There was a crispness in the air as I plunked down on my neighbor's driveway. It was twilight of a beautiful early fall evening. The first day of the new season that we had put on our sweaters to go outside. My son and my neighbor's son, both recently minted kindergarteners, were running and laughing and pulled out a big bottle of bubbles. My job sitting there was to keep the bubbles from toppling over and to watch for cars as they ran screaming into the cul-de-sac for their bubble popping game.

I sat on the hard, chilly cement, letting the boys' laughter wash over me. I told myself to breathe, to listen to the sound of their voices. To be in the moment. I was glad to be out of the four walls of my house for a bit. It had been a long day, a day in which I was mostly stuck in my head contemplating and lamenting my changing relationship with my aging parent. We had several big, looming decisions to make that would significantly impact her life (and mine). I needed some air.

"Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude." - Denis Waitley

My neighbor, mom to my son's playmate, a lovely Cambodian woman with gorgeous, long, jet black hair and the warmest eyes you've seen was suddenly at my side. She was crouched down holding a steaming turquoise mug. She held it out to me and I grasped the mug in both hands and let the heat warm them for a moment. I put the mug to my nose and soaked in the sweetness of honey and citrus. Then, I took a sip. The warmth, the sugary syrup, the pulp of actual tangerine, it filled me like a warm hug. As if my friend had given me a special elixir for my worry. What was this stuff? For the next ten minutes I relished every sip of that tea. I could smile with ease at the boys' game and the cloud of uncertainties fogging up my mind was lifted. It was such a gift, this cup of tea from my dear neighbor.

It was such a gift, this cup of tea from my dear neighbor.

When we thinking about serving others, we often think of carving out big chunks of time and energy. That kind of service is crucial. But consider the people we interact with everyday, those that live or work beside us. We are all dealing with a story of struggle in some capacity. The daily small acts of kindness we give to each other are our fuel to keep us going. Who can you serve today? I promise, the grace of the act will be felt by both the giver and the receiver. Because, it was just a cup of tea, but it was really so much more.

___________________________________

Rachel Nusbaum is a partner, mom, daughter and sister who writes in pursuit of connection with herself and others. She deeply believes that sharing our personal stories of struggle helps us to find meaning and adapt. Find out more about Rachel and her work here.

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