Surprises: 30 Days of Gratitude, Day 13


Day 13: I am grateful for sweet, well-placed surprises.


Often times the smallest, least expected touch is the one that makes our day.

Whether it is an unexpected greeting in the form of a welcoming display, a compliment, or a little extra kindness, we find ourselves graced by the generous efforts of others.

The other day, I was alone for dinner but wanted something simple and had to pick up a few groceries. I stopped at the deli counter to order a few freshly-made pieces of fried chicken to have for my supper. The line grew long as the young man behind the counter greeted me with a sort of extra smile. His attention grabbed my attention, because he seemed to actually see me, not just roll through me in a rush to serve all the customers waiting. When he brought my fried chicken, he had two small bags, which surprised me because I only ordered one chicken breast and a thigh and a leg; how could that need two separate bags I wondered. When I got home, I realized the boy had packed a very large chicken breast in the first bag, and added the other two pieces to the the second deli bag. I felt gifted by his choosing what appeared to be the best piece of chicken available–and for me! I was so touched by his thoughtfulness that I wanted to call his manager to say what great service I received. After all, a cold scrawny dried-up piece of chicken is nothing compared to a fresh, hot, juicy, meaty piece. It was such a small effort on the clerk’s part, but for me it felt like someone had done something kind, and it touched my heart. Needless to say, I didn’t need the extra pieces of chicken, after all. One piece turned out to be plenty.

Yesterday, I had lunch with friends. One of them asked me if last minute I could attend an antiques open house with her that evening. The drive was a distance away, the weather was bad, I am not an antiques collector, and I didn’t really want to go because I was looking forward to getting some work done at home. Still, to spend extra time with my friend, I agreed to go. We had an enjoyable time together the entire evening, despite the weather (and the fact that I offered to drive because she hadn’t had much sleep the night before). On the way home as we were talking, something came up which led her to say something such as, “If more people read your writing, they would have a very high opinion of you.” I can’t quote her exactly I don’t think, because her words caught me by surprise. I expressed my bewilderment with some sort of  awkward “Huh?” And she went on to say with notable emphasis:

“You’re a very good writer, Deb!”

Those words, coming from my friend–a very well educated, well read, well traveled, experienced writing professional, this compliment was extra special to me. Plus, it was validation from a colleague I wasn’t accustomed to receiving. In fact, I get nervous knowing some colleagues read my blog, for example, because over the years they have been competitive and not always supportive, on occasion saying some rather hurtful things…”You’re kind of a good writer,” one of them said years ago, which still stings to this day.

I don’t know whether my friend’s compliment was sincere or not, but most take her to be a sincere person; so, I had to take to heart her words, and in that moment, they indeed made me feel blessed. After all, who doesn’t want the confirmation of friends and loved ones? Having someone who knows you appreciate your work is every bit as good as having a stranger acknowledge it, if not even more special. Unless, of course, you consider the other side of the coin: they’re saying they like your work just because they like you. In this case, I’m not sure which it was…but the compliment was so unexpected that I am going with the former, that my friend likes my writing AND she likes me (not because she likes me)…

All this has me thinking how I might bring a small blessing into someone else’s day. How I might surprise them. What have you done lately that touched another person? It really takes so little, doesn’t it? My son is visiting and I want to show him in some new way that he is important to me. I tell him that; I take him to get his tank filled with gas…he’s a tough one as many 20-something males are, but I’m hoping to think of some way to let him know that I am grateful to have him home. For sure I will at least thank him for walking the dog when it was cold and windy outside…

I am also so glad to share this space here with you. I know that if you are reading Stumbler, you are a person who cares about others. Just imagine if we all treated one another to small kindnesses. Every day could be graced with surprise and delight! I hope you surprise someone today, and that in turn, you yourself will be equally blessed.

Thanks for reading Stumbler.


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2 thoughts on “Surprises: 30 Days of Gratitude, Day 13

  1. You deserve credit yourself for actually being aware of what the clerk did for you and your friends kind words, many people don’t see or hear when a good thing is coming their way. I’m glad you went with the positive instead of trying to read something negative which is also a common thing people will do. I believe if people were actually more aware of their surroundings as you are there would be more kindness in the world like you. I try not to miss your writing as I enjoy your post and topics very much. Have you ever noticed how most of us can only remember a few compliments in our lives that make our heart sing but can come up with a long list of mean things that were said to us that we do remember! We need to reverse this which I taught this very message in my classes by having the students do this simple mental exercise. Always a little wakeup call to focus on the good and let anything that doesn’t serve us go! That like many things is easier said then done but it certainly makes life light up for us when we remember all the kind things said to us.

    • Excellent points, Judy. I’m sure you’re right, too, that if we don’t focus on the positive, we end up exaggerating the negative–or worse, focusing on it alone. I’m so glad to have you as a daily reader of Stumbler! Thank you.

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