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Double-Stuffed Greeting and Reward
16 Random and Not So Random Acts of Kindness
Pick the Orange Team
Be Naïve
One In A Million
Be A Little Brave Today
I Don’t Do Crazy Anymore
Daily Examination of Faults
One Day
Be the Parent of You

Double-Stuffed Greeting and Reward

Double-Stuffed Greeting and Reward

One of the 1,500 plus tasks under the job title “Parent” is to teach children etiquette and social skills. Item #874 is The Respectful Greeting.

As a child, upon meeting someone I was taught to stand still, be quiet, don’t move. Say hello if told to or risk going to bed hungry.

I might have learned a more global view, and better manners, had my mother sent me to (the totally fabricated) Mrs. Brown’s Finishing School for Girls, a place she threatened to send me more than once.

A foreigner friend pointed out my poor upbringing one morning when I ordered coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts. She deemed my lack of a proper greeting to the server and abrupt order request rude and impolite.

“Americans…You walk up to the counter and blurt out you want: Latte, extra shot of espresso. No greeting at all. Rush, rush.”

She gave me credit for saying please and thank you. Thanks, Mom.

Is this improper conduct nothing more than a culture difference? Yes, and no. Lack of knowledge breeds ignorance. In my case, I grew up an uninformed American child. Nothing more.

Do we miss the social cues to interact politely? Yes.

We’re in a hurry, always. We barely take a breath between checking off to-do’s. We don’t bother to look up and take a minute to make the person across from us feel appreciated, important, worth the muscle movement to offer a smile.

I took my friend’s sweeping admonition to heart and vowed to share this with my now grown up children.

My daughter started a new job in a new city. This change offered the opportunity to practice Item #874.

In the company cafeteria she noticed the servers seemed to go through the motions. They handed over whatever selections were requested from people who barely looked up from their cell phones or broke away from personal conversations.

To her credit my daughter engaged in conversation with the server. She said hello. Asked the woman, who looked tired, how her day was going. Is her family well? The server was taken back a bit, she said.

Only after establishing a respectful greeting did my daughter order lunch: a Caprese Panino. The server smiled. Then removed the tomato, mozzarella and basil from a premade sandwich and overstuffed a specially-made Panino.

While my daughter waited for the sandwich to grill, another person, busy texting on the phone, pointed to a pre-made panino. The server handed over a wrapped sandwich and smiled at my daughter.

Award that girl a Mrs. Brown’s diploma.


Awesome Kindness

Photo credit: Stephanie DelTorchio (my lunch!)

16 Random and Not So Random Acts of Kindness

World Kindness Day

In honor of World Kindness Day…

It’s easy to find an opportunity to show the world a little kindness. And it doesn’t take much to make someone’s day brighter or special or meaningful. Most of these ideas won’t cost a dime and the payoff may be priceless.

In celebration of World Kindness Day, here are a few suggestions:

  1. A smile. It’s been scientifically proven in face-to-face interactions, people reciprocate their conversation partners’ genuine and polite smiles with matching smiles.
  2. A handshake. Use hand sanitizers before your touch your face, but before that, offer a handshake to the doorman, train conductor, trash collector, school crossing guard, etc.
  3. Letting someone in line. At the check-out line, coffee shop, deli, post office, etc. Step aside and offer to let the person behind you go ahead.
  4. Paying it forward – those random acts of buying coffee for the person behind you in line. Find a place today to do this.
  5. Give up your seat. On the train or bus for an elderly person, a pregnant woman or someone who looks like they need to take a load off their feet.

    Read to someone. An elderly person, a child,  your significant other (maybe a love poem, the back of a cereal box!). Or read the sign that says 12 Items or Less and Be Kind; take your 15 items to another check-out.

  6. Call your Mother or Father or Spouse or Child and tell them how much you love and appreciate them.  Laugh with them when the laugh at you, especially your kids, for “being weird”.
  7. Leave notes around the office. Or slip a kind message across or under the table. A kind word to a co-worker today lessens the stress of whatever crap is going down in the meeting.
  8. Hand out chocolates. Who doesn’t love that! Dove Hearts are nice. They come with sweet messages that make more sense than fortune cookies.
  9. Leave a positive review. Pick your favorite local shop or restaurant and write something nice. A great meal. Great customer service. The window display.
  10. Purchase whatever the local kids are selling to raise money for their trip, etc. If you are nixing the sweets or carbs or don’t need another calendar, buy it anyway and pass it on.
  11. Offer to walk someone’s dog. You’ll get the exercise, give someone an extra hour of time and make a new friend.
  12. Be kind to yourself. For one day treat yourself like you would if you got to spend a day with favorite music or movie star.
  13. Say Hello, Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Good Evening. To every person you meet. Greet people in their native language, if possible.
  14. Put the toilet seat down, or put the toilet seat up. You’ll know.
  15. Be kind to the planet. Recycle or Upcycle something.



