You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘kindness’ tag.

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.

IMG_3090

xo, with goodness and grace.

 

I’d had one of those days where I felt lonely, as people sometimes do, and disconnected from so many things.  Those are the times where it’s easy to fall into the abyss of your mind and linger there, conjuring up an epic pity party of how you are all alone in the world and nothing will ever—ever!—be right.

Fast forward to the next day when I arrived at my SoulCycle class at 5:45 am and checked in at the front desk.

“Can I get you water or shoes?” one of the men behind the desk asked me.

“Nope, she’s good.  She’s my ‘I’m all set’ girl,” said his colleague.

Everyone at the front desk is familiar by now, but I realized we hadn’t exchanged pleasantries other than this standard question and answer.

“I’m pretty new here—I’m Max,” the first man said, reaching out to shake my hand.

Then, the rest of the staff behind the desk introduced themselves and I suddenly felt at home.  My energy shifted.

As class began, my heart sank a little when some of the bikes in front of me were empty, probably because of the impending holiday weekend.  When this happened, the instructors can see me sitting all the way in the back.  Sometimes I struggle to sync my legs up with the beat of the music, especially when it is too fast, and I’d rather pedal unseen and find my way without anyone to see me.  Or help me, I suppose.

If that isn’t a metaphor for my life, I don’t know what is.

On this particular morning, I felt good, strong and rested, even with the early hour.  I kept up with the class and felt happy.

Instructor Emily looked over at me tapping it back, as we do in SoulCycle, and said, “Fourth row—magical things are happening back there! Can you feel it?”

Yup, I could feel it.  Though, I wasn’t sure if she was talking to me or not.

As the class progressed, she got off her bike and walked around, speaking in her inspirational way.  She made her way towards the back row, looked at me and said, “Yeah!!!!”

She came over to me and put her hands over mine, resting them there for a few seconds.  Such a small thing changed my emotional chemistry and set me on the path of a better day.

Simple interactions, simple touches, simple encouragement, these are kindnesses that matter.  These things that make you feel cared for and supported.

Sometimes magic rises up and supports you when you need it most.  The trick is to be open to it.

Processed with VSCOcam

Marketing slogan in a New York City subway car.

I was sitting at my work desk, typing away on one of my projects.  From behind my colleague, who was about to leave her post after many years, walked up to me and wordlessly wrapped her arms around me.

She held on to me, and I sunk into her mama bear embrace, squeezing her back, tightly.

“I walked by and realized that I haven’t done that enough, if ever.”

We make lives for ourselves that are all about achieving and being masters of our businesses, but in the midst of those lives we sometimes forgo simple kindnesses. And we forget the power of human contact. Touch matters.

There is joy in being told that you matter, even when it isn’t spoken in words.

Someone cleaned my windows.

I realized this as I went to bed last night, glancing out the window to nosily see who was still in the office in the building across the street from me. In New York, what’s happening across the street can be as entertaining as any TV show.

Suddenly the view was not fogged over by the dirt of a city life.

It was one of those moments where I felt awe of a world where kindnesses randomly show up.

Perhaps it was the construction workers who’ve been working in the facade of the building, the same ones I suspected drew a heart into one of the dusty panes a few months ago. Perhaps they needed to clean them to move ahead with whatever repair they are working on. Or perhaps they wanted to give somebody who doesn’t always have time to take care of such things a break.

Whomever it was, and whatever their reason, I am grateful to them. It reminds me of the grace in every day interactions, from the cashier in my office cafeteria who trusted me to pay for my breakfast later when I didn’t have enough money in my pocket to the coffee shop baristas who gave me a larger drink than I’d ordered just because. A simple act of kindness can uplift a mood, change a day, alter a life.

Kindness matters.

Sometimes you just need someone to dust things off to remind you of the beauty that is right in front of you.

Work has always been such a big part of my life, though it hasn’t always loved me back.

Today I remembered how grateful I am to work with a group of people who are kind and fun and know how to laugh.

We spent the day in training (with Hospitality Quotient, which is a consulting group from restaurateur Danny Meyer’s company—they are awesome!), where we learned how to function better as a team.  The specifics of the day don’t matter as much as the fact that there was much talk about collaboration and support and empathy.  No matter how broad the skill set, no matter how big the corporation, no matter how much revenue is generated, it all comes down to very basic human interactions.

Kindness and respect matter.

We ended the day with a fun night at the spa, where we had treatments, nibbled on hors d’oeuvres and just hung out and enjoyed each other’s company.  How lucky I am.

Since today is September 11, I was grateful to spend the day with my work colleagues, far away from the news coverage and the melancholy feelings it always stirs up.  On this day of sad memories, it was heartwarming to spend it making new ones with people I enjoy being around.

Before today, I hadn’t had a cup of coffee in over two months.  I don’t drink coffee for the caffeine rush; I drink it because I love the taste.  With soy milk and a sprinkling of sugar, it is soul satisfying.

I missed it.

So during my midday walk away from the office, I decided to treat myself.  I went to Starbucks and got a grande iced coffee.  It tasted good.

Almost as soon as I got back to my desk with my drink, I knocked it over.  The cup hit the desk, along with it the whoosh of the liquid streaming over my files and the clanging of ice on my supplies.

A voice on the other side of my cubicle wall said, “Don’t worry, I got you.”  My neighbor Sarah came over with a stack of napkins.

“I heard a scattering of ice, and I knew it wasn’t good,” she said.  She stood by to make sure I had everything I needed to clean the mess up.

Such a small gesture of kindness, but it made me feel looked after.  I got you.  

That is grace.

I went grocery shopping after work tonight.

Maybe shopping isn’t the right word.  Meandered.  I meandered through the grocery store tonight, with no particular agenda except to pick up the two things I needed.  I love wandering through stores, seeing what I’ve not seen before, always ready to discover something new to love.

These days I don’t often have the time to meander, so it was an unexpected pleasure to take my time as I transitioned from work to personal time.   As I held two large bottles in my arms, I stood in the tea section of the store, looking for something delicious to catch my eye.  Earl Grey tea with lavender.  Jackpot.

As I reached for the carton to check the ingredients, balancing the bottles in my arms carefully, I saw a man walking in my direction.  The store has incredibly narrow aisles, so small that only one person can comfortably stand looking at the shelves.  Instinctively I leaned towards the shelf full of tea so he could walk by me.

He reached me and then stopped.

I turned to him, a little startled.  He looked at me and smiled.

Silently, he held out a basket for my groceries.  He motioned for me to put my bottles in the basket.

I thanked him, humbled and awed by such a small and beautiful act of thoughtfulness from a man I’d never met before.

“You’re welcome,” he said.  “I like your necklace.”  And then he walked away.

Grace and the kindness of strangers.

It’s funny how when you show up in the world as open-eyed and present, signs begin appearing everywhere.

Today was all about kindness.  Everywhere I turned, there was the word.  It showed up in newsletters and in my Twitter feed.  At least four of my Facebook friends posted a link to this commencement speech, all about kindness.  It is inspiringly beautiful.

Being present is teaching me how amazing the world is, as much as that word is overused.  But I feel awe of the loveliness—and kindness—that is all around us.

Feeling under the weather this morning, I pulled it together and went to work.  As I worked at my desk, I realized that I really needed to take care of myself.  And instead of plowing through the day, as I normally would, I listened to my body and did the kindest thing I could for myself.  I shut down my computer and I went home.

In being open to the signs of kindness, today I learned to be kind to myself.  And that is the day’s grace.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: