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Full Circle

June 29, 2014 14 comments

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I work in a small, private, progressive school. We just celebrated our 50th Anniversary. Our philosophy begins with the premise that all kids are capable. From there, we pledge to nurture each child, every day in the hopes of fostering a love of learning that will last a lifetime.

Two weeks before the last day of school, she appeared in the doorway of our office. It was a Friday afternoon, only minutes before dismissal; the calm before the bus-boarding-storm. She was chattering a-mile-a-minute when I looked up from my desk and saw her standing there. She was an older woman, maybe in her early sixties, dressed more like she was in her thirties. She had long, wavy brown hair that was graying at the roots. There was something light even comical about her tone and her appearance. Her accessories jingled and jangled as she waved her hands to emphasize her words like a conductor would at a symphony. Barely stopping to breathe, she incessantly, repeated her name, asking if myself or my co-workers knew who she was , no — not her actually, but her daughter. Did we recognize her daughter’s name because her daughter went to this school, oh, about 30-years ago. Like a leaky faucet the words trickled out into a tale that finally ended with the keeping of a promise and a story that left a profound stirring inside me.

I did not know her, her daughter or recognize their name but our (interim) Director did, which didn’t surprise me. Before standing in as Director, while we searched for a replacement, Diane was a teacher for 34-years at our school. In fact, she was this woman’s daughter’s kindergarten teacher – oh, about 30-years ago and remembered them both well.

I was going through a very hard time back then, the woman told us. I had three children, no money and was in the middle of a divorce. Eric was running the school then and the tuition was $900.

Pause.

Eric was running the school then.

Eric, was Diane’s best friend for many, many years. He was also a teacher at our school for many, many years and although we didn’t actually have a director-by-title up until recently, by all accounts, Eric was the director here, for many, many years. Eric, was a very special person and much like Diane, beloved by hundreds if not thousands of students and parents. Eric passed away about 5-years ago from a form of Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Sometimes in our day-to-day dealings, when there’s a hard decision to make at school, I think to myself, what would Eric do? I know my co-worker, our office manager and Eric’s sister, does too. She said those exact words just the other day. I’d bet, Diane has thought them as well. Eric would always err on the side of compassion, trust and human kindness.

It wasn’t a surprise for the three of us to learn that Eric told this woman not to worry about the $900 tuition for kindergarten that year and to pay it when she could.

She was only in this school for one little year of her life the woman said but I credit that year and her experience here with the success that she is today and every time I pass this school in my aluminum foil car I think about that and promised myself I would repay that debt when I could.

And so she did, that day, two weeks before the last day of school. She gave us $1,000 and vowed to continue to make a small monthly donation to the school from that day forward. Indeed, she kept her promise, to herself, to Eric and to the perpetuation of the human spirit.

The encounter moved me. Profoundly. It awakened in me deep hope that in an unsuspecting, fleeting moment, faith in humankind can be restored. It’s a testament in particular to the power of an act of kindness and what happens to it long after the deed is done.

It comes full circle.

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Pause

December 8, 2013 7 comments
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© 2013 Karen Szczuka Teich & TakingTheWorldOnWithASmile.com

The holiday season has been creeping up on us since right before Halloween. Like a strong, silent ivy spreading its way through cities all across the country. It’s been lighting up homes and leaving its mark on lampposts and in storefronts everywhere! Neighborhoods are all aglow with colorful lights and twinkling trees peering through living room windows. It’s a special time of year that promotes peace and giving and kindness, which my 12-year old daughter recently noted:  is free.

The Holidays can be magical, often making the seemingly impossible, possible and like so many other people, it’s my favorite time of year.

For some however, it can be a struggle; a sad and difficult time, especially this year, with fewer than normal days of  breathing room in between the great feast of Thanksgiving and the arrival of Christmas Eve. Hanukkah is already over! There’s a rush to the finish and the hustle and bustle of trying to get there, can quickly lose its charm and become frustrating, exasperating even.

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© 2013 Karen Szczuka Teich & TakingTheWorldOnWithASmile.com

Most people come forward with their best. But honestly, you never know what’s going on just below the surface of a carefree wave, an absentminded smile or a soft, slightly distracted gaze. Everyone has a cross or two to bear. It could be anything from a forgotten appointment to coming off of the end of a long work shift or suffering from indecision about something. Maybe you’ve had an argument with someone or are recovering from an illness. Perhaps there is a sick child at home or you simply miss someone, terribly.

Whatever the burden, no one is exempt from worry. 

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© 2013 Karen Szczuka Teich & TakingTheWorldOnWithASmile.com

This season, if you can, pause to be compassionate toward the people you meet.

