Author Archives: Harbridge Christina

Chasing Rainbows

A long walk returning to the office

It is pouring

It wasn’t a few hours ago

when I decided not to bring my umbrella

My shoes soaked

My back and shoulders damp

At least I have a hat

I buy an umbrella

Leave the store

Watch her run trying to avoid the drops

Light blue pants suit

Heels

Purse above her head

Nice hairdo slowly making its way into disarray

I hand her my umbrella

HERE

Oh, no, really, I’m okay

HERE, Take it

She is verklempt

Really?

PLEASE

I walk away

She yells thank you

I walk

Soaked

Happy

I duck into another store

Buy two more umbrellas

Stand in the rain

The drops feel like little kisses on my face

I wait

A man with a nice suit and a brief case on his head

and

A woman with a black dress and a book on her head

Each surprised

Thankful

Me?

Soaked with gratitude

Jumping in the puddles

Squishing feet

Feeling the kind of warm

That only human kindness can kindle

Today: a great day

 

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Do this for me

Writing this down.

Here.

Cheapens it.

I know.

Yet. I’d like more people to have it. So. I offer it.

I’ve committed every day of my life to kindness. Every nightI ask myself if I am proud of the wake I left in the world. If I am not, I do something to answer yes.

I stayed in Boston months ago for 4 nights. Hard to be away from my kid for that long. It is a trip I do once a year to fill my head and heart with expansiveness.

Since I do this every year, I have a lot of affection for the people who work at the facility.

If you have read my blog before, you may remember the post I did about secretly doing kind things for people. Under the radar. I have posted about the people who clean up after us in hotels. How often they do not receive a tip or a thank you note. I leave a thank you note and a tip every time.

Felt like it wasn’t enough.

It isn’t. The people (mostly women) who clean up after us are underpaid.

Don’t think so? Do me a favor. Take 15-minutes and stand over the bed you sleep in. Put a pillow case on and off a pillow for 10 minutes. See if you can do it without hurting. No matter how big your arms are- 15 pillow cases later it hurts.

Now, do that all day. This is not easy labor. I’m not even talking about how gross their job must be at times.

So. I put a “do not disturb” sign on my door for the entire stay. I talked to the woman who came to clean my room. I told her I needed something from her. I asked her if she had a moment?

Sure.

How long does it take to clean a room like this?

About 15-20 minutes depending on the person who stays in it.

Are you willing to do something for me.. maybe a little unusual?

Sure. What do you need. (no hesitation)

See that chair over there. The one by the window?

um.. yes….

Will you sit in it for 15 minutes?

What?

I do not need you to clean. I’m fine. The room looks great. I’d love it if you just closed the door, put your feet up and hung out. For me.

She teared up.

I’m not sure if I’m allowed to…

allowed to what.. do what a guest is asking?  I smile at her…

She hugged me. Not the weird pat on the back hug. We had, well, a moment.

I let her know she wasn’t allowed to clean my room all week. That is was the least I could do and it would make me feel like I did something.

We touched hands each time we walked by each other in the hallway that week. I felt like I had this person there with me that understood.

Understood? What the heck?

We talked about her son and my son. About the days she is away from him and someone else picks him up from school. All the ways she wishes she could see him run out of the oak doors of his school. We talked about our boys: mine 6 and hers 9. The grow up so fast.

Those moments in the hallway I had a connection to another mom and it just felt yummy.

She left me an origami bird on the chair in my room with a note. She used to spend hours creating things and spent the 15 minutes making decorations for her upcoming anniversary. She wanted me to have one because if I lived in town, she’d make sure there was a place at her table for me.

So. I sat on this blog for 4 months. I felt it would cheapen the story if I talked about it. Anonymous matters to me in doing kind acts.

Then. I thought of what I got from this act. Just for me. Selfishly.

So.

Do this for me.

It feels too good, the feeling I had in April, to not share it with you so you can have it too.

 

 

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No one is coming

I see it like this:

If the world is a building. And the building is on fire.

And I am waiting for the fire department to come and help me.

No one is coming.

There isn’t some person who is going to rally all the humans required to make it happen.

I will.

And not with the kind of action that brings news cameras, gets a magazine to write about me or deserves a street to be named after me.

Small actions chip away at the big issues.

There is a lot of talking going on. More than I think I have ever seen. People often come to my company because they want to “INFLUENCE” and learn to talk so people will listen. I have developed all this Intellectual Property around NO ONE IS COMING. Because they aren’t.

The most effective influence is DOING, not talking. Doing the small pieces of the puzzle that change the picture.

We try to DO too much though. I do. We do. Our sights get a little too high and we work on the WHOLE thing instead of small actions that can change everything.

We try to change the whole world… our entire organization.. our whole family.. community.. marriage… we try to change the whole thing instead of just deciding to do little actions that start turning the ‘barge’ in the direction we’d like. Little small actions that rarely get applauded, noticed… there will be no award or recognition for this type of doing.

Example:

If the meetings in your company suck you don’t have to start a global initiative that gets board approval to change the meetings. Just make a little list about what you do not like and decide, “In the next meeting I will do this…”   and keep trying. Little things.

Example:

“If we knew these 5 things before we started an initiative in this company, we’d perform better.” So this person does a PowerPoint presentation to convince the executive committee to make this a requirement. Why? This takes WAY too long.  Instead, in the next ramp up meeting for the initiative, just ASK those 5 questions. Write them down. Give them to everyone. If it is a good idea it will take off. It may take a while. We don’t have to WAIT for someone to come. Start doing.

No one is coming.

IN the year 2000 less than 50% of adults were on line. Think about our world now? We are buried in information. We know the big problems. Can we own the little TINY things that will make it change in the right direction?

We must ACT.

DO.

Something. The small things.

If our ideas sound like complaints… no one is really listening anyway. Not only is there no one to save us.. the ones who could are sick of listening.

I live in a small town filled with people who care A LOT about the community. A few weeks ago there was a post discussing dog poop. Passionate people get frustrated by dog owners who do not clean up after their pet in the soccer field. Our kids play there. Stepping in dog crap sucks.

I didn’t respond to the post reminding everyone that raccoon poop looks very similar to dog poop. That sure, some of it is a careless pet owner. Some of it is just nature.

Instead, I made a commitment to small action. My son and I pick up poop now when we go for our walks.

So today, instead of being frustrated by the poop in my community,(or starting an initiative to hire someone to fix the problem)  I am going to just pick some up. That is all I have to do. I may not be big enough to change the whole world, I can improve a sidewalk. I can also use all this crap (nice metaphor eh?) to teach my son what citizenship is. Not the kind of citizenship I’ve done most of my life. Not the kind where I get a gold plaque on the side of a building with my name on it or a wooden engraved thing for my wall. True citizenship.

I live in a town of moms who are like that. The person who wrote the post wasn’t complaining – she was RALLYING a team of moms that she knew would DO something. This is what the moms in this town do. I must admit, I often feel small around all of their power and doing. Small things that create big lives for the kids in this town.

My small actions dedicate me to the community I live in. Somewhere there is a person in my town that I do now know that has clean shoes because of my little action.

No one is coming! It is me. Christina the dog poop collector. (careful shaking hands with me)

My new rule for me: if I complain about it, I own it. I will DO something small to start changing it. My conversations from here on will be about what I CAN DO instead of what is wrong.

I dedicate this post to my sister. She is a woman who has lived her life doing the quiet small moments. A street should be named after people like her.

**No One is Coming is a product of my company. Yes. In all transparency,  I make all this stuff to drive my behavior too. So that at the end of the day I can ask myself one question, “Did I act in a way that makes me proud today.”  If not, I need to get out and change the answer to that question. 🙂

NOTE: There are humans who dedicate their lives to change the BIG things. My heart and adoration to you. I’m not saying what you do isn’t valuable. It is just rare. I’m here dedicating myself to the small things that will help you in your big quest.

 

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Power outages

Power outages

Hard day. The other day. What I do for a living can be hard. Sad and frustrated by the beauty and fallacy of the human spaceship.

Then.

Shoe broke. Left backpack at a hotel. Sitter forgot to pick up my son. Scrambling to have someone go get him while in traffic on the Bay Bridge. Hearing him sob on the phone.

Dear friends rescued him. He is okay. Shaken. Okay. Cries a bit. We talk about people letting us down sometimes. What CAN we do. That we can do everything right and still, stuff happens. What did he learn from it? Etc. That stuff.

Get home. JAMMIES. Yay… then the day was not through with me.

