If you don't already know this about me, you wouldn't likely be surprised that I'm not a big touchy-feely person. I am affectionate with my kids, but outside of Ben and Ian I'm the same stoic person I've been my entire life. The retired Navy veteran turned History teacher I share my classroom with told me once that nothing seems to phase me at work. He commented that I'm as tough as many females he served with in Iraq (which I find very hard to believe), and I have a mouth of a sailor. Coming from him I'll take that last comment as a compliment.
When I came home from Kenya last year, the one aspect of the trip that really resonated with me was to be intentional in my relationships. Add to this motivation to focus on saying it, doing it, living it and not waiting around for some perfect chance. Today is that perfect chance. Regret can take up residence with someone else.
I wish I could say that I live by this own outlook everyday, but I don't. I can't tell you how many times the "woulda, shoulda, coulda" take up space in my head on a repeat loop.
Yesterday I went to my usual early service with the boys at church. This series of messages has been especially what I needed to hear at the right time. At the "turn to your neighbor and say hello moment," the same one that I really hate, I noticed that the woman sitting solo in front of me had been crying. She wasn't Titanic movie ending crying, but it was obvious that she was upset.
The rest of the service moved on and she continued to keep dabbing at her eyes. At the end of the service I tapped her on the shoulder and said, "I don't normally do this, like ever do this, but I'm really sorry that something is pressing on you today. Could I give you a hug." She first looked a little surprise, but said, "thank you, yes that would make me feel like I mattered to someone today." I was almost surprised at myself for completely being out of my comfort zone offering to hug some random stranger.
Later in the afternoon I totally blew off the mountain of work I needed to get done to start the week. Instead I did this...
and then packed up these for local delivery...
Sometime last week I was talking to my friend Eileen, that owns the cupcake business. I asked if I could pick up cupcakes for my student teacher and the 1st year teacher I mentor to keep them encouraged and let them know they are doing a great job with their students. Eileen texted me that she had 3 dozen cupcakes and did I want them on Friday when she wraps up her business for the week and discounts whatever she has left. At first I intended to say, sure I'll just put all of them back for the boys and take some to my brother next weekend. But then I thought about those post Kenya thoughts. I thought about how much I am not a fan of Valentine's Day from the standpoint of the commercialization and exploitation of what constitutes a relationship or better yet, a lack of a relationship.
I decided to make some local deliveries with Ian in the car to friends' mailboxes with cupcakes and cheezy Target kids valentines. I followed up with a short email saying to check their mailbox, that I wouldn't eat anonymous food including cupcakes from Sugar Mama's. I added that in a week that is focused on love and relationships, that I value their friendship as an important relationship.
Will I be randomly hugging strangers again soon? Most likely no. Being intentional in telling those that make my life have purpose and meaning? I hope I will continue this practice as important and worthy of the minuscule amount of time that it takes.