The Zombies Ate My Brains

Rescuing what might remain of the grey matter.

Small Acts

I have been enjoying a nice Christmas break from school – influenza and 5-pound boxes of chocolates notwithstanding. (Don’t you just love it when you declare to yourself, “Let’s start the New Year’s Eat Right Policy a couple of days early, OK?” and the next thing you know, hubby comes home with grocery bags of half-price Christmas candy.)

motorola-flip-phone-historyTemptations aside, the break was so restorative, I even found the energy to call Rogers to upgrade my vintage Motorola flip phone, circa 2004.

I know. I’m a dinosaur.

The experience was more or less like any call to a cell-phone company these days. Multiple false starts, bad manners from the customer service representative AND the customer; the transferred call was dropped after I got through to the correct department. Third times a charm proved more or less correct: we got all the way to check out when he quoted the fee to upgrade the phone, which was $0.00 for the hardware, but an extra $55.00 a month for the package. For 5 years.

“Uh, I’ll get back to you,” I said. “Thanks for your time.”

Then I proceeded to write a long, detailed blog post, full of piss and vinegar and snide and snark. Part way through, my writing repulsed me. It was so unpleasant, I asked myself, does the world really need to hear another first-world bellyache about misadventures at a call center?

No, it does not.

kindness

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. ~Aesop

What the world does need, though, is more kindness.

Since I’ve taken on the job of social media coordinator for FWIC, I’ve found myself face-to-face with media of a sort that I’d rather not see while I canvass the news feeds for content. Since I am not the only moderator on the social media pages, I get to see the others’ “likes”. These include causes and social justice type pages, the kind that I appreciate, but don’t follow. Because who wants to face a never-ending montage of images of abuse and mistreatment and hardship?

Let’s not forget the potential exposure to the salacious and downright horrific aspects of social media. So far, I’ve managed to fly under the radar of those who are out there to harass and threaten.

No question this is an educational experience. So far it remains tolerable, but every now and again, I need to shut down the computer and try to balance the feelings of anger, impotence, and despair. I cannot solve the worlds problems. I am no superhero. All I can do is duck my head and pray for safe passage.

Then this meme popped up in my Facebook feed. No superheroes required. The “small acts” version of good deeds is absolutely doable. Something anyone can accomplish every single day, with every single act. Besides, small acts can be classified as heroic depending on the person and the circumstance. Small acts will change history – just without the razzle dazzle.

gandalf

Which is what I need to bear in mind should I ever feel courageous enough to call the cell phone company again.

 

Happy New Year, everyone.

All the best in 2015!

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Categories: Personal Growth

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74 replies

  1. We are thinking along similar lines Maggie (or you’ve been peaking in my drafts folder too). The small things do matter and I think they matter most. Happy New Year!

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  2. Down with “piss and vinegar and snide and snark”–we can all refrain from those and practice a bit more kindness. Good 2015 to you and yours!

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    • Thanks for stopping by, Tina.

      You know what our exchange reminds me of? When I was in theater, people used to comment how much fun it was to play the bad guy, the “Snidely Whiplash” types. They said it was easy to “do” mean. Which, sad to say, might bear out in other parts of our life.

      I’ve already blown my promise to be kind today. Tomorrow, I will do better!

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  3. Babysteps…that’s what its all about. We can’t change the whole damn thing all at one (as we so often wish) but we can make little tiny changes here and there. I am wishing you a very happy and healthy New Year. Filled with joy and laughter…Bridget
    PS. My husband did the same thing, he can never resist marked down candy 🙂

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    • Ah, those hubbies! Mine is as thin as a rail, too, an can afford to indulge in sweets. Me, not so much!

      You know our cultural education from the school of Disney, Hallmark, and Hollywood where the heroine of the story must overcome INCREDIBLE odds, but she does, of course prevail? First we (that is, I) must shed those ideas as the only meaningful and effective way make change. Then we (that is, I) must take that first baby step, over and over again.

      Ah, don’t mind me. I’m enjoying a glass of bubbly bubbles. Cheers to 2015!

