Yes, It Really DOES Matter

[Previous Rural Farmgirl, June 2010 – January 2012]

Do you think that giving someone a genuine compliment or holding the door for the next guy can change your life? What about listening quietly and peacefully to an important story someone has to tell? Or maybe it’s just giving a big smile to the person who’s directing traffic during road construction… These situations all have something in common – a kind response. Kindness. It’s a way of looking at life that requires changes that are so little yet the rewards, for everyone involved, are so big…

NOTE: This blog posting was going to be about my cheesemaking adventure yesterday. Let me just tell you this – DON’T use ultra-pasteurized milk. It just doesn’t work. Read the labels – we were using “boughten” (I know, it’s not a word, but everyone in town uses the phrase!) milk to see exactly how it would work for the gal I was teaching when she used it at home, and I didn’t read the fine print on the milk before we used it. Total failure. HOWEVER… there were lessons learned:

    • Don’t use ultra-pasteurized milk (did I mention that before? It’s IMPORTANT! I’m completely blushing in embarassment over this one).
    • The hot water bath method beats the microwave method (for me anyway) in making 30-minute mozzarella.
    • I’m a full convert to raw milk from Evelynn. It’s not failed me yet!

And so, I will give y’all a cheesemaking demonstration later, with milk compliments of my very own cow.

But for now, on to a subject that has been in my thoughts very often over the past couple of weeks. Each other.

So, over the past few weeks, I’ve been re-reading MJ’s “Lifebook…” for some inspiration, and I keep coming back to the “Each Other” section. I love the section – I love the idea. It’s also sparked a new way of relating to the world for me. It’s a fairly fresh insight for me, so bear with me as I try my best to describe it.

I suppose (and I hope, really) that I’m not the only one who can get wrapped up so tightly in my own little life that I can’t see the big picture – I can only see a to-do list, a too-tired child, an underweeded garden… I’ve started to complain, if only to myself, about feeling like I can’t ever get things finished. Dishes? Always more. Laundry? More. Garden? Same. Cow? Same. Cooking? Same. Then, as I was thinking about the concept of living in the “shelter of each other,” the truth of that saying lodged somewhere in my psyche, right up front.

What if I looked at what I do as an opportunity to “shelter” others? Even an opportunity to shelter myself from daily chores that can seem mundane and even somewhat meaningless if I let them. I kept thinking about sheltering people and all of the forms that could take. “Shelter” is such a lovely word – sanctuary, refuge, protection, provision, safety…

As I thought more and more about shelter, an inner change started to take place. What if, instead of, “milking the cow,” that task instead became “providing safe, healthy food for my family while spending a half an hour sitting and tending to an animal I really care about?” What if, instead of, “waiting in the checkout line,” that time was spent really paying attention to the person at the cash register and coming up with a genuine compliment by the time it’s my turn? I have to tell you, it has really changed my attitude – and in the process, is changing my life and, I believe, the lives of those who I come in contact with, for the better.

Have you ever been around someone who is kind and positive and who really, truly wants the best for you? It feels a little bit like plugging into some sort of “line” of enthusiasm and confidence, at least for me. When I am around these sorts of people, and I genuinely believe them, I feel as if I’ve been turned on like a lamp – it’s a reflection of the confidence that we all need in order to be who we truly are – magnificent human beings. Now, how cool is it that we can do this for other people, too? VERY.

And my children? I’ve always thought that I’ve been a good mom, and I still think that, but when I focus on what I can do to bolster up my little ones with kindness, instead of hyper-focusing on what needs to get done, they blossom. Just a quick statement like, “Hey – I noticed that you built that bridge over the irrigation ditch – it looks sturdy enough for a horse to cross!” is answered with a big, new-permanent-front-toothed smile. It can’t be beat. Another time, I might be busy and rushing around and a little one seems to need me immediately and I just don’t feel like I have time to address him. If I take a deep breath, there somehow is always a little time for, “Wow – I’m running around like a crazy chicken – maybe we both need a hug, c’mon over here. I love you.” It changes the entire scene. ‘Turns out that most of the time, I am the one who benefits most from the step back, the kindness, and yes, the hugs of my little boys. And if you want to make a mother’s heart beat faster and tears come to her eyes, be kind to her little ones – wink at ’em at the market, tell them they are such good kids, whatever is real and appropriate. I’ll bet everyone involved has a big smile by the time the short interaction is over.

