Nicole J. Phillips
They say when it rains, it pours. That can be true in trials, but in my life, I've found that it's also true in kindness. In times of trouble, the smallest act of love is amplified. A note in the mail, a phone call or a text message can go far in lifting someone's spirits.
When I was a child, my biggest social challenge was learning to speak politely on the phone. I never had to deal with the permanency that seems to accompany every email, text message or Instagram photo sent through the World Wide Web. It would be easier to completely unplug, but since my husband is not in favor of going off the grid and living off the land, we are stuck here in the 21st century, technology and all. I pray daily that my kids won't get swallowed up while learning how to be teenagers and internet users at the same time.
As a basketball coach's wife, there are certain away games that I've learned to watch on television. Sure, they're within driving distance, but I learned long ago to listen when my husband says "You might not like this one." It's not that our team is going to lose. Winning or losing has nothing to do with it. What keeps me at home are the fans. Some schools are known for harassing the opposing team's coach. That's all well and fine when the coach isn't your husband—or your father.
As I opened my email, I really thought the sender was about to share a story of cookie-making kindness. It was early in the morning, and my first pre-coffee thought was, "Oh, how sweet of them." Then I kept reading. Then I read it again. Then I wrote back and asked her to tell me more—more about her son, his work and his story.
I'm a sucker for a romantic story. I'll tell anyone who will listen that I fell in love with my husband when I was in sixth grade. True, he wouldn't date me until I was 24, but that just adds to the charm. Ever seen "50 First Dates" or "Message in a Bottle"? How about "Sleepless in Seattle" or "You've Got Mail"? I've seen them all and I have half of them memorized. I love a good romance. I think you get my point.
Most of the time I go to Walmart, I am showered and wearing real clothes. I say most of the time, because I have been known to make a quick run for supplies in my pajamas. My most recent trip to the store included me, not only showered, but also wearing mascara, lipstick, black pants and a stylish blue shirt. A purse on my arm and designer sunglasses on my head, I grabbed a cart and smiled at the greeter.
Some of the most amazing teachers don't ever get to stand up in front of the class. They don't get to use the staff lounge or open gifts of appreciation at the end of the year. They are teachers who masquerade as students who have special needs. Dawn Bolstad is passionate about working with students who, she says, teach without saying a word.
My little girl's shoulders slumped as she got in the minivan. "The whole team was invited, Mom. I was the only one not included." Seventh grade is hard. I know, I did it once. I'd go from elation to desperation and back again in five minutes flat. My poor parents. Later that night, with Jordan's wounds fresh on my heart, I was scrolling through Facebook when a friend's post caught my attention:
Why do I do this to myself? I could have said no. Why didn't I say no? They're going to eat me alive! My introverted self is verbally attacking the ambitious dynamo part of my personality. You see, go-getter me signed up for something that is now making me a little sick to my stomach.
We were wrong. As children we stuck our tongues out at the playground bully and hollered with a fake bravado, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." We were wrong. Wikipedia tells me this childhood rhyme has been around since 1862. For 150 years we have been telling ourselves that words don't matter. But they do.