      Liked by 2 people

      • LOL too funny. Maggie, I just saw you are following my quit smoking blog now and I just want to say that you don’t have to. I have a cooking blog that you might enjoy much more. I enjoy your blog and will continue to do so either way :-). Cheers to a new Year 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Maggie, I’ve got a Disney Princess Superstar that wears a velvet blue gown sprinkled with fairy dust. She helps me overcome incredible odds in the creative thinking process! Ha! Not so much in sweets indulgence though. I’m “old as dirt” and on a deprivation diet to live to be even older! Ha Again! Happy New Year and Happy blogging in 2105! Christine (your star 500th blog follower).

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  4. What did they used to say during the Earth Day festivals….something about Think Globally, Act Locally? The same applies to kindness, I agree. A lovely post, Maggie, to start out our new year. Kindness, the most valued of my personal principals. Happy New Year.

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  5. I love that meme, and I believe those words are true. Now, as for you still having a flip phone… 😉

    Happy New Year to you!!

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  6. Yes, it is the little things that matter and we have to try to remember that when we have these random kind thoughts and don’t act on them because we’re afraid we’ll be misinterpreted. For example, I saw a woman standing at the bustop today with no gloves. She was not well-dressed and looked miserable and cold. I was sitting inside a coffee shop and thought “I should give her my mitts”, but I didn’t. Why? I was afraid of offending her. In other words, my ego got in the way. Stupid, eh? Is an act of kindness offensive?

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  7. A thoughtful reminder that small acts can and do have a big impact … especially if they are applied consistently on a regular basis 🙂

    As for the cell phone, I feel like you are abandoning me with my turn-of-the-century flip phone to face the mocking stares alone 😦

    Happy New Year Maggie!

    Liked by 1 person

    • OK. Here’s where I can share some of the back story to this post. You know the Olympus TG-3 phone that we both have? Well, I lost mine on the way home from the London mineral show. It fell out of my bag at the restaurant – lost and gone for ever, oh. my. darling.

      So, we decided that we already have enough cameras to do the job and wouldn’t replace it. Social media work, though, means I “need” one. (Are you listening marketing people? You can consider your work done here, as far as selling me on the “need” to have a camera on me 24/7.)

      OK, in the same way, I “need” a newer cell phone because… I’m not sure why because, damn marketing people! Never mind. I “need” a new phone and a new camera, let’s kill two birds etc. etc. and hence the call to Rogers.

      When I did the math, I’d pay for the new TG-3 within a year. Within half a year, actually. Easy decision.

      All this to say: our common denominators (of which there are oodles) continue to include ownership of ancient flip phones.

      By the way. Sorry I called you a dinosaur. 😉

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      • LOL – I’m feeling like a dinosaur this morning, so it works … I just haven’t figured out yet whether I’m benign or dangerous 😉

        Sorry to hear about your camera though. I would have been pretty bummed by that. Your logic is pretty sound and I confess my flip phone is starting to annoy me.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Great meme, and great post. Happy new year to you and yours 🙂

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  9. Wonderful Maggie! The importance of human kindness has been on my mind. So really, if we can manage Earth Day, a day now celebrated internationally that has changed the way human beings view our relationship with our planet, why not a World Kindness Day to better our relationship with ourselves?

    This is not trivial. If we can’t learn to love and respect ourselves, to show kindness to our own human kind, how can we ever be expected to live peacefully together, let alone in harmony with our environment? This demands much more than just being nice once in a while. If we elevate kindness above the afterthought and champion it, this powerful, foundational, universal human behavior could heal humanities’ wounds. It’s a choice that can be made by us all, every moment of every day.

    Getting off my soap box now. Thanks for your message. Have a wonderful 2015!

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    • You are welcome to use the soap box any time you like, and I thank you!

      It is not trivial, you are absolutely right. Small acts of generosity or kindness don’t make for good headlines or plot lines in movies and novels. It’s only the ‘larger than life” acts of derring do that are held out as role models. Hercules, anyone?

      It has become apparent to me lately, too, that it will be the small doable acts that will make the difference socially. Because our governments do not have the best interest of the citizens in mind.

      I hope the best for you in 2015, Amanda. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  10. As usual, you are spot on with your message, Maggie. I choose not to blog about the despairs and wrongs nor about the causes I support financially or with my time. I figure every mindful reader (aka all of you) are aware of the world’s ills and don’t need me haranguing, and you each give generously to your own causes and don’t need me nudging you to do more.

