Because I’m Happy! (How a rock on a bench can make the whole day brighter)

This little blog of mine has brought me a lot of happiness in the past week or so.  It has given me an opportunity to share my thoughts with people I’ve never met.  In doing so, I hope that I’ve brought some relevant information, some insight, or some HAPPINESS to someone who I’ve never had the opportunity to touch before.

Today I had a court hearing in a nearby town.  Although my role in the proceedings went smoothly, my client was noticeably upset.  This is not a happy time for her.  I decided to take the scenic route back to my office.  As I looked out over Lake Erie, I immediately felt calmer – happier.

My computer was applying updates when I return to the office, so I looked at Facebook on my phone.  There, I saw the prettiest little stones.  My friend Sue found these on a bench at the beach and she shared them on Facebook.  I’ve been thinking a lot this week about how our words and actions affect others.  I’ve been reminding myself to LISTEN.  I’m trying to remember to SPEAK KINDLY.  There on my screen were two little stones painted by an unknown giver reminding me to do just that.

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  I immediately sent Sue a message and asked if I could share her photo.  She sent me that one and two more.The email subject was “Because I’m Happy!! Stones.”  Sue’s happiness was contagious.  I haven’t talked to Sue since I left an organization we were in together.  I thanked her and let her know I’ve been down this week.  We resolve to try to fit a lunch into our busy schedules soon. 

 When I opened the files, I was excited to be able to read the note that was loving placed with the stones.

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Been thinking of someone lately?  

Of course you have!  

Don’t forget #1


Please take a rock, they are free!

Use them to brighten your or someone else’s day!

Remember smile brightly.

Love freely.

Pay it forward.

❤ Me

One of the advantages of being self-employed is the fact that I can abandon the office in the middle of the day for a few minutes.  I declared it “break time” and grabbed Jimi the Wonderdog.  He brought me my leash (that’s another post) and to the beach we went to see if the stones were still there.  I really hoped they were.  We walked from the office to the beach in the beautiful sun and found the stones just where Sue said they would be.  As we admired the collection, a lady walked up beside us and we struck up a conversation.  Today was her little girl’s first day in Kindergarten.  I asked where and we had a nice chat about the Montessori program she’s attending.  I know of it, and I’m sure she’s going to love it!  She chose a cute little turtle for her little girl, and she chose one for herself that had special meaning.  We talked about why it  was meaningful to her.  The conversation turned to hospice care, and we discussed a hospice center we had both visited.  We talked about the beauty and hope that we were both surprised to find in a facility for people who are facing death.  She gave Jimi the Wonderdog some attention because she was grieving the loss of her pet.  (Jimi was more than happy to oblige with some doodle love).  

I had a hard time deciding whether to take the rock that said “Listen,” or the one that said “Speak Kindly.”  I reached for “Listen,” and my new friend said, “That one is perfect.  You know how to listen.”  

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Another friend I hadn’t seen for a while was the next to arrive.  We talked about the stones, and life, and Jimi the Wonderdog.  She gave him a bowl of water (it was hot!) and I enjoyed our chat.  As I turned to walk away, I was pulled back to the bench (by the stones – not by Jimi – he is well-behaved for the most part).

There, the stone that said “Joy” called out to me.  I hope the unknown artist will not mind that I helped myself to two rocks instead of one. “Joy” joined “Listen” in my pocket.  We took a last look at the beach and waved goodbye to my friends. 

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Jimi and I walked back to the office, drank a whole bunch of water (like I said, it’s HOT!), and I set about putting words on a screen to share these cute little rocks and their message of joy with all of you.  

So, my friends, be kind to yourselves.  Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers.  Pet someone’s dog (but ask permission first).  Listen.  Speak kindly.  Love freely.  

Thank you, joyful artist, whoever you may be.  Today you touched my life in so many ways.  Because you cared enough to paint some stones and arrange them on a bench by the water, my life was changed.  Today I reached out to a friend I hadn’t talked to.  I took a walk in the sunshine (with Jimi the Wonderdog).  I met a new friend.  I had a great conversation with another friend.  I drank lots of water.  I walked 6,000 steps.  

Joyful artist, thank you for your gift.  I don’t know yet how I will pay it forward, but I will begin by sharing your enthusiasm.  May it inspire many others as it inspired me.

If you hurry to Main Street Beach in Vermilion, the rocks are on the bench on the left side of the platform.  While you’re there, visit the Little Free Library, buy a cold drink from the volunteers at the Shore Thing stand (tell them I sent you), and enjoy all that life has to offer.  

photo (7) That’s how a little rock can made the whole day brighter.

On grieving a suicide

I posted this as a status on Facebook yesterday.  Several people found it meaningful and shared it.  I’m posting it again here for those who aren’t part of my Facebook community.  

The Robin Williams story has me feeling very sad today. As many of you know, I was widowed in 1998 when my husband took his own life. He was no celebrity, but there were still people who needed to satisfy their morbid curiosity about our private life and even a local newspaper reporter who decided to add the details of his death to his obituary.

My heart goes out to Williams’ wife and children. I pray that now that their private pain has been made so public that the media will allow them privacy to grieve. I hope that the “buzz” will turn from the manner of his death to a celebration of his life.

I’m no expert on mental health or theology, but I believe that suicide is the ultimate act of desperation when it seems that all hope of happiness is lost. I believe that a loving God recognizes that the act is one of desperation not based in sinful thoughts, and that the victim of that desperation should be judged on the life he lived, and not on the singular act that ended it.

There are so very many moments in Robin’s career that touched me, made me laugh, or made me think. Once favorite film was the 1990 drama Awakenings. In one scene, Robin’s character Dr. Sayer is having a conversation with his patient, Leonard, played by Robert DeNiro:

Leonard Lowe: We’ve got to tell everybody. We’ve got to remind them. We’ve got to remind them how good it is.

Dr. Sayer: How good what is, Leonard?

Leonard Lowe: Read the newspaper. What does it say? All bad. It’s all bad. People have forgotten what life is all about. They’ve forgotten what it is to be alive. They need to be reminded. They need to be reminded of what they have and what they can lose. What I feel is the joy of life, the gift of life, the freedom of life, the wonderment of life!

Somehow, Robin lost sight of that wonderment. The world lost a great talent. If you are reading this, please take to heart that you are a gift to the rest of us. The world will be less rich, colorful, and diverse without your talents, abilities, and experience.

I thank each of you for the moments we have shared. There has been more than one time when I have been in despair, and a friend has reached out just to say hello, and that has made a tremendous difference in my ability to face whatever obstacle was in my path.

We cannot take responsibility for others’ acts, but we can resolve to be kinder, and to touch the lives of those around us.

I didn’t mean to write a book here… but thank you for reading it anyway. My life is richer for having you in it.