Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Little Acts

A couple of months ago I was having a really rough week, month, life and I made a conscious decision to sit and cry the entire one hour bus ride home. Four stops into the ride a gentleman sat down next to me and said "I don’t usually sit this far back on the bus, but I think today will be the day I do." He then talked about how he thought we usually board in the mornings at the same stop and says its time we introduce ourselves. "Hello, my name is Peter," he then says his last name and I introduce myself, "Hello my name is Sarah." Then lights go off in my head. His last name sounds familiar. I ask, "Do you have a brother named Jim?" Yes, he does! I sat in the cube next to his brother at my previous job for two years. Small. crazy world! At that moment everything changed. We talked about life, love, happiness, families, his brother, and everything that brought us to that moment right there sitting together on that bus. In just that one little act of sitting with me - me choosing to let my wall down and finally introducing ourselves to each other; gave me one of the most memorable hours of my life.

On Christmas Eve, I rode the train home after work. It was going to be my first Christmas without the family I had come to know for the past 11 years. There I was again crying while riding on public transportation. A couple of Metro Transit police officers boarded the train car I was on and scanned our tickets. They stood there with not much to do. I gave myself a choice: continue crying or interact with them. So I asked one of the officers a simple question – “What happens if I don’t have a ticket?” The answer he gave me – “We give a verbal warning and then escort you off the train.” The conversation could have ended there but then it went on for another 15 minutes about snowblowers, holiday traditions, memorizing names, facial recognition, overtime pay, and how much joy we have in our jobs. Both officers were clueless that little act of continuing the conversation with me saved me from my heartache.

All of this brings me to this moment. Writing an inspirational message and at a point in my life where I’m not at all inspired. While writing this, I asked myself – Self, you are going through one of the toughest situations a person can go through in life. What is keeping you alive today? It’s the little acts. It’s the ways people reach out and connect to me. Complete strangers – (public transportation, shopping centers, streets, skyways, eating establishments), people I’m acquainted with, people at work, friends, family, neighbors, etc. It just never ceases to amaze me how powerful the human connection is. How quickly my attitude can shift from one interaction and how one interaction can be filled with so much wonderment. It makes living through such a difficult time so much more tolerable and elevates my appreciation for and value of human connection higher than ever before!

Walking around, day in and day out, looking at each other we can’t read into each other’s souls. We don’t know what is going on inside. We don’t know the pain that every other person around us is suffering, we can't mind read. Sometimes we can’t even gauge how much pain we ourselves are suffering because we are better than we know at putting the pain we have in tidy little boxes and shoving it in a mental closet and going about our days. Even the people who show happiness may not be truly happy, but they are the masters of helping themselves and the people around them at feeling better!

It’s not about mannerisms or proper etiquette or even specifically random acts of kindness. It's completely and wholly about an  awareness of humanity. We need to take more time realizing our connection to humanity and how powerful it is. We need each other – we have each other.

“We rise by lifting others.”

   —Robert Ingersoll
Lawyer, a Civil War veteran, political leader, and orator of United States

How Can YOU Have an Awareness and Give Little Acts?

  1. Give – a compliment…a pat on the back…a hug…a handshake. If you feel out of character saying something big, start small – give small compliments and then work your way up to bigger compliments. You’ll notice the more you give compliments the more comfortable and confident you will feel doing it over time. 
  2. Smile – Randomly and unexpectedly! Throw a giggle or a laugh in there too! And if you’re asked why you’re smiling, don’t say because it’s procedure. Give people a thumbs up and head nods – let them know you notice them, that you're paying attention to them, and that you approve!
  3. Think Positively – Instead of thinking gosh darn, it’s so darn cold out, observe that the sun is actually shining for change and it’s not cloudy/snowy/rainy/etc.!
  4. Show – Things that mean something to you! Pictures of your kids doing silly things, making faces, fancy yoga moves at home, or anything really! Pictures of your pets – cats, dogs, goldfish, lizards, or your guinea pig!
  5. Tell – Stories about ANYTHING! Make people laugh, inspire people, make people think, let people know you know that they are here and that you care!
  6. Offer Praise! You have nice hair, cute smile, pretty teeth, nice scarf! Simple acknowledgements are the best little acts!
  7. Share – Information such as kids stuff about museums, holiday attractions, park events, church activities, music performances, ANYTHING!
  8. Listen – This is a very big little act. Don’t assume people don’t want to talk about their life, especially if they are going through something difficult. Especially don’t assume they can’t articulate what they are going through. Never, ever assume that people are ok and don’t have something to share.
  9. Say Thank You – Do so when you truly are thankful, Be genuine in your thankfulness. It is important to articulate the message of thankfulness. Send a text message to someone who gave you good advice, or send an email to someone who helped you out when you were in a pinch, mail a thank you card to someone who did something kind for you, put a sticky note on a co-worker’s desk to thank them for their help.  
  10. Show Affirmation – Tell about the goodness people do. Tell or show your love. If someone did something good or something GREAT, don’t let that go unnoticed. Say I Love You. Another very BIG little act!
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”