    What I CAN do is promote tolerance, thoughtfulness, sympathy, empathy, understanding, interest and every ounce of humor I can muster. I can’t promise never to rant, nor would I dissuade you from the same from time to time. But choosing positive input/output is how we each make the world better.

    I must confess, I become absolutely unglued when I have to interact with my communications vendors. Finally, the last time I had to call, I started my conversation with “I’m going to apologize in advance for being a nasty customer and please forgive me because I know you are trying to help.” So I chuckled about your ‘bad behavior’ customer comment.

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    • Oh Sammy, you don’t know how much I needed to read this.

      I was trying to explain this to hubby today. He was on a tear about a current event issue and I was all “Stop! Enough!” We had “words.” It all worked out, but not without some less than kind moments on my part, shall we say.

      This is where I struggle to maintain balance – promoting “tolerance, thoughtfulness, sympathy, empathy, understanding, interest and every ounce of humor I can muster” without denying the need to attend to the rest of the nasty business that goes on in the world.

      Thanks, hon, for sharing your “unglued” story. I know that more than half of the dynamic between me and the grouchy CSR was because I was braced for a conflict. So my cheerful “Hey, Seasons Greetings!” and his bored and stone cold “How can I help you?” were mismatched from the get-go.

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      • It IS a balance even in one’s own household.

        The problem with the cable snafus is they start asking me q’s about my equipment which THEY lease us and THEY installed and THEY put too-small-print labels in impossible-to-read places. How the heck do I know ?!? At least now I can warn them 💥

        Liked by 1 person

  11. My small act is to post a blog twice a week and keep the ogres at bay. I have managed to do that so far. But my finger is getting sore from keeping it in the hole in the dam.

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  12. Small acts of kindness. Seems so simple, doesn’t it ? Thank you for a lovely post. Look forward to your words in 2015. Happy New Year. Van

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    • It is incredibly simple, Van! Yet for some reason, I have ignored the option of doing small stuff in favour of waiting for the time to do something BIG that will be MEANINGFUL and NOTEWORTHY and the subject of PULITZER PRIZE WINNING novel or movie starring MERRYL STREEP!

      You and I have just met Van – I look forward to reading more in 2015. All the best.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. You are so right Maggie, the world really does need more acts of kindness! I appreciate your support throughout the year and look forward to extending our blogship in 2015 (love that word by the way). Happy new year to you 🙂

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  14. Kindness is contagious, just like your words. I often quote the phrase “random act of kindness” when the situation arises. I propose to change that to ‘tandem acts of kindness”, meaning in this case back to back acts ~why stop at one? With that I’m wishing everyone a kind kind New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Practice random acts of kindness…while sometimes being Ms Snidely Whiplash. hehe. Yes, I feel better. Happy New Year to you, Maggie!

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  16. It can only be a Happy New Year when it begins with a quote from Gandalf. Little people can achieve great things. Like Hobbits. Or other Middle Earthers. Or even non-New Zealanders. (Sorry. We just saw the final Hobbit instalment the other day. I’m feeling a bit Hobbity.)

    My all-time favourite song lyric goes “Give us days to be filled with small rebellions – senseless, brutal acts of kindness from us all.”

    A kind and gentle year to you, Maggie. 🙂

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  17. Sorry, Maggie. If I couldn’t look out from my garbage can occasionally and say something rotten, I wouldn’t have a thing to say. –Oscar

    P.S. And my head would explode.

    P.P.S. Workin’ on the next piece of trash now. Don’t worry: WP stats show few souls are sucked when I cast my muck. Perhaps they immediately head to your place for a thorough rinse? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Gaw!: Great post–and Happy New Year!!

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  19. Dear Maggie, I hope you find a phone that doesn’t cost the earth! I like your thoughts on acts of kindness. The small things do matter. Wishing you a wonderful year of success through your dedication to positive causes, and may love surround you! ❤ (makes me feel like one of Snow White's fairies giving her blessing!)

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    • I have most enjoyed our blogship this year, Barbara. It would have been much less fun without your constant support and readership. Happy New Year to you and Christopher and your family!

      PS I’ve given up on the hunt for a new cell phone Barbara. It is simply preposterous to consider paying that much to have a camera with instant access to the web. I do not need it. No one does, if I may make that bold declaration.

