Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Eyes of a Stranger

Have you ever really looked into the eyes of a stranger? How many times a day, outside of our jobs, do we pay attention to those we don't know

We see people when we cross the street, walk the aisles at the grocery store, get into an elevator, when we order our coffee. Everywhere we go we see people, have the opportunity to connect with them....but do we?

One of the things that I am always aware of when I am shopping, and someone is walking past me, is that so many passer by just don't smile. Rarely do they even look at anyone else. Okay so maybe you are naturally that pissy, but could you not even make eye contact? That takes no effort at all. Are these people that busy that they can't take the mili second to look me in the eye? Or are they too busy texting or looking at their phone? I am talking about people, all people, but I do exclude here the guy who looks at every pretty female he walks past.

When you're in the elevator and someone gets on, do you smile? When it's just you and another person and one of you reaches your floor, do you say bye? Perhaps you say have a good day. Maybe a smile and a nod? Just this evening as my daughter and I were on the elevator up to see her tutor, three elderly men got onto the elevator with us. You could tell they were quite the characters! Haley can sometimes get uncomfortable around people she doesn't know when they start laughing and joking. She always thinks they are laughing at her. I was aware of her posture so I put my arm around her. These three elderly men chatted with us, up to their floor. Each of them saying good bye or have a good night when they got off the elevator. One of them even jokingly asked me to make sure "Bob" got off on the right floor-I assured him I would. It was a small moment, only a 3 minute interaction with a few strangers, but it made me hope that Haley remembers that I was the kind of mom who was kind to strangers, always with a smile and a hello. I hope that when she looks back and remembers the times she grew impatient as I talked on and on to a total stranger, that she realizes it was because I was compassionate, caring and kind. And I genuinely like to know things about people. Someone may tell me something that they do or like, and I always want to know why.

photo bucket photo

Have you ever met someone, even briefly and thought to yourself - I could be friends with that person. Have you ever looked into the eyes of that same person just to see if you could see something that you recognize? A commonality perhaps, or a similar character trait that you have have in common, or perhaps a character trait you wish you had. I think about character allot. In so many of the books I've read, you are asked to do an activity that makes you look inward, and describe yourself, list your attributes, your accomplishments. I always find that so difficult because I find myself describing myself as the person I aspire to be. It's hard to hold ourselves responsible though, so how are we supposed to know when we have arrived at that person we have aspired to be? I need a check list of some sort I guess! So go ahead, lets make friends with a stranger that is going to unknowingly challenge us to be a better person!

Or how about this? Have you ever spent an hour, or a day, or even a few moments with a stranger and you thought to yourself - I could marry that person! I could spend the rest of my life with him/her. Had you not looked that person in the eye, you would never have had that feeling, or the thought, whichever came first.

It seems in this day and age we have become so de sensitized to the human spirit, the kindness and compassion and the human touch. People seem to be so judgemental, get offended so quickly and shy away from people they don't know.

I spent years working in a cafe. I learned so much about people, humanity, the kindness of strangers who became friends. I learned a great deal about the human spirit and the importance of making that connection with someone you don't know, and just how much that kindness can change a person's life. Once, I found out that one of my regular customers suffered from major depression. Every single day he came in to our cafe, and stayed for an hour, sometimes longer. Sometimes he would be there more than once a day. I learned that he came to see us for his comfort, and that had it not been for our interaction with him every day, our kindness, our words of "have a great day", our smiles, he may never have been able to get out of bed some of the days. We changed his life, every day in some small way.

Now, I am only there at that cafe as a customer, and all these years later so is he. Still to this day I will greet him by name, say hello, tell him something funny and genuinely ask him how he is. He may not be a "friend" that I would call or hang out with, but he once was a stranger, who I took the time to look in the eye and say hello to. From that first day of hello, we were no longer strangers.

