Small Acts Of Kindness – We Need More Of Them!

Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
~ Mark Twain

 

Small acts of kindness ease our burdens. They remind us that we are loved and that there is still hope and goodness in the world.

Don’t ever underestimate the gift of small acts of kindness.  A simple phone call, a cuppa and a chat, a bunch of flowers from your garden, a casserole or a pot of soup, the loan of some books or DVDs – all of these simple gestures can make a vast difference in the life of someone who is busy coping with whatever life has just thrown them.

Anyone who has suffered from depression, ongoing family or relationship issues, the prolonged care of a loved one with a chronic or terminal illness, or who has suffered a loss or setback in life will tell you that support is often strong to start off with, but fades away, or worse – people begin to tell them to ‘think positive’, to ‘look on the bright side’, to ‘snap out of it’, ‘get over it’, ‘move on’ or equally unhelpful sentiments.

Some situations in life are over in an instant but leave a lasting impact.  Some situations take a very long time to resolve. And we all manage grief and loss in our own way.  (Side note –  It’s actually okay to let people who are in the midst of misery express grief, be sad, feel flat or lost, and be anything but the life of the party.)

So how do we help when difficulties are drawn out for our friends and loved ones?  Think about the times in your own life when things have been hard. What made a difference to you?  Firstly, don’t judge your friends and loved ones, and don’t feel you have to fix anything or take responsibility for changing them or their situation.

Ask them how they’re going.  Ask them what they need.  Sometimes we need to talk things through, sometimes we need to talk about ANYTHING other than what’s really happening, sometimes we want to be left alone. And our needs might change from moment to moment, hour to hour.

The best advice here is to stay in contact, and then ask the simple questions:

‘How are you?’ or ‘Are you okay?’

‘Is there anything I can do to help?’

If you can see an obvious need, don’t be afraid to ask and then step in.  Or if it’s appropriate, just go ahead and do it – hose the garden, mow the lawn, bake the cake, mind the kids, take the washing off the line, bundle up a care parcel.

Sometimes all that’s needed is a hug or a kind word.

When I was ill recently, a dear friend brought me homemade chicken soup, and another loaned me a book. It was the difference between me eating something healthy and going without, and I had soul food in the form of something new to read. Heaven.

Yesterday, after a difficult day, I went to my front door and found a posy of flowers and a tender note filled with love and encouragement. It brightened my spirits immeasurably. Friends texted me to check in on me. I felt loved, affirmed and connected.

It’s these small acts of thoughtfulness, these simple gestures of kindness that ease the way for us when life’s road gets hard.

How can you be a friend today?

Much love, Nicole  xx

What Happens When Someone Believes In You

“You may be the only person left who believes in you, but it’s enough. It takes just one star to pierce a universe of darkness. Never give up.”
~ Richelle E. Goodrich

 

Memoir is a funny thing for taking you walking into places you would rather not remember. I was thinking, last night, of a time when I had all but given up on myself.

1987.

I was so young then. Barely just begun at University. In a body that was falling apart. In a life that was falling apart. An over-achiever who was failing at everything. And in that terrible place of not being believed when I said that something was wrong.

For something was wrong. Very wrong.

For months I woke bathed in sweat and wrestled fevers through the day. My joints ached and swelled. My heart thumped in my chest and missed a beat or two whenever it felt like it.

The music I’d been been able to read since I was a small child became a spaghetti tangle on the page. I lost my ability to remember information or to place things into a logical sequence of events. Numbers became meaningless.

I forgot where I lived, and the names of people whom I’d known for years.

I fell down in the street, my legs giving way beneath me for no reason.

My legs jigged and danced in bed at night, no matter how I tried to keep them still.

And there was pain. So much pain. Ice-picks being buried in my head. Nerve pain roaring behind my left eye and rendering me sightless from that orb for days on end. Cramping pain. Dull pain. Electrical pain. Sharp pain. It moved all round my body, making a liar of me. No-one has pain like that. Except that I did.

Then there were the rashes that came and went. Exhaustion so overwhelming that it was all I could do some days to lift my head from the pillow. Infection after infection.

So much of my life became blurred. Slowly I was losing myself. That much I knew.

Our family doctor told me that I had women’s troubles, and prescribed valium.

A second doctor suggested anti-depressants, and theorised that I didn’t have the heart for serious study. Why not become a shop assistant or a secretary instead? Or surely I had a nice boyfriend I could marry? Motherhood was very satisfying, I was told, even though modern girls thought they knew better.

When I continued to question my diagnoses, and to ask for my doctors to be more investigative I was referred to a psychiatrist.

Who sent me to a neurologist, just to be thorough. Where I promptly spiked a fever and collapsed. So the neurologist sent me to his friend, Doctor Richard Kemp, the Head of Infectious Diseases at the same hospital.

Doctor Richard Kemp was a man who listened. He was a man who cared. He took the time to conduct all manner of investigation over several weeks. Finally he concluded that I was suffering from an infection. His tests could not isolate it, but he was sure. It was like AIDS without the HIV he told me.

Doctor Kemp also told me, regretfully, that he was unable to treat me because he had no definitive diagnosis.

After which he said something remarkable. I believe you, he said. You know your body better than anybody else, and you know that something is wrong. I know that too. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Hold to your guns. Don’t give up. One day you will be proven right.

In my darkest days I have held on to that the way a drowning man would cling to a lifeline. To have someone believe in you and encourage you is a powerful thing.

Life-changing, actually. Because after that I began to fight, and since then I have never turned my back on me.

Fast forward to 2013 where I received a definitive diagnosis that proved Dr Kemp correct. I have lyme disease. It is an insidious infection that has rampaged through thirty years of my existence, and that – prior to my diagnosis – had almost killed me as I sat in cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure, with a brain full of lesions and almost every major system in my body broken.

 

A big part of the reason I have endured is the encouragement I received from that kind doctor. I am still here. Still here, and now finally, because of treatment I am getting better day by day.

 

Who can you reach out to and support? Who can you encourage?

A few words, honestly stated, may mean more than you can ever know to someone who could use a self-belief boost. Destinies can be changed. Futures can be created. Lives can be saved.

 

And for those of you who are struggling? Please, don’t give up on yourself. You just never know when that breakthrough or answer or guiding light will come.

Holding you in my meditations and prayers, Nicole <3 xx