Make it Count: How Being Nicer Makes a Huge Difference

Last week was rough. I just had a string of bad luck that ended in scratching the heck (excuse my French) out of my brand new, leased car’s bumper as well as that of a Mr. Joe’s, and fraud on my debit card (for like the fifth time this year! Get it together Bank of America!).

Anyways, already having had a stressful week where I swear it started to feel like the universe was trying to push me down to the ground, I got home from work on Thursday night excited to head to Starbucks and work on my motivational eBook series (writing makes me feel alive). I parked my car, and noticing it was a tight spot, decided to move it elsewhere so I wouldn’t get hit later on. I had no idea I was on top of car in front of me, and scraaaaaaaaaaaatch I went. Once re-parked, I got out and there it was – huge scratches all along the right side of my bumper. I guess this Florida girl is still having a little trouble with this parallel parking deal!

Now as you might recall from my post From STRESS to STRENGTH in 24 hours, this car is a stressor in and of itself because I had to lease it after my beloved 2006 Jetta went caput on me a few months ago. And now, I had defaced (OK, maybe defaced is a little exaggerated) the poor thing that I do not even own.  I was flustered and feeling defeated, and could not seem to spot the car I had hit, so I decided to just go to Starbucks to write and deal with it later.

When I returned home that night, I decided to peek around the street and see if I could more calmly point out the car. I remembered it was blue, and walked up and down the street until I thought I spotted it. I looked at the back, and there it was – a huge scratch on the back bumper of what also seemed to be a new car.

I was scared, but I went up to my apartment, dug out my little crate of random stationary cards and stickers (yes, I am that girl), and wrote this note, complete with sticker bouquet, and walked outside to place it on the car’s windshield.

Being Nicer Makes a Huge Difference

I imagined I’d get a very angry phone call, but I would want it done for me, so I did it anyway. I went to bed with a heavy mind, stressing about money more so than I do on any usual night (and that’s a lot). Two days passed, and there was no phone call. I thought maybe they had just let it go. Then yesterday I received a very nice voicemail from a Mr. Joe. He was incredibly appreciative of the card, thanked me for my honesty and asked that I please return his call to work it out.

When I called him back he was so understanding and said that card (because it wasn’t even just a piece of paper) was enough to make his day. I apologized again, and we decided on a plan of action.

So in light of hateful things like the recent outpouring of hate about an Indian-American Miss America, I urge you to be NICE, honest and collaborative. Because no matter what anyone says, I wholeheartedly believe being nicer makes a huge difference, and it really has done so in my life. If we could all just work to show each other a little more respect, love and kindness each day, imagine how much better off we could be. Take the time to connect with others. Put a little extra effort into your communication with folks. And don’t underestimate the power of a little stationary and sticker action – being just a little nicer and more creative about our interactions goes a long way my friends!

Sure I will have to spend money on fixing this gentleman’s car and that will undoubtedly stress me out, but I can sleep at night knowing I did the right thing, and we will get it done in a positive manner instead of through arguments and blame. Look at that. Just by being nicer, I was able to minimize his stress and my own.

Also, I realize I am lucky to even have a new car or a bank account to stress about. That is also something to keep in mind. When you’re having a bad time, take a minute to really put your problems in perspective. It really helps me simmer down, and I believe it can do the same for you.

And as I always like to say, let’s work together, not against each other. Just a little food for Monday thought.

Sonia, Word Share Junkie

A Testament to the Power of a Positive Attitude

The Power of a Positive Attitude

I love positive people and positive attitudes. I really do. Every time I come across one, I feel reinvigorated to spread my Care Bears attitude around even more, and follow what I believe to be my calling as a motivator of the masses (well one day). Each time I meet an exceptionally positive person who I see CHOOSING to maintain a positive attitude, I also start to think maybe I am not crazy after all. Maybe there’s lots of people out there just like me trying to prove the devil is a liar, and smiling through life, trying to make the world a better place for themselves and for others.

This brings me to my Zumba instructor Wanda, someone who I believe is a true testament to the power of a positive attitude. Wanda teaches Zumba at the L.A. Fitness I go to in Evanston, IL on Tuesday evenings. She’s this vibrant, brightly dressed, petite woman with great, wild, curly hair, and a smile that is a bigger and more powerful than her whole person.