And the value of kindness is not limited to little boys, either. I’ve not found anyone yet who didn’t respond well to what I really, truly sent out as a kind gesture. If they’ve ignored me or otherwise rebuffed what I’ve said or done, I just imagine that maybe that little seed of kindness and positivity will stick to them and sometime will sprout, grow and blossom. Now, that might not be the response I *wanted*, but it’s still worth it. Not everyone has extra energy to give, but most of us have a little bit. There is a quote I love,

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

– Plato.

You can never truly know the heart of another person, I don’t believe, and we all have our own “battles” to contend with. Why shouldn’t we shelter each other, if only for a few minutes (or seconds, even!), with kindness? Do you have some extra sunflowers in your garden? Wrap those babies up in a waxed paper cone, tie it with some string and leave it on the neighbor’s doorstep. You never know what it might mean to them…

If you’ve ever had a bit of trouble genuinely being kind to someone who, ummmm…, isn’t able to be kind back at the moment, try a little prayer, good energy and/or wish for “good health and happiness,” for them. Now, if they had that, they’d perhaps be in a position to act kindly toward you. And if they don’t have those things, then, as fellow human beings (and FARMGIRLS, really!), don’t we have a sort of responsibility to shine a light on part of their day if we can?

“It is in the shelter of each other that people live.”

– Irish proverb

A great resource for ideas and inspiration is www.kindovermatter.com . I posted one of their “free compliments” posters on our town bulletin board and the next day found it lying on the ground, torn into a couple of pieces, and the thumbtacks I used to tack it up with had been “pirated” to hold up another notice. First off, I was sort of angry, then I was hurt, THEN, I thought – well, maybe tomorrow I’ll post another flyer… and stick some extra thumbtacks in the bulletin board with a little note that says, “thumbtacks just for you – use ’em if you need ’em!” See, it’s the attitude thing again…

So, the one little thing that can change lives? Kindness. Yep, just kindness. It really, truly DOES matter. Give “shelter” to folks, in whatever way the situation warrants – and I can almost guarantee you’ll get it back in spades.

Lastly, I would just like to thank you all who leave comments for me – I read each and every one of them, and love that you’re sharing your world “back” with me. For those who might have missed my “edit” to the previous post about my “auntie” Margaret and riding horses, I would like you to know that I’ve taken your very good advice and gotten a nice helmet – for everyone who rides here. WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?!?! Thank you for taking the time to tell me that you care…

Leave a comment 26 Comments

  1. Heidi says:

    I love your post. Thanks for the positive energy, it seems that many look at the glass as half empty, I like to see it as always half full.

    My favorite quote " Attitude is the mind’s paintbrush, it can color any situation" Loring Forcier

    Thanks for the other two quotes, I love them. I will now go tell my kids how great they are as sometimes I think I am too hard on them and set my expectations too high.

    Good Karma to you, Heidi

  2. Denise says:

    Your words of kindness came at just the right time.The farm that I work on and have been so proud to be a part of is up for sale.Being the oldest farm in America still owned be the same family since 1632 you can imagine the price is out of my reach.After reading your post the light went on and I realized this isn’t about me and the right thing to do is be there for my friend as her world and family history is being brought to an end by a brother who believes the time of the family farm has come to an end.Thank you for "waking me up"

  3. Jan says:

    Yes…attitude/focus is everything, isn’t it? I’ve been thinking about that for awhile; maybe in a little different way: that life really isn’t all about me, but rather is about Him. Returning evil for evil in relating to people or circumstances only serves to perpetuate the evil. But changing my focus to " how can I respond right now (not react!) in a way that will please the Lord? " has made a huge difference, and seems to me to break at least my small part of a negative chain.
    Thanks for your thoughts on the similar subject, and for seeking to make the world better, even if it takes a bit of unrewarded effort. God sees it and takes note, I’m sure.

  4. Aunt Jenny says:

    What an awesome post. I agree…. a little kindness goes such a long way! YOU are one of the most naturally kind people I have ever met so I KNOW it works!!!
    have a great weekend!

  5. nameVictoria says:

    Isoagreewithyourpost!Sometimesitdoesseemlikethesmallestkindnesseshavegonecompletelyoutofoursocietytoday.Whatanicethingtoremember-Icanstarttoputsomethingback,givesomethingtoothersthatmayhelpthemgetthroughthesedifficulttimes.Ittakessolittle,butmakessuchadifference.Thankyouforthisreminder!

