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Are there ever times in life where you start to lose faith in your fellow-man? When people’s characters seem so ugly that you wonder how it is we got this far and why we seem to be getting worse and not better?
Today has been one of those days. But before I get into the details, I need to share a little back story.
A week or so ago, I received a friend request on Facebook from someone I went to junior high with. Now, my middle school years were my ugly ones. Quite literally. I was a geeky girl with frizzy hair, a mouth full of metal, skin that made the Proactiv ladies millions, and glasses that took up half of my face. Needless to say, I was not popular and don’t look very fondly on those formative years. So when I got a request from Peter, I didn’t immediately accept it.
I was a little surprised to even get a request from him. He was one of the popular guys who was actually decent and not a total jerk to everyone. We went to the same high school though I rarely saw him and I can honestly say, I haven’t thought of him since I graduated. Since I did have fond memories of him, I went ahead and accepted the request as I figured he was trying to reach out to people from our class in lieu of our ten-year reunion next year. I checked out his profile, found out he was living a few hours away, and put him back in that we’re-not-friends-but-I-don’t-hate-you imaginary box that is reserved for most folks you only see on Facebook and never interact with in real life.
Sunday I learned Peter had been in a fatal car accident. He was 27.
Today is the day. It’s Election Day here in the States and I’m hoping that everyone 18 and over will do their part and cast their ballot today.
I know there is usually a lot of confusion around this time of year. My Facebook feed is full of “Vote Yes” on this and “Vote No” on that. Everyone seems to have an opinion and I’m not entirely sure that this makes us better or worse as an “informed” society.
But have no fear Wonderlings, this post is not about politics, it is about action.
I am incredibly honored to receive this from two of my favorite blogging buddies. Thank you so much, girls!
Fittingly enough on this date, the recipient of the award is to answer eleven questions, award eleven other blogs, and ask eleven new questions. I love that this award allows the givers to dig a little deeper and learn what they want to learn about their favorite bloggers. Since I was nominated by two gals in the same day, you all get double the answered questions. As if you didn’t already know enough about me!
A few weeks ago, I received one of the nicest emails from my blogging soul mate Stephanie with a completely unexpected request: she asked me to guest post on Simply Stephanie for her Inspiration Week.
I was completely touched that someone would put their blog in my hands and allow me to share more than a comment’s worth of space on their site. This being my first year blogging, I had never really thought about what it would be like to guest post. With blogs being so incredibly personal, how could anyone give someone else the reins and write for them? How do you essentially substitute for a fellow blogger while staying true to both their blog and your style?
I was surprised to learn just how easy it was. The trick is: be yourself. With little more than some basic pointers, I set out to complete my first guest post and even got it in days before it was due (college professors from my undergraduate years are dumbfounded).
And today is the day! Check out my guest blog here and don’t forget to browse through the other Inspiration Week posts by Laura of Not So Skinny Genes, Melissa from the Existential Detective, and Amber from Arbitrary Ambrosia. It’s been an absolute pleasure to share the blogging stage with these awesome ladies and thank you Stephanie for the honor!
I also have another bit of news for you all. I have a winner to announce of the Blog-Warming Giveaway, Take 2.
There is something to be gained when helping others. You are introduced to people you might never meet and experience joy that you never knew was possible. Despite always referring to my 20′s as the “selfish years,” I find the act of volunteering a great way to keep in touch with the human condition and remind others that there is still hope in a world where children torment their bus monitor.
When I finished grad school a few years ago, I was happy to have my life back. No more weekends where I have to tell my friends I can’t hang out because I had to banish myself to the library. It was time to regain my social life, rejoin the race of the non-studious, and have some fun. And I knew just what I wanted to do: volunteer.
In high school, I was actively involved with Key Club run through the Kiwanis organization. We did a lot of stuff in the community including library readings and delivering Thanksgiving meals to nursing homes. It was a blast and it never really felt like I was sacrificing my time. To find another organization to volunteer my time was not an easy task. A lot of groups had weekly meetings that I could not attend because of work or were not accepting new volunteers. Plus, I wasn’t even sure what type of organization I wanted to volunteer for. There are so many causes out there (animals, diseases, poverty, violence, etc.) that I knew I had to start with who I wanted to help and go from there.
When Sandra Bullock won her Academy Award for The Blind Side, she gave a speech that was thoughtful, moving, and humble. She radiated grace and everyone was thrilled that America’s sweetheart had finally won the accolades she deserved. I am not quite as graceful when it comes to recognition. My inner self breaks out into a happy dance and shouts, “I won! I won! I won!” So when I received my second award in three weeks, I just about embarrassed myself at work when I squealed with delight. Thankfully, no one was around to witness it.
Have any of you ever realized how freakin’ tiny this world is? And no, not in the Disney ride kind of way where animatronic figures sing in several different languages and embrace their differing ethnicities. I’m talking about meeting a random person who is somehow connected to your life or someone in it.
There have been so many instances in the last six months that have made me realize that the world is much smaller than I could have possibly realized.
As many of my darling readers know, this is the first blog that I have ever felt gave me any kind of purpose and I have been so encouraged by the comments I have received and inspired by the blogs I follow. A writer for life, I rarely share my work with people, but through WordPress, I have found that I should have been doing this a long, long time ago. I love knowing that my words have reached dozens of countries around the world. Simply put, I can’t stop now!
Today I received some fantastic news that has me grinning like a Cheshire Cat. I have been awarded my first blogging honor by the fabulous folks at Mother Sugar.
You have been a part of my life since my mother ordered your Sweatin’ to the Oldies VHS tapes so that she could work out in the living room without needing to get a baby-sitter to hit the gym. To a five-year-old me, I was eager to join her. How could I not? It looked like so much fun with the colorful outfits, the great music, and the smiles on each of the dancers’ faces. I knew every word, every song, every routine—still do. Even now more than two decades later, I still catch myself going through the exercises when I hear songs like “Locomotion,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” and “I Get Around” much to the embarrassment of those around me. (more…)
If any of you out there had a protective mother like I did, you were taught from a very early age not to talk to people you didn’t know. Those people were called strangers and they were very, very bad.
As the only child of a single mother, I was well-versed in what to say when someone I didn’t know came up to me and said, “Come here, little girl” (NO!) or “I work with your mommy and she asked me to pick you up from school today” (What’s the password?). We spent hours role-playing and I’m pretty sure that I would have passed any of those hidden camera investigations Dateline produces about stranger danger.
Case in point: a story from my childhood. Granted, I should forewarn you that I don’t remember this at all, but the story has been told many times over the years and I can attest that, in all likelihood, it did happen as it’s written.
Around the age of four or five, I went to the bank with my mom. She had finished up and we were heading toward the exit, a rambunctious me skipping a little ahead. When I reached the door, an older woman politely held the door open for me and uttered those famous last words: “Come here, little girl.”
That was all it took.
I stopped dead in my tracks, looked up at her, and yelled, “NO!” just my mom and I had rehearsed dozens of times before. I ran back to my mother and took her by the hand quite proud of the way I had handled the situation. Afterall, she could have snatched me right then and there.
My mother, on the other hand, was horrified. I guess her frequent warnings had stuck with me and now she was paying the humiliating price for it.
It was well into high school that I felt comfortable speaking with new people and that was mainly because I worked as a waitress and had to speak to them on a daily basis. Despite the fact that most folks I know would classify me as a “people person,” I still have a hard time meeting others in a social setting. Maybe deep down in my psyche, I’m still worried about being kidnapped.
I’m envious of guys like Hawkeye who, quite literally, makes friends wherever he goes. Then again, maybe I could do the same.
In the last week, I have been contacted by several people I don’t know. Strangers, if you will. They have come in various forms: a bullied girl I once reached out to online, another who found my lack of inspiration inspirational, men seeking my affections in the world of online dating, and still others who I knew of, but did not know personally. And I have learned something from these vastly different characters. Each of them I might never met in “real life,” but if I hadn’t had the interactions I have had, my life would be missing something.
The thing is, even people you don’t know can have a positive impact on your life. I am so glad to have shared even the briefest of sentences with these men and women. I have been flattered, thanked, intrigued, encouraged, amused, and last but certainly not least, inspired.
You see, as I grew from a child into an adult, I learned that not all strangers are bad. Some are welcome additions to our lives, while others are simply there to add a little color to our stories. I once spent an unforgettable night exploring Las Vegas with an Irishman who stumbled into me at Planet Hollywood. Would my life had been better if I had decided to walk away as he tried to converse with me? I don’t know, but I do know I had an incredible evening seeing the Strip through the eyes of someone from another country.
While it may have once been pivotal to our safety, speaking to someone new does not necessarily mean you will be abducted from your parents and wind up a cautionary tale. It can introduce you to wonderful experiences, ideas, and personalities that you may not have had the chance if someone didn’t make the first move to strike up a conversation.
Though I would hardly recommend throwing caution to the wind and encourage my readers to forget common sense and speak to everyone that comes their way, I would say that there is something amazing when strangers become friends.
After all, we were all strangers to each other once.