Life…and more life

The husband of one of my coworkers (let’s call her Sally) died a couple of weeks ago.  It was not exactly sudden, but greatly unexpected.  He just developed one medical complication after another for about three weeks, until finally the doctors told them he had a week to live.

Sally is much beloved in our department and throughout the store. One person used the term “angelic” to describe her.  It’s a word I would be slow to use to describe a mortal, but she is so consistently sweet and warm and positive that it really kind of fits.

I was greatly honored when she asked me if I had a poem about death that I could offer at her husband’s memorial – and told her that in fact I do have one.  I felt good about going to the memorial service last night.  There were several other workers from our store, a couple previous workers who have moved to jobs at another grocery store, and several customers who have over the years gotten fond of Sally.  These are the kinds of situations that poke through the distance that work roles may set up between us, between us coworkers and between staff and customer.  Mixing together in ways like this makes the relationship more personal, more meaningful.

Here is the poem.  Sally liked it.

What's after life?  Native Americans call it "the great mystery".

What’s after life? Native Americans call it “the great mystery”.

LIFE – AND MORE LIFE
(Majo, 11/19/05)

We have been wandering around, you and I
By ourselves, with each other, never knowing
We bump against our different selves
We hold foreign who is our home
We see the dark because we know the light

What is this fog that holds us?
What in us would let be held?
Where are we going?  Where have we been?
What is “us”?  “You”?  “I”?  “Her”?  And “him”?

Life – what is that?
This mystery in which we are lost
The light that leads us
And where does it end?
Where is there that life is not?

Our minds want to separate
Thrive on boundaries
Do not see how dark connects the light
Make you and I imagine
A gulf between the isness that we are

Each moment arises from nowhere
Then slips silent from our grasp
Our grasping punctuates the moments
Makes them seem separate, which they never are

Letting go is our nature, who we’ve always been
And how we got here
Our parents surrendered to the moment
Life has been conceiving us anew ever since

Every birth requires a death
Call it what we will, life changes
Stays not one moment the same
We are not who we were, who we will be

Where we think we see a wall, a cliff, an end
Life continues, in forms we never imagined
We emerge, again and again
New beings of light we never knew

Light is held and framed by dark
As dark is surrounded by light
Our minds see difference
Life does its dance of many forms

Where will we go?  Where have they gone?
Our human eyes, limited as they are
See a river where there is a sea
This connection in which we swim
Has no beginning and no end

If we but shift our gaze
Oh so gently, no effort, no looking for
See the light under the dark and light
The We that always holds you and me
We will not go, they have not gone
We are all right here, one unending now

Drop into this breath of life
Do not try to make this or that
Nothing goes away, while all must die
Life is us, we are Life
We feel the good under “Goodbye”.

 

 

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I want everybody to watch this video

I want everybody in the world to watch this video.

It’s the highlights of the third degree black belt testing last year of Amy Dexter, who is a very beloved Tae Kwon Do instructor at the martial arts school I attend.  It’s probably especially inspiring to women, maybe especially little women (she’s not 5′) – but it inspires me tremendously.  You don’t need to be considering martial arts practice – it’s about what you can do in all areas of your life if you really go for it.  Go to this link and scroll down to December 15.   https://www.facebook.com/AshevilleSunSooTKD

You risk, I risk….

May was a slender attractive brunette, around 5’6″, maybe 35 years old.  She responded to my “What’s been a highlight of your day?” question in several steps of progressively greater openness – startling to me and maybe even to her.  “I had a really good hypnosis session….We’re working on fear….I’m a cancer survivor and lots of little symptoms bring up fear.”

My response was in its own way a little startling to me.  “Are you familiar with A Course in Miracles?”  Now why did I bring that up?  I’m sure not getting paid to promote far-out, channeled, New Age metaphysical programs.  I do know why I brought it up – because in my life A Course in Miracles has been a very powerful lever for working with fear.  But it still feels like a risk to be recommending it to a customer, maybe especially a customer who is at such a vulnerable point in her life.

May’s next response was also surprising.  She got positively electrified (I get goose bumps recalling it): “Yes – love is letting go of fear!  My hypnotherapist was telling me about it today!  This is total affirmation that it can be good for me.”

A Course in Miracles is a dense metaphysical system paired with a very concrete workbook with 365 daily lessons that tend to turn your daily reality upside down.  I spent 3 years making my way through the lessons, then turned around and spent another 4 years doing it again.  My life has been forever changed by it.  Jampolsky's book is a great introduction.

