When I Got Called Out on the Internet

One evening in June, I googled my blog name “Playdates on Fridays” to see if any sites picked up my content. I took several months off from writing as a result of an eye disease I contracted that made it difficult for me to work on a computer screen, so I thought I would check if any other blogs picked up work I submitted prior to getting sick.

The fifth item down was a piece from Mommyish that included a reference to a post I wrote earlier in the year. Exciting, right?

Except then I read the title: “Self-Described ‘Good Mom’ Wants To Know Why You Hate Her For Being Better Than You.” Uh oh, this was not going to be good.

The woman who wrote the article lambasted me from the get-go. She called me out by name. In fact, she actually called me a few names. As I read through the post, my heart beat a little faster. My hands were sweating. I felt embarrassed and shamed and yes, even a little bit angry.

Then I hit the comments section. Well, let’s just say I read about three comments and then I closed my laptop because no good was going to come out of reading the disdain some of her readers felt for me.

The article in question was an impulse post I wrote back in January about why we give flak to the moms who go all-out with parenting, such as elaborate Bento box lunches, over-the-top parties or the overachiever volunteers, but also the snark we give moms whose houses are too clean or arrive at drop off line in full make up. My intent was to point out that we shouldn’t be so judgey about moms who are trying to better themselves or do something kind for their kids.

I wrote the article because a dear friend overheard a conversation between other moms about how she must not spend any time with her sons because she was always so well put together when she arrived at school each morning. At the time I did not want to use a reference to her situation because it was so personal for her, so I used some examples from my past to underscore my points.

Unfortunately, unless you read carefully, it appears that I wrote a post about how great I thought I was as a mother because I spent more time on Pinterest than everyone else, and if you did not do these things, you sucked as a mom. At least this is how this particular blogger and her viewers took it.

The blogger and some of her readers took my post to read that I was the purveyor of all things Pinterest and loved to create elaborate crafts and lunches for my kids. This mistake is laughable because I am missing the craft-gene and the only success I ever had on Pinterest was when I made Arnold Palmer jello shots for a friend’s party.

A few people went back and read my original post and defended me, but most took the blogger’s assessment as truth and formed their own opinions about what an awful person I am.

The post and the commenters stayed with me. I intellectually comprehended that the blogger took my thoughts in a different way than I intended, and I KNOW that as a writer you should try to stay away from reading the negative, but my heart just couldn’t stop itself. I went back and read through each one of the comments — all 183 of them. Here are a few of my favorites:

This woman is clearly very insecure and/or self absorbed to the point of being narcissistic.

This woman reads into everything and loves to be a victim. I know a few people like that IRL and they are tedious and annoying.

You’re a show-off Whitney, that’s why people don’t like you. You are a show-off and a narcissist.

These will be the kids that everyone hates because their mom is an a-hole.

It’s sad. Her kids will be so f-d up when she passes her insecurity and baggage on to them.

Let’s just say, ouch. My ego took a major punch to the gut, and to put it simply, I felt bad. Even though I knew that my words were spun into a context I did not intend, it rocked my world.  I felt professionally embarrassed and unfairly judged.

The people who wrote these things did not know I was recovering from a debilitating eye disease that caused me to lose the vision in my left eye. They must have not known I was struggling with my recovery and the depression that is often associated with chronic pain. They could not have known that my goal as a blogger is about empowering parents, not taking them down.

I repeated the words from the immortal poet Taylor Swift: “Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, so shake it off,” but their words kept echoing in my ears.

I decided to just ignore it. I did not tell my husband or close friends about the post. I still haven’t. I did not highlight it to my blogger buddies. I would squash the negativity down by acting as if it didn’t exist. If I did not talk about it, it wasn’t an issue.

I tried to learn from the experience. I re-read the article several times and realized I could have changed the wording in some places or elaborated to ensure my point was clear. I needed to sound check for some sanctimonious language.  I should have slowed down and not rushed to post it.

I tried to move past it.