Image source: iClipart; Original design by Stephanie DelTorchio
Smile source

Pick the Orange Team

Mashed or Baked?

Black pair or Brown pair?

Coke or Pepsi? I drink neither, but pressed to pick one, my favorite is whichever brand produces the best SuperBowl commercial.

Most choices we make are actually personal preferences. Choosing one over the other is not a life-changing experience.

Exception: Green Team or Orange Team?

This choice requires more thought.

To ride Disney World’s Mission: Space at Epcot Center you must choose the Green or Orange Team. The popular attraction is a centrifugal motion simulator thrill ride. It simulates what an astronaut might experience aboard a spacecraft on a mission to Mars, from the higher g-force of liftoff to the speculative hypersleep.

I’d all but given up rides that go around and around, upside down, back and forth or propelled up and dropped down. Tower of Terror anyone?

I considered the choice to be a little brave and step out of my comfort zone in an effort to face my fear of throwing up in public.

You’re given several opportunities to choose from two levels of intensity while waiting your turn at Mission: Space. The Orange Team is the more intense experience, while the Green Team enjoys the same visual attraction but with less intensity. Of course “intense” is relative to your ability to handle motion sickness and scream “Mommy!” at the same time.

The Green Team experience is a motion simulator ride that does not spin. According to the warning signs, it’s less likely to cause motion sickness. Less likely.

The Orange Team experience uses a centrifuge (spins around and around). It further tilts (upside down, back and forth) to simulate speed and tremendous G-forces during launch and re-entry. I recalled the condition of my daughter’s doll after a spin in the washing machine. Never found the leg.

The wimps who opt-out are moved directly through to the gift shop, naturally.

I’m no wimp but I’m not adventurous either.  I over-interpreted every warning notice: More likely to blurt obscenities. Dizzy as a top. Black out. Become permanently disoriented. Crap in your pants.

I swore allegiance to the Green Team.

Until I got to the entrance.

The young attendant’s smug face, trained no doubt to analyze fear, certain I’d follow the older crowd. To his surprise, and mine, I picked the Orange Team.

I rode it out and exited a bit shaky but with all my limbs intact.



Image source

Be Naïve

Several years ago I had an epiphany to publish a bi-weekly community news tabloid. The idea arrived complete with shooting stars and blaring trumpets. In the background, Woodward and Bernstein, legitimate journalists, wept over their Pulitzers.

Enter Little Susie News Girl with no experience whatsoever. No knowledge of printing press applications. Or the boiler room politics behind the publishing and distribution industry.

Creatively, “The Evolution of Sex Education in America” received high praise from my professor for its exceptionally neat penmanship.

My art portfolio sat in a cardboard box in my parent’s basement labeled “Stephanie’s middle school crap”.

Not to mention I’d never sold anything to anyone. Ever. Unless you count the piss warm lemonade charitable neighbors gagged down. Coincidentally on the same really hot day Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon. One giant leap…

My lack of credentials held no restraint against my passion and purpose.

Our town published a daily broadsheet, but I fell in love with the smaller shopper-type free papers I’d seen at rest stops and quickie marts. Without a formal business plan or a bankroll, I forged ahead to become the next Lois Lane of yard sale and fundraiser announcements.

I romanticized the feel-good position of being editor-in-chief. I’d wave the power of the press in favor of the little guy. The underserved. Small business owners and all the non-profit organizations with wrapping paper and candy bars to sell.

Parents and little old ladies arrived in droves like starry-eyed pilgrims, with notices scribbled on a napkin in one hand and no money in the other. Steady and loyal customers booked two-by-two inch paid ads to support the tabloid. Relationships were key. Something I might have learned had I gone to business school.

There were months and months of mule work to learn the production process, layout and design, salesmanship, accounting — I loved it all.

