Monday, September 28, 2009

Unexpected gifts and their effect

This September has been full of hard work and even more full of unexpected gifts.

Here is how it started. The first day of school, there was a card and gift in my mail box from Will's mom (Will of Poetry Out Loud fame). Just a lovely little set of desk notes and a card that said: "Thanks for everything you do. Have a wonderful year."

I thought: how beautiful is a gift that totally surprises you, something unexpected and for no occasion?

The next week, my former student Grace showed up at work to have lunch with me. She brought a little gift bag with her that had two CDs she had burned for me and some John Freida eucalyptus shampoo and conditioner. Her card said: "I hope you don't think it's weird that I bought you shampoo and conditioner. But I remember that you talked about how much you love eucalyptus in class and this reminded me of you." It is good stuff. Takes me right back to California.

The very next week I was cruising out of work early because I had a terrible migraine. I stopped in the office to find a yellow envelope stuffed in my mail box.

I took it to the car and opened it. A book. From James, whom I had taught for 3 out of his 4 high school years, now a freshman at Tulane in New Orleans.

We had both been huge fans of this amazing book, The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. James went to hear the author speak and bought me another book of his,

and had it signed for me.

The next week, my friend and colleague Tori brought me a cute pair of new Merrell shoes that didn't fit her right. But they fit me right!

That was 4 unexpected gifts in 4 weeks. I started to think I was experiencing some sort of karmic payback for something.

Then this: Last Saturday, I left my house at 5:15 am in the dark and cold to meet up with my friends for our 20 miler. I was nervous and edgy.

As I was pulling out of the driveway, my headlight beams illuminated some white paper fluttering on my porch. I knew before I even got out that my friend Kim (she who loves and cares for my children) had paid a visit to my house the night before. Vintage Kimmie. How thoughtful is that? Yes, it made me cry.

Besides feeling incredibly grateful and lucky for the people in my life, and for this pleasantly surprising string of gifts, I also feel tuned into my life in a slightly different way.

I have been noticing "gifts" everywhere I look. I've been keeping track of them in my head.

Coming home to a sparkling clean house and dinner in the oven, having a student say "I love this class," having my kids spontaneously fed home-made pizza for dinner at an afternoon playdate at the Carvers, feeling energized for teaching by singing really loudly in the car on the way to work, the daily emails I exchange with my sister, hot showers, amazingly cool sleeping weather, my kids crawling under the covers with us for family snuggles.

and today, a pot of mums from a friend. For no reason.

So many good, good things, especially when I'm paying such close attention. I've been storing up ideas for unexpected gifts for the people I love.


ann said...

Pay it forward! Think of what we can create in this world. I am already thinking of what I can do for people I love!

thanks for an inspiring blog!

Paige said...

Em, this is a great post!! I am so glad your life is filled with people who fill your bucket with well wishes. It is a tribute to who you are as a person and the character you have. I wish we could live close to each other. I would love to have you and Sam over for Saturday night dinners, walks in the park, and concerts on the lawn. Missing you. Paige