Friday, February 10, 2012

Generosity, Kindness and Friendship

~ May your heart be like a lake …
with a calm still surface and great depths of kindness. ~ 
Lao Tzu

A long time ago when I was home from college for Christmas Break, I went to the local strip mall to do some shopping.  While walking from store to store I decided to smile at everyone.  The smiles returned were the best Christmas presents I received that year.   My little unscientific experiment showed me the power of a generous smile. 

Another incident from my distant past taught me a lesson in kindness.  I was driving home from a wedding that had taken place two states away.  The retread came off my tire and I had no idea how to change a tire.  Yes, I know my education was lacking.  But I did know enough to put my hood up and then wait in the car for help.  The state patrol called a service station to come help.  My tire was changed; I paid for the service, and had no money left to continue my trip.  So I stopped at my future in-laws where I told my story.  Not only did my future brother-in-law go out and buy me a spare tire, but he gave me enough money to make it home.

And this could be my cats except they are much older.
When I count the blessings of friendship I have experienced throughout my life, I know that lasting relationships take commitment, TLC, and love both to build and to maintain.  I have many friends – some brand new, others from childhood and every part of my life in-between.  True friends really are angels in disguise.  They come to your aid when needed.  They laugh with you, cry with you, celebrate your successes and overlook your failures.  "With true friends - even water drunk is sweet enough." ~Chinese Proverb
Here’s a website with many Friendship Quotes:


               So it is no wonder when I think of the three words “generosity,” “kindness” and “friendship” I get a warm fuzzy feeling.  A feeling that lingers from my childhood, from the gifts I have received and given throughout the years, and from the closeness of a friend who loves you no matter what.

               Some of the best gifts I have received from others are stories or as I like to call them Story Gifts.  The generosity of storytellers is well known throughout the storytelling community if not the world in general.  When I feel out of sorts, down in the dumps, I know that if I talk to one of my storyteller friends, my life will instantly become brighter, more livable.  There is kind generosity of friendship like no other I’ve known.  It may take a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to create a storyteller.

Storytelling mentors are some of the most generous people in the world.  They spend their time with you, encourage you to do better, to grow in story, stretching your comfort zone or taking steps outside it.  I was privileged to count the great storyteller, Norma Livo, as a mentor.  She was an inspiration not only to me, but to my daughter as well.  We attended her Storytelling Camp together back in the late-1980’s.  Looking at her comments when she signed the books I purchased from her, I can see our relationship growing and flowering.  She will, of course, receive a copy of my book, Old China through the Eyes of a Storyteller, when it is published later this summer.  And so the circle rolls onward.

One of my fondest memories of Norma is when at the Rocky Mountain Storytelling Conference, those who were presenting stories and/or workshops honored her at the Opening Ceremony.  My gift may have seemed a wee bit out of the ordinary as it was the annual report of the Colorado State Library.  But, there on the cover was a picture of a storyteller (yours truly).  The first and perhaps the only time a storyteller had been featured on the cover of the Colorado State Library Annual Report.  Norma was thrilled.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Norma last week.  She is still witty and wonderfully down-to-earth.  We promised to keep in better touch.  And I know that is a promise I will keep.  The gift of Friendship is all important, and I count Norma as a friend as well as a mentor.  If you don’t know Norma, but have heard Elizabeth Ellis, I believe they were cut of the same cloth.  Two Great Ladies of Story

As Valentine’s Day approaches, you may want to think of your friendships, of kindnesses shown to you or by you to others and the generosity of people in your life.  I know I will be as I work on becoming a better friend who is more generous and infinitely more kind.  Let me know how I’m doing.


Fiona said...

A very moving post Julie! I haven't known you more than a few weeks yet I regard you with warmth, as a friend, because of the way you reached out to me just because I'm a storyteller. You didn't know that I am very new to the art - the shared interest was enough and I can't describe adequately the magical feeling you gave me. Thank you!

Stories by Julie said...

See how it works - I am very grateful for your kind words. I thought about posting the picture of my gorgeous bookmark, but wasn't sure just where it would fit. Now I'm sorry I didn't!
Friends in Story,

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