Small Tokens of Appreciation

I think I’m a kind person. At least I try to practice kindness in all that I do and say. I’ve never really believed it when people told me I was doing a good thing by taking care of my mother. I couldn’t because of the thoughts (perfectly normal thoughts, I might add) I had about her and always planning her funeral. My family always expressed appreciation for me taking care of my mother. Mostly it was because they were glad it wasn’t them and they were half laughing up their sleeves at me in relief because it wasn’t them. Even when close trusted friends would tell me I was a good person, or anything nice really, I couldn’t allow myself to believe them or worse, I thought they were setting me up because they wanted something from me. I’ve been struggling for so many years against this current of self and perceived disapproval it seems absolutely normal. On my last job my office coordinator would call me and the first thing out of my mouth was “What did I do now?” She’d ask me why I always asked that when she called and I replied; “It just saves time.” That’s pretty much sums up how I’ve always felt at work, at home and in life in general and abstract.

First off my coworker and I have received 100% in our customer satisfaction rating for 11 days in a row. The first week three other offices received this rating as well and we had a single digit response so I didn’t see it as much of a distinction. It’s easy to get 100% when only 7 people are responding. Well, that was my thought any way. Last week my office was the only one with the 100% rating with over 40 respondents to the survey. We are very motivated to keep that number to the end of the month and maybe to the end of the year. This office was always in the low 90’s before I joined, and it would creep down 1 to 1/2 of a percent between weeks and I automatically assumed it was because of me. It was all my fault. I just didn’t know how I could be any kinder than I already am.

The most precious token of appreciation came on Wednesday when a lady came in (due to HIPPA laws I can’t explain more than that), we will call her M, and left a little bag at the front desk for me. I was in the back doing the mad scientist part of my job and when I came out to the front to look for clients my coworker handed it to me. He told me at first he thought it was a “Pee Party”, which is our code for a urine sample, but instead there were three different sized raffia pumpkins nestled inside. It was so sweet and so completely unexpected. It affirms my belief I am where I’m supposed to be and doing what I’m supposed to do. I haven’t been singled out for appreciation in dogs years, it was overwhelming. I still well up at the gesture.

The conflagration of appreciation has made me realize how unappreciative I’ve been to you, my readers and to the people who serve me. I am so caught up in my own head most of the time I forget all the people who have helped me get to where I am totay. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, one and all. I want to share with you the pumpkins of gratitude I received this week as a thank you for the support and the and expressions of solidarity and triumph. I am going forward now with more of an attitude of gratitude I’ve been too busy to muster in the past months. Thank you M.

Thank you!

As Simple as a Cup of Tea

My monk, Titch Nhat Hanh, practiced something called a tea meditation. It’s said he would spend an hour drinking a cup of tea with his fellow monks. It sounds glorious. Honestly, I’m saying that without rancor or sarcasm. In his book Anger: Wisdom for cooling the flames, he talks about how a cup of tea, when drunk with mindfulness, will bring us back to ourselves. The whole world melts away when you spend the time thinking about nothing else but drinking the warm infusion of leaves, smelling the botanical aromas and feeling the concoction infuse your soul with each sip.

I have started my own tea ritual at night before bed. I’m not able to completely concentrate on the tea, I don’t quite have the discipline yet. I also have a bird who demands my complete attention after being left alone all day. I have a small one-ounce cup I try to put out for her when I drink but she doesn’t seem as interested in the tea as she is in pushing the small cup off the desk. She makes me smile. The tea does make me pause, to inhale the floral bouquet (tonight is lemon balm) and try to exhale the feelings of being overwhelmed, overworked and inactive in the direction I want to go. The herbals I drink at night are designed to promote calm and restfulness of mind after the long days I’ve been having, and the spice teas I drink during the day are to get more liquid and less chemicals into my body for better health.

I didn’t practice last night. I was too tired to do anything, including sleep. I was irritated because work was long, lunch was gastro-intestinally distressing and the work environment dredged up some old forgotten feelings from long, long ago of people long since passed. I watched TV eating salted caramels from Costco and stayed up well past my bedtime (8:30pm!) and still couldn’t sleep. I eventually got up around 10pm took some Tylenol then rubbed a melatonin infused lotion on my legs and feet and eventually fell into a quasi-restful slumber. I blamed my restlessness on the family interaction from the night before, I blamed it on working too much, I blamed it on being too tired to sleep. In reality, I didn’t bring myself back to center with a cup of tea after being scattered mentally, physically and emotionally from the day. Rituals are powerful tools, even when they are as simple as a cup of tea.


It was in the pre-dawn hours this morning while driving to work a baby deer bolted in front of my car. It wasn’t even big enough to make the car shutter as it threw off the small animal like a dog with rain water. I had no time to react, to hit my breaks or to even swerve, which would have put an abrupt end to my day. I pulled over about 100 yards away from the impact and as the morning began to shimmer in the sky I could see the dark body of the fawn on the side of the road. It was too dark to see if it was breathing and it wasn’t cold enough to see the steam from it’s breath. I wanted to believe it was okay and at the same time I wanted to believe it’s death was swift and painless. How those two diametrically opposed outcomes could rest peacefully in my mind still boggles. I couldn’t go to it because I didn’t want to know. It was cowardly, it was inhumane. If it was in agony I didn’t have any means to end it’s suffering, I couldn’t do it for Dotty, a creature I loved, I couldn’t pick up a rock and bash in the brains of a terrified animal to ‘help’.

Many images and thoughts have come from this experience unbidden and not totally unwanted.

  • It’s warning of jumping too soon into my plans for resolution with my sisters.
  • There is the guilt of thinking it was following it’s mother across the road and it was too intent to be with her it didn’t hesitate.
  • Anger at the house which allows the deers to graze in their yard so close to the busy road. It’s not a kindness befriending wild animals.
  • Shouldn’t I feel something more than just casual remorse for the loss of life. I’m too numb.
  • There should be a company you can call where someone quickly comes out, slaughters the venison and distributes it to the poor and hungry before the body starts to break down and spoil the meat.
  • What am I suppose to learn from this? Why did a baby deer have to die in order for me to learn whatever the lesson is? And how many more animals will need to be sacrificed before I learn it?
  • How completely blessed I am because it could have been so much worse.

On my drive home from work I didn’t see the body. I’m clinging to the hope I just stunned the little tyke and it’s with it’s mother being suckled back to health.