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It only takes a word

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how soft skills, especially in terms of communication, are underappreciated and under-emphasized by so many people. Of course, this is coming from someone who majored in communication, but I’ve heard the same sentiment echoed from folks in fields from business to STEM.

Some people espouse that to get ahead — particularly in one’s career — you can’t be kind or agreeable, or at least not too agreeable. And of course there is an element of balance; if you only ever say positive things, it will be hard to make your own ideas known and to point out risks or issues in the ideas of others.

Especially when I’m busy, my default is to be fairly stressed and fairly serious. I’ve had to learn how to make time to build good professional relationships, even if it means a task takes a little longer. But on the flipside, it’s also hugely important to me that everyone be as content with a given situation as possible and that I take regularly opportunities to boost morale. Often that means bringing in treats for coworkers or saying “thank you” more times than perhaps necessary. And these are great, but they’re also a little shallow.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have some absolutely phenomenal bosses and mentors as I’ve gained work experience. I’ve also had the chance to be a boss or mentor to other folks, and to experiment with what comprises a successful leadership style.

Some of the elements are fairly standard: clear training and instruction, open communication channels, well-rounded feedback that includes praise for elements done well and actionable critiques on ways to improve.

The biggest thing that I’ve learned from my mentors, though, is how incredibly important it is to empower those who are learning from you — whether the setting be professional, familial, or otherwise. While “empower” has become a bit of a buzzword and lost some of the meaning it ought to possess, it captures exactly how we should be made to feel by those we’re learning from (and how we should be making those we’re teaching feel).

As an example, a brief anecdote: Yesterday was not a great day for me. I’m behind on a lot of at-home tasks (*ahem* cleaning) and my at work my number of tasks and the stakes are increasing. It was just one of those days I felt ill-equipped for all I was facing. During the course of separate conversations, both my boss and a former boss/mentor offered unsolicited, generous compliments on my competency and the impact of my work. They both absolutely made my day.

The comments meant so much because both of them conveyed that they actually believed in me. Which, for starters, is something we could all stand to hear a little more often. But it also made me want to prove them right, instead of trying to prove negative thoughts or voices wrong.

I’ve long held to the belief that small kindnesses can have radical impacts in people’s lives. For emerging adults in particular, it’s crucial that we not only embrace that idea in our personal lives, but also our professional ones. As we do so, we can foster and eventually create environments that encourage people’s growth through support or cooperation rather than relying on competition.

In the future, I’ll be looking for and taking more opportunities in which I can offer a word or gesture to help other folks feel as valued and full of potential as comments like the ones yesterday made me feel. I just hope we all do.

As always, comments, questions, and miscellaneous input welcome below or on Twitter @ohgrowup. Thanks for reading, and happy adulting!

 

P.S. I know it’s yet another sunset ocean pic, but this place was home for a long time and not only taught me a lot of what I covered in this post, but could use any extra love available as the community continues to heal from tragedy.

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Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

Hey, ya’ll! This week’s post is from my best friend and blogger-on-hiatus, Megan. You may remember her from our collaboration post  a while back. She’s tackling the topic of emergency preparedness, given the recent wildfires and power outages in California lately, the latter of which we’ve both been affected by. Hope you all enjoy!

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As a millennial, my definition of natural disaster was characterized by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It was a defining moment in my childhood, much like 9/11. Looking back, it never occurred to my 10-year-old self that I would grow up and have to prepare for anything like Katrina, especially as a California resident. I am very fortunate enough to have grown up in an area where the threat of natural disasters had never seemed so extreme. While we have always had earthquakes and fires, they occurred few and far between during my childhood. However, as the years have gone by, the effects of climate change have not only accelerated the frequency and intensity of fires in California, but brought on several other natural disasters not only nationally, but abroad.

Just off of the top of my head, I can recall hurricanes Lane in Hawaii (2018), Harvey in Texas (2017), and Maria in Puerto Rico (2017), dangerously cold blizzard conditions on the East Coast & in the Midwest (2018), and countless devastating fires in my very home state including the Camp fire in Paradise (2018) and Woolsey in Malibu (2018) — all within the past 2 years alone. Most recently, the Tick fire in Santa Clarita and the Kincade fire in Sonoma have been brought on by extreme dry and windy conditions that — combined with at-risk power grid infrastructure — have prompted PG&E to cut power to millions of customers, including myself.