I also remember an elderly lady who would come in with her husband every once in a blue moon. There came a time when suddenly I didn't see her anymore, and I always wondered about her. One day, there she was with her daughter. When I asked her where she had been she told me the story. Her husband had died, and she wished she had to. She felt as though she had nothing to live for, and just wanted to stay in bed. Her daughter tried to get her out of the house but she didn't want to go anywhere. Then one day her daughter said to her "let's go somewhere that you and dad loved to go, he would want to meet you there." She told me she remembered how welcoming I always was to them. That they could sit there and I would smile at them. I don't know her name, I never did, or I have forgotten. But I was so honored to know that she had that as a memory. That maybe her husband was gone, but her memories were still there, alive and full of feeling, and once again, kindness was what made the difference. I took the time to look into the eyes of a little old lady and a little old man, and they didn't feel like they were strangers!

photo bucket photo

So please, the next time you walk by someone in the grocery store aisle, in a long frustrating line up, the grumpy kid serving you, smile, look in their eyes, say hello. It may take a few tries, it may get frustrating, but keep doing it, because one day it will make the difference!

Happy Wednesday, and thanks for reading!


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Social Media Love Fest

I am not a technologically advanced person at all. In fact it makes me uncomfortable to be in an electronics store. I don't like all the gadgets, and the jargon the sales people speak, it confuses me. I think texting can be rude at times, just like talking on your phone while you're walking (and almost walk right into people!) However, I am a social media whore! I love all of the avenues you can go when it comes to blogging and Facebook. In fact if I cannot get to my e mail or Facebook for a few days, I am NOT a happy camper. Take my phone away and I could care less. I don't like talking on the phone.

Before Facebook, I remember it was My Space. All of my employees would be talking about My Space and I eventually had to tell them that I didn't know what the heck they were talking about. Much to their astonishment and my embarrassment, we found out together, that I was just a bit behind the social media times! In that professional position, I mastered our automated Labor Scheduling system all on my own. Also many of overtime hours later and some Saturday nights when I was alone and had nothing better to do - shame on me. In my previous career, I became a master of self taught, reservation system greatness. When I was bored, and had no clients, I would find the best routes, with the best rates for flights all over the world. Then I would delete it all at the end of my day. But I found things on that computer that my co workers had no idea existed, like recipes and soap opera updates! Don't ask....

Here I was though, not knowing the difference between a gigabyte and an external hard drive. Truthfully, I still don't. I have mastered the blank stare and shoulder shrug when people talk of such things! But I teach myself what I need to know. So the inception of my blogs is nearly considered a miracle. Somehow though, I figured it out, and every day, I learn something I did not know before.

I love Facebook. It has become a connection to people I once knew years ago, people who I only knew from someone else, people I just met. It is definitely a way of making friends, finding old friends, keeping friends and just plain keeping in touch in a busy world.

I love to "like" a status, comment on a photo, send a message, look at your pictures, poke you, and read your comments. I am an active Facebook friend. I do wonder sometimes why people friend request you, or accept requests then are NOT active participants. I do find that a bit creepy. Almost like you are being watched by afar but you don't know by whom. If it's not meant to be creepy, those people should just move along and delete their accounts. This is just my opinion, and I am just saying!

Like everything in life, there is a social media etiquette. We should always think before we type, and we should always be aware of the consequences of what we type, just like we are when we speak. At least we should  be anyways. What we say, as well as what we type, always has impact to at least one person! If you need a refresher, there are numerous web sites that can tell you what the recommended online etiquette is.

So are you a social media whore? What technology or media device couldn't you live without?

As always, thanks for reading, and go add another friend to Facebook or search someone out!

Have a great weekend!


Sunday, June 5, 2011

U2 Phenomenal

I was lucky enough to see Bono on stage once, a few years ago. He did not sing though. My company held a leadership conference in New Orleans for all North American Managers, and our surprise was a guest who was going to help our leader announce a new partnership. That partnership was none other than (Red). It was very exciting, and inspiring to have Bono up on that stage to speak to us, share his passion for a better world, and influence us with his words and his vision. Leaving that stage, he left us all in a flutter of excitement, in awe, and we all knew that we would leave that conference, (in part because of Bono's message), a better person.

