I think people find it hard to be kind because they’re afraid they’ll lose something.
I get disregarded and people are rude to me; some folks use any opening to hurt my feelings and knock me off balance, and I wonder why. Do they have a zero-sum game outlook on life? Do they look at me and think, “If I am kind and patient with you I give something of myself that I will never get back? If I am unkind to you and make you feel bad I get…” What? To keep all the points?? What???
Maybe they’re counting coup.
It hurts when I ask a question, offer an observation, or enter a conversation only to be snubbed, put in my place, or micro-aggressed. My cheeks flush and I wonder if they got what they wanted. I walk away…and after a person smacks me down enough times I just keep walking. When I can’t keep walking I pledge to limit communication to dry, polite necessities, withholding warmth and humor.
— later —
I wrote that yesterday – a yesterday that was a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I’d awakened with a poor outlook on life, walked with a friend who is (for now and with good reason) in a perpetual state of knotted knickers, nothing in my closet appealed to me, I discovered halfway to work that my damn pants were on backwards (which made me feel like an old woman who wears pants that look the same backwards as forwards), and then, as I walked through the door into Circ, I got my feelings hurt. As the day went on my intermittent mouse and keyboard outage problem surfaced again and I reached complete disgruntlement.
Hence the whiny blog opening. I am better today, thank you, and as I reread and edited and contemplated jettisoning the opening I thought, y’know what? Hollering about what hurts me is just the flip side of talking about how I work to stay positive, foolish, forgiving, kind, thrifty, brave, and true.
Maybe if everyone walked around being in touch with each other’s hidden pain it could work out and even be beautiful, but it doesn’t feel safe to be the only compassionate person on the planet.
— Michelle Tea, Rose of No Man’s Land
For meeting number five we will be reading Chapter 23, Embrace Kindness and Chapter 50, Grow a Very Big Heart. We’ll be in study room 6420 from 2-2:50 on Tuesday, July 29. The books are out in the stacks: BJ 1533 .C9 H33.
Steven Sowell offered his CRSD staff a chance to win lunch, his treat, at the restaurant of our choice:
Core Values Creativity Contest: create a song, poem, skit, story, video, food item, crossword puzzle, game, documentary, etc. that includes all of the library’s core values: Access, Civility, Collaboration, Diversity, Innovation, Preservation, Service, and Sustainability.
I am posting the winning entries for all to enjoy as I did:
And from Patrick Layton:
As May’s Civility Café furls its awning, we bid adieu to a month of new thoughts of goodwill toward our fellow humans. A patron asked Lori where the Civility Café is located…
Today I told a coworker how lovely she looks. I told her that I’m pretty much only concerned with being clean and covered and she always looks so nicely put together with much aforethought – she beamed and said she’d been feeling kinda dreepy today.
A kindness, either given or received, can make your day.
In Door Into Ocean and Daughter of Elysium, Joan Slonczewski created a society called Sharers who take literally the concept of reciprocity, of mutual creation, and that what I do to you I do to me. The comforter is comforted. The mother gives birth to the child – and the child creates the mother. I find myself comforted in the act of comforting, and I certainly wasn’t a mother until my daughter made me one; she and I have continued a dance of mutual creation as we grow and change. I am not just the actor and she the acted upon, it is reciprocal.
I love the idea of immediate golden rulery: I shall not do unto you what I don’t want done unto me, and if I do do unto you, it is also done to me.
This week we are covering the chapters Strike a Tone and Build Trust. Strike a Tone made me think of hammered dulcimers. I really like the sound of hammered dulcimers. Pingy, ethereal…and I like watching the players — their light touch with the hammers. What if we were aware of how we are “tuned” when we speak with someone? I think tone and word choice have a whole lot to do with expressing the intent of our communication. What if we made a scale:
Going from gentle to harsh, from polite to in your face, from I hope you are hearing me to I HOPE YOU ARE HEARING ME — what if as we spoke to someone the level at which we were speaking and the level at which we were being heard were visually or aurally apparent? Immediate feedback. (Actually, I think the feedback monitor is already there, but we’ve stuck a sock in it.)
From Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Our next meeting is Tuesday, May 13 at 2:00 in Willamette East. Read ahead, or show up and read aloud with us. We’ve had folks come to one meeting, to two, to all of them. If you’re interested, please come on ahead.
We didn’t make this up; if you search civility month you will find business consultants and community groups proclaiming May the month to be consciously civil. Check out the kiosks for a daily special from The Civility Cafe.
Warmth is kindled with kindnesses. If I feel that you value me, my feelings of worth and pleasedness spill out onto the next person I meet. We are interconnected — we can communicate with coldness, with impatience and cutting words, we can dominate and intimidate, or we can offer thoughtfulness, kindness, and humor.
The other night I was leaving through the Java II doors and a young man waited for me, holding the door open. I’m used to having the door held, but only if I am hot on the heels of the person in front of me. I did the same for the young woman a little ways behind me, and as I walked away I turned and saw her doing the same thing.
Try out a new expression of your esteem. See what a kindness, consideration, or thoughtfulness nudges into motion. Forni says that incivility is disregard.
Let’s regard one another.
Calvin is my favorite. My daughter has spawned three little boys of her own — sometimes I wonder if my wish for the ultimate entertainment of a Calvin skipped a generation, and if I should think twice about what I wish for, and maybe apologize to my daughter…..
I’ve had this above my desk at home since forever. I am unanimous in my dislike for numbers.
It is springtime.
Our next meeting is on Tuesday, April 15 (who picked that day??) at 2:00 in Willamette East. We’ll be doing Embody Enough and Practice Patience. Read ahead, or just show up and read aloud with us.
In the meantime, offer your coworkers some surrealism.
Next meeting: Tuesday, March 11, 2-3pm, Willamettes
My heart is still a little sore – about a month ago I got blindsided by family drama sparked by a stressful situation. (My father had surgery; we got the results after the usual wait and they’re quite good, thank you). I took massive offense to something my brother said and to his interpretation of events, and because he blew up at me in a text message I was able to shake with horrified hurt and anger in my living room, take my dog for a walk, talk to a friend, and breathe deeply for a good long time. I chose to respond selectively and texted back, “When they move Pop from ICU to his room please text me the phone number,” rather than responding to our stress- and history-induced emotions, “You think this isn’t hard on me, too, Jacko?”
Well, good on me for not escalating an incendiary situation, but even though the dust has settled I’m still carrying him around. “A personal offense is like a scratch on a phonograph record. I couldn’t move my thoughts beyond my pain. It kept repeating, as if I were stuck within its grooves. There was only one way to play beyond it. I had to forgive them, so my heart could take its form again.” — Laurel Lea
I don’t know that I’ve gotten to forgiveness yet, but I’m chewing that old cud less often and with less gusto…
So, for March’s book club, we shall talk about taking offense, not taking offense, taking offense as a choice, and what Stephen Fry thinks of being offended. We’re going to read chapter 19, Take the High Road, and chapter 20, Laugh at Least Once a Day out loud to each other and discuss. We’ve got a short video from Sara Hacala, too.
Feel free to drop in for discussion whether or not you’ve read the book, and whether or not you were at the first session. You are welcome. Tuesday, March 11, 2-3pm Willamettes.
I saw Ellen Page’s speech at Time to THRIVE and was blown away. (Here’s a link to the video and the transcript.) I wept a bit during the speech, thinking of my mother and her partner and how they’d had to cope. They never came out. Ellen talked about so much more than respect, understanding, and acceptance for LGBT folks – my favorite quote, “And I’m inspired to be in this room because every single one of you is here for the same reason: you’re here because you’ve adopted, as a core motivation, the simple fact that this world would be a whole lot better if we just made an effort to be less horrible to one another.”
Book club update:
We introduced Sara Hacala, our author and certified etiquette and protocol trainer. We explored nostalgia for better days until Socrates blew that out of the water. I read Forni’s definition of rudeness out loud (the short version: acts that bruise and wound), and we read chapter 1, Know Who You Are.
The shopping cart and driver was prominently featured, but you had to be there…
Watch this space for information about the March 11 meeting and other ideas that float by. Please feel free to contribute and question.