On most days, I would see photos of Sweet Leda on Instagram. They must have a photographer following them or one of the band members doubles as band historian.
Anyway, after some begging and pleading, Sweet Leda agreed to do a guest post. So welcome Julie of Sweet Leda.
Oh hi! How are you? My name is Julie and I am a health and nutrition coach, a vocalist in a band, and a math course/textbook writer/designer. I am a lover of people, music, vegetables, and wine. I’ve started writing some blogs for my band and health coach business. I have one big message I would love to share, but first, let me share a few separate but related stories to pre-explain my point.
1. One fine day, I emailed a group of coworkers (from a previous job) to tell them I would be out on a certain day because my mother was having surgery. I received a reply from one of my colleagues, saying something like “I hope the surgery goes well!” Very sweet! Strangely enough, nobody else replied. (Most of us worked from home, so email and conference calls were our only forms of communication.)
Question: If you told someone in the hallway that your mom was having surgery, wouldn’t you expect the normal response to be something like “Oh wow! Prayers for your mom.” Why would it be any different over email?
Fast forward to another day. I decided to take off work on my 30th birthday. Although I was on vacation, I still checked my work email that morning (so responsible! I know, I’m a saint). I saw that I was cc’d on an email and it mentioned having me help out on a project that day. I sent a quick reply saying sorry I couldn’t help; I was off work for my 30th!! Woohoo! Guess how many “happy birthday” replies I received? Zero. Ummmm. Wow. Is this what we’ve become? We don’t even care enough about our own coworkers to wish someone a damn happy birthday? Yowza. 30 is a big one! I’m not expecting them to send me flowers and rainbows and to fawn all over me. But I think any decent person would reply and say something kind. “Happy Birthday, old lady! [random emojis]” Right?! I mean, why not? It literally would take 7 seconds, depending on the quantity and complication level of emojis.
So. Did I really need them to reply and say something kind? Absolutely not! So what’s my beef with this situation? I am upset that this is super common. It’s the new normal. It’s what many of us have become—stone cold robots who only care about ourselves and our immediate robot family and friends. We are so distracted.
Question: What would you do if you were talking to a coworker in the office and they said tomorrow was their 30th bday; would you stare at them blankly and then walk away? No; you’d probably say “happy birthday!” It’s so simple. So why wouldn’t you say it over email if you can’t see them in person? Sorry to go on and on, but it truly baffles me. Ok, moving on to a separate story…
2. I used to be a server. (I think everyone should wait tables at some point in their life, just to see what it’s really like. But that’s another blog for another day!) I would always greet my tables with a big warm, heartfelt “Hi there! How are you doing today?!” People would usually reply with “I’m good and you? Can I have an iced tea”, something along those lines. But some people? They would cut me off before I finished my sweet but very quick greeting, and bust out with a firm “I’ll have an iced tea” without even looking up from their menu. In my humble opinion, this is unacceptable. Always. You know what I am in addition to being your personal food and drink fetcher? I am also a wife. I am a daughter. I adore my grandma. I am a sister, an ex-teacher, a vocalist, an empath, a health coach. I am a person. Am I expecting you to be my new best friend and write me a poem about how thankful you are that I am bringing you tea on ice? Nahhhh. I just expect you to treat me like a human. Or maybe like a sweet puppy dog—that would be great too. Everyone loves a puppy. I believe that nobody has the right to talk to a server that way, unless you are on fire and desperately need some tea to extinguish the flames. If you are in a huge hurry and therefore cannot wait for me to finish my sentence, go to Panera or Chipotle and not a sit-down-and-wait restaurant, ya silly goose.
So. Why do you think some people talk to servers this way? I’m sure you’ve seen it before. What the heck is up with that? I think that when we see our friends do it, we should call them out. I waited tables for years and I was amazed at how mean people could be for no reason! I’m sure you’ve witnessed it too. The trick is, we need to make sure WE are not in that subset of people.
3. For my third story, let’s try a hypothetical situation. Suppose you meet a new friend at the gym. He is hilarious! You two decide to go out for a drink after a workout one day. So you’re sitting at the bar, sweat dripping into your beer. And you get to talking. You find out your new buddy is RICH. I mean dollar-pooping rich. It wasn’t always this way; he scored a big fancy job a few years ago and now he’s got a bunch of cash. And you’re like “whoaaaaaaaa that must be so nice. You are truly lucky.” But he confides that it can actually be tough. He’s feeling lonely! He’s lost touch with a lot of his old buddies since he had to move away for his fancy high-paying job. And it’s been hard making friends out here.
