the canopy. That was no easy feat, what with her toddler trying to dart into traffic.

On an impulse, I turned toward her and said, “Please, let me carry the pizzas to your car.” She hesitated for just a moment, looked down at her restless toddler, and handed the pizzas to me.

“Thank you,” she said, “when you’re a mother, you don’t have enough hands!”

I put the pizzas in the front seat of her car while she put her babies in their carseats and she was so grateful. Almost gushing, really, and over something so very small! I was amazed.

Also? Hooked.

Don’t you dare tell me in the comments what a good person I am because hello? No.

Realistically, I don’t really care why I or anyone else does good things. A good deed that helps someone is a good deed that helps someone, no matter the motive.

But I am no altruist. Not even close.

I’m hooked on the rush, the gratitude. I guess if I was expecting gratitude, requiring it somehow, that would be bad, but I don’t. It comes, though. Almost always. The dearth of small generosities in the world has left a gap, and when I step into it, I’m a superhero.

Being a superhero? Pretty cool.

That day was the beginning of a tiny secret life, like a magazine sidebar. I look out for those little moments, those tiny kindnesses that will brighten someone’s day, because they brighten my day, too.

Like the time I paid an old man’s $20 co-pay at the pharmacy because he couldn’t and the pharmacist was in tears over turning him away.

Or the dozens of times I have helped elderly people unload their groceries onto the belt.

Or the time traffic was speeding past a man seizing on the sidewalk and I pulled over and waited with him until an ambulance finally arrived. He was barely conscious as they strapped him to the stretcher, but he held onto my hand as long as he could.

Or the time I saw a man at a coffee shop who had newspapers wrapped around his feet and stuffed into his shoes. I ran to the discount store next door to get him some socks and he wept when he saw them.

Or the time…

Or the time…

Or the time…

I hesitated to write this story down and share it with the world. I don’t want anyone ever to think that I’m seeking praise. In fact, the thought that I might receive praise for this? Ick.

Because I did it for me as much as anyone that I helped.

My life is richer because I am open, warmer because I am actively creating the world in which I want to live.

Now and again, someone tells me to go away. Occasionally, people have even been angry at me for offering assistance. Most people, though? Smile at me, return all that I have given and more.

On a really lousy day when I need cheering up, and if I can afford it, I go over to Costco and buy several giant boxes of tampons. I drive them over to one of the shelters – one of the homes for women who are leaving a violent partner, perhaps, or a shelter for people who have no homes.

Sometimes? Life is lousy and I can’t wait for a small moment to come to me.

Try it! Even if you don’t feel better, someone will need those tampons.

Because really? Someone needs those tampons, and you need to feel better.

Adrienne’s writing is powerful, beautiful, funny, painful, and radiant.  If you have time to read only one post, let it be my favorite, Patterns and Chaos.  If you have a little time and can poke around and get cozy, read The Lessons My Bullies Taught Me, Apologia, and Just Say No.  Oh, wait!  Don’t miss  Southern New Mexico: How Not to See It and Pain Runs Through My Veins

Be sure to watch for an interview with Adrienne in an upcoming issue of Redbook magazine, where she discusses the competitive and sometimes nasty nature of the blogosphere. 

About me

Nichole Beaudry @NicholeBeaudry Location: Northern California
Each and every day, I strive to appreciate the wonder, beauty, and whimsy in the small moments, the moments that, when strung together, form a lifetime.
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