I mostly enjoyed the people I got to meet. Pat, my printing contractor, was the quintessential newspaper man; tweed blazer with suede elbow pads, the scent of printer’s ink and pipe smoke swirling about his office.

Interestingly, he attributed my success as a legitimate resource in a small community to my lack of resume.

“Your naivete is your greatest asset,” he smiled.


I did not know what I did not know which propelled my curiosity. At the start, my fears of failure were non-existent. Had I understood the dynamics of the business, the costs and the sheer time commitment involved, I would have most certainly taken another crack at a lemonade stand.

That little newspaper had a good run for a few years before I moved on to other writing platforms which I also knew nothing about!

Naivete is still my greatness asset. What’s yours?


Awesome CHOICE

Credits: iClipArt

One In A Million

For one bright shining moment, at about age six or so, my grandmother made me feel special.

This elderly, sweet woman lived in America for some sixty of her 82 year-long life and never truly mastered the English language. She got along just fine with the grocer and school teachers by communicating with smiles and hugs and food offerings, usually homemade bread fresh from the oven.

My visits to her house with my father involved a form of charades. She talked with her hands of course, animated fun for a kid, and injected a few single syllable English words for good measure. This is how she introduced some guy named Mario Lanza whose scratched record she played over and over on the Hi-Fi. She encouraged me to dance while she clapped and sang every word of every love song to perfection.

Then she served me steaming hot coffee and sesame cookies without asking my father’s permission. Later, he rolled his eyes during the ceremonial cleaning out of the refrigerator. My tiny grandmother shut him down with a few choice words delivered in a big loud voice. She’d examined my boney arms from wrist to shoulder, disappointed with the findings. I’d inherited a too thin frame from both of them. She could fix it.

Out came the Jello, chocolate pudding, and leftovers covered in aluminum foil. Her endless presentation of foods needed no translation. Cold chicken, pasta and meatballs expressly for me. A trifecta of gastronomic delight.

The visit ended at the front door. Her hug surrounded me as we melted into each other. A pinch then a kiss on each cheek. This demonstrative show of affection was nothing more than an elaborate rouse. It masked the treats she covertly shoved deep into my pockets before whispering “Dooshie Pie” in my ear. (It sounded like that.)

On the walk home I asked my Dad what “Dooshie Pie” meant. He shrugged it off. “You’re one in a million,” he laughed. It was a lie.

My dad called all his kids “one in a million,” in loud, clear, undeniable King’s English, and often. Usually after we’d screwed up his radio station, taken something from his tool shed to build a street jigger or spilled milk at the dinner table.

I waited for his “Dooshie Pie”, the one my grandmother tenderly bestowed with a smile, a kiss and treats. Instead, while my mother cleaned up whatever we’d done, he uttered between pursed lips a few half-made-up Italian gibberish words. One learns early in life a curse word in any real or invented language is exactly that.

My dad’s “one in a million” speech reached beyond our home. He evenly distributed between political candidates, the gas company, the driver who cut him off on the highway, and practically anyone who knocked on the door looking for a donation during baseball season. Further confirmation of my diminished value among millions of people.

For years I looked for a bright side to this equation. And I think I found it.

I recently read there are now 7 billion people on this planet. If I am one in a million, there are 7,000 people on this planet just like me — lucky enough to have had a grandmother like mine. Or a dad who was very inventive with the English language.


Awesome MEMORY
Awesome LOVE

Be A Little Brave Today

Don’t confuse personal achievements (being a little brave) with giant and heroic acts of bravery.

Unexpectedly brave

Men and women in the military. First responders. Our brothers and sisters who run toward the chaos when most of us run in the opposite direction; brave giant acts of the highest order by true heroes.

Cancer patients, women and children in crises, lonely and ailing elderly, and many others who face day to day struggles, whose today is the brave decision(s) they will make to survive.

Please send them all a blessing today.

I’m speaking about those of us who live afraid, under the awning, three rows back in the crowd. Raise your hand.

Do you remember as a child being egged on by friends to do something? Be your friend. Give yourself a nudge. Push just a little bit to get to the next level. If you don’t know about levels ask anyone under twenty-one. Your collecting coins towards the top of the leader board.

To be a little brave is to step outside of what’s normal. It’s reaching a bit deeper, away from what feels comfortable.

