Do you know someone who feels alone? Do you have someone in your life; your child, your student, a friend, a partner, or someone you pass by occasionally, that you can tell is suffering?
Last weekend I had the honor of performing at a benefit for Kid in The Corner and I MUST SHARE their mission and message of kindness, inclusion, community, and hope. This organization exists because of one parent’s worst nightmare. more “Kid in The Corner”…
Our vision was to reinvent cities around people, not cars. That vision originated with one of our cofounders, who spent his life in Los Angeles, sitting in traffic and thinking to himself, there has got to be a better way.
Gize gave me a ride from San Francisco to the Oakland Airport. We shared our philosophies on human interaction and connection. I’d been considering starting a blog on kindness during this trip to Northern California while helping out with some fire victim’s in Santa Rosa in 2017. Observing the enormous outpouring of resources and genuine desire to ease suffering during the couple of days I was helping out, started me on this idea. It’s a bummer that tragedy seems to be required to bring kindness into the spotlight, even though kindness is everywhere you look, always.
When I was done in Santa Rosa I spent the night with a friend, Beth, in San Francisco. Beth arranged for a Lyft, like a nicer Lyft, almost a limo, to get me to the Oakland Airport. Beth, not surprisingly, lives on a hill. Beth was on her hands and knees with her head under her car in her garage when the Lyft arrived. I set my rolly suitcase down on the sidewalk and went to say goodbye to her under her car. As my suitcase started to roll into the street, Gize, like a superhero, maybe Spiderman, jumped out, scooped it up and put it in the back of his car/limo/fancy ass car. I noticed the rolly escapee at the same time. It was a near pileup between the two of us, which involved a little scream from me, and was the first of at least 20 times we genuinely laughed together. I took him over to meet Beth under her car. Beth does not care to be viewed in this position…
Gize and I had a bit of a cultural divide, but only due to growing up on different continents, otherwise we’re the same person. He missed his original country with the overwhelming support and connection between all of their citizens, unlike here in America where we end up divided by demographics and wrapped up in our safety seals of steel cars, mostly alone.
Gize is doing his part beautifully to bring the kindness of his home country and spreading it around the San Francisco Bay Area. When he set my suitcase out on the curb at the airport, where it behaved and stayed in place, we shared a hug and I felt I’d just been in the company of one of the best people I have ever met. Gize helped to change me for good. I started this blog partially inspired by our encounter. I’ll never forget that ride.
A couple of days later, Lyft emailed me this:
Five years ago, we started Lyft to spark moments of human connection – sometimes big, sometimes tiny. And now 2.5 million people come together every day in Lyft rides across the country, proving that people from all walks of life can positively impact each other’s day.
I believe Lyft, and drivers like Gize, have found the better way.
Through their relief rides they give free rides during crises, for example; after the mass-shooting in Las Vegas, they gave rides to blood banks and hospitals, in the aftermath of natural disasters, and to veterans and low-income individuals.
In underserved communities they provided free rides to and from the polls on election day, and 50% off rides to companies that support voter turn out
During this holiday season if you loved grandma’s Fireball laced eggnog a bit too much, think about calling Lyft first. You stand a chance of at least meeting another human being doing the best they can, right where they are.
I see history as a book with many pages, and each day we fill a page with acts of hopefulness and meaning.
Former President George H.W. Bush
I remember when he asked for a kinder and gentler nation, and for all of us to be a thousand points of light by volunteering in our communities. He leaves behind a legacy of service and a reminder for all of us to bring hope to those who may have lost it.
Don’t you miss living in a time when our leaders said things like this? A time when more of us looked to unite, instead of to divide?
I mostly remember the kinder, gentler, points of light thing due to Dana Carvey’s impression of Bush on Saturday Night Live, and through my friend, Woody, who could impersonate Dana Carvey impersonating President Bush PERFECTLY! Which pretty much sums up what I was doing in 1989…I was laughing.
A huge crevice exists between this Bush-man and our current government leader. Even if it was only the speech writers who were inspiring, it is still a devastating loss that this call to kindness no longer defines our nation.
There is mourning indeed. I wish I knew how we got so far from unity as a whole.
Let’s try to follow this example of humanity as we traverse our new normal.