You never know what someone is going through.

peace

Peace & Good Wishes to All!

Categories: Holidays, Kindness, Life, Parenting Tags:

Do Over Again

January 13, 2013 10 comments

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Life is a series of starting over.

Do overs.

From the time we’re kids to the time we have kids, we reevaluate our situations and begin again.

When my kids were little and any situation would elevate emotions to a height of no return, I’d reach back into my own childhood and do what me and my friends did when we couldn’t agree on whose turn it was or who won. Admittedly, it was one of the last hopes I’d pull from my parenting bag of tricks but thankfully, it always seemed to work. I’d raise my hands up between them and say,

“Okay, let’s just stop and start over.”  

A new beginning.

Every January the opportunity presents itself, again. It’s the month of reflection, a time when most adults, start over. Millions of people ponder the previous year’s failings and contemplate what they want from the next year. We promise ourselves to do. Do this. Do that. Do more. Do better. Come next January, we’ll chide ourselves for what we didn’t do and once again the cycle and promise to do will repeat.

A wheat field with blue sky backgroundThis year I’ve decided to throw caution to the wind, go against the grain, mix things up a little and concentrate on things I don’t want to do. I’m taking a cue from a good friend of mine and a recent post she made over at SWM where her RES-O-LU-TION really resonated with me. Instead of bemoaning what I failed to accomplish last year or belaboring over what I want to do this year, I’m saving myself some grief, keeping it simple and picking three things to focus on that I don’t want to do:

  1. I don’t want… to fall into the same old traps. It’s a vicious, hurtful cycle, thinking maybe this time he or she or things will be different. No one is perfect we all deserve a second chance but chances are, after giving someone or something three or four, they’re not going to change. If you’re honest, true to your word and don’t treat people badly, you deserve the same. Life after all, is hard for everyone.
  1. I don’t want… to say “no” to opportunity because I’m afraid of what lies ahead. Yes. Okay. I’ll try it! Whatever it is. We are, to a large degree the creators of our own destiny and need to be responsible for the actions we take or don’t take to get us there. If you hide behind fear of the unknown, you will never know. I don’t want to not know.
  1. I don’t want… to be unkind. Brazen is wonderful but to be kind is key. In keeping with my promise to commit acts of kindness and because life as I said is hard for everyone and everyone could use a little more kindness in their life, I don’t want to be unkind.

It’s do over time again. Only this year I’m not going to concentrate on what I want to do.

Happy New Year to all!

What are your New Year resolutions?

Photo Credit #1 & 2: Google Images

#26Acts – Are You In?

December 23, 2012 19 comments

kindness_day

There is no amount of human kindness that could come from this, that I could possibly use to make sense of this senselessness.   ~ Kavst

That’s what I said in last week’s post, A Stranger’s Grief.

Part of my despair was in having such an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. What could I possibly do to help anyone, in this situation? It is human nature to want to aid in the face of crisis and while I still can’t imagine anything coming from the senselessness that occurred last Friday in Newtown, Conn. that could possibly help to make sense of what happened, I must admit to being pretty blown-away by the now world-wide, multitude of random acts of human kindness that have spawned from Ann Curry’s tweet earlier this week.

Her remarks challenge people everywhere to DO something to honor the victims of last week’s massacre.

I have no consoling words that might help anyone and I don’t believe that in hindsight we will glean any kind of lesson or understanding from this event.      ~ Kavst

BUT……

I can be kind.

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We should never really need a reason to be kind but sometimes we need inspiration and I am inspired to Act– kindly.

As borrowed from my friend Andy who posted on the same subject earlier this week over at OUR LIFE IN 3D:

The idea is simple (courtesy of NPR):

‘Do “26 acts of kindness” — one for each of the 20 children and 6 adults killed last Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.’

This, I can do. Thousands of people all over the world have heard this call and are doing it, too. And while they are not meant to console, these Acts are meant to honor.

Whether it’s Making a Snowflake, saying a prayer, sending a long over-due note to a friend, paying for a stranger’s meal or groceries, giving an umbrella to someone waiting for the bus on a rainy day or buying boots for a homeless man; whether it is to someone you know or a complete stranger; whether it is public or anonymously, it’s been said, that no act of kindness is too small and that the impact of an act of kindness should never be underestimated.

I can be kind and commit to an act of kindness. I can commit to 20, 26 even 28 random acts of kindness.

This, I can do. This, I will do.

So, YES Ann Curry- I’m in.

Are you?

Wishing Everyone a Happy Holiday Season Filled With

Peace, Joy and Random Acts of Kindness!

Photo Credit #1 DO – Google Images

Photo Credit #2 Inspire To Act/NBC News

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