Joanie stopped her car.

I’d heard about this neighbor for months.

How she is the sweetest person.

But I hadn’t met her yet.

So when I saw her car go by, I had to restrain myself from running into the street and scaring the crap out of her.

To my delight, Joanie and I arrived home at the same time. And she stopped her car in the middle of the road—in front of my house—to greet me like so:

Welcome to the neighborhood! Now we can visit! I can’t wait until this is over (holding up her mask) because I’m a hugger. 

Ending our conversation, she said, “I LOVE you.” Not the way a new fake acquaintance might say it after you realize you both like wine. She said it with all the intention and certainty in the world. The same way I would say: My name is Deidre

My heart raced. And I said, “Oh my goodness, I love you too!”

The point?

What if we approached the world, and new people, with love instead of fear? 

This neighbor expressed love confidently upon our first meeting, and meant it with her whole heart.  

At first, for a split second, I was taken aback. It felt kinda scary. But receiving her genuine beam of love, my heart filled up. It felt expansive to say it back.

Hate is rarely earned. Yet it’s given freely. So what if—on the flipside—love were given freely? What if love were our default? 

Joanie and I are different ages, different colors.

But this incredible woman in her mid-70s and cozy clothes had it all figured out.

Here’s to peace, love, acceptance, and yelling (nice things) out the window at neighbors,

P.S. If you need words that connect, with authenticity that can be felt, I’d love to help.

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