Tag Archives: kindness

A Heartfelt Thank You

Carol A. Hand

A moment of contemplation
watching a lone seagull soar silently
wings shimmering in the morning sun
the call of a solitary song bird
barely audible as busy traffic whirs by

This morning, Ojibwe wisdom comes to mind
“Be moderate in all things –
“watch, listen and consider
“your deeds will be prudent”
act only when the time is right

After a long cold dark winter
the days are warm and sunny
calling me outside to prepare gardens
neglected last summer and fall
when the weight of the world was too heavy

Balancing action and contemplation
is an ever-challenging choice
when it’s so easy to lose oneself
with distractions to escape constant noise
or engage in purposeless busyness

If we’re lucky our lives will be blessed
by those whose sparkling sprits
light up the room when they enter
reminding us we’re all connected
indispensable parts of the tree of life

The Tree of Life, a treasured gift from a former student

Acknowledgement

This post was inspired by JC, one of the kindest people I have been honored to work with during my career. She is the most tenaciously committed person I have ever encountered when it comes to learning, discovering, and applying liberatory praxis principles (knowledge-guided action). This is my way of expressing my deep gratitude to her for her kindness and for sharing her compassion and light with all those whom she encounters.

Washing Dishes

Carol A. Hand

Dear Sherri
I doubt that you remember
Billings Montana in August
Air filled with smoke
from the fires burning
just beyond the ridge
But I think of you fondly
smiling
almost every time
I stand by the sink
doing dishes
I remember our laughter
in a bar after a long day
when you were among the few
to treat me like a friend
even though I carried the heavy
isolating distinction of keynote speaker
at the BIA human services conference
Others looked at us
our tears streaming as we laughed
while you recounted stories
about your nosy neighbors
who reported you for feeding deer
a nuisance to their sculpted yard
and your creativity and humor
watching their response to your latest prank
peeking with binoculars
through your kitchen window by the sink
to watch them watching you
through their binoculars
to surveil your latest visitors

 

Paper Maché Sheep – Microsoft WORD Clip Art

***

Life-sized sheep
you crafted out of paper maché
and placed in your yard
as if they were “grazing”
repeatedly moving them
when you knew the neighbors
weren’t watching
to add to the illusion
The authorities finally grew weary
of your neighbors’ fallacious complaints
and left you alone
to live as you wished
feeding wildlife you loved
I am sorry I lost track of you
after so many jobs and moves
but I will always be grateful to you
for bringing kindness and laughter
into my life
and forever brightening
the mundane task of washing dishes
as it did again this sunny morning
smiling as I remembered
Smiling Sun – Microsoft WORD Clip Art

***

Seventy-One Winters

Carol A. Hand

Grateful for greeting
my seventy-first winter
on an almost silent snowed-in morning
amazed that I can still shovel snow
day after day after day
and remain grateful
for a simple life with so many blessings

*

Christmas 2017
for the daughter who takes time
from busy days to call just to talk
for the handsome hard-working grandson
who is kind and thoughtful
and remembers to send his love
for the granddaughter
whose presence lights up a room
for work to do that helps me stay engaged
and feel that what I have learned
can be of value to others
for friends who are here in times of need
and for the ancestors and wise beings
who have visited me in dreams and visions
helping me return and remain true
to the humble purpose for which I was born
seventy-one years ago

*

Reflections about Life

Carol A. Hand

I walk on my home world

the place of my birth

perhaps just for this life

perhaps only for this incarnation

not knowing where I came from

or where I’ll ultimately go

when I leave this place and a life

that has sometimes felt too long

and other times, so fragile and fleeting

***

Photo of a Hawk’s Feather –  A Gift from a Former Student

***

But while I am still here

let my spirit shine its song

Let me walk with peace and beauty

in my heart

as long as it continues beating

***

Note:

This poem was inspired by a comment on my previous post from Maria KethuProfumo at Eternamenta.  I encourage you to visit her thought-provoking blog.

***

Reflections about Beauty

Carol A. Hand

Grateful for sharing a visit to a garden

with the dear friend who delighted in each bloom

and greeted everyone we met with kindness

as we shared a lunch at a local “greasy spoon

***

Hortus Garden – July 2017

***

Grateful for the gentle man who paints houses

and writes novels for sharing his creative stories

as we stood for hours under grey July skies

on an unseasonably cool day in these northern territories

 

Grateful to the dragonfly/damselfly (?) for choosing to stay

resting on my jacket sleeve with gossamer wings still

gazing into my eyes in the afternoon sun

before taking flight again and traveling where s/he will

 

Canada Darner – Aeshna Canadensis (photo by Phil Myers, biokids.umich.edu)

***

Grateful for all the simple gifts that remind me of the many faces of beauty.

***

Reflections about Being a Parent and Grandparent

Carol A. Hand

When my daughter was born,
my view of the world forever changed.

