The morning of 8 May, I did something totally out of character. I actually slept in!
If you know me, you know I battle insomnia constantly, but the night before, I had crashed hard around 9 pm, and did not move a muscle until after 8 am the next morning. 11 straight hours, I think I was overdue to get caught up on sleep. And typically, whether dealing with insomnia and that constant tired feeling, I usually am awake between 5 and 6 am without fail. Don’t even need an alarm clock. 30 years of getting up early to get ready to head out the door to work, it becomes a habit, even when the time changes twice a year, I still manage to wake up in that early morning hour.
My friend, a teacher east of the city, had not seen me up and about in our usual online spots in the morning, and had left a note to check in to see all was well. Yes… I actually felt rather like “spring in my step” mode that morning (see what a proper night’s sleep can do?). We proceeded with our usual morning banter and conversation and a laugh here and there. She is a truly inspiring poet, I love to read her work, and am always encouraging her to write more. What she brings to the classroom is amazing every single day. I have teachers whom I recall fondly even after decades have passed, and I just know that she will be that teacher that her students will remember with a smile years from now.
In response to something I had said that morning, she replied:
Aww, thanks. And one more thing. I believe in you.
Wow! I literally stopped right there and re-read what she had written. I ended up with this huge ear-to-ear grin, and a few happy tears too. I wondered to myself, what could we cause this week, if every time we had a conversation with someone, particularly with all of us empaths, if it is someone we pick up is having a hard day, and we told them four words and sat back and watched what happened.
Later that morning, I was chatting with my sister, Nat, and said those four words to her and she had a similar reaction to mine. I then told her what led up to it, and we said, hey, let’s both of us take this on… with people we meet today (we later extended it to the full week), let’s say those four words and see if we can spread some love around! So, as both of us always do, we ran with it for the rest of that day and were both bursting with news when we spoke at bedtime that night.
How was it for you? AMAZING!!! How was it for you? OMG, so emotional!! Let’s keep doing it! YES!!
Now kittens, keep in mind, this is not something like those little throwaway phrases that we all hear daily “have a nice day” and so on. No. This is different. This is part of a conversation. There is a lead up to the point that you can look somebody in the eye, or send them a message that says, “I believe in you.” But, when you do, wait, say nothing, just watch what happens.
Now, there have been a few, who when I have reached that point in the conversation, and I either send that graphic or say those four words, and they look down, and tears begin streaming down. Why are you crying sweetie? Because, I have been having the worst day ever, nothing has gone right, everybody has been on my ass, and you’re the first person who has said anything nice or positive to me all day.
My gawd, that would be a soul-crushing day, would it not?
Or those who have broken into a huge grin, and a few happy tears snuck past the defences, and they literally have lit up entirely. You either sense it via message, or you see it in person. And they come back with something about you, and they repeat back to you those four words, “I believe in you.”
This is a poem (reprinted with her permission) that my friend Melanie, the teacher who launched this quiet ripple, wrote and published recently. As I related the results to her the next morning after she started with the initial four words, I mentioned this poem she had written. I told her, not only can you point out examples of what your students do when they set off a quiet ripple, but you can tell your own story to your students about what you started with a quiet ripple yesterday morning, and it only took four words.
What could you do this month kittens, that could create a quiet ripple, that can bring something amazing to another person’s day? Give it a try, trust this City Mom, it is really a lot of fun, and you will get back everything you put out. Saying four words, reminded me of the acknowledgement exercise we used to do in a course in the 90s. You would pair up, and to each other acknowledge that person fully; for who they have been in the past, for who they are now in the present, and for who they will be in the future, and in that moment creating a large possibility for them to step into. We knew when we had acknowledged our partner properly, either smiles, tears, or hugs happened.
And a note for my sisters (Nat, Katt), and all my fellow mental health warriors, I know you can handle anything that comes your way today because:
Remember to LOVE each other INTENSELY.
I received this note from a treasured friend after this post was published. I wanted to add it here as additional proof that four simple words can cause great change to happen in somebody’s life:
I said “I believe in you” to someone after you had told me that last week. I have a friend who is dealing with a ton of stuff in his life from every direction right now. I told him that I believe in him on Friday. Today, all that stuff is way better and he’s in a totally different place. It really works!