A Gift of the Moon and Other Treasures

4 Generations

I was fortunate to spend many waking hours – most weekends and many afternoons and evenings with my grandmothers. This picture of 4 generations — my grandmother, my daughter who turned 1 that day, me, and my mom — popped up in my Memories yesterday. I remember celebrating my daughter’s birthday with friends and family, and it didn’t seem unusual to me at the time that there were 4 generations together that day. It seemed simply normal. My mother requested the photo. I’m so grateful she thought of that.

The gift of the moon

Last night, I walked out on my deck to view an incredible moon rise. And the memories came flooding back. My grandmother, Grammy, gave me the moon when I was very young, probably 2 or 3 years old. She told me it was hers to give. Of course I believed her, and I was ecstatic to see “my” beautiful moon in the night sky for many years. At some point I understood that the moon wasn’t actually mine, but I have always been thankful that she crafted that story for me. I lost that grandmother a little over 20 years ago, and I still think of her when I look at the moon – pretty much every day.

The gift of stories

Grammy told the most wonderful stories. We drove to her home in little Washington, NC, on many Fridays for the weekend until I was around 15. She would smoke – with the windows rolled up – and I would complain. She was stubborn, though. She refused to believe that smoking was dangerous — for her or for me in the backseat cloud that stunk and burned my eyes and made it hard for me to breathe. She could always make me stop pouting by telling me stories as she drank her “Co-cola” out of a glass bottle and smoked cigarettes that she put out in a beanbag ashtray for the 2-hour drive.

The gift of the blue rock

Around the same time I received the gift of the moon, my Grammy also gave me what she called a blue rock. It was beautiful. I have kept it on my bedside table for years because it always reminds me of the fantastic stories she told of how she came to own the blue rock. She had such a vivid imagination, and she could pull off an entire story, unrehearsed and off the top of her head, with flourish. Tell me how you got the blue rock, Grammy, I would say every time we were in her car. She would smile and tell me all about her adventures finding the treasure on “my” moon or in a castle or under the ocean or in caves filled with jewels. In one story, it rained blue rocks and she was lucky enough to catch one. I love my blue rock. Once I realized it was really just a hunk of blue glass, I didn’t care because she never did tell me where it came from. I loved her sense of mystery.

Other treasures

Grammy was very proper. I loved going to her house and sitting at her dressing table, playing dress up with her makeup and fancy hairpieces and jewelry or swimming in her great swimming pool of a bathtub or stealing sugar cubes from her crystal sugar bowl with the fabulous sterling tongs. She gave me gifts fit for princesses, such as the moon and the blue rock, but she also taught me valuable life lessons – other equally important treasures. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Never pay a cent in interest. She never had a credit card, always used cash, and thought it was plain silly to purchase something one didn’t have the money to buy. A very valuable life lesson, indeed.
  • Balance your checkbook to the penny every month. I was so good about this… until everything became electronic. I’m sure she would still be balancing her checkbook if she were still around.
  • When passing the salt and pepper, set them down on the table. She taught me that it’s rude to hand the shakers to someone. I don’t get that one, but I’ve tried to continue that practice because she said it’s “the proper etiquette.”
  • Don’t chew gum because it’s not ladylike. I failed at this one. I’m the worst gum chewer. I chewed gum when she wasn’t around, and I still chew gum. But I know it’s not ladylike.

  • Everyone needs beautiful calling cards. We don’t use calling cards anymore – not the way they were originally intended to be used. Grammy had a beautiful sterling silver stand with a bowl on top that contained calling cards by her front door. I was fascinated with the whole setup – especially the small cards with names in fancy script. She explained that leaving your calling card before leaving someone’s home was an expression of gratitude for the hospitality. It sounded dreamy and so elegant to me. She gave me my own calling cards with my name engraved in fancy lettering. I put them inside my handwritten notes and letters to my friends and family.

  • Send handwritten thank you notes. I love writing and mailing thank you notes. I’m sure, like most kids who are made to write thank you notes, I thought it was an unnecessary chore when I was younger. I am so glad I followed her advice on this one. I love beautiful stationery, and I love the whole process of writing a note and putting it in the mail. Everyone loves to receive a handwritten note in the mailbox!

