Tag Archives: kindness

I have a hard time getting over things… cannolis help.

I’ve worn a lot of different uniforms for a lot of different reasons. I played t-ball, soccer, and basketball as a kid. I ran cross country and played soccer in high school. I was in the marching band (the magic of polyester, topped with a big black hat, and a half foot tall sparkling silver tassel to top it off) and marched around the Lincoln High School football field and through parade after parade in the city of Ypsilanti dressed in some seriously crazy stuff.

Please take a moment and enjoy this ridiculous-ness... I'll wait.
Please take a moment and enjoy this ridiculous-ness… I’ll wait.

I also worked at Showcase Cinemas Ann Arbor and wore the uniform for both concessions (again with the polyester, but at least no tassel) and ushering/cashiering (where I swapped out the plastic apron for an additional layer of polyester by way of a vest).

{Source-- omg, you can find anything on the internet!}
{Source— omg, you can find anything on the internet!}

But none of those uniforms compared to the one I didn’t realize I was wearing.

When I was in middle school, I was super uncomfortable with the way I looked. Getting dressed was the worst and I spent hour after hour after hour trying on outfits for school the next day– trying to find the thing in which I looked the least fat (vanity plus insecurity in a 13 year old, good stuff). Unfortunately, there was never an outfit that was good enough and I ended up reverting to the thing I felt most comfortable in: a jacket.

We weren’t actually allowed to wear coats in the school, so that was somewhat problematic because the thing I felt most comfortable in was a sleek running jacket my dad let me borrow. But I managed to outsmart the system. I had gotten the coolest (to me) University of Michigan wind suit set at Meijer and that was the thing I felt most comfortable in. And the jacket, as part of a set, was, at least in my mind, innerwear not outerwear. So I wore it. I wore it pretty much every day, over every stressed-over jeans and t-shirt kind of outfit and with my matching pants at least once a week.

I guess I never really thought about what that jacket looked like to other people. All I knew about that jacket was that I didn’t feel fat in it– and at that time, that was enough.

It was only several years later (like several, several, maybe 10 or so) that I found out that I was being made fun of… pretty much always… by a lot of girls who called my jacket my “uniform.”

Look, there goes Rachel, in her uuuu-ni-foooooo-rm.


I knew I wasn’t a cool kid. I knew there were a lot of mean girls in my school. And I knew better than to think I wasn’t the butt of many of their jokes. But it still hurt. And bad. Even though it’s been a whole lot of years since and I never actually heard it, I frequently think of those comments… those girls… those feelings…

It’s like in Harry Potter when Dumbledore lets Harry gaze into a memory in his Pensieve– it’s so much more than just a memory. It’s an experience, full of feeling. That’s what it’s like in my mind’s eye every… single… time… that memory strikes.


It struck this morning. I got dressed, I put on a gray turtle neck sweater and black slacks. It’s kind of a go-to outfit for me, but I was feeling pretty ugh about it this morning. I wanted to put that jacket on– to be comfortable. And the memory came back. The mean girls were talking about me behind my back.

But when I walked in to work this morning, my friends were all gathered in one office and busy planning our Italian-fest lunch. I was instantly struck by how much I adore all of these women… not one mean girl in the bunch! When they tease me, it’s totally to my face, and it’s nice to be in on the joke!

I thought about the contrast between the Micheles, Maries, Aimies, and Debs of my life as an adult and the Connies, Kellys, Lauras, and Taras of my past. As we grow up, our community becomes driven more by choice than by circumstance. Today I feel that very poignantly… and I have chosen well (and not just because Marie made us homemade cannolis today… although that’s part of it).

Pure delicious-ness!
Pure delicious-ness!

This afternoon, I ate a lot of Italian-ish deliciousness to say “ciao!” to my friend Marie as she heads off on a two week adventure of a lifetime (to Italy, obviously)… I could have used my jacket. And in my new, friendly girl world, everyone would have said, “There goes Rachel in her comfy jacket— she’s awesome for doing what feels right! Dang!” Because that’s what friendly girls do.

I’m still not a cool kid, but the people I have chosen to surround myself with really don’t care. The facts are these:

  • I have bushy, early-books-in-the-series-Hermione-like hair.
  • I use way too many Harry Potter references.
  • I get nervous around people I like and ramble uncontrollably.
  • I sweat copiously when nervous. And I’m often nervous.
  • I wear the clothes that I feel most comfortable in, stylish or not. (Usually not.)
  • And sometimes I hang on to my magic wand while I’m watching tv or talking on the phone.

But I like my curls (raise the roots!), Harry Potter is sheer genius and I plan to love it and read it again and again for the rest of my life (always…), some people like the way I ramble because it means (1) that they don’t have to do all the talking and (2) they certainly can’t sound worse than me, black is pretty much my favorite color to wear anyway and sweat really doesn’t show, confidence comes from comfort and confidence is always classy (stylish or not), and the wand… maybe that’s just a little bit weird. But it’s fun, I like it, and I really don’t care.