Most days, positive attitude and all, it’s hard for me to get to the gym after long, grueling days at work, but lately, Tuesdays are actually hard for me to miss. No matter what kind of day I’ve had, I know Wanda, her contagious smile and that life-line giving Zumba music will take my mood up a notch or maybe even 10. And it’s not just me.

At the beginning of every class, everyone looks tired, stressed and tense. Very little remnants of any positive attitude can be seen anywhere in the room. Those who are in class for the first time have frightened looks in their eyes. How hard will this class be? Will this woman be a tyrant and try to kill us all (through hardcore exercise of course)? But then, probably no more than five minutes into class, the faces around me start to soften and the smiles begin to get wide.

Wanda’s positive spirit and happy demeanor is incredibly contagious, and it helps everyone forget that their legs, feet and entire bodies are hurting from the intense workout. Sometimes, when the music player in the fitness studio doesn’t work, Wanda makes up her own songs and keeps us all on track. She too says the devil is a liar, and she can make her own way, and I totally agree with her. Now that is a great testament to the power of a positive attitude!

I am inspired by Wanda. She teaches Zumba and has been doing so for many years, but in my eyes, she does so much more than that. To me, she uses her talent to bring cheer to others, while also helping them to strengthen their bodies, and more than with her knowledge of fitness or all the latest Zumba moves, she accomplishes this through a positive attitude and outlook on life.

So today, let’s all try and be a little more like Wanda, and smile at each other, dance and sing to the beat of our own tune, and when something doesn’t work, let’s find a different way to get there. Pick up that positive attitude I know you have inside of you, and run like hell with it! 

Sonia, Word Share Junkie

Live More Life

Image

You know me. I’m always thinking, scheming, wondering where I will find my next adventure. And, ever since I came back from my way-too-short vacation in beautiful San Juan, Puerto Rico I’ve been thinking a lot about my desire to live more life.

I think I really make an effort every day to do more, feel more, connect more, but I’m never really satiated. I keep reminding myself that living more life is not necessarily about more money, more traveling or fancier possessions. It’s about being incredibly present in your every day, and connecting with your surroundings; learning to derive great pleasure from small coincidences and a great cup of coffee, a new experience or just a sunny day.

In that vein, I thought I’d do something I rarely do anymore, and would really love to get back into more. That’s right. I whipped up a little poem about living more life. I hope it will feed you a spoonful of inspiration today, or at least that you won’t think it’s terrible! Here it goes ya’ll.

I want to live more life.
I want to breathe richer air, and always push to be fair.
I want to reach just a little higher. Add flame, not water, to my fire.
I want to harvest more passion that I can handle. Let it take me farther.
I want to live more life.

I want to live more life.
I never want to settle for just good enough. Giving up makes life too unbearably rough.
I wouldn’t dare put a muzzle on my dreams. It’s they that keep me alive it seems.
Listening to naysayers just isn’t my style. Just let them talk for a while.
I want to live more life.

I want to live more life.
Make some small difference in people’s lives. Sounds corny, right?
I want to be more than just regular. I’ve always felt a little bit special.
I want to give myself more chances than most people think they deserve.
I want to live more life.

I want to live more life.
Express more, connect more, feel more. I want to be so human it hurts.
I don’t want to hide from the struggle. I want to go out and fight it with grandeur.
I want to experience more, take more risks. Fall down and get back up again enough times to know I’ve lived more life.
You get me?
I just want to live more life.

Sonia, Word Share Junkie

Color Me Stoked: Versatile Blogger Award!

Versatile Blogger Award

This week has been great overall. Tomorrow is my 29th birthday (GASP, I’m almost 30!), and I’m headed to Puerto Ricoooo. This past weekend I had birthday brunches and dinners with great friends, received beautiful flowers and thoughtful presents, and I even got to enjoy some great feel-it-in-my-heart Spanish music at a Cuban festival in a big, beautiful park here in Chicago. Then today, my sweet coworkers took me out for a great lunch. Could it get any better? Yes it can! This week I was also given my first blogging award by my wonderful follower and fellow blogger, Michele Anderson.

I am so honored to be recognized with this award because this blog, although I don’t spend as much time as I’d like to on it because of work, work, work and other responsibilities, means SO, SO much to me. To feel that my work is enjoyed and appreciated, and that my message of positivity and motivated living is making some small impact is like a dream come true for me. So, thank you Michele!! You’ve made my week a ton more special with this honor!

Now as the award asks (check out the rules here), here are seven things about me that you might not already know:

  1. I like olives in my apple martinis and usually get a lot of grief for it. Apparently apples and olives are not supposed to be friends!
  2. I didn’t get my drivers’ license until I was 20 years old.
  3. My beautiful little sister is 17 years younger than me and from the same parents!
  4. I have no middle name. Strange, right?
  5. I was born and raised in the U.S., but I’ve traveled to Cuba to visit family twice.
  6. I’ve been writing poetry, short stories, songs and everything you can imagine since I was about 10 years old. Sometimes I go back and read these things, especially the love poems, and I think wow, that’s a lot of emotion for a 10-year-old!
  7. I think and dream in Spanglish.

Now, also in keeping with the award rules, here are 15 bloggers (although there are many more) I think are awesome and am awarding the Versatile Blogger Award to:

  1. The Positivity Blog 
  2. Tough Motivation 
  3. Kindness girl 
  4. Everyday Power 
  5. Project Light to Life 
  6. A Hot Cup of Love 
  7. The Better Man Project 
  8. Girl on the Contrary 
  9. In Her Words Avenue 
  10. A Thousand Shades of Gray 
  11. Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane 
  12. In Search of it All 
  13. One Web Strategy 
  14. The PhotoBook 
  15. My Name is Not Bob 

OK, now I’m off to pack for Puerto Rico, so I can get my sun, beach and relaxation on!! Have a wonderful night and a positively positive week ahead.  I am feeling incredibly grateful and hopeful today, and I hope you are too!

Sonia, Word Share Junkie

Life Lessons Over Vodka: My Lowest Point

Vodka Lessons: My Lowest Point

Last week I met up for dinner with an old friend I hadn’t seen in probably over five years, and in true Sonia style, I found great connection in our conversation. I also walked away with a little learnin’, reassurance, and an invigorated sense of my HAPPY. Today, I’d like to pay that encounter forward, and share a little motivation lovin’ with you on this manic Monday morning. 

One of the first things that really hit me during that conversation over drinks and pizza, was a sudden, jubilated, “You just look happy!” Every single time I hear that statement, I’m taken aback for a second, especially when it comes from someone who knew me in my not-so-Positive-Patty days. It reminds me how far I’ve come in my journey through depression, anxiety and insecurity, and reinvigorates my passion to help other not-so-happy folks hear that same statement from an old friend some day. It should also be a lesson that it is very possible, that things do get better if you put a little effort into this life business, and that your lowest points are simply lessons that make the high points that much more delicious.

And speaking of your lowest points, my dinner buddy reminded me of a very important little morsel of wisdom that has proved crucial to staying on the right track to positivity and smiles. I can’t remember the exact quote or who he mentioned it came from, but I think the general gist will do you a great deal of good.

The basic concept is to always remember your lowest point; that point where you really felt like you could not go on, like things were just never going to get better, like the world was in a race to get you, and get you good. Then remember, the next day, the next month or even the next year, when you felt better, when things started to turn around a little, and when you survived. If you got through that, you can get through anything. So when you’re feeling a little low, lost or just overwhelmingly confused, remember that time you got through it, and remind yourself that you will undoubtedly do it again. That’s the thing about life. It always goes on, and so do you; happier stronger and wiser every time.

I remember my lowest point, always, and I keep it close to my heart even on my best days. I remember sitting on my bed in my pool house, efficiency apartment in Miami, rocking back and forth, feeling like a total lunatic, holding my rosary tightly, crying, saying over and over again in a muffled whisper, “I can’t do this anymore. Please help me.”

Dang, that was almost hard to write, and sure brought the old knot to the throat pretty fast, but hey, it’s important. If I got through that – truly my lowest point – to a place where people can actually just look at me and see my HAPPY radiating from my face, then I can make it through anything. And, so can you! If my lowest point can fuel me, it can do the same for you.

I hope that helps with whatever you might be dealing with today. And remember, just keep swimming, smiling and shining! I do, because the great thing about my lowest point, is there’s only one way to go from there – UP! 

Love,
Sonia, Word Share Junkie

Truth on the Table: Staying True to Yourself

Staying True to YourselfWoo doggie! It’s shaping up to be a very busy week, and only getting busier. But no matter how busy I get, I can’t shake the itch to share at least a small morsel of wisdom with you each week, so today I will share some very special and almost life-changing advice I recently received. There’s a table, some people, a little conversation, and a lot of very important hold-on-to-your-truth action, and it goes a little something like this.

Each day we have numerous encounters with other people, at work, at home, and out in the world. In these daily interactions, there is often a lot of competing truths each trying to make their point. From this, a sort-of battle for energy ensues, where one person or group of people is usually trying to prove they’re right or make a point.

So envision this table I spoke of earlier. It is sitting there, right between you and whoever is on the other side of any particular interaction. During the interaction, that person or group of people will lay some stuff out on that table. This could be praises, judgments, ideas of what’s wrong and right in general, and what’s wrong and right about you, etc. Then, you are probably going to do the same, and lay your share of thoughts and beliefs out on that very same table for the opposing side.

And here’s where that hold-on-to-your-truth action comes in. This is where you have to realize that you are never obligated to accept everything that is placed upon that table for you, just as the other side is not obligated to do so. You can take the bits and pieces that make sense to you and align with your particular truth, and leave the rest. In other words, you never have to accept what others think of you. You know who you are, what you believe in, and what makes sense for you and your life, a.k.a. your truth, and that is the only thing that really matters. That is what you have to be loyal to, always. That’s if you want any real chance at some delicious HAPPY, of course.

If we were to let every interaction we come across make us question our truth, or even worse, attempt to change it, we’d be left miserable and completely unsatisfied in a pursuit to constantly be approved by everyone else (practically impossible), instead of by the person who matters most to your general well-being, YOU.

And that’s what I have for ya today. Wasn’t that short, sweet, and things-that-make-you-go-hmm-tastic? I thought so. Have a positively positive week, and remember staying true to yourself is always the way to go!

Love,
Sonia, Word Share Junkie

© Krasimiranevenova | Dreamstime.comWhat\’s Your Story Concept Photo

Kindness Counts: 9 Tips for a Kinder Existence

Kindness Counts

Every day, I pay attention. In fact, I probably pay more attention to every minute detail of my surroundings and social interactions than my brain and heart can really handle sometimes.  One thing that I catch myself paying extra, special, focused attention to is people’s attitudes. I notice when people are kind, even if just in tiny, little, minuscule ways, and it always, always, without fail, gives me a little boost, a little pep in my step, and a great big smile.

Then there are the times when I pick up on a more negative energy; attitudes that feel more like quick, sharp bee stings.  Sometimes it’s really subtle – a slightly irritated or condescending tone of voice, a less than pleasant look, or an off-putting gesture. I imagine people often don’t even realize they are being a little on the jerky side, or how their energy might affect others around them. But me? I notice. That’s just Sonia. I’m sensitive to people’s energy, and I pick up on that stuff. I think a lot of us do.

Enter the topic of kindness which I haven’t visited in a bit. I believe with everything I have that there is always a positive way to have a conversation, even when it involves a tough or controversial topic. I believe there is always a small gesture you can make to help someone feel more comfortable, always a positive way to tackle a situation, always a small way to be kind, and rarely a thoroughly good reason to be a dick. Yes, I said it.

In that vein, here are nine small, but meaningful ways to live a kinder existence.

Kindness Counts Tip #1: SMILE!

Whether it’s at a homeless person on the corner, your neighbor, the cashier at your grocery store, a fussy child, your co-worker, just SMILE! It’s free, it’s easy, and trust me, it makes a sizable difference. Most of us just want to be acknowledged, and there is no better way to acknowledge someone and their humanity, than through a great, big CHEESE.

Kindness Counts Tip #2: Show appreciation.

Take time to thank those who contribute to your life (made you laugh, did you a favor, offered advice), whether that’s  a mentor, a friend, a nurse, the bar tender at your favorite spot, an old professor, a family member, anyone. Maybe it’s just an actual “thank you” and a smile, maybe it’s a thank-you note, or a small treat. It might take you five minutes of energy, but it will give someone else a whole day’s worth of warmth.

Kindness Counts Tip #3: Respect others.

We are all different – complete with our quirks, our bad days, and our likes and dislikes. But we all contribute in our own very special way, and I believe we should respect what everyone has to offer. Never make people feel they are less than you. Never talk down to people. Never ignore them. Try to find a happy medium between what you bring to the table and what they bring, knowing neither is better than the other, just different, and equally as valuable.

Kindness Counts Tip #4: Listen.

People want to be heard. Hell, people NEED to be heard. Even if you don’t agree, just listen. Give people a turn, and then talk. Give others the opportunity to let go of what weighs on their hearts and minds. Then when they have what they need, they’ll turn and listen to you. Don’t shun people out because what they are saying is not what you want to hear. Just listen.

Kindness Counts Tip #5: Apologize.

Hey, screw up much? Of course you do. We all do, and that’s A OK! Practice self-awareness. Realize when you’ve made a bad choice, offended someone, hurt some feelings, and apologize. People are pretty easy, folks. They just want to have their feelings validated. They don’t actually want to hold on to grudges. They just want to hear you’re sorry. Screw up, own up to it, apologize, and move on. Screw up, hold on to that pride like a kid to a chocolate bar, make the situation worse, and dwell. Easy choice, I’d say.

Kindness Counts Tip #6: Be honest.

Clearly, there is a place and a time for brutal honesty, and you can’t always go around telling everyone exactly how you feel. Plus, being honest doesn’t equate to being a jerk. Instead, just be as honest as you can as often as possible. Especially in situations where people are reaching out to you, asking you straight out how you feel, give them the answer they deserve, the honest one. Don’t beat around that old tired bush, just come out with it. Don’t lead folks on, or tell them what you think they want to hear. That ends up hurting a lot more in the long run, every time. And hey, some people might not like what you have to say, but in the end, they will always find a way to respect it.

Kindness Counts Tip #7: Build spirits up. Don’t tear them down.

Give compliments where compliments are due. Encourage people. Support them. Help them wherever and however you can. Again, SMILE! Don’t interrogate. Don’t search for flaws. Search for good qualities. See the good in people. Forgive. Give chances. Stay positive. Don’t hurl insults at every turn, even when they are hurled violently at you.

Kindness Counts Tip #8: Don’t let ‘em harden you.

OK. So you’re throwing out all the kindness you can muster, and you are still getting nasty attitudes, rude comments, and harsh dismissals. So what? If we give into that, we only perpetuate the ugly little cycle. Be nice even when others are not. Be the positive light in Negative Alley. Don’t let ‘em harden you. The right people will appreciate it, and the harder ones? Well, sooner or later, if you just keep pushin’ through kindness, you’ll strike a chord, and soften them right up! Negative or angry people are not bad people. They just need your kindness the most.

Kindness Counts Tip #9: Be humble.

No matter what you achieve in life, what faraway lands you might travel to, how great your possessions and accolades might be, stay humble. Always remember the path you took to get there. Remember the bad days when the good days come. Remember those who helped you along the way. Never start to think you’re better than anyone. Know that things can always change. Appreciate, love and share kindness. Don’t get cocky, and don’t you ever dare think you have nothing left to learn.

Sonia, Word Share Junkie

Even the Hopeless Have Hope

Hope

This weekend was a true lesson in hope for me, and I want to share it with you. After all, anything that can strike a little hope in your heart seems especially fitting this week after the nauseating events that took place at the Boston Marathon yesterday afternoon.  So here it goes.

On Saturday, I spent a few hours (ended up feeling more like five minutes) volunteering with a church program called Youth Lounge. Please note that whether you believe in church or religion is not the point here at all, so regardless of your beliefs, I urge you to read on. Anyhoo, I had been searching for a volunteer opportunity for a while now, and this really seemed like the perfect fit. I felt that my positive energy and optimistic attitude could help uplift these young people and inspire a little hope in them. I never thought they would do the same and more for me.

Youth Lounge essentially provides a safe space for homeless and at-risk youth in Chicago’s Lakeview community. A majority of these teenagers and young adults identify as LGBTQ, 90 percent of them are people of color and a little over half of them are homeless. Youth Lounge is put on by Broadway United Methodist Church volunteers twice a month on the second and fourth Saturdays, and provides a home cooked meal, activities and a loving environment for these struggling youth.

