Shock ’em

Last week I found this quote on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Instagram feed:

“Make it happen. Shock every single one of them.”

Think about it. What if we went through our day and thought how am I going to shock someone today? Much of the time we try to just make it through the day, but what if we raised the bar and made things happen? What if we went into each meeting or presentation and were completely focused and wowed folks because we pulled it off? What if we did the impossible? Or maybe it is not even impossible — maybe it is just something that left a wow factor. It could be the smallest, slightest moment that left a mark and was remembered.

The funny thing is the moments that are remembered are often the ones that are actually easy and often free to pull off. You might have made an effort to actually listen and remember key details from someone’s life. You asked about it the next time you see that individual. So easy, and just requires pure listening, and yet it has such an impact. I always notice when someone has taken the time to get to know me and then later (sometimes even months later) remembers a piece of our conversation. I try to do the same to others, but it is hard when you go from meeting to meeting all day. And yet, doing so shows true connection, relationship building, and care.

I am a get-it-done woman. I rarely let anything stand in my way. As Chris would say to me, “There is no changing your mind when you have made a decision you are going to do something.” He is right. I like to approach life with conviction, persistence, and, as I often say, by sucking the life out of each day. I want to bring that same zeal when shocking and wowing others. Think of all the times you have been wowed by amazing customer service, by friends and family who surprise you, or a stranger that does a random act of kindness. The key ingredient: someone showing you they care.

Shock the hell out of them.

Surprise tactics

How often in life are you surprised? Once a month? Once a day? Do people easily shock you? There is a little part of each of us that loves to be shocked and in awe. Whether it is our husband that is capable of keeping a secret, our closest friend, or sister — not having a clue something is going to happen can sometimes be an amazing thing.

I have the hardest time keeping a secret from Chris (that should be a good thing). We talk about everything, and sometimes it is hard to keep my excitement inside or hidden from him. I am crazy transparent so he can probably pick up on the fact that I am hiding something. Take for example his 30th birthday. I wanted to surprise him and take him to San Francisco for a week. I could not keep it inside and I wanted to plan the trip with him and let him research a bit of what he might want to do. A week before we were to leave I decided to tell him — I could not resist! I wrapped a box of Rice-a-Roni (you know “A San Francisco treat.”) and my secret was finally out.

Somehow though Chris loves giving me the element of surprise and he enjoys the shock value it leaves. He can easily plan things and not tell me because he knows timing can be the perfect way to surprise someone, especially me. He is good. What if the many companies we are patrons of shocked and surprised us? Many companies do not even come close, so the smallest detail could result in a surprised and happy customer. How often are you surprised by a company? It is nice when it happens. It makes the experience more memorable.

I am going to hone my surprise tactics. Just you wait, Chris. Just you wait.

Even two acts of kindness could not cure my crankiness

It was so nice to have a long weekend. Somehow we got plenty done, did some fun things, caught up with friends and family, and had some naps dabbled within all that. Saturday we napped in the late afternoon (so nice)! Saturday night I fell asleep snuggled on Chris’ nap, and then Sunday we had brunch and I curled up next to him on the couch for a snooze, only to find out my snuggling with him made him fall asleep sitting up. Ah, how nice naps are for adults.

It was an interesting weekend, on Sunday I was quite cranky, and then two random acts of kindness happened to me (and yet I was still cranky). The first happened at the Starbucks drive-thru. I was very thirsty, as all weekend it was between 97-102 degrees which almost never happens in Portland, and definitely not before July 4th. Usually we are just hoping for a slightly warm and dry 4th. This year we got dry and hot-as-hell too. Chris and I spent most of our time in our bedroom where we have air conditioning.

So back to the random acts of kindness at Starbucks. When we got up to the window to pay, the girl at the window said, “The woman in the car ahead of you paid for your drink.” Wow. I always hear of that happening, but it has never happened to me (that I can remember). It makes me want to pay it forward the next time I am at Starbucks. You would have thought that would have lightened my mood. It made me grateful and appreciative, but nonetheless I was still cranky.

Random act of kindness #2. We were at Sephora. Not my favorite place in the world. It was loud, (and remember I was cranky). The line was long and I was done with my errands and just wanted to go home. As I am next in line at the register, the girl who had just paid turns to me and says, “Would you like to use the rest of this gift card? There is only a dollar left.” I was a bit taken aback. Sure, it was only a dollar, but she did not have to pass it on. Most people would keep it until their next purchase. Of course, she might dislike the store as much as me, and hope not to go back. In any case, I think I was a bit shocked at the second act of kindness in one day. I mumbled a “thanks” and continued with my purchase. Later, though I felt like my shock meant I did not share my gratitude in the best of ways. Sure, it was a dollar, but sharing is sharing.

This was my story of the kindness that was shared with me yesterday, now it is my turn to pass on the love. Join me?

I love you, I love you, I love you…

I remember back in the day (about 12 + years ago) when Chris and I were saying our first “I love you’s.” We were both a bit timid to say it after being burned in relationships of the past. I remember the first time he said it to me over dinner in a restaurant in Boston. He said: “I think I love you.” At the time I did not know him well enough as I do today to tease him for that comment (although I tease him about it today). At that moment, I felt those tingly feelings that you feel the first time the word love spews out of someone’s mouth. I did not want to say anything that might make him take it back, because I felt the same way.

The only difference is I was not used to saying those words in my life. They were not often said in my house, and at a certain point my parents were so involved in their own life dramas of illness, poverty, and depression that whether I was told “I love you” or not did not filter into their day as top of the importance list. What I do not remember about that night in Boston is if I said it back, and Chris does not remember either. He was probably in a state of shock that he said those words to me.

Gradually we said it more and more and it became a natural part of our interaction. I think there was probably a time early on where I did not say it too much for fear of scaring him away. Eventually you get over that learning curve and realize how important it is to say what you mean so deeply. We tell each other every day, sometimes many, many times. I chuckled at the end of a work day a few weeks ago. I called Chris to tell him I was ready to be picked up (we carpool) and he said: “On my way. Love you.” I found it funny because I was going to see him only moments later, and yet he said what he was feeling in that moment. That is just the way it should be.

Call me sappy, or addicted or whooped (I am all of those things) for my husband, but I want to make sure that he never forgets how I feel, and I never take for granted that he knows. Saying “I love you” is #3 on a list in this Huffington Post article: “13 Simple Tricks To A Long And Happy Marriage.” I have to say I absolutely agree with the 12 other items on the list and that they contribute to a happy marriage. Especially being best friends, honesty, and cherishing each other.

Remember to say: “I love you” and mean it.