I know I’m 30 years old and I know I should be over it. But words HURT. And I wish I didn’t even know that those words existed. But I do. And I’m going to have to move past it. Especially considering that it’s likely I’ve hurt someone in that same way– we all say hurtful things at times. Especially when we’re young. But I know without a doubt that I’ve grown up to be a much kinder person than that. And I hope that those girls did too.

I hope that they grew up to be kind. I hope that they don’t feel the kind of hurt I still frequently feel when those memories creep up on me. And I hope that if they have children, they’ll help them to be kinder people than they were as kids. That’s my plan for my own someday babies, anyway.


Fun fact: the movie Mean Girls is actually based on the book Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman. Tina Fey knew the basic premise of the book, but hadn’t actually read it yet when she won the bid (is that the totally wrong terminology???… perhaps the rights? the opportunity? the chance? something?) to write the movie script. Fascinating, right?! I fully intend to read this book… eventually. It’s on my “Women’s Interest” book club reading list. Its the fourth book club on my list of “Book Clubs I Want to Start” because I really am that girl of all the characteristics listed above.


PS: I know these posts about getting made fun of, and perhaps what might be considered “bullied” this day and age, can be something of a downer. I really don’t want you to think it was all bad though. I really did have some great friends all throughout elementary, middle, and high school (see Emily, Kelly, Stephine, et al) and despite (literal) wedgies in the hall (I really wish that weren’t true) and the occasional overheard negative comment or two, I was a happy kid having a good time at my school. I cheered for the Railsplitters, I played on the teams, I went to the dances, and painted my face for pep rallies. All American kind of stuff. It’s just impossible to extract the mean girl (and boy!) stuff from all of that and unfortunately, as an insecure chubby girl, a lot of that is what really stuck.


PPS: Ok, I actually wasn’t even chubby. Not after like 8th grade anyway. I just thought I was and let people tell me I was. But from where I sit now, dang, I was svelte!! (Kidding, I just looked up svelte and it means “slender and elegant”… I was slender, not elegant. But svelte sounds so good there, all italicized, doesn’t it? Let’s just leave it and move on.)

An old compliment, a new manicure. Also, a purple monkey.

One time my friend Erika said something nice to me. (Actually a lot more than once, I just want to tell you about one of those times…)

It was a small compliment. But it made me feel oh so good.

We were in grad school and I had just painted my fingernails with my newest shade– OPI’s Pamplona Purple. (Small pleasures, you know…)

And my friend Erika… she told me she liked it!

And not just that, she told me that it was the “perfect shade of purple” and asked me for the name.

I didn’t invent the color. I only even picked it because I thought the name was cool. But I still felt so much pride in my pretty purple fingers. I felt so good!

It was seriously such a small, itty, bitty, likely not even terribly well thought out compliment. And yet, I still remember it… several years later.

I thought about that compliment on Saturday as I removed the remaining bits of my silver sparkles from the crazy week before and put on a couple coats of vibrant, shiny, Pamplona Purple– fingers and toes!!

Here, I’ll show you:

Pamplona Purple

Kidding! Those totally aren’t my nails! This is the cool way to show off a manicure though– perfectly painted fingers wrapped around the bottle.

I’ve also seen it this way:


Perfectly manicured nails wrapped around something pretty and similar in color. But those are (obviously) also not my nails.

These… these are my nails:

Purple Monkey Manicure

I wrapped my pretty purple nails around my pretty purple monkey. Just like on the rest of the internet. Because I’m cool like that. And because Erika made me feel nice when I painted my nails like this the first time.

Amazing what such a small thing can do for you, isn’t it? You never really know when that nice thing you’re thinking could be exactly the nice thing someone needs to hear. And if you do let it out– maybe it’ll be something worth remembering in a year or two or five when that person needs a little pick-me-up.


Anyway, I’d love to stay and chat, but I’m watching Crazy, Stupid, Love. and it’s almost the part of the movie where Cal realizes his daughter is the girl Jacob is dating and a big, hilarious, four-man, backyard brawl breaks out. I love this part, it’s too funny. So I better watch it. And if you haven’t seen Crazy, Stupid, Love. you should really consider watching it too! (And I turned it on right before Jacob took his shirt off, double bonus. It wasn’t until I saw this that I got the Ryan Gossling “Hey Girl” Pinterest phenomenon. I totally get it now.)

Later gators!!

Debbie Crocker as The Ghost of Christmas Present (a profile in awesome)

You know how in cartoons, a good smell will come wafting by and the character floats along on the stream of good smells until they find what it is that smells so dang good? Like this:


(Note: if you click on the link to the picture source, you’ll find a recipe from May the Fork Be with You for homemade pierogies with kielbasa that looks to… die… for… Definitely going to have to try that.)

Anyway, I was sitting in my office this morning when that exact thing happened to me.


A delicious smell touched my nose and I floated up, up, up out of my chair and down the hall toward what was truly a sight to behold!

I’ve mentioned before that I have some pretty stellar coworkers. And by stellar I mean, of course, out-of-this-flipping-world. But it’s not just my coworkers that are completely awesome.com. The people who work near us are awesome as well. And my friend Debbie Crocker is no exception.

Although, she is exceptional. And she was responsible for that heavenly smell.

