When It’s Easy

Did you ever have a week when everything went your way? The weather was as you needed it to be, the errands that you had the run were done seamlessly, problems you had managed to find easy solutions. How did that magical week make you feel? Were you kinder or happier because things went your way?

Now imagine a week where absolutely nothing goes right: pet is sick, car got a flat, boss didn’t like the work you did on a project that you worked on for months…How does that make you feel? Were you kinder or happier that week?

Is it easier to be happier, kinder, whatever word you want to use, if things are going your way?

I’ve never done an analysis on this, but I would take a guess and say that if things are generally going well in your life, it’s easier to be a more pleasant person.

Which then begs the question:

If things are not going well in your life, how do you get through the day to day without being a rotten person to be around?

What’s the secret formula to being a kind, generous, happy (whatever) person when the chips are decidedly down?




Self confidence?

Something I haven’t thought of because I’m not that good at this?

What do you think is the secret sauce that keeps people on an even keel when they are going through a rough patch?

And to spice things up a bit…

Is it acceptable for someone to be a tad of a downer or mean or cranky if they are going through a bad patch?



I recently spoke to a friend about kindness- We wondered if everyone has the same thoughts of what kindness is and what it isn’t…

My friend said something along the lines of…Being kind is a decision a person makes and a well formed decision can’t be made without knowing all the sides of an issue…


Do you think kind people are open to all ideas and do not discriminate as to who they are kind towards?

If you are kind to Person A because you agree with them, and not kind to Person B because you don’t agree with them, can you consider yourself a kind person?

Do we as individuals make a decision to be kind?

I do not consider myself a kind person… I consider myself a respectful person. I might not treat you with pretty words or pats on the back, but I will always respect your thoughts, decisions and choices. I also consider myself to be humane- I do not like to see suffering of any sort. However, no one is ever going to present me with the Ms. Congeniality award…and I’m OK with that…

I make a decision to be respectful…

I make a decision to be humane…

I make a decision to treat someone as they treat me…

If I don’t like something you’ve done, you will probably know it…because I don’t believe in being nice to someone when they’re in front of me and speak ill of them when they’re not…I have too much respect for people to be a hypocrite…

For today’s thoughts…

How do you define kindness?

Does kindness extend to all people whether or not you agree with them?

Do we make an individual choice to be kind?

Can you be truly kind without understanding all sides of an issue?

Are kindness and respect the same or different?

Short answers or essay will be accepted…


The Water Bottle

I love my water bottle.  I mean, I really love it.

  1. It holds 32 ounces of water
  2. It’s curved like an hour glass, so it’s easy to hold
  3. It’s narrow enough at the bottom so it fits comfortably in cup holders at the gym and most movie theaters (this is actually rare for a bottle that holds 32 ounces)
  4. The cover is pink!
  5. The cover is a screw top, which means that unless I don’t close it properly, it is leak-proof, so I can throw it in my bag without worry

In short, it is my perfect water bottle.

Now here’s the story:  A few weeks ago I was at the movie theater.  I left my treasured water bottle at the movie theater.  I realized it when I was about halfway home.  The movie theater is about a 30 minute walk from my house, and it’s also not a convenient mass transit ride. (I live on the east side, the theater is on the west- it’s basically a Manhattan nightmare).  I was very bummed.

When my daughter got home she asked about my day.  I told her my tale of woe.  She sympathized.  She knew what that water bottle meant to me.  So she put her coat back on and made the trek to the theater and retrieved my water bottle for me.

My daughter did the hour round trip to get me my water bottle.  She simply said, “I know you would do this for me.  I know you have done this for me.”  There are no words for how I felt.

Now, this is one of those moments that I am going to say it’s nurture.  My daughter was nice to me because I have been an awesome Mom and raised her to be an amazing person.  Don’t you dare tell me it’s nature…

So, is it silly to be enamored with a water bottle?  Yes.  Was it necessary for my daughter to spend an hour retrieving the water bottle?  No.  Do either of those things matter?  Probably not.  My daughter did something sweet for me that didn’t cost any money, and she did it without expecting anything in return.  That’s pretty much the only gift I will ever need.

