Be excellent to one another

I’m reading recaps of Mom 2.0 all over the place, this week. It sort of makes me wish I could do one of those deep and profound sorts of rundowns, the kind where I tell you all about how I was inspired and enchanted and finally met this or that person and they were astonishingly lovely and whatever. I mean, that sort of thing does happen, for me, but somehow I come home and put my hands on the keyboard and tell you a story about how I fell down, instead.

Le sigh.

The truth is that I the anxiety I normally feel about heading into a conference situation is topped only by the concern that once I get home, I will be perceived as name-dropping or otherwise insufferable if I talk about it in any way other than to mock myself over something I did there. I am good at mocking. I am not so good at “Yay, I like you and you like me! Hooray for us!” Or maybe I feel like saying it out loud would jinx it.

Hi, yes, I’m 12. Please don’t beat me up in the locker room after gym.

I did not make a secret of being in kind of a bad place before I went on this trip. I got myself on the plane by viewing it as a purely business excursion; I set certain work-related goals for myself and even had a couple of meetings set up before I left. “I’m going to New Orleans to work,” I told myself, when all I wanted to do was curl up in bed and not have to put on lip gloss and smile and make small talk with a roomful of hundreds of people. If I was going to work, I could get through it.

There’s a thing that happens at these conferences that irks me terribly, even though I’m absolutely an observer rather than a target of it. Someone invariably laments that there’s a “power clique” (or two or four or whatever) of people who “only talk to each other” and “shun the little person” or something. I actually haven’t seen/heard that, this time, but it’s a common occurrence. And it pisses me off because people—regardless of how supposedly high-profile—should be allowed to hang out with whomever they know and like without being judged for it. I just think it’s crappy when someone gets their panties in a wad over it, like being well-known means you’re not allowed to have specific friends.

Me, I get to be a floater. I know plenty of the “important” people but am not important enough, myself, for anyone to care what I do or who I talk to or how I spend my time. This suits me well. And for perhaps the first time, I watched some of the It Folks out of the corner of my eye and wondered if maybe it kind of sucks to have so many expectations placed on you. I could see where maybe a persona becomes a jacket that doesn’t quite fit right, but you can’t take it off because there are people around and maybe what you’re wearing underneath feels a little too revealing. So you wear the jacket, tugging at the sleeves and chafing at the collar the whole time. But smiling, because everyone’s looking at you.

I’m really glad I don’t have to do that.

What I ended up doing was meeting a whole bunch of new people and having a much better time than I’d anticipated. The highlights of my experience all took place far away from the maddening crowd and any politics, and several of them involved laughter so raucous the majority of us ended up in tears. I was inspired by things said and shown during the conference, yes. But I was also hugely inspired by a roomful of women talking about mundane things, enjoying each others’ company, and not worrying about jockeying for position or whether or not their brand was impacted by the behavior of the other folks in the room. It was just… fun. And I haven’t had a lot of that, lately. I’d forgotten how important it was.

So I came home, buoyed by the experience, and when I sat down at my desk again, I looked up at the vision board I made back in January. I couldn’t help noticing that “PLAYFUL” is the largest word on it, even though it is perhaps the last word I would use to describe myself on an ordinary, stress-filled day. Playful doesn’t pay the bills, after all.

Still. Playful feeds the parts of me that go hungry so often, I barely notice it, anymore.

I had my meetings. I went to great sessions. I networked. I spoke. I did my job.

And I laughed. Long and hard. And maybe had my faith restored in what happens when women just gab and don’t give a rat’s ass about who’s supposedly important or what needs to be accomplished or how long anyone’s known each other or any of that. I don’t know why it’s so hard for so many of us to just say, “Join us!” I am deeply appreciative of the women who did that for me, though, because it turns out I really needed a side of unconditional acceptance with my playful, this weekend, and I didn’t even know it until I got it.

I had occasion to say to my son, shortly after I returned, “Kindness is never wasted.” After some thought, I followed it with, “You may have no idea the difference it makes. But I promise you it matters.” And I smiled, thinking of how the people who had just made such a difference for me probably had no idea.

Until now, I guess. Thank you.

35 Responses to “Be excellent to one another”

  1. 1
    Leandra April 21, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    I love this. That’s been sort of my motto for the past couple of years — Be kind to everyone because you just never know who really needed that kindness today.