Debbie Crocker went ALL OUT to celebrate Christmas with us today! She brought homemade chicken fettuccine alfredo with garlic and parmesan to top it! She brought big puffy rolls and butter to spread on them– with a Christmas tree-topped spreader! And the cookies, my goodness!  Debbie Crocker is famous for her annual cookie day and she brought us the spoils! And in case all that weren’t enough, she even brought a deliciously cheesy chip dip as an appetizer! Un-be-lieve-a-ble!

Debbie Crocker

I know it looks like your typical office potluck. But it’s not– Debbie Crocker brought in and made everything herself. And this is what it actually looked like in person (i.e. through my eyes) because the photo above just does’t do it justice:

Muppet Christmas Feast

(I really identify with Miss Piggy, FYI.)

This woman’s heart… it’s just so big, so beautiful, so good… so overflowing with kindness and positivity and joy. My heart swells just looking at her! And I can tell you without a doubt, that today, I am feeling very loved (and very, very full) and I’m sure all of my coworkers (and even Sister Doctor who was invited for lunch!) do too. Because this is a very, very special woman.

You know the end of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens– Scrooge becomes a changed man and says, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” My dear friend Debbie Crocker is that person, the person who has Christmas in her heart, and happiness and goodness besides, the whole year round.

Today, she was absolutely the Ghost of Christmas Present. Scrooge after his revelation. The Grinch after his heart burst the little measuring doo-hicky. But most importantly, Deb is like that every day– every. single. day. She is just awesome. And while I know I can never be just like Deb, because she’s truly one-of-a-kind, she does inspire me to do everything I can to make others feel as good as she makes me feel through kindness and love.

Kindness and love and cookies. Christmas cookies.

Christmas Cookies
There are still some left! Come by for a snack- we can chat about Christmas!


PS: Did you notice the falling snow on the blog?! Isn’t that awesome! I’m in love with it!

The Importance of Being Earnest… or whoever you are.

Have you seen the movie The Importance of Being Earnest?  Colin Firth and Rupert Everett are in it.

That’s really all you need to know.

Colin Firth: Mr. Darcy, Mark Darcy, Jamie, King George, Harry… worth the watch all on his own.

Anyway, in the movie, two men (two British men) pretend to be named Ernest because, as the lovely little Cecily says:

“… it has always been a girlish dream of mine to love a man named Ernest.”

Can I ever relate!  Except it was the name Seth that really did it for me. Happily ever after. The end.

(Kidding of course, it was his singing! Car singing… that’s what really won me over!)

Anyway, both Jack and Algy pretend to be named Ernest– Ernest Worthing. Until their fiances get together, find out they’re both engaged to Mr. Ernest Worthing, the men have to come clean, and hilarity (musical hilarity, I might add!) ensues!  Admittedly, I am not done watching the movie (I couldn’t stay on the elliptical that long), but I plan to finish it tonight and I’m pretty sure I get the message:


And I can get behind that!

You see, my good friend Lee Chim went on a first date with a gentleman suitor this weekend and as she regaled us with the tales of the somewhat dorky awkwardness that the date entailed this morning, I couldn’t help but smile and smile and smile. (Oh, look! I’m smiling again!!) Because that’s who she is– to a T. Lee is a little bit dorky, a little bit awkward, but kind to the absolute center of her core. And she had FUN being herself: dorky, awkward, and kind.  A lot of fun. Enough fun to want to do it again. And so did he! Even though she opened the door for him (chivalry goes both ways, people! especially in the great white north!) and ended the evening with an awkward handshake-hug-pat-on-the-back combo– she was still the vibrant and lovely Lee, just being herself, the “pretty lady” that she is (he totally called her that– swoon!) and that was what I’m certain won him over.

Lee went on her date as Lee, not as Ernest. (See the connection I’m making here?) Pretending to be someone you’re not can be pretty funny in the movies, but seems like an awful lot of work without the possibility of much reward in real life.

I can’t be the only one who finds faking it exhausting, can I? And even more so, frustrating when it’s someone else putting on a front for me!

I love Lee for Lee (she’s seriously amazing you guys, and yes, I’m putting some extra compliments here at the end because I am banking on forgiveness in the morning! but I really do mean it… I cannot tell you how glad I am to have met her!! and to see her have fun on her date!!) and tonight I’ll find out if Cecily and Gwendolyn are willing to love their Ernest Worthings even if they go by Algy and Jack instead (don’t worry– it’s a romantic comedy, all signs point to yes). In my life, I’ve spent a lot of time pretending to be something I’m not. (I’d like to say trying rather than pretending, but I’m also trying to be honest with you here… so I’ll keep it real. Pretending it is.) And not once has it ever paid off.*

I have a sneaky feeling that (if you look for it love actually is all around… couldn’t help it after I started the sentence that way!) Lee would prefer to be loved for being her authentic self, dorkiness and all. That’s why I love her, to be sure! (Dorky is my love language, y’all.) And all the most important people in my life love me in the same way. Warts and all, as they say! (But seriously, I had a lot of warts on my left knee when I was growing up, it was unfortunate.)


*Ok, actually, there was that one time… when I pretended to molt at the dinner table for a while and begged for reptilian company to molt with, I did actually get an iguana for Christmas. That paid off pretty handsomely. But that was the only time, I swear.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: unless you’re trying to get your parents to buy you a lizard for Christmas, it’s probably best to just be yourself.


PS: Lee Chim is just a super clever nickname– got to protect the innocent and all that! Any resemblance to anyone living or dead is, well, because that’s the point… 😉  I love you, Lee Chim!! <3

Honestly Kind

I’ve been reading a lot lately… actually, let me rephrase that.  I’m reading a lot always and as I’ve mentioned before, sometimes themes just jump out at me.  Over and over and over again.  And when that happens, I have only once choice and that is to talk about it here, because they’ll never leave me alone until I do.

You may be asking yourself right now, is this a symptom of schizophrenia?  And I need to assure you that no, it is not.  I dabble in mental illness, of course, but schizophrenia is simply not my thing.  Therefore, the voices must be real…

The theme as of late has been honesty.  Truth.  Realness, actuality.  And I firmly believe that good people are attracted to truth like a moth to a flame.  And if this blog has taught me anything, it’s that every single time I make the hard choice to share a tough, personal truth, good people come a runnin’.  Every time.

Whether it’s ugly hair or an ongoing battle with depression— good people. Every. Single. Time.

But the more I thought about it, the more I thought about how this desire for truth and honesty isn’t necessarily universal. Because as much as I value honesty, I value kindness even more.  And I don’t think the two things are mutually exclusive. White lies told in the pursuit of kindness are a-o-k in my book (i.e. feel free to lie to spare my feelings, I’ll never hold it against you, and might even like you more for it).

There are definitely some people who pride themselves on their willingness to tell others the cold hard truth– unsolicited honesty to a fault.  But that’s really not the type of truth-telling I’m talking about here.  What I have recently come to find so much more important is not so much telling truths about others, because regardless of what I perceive about someone, I still can’t know everything, but rather, sharing the truth about myself.  As my fortune cookie said last week (I’m telling you– this theme has been everywhere!), “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting their battle too,” and the only battle you can really know for sure is the battle you are fighting yourself.

Fortune Cookie

To me, kindness in the context of honesty means sharing truths about yourself rather than your perception of others. (Think your friend’s husband is a total weirdo? Recognize how much she loves him and be happy that they’re happy! Think your own husband is a total weirdo? Use it for blog material! (kidding… love you, Sethy!) Don’t like your friend’s new hair cut? Maybe try complimenting her gorgeous smile instead! Don’t like your hair cut? Make jokes about it on the internet!) Easier said than done though, right? I struggle every day and every blog post (because it’s so much easier to rant about others than to examine hard truths about my self!), but I definitely feel the best when I  an make those two things work together.

Honesty. Kindness. Boom bam, baby!

Ripples, Spirals, and, of course, STDs

As an undergraduate, I worked as a coach in the Michigan Tech Writing Center.  It was pretty much the greatest place on earth I could possibly have worked and I’m relatively certain that I learned as much from working there as I did from every other class I took and experience I had during those four years combined.  It was a truly incredible experience, thanks in large part to the most amazing boss and leader I could every have imagined– Sylvia Matthews.  She is a quietly brilliant and beautiful woman, inside and out.  Her inability to be anything but genuine and sincere was, quite frankly, breathtaking, and I enjoyed every single moment I spent working for her.

My senior year, Sylvia took a couple of us coaches to the Midwestern Writing Center Conference in St. Cloud, MinnesOta, where the theme had something to do with water.  I can’t remember exactly what it was, but we put together a poster-style presentation where we discussed what we termed “The Ripple Effect” and shared some of the resources we had developed for working with international students in our center.

The ripple effect was essentially what it sounds like– like you drop a pebble in a pool of water and watch the waves spread out from that central point, making a change, even in yourself, will spread out from you in every direction and change the minds, hearts, and lives of those around you.  It was such a beautiful and simple idea and we really made it our mission in the Writing Center that year– to continually effect and be affected by change in others.

When I went to grad school, I moved away from writing and focused instead on infectious disease for 6 years, and interestingly, microogranisms seem to promote change in the same sort of way– primarily horizontally.  True, there are some infections that can be transmitted vertically (especially STDs!– gonorrhea? check… chlamydia? check… herpes? check… HIV? check… need I continue?), or from parent to offspring, but the most effectively spread pathogens spread horizontally from person-to-person-to-person… think the common cold, influenza, or norovirus on a cruise ship.  (Or even the primary spread of STDs– its horizontal, no matter how you look at it.  Ha!!)

And I heard the same sort of idea again when I heard Sister Miriam Therese Winter speak at the CTA conference a couple weeks ago.  She talked about ideas moving most effectively through the world in a spiraling pattern… not so much from the top down or the bottom up, but from person to person to person from the center out in a spiral pattern.

Recurring life theme?  I think so.

Sr. Miriam’s point was so beautiful.  She talked about how the divine, the Holy Spirit, the good, whatever you want to call it, is inside everything and everything is simultaneously inside the divine.  Those good things inside you can spiral outward to others, and the good things you are part of can simultaneously spiral back in to you.  Lovely, right?

