Life, We’re In It Together

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”

10 Ways To Be Kind You Didn’t Think Would Count

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.

more “10 Ways To Be Kind You Didn’t Think Would Count”

How to be Beautiful, Part 1

Beauty Tip #1:

Lovely, right?

Our beauty, or lack of, is always, merely the reflection of where we are directing our gaze. 

For example:

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: 

In Haiti when we learned how to take a selfie!

more “How to be Beautiful, Part 1”

Funny Can Equal Kindness

This Giraffe is looking for a little action. Why a giraffe? They are unlikely and, in my opinion, hilarious. That’s it.

Kindness tip of the week:  

look for the funny in everything and life is easier to handle.

For example!

The-Very-Patient-Husband accompanied me to a doctor’s appointment on Friday. It was a serious appointment, we were both a little nervous and became even more so when the nurse greeted us. She seemed a bit peeved about…perhaps, the idiocy of our world, the people in it, and most likely her job specifically (I’m just guessing). Maybe she hadn’t had any coffee yet, I know that would do it for me. more “Funny Can Equal Kindness”

Black Rock Coffee Bar-A Very Good Place

Black Rock Coffee Bar

We have this great place in my hood to meet for coffee, or to get a little work done with a cup of coffee out among other human beings. The first time I walked into this new place to meet a friend, Kathy (she’s very nice, you should try to meet her there for coffee too), I immediately noticed that I suddenly was in a better frame of mind. I almost never notice things like that, but goodness is obvious here the moment you walk in.

Coffee brings us together, doesn’t it? It’s a bit of a treat. It provides a socially acceptable meeting location for our stimulant fixes.

It’s possible that the late, great, NBC sitcom Friends and Central Perk may have given us this gift of a great way to hang together. Phoebe, Joey, Rachel, Chandler, Ross and Rachel became a family at Central Perk. more “Black Rock Coffee Bar-A Very Good Place”

The Kindness War

“There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware

I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down

There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong”

Stephen Stills 1967

Kindness is at war with evil.

The battle lines are being drawn by celebrities, politicians, comedians, some cats, my next door neighbor. It’s a battle to fight violence, judgement, hatred, intolerance, apathy, by way of being consciously kind.

It’s a victimless war.

It’s a hard time to believe in people right now–between child detention, the constant revelations of the #MeToo movement, the racial, economic and gender-based injustices we witness every day.

It could not be a better time for a movie about Mister Rogers. But, when has there ever been a time when it wasn’t a good idea to listen to a peaceful man? Our family went to see Won’t You Be My Neighbor this past weekend. It was a 10 PM showing on a Friday night after a long week. We were in recliners at the Harkins at the mall. I had a glass of champagne to sip during the movie. Our kids came with us, they’re 20 and 22, and we’d all been swimming in 110 heat for most of the day.  Although,It was the perfect storm to sleep from opening to ending credits, no one slept. It was even kinda riveting. It’s a very quiet, beautiful film about a very quiet, beautiful man who embodies unconditional love. He makes seeking kindness first seem easy. It isn’t always. But, Fred Rogers shows that kindness is a choice we can make daily, that feelings are important and valid, and that love, or its vacancy, is the dynamic force behind our actions.

And then there’s Lady Gaga!!! She’s so much more than we were led to believe at her beginning. She is actively speaking out to make a difference in the world she sees. Personally, I see humans in most places trying to change the world by spreading kindness.

Here’s a thing: To be consciously kind takes a little effort, but not nearly as much as hate requires.

Then! Here in Chandler, is my friend Helen. Un-frickin-believable Helen.

If she reads on facebook that I’m sick or injured, which, to put into perspective, I am injured/sick more often than not-that-way, she goes into high alert as to how she can ease my pain. For exp: a coffee mug of George Clooney’s self-portrait (a personal fave), An In-N-Out gift card, root beer, chocolate covered cherries when my father died because he loved those things, anything from Disneyland that involves magic or Tigger. These perfect gifts will just appear on my doorstep, and after Helen ding dong ditches at a speed only a 5 year-old should be able to achieve, I will open the door to see only the evidence of love and compassion sitting in a potted plant. I’m just one of hundreds of people she stalks for goodness.  My daughter, Hannah, calls her S.O.G. for Sister of God. We are humbled by her very nature. S.O.G. you rock.

Let’s be Helen today and do one thing for one person who doesn’t expect or maybe even deserve a little surprise. Even a flower from your yard on their front door is enough. Let me know if you actually do this please!

Your one act of kindness shared can reach the world. This little blog alone is reaching Russia. You have a chance to reach across this huge cultural divide just by saying “Hi.” Or “I put a flower on my neighbors door. They never noticed it…”

Aforementioned cat changing the world…

Neighbors For Good

I see a world where we continually define ourselves by the way in which we are divided.