  2. 2
    elz April 21, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    Now I feel like my recap is woefully inadequate. I am glad to count you as my Friend. That is all.

  3. 3
    Ellen G April 21, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    I too was in a bad place before I left for Mom 2. A good friend passed away after a long struggle with cancer. I felt like I needed to be in a dark room to match my mood. I promised that if I did go to Mom 2, I would allow myself to sit in the room and brood and not beat myself up about it. Guess what? No brooding. No darkness. Thanks to the kindness of many, especially you. I’m blessed to have met you and hope to see you many more times, with all of them filled with sunshine, rainbows and unicorns. Because how can you forget the unicorns?

  4. 4
    Jill W. April 21, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    Great post.

  5. 5
    Rachel - A Southern Fairytale April 21, 2011 at 10:45 am #

    fabulous.
    fabulous.

    you = awesome in my book

  6. 6
    addy April 21, 2011 at 10:46 am #

    Always kindness first in your world Mir. Thanks for sharing.

  7. 7
    Damsel April 21, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    Yes, yes, yes. This really resonates with me…. I’ve written today about something similar – friends choosing to invite us into their circle. So important and so fun…

    I’m so glad that you had some time to relax and enjoy yourself. You really deserve it.

  8. 8
    ClumberKim April 21, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    I still appreciate the kindness you showed me in Houston at Mom 2.0 last year. I had been feeling like I made a big mistake by thinking there was a place for me in a conference like that. You erased that feeling in an instant.

  9. 9
    Sandra Tayler April 21, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    I confess the women blogger community scares me. I’m drawn to the idea of conferences, but terrified of them. I’m glad you find a happy place there. I’m doubly happy that you find a happy place when you are stressed and tricked yourself into going by promising work.

  10. 10
    Zilla April 21, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    Thanks for this post – makes me smile.

  11. 11
    sassymonkey April 21, 2011 at 10:57 am #

    Yes. This.

    And sometimes… sometimes I feel like other people think I know more people than I really do. And I’m very chatty online but an introvert in person which I worry makes me come off bitchy. I end up sitting by myself a lot… unless Suebob is around. I glom on to her because she totally gets my quiet.

  12. 12
    JennyM April 21, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    Ah, yes. Kindness. I like that. I think if I have one true wish for the way I’d like to be remembered when I’m gone, it would be something like, “She may have been really weird, but she was very kind.”

    Sometimes it’s so hard to get out of your own head and just… be nice.

  13. 13
    Laura Mayes April 21, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    “Kindness is never wasted. You may have no idea the difference it makes. But I promise you it matters.”

    Love.

    Thank you.

  14. 14
    The Mommy Therapy April 21, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    What a true and wonderful message. I am constantly trying to teach my children that kindness goes further than you can see it, you never know the impact you can have and you never know what someone else is going through, so be kind.

    I do fear that this message is confused with my periodic raging over finding legos and pirate costume pieces all over the house, all the freakin’ time…but I do hope the message filters in somehow. It’s so important.

    How are you not one of the high profile important ones? May be one of the modest ones?

    You make my day brighter, often. Thank you!

  15. 15
    pam April 21, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    ‘Kindness is Never Wasted’ I love that. And I shall use it as I’m maneuvering through the myriad doctors and staff that are trying my very last nerve. They Thank You!!!

  16. 16
    Tracy B April 21, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    Mir, you are simply awesome! Every day I read you (sometimes I have to go back and catch up because of this every day thing called LIFE) but I never miss a post. The reason why? Well, you make me laugh, you make me stop and think about things, but most importantly, you have a way of making things seem “not so bad”. Thank you for all of that! I am going to spread this motto today. KINDNESS IS NEVER WASTED! Happy Love Thursday!

  17. 17
    Rachel April 21, 2011 at 11:40 am #

    Love the Kindess is never wasted… might post that on facebook, do you mind?
    You are brilliant. =)

  18. 18
    Jamie April 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    Amen!

  19. 19
    Grace April 21, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

    I tend to be an observer, too, and I think this is a great post. Will you be at BlogHer? I’d love to meet you.

  20. 20
    Beth in Iowa April 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    Delurking in honor of today’s post (normally I think I have nothing to add).