Both Sides

I recently had a substitute instructor for my body conditioning class.  She was a great instructor and taught a great class.  She also had a funny, nice personality and she made a comment about breathing and relaxing muscles when we work because we’re too tense.  And then she added, “Please don’t go calling corporate telling them I said you were unhealthy.”  And she said it in a joking manner, but the implication was clear.  Because people really do that.  They take things at absolute face value, and twist the words so that the meaning becomes murky.  And then they report it to the higher ups.


Now, if you read my blog, you all know that Verizon and I had a little dust up a few months ago.  And I did start emailing everyone at Verizon.  (seriously)  And I am no fan of customer service.


How do we determine what is actually a reason to call the higher ups versus what’s just not worth it?  I guess it determines how much time you have on your hands, and how much the transgression offended you.  Of course, if you did not get goods or service you paid for, then hell yeah…you have every right to complain.  But actually, I’m not going to talk about the bad in customer service.  I’m going to focus on the good.

On the same day my instructor made this comment, I went shopping at a physical Staples (office supply) store.  I had seen a product online that I thought would be perfect for my needs.  I saw it was available at one Staples in my general vicinity (here’s the thing about living in a large city- i have about 15 of these stores within a 2 mile radius)

When I got to the store I was greeted very warmly by the cashier, who directed me to the section I needed.  When I got to the section, I could not find the item I was looking for, and I was 99.9% sure I was in the right area.  I found an employee, told him what I was looking for, and he spent 10 minutes on a ladder and was able to locate what I needed.

I thanked him, paid for the item with the very sweet cashier and I left for home.  On my 20 minute walk in the rain, I reflected on what the sub instructor had said that morning.  I then thought about the wonderful service I had just received.  Then I thought that this was too much thinking for a Sunday morning.  But still my mind trudged on.  People will take time out of their busy lives to complain about even a small infraction, or what they perceive as a slight.  But how often to we go out of our way to commend a good employee?

So I went home and wrote to Staples and told them that I didn’t get the names of the two employees, but that this particular location should be recognized for their nice manners and willingness to help me out and be pleasant.  (and yes, i realize that this is their job, but still, they should be recognized for doing their job well)

So now, I’m going to make it a point to commend people who are doing a good job.  It’s very easy to complain:  it should be just as easy to give good feedback.  Don’t you feel good when someone compliments you?

Now this isn’t a resolution, or even a goal.  It’s just going to be my new way of thinking.  Positivity. Positively.


Lost and Found

My daughter lost her wallet yesterday.  She got on the city bus in front of our building, so she knew she had her wallet then, because she used her Metrocard (what we use in NYC to board public transportation) to get on the bus.  When she got to school, she went to get her ID, and realized the wallet was missing.  To belabor the point, she lost between getting on bus and getting to school.

When she realized she lost her wallet, she called me.  I could hear agony in her voice, it was low and as soon as she started to talk, she began to cry.  She didn’t understand how she could lose it.  When you’re an ultra responsible kid who has never lost anything other than a water bottle (which she does lose a lot for some reason) this was devastating.

And while I tried to console her, I knew that practicality had to come out.  “What was in your wallet?”  I knew she had a credit card and a debit card. I snapped my fingers to get my Husbands attention.  “Daughter lost her wallet.  Cancel the Visa, I’ll do the debit card.”  I got off the phone with my daughter, telling her she had to go to the main office and tell them she lost her school id.  Why I needed to explain to a reasonably smart person that someone could use her ID to enter the school fraudulently is beyond me.  She didn’t want to do this- she kept saying that someone would surely find her wallet.  I said it would be great if they did, but everything had to be canceled and places had to be notified that her ID might be compromised.  This went on by text way too long, till I told her it had to be done.

