May 9, 2016: Kill Them with Kindness

Mother's Day activity
Mother's Day was most enjoyable. Although I wasn't able to spend it with all of my sons or my own mother, I did have a fun afternoon with Zach. The oldest. Number one child and son. The reason I was able to first celebrate this holiday in 1994.

Garrett and I met Zach in Downtown Denver with no set plans other than to find some new adventures.

Brunch was as at an Irish bar and grille. We gave it high marks for both atmosphere and food quality. The Bloody Mary was pretty good too. Our tour of downtown included a stroll through Union Station and then on to pool play and beer tasting at Wynkoop Brewery.

I was gifted a t-shirt that reads "I Love Beer" with the word love replaced with a heart filled with the Colorado logo. Also in the goody bag was a Wynkoop beer glass.

Next stop was the flagship REI store on Platte Street. With visions of Reese Witherspoon's hiking performance in Wild, I looked at the extreme hiking gear with great interest, but settled on a new pair of hiking shoes instead. The final purchase was complete with a new pair of wooden shades and striped hiking socks. Mom success.

It's amazing how my Mother's Day celebrations have changed since my first in 1994. I've gone from family dinners equipped with high chairs and kids menus to breweries and stores with adult rock climbing walls. Although I have enjoyed each one of my holidays of past, I have no complaints on these new celebration festivities.

With a phone call to my mom, I was reminded of the many years she had on me in the mothering category. Mom has been through these same seasons that I am now reflecting on, with many more for me that are yet to come. Always the one with the best, most simple advice; my mom never comes across as lecturing. She is just very perceptive and kind-hearted. A wonderful combination.

Mom was the one many years ago who hand wrote the serenity prayer for me on a small sheet of paper. In perfect cursive, it was just small enough to fit in a compartment in my wallet. When I needed it most, which at times was daily, I would read this prayer. Sometimes over and over. All while reminded of my mom, who lived 1,383 miles from me, but always feeling like she was right by my side. Or at least in my purse.

The best advice, hands down, that Mom continuously gave me was "kill them with kindness." Although at times difficult to follow, this advice has been invaluable to me over my forty-eight years.

As a teenager looking for both sympathy and a bit of retaliation, this advice didn't always bode well when I felt persecuted. My teenage angst dream was for my mom to call my perpetrator's mom to complain and stand up for me. Instead she would insist that I fight my own battles. And most importantly, to not stoop to their level. Kill them with kindness.

And most times I would listen. It's amazing how angry or passive aggressive people don't know how to react to direct kindness. Following through on this advice was a study in human nature at a young age.

The encouragement given to me was not about being a door mat, but dealing with conflict in a positive manner. Everyone can and should be nice. You don't need training or a special super power to accomplish this, just be a kind human being.

Now a seasoned adult, Mom continually reminds me of this. And the advice isn't just for conflict, it's applicable every day in every situation. People forget about kindness when stressed or pressured, or just simply not thinking. Unfortunately the mouth many times works faster than the brain.

I remember dealing with my first angry client at my first job. I was twenty-two year old and training a fifty year old business owner how to use a computer and accounting software. Keep in mind that these were the days when computers first came out and we were using floppy disks. A very long time ago.

The gruff man wasn't terribly excited to move from his manual system of bookkeeping and was furious when he found out that the new software package was different than what he was promised. With his bright red face and screaming mouth, I took in his complaints.

And then when he finally took a breath, I calmly told him I was sorry and if I were him, I would be mad too. What could I do to rectify the situation? And then he calmed down a bit to mirror my calm demeanor. I agreed to take his complaints back to my office and come back to him with a resolution.

When I later called to offer a full refund of the software and charge for training, he apologized to me for losing his temper. He also complimented me for how I handled the situation as he then realized that he was 'shooting the messenger'. I smiled as we continued to converse on next steps. My mom was so right. Kindness always wins. Anger or fighting back does not.

Kindness is also a great gift to someone in need. One never knows the journey someone else is on and how a kind word or gesture can mean the world on an otherwise horrible day. Those kind gestures are many times never forgotten and often paid forward.

My mom has also given me this gift on numerous occasions. One that I will always remember and without fail, creates my eyes to water and my throat to tighten, was a simple comment she made to me shortly before my divorce.

I had flown to Arizona to tell my parents of our impending divorce. Feeling like a failure to my family and the world, I did not take this message lightly and bore tremendous guilt on what I did to contribute to this unhappy ending. Going through the motions, Mom and I drove to run some errands. I remember our conversation and surroundings like yesterday.

Sitting in the car after parking in front of Import Corner by the Kingman Airport District, Mom stopped me before we got out of the car. She gently grabbed my wrist and looked my in the eye.

"Sandy, you are the kindest person I know. Sometimes your dad and I don't know where you came from. You always see the good. You are a good person and you will get through this better than before."

My mom, the kindness and smartest person in the world, saw me as the kind one. Something I didn't see in myself. It blew me away while putting some wind under my sail. Each time I dealt with adversity over that trying time in my life, I just thought of my mom's words. And of her ongoing advice.

Kill them with kindness.

You really can't lose.      

New M-day gifts...shades, hiking socks and shoes
(Downtown Denver in the background...a different view a day later)


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