It’s especially lovely when I think about how this has happened in so many ways throughout my own life.

Let’s start with the Writing Center, shall we?

I met my friend Ming in the Writing Center.  He was a brilliant mechanical engineer working toward his PhD… yet we spent most of our time talking about vegetables.  Vegetables!  Because he knew all the English words for building materials and other fancy technical terms, but he couldn’t match the produce he was seeing in the grocery store to the names on the signs above and therefore, couldn’t tell how much something cost… which was troublesome for a grad student on a budget.  So I brought in pictures of vegetables and we talked about their names, among other things.  It was so much fun!  He told people I saved him from starving to death (ha…), but he taught me a whole lot more than that.  Ming became my friend and accented English stopped bothering me in the slightest.  In addition, I dropped my prejudice against Asian accents, which was important for me… I had a preconceived notion that Asian accents were harder to understand than European accents.  How wrong I was! (Finnish was definitely the toughest for me, by far.)  And that, for me anyway, is true to this day.  Ming and I were both changed.  And I never miss the opportunity to work on understanding a new and exciting accent, foreign or otherwise.  (I live in Wiscahnsin now, dontchaknow!)

Likewise, things changed me and I like to think that I changed things in grad school.  No, I didn’t spread STDs (to any humans, anyway), but I did try to spread my thoughts about the importance of studying STDs for the sake of women’s health.  I remember sitting on the end of a dock on Clear Lake in Tomahawk one summer day with my aunt-in-law whom I barely knew at the time– we were chatting and catching some rays when she asked me about my work.  I talked (at length, of course) about gonococcal and chlamydial coinfection and my model and what it meant and blah, blah, blah and infertility blah… when she stopped me and said, “But if someone had gonorrhea and chlamydia maybe they shouldn’t be allowed to have kids– what kind of mother would they be?”  Or something along those lines… I explained that it doesn’t seem quite right for a responsible woman ready to start a family to have to continue suffering from an unfortunate mistake made at the age of 16.  Everyone makes mistakes, after all.  She liked my point, and I felt really good about making it.

And most recently, Sr. Miriam reminded me to keep it up– to keep dropping pebbles in the pond, to infect infect infect, and to send my love spiraling outward at every opportunity.

Seth helps me make waves these days!
Seth helps me make waves these days!

(Don’t worry– I left the STDs behind in Maryland…)

Tom says that love loves to love love.

Some days, it can feel like the entire world is Darth Vader, beckoning us to join him on the dark side.  And I get that because it’s true, there are a lot of sad things.  Bad things.  Mean, dark, catastrophic, tragic, and disturbing things out there in the world.  And that darkness can be so powerful.

But there are also so many people in this world with beautiful hearts.  People who drench the world in love and kindness, people whose radiance brightens even the darkest of corners, people who remind us that the best and most beautiful things grow up out of the dirt.

Today, Jeannett told us about how she’s helping her kids to cultivate kindness and to grow up to be good-hearted citizens of this world.

I want to raise kids like that– to care for the hearts, souls, and minds of others.  And I want to be like that, too.

Today, Chris explained that you don’t know what you don’t know about a person and you should act accordingly.

Word, Chris Lema!  There’s so much more to the people that surround us than we could possibly see at first glance.  Thanks so much for the reminder!!

Last night, Lara wrote a whole post meant to encourage you.

Seriously, how nice was it for Lara to use her insecure writer’s support group time to tell other people that they are awesome?!  Talk about giving back!

A couple days ago, Dawn shared some really beautiful words that have made an impact on her life.

Dawn literally shared the most beautiful contents of her hand-written journals and gave us all a way to carry those types of words around with us.

And finally, a heartbroken momma has chosen to use her grief to inspire so many through The 19 Days— a time to honor her beautiful baby girl, Avery, through random acts of kindness this October 5th through 24th.

I will be performing 19 random acts of kindness and with every one, I will think of that sweet little girl and her huge hearted mom and what an amazing force for GOOD both of them are in this world.

As my brother tells me James Joyce said, because I never would have known otherwise (Tom is very well-read), “Love loves to love love.”  And it’s so true.  Like water follows salt (it’s science), love follows love.  Kindness follows kindness.  And goodness follows gratitude.  (Maybe that’s science, too?)

These days, the negative is still there in the news and on my Facebook feed, but I’m listening more carefully and taking the time to be more observant of the quiet undertone of goodness and love beneath it all.  And I think that this is part of the Christmas present my dad created for my sister, brother, and I last year.  It was a beautiful slide show set to music in which he juxtaposed images of absolute disaster and tragedy with the powerful and unknowable presence of God.  If God’s not your thing, think love, spirituality, humanity, kindness… think everything good that is.  It’s always there, even when it seems like it’s not, like it couldn’t possibly be.  You just need to listen for it, look for it, try your hardest to feel it all around you.  If Bridget can find it through her daughter’s death and Chris can find it in an elevator on the way to deliver a speech, I imagine it can be found pretty much anywhere and everywhere.  What good luck!!

And sometimes, a little kindness toward yourself first can help you look later.  Pedicure, anyone?!



I get by with a little help from my friends.

What would you do if I sang out of tune?  Would you stand up and walk out on me?

Lend me your ear and I’ll sing you a song, and I’ll try not to sing out of key.

Good song, better message:

I get by with a little help from my friends.

(Are you thinking of The Wonder Years right now?)

Because don’t we all get by with a little help from our friends?  That support system?  I posit that the answer is yes.

I tend to think of my life in terms of distinct phases, defined primarily by where I was in school… because until recently, I was always enrolled in one kind of school or another.  So the way I think of my life is a lot like the way we (you know, we, like me and all the real paleontologists) classify dinosaurs based on when they existed.

Everything through the end of high school was essentially precambrian… early, unformed, and frizzy.  I wasn’t really sure how to have curly hair yet and many pictures exist to remind me of that.  (Many… frizzy… photos…  Want to see one?  Too bad!  It’s far too awful and I’m not that secure.)

College was my jurassic period, and I think that’s fitting considering that hearing the word jurassic tends to conjure dinosaurs.  I learned a lot, but when I think back on it, I feel like a lot of the time I was more or less stomping through the jungle trying to learn how to open door handles.  (And if anyone points out that velociraptors actually lived during the cretaceous period, not the jurassic period, I’m going to tell you to get over it– it’s my metaphor and the visual of a stegosaurus trying to use a door knob is just absurd.)

Grad school was the start of my cretaceous period, mammals were just starting to evolve, but they were angry and confused… certainly not human yet.

Fast forward just a couple years to life as I know it now and it’s amazing how quickly this person has evolved.  Fully Homo sapiens at this point.  Good deal.

In each of those time periods, there was one constant– amazing friends.  Friends that were there for me in the toughest of times (remember, what feels like a tough time is relative to the toughness of the times you have experienced to date, so no judgement for what someone else considers “tough”).  Now that I’m living what I finally consider real life, I can truly appreciate how important the support of those friends was then and is now.

When I skipped a grade and life was kind of hard (because things feel tough when you’re 8!), Emily was such a constant.

Emily, the precambrian princess…

When I was dumped and heartbroken my freshman year of college, Aimee lived next door and held me up through all of that (and 17– that’s another time in your life when things feel really big).

Aimee, the jurassic giant…

When slogging through grad school took it’s ugly toll, Jess ran mile after mile after mile with me (and she didn’t even like running then! ha! now she’s about to run a marathon! hard core!) and talked me through the tough stuff.

Jess, the triassic talent…

In my current job, my co-workers are like that– more than just people I work with, but friends who offer support and encouragement on a daily basis.  (Also gems like this video of poo pourri… too awesome).

My coworkers, queens of the quaternary…

Now, every single time I need to get away, Melissa is waiting for me in a safe, supportive, and happy place (seriously, I can’t even tell you how many different cities we’ve had pedicures in).

Melissa, the angel of all ages…

And finally, the friends that I thought may be friends of the past, but have surfaced since I began this blog to add so much more to my life than I could ever have hoped.

Dawn, Lara, Nicole, Laura, and on and on, to you, dear reader, the not-as-extinct-as-I-thought coelacanths

For a long time, I’ve been ok with being an introvert, a person who needs some alone-time, some quiet-time, and who has trouble with new social situations.  But when I really think back on my life– starting with that precambrian period– I can see how insanely important a social network and meaningful friendships have been.  With few exceptions (the exceptions being those impressive homesteaders living “off the grid” that you see on tv… dang, good for them, but I’d be pretty darn lonely with nothing but trees for friends), none of us can go it alone.

And someone out there can’t do it without you or me.  Kind of a neat thought.  And I hope I can be… that I am… the friend for someone else that so many people have been to me.


(How’s that for dinosaur references?  Not all Jurassic Park this time– had to consult Wiki for this one!)

23 Things– Reworked

A friend of mine recently shared a really interesting link on Facebook.  The link leads to an article on Huffington Post entitled 23 Things Every Woman Should Stop Doing and as a recovering woman’s magazine addict and lover of lists, I couldn’t resist clicking.

I clicked, I read, and then I realized that even though the list is about ways to make your life better, it’s a list of NO NO NO and it’s a list geared toward woman who are, as usual, doing it all wrong.  So I reworked it in two ways:

1) This is a list based on 23 things to which you can say YES YES YES.  If you want.


2) This is a list that applies to everyone– woman, man, or somewhere in between.  Because good things are good things, no matter who or what you are.

So, shall I commence with the list?

Yes.  Yes I shall.

23 Things That Everyone Should START (or keep or try or hate me for) Doing

1)  Accept responsibility when at fault.  Accepting responsibility is the first step, IMHO, to achieving forgiveness and understanding.  When you are truly at fault, no matter how hard it is to admit it and apologize, it is totally worth the effort.  And although I know many, including the author of the original 23 things article, would disagree, I think it’s ok to say “sorry” out of sympathy too.  I hate it when someone tells me something sad/bad/unpleasant/whatever, I say sorry, and then they snap back: “what are you sorry for?!  it’s not like it’s your fault!”  Maybe not, but I can still be sorry that things are tough for you.  No harm in saying so.