Grammy’s legacy

I fell in love with writing a long time ago. I’m certain that my grandmother’s great imagination and fabulous stories told in her dramatic, adventurous, and often mysterious way encouraged my attraction to words and stories. I miss her. I’m forever grateful to her for the time she spent with me and the gifts she left with me.

What are some of the gifts you received from your grandparents? I’d love to hear your stories! Perhaps I’ll compile them in a book about the very best gifts. Email me at hanna@writewellservices with your stories!

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Craving Connection? Try Old-School Communication

I recently ran across this picture of me and friends from high school on the last day of our senior year. Seeing the picture with all of us touching, hugging, smiling, NOT WEARING MASKS, left me feeling nostalgic for the days before the COVID shutdowns. The physical and financial damage this pandemic has done is obvious–and tragic–but the emotional scars will take years to uncover.

Humans are relational beings; the entire country has made an involuntary paradigm shift regarding how we communicate, relate, work, parent, shop, live, and play. Every aspect of how we live has changed. I worry about how we will emerge once (and if) we can ever get this virus under control. Will people even know how to be with each other once again?

My youngest son is quite possibly the most even-keeled, naturally happy-with-life person I’ve ever met. He has always made friends easily, and he has also always been content being alone. This past year has been really hard for him. He’s away at college, and he lives off campus. The isolation has wreaked havoc on him mentally. He’s not special or unique; my point is that watching this happen to him–one of the few I thought would be okay during all of this weirdness–has me so burdened for everyone out there.

What can we do? Well, the shut downs are not unlike any other adversity; they present an opportunity for us to respond. And how we choose to respond will largely determine what happens next.

Being shut down does not have to mean being closed off.

There’s a very cool concept in our universe: when we do something for others, it almost always comes back around to us even bigger and better. My advice to my kids (and myself) is to reach out using old-school methods of communication. Here are some suggestions:

  • Write a note to someone and send it through the mail.
  • Leave a gift on the doorstep of a neighbor.
  • Pick up the phone and make a voice call to a parent or friend.
  • Make a meal for someone who is struggling.
  • Wake up each morning with the goal of connecting with someone in some way every day.

Reaching out and connecting with someone is reciprocal. It’s kind. And it will fill your own soul.

Posted in #goals, #writewell, be kind, communication, compassion, coronavirus, COVID-19, hardship, life lessons, random acts of kindness, relationships, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Serving of Humble Pie for This Writer, Please

Last week, a new client reached out to me for help with her resume and LinkedIn profile. Back in BC (Before COVID), I would have met with her to discuss her needs. You don’t get better communication than face-to-face conversation. Since most people aren’t meeting in person in these COVID days, we spoke on the phone briefly, and I thought I understood what she wanted. When I delivered, she was disappointed. I was embarrassed and frustrated.

I thought I had returned quality deliverables. What went wrong? I decided to start from the beginning. I asked her very specific questions and pulled more details from her about what she wanted. I revised and delivered again, and this time, she was thrilled! She even asked if she could refer me to her networking group. This was a win/win!

What a great lesson in communication! I thought I understood what she wanted. What she seemed to be asking for was something I was very comfortable delivering. Asking the right questions, listening, and then clarifying would have saved me some embarrassment and time and her some disappointment and concern that she had wasted her money.

Moral of the story: To work efficiently and provide a winning deliverable for the client, don’t rush, and don’t assume all clients know how to accurately convey their needs. Ask the right questions and LISTEN. And if you don’t get it right, be willing to start over.

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Pandemic Crash Course: Adjusting 101

#FDOC looked very different this semester. I told my sons–both of whom attend Appalachian State University–that I wanted the traditional FDOC pictures even though nothing about this semester is traditional. Even though I’ve had kids in college for 8 years now, I still miss sending them off to school on the first day of classes.

I received this picture today from one son. The other son didn’t need to send a picture because both of my boys–like many in NC–had the same experience. 2 hours into the first day of classes and the online system crashed.

Like every college student, my sons worried all summer about what this semester would look like. They even contemplated working during fall semester instead of attending classes with hopes that things will return to normal by January. But they both decided to enroll in classes, keep plugging away at their degrees, and make the most of this bizarre situation.

