Ladies and gentlemen, drum roll please … Today my AMAZING wife, Lisa, is the first guest blogger in the history of this blog. She wrote an incredible piece that I’m confident you’ll love (NOT that I’m biased 😉
This is NOT a blog about how much I love the soft balls of baked dough that are usually and customarily slathered with butter or drenched in gravy. Although, if I were inclined to eat such things, I may be persuaded to write a blog about that very subject…this is just NOT that blog.
Let me paint a picture by telling you that my husband Lang and I often take our dog, Biscuits (now you can see where the title to this blog may be going, right?) for a walk, from our house, along the water, and then down to the local coffee shop. It’s one of my favorite things to do! I love walking hand in hand with Lang, sometimes chatting about our day, sometimes just admiring the scenery in silence (ummmm….rarely, if you know Lang or me, you know we both like to talk).
This particular day, there had been a power outage in town, causing our normal coffee shop to close for the rest of the afternoon. So, we ventured down the street (since we live in Washington, coffee capital of the world!!) to another local coffee shop to indulge in our normal caffeinated goodness. It was a bit on the chilly side, but the coffee shop had their store front wide opened. In order for one of us to not have to stand outside while the other ordered our coffee, Lang asked the Barista if we could bring Biscuits inside. Without hesitation she said, “Sure, no problem!” I wasn’t too surprised, as there is a homeless man that frequents that coffee shop and has a “shoulder cat” (you know, a cat that sits on his shoulder like a parrot) … So, I happily walked inside. As I was waiting for our coffee, Biscuits decided that she wanted to express her opinion and let her presence be known to those around us. This is NOT uncommon (she’s talkative, just like Lang and I)! I didn’t observe anyone being bothered by her few little barks, but apparently someone was, because a gentleman, enjoying his coffee with a friend, spouse, sister, whatever…another lady, said (rather curtly), “Would you take your dog outside?!” I was a bit caught off guard, and my inner critic started in on me. She said (my inner critic that is), “Why didn’t you notice that Biscuits was bothering someone? Why didn’t you stop her before it became an issue? You shouldn’t have brought her inside! What do those people now think of me? “ All of the sudden, it went from a pleasant afternoon walk to our local coffee shop to a lesson in beating myself up for no real reason, other than my dog bothering someone, who (not so kindly) let me know! Of course, I apologized and immediately proceeded outside. I continued the process of mentally beating myself up as we began to walk back home.
However, within 5 minutes of leaving the coffee shop, lattes in hand, a lady came up behind us and began to dote over Biscuits, telling us a story of a neighbor, which she once had, with a very similar looking dog and how much she adored that dog. She told us, with great joy in her voice, what a pleasant experience that was. She even ended the story by telling us what great job we were doing with Biscuits! And BAM…Just like that, I couldn’t care less what Mr. Grumpy McGrumperson, in the coffee shop, had thought about us and our adorable, precious little rescue pup! Without even knowing it, she completely turned my sadness into joy! Now, an argument could be made for me simply being overly sensitive. Certainly, I should not have let one person’s disapproval bother me so much. But, that’s not my point.
There have been many, many times that I’ve wanted to say something kind to someone, but I have NOT…whether it’s because I’m not sure how it might be received, or it sounds silly, or it’s not important enough to say…the list could go on and on. I’m not saying that I NEVER say kind things to strangers. I actually think I do that pretty often, but I could definitely do it more!
This whole sequence of events, reminded me of a MUCH more intense situation that I experienced, with my daughter and granddaughter, several years ago, while traveling to San Diego for a marathon. I was running the marathon and my daughter and granddaughter were coming to support me (and go to the zoo)! My 2 ½ year old granddaughter did great on the first leg of our trip, from Seattle to Phoenix! However, when we switched planes, for the final leg of our journey, she was NOT happy. She refused to buckle her seat belt, and did everything in her two year old might to express her discontentment with the airline’s rule that everyone must be buckled up safely and securely! She continued to battle my daughter and me for 30 of the 45 minutes of our connecting flight to San Diego. By the end of the flight, my daughter was humiliated and exhausted from the mini-war with my granddaughter! She could not help notice the judgmental comments and disapproving looks of some of the other passengers. I can certainly understand their frustration. If you’ve even been on a flight with an unhappy baby or toddler next to you, it’s no fun at all! As we were exiting the plane (my daughter in tears, my granddaughter all smiles), a fellow passenger, who had been sitting directly across from us, said, “Don’t worry mama, you’re doing a great job!” OK…NOW….let the floodgates open, right?!
Now, I have NO idea who that person was (I’m inclined to consider him an angel), but it really doesn’t matter. All that matters is that my daughter went from feeling like she was the worst mom EVER, and everyone was judging her…to feeling like someone may have actually understood what she was going through. Now, can you imagine how the person on the plane who had made negative remarks felt, after hearing those kind words spoken to my daughter?
Interestingly enough, the lady that doted over Biscuits and complimented us on our “dog owner” abilities probably didn’t know that my feelings were just hurt by someone that (most likely) was just having a bad moment in his day. Who knows what he was going through at the very moment, had been through previously that day, that week, that month, or even what had happened to him in his life. The point being that we don’t know what others have experienced or what kind of day they’re having or even what kind of life tragedies they’ve endured. We can only “judge” (and not accurately) the moment in which we are cognizant. It’s been said, “Everyone is fighting a battle”, and I believe that’s true.
In a world that is full of judgment, hatred, exclusivity and anger, what can WE do to make a small difference in the life of someone? It’s easy to judge, get angry, fight back. It takes a bit more effort to look for the good in people, not react, and choose peace over violence. Perhaps there’s a risk of it not being well received or rejected (the topic of another blog)? I believe it to be well worth the risk for the opportunity to change someone’s day, don’t you think? What does it cost us to do that? Not one red cent! Barely ANY time at all!
I’d love to hear of your personal experiences of giving or receiving such a gift…a gift of kind words.