Our guest blogger this week is one of my favorite authors, Michele Wolfe. She has recently written a book in the new adult genre called The Three Graces: “College juniors Jessie, Isabel and Sara are linked in an unlikely friendship by visits to hidden places only they can see. Together, on a trip to Hearst Castle in California, an earth-shaking encounter with a stunning stature in the gardens binds them to the spirits of the Three Graces; Brilliance, Joy and Bloom.” There’s lots of life lessons for these young women as they learn about the true meaning of friendship and make some fascinating discoveries along the way. Here are Michele’s thoughts on getting out of your comfort zone:
I live in a 1922 bungalow-style house on one of the many hills of my Echo Park neighborhood in LA. The other day I was washing my car with a bucket of soap and water in front of my house. A petite woman in her 80s, with the help of a cane, began hobbling up my hill. She stopped once, probably to catch her breath, and had almost passed me by when I made some comment about the steep climb. She stopped and looked at me, and I stopped my washing and took a good look at her, too. Her clothes were frayed and worn, her eyes filmy, her face wrinkled, and her teeth almost all missing.
We chatted for a few minutes. She used to live in the neighborhood she said, but had to move downtown. I knew it certainly wasn’t to a fancy loft or apartment. Probably skid row housing, if that. She asked for a dollar for the bus ride back. I ran into the house, but my wallet was empty of cash, not even a dollar. I raided my teenage son’s coin jar and managed to scrape together five dollars. When I handed over the coins, she pressed her hand to mine in gratitude. Then she hugged me. She was overcome.
That moment took me back to a time in my life when the touch of a hand or hug from a grateful homeless person was a daily gift. I lived and worked almost two years in shelters in Denver and LA. Both experiences opened my eyes and changed my life.
For the better. Was I overwhelmed, out of my depths, scared witless at times during those two years? You bet.
Being blonde and blue-eyed and having grown up in a middle-class suburb had kept me safe and secure in a nice little bubble. So living in a shelter, cutting vegetables for big vats of soup, handing out bandages and alcohol wipes to the poor of skid row, showed me real suffering and injustice; a reality I hadn’t truly understood before.
I learned compassion. A way of being we often harden our hearts against as we make it through our busy, tumultuous lives. Especially when we are trying to finish college or start a career. We get caught up.
I also learned to value time in the present moment. Whether it’s ten minutes, an hour or an afternoon, opportunity awaits. Reaching outside ourselves, outside our comfort zone, to connect with someone in need, is human dignity and respect made visible.
And you don’t have to have loads of money, like Oprah or Angelina Jolie to do it. Just coins from a jar. Just a moment of your time. Just a step outside. Look around. It won’t take long to find a person or a place in need. In need of you.
To read more from Michele, or to purchase her new book, visit: