Small Acts of Kindness: Turning Things Around

Sometimes you need to be kind to yourself…

By Gail Kittleson

gailSpending the worst of the winter months in the Arizona mountains comes as a huge gift. We do this because of my sinus cavities. Yes, something good has come from those complicated caverns that have given me headaches for years. Miserable, repetitive winter headaches when I’m in Iowa…headaches that predict the rise and fall of barometric pressure, and trust me, that pressure fluctuates constantly in Iowa from December through March.

So through a series of circumstances over the past decade, we’ve been able to transplant from the frozen tundra to the Ponderosa forests of Gila County, just under the Mogollon Rim. The only downside is missing our grandchildren, but letter writing and phone calls help. So does the memory of nasty pain that stole full days of my life for years.

The benefit of feeling great and still being able to walk, even if it snows, adds so much to what psychologists call “quality of life.”  Another positive is meeting a variety of new folks in this diverse area. Yet another: incredible vistas to enjoy.

If all this weren’t enough, the wild animal friends traipsing our property provides daily inspiration. This bull elk captured our attention, and my husband captured him on video in our back yard.

This family of deer claims our yard as their “hood.” Several times a day, we see them passing through, and from time to time, they enjoy our carrot peelings and other veggie remnants.arizona-113684_960_720

What’s not to like? Honesty, I’ve always loved the mountains, always felt so much better stepping out of an airplane or vehicle in Denver or Glacier National Park. But I never dreamed I’d get to live in the mountains—just another of my pipe dreams.

Oops! Not so fast, Gail. You’ve encouraged other women to embrace their longings and seize the day. How about taking your own advice?

Our family experienced my husband’s two deployments to Iraq—one for fourteen months, one for a year. At the time, I had no idea his increased earnings there would pave the way for the fulfillment of this particular dream. Yep—we’ve always practiced frugality, but could never have afforded this luxury apart from Lance’s long, hot months in the Mideast.

Like my sinus difficulties, those deployments offered some pleasant side effects. So I’m going to end with a writing prompt for you writers that puts a character in dire danger. In the Arizona mountains. But dire can become delightful, right?

Prompt: Maggie Collier arched her back for a few seconds, then bent back down to her task. Cleaning out the iris beds would keep her busy for a week, if she kept at it for a couple of hours a day. She started to whistle, “It’s A Wonderful World,” but halted at a sound close behind her.

Turning slightly, she shivered. First a hoof, then a heavy animal scent enveloping her—a tangible, very large presence, defined by an enormous rack extending far above its head.


gailGail Kittleson taught college expository writing and English as a Second Language. Now she writes memoir and women’s fiction, and facilitates writing workshops and women’s retreats. In northern Iowa, she and her husband enjoy grandchildren and gardening. In winter, the Arizona mountains provide new novel fodder.


with-each-new-dawn

With Each New Dawn

In war-torn London, American Kate Isaacs grieves her husband, awaits their child’s birth, and welcomes her best friend Addie. But after her miscarriage, another meeting with mysterious Monsieur le Blanc launches her into Britain’s Secret Operations Executive (SOE). In late 1943, Kate parachutes into Southern France to aid the Resistance.

Domingo, a grieving Basque mountain guide-turned-saboteur, meets her parachute drop, tends her injured ankle, and carries her to safety. Reunited a few months later, they discover the injured Monsieur le Blanc who, with his dying breath, reveals a secret that changes Kate’s life.

In the shadow of the Waffen SS, Domingo’s younger brother Gabirel is missing. While Domingo seeks Gabirel, Domingo’s parish priest, Père Gaspard, creates a new identity for Kate.

As Kate and Domingo subject their mutual attraction to the cause of freedom, can mere human will and moral courage change the war’s tide and forge a future for them?

Small Acts of Kindness: Seven Dollars Short

shopping-879498__180By Gail Kittleson

The clerk whizzed my purchases through her checkout station. This was a store accepting only checks and cash, so I’d brought my checkbook along, and sure enough, fell seven dollars short on cash.

Then she said they no longer take checks, so I started figuring out what I needed least, but barely began when she said, “No problem. Seven dollars—I’ll take care of it.”

I stared at her , stunned.

“It’s really okay, don’t worry.”

Others waited behind me in line, so I thanked her profusely, and proceeded outdoors. Driving down the highway, I had to wonder how often she did this. Seven dollars is no drop in the bucket, especially when multiplied by more random receivers like me.

The thing is, we have plenty of money for groceries, and I didn’t look especially bag-ladyish that day . . . I simply had a need, so she met it. Pretty cool, huh?  My thoughts veered, as they often do, to Addie, the heroine of my latest World War II novel. She performed plenty of kind acts for her mother-in-law who lived just across the driveway, and for her friend Jane down the Iowa country road.

snickers-461902_960_720They did the same for her. Once, when Addie obeyed a summons to a law office in their little rural town, Jane drove her, and when Addie came out, Jane handed her a plain brown bag with a Snickers candy bar in it. With war restrictions on sugar, chocolate, and money so tight, Jane’s gift might seem small to us, but in those days, it represented sacrifice.

A thoughtful gift in the name of friendship—and Addie understood perfectly. On her journey out of a fear-based life to claiming her God-given dignity, small gifts like this meant so much. Still, she hesitated to eat the candy bar, so Jane asked her to eat it right then, saying she’d enjoy watching.

Some things, we’re simply meant to accept. I certainly didn’t feel worthy of that clerk’s seven-dollar gift. And for Addie, a Snickers bar back then probably might have equaled about that much money.

She did bite into the Snickers, and I’m pretty sure she caught the joy of giving reflected in Jane’s eyes.

That clerk and I will likely never meet again, but as she considered her day’s work, I wonder if satisfaction filled her at the remembrance of meeting a need. A random kind act—the gift that keeps on giving.


gailGail Kittleson taught college expository writing and ESL. Now she focuses on writing women’s fiction and facilitating writing workshops and women’s retreats. She and her husband enjoy family in northern Iowa, and the Arizona Ponderosa forest in winter.

White Fire Publishing released Gail’s memoir, Catching Up With Daylight, in 2013, and her debut women’s historical fiction, In This Together (Wild Rose Press/Vintage Imprint) released in 2015. She also contributed to the Little Cab Press 2015 Christmas Anthology,

The first novel in her World War II series releases on June 6, 2016—D-Day, and the second is contracted with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas for release in February, 2017. You can count on Gail’s heroines to make do with what life hands them, and to overcome great odds.

Meeting new reading and writing friends is the meringue on Gail’s pie, as her heroines would say.

http://www.gailkittleson.com/

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In-times-like-these-cover-203x300In Times Like These

Pearl Harbor attacked! The United States is at war.

But Addie fights her own battles on the Iowa home front. Her controlling husband Harold vents his rage on her when his father’s stoke prevents him from joining the military. He degrades Addie, ridicules her productive victory garden, and even labels her childlessness as God’s punishment.

When he manipulates his way into a military unit bound for Normandy, Addie learns that her best friend Kate’s pilot husband has died on a mission, leaving her stranded in London in desperate straits.

Will Addie be able to help Kate, and find courage to trust God with her future?