Monthly Archives: January 2011

Kindness, courtesies, and the little things [Week 2 – 50 weeks of 50]

I remember as a child being taught that it was very important to be kind.

As I neared school-age, the importance of kindness was impressed ever and ever more urgently upon me. Being a youngster, I don’t think I really understood what kindness was, but I knew it was sort of like being nice (pleasant, agreeable).  So – especially when adults were around – I made a point to try to be ‘nice.’ Perhaps not as fake as Eddie Haskel in the old Leave It To Beaver TV series, but still, if I may have lacked in a naturally benevolent nature, kindness was a veneer that I very much knew I was expected to show.

That strategy, formed and practiced in primary school,  seemed to work well at keeping me in good graces of teachers and parents. And thus I went on in life with hardly another thought about kindness – it was something I had mastered, after all – until now.

Unbidden, I noticed a lot of little kindnesses this week.

Mundane, commonplace courtesies, but somehow they struck me deeply. A driver stops for a pedestrians to walk, when five before have driven by.  A man opens and holds the door for me with a nod. My friend calls from the store to see if there is anything I need before she comes over. With each of these, I smiled and said a heartfelt “thank you” – but when I realize how deeply they’ve touched me,  I wonder if thank you is enough.

As I move into my 5th decade of life, it seems I am suddenly much more aware of how precious these little kindnesses are – both in the giving and receiving.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.  ~Plato

Perhaps it is because I have experienced first-hand the comfort of having a stranger offer “let me help you with that” when I am having a particularly hard day. And I’ve also experienced the cold-slap to the soul when someone shows indifference or contempt, when they could have just as easily shown courtesy. Or even perhaps, it’s because somehow along the way, that adolescent veneer of ‘niceness’ has ripened into a genuine kindness of heart that I now see in others, as I carry it in myself. Whatever the reason, the difference is –  I no longer take these courtesies for granted.

I’ve always believed the world to be a big, wonderful, beautiful and amazing place. But it can also be harsh, demanding, scary, cold, intimidating and unforgiving.

Each of these kind moments is a precious gift, and our lives are richer, our challenges more tolerable because of them.

The best portion of a good man’s life – his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.  ~ William Wordsworth

So, for every little kindness and courtesy you have shown this week, to whomever it was – I acknowledge you and thank you.

Thank you for stopping at cross walks.
Thank you for waiting for pedestrians to walk before turning right.
Thank you for holding the elevator.
Thank you for meeting my eyes and giving me a smile -however fleeting – when I’m walking my sweet, adorable dog. Thank you for acknowledging when I hold the door for you.
Thanks for waiting patiently as I back out of my parking spot, and thank you for letting me merge on to the interstate.
Thank you for returning my phone calls.
Thank you for replying to my emails when I’ve asked you a question.
I thank you all for these little things and more.

Although I am sure my mom started teaching me at 5 or younger, at 50 it seems I’m finally learning, it really is the little things that count.

Photos by Nena B. and girl.from.melbourne

3 Comments

Filed under 50 Weeks of 50, Leisa's Life

52 things I know about words (and you should too) #5 Words Connect

According to Malcolm Gladwell, I’m a Connector – with a healthy dose of Maven thrown in. Who am I to argue with  best selling author and trend-setter, Malcolm? Connector sounds spot on to me. It almost certainly explains why I am such a fanatic about blogging and social media –  they provide unprecedented opportunities to meet and connect with a limitless array of fascinating, brilliant and inspiring people who (due to a myriad of reasons; geography, vocation, social status, ect.) would be otherwise out of my reach.

True to the connector profile, one of my greatest joys is bringing amazing people together.

If you know me, you’ve heard me say “Oh, you should know X – you two would totally hit it off.” or “Oh, you are working on Y? You really have to check out Z – she is doing really great work about that.” I’ve also been known to throw some pretty kick-ass parties, for the sole joy of seeing people from different corners of my world meet.

When two people that I’ve introduced hit it off – “Oh, wow – he is so great.” and “Did you know that X and I both …?” – and I get to see that special spark of a new friendship or alliance just waiting to happen – it’s one of the most fulfilling things I know.

Anais Nin said it best, I think:

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”

That’s my moment. When due to a connection I’ve fostered, I get to see a new world born.

So it’s only natural that having found and connected with so many truly exceptional people through this blog and related Facebook and Twitter endeavors over the last year, I would want to find a way to share them with you all.

And…since this is a blog about the power of words, what better way to introduce you than by way of asking them to share their unique relationship to words and the power language?

The world of One Word Wednesday is born.

In this weekly series, I will introduce you to the people that I have learned from, been encouraged, inspired and amused by, hope to emulate, and just plain like.

In doing so, I aim to give rise to many new worlds being born.

Here’s a preview of some of the questions I’ll be asking:

  • What one word describes you(and why)?
  • What one word describes your mission, or your message(and why)?
  • What one word would you give to your audience – like a superpower (and why)?
  • What’s your ‘go to’ word? The one that you can always count on to rock your day, or turn the moment around if you are not on your game?

Check back next Wednesday for the first installment. Same bat time, same bat channel. In the meantime, I’d be delighted to hear your answers.

9 Comments

Filed under 52 things, One Word Wednesday

50 weeks of 50 – A new beginning of being

A few weeks back, I promised to share a bit about a milestone birthday. Well, now that it’s been and gone, and the reaching of that milestone is a fact rather than an event anticipated, I can finally say without equivocation that I’m 50 years old!

No longer turning 50, coming up on 50, dreading 50, or anticipating 50. But actually just 50. Whew! Seriously. I may have wished that I could’ve taken it in stride like any other day or birthday, but the run up to the actual event turned out to  have a mind and force of it’s own that would not be denied. (To those in my inner-circle, many thanks and much love  for your patience and generosity. For those of you spared my day-to-day machinations over the last few weeks, count yourselves fortunate.)

This milestone has prompted me to take a new view. To evaluate my life so far, and engage a fresh perspective on what lies ahead, and what I am committed to creating and contributing to the world.

In light of all that (and in an attempt to redeem myself from  the nuttiness of turning 50), I’ve decided to chronicle my one-year journey of “being” 50.

I’ll spend the year observing and experiencing life through the prism of my elevated bucket list. Here’s the updated list.

I’m calling it my ‘Being Bucket-List’.

1. Love everyone.
2. Acknowledge everyone.
3. Forgive everyone.
4. Live with heart, humility and passion.
5. Inspire strangers.
6. Leave a legacy worth celebrating.

Inspired by a reader’s comments, I’ve added one more to the original list – Inspire strangers. This one really resonated because it seems the perfect reminder for me to reach out beyond the familiar and comfortable confines of close friends, family and colleagues, in order to engage with people and life in a larger, more expanded way.

Each week, I’ll be reporting on what I have done, learned, observed and experienced in these areas. It’s my hope that by doing so, I will be moving toward fulfilling on them all. I’ll be honored to have you join me for the ride.

Photo: Bernat Casero

8 Comments

Filed under 50 Weeks of 50, Leisa's Life