A Course in Miracles is a dense metaphysical system paired with a very concrete workbook with 365 daily lessons that tend to turn your daily reality upside down. I spent 3 years making my way through the lessons, then turned around and spent another 4 years doing it again. My life has been forever changed by it. Jampolsky’s book is a great introduction.

After May left, I had no mixed feelings about having recommended A Course in Miracles. I’m a big believer in synchronicity and felt as convinced as her that her hypnotherapist and I both recommending it within a few hours of each other indicated it could be good for her.

What did all this teach me about taking risks with customers?  Sometimes I’m the first one to risk – to offer something personal or unusual.  Today May disclosed first.  But is it really so easy to know who opens first?  Did May know from the way I asked my question that I was a safe person to open up with?  I don’t ask the question to everyone – did I pick up something from her that indicated that asking her the question would go someplace?  Was I in a more trusting place because of the enchanted interaction that I had had just an hour earlier? (“I’m vertical…”, 1/7) Why did she end up in my line?  Why shortly after this hypnosis session?

Sometimes it makes sense to think in terms of taking risks.  I want to develop my sense for which risks are worth taking and which are perhaps too risky – and to recognize when my customer has taken a risk, has made themselves vulnerable, and needs to be supported.  Yet it also seems equally valid to hold that we are always totally supported – and that love means to recognize this, to trust it, to surrender to it.  And as we do this we progressively let go of fear.  I learned that from A Course in Miracles.

You’re too weird!

I did something creative at work today.  In honor of the first day of the year, I let go of my standard customer question “What’s been a highlight of your day?” and instead asked “What’s a way you intend to express your creativity in the new year?”  I got back some great answers, ranging from “Continually adapt to new cultures as I practice my international consulting business” to “Learn how to build a table – I’m a musician, not a carpenter” to “Parent my two-year-old”.

Our cafe at work is celebrating the creativity of our staff with every wall covered with staff art.  This massive, beautiful painting was created by my old roommate Will, a brilliant artist in several media.

Our cafe at work is celebrating the creativity of our staff with every wall covered with staff art. This massive, beautiful painting was created by my old roommate Will, a brilliant artist in several media.

I felt good about the results of the question – and, as always, a lot of people asked me the question back.  I had some fun responding to this by talking about writing, but sometimes when you target a positive new behavior what you get first is a clearer picture of where you’re stuck – what’s in the way of  that behavior.  That’s what I got today – more clarity about what makes it hard for me to be creative.

Over lunch I had a conversation with a colleague in which I told him that I don’t like the way he does announcements over the public address system in the store – that it’s too weird for me.  I’ve been chafing on this for a while – waiting for the right time to tell him.  Some part of me had a fantasy  that he would wake up, repent, start doing more normal announcements.  He didn’t do any of that – but he also didn’t get defensive.  I think his lack of defensiveness allowed me to take a look at myself.

By the end of our 20-minute conversation, I was asking myself What is it about his weirdness that I find so threatening?  Why does it bother me?”  I’m all about creativity, improvisation and risk-taking – and that’s exactly what he’s doing.  Why don’t I support it?  Why don’t I regard him as a real role model?  What kinds of risks do I take with my announcements?  None – they’re very straight-arrow.  I’m sure not practicing improvisation in that area of my work life.

Which differences are OK?  Which ones are exciting for the ways they open up the envelope?  Which ones are too weird?  Is it possible to let all these questions go and let these differences just be different?

Which differences are OK? Which ones are exciting for the ways they open up the envelope? Which ones are too weird? Is it possible to let all these questions go and let these differences just be different?

So this stuck with me today – especially in the face of what I was doing to celebrate creativity, to aim towards creativity.  It really was hitting me between the eyes, in terms of how I get in my own way.  All the ways that I focus on what’s negative – but maybe especially my fears of being weird.  I have a mental illness – bipolar disorder.  What does that mean?  For some that very term means weird – and definitely not good weird.  Sometimes I’m just fine with it – it feels like just one more way to be in the world.

Today when people were asking me where I planned to express my creativity this year, I would say “Two writing projects” and I would tell them the title of this blog, but not the subtitle – “The ups and downs of a bipolar cashier”.  I not once got around to telling them about the second writing project – online training for people with bipolar disorder.  I left that out because I would have to explain about me having bipolar disorder.

It seems like as long as I’m holding a concept of weird as a bad thing to be, I’m going to keep myself stuck around my creativity and self-expression.  What is weird anyway?  It’s different too much or different bad.  So am I going to go through life scrutinizing my differences, to see which ones are bad? Am I going to have a continuum that goes “normal – creative – eccentric – weird” and continually be assessing where people lie on the continuum?

It seems like the more I give other people a break – room to be different – that will automatically translate into giving myself a break.

Just that time of year…

My Christmas poem.

Really kind of long – and dark in places, like the season.  But worth it, I think.  Set aside maybe 5-10 minutes or more (it’s most satisfying consumed in one sitting), get yourself in a comfortable chair with a good cup of coffee or tea or a glass of wine – and maybe with a journal and pen.  My journey is not your journey, but perhaps in places they may touch.  I wish you love and hope at this dark – for some of us at times very difficult, but really still pretty special – time of year.

winter dark 4

 

Just that time of year…  (Majo, 12/15/14)

It’s that time of year again
Jingle bells and all
But is there really all
That much to celebrate?

The cold and dark have returned again
Do pretty much the same time every year
I try to be cheerful about them
But this little whoosy man
Gets depressed with the onset of the shorter days
And pisses and moans pretty much the same
The whole winter through

The events in the world
Wars, gang shootings
Racial profiling and horrific injustices
Seem no better than ever
I want so badly to believe
That the human race and societies
Are somehow evolving
Somehow getting better, smarter
More fair, more loving
But can see no signs
That this is true

In my own so-limited human life
What sign is there of positive change?
My biochemistry maintains as cruel a reign
Over my desperate moods
As does the Islamic State over
Its desolate segment of humanity
Oh, I’ll give you that
I have not now been suicidal for five years
No more trips to the hospital – or even close
Housing – with Tom and Will for two years
And with Lotus Lodge newly now
Has been a good part of my life
OK, actually very good
After some extended tsuris before that
Alright, I can’t deny that work has been good
A really good year at my new job
With no end in sight

winter dark 2

OK, I will not deny that
There are some good things
OK, very good things
In my life
But what about my moods?
My moods!
Ten days up, fourteen down
Pretty predictably these days
Now is that fair!?
The steady repetition of the cycles
Is so discouraging
The ups slightly to more-than-slightly
Out of control
If also predictably a lot of fun
But the downs, the downs
So painful, so disheartening
So much self-hate
So much of everything looking ugly and wrong

I had my one big shot at a shift
October 18-25
Eight days of training in
Brainwave Optimization
I put a lot of eggs in that basket
My Chicago friends Sally and Mary Ellen
Who knew a lot about it
And who deeply love and support me
Had very high hopes that it would help
Gave me financial support
To make it happen
My friends Byron and Nancy
Took this traveler in
For ten days in my home Chicago
I got to see my beloved brother Terry
Three times on this visit
Instead of one on my last week-long visit
Just back in May
His new chemo is hitting him less hard
He has more strength
For spending time with his
Intense handful of a brother

winter dark 4

The brainwave treatment is very subtle
No effects promised for 3-6 weeks
But half-way through I got depressed
And everything else looked like shit
In the throes of depression
Nothing ever seems to have changed
And I have no hopes
For anything new to help

On November 6, the Shine Expansive
A very exciting personal growth workshop
Stood before me like a shining city on a hill
But I got depressed the day it began
And was significantly depressed for all three days
But the Shine did have power – enough power to
Keep me moving, with even some real high points
And I came away with a new mission statement
“I shepherd my flock”
Which seems to pull together
All the threads of my life up to this time

But my mood swings
Remain unabated
What of the Brainwave Optimization?
What of the Shine Expansive?
What of any of it?
What of positive change in the world?
The dawning of the Age of Aquarius –
My youthful dream?
What of my hopes for humanity?
For the world?
What of peace on earth?

winter dark 8

But then there is this blog…
Born 11/24/14
Now 21 days later – an adult?
Not in blog years – still a baby
70 followers in three weeks – unprecedented
In my personal experience with writing blogs
1085 page views
261 on one particular day
55 yesterday
So many people posting beautiful comments
So many people emailing me encouraging words
So many people telling me on the street
How much the blog means to them

