humor

The Must Be Nices

It was another bright, sunny day in Bend, Oregon as I cruised down the main drag on my way home after a run. I passed the local elementary school and saw a dozen parents standing outside. I glanced at the clock: 2:30pm.

I came to a slow stop as a man leisurely crossed the street in front of me. Every parent was decked out in expensive, athletic-inspired clothing, and looked about 40 or older. They were all tall, thin, and their skin glowed. Any one of them could have graced the cover of I Ski a Lot, Have a $2,000 Skin Care Routine, and Never Had to Work a Crappy Job and Put My Kids in After School Care magazine.

“Wheeeee! Our parents funded our ‘whimsical taco holder’ start-up and it made millions – both of which we didn’t need in the first place!” (Photo by Eirik Uhlen on Unsplash)

“Must be nice,” I thought. Gah! No!

I stopped my inner monologue dead in its tracks. I had just had a discussion with a friend about the “Must Be Nices.” Those friends or family members who just can’t bear to celebrate other people’s successes. That neighbor or coworker who takes one look at the surface of someone else’s life and assumes that every aspect of it is easy breezy.

Oh really, Claire? Your boyfriend just flew you to Italy so you could stage this photo for InstaChat? (Photo by Kate Hliznitsova on Unsplash)

We all know that person, and we’ve all been that person.

WOW, Chad. I’M SO HAPPY FOR YOU. (As seen on Monday at my local market.)

A few weeks later, once again on the way to my go-to running spot, I pulled up to a red light and noticed a man standing on the corner, holding a cardboard sign:

NEED WORK / FOOD / MONEY.

I had seen him before, and many other men holding similar signs, on that same corner. Over the past year, this sight had become more and more commonplace all over town. I felt a pang of shame and guilt every time I drove by or avoided eye contact.

La-la-la, if I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist.

I used to wonder why on earth people would stand on street corners all day when surely there were better, safer methods and resources available. In the past, I’d felt fear, and even resentment, when passing by someone holding a sign asking for help. Why should I have to play by the rules and slog away in Cubicle City just to give my money away to someone who didn’t earn it?

After my jog, I popped into Whole Foods. When I pulled away, a woman was sitting in the grass near the exit, holding a sign that read, “Every bit helps.” I suddenly remembered I was carrying cash – a rarity when I’m out running. I pulled over and quickly jumped out, praying I wouldn’t get rear ended for stopping in such an awkward spot. I handed her what money I had.

Over the next two weeks, I couldn’t get her face out of my mind. Why didn’t I do that more often?

I mean we can’t take it with us.

Why was it so easy to focus on what I lacked instead of what I had? No matter what my circumstances, didn’t I have the power (and arguably, responsibility) to create a more just world through positive thoughts and actions? “A rising tide lifts all boats,” as they say.

In spiritual terms, as in tithing, I’ve often read that benevolent acts are returned tenfold. For every hug, encouraging word, and generous gesture you put out in the world, you get it back times ten.

While I’d hate for that to be my motivation, where else can you get that kind of return on investment?

After I handed the woman outside of Whole Foods money, we smiled at each other. She looked right into my eyes, and with more warmth and sincerity than I can muster when the line at Starbucks is too long, she said,

“May God bless you tenfold.”

What she didn’t say?

“Must be nice.”

Just For Fun, Lists

When You Expect the Unexpected…

when you expect

The tail end of 2018 saw a slew of surprises, leading me to believe that 2019 is bound to bring in more of The Unexpected. AND I EXPECT IT TO BE AWESOME.

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That’s one way of saying I’ve recently begun experimenting with [Bic pens and] tattoo designs.
To celebrate this, I thought it would be fun to relive December’s unexpected events and my surprising takeaway from each:

Surprise #1

I got my friend Janeen a “1-hour medicine healing ceremony” session for her birthday because she’s even kookier¬†than I am.¬†On a lovely Saturday in mid-December, we headed into New York City to get our crystal-woo-woo on. The shop was located on the 5th floor of a building in Greenwich Village.

We spent the first five minutes ringing the bell and asking the construction workers next door how to get in. Eventually, they pointed to a creepy stairwell and we ascended 8,000 flights to our destination.

Once inside a small, fragrant room, an attractive woman began ‘reading the collective energy’ of the 12 ladies forming a circle around her. (“Ma’am, I think you’re picking up ‘sweat’ and ‘confusion.'”) We then laid down on heated mats, nestled under blankets, while she chanted and waved incense, carefully stepping between our legs. Just as I was starting to relax, eyes closed and breathing deeply, she whacked my chest with a large, dried palm leaf.

Surprise Takeaway: Never assume you understand the definition of the word “healing.”

Surprise #2

The following weekend, my sister drove me over to Babs’ (mom’s), anticipating our “surprise early Christmas present” from Babs.

“What do you think it’ll be?” my sister asked.

“It’s either strippers or a vegan cooking class,” I replied. “Not that I’ve given this any thought. And you know what I just realized yesterday?” I paused before blurting, “Mom and Pop didn’t really do anything to celebrate me just getting the Masters. I feel like a jerk saying this, but I would have thought they’d want to go out to dinner or something...”

My sister and I were still talking about this as I opened my parents’ front door.

“SURPRISE!!!!!!!!”

I was suddenly surrounded by friends and family, champagne, and gobs of gifts.

Surprise Takeway: You are always loved so much more than you think you are.

Surprise #3

I wasn’t going to blog about this since the idea is to stay anonymous, but this was so much fun that I feel like I have to tell you to try it, too (especially if you can rope in some kiddos)…

To round out the end of 2018, I actually won money from one of the scratch-offs that my family loves to give each Christmas. Chyeahhh!

I took my big, fat $50 winnings, got a bunch of $5 bills, and then my nephew and I wrote encouraging note cards and left each $5 bill and a card all around town for people to find [in Ziploc bags lest Mother Nature not cooperate].

We’re definitely going to make it a new tradition. Here’s one of my 15-year-old nephew’s cards – can you see why I couldn’t keep this to myself?!

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I know. He needs his own blog ASAP.

Surprise Takeway: It’s really, really fun to give away money, even when you’re worried about never having enough of it.

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