Kindness: The Perfect Valentine

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F_Stef

Happy Valentine’s Day, SheLovelys!

In the weeks leading up to this holiday, we’ve all been encouraged to show our love with sparkly trinkets and pretty packages wrapped with silky red bows. It’s lovely to get an elegant offering, but when I reflect on the things that have made me feel cared for, it’s often smaller gestures that had a big impact.

It’s one sister bringing me apple juice when I’m home sick with a sore throat, or the other sending a picture she knows will make me giggle. It’s my dad making sure I’m on the inside of the sidewalk as we stroll. It’s my mom always there with a caring ear and a warm hug. It’s my stepmom knitting me a cozy scarf made with love, or my stepdad cooking whatever I’ve got a hankering for and doing my laundry (true story; he’s a gem).

It’s getting a little card in the mail from my aunt, who just wanted to say hello. Almost a year later, the bluebird on that card is still looking cute, perched on my bookshelf.

It’s heading out to my car to find that my neighbour has just washed it for me. He was already doing his own so it was no trouble, he says, running a drying cloth over the shiny hood.

It’s getting to the theatre and discovering that a friend arrived early to buy a few of us tickets because we’d recently had birthdays. As the movie started, she presented each of us with a big bag of a coveted, not-sold-in-Canada candy. Knowing that she’d made a point of schlepping them across the border for us somehow made those treats even sweeter.

It’s the cheerful grocery store clerk—unfazed by the long line of customers behind me – who looks me in the eye and asks “How’s your day been, dear?” It’s the stranger who offers an unexpected smile, or holds the door for me when my arms are full. It’s the colleague who knows I’m swamped with work and emails me a series of haikus about our impending lunch plans.

It’s how my Grandpa always had a pitcher of my favourite iced tea waiting for me when I came by on my lunchbreak. I was a teenager working at the mall just two blocks from their home, and he insisted on picking me up so we’d have more time to visit. I’d bet anything that my Grandpa was sitting in his car outside those mall doors well before he needed to be. Ready for me, there for me.

It’s how my Grandma, who had nine grandchildren, would phone me regularly, just to see how I was doing. Most of the time, it was my answering machine she reached. I’d come home to hear her cute voice and a message that often ended with “Love ya. [pause] Gramma” as if she were signing a card. I miss the days when getting a phone call from her was a possibility. I miss her.

These moments of kindness are like tiny Valentines—little love notes in the middle of an ordinary day. Great beauty can reside in the smallest of gestures. In this season of red roses and candy hearts, perhaps we can remember that we’re all in this together.

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After 44 posts over three and a half years, it feels like the right time to step back from writing monthly for SheLoves Magazine. When I read how Sarah felt the crunch of deadlines against her busy life and was letting go of the zine, I could relate; her words helped me give myself permission to close the door for a bit, too. It’s been a joy and an honour to show up here one Saturday a month. Thank you for reading, SheLovelys, and for sharing your thoughts and hearts. You have moved, inspired and encouraged me, and I feel so very blessed. I’m not a fan of endings or goodbyes, so I hope my little contributions will pop up here and there, when inspiration strikes and there’s an open space in the lineup. So until we meet again…

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Image credit: le vent le cri

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Stefanie Thomas

Stefanie Thomas

Stefanie is a Registered Clinical Counsellor living in Vancouver, BC. She feels blessed to work in a helping profession and is grateful that her work requires her to show up not in a power suit but with listening ears and a compassionate heart. Stefanie enjoys spending time with family and friends and has never met a kid or baby she doesn’t like. She is a noticer and appreciator of birds (chickadees, herons, eagles) and many a beach rock has come home in her pocket. Stefanie is a lover of music, tv and movies, and she is gifted at absorbing and retaining useless pop culture trivia. She loves walking, fresh air, the smell of dirt, and anything of the salt and vinegar persuasion. She can often be found puttering.
Stefanie Thomas
Stefanie Thomas

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