Except for an occasional poem
My writing had been stuck
For over a year
Now completely unstuck
My sense of purpose in my life
Fully reborn
My mission from the Shine
“I shepherd my flock”
Being lived out

winter 1

I have now several very potent flocks
The community of people sharing the blog
My community of co-workers at my store
One of my blog posts is in our cashier log book
At my boss’s suggestion
And many of my colleagues are talking about it
I will soon post one of my blog entries
By the time clock
(Again my boss’s suggestion)
Where all my coworkers can read
And maybe return to the blog on their own

My customers are a flock
I tell them about the blog in the checkout line
The other day, two customers
Friends to me but strangers to each other
Discover that they are each fans of the blog
And begin an animated conversation about it
My boss says
“When you print up business cards for the blog
Give them out to customers”
Amazing support from the store
I had thought that if I gave out cards
From my cash register
I might get in trouble with the brass
And so I will print them up and give them out
The blog creates for my customers
A sense of connection with our store
With our staff
With each other
With the cashiers of the world
And with me

winter 2

And what of those cashiers of the world?
About ten years ago
Working as a cashier
At the Enmark gas station on Merrimon Street
Standing in that little kiosk
Selling gas and cigarettes for a year
Until I got fired for calling a customer a bitch
But oh she deserved it
I didn’t just use the term
When she said
“How dare you call me a bitch”
I looked her straight in the eye and said
“Sometimes it just fits”
She took it badly
But I never regretted it
Even my boss did not blame me for it
“I never would have fired you for this
But she went straight to a company VP
I had no choice.”
It was a great moment in cashiering
Though obviously a strategy
I cannot recommend in this blog
Except in moments of great trial
And when your integrity demands it
I used to teach Empowerment Training
At a local community college back in Chicago
And taught people to say “Fuck you”
When no other assertiveness technique worked
And when their sense of self
Was at stake

But I digress
But then it’s my poem
And I did tell you to curl up in a good chair
With a good cup of coffee

So there I was spending all my work time
In this little kiosk
I wrote a blog on customer service
My own model
Authentic Customer Service
I got really very excited about it
46 posts, 2650 page views
Check it out
http://authenticcustomerservice.blogspot.com/
There’s really some very good stuff on it
A great payoff from that at times boring
At times very stressful job
Along with some very good
Experiences with customers
(No coworkers there in that lonely kiosk
One of the biggest downsides)

winter 3

So I have this blog
My ability to keep writing when I am down
Unprecedented in many years
Perhaps the Brainwave Optimization is working
And the Shine Expansive
And my newly refined but longtime mission
To shepherd my flock
I have a walking stick that Annie gave me at the Shine
When she so ably facilitated us
Through our mission-developing process
A flag hanging from the handle reads
“I shepherd my flock”
Amazingly more apropos for a staff
Than if it said “I sell more widgets this year”

So maybe I do have more light in my personal life this year
Even as my grueling moods remain unabated
Maybe I don’t get to have my whole Christmas list
Delivered for me under the tree
But then the human race
My brothers and sisters
Do not get to suffer appreciably less this year
And maybe you readers of this poem
My brothers and sisters
Still have pain in your lives parallel with my moods
My brother still has his cancer
My friend Bob still has his grief
From his wife Nina’s so-recent passing
My roommate Jesse has his
Search for a fulfilling job
My old roommate Tom has his
Pressing need to unload
His desperately financially depleting house
My old roommate Will has his frustrating
Quest to live out his calling as an artist
My store has its battle to contend
With all the supermarkets
Flooding this saturated market
My coworkers have their struggles
To make ends meet on paltry wages
To live out their gifts
As artists and musicians
To manage their relationships
Their health, their work aspirations

winter dark 7

Everybody, it seems
Has their struggles and their sorrows
Caroling at the hospice last night
In the Community Room
I looked around and it looked like only us present
“Where are the dying people?” I thought
Then I looked to my left and saw
In a little pod, three of my dear friends
Who have had tragic losses
In the last few years
I realized that we were singing
Not just for the shut-ins we were visiting all evening
But also for ourselves

We – all of us
Need to buck up our spirits
At this dark time
We – all of us
Need all of us
To come together
To love each other
We – all of us
Need this poem
We – all of us
Need to create
Whenever we can
However we can
We – all of us
Need to hope for the future
For our writing and painting
And music-making
And our gardening and cooking
And parenting and love-making

We need to come together
As we are reading this poem
As we read this blog
We are coming together
As all of us staff at my grocery store
Are serving all of our customers
We are coming together
As all of our customers
Rub shoulders in our store
Stand next to each other
In our checkout lines
Greet and often hug their friends
You are coming together
As all of us front-line customer servers
In all of the various stores
Serve all of our customers
Who, at other times
Are all of us
Who, when we are not working
Also patronize these other stores
We are all
Every one of us who deals
With customer servers
Coming together

