Issue 118— January 20, 2020
It was a gorgeous Arizona Sunday, not yet two weeks into the new year and the new decade. The 2020s. I love that nice round number.
I was lighthearted, with the sense of optimism I get at such a time, when it seems like the slate is clean and the future open to our intentions.
How could you not feel buoyant in the perfect temperature, brilliant sunshine, and translucent blue sky? My friend Linda Hirshman and I started peeling off layers 15 minutes after we started our hike on Lincoln Trail in the Phoenix mountain preserve as the sun’s direct rays warmed us more quickly than the temperature on the thermometer had predicted.
Soon after we started our trek, we heard a voice call out “Gloria!” It was my friend of many years, Eileen Rogers, hiking out of the trail with several of her friends. Introductions happened all around, much jovial laughter and quick catch ups on what we’ve been doing with our lives recently.
Linda asked Eileen to take her heavy shirt out with her, partly to ease her burden but equally to ensure the new friends would have a reason to meet again. That’s how we roll in Arizona.
On the trail, people of all ages were climbing up or coming back down with big smiles and friendly “good mornings.” Linda and I as always had so many things to talk about that the walking was easy.
We turned around to head back down before reaching the summit, because I had promised my sister to help her with something that afternoon and then planned to take her and my daughter to see “Little Women.” Still, we were in no hurry and walked along at a moderate pace, using walking sticks, and frequently cautioning one another to be careful.
Out of the blue, I tripped and fell. My automatic response was to put my hand out to break my fall. I knew instantly from the intense pain that I had broken my arm where it meets my wrist. I yelped loudly, sprawled out on the dusty trail.
Almost immediately, an amazing thing happened. Right behind us were a woman and man who stopped to help. The woman happened to be a physician. Who could have such luck?
This angel of mercy (I’ll call her Dr. Angel) took my hoodie and turned it into a sling to protect the arm. Then she and her friend helped me up and walked me out to the trail head, while Linda raced home to get her car to take me to the emergency room.
By the time we reach the trail head, Dr. Angel had called her brother who is an orthopedic surgeon and ascertained which emergency room had the best quality care, where I should be — and was — taken by Linda, who most solicitously stayed with me and my husband who we fetched on the way to the hospital, all afternoon.
Fast forward past the long hours in the emergency room, meeting there with the surgeon, Dr. Perry Evangelista who gets rave reviews, the pre-op work and answering the same set of health questions at least 10 times before having surgery three days later.
I am recuperating well, thank you.
While having an arm trussed up and in a sling is inconvenient, it has forced me to a) learn how to use the dictation function on my computer; b) discover that our previously unused Jacuzzi bathtub works since I can’t risk getting my bandaged arm wet by taking a shower; and most importantly, c) appreciate the kindness of friends and strangers more than ever.
That’s the old secret for navigating this new decade successfully.
I gave my angel doctor my card before leaving for the hospital. She didn’t have a card, and I couldn’t locate her to thank her afterward, because there were several physicians with the same or similar name.
So I was elated when her email asking how I was doing popped into my inbox. I replied and asked how I might send her a token of appreciation. Her reply is a model of using her “power to” that could truly transform the world:
Thank you for accepting my help.
I am grateful your injuries were not worse and that you received great care…
That’s wonderful they are able to get you in so quickly for surgery. You’ll be in my thoughts for a smooth surgery and quick recovery.
No need to send anything, maybe help someone else in need. This world could always use more compassion, kindness and love.
Please let me know how surgery goes. If you need any help, feel free to reach out to me.
Thanking me for accepting her help. Telling me to help someone else in need, to put more compassion, kindness, and love into the world.
That’s exactly the old secret that the world needs to repair itself in this new decade.
My arm will heal. And as it does, I plan to remember its lesson; slow down on the trail of life, and pass the kindness and compassion forward.
I would love to know how you have received or given acts of kindness. Please leave me a message here with your experiences.
GLORIA FELDT is the Cofounder and President of Take The Lead, a motivational speaker and expert women’s leadership developer for companies that want to build gender balance, and a bestselling author of four books, most recently No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Former President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, she teaches “Women, Power, and Leadership” at Arizona State University and is a frequent media commentator. Learn more at www.gloriafeldt.com and www.taketheleadwomen.com. Tweet @GloriaFeldt.