A Little Bit Greener

little things to help make the world a better place

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When I’m the one who needs a little green

Some days it’s really hard to bring a bit of sunshine—or green—to anyone else’s life. Sometimes, I get overwhelmed by the negativity, rudeness, and just plain evil that’s out there in the world. Which is why I start my day with a mug of hot tea, my quiet time, and some prayer. That gets my day off to a good start—but how do you end the day on a peaceful note? I’m open to suggestions, if you have any.

Right now, here’s what’s ending my days on a high note: plants. For the first time since I moved into this apartment almost seven years ago, I now have outdoor space. I’m excited about the raised garden bed I now have! And I’m enjoying the plethora of plants I still have inside.

Mulan, my clearance orchid.
Tiny seedlings destined for the garden bed outside.
This is Pippin, my new spoon-leaved Sundew (Drosera Spatulata).
What’s making your day a bit brighter?


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Got a minute?

Monday was a super busy day at work, and I had a zillion things to do. I spoke to the patients, but I didn’t have a lot of time to chat. Until the afternoon, when I was walking past a patient and she waved me over.

“Got a minute?”

I didn’t really, but the furrowed brow, lips a downward slash, and the way she was shifting around in her seat told me I needed to make time. So, I grabbed a stool and pulled it up beside her. “What’s wrong?”

She went down her litany of complaints. I offered suggestions. She shrugged them off, then announced. “I’m old and I don’t feel good.”

Okay, then.

“You forgot to mention cranky.”

This made her chuckle. All she really wanted was someone to listen to her for a few minutes and take the time to let her know she mattered. That was worth fifteen minutes of my time, wasn’t it? Sometimes that’s all it takes to make someone’s whole day brighter.

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Tiny glimpses of green…(gratitude journal) 3/12/23

This is a place for all the tiny, tiny things that somehow made my day better this week…

-Tuesday: I commute 60 miles, half of it on back/country roads. I was about to leave work when I heard the state highway I take was blocked with a wreck and would be closed several more hours. Blech. That meant going one of two other, longer, back roads ways. Fortunately, as I was setting out, I learned my usual way home was open. Yay for not having to detour and get home even later. (Which also meant I got home before it was totally dark, so I could more easily bring my plants in from outside, ahead of the colder, stormier weather tomorrow night.)

-Wednesday: I knew ahead of time that it would be a stressful, busy, demanding day (with the big boss physically present), so I tried to go into it with a positive mindset. And an energy drink. I try my best, no matter how difficult the day, to always be upbeat with the patients. Their lives are hard enough already. They don’t need extra stress. But, it’s hard sometimes. First thing in the morning, a rep I’ve known for over a decade showed up with a box of bagels, a smile, and a hug. God bless that man for driving over an hour to bring a little bit of cheer on a dreary day!

-Friday: I was unexpectedly able to take the day off….and I got to take a nap! This made the entire week better! (Because, y’all, working in healthcare isn’t for the weak…and I am tired.)

-Saturday: Two of my coworkers want to visit my church with me. They’re driving 2+ hours to go, so I switched from the Saturday afternoon service to the first Sunday service. But, this definitely makes me happy!

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Second-hand green

Monday was just a normal day in healthcare. (Read: absolute chaos interspersed with moments of calm.) In one of these brief lulls, I could hear one of our (challenging) patients talking to the social worker, and I heard my name.

“Wait a minute, what did I do? I haven’t even been over there!”

Another co-worker said, “No, he says you’re one of the reasons he’s been here so consistently lately, because you always encourage him and check on him and make sure he knows we care about him.”

Y’all. When I met this man, he was so cranky—the slightest little thing would upset his whole day. Now, a year and a half later, after daily effort and taking just a moment to check in with him, see how he’s doing, and make him laugh—he’s like a totally different person! That makes me so happy!

How have you brightened someone’s day lately?

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When a friend needs help

On Saturday afternoons, I go to church. I attend a very large church, and I enjoy the Saturday afternoon service at my campus because it’s (marginally) less crowded. Also because I have a 60-mile commute to work and I drive 35-40 minutes to get to church, so I like having one day—Sundays—where I don’t drive anywhere.

This past Saturday, one of my friends who is also a member met me there. After the service, she went up for prayer, and I could tell she was really struggling with something, so I asked her if she wanted to go grab food. She said she didn’t have the money, so I told her it was my treat. We went to one of our favorite places, a Mediterranean grill about 15 minutes away that’s rarely super busy.