This particular Saturday was my first time volunteering with the group, and as a hyper emotional person, I was afraid. I was afraid to unintentionally make it about me. I was afraid to make these kids feel as though I felt sorry for them or looked down on them in any way. And as they started walking in the door, many of them with luggage and bags in tote, the tears began to well up in my eyes. I took deep breathes, and kept telling myself, you have to smile, this is not about you, they need your HAPPY.

Little by little, I completely forgot about my tears, and began to be inspired by them. Here they were, so young, many with no place to live, no safe environment to trust, and yet they were so luminous. Many of them knew each other and ran to one another in warm embraces. Many also made jokes and were happy to see the volunteers they already knew. Suddenly, they were not victims in my eyes. They were just kids and despite their situations, they seemed joyful and full of life. They seemed to be oozing with HOPE.

The afternoon began with several musical performances after which the kids all sat down to brightly decorated tables for a warm, home cooked meal prepared by some of the volunteers. They all gathered with their friends, chatted and laughed as the volunteers came by to take their orders and serve them. Some kids seemed very comfortable being served and others seemed almost shocked at the niceness and attention being offered to them. One particular youth could hardly look me in the eyes as I asked him what he wanted to drink and thanked me quietly almost five times.

Dinner time went by so quickly. I forgot about all of my feelings, and suddenly I just felt so focused on giving them what they needed. Soon it was time for the beauty parlor activity. Before the youth had arrived, I had helped set up a little nail spa in the back of the room. Their names were all put in a hat, and several were chosen to receive a manicure. Although my shift was over, I decided to stay a little longer and help do nails. I love getting my nails done, and did it on my own for many years when I couldn’t afford to get them done. I still get a great sense of progress and relaxation when I go have them done, and I couldn’t wait to offer the youth a little pampering and sense of being special.

I had two gentlemen “clients,” and they were so excited to be pampered. They both chose to have their nails polished in addition to the manicure, and I was happy to help them express themselves. One of them told me all about his foster mom as I did his nails, and the other told me about his struggle with drug abuse and having to fight just to be himself in public. He had been to rehab and told me all about how he’s doing much better now.  I was so glad to hear it. They both laughed and joked with me, opened up to me, and taught me more about hope and resilience than I had ever expected them to.  They had fighter spirits, and despite everything they had been through, they seemed to appreciate life and find ways to smile.

I learned so much from these kids in just a few hours. I learned that you can have nearly nothing and still have a huge smile on your face. I learned that there is always something to look forward to in life if you choose to see it that way. I was also reminded that even though I have my own childhood and adolescent noise, I am so, so lucky. I always had a roof over my head and food to eat, and my parents, despite their many imperfections, never abandoned or disowned me. I was reminded that there is hope all around me, all around us, even from unexpected sources. And most importantly, I was reminded that if those who we would expect to be hopeless can find a way to have hope in their lives and in their hearts, those of us who have been more fortunate can certainly find a way to be more hopeful and optimistic each day.

My thoughts, prayers, hope and heart go out to these beautiful young people, to all those affected by the events in Boston, and to all of you out there searching for a better day. I urge you, as I always do, to pay attention. Hope is all around us, and ready to help us make it through just about anything. At least that’s my hope. 

Sonia, Word Share Junkie

Motivation Contagion

Image

The other day I was sifting through Psychology Today when I came across an article entitled Motivation is Contagious, and I thought, yes!  Motivation contagion; that’s where it’s at. When I surround myself with positive attitudes, smiling faces, life enthusiasts and believers, I feel alive and exhilarated. On the other hand, when I find myself surrounded by the opposite of all that positive deliciosity, my body tenses up and I want to scream. Blame it on the daddy issues, or what have you, but I just can’t, and why should I?

I’ve worked so hard to bring the happy, hopeful, laughter-filled Sonia to life – the one I always knew lay under the environmental oppression – that I simply refuse to let anyone or anything get in the way of that, and I’m burning to help you get there too. The more I come across others on this same path to light – as I increase my social media efforts, research optimism and positivity, and increase my general attention to all of life’s little motivators – the more excited I get to keep going with this blog, keep pushing through with my book (man, it’s a lot harder of a process than I thought!) and keep spreading my corn.