Except every time I would check Google, it was there, loud and proud for all the world to see.  A series of judgments based on one article I wrote, one small sliver of who I am.

I thought about how friends sometimes promote my blog by saying just Google “Playdates on Fridays!” What if they came across this article? My mom could read those comments or my fiends, and I knew they would feel bad for me. One day, my daughters could read those words and be heartbroken at what total strangers said about their mother.

And that’s when it hit me. I closed my eyes and imagined what my girls would feel like if they were the ones to read commentary like what was written about me. I understood in that moment what it must feel like to be bullied online, ridiculed in front of the world, and shamed by people you don’t even know.

I am a 42-year old mother who intellectually understands that the people who made those hurtful comments didn’t even know me. I can grasp that those words do not change who I am or what I have achieved. I comprehend that I am not defined by what others say or write about me. Yet, it still bothered me.

But what about my young daughters? Do they have the emotional capacity to understand this? Will they talk to me — or someone else — if they encountered a similar situation or will they think their world has come to an end? How would they respond if someone called them ugly on Instagram? Or a loser on Facebook? Or told to go kill themselves on Twitter? I know that the potential for something similar happening to them one day is very real.

I am a (mostly) self-confident, happy adult, and it was difficult for me to swallow or to even talk about some bad comments with anyone else. Can I expect more of them?

I often read the heartbreaking stories of kids who commit suicide from online bullying. I never understood it  — until now.

I am not trying to imply that for even one moment I contemplated taking my life, but I was surprised at the physical and emotional toll those comments put on me. I understand that what happened isn’t that big of a deal, but I was shocked that I couldn’t shake the disdain the other blogger felt for me. Despite my efforts at rationalizing the experience, it still affected me.  I have spoken to other bloggers who feel the same, as well as other adults who have experienced some bullying online.

A few year’s back there was a movement to shut Ask.FM down due to a slew of teen suicides associated with the site. One high-profile case was about Jessica Laney, who was slut-shamed to the point she took her own life.  One of the examples used by investigators to prove she was cyberbullied came from a fellow teen:

First of all. You’re life sucks. And second of all. NoOne cares about your life so stop posting it on Facebook. You just look like an attention whore: trying to make everyone feel bad for you. NOONE CARESSSS

And here’s the grown up version:

You’re a show-off Whitney, that’s why people don’t like you. You are a show-off and a narcissist. You know how many f***ks your kid gives that they get a painstakingly prepared bento box over a sandwich, some apple slices and a cookie? None. They don’t give ANY f***ks, Whitney. You make the bento boxes and the elaborate Valentine’s Day boxes, and the homemade playdate cookies because you are a show-off.

I am writing this today not for personal comments to boost my self-esteem or to lash out at the people who hurt my feelings; but instead, to help ensure that as parents we understand that what our kids read about themselves online can and will affect them. They may not share their experiences because of embarrassment or shame, or fear that we will step in to interfere in their personal relationships. We may not find out until it’s too late.

Although I am still embarrassed by the blog and wish the commenters knew the real me instead of the one projected in the post, I am thankful for this experience. I now realize that I probably will never grow the “thicker skin” I need for the blogging/writing world, but I can change some of my own personal behaviors to deal with the negativity. I know I am not the only writer to experience the roller coaster ride associated with reader comments.

I plan to sit down with my girls and discuss how the entire event played out from beginning to end. I will show them the comments and then let them read this post. We will have a frank discussion about the impact their words have on other people, as well as how we should handle it when unsavory comments appear about ourselves.

And here’s just a gentle reminder: Whitney, and the rest of the people who write online, are real people who most likely will read what you say about them. The Internet isn’t as big as you think.

A good rule of thumb may be if you wouldn’t want it said about your kid, maybe you shouldn’t write it about someone else.

Even if you think she deserves it for being a Pinterest-loving, bento box-making, volunteering narcissist.

One Day, I Will Be Better Because of It

I’ve started writing nine blog posts in the past week. I’ve finished zero.  All of them had something to do with the “good” that has come from dealing with the debilitating eye disease I have faced the past three months. But the words just aren’t jumping onto my paper like they normally do. It feels forced and fake.

I keep trying to write about what I have learned through this experience, and how it has changed me for the better. I want to share how I now see the world clearer with a laser-like focus on what’s important.

But I believe in always writing with authenticity and with truth, and the truth is, I’m struggling to make sure this experience — this experience that was painful and scary and the lowest time in my life — doesn’t change me for the worse.

I have always been in awe of people who face adversity with courage and grace. The ones who can see the beauty in life through the pain, who don’t get angry for their bad fortune in life, who find a higher purpose despite the indignities they face.

I am not one of those people.

I was selfish.  I wondered why this — this awful illness that took half of my vision and kept me away from the people and life I loved — was happening to me.  As someone who believes deeply in karma, I wondered what bad deed I committed in my past that deserved this fate. I even started questioning my faith.

Then I got angry. Each day that passed seemed to be worse than the one before it, and doctors’ visits became slaps in the face instead of discussions of progress. The constant stream of bad news weighed heavily on my psyche, and hope became a four letter word. A bitterness I had not felt since facing infertility a decade before crept slowly up my soul like bile in my throat

So I cried. A lot. I cried like a baby in my husband’s tired arms, on my mom’s weary shoulders, or through the phone to dear friends who were trying to hide their fear. More tears stung my eyes as I heard my children leave through the door in the morning or when I knew they went to bed, knowing that their Mom couldn’t care for them, or sometimes even walk to their room to kiss them good night.

Shame came next, and came hard. Shame for losing my gratitude, losing my optimism, losing myself. This disease was not fatal, How selfish of me for complaining about my eyesight while I watched friends and family deal with cancer, traumatic brain injuries or unfathomable accidents.  I felt shame for wasting the grace and generosity so many people afforded me, shame for not seeing the beauty in the small moments I did have. How could I not see the painfully wonderful good that was coming out of this situation?

I wanted to be strong, courageous and grateful, but it was just too damn hard.

Then I would feel good for what felt like a second. One good moment when I felt something, anything, like the person I was before my world turned upside down. And you try to go on and believe that everything will, just maybe, be okay.

I have learned that there is no right way to handle adversity. When the shit hits the fan, all bets are off.

When I one day look back on this time, I hope that I see there is strength in vulnerability and courage in letting yourself break down during the tough times.  While this illness that shook me to my core did not always bring out the best in me, I certainly watched it bring out the best in others, like my husband, friends and family. That may be the good I am so desperately seeking.

What I do know is that every situation, every road bump in life, is different, and every — every single one of us who are suffering through our own battles no matter how large or how small — deserves compassion. It is okay to break down and it is okay to need help.

I’m not sure where I am in this chapter of my life story, but I I am thankful to once again be able to exchange my fear of the unknown with optimism that I will find my new normal. Each passing day my body gets stronger and my heart weighs less. I no longer need to rationalize the why’s of this, and can focus more on the what’s next.

How has this changed me? What have I learned from this experience?  It may be too early to tell, but this I know:

I am broken.

I am human.

I am a survivor.

And, one day, whenever that may be, I will be better person because of it.

On April 17, three and a half weeks after my first symptoms, I was diagnosed with acanthomoeba keratitis. Acanthomoeba is an amoeba that invades the cornea of the eye and may result in visual impairment or in some cases, blindness. In the United States, it is often associated with contact lens use. 

Learning How to Live Life

“This is why we say vows.”

Those words lightened my heart as my husband uttered them softly in the dimly lit emergency room. The doctor had just informed us that I was going to be admitted for a series of gastrointestinal tests while I dry heaved into a pink plastic bed pan.

When the doctor left the room, I could not hold the tears back. After dealing with a rare, debilitating eye disease for the past month that rendered me useless, a second trip to the emergency room crushed my spirit and my resolve. I looked up at my tired husband who had been carrying a heavy load the past four weeks and apologized: “I’m sorry this is happening, I am sorry you have to take care of me.”

“Stop,” he said firmly. “This is why we say vows. In sickness and in health and all that other stuff.”

I always knew my husband would be there for me when I needed him most, but to see it in action, to see him honoring the words we said fifteen years ago. It is like viewing at a beautiful piece of art that speaks to your soul.

It also makes me wonder if I could be there for him as he has for me. But then I remember, that is why I said those vows.

This is why you have friends.”

One of my dearest sister-friends said this to me when I told her I felt guilty that so many people were taking care of my family. Unable to drive and relegated to my darkened bedroom due to extreme light sensitivity and pain due to enlarged cornea nerves, a community we only have been a part of for the past 18 months banded together to support us in our time of need. Carpools were organized, meals were coordinated, and people I had never met stepped in to fill in for my commitments. A day didn’t go by where someone didn’t text, email, or call to check in on me.

I was having a particularly tough day when I begrudgingly answered the phone knowing my sweet friend was worried about me. I couldn’t hold the tears back when she asked if my kids were doing okay through all of this. When I choked through telling her how supportive my friends — and people I had never even met— were to our family, she finally interrupted.

“Stop,” she said. “This is why you have friends, to help you through the tough times. You would be the first to be there for another family, so take the help and just say thank you. People want to feel like they can do something. They wouldn’t offer if they didn’t want to do it.”

And so we did — we are — taking the help, knowing it is the only way we could get through this time.

“This is just part of being a mother.”

A day after her 73rd birthday, my mom hopped on a plane from Ohio to Chicago to temporarily move in with my family.  Since she arrived in April, she has packed lunches, washed clothes, helped with homework and cooked meals. She has administered my medicine and accompanied me to doctors’ appointments.  She works tirelessly and without complaint.

One particularly bad day when I was in a lot of pain, I broke down. As I watched my mom finish the breakfast dishes, I felt overwhelming guilt and sadness for forcing my mom — a woman who sacrificed so much of her life to care for others — to now take care of me. It should be the other way around, yet I had lost all control of my life.

My mom came around the counter and wrapped her arm around my slouched shoulders.

“Stop,” she said. “This is just part of being a mom. I want to be here for you and the girls. I would be worried sick if I was at home.”

There was no bitterness, no resentment. It was unconditional mom-love at its finest.

Now that I am past the hardest part of my illness, I still feel overwhelmed by the generosity people have shown my family. I have tried to live my life full of gratitude; yet I do not think I fully understood how lucky I am for the life that I have until it was suddenly taken away.

This. This is how to live life.

In a world where there seems to be more to fear than to hope for; in a world that moves so fast we sometimes lose sight of what is important; in a world that always tells us that we are not enough; I have been shown by good people how to live life.

We say vows — we make promises —that we need to remember when times get tough. Not just in our marriages, but in all our partnerships.

We include people in our lives — we become part of a community — and we must lift each other up in our darkest times.

We need to forget the competition, the Mommy wars, the insecurities, and we must focus on what is important in raising our kids, including demonstrating first-hand how to give more of yourself than you at times receive.

I will always remember this time in my life as dark, painful and difficult. A time when my optimism was lost and fear smacked down my hope, and even caused me to question my faith.

But these past few months have also restored my belief that people are good — genuinely good, if you let them be a part of your journey.

Life is still uncertain for me. I have cleared several hurdles in fighting this disease, but I do not know if my vision will ever return in my left eye. I have options, but we won’t be able to pursue them for several months.

The old me would find this prospect — this undetermined destiny — overwhelming.

But this me. This woman who has been shown so much grace and so much generosity. This me knows I can live through anything.

Because I have been shown how to live life. And I intend to do just that.

On April 17, three and a half weeks after my first symptoms, I was diagnosed with acanthomoeba keratitis. Acanthomoeba is an amoeba that invades the cornea of the eye and may result in visual impairment or in some cases, blindness. In the United States, it is often associated with contact lens use. 

To The Guy Who Bought That Last Round of Shots

To the guy who bought that last round of shots at Planet Fred’s about 20 years ago, I want to say thank you.

Because of you (and quite possibly the Lemon Drop), I asked a handsome young man to dance. He held his hands up in front of him and shook his head no, but pushed his friend towards me. We took off and boogied.

For the next few hours we shouted into each other’s ears as “This is How We Do It” and “Boom Boom Boom” rocked the dance floor. He was on spring break from Business School at Duke, I was a staff aide to a U.S. congressman. We may or may not have locked lips once or twice in between conversation.

As the lights came on in the bar signaling the night was over, he asked me for my phone number. “Maybe I could come up and take you out on a real date,” he said to me.

As a young 23-year-old in Washington, D.C., I wasn’t sure if I wanted a long-distance relationship. I wasn’t sure if I wanted a relationship at all; but he was cute, so I shamelessly handed him a card with all my digits. With a kiss on the cheek, he was gone.

I spent the cab ride home talking about that boy I met on the dance floor. I spent the next morning fighting off waves of nausea wondering what was I thinking the night before. I never could handle shots.

He waited the appropriate amount of time and called on Tuesday after properly vetting me through a mutual acquaintance. “She’s not an axe murderer if that’s what you’re worried about,” was the confirmation he received.

It was awkward when we met in the light of day. He was nervous, I was unsure. We shared a meal, some laughs and more details about who we were and what we wanted to do with our lives. It was not love at first sight, but we certainly enjoyed each other’s company.

For the next few months, we casually dated and spoke on the phone often. And then one Saturday, when navigating through a crowd, he reached back to grab my hand and the moment took my breath away. He had my heart.

Our big day, right before it poured on us. Thankfully we took our pictures before the ceremony.

Our big day, right before it poured on us. Thankfully we took our pictures before the ceremony.

A few years later, I conned the most decent man I have ever known into marrying me. Despite a record drought leading up to our big day, it rained in the middle of our outdoor wedding. I think it set the stage for our life together: always make the best out of every situation, surround yourself with people who make you laugh, even in the face of hurricane-strength winds, and always have an open bar and a dance floor.

Some would say that the combination of alcohol, loud music and crowds does not encourage serious relationships. I call this doubt and raise you three kids and two dogs. A full house always wins.

We’re celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary today.

I used to edit our love story, making it a little more family friendly or digestible to people I didn’t know well. No one wants to be judged, so “We met through mutual friends,” became my standard line.

But the truth is, how and where we met is just one tiny sliver of our story, just the first line in our full life.

It would be easy to chalk our relationship up to fate, Kismet or destiny, and sometimes it feels that way. Mostly, however, we have a successful partnership because we work hard and do a whole lot of forgiving of each other for our flaws.

15 years later.

15 years later.

So, to all those young men and women who go out for “Thirsty Thursdays” with the quest to find The One: you can find love —true, unbridled, like-a-scene-from The Notebook love — anywhere, including a bar.

Planet Fred’s is no longer around, but I’m thankful that cute boy is.

Does This Blog Make My Butt Look Big?

It was one year ago when I permanently shut the doors of my public relations business and started writing full time. I have gained so much in the process: a new set of supportive friends that get the agony and elation of birthing stories; a group of “followers” whom I have grown to love and admire; a better appreciation for both the time and dedication it takes to be a writer; and a realization that I am actually living my dream.

I have also gained 6.8 pounds according to my scale.

Ouch.

I have noticed my yoga pants getting a little more snug on my thighs, and my skinny jeans cutting off my circulation a bit more lately, but I attributed it to the fact that I was a wee bit dehydrated. My choice of clothes started to dwindle as I began feeling uncomfortable in certain outfits. And then one day, as I was about to nosh on my bagel with cream cheese before plowing into an essay I wanted to write, I decided to hop on the scale. And there it was. Well, I’m not going to tell you what it said, but let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.

I decided I needed to leap into action, so of course that meant I checked Facebook, my blog stats, responded to a few emails and ate my bagel. Then the light bulb went off. I remembered I gifted my husband a fancy FitBit for Christmas. One designed especially for runners, with all the bells and whistles. Because my husband and I are infamous for taking forever to set things up, I was confident it was still in the box. I ran downstairs, grabbed it and then rushed back to my computer.

I quickly installed the software and slapped it on my wrist. This would motivate me. This would tell me how I gained seven pounds. This would be the change I needed. Right after I wrote my blog post.

Several hours later I hit publish. My goal for the day was done. I looked at the time on my computer and saw I had exactly 45 minutes to take a shower, grab a late lunch and get my kids from school. I would then chauffeur them around for the next three hours before coming home and taking care of the loose odds and ends around our house.

I forgot about the FitBit until bed time when I checked the watch. 2700 steps. 1.4 miles. That is all I moved the entire day. That labeled me as sedentary…one step up from complete inertia. Sloths were more active than I was that day.

Ouch again.

Yes, I know that numbers on a scale don’t mean everything (or anything). Yes, I know that the way I look doesn’t define me. Yes, I know it’s what’s on the inside.

But following my dream was actually making me fat.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I do move around on most days. I go to the gym a few days a week. I clean my house (sometimes.) I walk the grocery store aisles and my kids’ school. But on days that I don’t have much on my schedule, the days I save to write, the days I sit on my bed spinning stories, I am a statue with moving fingers. My FitBit weeps for me.

And this new lifestyle trickled down to my normally healthy eating habits. I didn’t leave myself enough time to go to the grocery store, so I guess it’s nuggets for everyone tonight! Or, it’s Pizza Friday, and Pizza Sunday, and sometimes Pizza Thursday, but at least Huff Post picked up my article!

While writing is what I love doing best, I am realizing that it doesn’t always allow me to be my best. I have spent a lot of time the last few days analyzing my time management and how I can do things better, how I can be better, how I can achieve my best self.

What I have realized is that life doesn’t have to be an either/or scenario like so many of us make it….like I made it. Life is about balance. Stopping writing for a few days allowed me to remember this.

I will lose the weight. And if I don’t, I’ll at the minimum become more healthy, which is what it’s really all about (and feeling good in my skinny jeans again.) I am determined, and even reached 10,000 steps the other day in addition to hitting the gym. I allow myself a certain amount of time at my computer and then I make myself get up and move.  I have broken up with my mean boyfriend Carb and replaced him with Kale, who is a little rough around the edges but much friendlier to my thighs.

But most importantly, I want to show my girls that you can live your dream without losing yourself. Even if that means giving up pizza a few nights a week.

But don’t count on me giving up wine. I’ll throw my FitBit right at you for suggesting that!

Thanks for stopping by Playdates on Fridays. If you are stopping by from Facebook, please make sure you click “like” if you have enjoyed this post to ensure Playdates keeps appearing in your news feed. 

 

 

 

 

#1000 Speak: Practicing Compassion to the Cable Guy

This post is part of the #1000Speak movement, where more than 1,000 bloggers will attempt to change the world by writing about compassion.

“Compassion is a verb.”

Compassion — a deep awareness of the suffering of another accompanied by the wish to relieve it. That means when you hear Sarah Mclachlan’s voice you automatically want to send a donation to the ASPCA. Or when George Clooney asks for help on TV, you send money. Or when someone you know is ill, you help.

For most of us, this is a natural instinct, at least to some degree. We see someone hurting, and we want to do something about it.

Compassion becomes more difficult when the situation is not so black and white. It’s judging the mom who left her child at home alone for fear she would lose her job. Instead of rallying behind a cause that could help single mothers, we condemn a woman who is just trying to survive. Or a lack of understanding for a woman who stays in a relationship where she is being abused, when she should simply just leave, without thinking of the fear and isolation she must be experiencing. Or believing that someone who suffers mental illness and takes his own life took the easy way out.

