At the end of every year there are some people who will be glad to see it go and there will be some people who will be sorry that it’s over. Perhaps there will be people who have both feelings because every year brings the good and the bad; the happiness and the sorrow.
In 2013 there just seemed to be more bad than good. Probably because that’s what the media wanted you to see or maybe it’s what it feels like during these difficult times. As the year trudged on it got hard to remember the good especially when you were confronted with news every day about unemployment, the government shutdown, political leaders who can’t seem to get along, crime and joblessness, but there is good out there.
Unless you write down newsworthy topics, events or your feelings about what’s going on in the world around you the chances are really good that you won’t remember everything. Sure you may remember that your child started their first day of kindergarten, you got married, a loved one dying or finally paying off your mortgage, but what about the events that seemed small at the time and turned out to be a little more significant than you thought?
These are known as feel good moments because although they don’t seem like much at the time these moments can really change how you perceive things. A moment will absolutely raise up your confidence just a little. Experiencing one of these moments will be like getting a push when you feel you’ve run out of gas or it’s the equivalent of a jump start when you’ve stalled.
Feel good moments aren’t planned, but can have the same impact as the occasions that are planned like graduating from college or having a child.
There also have been feel good moments that have made people change everything about themselves including how they see the world.
Several years ago my friend Lucy Callings was working as an accountant with a large firm in the city. She loved her job even though it was rather monotonous. The pay was great and she could actually have a life after work.
In the evenings she would take classes in learning the French language or Italian cooking, go to the theatre or hang out with friends after work. On weekends Lucy would go to the casinos over in New Jersey or spend all day hitting the flea markets or the mall. Lucy loved her life.
One Sunday morning as she was preparing to go to the local Starbucks for coffee and her Sunday paper Lucy found a baby in an old cardboard box on her doorstep.
I know, sounds like a made-for TV movie, doesn’t it?
Since the weather had started to change Lucy brought the box inside to get it out of the brisk fall air. Having seen a couple of those made-for TV movies herself she picked up the baby to see if there was a note, but there wasn’t any.
Not knowing what to do she called me and I came over. Together we called the police because that’s what people should do in the movies, but they sometimes forget to do that. It took so long for the police to come.
Lucy, who was never the type to want any children of her own, went out to buy diapers, formula and a couple of jars of strained baby food because we had no idea how old the baby was. Finding it hard to resist she also bought a couple of outfits for the baby.
Eventually the police came to get the infant and took it to the hospital which they chastised us for not doing in the first place. I realized that Lucy wasn’t the only one who was getting coffee that morning although the cops smelled more like hoagies than coffee.
Over the next couple of weeks Lucy would visit the hospital to see the baby. The nurses had named him Ashton after the road in Philadelphia he was found on. Eventually he was moved into a foster home and Lucy went about her life that had been changed by the experience although she never forgot about little Ashton.
After a month went by Lucy decided that going out and taking classes on things she’ll never use wasn’t how she wanted to spend her free time. She started to make better use of her time by enrolling in a college to become a nurse. She wanted to work with babies. Not just with any babies, but the ones who struggled to survive their first couple of days.
After graduation she moved to New York and started working in the neonatal unit of a busy hospital. She loves being there, but it can sometimes be a heartbreaking job.
That’s how feel good moments go. Sometimes the impact of them is immediate, but all too often it changes you over time.
Although I have had many of these moments in the course of my lifetime I had an especially invigorating one in 2013.
I have always had long hair and was known for its length by everyone who knew me. In 2013 it had grown almost past my buttocks which sometimes made it difficult to sit down without hurting myself. I also started to feel a little ridiculous to be over the age of 50 and have this long hair.
All my other girlfriends had cut their hair years ago for a more age-appropriate look, but then again their hair was never as long as mine.
In 2002 I had to have screws put into my neck. Since my hair was very thick it was putting pressure on my neck which caused me a lot of pain. In the morning when I woke up I looked like an English Sheepdog and had to fight my hair just to see anything. Still I wasn’t quite ready to make any changes.
In November of 2013 I was complaining (again) to my girlfriends when one of them suggested that I get my hair cut and donate it to Locks of Love an organization who takes hair that has been cut. They make the hair into wigs for children who can’t grow their own hair ever or at that particular moment.
I went home and thought about it. As a former employee of the Philadelphia School District I knew how cruel kids can be when they see someone who’s different than them. Well, not only kids. Sometimes adults can be mean too.
The next day I went into my neighborhood beauty shop to inquire if they could send my cut hair to Locks of Love which they said they would. After filling out a card with my information on it (name, address and signature) I took a seat in the chair.
Before doing anything I was asked several times if I was sure I wanted to cut my hair. This puzzled me, but the beautician said women would get very upset. I said that I was getting my hair cut and not getting a tattoo; that my hair would grow back and quickly.
After measuring my hair (it was a lot, well over 30 inches) and asking me how much I wanted to keep (1 inch past my shoulders) they put it in a ponytail and lopped it off. After I left I felt like I had lost a tremendous amount of weight.
In January of 2014 I received a very nice post card from the organization which made me feel, surprisingly, good. The previous year had been a really difficult year for me and 2014 up to that point hadn’t started off that great either. I had encountered (and was still encountering) a lot of difficult obstacles and getting the card really picked up my spirits.
After receiving the card I found a renewed sense of purpose as I dove into 2014 ready to conquer, well, me.
So how do you get a feel good moment? You don’t. It gets you. It’s one of those things that when it happens it doesn’t seem like much, but after a while you find that it has made a positive impact on your life and perhaps the lives of others.
I had heard of Locks of Love over the years, but never considered it until my girlfriends suggested it. As a writer and journalist I’m used to researching anything and everything before I put pen to paper or finger to mouse. I didn’t do any of that before getting my hair cut off, but just did it and even now I can’t explain why.
Even after I did it I didn’t think that it would be any importance to me. I didn’t even post my haircut on my Facebook page or text anyone. Life just went on until I got the postcard.
After over two years of getting knocked around and finding one door after another locked I really hadn’t experience a lot of joy or felt any real purpose. Locks of Love changed that and all it took from me was about 30 minutes which believe me, I had more than that to spare.
It’s a horrible feeling when you get laid off and even worse when you can’t find work. Every day it seemed I was struggling to hang on if not for me, for my daughter. Locks of Love gave me my second (or 40th) breath and renewed my sense of determination.
Feel good moments are probably one of the greatest experiences you can have in your life because they’re never planned; they just happen. The effect of that moment stays with you for a very long time if not forever.
You also can’t sit around trying to figure out when this moment will happen. It will act on its own volition and without any provocation. You just have to go on with your life as it is and that moment will find you.
The key is that when it begins to happen you have to let go of the reins of control or, as people that attend 12 step groups are fond of saying, let go and let God. There’s no guarantee that when the moment starts to happen that it will feel great, but sometimes you have to take the chance if for nothing else than to empower growth in your life.
So as 2014 meanders on, look to make this the year that really counts and enjoy the moment as it is unfolding because somehow that moment is meant just for you.
As stated previously, I have had several feel good moments during my 53 years on this earth, but the one I got in 2013 was tailor-made just for me because it renewed my faith in humanity at the exact time that I needed it to.