  6. Cherry says:

    I, also love to read your posts–this one was wonderful. I’ve read it twice and plans on asking my girls to read it–it reminds me of paying it forward–what a difference a smile makes. Thanks for the positive attitude.

  7. Lorrie says:

    Thank you so much for reminding me that my small troubes can easily be put aside for a few moments to give a stranger a smile or hold a door for someone or slow down enough to radiate gratitude for all the blessings in my life. This message never gets old.

  8. sue says:

    I don’t know who originally said it, but my parents and grand parents always said "kindness is Its own reward" How very true.

  9. Tammy says:

    A beautiful post. Thank you for the reminder. I try to ‘shelter’ others… well, most of the time. But you’ve reminded me it’s worth the extra, tiny bit of effort *all* of the time 😉

  10. Cindy says:

    When we plant the seeds of kindness, we harvest the fruits of the Spirit….."love, joy, peace, patience and KINDNESS and then goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control" your message is so needed today!

  11. Libby,
    I love to read your posts, and this one especially touched my heart, as it is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot myself recently. My family and I are in the hospitality business, so we are in touch with the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We see human nature in all its possible forms. 99% of our guests are the most delightful folks you’d ever want to meet. The 1% that isn’t, can really have an impact on your (and everyone else’s) day. Conversely, we see people check in who are hot and bothered, may have been driving in traffic and who are bringing all sorts of mental baggage with them. As an innkeeper, I love to watch them unwind and let the cares of the world just melt away over the course of their stay. All it takes, as you say, is a smale, a kind word and a caring, receptive ear. We do not need to travel halfway across the world to make a difference … we can change the world exactly where we are, with just a smile. Keep up the wonderful writing, Libby. It is very inspiring. –Cathi (The Mountain Farmgirl)

  12. Carol Samsel says:

    What a positive and uplifting post. I try hard to be a positive person but sometimes I need a gentle reminder. Thanks for the post and the words of wisdom.

  13. Debbie says:

    Libbie,
    This was a fantastic post! No way you could strike out looking for inspiration in Mary Jane’s " Eachother" section either! I agree… it’s fabulous and certainly at the heart of what a " farmgirl" truly is… KIND AND GENEROUS….I read a book right at the first of the year that motivated me much in the same way. It was written by Dr. Dwayne Dyer…( maybe he’s a farmboy at heart? ) Anyway, his book the Power of Intention, LEARNING HOW TO CO- CREATE YOUR LIFE…speaks along these same lines…and inspired me to write about it too!
    We can never have too much kindness in the world…

    I’ll share it with you all here!

    Enjoy! and Thank you " kindly" for this wonderful post today!

    http://www.deborahjeansdandelionhouse.com/2009/12/conversation-with-wayne-dyer-dr-wayne.html

    Deb

  14. Reba says:

    I have found that when I meet someone who is especially kind, be it in the grocery store or where ever, I remember that person more when I see them again. But if the person "growls" about everything, I soon forget them when I leave. Kindness does truly leave a footprint on ones life!

  15. Marcia says:

    The smallest gesture of kindness becomes great when we release it from ourself. Surprise someone or something with a Random Act of Kindness, but beware, it is contagious!!!! :)

  16. mellee says:

    what a lovely post on how we should treat others like we ourselves want to be treated.

    these are all such simple techniques to create kindness in ours–and others–lives. i think in the hustle-bustle of day to day life we tend to forget them, or put them aside in the hurry that has become our lives.

    i know my family and i have been going through a very difficult financial time, and it is easy to become bogged down in how tough it is for us. thank you for the reminder that no matter what is occurring is our lives, there is always room for kindness.

  17. Nancy Murray says:

    I have taken a bright marker and written the word "shelter" on a paper which is taped to the back of the bathroom door. It is a reminder, when I’m sitting still anyway!, to think about your post and adjust my perspective before returning to the stage of life. Thanks for your insights.

  18. Patricia Yellename says:

    As the saying goes "Timing is every thing in life",and your post was just what I needed. You gave me a lift, and I will make an effort to pass your thoughts along in my daily life. I feel good already!!

