It seemed like a good way to begin a new year. And it was.
I began with several “acts”…I brought a wee potted plant to a neighbor, I gave my husband a spontaneous footrub, gave out a lottery ticket to our school crossing guard and another (anonymously) to my daughter’s teacher. I helped an older woman entering a store behind me (opening the door for her and holding it while she sloooooowly crept through) and I engaged a postal clerk at the post office in a silly conversation which ended in her smiling from ear to ear and thanking me for the laugh. *Sidenote: ever since that day, she’s been super friendly to me. One other incident was particularly nice…I was in a store one day and the woman behind me in line seemed completely frazzled, so I let her go in front of me. I told her that it was MY “paying it forward” because a stranger earlier in the week had given me two free ice cream tokens at one of our local stores. So, I told THIS woman that she should now “pass it forward”. Her reaction was interesting to watch….at first, she was thrilled that I let her go ahead of me, then when I mentioned why, she paused…then, a smile came across her face and she said she absolutely would. I saw the baton pass in that instant. Cool.
After those 7 randoms, I switched gears. I wanted to try something inherently simple…something that would embody the word “kind”. A smile. And a hello. Yes, that’s it. Just be nice. And kind. Crazy-simple….yet…these days, it seems that lots of those smiles and hellos are relegated to people that we know. After seeing the good reactions by the postal clerk and the frazzled woman (both strangers. Jeez. I sound like a 7-year-old, talking about “strangers”), I decided that the next 19 randoms would simply be smiles and acknowledgement….to ALL the people whose paths you cross each day and, in many instances, are blowing right past. You take a receipt, mumble a thank you and you are running to the next errand. That’s me on some days, I hate to admit it. So…I slowed down for two nano-seconds and acknowledged the humans standing in my midst, those just doing their jobs or doing their errands right along side of me.
I’m happy to report that these simple acts of just being nicer to my fellow humans proved wickedly rewarding. It’s sort of interesting how quickly people respond positively. You can bumble through your day, in your own zone, maybe grumbling here and there, but when you turn on the good stuff, more good follows. I fear that I’m sounding like someone who grouses through their day, stuck in their own little bubble. Hopefully that’s not the case, because overall, I think I’m a pretty happy and outgoing person. BUT, sometimes, in the rush of the everyday, you (me?) can quickly forget that you are among the human race and that we’re all in this together.
That’s what came of my 26. In my mind and heart I honored those 26 Newtown victims and in my actions, I honored, and continue to honor, those alive and standing around me.
And now…to lighten things a bit….Being a kind cook who believes in sharing good recipes, here is some soup for you. This may seem like a fairly odd jump, but one thing that I’ve been trying to work on is my follow-through and earlier last week, I mentioned that I would post this recipe. Before too much time lapses, I offer it now. It will be perfect for this weekend that is supposed to be chilly, despite Spring being a mere 5 days (!!) away.
Soup and kindness. Both so good for the soul.
Creamy Tomato Orzo Soup, courtesy of http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com (thank you for this wonderful recipe!)
1 Tb. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
3-15 oz. cans diced tomatoes*
1-15 oz. can vegetable broth
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
dash of crushed red pepper flakes (optional, in my opinion)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup cooked orzo pasta
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the bay leaves.
Add the tomatoes and vegetable broth. Stir in the brown sugar and fresh basil. Season with red pepper flakes (if using), salt, and pepper, to taste. Simmer on low for 15 minutes.
Remove the bay leaves from the pot. Use and immersion blender to blend the soup. Stir in the Greek yogurt until well combined. Stir in the orzo pasta. Serve warm.
*I recently discovered and used the Pomi brand of tomatoes. They hail from Italy, have a great flavor and don’t come in cans (score one for health matters! BPA-free!) but in those stay-fresh boxes. Found them at Stop & Shop, just on the top shelf in the canned tomato aisle.