Now, I don’t mean to get all doomsday-ey, and I know emergency preparedness isn’t the most glamourous topic, but at the rate that things are progressing, it sure as hell is relevant. And if I’ve learned anything from Gen Z, it’s all about being relevant. Jokes aside, I am a camping aficionado, possess basic safety skills, and have learned a thing or two from experiencing my fourth forced power outage — all of which is to say that while I’m not claiming to be an expert, I am slightly qualified to speak on this topic. I’ve also linked plenty of credible resources. That being said, here are my five main thoughts I’d like to share about preparing and dealing with an emergency:

1.   Do your research

  • Depending on where you live, “disaster” comes in its own unique flavor. Know what to expect and when to expect it, given your own location. For me, I know that my greatest threat is wildfire and wildfire season is at its peak from September to October. If you need some guidance, ready.gov is a comprehensive resource with guides broken down by type of event and is a great place to start.
  • Stay in the loop by signing up for alerts relevant to you. You can also follow respective social media accounts, but they may not always be up to date. Here are a few resources:

California / fire alert systems

Other alert systems

2.  Make a plan

  • If the emergency you’re preparing for may involve an evacuation, be sure to sit down with all the members of your household and get on the same page of where to meet (designate either another family member’s house or a community crisis center), how to get there, and what to bring. The unfortunate nature of emergencies is that they are unpredictable and may not leave much time to gather your belongings or may interfere with communication, so it is best to have a plan beforehand. Depending on circumstances, you may not need a “go bag” lying around, but if you are at risk of being in an evacuation zone, keep an eye on your alerts and start preparing as soon as possible. Also, keep in mind that if evacuation orders are given, traffic may start to pile up, so the sooner you can evacuate, the better. If you need help creating your plan, use the ready.gov planning page as a resource.
  • In an emergency, it’s easy for things to get overlooked, so be sure to take stock of any special circumstances that may cause snafus down the line and make a plan for those as well. Don’t forget about your pets and animals, any special medication that may need to be refrigerated, medical devices, features about your property, etc. For me personally, I know that my water system runs on an electric pump and during power outages I do not have access to running water. Luckily, since the outages are controlled, I’ve been able to prepare beforehand and not only ensure that I have water to drink, but also water for hygiene and cleaning.
  • Designate your emergency contacts and alert them that they hold that role. Be sure to share that information with all relevant people.

3.  Be prepared

  • Build an emergency kit! Start with the basics, then add specific items for your particular emergency over time or as needed. You probably have many of these item lying around, but it is best to round them all up so that you do not have to scramble to find them. Time is valuable during an emergency.

Emergency kit essentials

  • 1 week’s worth food supply (and the tools to prepare it!)
  • 1 gallon of water per person per day for up to 3 days (up to 3 gallons if you lack running water for cooking and hygiene)
  • Flashlights / battery-powered lanterns / candles
  • Extra batteries
  • Lighter / matches
  • First aid kit & basic meds
  • Scissors / knife / multi-tool
  • Cash
  • Mobile phone charging bank & cord
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (preferably able to receive NOAA broadcasts)
  • See the official FEMA checklist
  • See the Build a Kit page on ready.gov

Other emergency preparedness items

  • Backup generator & fuel — for most circumstances, but especially frequent power outages. (Trust me, with all the PG&E stuff, these have been a hot commodity lately.)
  • Ice & ice chests — in case you cannot run or afford a generator to power your refrigerator during a power outage, use these to save your food and/or medication.
  • Temperature-control items such as sleeping bags, blankets, heat sources, or battery-powered fans — for any circumstance, including power outages.
  • N95 respirator masks — for areas prone to wildfires.
  • Be sure to adapt these items to what’s most relevant for your type of emergency

Don’t forget!

(These items are commonly forgotten during an evacuation or relocation to a sheltered space. Keep these in mind when building your kit.)

  • Prescription medication (including for pets!)
  • Backup glasses / contacts & solution
  • Menstrual products
  • Infant formula & bottles
  • Diapers & wipes
  • Pet food
  • Disposable dishes & cutlery

 

  • Not only do you need to build a kit, but you also need to keep it accessible. It doesn’t do any good if it can’t be found or used by everyone so keep in mind those in your household who may have accessible devices such as wheelchairs or the height limitations of older children. Remember that you may not always be there or able to access your kit yourself.
  • Replenish your kit as needed, and be sure to make sure to replace any expired items (including bottled water) when necessary. Also be sure to test batteries and make sure that they work.
  • Set up protection measures as needed. This may include assessing your property and ensuring it can be a safe shelter. For fires, this means keeping a 100-foot radius clear from your home of brush and flammable debris. For flooding, it means being able to safely access high ground. For earthquakes, it means securing large furniture so it does not fall. For tornadoes, it means having a basement or shelter. Know what your needs are, and prepare your property accordingly. Protection also includes storing important documents and irreplaceable family memorabilia in a fireproof safe and/or digitally archiving them somewhere that isn’t subject to natural disaster (such as a backup hard drive in a safe and in the cloud). And as a final measure of protection, be sure that you are properly insured.

