Wednesday, August 27, 2014

That's Not My Name

Hello my name is Kalei

It was a beautiful morning, so I loaded my dog Daisy into my car and headed to my favorite hiking trail.  After a serene and peaceful workout, I returned to my car and checked my phone.  

There was an urgent email from a colleague I’ve worked with for many years.  The email began: 

Dear Kaleigh…

[Screeching record halt]

I’m sorry who?  

A tad annoyed, I immediately responded: 

Hi Jake, I’m Hawaiian, not Irish. 


(Confession: I spent at least 10 minutes debating whether I should address him as JHAYKE.  I ultimately decided that yes, I’m remarkably clever, but no, that was a bit snarky). 

He responded, Ok I’ll try to remember that next time.  

Huh? I thought. No big deal, guy, it’s just MY NAME.

A few minutes later, a new voicemail popped up.  I pressed play and was greeted with this: 

Hello, um…Kay-lee?  I’m calling about…


Anxious to shake it off and get my day started, I arrived at my neighborhood Starbucks.  When I made it up to the counter, I took a deep breath. 

Me: Good morning!

Starbucks Guy: Hi Kalei. 

He not only pronounced my name correctly, he spelled it perfectly on my little white cup. (If you’re thinking, wow she must live at Starbucks.  Yes.  Yes she does).

I couldn’t help but smile.  After my I-don’t-care-what-your-name-is morning, someone took the time to know my name.  To know me. 

My name and I are synonymous- it’s my identity, my truth. Hearing it (pronounced correctly, which is an entirely different story), makes my heart sing. 

I love Dale Carnegie’s Success Tip: Remember that a person’s name to that person is the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

I know I have an unusual name that’s difficult to pronounce.  My point is this: I appreciate when an effort is made.  It tells me you care. 

Do you have an unusual name?  Or maybe you’ve been called by the wrong name?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments below (especially my fellow Hawaiian peeps). 

What's in a name? that which we call a rose 
By any other name would smell as sweet.
- William Shakespeare

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 
- Isaiah 43:1

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Uncertainty Sucks

There is one thing that's certain:
my nieces are the cutest things ever. 

I’m not a fan of uncertainty.  Never have been.

Even as a kid, if I was told at the last minute to Get in the car, we’re headed to a birthday party!, I’d FREAK OUT.  

Me: But I didn't know about this!  It’s not on my calendar!
Mom: You’re 6.  Calm down.

I’m a planner.  If it were up to me, I’d know exactly what was going to happen every minute of every day for the rest of my life.

Having certainty gives me peace.  I like knowing exactly what’s going to happen next.

Except I don’t always know.  Because life doesn’t work that way.  

The truth is, there will always be uncertainty.  

So, I've come to a challenging conclusion: I might as well find peace.

See, I originally set out to write 10 Things You Can Do To Be At Peace.  I ended up staring at my computer for a long time.  Then I attempted what turned out to be truly horrible writing (Smile! Go hiking! Hold a baby!).

I kept coming back to one thing.   Pray.

(Maybe you're howling, Cop out! and rolling your eyes.  I get it, I was annoyed too.  Hello, you said 10 Things!  Come on, Kekuna, you're better than this!) 

But I couldn’t.  Because that was my best answer.  Prayer.

Let me be clear that my prayers won't be found in any church pew anytime soon.

Because I pray boldly authentic, heart-gushing, crazy-time prayers.

I mean, sometimes they're sweet and cuddly: God, that sunset was freaking GORGEOUS! You are so creative! Thank you for all this beauty! Amen!

But sometimes, my prayers are gut-wrenching hail storms: God this SUCKS and I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO and I’m TERRIFIED and and and...I HATE this!  But. I trust you. 


Trust that has brought me peace.   

I used to think anxiety was a normal part of life.  I was wrong.

Thank God for that.

Peace begins with a smile.  - Mother Teresa
We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.  -Dalai Lama
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:6-7

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What the Heck is Going On?

I saw this on my morning walk the other day and just
stood there, completely mesmerized.  What a great
reminder that in darkness, there's always, always light. 

