Earlier today, I took a break from the studio and ran to do a few errands, one of which was stopping in at a huge store to pick up necessities like toilet paper and paper towels. Needless to say the place was packed with people and baskets piled higher than high, many people had two baskets in which they were piling things. It’s no secret, I do not like to shop…blasphemy, right?
But, I don’t. Perhaps that is why I have a penchant for online shopping. The one exception, I love to shop for fabric...and rocks. Sorry, I’m just not a shopper at heart. Too many choices and sometimes it’s all overwhelming to me. I had finally reached the last item on my list which should be easy. Ice cream. Do you know that out of what seems like 3,000 ice cream choices no one makes a plain old vanilla with chocolate chip anymore? All these fancy flavors with nuts and stuff – and all I wanted to celebrate my birthday was some good old-fashioned chocolate chip ice cream. Finally -- I did find a Breyer’s (oops, I forget it is called Dreyer’s in this part of the country) container, stuffed way in the back of the giant freezer. I tossed it in the cart and ventured over to check out so I could head back to the sanctity of my quiet little studio.
I found a line that was short by comparison, so quickly tucked my cart in behind three young women, who were pushing carts filled with sleeping bags. Not sure, but they probably had 25 or more rolled tight in their carts. Curious George that I am, I had to ask. I discovered that they were donating them to a few homeless folks living in Salem. During our brief chat I learned that they are nurses and work with a nonprofit group of medical and non-medical professionals who offer assistance to people in need. Their organization is Without Strings.
I said goodbye to them and finished my checkout, piled my now seemingly senseless items back into the cart and pushed my way through the crowds out to the car. By now you know that I am one who believes in serendipity and no, not just the great little restaurant in NYC! I believe that things happen for reasons…like getting in line #9 and then meeting and chatting with three young girls (women really but these days everyone just looks so damn young to me) who were buying sleeping bags so a few people could be a bit warmer in the bitter cold. On my ride home, I thought about the many numbers of people in the world today in need…and not just at this time of year. I was reminded of how important it is that we open our hearts to do what we can to lend a hand to someone who is less fortunate; and, most importantly in my mind, is that we do it all without judgment.
At first, I chastised myself for the silliness of quibbling about the lack of ice cream, and for buying dog cookies and a few toys for dog friends; but the more I thought, it isn’t about taking away what I have at any point in time. Not at all, it is about sharing what I do have, in whatever way I can. Today, I sent a donation to Without Strings, because I wasn’t thinking fast enough to pull some cash from my pocket when I was talking with the girls. Sometimes, I think we get lost in the “well it’s such a small gift” thinking that we just put it aside. Having worked with many non-profits and even having founded one myself (Kids Make it Happen, Inc.) I know better. Even a small gift is better than no gift. So, this year, I encourage all of you to remember how fortunate we truly are to have the lives that we do – and as part of our gratitude, I hope you will reach out to someone a little less fortunate. This year, for my birthday, I gave a gift of warmth in the way of a few sleeping bags. While it seems like a small gift to me…to someone else it is bigger than big.