4.  Take a moment for yourself

  • In an emergency, it’s easy to get swept up in the adrenaline. Make sure to keep a calm, level head during the emergency — and once it’s safe to do so, take a moment to decompress. Not only do you need to ration your energy in an emergency, but it’s also necessary to show yourself some love and compassion by filling up your cup so that you might give to others. You know, the whole “put your oxygen mask on first” thing.
  • When disaster strikes, it is not always easy to be positive, but giving a moment of gratitude really helps to put things into perspective.

5.  Pay it forward

There isn’t much you can do to prevent a natural disaster from coming; however, it is crucial that we acknowledge their more persistent presence due to climate change. We can make a difference by not only donating to organizations that provide relief in the aftermath of such tragedies, but also to those who do work in order to combat one of the sources of increased disasters. Here is a list of charities you may consider donating to below:

Disaster relief charities

Climate activism charities

Closing remarks

So with all of that said, the three main takeaways are:

  1. There is always more to know. While this is quite a lengthy post, it still does not cover the breadth and complexity of emergency preparedness. If you are interested in knowing more, please use the following resources:
  1. Better to prepare now, rather than later.
  2. Don’t forget to take care of yourself and our planet, not just others.

Thanks to my best friend for allowing me the opportunity to get back into blogging. If you’d like to keep up with my own exploits, and hear more rants about PG&E, find me here:

Blog: thechroniclesofmegan.com

IG: @chroniclesofmegan

Twitter: @meganchronicles

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As always, thanks for reading and good luck adulting! Stay safe out there, and let’s do what we can to help others do the same. Comments always welcome below or on Twitter @ohgrowup. See you next week!

P.S. Happy Halloween! Due to the whole just had a wedding/honeymoon and then got our power shut off thing, I’m recycling last year’s costume. Enjoy the holiday!

(Photo is a free stock photo because this sums it up better than I thought a single image could.)

 

 

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Recipes: Spiked apple cider

Hi! I’m alive! Apologies for all the various delays in posting — in addition to the planned time away (the wedding and honeymoon were awesome), work has been super busy and there is never a shortage of other items to fill up free time. I actually had a post for y’all last week but as I was reviewing, realized it was too similar to previous ones and I don’t want to spam anyone’s feed with repetitive content.

But I’m glad to be back! I haven’t done any drink (alcoholic or otherwise) recipes on here yet, and it seemed due time. I made this last fall, and once we got back from the honeymoon I was launched straight from 90-degree beaches into mid-October autumn. In addition to a bit of decorating around the apartment, I made my current favorite fall drink to celebrate my long-favorite season.

Note before we get started: Alcohol consumption is entirely your choice and responsibility. I enjoy a good adult beverage, but am also careful to not indulge too much or too frequently to avoid building a habit that could haunt me. If you’d rather avoid alcohol, you can either skip the bourbon entirely or substitute with some vanilla extract and extra water.

All of that said, I love bourbon. My first introductions to alcohol were from people who had the time and resources to have developed good taste (aka not college students) and I tend to prefer strong, savory flavors in drinks and a lot of my foods. My husband, however, much prefers sweet drinks. This is one we both love.

This isn’t a super cheap recipe if you don’t already have the spices, but does serve a lot and a little of each spice goes a long way. The good news is it’s really easy and your house will smell amazing.img_0439.jpg

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups spiced cider (I get mine from Trader Joe’s — if spiced isn’t available, you can do regular fresh cider and just use more spices/simmer for longer)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup bourbon (it shouldn’t be bad bourbon but it doesn’t have to be pricey — Trader Joe’s offers a bottle that’s fine even served neat for about $15, or Evan Williams Single Barrel is about $25 and really good)
  • 2 orange slices
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 10 whole allspiceIMG_0436

Instructions:

  1. Dump it all (gently) into a pot or large saucepan, then bring to a low simmer
  2. Let simmer for 20-30 minutes, stir occasionally
  3. Taste test (seriously, you can always add more of something!)
  4. Serve!img_0441.jpg

Costs about $15*, makes 6-8 servings.

