I woke to the sound of rain this morning. I also woke to the sound of rain a number of times during the night, briefly, returning to sleep quickly – since there is nothing about the sound of rain that is at all alarming for me. When I last woke, realizing the downpour might have consequences for driving later, my fretfulness about driving in torrential rain – which does cause me some anxiety – prevented me from returning to sleep.

It’s been a strange morning. I started the morning anticipating a fun morning fixing Barbie dolls with some neighborhood girls of Barbie doll age, while sipping tea with their mothers. It seems a very ordinary sort of thing to me, a remnant of a past I grew up with that no longer exists in many places – one in which neighbors know each other, talk in passing, and care. It fits in here in this little community; we help each other out now and then, talk to each other, share how things are going. (I am not the person I was at 25, or at 40 – I wonder sometimes if these simple moments of connection would have had the same value for me then?) It matters to me that Maribel and Anna, down a few doors, have colds today. It matters to their Mother that they not share them with me, or the other older ladies in the community. Simple consideration, simple courtesy, simply neighbors. These things don’t really have a season, you know? They can be done all year. It starts with being present, with being aware, with taking an interest – it starts with smiles and greetings. It doesn’t have to end at all.

The change in my plans slows my morning down quite a lot, and I take time on a variety of small tidying up sorts of chores to make my traveling partner’s time hanging out on Giftmas Eve and Giftmas Day more comfortable. People with allergies are often challenged by apartment conditions that don’t trouble most folks – like ancient abused carpet potentially releasing allergens into the air with every new footstep. Vacuuming, damp dusting, and taking care with details like little corners and covered surfaces. all matter greatly and improve an allergic loved one’s experience. Totally worth a bit of extra time and effort – anything that improves his comfort prolongs my own joy in sharing his company. 🙂 (Verbs again, and always – what we want routinely requires our action.)  This is also not some aggressive agitated drive to reach ‘perfection’ – the love is in the intent, the will, and the effort made. That my lover’s comfort matters to me such that I take action is the important piece of the puzzle. There’s no score or report card, or financial gain, or praise expected – or criticism; it’s not about removing all the allergens from the world, it’s about saying ‘I love you’.

Be love.

Be love.

Slowing the morning down offers more value than extra time to tidy up; I am less anxious about driving in the rain, later. Slowing things down is often a game-changer with my anxiety. A great many things that cause me anxiety are worsened if there is also a sense of immediacy or urgency also associated with them. Slowing things down reduces any sense of urgency by making whatever it is less imminent. There’s a missing step – and it’s an important one; I don’t use that additional time on growing and nurturing the feeling of anxiety. Once basic planning and healthy expectation-setting is managed, I simply move on to other things. “Simply” – it gets easier with practice, it’s not ‘effortless’, it’s just not complicated. 🙂

Today is a good day to practice good practices, and a good day to share them. Today is a good day to say good morning to a neighbor in passing, and to smile at strangers. Today is a good day to recognize how human we each are, each having our own experience, each on our own journey – still so very human that we easily overlook how similar our experiences may actually be…and if we don’t share, we won’t know. Today is a good day to step outside my comfort zone, and be a welcoming presence in my world. Today is a good day to be love. 🙂