Tomorrow on our cul-de-sac we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving. A 24-pound turkey, Al, will not be thawed by tomorrow. Dinner may be late for our small gathering this year of 15. I am thankful to have a warm, welcoming home for 15 people to sit down together and laugh more than we cry -or drink.
My mother passed away this past Nov. 6th at 7:30 AM. My alarm went off at 7:30 and as I rolled over to hit snooze I noticed I wasn’t coughing up small hamsters from my lungs for the very first time in 3 months. When I stood up from my all too comfy bed I was hit by a weight of depression I hadn’t been experiencing for the last couple of months, so I noticed.
I got a call at 12:10 PM. letting me know my mother had passed away a bit unexpectedly. It was nice of her to take my cough with her. I’m sure it’s just a weird coincidence. But, still, it’s weird.
When my husband, the-very-patient-man, and I decided to have children I vowed to do everything I could to give my children a different childhood than mine. I succeeded and failed.
Now that one is in college and one a recent college graduate living her dream life in California, I have too much time to miss: their magical imaginations, shopping for their food and entertainment and education and positive reinforcements. I miss the few and far-between moments of my own mother’s attempts to do the same for me. My ‘nows’ are often made up of ‘thens’ and the wishful thinking that I could have done better, at everything. I miss the way our life was, even in the midst of loving the way our life is.more “Mothers, Gratitude, Regret, and Wishful Thinking”…
This is just a reminder that your empathy will always be more important, more impactful, and more life changing to this world than your opinion ever will be. Empathy removes confining walls and allows space for healing and understanding. Empathy moves mountains. – Kate Held
In My Opinion, now, more than ever (or so it seems) in this hateful political, intolerant climate, we desperately need to consider the experience of those around us. We all tend to be in our own bubble, just trying to get from A to B as fast as possible and with the least amount of difficulty. For some of us, A and B are fantastic destinations filled with people we love and work that’s important. For some, A and B is barely tolerable and always hellish in the journey and destination.
Putting our feet into someone else’s life is empathy. Some empathetic reflexes don’t require thinking…we wince when we see someone get hurt, for exp. (Unless someone trips in a movie or TV series or my living room, then it’s just an automatic laugh-out-load reflex to me. I cannot control this reaction, it’s guaranteed and loud and probably says more about my base sense of humor than I would like to acknowledge) — But true empathy, requires thinking. I’m fascinated by the people who walk my part of the planet whose work it is to serve me in someway. Fast food servers always break my heart because I know this must be one of the hardest jobs ever. When I encounter a person of a certain age working at McDonalds my heart breaks on the spot and so I genuinely ask how they’re doing and do my best to make them laugh.
Recently I’ve developed an addiction to McDonalds Mocha Frappe’s, in my defense I’ve been ridiculously sick for the last 3 months which is what brought me to order one in the first place. Starbucks was all the way across the street. I was down, exhausted, coughing uncontrollably, and on my way to teach dance. Like a gift from God this phenomenal, delishishness sang to me from that lighted order board in the drive-thru and upon the first sip gave me the will to live I’d been lacking. There is no excuse as to why I keep going back. That is just weak-willed-sloth-like behavior in search of frozen mocha happiness drizzled in chocolate. DO NOT EVER TRY ONE OF THESE. You will live to regret the extra pounds included in each serving.
But, I digress. A couple of weaks (spelled this way intentionally) ago, at the McDonald’s window where they take the low, low amount of $2.16 for a small mocha frappe, I slightly recognized the profile and voice of the cashier. Hesitantly I spoke her name very quietly, in case I was wrong, and yes, it was this old pseudo-friend. She’s now in her 50’s, divorced and I happen to know she lost custody of her kids…and she’s a cashier at McDonalds. This is an irregular person for me, someone I needed to cut out of our lives, but at this moment I wanted to comfort/encourage/respect/forgive her, because this has to be a such tough part of her life. She didn’t let on to me if she was embarrassed to be seen, in fact, she smiled and laughed when she said “Yep! Cashier at McDonalds!” I’m hoping she’s just happy to be getting back on her feet and doesn’t feel the need for empathy.
Our lives collide with peeps living a different life every time we pull out of the garage: the homeless person with a dog on the corner, the botox-ed woman in designer clothes cutting in front everyone else to valet park her Beamer at the Vig, the father of 5 who is screaming and running after each kid simultaneously in Albertsons wishing he’d given birth to goats instead of these small slippery humans, the neighbor who can afford to completely make-over their entire house and yard on a whim, the neighbor who hasn’t even looked at the weeds in their yard in 2 years…and then, there’s our children. Our children have a different world to survive than we, their parents, have experienced. Looking in their eyes, if at all possible (!) and purposefully listening will bring our lives to a level playing field in almost any scenario.
However, today there was another mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, CA. One of our families favorite places that is home to people whom we love and cherish. The 307th mass killing this year. Three Hundred and Seven. And this is where I find my empathy completely lacking. There are too just too many horrific examples of lifestyles colliding; school shooter, mugger, rapist, angry politicians from any party, slanderous omnipresent political ad’s, large white SUV’s on the freeway in a bigger hurry than I am, and sometimes just coming into contact with our cat’s innate predatory nature is just more than anyone should be able to withstand. I’m thinking that maybe if we knew someone before they became a menace to humanity and animal life, paid attention to their walk on this planet they wouldn’t arrive at the choices they’ve made or perhaps would’ve been moved toward seeking help before hateful words or murder…It’s just a theory and a theory I don’t know if I can achieve. We all have mountains to move, some are Everest, some are really more of a bunny hill. The size of the mountain doesn’t matter, it’s how we speak to it that does. Here in America we have way too many Everests.
My heart breaks on a daily basis lately. Hence this post.
Are you capable of empathizing with ‘irregular people’? Please let me know how.
My last blog post, Life We’re in It Togetherwas a story about a friend and neighbor, Helen, who is beyond thoughtful and empathetic, she’s ‘empathoughtfulmaster.’ That word is soon to be an actual concept. Helen just senses the human experience of others and sneakily follows through on her phenomenal ideas.
Jennie Lee, one of my favorite people in forever, had her own sneaky idea. Out of the abundant goodness of her heart, she followed through on an idea to pay a kindness forward, in reaction to Helen doingmore “Just Because”…
Last Saturday night about 9:45 the husband and I returned home from dinner at Bandera in Scottsdale (Go sometime! It’s fantastic) and had just settled down to see if the season premiere of SNL was streaming early. It wasn’t. But just as we cuddled up together and began a search for something that might make us laugh, our doorbell rang two times in rapid succession. Sounded like the way UPS rings the bell, I didn’t think the delivered so late, The Husband graciously went to answer the door. “Who is it?” I bellowed from deep in the couch when I didn’t hear anything at the door. “Nobody. Just a white car flooring it from the curb.” He replied as he handed me a dozen lavender roses. No card.more “Life, We’re In It Together”…
You don’t have to do big things in every moment of every day, even simple, small things will change the world.
10 things you can do this week to feel better about yourself and maybe set a good example to someone…your child, your mate, total strangers, squirrels.
1. Put your grocery cart in the corral, even when no one else is around. I do this because I’m trying not to be an asshole. Putting your things away is the nice thing to do. AND! 10 minutes ago, when I started to return my cart on this rainy day (sprinkling lightly, it’s Arizona so we think even humidity counts for rain), a perfect gentleman came over to me and said, “I’ll take that” and he took it! He returned it to it’s little corral where it snuggled up next to its fellow carts. I am not a feeble looking woman. I assume he was walking by and thought, “I’m going that way anyway.” It surprised me, in a good way. Note, to self, I will do this someday too.
This blog is a place for good. But, good often comes out of struggles, pain, evil, lack, and on and on. Disaster gives us a chance to rise up and be better human beings and doings to make a difference.
So many heroes rose from the ashes of the terror attacks on September 11. In every hurricane, tornado, storm surge and firestorm comes hundreds of volunteers giving their energy and sharing their resources selflessly. In my hometown of Santa Rosa, California, I’ve witnessed kindness in the form of millions of dollars of donations, back-breaking labor, and open arms bringing in newly homeless victims while this town tries to recover from last October’s devastating firestorm that leveled most of its buildings and homes. more “Tell Me Something Good”…
Our beauty, or lack of, is always, merely the reflection of where we are directing our gaze.
Beaming with pride for someone else. I am photographed often in this particular state. I’m a wife, mother, teacher, general “lover of all things sweet and beautiful and good” and I look better when I observe anyone doing even remotely well, and smiling with every cell. It is a selfless moment, it is a reflection of where I am directing my attention. Beaming with pride looks like this on me and my very patient man: