Inspiration hits in unexpected places sometimes.
Earlier this month, I spent a beautiful day at the Biltmore Estate (and the dog mom learned to keep our water separate). It’s spring in North Carolina. There are few things I enjoy more than being outside just taking in the sun, the breeze, and green grass under my paws.
It’s not unusual for people to stop me when I’m out and about. They want to know what I am (a poodle), how old (2), and “what do you call that color?” (red). There are usually lots of comments about how cute I am and how much I resemble a teddy bear. I’m not the cuddliest of dogs, but I’m always happy to welcome a friendly face with a grunt and a wiggle and if treats are involved I may even do a trick or two.
On this particular trip, a woman approached wanting to know if I shed. This is not an uncommon question either, but her reason for wanting to know caught my special interest. Her granddaughter has allergies and she had been researching “non-allergenic” dogs. You see, her son promised the 6-year-old a puppy if she could stop pulling her own hair out. I didn’t press for details, but it was clear from our brief conversation that her granddaughter was suffering; possibly from a mental illness.
I don’t know much about it and I suspect I’m not alone in that… which brings us to this month’s challenge in my “12 Months of Kindness” campaign: Educate.
The U.S. Surgeon General reports that 10 percent of children and adolescents in the United States suffer from serious emotional and mental disorders. Some horrific tragedies of late (like that in Sandy Hook) have put a spotlight on extreme conditions, but a great many people go undiagnosed and certainly misunderstood.
It seems to me one way to create a kinder world is to make an effort to understand each other. By educating ourselves and those around us, maybe people will feel less afraid to get the help they need. Maybe someone will more easily identify that their own child needs help. Or maybe our children will be less likely to make fun of a peer that is dealing with an illness. While you are online right now, please take a few minutes to research mental illness. This doesn’t cost you a thing and I’ll make it really easy for you: start with trichotillomania… the compulsive urge to pull out one’s own hair.
Shed some light on mental illness by posting a little tidbit about what you learned in the comments here on my blog or on my Facebook page. People may not read this whole blog, but they may take a moment to read your comments. You could be the inspiration someone needs.
Go now and spread the kindness friends!