I capitalize the A because it’s crazy sometime how clearly I see Cause and Effect.
How yesterday a friend called and invited me to see Michelle Obama with her friends. What a huge gift. Liz was sad I wouldn’t be home last night and I said, “Liz, it’s Michelle Obama.”
I think the entire a audience cried while watching the introductory video. We lost so much the day the Obamas left the White House.
Yet we still have what they gave us: hope. Hope that feel buried often lately. To find my hope, I block the news, practice self-care, exercise.
Yet still I curse. Really, I think, love replaced by outright hate?
Michelle told us she sobbed after she waved goodbye from the jet stairs after Barack left office. She cried because she finally could let her guard down. But last night the largest audience on her tour cried openly while we watched snapshots and the storyline of Michelle’s life cross the screens. How often have you cried because hate is so openly displayed in America right now?
And then Michelle shared with us.
This morning it was still hard to get up. I thought, what did Michelle say? What can I carry with me?
I texted my mom that Michelle reminded me that it’s good to not be bitter, to work toward having hope. That her dad taught her that even if you don’t love you work, it’s an honorable and worthwhile life to put in a hard day’s work in the service of your family and community. And to be gentle with ourselves as we are becoming. That becoming never ends. And that we all have something to offer the world.
So this morning I was gentle with myself. I gave myself extra time to write before waking one of my kids. I was gentle with my kids. Let the older one sleep in, knowing she’s old enough to figure out how to take care of herself and balance her responsibilities. I slowly got ready and told myself I could take on whatever life brought my way today.
I brought my better attitude to the world. Went to a coffeeshop for a work meeting. When the cashier couldn’t break a big bill for a customer and told him to just pay a dollar, I offered to pay the rest. The cashier said no and then the cashier gave me my pastry for free, saying that it was nice of me to offer.
Are you kidding me? A free pastry. People pay it forward all the time and the cashier didn’t let me pay it forward, doing something amazing and showing he saw me.
Maybe it doesn’t sound amazing, but I was shocked. I don’t often see how wonderful I am. To have a stranger say, hey, that was wonderful: Nice.
After the meeting, I went to our local tiny grocery. For a few weeks, I had my flyer for my new classes up here. It’s not up right now (must put new one up), but a clerk stopped me in the store.
“Hey, that picture of you in the front of the store is nice. It’s a great picture of you,” he said.
Then we talked about Michelle Obama and love versus hate. I told the clerk how lucky (how blessed) I was to get a ticket to go. It felt like a gift dropping from the sky. And the gift gave me a better-less-bitter attitude today. Reflected back at me: grace. Cause and effect.
A friend last night talked about this very idea, how her eldest is taking a class where she’s heard story after story like this. How a kid who felt suicidal had someone say hello to them, then went and told their counselor how that stopped them in their tracks and made them feel OK. How the counselor told the kid who said hi. The kid who had said hi told the counselor that he had memorized everyone’s name in the whole school over the summer, pouring over the yearbook. He had to go to a new school his senior year after being home-schooled. How he didn’t know if saying hi to strangers was a good idea. How a counselor pulled him into her office and told him the effect of his hello.
Hello out there. I see you. I hope you see love reflected back at you today. That you feel good enough to offer some love to others yourself today, too. Perhaps this all sounds trite, but it’s so nice to feel hope today. To have heard Michelle in person. To see someone who takes the high road telling us she knows being bitter makes sense. That she understands how the world breaks us sometimes. But if you can gather all the love around you and build a strong center with it, it’s possible to let go of bitterness . It’s a good day when I can set that bitterness down and walk out of my front door with love on my mind.