Generosity: Anonymous or not

Sometimes we all want to hear a story about humanity that reminds us that there are good people out there. I have two for you today. Hopefully it helps to make the world feel kinder, especially with all the crap on social media today between the Presidential candidates, Syria, and oh I could go on.

This story is about a woman who quickly got on an American Airlines flight (with her 3 month old baby) to see her mom, who had a stroke and was told by nurses she might not wake up. After sitting on the plane, they were told that due to maintenance, the flight was cancelled. The woman on the plane next to her heard her talking and crying to her husband, and told her she was not going to leave her until she was on a plane to Orlando to see her mom.

After finally figuring out that Southwest had a $400 flight to Orlando, the woman who would not leave her was adamant that she was going to pay for the flight — that it was her Thanksgiving and Christmas gift to her. Wow. A perfect stranger. The woman was able to get on the flight and see her mom that night. The Southwest agent also sent her an email checking in on her and giving her the contact information of the woman who purchased the ticket. So amazing — it warms my heart to know that there are people in this world that are so kind and so generous. Read the full story here.

My next “wow” moment this week was reading about an anonymous donor paying $106,000 in layaways at 2 Ohio Walmart stores. The article states: “Items on layaway included toys, 70-inch televisions and even a pair of socks.” I did not know that stores still offered layaway, but it makes it so that someone can dote on others in a big or small way, much like someone might pay for the car behind them in a drive thru Starbucks.

People really are kind. They really do care. Whether you end up meeting the person that is generous or whether it remains anonymous, it brings all the goodness front and center to the muck that sometimes permeates the news and social media. Pay it forward.

Digital Girl Scout Cookies: Good or Bad?

I was a die-hard Girl Scout. Yes, I enjoyed the campouts, badge earning, and other activities — but my favorite time of year was selling Girl Scout cookies. I am extremely competitive, and each year I would challenge myself to do better than the prior year. No one put me up to it. My parents did not pressure me or push me to sell a specific number of boxes. They also did not reward me for my achievement. It was my own crazy self that worked my ass off to do more than I ever had.

One year, one of the prizes from the local community of Girl Scout troops was a 10-speed bike. I did not have a 10-speed and wanted one badly. I knew it would take a lot of babysitting and tips from my paper route to be able to purchase that bike, not to mention selling my parents on my spending my hard-earned money. The next best way to ensure I had that bike was to sell the number of boxes required to win the bike — and I did.

A different year there was a trip to an amusement park in Ohio. I had been a few times on school trips, and absolutely loved amusement parks, so of course it was on my list to win a trip. I had my goals in mind and I made sure I met them, however crazy I was to find ways to sell boxes. Since I lived on the edge of a University campus, I would go to fraternity houses, their student center, apartment complexes, and dorms, not to mention door-to-door in my entire neighborhood to sell as many boxes as possible. I learned a lot — specifically on how to cater my communication and language to the person on the other side of the door, or the one with cash in their hands. I learned how to warm up my audience, be cute when needed, or spout off the benefits of the different types of cookies – whatever I could do to make sure they walked away with boxes of cookies in their hands.

So when I found out that Girl Scout cookies have gone online, I had mixed feelings. Girl Scouts will now be able to take credit cards and transact business via an app online. They can have family and friends in other parts of the country place an order through their specific online webpage. Here is why I have mixed feelings — yes they learn business techniques for 2015, online sales, webpages, social media, and credit cards, but I feel a lot is lost. It feels much like what happens when parents sell for their kids at work, but their kids never have to do a thing. How is that good for the kid? My parents did not sell a box for me. I sold every single one.

With selling cookies now online, I fear that kids will no longer know how to make change, do math in their heads as buyers put them on the spot with questions, and my largest concern is that they have now taken the human side out of selling cookies. Maybe I am old school, but I feel that the learning experience has dwindled for these girls.

What do you think?

Bae, bae, bae…

I am getting old. I kept seeing this word show up on social media #bae and yes, I had no idea what it meant. So of course I googled it:

“Bae,” Urban Dictionary says, is an acronym that stands for “before anyone else,” or a shortened version of baby or babe, another word for sweetie, and, mostly unrelated, poop in Danish. Jul 25, 2014

Okay. I get the “before anyone else” and I also actually love that it is also “poop” in Danish. How do these urban words start? This one is also in the name of a Pharrell Williams song: “Come Get It Bae.” I guess I missed that one when it came out. I tried to listen to it as I wrote this blog post and it did nothing for me. In the last year there have been articles from Esquire and Time, and many other online magazines asking the same question I am, only I am a year too late.

