You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2015.

I made my way home, exhausted from the day.  Whenever I think life cannot get any more crazy, life ups the ante.

This is when the little things save you.

As I walked slowly to the subway, I paused to look at the architecture.  I realized I hadn’t really seen this part of town in the daylight.  I hadn’t left the office while there was still daylight in quite a while.

I looked around, surprised at how European the lines of the buildings seemed. The moon nestled itself in the curve of the building ahead of me.

The sight of the moon always makes me feel calm.

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I took my time getting home, deliberately looking around, seeking something—anything—that seemed beautiful.

Once I got home, I stepped off the elevator and walked down the hall towards my apartment.  As I approached my front door, I began to smell something.

I’d bought flowers a few days before, because the cold air has lingered much too long, and I longed for something evocative of spring.  Tulips and hyacinths.  The scent in the hallway reminded me of my hyacinths.  They are one of the first flowers to be planted around the city this time of year, and their fragrance makes me happy.

When I got to my front door, I realized the fragrant scent was coming from my apartment.  My hyacinths had perfumed half of my floor.  Before I turned the key in my lock, I closed my eyes and inhaled.

I opened the door, and the heady scent of my flowers greeted me.  It was good to be home.

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May small things of beauty welcome you home this week.

xo, with goodness and grace.

There is so much anger.

I think this every morning as I commute to work.  It’s six months old, my commute, and one would think I would be used to it by now.  But every morning something startles me, something someone has done or how they’ve behaved that reflects the harshness of city living.  I’ve been in New York City for almost 20 years now, and up until now my travels to work have been a short subway ride and within walking distance from home.

Every morning I emerge from the subway feeling, depending on the day, shaken or angry or annoyed because someone chewed gum loudly in my ear or pushed ahead of me to get a seat or squeezed into the car at the moment just before the doors closed so they are taking up too much of my personal space.  As come out of the station and turn the corner, I dread the mob that waits in the next block.

Here, we wait for the light.  One my side of the street, the people who’ve just come of the subway from somewhere in Manhattan; on the other, the flock of folks who have crossed the river from New Jersey, anxious to begin their work day.  Sounds innocent enough, yes?  No.  As we wait for the light to change, it feels like something out of the movie Braveheart, one side tribe of people (the New Yorkers) waiting to beat the crap out of the other (the Jersey-ites).  And then the light changes and we fling ourselves into the street, ready to pulverize anyone who gets in our way and prevents us from getting to work on time.

It’s comical.

And then I get to work and commiserate with my co-workers on our respective ordeals of getting to the office.  It doesn’t make me feel better, I’ve noticed.  Instead, it fuels the emotion for every annoying thing I encounter throughout the day.

So much anger gets in the way.

And then someone does something with such kindness the anger must move aside.

My commute normally begins at my local coffee shop.  The stop is part of my morning ritual.  It’s become as much about my morning caffeine fix as much as it is about the certainty of something warm for my tummy and freeing for my head.  Though I need coffee—and I mean NEED coffee—I tend to make it at home on the weekends.

I’d had a long Saturday morning and early afternoon, and was craving a cup of comfort, so I stopped in.  The barista smiled as he saw me.

“I didn’t expect to see you today,” he said, sweetly.  He knows my order from memory, but wasn’t rattled when I altered it slightly.

We chatted as he made my almond milk latte, and I learned a few things about him.  It occurred to me that in the hubbub of a normal workday morning, you can know almost nothing about the people you see everyday.

I learned that his name is Alex.  I learned he loves what he does and knows what most of his regulars want before they order.  I learned he gets up at 4:30 every morning in order to get to work on time.

I also learned we should know each other’s stories.  Human interaction should be more than transactions.

As he handed me my coffee, I held out my money.

“Nope,” he waved his hand, “this one’s on me.”  I began to protest, but he silenced me.  “Besides, I know you’ll be back here on Monday.” And then he smiled.

It’s funny how such a small kindness could have altered the course of my day.  A smile can be as warm as sunshine after a winter of freezing temperatures.

Kindness matters.  It keeps us connected.

I hope your week is peppered with small—and big—gestures of kindness.  And coffee.  Lots and lots of coffee.

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xo, with goodness and grace.

 

I’m sitting at the bar next to two men, one of whom is clearly drunk.

“It’s his birthday,” I hear his less-drunk friend say to the group of young women who are stalking bar seats behind him.

I’ve come to the restaurant just shy of dinner service.  The bar is busy, but the dining room is not.  Yet.  It’s almost 5:30pm and I’ve just left the office.  It’s Saturday.  I try not to work on the weekends, though sometimes I fail.  But I needed to catch up, and I needed some peace of mind.  You do what you gotta do to be able to sleep at night.

A spot opens up at the end of the bar, and I jump on it.

“Do I smell bad?” the birthday boy asks me, joking, as I pack my belongings and begin moving to my new seat.

I laugh. “No.  But happy birthday.”

“When’s your birthday?”

Uh oh. I’m not trying to encourage drunk conversation.

“July,” I say in a pleasant way that encourages drunk conversation.

“Well, then. We almost share a birthday quarter.”  He pauses. “Hope you have a good night.”

Sometimes things work out as you hoped.

I settle in, nestling in the end seat against the wall so it feels like I’m with the masses and away from them at the same time.  I’m not typically chatty in a bar situation, so this works for me.

This is the first time this week I’m neither tired nor in desperate need of coffee nor in the middle of swirling chaos.  In the pre-dinner lull of this restaurant, it is the first time my head is clear and I feel unworried.  I order a drink.

It arrives looking beautiful yet unfussy, peach and gold and pink hued.  It tastes bitter, sweet, and smoky all at once.

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The woman bartender, who simultaneously has a “don’t mess with me” and sisterly way about her, gets busier as more people sit.  She is now tag-teaming the bar with her male counterpart.  He checks in on me occasionally.  I can tell he recognizes me from previous visits, but he doesn’t say this.  He speaks to me in a low voice he doesn’t use on the other customers.  It seems almost flirtatious, even though he’s probably 20 years younger than me.

I’m okay with this.

After I savor a couple of small plates, my sister-like bartender asks if I want dessert.

“You know what I would really like?  An order of those fish tacos.  That will be my dessert.”

She smiles.  “I think that sounds perfect.”

And it was.

xo, with goodness and grace.

 

It was a snowy morning, the kind that makes you want to stay in bed all day.  I got up anyway, leaving the apartment at 5:30am for my “rooster” spinning class.

I’ve been bad about going to my early morning classes these past few weeks, inconsistent from a combination of work busy-ness and the temperature frequently dipping below 10 degrees. On this morning, though, I’d decided I needed to put myself back on the to-do list, mainly because I desperately needed an outlet for my stress.

This particular 6am class is normally sold out, but there were several open bikes. Probably because those people, smarter than me, decided to hibernate at home. I was the only person in the back row.

Normally the extra space wouldn’t bother me; I almost welcome it. But for some reason, though, it affected my energy and I wasn’t connecting with the class as I normally do.

Midway through class during the arm series,  the instructor walked around to check in with everyone.  She spotted me in the back.

“You guys, this is why we need to show up even when it’s cold and there’s a blizzard outside — we need each other! We’ve got only one person in the back row.  Give her some love!

The entire class whooped, hooted, and hollered in unison.

“Don’t worry—we got you!” 

To have 60 people cheer me on—this felt good.

We need each other.

I don’t acknowledge this nearly enough.  I’m independent; I take care of myself; I’m able to meet my own needs.  But support, even from people we don’t know, is crucial to our emotional well-being.

I think all we want in life is to have people who’ve “got” us.  Sometimes that’s all you need to turn it all around.

I hope you find community and people who’ve got you when you need it most this week.

xo, with goodness and grace.

I’ve struggled to string the words together with what I wanted to say this week. But, sometimes you just need to keep it simple.

It was a tough week for many people I knew, with a handful losing someone very close to them.  When one person I know loses a loved one, I feel a kind of heartbreaking empathy for them.  When four people in the span of three days do, it shakes me awake.

So what I want to say is this: appreciate the people you love today.  No, don’t just appreciate them—tell them.

Last week I had a discussion with a few coworkers who were dumbfounded that there are people who tell their best friends what they love about them.

I do that, I chimed in.

You DO?

Yes, I said.

Why???  

Because it matters.

Love is not weird.  Love is profound and beautiful and special.  When you love, tell about it.  Spread it like fairy dust and sprinkle it like the magic that it is.  Do it so love doesn’t get left unsaid.

Why, you ask?

Because love is grace.  Because love is everything holy and right in the universe. You love someone? Tell them.

This is what I have to say today.

xo, with goodness and grace.

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