Where It All Needs to Start

You know, this stuff didn’t start with Trump. The greed, the racism, the me-firstness, the bullying, the dishonesty, the corruption, the mean-spiritedness – that stuff has been a part of our society and politics for a long time – the only difference in the last couple of years is that it’s come out in the open – people almost seem proud of their hate and greed and dishonesty now. And to see all of that being played out in front of us – in the open – is disheartening, yes. But… here’s what gives me hope: It seems to me that if there’s been a rise in acts of hatred, there’s also been a rise in acts of kindness in the last couple years – people seem, to me, to be more conscious and deliberate about kindness.

And that’s where it all needs to start, doesn’t it? The healing and progress? It needs to start with us, as individuals. In our own acts of kindness to others. In our own generosity. In our own integrity.

Alrighty. That’s where I am right now. Carry on then…

kind heart

“Isn’t this the life?!”

What a beautiful day!

Rode my bike to Edison for a cappuccino at Tweet’s.  There was a woman ahead of me in the line there buying a drink for herself and a pastry for her young daughter. It wasn’t until she was ready to pay that she realized Tweet’s only accepts cash or checks. She started to turn away without her pastry, but I reached out and stopped her. I told her I’d like to pay for her pastry and drink. At first she was reluctant to let me pay, but I kept urging her to let me do this for her, and finally she relented. I’m so glad she let me do that for her! We talked for a while -she told me her name was Casey – we both work for non-profits – she in Bellingham, and I in Mount Vernon – and we talked about that for a bit. She said she’s driven by Tweet’s many times on her way to Camp Kirby, but it’s always been closed – this was the first time she’d actually been inside. She was so grateful she actually got to experience Tweet’s today.

When  my cappuccino was brought to me I took it around to the front of Tweet’s to find a place to sit. The customers who were buying meals there had first dibs on the tables – so I moved to a chair I found off to the side in front of the art gallery and nestled myself into the wicker to enjoy the sunshine.  A couple of ladies walked in front of me and I smiled at them and asked, “Isn’t this the life?” They both smiled and agreed, and one of them summed it all up by saying that this moment – right now – was a perfect moment.

Soon a gentleman exited Tweet’s and walked in front of me. I asked him if this wasn’t an awesome day.  He grinned and said it WAS an awesome day and then he pointed towards the sun and said, “Soak it up! The sunshine is free!”

I was already feeling the magic of the day – the people I’d met, the sunshine on my face – and then a man rode by on his motorcycle and made my Edison adventure complete: He was wearing a face shield and I couldn’t see the expression on his face – there was something kind of intimidating about that – but I smiled and he lifted his hand and waved – and his friendly gesture to me was so kind and joyful  that I felt myself tearing up at the beauty of humanity.

Here are some photos from my Edison adventure –

Let’s Start Over…

I just posted a poem that had lots of fun words in it
and some politics, too. I was pretty pleased with myself.
But then I read it again and asked myself, “Self,
is this helpful to the world in any way?” And myself
told me no, not really. So dang. Let’s start over…

What can I give to the world today that will be helpful?
I can bring patience when I’m in traffic on my way to work.
I can give a smile to my fellow travelers.
I can bring intelligence to my students and help them
learn a new concept in math or English or science
or social studies or art. I can be kind to my colleagues.
I can be honest. I can be joyful. I can share beauty.

There. That’s better.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

rainbow padilla bay 7 this one really

During My Break

I’m never sure when my break is going to come at work. Today it came at the beginning of the day. I decided to take a quick walk down to the market to get a little exercise and maybe buy some snack to bring back to school.

At the bottom of the hill this man came around the corner and we smiled at each other. He opened up the door to the little barber shop that I pass on my way to the store, and went inside. I remember someone once telling me that the other “Molenaar” in the valley owns that barber shop. So – I couldn’t resist, right? – I opened the door and stuck my head in and asked if there was, by any chance, a man named Molenaar in there. “Yeah,” another barber said. “He just walked through the door…”

At that moment the man I’d exchanged smiles with came out of a back room. I asked him if his name was “Molenaar” and he said it was. I told him I am a “Molenaar,” too. That surprised him – “How could that be?!” he asked. I told him there are gazillions of us in the Netherlands. He smiled and he asked me if I’m the “Molenaar” that sometimes writes letters to the paper – he said people always wonder if we’re related – if I am his sister or something. I told him that I was, indeed, that Molenaar. I told him that I’d met his daughters at sporting events when my own sons were involved in sports (his daughters are all athletes), and he nodded and seemed happy to hear that. Then he asked me if my dad was the climber – and I said yup. He said his uncle was good friends with my pop, and told me his uncle’s name – and for the first time I realized that my dad’s dear friend, N. Molenaar, was related to the local barber! Whoah. I never would have made that connection if I hadn’t wandered into that barber shop this morning.

I continued on my walk to the store. There was a group of men hanging out on the corner carrying on a lively conversation with each other – they looked like maybe they’d spent the night outside and were just waking up. I passed them and said hi and went into the store to find something to snack on. I bought a can of mixed nuts and came out of the store. I said hi, again, to the men on the corner. One of them asked me if I could buy him a mocha or maybe give him a dollar – he made a point of saying he wouldn’t spend it on alcohol or drugs – said he was going into rehab soon. I figured a mocha sounded like a better deal for him than a dollar.

