Last weekend, my husband and I were out to dinner at a Fort Lauderdale restaurant called, Coconuts. All the staff wear shirts that say, “Be nice.” Seems like a perfect mantra in a post election world.
We bought one of the t-shirts because couldn’t we all use a bit more “be nice” in our life?
The next day, on the way to school, I was telling my kids about the restaurant and the t-shirts when my daughter Summer said, “Look at that car.”
And there it was. A sticker on the back that said, “Be nice.”
How funny. Sometimes the universe just points a certain way.
The following day, I pulled into a parking lot. Right next to me – another car with a sticker that said, “Be nice.” I was staring at it when the owner of the car came back. I asked him, “Where did you get that sticker?” He told me where and then said, “Have a great day!”
“You too!” I responded.
Well, I never even had time to buy one of those stickers because shortly after, I was at another event in Fort Lauderdale, and someone was handing them out. For free. I took one and now it’s on my car.
The universe wasn’t just pointing me in a direction. It was hitting me over the head.
I always try to be nice. Although I’ll admit I’ve had complete moments of failure when I’ve been waiting at a doctor’s appointment for a ridiculous amount of time and I start stressing about traffic and school pick up and well, it can cause one to lose their patience and their “be niceness.” But I always apologize, forgive myself and then try again.
It was my husband who taught me how to take nice to a whole new level. For example, instead of just saying hello with a smile to the security guard at your school – you can know his name, whether he has kids and you can mention how much you appreciate the long hours he works.
That’s the kind of nice that makes such a difference. It’s something to strive for whenever humanely possible. In a world where we often feel powerless, we forget how much our small positive actions can change the story of someone’s day.
This past week, I drove my kids to their piano lesson. All four were at the lesson and my 3 year old was asleep in the car. I was leaning against the car and breathing a moment of calmness. Finally a second to read a funny article that a friend had sent.
And at that very moment, this older women starts walking towards me on the street.
“Hi. I need to meet my friend at the movies but I don’t know how to get there. I’m told I can use my phone but I don’t know how to do it,” she said to me.
She even handed me the movie tickets to prove that she was indeed going to the movies. I wondered how she got the tickets without going to the theater but I didn’t ask. I only had 15 minutes until my 6 year old son would be done with his lesson.
“Sure, I said. You have a car, right?”
She did, around the corner.
So I explained how the maps app on her phone worked. I turned on her location services. I put in her destination and wished her a great trip to the movies. She said thank you and left.
And then my 3 year old woke up.
And a few minutes later, my 6 year old emerged from his lesson.
It was time to go to the playground while the others finished their lessons. I never did read that funny article.
But I like to think that woman went to the movies, met up with her friend and said, “There was this woman who helped me get here today. She was really nice.”
About a month ago, I heard Louis C.K. was coming to Miami and I asked a friend if she wanted to go.
She said, “Sure!”
I bought tickets and then a few days later, she asked her husband, “So what kind of music does Louis C.K. play anyway?”
Smooth jazz. Obviously.
In case there is one more person out there who doesn’t know who Louis C.K. is (I’m really only talking to my mother here), he’s a comedian. Although maybe he plays smooth jazz on the side. I’ve never investigated.
But I love that my friend had no idea who he was and she was all, “I’m in.”
I want to be all in, as often as I can.
It doesn’t always work out. Oh definitely not. I had a night of going to see the Neil Diamond cover band “Super Diamond” that I still deeply regret.
And I saw a production of Henry the VIII that was roughly 17 hours long.
And I remember once going spelunking (which is basically when you descend into deep dark caves to explore just how claustrophobic you are) and I remember thinking, that I was really better suited for eating sushi in New York City than wondering how I was going to get out of this holy crap scary Montana cavern.
But in general, you get more out of life if you just go for it. Whatever it is.
It makes life more interesting, more layered, more fun really.
And yes, at some point you will find yourself in a grungy off off off broadway basement theater, watching some kind of 3 hour alternative performance art and you will curse me. But the rest of the time, you’ll think I’m a genius.
Oh, we get overwhelmed. Or I do anyway. By work and laundry and lunches and mess and constant needs. And how could I possibly go do anything when there is just so much to do. But here’s the thing. It never gets done. Not really. Pull out an old to do list and I swear, there is something on there that didn’t get done.
I still haven’t sent out my thank you notes for when my son Cash was born. The boy is 3 1/2. Those cards aren’t going out. I’m sorry. If you sent us a gift, we really really liked it.
So if it never all gets done, then why not stop checking things off for a moment, go out and experience something.
My 3 year old son is the ultimate “all in” kind of kid. I let him play outside a few minutes before school this morning. Within 5 minutes, he had sprayed himself with a hose and was covered in mud. This child was most certainly not worried about “Get to school” on his to do list.
He just went for it.
Life is short. Getting shorter by the minute. Let’s get out there.
I’ve recently been obsessed with the life of Nora Ephron. She’s the late director/screenwriter that brought us movies like, “When Harry Met Sally” and reaffirmed in funny essays what we highly suspected – aging does truly suck.
I’ve always loved Ephron for her writing, her wit and her understanding of human nature. I really can’t read her list of things she will miss when she is gone (which of course she is) without tearing up. Things like her kids, pie and coming over the bridge to Manhattan.
But Ephron passed away 4 years ago, so why am I so focused on her right now?
I think because I’m trying to get a little break from our current political climate.
The American Psychological Association just did their annual stress survey and found out that 52% of Americans (regardless of political party) are stressed about the election.
And my first thought was, only 52%?!
Everyone I talk to is focused on the election.
Everyone is worried about the election. You can’t scan social media or the news sites or even have lunch with a friend without hearing about. I was at my kids’ dentist office and they were talking about Trump and Hillary and oh my gosh, as if people don’t already hate going to the dentist – now you get to hear about politics too.
The thing is… I love politics. I loved working for campaigns. I loved covering campaigns. I love the horse race. And the campaign rallies. And the passion of the candidates, no matter which side they are on.
But this election feels so divisive. And people can feel it.
So what do we do about all the stress? Other than binge watch old Nora Ephron movies. The American Psychological Association has some ideas.
Limit your media consumption. Like take a break and walk your dog or something.
Avoid discussions about the election if you think the discussions might escalate.
Channel your concerns into something positive. Go work for a campaign or an organization you support.
Vote. You might even be able to vote early. Like now. Go vote now.
And remember whatever happens on November 8th, life will go on. The APA says, “Our political system and the three branches of government mean that we can expect a significant degree of stability immediately after a major transition of government.”
And I also like to remember what Ephron said in a 1996 commencement address when talking about whether women could have it all.
“Maybe young women don’t wonder whether they can have it all any longer, but in case any of you are wondering, of course you can have it all. What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications. It will not be anything like what you think it will be like, but surprises are good for you. And don’t be frightened: You can always change your mind. I know: I’ve had four careers and three husbands.”
So imagine that Ephron is talking about the election.
It will be messy. It will be complicated. But in four years, as a nation, we can always change our mind.
A few days before hurricane Matthew was supposed to come hurtling towards us, I started to panic a bit.
A few years earlier, Hurricane Irene had brought 10 feet of water into our New York home. I had thankfully left the night of the storm but my next door neighbors were rescued by boat. There was so much water damage, we had to move out for 3 months and rebuild our first floor.
Hence, the Matthew panic. Since my husband Rick would be working constantly at CBS covering the storm, I thought it would be best to get my family the heck out of Fort Lauderdale and get over to the west coast of Florida. I got one of the last hotel rooms in Sarasota.
I had been to Sarasota before. More than a decade earlier, I was a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding – 2 1/2 weeks after giving birth via c-section to my daughter Dylan. Somehow, being a bridesmaid and a new mother (as I tried to recover from surgery) didn’t give me a lot of time to explore the place.
When you get one of the last hotel rooms in a city, it will not be the nicest one. It was a “suite” but I had to jam a can opener into the top of one of the windows to actually lock it. The microwave didn’t have a handle which surprisingly it does really need. And there was so much mold in the tub, I wouldn’t allow my kids to take a bath.
But I did not care about this crappy hotel room. I was just so grateful to know that I didn’t have to worry about flood waters descending on us or a palm tree ending up in my living room.
My kids were pretty great. And I remembered how much I loved to discover a new city. I recently read an article about the need for surprises in life. Good surprises.
There can be a lot of monotony in everyday living as we end up on autopilot – doing laundry, making lunches, picking Little Bites’ brownie crumbs off the floor, driving kids to activities, picking them up and on and on.
Joy in life can come with the unknown.
And suddenly, we had a couple days to explore this unknown place. And by explore I mean, let me quickly try to find an affordable, yummy restaurant that can immediately seat me and my five children while they plead, “Oh my gosh, We are so hungry. We have never been so hungry. We really need food. When are we getting food? Can we just go to McDonald’s. We love McDonald’s. Are we there yet? Where are we going after we eat? Why are you rubbing your temples Mom?!”
The first morning, we went to an adorable breakfast spot called The Sarasota Breakfast House.
And a couple at the table next to ours recommended a few kid friendly spots. So we hit the Marine Laboratory and Aquarium which was hands on and awesome.
We also visited a great playground at the Ringling Museum and ran around on a very windy beach.
And I seriously had the most amazing honey lavender latte (who knew such a thing existed) at the Green Zebra cafe.
And yes, there were a few unfortunate moments like when 3 1/2 year old Cash ate a whole bunch of breakfast potatoes very quickly at the Blue Dolphin Cafe, started jumping up and down like a maniac and then threw up.
I quietly and intensely said to the waitress, “I need a bag, a bunch of paper towels and a wet cloth as soon as possible” and I cleaned that situation up before anyone lingering over their morning waffles was any wiser. I also left a 27% tip.
Hurricane Matthew ended up shifting just slightly – sparing South Florida from its destructive wrath. And I wasn’t complaining to anyone. I know better than to ever grumble about a lack of a hurricane.
Plus, I had forgotten how much I love to explore a new place… and find the perfect honey lavender latte or a creative cool playground that costs exactly nothing.
And even with one kid complaining that so and so got 3.1 seconds more screen time than they did, it was pretty great. A silver lining in a terrible storm. A reminder that we all need to explore and experience new things in our lives. As often as possible. Moments of discovery amongst the chocolate brownie crumbs on the floor.
(That’s an edible flower. And no, it does not taste good.)
If you are looking for ways to help the victims of Hurricane Matthew, click here.
This weekend my 6 year old twins were invited to a birthday party. I considered whether I could bring their younger sibling along too. I mean, he’s practically still a baby. If you think of a high energy 3 year old as a baby. (I’m sure I could still fit him in a Bjorn.)
I decided since it was an outdoor party with bounce houses and a playground, it would be okay to bring Cash and it totally was.
He really liked the bounce houses.
He really liked the playground.
And he really liked the cake.
The problem – no one had served cake yet.
Apparently in the 2.3 seconds I wasn’t vigilantly watching his every move, 3 year old Cash decided to sample their beautiful PJ Masks cake.
Alexander would not be happy. Of course, I went into panic mode and tried to repair it the best I could…
It’s like I minored in cake decorating in college, right?
I immediately confessed the situation to the hostess of the birthday party (who I did not know at all but now she will remember our family forever). She handled it really well.
And you can see how terrible Cash felt about the faux pas as he gleefully jumped onto one of their birthday ponies.
I wish I could say this was a first offense for my 3 year old. But this is some minor frosting damage he did at a party a few months ago.
Apparently this is a kid who really likes cake.