I was stumped. While trying to find something encouraging to say to my frustrated boys, it occurred to me that there are some powerful rewards to be had in this uncertain and ever-changing COVID atmosphere. Everyone–and I mean absolutely everyone–is being presented with opportunity after opportunity to learn some valuable lessons: to be flexible, to adjust, to approach situations differently, to make the most of often inconvenient situations, to make sacrifices, to extend grace.

Our world needs more of all of that. Tensions are high, people are stressed and worried and afraid and lonely, and no one can predict what tomorrow will look like. We can all gain from the lessons we’re being given the opportunity to learn. Maybe COVID is here to teach them to us.

Posted in #dohardthings, #unexpectedblessings, communication, compassion, coronavirus, COVID-19, life lessons, mothers and sons | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Be Open to Unexpected Opportunity

possible-sign

Like most everyone, I’ve been in a bit of a slump since March. When the COVID-19 quarantine began, I lost over half of my content writing and social media business–and, while I was disappointed, I totally understood why. My clients were losing all or part of their livelihoods, too. The marketing budget was the first to go.

I was enjoying a surge in momentum just before the country shut down; I attribute much of that to showing up to networking functions and participating in Chamber of Commerce events. Those events are either no longer happening or are happening virtually with a massive reduction in participation. So, like many Americans, I’m hanging in there, doing what I can do, and hoping work picks back up.

Then the coolest thing happened unexpectedly yesterday. I sent email to someone asking for a quote for a client post. I don’t know the person and reasoned that electronic communication would be simple: I request a quote, and the quote comes back to me in my In Box. Easy! After I sent the email with the request, I left my desk and went to the kitchen in search of a snack. My phone rang with an unrecognizable number, and when that happens, I don’t usually answer–but I did answer. It was the person I had emailed. It took a few moments for me to put together who I was speaking to, so I had to scramble for a pen and something to write on. Annoyed, I prepared myself to take down a quote on a Papa John’s coupon.

As soon as I got my quote, I thanked the guy and was trying to wrap up the call when he said, “If you have another minute, I’d love to know exactly what you do.” Caught off guard, I pulled myself together and responded with my elevator pitch. His response? “Do you mind if I pass your name along? I’ve had a couple of conversations in the past week with people who could use your services.”

Now, I don’t know if that brief interaction will result in new business for me, but it was a timely reminder to me to remain open to unexpected opportunity. Seemingly random conversations can have positive, impactful results. And now is the perfect time to get in the habit of keeping our eyes and ears and hearts open; busy, complicated, harried life has moved to the slow lane. Making time for a simple conversation can open doors, create new friendships, make business connections, and change the course of a day or a life. I don’t want to be too impatient, too encumbered, too I’m-not-sitting-at-my-desk-with-all-my-stuff-right-now-so-I’m-going-to-mostly-blow-this-off; I want to be available to opportunity–don’t you?

 

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Some Very Good News: The Mask Helpers

Healthcare workers are today’s heroes; as they are caring for their patients in often stressful and sometimes tragic environments, they are also sacrificing their own health and time with their own families. Sadly, due to COVID-19, they are facing another challenge: the long-term, repetitive use of face masks for hours at a time is causing mask-induced ear pain and even breakdown of the skin, according to nurse.org. But they cannot give up wearing PPE for their own protection as well as the protection of the patients and staff around them. I’ve recently met someone who is doing something about this face mask issue. At a recent appointment, my physical therapist and I were discussing the pandemic and all of its awful ripple effects.

Sadly, due to COVID-19, they are facing another challenge: the long-term, repetitive use of face masks for hours at a time is causing mask-induced ear pain and even breakdown of the skin, according to nurse.org.

We talked about face masks, and he told me about a new project he is working on with a friend: a device that reduces or even removes pain and skin issues. The device, The Mask Helper, was inspired by some nursing friends who reached out to see if a surgical mask adjuster, designed by a Canadian Boy Scout, could be created. Ben Lee, professional swim coach with Team Elite Aquatics and LA Current, along with sons Aidan Lee (13) and Maddie Lee (14), rising freshman and sophomore at Community School of Davidson, and Tyler Clary, 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist got together and decided to help.

Using a 3D printer he originally purchased to prototype custom swim training equipment with Tyler, Ben started printing and donating batches of The Mask Helper. Small-batch donations to Novant Health and several hospitals in Orange County, CA, turned into requests for significantly larger orders, and it became clear that the need was much bigger, so Ben invited Dr. Yordan Ascanio, DPT, physical therapist at In Motion Fitness in Cornelius, to become a partner and help scale the operations. When they began, they had no idea how popular these mask adjusters would become; requests grew overnight from double digits into tens of thousands at a time. So far, they’ve sent The Mask Helpers to hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, outpatient clinics, restaurants, and other places all over the United States.

The Mask Helpers are made out of biodegradable PLA (polyactic acid) and are printed in batches of 20 per 3D printer. Each batch takes about 2 hours to print, and currently, all of The Mask Helpers are being printed at Ben’s home in Davidson, NC. Because of the current demand of 80,000+ units per month, they have purchased 10 new printers to meet that demand and are exploring locations that can support this project and future growth.

I wondered about their vision, both currently and for the future, and this is what they told me: “Our vision is two-fold. First, it’s clear that COVID-19 has changed our lives. Frequent mask use is the new norm; we believe ear pain doesn’t have to be. It takes healthcare professionals and frequent mask users months and sometimes years to get acclimated to wearing a mask due to pressure exerted by the elastic bands around the ears. By offering The Mask Helper, we hope to help people and organizations heading back to work transition quickly to mask wearing while providing comfort and safety at the same time. Second, 3D printing is a great way to prototype quickly and offer customization at scale (we were able to ramp up from producing 750 units of The Mask Helper per week to nearly 20,000 units per week in under a week). We believe there is a large potential for 3D printing to revolutionize the medical industry. We want to work with hospitals and medical facilities to identify short- and long-term needs and help them innovate, prototype, and scale (think: anything from PPE and nasopharyngeal swabs to surgical tools or even 3D printed organs). They are also open to working with other industries who need products that can be printed on a 3-D printer.

Ben and Yordan are selling The Mask Helpers for $2/unit plus shipping for quantities of 100 or less; volume pricing is available for larger orders. To help defray costs and to be able to continue to donate to those in their local communities, both Ben and Yordan have personally invested in the machines and raw materials needed to print the devices. To honor their original vision, they continue to donate a percentage of all sales. When I asked what healthcare workers are saying about The Mask Helpers, they told me, “They are ecstatic to find relief from the pressure and boils around their ears from extended mask use and are grateful not to have to choose between their personal comfort and the safety of their patients and loved ones.”

If you’d like to help, you can go to www.themaskhelper.com and make a donation, place an order for yourself, or order in the name of someone or an organization. All donations will go directly to purchasing raw materials, production costs, shipping, and donating the actual devices to those in need who don’t have the resources to purchase The Mask Helpers. You can connect Ben or Yordan with those within your organization or network who can help spread the word about the benefits of The Mask Helpers. Finally, you can follow them on Instagram @themaskhelper; tag your friends, share their posts and stories, and take selfies and videos showing The Mask Helper being used and tag them.

For more information or to donate, please contact Ben Lee or Yordan Ascanio at: web site www.themaskhelper.com, Instagram @themaskhelper, email orders@themaskhelper.com, or call or text (704) 286-6680.

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Navigating Your Small Business During COVID-19? Ramp up Your Social Media Marketing (For Real)

Business is down. Fear and uncertainty are creeping in. Need to cut here and cut there to be cautious. What about your social media marketing budget? RAMP. IT. UP!

Why in the world should a business ramp up social media marketing right now when cuts are happening everywhere else? Because there is a very captive audience online. People are stuck at home with lots of extra time on their hands. And they are online. Check this out:

Time spent on Facebook alone is up 70%. Engagement is up nearly 80%.*

So, get your message out there—but not the same message you were putting out there two weeks ago. The world has changed, and your message needs to address the change. Here is what you need to do with your social media marketing right now:

Address the new normal. Most everyone is home; people have either lost their jobs or been sent home to work and even students have been sent home to learn. Most of the nation is under some kind of Shelter in Place order. Face-to-face contact with anyone other than family is (supposed to be) nearly non-existent. Address this. How?

Explain to your audience how your business is operating within the current mandates. How are you protecting your customers and clients, your employees, and yourselves? Show pictures. Do live video. Get it out there to give people confidence that they can continue to give you their business without breaking rules or getting sick.

