Non Random Acts of Kindness

karen-sanderson-word-shark-blog-graphicThis past weekend, I brought the wrong cookies to my mother, and I attended a Writers’ Conference in Delaware.

Believe it or not, these two disparate comments belong together.

Flattered to be invited to attend and speak at the  Word Shark Writing Conference organized by Karen Sanderson, editor, writer and blogger, I accepted after realizing I could combine the trip with a visit to my mom, who lives just a half hour away.

A few days before the conference, I worked on my presentation while also baking my mother’s favorite chocolate chip butterscotch oatmeal bars.  My mom doesn’t have a big sweet tooth, but for some reason she absolutely loves my bars.

writing, cookies, antique plateAt 5:30 a.m. on the day of my long train ride to Delaware, I grabbed the special bars from the freezer, where I had stored them. Seven hours later I gratefully unloaded my bag with the special treats, basking in my mom’s gratefulness.

But as I pulled the bars out of their freezer bag onto one of her antique flowery dainty china plates, I gasped.

I had pulled the wrong bars out of my freezer in the morning!baking, grandchildren, chocolate chip cookies

A few days earlier I’d had a special baking day with my 5-year-old grandson, making a new recipe for “O’Henry” bars. They were way too sweet for me, but Clark exclaimed with a worshipful sigh, “these are the best cookies in the world,” so I froze some for his return visits.

But alas, now the O’Henry’s were here in DE with my mom, who I was sure would be deeply disappointed that I’d not brought my specialty c.c. butterscotch oatmeal concoctions.

Before seeing her reaction, I raced off to the writing conference. In truth, I was quite nervous, not about presenting, but about meeting these writers who I only knew on-line through their blogs. What would happen if, in person, we disliked each other, and had nothing in common?

Word Shark Conference, writing workshop

Elizabeth Cottrell, Karen Sanderson, and Jennifer Brown, writers extraordinaire.

As I entered the room my worries vanished, and the writing conversation ensued with a combination of wit, wisdom, and ‘what ifs’ that writers share throughout the world. We were all just wandering, wondering writers who connected despite our differences in writing styles/age/experiences.

Ribboned in between the practical matters of writing, we all expressed a desire to share our LIGHT in our writing, whether it be through our blogs or books, stories or magazine articles.

The words that were thrown like rainbows throughout the room were:

Kindness,

Non-Negativity,

Joy,

Love.

Call us sappy (and many will), but tired of seeing dark, discouraging words thrown about in the news and blogs, in stories and shows, we all sought for ways to write about the light within the shadows.

I returned to my mom’s place, thoughtful. As I walked through her front door, my mom’s head snapped up, looking a bit guilty.

“What’s the matter?” I asked.

mothers and daughters, older women

Searching for kindness (and a good cookie).

“I just ate another of your O’Henry bars. They are sooo good. I can’t get enough,” she confessed.

“But…” I began, ready to remind her that these weren’t her favorite bars, so she couldn’t like them so much.

And then I figuratively smacked my hand on my head.

She didn’t love my bars because of how they tasted.

She loved my bars because I baked them for her.

Because I cared. Because through my act of (baking) kindness, she felt loved.

And then the discussion from the writing conference all fell into place.

Non random acts of kindness – though our writings, our actions, even our baking, these acts shine through the darkness.

writing, blogging, stories

That’s what the writing light is all about.

83 thoughts on “Non Random Acts of Kindness

  1. I wish everyone sought “the light within the shadows” – in everyday life, not just writers! Loved this, Pam ❤

    • Pink – and teal – are definitely my mom’s colors. Thanks much, Jill. I remember when ‘sentimental’ and ‘sappy’ were dirty words in the writing world, but it reminds me of the Paul McCartney song…”You’d Think That People Would Have Had Enough Of Silly Love Songs.
      But I Look Around Me And I See It Isn’t So.
      Some People Wanna Fill The World With Silly Love Songs.
      And What’s Wrong With That?”

  2. Pam. Your blogs speak to me. So I’ve just ordered The Right wrong Man. Hope I get to read it because right now with the upcoming publication of my own book in Jan. and a weekly blog along with 15 Maine visitors so far this summer, reading recedes into the distance.

    But blogs about joy never do.

    • You are fabulous. I don’t envy you your busy summer, but then again, sometimes I feel mine is just as crazed. Yet, think about it – reading and writing are all we TRULY want to do, right? I can’t wait to hear more about your book’s publication. I love reading your blog. And when you have a chance for pure escapism – enjoy THE RIGHT WRONG MAN. 🙂

  3. There is a lot of darkness out there, and much of our fiction weaves it into those worlds, too. Sometimes we yearn for lightness. Glad you were able to find some. Sounds like a wonderful time!

  4. I am immediately reminded of the quote from Professor Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series of books – “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.”

    Thanks for flipping that switch for me, Pamela. I came at the perfect time – and may your future be blessed with many more inspired writing and baking endeavors, as much for yourself as for those who are privileged to consume your creative work 😉

  5. Awww. That’s sweet. I woke up this morning and thought, “I’m glad it’s Friday because I’ve had a crappy week.” Then, a bit later I remembered that I’m a day or two away from finishing the first draft of my second book. Your post was the icing on the cake. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  6. “Writing the light.” Perfect goal. Wish I’d known about that conference in Delaware. It’s sounds inspiring and I’m not that far from there. Nice post about true love. (As only a mother knows!)

    • I wish you’d known about the conference too – you would have fit in beautifully with this group! If it happens ever again, I’ll let you know about it. The woman who hosted it lives in ND, but her brother lives in DE so that’s where she held the writing conference.