Electricity kept shutting off at my house. Heater broken. Son very upset over being left at school. Tears. Freezing. IPhone broken. Broke my favorite glass. My son decides to play a plastic flute causing my nerves to fray…

Sit down for dinner. Slowly open a bubbly water. You know the kind of slow- so the air gets let out to keep it from exploding. The air comes out. Then…

It Explodes. Everywhere. Cold + wet equals freezing.

I stop. I look at Sebastian.

Sebastian and I laugh. For about 5 minutes.

He grabs a piece of paper and says, “Let me draw a metaphor mom.”
He draws the bubbly water going everywhere. Asks me how to spell:

“Sometimes you do all the right things and still things go wrong.”

My bad day just became my best day. The human I live with is just profound.

My day WAS all about that. I did all the right things and still…. things went South.

Life is like that.

The sad part is as humans our brain is in a habit to see it another way. When we do all the right things and it still goes wrong we:

BLAME: find someone to blame OR

SELF WHIP: use the moment to beat the hell out of ourselves

This habit is crippling.

What if there was no one to blame? Not THEM and not ourselves? What if stuff just happens and it is our job to stay resourceful and future focused? I feel at times that I get upset with life in such silly ways. Sort of like this: I’m playing in the waves and having a blast. Then a rogue wave crashes over my head, sends me spinning, gasping for air and swallowing a cup of sand. I do not know that I have ever stood at the shore and cursed the ocean for being what it is. I have a choice to stand on that shore or not.

I have a choice most of the time.

Yesterday Sebastian let me know what bad things happen so good things can happen. He got hurt at a friend’s house yesterday and about 10 minutes later my friend gave him Nutella. His 6 year old mind has decided that the two things are related. He kept talking in the car about how he notices if he loses a toy he loves – something good happens after.  I started to explain that maybe the two aren’t related. Maybe things just happen. There there is no bad news or good news… there is just news.

He told me I was wrong. That good things always follow bad things.

I suppose they do. If I spend enough time splashing cold bubbly water in my face when I’m in blame mode I’m sure I’d see the good.

 

 

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Choosing

Choosing

I have a habit of taking on too much and agreeing to do things I don’t want to.

Unsure why. A habit. Can be annoying at times.

Over the past 6 years, I’ve started using my life as a laboratory to teach my son things I hope he will understand by habit. Things that will lead him to the happiness that comes from good choices.

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Christmas 1973

Christmas 1973

Christmas 1973
– written by Robert Harbridge in 1973 *

Christmas this year
Should cost at least
A thousand dollars.

It should be In the Ideal Bar & Grill
On 163rd and St. Nicholas
Waiting for the first
Tattered little boy
To come in selling
Tomorrow’s morning papers
Roughing up his hair,
Giving all his papers away
And giving him
A hundred dollar bill

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Water in the boots

Water in the boots

My son and I have a Plants vs. Zombies problem.
It started because his doctor prescribed
that he do 20 minutes of video games a day
to fix his eye.
(Lucky kid)

Then, he got me into it. Brilliant kid.
Cuz, last night
we did almost an hour.
The time just slipped by
ERRRRRRRR….

Yikes.

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Matt in 3C

I’m on an airplane a week ago
With my new boyfriend IPad
Working away
Completely focused on a little screen.

“Are you on your way home?”
Started a long deep conversation.
Matt, the kid in 3C, was on his way home from New York.
Within 2 minutes he shared something very personal
and it directed out conversation to the deep end.
We teared up a few times. We laughed out loud.

He said, to change our thoughts we need to change what we believe.

He  believes he is connected.  In his view, we are often driven by our ego and feel disconnected. The key to it all, he says, is giving. It is our selfishness that reduces our happiness.

All things I know. and that you know. The words sound so lovely when they come from a surprise place. With our bag of peanuts and the perpetual sunset.

A friend of mine once stood in the middle of my living room (10 years ago), arms open wide and said the key to life is to forgive. It is true isn’t it? To within in our hearts love people for all the ways they are human and feel disconnected. To just embrace humanity for the mess we make of it and just love.

Yum.

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Telling the truth

If something bad happens

because we tell the truth

it

isn’t

bad.

It may be sooner than we wanted

it may make our suffering a little sharper

for a shorter period of time

It is still good.

(Being hurtful and disguising it as ‘being honest’ respectfully omitted from this theory.)

The past few weeks

I have watched some truly brave humans

Get shut down

Slapped

Ignored

Fired

For the truth.

If it still feels bad, I promise, it is not over.

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