To be a little brave today is to take the stairs instead of the elevator, knowing you may need to stop after five steps to catch your breath. You’re overweight. It’s no secret. Your body knows it needs the exercise.

To be a little brave today is to talk to the stranger who looks lost. Not everyone who doesn’t look like you is a psychopath. They may need to find an emergency room, the post office or the nearest coffee shop!

To be a little brave today is to volunteer for the community play because you always wanted to be on Broadway. It’s too late you say? Don a fun wig, assume a strange accent. Go play in a play. They need extras.

To be a little brave today is to send out your poem or story or pitch or enter your photographs, drawings or paintings into a show. Trust me, the world will not fall to pieces (and neither will you) if you don’t win a blue ribbon.

To be a little brave today is to make a call, send a note, or knock on the door of the person you want to reconcile with before you die. (If they’ve put a restraining order on you, skip this little act of personal bravery — this is the definition of flagrant stupidity).

To be a little brave today is to say “YES!” this one time when you routinely say no. Yes, saying “no” is the easy, familiar, and predictable path. Imagine the possibilities when you finally say yes. Imagine the good ones!

One little brave act begets another and another. Five stairs today, six tomorrow. A simple “I’m sorry” card today, the potential for a rekindled relationship next week. Those amazing photos you shared all over social media today get the attention of a fine arts dealer next month. Say “yes” to volunteer (yes, again!) and meet the most amazing mentor or confidant or supporter.

The possibilities of being a little brave today? Endless.



Original graphic: Stephanie DelTorchio


I Don’t Do Crazy Anymore

I Don't Do Crazy

I’m going to turn this into a Bumper Sticker.



Original graphic: Stephanie DelTorchio

Daily Examination of Faults

As I put my head down at night I’m of the belief that my place on the planet is made better because I’ve cleared my conscious of my every fault. (Insert laugh track here).

I’ve been taught to ask/pray for forgiveness and poof, it is granted. Like some all powerful wizard waving a big magic wand with the admonition “go forth and do better next time girl.” It sounds too simplistic: A GET OUT OF JAIL FREE card for Dummies.

Where’s the responsibility here?

In reality, I stop counting my faults (and flaws) after a dozen or so or I’d never sleep. If you’re anything like me, you are riddled with (decades long) guilt, shame, intolerance, fear, dilution, incompetence, gluttony — c’mon sistahs and brothas, pizza and chocolate are the fault line between pleasure and pain.

This daily examination is exhausting! But probably necessary. It doesn’t clean the slate but it does make us acutely aware of each day we are here. Our responsibility then is to live this awesome life, on purpose.

Today I find myself more in tune with my mortality. I refuse to waste an entire day mulling over some person or some thing out of my control. I’m okay dealing with shit within my cone of existence, but I’ve handed the Baton of Control to those who can handle it a whole lot better than me.

Our purpose here is to live an awesome life. It is given to us pure and whole, with great love and affection. And we do a very fine job fucking it up.

When we re-examine our faults the “collateral damage” shows on the faces of the people closest to us.

This daily check-in gives us a do-over. It’s a free pass with conditions, provisos and stipulations. You get to do it again but this time you know better so you are implored to do better.

And if you think you have nothing to fix, adjust or re-arrange, go back and look again. We’re human. We’re fallible. We mess up. A lot. And we can fix it.


Awesome Do-Over

Original graphic: Stephanie DelTorchio

One Day

One day you are born, and the entire world opens its arms to let you in…

One day you run and jump and play.
One day you sit and sulk and stare.

One day your spirits soar above the clouds.
One day your universe is broken into a million pieces.

One day you open your mind and learn something new and exciting.
One day you shut down; you know everything.

One day you form a hard opinion based on hearsay, innuendo and speculation.
One day your opinion is challenged by facts.

One day you carelessly judge a friend, relative or stranger.
One day you are carelessly persecuted by a friend, relative or stranger.

One day you dismiss someone as insignificant.
One day you are dismissed as trivial.

One day you fall madly in love and forget everyone around you.
One day your love slowly fades away and you are forgotten.

One day you are easily impressed.
One day you are quickly disappointed.

One day you feel lucky.
One day you feel cursed.

One day you feel blessed.
One day you feel targeted.

One day you feel healthy.
One day you feel deathly ill.

