My sister says Minnesotans are patient people

Recently my big sis moved to a big metropolitan area–the Twin Cities–from our old college town in Iowa. She’s adjusted pretty well to the new urban environment, and has had a number of pleasant experiences in the short three months since she relocated there. Here is one excellent example of a truly patient person, written by my sister Sarah…. If you have any stories you’d like to share, I would LOVE to hear them! I love emails and always reply! Share yours and (as long as it fits the focus of the project) I’ll post it! (An email form is to the right half way down, under the section “How it started & spread the word” with the link labeled: “Email me!”)

I recently moved to the Twin Cities and was trying to find my way through town after dark. Sitting at a stop light I decided to look at my Droid Navigator map. When I looked up the light had turned green and the two or three cars in front of me had already driven away so far I could not see them anymore. Embarrassed, I quickly stepped on the gas. In my rear view mirror I saw at least a couple of cars behind me. I was so surprised that no one had honked their horn to get me moving. I am not patient with other drivers and am quick to beep my horn when I feel like others are not moving as quickly as I prefer (let alone when an idiot – me in this case – is so obviously not paying attention to the street light!) But these cars behind me decided not to honk their horns at all. I do not know if Minnesotans are just a patient people or if they saw my Iowa plates and decided to cut me some slack because I probably did not know where I was going. Either way I was surprised and impressed. Now when I drive around town I am not so quick to reach for the horn; I take a breath and remind myself to be patient.

I think Sarah’s attitude could be a great one to adopt. Why not give ourselves a little extra challenge for the next few weeks–what with the winter weather in full swing and holiday shopping-crazed drivers whizzing past us as they seek out shopping malls and discounts?  Could be interesting!

A little about parents on Mother’s Day




When I was little…

My mom is going to read this probably tomorrow night. So first: Happy Mother’s day Mom! I love you and you are a wonderful woman who I am so lucky to have in my life. You were amazing the day you gave birth to my squirmy 9 pound 13 ounce body, and you are even more amazing today. Thank you for… everything.

Today I want to write about parents. I’ve had this one on the list for a while, and it seems perfect to write it on a day like today.

Parents are perfect.

And parents are completely, ridiculously imperfect too.

I love my parents. I like them too. That, I think, is pretty impressive. Not many people can truly say they like their folks. But I really do. And I have four of them.  My parents divorced around 17 years ago and it was the best thing they could have done (aside from having me and my siblings I suppose!). Then they found these wonderful significant others that are so completely better for them than they were for each other.  And, somewhat atypical of most step-parent/step-kid relationships, I like my step-folks too!

But that’s not to say we haven’t had our rough times. Fights, mean words, grudges, irritation, frustration, hurt feelings. It wasn’t always easy. A lot of the good feelings we have now took a lot of hard work over the years from both sides.  And we’ll have to keep working at it in the future. After all the… stuff… over the years, if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that parents always do their best. It might not have been the best that I wanted or thought I wanted, but it was the best that could be done at the time. When I realized this in my early twenties, everything got a whole lot simpler. All of a sudden, the anger I had carried for years regarding things I had no control over from the past began to work its way out of me. Do I think there will always be a little hurt, unease, or sadness in me about some of it? Yes. But knowing they had done their best was enough for me to let it go and accept it. To move on.

People always say, “We can’t pick our parents.” And all I can say to that is, “I am so glad!” I wouldn’t want to pick my parents–it would be like picking your kids! No thanks! Where would I begin? How would I know what was the best choice? What I think might be the best for me might not be any good at all! Like it or not, my parents’ weaknesses and strengths shaped me, made me who I am today. And I wouldn’t want to change that, and I couldn’t have planned for that either. I like me. I like who I am today. And all the crap and good stuff we experienced in our pasts congealed and made me what I am. There’s no sense to it, but it works.

Everyone on the planet has some idea of what everyone else should be doing to be “better,” but these notions are based significantly on our own desires. We love each other, we want one another to be better, to be our best. Because we care, because it will relieve us, because it will make our lives easier…. But what we have to learn to accept–in order to love them fully–is that all we can really expect out of our loved ones is that they do their best. Even if it isn’t as “good” as we’d like it to be. If they are doing all they are capable of at the time, how can we demean that with our expectations and desires? They are surviving, coping, managing, moving forward. They are succeeding! They are being nothing short of astounding–not everyone can give their best. (Are we giving our best when we pile our expectations on others?) Once we recognize that their best may never be what we expected, we might just realize that their best was better than we could have imagined. That their best achieves more, is more genuine and long-lasting; it inspired in them more than we had ever dreamed possible.  And in that regard, aren’t we lucky that we didn’t get our way?!


