Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at

“How’d your pumpkins do this year?” The question from my brother-in-law caught me and my husband off guard. What? What pumpkins? For a few different reasons, all of which would be too long and boring to recount here, we don’t have a vegetable garden. Yet. Maybe not ever. Jury is still out, but certainly not yet.

“Yeah, your pumpkins,” he insisted. He pointed to the little patch of compost and manure pile beside my senior citizen horse’s paddock and there, sure enough, there were pumpkins. What happened, of course, is that last autumn we had set out some cute little pumpkins on the porch as seasonal decor. We meant to bring them in and cook them, but time got away from us and we wound up simply pitching them into the nearest duff. There, oblivious to the total lack of regard or respect we had paid them, the gutsy little seeds had done their thing and sprouted.

So far, we’ve harvested four beautiful, glossy, round, orange gourds with a few more still green on the vine. Amazing. Later on, I was listening to the “Hidden Brain” podcast and was taken by their extra segment at the end, “My unsung hero,” where folks call out a person who helped them, even if they hadn’t realized how much they meant. I thought about how often our lives are like that, like the pumpkin patch, where goodness spreads and it is just up to us to stop and notice it. And give thanks. Seemed appropriate with Thanksgiving right around the corner.

I know. I honestly do realize that I am drawing a rather obvious picture here. That’s not my fault. This is just the way this week has unfolded. It’s the universe that’s being a little heavy-handed with the metaphors and the life lessons, not me. Still, it’s kind of sweet, right?

I am bringing all of this up because, of course, the news has been sad of late. Sad globally, and sad close to home. I wish I had a way to actually change things. To stop the violence, undo the harm, heal the grieving and right the wrongs. But I don’t. I am simply stuck, watching the horror unfold – and worse, watching the aftershocks of it. People who choose to bring on additional anger, harm and cruelty in the wake of the main event. Depressing stuff.

I was moved, though, by the call from the community of Lewiston to mark the one-week anniversary of the shootings not with a protest or even a vigil, but with the conscious choice to go out and practice random acts of kindness. Beautiful.

I like to think I do this already, but in truth, I can do more. For me, the practice goes hand in hand with choosing to be actively and deliberately aware of the thousands upon thousands of good fortunes already heaped upon us. I don’t mean just the big things – the everyday ones, too. The fact that I live in a warm, safe house. Grateful. Access to clean, running water. Grateful. That I live in an age where literacy is available to more than just the wealthy and elite. Grateful. A car that gets me to work and back. Super grateful.

I invite you to take stock of your own life as well. To consciously name the things in your life that are beautiful. Then, wrapped in the warmth of gratitude, go out and perform multiple random acts of kindness.

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