Ok, so now you have a choice.
a) You can sit there and smile and finish your beer, and quietly roll your eyes inside your head cuz you CAN’T BELIEVE THIS RICH DUDE IS ACTUALLY COMPLAINING ABOUT HAVING MONEY!! You would be ELATED if you could get rid of your money problems. You could tell yourself he’s just being ridiculous and ungrateful, or just not admitting that being rich is AWESOME and carefree.
b) Or you could really listen. You could try to put yourself in this dude’s shoes. You could say “Really?? Wow! That surprises me. Tell me more.” Maybe he has problems that a lot of us don’t have, which make him feel even lonelier.
Sooo you can choose! You can choose to judge him and believe that you know more about being rich than this rich guy does. Or you can choose to listen. Maybe just maybe, if you were in his situation, you would feel that way too.
Question: Why do you think we can be so quick to judge people these days, rather than be quick to understand a different point of view? I hear it all the time. “Oh, that soldier’s family is upset that he’s being deployed? Well that’s what he signed up for. Oh, you’re upset about the mass shooting at an office? Well they should have hired full-time security. Their fault.” BLEGH. This is NOT a realistic, empathetic, human, or productive way of thinking. One day it’s likely gonna be our turn to face a tough or even horrific experience. Wouldn’t it totally suck if you not only had to go through a tragedy, but also had to hear strangers blame and criticize you for it? Barf.
4. Ok one last quickie. A few years ago, my band Sweet Leda played a big New Year’s Eve show in Annapolis. It was a blast! A sold-out show. A day or two later, some girl tweets and tags us, saying she didn’t like us or our songwriting. (Wow. And a Happy New Year to you too, Ms. Thang!) I checked out her profile and oh my, she sure does like to form and share opinions. Ya know what stinks about this situation? Well, a lot. But I think the biggest thing that bothers me is that this kind of thing happens all. the. time. People put others down every day on social media. It’s super common. But does that mean it’s acceptable? I think it’s eff’d up. What would YOU do if you saw a band and didn’t like them? Would you feel that it’s important to let the band know, and to shout it in front of everyone? Hold on. Don’t we often wish children were nicer and would stop bullying others? Well shouldn’t we expect adults to be nice, too? First of all, I think she walked in that door already not liking us. Cuz we are so likable! Cute as a button. Secondly, if she didn’t like us, that’s ok. But WHY on earth would she think it’s important to put us down and TAG us so that we are sure to see it? I really wanna know. How sad. What do you think? Have you ever been in this position? Whatever happened to that “hey girls, let’s build each other up and support each other!” stuff? So. I did decide to reply. I said something like “True; I may not be the best songwriter. But I would NEVER put down another woman in public. Happy New Year to you!!” (She didn’t reply.)
There is something missing these days that I believe is the root of many disagreements. Disagreements as small as road rage and as big as major political issues. What’s missing is everyday kindness and empathy. We need to treat these things as responsibilities instead of optional personality traits. They need to be our default setting. If they are missing from our everyday lives, what the heck are we even doing here? Yes, we should all be kind to one another because, you know, sunshine and rainbows and love and stuff. But this connects to something bigger. I’m sure you’ve noticed the news is quite busy these days. There are sooooo many topics being discussed and wow! So many arguments. Mass shootings, natural disasters, and people who need our help. Arguments based on terminology, minor details, and memes, rather than issues and the facts behind them. We judge others even though we honestly don’t know what we would do if we were in their shoes. How can we form sensible opinions on things we don’t know much about, and/or don’t take a few moments to consider all points of view? What is going on??! Things seem to be getting worse. I think a lot of this stems from not understanding each other, and not caring enough to try. Cuz we’re busy. We’re all pretty maxed out. But the only way we can even come close to moving forward on any of these big issues? We gotta care about people and the issues they face. If people are different from us, it doesn’t mean they are less important. Care about your friends, neighbors, coworkers. Care about the people you haven’t met yet. Does this mean we need to stand in a circle holding hands while singing about peace and love? No, honey! We just need to be curious, we need to be kind, and we should WANT to learn the facts before we form an opinion. We need to take a second to wish a coworker a happy birthday, we need to treat strangers as people, and we need to stop being jerks on social media. We need to start asking questions when we don’t understand a point of view, rather than just assuming they’re wrong. We need to call our friends out when they’re being obnoxious. We need to set examples for our kids. Being kind and caring does NOT take extra effort and I believe, should not be a choice. It should be the norm.
It’s not just about you, and it’s not just about me. It’s about us. And I love you.
Thank you for reading! I wish you health, happiness, and safety.