Posted in audience participation, connections, differences, know better do better, mindset, motivation, parenting, vulnerability

LISTEN—it’s about all of us

It doesn’t feel right to prattle on about the usual things today.

The problem of gun violence is overwhelming.

The problem of black people murdered by police is overwhelming.

The problem of racism is overwhelming.

There are solutions or partial solutions to these, and we rationalize our way around them.

How do we connect when there’s little to no willingness for vulnerability? If you show up for the conversation with your army and I show up with mine, the best possible outcome is a stalemate.

“You go first” “No you go first” has the same result.

We—white people—have so much fear of losing.

Community isn’t a zero-sum game. When the “least” among us does better, everyone does better. (I hate the word “least” because of the value judgment. What if our gold standard was compassion? The “least” among us would be some very different people…and it would be better for everyone.)

We’re all people. We all have some similarities in emotions and wants and needs. But not everyone’s life and experience and motivation is the same as yours. (And it’s often not what you judge it to be, either.)

Listen.

Especially when you’re triggered or feel dismissive.

Listen.

It’s not about you.


To my friends of color, to other people of color who I’m not acquainted with… to the mamas…

It’s easy to say “I can’t imagine what you’re going through” and to offer a platitude that way.

I don’t want to offer platitudes. So I took some time, and I sat, and I imagined it, the best that I can.

And I wept.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry that this is part of your parenthood. I’m sorry that this is what we offer you. I’m sorry I can’t fix it. I feel like my voice doesn’t matter—because it’s small, because it’s white, because the people who need the lessons aren’t listening—but for whatever audience I have, in a variety of contexts, my voice is all I have.

Posted in about me, connections, gifts, mindset, thoughtfulness

Delight in small things

“Hey, you got a card from someone,” The Climbing Daddy said one day last week when he brought in the mail.

There wasn’t an occasion or anything attached to it—just a card that said, in sum, “I’m glad our paths crossed” from a relatively new friend.

It was lovely. It made my day. I have it standing up at my little workstation in the living room.

Ten days ago, I injured my foot. I thought it might be broken with a small or hairline fracture. X-rays indicated otherwise, but I couldn’t put weight on it for several days, couldn’t walk on it normally for a week, and still have a limited amount of walking I can do before it complains.

A friend lent me a pair of crutches and a kneely scooter so I could get around better. The crutches she had handy but the scooter was a bit of a pain on her end. And she delivered both to my house.

The dog was already here and did not go back in the basket. He wasn’t a fan.

A few weeks ago, a friend gifted me a copy of a book she had told me about that sounded really interesting. (I finished reading it last week! It was as good as I’d expected.)

All of these incidents made my life better.

We underestimate the goodness we can bring to someone else’s life through small gestures. One of those cost nothing but time and gas money. The next cost a card, a stamp and some time. The last cost a paperback book.

Most people are delighted by happy surprises (though many prefer not to have an audience for said surprise). Mailing a card or ordering a book or giving/lending something you don’t need right now (or ever) can be a bright spot in someone’s day.

And also—the other things on my work station?

One was a box that a paper crafting friend of mine made for me for my birthday that I keep there because it’s lovely (the lead photo is a close-up of the front) and sums up where my professional life is right now.

The other is a LEGO minifigure that Rocket Kid made of me with a camera. The hair is more generous than mine, but I love the camera detail. (The other LEGO is a critter he made. We disagreed about whether the two black pieces are antennae or legs.)

All that to say—sometimes, things are not only nice in the moment, but they stick.

Take a bit of time to do something for someone, whether it’s someone in your house or not. (Imagine the surprise someone in your house would have to receive a card in the mail from you!)

Do something not electronic. Make a phone call, send a card or a letter or a small token gift, see if you have something someone else can use. Make someone’s day. It’ll make yours, too.

Who are you going to delight?


If sending a card is a great idea and you don’t already have some on hand, you can find beautiful cards that come with stamps already affixed here.

Posted in audience participation, connections, socializing, thoughtfulness

Pleasant people plus one

I was in a writing group. We were generally friendly, offered feedback to each other on our work with both give and take on “negative” feedback. (So grateful for that. Can’t get better without constructive criticism, and we, culturally, are extremely averse to it.)

One person in the group was extremely unpleasant. Would talk much longer than anyone wanted to listen, offered advice on things people didn’t want or need advice for. (In my “welcome to the group, tell us about yourself” bit, I mentioned I was a band teacher and was doing bucket drumming with my classes. Upon hearing this—after being acquainted for less than five minutes—he offered me some suggestions for how I could do band instead because it’s really important for the kids to play their instruments. He was not a teacher, not an instrumentalist, had no children, and my classes loved playing the buckets.)

I talked to the facilitator about his abrasiveness, and she agreed that he was difficult and some people had left the group because of him but *shrug*

A similar thing is happening in a different group I’m part of now.

In talking to a friend about the current situation, she told me a parallel story.

Why do we let these people destroy what would be pleasant, productive communities? How many opportunities to connect have we missed out on because one person ruined it for everyone?

And how do we fix it?

“Use your words” comes to mind, but how do you tell someone that they’re socially atrocious? If someone can finesse and deliver the message and the recipient doesn’t reject it, how do they socialize after receiving it without being self-conscious all the time?

There’s a difference between self-conscious and self-aware, and I’m not sure that replacing the vacuum of neither with self-consciousness is great. And I’m also not sure it would solve the problem anyway.

Kick them out? Make it unpleasant for them so they quit? None of these feels good to me, but I’m not sure there’s a solution that does feel good to me…

Have you had a situation like this that was successfully resolved? (For whatever “successfully” means to you?)