And then there is the compassion we should offer to those people we encounter on a daily basis. Those people that don’t necessarily deserve it. The people who make our life more difficult day in and day out. The guy who cuts in line at the movie, the mom who constantly talks about how great their kid is, the cable guy who is three hours late.

 “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” — Dalai Lama

If you want to be happy, practice compassion. Huh.

This Dalai Mama thinks he may be on to something, but unless you are a Tibetan monk, it’s pretty difficult to incorporate compassion into today’s hectic life, especially when it feels like the universe is conspiring against you. I mean no offense to the DL, but he never needed to get to soccer practice, the library and a PTA meeting all within fifteen minutes of each other.

Being compassionate to those we encounter in our daily lives– those who seem to get in our way or  those who we have the perception are doing something to us — is tough. This is the reason they call it “practicing” compassion.

Let me tell you a little story about my cable guy, Victor.

Victor was supposed to arrive at my house between the hours of 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. to re-connect my TV and Internet. He did not arrive until 6:30 p.m. causing me to miss a few appointments and a dinner I was going to attend. However, I forgave him because he only arrived late due to his efforts to coordinate free cable for a woman’s shelter. He worked two jobs — the first as a tech for the cable company, and at night he fixed computers for a local business. His wife, three sons and parents lived in Slovakia, and he sent all his money to support them since there were not many jobs available since the war. He lived in a small apartment with three other men from his country, and drove an hour just to get to work each day.

It was hard to be upset with Victor knowing what he faced and the love he had for his family. It was easy to feel compassion for such an endearing soul.

Except this story is completely made up. This is the story I created to keep my head from exploding after waiting the entire afternoon for the cable guy to show up. I was attempting to practice compassion by convincing myself that Victor wasn’t a jerk.

The real Victor was a young kid who told me he still lived at home with his parents. He looked a little bit like Eminem (not that there is anything wrong with that), and he was late because he was new and had to turn around twice because he left his cell phone at prior appointments. He was unapologetic and not particularly kind. Although I wanted to tear him a new one for ruining my afternoon, my guess is he had already been ripped to shreds that day by prior customers.

Love me when I least deserve it, because that is when I need it the most. — Swedish Proverb.

I wanted to teach this young man a lesson. I wanted to unleash my rage. I wanted him to understand how frustrating it is to deal with the cable company; but something about Victor told me life wasn’t very kind to him. Instead of taking my frustration out on this young man, I practiced compassion to the best of my ability. I lent him some grace — and offered him a bottle of water. And although I was frustrated, for the first time an incident with the cable company did not unravel me, and I had no regrets about my behavior.

As Vic walked out to his truck, he thanked me for the water and mumbled that he was sorry that it took so long to get to my house. It had been “one of those days” and he still had another appointment to go.

I knew what it felt like to have a bad day. I had them all the time…I had children.  But even though Victor and I were very different, I could see me in him, and him in me. We all feel the same things, we all feel that we’re not good enough, frustrated and crabby. It’s how we handle it that makes a difference.

Providing this man compassion — whether it was deserved or not — was good for the both of us.

We shouldn’t save our compassion solely for those who look like they are suffering the most. Instead, we should try practicing compassion to everyone –even those that get under our skin every. single. day. These small moments are the ones we have the power to change. These are the acts that can change the world.

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.” — Mother Teresa.

Or at least your experience with the cable guy.

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I am very grateful to all of the Bloggers participating in the Movement #1000Speak. This campaign was sparked after a few truly horrific events occurred, mainly against children. One blogger wrote a piece that reminded us of the phrase “it takes a village.” But where was the village for these kids? Where is the village now? We cannot rely on anyone else to watch over those suffering. We need to instead “be the village.” That’s where you come in.

By promoting compassion — everywhere — we can change the world. My post today takes a soft approach to a heavy topic, but that does not mean I take it lightly. We need more compassion in this world, and we need it now.

You can find the links to all the bloggers that have participated right here.  Please share the stories that move you, so we can change the world.

If you want to know more about this Movement please visit the Facebook Page here.

One love.

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