The Kindness of Strangers…

Dear Readers,

This past Christmas my husband and I were traveling with our little girl and while we normally pack everything but the kitchen sink in her diaper bag, this particular time we neglected to pack an extra outfit, so of course, this was the one time we really needed it because she got sick and needed a change of clothes but we didn’t have one.

No problem, there is a store on every … oh wait, It’s Christmas and we are in Brady, Texas and NOTHING is open except a gas station. So hoping against hope that they would have an extra shirt or heck, even a towel,

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so we could put her in it so she would have something to wear. No such luck, and as we walked around the gas station, I saw several glances of pity and a few of judgment as I walked around the store with my two year old (she was in her boots and a diaper)

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both to look around the store for something (we didn’t find anything) and to get her a break from the car as we filled up the gas tank.

I do my best to ignore judgment and I was having trouble because I was feeling pretty bad about being unable to dress my child for the moment. I walked back out to the car and two families came over and offered us some clothes for her. We were overcome by this kindness and said so, we offered to mail them the clothes back and they said, No thank you, Merry Christmas.

It’s easy to think there is only bad people and bad things in the world and then something like this happens and it truly restores your faith in people. My husband and I were both near tears as we got back in the car and he had the fantastic idea that this shirt (which is currently about 4 times too big) will be the shirt she wears every Christmas so we remember this Christmas kindness. I can’t wait to tell her this story to help illustrate how kind people can be. I was reflecting on this story today as I pulled over to the side of the road to get a box out of the street and a person on the other side of the street said, “Here, I can take that” and he took it and smiled at me, I smiled back and that was it. My day was instantly improved and I was reminded again of the kindness of strangers…

How about you? What can you do in your way to help “Bring Kindness Back?”

It really doesn’t take much. A smile to another person. A sincere compliment to someone when they don’t expect it. Letting someone go ahead of you in traffic. Picking up some trash on the side of the road or maybe putting your neighbor’s trash cans back for them.

Think About It.

 

 

 

“Seeing” in 2019

Dear Readers!

So it’s almost 2019, and if the collective messaging around me is accurate, most of us are very happy to say “GIRL BYE” to this schoolyard bully of a year.

I won’t point fingers AND it has been at least 10 of you saying, I just don’t feel appreciated or things aren’t going well or it’s just been hard this year. I think it all comes down to not feeling “seen” or “noticed” or “appreciated”. That isn’t a hard feeling to come by given all our devices and machines that keep us from LOOKING AT EACH OTHER!

This topic is near and dear to my heart, and is in the heart of my TedX.

It’s really terrifying to tell you about that or really even the IDEA of that actually being a thing-that-maybe-could-possibly-happen because it could happen next year or it could be in five years. I don’t know. I am having to be at peace about that as I spent a good deal of time this year being in “holding pattern” about it.  This picture is a placeholder.  Okay, that’s done.

Tedx

So moving back to you….

What grandiose visions do you have for your future?

That sounds really big.. so let’s break it down to more bite-size chunks, shall we?

Instead of a resolution, what promise will you keep that you have made to yourself?-

Some people are talking about “less screen time”– We have touched on that in the blog before, that is different for everyone. Though I consider myself to be very conscious of that, it was not until I started tracking it that I realized how much I do use my phone so I became aware of it and have already made that a new promise to myself.

I promise when I am with my child, I will be on the floor and “looking at her and playing with her and my phone will be in the other room” –

That’s specific and measurable and tangible.

Some people are talking about working out or weight loss goals. That’s pretty flabby, no pun intended.. What specifics can you put to that? Again, make a promise to yourself!

How about “I will exercise in the course of my day as well as run on the treadmill at least once a week.”

You see where I am going with this, right?

What can you do to “SEE” yourself and realize that best version of you as you look in the mirror?

Don’t get me wrong, you should love yourself exactly as you are, AND feel free to strive for goals all the while loving yourself in that process.

