The Blog

Shopping for groceries is an interesting proposition for Darrell and me. One reason? The conversation. It takes us forever to weave through the aisles because we’re talking -- and I find it difficult to walk and talk at the same time. So we’ll stop, and just talk. We’ll move aside to let someone get at the soup or whatever -- only to discover, more often than you might guess, the person isn’t after the soup. He wants in on our conversation.

The same thing happens when Darrell’s driving. Good luck getting anywhere if you keep talking after telling him where you want to go. He’ll miss a turn, or drive past an exit. His mind is on the conversation as opposed to the destination.

Not a bad way to go through life, actually.

One thing at a time, all-out.

140608 for DWWEver notice how repetitive life is sometimes? How do you keep from going crazy with boredom?

One way is to sprinkle more play into your day.

Making beds used to bore me, until I looked at it as meditation. Now I find it soothing.

This summer, while Katie’s home from college, it’s party time.

Most of her stuffed animals are in storage, but she took a few with her to New York and returned home with a few more. She was so enchanted the first time I made a scene with them on her bed I decided to make that the routine. Now it’s something new every morning, with different props -- and housework feels like an adventure. That doesn’t even count the giggle fit when she discovers the latest.

Total time investment? Three minutes a day, tops. Cost? Nothing.

Memories?

Oh, yes.

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photo courtesy of Katie Anderson

There are lots of ways to make the world a better place. This is one of them!

That will be all.

Someone I know teaches accounting at a college in Chicago. You should see what his students say about him. “I’ve never, ever had a professor put so much effort into making a connection with his students.” And, “Best professor I have ever had.” And, “Do not take this class with anyone else!”

There was more, but you get the idea.

What would it be like to know you’re making such a difference to so many people?

It’s a good reminder there’s still time. There’s still time to make someone’s life easier, and a whole lot more fun. Which is reason enough to get up in the morning, even if it didn’t double back on you.

Which it will!

Why do I get such a sense of accomplishment from getting up when my alarm goes off the first time? Isn’t that silly?

Maybe not.

There's a reason I set the alarm for the time I do. That’s when I intend to get up. When I actually do it, I rack up a win for the day before my feet even hit the floor.

Don’t underestimate the power of doing what you say you will.

From eschewing the snooze to making the bed to firing yourself up with coffee and quiet time before firing up the computer, it helps. It all helps.

Learn to trust yourself by doing right by yourself.

Go ahead and start with the seemingly silly. All things little.

Momentum!

It was such a seemingly trivial thing. When I finished my projects from last summer -- every photograph dated, every anecdote filed -- I found a reminder to thank someone for his superb customer service.

I hesitated. I wasn’t sure he’d remember us, let alone remember my promise to write to his boss about what a great job he’d done.

But a promise is a promise, and I couldn’t let it go. So I wrote him a letter and included a photograph of the transaction -- yes, it was that memorable -- to help jog his memory. Then I forwarded the letter to the CEO of the company.

It wasn’t long before I heard from him with a thank-you note of his own, and the invitation to stop by for another hug the next time we were in Minneapolis.

When it was time to set up that meeting, I hesitated again. The man probably sees hundreds of customers a day. Did he really want to exchange updates with us, thrilled as we are with the company?

He did. He lit up when he saw us. And he had some news.

He’d been promoted, and my letter had helped. Would we like to go to lunch? Would we! It was a great time to bask in a bonus of having done the right thing.

We liked Apple before this happened, of course. But knowing its CEO, Tim Cook, reads and responds to letters from customers? I wouldn’t be surprised if my diehard PC husband goes Mac shopping one of these days!

stop by for another hug the next time we were in Minneapolis.

One night during the summer I worked construction there were tornado warnings for the little town I was staying in. I drove to the next bigger town and waited out the storm in the lobby of a bigger motel. Someone must’ve followed me back to my motel, because within minutes of turning out the lights and hiding under the covers -- as if that would help keep me safe -- there was a knock at my door.

I can still hear it.

Knock, knock, knock.

So loud. So crisp. So insistent.

I asked who it was and the man just told me to let him in. I was terrified. I was sure that by not opening the door I’d only make things worse when the guy forced it open, but something told me to keep it locked. I pleaded with the man to talk with the manager in the next building. I acted like that manager was in the room only a few steps from mine and likely hearing this exchange.

He wasn’t, but my would-be intruder didn’t know that. Or did he? We went back and forth a few more minutes -- maybe it was only one, but it felt like many more -- as I kept sobbing and begging him to talk to the manager.

I heard someone drive off, but I was sure whoever it was just fetching a tool that would make breaking in easier and quieter.

My motel room didn’t have a phone, and this was before everyone had a cell. So I crouched by the door with my pepper spray while I waited for him to come back, and tried to figure out what to bribe him with so he wouldn’t hurt me. A television some friends had loaned me? My typewriter?

It’s been more than thirty years, but I remember contemplating two things during those scary few hours. One, had I genuinely tried to be a good kid? That was important. And two, I missed being home. Oh, how I missed it. I missed feeling safe because my parents were asleep in the next room.

My parents made me feel safe. I hope yours did, too.

A while back I told you I was taking a class to help me polish the skills I need in a new job. We met for my last time on Thursday, so I brought treats -- fresh strawberries, mostly, and dark chocolate -- and next to everyone’s plate I put one of those tiny little forks I’ve seen popping up in party supply stores. They’re so cute. Darrell had sliced the strawberries into dainty little pieces, and the forks were the perfect size for the job. As the proceedings got underway I couldn’t help but notice how festive the room suddenly seemed.

Every seat was filled -- knowing there would be refreshments was an incentive to show up, I think -- and I felt part of something special. Another woman was saying goodbye that evening, too -- and we took turns presenting to the class.

Next up, the evaluations. I listened intently as my evaluator shared her impressions. She’d been waiting for a chance to do that all spring, she said -- weigh in on my work -- and I got sentimental as she admitted how much she appreciated that. “Please keep doing it,” she said. “The world needs to hear what you have to say.”

It’s the best, isn’t it? Someone looks at you and offers a heartfelt, “Please. Tell me more.” To have it happen in front of even a few people felt like quite the sendoff for a new chapter that’s equal parts scary and irresistible.

And yes, of course I saved one of those tiny little forks. It’s right next to my desk, and I look at it several times a day.

I’m not much for fancy cars or even houses. But give me a miniature of just about anything and watch me almost die of cute.

It’s a good reminder to appreciate the little things in life -- a quality which is, to me, a very big thing.