Here I am a few years later and I had the fortunate circumstance of seeing Bono with U2 perform live! I say a fortunate circumstance because it is not like it was announced that the band was coming and we bought tickets. A friend passed along a facebook message through Manitoba Eco Network, asking for volunteers to encourage recycling. All you had to do was send an e mail, stating in a sentence or two, why you wanted to volunteer. That was too easy! Come on, how could I not send an e mail. I received a reply right away. Man alive was I excited. A few hours of volunteer work to see U2 live, count me in!

A friend of mine that I once worked with was also going, and I was glad for that! Dave and I met her there, and started to worry that our volunteer leader was not there. In fact, we seemed to be the only three gathered! The two of them started to wonder if it was a scam. I am not at all a trusting person, but that thought never crossed my mind. I pulled out my paper and read it right there, that we were to meet Jim, and we should look out for him in a green Manitoba Moose shirt. He had a few minutes still, maybe it would all be OK. Then I started to wonder where all the other volunteers were.

You see, for whatever reason, I imagined Jim to be some bald headed guy with a big belly,wearing a bright neon green Moose t-shirt. I have no idea, it's just what my head does. Then I happened to notice a group of people gathered, and there was some really good looking, tanned, dark haired fellow talking to them, obviously their leader. Upon looking at him MUCH closer, Michelle and I realized that under a black hoody, alas was the dark green Manitoba Moose shirt! Well hello Jim! I am pretty sure that instantly, Michelle and I had a crush on him. An innocent crush. I think all the guys did too! This is where I would insert a picture of Jim if I had one. I asked my friend to secretly take a photo of him with her phone, which she did! Said friend though is very late in getting that photo to me!

We very casually walked up to join the group, hoping he hadn't noticed us standing those 20 feet away, like idiots! What I am sure he did notice, is our school girl giggles as we could not stop staring at him. However, we noticed our whole group, guys included, could be found staring at him.

 I have to say, it was an easy few hours of volunteer effort, with the exception of one annoying person. When we were done, we were told we would be taken into the inner circle to enjoy the concert. Being that I am not a concert goer, I had no idea what the inner circle was. My friend tried to explain and even show me a few pictures on her phone, but I didn't get it. Well let me tell you, the inner circle was fantastic! We were right by the stage. I thought I may hate it, because I am 5 foot nothing and can never see over anyone. But that was not a problem, there was plenty of room and we had a great view!

I did not LOOK like I was going to a concert, I looked like I was volunteering :(

How could I NOT take that shot!

I can say  that seeing U2 live in concert was without a doubt, one of the best evenings I have had in a long time. As always, Bono was an inspiration, and the concert was phenomenal!

I always thought that buying concert tickets was a luxury, something that my hard earned money should not be spent on. I no longer feel that way. Last summer we were lucky enough to go to more concerts than I have been to in my whole life up until now. The Black Eyed Peas were the only tickets I bought. It is Haley's favorite band, and I got them for her for big birthday number TEN. But by the end of the summer, I was lucky enough to have seen Keith Urban, ZZ Top, Bon Jovi, Black Eyed Peas, Joan Jet and Aerosmith!

When I would travel, I remember coming home with a feeling of wanderlust that never really seemed to leave me. I always felt somehow more enriched, more insightful, and full of awe and wonder. When I was away, I always felt as though I could change the world, accomplish anything, and I could see the beauty in anyone and anything. I felt a high that I wish always lasted longer than it ever did. It was a feeling that I always wanted to stick around and propel me into the next phase of life. That is exactly how going to a great concert makes me feel! One night of great music, that takes you back in time to all of the memories you store away. Memories that are brought back to the heart of who you are. One night, great music, and you wish the feeling would last forever!

What do you feel like after you have gone to a concert?

Always, thanks for taking the time to read!