Sharing the lessons along the way…

Posts tagged ‘be the change’

Unlikely Gratitude

I have a neighbor who has a little Chihuahua dog and he never kept him on a leash when they were in their front yard.  My boys and I struggled going past the house on our because my boy Amore’ often would get aggressive with other dogs.  When Amore died, Duke met the dog and the dog would often come to the other side of the street to see us on our walks.  Ruby met him too.  The guy seemed like a nice enough guy despite the one negative experience I had.

When I was using the walker and the motorized wheelchair, we didn’t have a choice but to go by his house because the sidewalks on the other street were better and I was less likely to fall.  But we always had to take that chance of the little dog coming and my dog or dogs pulling me off balance.  Once the neighbor yelled at me because I wouldn’t just go on down the same street instead of passing his street.  I yelled back that the sidewalks sucked and that the walker didn’t work well and to please get his dog.

We still exchanged pleasantries after that incident and I had no hard feelings because he couldn’t understand why sidewalks would be a problem or that Amore was often unpredictable—who could who hadn’t had to try using a walker or had a problem dog.

Fast forward from that moment three or four years ago to July 2017.

Hope Fiona and I were walking on a Friday evening past his house, which is our normal route.  I had noticed I hadn’t seen much of him this year and that he appeared to be frail and wasn’t walking that well in the past month I had seen him.  He stops me to tell me he was in a bad car accident in January and when he was having to learn to walk again, his first thought was of me.

He said he remembered me always continuing to walk my dogs whether it was with a wheelchair, a walker or a cane and that he hoped he had the same strength as he was struggling through his recovery.

He shared his journey from wheelchair to walker to cane and was proud to say he was getting around pretty well without the cane now and could walk around the block.  He asked me how I found the strength to do it and continued to say how much he thought of me during and still because he had a tremendous head injury that has to continue to heal.

We talked about muscle memory and physical therapy and water therapy, and even though it was starting to rain and Hope really wanted to walk, we talked about the importance of continuing to move forward no matter what.

He asked me my name because in the 12 years I have passed his house and talked with him, we had never exchanged names.  He thanked me for something I had no idea even happened.

This experience reminded me that I was doing something right in this life, but also reminded me about how someone is always watching you and that making an impact on others’ lives is far bigger than what you deliberately do for someone else.  It is more about who you are and how you are while you are doing the simple, routine things in this life that has just as much of an impact.




March Madness

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

~Margaret Mead

For most of my teenage and adult life, madness has been a part of my March.  I love college basketball, so each year basketball season is one of my favorite times.  I love watching a team working together and rising no matter what the other team throws at them.

All of the sports I played were team sports.  To me, there is nothing like being a part of and watching a team playing/working well together.

I am aware that my team mentality is often lost on those who didn’t play sports or played individual sports, but most workplaces want someone who is a team player.  Even the college classes I teach require some part of the work to be produced by a team.

Every team has a leader—a true leader.  It doesn’t matter the sport and it doesn’t matter the position or role within the team unit.  Invariably a team leader will emerge and provide encouragement, guidance and support for the rest of the team.  A team who respects and trusts the leader will work well as a unit.  A team who doesn’t, isn’t likely to do as well.

Last year, as I launched the wellness initiatives at work, there wasn’t a team.  It was just me to start with, and I couldn’t wait to get others on board.  I worked with other teams and remembered just how much fun it can be when everyone works together and does their part to find creative solutions.  And of course, just how frustrating it can be when it doesn’t work so well.

In a short time, the team has grown.  The team has not only grown with employees, but also with volunteer team members and other partner agencies.  I look forward to watching the teamwork become more seamless as we all move forward.  And to then watch how much better we are all able to impact someone’s life as we do so.

It is almost as exciting to me as watching the tournament games, but as I am watching the games, I am really looking at the teamwork from a bigger vantage point.

What I know for sure is that at some point along the way in this life, we are going to need a team.  It might be a treatment team or some other group of folks banning together to help us get through something we never imagined.  Should that happen again in my life, I certainly want to have a team that works well together guiding me through the madness.







Dancing Brown Eyes

There once was a little girl whose thoughtful brown eyes sparkled at the idea of doing something that made someone else happy.  Her eyes danced at the smiling, laughing faces of others.  Tears fell at the sight of others’ tears falling.

As she grew from little to big, her eyes danced when she saw an opportunity to fill a need for someone else.  You could almost see the fire burning in those brown eyes at the mere hope for an opportunity to make a difference in the world.PhotoMail (3)

First, she sought journalism as her medium to affect change.  With sharp and focused eyes, she yearned for the real story.