We are serving our customers
Trying to put a smile on their face
Trying to put a smile on our face
Trying to get our customer’s needs met
Trying to check them out
Quickly and accurately
Bagging their groceries tenderly
Ripe avocados on top
Trying to exchange some pleasantries
And, when we are lucky
Even some meaningful exchange
Some “What’s been a highlight of your day?”
Trying to be real for each other
And to be kind
Trying, trying, trying
All of us humans trying
To make things work
To make this a better year
And when we are lucky
To love, even

winter final

 

“The ups and downs of a bipolar cashier.”

Most Wednesday evenings, I attend the Asheville Magnetic Minds chapter of the national Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.  It’s a terrific group of people, great support, very stimulating – and often healing – conversations, and more good laughs than one might expect.

We start the evening by deciding on a topic to talk about.  Tonight I said, “I’d like us to talk about labels.  One of my friends who is steeped in the ‘Mental health recovery’ movement doesn’t like the subtitle of my blog.  She says that calling myself a bipolar cashier is just a setup for stigma – for all the negative stereotypes that people associate with mental illness.  She wants me to position myself as a complicated person with many strengths who happens to also have bipolar disorder.  I think that really is the point of the blog, but it kind of sucks as a title.  The writer in me is willing to play a little loose with mental health correctness and hope that people will read far enough to have their stereotypes exploded.”

We talked about variations of this topic for the next 90 minutes.  Here are some highlights:

  • The “Recovery model”, which has been imported from addictions recovery, falls down in at least one big way: you don’t get to have n days sober – you don’t divide your life into before and after you got clean.  Mania and depression are states I continue to visit – and may for a long time, maybe forever.

    Ups and downs that for many people are simply an exciting place to visit can for others be part of daily life - and sometimes frighteningly out of control.

    Ups and downs that for many people are simply an exciting place to visit can for others be part of daily life – and sometimes frighteningly out of control.

  • Stigma is alive and well – and there are risks connected with being “out” about a mental illness.  I did a lot of thinking before deciding to have bipolar disorder be part of the content of a blog I would share with coworkers and customers.
  • At least within the group, most people find terms like depression and bipolar disorder helpful shorthands, but maybe with some subtlety.  In spite of my willingness to be provocative in my blog title, in the group I actually avoid calling myself a bipolar person.  I typically introduce myself by saying that I’m living with bipolar disorder.
  • Some people in the group mostly aspire to “cope with” or “manage” their illness.
  • I said that I see our weekly group as basically a recovery group, where together we throw off victimhood and take charge of our own healing – partly by creating close relationships with each other.  I see problems with the Recovery model, but find it more inspiring than just coping or managing.
  • One of my friends who doesn’t like the Recovery model, but who I think has tremendous recovery, said “I don’t see why you would claim that saying you have bipolar disorder is a sign of stigma.  I think it’s a badge of honor.  Most people with bipolar disorder have gone through all kinds of hell and survived – and usually learned a lot in the process, stuff that the average person has never had to learn.”
  • This got me all excited and brought me back to two elements of recovery that are important to me: 1) you create a big life, of which your illness is just one part (I think of my dancing, my cashiering and my writing) and 2) you embrace your illness as a path of healing.  For me, bipolar disorder is a spiritual path – and what I learn about ups and downs is meant to be shared with others who have more regular ups and downs.

    What if my intensified ups and downs really are a spiritual path?  Maybe I'm meant to bring back what I've learned to help others - anybody who sometimes gets ungrounded or who sometimes wrestles with depression.

    What if my intensified ups and downs really are a spiritual path? Maybe I’m meant to bring back what I’ve learned to help others – anybody who sometimes gets ungrounded or who sometimes wrestles with depression.

Right place, right time, right person?

Nobody likes to work register 5.  It’s right directly in the traffic flow and is by far the busiest cash register.  You never get a break – it’s crazy-making.  But this morning #’s 4 and 2 are taken – and even my regular #3.  #1 is way out by itself and I can get lonely out there – but this morning I decided to take it, rather than face the fearsome five.  But when I got there, one of the managers’ cash drawers was already in there.  It wouldn’t have been that hard to get it removed, but I took this as a sign that I really should go to 5.

