The power of simple words…

It was seven in the morning and I had laced up my running shoes and pulled my hair back in to a tight ponytail. I had my running app open and ready to go as I grabbed my wireless headphone from the charger and headed out the door on a Saturday morning. I won’t say that I was overly excited about this morning run. In fact, I was kind of dreading it. 

You see, just 4 weeks earlier my family tackled another summertime move (number 7 and our 3rd in the 4 years) with the U.S. Air Force. Only this one was considerably different. As we are all well aware of, there is this global pandemic happening at the moment. When you add that and all the Covid-19 precautions to the chaos that already is a military move, you almost certainly have a recipe for feeling all the BIG emotions. 

Moving is hard as it is. Leaving relationships behind, the actual moving part, the discovery of all the things that were damaged, lost, or broken during the unpacking process and how to make them fit in to the new house, registering kids for school, learning a new city, state, and then the trying to make new friends part… when you put it all together it doesn’t matter how solid of a human being you may be, at some point you feel isolated.

This year was no different, except that because of a 14-day restriction of movement that we had to complete once we arrived combined with the fact that everyone is staying home, it has been magnified and I have felt more isolated and alone than I have ever before. Finding ways to combat that isolation and loneliness, I won’t lie, it has been really tough. Even more so when I think about the fact that both kids have been home with me, full time, for 5 months now.  What I do know is that I always feel better when I move my body.

So, this particular Saturday morning I knew I needed to get out and move for my physical health and to clear my head but…. I was not really motivated to do it. 

I started down the driveway and around the first turn and I ran in to a couple out for a morning walk. They smiled and said hello as we passed each other at an acceptable social distance. I kept going, still dreading the next 28 minutes that I had planned to be moving. About a quarter of a mile later I passed a mother and daughter out for their morning walk with their four-legged canine friend and they smiled and gave me a cheery “Good Morning” as we passed each other, to which I replied with an excited “Good Morning to you too!” and we went on our separate ways.

Another half-mile down the road I exchanged a simple smile and a quick runner’s wave to another 30-something mama who had for sure escaped the Saturday morning crazy just like I had to grab some alone time with the pavement. It was about this time that I realized my mentality about this run was changing. Another half mile later and I come upon a mom out walking with her two kids, and I blurt out, in between inhales and exhales, “GOOD (inhale) MORNING!” She cautiously looks at me with that “this lady is crazy” face and then it happened. In a fraction of a second, her facial expression went from “crazy lady” to a grin a mile wide that said, “thanks for seeing me.”

You see, what had happened was that the first 5 people I had passed on my run blessed ME with a positive gratitude. And by the time I got to the mama with her two kids, I wasn’t waiting for someone to say something to me, I was energetically blurting out a “GOOD MORNING.” I was no longer dreading being on that 3 mile run and I was passing on positivity to someone else. Since that run, I have had the family out walking, biking, and scootering many times. One of my kids the other day said, “Mom, I really like that when I wave or say hi to someone here they say it back” (insert my heart melting into a puddle of mush riiiiiiight here). 

These small things: a simple wave, a caring smile, a cheery “Hello”, a “Good Morning” are what can be the difference maker in someone’s day. They can completely re-frame your sense of self and belonging. These pleasantries, no matter how small they seem, can revolutionize a person’s attitude or experience and make them feel seen.

Even more simply put: words are kindness in action.

Cat Vandament is the 2019 Armed Forces Insurance Scott Air Force Base Spouse of the Year and the 2018 AFI Fairchild Air Force Base Spouse of the Year. She was born and raised in Coppell, Texas where she met her high school best friend and married him after he graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy and her from Kansas State University. Cat is a mom of two, a pilot’s wife, a public speaker, and an infertility warrior. As an adoptive mom and former teacher, Cat has taken her passion for teaching outside the classroom, to educate and advocate for families that have journeyed through infertility and are navigating the adoption process. She is taking it all one step further and is currently pursuing a Master of Social Work degree with the University of Central Florida.

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