Suffice it to say, I think we should ALL do ALL we can to be sure that others are seen and in so doing, we might just be “seen” ourselves. It’s not a hard equation and it really doesn’t take a lot. Just put down your phone, and open your eyes and your heart and listen. Can you do that?

Think About It.

Not so holly jolly, are you? Me neither!

Dear Readers,

If you are not so holly jolly this Christmas, join the club. It’s been a rough year and I am struggling a little. Lots of medical issues for the whole family, no vacation for us, and several professional rejections.

Let’s not forget, I have to work today. Did I mention that? (well, now I have)

While I love the work and the people, it’s certainly not preferable to spending time with my family of choice. I do get to do that tomorrow, but right now, I am a little down.

So here goes, Christmas is not my favourite holiday because this year is the 5 year anniversary of my divorce from my family of origin. It’s sad so I don’t choose to focus on it but it does pop up for me a bit like a bruise. A far cry from the gaping bleeding wound that would cause me to weep and wail like it used to be, and it still hurts when I touch it, which happens around this time of year.

I am “well shot of them” as the British say!

But back to today and the Christmas or not so Christmas spirit I am not feeling or “embracing my inner grinch” –

In the last few months I have been getting lots of signs about how important it is to say what is so and telling thoughtful truths. It’s important to point out, we all tell the truth but then there are times where we worry about “being nice” more so than being “kind” and I think we could focus a a little more light on being kind than nice.

In the hope that someone reading this is feeling pressure to “put on a happy face” about their very real depression, please don’t feel like you have to do that.

How you feel is 100% valid, and you have every right to feel that way and if someone tries to tell you to “get over it” or “Suck it up, It’s Christmas” look at them and say,

“No, thank you.”

On second thought, screw the thank you, and even screw the no. You don’t have to say anything to anyone. As my mother of choice says, “There is no need to answer a question no one is asking at the top of your lungs”

A few others have this to say-

“Not everybody has to be happy all the time. That’s not mental health. That’s crap.” – Meredith Grey- via Shonda Rhimes)

“Telling the truth- telling thoughtful truths- should not be a revolutionary act. Speaking truths to power should not be sacrificial, but they are”- Luvvie Ajayi

Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others. – Brene’ Brown

At the end of the day, you feel exactly the way you want to and don’t feel like you have to defend your right to feel that way. See note about boundaries!

Your tribe, the ones who love you will surround you with love and “being there” and saying nothing, which can be the most valuable gift of all.  Please be sure to get yourself what you need, whether that is being alone or that is being surrounded by others. Part of good boundaries? Asking for what you want.

Think About It…

 

Elton John- Artist Extraordinaire!

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Dear Readers!

I got to see ELTON JOHN last week! YAY! ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ LOOK HOW CLOSE I WAS!

I have wanted to see him in concert pretty much since I was old enough to hear his music and love his music so this was a VERY BIG DEAL.

I really vacillated over whether or not to spend the money because even the cheapest tickets when all was said and done was 200.00 at least. I went back and forth and asked a bunch of people who had seen him already and basically decided to go for it.

I took part in a NO SPEND CHALLENGE to set aside the funds in the month of September and it has been a while since I was so careful with my spending (back in 2015 when we became debt free, I saved up for my debt free shoe shopping and this reminded me of that)  but it was all worth it in the end. I kept a log of all the things I didn’t buy so I could afford it and it was absolutely worth every single penny!

Elton John and the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was everything I wanted it to be and more.

I was lucky enough to get to see him perform and I will treasure it forever.

One of my favourite moments was when he played “I’m Still Standing” and there was a barrage of imagery of his highlights through the years including appearances on “Will and Grace” and numerous videos of his outlandish outfits. I loved it for so many reasons but one of the biggest is that my daughter loves the movie “Sing” and one of the pivotal moments features that song. I won’t spoil it for you, but if you have not seen it, you should! I felt like she was there with me. Then, when he played “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me” I was reminded of the night my husband proposed to me. The pinnacle was when he sang “Believe” which is a big favourite of mine and the screen flashed the statistics about how much money his foundation has collected for Aids Research.