Red (Faced) Tape at the DMV

In the DMV the other morning, I noticed the most appalling behavior. A  DMV worker, let’s call her Sally,  was managing a customer’s routine request (let’s call her Ronda). Sally told Ronda  to fill out a few specific forms in an informative tone, which should have resolved her problem. Immediately Ronda threw her hands on her hips and became very snippy with Sally. Speaking to her like a child, Ronda indicated she had filled out the forms and said, “If you would stop and listen to what I am saying instead of jumping to conclusions, maybe you might understand what I am saying.”  Unphased by Ronda’s tone and courteous still, Sally said, “I’m sorry. Please explain what you need.” The conversation continued and within a few moments Ronda snapped at Sally again , “That’s why I’m here! I didn’t step into line on a whim. That guy over there told me to come here and speak with you. And don’t you think I’m about to keep running back and forth because you all don’t seem to know how to do your jobs.”  The conversation continued from there, with Ronda continually growing angry at the ever-calm Sally. I phased out at that point to tend to my own business, but it left me with a lot of thoughts about what transpired.

First, since when did adults believe it is acceptable to behave like toddlers? Ronda threw a tantrum in the DMV fully expecting everything to go her way because she expressed her anger. In my opinion, I would think being kind and courteous would have facilitated the resolution to her complaint much more quickly.

Second, when Ronda grew upset from the start, it was clear to me that she would have gotten angry at anybody. Sally was just the first face to come along. That isn’t very considerate of Ronda. It is fine to be upset with the red tape in our law system, but the people behind the counters don’t make the rules. They are likely as frustrated as you are with the system. What would have been better in this situation would be to ask questions to clarify what Sally meant while including the fact that Ronda had indeed filled out some forms.

My third feeling about this event was admiration! Sally kept her cool with Ronda, even after Ronda insulted Sally’s ability to listen and do her job. Amazing. Sally is an example of a terrific employee and person. Rather than accelerate the situation by reacting to Ronda, Sally provided information and assistance clearly and calmly to her and managed to get the frustrated customer out of the DMV without any major incident.

What you make it

My fiance and I are going through some growing pains right now. Here we are, newly graduated, newly unemployed, and both pretty stressed and scared. To help, my mom sent me a  prayer to St. Jude for employment, and I pray it every day. I asked Jake, do you ever pray it? He said he never got into the habit of praying. So then I asked, “Well, how do you view good fortune? If it isn’t a God-thing, is it luck, random good fortune, odds, knowing the right people, or hard work?” And I had to chuckle when he said, “Oh, I think it’s a combination of hard work and dumb luck.”  We have such divergent attitudes about luck (I view it as a life path, synchronicity, blessings, purpose and destiny), but we both have the same outlook: it will all be okay. As long as we have each other, and we’re healthy and happy, it will be okay.

When one faces a difficulty, an obstruction, or an impediment, it important to remember: the situation is going to be exactly what one makes it to be. This can be said about how we receive information, how we choose to react, how we present ourselves professionally or socially. When it comes down to it, our outcomes are often dictated by our outlook.

If times are hard (which they are for many people right now), remember to stay as positive as you can. Don’t succumb to negativity. It will do more harm than good. Positivity will carry you through. When you feel like you can’t do anything more, remember: you are stronger than that. You have persevered before and you can do it again. When it seems like a hopeless cause, spend some time with people who make you feel great for who you are and what you do. When you feel like no matter how hard you try you won’t get ahead, make a list of all the things you’ve done to try and then make a list of the things you can’t control. If you can’t control it, let it be. But if you can do something to make a difference, do it.

Everything is what you make it.


© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice. (, 2008-2009

Take the time, Make the time

Confession: I was a telemarketer for a few years back in high school. Don’t hate me! It was that (in air conditioning) or flipping burgers in a hot kitchen. I wasn’t a great employee I suppose–I always ended up chit-chatting with the people rather than selling the product. But I learned a few things from it:

Many of the people who I spoke at length with were elderly folks who, for whatever reason, were home alone most of the time. They wanted to share and talk and have a lively conversation with someone.  I was happy to talk with them too–I learned a lot from their stories.

Looking back, I always wish I would have listened better to stories my older family members told.  I would have asked more questions too. But I am changing that now when I talk with others. Everyone (not just our older family and friends) needs someone to listen to them, someone to relate to. And when we are capable of giving that gift, we should do it (there are times when we can’t put ourselves out there–and that is okay).

Imagine what we might learn from a stranger, or an old friend. What kinds of new conversations it would bring! I wonder how dulling romantic relationships might become re-energized with these kinds of discoveries, all from just listening and sharing things we assume the other might have known. My mom’s feet would still hurt her if she hadn’t shared it with my aunt, who then told Mom that her arches were probably falling. It’s amazing what we discover, and how we benefit, when we share. 

So, take the time to share. Take the time to listen. Take the time to gain a new perspective. Make the time to refresh old and worn out assumptions. It’ll do wonders. Sometimes people need to talk, and we all need to be willing to listen. One day, it could be the other way around… better have some good karma coming our way.


© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice. (, 2008-2009.

Driving Do’s and Don’ts Part 2

Here’s part 2 of my driving do’s and don’ts. These are general things one can do or avoid to be considerate drivers.

Tip #1:      Since when are you so important? Don’t cut people off–it’s rude, it induces road rage, and it is dangerous. Even if someone is dying or a baby is about to be born, it would be a bigger shame if you never made it there because you got in a wreck or you ran someone over because of your rushed driving.

Tip #2:      Remember what it’s like to be on foot. Stop before crosswalks and give pedestrians right of way. To the pedestrians: a little hustle or jog through a crosswalk when there is traffic waiting to go through is always considerate (& if it comes to a showdown, you’ll probably lose). Also, use the crosswalks rather than crossing the street just anywhere.

Tip #3:      To bicyclers: if you are in traffic, you are like a car. Running red lights is hazardous and wrong. If you are on the sidewalk, you should stop at every intersection. Once a biker zoomed out into a crosswalk going 15 mph when I had a green light and was turning right. It was impossible to see him coming, and I nearly ran him over. Not cool.

Tip #4:      Don’t text while driving. Ever. Period.

Tip #5:      Can’t the call wait? Ten years ago most of us did without cell phones just fine. My lord, how did we ever keep all that information inside until we got to a landline?! People that talk on their phone while driving often drive too slow, too fast, forget to signal, weave in traffic, run red lights, and so on.  Best not to do it or keep it to emergencies only. Besides, you miss a lot of interesting scenery when you are distracted or “double-tasking.”

Tip #6:      Emergency Alertness:  check mirrors and keep music at a reasonable volume so you can see and hear emergency vehicles.

Tip #7:      Shoulders are for breakdowns or for friends to lean on (tee hee!). Don’t pass on the shoulder or use it to get to an exit. That’s a surefire way to get side-swiped.

Tip #8:      Show some respect. In some communities, a funeral procession warrants people pulling over and stopping as it passes to show respect for the loved ones of the deceased (as in, “What I have going on is of no importance in the face of your loss and your grief.”). If this isn’t a tradition in your community, you should be aware of it (and hopefully honor it) in the places to which you travel.


© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice. (, 2008-2009.

Driving Do’s and Don’ts Part 1

Driving etiquette is something I’m big on–probably because I was a city-transit bus driver for five years. So here are some tips about merging and making room for your fellow roadway-goers.

Tip #1:      Look before you merge. I’ve noticed a trend lately: people seem to be merging by sonar. Have you heard of side mirrors and blind spots, folks?  Use them and check them respectively!

Tip #2:      Driving comes with karma. Trust me. If someone is trying to get into your lane when it’s crowded, let them in. You would want the same courtesy if you were in their place (and in that case you would thank them with a wave, right?).  And a little positive karma couldn’t hurt when it’s your butt stuck in the other lane (or worse, stuck behind the car desperately trying to merge).

Tip #3:      Don’t be that guy.  I really really hate it when I’m stuck in a lane with a ton of other cars because the second lane is closed up ahead, and then some car comes speeding up in that soon-to-be closed lane just so they can be let in further ahead of everyone else. Yeah, she/he’s probably thinking “Suckers,” but everyone else is thinking, “Jerk.” (Or more realistically: “F*&k you, you F%*king D*&khead A%$hole!) “Wait your turn just like everyone else.

Tip #4:      Anticipatory and conscientious actions matter. Things like accelerating to the correct speed limit on an “on” ramp or making room for a semi truck when it is trying to merge are kind things to do and can increase roadway safety.


© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice. (, 2008-2009.