We had a family gathering recently and one of my cousins whispered something in my ear that bubbles to the top of my thoughts frequently. She said, "Thank you for giving of yourself."
Just this week, Faye's message has bubbled to the forefront of my thinking several times during work. As I sit with a teacher and we are collaborating on a lesson, we often share personal stories or talk philosophically about the education profession or about children we have or are teaching. I hear about the children they gave birth to and share things about my own. I hear about the parents of children in their classes and affirm that I encountered similar situations. I do a lot of listening that has nothing to do with the task we have at hand but those tidbits we share cement relationships with folks who I might never have even introduced myself to otherwise.
I recently subscribed to Maria Shriver's Igniting Architects of Change blog. I find so many of the contributors and, of course, Maria's own contributions inspirational. It is one of those things I read that makes me want to be a better person. I guess it is one way of surrounding myself with people who will lift me up. I don't even have to know the contributing writers and probably will never encounter a single one face-to-face. But, they seem to be offering a hand out for a high-five as I travel along this journey called life.
I've noticed that the things which tug at my heart and bolster my spirits are those things which fall into the category of giving of yourself. A perfect example of that has swirled throughout my days lately. I get morning text messages from friends who are in a similar hustle and bustle of life as me. My husband surprises me with a home-cooked meal when I've spent a couple or three hours after work at my parents or he cleans the kitchen to a sparkle and takes out the trash. Aquaintences share a hug or a pat on the shoulder. Extended family calls just to check up. Neighbors stop by and deliver a plate of cookies or a container of spaghetti to my folks. People just do things that are not expensive or big and showy or even remarkable most of the time but because they are thoughtful and considerate, those little things are pieces of themself that show love and respect.
One post that really resonated with me recently reinforces my cousin's whispered words. You see, I've bumped into folks who have just learned of my Daddy's IPF. They ask what they can do and, honestly, right now all that can be done is to visit and chat and listen. So, that is what I encourage. Dianne Magnette, a contributor to Shriver's page states beautifully exactly what is needed. Hop over and read Illness Shows the Real Meaning of Love. It beautifully describes some simple ways to give of yourself.