Hotzler: Seeing goodness and finding kindness in others

It's everywhere - if you only change your mindset and look for it

Mary Jo Hotzler.jpg
Nichole Seitz Photography
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It can be easy to forget some days, but the world is full of really good people.

It can be easy to forget because it feels like there’s been an almost constant churn of conflict and restlessness these past couple of years. The stress has pushed so many people to the brink, and we all seem to have a little less patience for one another these days.

A family vacation to western North Dakota and Montana helped put it all in perspective. Over and over, the people we met on our trip were genuinely nice, from the patient and personable trail guides at the Medora Riding Stables to the laid-back, life-loving activities staff at Big Sky Resort.

And I can’t mention kindness without sharing about one woman in particular from our Medora musical experience. She observed my son accidentally tipping over the popcorn he had been so excited to get. As he sat with his head in his hands trying to hold back tears, the woman appeared in front of him with a fresh tub of popcorn. She saw what happened and she wanted to do something nice.

So what was different about the people we encountered on vacation?


First, I suspect my undistracted frame of mind – let’s call it vacation mode – allowed me to observe and experience their kindness in a way my day-to-day self might not be able to. That may also be the case for the trail guides, the resort employees, and the many other kind people we encountered during our travels.

Maybe they weren’t actually vacationing like us, but they did have something in common: they all seemed to be doing what they loved, enveloped by the calm spirit of nature (and I barely saw a cell phone). In chatting with several of them, I noticed no one seemed particularly motivated by material things; they were driven instead by experiences and the experiences they were able to help others have. So maybe the secret to a good life and to being a good person is as simple (or as complicated) as that.

It seemed fitting as I returned home from my trip and got to work on the finishing touches of this edition of On the Minds of Moms magazine, including our cover story on Stephanie Hoff. Stephanie is focused on empowering women to redefine success and happiness – on their own terms, not dictated by the many pressures that surround us.

It sounds like a good philosophy to me. I applaud those, like Stephanie, who embrace this and also appreciate the impact so many of them had on my family this summer.

I hope you enjoy the article about Stephanie as well as the other inspiring moms (and dads) we feature in this edition of the magazine. As always, feel free to reach out to us with story ideas and feedback.

Mary Jo Hotzler is the editor of On the Minds of Moms magazine and chief content officer at Forum Communications Company. She lives in Fargo with her husband, two boys and two cats. In her free time, Mary Jo enjoys interior design and amateur woodworking.
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