Aesop nailed it eons ago. No matter how small, no act of kindness is EVER wasted.  Open your eyes and just be aware and make connections. Take in the positivity around you. Don’t be so focused on yourself and the suffering you are experiencing always. Don’t close yourself off from the things around you that bring you your joy and happiness.

Remember it’s The Little Acts that make an impact.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

More Fun Faster

In February, I went on the MOST AMAZING road trip EVER!! My sister, her husband, his cousin, his best friend, and I piled into a sedan and drove to Aspen, Las Vegas, San Diego, and then back to Minnesota. 10 days, 13 states, 10 casinos, 3 hotels, 2 blizzard snow storms, 2 ice storms, dozens of fast food stops, dozens of bars, countless gallons of beer….and then….water, and absolutely no fights or car accidents later – we made it home with just under 6,000 miles added onto the odometer.

This is me – getting into the car, excited for the trip – YAY ROADTRIP!!
This is me – one hour down the road – YAY ROADTRIP!!
This is me – two hours down the road – YAAAAY ROADTRIP (weak arms)
This is me – three hours down and into the second state – YAY OUCH ROADTRIP
This is me – four hours into the road trip – I’m bored, sore, tired, are we there yet?!?

I want to share with you how to make MORE FUN FASTER on your next winter road trip.

#1:  Establish individual space allotments inside the auto in advance of departing on your road trip.

Here’s where we went wrong – we all knew space was going to be tight but each of us thought “Ok, I’ll put my stuff in a small carry on bag and whatever else doesn’t fit, I’ll put in a small bag.” We managed to play the greatest game of suitcase Tetris in the trunk with all of our carry-ons but when it got to everyone’s “little extra bag of goodies” we had no room! So, to the backseat and under our feet everything else went. The extra shirts and coats and gloves and scarves were great for providing seat cushion leverage and support for sleepy necks. It definitely made for getting in and out of the car like a ball pit for kids but with clothes stuff in the backseat of a car! It only took us the first three days to figure out which suitcase fit where the best, where to fit the extra random stuff, and what to do with each new accumulation we purchased.

#2: Don’t mock the truckers!

When you stop for gas during the twilight hours in the middle of God’s Country and a trucker yells over at you that “there’s a big snow storm coming" – don’t walk away and smirk to yourself because your fancy smartphone said something completely different and beautiful and wonderful. Truckers are truckers for a reason. They have a weather forecasting 6th sense that are a force that you do not ever dare reckon with!

After all, happy trucker karma may put you at a truck stop in Nebraska way past your bedtime,  after you’ve reached delirious eyeball strain from road sign and pavement marking overload, and you're stumbling into a bathroom to find HEATED SEATS WITH BIDETS!!!!!!!!  

These truckers deserve rockstar treatment and you’ll get an opportunity to bask in their afterglow (ahem, I mean use their facilities).  Treat them with respect and honor.

#3: Get yourself some snow tires. They are AMAZING!

Never underestimate the power of snow tires. If your destination is southern California, do not let yourself ignore the fact that you have a half a country of inclement weather between you and your destination!

