Searching for those Small Acts

The last several weeks have been hard. I’ve limited my social media time, and limited my news-watching time. There’s an awful lot that feels like it’s spinning out of control, and there’s a lot happening in the world to feel angry about. Some days I feel overwhelmed, like the anger isn’t on the fringes any more, and it’s lodged itself inside me like a parasite. I’ve always tried to see the good in the world—the beauty and the love—but some days it feels like that’s getting harder and harder to do.

But you know what? I have to look for the good: the beauty, the compassion, the love. Otherwise, I think I’d just give up.

It’s hard to find it sometimes, but it’s still there. Sometimes I have to scroll through a lot of garbage on my Facebook or Twitter feed to find it. Sometimes I realize I’ve spent a half an hour scrolling through posts that are making my cheeks burn with rage, but then I land on a post about a kid doing some awesome, like this one, who wrote a letter to her mail carrier and it sparked boxes and boxes of letters of gratitude and love that circled the world. And then I’m glad that I waded through all the nonsense, because it was worth it to find that gem. (That feels like the pattern on a lot of days, but in the end, i keep telling myself that those moments, the ones that make my heart swell, they’re worth the struggle to find them. They make it easier to find more like them, and they make me look harder for the good in the world and less likely to dwell on the horrible. Because let’s face it—if we want to have less horrible, we have to all be better together.)

It’s times like this that I have to surround myself with love stories—all different kinds, not just the romantic ones—because they’re out there, even though on some days it feels like they’re buried deep. It’s not hard to be good to each other. It’s not hard to be kind, to tell someone thank you, or to let someone know—even a stranger—that you appreciate them, that you care. That their story matters, too.

I strongly believe that we all just want to be loved, and valued, and appreciated. And sometimes, the world is moving so fast, with all of its complicated moving parts, that we forget to stop for a moment to connect with each other. We get so caught up in our deadlines, our work, and our own personal battles that we forget to stop for a second, and say “thank you” or “I love you” to that person in our life who really needs to hear it. And the thing is, you don’t always know who it is who needs to hear it—so why not give these words freely? It certainly doesn’t cost us anything. That’s why I’ll continue to sew masks and ship them to folks who I’ll likely never meet. It’s why I’ll keep hand-writing notes to people who buy a simple greeting card in my Etsy shop. It’s why I’ll keep shouting “Thank, you, we appreciate it!” to the FedEx and UPS carriers when they scurry up the walk to leave a package at the door. Because sometimes we have to slow down long enough to show some love. And if this time is encouraging us to do anything, it’s that.

Need a Good Love Story to Inspire You?

Some days I have to give up on being productive. And that’s ok. We can’t be productive all the time, and we can’t expect ourselves to be “normal” during a time like this. Some days feel like a roller coaster of emotions in my house, and I know I’m not alone in that. Some days, I need something to inspire me to focus on the good, to keep looking for the beauty out there. So where do I find these things? I’m one of those folks who turns to books and movies pretty often to get inspired and sucked into a good story. Here are a few I’ve found recently that have given me a good dose of dopamine, and hope. If you want to escape for a little while, check them out.

  1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012). A sweet, funny, heartfelt coming of age story directed by Stephen Chbosky, based on Chbosky’s 1999 novel of the same name. Stars Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, and Paul Rudd. I can’t believe it took me so long to watch this movie, but it was fantastic. On Netflix.
  2. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016). A fabulous comedy-drama written and directed by Taika Waititi (you’ll know that name from Jojo Rabbit), whose screenplay was based on the book Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump. I laughed. I cried. I felt hope again. It’s on Netflix.
  3. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy. It had me at this excerpt: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” asked the mole. “Kind,” said the boy. A friend posted photos of the illustrated pages each day, and I had to get a copy of my own. I’m so glad that I did. Not only are the words beautiful, but the 100+ illustrations are, too.
  4. Night on Earth (2020, Netflix). A pretty amazing documentary that uses special cameras to get crystal-clear video of what happens on this planet at night. Fair warning: it’s addictive.
  5. It’s a good antidote to the other daily news. They delight in sharing the good, the kind, and the heartwarming.
  6. Never Have I Ever (2020, Netflix). Created by Mindy Kaling, this series reminds me a little of Freaks and Geeks, and has all the feels: heartwarming, funny, and smart. I’m trying not to binge-watch.
  7. After Life (2019, Netflix). Hands down, the best thing I’ve seen Ricky Gervais in. It makes me laugh, and cry, and laugh again. It’s the story of a crotchety widower who’s learning how to keep going, and keep looking for the good in spite of losing his love. Season Two just started.
  8. I also follow illustrator and all-around inspiring person Emily McDowell on Instagram. If you like things that will warm your creative spirit, you should, too.


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