Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Being Thankful… by Joey W. Hill- Contest

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is wasted.” –Aesop
While I have more blessings in my life than there is space here to recount, one of the things I’m the most thankful for in life are small kindnesses. Everyone has likely heard the story (which may be urban legend, but it’s a good tale) of the kid who tripped in the hallway at school and dropped all his books. Let’s call him John. Kids being kids, many laughed at John. However, one (let’s call him Carl) stopped and helped him pick them back up. Years later, at a school reunion, John told Carl that he’d been cleaning out his locker so he could go home and commit suicide that very day. Carl’s simple act of kindness raised him out of that dark place, enough to give him the courage to reach out to his parents, seek help and find a more hopeful path.
Yet those small kindnesses don’t have to save a life to have tremendous value. I’ve had times when I was tired or in a sad/bad mood, and someone smiled at me or said/did something thoughtful which lifted my day. A store employee who was genuinely pleasant and helpful; a driver who let me into a lane when traffic was congested; another driver who didn’t lay down on his horn like a psycho when I unintentionally did something dumb (as we all occasionally do) when driving. You get the gist. There was a Liberty Mutual “Pay It Forward” (31 second) commercial that REALLY hit home on that – I think the creator should get some kind of award: https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=liberty+mutual+commercial+kindness&ei=UTF-8&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-002
The end of that commercial brings me back to my first example, where small kindnesses can affect big moments. I’ve been a caregiver to a sick family member and, while many things during that time are a blur, those simple moments when a nurse squeezed my shoulder in comfort, or a doctor sat down with me to explain something that was confusing, or a neighbor offered to go pick up some groceries…there’s almost no price you can put on those things when you’re exhausted and heartsick about someone you love. A prime example: The lady who runs the Redzworld blog crocheted my family member a lap blanket that we used to ward off the chill of endless doctor and hospital waiting rooms, and the blanket sits on my recliner to this day.
I think sometimes we get caught up in thinking we have to do “big” things to make a difference. If we don’t have time to volunteer for hours for a charity, or donate bunches of money to them, we think we really can’t contribute to making the world a better place. If I see someone picking up trash in the neighborhood while they walk their dog, or putting their cart back in the cart corral at the grocery store, or holding a door for someone in a wheelchair, or not pitching a tantrum when the elderly lady ahead of us in line at the store can’t figure out where she put her checkbook and is obviously getting flustered and embarrassed about it… to me, those people are making the world a better place. The root of big change is in small stuff, in kindness, respect and care for one another. Without those small things, I really don’t think the big things like world peace can happen, because the small things indicate a true paradigm shift in our thinking and feelings toward one another.
It’s funny--every year when I watch Scrooged with Bill Murray, I think he says this better than I ever could when he talks about reaching out to embrace that feeling of goodwill toward one another:
It's not just the poor and the hungry [who need the spirit/feeling of Christmas], it's everybody's who's GOT to have this miracle! And it can happen tonight for all of you. If you believe in this spirit thing, the miracle will happen and then you'll want it to happen again tomorrow. You won't be one of these bastards who says 'Christmas is once a year and it's a fraud'; it's NOT! It can happen every day, you've just got to want that feeling. And if you like it and you want it, you'll get greedy for it! You'll want it every day of your life and it can happen to you.”
So to those people who exercise small kindnesses every day, I am very thankful to you, as is each person who has ever been in need of a precious moment of kindness. Which would be…well, everyone!
All right, before I announce my GIVEAWAY, let me close with a little teaser about one of my older titles (and one of my few “short” stories, at 15k words – to me that’s short!). It’s a Christmas story, Snow Angel. In that one, Santa (or the hot, sexy guy dressed up as Santa) reaches out with his own moment of kindness, and finds a way to make one woman very happy (and himself as well!). I’ll leave you with a little teaser from it below. A bigger teaser and buy links are here - http://storywitch.com/book-nst-sa

* * * * *
“So, is this like a confessional?” Constance said. “Nothing I say will be repeated?”
“What’s spoken in this ear”--the intriguing male dressed as Santa tapped his own with one finger and cocked his head--“is only repeated to elves and angels.”
She’d asked it half joking, but his response was serious, and her attention clung to those beautiful eyes. She had an urge to reach out and touch his mouth, and decided she needed to go home before she embarrassed herself.
But the shallow, harsh noise of two hundred impersonal voices pressed against her, and his touch, kind and strong against the small of her back, his expression attentive, steady, roused things in her she couldn’t ignore.
He was Santa, and she had a very special wish. Maybe wishes whispered into the ear of a symbolic Santa would get to the ear of an angel and, if she’d been very, very good, some small part of her desire would be answered. She’d believed it once.
Constance leaned back, her shoulder pressing into his chest so she was speaking into his ear, not to any party guests standing too close. He tilted his head closer and when she spoke, she inadvertently brushed his ear with her lips, her jaw pressing against the silky cotton sideburns of the beard.
She closed her eyes, shutting out reality, giving herself the same courage that the screen of the confessional provided. A safe place to voice her sins, her fears, her deepest wants. His hand tightened on her waist, holding her to him, and the words tumbled out of her mouth.
“I don’t want to be here. I want to be home with someone who cares about me. I want to wake up tomorrow with someone’s arms around me. I want to hear someone whisper ‘Merry Christmas’ in my ear, and be able to believe, if just for that moment, that I’m the most important person in his life. I want to be swept away, taken over. For one night, I want to believe I can trust my happiness in someone else’s hands.”
She straightened and looked into those golden green eyes. “Pretty tall order, hmm, Santa? Bet you don’t have anything in those little boxes at your feet to cover that.”
She pushed off his lap before he could respond and walked away, already feeling like a fool.
* * * * *
GIVEAWAY – I LOVE to overdose on warm, fuzzy feelings, so briefly share a small act of kindness that made an impression upon you or that you did for someone else. It will give us good ideas on how to make such acts contagious, a truly worthwhile new year’s resolution! On January 1, I’ll randomly choose a winner to receive a free ebook and a $15 Amazon, ARe or B&N gift certificate, your choice.
Thanks again to Redzworld for letting me be here today, and happy holidays to you all!