Thankfully I got enough to make another batch, which I’m very much looking forward to as we settle into fall. Now that wedding planning is over, I’m hoping I can be more consistent about posts.

I’d absolutely love to know what you want to hear more about! I’m not an expert, but am figuring out the adulting thing one step at a time. What would be most helpful to read about as an emerging adult? Let me know in a comment below, or on Twitter @ohgrowup! Thanks for reading, and happy adulting!

 

*Once again, sorry for the exceptionally rough cost estimate. The spices can be expensive, but everything else is reasonable and you only use a little of each spice.

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Calm the [bleep] down

Okay so we are 9 days out from my wedding (!!!), and while I am enormously excited, it seems like everything in my life decided to get really hecking busy at the exact same time. Literally all of ‘em. Work, wedding, the water leak in my apartment that turned into big holes cut in the drywall.

Luckily I’ve got great people around me and we are making do, making it happen, etc. in all areas. But that doesn’t make it magically not busy, or not stressful. Some of the things are worth getting a little worked up about. Last weekend was crammed with wedding stuff. Tuesday I woke up at about 7:10 and then remembered I had an 8 a.m. meeting at the office. Still, the adulting lesson I’ve been working on lately is that the stakes are lower for most of this than I often feel.

Being a Type A, organized-to-the-T, enneagram 1 person, my default mode is not what most would describe as overly chill. In a lot of ways, it’s really helpful. We’ve got a fairly intense Google Drive folder for the wedding, despite the constant stream of new adventures at work I manage to remain organized and at least decently on top of things, and I can usually find whatever I’m looking for in my apartment. The downside is that it feels like everything is urgent and that if it’s not done as perfectly as humanly possible, that the whole house of cards might come crashing down. Not exactly a recipe for relaxation.

Maybe I’ve finally started listening to my fiancé, or maybe I’m actually starting to grow up in this area, but lately I’ve been able to occasionally pause the stress, mentally lower the stakes, and calm down.

There is a balance that we each have to find of being chill/letting things happen and getting stuff done. But even when getting stuff done, not every single decision has to be fretted over and examined in excruciating detail. My job does not involve any life-or-death situations, so while there are a lot of urgent things going on right now, I do what I can, and then leave it be at the end of the day.

The wedding is very soon, and has involved a lot of big details and important decisions, but when it comes down to it, I’m just excited to celebrate with so many people I care about. The rest is icing.

Reminding myself that none of these situations include saving lives or rocket science — plus a few deep breaths and learning when to take a break — has proved incredibly helpful in the last few weeks, and I’m counting on it for the next 9 days.

Bonus thing that helps remind me to calm down is this scene in a show called Schitt’s Creek (seriously watch it if you haven’t yet) where David, one of the main characters is stressed out over potentially making a mistake and his sister Alexis just keeps telling him that no one cares. At first it seems flippant and dismissive, but he finally realizes that all she means is that it isn’t nearly as big of a deal as he believed it was, and therefore can finally relax and get through it. So on really crazy days you may occasionally hear me muttering, “No one cares, David” under my breath.

What helps you the most when everything starts to pile up? Let me know in a comment below, or on Twitter @ohgrowup! Thanks for reading, and good luck adulting!

 

P.S. I’m still going to try to get a post out next week, but after that I’ll be stepping away for 2-3 weeks while I’m on my honeymoon and actually relaxing, instead of just squeezing a little calm into the chaos.

(Photo is a free stock photo because just looking at it is like 10 minutes of deep breaths or the bliss of my weighted blanket.)

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Because Internet

This post is a smidge later than I’d hoped because once again the week has gotten away from me, but I’m really excited about it! After months of eager waiting, some pre-order funny business, and several weeks of stealing time to read, I finished Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch.

It is, seriously, my favorite nonfiction book I’ve read in a looooong time.* And I actually read a hearty helping of nonfiction. If you know me in real life and we’ve talked recently, you’ve probably heard me talk about this book. Funny enough, I considered writing a really similar book a couple years back, but am glad that McCulloch did because frankly she’s way more qualified.

Though this book doesn’t directly address adulting or emerging adulthood like when I discussed The Defining Decade, it breaks down a lot of the major topics of internet language. Because the internet has not only proliferated informal writing, but provided avenues to study it that didn’t previously exist, we can better understand — at least linguistically — how we make use of the tools at our digital disposal, and not just how we shape the tools, but how they influence us.

