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It’s been a quiet week – when I haven’t been coughing, that is.  What I thought was a chest cold began to worry me when I began experiencing shortness of breath last weekend.  I found out, after a visit to the local walk-in clinic, that I was battling a nasty bout of bronchitis – a first for me.  I was sent on my way with an inhaler and orders to take cough suppressant and get lots of rest.  Nearly a week later, I’m feeling just about back to normal.

It’s amazing how one little thing can literally change the course of a day or a week or a month – a single dose of medicine, a dead car battery, a stranger’s kindness.

Then there are those little moments that explode into something large that can change your entire life – a phone call bearing bad news, accepting a new job, going on a first date.

While spending a lot of time this week obeying doctor’s orders, I watched a video on wimp.com that has lit a fire under me.  A married couple in Tacoma, Washington has been assembling backpacks for homeless people that contain emergency blankets, personal hygiene items, gloves and hats, bottled water, peanut butter and other snacks.  Following their example, for just about twenty dollars and a trip to the local Dollar Tree, I too can put together a homeless backpack, keep it in my car, and potentially change someone’s life.

Watch the video here: http://www.wimp.com/homelessbackpack/

Isn’t it a fantastic idea?

“I want to do this,” I said to Shawn after watching the video.

I then watched it again and made a shopping list, and I plan on putting a couple of these bags together soon and keeping them in my car.  I have never seen a homeless person in the small town where I live (to my knowledge anyway) but I’ve certainly encountered homeless souls in my travels and have wanted to do something for them.

A bag with a few essentials in it.  Such a small thing, really.

And speaking of small things: remember a few weeks ago when I wrote about my special little pocket rock?  I couldn’t believe it, but I actually found it this past Thursday afternoon, right out in the open on the bedroom floor.  I can only guess that it had been lying hidden underneath the bed and somehow I kicked it out into view.  What a huge joy that was!  Shawn just smiled and said, “I told you it would turn up.”  He never actually believed that it was lost.  (He rarely loses hope.)

Another small thing:

I had an appointment for my car to be inspected this week.  It was a dreadful day – pouring rain, temperatures hovering around 32°.  When I walked into the waiting room, I smiled at a man who was pacing around, sipping a soda and waiting for his own vehicle to be repaired.

“Gee,” he said to me, “you’re the happiest looking person I’ve seen all morning.”  He gestured to the window.  “Not really a day to be smiling.”

I said, “Well, I say it’s better than being grouchy.”

He shook his head and said, “You’ve got the right idea, I’d say.”

The truth is – every single thing you say and do can be life-changing, even if only for a morning, or a day, or who knows?  Maybe a whole lifetime.  At the risk of sounding trite and hokey, I really hope that what I choose to do with my time and my life is helping others in some small way.  I can’t tell you how many times someone has approached me after a performance and told me how much it meant to them, how it fed them in some way, even after a night in some noisy bar when I thought no one was paying any attention.  Those moments of connection with people are always the most heartwarming and they keep me going on this path.

I’ve found that the opportunity to make a difference in some way is always at hand and it’s up to me to seize it.  I just need to be myself, and the rest will follow.