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Yesterday, I was frantically mowing before it started raining again, and came across this little guy.  He was hiding in one of our bird houses which I thought was both clever and asking for it.  What if a bird flew by and thought, "Oh awesome, food AND a house!"  I mean that's what I would probably think if I was a bird...I'm very food driven if you haven't noticed.  But this little guy did get me thinking...which is always a dangerous thing. This little guy (or lady, I guess it could have been a lady frog) was so smiley, it actually made me giggle.  He just looked so content and happy.  I thought I would share his smile with everyone.  What he got me thinking about was that I feel like we all need to smile a little more, to enjoy the little things a little more, and to share that a little more.

With so much going on lately, the ever changing economy, things being tight, trying to work on my photography as well as find another job, I've been in a very "What about me? What am I going to do about me?" mood.  I feel a lot like Smee in the movie Hook, "Smee, Smee. What About Smee? Smee! Smee! Smee. Smee. What about Smee? Smee's me. What about me?"  Lately, I have been reading some inspirational writings by Sue Monk Kidd.  It's a book of compiled short stories that she shares, they're great to read when you just have a short moment.  In the past two chapters she's been sharing stories about open availability and compassion.  By open availability she means, making yourself just open to someone you wouldn't normally be open to.  Listening to someone who is upset, even if they're not your friend, not yelling at someone who is angry at you but listening to their story, or offering just a hand of comfort to someone who needs it.  All these things are also linked with compassion.  But in her short stories Sue Monk Kidd talks about how although she has the ability to give compassion, she often doesn't take the opportunity when it reveals itself.

In the story I read last night she describes how she came out of a shopping center on a bitterly cold day, and saw a homeless man sitting on a bench out front.  He had taken pieces of cardboard and put them down the back of his collar to try and keep out the cold wind.  As she describes how she merely stared and felt pity for the man, a little girl with a red wool scarf walked by, turned around and wrapped the scarf around the mans neck.

I think it's fair to say that we've all tightened our purse strings as of late.  But that's fine, I'm not saying that we have to give money to be compassionate.  There is plenty more we all have that we can give: time, food, hard work, a smile, and just being willing to be open to see what the other person needs.  We must also keep in mind that it's not just homeless people that need compassion and open availability, it can be a coworker, a friend, a child, a stranger crying on a bus, a loved one, a neighbor, or just someone you run into.  I think we have all had an experience where an opportunity for compassion has come up and we have let it pass by, whether it was because of fear, awkwardness, not being sure how to help, or it just being out of our comfort zone.  I am ashamed to admit that last summer when I was eating lunch outside with a friend from work, we were approached by a homeless man, and she gave him a dollar, and I told her that probably wasn't wise considering I'd seen him in the area several times and he was probably just "working" the area.  But now, I'm ashamed of myself.  A couple dollars couldn't hurt, and we were in a very popular area, if I was homeless I would go to popular areas as well, to try and get some help.

So what I guess I'm saying, is that this little guy inspired me to be happy and grateful that I have a warm (or cool in the summer) dry place to stay.  And challenged me not only to be happy with what I have in hard times but to share happiness and compassion with others, and to try and make myself available to those around me.  It's always something to strive for, and I am going to challenge myself this week (as a start) to be more compassionate.  I challenge you to try to do the same.  And until then, smile and count your blessings, I'm sure that's what this little guy is doing.