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By way of a bit of snow on Tuesday, my thoughts about compassion over the past year came full circle.

Ottawa got 51 centimetres, beating our 1947 record.

The Public Service let myself, and thousands of others, go home early.

They apparently forgot to tell OC Transpo and there were nowhere near enough busses to get home.

With no other way to make daycare pick-up on time, and nothing but time on my hands, I walked home from downtown.

It was warm, I was wearing comfortable boots and I am trying to find ways to fit more exercise into my life. In summer it takes about an hour and a half.

So it was that I had a front-row seat for watching my fellow Ottawans deal with the storm.

For the most part? We all did it incredibly graciously.

Before deciding to abandon my bus plans, I spent about 20 minutes at a stop with around 80 others waiting patiently as full bus after full bus intermittently drove by. Some had been waiting there almost 2 hours by the time I arrived.

Once I started walking, I found people making way and helping others. Many fellow walkers smiled as they passed.

I overheard plow drivers meeting in the road giving each other updates about what they had covered and what was left to be done.

I watched drivers get out of cars to help push others who were stuck.

When I finally made it to my street, I passed one man with a snowblower plowing a path in our road to get our neighbour in a wheelchair home because the ParaTranspo bus couldn’t make it down our street.

As for me? I was about an hour into my walk when I experienced my first personal act of compassion.

Here’s a photo to set the scene:


Coated in snow in my formal business coat, purse swinging, I must have looked … somewhat unprepared for my journey.

A driver rolled down his window to check if I was alright and needed a lift.

I declined – really I was fine – but thanked him for the offer. And was grateful he’d asked.

By the time I got near home, it was clear I wouldn’t be able to get our car out of the driveway, off our street and side street, and then onto my daycare provider’s street and side street.

I called to tell her I’d be walking to pick my kids – 6 and 3 – up. She offered me her sled to get them home – a walk that would take about 15 minutes in good weather.

As I got near her home, the challenge of even sledding them home became clear. Main roads were plowed but gridlocked, sidewalks were not plowed and thus unwalkable.

My daycare provider and I discussed, and decided cutting through the back of the local public school (because kids would have padded it down) then out onto the side streets behind to my house would be my best bet.

I sold my kids on the adventure of it all and we were on our way.

It was warm. They had a blast.

Me? Not so much. It was slow going pulling both on the sled: crossing a main road, climbing a snow bank to an unplowed sidewalk, getting to the plowed school parking lot. Then the back of the school was not padded down. Making it to the (sort of) cleared trail was a challenge.

To me, it sort of felt like this:

Suzor-Coté, Marc-Aurèle de Foy - En traîneau, sautant vers la rive. Illustration pour Maria Chapdelaine, de Louis Hémon - photo from here: http://www.mnbaq.org/

Suzor-Coté, Marc-Aurèle de Foy – En traîneau, sautant vers la rive. Illustration pour Maria Chapdelaine, de Louis Hémon. 1916 – image from here: http://www.mnbaq.org/

Then I met the dog-walker who lived behind the school. To give me a break, she pulled my kids out of the back of the school. Then she and her husband drove us two blocks to help get us home.

I had no hesitation in accepting THAT second act of compassion. Two and half hours into my journey, I was ready for help.

We walked the last two blocks with my neighbour and her two dogs – my kids convinced it was all a wonderful adventure.

But as we sat in that stranger’s car, I found myself remembering this post. I wrote it a year ago for the first #1000Speak for Compassion link up. It started with a description of my picking up a woman who had just missed her bus during a cold snap.

It was a strange parallel as I came up to preparing this post in celebration of a year of posts for the #1000Speak movement. Then? It was she who needed help. On Tuesday? It was me. In both instances, someone who could took the time and had the compassion to do so. I wrote then – and still believe now – that compassion doesn’t have to be grand gestures. It can be found in those millions of small moments of compassion performed by millions of individuals the world over. It is in each of those moments that the world gets a little better for everyone.


#1000Speak brings bloggers together once a month to post on the theme of compassion. You can read my collection of posts here.

What about you? Do you look for and perform small acts of compassion in your daily life?

Want to join those blogging about compassion? If so, please visit the #1000Speak blog and be sure to check out this month’s link up.