You know, this is the season to remember the couple who traveled very far but when they arrived in Bethlehem, there was no room at the inn. What if that happened to you? What would you do? Are there still kind people out there willing to take a risk and help others?
In recent years I have personally experienced some very mean and awful people. As a middle aged widow I am living a life I had not planned. People were nice to me when my husband unexpectedly passed. It took days for details to unravel about how my husband died. I spent a lot of time obsessed with negative visions. I couldn’t sleep or function in daily life. His death was tragic and I felt hateful and angry towards others. It is no way to live and can be debilitating.
Eventually I started to see a therapist and work through what turned out to be PTSD. It did not happen overnight, but I eventually was able to redirect my thinking. I focused on the good times that I did have with my husband, not the night he died. I kept a gratitude journal and a venting journal as well. I wrote letters to my husband and sometimes even had him write back to me because I knew what he would tell me.
Every morning I listen to affirmations on my ThinkUp App to get me started on my day. One of my sayings is “The more you focus on the good things in life, the more good comes to you”
Basically that means stop thinking about the bad stuff. You can’t change the past. Focus on the good. All we have is this moment.
So my favorite travel blogger Nomadic Matt just asked us to think about a travel kindness story. WOW! Lucky me. I have a couple.
My stories are distant memories, but still good ones. After my junior year of college studying abroad in Nottingham, England, a classmate and I bought Eurrail passes and planned to travel around Europe. We spent hours in advance planning out our trip. We used maps and took notes from our Let’s Go Europe book to decide where to stay. On the first day of our adventure we were detoured to an unexpected destination. It was Paris, and not that bad of a place to visit really. We forged a whole new path without plans, and let the adventures begin.
My friend’s family had immigrated to Boston from Sicily so we decided to make that one of our destinations. We arrived at our hostel in Sicily and were so excited. We woke up late and missed the included breakfast. We meandered into town and wandered around some shops. At around 2:00 we were starving. However, in Sicily the restaurants really do close down for siesta time. We were stumped, and hungry. No fast food. We couldn’t return to the hostel until 6:00p.m. We looked in the window of a small restaurant, saw someone sweeping the floor and rubbed our bellies (no one spoke English). A nice young man came out. He indicated that this place was closed but he gestured toward a car. He actually drove us to another restaurant where someone fed us. They did not charge us a penny. It was sweet and humbling and the lunch prepared was so delicious. They did not expect anything in return, they were just good people.
Continuing my travels, I met up with my mom, sister and brother for Easter and a tour of Rome, France and Norway. They left after 2 weeks, and I ventured on my own with my Eurrail pass to the Arctic Circle. Who doesn’t want to go to the Arctic Circle? The hostel I stayed in Narvik was crowded and we all enjoyed staying up all night as the sun set in May at 11:30 pm and then rose at 2:30 am. Such a fun place!
One day I went on an excursion with new friends I had met at the hostel to the Lofoten Islands in the Norwegian Sea. We took a small ferry that only leaves a few times a day. Once we got to the Island, it was lovely and we toured about. Unfortunately, when it was time to take the ferry home, the ferries had stopped running due to snow. My friends and I were concerned. The hotels on the island were beyond our budget. They actually asked me, who had 2 semesters of Norwegian language in college, to use the pay phone and try to get us a room or a boat ride home. No luck. OK, I didn’t speak Norwegian too well.
We desperately knocked on the door of a nursing home. The woman in charge told us we couldn’t stay there. But when she saw the snow, she said we could sleep in the basement but had to be out by the time her boss got to work in the morning. WOW. We did sleep in the basement and didn’t freeze outside. How kind of that woman to take in the four of us and give us shelter. We were so grateful.
My last kindness story takes place right here in a small town called Underwood, Iowa. I was traveling with a friend across the United States from New York to Colorado, about a 2000 mile drive. We had spent a night in Chicago to visit a friend and thought we could make it to Colorado in one day.
Stopping for lunch in a bar off the side of the highway seemed like a good idea at the age of 22. We had a bite to eat and then a funny thing happened. People in Iowa started to talk to us. We were from New York and California. We laughed. We joked. We told stories. There were no cell phones to distract us so we shared a common bond, being alive.
Well, the drinks people bought for us backed up into the cooler. Folks wanted us to stay. When we realized we would not be able to drive to Colorado that night, a nice couple invited us to stay in their camper that they had on the side of their house. We went back to their house and listened to Patsy Cline albums until the wee hours of the morning. The next day they made us breakfast and told us to use the shower if we needed to. They were off to work. That morning, we visited a local farmer we had met the night before to see his new tractor. He took us for a tour of his farm. What a great experience and so fun to have met such kind people right here in America.
People come into our lives all the time. Maybe there is a purpose. I am so blessed by the good things that have come into my life. The more I focus on the good things in life, the more good comes to me. That could be my mantra. If we don’t expect anything in return, and just focus on the good things in life, I do believe we will be rewarded with love and joy and peace and the possibilities for abundant good.
P.S. My pictures were so old and grainy. These are from a website called pixabay which has thousands of photos free to use for any purpose Enjoy!