His foundation has raised more than 400 million dollars over the last 25 years.

Talk about inspiring!

Elton John Aids Foundation

I do have to say I was very troubled by the amount of people I saw taking videos and capturing snippets rather than just enjoying the concert but who am I to judge, maybe that’s the best way for them to enjoy the spectacle? The beauty of living in this country is having the right to watch a concert however we choose.  So yes, I judged them a little but then I focused on how I was planning to experience it and let it go.  (mostly)

I go back and forth on it, but while I was tempted to pull out my phone (it’s so addicting to have that thing out and on, isn’t it?)  I ultimately decided to take this one picture and then soak it all in and rely on my memories. I can’t wait to share Elton’s music with Vivienne and talk to her about the words and how each song Elton sings has a different meaning for Mommy and millions of other listeners. I think it’s one of my favourite things about being a mom, teaching my daughter and talking to her and listening to her.

What are some concerts you have gone to that you still remember?

Think About It…

Are you Present or Perfect?

Dear Readers,

Recently, I was preparing to do a live broadcast from the treadmill in hopes that my workout will inspire someone else to take the stairs today or do a workout themselves.

I started to hit “record” hesitated because I was looking at my grey hairs that are outnumbering my red ones and thinking, I should really put on some makeup and make sure my jewelry and shoes are matching and then I stopped myself and laughed to myself.

I was concerned with being perfect, not present.

Jeremy (my husband) had his gall bladder out last week and I am taking care of him for a few days. He really prefers to be left alone when he doesn’t feel well. Having been together for 10 years, it would SEEM that would be something I would know, right?

Not really, because I found myself wondering, “does he need a pillow, water, can I bring him some food? I even found myself wondering if I was “helping him correctly”– How silly is that? How can there be a wrong way to “help” someone.

I was concerned with being perfect, not present.

This morning, I was helping Vivienne eat her breakfast, and she was making quite the mess of it, and I realized midway to wiping her very messy face that she was delighted with the mess and I was frustrated by it. So I realized it, and in that moment, let it go and decided to just enjoy her enjoyment.

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This afternoon, I was giving an evaluation for one of my fellow Toastmasters, and I hesitated to share with the room that I didn’t know everything there was to know about the topic being talked about, I briefly considered not telling the room and just as quickly dismissed it. My evaluation was colored by the fact that there are many things I know about, this particular topic is not one of them. It turned out I was the ONLY person in the room who didn’t know about the subject or perhaps the only one willing to admit it.  I made a joke of it, because I was uncomfortable and then realized again that I was focused on the wrong thing.

I was concerned with being perfect, not present.

It’s perfectly human to want to be perfect, It’s imperfectly human to choose being present to allow for maximum human experience. – Professor Haston 

Think About It.

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The Case for Silliness

Dear Readers,

If you are reading this, know that what you are reading is true. There may be embellishments and some things that are not fully told because I think there is a fine line between transparency and oversharing.  That is my commitment to you with each post.

I really had a pretty non-existent childhood *save for one glorious summer in St. Louis, Thanks Aunt Nancy* and the sparse childhood I did have wasn’t a happy one.

Put another way, I was a grown up a long time before I reached age 18.

So last week I had a truly cathartic experience at this pop-up immersive installation called the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) Factory in Austin. It’s here for a limited time and if you are in Austin or in the surrounding area and you like taking selfies, this is the place for you!

However, upon reflection I realize it might be a good place for you if you had a crappy childhood as well.

So a part of my childhood that I don’t relish was the fact that I failed sixth grade. It happened for a variety of reasons but the biggest culprit? Algebra. It was my nemesis and for so many years before and after I told myself, “You are just bad at math” – I hate the notion and I hate that it was such a recurring tape recording for me for so long. Eventually I replaced that recording with, “Math is not that hard and I am getting better at it every day” and it took some time as well as a wonderful math professor to finally get me over it. John Thomason, I owe you thanks!

