Recently, I was on my way to Dallas to attend a Texas Beef Council special event hosted by a fellow blogger (shout out to June Cleaver Nirvana Holly Homer!!). My daughter had been having a horrible time adjusting to 5th grade. She wasn’t sleeping, was angst-ridden over EVERYTHING, was so unhappy with her body (she’s 10!!! This worry and seeking of validation from others starts WAY too young), and was obsessing about middle school (which is still a year away).
I heard Katherine Schwartzenegger on a radio show, talking about her new book, Rock What You Got. I sat in my car and listened as she expressed how she’d felt exactly what my daughter was feeling. Needless to say, I stopped by the bookstore on the way home and picked up Rock What You Got. We’re reading it together and it’s really helping! Amazing.
Today I heard Kelly Valen talk about her new book, Twisted Sisterhood. It goes beyond the issues discussed in Rock What You Got (and I’m anticipating needing it as my girl gets older), tackling the complicated relationships women often have with one another, including passive aggressive behavior, mean girl behavior, bullying (anyone hear about Joy Behar on The View with her “comic” bullying?), and other layers of complexity and judgement within these relationships.
I see them starting now with my daughter, and while it’s great to observe and use in character development, it’s definitely not good for a girl trying to figure out who she is, what she believes, and where her validation comes from.
All this got me thinking about why it is we (meaning our culture) work so hard to tear others down instead of build them up.
I’m absolutely of the simplistic mindset that little acts of kindness go a long, long way, and shouldn’t we spend our energy on that kindness instead of on negativity?
Think about these scenarios. What would you do if:
- You’re on a two-way surface road driving south and there’s a lot of traffic, including a line of cars coming the other direction, in their turn lane, trying to turn left across your lanes. Do you stop before the intersection and let the cars make their turn, or do you block the intersection? (As I drove to a class I teach in Dallas tonight, I watched as car after car after car stopped in the middle of the intersection, blocking those cars who were trying to turn. When I approached the intersection--and mind you, traffic was slow up ahead so it’s not like I was blocking traffic behind me--I stopped so the cars could turn. But cars in the lanes on either side of me kept going, edging forward. It took a good minute or two before the cars in the other lanes stopped so those people could make their turn).
- You walk down the aisle at the market and come across something that had fallen from a shelf and is on the floor. Do you pick it up and put it back on the shelf, or leave it? Time after time, I watch as people walk on by. My kids do it at home. Walk ON the pillow instead of picking it up! ARGH!!
- People are coming out of a concert. You’re in a hurry. Do you wait your turn, or dodge people, cutting them off as you dart in front of them? Why not slow down and just wait?
I wish we could all be just a little more kind, because the reality is, you never know the impact your small act of kindness will have on someone else. Case in point, I got an email two days ago (at exactly 9:51 am :) and it changed my whole day.
OMG! This book [Cursed] was good. It's a good thing that I DVR'd my shows, because I could not put this book down. That twist with the brothers, I did not see that coming. This was a great read.
I'm starting The Chain Tree tomorrow. I anticipate another giving up the TV show for this one as well.
Again, what a great story.
I think the fact that this reader took the time out of her day to tell me how she loved my book is amazing. She didn’t get anything out of it (except my everlasting devotion), but her message made me smile and feel giddy inside. It made my day (still is, in fact, two days later). I’m sure she had no idea how her message would make me feel.
Small acts of kindness. Isn’t that what we should spend our energy on, rather than the complicated twisted sisterhood relationships we focus too much time on? I imagine we’d all smile a lot more, don't you?