Our family moved to Chandler, Arizona from Los Angeles 18 years ago. We found a nice house we could almost afford in a safe neighborhood. My husband and I had two small daughters at the time. I suggested leaving L.A. the day helicopters were hovering over our house bellowing repeatedly through a blow horn for everyone to lock all doors and windows and stay inside. An armed robber was thought to be hiding in one of our backyards after shooting the owner of our corner grocery store. I love LA, but life in Chandler has been way less “survival of the fittest.”

The first day of house shopping brought us into 20 identical, beige, stucco houses in 20 different neighborhoods between Scottsdale and Chandler. more “Neighbors For Good”

Just For Today

Maybe just for today we can find a way to offer hope just by being open to someone else’s walk through humanity. In my opinion, this is vitally important because now more than ever, Americans seem to rise up through tragedy just too often to keep going on. 

Jane, a friend of mine from my distant adolescence in California, posted this on Facebook after one of our way too many mass shootings, or maybe it was in response to the divisiveness of our political climate… more “Just For Today”

The Fingerprint of Second Thoughts

“Thank you for not abusing me” she said.

“You’re welcome……….it hasn’t been easy” I replied.

My daughter, Talia, is training to be a volunteer on Teen Lifeline, the suicide hot line here in Phoenix. We had the above conversation more than once after the session on abuse.

I didn’t plan to have children. They just showed up. I thought about having a baby once and then BAM! pregnant. That first one just about killed me too, not all the way to fully dead, but dented into an unrecognizable state.  I have a salvage certificate.

Six months after the first baby was born, in a moment of weakness to many, many, things, I thought about a new baby again, and BAM! same thing. I have not allowed myself to “think” since. 

Talia Hope became the second “thought.” Before she was Talia, she was 25,023,800 seconds of panicked thoughts. 24, 419,000 seconds is the length of an average pregnancy. Talia stayed another 7 days to put up shelves, it seems, in the hope of staying.

There are times in my life where I have been closer to God than others. Waiting for my second child to emerge while caring for a seven-month old was a time spent in close proximity; through prayer, pleading and endless bargaining.

At the risk of sounding crazy, when I was about 2 months into the pregnancy, I heard these words in reply to an outcry, “You’re having a girl. Her name is Hope.”

“I am? Whose hope is she? Mine?”  I replied. “Nice.”

Since you can’t name a child Hope Burns (for obvious reasons) we named her Talia Hope. Talia is Hebrew/Greek and means “Dew from Heaven.” Hope and dew from heaven are maybe too much to expect from a small person, especially since I’ve only ever hoped to keep my children alive or on good days to walk upright.

Through much doubt, I was “believing” for a pain free natural child birth while waiting for Talia to be done with her shelves. The pain free part didn’t happen, which leveled my faith for awhile. When Talia was done with her shelving project, she came hurtling out of the shoot with such a force that she broke her face and her collarbone and arrived the color of soot. Since my husband and I are not that color, it was a little suspicious…But, within 24 hours she was back to resembling us, along with a little bit of Yoda..(She still doesn’t like that comparison.) (The resemblance was striking though!)

The moment she was placed on my chest after her shoot hurtling entrance into this world, she cracked me up. She had a remarkable over-bite. ($5,000 later this has been fixed. Thank you Dr. Chamberlain!)  “This is the one that’s going to make me laugh” I told my husband through sobs and chuckling. Which has turned out to be true.

My second moment of weakness has become a person who notices “an underlying tone of agony” in humanity and is on a mission to find out why that is. And to make everyone laugh; at her, at themselves, at all the other ridiculousness in this world. It is her sense of curiosity and humor that focuses her listening so intently. Laughter and listening. Good qualities in a hopeful lifesaver.

She won’t find out if she “made” the Teen Lifeline team for another 2-3 weeks of training and finals and mock-phone calls that make her alternately break down in sobs and beam with pride. I dearly want her to pass these tests, just as I am deeply afraid that this may have too much tragedy for a tender 16-year-old to take on.

My second thought…noticed her life with us has been free of abuse,  thinks I’m cute, wants me to think this too, and is learning how to offer hope.

It’s enough to make me start to “think” again. Because one sarcastic, snarky, overly observant, sweet, clever, sometimes insecure, kind, fingerprint, maybe wasn’t enough.

Have you had a second thought that worked out better than you hoped? Has it changed your life? Or someone else’s life that you’ve had the privilege to notice?

If not, here’s mine. Maybe mine will help you find yours.

Yoda at 14.

Talia’s fingerprint:

* kindness wrapped in sarcasm.
* Compassion covered up in a contrary, perky, shell.(hence the “it wasn’t easy” comment above.)
*  is not gentle with herself, but is with everyone else.
* is love. A rescuer of precious creatures. Not the least of which is me.
 * is permanently pink, just because…

Talia, I suspect that God is giggling about His creation of you.