  19. Bonnie says:

    Libby, There must have been divine interference in you not having the right milk and your cheese making not working. :) This post on kindness surely resonated with many, me included. Thanks so much for addressing a much needed element in today’s world.

  20. Tammie says:

    Libbie,
    I love reading all of your posts, and this one will be one of my favorites. (Just think, if it was the poster incident that inspired the post, what a lovely outcome to something that was probably a negative experience.)
    I love reading all of the farm girl posts for this very reason. They are all so positive and leave me feeling good all day. It is kind of like reading Chicken Soup for the soul.
    The picture you posted of your sweet little boys is priceless. I love the brotherly love so evident there.

    I just started working at a large chain store as a second job, and on the weekends my boss has scheduled me for 9 hours each day, giving me an hour lunch. I am really enjoying the job however I will say that after working all week as well that does make for a bit of a long day. After work I spent another hour grocery shopping since I was there anyway and as I stood in line I was ahead of a young man and woman. Another register opened up and this young man didn’t say a word, he just made a mad dash for the register with his buggy. I’ll just say it’s a good thing I hadn’t moved out of line yet or there might have been a collision of sorts… :)
    The people around us were looking at him and looking at me with a look that said "wow".
    I was in a really good mood and let it roll off my back, and ended up blessed in the process. I hadn’t met this cashier yet and she was tired, really looking forward to getting off work, and seemed like she just needed to talk. I enjoyed meeting a new co worker that I might not have met if it hadn’t been for this incident.
    I remember how busy life was when my kids were little. It seemed the work was never ending and time nearly non existant so I just want you to know that I appreciate the time you take to write your blog here. I truely love it and look forward to each post!
    Have a wonderful day.
    Tammie

  21. Donna Watkins says:

    Libby, I am new to the Rural Farmgirl Blog, but I already love it. How true that one act of kindness can change your life or raise your awareness. Many years ago, as I was leaving a department store, a young woman held the door for me as I hurriedly rushed through it (my mind on my next 3 stops). Just out side the door, I heard her say "THANK YOU"! It stopped me in my tracks and I looked back. Her expression was a mixture of humor, humbleness, and just a little indignant. I was so embarrassed and couldn’t find the right words to say to her, so I just lowered my head and scurried on out to my car. But, it changed me forever. To this day, I never fail to say thank you when someone holds a door for me. In turn, I try very hard to not be in such a hurry that I can’t find time to hold the door for others – and when I do, I always see that woman’s face. It is tucked away in my little book of Greatest Gifts and Life Lessons along with the quote from Gomer Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show "My mamma always said, it only takes a moment to courteous". I look forward to more Farmgirl wisdom.

  22. mindy says:

    Beautiful… all of you.. this post and all these comments just made so much sunshine in my day.. thank you

  23. Brenda says:

    I just got around to reading your blog and I love it. How right you are, Just a little kindness helps the world go round. Today I was driving back from picking up 4 turkey sand 1 silkie chicks in my full size van which sits up higher than a car. Waiting at a stoplight in 2 lanes of traffic, I looked to my left and saw a baby, probably about 2 months old facing the back, crying his eyes out. His little hands were shaking in front of his face, and I felt so sorry for him. Two women were sitting in the front seat, I’m sure just knowing that he would stop eventually. Well, I looked at him for a second or two, wishing there was something I could do, and he looked right at me, through 2 car windows and some space, this little baby, and his eyes met mine, and he stopped crying, he even shook a little like a baby will do who has been crying for awhile, and just looked at me. I continued to smile at him and he looked at me; and then the light turned green, but my day was changed for good. A very precious moment.

  24. Jessie Mae says:

    This is a great blog. Can you imagine what the world we live in would look like if everybody who could, did? If everybody who could donate money to charity, did…if everybody who could volunteer, did…if everybody who could help, did…if everyone who could smile, did?

  25. Regina says:

    Gracious, what wonderful advice, and so simple to carry out!
    A wonderful (best) friend taught me to see the beauty in God’s creation and to focus on it. If we focus on kindness, it will grow. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful post! Would you mind if I post the two quotes (from Plato and the Irish proverb) on my blog? I can link them back here if you would like.
    Sincerely and God bless.

  26. LaRoyce says:

    I love the idea that acts of kindness are a "shelter". I truly enjoyed this column, as I do all of them. And I pray for your little boy’s health.

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