Lee Roth said...

Joey, my warm, fuzzy feelings for this up coming year 2016, is finding in my heart to forgive myself for what I let my oldest son do to my youngest son. Forgive myself for the abuse my oldest did in my home. I love my son, but I can't stand the person he is. He's emotionally and mentally abusive. And I let this go on too long in my home, when I was trying to help him. But my youngest was in the across fire, for he had to hear, witness, and be abused in the one place he should been be safe in. My home is a safe haven now, but it wasn't, and I carrying the full weight of it when it wasn't safe. I have a hard road ahead of me.

Peggy said...

When my husband, then 45 years young, was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer, an acquaintance gave me words of wisdom. "Those of us here in middle America, in big houses, with 2 cars in the driveway, with our kids in good schools, NEVER get the opportunity to do real charity for those in our community. I am telling you to accept EVERY offer of help that you get, because it may be the only opportunity that person will have to do a kindness for someone they know. You may think you need to be strong and soldier on without help but I am telling you, you will be the one helping THEM." I took her advice and her truth shone through for us in that hard time, a hard time that became easier thanks to the help we received from people grateful to have the chance to serve. I hope passing on this advice helps someone else right now!

Joey W Hill said...

Lee, there's probably nothing harder than having to choose between two children to save the one that can be saved. If you are berating yourself for not acting quickly enough, I hope it's some comfort to realize your hesitation had to do with love and not wanting to give up on the other. And I expect, even if the younger son doesn't realize that now, he will as he becomes an adult. Here's hoping the Christmas holiday brings holiday and happiness to you both. And the Powers That Be will be in charge of the other son from here forward - hopefully some day Their wisdom will prevail in his choices.

Peggy, poor, middle class or wealthy, we all face difficult challenges where a moment of kindness is as welcome as buried treasure. I'm glad your friend encouraged you to accept those offers, for I agree that it's a two-way gift. Often people feel helpless in those difficult situations, wanting to do something and not knowing what. You gave them a gift of kindness as much as they did for you! :> I wish your husband continued health and long life!

What lovely instances to share...thank you ladies.

Margie said...

A friend got bad news and was very upset. Her husband was away on business and she had no one else at home to give her a hug and just be there for her. I went to her house and hugged her and visited with her for a while. She told me later that my visit was a nice "pick me up" for her.

Joey W Hill said...

Margie, that's a perfect example! Something that seems so simple can mean so much. Years ago, I was out walking my dogs while my husband was working in another town. I fell and hurt my hip (I have back problems) and, while I could make it home, I had a car full of groceries to unload. My neighbors came over and unloaded the car, as well as made sure I had an ice pack and doublechecked to see if I needed anything. Sounds so straightforward, but at the time, it made what seemed like a "straw that broke the camel's back" moment so much more manageable.

Terry said...

Joey, your acts of kindness to me this last year have been a godsend. I'm sure you'll think you've done nothing special, but you have, in your words. You inspire me everyday, even when you don't hear from me (trying not to be a creepy stalker). The way you treat others is a beautiful example to us all. I'm thankful to the internet that I've gotten to "know" you! You have a way to make everyone you connect with feel special, and I consider myself very lucky to be amongst those. Thank you for your acts of kindness to me.

Joey W Hill said...

Terry, I wish I could have done far more. You're a good person who deserves good things. And your very warm comments just underscore that! The nice thing about the small kindnesses is they often become a circle. I know you have brightened my days many times this year. And of course bonding over Outlander episodes. (lol) Blessings of the Christmas season and new year to you, dear lady!

Donna said...

I think that there are many kindnesses that go by unnoticed by others unless they consciously think about them. A smile to a stranger may brighten their day, thanking the waitstaff or the person at the checkout stand may brighten their day.I've done things like giving spontaneous gifts, small things, just something to let folks they aren't alone.

Anonymous said...

I try to do random acts of kindness whenever I can. If I see a friend down, I'll comment or send a quick text to tell him/her I'm only a text or phone call away. I also love to reward excellent waitstaff and sales-staff since it's too too easy to harp on the bad and not excellent service.

Happy New Year everyone from Laura K