I was going to tell you a story about my 6am morning walk, where I was worrying about 457 legitimately worrisome things, when all of a sudden I felt something super sticky splat on my right ear, which turned out to be not bird poop, but something worse: tree sap (tree sap?!) from a pine tree I was walking under (did you know sap just, like, falls from trees?!) which has never happened to me before in the history of my life, and it took me a good HOUR to scrub the unbelievably sticky crap off my ear AND out of my hair because, guess what, friends, soap doesn’t do P. Diddy squat except create an exceptionally sticky paste, so I had to Google how to remove tree sap from your skin and hair and who knew but apparently the answer is cooking oil, so I frantically searched my kitchen cupboards for the best smelling cooking oil I could find, and now the tree sap is thankfully gone but I smell like a Tuscan olive oil-basted christmas tree as I make my way to a business lunch.
I guess I needed to get that off my chest.
Clearly, there’s a lot going on in my head.  And no wonder- there’s a lot going on in the world.  That’s why, apart from my little tree sap story, I had a hard time sharing something light and fluffy. 
There’s a lot of sad and scary stuff happening.  Plane crashes, genocide, hurricanes, suicide. 
A friend shared with me that’s she’s just angry.  I get it, because I’m confused, upset, worried.  
The world can be depressing.
So one option is to hide myself from the world, and hole up in my apartment where it’s clean and safe and quiet.  I don’t have to shower, I can lay around in my bathrobe, work from my couch, order a large Dominos Pizza. (Not that I’ve ever done that.  This is purely hypothetical).
But that’s not life.
I wish I had answers.  But I don’t.
So instead, I’m trying to see this as an opportunity. 
To love.
To be kind.
To lend a hand to a stranger.
To listen when a friend needs to talk. 
To be peaceful amidst chaos.
To be light when the world is dark.
To see the good when it’s so easy to see the bad.
To not lose hope.
I choose to combat the craziness- with love, light and hope.  I invite you to join me.   
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.  -Isaiah 40:31
We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. - Martin Luther King, Jr.
Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. - Desmond Tutu
Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear.  If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today. - Thich Nhat Hanh

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I Can't Believe I Just Did That

You guys, I ate sooo healthy at this conference in North Carolina.
I mean, look at all those veggies.  (Confession: I strategically cropped
this picture so you can't see my absolutely monstrous dessert plate). 

Oh heck no, I argued with myself.  Absolutely NOT.  Do something— anything—else. 

I had just settled in at Gate 49, a piping hot Starbucks coffee in one hand, fully-charged iPad in the other.  I was looking forward to reading my recently downloaded book before boarding.


Relaxing was pretty darn impossible when the two gate agents were playing a game called I Swear I Hate My Job More Than You.

“I have to turn around the Miami flight in 20 minutes?!? Are you kidding me??!”  barked Mean Lady. 

“What do you want ME to do about it!?” shouted Grouchy Guy.

I had encountered Cranky #1 and Cranky #2 earlier when I wanted to catch another flight.

Standing at the desk, I waited while the two of them tried very hard to ignore me.  30 seconds…1 minute…no acknowledgement.  I finally piped up, “Excuse me, can someone help me with the earlier flight to Dallas?” 

Two sets of irritated eyes darted in my direction.  

“It’s FULL,” Grouchy screeched.

Allllllrighty then.  

I grabbed a seat and had started to read my book when an incredibly annoying thought entered my head: You should buy them coffee.  

I jolted.  Where the heck did that come from?

Then I remembered a story that a speaker at my conference had shared: She and her family had vowed to do one nice thing for a stranger every day for a year.  

At the time I thought, Wow what a fantastic idea. I'll get right on that!  

And then, I ran into my first opportunity. Which sucked. 

You know, I told myself, it is only 10am.  Surely I’ll have plenty of other opportunities to be nice.  

But the idea continued to gnaw at me.  And I realized, I was curious.  I mean, what would they do?

So I slowly got up, and made my way back to The Desk of Anger.

Mean Lady saw me approaching and shouted, “ARE YOU GOING TO MIAMI?”

“Um, no,” I said in a teeny tiny little voice

Grouchy Guy turned his head in our direction.

I cleared my throat.  “I was wondering…if I could buy you coffee?” My voice had gone up 3 octaves.

They stared.  

5 seconds went by as they pondered my offer, then suddenly Grouchy snapped back to reality.  

“Oh. No,” he said with a confused expression.  And they both went back to work. 

Half of me was relieved.  The other half was pissed.  Um, I was trying to do something nice for you and you couldn't even say “No THANK YOU”?  RUDE. 

I pretended that’s exactly what I expected (why hello fellow passengers who now think I'm freaking crazy) as I returned to my seat to read my book until it was time to board.  

When my group was called, I filed into line and noticed that Grouchy was checking tickets.  Oh great, I thought, he gets one last chance to make me feel like an idiot. 

It was finally my turn.  I handed him my ticket, and in a last-ditch effort, I looked straight into his eyes and said, “Thank you, sir.”

Then something miraculous happened.

He winked.  


Look, I have no idea if my effort made any lasting impact.  It’s possible that he forgot about our interaction 2 seconds later. But, maybe he didn't.

Kindness is a beautiful thing.  And a little too rare in our world.  I'll confess that sometimes I'm downright shocked by an unexpected smile from a stranger. 

It bedazzles my mind to think how these little gestures could change lives. 

So I'm continuing this little experiment.  Will you join me?  I’d love to hear from you- please keep me posted on what happens in the comments below. 

Don’t forget to be kind to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! - Hebrews 13:2
Smile at strangers and you just might change a life.  - Steve Maraboli