We stayed for two and a half hours, talking over everything that was bothering her. Her mom was recently diagnosed with stage IV cancer and it in the hospital a few hours away with an infection—and she doesn’t have enough paid time off to cover another visit. Her boyfriend is having a hard time right now and the stress from some of his family issues has also landed in her lap. In short, she’s dealing with a lot and needed to talk.

I got home several hours later than I had planned, having spent more money than I planned, but my friend needed that time and that support more than I needed either the time or the money. Sometimes, to make the world a greener place for someone else costs us something. Time. Money. A disrupted schedule. But we will never regret making a difference in someone else’s life—and my friend was laughing, not crying, by the time we left the restaurant.

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In the aftermath of a storm…

Adding a little bit of green in the aftermath of a storm.

Last Thursday afternoon, a storm moved through. The wind hit abruptly—hard enough to shake my entire apartment building. An overcast day turned into a dark, scary afternoon in the space of fifteen minutes. The power went out almost immediately, leaving me in the light from the single candle I managed to light before darkness descended.

In my dark and silent apartment, I could hear the building groaning. The trees thrashing. Things crashing to the ground outside. Including the metal plant shelf that lives outside my front door, which scraped down the sidewalk, pushed by the wind. I ran outside to grab it—and my Welcome Gnome mat—and was greeted by a strangely greenish black sky. I know what that green cast to the sky means, so I dashed back inside. And prayed the tornado hidden somewhere in those clouds would miss the people I love.

It did, although some of them had to take cover when the tornado sirens went off. The pictures from that storm on the news are eerie and unsettling, and Friday afternoon, I realized there were trees down in my complex, debris scattered across the parking lot—and strips of shingles in my back yard/patio. We were without power for about three hours, but it could have been so much worse.

With the fear of the storm fresh in my mind and still casting shadows Saturday morning, I moved the herbs and strawberry plants that were living on my kitchen counters outside for a few days. They can enjoy the sunny and warm temps until Thursday, when the next weather change moves through, and I can bask in their greenness and forget my fear of storms. I also raked up all the dead leaves taking cover in my yard and threw the strips of shingles away—because I’d rather forget the storm and focus on the glimpse of green.

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What Green Looked Like Today

Sometimes, the green things can surprise you.

We put a large box in the lobby at work during December, and put donated snacks in it for the patients. Since then, more items have occasionally appeared in it—and just as quickly disappeared. At Christmas, we handed out donated blankets. A couple of weeks ago, I finally put a sign on it (in English and Spanish) that said “If you need something, please take it. All items have been donated by our community.” We know some of our patients are in need, but apart from directing them towards resources, there isn’t much we’re allowed to do.

Today, a patient had me follow her to her car, where she gave me a box and two bags of food items. Of course I thanked her, and as we chatted, she said “Meals on Wheels brings me and my husband food, but we don’t need it all, so I brought the rest here.” And she was beaming when she said, so happy to have the chance to help someone in need.

Think about that: this woman has a chronic illness and a husband that’s seriously ill, too. She is somewhat dependent on Meals on Wheels and other aid to keep them going and help them with things. And she was delighted to be able to give something to someone else in need.

That made the world just a little bit greener today.

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Finding Green in a Dark time

Let me tell you about something that happened yesterday, something that made someone’s world a tiny bit greener.

I work in healthcare, in a chronic setting, so I see the same patients several times a week, usually. Yesterday, a patient came up to my office window to say hi and answer something I’d been asking him about for a few weeks. He normally laughs and cuts up—and he did yesterday, too—but something just seemed the tiniest bit off, so I went out into the lobby and asked him what was wrong. After a moment’s hesitation, he told me that he and his wife had separated the day before. He was very angry, understandably, and something he said made me concerned for his mental health, so I asked him to step outside, because other patients were entering the lobby.

Outside, I asked him if he was suicidal and told him I was concerned. He said he wasn’t, just angry, and that turned into a 45-minute conversation with a guy who says “he doesn’t let anyone in.” I tried not to be intrusive, but offered kindness to a man that was hurting and worried about his son. Afterwards, I was able to notify the doctor and social worker, and the social worker chatted with him for about an hour and a half, offering support and help finding resources or anything else he needs. When he left, he was actually smiling.

Those few minutes out of my day and the time spent talking to a person going through something terrible let me make an impact on his day—a day that he called “very dark.” Even if spending a few minutes of your time talking to someone seems like such a small thing, you never know how big of a lifeline that might be to the other person.