2) Say “yes” when you mean it and be willing to say “no” sometimes too.  For many of us, time is the most limited and precious resource we have.  There are only so many hours in the day and only so many days in our life… so let’s say  a resounding “YES!” when something sounds good, necessary, and/or important, and a polite, “No, thank you” when it doesn’t.

3)  Take time for your own priorities and give yourself permission to act in your own best interest.  One of the things that is good, necessary, and/or important, and therefore deserves that resounding “YES!” from you is… well… you.  It’s really hard to take care of others if you’re not taking care of yourself.  And if taking care of yourself means you miss a coffee date or your lawn doesn’t get mowed, so be it.

4) Eat the food.  End of sentence.  Food serves many purposes, nutritional, of course, but in our society, food also serves important social and emotional purposes and unless your emotional needs are met by lettuce and you’re BFFs with a colony of rabbits (which I have reason to believe I may be– so many babies!), then probably you’re going to eat more than just veggies on occasion.  I’d really rather not get into a big debate about the value of any one way of eating, but I do know that everything tastes better without the side of guilt and tall glass of shame that tends to accompany so many delicious things.

5)  Acknowledge positive body attributes, internally and externally.  Perhaps you’re not in love with your body, but you have to admit: it got you out of bed this morning, didn’t it?  (Dang it– are you reading this in bed?!  Well then, be grateful for your eyeballs, wise guy.) It’s capable of hugging (I said capable! that doesn’t mean it has to regularly hug), smiling, laughing, thinking, being, and those are all things worthy of acknowledgement, regardless of how you look, or in many cases, think you look.  So: shout out to you, thighs!  Way to walk me into work this morning!

6)  Recognize and celebrate personal and professional accomplishments.  You know that thing you did?  That was cool.  Way to go.  Now repeat that to yourself, it’s ok.

7) Accept a tagged photo, even an “unflattering” one, as a compliment.  So, you did something with someone, they took a picture of you doing it, and now they’ve put it online and tagged you… Dang!  You must be someone pretty cool and pretty loved because someone cared enough to do something with you, take the photo, upload the photo, and tag you in it!  That’s a lot of steps.  I call that a compliment to you!

8) Recognize that someone’s virtual story is not their whole story.  Most people don’t share everything online (clearly, I am not most people) and it’s totally reasonable that our natural tendency would be to put our best face forward.  Most people don’t feel the need to tell the world that they crapped their pants.  I get that.  But remember, just because someone didn’t post on Facebook that they crapped there pants, they may have actually crapped their pants.  You can’t possibly know.  So remember that the next time you are jealous of someone’s online presence– they may have crapped their pants.

9) Let go of regrets and guilt.  I talked about my friend Nate recently and he lived his life by this motto, for sure.  He got a tattoo when he turned 18 that said “No Regrets” and figured that even if he messed something up, he’d just do it better the next time.  Simple, right?  Obviously not.  But perhaps you can try when reflecting on “mistakes” to put on your Emily-colored glasses and be a little kinder to yourself.

10) Wear whatever shoes you feel like wearing.  Heels will kill you!  Fit flops will tone your rear end!  You can’t be a real doctor without Danskos!  What.  Evs.  Just wear the shoes you want to wear, for whatever reason you want to wear them (comfort, color, cuteness…), and get on with your life.  They’re just shoes.

11)  Live and 12) let live– sexually.  Sex… is… private.  That is all.  You sex-life is none of my business and mine is none of yours.  I like 50 Shades of Gray (slut!) and I like Beverly Lewis books (prude!), neither of those things tell you a dang thing about me, except that I like to read fiction.  A lot.  So that’s it, just live and let live, and don’t worry so much about other people– what they do or what they think about you.

13) Be genuine.  It’s ok to be mellow about something when you’re “supposed” to be upset.  It’s also ok to be upset.  But failure to be genuine about your feelings is dishonest to yourself and to others.

14) Embrace the label “crazy.”  The most out-there, paradigm-shifting ideas are the ones that tend to change the world.  People will always try to undermine or dismiss you, but if you are passionate about an idea, keep putting it out there, and be crazy if crazy is what it takes.  Maybe even blog about crapping your pants.  Crazy can be cool.  (Crapping your pants cannot.  I’m sorry.)

15) Use WebMD as a starting point.  The internet is FULL of medical information, some good, some bad, some in between.  It’s certainly not a bad place to start if you’ve got some mysterious symptoms or ongoing ailment.  Of course, it’s generally a good idea to call a medical professional if you think you might have a serious problem, but sometimes the internet can be a great place to start when you want to generate questions for your provider.  And a good provider will take the time to answer your questions and to make sure you are fully informed.

16) Be inspired by Pinterest… if you feel like it.  I love Pinterest!  Sometimes my attempts to recreate what I find turn into absolute Pinstrosities, but sometimes my Pinspiration bears fruit and I end up with something awesome.  Sometimes I just like looking at the pictures.  Regardless of the source, Pinterest or otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with seeking out inspiration… I’m not really sure why people get so angry about it.  I don’t think the point of the site is to tell you that you should be able to recreate these things.  No one used to get mad at me for my binders full of recipes and pages torn from magazines.  Same thing, right?

