Category Archives: Friends

Simple gestures

I have a quote from Rumi posted near my desk at work.  It helps me find my center each morning.  And, it reminds me of the purpose of each day.

“Be a lamp or a lifeboat or a ladder. Help someone’s soul heal.  Walk out of the house like a shepherd.”

                                                                                                                   -Rumi

Yesterday, I was more of a step-ladder…. but it still felt good.

Yesterday, I helped a work acquaintance with the simplest of gestures, a ride back to a restaurant where she had forgotten her wallet.  In doing so I learned that she’d been upset about more than just forgetting her wallet.  We chatted, commiserated, laughed and rejoined our work colleagues who were going to see a movie.

We have all been there when on some given day someone has turned our challenging moment into a moment of relief. Some small catalyst of change …..a kind word, a reassuring hug or a shared laugh…. has changed our perspective and moved us to a more positive reaffirmation of the moment we are going through.

I have been offered lamps, lifeboats and ladders. The kindness of others has taught me about reaching out. But here’s the thing, being a ladder for someone else, lifts your heart as well….in an instant.

My work acquaintance is now a friend.  A simple gesture turned a nice evening into a very nice evening and an acquaintance into a friend.

Rumi!  ….Pass it on!

Life is fine,

Sarah

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Rock ‘n roll

Sitting on the floor,  toys strewn about,  in a house not my own.

I was with my teaching partner, MT, when the Earth decided to move.  MT and I only rarely do home visits together, but this past  Tuesday, we were sitting on the concrete slab floor of subsidized housing assessing a little boy’s developmental progress.

 My world was decidedly rocked.

In a moment, everything before me turned in to visual waves.  The curtains, the TV, the rug became flowing linear lines that shimmered like waves on a Spectrograph.  I asked MT if she saw it.  “What? See what?” she said.  The movement suddenly changed.  I revised and asked MT if she felt it.   MT paused and our eyes met.   Her look of concern acknowledged that something was not quite right.   We both waited to see what would happen next.

The motion intensified and then suddenly stopped.  We quickly and reassuringly dismissed it, “Maybe, the neighbor was playing music with the bass too high”.  But the dismissal did not fit.

My cell phone started ringing.  It was my daughter from Virginia calling.  “Did you feel the Earthquake up there?” she said, “It rocked our office building, but everyone is all right.”  Fear and relief claimed my consciousness at the same time.  An Earthquake.   All was well but could have been worse.

The little boy we were assessing suddenly began to cry.  His response to the environmental shift was pure and unedited.  MT reached for her phone and called her mother to check on her son.   We left the visit a bit shaky feeling decidedly off-balance. We called the office and family and friends.  It was jarring to learn that some people had not felt the quake at all.

That Tuesday evening, I remained uneasy and unsettled by my earthquake experience. I was unable to roll with the events of the day.  I thought about the distance that separates me from my daughter especially when thinking about what might’ve happened.  Other recent earthquakes kept coming to mind.  My daughter had known a college friend living in Japan when the quake hit there.

Mostly, I thought about Fate and how it sets people together or apart at critical moments in life.  For the most part, we don’t get to choose.   I wondered, what if  this afternoon had been the last of my life.  I considered my company at the time of the quake, MT and a 2-year-old toddler named  NG.

MT is gifted at being a teacher, a mother and my friend. We most always enjoy the toddlers and the families we visit.   Today had been no exception.  NG had made his silly “Thinker” face.  His favorite since it always makes the grownups laugh.    MT and I smile and laugh and sing with our students.  We really do have some pretty fine play skills.   That thought made me smile as did the next  . . . It would have been okay with me to leave this plane in such fine company.

Sitting on the floor,  toys strewn around,  in a house not my own… with my teaching partner, MT.    I would’ve been honored to be in such good company.

……Just wanted to let you know MT


New Year Message in a Bottle

There is a children’s song… “make new friends but keep the old, one is silver, but the other gold”  At the beginning of the New Year, I think of memories like that.  Cherished old memories are like gold, while shimmery silver new memories are just waiting to be made.

Memories, especially as I get older, make the holiday season more bittersweet, but I’m fine with that.   It shifts the focus of the holidays and the New Year to an appreciation for the people and positive events in my life, both past and present.   After this season’s reflection,  I’ve decided to write a New Year’s “message in a bottle” to one of my cherished  memories.

In the 1970’s, I was a live-in  au pair  to a well-heeled Manhattan  couple and their 10-year old daughter, Lauren.  I was twenty, attending a well-known secretarial school and taking singing and dancing classes on the side.   My goal was to finish secretarial school so that I would have a way of supporting myself while pursuing a career in acting.  Naively,  I thought I could take on the New York City challenge… “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere”.

I had lived close enough to the city to have visited frequently, but I arrived in New York young, sweet and relatively innocent.  Not only did I need to work on my acting skills, I needed to develop a tougher,  more street wise demeanor.

However, New York had different plans for me.  What I learned during my tenure as a nanny was that my softer side was my greater strength.

 To this day, I have fond memories of  afternoon walks to Carl Schurz Park with my charge, Lauren, and her dog,  Christy.  This was one of my favorite activities while living in Manhattan.

 

 I also fondly recall the many hours of laughter Lauren and I shared.  Discussions centered around her experiences of  5th grade drama and friendship politics and, of course, debates with her mother about fashion choices.  (no dresses please!)  I think I gave some pretty good advice, but as anyone who has worked with children knows, I also got some pretty good advice about my own life.

 After completing my au pair year and secretarial school,  I left Manhattan and my acting dreams behind.  I moved to another city with a slower pace that was a better match to my personality.  My goals and life focus had changed. Indeed, I had learned a lot  during my stay in NYC.

 I learned, like many  twenty-somethings, that if you don’t make it in NYC  you can still make it anywhere.  More  importantly, I learned the value of being true to who you  innately are …. perhaps, that’s the goal in this life.

Later in my twenties when I had my own daughter . . .  named  Lauren.  I hoped my own Lauren would the have  the same qualities of strength, inquisitiveness and caring as Lauren E., and, of course, she does.  Hope so often creates reality.

I lost touch with my au pair family several years after my employment ended.  But  I have carried hopes and dreams  for Lauren E. in my heart for over 30 years.  Many thoughts of good wishes have been sent to her through the years.  I hope they have added to an already happy life.   My young charge is now a grown woman.  In this age of social media it might be possible to reconnect, but I am not sure I wish to intrude.

So, instead,  I am sending this “message in a bottle”  to Lauren E . . . may it find its way to you wherever you may be in this New Year.  You,  like my own daughter, will stay in my thoughts and prayers forever.   I am an  unknown cheerleader in your life.  I send hope and good wishes that life is well with you!  Namaste!

                                                                       Life is fine,

                                                                          Sarah