Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Lost Art of Being Thankful

I told a friend of mine the other day that I wanted to bring back the lost art of letter writing. I admit, I am guilty of sometimes just sending a thank you text. If truth be told, I probably am also guilty of thinking I have thanked someone when I probably thought about sending them a text, but I was in the car, and then when I got home my children were acting crazy, and then it was too late at night, and then it was too early in the morning, and then I just totally thought I had done it, but I did not really do it; so in essence I had not adequately shown my gratitude. I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to be the one that is so busy with life that I don’t stop to appreciate the people and things that make life worthwhile.

Recently, a man in my hometown, who I used to work with but rarely see, stopped by Southern Charm and brought me a cup of coffee. It was so thoughtful and unexpected. I sent my mom a text, “Billy Houston just brought me a cup of coffee. How about that?” Oh, I thought about texting him and saying thanks, but I wasn’t sure if I had his number, or if he texted, or blah blah blah. A week or so later, he brought me another cup of coffee. And it was on a day that I really needed a lift. Text to mom: “Billy Houston just brought me another cup of coffee. What the hell? How awesome is that?” That night, I decided I must send a written thank you note. When I got home, I decided that I couldn’t send him a note on my Barbie stationary (although I did send a note to a local pastor and his wife on a Barbie card and they found it endearing, or so they indicated), but I vowed to send a note the next day. When I got to work, I pulled a card out of my stash under the counter, wrote him a note, luckily ran into his daughter who told me he had a PO Box and gave me the correct address, put a stamp on the envelope, and managed to even get the envelope into the mailbox at the post office. Boom. Mission accomplished.

Why is this important? Because when people go out of their way to show someone kindness, they do it because they want to; not because they have to. And because the minute we stop doing random acts of kindness or we stop appreciating these moments of humanity, we become empty vessels. The people who show kindness do so to bring others joy. But if they are never thanked, or at least acknowledged, their light begins to dim. It sparks a chain reaction that lessens their desire to do for others. Then before you know it, we are all just a bunch of self-centered asshats who can’t see the needs of others and don’t care to reach out even if we could.

Last week I got a lovely hand written thank you note from Haley Ates. This didn’t really shock me. Her mama is an English teacher and obviously raised her right. (In case her mama sees this, yes, I know you rear children and don’t raise them, but whatever, I think reared sounds weird. Blame it on rap music.) Not to mention she is young and engaged and more than likely trying to use up all of her stationary so she can get some new cards with her new last name printed on them. But this week I got a hand written thank you note from a man. Not only a man, from a football coach. And it arrived within a week of the event for which he was thanking me. I don’t want to act like an athletic man is less likely to hand write a personal thank you note, but in my opinion, and man is less likely to hand write a personal thank you note.

The impression this left on me wasn’t that Haley and Coach Moore are a crazy rare breed of humans who know how to hold a pencil and lick an envelope. It let me know that they are humble people of gratitude. The impact of these notes was a reaffirmation of my need to not only continue showing others, whether friends or strangers, that I care about them through small tangible acts or tokens of kindness, but to also take the time to truly thank those who show kindness to me. I needed this reminder. It’s often easier to anonymously pay for a policeman’s lunch, or (my favorite) buy the blue-collar old man’s single can of beer at the gas station after he has gotten off from an obviously long workday, than it is to thank the people who are closest to us who do so much for us every single day.

By the way, a great random act of kindness is a hand written note. Feel free to help me bring back the lost art of letter writing or to steadfastly show small kindness to others by commenting or messaging me your mailing address, or the mailing address of someone you know who may appreciate the kindness of a stranger. I’m not saying I’m going to mail you a Barbie card before the weekend is over. I mean I’ve got wine to drink and this DVR isn’t going to watch itself. But it will give me a database, if you will, of people to share life with over the course of the year.

I think I’m going start by mailing a card to my mom. She lives next door to me, but I bet she would like to read my words of appreciation instead of hearing me casually calling, “Thanks!” over my shoulder as I walk across the yard carrying a can of Fresca or masking tape or whatever item I’ve borrowed that I will never return. And to whomever is reading this… hey, thanks.

moore-thank-card

Advertisements

Emojis and the Rapid Decline of Personal Relationships

I read an article today about people who were born before 1985, and how these people will be the last to know what life was like both before and after the internet. It was not a commentary on the internet being bad or anything like that. It is just that life after the interest is different than what it used to be. This got me thinking about life before texting.

I have frequent conversations with my friend, Terry, about different happenings in this world, specifically in large cities in America, where common sense and appreciation for human life seem to be lacking. We discuss how the cycle can never be broken until a generation is taught and believes that all life has value and  this generation lives in such a way that they relay this message to their children. I’m not going to make a leap and blame that on the internet, but I do think that the age in which we live makes it more difficult to have personal relationships.

