dogood

CONNECTION

Sometimes when life seems like the worst (like this week of doozies), you’re reminded in simple ways that some people *do* believe we’re all in this together.

As I boarded my flight home from DC, my seat-mate approached and started some friendly chit-chat as we got settled. A suburban surfer dad from San Diego named Mark, married with kids, former Naval officer, local city councilman, works as a consultant for the government, travels to DC a lot – a super nice, laid back SoCal fella.

He asks what I was doing in DC, we talk a bit about the travel and work I do in the Middle East. He’s equally well-traveled and we compare notes on food, souks, tourist stuff and the like. He mentions his wife often accompanies him on business trips, and I mention the same about my husband; he doesn’t blink and the conversation resumes.

Behind us, a Jordanian couple with their three kids overhears me talking about my Middle East travels. They excitedly ask me about what I liked (everywhere I’ve been has been amazing) and how did I like the hospitality (always awesome). We all chat a bit before takeoff. It’s a nice, genuine moment.

For the rest of the flight, Mark and I alternate between watching TV and chatting – commiserating on 45’s awfulness, talking about how our travel experiences have shaped our (proud liberal snowflake) worldview. He asks if I have kids, and I glowingly tell him about the exploits of my nieces and nephews, and my role as their doting “Gunkle”.

“They’re lucky kids. My Uncle Bob and Uncle Jack basically raised me,” explaining he had a single mom and an absent father and that his gay uncles were his default father figures. He said it so matter-of-fact, it put a lump in my throat. We bonded even more about divorce, and single parents, and creating your own family.

The plane landed, the Jordanian dad gave me his business card and told me to drop him a line next time I’m in Abu Dhabi. As we deplaned into the terminal, I handed my card and offered a handshake to Mark, thanking him for the lovely conversation – and he pulled me into a big hug, offering his own thanks, and saying it’s stuff like this that “renews his faith in humanity.” Me too, I smiled. And I meant it. We both needed it.

Out on the curb, I call for my Lyft; when the driver arrives, I check the app. “Michelle, right?” She smiles and cheekily corrects me, “it’s Mee-shell, the Brazilian pronunciation.” I get in the car and respond by singing “Mee-shell, my belle… blah blah blah blah blah blah something in French, something in French…”

She giggles. I immediately flash on my father, who always (*always*) used to sing-greet someone if they were named after a song. Charmed the birds out of the trees, that guy – and I silently thank him for instilling in me the same instinct to always show kindness and friendliness to strangers.

I softly begin to weep in the back seat on my ride home – my heart heavy thinking of dad, hoping he would be proud of me, and worrying how the weight of the world right now is so achingly heavy.

For a few hours during my trip, all that weight was washed away by kindness and humanity and connection. I’m truly lucky and privileged to do the traveling I do, and to be given the gift of connections like these.

We’ll get through this, but only together.

I’ve been struggling this week but through the struggle I’m growing and learning and solving new problems every day. And definitely growing a new appreciation for solopreneurs and small biz owners. And I want to take the time to THANK YOU for the encouragement, the support, the reviews, the constructive criticism, the kindness, the faith and most of all…the love.

Why is the popular characterization of Stanford Pines still this “cold, stuck up science jerk with ambiguous morals” sorta thing…have you seen him??? Sure he’s spent the last 30 years in dimensions with rules and social norms wildly different than ours, and sure he can be standoffish at times and get really carried away with his research, but other than that honestly he’s like… embarrassingly wholesome. Did y'all miss the “gotta do the right thing even when it seems impossible” speech? The part when he pulls out a picture of him and Stan as kids that he’s kept in his pocket for 30+ years? The time where he stops what he’s working on to play a goofy board game with his 12 year old nephew, complete with doing ridiculous hand gestures and poses when he talks about different characters? Or how about how he’s been wandering through dimensions with no home or resources with ppl hunting him down and he like…can’t stop overthrowing evil regimes and being friendly to random people and generally doing good? Its not that the angsty loser of science who gives weapons and mind control ties to children isn’t him, but sometimes i kinda wanna see more Stanford “chronic dogooder with a marshmallow center” Pines in fan work, y'know?

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Scenes from the #longisland #foodnotbombs #huntington #foodshare happening right now. #fnb #volunteer #dogood #solidarity

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Saturday morning adventure starts with morning pages, taking care of the animal companions, making some crispy baked tofu and herbs, meeting the tree guy, getting on a call with the women who are on the wellness panel with me and waiting for my mom to arrive from Maine for a visit. 🌀🐱🐶💙🍂 #brandfearless #saturdayvibes #treeguy #animalcompanion #rescuedogsofinstagram #rescuecatsofinstagram #wood #meow #foodie #organic #tofu #herbs #wellness #panel #call #h4fw #happygirl #livethelife #journeyon #mom #bewell #dogood #fearLESS (at New Britain, Connecticut)

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The primary focus of my blog thetieguy is to promote good style, good grooming and good health.  This week, I’ve partnered with UnitedHealthcare to promote #DoGoodWeek. Do Good. Live Well. is the social responsibility arm of UnitedHealthcare that focuses on the fact that giving back isn’t only good for your community, but also for your personal health. Do good week is from November 13th to November 19th and is all about promoting good things for both yourself and your community. The goal is to change the social conversation from negative news to positive stories.

Every day, we have the opportunity to do something nice for someone. Kindness and helping others causes our brain to release endorphins and serotonins, the chemicals that make us happy and gives us that feeling of satisfaction and well-being. Scientists have proven that volunteer work makes us overall happier, healthier, boosts our self-confidence, gives us a sense of purpose and makes us feel less stressed.  So, the more we do nice things, the better it is for our brains and our bodies.

I currently live on the Upper East Side of NYC and as corny as it might sound, I make it a habit to smile to my neighbors and make “small talk” in my local stores. It’s important for me to feel connected to my community and this is what I can do on a daily basis.  So many people rush around, too busy to even make eye contact, that these small personal connections seem all the more important to me. I often commute around Manhattan for photo shoots, events and other menswear activities and at rush hour, the subway can get very tricky. Recently, I was sitting on the train heading home and the subway became increasingly more crowded with each stop.  Eventually, I gave up my seat to an elderly woman standing next to me. She smiled and said thank you and I stood for the remainder of my trip home. To give up your seat to someone elderly might sound rather cliché but I very rarely see that type of respect on the subway. It was such a simple thing to do, but it, surprisingly, made me feel really good!  Others around me watched, but no one said anything to me. I can only hope that my small “act of good” inspired them to do something nice for someone else, continuing that sense of well being.  Being nice is not only easy, but it’s really empowering!  With “doing good” for others also comes for “doing good” for yourself.  Our society is craving kindness.  Too much of the news is bad news, fake news and negative news that pits us against each other.  We’re more alike than different and we have to take care of each other.  #DoGoodWeek is a start.  Do Good.  Live Well. is the goal

What have you personally done to contribute to #DoGoodWeek? Challenge yourself to an act of kindness and share your story on social media. Tag@DoGoodLiveWell and join the movement!

This post is sponsored by United Healthcare. All opinions expressed are my own.

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A huge thank you to Robert Downey Jr. for getting involved and helping raise awareness for the great work #CollectiveProject student Albert Manero and his Limbitless team are doing for #BionicKids.