It’s the Little Things…

Dear Soph-
I thought I would devote this letter to some of the basics. Just a few reminders that, upon first read, may not seem like much, but will take you far in life. Especially as you grow up and venture out on your own. It’s about confidence, common courtesy, positive first impressions, politeness, respect and accountability. All traits that I will make it my mission to instill in you.

A Firm Handshake
This is something that Grandpa taught me. Before college interviews, job interviews, or meeting new people, I had his voice in my head, reminding me to offer up a firm handshake. As a manager, he interviewed and hired many people throughout his career and he always used to say that he could tell a lot about a person from their handshake. Don’t offer up some clammy, weak, limp, fish hand. Be proud! Stand tall! Show your confidence and firmly and warmly shake someone’s hand. If ever in doubt, practice on Grandpa. (and don’t feel bad if all he says is “pretty good”…you’re a young girl, not the Hulk)

Hold the Door
If you are walking in or out of a store or restaurant (any public place) and you see someone walking up to enter said establishment, hold the door open for them. It’s the polite and courteous thing to do.

And for the love of all that is Holy, if someone holds the door open for you, SAY THANK YOU. Loud enough so they can hear you and with a smile on your face.

That is one of my biggest pet peeves…when I hold the door for someone and they just walk on by as if I’m not even there. Like the wind blew the door open. Like it was a mechanized door that opened upon their approach. It’s just rude…plain and simple. If this happens to you one day (and it will) you have my permission to loudly call after the person “YOU’RE WELCOME!” It probably won’t have any effect, but, damn it…it sure does make you feel a little better.

Eye Contact
This is simple, but can take some practice. Look people in the eye when you talk to them. There is nothing that makes me more uncomfortable than when I am having a conversation with someone and they look ANYWHERE but at me.

I had a colleague recently who had the habit of avoiding eye contact at all costs. He was the nicest guy, seemed very intelligent, but he would not look you in eye. Ever. It didn’t matter if you talked to him one-on-one or if he was talking in a team meeting. He would stare at the table the entire time he talked. It was awkward. Maybe he was shy, maybe he was nervous…I just found it slightly off-putting.

When you look someone in the eye, you show you’re interested in what the other person has to say. You show that you respect them. And you show that you are a confident young lady. Plus, you have your dad’s beautiful blue eyes…and who wouldn’t want to stare into those?

Be on Time
Punctuality, kid. It matters. When you’re on time you’re telling the other person that their time matters. Late for a job interview? Makes you look unprofessional. Late for dinner with a friend? Just annoying. Arrive late to the start of a play? Rude to the actors and disruptive to the rest of audience trying to enjoy the show. You get the picture. Now, obviously things happen. Traffic jams, car trouble, power goes out and your alarm doesn’t go off…it’s life, and, for the most part, people will understand. It’s when you make a habit of it that’s the problem. So make it a point to be on time. Even better, arrive early.

Please and Thank You
These are the true basics. A simple “please” and “thank you” is something I will expect from you from an early age. But I realize, like everything else, this must be taught. I remember when I was little, after my parents would take us out to dinner, or take us to a movie, or buy us something…as we were walking back to our car, my mom would say “What do you say?” And we would enthusiastically reply “THANK YOU!” This took practice and repetition. But, eventually there came a time when we no longer needed to be reminded to say thank you or please. And, as an adult, it naturally rolls of my tongue. Again, it’s about common courtesy. It’s about being polite. It’s about genuine gratitude.

So there you have it, kid. Some basic advice, but still important. And while I can say all of this until I’m blue in the face, I know that – in the end – actions speak louder than words. So I will walk the talk and live by example for you. And, should that fail, I will constantly remind you… all together now, “What do you say?”

Love, Mom

Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

Dear Soph-
You will never guess what I did last week. Wait for it… A hip hop dance class.

Stop laughing.

I went with your Aunt Megan and Aunt Missy. And barring the fact that I may be coming up on being considered old and not, at all, “hip,” I had fun…and picked up the routine pretty quickly.

But the point of this letter is not about my sick dance moves.

The class was crowded…I’d say, conservatively, there were 35 women there. All different ages, shapes, sizes and levels of dance experience. Despite the crowd, there was one woman I could not stop watching. She was about 55, with a slim build…short, salt and pepper hair…and the cutest pair of hot pink workout shoes.

She didn’t know all the moves. She didn’t have the best rhythm. But she was absolutely, positively WORKING it. And I could not take my eyes off her. She was having so much fun. She didn’t care who was around her, who was watching and potentially judging her. She was looking at herself in the mirror, smiling from ear to ear, and working it.

I instantly admired this woman. She lived up to one of my favorite sayings:

Sing like no one is listening. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching, and live like it’s heaven on earth.

It was a sharp contrast to something I was surprised to be feeling in the moment…self conscious. I could blame it on any number of things. I still haven’t lost my baby weight (in fact, some of the weight I’ve lost, I’ve gained back). My cheeks get so red when I workout (like fire-engine red…like people stare at me wondering if I’m about to pass out, red). My shirt was too short and kept riding up (exposing the ever popular post-baby “pooch”). As a result, I avoided looking at myself in the mirror. I didn’t put all the “oomph” I could have in my dance moves, because I was afraid someone would look at me and laugh.

And while I did have a good time, I had nowhere near as much fun as this woman. And that is unfortunate for me. It was my loss. I let my insecurities rob my potential.

So the moral of the story – the lesson – is something that will only come with time. I pray that you will develop the confidence, peace of mind and positive attitude that this woman in my dance class displayed. Believe me, I get that this carefree mentality is not at all easy when you’re growing up. Especially during adolescence when it seems all anyone does is judge. It’s still hard for me…and I’m in my thirties. But at some point in your life, do yourself a favor and dance like nobody’s watching. Do your very best to not give a crap about who is around you and what they may be thinking about you. Don’t let your insecurities take away from getting the most out of every experience.

And, kid, if you do catch someone staring at you, I think it would be safe to assume they’re taking notes on how to be fabulous.

Love, Mom