So I went back into the store. There were two women standing in front of the espresso stand – a friendly-looking red-headed lady, and an equally friendly-looking blond-haired lady. We chatted for a while while they ordered and got their drinks, and then I ordered the mocha for the man standing on the corner and a small cappuccino for myself.

I came out with the coffees and went back to the corner, but the man had disappeared. “Where’s the fellow who wanted the mocha?” I asked his friends. They kind of looked around and noted that “Joey” was gone. Then one of them saw him standing in front of the store I’d just left.

“Joey!” I called to him. “What are you doing over there?!” (I was using my high school teacher voice now.) He looked over and saw me and came up to get his mocha from me. He thanked me, and thanked me again, and told me he was going to “pay it back” and buy someone else a coffee now.

As I passed his friends at the corner, they all wished me a good day. One of them met my eyes and said, “Thank you for doing that for Joey. Thank you.” And there was something so sincere and kind in the way he thanked me for buying his friend a coffee that it really touched my heart.

And then I went back to work.

A lot of really cool things can happen in twenty minutes.

They Were Beautiful!

“When the heart speaks, however simple the words, its language is always acceptable to those who have hearts.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

On Friday during my break I walked from my work to the county offices/courthouse to get new tabs for my car. The area around the court building is a little sketchy – bail offices, and etc. As I walked towards the entrance to the county offices a pair of men walked towards me down the sidewalk. I’m just going to say it – and I’m hoping you’ll understand and not make judgments on me for saying it – but these men looked scary. They were both thin (my immediate thought was “meth”) and kind of wild-eyed and nervous-looking, and they each were members of different racial minorities. Now I don’t know, exactly, what led me to do this – but I know I made an instant conscious choice – I smiled at each of them and said a friendly hello as they approached me down the sidewalk. They each looked a little surprised, and gave me a hello in return. And it was like – in that moment I saw who they really were, you know? They were beautiful! It was very humbling.

And yesterday, as I was waiting with Scotty in a long line at the local dollar store, I experienced another connection with my fellow humans that brought me a lot of joy. The wait was long, but no one was complaining, no one was cranky – everyone was just patiently waiting, sort of chatting with each other. We were behind a little family – a man – maybe a grampa? – and a little boy and girl, conversing with each other in rapid Spanish. While they waited, the boy and girl were checking things out on the racks across from the checkout counter – they’d pick things up – bracelets and toys – and look them over and then put them back. I told the grampa that he had a nice family – that I liked the way the children were behaving themselves. He smiled and thanked me.

Right after that the little girl found a jumbo-sized pen with Cinderella on it and she held the pen up to her grampa and began talking to him in Spanish. I knew she wanted that pen. I told the grampa that I would buy that pen for her. He hesitated, and then saw that the idea of that made me happy, and agreed to let me do that. The little boy found a jumbo pen with Spiderman on it – and I told the grampa I’d buy that one, too.

After I’d paid for the pens I handed them to the children and they both looked up at me with their big brown eyes and thanked me. I smiled and said, “De nada.” The little girl smiled a big smile and asked me, in English, if I speak Spanish. I told her not very well, but I was trying to learn it. I praised her for speaking both languages so beautifully, and she gave me another big smile.

Meanwhile, the cashier was managing to keep a straight face while I tried to practice my Spanish on the children. I thanked him for not laughing at my horrible Spanish. He grinned and said he has a hard time, too, sometimes, and he wished Scotty and me a good day.

There was just something so… these connections bring me such joy, you know? – like a little taste of heaven.

love-is-with-you

 

Getting Through the Next Couple Weeks

Dear friends –
I think we’re probably all the targets of fear-mongering and hate-mongering right now – it’s a week before the elections, after all.

So I want to say this to my conservatish friends – I maybe don’t always understand why you vote the way you vote – but I trust you’re doing what you think is the right thing to do. I’ve seen you reach out to those in need. I’ve seen you come to the defense of people who are different than you. I don’t believe you would willfully cause harm to others. I think you’re doing the best you can in very confusing and challenging times.

I trust you know the same is true of me – left-wing snowflake that I am. 

We are all in this together – left, right, upside-down, and in-between. Let’s do what we can to help each other get through the next couple weeks, okay? Remember the power in kind words and a friendly smile.
– Karen

“Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

“‘Love one another’ (I John, iii. 23), is the most simple and profound counsel of the inspired writer.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

Totally Took Me By Surprise

So when I was getting ready to pull out of the Sisters Espresso parking lot the other day another person got out of his truck and started walking up to the espresso stand. He looked serious and grim. From appearances he was pretty much everything I’m not: male; tall; young; of a different ethnicity. And as I was thinking these thoughts, and feeling a little intimidated by the serious expression on his face, he glanced my direction. Without thought I smiled at him through the car window – and he smiled this beautiful charming smile back at me – totally took me by surprise!

He made my day.