be kinder than necessary

It has been a long & emotional week.  I flew to Ronaoke Virginia for the great honour of being one of the plenary speakers to open the Collaborating Across Borders conference for interprofessional health educators.

Before I left my room for my talk, I left $2 on the pillow for the housekeeping staff.  That’s a habit I have adopted over the years and my husband teases me that I’m forever looking for tip money.  I figure that being a housekeeper in a hotel is a pretty thankless, low paying and sometimes disgusting job – so leaving two dollars on the pillow seems like a very small token of appreciation.

I then went to the ballroom, and climbed up on stage and looked out into the sea of close to 1,000 participants.  I couldn’t actually see their reactions to my talk, because there were so many people out there.  I could hear in my voice that I was nervous for the first few minutes and stumbled over my words until I settled down into a more even rhythm.  I tried to forgive myself for not being perfect.  The crowd was engaged and respectful, and I was appreciative of their attention and applause.  My talks are basically about compassion, and how I believe that actively listening to patient stories can lead to more compassionate health care. One of my mantras is that I’m talking about kindness, and kindness is free.

Afterwards, I stuck around for lunch and attended some sessions.  Then I needed to retreat into my room for some introvert time.  My room was nice and tidy and my bed was made.  On the covers was this note:

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I had given only $2 and I received this beautiful note in return.  To the lady who does the housekeeping:  I did have a bless day.  Thank you for being a part of that.  Such a small effort on my behalf for such a large reward.  I’ve tucked this little note away in my notebook to remind me, even if I am weary or rushed, to always be kinder than necessary.  As the saying goes, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.  God bless you too.

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