Neighbor Notes


Gift Bags for My Neighbors

I get my most intuitive promptings in the shower. For a few weeks, I kept getting a nudge to reach out to my neighbors in an authentic way.

When I was growing up there seemed to be a little more familiarity with neighbors; and that might simply be because when people have children they know the other parents in the neighborhood. I am not sure if it's the parent thing or the sign of the times, but we often drive by and wave, and we seem to do that for years on end.

I have learned to follow my intuitive voice, but I can tell I was stalling on this one. After a series of planetary events, both of Mother Nature and the other, Man Made - Harvey, Irma, Maria, The Mexico Earthquake, and the Las Vegas shooting, I released my resistance.

On a recent Saturday afternoon, I went to Trader Joe's and bought note cards, herbs, and chocolate for my neighbors, and I proceeded to stuff 14 gift bags. That was the easy part. The vulnerable part was the note that I typed with it. I allowed myself to be more familiar than the lady down the street who walks the German Shepherd named Ace in the morning. I wrote about where I was from; what I do for a living; and what was most important to me. I shared that I worked with rescue animals and that I have several in my home. I knew they recognized the dog, but they may not have been aware of my cats. I inserted photos and stories about my animals, and I also shared who frequented my house. I wrote that I didn't want to share a tragedy with them; however, we do live in earthquake land, and if something should happen, I left my contact information and what is important to me.

Jacquie's Gift Bag on Porch

I proceeded to leave 14 of these gift bags on the doorsteps of my neighbors. Some I knew well. Some I knew by sight. One, I had an uncomfortable relationship because of a dog quarrel, and others were simply friendly. I felt silly and awkward. I left with no expectation of anything in return. Just the truthful knowledge of, if we are in fact neighbors, we may really need each other.

The gesture was received beyond measure by my neighbors - young, old, different ethnicities... the response was so beautiful. It swelled my heart beyond measure in a time that is pretty brutal. I didn't wait for a tragedy to reach out and be authentic.

My most touching response was breaking international borders from neighbors who have lived near me for four years. English is not their first language, and I often see their parents visit until the tourist Visa expires. They are the type of neighbors, you love as they are friendly and keep to themselves. They reciprocated the gesture back to me by typing on a note about their background (China and Japan), where they worked, and what was important to them. They shared green tea with me and told me to refrigerate it for best keeping.

My Christian neighbors told me that I was following the commandments of Love thy Neighbor and that I was doing God's work.

My Republican, pro NRA, neighbor let me know that they would be happy to watch my pets, if I should ever need them.

The widow down the street recognized the feral cat that I take care of, and said she would also leave food out for the little one that I had already had fixed.

All the differences and similarities dissolved into the type of love expressed in a tragedy, but one wasn't required to feel and share the love.

I shared the photos of the gift bags on Instagram, and jokingly asked, Is it still a good deed if you share it on Instagram? However, I am really glad I shared it, as it touched many of my friends and family, and prompted them to reach out in ways they wouldn't or wish they were acknowledged in their neighborhoods where tension was otherwise a riding factor.

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New York Times Bestselling Publisher & Two Time Emmy Nominated TV Producer