My favorite two themes from the book: 

Internet users, just like normal people, come in generations. However, I loved that McCulloch didn’t try to break it down by how we currently think about generations (Millennials, Gen X, and so on), but rather by when people came to the internet and what it was like when it first became a significant part of their lives.

I’m definitely a Post Internet person (as are most of my peers), but some of the differences that she highlighted in terms of trends between different generations of internet people illuminated behaviors and communication patterns that I’d previously found puzzling.

Written media doesn’t have to lack communication richness. This is my inner communication major coming out, but it used to drive me absolutely nuts when people would insist that text messages or other chat formats lacked media richness. In other words, that when you’re not here to see my gestures and hear my inflection, there’s no way for me to convey tone and other meaning beyond the literal words. I do that in text messages all the time!

There is, of course, room for misinterpretation. And it does require more effort to indicate sarcasm with punctuation or capitalization than it does to simply modulate my voice as I say a phrase, but it’s definitely possible. While I think this opportunity is one of the best offerings of modern technology, the book also points out that some of the communication mishaps (like whether a period at the end of a message indicates the sender is upset) are due to “generational” differences in both actual age and our relationship to the internet.

So if you are interested in linguistics, English, the internet, or even generational studies, I would enthusiastically recommend Because Internet. I am signing off this weekend to spend time with family, but will also be trying to squeeze in some more reading.

Book recommendations? Thoughts on how emerging adults can make use of the opportunities with internet language? Let me know in a comment below or on Twitter @ohgrowup! Thanks for reading, and happy adulting!

 

P.S. Please pardon the poor photo quality, my apartment is a bit dim and I didn’t want to wait for daylight haha.

*The usual disclaimer that, as always, I receive no compensation of any kind for discussing this book, and my opinions are entirely my own. Also a shoutout to Gretchen McCulloch for not only writing the book but dealing with all my excited tweets about it.

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I do not belong in a magazine

Full disclosure: I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve cried this week, despite two prescriptions acne is a constant companion, I am somehow neither a morning person or a night person, I have a witheringly small social circle, procrastination is melded into my daily life, I can barely stay awake long enough to read the last few pages of a book I’ve been excited about for months, and it feels like the piles of things I should have under control is growing faster than I can scramble to keep up.

Of course, there are lots of good things: I’ve been excelling at work, my wedding is coming up soon, there have been small moments for time with friends, and despite all my worries enough gets done each day that I make it to the next one. At the end of the day I’m still here and the sun still rises.

But it’s still really hard not to fall into the trap of feeling like I’m falling apart while everyone else is killing it. Objectively, that’s a misunderstanding, but it’s still an exceptionally difficult thought patter to get out of. Blame it on social media, celebrities, psychology, whatever you want. It’s been a problem for a lot of people for a long time and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

I would love to offer some poignant, timely answers on how I avoid getting stuck thinking that everyone’s got it together and I’m the only one falling behind. I don’t really have them this week.

This week has been more about gathering what energy I’ve got left to do the small things that make me feel more like me, whether that’s reading a bit, a bite of dessert, listening to a song or podcast I really enjoy, or asking for a hug when I feel a bit on my own. It’s also being aware of my mental state, and when it would be better for me to set something down or walk away instead of letting whatever apparently-picture-perfect thing sell me on the idea that I’m the only one who’s missing out.

It’s not an answer, but it has to be enough for now. I’m not sure what your week has handed you, but I hope this offers a little solidarity whenever you find yourself needing it.

As always, comments and questions welcome below or on Twitter @ohgrowup. Thanks for reading, and good luck adulting!

(Photo is a free stock image, because it’s a small, lovely thing growing in spite of it all.)

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When words are all we have for now

This last week, for me, has covered almost the full spectrum of joy and pain. It would feel disingenuous or disrespectful to focus on only the pain, or only the joy, of recent days. And I firmly believe that the only thing we can count on — the only thing I am sure life offers each of us — is the opportunity to know both, most often mixed together in a way that makes describing how we fully feel beyond the reach of everyday language.

The human condition seems to be that we harbor both love and hate, crave one but are drawn to the other, and that being a wildly social species we are both burdened and blessed to share that with others as well as have it shared with us.

I wish that as a kid, I had been given a better grasp on how shatteringly messy everything is. All the good and bad and kind-of-both are tied together, and that is the invisible, palpable truth we exist in. As an adult, I’m trying to not just acknowledge that, but make peace with it, while simultaneously working toward increasing the proportion of love in anything I share. Sometimes that love looks like joy, and sometimes it exists in pain.