  7. Wonderful post on two fronts: support and friendship from fellow writers and the love of your Mom. I used to cook things for mine, wish she were still here so I could still do it. I got a little teary!

    • Sorry about the tears – I tear up easily: music, blog posts, hello calls from my children/mom, a lick from a dog. Oh dear, I could go on and on! Here’s to support/friendship/love!

  8. Being with like minded women, who want to share kindness and joy, always shines a far reaching bright light. How exciting to meet your online friends. The cookies are a great reminder to appreciate the love that comes my way…plus I’m sure they were delicious!

  9. What a wonderful post. The conference sounds like it was a huge success. So wish I could have been there. I love the tie in with the baking. Everyone wins!

    • I wish you could have been there also, Darlene, although the flight from Spain to DE would have been a lot longer than the conference. Actually, you may be on your way to Canada – have a fabulous family get together. Bet there will be lots of cookies! 🙂

  10. Aw… love this story! It is so sweet that your mom saw the bars as something special even though they weren’t her “favorite”. It sounds like you have a great relationship… 🙂

  11. I love when these kinds of “mistakes” happen! More fodder for our writer’s mind and they often turn out better than what we originally intended. And congrats on the conference!

  12. Your writing today touched a place in my heart. My brother in law, Stephen was always baking something delicious. Whenever I went to visit my sister there was some goody on the counter. He showed his love through his baking and cooking. With his passing I will miss his sweet confections. But most of all, my sister will just miss him being in the kitchen next to her. Love is shown in many ways. Your mother just loved having you there even though they were the wrong cookies!!!

  13. Oh my goodness, I can see this beautiful post is just the beginning of the ripple effect of our wonderful weekend together at that writers’ conference. Marnie Pehrson calls us Light Bearers, and it’s true. Whether we’re writers or creatives of another sort, we bear the light of love and lift it up to be “the light between the shadows,” as you so beautifully put it. We also bear witness to the good in the world. I love that all the commenters resonated so strongly with your powerful words. Write on, sister!

  14. Wasn’t it awesome? I was anxious, what if we didn’t care for each other in person…but that thought flew out the window as soon as we all gathered. Wonderful gals, all! I loved your ABC exercise at the conference.

  15. It seems to be sadly true that “dark” (grotesque, violent, terrifying, ghoulish, nihilistic) material appeals to large numbers of people, a larger number than the small army of us who want to bask in and share the light. But, we are significant enough, and the more I seek like-minded writers/readers, the more I continually find.

    Thanks for this! It’s encouraging!

    • I find it odd that more people don’t gravitate to the light and instead seem to savor the scary dark things. I hope that as more of us speak out, and write out about the necessity/sweetness/love of light, we’ll get more on our side!

      • I think it has something to do with negative emotions being so strong, they are almost addictive. And also, with the idea of the “narrow way,” that fewer people are willing to choose gentleness, love, and light, because it’s harder work, and lonelier to walk that path.

        But I think publishers are just plain wrong, when they assume that because the mob isn’t interested in gentle stories of light, that nobody is. We’re still an army! We just need to muster. 🙂

  16. When I meet blog pals in person, I am always delighted to discover that they are even more fun than their blogs let on — so I am not surprised at all that you had such a good time at the conference.

    On another note, there is no such thing as a “wrong” cookie. ALL cookies are right. All of them. Never forget this.

  17. I love that – non-random acts of kindness. This has been one of the things I’ve loved about the blogging world is making new friends and the support I’ve gotten from them. It’s a great ah-ha moment as to what happened at both the conference and at home with your Mom.

    Thanks for following over to my blog from Darlene. I was scrolling through the comments (I love to read what people have to say) and saw her smiling face there. She’s great and a wonderful friend.

    Nancy

  18. Pam, what a wonderful post this is! The lessons from the cookie mixup–you’re so right; your mom loved them because you made them for her, and she loves you!–and the lessons and affirmations from the conference all combine to make this a memorable post. Thank you.

  19. I had to shake my head and re-read that first line Pam. It would make a good opening sentence to a novel, like ‘It was the day my grandmother exploded.’
    But never was the phrase ‘it’s the thought that counts’ so well illustrated.

    • Oh, I haven’t heard that expression in a while, and yes, this post on non-random acts is EXACTLY what the expression means. “It’s the thought that counts.”
      Hope your thoughts are sunny and bright in that lovely piece of land where you live.

  20. You are anything but sappy, Pam. Little did I know just how much following my mother’s advice (most of the time), “if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all,” would stand me in good stead in the future. May you continue to seek ways to write about the light within the shadows. Love that your grandson and your mom appreciate your baking for them!

    • And I, as a mom and now grandmother, pass on that piece of advice that you also learned from your mom. You know what? You’re so right – following that has helped me through life a LOT. It also helped me learn to avoid being with the kind of people who would encourage me to say ‘not nice’ things. 🙂
      But right now, thanks to you, I’m dreaming of a trip to Norway…

    • Thanks Luanne. I’m just back from visiting your great reviews of ‘cat’ books. I like the way you review! And how you comment on blogs. Thanks so much for stopping by here. And don’t lose faith – our books will continue to sell as we write our blog posts, share our writing, and learn to (subtly) promote. xo

    • Ahh, if only it happened more often. But I’m the “Pollyanna” type who believes serendipity occurs more than we realize – we just need to keep our eyes (and sensitivities) open. ❤

  21. Thank you very much for commenting on my Bed and Breakfast in Maine. Coming from a published Author and teacher is humbling. I am a newbie and haven’t seriously put pen to paper in a hundred years. It encourages me to know you liked enough to comment. Thanks again.

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