One day your mind is sharp and clear.
One day you have trouble remembering.

One day you are happy.
One day you want to curl up in a ball.

One day you’re on top of the world.
One day you are in the pit of despair.

One day you receive a wonderful gift.
One day you are the wonderful gift.

One day your heart is light.
One day your heart aches.

One day you feel free.
One day you feel stuck.

One day you are proud.
One day you are humiliated.

One day you blindly point the finger.
One day you are falsely accused.

One day you feel joy.
One day you feel turmoil.

One day you feel love.
One day you feel loveless.

One day you are strong and invincible.
One day you are weak and vulnerable.

One day you think you’ll live forever.
One day you face the reality of your mortality.

One day you die, and the entire world releases you and lets you go.

So much can happen in one day.



Original graphic: Stephanie DelTorchio

Be the Parent of You Be the Parent of You by Stephanie DelTorchio

How many times has the “adult” you pointed blame at your (elderly, or deceased) parents for your “adult” life’s shortcomings? (quotes intentional)

Let this one go away. Please. Besides it being in the past, the replay of your tirades and whining is annoying to everyone around you. Every word you utter and thought you circle over and over chips away at your health and happiness.

I mean, c’mon. We’re all grown-ups here. Whose childhood didn’t suck on some level? I didn’t get a brand new bike for Christmas. So what. Should I go back and sue my parents? When I reached high school, I got a job and understood the value of an earned dollar.  I bought a bike which I rode for over 25 years (yeah, it was a nice bike). I treated it like the prized possession it was to me.

Maybe your parents didn’t have the money for a new bike at Christmas. Or have friends to invite your family to their beach house. Perhaps their marriage lacked passion, or partnership and they hid their feelings from you; or you had a single parent who faced their fears of raising you alone.

Do you think your parents’ dreams, aspirations, goals and desires got put on hold a while because they were raising you? Surely your parents felt the pain of their flaws, inadequacies, fears. They too were misunderstood, judged, lonely, rejected, and ridiculed under the noses of their own parents, your dear sweet Granny and Grampy.

So you have this burden. This SOS (Sack of Shit) you’ve carried around since when? Fourth grade? And because why? You didn’t get a friggin’ pony?  You weren’t perched on a pedestal revolving under a white light 24 hours a day?

My parents had six kids and one income; I have three and two incomes. My worry is one-half minus one-half of theirs. I have no idea how they raised six kids into adulthood.

I’ll bet many parents, mine for sure, grappled each day with how to provide a balanced meal and electricity; your ego, however fragile and developing, nary a thought.

It’s a circle of life thing. And each generation tries to do better.

Here are three facts to consider:

You cannot change your childhood.
You cannot change your parents.
You certainly as hell can change your attitude.

And if you are a parent, please rip out the lesson(s) from your own parent’s playbook; the one(s) that sends you off the deep end, make you crazy and angry and grumble and complain.

Because sure as the sun rises and sets, your children will find something to hold a grudge against you someday. And worse of all you’ll be shocked and cry “Foul!” by the allegations.  All you did was try to provide for your children in the best way you could with the tools and knowledge and resources available. And however that is perceived twenty years down the road by your children is none of your business!

Today, forgive your parent(s) for whatever crap they did or did not do. Like it or not they got you here. Today, send a silent blessing to your parent(s) and offer a quick prayer of forgiveness. Get that monkey off your back once and for all.

Shut up. Grow up.

Today, be the parent of you. Nurture yourself. Inspire yourself. Encourage yourself.

Shower yourself with all the love, affection and adoration you didn’t get from them. Support your dreams, goals, desires without censorship; swing for the bleachers on this one. Go after whatever it is that speaks to you. Be to yourself what you wish had been given to you way back when.

Just stop pointing blame and using your parent(s) as the excuse for not making a good life for yourself. It’s stale.

You’re in charge now. Use today as the starting point. Get up. Wash your face. Be grateful for the day. Go get a damn pony if you want. Where your life goes from here is all on you.

Go BeF.A.T.

[Serious note here: If you indeed had parents who were truly abusive, I pray the collective Universe shines brightly upon you and heals the deep wounds that have been the source of your lifelong pain. I can never scratch the surface to begin to understand such betrayal of a parent to a child. Please do your very best to be good to you.]


Awesome REWIND

Original graphic: Stephanie DelTorchio