It is easy to be anonymous behind the security of a keyboard, and it is even easier to form “friendships” through social media with people whom we have never met. These things are catalysts for discovery, freedom of speech, networking, business, the list goes on and on. Much good comes from the ease of electronic communication. But much is also lost. Many people whom I wish would read my opinions on this matter have already tuned out by now. It seems even a Facebook post that is long enough to warrant a hyperlink in order to “see more” is a post that is too long for a millennial to read. A post with a link to a blog that contains nothing but words instead of a photo based source of information with mere captions beneath is certainly not of interest.

No one wants to talk to anyone anymore. I’m not sure why they even call cellphones phones. I know very few people who actually use them to make phone calls. I get it. A text is simple and easy and fast. But a text really isn’t that important. I called my dad once and asked him if he got a text from me to which he had not yet responded. He told me that he heard his phone indicate a text had been delivered, but that he was in the middle of something and had not checked it. I was incensed. What if it had been an emergency? He calmly answered that people dying on the side of the road don’t text someone, they call someone. Well, alright.

The worst is when someone sends you a question via text and the answer isn’t that simple, and you are driving. So you dial their number and call them, but they do not answer. You just sent me a text! I know you are there! Answer the phone! Nope. Nothing. Fine. Google your own damn answer if you can’t exert enough effort to answer my call. How about the person who sends you a slightly critical text but they put LOL or the wink face emoji at the end of it? “Saw you across the parking lot. Wearing leggings as pants I see. Wink face emoji.” Is that supposed to soften the blow? Does the wink face mean that you did not just call me out for not taking the time or effort to change out of what I slept in before I went to the Piggly Wiggly to get wine? Between the blow softening emojis and the chronic call decliners, I’ve had just about enough of cellular technology.

The good news is I still have three friends who will always answer my call. They are my Tribe. We can text each other, too, but we make time to have actual conversations with each other. As Trish would say, we “connect.” Trish isn’t the leader of the Tribe, but she is the resident cheerleader. Trish is a management consultant. I used to think she always wanted to make things all about me, listen to how I was really doing, and know what I really thought about things because she was always “on.” But I realized that she doesn’t have this personality because she is a management consultant, she is a management consultant because she has this personality. We don’t make plans to meet up for dinner, we make plans to connect. We don’t talk about the weather, or what the girl in the grocery line in front of us had on; we talk about what we are doing that brings us fulfillment or how we need to better ourselves so that we can mentor others. It sounds exhausting, but trust me, it’s empowering.

Terry is the member of my Tribe who keeps us all grounded. She owns her own business, and has an adult child with special needs. She isn’t a complainer, she is a doer.When we met, we were total polar opposites politically and religiously. Over the years she has morphed into this completely different person who, somehow magically, is still totally the same as she ever was. It’s probably odd that we constantly discuss politics and religion, considering those are two topics I find it better not to discuss. She does her best to keep us all healthy, or at least aware of what oil, seed, or nutrient we should be consuming mass quantities of at any given time. She owns a coffee shop, although she doesn’t drink coffee. She also cares for a handful of progressively ill and elderly dogs. The more messed up they are, the more she seems to love them. Maybe she feels this way about people, too. Who knows? Maybe that’s why she likes me so much.

Becky is a successful career person in the medical field. She has two enchantingly obnoxious daughters and one ridiculously perfect boyfriend whom she annoyingly refers to as the most handsome man in the world. Don’t get me wrong, the man is handsome, but some of us (me) aren’t in a relationship and get tired of hearing about how good looking her man is. It’s like if you’re on a diet and your friend is in the back seat eating a dozen doughnuts. You know doughnuts are good. You’ve had a doughnut before. But you don’t have a doughnut right now, so you really don’t need her describing how great the warm, soft, glazed rings of deliciousness are while you’re in the front seat sucking on a celery stalk. Becky is the member of my Tribe who brings the fun factor. You never know where a night with Becky might lead, but like I said, she has a really good job, so she can afford the bail money.

As for me, I’m not sure what I contribute to the Tribe. But like the others, I stay pretty busy. I own my own business and am a single mother to two teenagers. I have a very active relationship with the Real Housewives of Orange County, New York, and New Jersey; and in a month or so, I will have an insatiable relationship with the Hallmark Channel as they begin to air their completely unrealistic, romantic, Christmas movies. So it’s easy to say that the four of us are all very busy people. The thing is, we make time for each other. We put forth effort – and it takes some serious effort – to arrange time to connect with each other. Trish is constantly flying all over the world, Terry has the shop and Bobby and the messed up dogs, Becky has her job and girls and the most handsome man in the world, and I’ve got my work, my kids, and a DVR that’s 89% full; not to mention, we don’t even all live in the same town. But we carve moments out of our busy schedules to talk on the phone and to connect in person on a regular basis.

The end result of this is a strong network of support and love that any one of us can lean on at any time. I can pick up the phone and make a call and one of these women will answer my call. I can’t say that about the other 959 contacts in my phone. I mean, my parents usually answer, but hell, my own damn kids don’t answer me half of the time. But if I text them, they will get back to me. They might even send me a kissy face emoji, or the little pile of poo emoji.