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  20. Piss and vinegar and snide and snark.
    If you really want to hit the mark
    top it off with chocolate, a kiss and a grin
    no need to phone it in!

    Here’s to a year of rhinestone covered buckles Maggie!

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Well done on taking the high road, Maggie. I half wrote a post on my day spent with Cox Cable in Vegas, after I arrived at the condo to find Internet, phone and cable all down (and needing 2 of the 3 to do my job). Those ranty posts are easy to write, and often hilarious, but you’re right – the world doesn’t need another one, does it?

    Your meme reminded me of a quote from Margaret Mead. I’m likely paraphrasing, but it’s something like, “Never underestimate the ability of a small but dedicated group of people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

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    • Thanks, there, but… I’m not so sure it was me taking the high-road as much as I abandoned the trip out of sheer embarrassment.

      Thanks for the Margaret Mead quote. Interesting coincidence, that. This morning I decided to start a house journal – just a notebook that we will keep on the kitchen table to report daily on the mundane, but positive things. I got the idea from another meme floating around – “The Jar Project” – the idea is that at the end of the year, you’ll have a whole bunch of mini-memories to review.

      The maker of the notebook? Mead.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. They should include free stretch with those half-price chocolates!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. One small act of kindness can have a long reach. Thanks for the reminder =) Happy New Year.

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  24. Great post, Maggie. 🙂 I must disagree with you on several points though. 1.) You ARE a superhero and 2.) piss and vinegar is alright sometimes. Haha. No, not every day, but every now and again, it helps to get something off of your chest and it lets others know that you’re human too. I wouldn’t want to be around someone who’s always piping out bad energy (24/7), but when my friends have total blog meltdowns- I’m completely supportive. We all take turns on the suckcycle, you know? I’m guilty of this too. I’ll blast something when I’m good and pissed, and then afterwards, that boulder has shifted so that I can move on and focus on more positive things. Of course, (for me) praying and talking to God is the BEST way to get it out, but again, we are indeed all human; so I consider these things.

    I think what you’re doing in your spare time at FWIC is terrific. :0) I hope 2015 is a good year for you! I know it will be. x

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    • What a wonderful comment, thank you. 🙂

      I know what you mean about needing to vent and having an audience (in a blog or a prayer) can be a critical component of that. You get to turn a negative thing into a creative and restorative thing. It’s therapy, and I understand that completely.

      But the first draft of this post was embarrassing in it’s pettiness and peeved-ness, especially since I could have behaved much better. Oh well, lesson learned!.

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  25. Happy New Year, influenza and chocolate aside 🙂

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  26. You can’t go wrong with Gandalf. Happy New Year, Maggie!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. So true! I’ve been focusing on being a kinder, more compassionate and loving person this past year. Sometimes I’m more successful – and other times I’m a dismal failure (the snark just erupts unchecked). However, I’ll keep trying – you know what they say, “baby steps” and all.

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  28. I have been called a “Pollyanna” throughout my life because I look for the kindnesses, the light within the dark, as often as possible. Isn’t it interesting that a “Pollyanna” type person is looked upon as child-like, clueless, and non-intellectual? Reaching for and recognizing the importance of small, ordinary kindnesses is probably the smartest thing we can do/be as humans! 🙂

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    • Hi Pam – I recall seeing the Disney feature as a child – and this might be my memory playing tricks on me, hindsight being 20-20 and all that, but it seems to be that even as a girl, I could feel the “smarm” oozing from the screen.

      It is a smart thing to do – drop the defenses, allow yourself to be perceived as harmless, reach out.

      I really have to listen to my own speeches. Really listen. Then do.

      I appreciate you stopping by to comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Small is far from insignificant. Greatness requires every atom of its construction. Let’s be atomic superheroes of a newer kind. 😉
    xoxo, and cheers for 2015 as a fabulous year for you and all of your good-deed-doing compatriots!
    Kathryn

    Liked by 2 people

  30. All the best for 2015, Maggie.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Lovely. All the best to you in 2015!

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Trackbacks

  1. A New Year’s Resolution | The Federation of Women's Institutes of Canada
  2. Through Thick or Thin(ner): Next Steps and Missteps | The Zombies Ate My Brains

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