A few years ago, a hotel front desk clerk just spontaneously said (as I was headed out for the day), "You're so pretty, Mrs. Delgado!" Needless to say, it made my day (okay, my week). It was the kind of thing that I saw my dad doing while I was growing up. He was king of the random compliment. He made sure to tell waitresses (the one or so times a year we went out to eat!) what a great job they were doing, before the advent of PC, he always complimented women on their clothes or their hair, etc. Since that day, I decided to follow in his footsteps. If the girl checking me out at the grocery store has great hair, I tell her. If the guy sacking the groceries has a killer smile, I tell him (advantage of being old - there's no chance it looks like I'm coming on to him). A few months ago, I was driving through a neighborhood and there were two teen girls walking along (like I used to do with my best friend Josh all the time) and one of them had very bold purple hair. I loved it. If I weren't older than cheese, I would totally color my hair purple. Because my own teen daughter was in the front seat and I figured I wouldn't terrify her by slowing down and rolling down the window, I told her she had killer hair. She beamed.
Which leads me to my present story. There is a woman that we have seen for years at the Saturday 5:30 Mass. She is older, but far too elegant to be called elderly. In fact, she is the most stylish and elegant woman that I have ever seen. Unless I am completely ignorant (and I'm not), her suits are Chanel. Her hair is always perfection. Her jewelry and accessories are beautiful. Her makeup is (as the kids say) goals. She always smiles at us and winks at my kids. Part of me has been a little, well, afraid to approach her because she is so perfect I'm so me. However, while I assume that people must tell her how beautiful and elegant she is every day, maybe that don't. She comes to Mass alone. I don't know her life circumstances. So a couple of weeks ago, I didn't stay after Mass praying like I usually do. I basically chased her down and told her what I thought about her - how she was so beautiful and so stylish and how I admired her. I told her that I wanted to be like her when I grew up.
It turned out that she had so many wonderful stories to tell and that she so wanted to talk! First of all, she told us how lovely our family was and how she had watched our children grow up - how good they had always been in church. Her (second? third?) husband had very recently just died. His end of life stay at a home (Memorial area if you're from Houston, so you know what that had to cost) had depleted their savings to nothing and she had had to sell everything in their home - furnishings, treasures, everything. She was now trying so hard to sell the house itself. It turned out that she had also spent seven years at the Dominican convent in Houston. As the last of her parents' children, she felt honor-bound to enter religious life, given how badly they wanted a vocation among their children. At the same time, she didn't feel that she was called to be a sister. She showed us a picture of herself in her habit, a picture she still carries all these decades later. She left the convent before her final vows and then got married. She told us all about how her husband worked for the oil industry and how they lived in Europe and how she traveled with the American Wives Club. It was fascinating. I loved listening to her! I didn't want to ask, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if she had been Junior League back in the day.
My point is that her need to talk just reinforced my conviction that if I am moved to compliment someone, I need to do it. There is a reason that that idea has been planted in my head. This woman needed to hear that. She was so pleased when I told her what I thought of her. I'm sure she knew it on some level, but who doesn't like to hear kind words spoken about them, especially when they are going through rough times? And I certainly had no way of knowing just how rough were the times she was going through. In my mind, this woman had Nordstrom calling her seasonally to let her know that Chanel and Dior had just sent over their newest collections, did she want them sent over to her house? Maybe at one time that had been true - who knows? But not now.
It's so easy to be negative. It should be even easier to be positive. If you're not already doing this, give it a try. It may feel a little strange, but I bet you'll find it slightly addictive very, very quickly!