The article I was reading was actually about a book that delves into what it feels like to be the last generation to remember what it was like to live before the internet, and the author relays that the  book mentions something called Analog August where people unplug for a month and get back to the basics. Yeah, that’s not really realistic, but stepping away from the trappings of social media is. I love Facebook, but it’s not my singular means of communication with the world, and it certainly isn’t my means of finding my self worth. Maybe we all just need to open our eyes a little. Maybe we should use one of our fingers to dial a friend to chat and do a little less texting. It’s great to have opposable  thumbs, but maybe there is a better way to forge meaningful relationships other than tapping them on a tiny little screen. You know, if we actually talked to each other, really talked about things that are several layers below the surface, maybe the next generation could start to imagine what life was like before the internet. Or we could just keep on using acronyms and emojis to quickly brief each other on the mundane things in our day that have nothing to do with the people who we really are. Single tear sad face emoji.

 

Here is the link to the article: http://qz.com/252456/what-it-feels-like-to-be-the-last-generation-to-remember-life-before-the-internet/?utm_source=parWD&mbid=social_fb

 

The Auburn Football Creed

I believe that this is a terrible game and that I can count only on better games to come. Therefore, I believe in liquor, hard liquor.

I believe in sarcasm, which gives me the ability sit through an afternoon of bad football.

I believe Vern and Gary need to retire, without which I cannot continue to watch football on CBS.

I believe that if I eat enough chips and dip that I can slip into a food coma and forget an entire game before it has even ended.

I believe in a fence or hedge around a field because it protects the lives of the coaches from drunk fans.

I believe the players on my television can hear me, therefore I will continue to scream at them, as well as the coaches.

I believe in my team, because they continue to play their hearts out even when it seems like all is lost, and even when armchair coaches like me are slamming drinks, shoving chips in their face, and screaming obscenities at Gary when he criticizes all of college football during plays under review.

And because Auburn men and women believe in these things, I believe in Auburn and love it.

**Originally penned as a Facebook status during the Auburn loss to LSU on 09.19.15

There’s a Reason the Word Viral Has a Negative Connotation

Okay, fine. After much urging, I finally watched the viral video sensation, Rebecca Black (on mute), and I don’t have enough hours in the night to tell you all of my thoughts, but I will give you a few of them.

1) The pencil sketch portion at the beginning made me think about when Japanimation cartoons first aired in the US and all these little American kids started having epileptic seizures because of all of the rapid movement and the flashing of the television screen. In fact, I think at one point when Rebecca Black is “dancing” she is actually having a seizure. Her parents may want to have her checked out by their family physician. Better safe than sorry.

2) The Blacks should have spent a little extra cash on a stylist. This girl is one animal sweater away from looking exactly like Rachel Berry from Glee, and although Rachel (Lea Michele) can sing, she gets a slushy in the face at least once a week – she’s not exactly who you want to emulate in the trendy outfit category.

3) Do those kids have on seat belts in the convertible? Aren’t there seat belt laws? And is it odd to anyone other than me that every girl in the car has a mole on her face? I don’t know if I know anyone with a mole on their face. Well, I know one person. And then there’s Sarah Jessica Parker, but she had hers removed, so she doesn’t count. How does this chick know two other girls with moles on their faces? I wonder if they live near a nuclear power plant.

3) Now I’m pretty sure it is illegal to ride down the road sitting up on the back of a convertible; unless you are traveling at parade speed…and you’re actually in a parade. Did she pick girls with braces to flank her to add extra sparkle? Did they intentionally find two girls that had even less dancing ability than Rebecca so that she would look better? They keep doing this twisting while remaining rigid move that reminds me of the agitator in the clothes washer. Is it possible that everyone Rachel Berry, I mean Rebecca Black, knows is prone to seizures?

4)  Is that a real rapper? Is he in this video because he’s doing community service? Is he driving a Chrysler? How did the kids get the convertible and the rapper get the LeBaron?

5) What happened to hanging out in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot? Where is this party? We didn’t have parties like this when I was 13. And we sure as hell didn’t wear sequins to them. Why did all those kids leave their headlights on? Don’t they know they’re going to run down the batteries?

6) Where is this dark room where Rebecca is all alone with her red and purple lights and smoke machine? It’s just creepy. I can almost hear the director saying something like, “You don’t have to do anything more than you’re comfortable with, Rebecca.” I feel like I need a shower now. Maybe I should have watched this with the volume on. This is just pure uncomfortable in silence.

I’ve got to stop. I’m getting a headache. I think I may have a seizure of my own if I think about this anymore. Thank goodness I watched the video on mute. If I actually had this song stuck in my head, it is quite possible that I may do myself bodily harm. I would like to say, however, that it is pretty apropos that she’s “dancing” under a weeping willow tree in the end of the video. If this is what our culture now embraces as real talent/entertainment, it should be more than the tree weeping.