17)  Relish alone time as a chance to “Treat Yo’ Self!”  I’m an introvert (I think, but it’s been a while since I’ve done the Myers-Briggs), so I recognize that this one is a little easier for me than it is for other people, but alone time can be really, really nice.  (Just ask a mom, right?  (No, I am not a mom.))  Being alone is the perfect time to, as the folks on Parks and Rec say, treat yo’ self!  Perhaps you want to dress up as batman, paint your toe nails with pretty designs, sit and stare at a wall for half an hour, read a good book, try something you saw on Pinterest… whatever, now’s your chance!  Treat yo’ self!

18) Engage in and maintain meaningful and positive romantic relationships.  In the original article, the author talks about not jumping into a relationship just because you are scared of being alone.  Ok, maybe.  But I don’t think most of us are aware enough at the beginning of a relationship to realize that that’s why we’re doing it.  (You can trust me on this, I last started a relationship when I was 18… 11 years ago, so clearly, I’m an expert on dating.  That’s sarcasm.)  But when you are in a relationship, maintaining something meaningful and positive is totally worth your while.  (That, I can actually attest to!)

19)  Take advantage of vacation days.  You are given PTO for a reason.  Use it.  Even if you need to use it just to go get a mammogram and a colonoscopy– use it!  (And get your mammogram if you’re over 40, colonscopy if you’re over 50.)  Time away from the office, whether it’s a full on vacation or just a little stay-cation, can feel really, really good.  (Yes, coming back can feel pretty crappy, but it was going to feel like that anyway.)

20)  Engage and maintain meaningful and positive friendships.  In the same church service where I heard the idea of the tapestry, the priest also said that true friends aren’t made, they’re discovered.  And I couldn’t agree more.  It’s true, you can try to cut people out of your life if they are “toxic,” but that seems to naturally happen when you work on cultivating and maintaining positive friendships.  (If it doesn’t work, then what you have is probably not a friend, but a stalker.  Seek help.)  (Also, I know “frenemies” are a bad thing, but they make for a darn good movie– love Mean Girls!!)

21)  Spend intentional, rather than obligatory, time with people.  You will enjoy it more and so will the people you are spending time with.  If they are just an obligation, they will probably know, and that’s not very nice.

22)  Be proud of the things that make you you I am not embarrassed that I really like dinosaurs and get passionate about women’s health.  Those things are not necessarily “cool” (as in: they are not cool), but they are my genuine interests and I just don’t see the point in cultivating something as an interest just because it’s cool, nor being embarrassed about the things that actually do interest me.

23) Let life happen on its own timeline.  Life is messy and it is long.  We are where we are when we are and there’s not a lot you can do about that.  I’ve seen people try to force it (myself included) and it really doesn’t work out as well that way.


So there you have it.  It’s essentially the same list, it just bothers me to be told NO.  It bothers me to be told I’m doing it wrong.  It bothers me that someone makes a list to tell me all the different ways I’m doing it wrong.  Especially 23 times in a row.  

And perhaps, ultimately, all 23 of these big, fat, yeses (is that seriously a word?  no red squiggly underline… must be!) boil down to the very thing I said yesterday:

If you see something nice, say something nice.  And do something nice.  (I didn’t say that part yesterday.)  To yourself, to others.  Kindness as the human condition.  I like that.

See Something, Say Something

See Something Say Something

The Department of Homeland Security has a public service campaign it calls “If You See Something, Say Something” for the purposes of raising public awareness about indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime.  Makes sense to me– we can’t always assume that someone else is going to see the same thing we saw.  And if they do, we can’t assume that they’re going to do something about it.

But I think this idea can apply to a lot more than anti-terrorism measures, and I propose the following:

something nice

Seriously, does anything feel better than a heart-felt compliment?  An expression of gratitude?  So why not tell someone when you like their dress, think they did a good job speaking in a meeting, got something done faster than you expected, looked really beautiful or happy or glamorous or clever in a photo on Facebook?  What’s the harm in saying something nice?

I’m not suggesting that we all walk around with a false “you look lovely today” on our lips, but I know that nice thoughts pop into my mind all the live-long day and it seems silly to waste such happy thoughts on my brain, marinating in its juices all alone in my thick skull all the time.  Why not share the thought and take a chance on making someone’s day just a bit better?

When I first started toying with the idea of starting a blog, I really wanted to make it a positive place.  In fact, my original working title was “This is a Positive Blog.”  Of course, that was before the whole tapestry idea came about and I’m glad it did, because I like that much better.  Regardless, this is a positive blog.  And I want to be a positive force in the lives that I touch.  There’s enough negativity out there to go around.

So what do you say?  Will you join me in my crusade for kindness?  My goal of goodness?  (My attempts at alliteration???)  It’s as easy as saying out loud the thought that’s already in your head.  Piece of cake!  Piece of delicious cake…