So my daughter was embarrassed to have lost her id.  I get that, but I also know that people are human and mistakes are made.  I also told her she could have been pickpocketed.  I wanted to race up the 52 blocks to her school and hug her, but a Mom can’t always be right there to physically comfort a child.  Sometimes the kid has to learn how to self sooth.

I then received a whole bunch of texts asking me to contact the MTA at 11 when the lost and found opened.  She was positive that her wallet would be found and turned in, all contents still inside.  She gave me the bus route, the time she got it- I’m surprised she didn’t have the driver and bus id.  Her optimism was impressive.  My pessimism was equally impressive.  I explained to her that the wallet was small, and would probably not be found.  Also, the Metropolitan Transport Association is not really known for its blazingly good customer service.  Just ask anyone who has been stuck on a train for 45 minutes.

At 11 I called.  After 25 minutes of trying to find the right department, it turned out I had to fill out an online form to document the loss.  Which I did.  Oh, the detail and general backasswardness of this report.   They asked for brand of wallet- they had no choice for piece of shit wallet she bought at TJ Maxx for 3.99. You have to list every item that was in the wallet.  Credit card.  Debit card. NYC Parks tennis pass.  School id.  Brandi Melville gift card.  American Eagle gift card.  Regular metrocard.  School issue metrocard.  Sticker from Brandi Melville.  (to tell you the truth- I was really impressed that she knew exactly what was in her wallet- not really surprised, but impressed none the less)  All this, when she wasn’t getting her wallet back.

Now of course, because I had spent 45 minutes of my life that I would never get back filling out a lost property claim, her wallet was found.  Husband got a call.  Wallet was  dropped off at a branch of the bank which issued the credit card inside.  Great.

Texted daughter.  Everyone is happy.

Here’s the thing.  My daughter just assumed the wallet would be found and turned in.  This girl has grown up a few blocks from a methadone clinic, and has seen people at the bottom of their luck, trying to quell an addiction that has destroyed their life.  She has seen people lying on the streets, passed out from drink.  She was seen people sleeping in the vestibule of the bank, homeless people showering in the sprinkler at the playground.  She knew a girl who died trying to jump from one building to another.  She knew a girl in her 7th grade class that got pregnant.  She has had friends who knew kids who committed suicide.  She has seen on a daily and routine basis how crappy life can be for others.  Yet- she has hope.

Why?  How?

Well, she has spent the past 3 years as a volunteer tennis coach at a program for inner city youth.  Shas spent the past 3 years as a tutor at a program for kids with no resources for extra help.  She tries to make life a little better for others.  One Saturday morning a month she gets up at 630 on a Saturday, and chops vegetables and sets out cutlery at a soup kitchen.  When she exits the church basement after prep is done,   I know it still shocks her how many people are lined up for that one meal.  She has sat next to children who are wearing coats and gloves and hats, and carrying backpacks that me, and other parents have given the school to distribute to families that need just a little help.  This is what gives her a little bit of optimism- she sees people trying to do the right thing.  She tries to do the right thing.

Will she always think that the good nature of people will prevail?  I hope so.  But it’s hard- because as stated, sometimes life sucks.

Now, my daughter is happy that wallet was turned in, most things still there.  Someone did swipe her two metrocards, and she was annoyed that the equivalent of 20$ was lost/stolen.  She wants to recreate how she actually lost her wallet, to the point she asked me how she could access the security cameras on the streets.  Seriously.

I told her that between her 40 pound backpack, purse, and big tote bag she had to lug around yesterday, it’s easy to get distracted.  She tries to fit a thousand things into a little tiny purse, and I explained that when you have so much stuff it’s real easy for something to fall out while retrieving something else. She has this delusion that she is perfect and completely aware of everything at all times.  Maybe this will teach her a lesson that she is indeed fallible.

So what’s the moral of this story?  People are generally good.  There is a cause for some optimism.  But we must always be pragmatic.

How’s that?