On August 16, I began a 137 day journey with author/blogger Patti Digh, focusing on how to Love Well, Live Fully, and Let Go Deeply (all while Making a Difference in the world). Today is Day 14 and I must say that so far it has been a lot of fun and a fair amount of work, both intellectual and emotional.
For each day of Project 137, Patti shares ways in which we can love more (others and ourselves), live to the best of out ability, and accept the fact that each day passes (as we will all), so we might as well let the day go and be at peace.
Now. Some of you are thinking I’ve gone off the granola and liberal deep end with this one. Perhaps I have. But I’m happy to be participating in something that’s got me focused on my loves and my life and that is also helping me practice letting go of all the c-r-a-p that drives me bonkers. Will I come out at the end of this 137 days all Zen? No, probably not. But will I have found ways to care for myself as well as others in better, more present ways? Yes, I think so. So why not? Why not live like these are my last 137 days? Because no matter how many days I have left, you can sure bet I want to make them count and this Project is helping me do just that.
So a couple days ago, Patti gave us a little assignment and asked us to be Secret Angels for others. Didn’t matter who. Didn’t matter what. Just show up for someone else and do whatever might make them smile. On the same day, I believe, we were discussing self care and what it means to love others by first loving yourself. I took all of this in and thought about what I could do for someone else.
For people who are part of a “traditional” workspace, I would imagine this was pretty easy. Me? I can go days at a time without seeing another adult besides my husband and quite frankly, I’m already a Secret Angel in this house because I make it run and do a lot of the behind the scenes work for my family (Whoops! Nothing Zen about that, now, was there?!). Not complaining, just saying that I wanted a different avenue for this particular project.
So then I thought about my own care and what I would like to have happen to me if a little angel swooped in to brighten my day. My first thought? Coffee! We are getting much better sleep these days (Thank Goodness! Merry Christmas! Amen!), but I still love me my coffee and have a cup or two a day. These are my little moments for me, even though I’m usually gulping it down as we move from one activity or task to the next. Again, not real Zen, but I’ll take what my Keurig can give me. Anyway, I’ve always wanted to but have never participated in a Pay It Forward kind of day at a drive thru or store. I decided that was going to be my Secret Angel move…swoop in and pay for someone’s coffee. I realize there are greater ways to make a greater difference in the world, but making someone smile makes my world better, so I decided it would definitely count as Secret Angel work.
I couldn’t get after this on the day of, but today, I needed an extra shot of caffeine (class to teach tonight, you know), so after Ben got home, I headed for the McDonald’s drive thru, hoping and hoping that someone would pull in behind me.
And someone did! When I got to the first window to pay, I asked the cashier if I could pay for the order behind me. It took her a second to get what I was asking and then she said, “Sure, no problem.” Except it was a teensy little problem because first she had to run my card for my order and then the machine froze up because the same card was run again when she tried to swipe it for the next vehicle’s purchase. Whoopsee! A manager had to come and approve the transaction, and as you can imagine, this all meant TIME sitting in the drive thru lane. Not eons, but long enough that the dude working the next window poked his head to see if/when I was coming to collect my vanilla iced coffee.
As I sat waiting for my card to come back me, I peeked in my rear view mirror and saw the woman behind me digging in her purse (“Yay! No worries, my friend. I’ve got you covered!” I thought) and looking rather exasperated by the wait (“Whoops! Sorry, my friend. I promise it will get better soon!” I thought). And it did. I got my card back, cruised on up to the next window to grab my beverage and then drove off happier than I think I’ve ever been when leaving the McDonald’s parking lot (and that is saying a lot considering how happy I was to get a coffee some days last spring!). As in full-on-smile-and-laughing-happy to think about how surprised she must have been when the cashier told her to just have a nice day instead of asking her to pay.
Now I would have been happy to pay for anyone’s whatever, but as it turned out, all I had buy for her was a large smoothie, so this was not bank breaking. Nor was it life shattering. But it sure was fun and I can’t wait to do something like it again.
And I’m not sharing this little story with all of you because I just can’t keep the secret, but to encourage each one of you to be a Secret Angel for someone in your life. It feels absolutely fabulous to do something for someone, even if it is as simple as buying a strawberry smoothie.