So see here, a picture of me “Conquering Algebra”-

(note the look of seriousness) “I OWN YOU MATH!”

JMacConquersMath

Another painful memory you may or may not share, I was never a cheerleader or member of dance team or any of the supporting team members I so desperately wanted to be part of though I certainly tried out for them all. You name it, I tried out for it.

Flag Team, Dance Team, Cheerleader, – No, No, No. I am treating it pretty lightly in this post, but at the time I was pretty devastated. Time really does help it hurt less!

Look, with the click of a camera, I am NOW a CHEERLEADER!

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The truth is while I am sad I was never a cheerleader (till now) it actually led me to theatre and acting, and while there has been a lot of rejection in that field too, it’s also led to some of the greatest times of my life not to mention friendships and collaborations I wouldn’t trade for anything so in the end, I guess it worked out the way it was supposed to.BahookieShootEm

I certainly take a good amount of grief from people for my silliness and exuberance but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s an integral part of who I am and what makes me, Me! It’s also what leads to amazing compliments like

“You are an adult Punky Brewster mixed with Carrie Bradshaw” 

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So this place – FOMO Factory was actually there for me to help reimagine my childhood and if you will pardon the pun, allowed me to REFRAME like never before.

https://www.thefomofactory.com/

Happy to say they are extending to January! If you are in Austin, don’t miss your chance to relive your childhood or better yet, Reframe it!

#fomofactory

Why is it so hard to admit we don’t know?

Dear Readers,

In my role as coach it’s very tempting to pretend I know everything but that is so completely and utterly untrue. I am often surprised by how much I learn from my direct reports. They are experts in several subjects where I am a neophyte.

For instance, one of them baked 25 pies the day before Thanksgiving and while I could figure out how do that, I surely would not do it well my first time out! I bet she didn’t either!

Another person on my team is part of the agriculture community and she does a lot of farming with her family and again I think could figure out how to milk cows and do other tasks (see! I can’t even think of the basics of farming, let alone do them)  but I would definitely need a coach!

Today, I was not making pies or milking cows, but  found myself in a situation where I had to ask some questions about how to do something or how it worked. I have been “question girl” for most of my working life and yet it still fills me with dread to admit I don’t know or that I don’t fully understand something. Why?

What is so wrong with not knowing?

Why are we so afraid to admit we don’t know? If you are anything like me, you want to “look good” and keep “feeling” like the “expert” so you don’t ask or worse, pretend you know something to avoid asking the question and in so doing, you then tell someone else the wrong information. Has that ever happened to you? It’s happened to me and I had to go back to the person I misinformed and let them know, I made a mistake and this is actually the correct information.

It was humbling and a big relief that when I asked my questions today, someone else also had to ask in order to answer me. That means someone else ALSO didn’t know, and that is okay, because at the end of the day, when you are a supervisor or coach, you still get to have questions. It’s not as if when you accepted the position, you abdicated the right to ask questions or to say, “I don’t know”. I think the important part of this is that you know who does know or should know.

I think that when you hold a position of leadership it’s very easy to get caught up in the idea that you have to know all the answers. Guess what, you don’t. No one can! There is always something else to learn, so let go of that.

Think about it great coaches seek out other coaches. Getting back to my team examples, the pastry chef had someone give her a in-home study on pie baking and that’s not even her primary job any more. I am actively working on becoming a better speaker so I have enlisted the help of a coach myself and am actively getting better. I also have a music teacher who helps improve me each and every time I sing. So really, in having these mentors and coaches myself, I am figuratively saying, “I don’t know, teach me” and that can only make me better, right?

As lifelong learners, we are going to have to keep admitting we don’t know everything and the sooner we get comfortable with that, the better.

Think About It.

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