Sure, there are people who don’t get it, but then there are all of those wonderfully wonderful emails, text messages and social media comments I’ve received throughout the last two years or so of this journey towards healing and living light, letting me know I’ve made a difference in someone’s day or life. Those are the comments that remind me that there is a need out there for a whole lot of motivation contagion, and I am well equipped to fill this need in anyone who will listen.

So when you’re feeling high on life, when you find a way or reason to believe better is possible, or when you just have a good day, I urge you to share, share and then share a little more. Don’t worry about folks who will find it annoying or try and throw a negative at your positive. Push through that because it is those people that need your HAPPY the most. And when someone says or does something nasty to you, breathe, take a step back, and think about whether you want to give power to negativity or whether you want to let positive take the score.  Because like I heard somewhere a few weeks ago, when you treat people with love and respect, they react and they rise to the occasion (or something like that, but you catch my drift :)).

Just as a little example, this morning, I let a car pass me on the highway on my way to work, and the guy proceeded to give me an enthusiastic thumbs up through his rearview mirror. It made me smile, it put me in an even better mood than jamming to Coolio’s Fantastic Voyage (classic!!) on the 90s station already had me, and I’m still thinking about it now.  It was a small gesture, but motivation contagion is best accomplished by small gestures that add up and snowball into bigger ones.  Plus, here’s a little secret, the more you make an effort to motivate others, the more you end up reinforcing the HAPPY and motivating yourself!

How will you spread your best today?

Sonia, Word Share Junkie

Two Corners, One Message

A few days ago, en route to the gym, I was stopped at a red light and happened to look to my right. There I saw a corn-a-licious, heartwarming scene. It was what seemed to be a father and his young daughter, playing on the corner with their bags stacked on the sidewalk as they waited for a bus.  The little girl was behind him, hands in his pockets, as the man pretended he was looking for her. He kept turning and turning, flailing his arms in the air as if he was puzzled by where she might have gone. The little girl giggled and giggled, jumping around behind him, enjoying the delicious silliness of it all.

I watched and smiled, just enjoying the pureness and love in that moment. I never really had that sort of relationship with my father, and I felt happy for that little girl for her possession of that moment. The simple scene gave me comfort, hope and a warm, cuddly feeling. And I think we know by now, that I feed on these warm fuzzies like mice on cheese.

Then yesterday, I left work a little early because I wasn’t feeling well. I was stopped at a red light again, and also looked to the right (I guess this is my direction of choice). This time I saw a completely different scene on another, very different corner. There was a young man in a bright red sweater sitting on the sidewalk, surrounded by policemen, whirling around, looking very confused, scared and out of control. It was obvious he was pretty drugged up as the cops tried to control the situation and question him.

At that moment, I remembered the other, more pleasant corner scene I had seen a few days back, and suddenly felt a strange, but strong connection between the two. That little girl was seeking love, laughter and understanding from her father in the same way that the young man was searching for it from those cops.

Many of us would see a scene like that and automatically think lowly of that person, judge him, and ridicule him. But who knows what brought that young man to his current plight. Who knows what love or comfort he has been denied in his life, what trauma he might have experienced, and how scared he must be in order to act out in that way, and find himself on a street corner pleading for understanding.

So, I think I know what you’re thinking. That’s a lovely story Sonia, but what is your point? My point is about connection, kindness and understanding – things I believe we can all make an effort to exercise more often. I’ve already talked a lot about this in different ways.

It’s the idea that we are all essentially fighting the same battle and looking for the same comfort, that we should try and be more understanding of each other and less judgmental, and that we should extend our hands and hearts whenever we can. This doesn’t mean we should make excuses for people, give them way too many chances, or let them hurt us. But I do think we could stand to give a few chances away, because when you constantly tell someone they are nothing, they will start to believe it, and they will never think they are worth change. Plus, kindness doesn’t only help those you offer it to. Believe it or not, it can help quiet your own anxieties, and make your everyday richer, and more connected.

I really hope that little girl knows and appreciates what she has, and I hope that young man was offered the help he needs. I also hope that, in some small way, he knows someone out there is rooting for him. And I know. I’m so corny, you can hardly stand it. But it’s good for you. I promise!

Sonia, Word Share Junkie