Grow Your Life: Unexpected gifts of love

This past weekend, I enjoyed catching up on household duties, paperwork and spending time with my friends, family and pets.

This past weekend, I enjoyed catching up on household duties, paperwork and spending time with my friends, family and pets. As the years go by, I find that I get more and more homesick every time I go away. I remember when, as a YMCA Camp Director, I spent many evenings on the phone consoling the parents of homesick campers. I would often say to them, “Isn’t it a compliment to you that they actually miss you?”

These days I absolutely view it as a compliment that I miss home and this magnificent valley. You see, over the past sixty-four days, I have travelled more than three quarters of the way around the world — in terms of distance, that is. The circumference of our planet earth at the equator is 40,075 kilometres. By taking a total of fourteen flights, with my furthest destination being Shanghai, China, I covered over 33,345 km.

But the distance carries a deeper meaning. The mileage only illustrates the opportunities I have had to connect with people in different places around the world, and experience the love and kindness of absolute strangers.

Everywhere I visited, I was greeted by a smile and made to feel welcome. Whether it was hotel staff, vendors in the street or rubbing shoulders with others in tight market spaces, I felt connected with everyone on some level.

In particular, there was one special day when I had the opportunity to share lunch with a homeless person. Her name was Gloria and she has been homeless for over a year. She needed a job, a new kidney, and she desperately wanted to go back to her family. As we sat together and I looked into her eyes, she spoke to me from her heart about her love for her children and her hopes for a better tomorrow. It struck me that she was homesick, too. She was deeply appreciative of the lunch items, water and bits of spare change I had. When it came time for me to go, I hugged her and said, “I believe in you, and I love you.” Her arms tightened around my shoulders, and she whispered “I love you, too.”

You know and I know we don’t have to travel very far to give and receive the universal gift of love. Is there someone you know right now or perhaps a stranger who could use a smile, a hug and a few uplifting words?

We are in this together so let’s love each other a little more, and celebrate that today is great and tomorrow is going to be even better. Thank you Gloria, I will treasure your gift forever.

Elizabeth Shopland is a horticulturist for Homefront Essentials Gardening, a Certified Solution Focused Coach, author and speaker, and the owner of Banyan Tree Solutions.