As I settled my drawer into the #5 cash register, Sherri Lynn teased me.  “Oh, so you’re going to be my neighbor this morning, eh?” Sherri Lynn is awesome: beautiful, talented (very accomplished country singer), funny and – at somewhere in her 50’s – way closer to my age than most of my co-workers.  We have tremendous fun together – she comes down to my register when things get slow.  But it seems that whenever I take #5 to be next to her, it gets so busy that you totally lose track of who’s at your back.

When I’m depressed, as I am today, everything seems wrong.  Did I make a mistake by not taking #1? But then there’s Sherri Lynn.  What if I’m in the right place at the right time – and am the right person to be here?  I decided to make this my study for the day – let’s see what the events in my checkout line have to teach me about this.

My first customers are a senior couple who have exact change for their two gallon refills of water.  The math was not hard on this and it seemed they had probably made this purchase before.  Why were they so tickled at my relatively foolish banter? (“Oh, you were all ready for me” – nothing very clever there.)  On their way out, they greeted Shirley – who has been here a long time and knows most of our longstanding customers.  Why were they in my line?  Was it where they were meant to be? Puzzling this out was going to be more complicated than I might have thought.

This attractive 40ish woman started waiting in my line, then moved when Sherri Lynn returned from her break and opened her line.  Was that little abortive interaction just right?

I gave this older guy his senior discount, which he hadn’t even known about and which made him happy.  Then I asked the next woman, “Do you know about our discounts?”  “Yes, but I don’t qualify.”  (“He thinks I look 60 – bastard.”)  Did I do right in the first case and wrong in the second one?

Then I forgot to offer the discounts to a guy who might have been 60 or might have a military background.  Did this mean I was in the wrong place?  All the variations of imperfection.

#5 has just become better real estate because a lovely young coworker who is a buddy of mine has set up shop across at #6.  I’m just appreciating how much fun she has with her customers when my customer – who has identified himself as a World War 2 veteran – says, “Now every day is fun.”  A pretty awesome thing to say – and I’m kind of stunned by they connection of young and old both focused on fun.  None of this would have happened for me if I was at another register.

I take my 10 minute break and catch up on my notes.  Depression continues to drag at my heels.  Whenever I start to think that maybe I’m at the right place at the right time and am the right person a hostile inner voice says no.

Young Regina, just coming on duty, asks me if I want to shift over to #1.  “This register is awfully busy.”  Oh, she prefers this register.  She is a speedy, high-energy person – I guess it makes sense.  I momentarily buckle.  “Sure.”  Why not? It will be easier.  She’s better suited for this register – it will be better all around.

Then something asserted itself inside me.  “No, this is where you are meant to be today.  After your lunch break they will shift you anyway.  You’re in the right place at the right time – and are the right person to be here.”  “Regina – thanks, I think I’ll just stay here.”  Earlier I had taken this register by default – now I was fully choosing it.

I had gone from taking #5 by default to claiming it - taking a position that I'm where I'm meant to be.  How did this affect what happened next?

I had gone from taking #5 by default to claiming it – taking a position that I’m where I’m meant to be. How did this affect what happened next?

My next customer – a short 50ish woman – has already told me that she had a hard night and is not quite with it.  She has a hard time entering her frequent shopper number and becomes apologetic.  I say “You’re perfect – don’t worry about it.”  Would my co-workers have given her this message of empathy?  Was I the right person for her?  I think, reviewing my notes later, that most of them would have done pretty much what I did.  This was for me as much as for her.  She was the right person for me – I needed to hear the message of forgiveness.

A customer comes up wearing a prosthetic neck brace.  I feel instant compassion for him.  “Wow, you’ve got an owie.”  “Oh, it’s a recurring problem.  This thing actually feels really good – very comforting.  The first couple of them didn’t feel so good, but this one is great.”  I am knocked out that he has taken something that most of us would regard at best as a big annoyance and turned it into a positive – and tell him so.

He says, “I was talking to a guy the other day whose house had recently burned down.  He lost everything.  he said that parts of it were really hard, but that it was also kind of liberating to let go of everything and start over.”

“Wow, he inspired you and now you’re inspiring me.  I’m going to put this in my blog and maybe that will inspire someone else.  Look at his chain of positive messages.”  I was able to affirm this guy.  His message encouraged me – I’m glad I was there to receive it.  People do tell me that this blog inspires them.  If this post manages to inspire someone else, then I have definitely been in the right place at the right time.