Did everyone have a nice Valentine's Weekend?
My weekend was pretty low-key. It was filled with plenty of time outdoors, some time for self-reflection, and a small act of kindness.
My Friday night started off with a Valentine's get-together with my two best friends.
We had dinner together and spent time catching up from the week. This means I will have officially made it through each holiday away from home. I'm very grateful to have found friends that feel like family to celebrate these occasions with!
The next morning, we had freakishly warm weather for February. It was in the mid-60s and sunny, so I decided to take a solo-trip to South Lake Tahoe. Technically it's still ski-season, but the beach was calling my name.
If you look in the backseat of my car, you'll usually find running gear because I'm always on the go. It was the perfect day for a run along the lake, so I laced up my shoes and headed out on the sand.
Fun fact: Pittsburgh's elevation comes in at about 700 feet above sea level. Lake Tahoe (at its low point) sits at about 6000 feet above sea level. This means it's about a mile higher in elevation, which makes it difficult to run. Nonetheless, it's a beautiful place to spend an afternoon.
Under the trees I found a spot with a scenic view of the lake to have lunch. It was quiet, peaceful day with just enough warmth as the sunlight came in through the trees.
This trip focused on self-reflection and solitude; two things I have learned to embrace since moving away on my own.
As evening approached, I watched the last bit of sun disappear over the lake. With each inch of darkness, the air grew chillier. I enjoyed the last few minutes of daylight as I reflected on my journey these past ten months. Before long, I will have to start making decisions on where to move next and which direction to take on my career path.
Sunday morning started with brunch on my balcony and a call home to my grandma. We chatted for over an hour. I'm pretty sure I inherited my talking gene from her!
With a free day ahead of me, I headed downtown to the River Walk to take advantage of the nice weather.
I took a walk and enjoyed watching the people out and about. With my laptop in hand, I planned on grabbing lunch and doing some writing in a coffee shop during the late afternoon. When traditional work hours end for the week you'll always find me working on a creative project of some sort. It's one of my favorite ways to spend my free time.
However, something unexpected happened.
The River Walk led me into town where a woman stopped and asked me if I had some spare change. She told me she was trying to get money to buy something to eat. I opened up my purse and handed her the $2 I had in my wallet. Then I turned back around and said, "I'm actually about to go have lunch. Do you want to come with me? I could use some company."
As we ate she told me a story about how mental illness had forced her out of work. She gets enough money to cover housing right now, but not always enough to buy food. She was trying to figure out how to make it by until April when she was planning to move back to California with her family.
I pulled out my phone and wrote down information for a local non-profit that serves a free community meal each night. She told me she was working really hard to change her life around. I told her I believed in her. Her eyes swelled up with tears.
She thanked me for my kindness. And I thanked her for allowing me to open my heart.
In Catholic Social Teaching, the basic principle of Human Dignity teaches us that each human life is sacred. Despite our differences and individual circumstances, everyone has immeasurable worth and therefore deserves the highest respect. This woman wasn't someone who was struggling out on the street; we were just two friends eating lunch on a Sunday afternoon.
When she asked where I went to school, I told her Saint Vincent College. "It's a small, Catholic school in western-Pennsylvania," I explained.
But it's actually much more than that. It's a community that inspires individuals to create a better world.
I smiled at the woman as we got up from the table. She told me she was grateful to have a place to live right now. The cross-walk flashed blue and we parted ways.
As this weekend came to an end, I returned home with a greater sense of gratitude. Sometimes life's biggest lessons happen when you least expect them.