Sentimental Tears

I don’t know why, but I find myself crying more frequently and easier than ever before. I’m not talking about the occasional tear that slides down your face during a touching scene in a movie; I’m talking about sentimental tears that seem to flow at the most inopportune times. Tears based on memories. Tears based on hopes. Tears flowing out of love for people, places, and things. Sentimental tears.

Sentiment is defined as the “exaggerated and self-indulgent feelings of tenderness, sadness, or nostalgia” according to the New Oxford Dictionary. Am I being self-indulgent? When the tears well up, it doesn’t feel self-indulgent. It feels like I’m out of control. It feels like being overcome by unexpected emotions whether sorrow or gladness. It feels like a good thing, yet I find it a little embarrassing – a little too revealing.

There doesn’t seem to be just one thing that makes me feel the tenderness of the moment, or the sadness of the situation, or recapture the nostalgic memories of times gone by. I was watching the news the other day and some charitable organization gave a grandmother a check to take care of her ten or twelve grandchildren. (She was their legal guardian.) I cried. I didn’t know that lady or any of her wards, but it moved me to tears to see her helped and happy. I was reading a mystery novel that ended with the mother being reunited with her kidnapped daughter. I cried. I knew it was fiction. I knew that this story probably did not represent what it would be like in real life, yet it moved me because I thought about the amber alert I had received that morning. A cousin posted videos of her family feeding the homeless in Sacramento. As she scanned the area tears ran down my face. There were so many people living outdoors. It made me so proud to see them sharing their blessings with others, and it also made me realize how blessed I am.

All these sentimental tears made me wonder whether this is one of the things missing from our society, since I’m convinced that sentiment and empathy go hand in hand. According to the dictionary empathy is “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” Sharing the joy or the sorrow of someone else means you can put yourself in their place/their position. So rather than being self-indulgent, what if we allow ourselves to indulged in the particular feelings, whether situational or emotional, of others. Another definition of sentiment is “a view or an attitude toward a situation or event.” What if our attitude or view was: “Lord, it could have been me.”

On the weekend, my mom and I went to the grocery store and the pet store. As we exited the parking lot, we saw a family holding up a sign. There was a father, a mother, two young children and a baby in a stroller. The sign said: “We need food and diapers. Please help.” My mom said, “Let’s get this family some diapers.” So we headed back to the grocery store. It was then I realized we had no idea what size diapers to buy. We ended up getting a grocery store gift card and a visa gift card. (One from mom and one from me.) When we drove back to the family and gave them the cards, the father and mother cried with gratitude and joy. We cried seeing their joy. We were happy to help because it could have been one of us, or my children, or my neighbors, or anyone from the Beloved Community. COVID-19 has crashed our economy. Any one of us may be one check away from holding a sign in a cold parking lot.

At first, I just wanted to stop being so soft and stop the tears, but now I realize I don’t want to become hardened. I don’t want to hear stories, or see people and feel nothing. I want to hear, see, and feel kin to my fellow citizens and make a difference where I can. How about you? Have you cried for the community lately? Have you rejoiced with happy tears with those who rejoice? Have you cried the tears of sorrow with those who are grieving? Maybe it’s time to shed some sentimental tears. Let empathy show you how.

Be safe. Stay sane. Empathize with others. See yourself as part of the Beloved Community.

Search for the Beloved Community: The Thinking of Martin Luther King Jr.
Search for the Beloved Community examines the thinking of Martin Luther King Jr. and the influences that shaped it. Amazon.com

Throw Out the Lifeline

I write many things to inspire and encourage self-care and moving forward with your life in a positive manner. However, it is very important to me that no one reads these things as a motive or reason to criticize persons who haven’t arrived at that point. All of us need encouragement at some time in our lives. All of us need someone to lean on when we are not strong, or when life happens in a way that sets us back. So we shouldn’t dare belittle or shame someone when they are down. We should throw out a lifeline. A good rule to follow is: “If you can’t help, do not hurt!”

There is great anxiety during these times of the Corona-virus. There is great sadness and grief. There is confusion, anger, disappointment, and disparity. We can’t deny these things, even if we happen to be surviving better than others. If we have found our rhythm (or our niche) that keeps us hopeful and positive, that doesn’t mean we should close our hearts and minds to those who haven’t. This position should give us an opportunity to reach out a helping hand, to pull someone up with us.

One of my friends made a homemade pound cake. She called me on the phone, and said look out on your porch. That was an uplifting experience. My co-workers and I (I haven’t seen them for almost eight weeks) had a long chat on Microsoft Teams two weeks ago. This gave us a chance to find out how each one of us was really doing. Now we meet once each week. Those same co-workers sent me a lovely gift via snail mail. It was such a lovely surprise; it put a smile on my face and in my heart. A friend from California called me. We talked for nearly two hours. She did most of the talking, but my listening filled some lonely hours since she is sheltering-in alone. All of these things are small lifelines that made a big difference.

There are so many ways to throw out a lifeline. Remembering birthdays, daily text messages, a quick phone call, a drive-by drop off of flowers or food, pictures or collages by snail mail, or even a virtual cocktail hour or luncheon. (You could even have the special meal delivered to your lunch date.)

Knowing someone’s hobbies can also be an avenue to letting them know they are not alone or forgotten. My granddaughter in California used to love working in the garden with my mom. So I sent her a flower garden kit through Amazon. She called to tell me the flowers are beginning to spout. I’m going to send her some more seeds in a few days just to fill her days of boredom. Perhaps someone you know needs some flower or vegetable seeds, some yarn, or some paint. Getting them to focus on their hobbies can be a lifeline.

If we are honest, there are days that we all feel like we are going a little stir-crazy. Our routines have been upended; nothing seems normal anymore. Even our “new normal” is changing on a regular basis. Now there’s a meat shortage, and some businesses are gone forever. States are opening up while the numbers of people getting the virus is still prevalent. Watching the news is a detriment to your emotional health. (I recommend you don’t have a steady diet of it.) Certainly, no one is experiencing great joy everyday. I attended my second virtual funeral today.

What a difference we can make in someone’s life if we share our time, talents and treasures with them. A kind word, a listening ear, a thoughtful touch (virtual or not), or a referral to your counselor, spiritual leader, or life coach can be just the lifeline that someone needs to make it through another day.

Here’s a dictionary definition for lifeline: “a thing on which someone or something depends or which provides a means of escape from a difficult situation.” Can someone depend on you to be there when they need to escape their difficult situation for just a little while? I want to be that person – a dependable friend, a dependable neighbor, a dependable relative, a dependable contact who is willing to share whatever I can to help us all get through these difficult days.

I hope Bene-Log is a lifeline too. Stay safe, stay healthy, stay connected, and throw out a lifeline to someone you know.

Creative Coping Skills for Teens and Tweens: Activities for Self Care and Emotional Support including Art, Yoga, and Mindfulness
Creative Coping Skills for Children: Emotional Support Through Arts and Crafts Activities
Available at: Amazon.com