Offer solutions to current problem. This will look different for different industries, obviously. Put yourself in the mind of someone who needs your product or service. Why do they need it? What problem can you solve for them? Articulate their problems and provide your solutions in your content.

Provide Public Service Announcements related to your industry. People are scrolling online for many reasons, and one main reason currently is for information. Give your audience news and information that provides value and is clearly presented.

Sprinkle in some posts that are not solely about your product, service, or industry; humor, encourage, and relate to your audience. While being sensitive to the current environment, post positive content. We ALL need it these days. Throw in some posts that will make your audience smile or laugh, feel comforted, encouraged, or inspired, and enable them to get to know you as a human being. Memes, funny or endearing pictures of pets and family, and pictures of you being real are great ways to connect with your audience. Remember to BE SENSITIVE always; avoid anything that will create controversy.

Consider ways to give back. There are so many people out there hurting. Brainstorm ways your business can give something back to the community and provide a way for your audience to participate. People want to help, but they often don’t know where to start.

Good luck out there. Be safe and well, and please stay home. ❤

*Influencer Agency March 17, 2020 Study.

Posted in communication, coronavirus, COVID-19, hardship, health, humor, sensitivity, social media, social media marketing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Finding the Very Good in the Midst of a Very Scary Pandemic

isolated farm house

Whether we live in a big city or out in the suburbs, many of us feel like we are living in an isolated house out in the middle of nowhere. Even if we have neighbors and friends nearby, we aren’t supposed to be gathering with them. Kids are not in school, college students have been sent home, most workers are working remotely, and the sick and the elderly are confined to hospital rooms and homes without visitation. This is a very strange and uncertain time in the world, and it’s causing loneliness, fear, stress, worry, and even panic. All of those feelings are understandable, but, as with any crisis, there are Very Good–and often unexpected–gifts to be found if we look.

And we should look. Actively seeking the positive in a situation can be the catalyst for changing a negative mindset. I’m naturally an optimistic person, but I’ve struggled, too. And to force myself out of the dark cloud that would be so easy to get comfortable in, I’ve been taking note of the Very Good things that the Corona Quarantine is producing.

Mandated bonding with family is happening all over the world. Covid-19 is affecting a majority of the world. (Check out this map: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/world-map.html) Because most of us have been sent home to work, to educate, to “Shelter at Home,” most of us are spending more time than ever with family. This is a fantastic opportunity to really get to know one another, to break down barriers, to talk about things that have been swept under the rug, to right wrongs, and to have fun with each other.

Being confined at home isn’t good for everyone, though. And this leads me to the next Very Good thing.

There are so many opportunities to help others, to work together, and to give–and people are stepping up. For children who counted on going to school to get two hot meals, for people whose homes aren’t safe, and for people who don’t have a home or food to eat, people, groups, and organizations are coming out of the woodwork to help. Artists are showcasing their art on social media; musicians and DJs are putting on shows, comedians are making us laugh, experts are teaching their skills… to give what they can. People who couldn’t–or wouldn’t–work together before the crisis suddenly are able to put differences aside to do Very Good things together when the going gets tough. During times of crisis, it’s beautiful to watch how the concept of community generally becomes a higher priority than individual.

In times dominated by a frightening or uncertain issue such as a pandemic, the issue becomes the focus. What seemed important enough to dominate the news, drive the gossip magazines, and lose friends over on social media is now suddenly irrelevant when compared to how to feed, clothe, house, and heal people. Those recently important issues don’t go away, but they do tend to lose their importance.

In times of crisis–and especially in mandated isolation–we have a limited view; we have to learn to appreciate what we have. This phenomenon happens after a natural disaster or a death, so it’s not a total surprise, but we don’t have precedent for how to navigate this one. We don’t know when it will end. And we don’t know what to expect when it will end. Appreciating who and what is around us is vital for our sanity right now. For instance, in order to entertain ourselves without sports, eating out, entertainment, and social events, we have to get creative; board games, laughter, virtual book clubs/happy hours/play groups, cooking, drawing, and nature are readily available and inexpensive.

People are facing new learning curves–and most are embracing it. Millions of people are suddenly getting crash courses in Zoom, Skype, Facetime, how to work remotely, the etiquette of calendar sharing, and virtual learning–much of which is being offered at free or reduced prices. Many older Americans who didn’t want to bother with learning these new technologies are diving in to text messaging, email, and social media in order to stay in touch. Challenging our brains is one of the healthiest moves we can make while isolation confinement can make apathy seem appealing.

Priorities change. Just as the concept of community generally becomes a higher priority than individual, our society is learning that the ones who are keeping this ball rolling are our amazing and self-sacrificial healthcare workers, our first responders, our teachers, our hourly wage earners in the grocery stores, our essential workers who are picking up our garbage and delivering our mail and repairing our homes (and I’m sure I’m leaving some important people out–but you get the picture)… not our celebrities, our influencers, or our professional athletes.

Again, we don’t know what this will look like when it’s over, but my guess is that we will have developed some new, Very Good habits. I am enjoying the ready opportunities to help others, the time I’ve been able to spend with my family, the reconnecting I’m doing with people I don’t see often as I reach out to see if my out-of-town friends and family are ok, the cooking, the time spent enjoying my home, the books I’m reading… My hope is that, when this is over, we will all have a newly rekindled appreciation for what we have and for what we will have learned– and we will not take it for granted.

Be safe. Be well. Stay home. ❤

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Future Politicians Skip Kindergarten; Head Straight to 1st Grade

Okay. I know that the title is ridiculous; I took my cues from Star magazine–just because it was fun to put together a tabloid-esque style headline. But seriously. I was recently reminiscing about my last trip to Washington, DC; one of my favorite days was spent walking around the monuments and reading the quotes engraved in stone. That I love language is no secret; I wanted to read everything. The quotes in the monuments captivated me; they are powerful and moving, and some of them brought me to tears and others inspired me with a fierce sense of patriotism. I can’t stop thinking about them, especially when I watch television. What is being said in politics today that will be engraved in stone? Hardly anything, I hope.

The commercials have already begun. Some are embarrassingly juvenile, and almost all are entirely negative; I hardly know what someone stands for because the messages are wholly focused on the wicked character of the other candidate. (I don’t think anyone is going to take the time to engrave character assassination into a piece of stone for posterity.) I remember the days of student council elections when a candidate would stand in front of the class and declare the fabulous things that he or she would institute for the good of the class (“Start time at 10 am for seniors!” and “Every Friday off in May!” and “2-hour off-campus lunches!”). I can’t even imagine the reaction if someone had stood at the podium and trash-talked the other candidates. That sounds absurd! Yet, we not only accept this from our politicians, we’ve come to expect it.

When did this happen? Several decades ago, I noticed the political culture beginning to digress from being one of honor, integrity, and service to something quite the opposite. I watch (way too much of) the news, and not only can I not salvage a stone-worthy quote, I find myself cringing and having to scramble back to safe HGTV to escape the squirming that comes from watching how these adults, who’ve been granted an opportunity to serve and to better this country, treat one another and, in turn, the people they serve. I’ve come to the (ludicrous) conclusion that future politicians skipped preschool and kindergarten. My (tongue-in-cheek) conclusion is based on my hypothesis that they missed out on learning the essential rules for life that we are taught in kindergarten because they skipped that year and went straight to 1st grade.

Here are some of those indispensable rules:

  • Be nice. — This one is simple; just be nice (AKA don’t be so mean).
  • Don’t call names. — Remember the “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” jingle? It’s a lie. Plus, it’s childish.
  • Tell the truth. — Just because you repeat a thing or say it loudly doesn’t make it true.
  • Play well with others. — There are two major parties because there is more than one legitimate way of thinking–so work together or everyone is unhappy.
  • Take the time to understand others. — Imagine what the world would look like if people would take a minute and try to understand that which looks different.
  • Don’t gossip. — “What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t witness with your mouth.” (Jewish proverb)
  • Think before acting or speaking. — Can someone please take social media away from these people (all of them)? With it, they don’t stand a chance at this one.
  • Be slow to judge others. — “The self-righteous scream judgments against others to hide the noise of skeletons dancing in their own closets.” (John Mark Green)
  • Don’t drag people’s families into your conflict. — You got in trouble for saying “your mama” when you were little–and for good reason.
  • Be authentic. — No one likes (or respects) a hypocrite. Don’t point the finger at someone for doing something you are guilty of doing.
  • Share. — Term limits, anyone?
  • Listen. — “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” (Mark Twain)
  • Encourage others. — What if politicians started giving kudos regarding positive change being done on the other side of the aisle?