    You are often THE voice of reason in a blogosphere filled with too many who are worried about impressing others, lest they be left behind. Your posts since the new year in particular have provoked much thought and contemplation. You’ve gone deep and I appreciate your willingness (and bravery) to share.

    Thanks for the reminder about kindness. I’m printing out your quote and posting it here in my office. And thanks again for making a difference for me by using your words.

  21. 21
    amy April 21, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

    Beautiful! I tell myself this everyday when people are complete and total asshats to me. Kindness is never wasted. What a great motto!

  22. 22
    Midj April 21, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    Yes.

  23. 23
    MainlineMom aka Sarah April 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    It was so very nice to meet you and get to hang out with you this weekend. I guess a lot of people have social anxiety about conferences, and yes I hear people complain about cliques and such but I generally ignore these social constructs. People are just people and everybody there matters.

    I noticed on Monday a sign hanging in the front office of my son’s elementary school that struck me. “Be kinder than necessary.” These are words to live by for me.

  24. 24
    Stimey April 21, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    Love this. Laughter with friends is the best. I’m so glad that the trip was restorative for you.

  25. 25
    divrchk April 21, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

    That’s pretty much our family motto. I tell my kids the most important thing is “to be a nice person.” I don’t care how well they did on the test as long as they tried their best, what other kids are doing, etc. I always ask, when they are misbehaving and I’m ready to lose it, “What’s the most important thing?” They always answer, “to be a nice person…” They might not act that way all of the time but I’ve drilled it into their head enough that they think about it a lot. I know this from a conversation I had with my 6 year old the other day and what she said shocked me. I couldn’t believe how much I’ve gotten through to her about being a good person.

  26. 26
    Tenessa April 21, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    I love that. Love it. Kindness is what I’m trying to instill in my children above all else. I approach it in a more “golden rule” kind of way. You know, the whole do unto others bit. You are right, though, a little kindness can mean more than you will ever know.
    Thank you for this.

  27. 27
    amy turn sharp April 21, 2011 at 10:05 pm #

    I like you so much. I wish I would sometime just ask you to coffee. xo

  28. 28
    Another Dawn April 21, 2011 at 11:41 pm #

    I used to have a poster years ago that said, “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” Still believe it.

  29. 29
    Heather April 22, 2011 at 2:47 am #

    If I was going to a blogging conference, you would be one of my “It” people heh. Also, the Bill and Ted quote (that’s what it is right? I’m too tired to think about it!) just made me smile.

  30. 30
    Kat C April 22, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    Terrific post! My last conference was Blissdom in Nashville and I sold it to my family as a networking event and then proceeded to spend about 50% of the sessions in my hotel room decompressing. I find social media conferences completely overwhelming, but I am still drawn to them. It takes a lot of energy to be “on” for 2-3 days.

    Also – one of my favorite things to do is to smile at someone who isn’t expecting it. The person in the car next to me in traffic, someone scowling at the checkout line in the grocery store, a construction worker…bonus is if they smile back!

  31. 31
    Maria April 22, 2011 at 11:01 am #

    Your posts bring kindness to many people. It does matter. I really enjoyed this post!

  32. 32
    Nancy April 22, 2011 at 9:33 pm #

    Good post. In this day and age of cyber-anonymity people so often forget the power of being nice. I realized a long time ago that I am just not good at being snarky.

    I love going to big conferences and learning new things. I even enjoy getting up in front of a big audience and speaking. But the thought of mingling in a room with a couple of hundred people makes me hyperventilate. I am glad you had a good time and made some new friends when you least expected it.

  33. 33
    Isabel Kallman @AlphaMom April 23, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    As i sat at the airport I was thinking how I wish I had spent more time chatting with you at Mom 2.0. The good news is that I know there will be more opportunities. I will make them. Hopefully soon.

    I just clicked over to your vision board, which I LOVE! Funnily, we had “Enjoy Dessert” on our Family Manifesto and it didn’t make the final cut, which saddened me. So when I saw your “never skip dessert,” it made me smile big!

  34. 34
    Stephanie April 23, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if *all* people could just put “be kind” on the top of their “to do” list, every day?

  35. 35
    jodifur May 1, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

    One of my greatest regrets this year is not going to mom 2.0 and rooming with you. We would have had so much fun.

    Another time? Promise?

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