When words fail, I tend to fall back on touch, hoping that it will say what I can’t seem to. But of course the medium of this blog makes a hand on your shoulder impossible, so we’re back to words. When words fail and they are still all I can offer, I fall back to poetry.

This poem* is one of my favorites, and holds the tension between the pain and the joy we’re faced with better than almost anything else I’ve encountered:

 

“On Kindness” by Aracelis Girmay

        after Nazim Hikmet, for & after Rassan

 

At the Detroit Metro Airport

with the turtle-hours to spare

between now & my flight, there is

such a thing as the kindness

of the conveyor belt who lends me

its slow, strange mollusk foot

as I stand quiet, exhausted, having been

alone in my bed for days now, sleeping

in hotels, having spent months, now,

without seeing the faces of my family, somehow

its slow & quiet carrying of the load

reminds me of the kindness of donkeys

& this kindness returns me to myself.

It reminds me of the kindness of other things I love

like the kindness of sisters who send mail,

wherever you are, &, speaking of mail, there is

the special kindness of the mail lady

who says, “Hi, baby” to everyone, at first

I thought it was just me, but now I know

she says “Hi, baby” to everyone. That is kindness.

Too, there is the kindness of windows, & of dogs.

& then there was that extraordinary Sunday

back at the house, I heard a woman screaming

about how she was lonely & so lonely

she didn’t know what she’d do, maybe kill

herself, she said, over & over like a parrot

in a cage, a parrot whose human parent

only taught it that one sentence. I looked out

the window & saw her from behind, the way she flung

her arms like she was desperate & being killed

or eaten by an invisible predator, like a tiger or a lion, in the chest.

& her voice seemed fogged out with methadone, I don’t know,

something, & I walked away from the window

& sat, angry with her for screaming, & sad,

& not long after, I heard her saying,

What’d you say? What’d you say to me?

& a man’s voice, low, I could not tell if it was kind.

& she said, I’ll kill myself, I’m so lonely.

& did I tell you, yet, that it was Mother’s Day?

Flowers & mothers, flowers & mothers all day long.

& the woman saying, I’m so lonely. I could kill myself.

& then quiet. & the man’s voice saying, It’s okay.

It’s okay. I love you, it’s okay.

 

& this made me get up, put my face, again, to the window

to see my landlord’s nephew outside, just hugging her so, as if

it were his mother, I mean, as if he belonged to her,

& then, again, quiet, I left the window but sat

in the silence of the house, hidden by shutters, & was amazed.

When the front door of the brownstone opened up

& let the tall nephew in with his sad & cougar eyes,

handsome & tall in his Carolina-Brooklyn swagger, I heard

him start to climb the stairs above me, & my own hand

opened up my own front door,

& though it was none of my business

I asked him, Do you know that women out there?

& do you know what happened next?

He said, No. The nephew said no, he didn’t know

the woman out there. & he told me Happy Mother’s Day

as he climbed the rest of the stairs. & I can’t stop seeing them

hugging on the street, under trees, it was spring, but cold,

& sometimes in the memory his head is touching hers

& sometimes in the memory his eyes are closed,

& sometimes she is holding him

& singing to him I love you. It’s okay.

I mean to tell you that everywhere I go

I hear us singing to each other. This way. I mean to tell you

that I have witnessed such great kindness as this,

in this, my true life, you must believe me.

I mean, on a Sunday, when nobody was supposed to be

watching. Nobody at all. I saw this happen, the two

of them hugging, when nobody was supposed to be

watching, but not a secret either, public

as the street, not for glory & not for a joke,

the landlord’s nephew ready to stand there for the woman

like a brother or a sister or a husband or son,

or none of these at all, but a stranger,

a stranger, who like her, is an earthling.

Perhaps this thing I am calling kindness

is more simple than kindness, rather, recognition

of the neighbor & the blue, shared earth

& the common circumstance of being here:

what remains living of the last

two million, impossible years…

 

Hopefully today we can help each other be a little more human, and find peace in that. For more thoughts like this or a bunch that aren’t, leave a comment below or on Twitter @ohgrowup. Thanks for reading, and good luck adulting.

 

* Note that this poem is “On Kindness”, from KINGDOM ANIMALIA by Aracelis Girmay, copyright © 2011 by Aracelis Girmay. I don’t own or have any rights to the poem, but first discovered it via The Slowdown.