New York fifth grader, Samantha Petraglia, demonstrates the impact of bullying in her science project by using an unlikely subject—a plant. The results? In 6 days, the bullied plant began to die. The one that was encouraged thrived. They had the same water, the same sunlight, and the same space on the shelf. Kindness matters; kindness makes all the difference.
Link to the full news story here:
I have to share these two stories with you because they encapsulate just why “yes” is the word I’m embracing for 2018:
Bookstore employee writes this on Facebook after “little old lady” shocks everyone at the register with her kindness to a student
Entomologist Phil Torres goes to Mexico to record the Great Monarch Migration. “This is what it’s like to be surrounded by a million butterflies.”
The world is a magical place. At about 12:30am, I got a direct message on Twitter from a paleontologist whose work I greatly admire. (He discovered the largest dinosaur on record to-date.) He happened to be here for work and asked if I’d like to meet him at the Explorer’s Club before his evening train back to Philly. We met on Twitter in the Fall when I was tweeting about how much I loved his book, but I’ve never met him in real life. Since this is my Year of Yes, I accepted the invitation without hesitation. (And truth be told, even if this wasn’t my Year of Yes, I would have accepted!)
He has been a big supporter of my book and read it with his 10-year-old son. When I mentioned to him that I’d love to go to the Explorer’s Club because Emerson’s second book will have a scene there that will send her off on her next journey, he reached out to the head of public affairs and to their lead archivist to arrange for me to meet them during our visit today so that I would be given access to any help from them when writing my book. I. Was. Stunned.
Additionally, we talked about science education, the power of effective science communication, and dinosaurs (of course). I also learned a lot about his own personal and professional story that led him to where he is today. He is nothing short of inspirational. I honestly felt like I’ve known him for years and I could have stayed there for many hours chatting with him.
“Yes” is a powerful word. Kismet and synchronicity play a role for all of us if we stay open to possibility. Kindness and graciousness are immense gifts that cannot be measured. Twitter is an amazing tool to create connections that otherwise may never happen.
My 2018 resolution can be summed up in one word: Yes. My friend, Ria, recently told me about an article she read in which the author explained that when you commit to saying yes, your day ends up in a completely different place than where it started. And I’m all for that. Yes to:
I’m going to make 2018 the best year of my life so far in every way. And I’m going to lift others as I rise. We’re doing this.
Be patient with yourself. You’re getting there, wherever there is.
Right now I’m in the process of doing the equivalent of crate training Phineas. He didn’t respond well at all to an enclosed crate when he was younger but he’s making good progress, knock on wood, behind a gate that keeps him in the back of the apartment away from the door and the too-loud lobby of my building. Crate training takes discipline, patience, and time, three things I am also trying to give to myself as I give them to him.
We all want what we want right now. It takes time to learn a new skill. It takes patience to let ourselves evolve and grow into the very best version of ourselves. As hard as I drive myself to achieve and succeed, I also try to give myself a break and celebrate every once in a while. I look back on my life and see how far I’ve come from my days on the apple farm. It’s been a long and winding road. It wasn’t easy though from my view now, life is pretty spectacular despite the many difficulties along the way and the challenges I’m facing now. I can’t help but have this overwhelming feeling that everything really is going to be okay eventually. I’ll find what I need in every area of my life. It’s going to take time and effort, but it’s out there. It’s out there for you, too. Keep going.
“She woke up every morning with the option of being anyone she wished. How beautiful it was that she always chose herself.” ~Tyler Kent White
There is something so beautiful about people who choose authenticity, who are exactly who they are in every setting, with every person, every time. It feels good to be with these people. They make us want to live out loud.
As you go through life, I hope you find these people, hold them close, and let yourself follow their example. Be who you are. Life is too short and too precious to waste your time trying to be anyone else. And the world needs you, exactly as you are, right now. Surround yourself with people and in settings that appreciate everything that you are and everything that you have to offer. Don’t settle for anything less.
I have a very special gratitude story today about the power of community and kindness. Nick is one of the handy men in my apartment building. He’s always helping people out and doing odd jobs around our neighborhood, too. He and Phineas are good pals. Yesterday, Nick was outside working with no gloves in single digit temps. I bought Nick some warm gloves and Nicole, the concierge in my building, helped me get that gift to him.
Nicole said he was so surprised and touched that he started crying. She said he hopped on his bike with the gloves on and headed off to help a friend who was having car trouble. Apparently, Nick stopped into our local Petco and asked what would be a good small toy for a dachshund. The manager of the Petco asked “Are you buying a gift for Phineas? He’s our best customer!” Nick said he was and told him about the gloves I bought for him. The manager at the Petco was so happy to hear this story that he gave Nick a limited edition Star Wars dog toy of Kylo Ren to give to Phinny. They put it in a gift bag, and Nick left it with Nicole for us.
Phineas started jumping around when we opened it in the lobby, and Nicole said he and Nick had the same reaction. I learned that Nicole’s been having a really tough year and she said today made her believe in the goodness of people and the meaning of Christmas.
Doing big things that help a lot of people is a wonderful thing. And there are also dozens of small things we can do right where we are to help people in our community. Kindness and generosity are two of the greatest resources we have. Let’s use them to make the world and our own little corner of it better for others. Today I’m grateful for my community and the opportunities I have to help my neighbors.
“In one soul, your soul, there are resources for the world.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thanks to the disaster that is the DC metro, I walked 18 blocks in the pouring rain during rush hour yesterday. I was angry and feeling very sorry for myself when I walked by a man who was hungry and asked me for some change to get a slice of pizza. I gave myself a mental “snap out of it” and then I bought him some pizza. Wherever we are, there is good work to do. We don’t always see it. Sometimes we’re so caught up in our own inner dialogue that we miss the opportunity in front of us. I certainly was. The man thanked me for the pizza, and I thanked him for letting me help.
“If you really want to be a rebel, practice kindness.” ~Sharon Salzberg
Love in the face of hate. Smile at anger. Stubbornly seek joy, especially during times that seem so dark. Rise when someone tries to keep you down. And be determined to make your time, however much you have, meaningful. That’s what it means to be a rebel.
My Facebook feed is filled with friends who are angry, sad, frustrated, confused, and at a complete loss about why there is so much senseless killing happening. I am, too. I worry about what kind of world we’re leaving for our children, and then I read this article from Time about a 10-year-old-girl named Eva who lives in Paris. She was granted a PhD level fellowship. Her pitch was: “The streets of Paris are sad. I want to build a robot that will make them happy again. I’ve already started learning how to code on Thymio robots, but I have trouble making it work. I want to join the program so the mentors can help me.”
Yes, technology can isolate us. It can also be used to build a better, kinder, happier, and safer world. And I think that if we begin to think about technology the way that Eva does, we’ll be able to build a better world together, a world in which every life matters.