Only to find that no one wanted to hear the real story, or that no one could really know the real story without having first been there.

She needed the whole story.  There is never just one “why” or “how” to anyone’s story, she would soon learn by listening fully to others.

Before she knew it, she found psychology as her medium to affect change.  One client at a time, one group session at a time, her eyes would shine when she saw a client better understanding themselves and their own power to change.

Then she found teaching, so she was making a difference one student, one class at a time.

Then refereeing, so she made a difference one player, two teams, coaches, and the stands at a time.

She was making a difference, but there was a fire inside to do even more.  She was preparing for whatever that could be.

Until her life took a major turn.  First illness, then loss of everything, including her ability to walk.

Tears fell from those big brown eyes at the thought of no longer being able to make a difference.  She begged for her chance to not be finished trying.  Surely she couldn’t be done, she was just getting started.

In even the worst of circumstances, those eyes connected to others, and her desire to lift others up seemed to be lifting her up as well.

Finally, she realized that she still could affect change, and those eyes danced once more.

As a little girl, she never imagined that the biggest difference she could make in this life was being that change.  All she really needed to do was imagine everything she wanted to see change in the world, and then make those changes in herself.

If she wanted peace, then she had to find it within and feel it.  Then be it out in the world.  If she wanted love, she had to give it as freely to herself as she would to others.  She had to be love in every part of her day.

If she imagined acceptance for everyone, she had to fully accept herself before she could share that with the world.  Then be acceptance.

The list goes on, but as she makes the changes within herself, she shares them.  She shares them with as much of the world as she has access to.  Her hope is that some part of what she shares might make some small difference, some small ripple of change, in someone, somewhere.


****Since January, 13, 2010, there have been over 14,000 opportunities to share some of these changes with you through this blog.  It is a modest number compared to other seasoned bloggers, but to think that someone does a search, comes upon my blog by “accident” and finds something they can apply to their own life, makes my eyes dance.  Thank you for sharing in the journey.

When you think no one is watching…

photo (7)Sunday morning, the boys and I started out for our normal morning walk around the neighborhood.  We were a bit later getting started than I would have liked.  It was getting hotter fast, so I could tell the dogs were not going to make it very far.

The stillness of the morning was slowly shifting to sounds of dogs barking, cars driving by and crows cawing in the distance.  The neighborhood seemed to be awaking as we motored along.

We turned the corner to head north to make our walk shorter, and I noticed there was a man walking his dog behind us, and an older woman about a block ahead walking in our direction.

At first, I felt a bit trapped on that section of the sidewalk because the power wheelchair isn’t made for moving off the sidewalk to yield to passersby.  It is also a section where the boys like to stop to smell and mark to let the beagle they don’t seem to like know they were there.  I let them linger there in front of the beagle’s house because it makes me smile.

I realized I knew the man walking the dog behind me and he waved as he turned back down my street, so he was no longer behind us.  I saw the woman walking toward us with her fold-up wheeled cart wasn’t slowing down.

Would she wait for us to get up to the next cross street so that we could all pass there, or was she going to keep walking?

I really hurried the boys, but the chair only goes 3.7 mph, and it wasn’t like we could hurry all that much more to meet her at a better spot for passing.  I started to feel anxious and even said to her that we were sorry and would be out of her way soon.  I couldn’t tell if she heard me or not because I couldn’t make out her facial expressions.

It felt like an eternity before we made it to the cross street, and when we did, I could see her more clearly.  I don’t recall ever seeing her before in the neighborhood.

Her hair was gray, her face weathered, eyes were sad, and the contents of her cart were wrapped tightly and neatly inside two different black garbage bags.  I smiled and said, “Good Morning!”

She was smiling back and said, “Well, isn’t this just the most beautiful picture!” as she eyed the dogs walking so perfectly beside me in the power wheelchair.

I said, “Thank you.  It kinda is, isn’t it?”  She remarked she wished she had a camera because she really needed to remember this image.  She went on for a few minutes marveling at how good my boys were and how lucky I was to have them.

Then she went on to thank me.

Really, she went on to thank me.  She thanked me for being out with my dogs ‘like this’ on this particular morning and for giving her a picture of hope and happiness no matter what the circumstances are.   She said I made her day and she will carry that with her through her week.

She said that I could not possibly know or understand how much she needed to see just that on this day, and as she walked on, she said she sure hoped she would see us all again next week.

I hope so too.

****It is rare that someone comes right out to share how you have impacted them by simply being who you are, but you can bet anything you do, and how you are is making an impact.

Kitt O'Malley

Bipolar Writer and Mental Health Advocate


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