A good friend and I annually commence our Christmas tradition at Seattle’s Metropolitan Grill with two glasses of bubbly. After clinking our long-stemmed flutes in a toast to our long-lasting friendship and another year of blessings, we indulge in my three favorite food groups: cabernet, steak and cake. This night is awesome and equivalent to the others we’ve spent here perched in our happy place, but then we notice her.
“Cheers!” With merriment, we raise a toast to the younger gal sitting at the end of the bar, solo. Within seconds, a group of four men with ugly-Christmas sweaters or suitcoats scramble into the seats around her like the buzzer rang in a game of musical chairs. She tucks one arm into her side and pulls her wine glass closer with the other. My girlfriend and I pierce her with direct eye contact this time. She squints out a little forced smile. Maybe she could use some company, and not that of the bookends of men surrounding her. I sense she’s having a moment where you need to be around strangers so you don’t break down.
We motion over the din and chatter and say, “Come sit with us.”
Her eyes instantly fill with tears. She tries to hold them back, to turn them off, but like clouds full of rain, they keep pouring.
My friend and I both look at each other with the same shared thought. I stand up, “I’m going to get her.”
She tucks in next to us while the bartender brings her a box of tissue. She (I’ll call her Mary) says, “I came here so I don’t have to talk about it, but I get the feeling I’m going to talk about it.”
“Only if you feel like it,” I say. “It’s going to be okay, whatever it is.”
“I just got fired.” She dabs her eyes.
She had uprooted herself from the other end of the continent. She temporarily left behind a fiancé for opportunity—a job. A job she worked at for months, a job she liked, a job from which she had sadly been laid off. Opportunity? Hope? Poof! We all know what loss feels like; it stinks. It feels devastating.
My friend and I both believe in building up women, especially younger women. We pumped Mary full of positive affirmations and some positively umptious wine, Châteaubriand and nine-layer chocolate cake (Praise the heavens!).
I shared with Mary my own, younger-self struggles when I, too, was in search of a satisfying career in my late 20’s, as I’d written in my memoir, Bering Sea Strong.
I hoped a few of my messages resonated with her:
- Believe in yourself;
- You can and will overcome difficult circumstances;
- If one path doesn’t work out, you can choose another path…and yet another; and
- Embrace the unknown.
Then Mary blessed me back. She pre-ordered my book right on the spot and said, “Your life experience is already inspiring women like me.”
You don’t have to wonder if your good actions and words impact those around you. Science has shown that doing an act of kindness is the single most reliable way to increase your well-being. Be the kindness in the world you want to see. Encourage and uplift when someone can’t hold their head high enough to see the good on their horizon. Share a gift, a glimmer of hope, a kind word, a joyful smile, or a sip of wine, a slice of yummy steak, or chocolate cake (Ok, I do understand if you’re unwilling to share the cake.) You don’t need to publish a book to share a lesson from your life. Someone out there values your stories more than you know.
LoveThisDay. Cheers to the collective kindnesses in the New Year. Clink-clink!