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A Note of Gratitude

In honour and celebration of everyone who has chosen to step up, step in, reach out, lean forward, stand by, embrace, support, acknowledge and be present for those in need...


When a friend of mine experienced a severe and debilitating breakdown a few years ago, my immediate response was to pull her closer. My family opened our doors and took her and her two young children into our (tiny) home. We sat with her as she cried through the night, took her to doctors appointments, played with the kids, fed them, washed their clothes, laughed, shared stories and created a vessel in which she felt held and loved enough for her healing and transformation to take place. There was no judgement, no anger, no sense that this was in any way 'unfair'. It was not about us, it was about meeting the needs of a loved one when she was temporarily unable to meet those needs for herself. To my mind, there was no question- someone needed help, so we stepped in to offer what we could.

I was fortunate enough to be brought up with this mentality. Many times we had extra people in the house as they transitioned through life's challenges, or mum would be nursing a stray animal or dad would be going to visit a relative in the hospital. Genuine concern for others and selfless care was/ is the norm. Sadly, I have witnessed and experienced many times over that this is not the norm for everyone. I have been shocked, disappointed and disheartened with the lack of compassion, empathy, courage and support offered to people in states of vulnerability and distress. The tendency to walk away, avoid and abandon before any attempt to understand, the tendency to make gross assumptions and justify neglect rather than lean in and ask "are you ok?" is something we are all guilty of at times. But these defence mechanisms create greater divisions between us and deeper scars within us.

The discrimination that exists in our society that treats people as "less" because of their colour, age, sexual orientation, religious or political beliefs, abilities or disabilities, physical or mental illness, social status or financial worth is a wound that sits in the depths of us all. We are not Saints, we cannot help everyone, but I like to think, somewhat idealistically perhaps that we do have a strong biological preference for altruism and that our capacity for love, forgiveness and communal support is far greater than we allow ourselves to believe.

I delight in the African philosophy of Ubuntu which celebrates our shared humanness and encourages helping one another, regardless of any factor which may make us 'separate'. In honour of this, I have been observing and recording a very specific kind of gratitude diary in which I take note of all the beautiful gestures of kindness and support extended to friends, family and strangers on a daily basis. I literally have pages and pages of special moments, but will mention just some of them here with a heart full of gratitude and an intention of inspiring people to nurture one another and to honour that part of ourselves that knows beyond reason that we are all connected, all equal and all deserving of love and care...

Thank you to the person who helped the old man across the road while an impatient driver revved their engine. Thank you to the shop keeper who sat in the gutter with the teenager who was having an asthma attack. Thank you to the amazing people who reach out day after day to those in severe trauma and distress, who provide practical goods such as food and shelter and also emotional support. Thank you to the teacher who brings extra food to school each day and quietly provides a lunch for the child who has none. Thank you to the person who gave up their afternoon to help a stranger search for their lost dog. Thank you to the musician who plays music in the retirement village to bring joy to lonely souls. Thank you to the parent who gave their jacket to someone else's child as she stood shivering in the cold. Thank you to the volunteer collecting money for a cause they truly believe in. Thank you to the doctor who took time to really listen to their patient and treat them with respect. Thank you to the person who is holding on to that voucher they won so that they can give it someone who needs it more than they do. Thank you to the people who delivered soup and flowers to my door when I was unwell. Thank you to the swimming instructor who nurtured a disabled child through their fear of entering the water. Thank you to the paramedic who treated their patient with diligent care whilst being screamed at and abused. Thank you to the parent community who pour hours of their time into creating fundraising events for the school. Thank you to the people who send random emojis on their phones just to let someone know that you're thinking of them. Thank you to the vet nurse who was so kind to the grieving family who lost their special pet. Thank you to everyone who generously donates to special events and campaigns. Thank you to the person who set up a food roster for friends in need of support. Thank you to the organisations that go out of their way to promote 'good news' stories to uplift the general public. Thank you to the amazing full-time carers of loved ones with physical and mental illness. Thank you to the student on a mission to find a cure for motor neuron disease. Thank you to the council worker creating beautiful community gardens. Thank you to the artists who have turned a run down space into a colourful sanctuary... The list goes on and on, so thank you to everyone who has chosen to step up, step in, reach out, lean forward, stand by, embrace, support, acknowledge and be present for those in need- particularly when it would have been easier for you not to. The world really is abundant with compassion, empathy, courage and kindness and together we can grow this even more. So next time you see someone struggling, try pulling them closer and create a vessel for their healing and transformation - the whole world will be a better place for it.

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