“To have
a child
is to decide
to have
your heart
forever
walk around
outside
your body.”
(anonymous)

Life was no longer something I peered at
from a safe distance
I felt it deeply – glowing in my heart
Powerful, shifting emotions
forced me to realize how precious
and precarious life can be

Holding each of my grandchildren for the first time
intensified my sensitivity and commitment
to do all in my power to be a loving presence
Watching them as they grow
amplifies both joy and pain
celebrating their accomplishments
suffering when they encounter challenges

Self-portrait by my granddaughter – July 7, 2017

***

Sometimes all I can do is
to simply try to be a loving presence

***

My granddaughter’s portrait of her Ahma – July 8, 2017

 

In times such as these it’s not easy
to believe the future holds bright possibilities
Let our hearts awaken and glow
with celebratory joy

***

A Matter of Perspective

Carol A. Hand

A gift in the morning worth pondering…

Pale Blue Dot - Wikimedia
Pale Blue Dot – Wikimedia

 

“Our planet is a lonely spark in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand.

“It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.” (Carl Sagan, from “The best speech about humanity”)

The Best Speech about Humanity – Carl Sagan

***

Acknowledgment:

I wish to thank Notes to Ponder for sharing this video.

***

Simple Gifts

Carol A. Hand

When my beloved dog Cookie died, my heart was broken. We had weathered many challenges during our eleven years together. She survived many moves from her prairie home – to the northwoods, Rocky Mountains, and different Great Lakes region cities. I knew as we shared our last walk together in October of 2013 that no one else would ever take her place. I had no intention of ever adopting another dog. I hoped my grief would pass with time, but instead of diminishing, it only deepened.

By the end of October, my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter went with me to see if I could find a larger female dog. (I’m sure I wrote about this adventure, but I can’t find the story anywhere.) When we entered the animal shelter to look, the first dog we saw was Pinto, then tiny, a Papillon/Chihuahua mixed-breed.

Pinto Adoption Photo 1 - 2013
Pinto Adoption Photo 1 – 2013
Pinto Adoption Photo 2 - 2013
Pinto Adoption Photo 2 – 2013
Pinto Adoption Photo 3 - 2013
Pinto Adoption Photo 3 – 2013

 

 

 

My granddaughter fell in love with him at first sight. Who wouldn’t? I promised her that we would walk him after we tried the two large female dogs that were waiting to be adopted.

I did walk the two larger dogs, Barbara and Ginger. They made me aware of my age and physical strength limitations. Both were powerful, spirited, and emotionally wounded. My daughter laughed heartily at the spectacle of me trying to control Ginger when she started jumping and tugging to avoid going back into the shelter. When I was eleven years younger, Cookie could pull me over and drag me. Ginger almost did the same in the animal shelter parking lot on her maiden walk.

“Maybe a smaller dog would be wiser,” I thought, so it was finally Pinto’s turn. And he was a joy. He didn’t jump and pull. He merely trotted proudly with his butterfly ears in constant, graceful motion and rolled over so my granddaughter could pet his belly. It wasn’t until I went to pick him up a couple of weeks later that the shelter listed his challenges. He had been abandoned so they knew very little about him except the health issues when he arrived and his behavioral challenges. Many of his teeth had to be removed because they were too badly infected to be salvaged. And he was too dangerous to be around children.

We’ve been together for a little over three years now. I’m glad to say it’s been months since we’ve had to deal with a feral incident. Because I’ve agreed to listen to his “no brushing my ears command,” his feral fits only happen occasionally over some forbidden outdoor “treat,” like rabbit or deer droppings or a twig that will be sure to make him choke. His timeout kennel is still in the living room just in case, although my special leather gloves for handling him have been repurposed for outdoor work.

He really is very gentle with my granddaughter.

Ava and Pinto - June 28, 2016
Ava and Pinto – June 28, 2016

I made a choice early on that accommodates my personality. I don’t like to fight or try to bend others to my will. With Pinto, I haven’t tried. I can only imagine why he’s so terrified when the grooming brush approaches in a gentle trusted hand. He snarls and fights for his life. I would rather be the safe person who gives him a place where he can sing even if he’s grown a little plumper and his lovely fur is a little dreadlocked. He really is a gifted singer.

***

***

The frozen image on the video clip above doesn’t do him justice.

Pinto - July 18, 2016
Pinto – July 18, 2016

I’m truly grateful for his mellowing presence in my life.

***

Crossing Divides

Carol A. Hand

 

Finding common ground,

It’s not as easy as it sounds

Just try it once or twice

Crossing divides

into discomfort and uncertainty

Suddenly your attention is heightened

Searching intently, listening deeply for clues

about how to act, what to say

unless, of course, you think you’re there to save others

But it’s definitely worth trying in either case

You’ll learn more about yourself and the world

than you ever thought possible

***

Community Clipart
Community Clipart

***

It seems in divisive times such as these

We need more peace-builder boundary spanners

People who genuinely want to understand

The essence of our shared humanity

***