I am definitely getting old. I am not one to call Chris my baby or babe anyways, so maybe that is another reason it does not strike me, and yes I am no longer in my twenties. Over time I have come to the realization that I am a: “say-what-you-mean-in-a-direct-way” kind of woman. Just say it. Just like you mean it. No fluff. No shortened social media acronym. Why should I try to guess what you mean? Am I making myself any younger?

Maybe I will just resort to using it when I tell Chris “I need to bae, bae” aka: “I need to poop, babe.” Let him figure out what I mean. Ha.

Don’t make me think…

We have become a culture of easy, quick, right at your fingertips. The iPhone has changed the way we look at the world, what we expect, and how we expect to consume information, apps, and really anything that is easily accessible.

On my flight back from Shanghai I finished reading a book called: “Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability” by Steve Klug. I love the title of his book as it is spot on. I would rather frequent a website that does not make me hunt and peck for the information I need. Obviously there are plenty of websites that you do not have a choice and have to use. Your banking, credit card, local water company or trash service website all mean you either call them or get what you get on their website.

I am still always in awe of how quickly smartphones, the web, and apps have made it that we do a zillion things all within a tiny little device. I remember maybe 5 years ago, I was still using an old school flip phone that did not even have a camera, while Chris had a Razr phone. At the time the Razr was so slim and such a big deal. Eventually I upgraded from my old school phone to an iPhone 3 and well, my life was just never the same. Klug explains this well in this comment:

“Just consider how many things the smartphone allowed you to carry in your pocket or purse at all times: a camera (still and video, and for many people, the best one they’d ever owned), a GPS with maps of the whole world, a watch, an alarm clock, all of your photos and music, etc., etc.” page 144

Think about how much you do on a daily basis on your phone. How many people do you communicate with daily, hourly, each minute? How many pictures and videos do you take and share? How often do you check your stocks? The news? How many games do you play? How often do you interact with social media? How much do you manage your finances right from your phone? Do you check the weather daily? Get directions to that new restaurant? Listen to music? Track your flight? Surf the Internet? Do you manage your life, grocery, and errand lists on your phone? Oh, and the old school part of it all, how often do you even use your phone to talk to someone?

Later Klug says:

“And think about the fact that for most people in emerging countries, in the same way they bypassed landlines and went straight to cellphones, the smartphone is their first—and only—computer.” page 144

It would blow my mind if my cellphone was my first computer. That would be like driving from zero to 100 in seconds. We have become so picky about user interface. We want easy, clean, and simple. The great part is that most of the time we have access to so many options. The even better news is that our options are only going to get better and better. Allowing us to do so many things on autopilot without having to think. With great design our lives become that much easier. My only concern is that we do not lose our capacity to think critically.

A writer, a scientist, a talker

A good friend shared this quote recently via social media, and it was a reminder to me to keep writing. You know those days when you say: “why am I still doing this?” Lots of things in our life take time, and sometimes that means time away from our family, friends, work. Each activity can be a sacrifice to not be doing something or being with someone else. Sometimes my blog has been that for me. At other times I wonder why I write at all. The quote my friend shared was from Chris Guillebeau:

“That’s the promise: you will live more curiously if you write. You will become a scientist, if not of the natural world than of whatever world you care about. More of that world will pop alive. You will see more when you look at it.

Writing needn’t be a formal enterprise to have this effect. You don’t have to write well. You don’t even have to “write,” exactly—you can just talk onto the page.”

I have read his book “The Art of Non-Conformity” and have a hold on his most recent book “The Happiness of Pursuit” which came out in early September. I loved the idea of being a scientist. I am like that each day when I blog. I start out by reviewing ideas and notes from my day. Sometimes I am sparked by something someone said. A conversation with a colleague, family member, or my better half. Other times it is an article I read, a video I watched, or some idea that was shared via social media.

However I came across the idea, I dig a little deeper to find out if my fingers will start to tap away. If they do, I see where the idea goes. I have almost two hundred draft posts in different stages of completion. Often I start a post and find that there is no ending, so I leave it and try another idea. Sometimes I go back to those older posts and find that I have an ending, and the writing comes alive for me again.

Be a scientist. Curious, raw, and alive.