When you’re driving through a blizzard in the Rockies – do NOT, I repeat DO NOT stop your car, hit your brakes, or slow down. Drive like you’re in the Daytona 500 – weave in and out of traffic and never let a brake light or spinout slow you down! Yelling expletives and sweating profusely will help your cause. Don’t let those fear pheromones eek out and let the backseat screamers get the energy out of their lungs.  As you pass by the SUVs from Texas and the sedans from Florida, puff your chest up in pride and say “I can handle this, I’m from Minnesota! And I have snow tires!”

Also, a brand new Maserati with all wheel drive and a huge trunk is pretty awesome to drive on fresh snow covered roads in the mountains of Aspen.

In all reality, I could list off at least a hundred ideas to make MORE FUN FASTER on your next trip. How to encourage less liquids, how to carefully budget potty breaks, what foods produce the least gas, best food stops to please all palettes, how to take group photos, etc.  Considering we went on a Western tour de America in search of warmer weather, we hit a lot of bad weather and had our bones shook a few too many times. We definitely were able to have MORE FUN FASTER and hope to go on a reunion road trip in the future! I hope you too will consider having your own MORE FUN FASTER road trip!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Everybody Jiggles

What Makes a Runner?
When you think of runners and what they “should look like,” what do you think? Aerodynamics (hairless), smooth physical appearance, lanky, long legs, fatless thighs, and thin ankles...
The truth is any body type/shape/age can run! As long as you don’t have physical limitations that prohibit you from running or a medical professional advising you not to, you can too!

Why run?
People say they run for physical fitness, weight loss, companionship, and competition. I run because it’s meditative. It’s my time to think uninterrupted – only by my own other thoughts. It’s my time to daydream and fantasize. I can get happy and be happy during a run. I can feel alive – right when those endorphins kick in! Running slows my mind down and puts those unsettling thoughts in their respective places. It’s my opportunity to let go of things bothering me.  It’s also my “me” time; my time away from all of my commitments and priorities in life.
Think about why you would run and use that as your motivation.

I’m going to talk about Judgment.
Let’s get to the nitty gritty. A lot of people say they won’t run because they think they look funny or they run wrong. Yes, that’s me! What have I learned? Everyone has their own style, their own form, and even their own waddle. And it is all OK!! Don’t let it get in the way of your own running experience because you think you’ll look bad. Running isn’t easy and it takes a lot of skill, grace, and years to make running look good! When I’m driving along the road or stuck indoors and see a runner pass by I NEVER think – boy, they sure do look funny. I always think DAMN – I wish that were me. They are so lucky to be running right now!

I’ve spent a lot of time on the treadmill. My #1 favorite activity is cranking up my go-juice music. My #2 favorite activity is people watching. I have zero judgment and a whole lot of Ah ha! Moments. And MANY, MANY compulsions to jump off my treadmill and run up to people and hug them, pat them on the back, and tell them how awesome they are! To the guy who sweats buckets each run, to the woman who is 100 pounds overweight and running, to the pregnant lady jogging, to the single mom who works three jobs, to the doctor who works tirelessly over his patients all day, to the truck driver who can’t move around during the day – KUDOS to all of you.

But, running SUCKS!!
Yes, I won’t sugar coat it. Not everyone that takes that first or second step feels the runners high or even feels GOOD when running. I run 3-5 times a week and EVERY SINGLE TIME I FEEL LIKE HELL until I hit my pace. I’ve gotten better since I started running because it used to be the 3 mile mark when I’d feel the rush of running happiness. Time and magic have lowered that earmark down to about 1.3 miles on average. It’s at that point that I stop repeating in my mind “I hate this, I hate this, I hate this, I hate myself for doing this” to “ahhhhhh I feel reeeeeal gooood.” I wouldn’t equate it to what they call a runner’s high. It’s really just a “groove.” My heart rate regulates, my breathing regulates, everything in my mind and body stops spazzing and trying to tell me “it’s much easier to just take a nap, eat a pizza, watch tv” than do this!!

Running hurts. Let’s face it – running is hard on your body. Your muscles and joints get sore from running. Your body will even be sore from NOT running! It’s all a part of the process and the joy/reward you get from knowing you are pushing yourself and that you are alive.

Go slow!! It’s ok to jog. It’s ok to walk. You don’t have to run rabbit speed the duration! Listen to your body, watch your heart rate, and go with the comfortable flow. You set yourself up for immediate failure if you set your standards for speed and distance too high. Be easy on yourself and you’ll build your tolerance up!

Really now, what am I saying here? To all of you – runners, non-runners, runner wanna-bes:
There is no right or wrong body type.
You can run for any reason - just find the one that excites you!
No one in their right mind is judging you.
Running sucks and that's ok. It won't always suck.
Go buy yourself a pair of good running shoes, lace up, and hit the road.

Everybody jiggles.

Monday, January 12, 2015

New Year's Resolutions of a Two Year Old

Imagine a life where no one understands a word you are trying to say; you do your best to keep your smile big and bright and your pants clean of any toxic odors. You love getting lotion rubbed all over your skin because it feels so good and you want so desperately to keep your great grandma from getting a pinch full of cheek. Your desire to keep chapstick applied to your lips has nothing to do with preventing them from cracking and drying but to taste the delicious flavored wax in the stick. 

This …. is my life. I am 2 and it is the new year of 2015. A NEW YEAR. A chance to challenge myself and make life interesting! I present to you the list of my top 5 resolutions.

Resolution #1: I resolve to take baths without being bribed by food.
Bath time is SUPER fun. I love all my toys - my soft, squishy, Sesame Street books; my colorful and creative bathtub crayons; my tropical singing duck; and my squirting fish collection. Oh and the Bubbles!!! I can't get enough of the big, bright bubbles!! 

Truthfully, I don't like to get wet. I figure if I can have a popsicle or a bowl of M&Ms I'll allow a little water to be splish-splashed on my skin and my toes dipped just a little underwater. Sometimes I “pretend” the popsicle slipped out of my hand and into the water so that I can see the water turn crazy bright colors. Uh oh Mommy!? And then I go into fits of giggles when I can splash the food colored water all over my arms and legs!

I digress. Mommy said she's not buying any more popsicles or M&Ms. I resolve to suck it up and take a bath without food.

Resolution #2: I resolve to limit my use of the word "no" to once a day.
I heard a friend at daycare say "no, no, no, no" and loved how the sound rang through my ears and sang to my heart. I couldn't help myself from copying this behavior. Even singing it at times. It's almost magical how all of the adults respond when I start my endless chant of "No." Mommy said I sound exactly like great-grandpa. He's pretty old, and funny, but I don't think I want any of my friends to find out that I am a lot like him. I’ll just learn another word for NO and chant that instead!

Resolution #3: I resolve to put on my happy face while getting changed.
This will be my most challenging resolution. I have been screaming since I entered this world and for every subsequent diaper change and wardrobe change. I hate the feeling of the cool, room temperature air hitting my bare naked skin. Quite frankly, a dirty diaper feels a lot more comfortable than a clean one. It's perfectly molded to my body, warmed up to my body temperature, and snug inside my pants. Why ruin such a good thing?
Let's talk about getting dressed. I have a favorite shirt with a picture of a Bobcat skid steer loader. If I can't wear that shirt every day, all day long, then don't bother getting me dressed in anything else. What? You say it is crusty with syrup from breakfast, smeared with dried play-doh, and wet from the milk I spilled earlier? Well, that's what makes this shirt perfect. Stop touching it and don't you dare take it off me!  OK, yes… we can do our due diligence and clean it every once in a while and I'll resolve to stop my whining and wiggling when you take it or any other clothing article off of me. Maybe, I’ll even give you delirious smiles and giggles that will make you wonder if I have officially gone crazy!

Resolution #4: I resolve to allow myself to experience new food.
I really, really enjoy the taste of pancakes and pizza dancing on my tongue. I don't understand why I have to eat anything else. The Doctor says it isn't healthy, well I want proof she eats her fruits and veggies! I'm pretty sure the fruits and veggies aren't going to cha-cha in my mouth or make my belly sing praises of happy song. Mommy is always trying to convince me to taste what she's eating - salad, hamburgers, chicken curry, chili, wild rice soup. I usually take a small, itty bitty, bite to humor her. She smiles big, proud smiles for each bite I take. I like humoring her and for that, I resolve to eat more foods outside of my comfortable food bubble.

Resolution #5: I resolve to find better hiding spots when I poop.
My favorite spot is standing behind the tv in front of the big window. Sometimes, I like to go behind the plant stand that sits in front of the sliding glass door. Mommy says my “hiding” spots aren’t really hiding.  If I can’t see you, you can’t see me. Right?!

I’ve started yelling from my hiding spots “mommy poop!” to let her know she has some work ahead of her. She finds it hysterical until I start running around the house, giggling, and dodging her attempts to pick me up.
With this resolution, I hope to make it harder to find me – provided I don’t smell too terrible and I can resist giving clues on my location!

There you have it -- My list of top five resolutions for 2015. From eating to pooping, it will be a great year! I really only have to do this until February, right?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Summit Hill House Tour

This past September, my neighbor and I volunteered for the Summit Hill Association's 2012 House Tour. I had attended the late fall candlelight house tour in 2011 and fell in love with the houses and courtesies of the homeowners. This year, the house tour was on a beautiful, hot, autumn Sunday. We picked up the early shift for a MASSIVE house and were able to together monitor the bedroom of the family's eldest son. It was so much fun trying to make the story of who this guy was based on the photos, plaques, yearbooks, relics, and posters throughout the room. So many people that came into the room said it was better than the master bedroom - after all, he had his own rooftop balcony and sitting room off the main bedroom! The house was built in the late 1800s and had its own enormous indoor pool. It was a crazy beautiful house (not pictured). After our shift was over, we bummed away a few hours touring other houses. We were able to hit up 7 of the 12 houses on the tour, and oh my did we love pretending we lived in these houses!

I HIGHLY recommend the Summit Hill House Tour to everyone - local or not!

What do you see in the photo below? Some seriously cool art!

The house pictured below was not like any other house I have seen before in the Summit Hill area. Very gothic and dark. On a hot day like it was, this home's stone walls and floors made for a cool place to relax in. The basement had the original a/c in place - very old technology but very interesting to see!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bucket List | Pipestone National Monument

I have wanted to visit the Pipestone National Monument for at least the last 7 years and am so glad we finally made it.  What an amazing and beautiful place! We are so lucky to have such a sacred, one-of-a-kind, and wonderful place like Pipestone right here in our great state of Minnesota. The history of Pipestone is incredibly spiritual for the Native Americans and to this day is still held as a sacred site.  

Most of the quarries at Pipestone have been handed down from generation to generation and others have been passed over to those on the pages and pages long waiting list. You have to quarry at your site at least once a year or it will be handed off to the next person on the waiting list. You must prove you are Native American through a tedious approval process just to get on the waiting list.  Yes, there have been many people who have faked their heritage to get a quarry!  

We went off the beaten tourist trail on down to the active quarries and walked up to the friendly face of a Native American man named Jerry from Kansas City.  He was so full of stories, I could have sat there all day listening and talking to him! He and a friend have had their quarry for the past 15 years and had likely quarried a total of 50 tons of pipestone.  Given the heavy weight of the pipestone, he said that really isn't much for 15 years of digging. However, there are no power tools used in the quarrying process. Shovels, picks, hammers, and wheelbarrows are all of the tools allowed. To get to the pure, bright red pipestone, several feet (sometimes dozens and dozens) deep of quartzite have to be cut through. I believe quartzite is the second hardest rock, but don't quote me on that. In my eyes, 50 tons is VERY impressive for 15 years of manual labor! 

I won't get into the history of Pipestone because I want everyone to go see and learn for themselves! It is an emotional story, both in terms of the Native American story about Pipestone's origin and the US government's role in Pipestone's story. 

Admission to the park is $3.00 per person and is good for 7 days.  A heckuva deal! I regret not going back there to watch the sunset but will forever remember the cascading waterfalls, smell of the prairie under the warm August sun, and the sound of the beating drums and song from the sun dance.