The Kindness of Strangers….

“Sometimes when we are generous in small  ways, it can change someone else’s life forever.”

This saying rings true for a very special woman I have had the pleasure of getting to know this past year.  Truth be told, I would never have had the honor of knowing her if not for her generosity and kindness to everyone she meets.  Her kind and generous ways have changed my life forever.  Let me explain…

I am talking about my friend and the owner of this website, Allison Alexander.It was just about a year ago that Allison’s path crossed with mine.  I was involved in an event committee for a local fundraiser to celebrate the life of Camden A. Fry, a beautiful eight-year-old girl who was killed in August of 2009.  It was my responsibility to reach out to the local television and radio personalities to line up emcees for different time slots throughout the day.   As time passed quickly, I was still coming up empty in being able to obtain any television personalities for the event, and needless to say, I was becoming a little FRANTIC as the event date was less than a month away!

Well, it was around that time that I received an email from Allison, who at the time was an evening news anchor in Providence, Rhode Island.  Allison was unable to attend on that date, but through her kind efforts she went the extra mile for me and not only arranged for an emcee for that day, but she also kept in touch with me until the event arrived.  I still cannot thank her enough for her help and generosity.

The kindness of strangers is what I think of when I look back on this moment in time.  We not only have stayed in touch with each other, but any chance she could do something out of the goodness of that big heart of hers, she would.  She arranged for my son to tour her television station for his birthday, and not only did she show him around the station and introduce him to everyone there, but she also  let him sit and watch the news broadcast, LIVE.  She made my son and me feel welcome and special that day. Words cannot express how much that meant to us.

Just recently, she asked me to be part of a wonderful new adventure in her life.  Allison was developing her own website www.amomknowsbest.com, which is a website not only geared toward moms, but also toward women, in general.   I was touched and honored not only that she asked me to be a contributor, but that she thought I might have something interesting to offer.  It has been an opportunity for me to express my thoughts on many different subjects including divorce, parenting and friendship.    It has also given me the chance to meet the other amazing women who contribute to the website and who have  become my friends.  I thank Allison every day for giving me this creative outlet which has changed my life and my outlook on life as well.

Over the past year, I have gotten to know Allison and she has become a wonderful friend.  She is a person that looks at you and sees all the good in you, all the promise in you and makes you see it too.  She is a diamond in the rough, and I am a better person for having met her.   Allison recently moved with her family out of Rhode Island.  Although I am very sad about her leaving,  I know that through my contribution to her website, and because of the kind of person that she is, we will remain friends and in each other’s lives for a long time.  As I have told her, she is a bright star that only gets brighter…

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Praise it Forward, Please

I don’t know about you, but sometimes it seems as if the world has lost its manners. Recently, in one day, a man basically shut the door in my face despite me carrying three boxes, a girl in a store proceeded to ring me up while talking on the phone, and did not look up, and I spent 20 minutes in a store helping myself to sizes and answering my own questions since the sales ladies were too busy gossiping in the corner to do it for me. And I know they were gossiping because they had that look, you know, the snotty gossip look. Don’t get me wrong, I have my days where I am a hot mess less than effervescent, but for the most part, I say please and thank you, excuse me and sorry!

I think I find it especially maddening in the service industries. You know, where your JOB is to be of service and courteous. I spent many years in college and grad school waitressing so I could go out pay for books, and I tried to take it seriously. Anyway, after this especially frustrating day, I decided that I really wanted to thank those that did go out of their way to be nice and courteous. I knew just where to start. Garbis and Sam. Garbis and Sam are the go-to guys in the produce section of my grocery store. I should pay rent, that’s how much time I spend there! These guys are like my culinary wing-men. They have also been side-shows for my kids at the grocery store, and have been greeting me weekly for the past 8 years. They have seen me in work clothes, pre-date clothes, maternity clothes, sweats, workout gear, hair done, hair a mess, no make-up and possible pajama pants (hey, I put on a real shirt and flip flops!) and they treat me the same way every time. They have given my kids free apples, tracked down elusive herbs and organic arugula, and brought out the super fresh produce from the back when they saw me frowning at the sad strawberries. And it is always, always, with a smile. So when I was there last month, I tracked down the front-end manager and gave him a letter I had written about Garbis and Sam. He read it and was so pleased. He mentioned that they were about to get their annual reviews and that he would put this in their files! I felt great. I felt even better last week when they told me they both got raises and thanked me for the letter. I know the letter didn’t do it, more likely, it was that these guys really care to do a good job, and they do it every day without fail.

