a generous spirit

Fred loves the kitchen counter

Fred loves the kitchen counter

I took my mother for a follow-up appointment at the orthopedic surgeon’s office yesterday. She broke her leg, and simultaneously dislocated the old hip-replacement on that leg, (last fall) and is doing so well that she only needs her cane once in a while; a pretty remarkable recovery for anyone, but especially for someone who is going to be 87 this year.

At her appointment, as she began to walk down the hall, she spotted the PA who had seen her a couple of months earlier and said, “Aren’t I doing great!?” He quickly, without a smile, glanced in her direction and said, “You’re doing pretty well”, while turning into his office.

He isn’t a super-animated guy but my first thought was, “How ungenerous”. What would it have cost him to smile and say something kind, especially when it was the truth. But he didn’t, and he missed an opportunity to feel better, although I don’t think he knew this.

Oddly, this brought me back to a hike I was on with my son Tom when he was about 11 years old. He’d made a spear from a stick and a sharp rock and wanted to try to catch a fish with it, and as he showed it to me I said, “You will never catch a fish with that.” I remember the deflated look on his young face. How that memory still stings. What an ungenerous thing for me to say. What would it have cost me to say, “Wonderful!” I missed an opportunity to feel better, but I didn’t know this at that time.

We will be remembered for what we have given to the world.

So many times we think that we have nothing to offer if we can’t give money, a gift, practical advice, or something tangible, and this couldn’t be further from the truth. We can give generous thought and words. We can give kind, loving, observations. We can notice and congratulate others on a job well-done or on a good effort. We can give an honest, open-hearted smile. We can notice what is right, what is good, what is praise-worthy….. and we can tell it.

“Being generous of spirit is a wonderful way to live.” Pete Seeger

17 thoughts on “a generous spirit

  1. Thanks Mary ! Being generous of spirit – what a wonderful way to live life. Your message left me smiling.

  2. What a wonderful reminder, Mary. Thank you. Because I grew up with parents who were not inclined to express words of praise or encouragement, I remember many moments of “deflation” and how that impacted my self-perception. So, yes, a word of encouragement, praise; an acknowledgment of work well done; a warm smile of recognition—these are invaluable gifts that do make a difference in our life–both for the giver and the receiver.

    • Helen, I also grew up with a mother, not a father, for I was treated well by my Dad (and I must say honestly that my Mother was a very supportive albeit not always positive person in my life)..but I never heard much in the way of encouragement from my mother that I can remember. She’d brag about me to other people but to me, no. After I was married I began to make many of my own clothes. Instead of saying ‘how nice that looks’ I would get ‘where did you get that’. The negativity simply came out first. As I grew older, I realized the best way to get along with my mother was to gently tease her into better humour. It’s interesting how parents attitudes can affect children so much and most of us accept it…it just is, until later on when we are adults and we look back on how we perceived ourselves being treated as children. There are facts and there are different ways of looking at things but I think most of us go with our perceptions of things because it’s more real to us.
      SandyP in Canada

  3. It’s such an easy thing to do, really. All it really takes is a moment to think before you speak and you never know how much it is appreciated by the receiver. Thanks for the great reminder. And I want to shake that PA!

  4. Oh Mary! Your words ring so very true! Being generous of spirit creates it’s own magical rewards. Not only are the recipients of our generosity, kind words and sincere appreciation uplifted and healed by the energy of love, that generosity heals us as well. Thanks for such a beautiful post today.

  5. Love your new picture and always enjoy your animals. I have 4 awesome felines. Your messages cause me to cry, reflect, nod in agreement as well as challenge me to grow. Thank you for all you send my way.

  6. Surprise, surprise – your post really hit the spot for me. Now I know why I was feeling better recently — The other day a young neighbor (age 17) was over visiting and I shared with him how much I appreciate him and admire all his accomplishments; next day I contacted a company (Lands End) to speak to a supervisor because I wanted to tell them how thrilled I am with all their customer service people and how helpful and how great their attitude is; then I took a walk with the young man’s mom and told her how happy I am to have her family in my life and what a great job she has done as a single parent (husband passed away when the three sons were younger). (Funny, but she had been thinking how proud she was of how they are developing, but she had trouble accepting the full value of her contributions to that.) Then I took a walk with a different neighbor and his dog and complimented the dad on the “spunk” that his mature dog still had. We had fun walking and talking. Then I looked at a website about Reiki stuff and came upon these cards (that I will be purchasing) to use to pass along. https://www.reikiwebstore.com/ProductPage.cfm?ProductID=626&CategoryID=32
    I so loved the messages on each card. I had had a Reiki treatment yesterday and it was very powerful. So, dear Mary – thank you for helping me realize why I was the beneficiary of my kindnesses that appeared to go outward – but they sure felt great on their return trip to me!

    • What a simple , profound saying this is! The mental image I hold is of a weary, parched cactus blooming like a miracle after a few meager drops of rain. If only we could give all the prickly people in our lives a little kindness… Well .. Won’t their smiles just make our day?

  7. ” We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” ~ Winston Churchill

    As always,Mary, your gift of heart and spirit reach far and wide. In memory of every smile, gesture, and expression of generosity ever offered my way, may I return them tenfold.

  8. A smile, a kind word, a gentle touch – they cost us nothing, but like the fish and the loaves, they increase in measure and bless both the receiver and the giver. I delight in watching my eleven year old grandson as he bends over his 3 month old baby brother in his little bouncy seat, – trying to get him to smile, which he is doing more and more these days, – my eleven year old coos to him over and over, “you can do it! you can do it!” Yes, we can, we can ‘do it’, lavishing friends, famlies and even strangers with an encouraging word. Happy weekend to all!

  9. thanks for this important reminder. . .and to the point, thanks for all your goodness and giving, the honesty and truth that you share about yourself again and again. . .you are a gift!

  10. I’m at an age now where if I compliment a younger woman, she’s not looking at me as competition. I honestly think that if you can leave someone with a positive comment, it helps connect people better. Now, I don’t always apply this at home unfortunately and I forget all my good intentions with himself, who, yesterday, came home from the glider club moaning and groaning (if it was that bad why did he stay at the glider club was my first thought). There was great drama on his part, which is usual, over a toothache, which I truly understood was just awful but all that ran through my mind at the time was ‘it’s a good thing men never had periods’.. He went to emerg where he was given a strong painkiller and antibiotics. And now, tomorrow an Xray to see what is going on with his tooth. So you see, all my good intentions head out the window with the one inside the house. II confess that I often need a few hours before I can take a better approach.
    Sandy P in Canada.

  11. I was just listening to Invisible Acts of Power by Carolyn Myss and she said exactly the same thing. So I must have needed to hear this message. You are so right. A kind word costs nothing and benefits both giver and receiver. My daughter absolutely adores her grandmother (my mother) because she always has a kind word, compliment or words of encouragement no matter what.

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