We are better than this. I fervently hope that in the near future, this accepted culture of trading insults will do a 180, and our politicians will rise above the negativity and will instead stand committed for important issues, respectfully voice those positions, infuse positivity and honor back into the service of government of this awesome country, and please, give us something to engrave in stone.

mount rushmore

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Posted in be kind, communication, humor, public speakers, rhetoric, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Write the Thank-You Note

Putting pen to paper and then mailing a thank-you note has become a lost art. It used to be a standard practice in certain situations–usually mandated by one’s mother–but I am finding that many people either don’t know when or if they should write and send them, don’t care to take the effort to write and send them, or mistakenly think that a text message is a perfectly sufficient way to thank someone. To be clear, a text is not the same as a hand-written thank-you note.

In the past month, I have received several thank-you notes in the mail, and, while most of them were clearly written hastily and under duress because the mothers of some new graduates made sure it happened, I received a few that were obviously thoughtfully written from the heart. Moms and dads, please continue (or start) encouraging your kids to write thank-you notes, and teach them how to do it. Grown-ups who don’t currently write them, please start writing thank-you notes. Receiving a thank-you note truly is meaningful. Even in this day and age. (There are some of us who neglected to ensure that our kids wrote a thank-you note to Uncle Tom, and he was understandably not happy about it.) Receiving a thank-you note lets the recipient of the note know that the gesture was appreciated. It’s not just a Southern thing; it’s a “good people” thing. Here are some of the absolute musts for a thoughtful thank-you note.

When to send a thank-you note

It is absolutely necessary to send a thank-you note in these circumstances:

  • when you receive a gift
  • when someone goes out of their way to do something nice for you (writes a letter of recommendation, brings a meal, keeps your kids in a pinch, and so on)
  • after a job interview.

Growing up in the South, I find it is somewhat common to write thank-you notes after being hosted in someone’s home for dinner or overnight, after someone recognizes you in some way, and just because it seems like the right thing to do. There are even some people who send thank-you notes to people who’ve sent them thank-you gifts. Gratitude is a big deal in the South.

I’m sure some readers will debate the circumstances that require a thank-you note, so why not simply write them with wild abandon? No one receives a thank-you note and thinks, “Wow. I wish Jane had not sent that kind note of appreciation to me.” Just do it; make people smile often.

How to send a thank-you note

Here is what constitutes a proper thank-you note scenario:

  • write and send the note in a timely manner; “timely” means days if possible, and the rumor about having a whole year after getting married is false
  • use a pen to write the note (I once was in a hurry and couldn’t find a pen, so I used a pencil to write the note. My friend called when she received the note to tell me her husband asked her if I was five years old. I was mortified. Avoid mortification; use a pen.)
  • use nice stationery with matching envelopes if possible (Buy thank-you notes in bulk so you will always have one when you need it. This is also a good idea for birthday cards and sympathy notes. Having to take the time to go to a store to buy a card is a good way for it not to happen.)
  • date the note
  • make sure you spell the recipient’s name correctly
  • thank the person or people for the specific gift or circumstance (i.e., “Thank you for the gift” is not good enough. They will wonder if you know why you are thanking them. In a bulk-gift situation–graduations, weddings, and so on–make a conscious effort to keep cards with gifts so you know who gave what when you sit down to write your thank-you notes.)
  • say something nice about the gift even if you don’t like it–and never be honest if you don’t like the gift; you can think of SOMEthing nice to say about it
  • include something personal so the note feels personal to the recipient (and not written in an assembly-line), such as “We will always think of you and the fun meals we’ve shared with you when we use these beautiful dishes.”
  • put the note in an envelope with the recipient’s name on the front if you plan to hand the note in person, or make sure to address the envelope correctly before you mail it.

Thank you for reading my article. I hope it encourages you to write many thank-you notes and often. 🙂

 

Posted in #dohardthings, #goals, be kind, communication, gratitude, life lessons, thank you, Uncategorized, writing | Leave a comment