My second praise-worthy fun happened at McDonald’s. Yes, I did. I got my kids Happy Meals after a particularly brutal and hot double-header. The team was celebrating there and my kiddos wanted to join. Of course, I acquiesced. The young man taking our order was clean cut, courteous, he smiled and engaged in extra conversation, and then when my youngest dropped his cone .5 seconds after getting it, he gave us another one for free. I don’t know many teenage boys with so much charisma and thoughtfulness. I really wanted to say something, but there was a line. I hesitated, and then I asked to speak with his manager. Everyone seemed flustered. She came up and kind of had a scowl on her face. I explained to her the exemplary service I received and complimented the young man and the other people working the front end. She was SHOCKED!

“That’s all?” she asked.

 “Yes,” I responded.

“You just wanted to compliment us? No one did anything wrong?”

“Nope. Everyone was great, and I really appreciated it!”

“Wow! Thank you!”

That’s it. Thirty seconds was all it took to make hopefully a tiny difference in their day. And you know what? It made me happy too! So, I have decided not to get down about the peeps that are grumpy and rude, but to thank the ones that aren’t. Praise it forward, please!

Ode to Mom

Me with my mom & sister circa 1976

All this week I have been thinking about those sayings our moms have.  Some they made up.  Some they heard from their mothers and some they borrowed from the greats.  Chances are you’ll pass many of these “momisms” down, and make up a few of your own.  Here are my favorites from my mom, mother-in-law, and a  few of my own.

THINGS MY MOM/MIL SAY

  • Make wise choices
  • When God closes a door, he opens a window
  • Kill ’em with kindness
  • Pretty is as pretty does
  • A smile goes a long way
  • You can’t expect others to treat you the way you would treat them
  • Worrying is counterproductive
  • Do your best

THINGS I SAY OR PLAN TO SAY  TO MY DAUGHTER (basically all of the above, plus…)

  • Where you are is where you are meant to be
  • You never know what’s going on in someone’s life
  • That’s the decision you made;  if you don’t like the outcome, maybe next time you’ll make a different decision
  • You should always be kind, but you don’t always have to be nice
  • If we all do a little, no one has to do a lot
  • Live a life of gratitude
  • What’s on the inside matters more than what’s on the outside

 

What are some of the “momisms” you remember from your childhood?  Do you find yourself saying them to your own kids?

The Difference Between Nice and Good

My daughters are sweethearts. They are both thoughtful and kind to others. I am so proud of them.  One of the things I’ve tried to teach them is to be nice to others. A motto I say to them is “You don’t have to like everyone but you need to respect everyone.”  I truly believe in this motto, but I started wondering if it needed more clarification.

Both daughters have had trouble with difficult “friends.”  Both girls continued to deal with these “friend’s” behaviors without doing anything back. That’s what we’ve been taught, right? Turn the other cheek?  Well I think there needs to be a balance between “being nice” and “being a good person.”

To be nice to others seems to be at times a  pleasing behavior.  My girls didn’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings (even though other kids were hurting theirs).  Somehow being nice meant –to my kids –that other people were first.  Is that really what I wanted to teach them? That the other persons feelings were more important that theirs? That they had to be “nice girls” no matter what?  No, I want them to believe that while it’s important to respect others, it’s also important to respect themselves.

A nice person will act a certain way in order to not hurt someone’s feelings or make them uncomfortable.  As a result, sometimes “nice people” can be fake because they are more concerned with appearances than the truth.  Additionally, sometimes people who “act” nice don’t always even have  good intentions.  So being “nice” maybe isn’t always so nice.

Now, being a good person means to me that your intentions are good.  You look for and act toward the greater good. Your intentions are to not only help yourself but also others in the process.   However, sometimes being good also means doing what is not popular.  Sometimes doing what is right is unsettling and upsetting to others. Hence, sometimes being good you can’t be “nice” and please everyone.

Sometimes you need to say “No” and sometimes you even need to raise your voice.  When my one daughter’s “friend” would cry when she didn’t get what she wanted, my daughter would give in and do what her friend wanted.  It seemed to me that my daughter was being emotionally blackmailed. My daughter just thought that letting her friend cry wasn’t nice.

I still want my girls to be nice, but not at the expense of doing what’s right.  We certainly should try doing and being good in a respectful way. However, I clarified with them that  our first priority should be to be good (do what’s right- including, at times, standing up for themselves) and our secondary goal should be to be nice (act in order to please others and not hurt their feelings).

So how about we say…It’s nice to be good and good to be nice, but sometimes being nice is not good and sometimes being good you need to not be nice.

Utimately I hope my girls learn that we can’t always gage what we should do by how we think others will respond.  We need to listen to our internal compass and be true to ourselves. That being said, I realize that no matter what I do I can’t always protect them from some things in this world. I  can guide them, but sometimes they need to explore the path on their own. Sometimes that means getting hurt.  Hopefully they will learn from each experience and grow from it.

What do you think? Do you think there is a difference between being good and being nice?

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