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How to Be a Cool Breeze in Others’ Days

By: Maralee McKee


Welcome to Monday! I hope your weekend was slow-paced enough for you to get some rest and that today won’t be too “Monday-ish” for you!

After my disastrous Friday of accidently sending out 24 e-mails, instead of one, you all were incredibly kind! I’m forever grateful to each of you!

After I sent my apology letter, you sent letter after letter telling me you weren’t bothered a bit! You encouraged me to relax, and even said you felt bad for me, knowing as soon as you saw them that it must be a mistake and I’d be upset. One reader said she just couldn’t sleep that night and stayed up and read all of them; it gave her something to do.

Please consider yourselves hugged–each of you! You made the decision to focus on the good and to blur out the inconvenience. What great examples you are!

I was so concerned about how the mistake had impacted you, and yet not one person complained and only one person unsubscribed. After I wrote her a personal apology letter, she said, “Oh, please sign me back up. I like you’re blog, I was just overwhelmed thinking I was going to get 20 every day!”

You’re simply the best readers! It’s not bragging to say that, because it’s stating a fact! Thank you for your kindness. In this day and age, kindness goes a long way. Maybe that’s the silver lining in the dreaded front page news of our day.

Our kindnesses stand out more than anything.

Here’s a short example. The other day I was taking one of my two weekly trips to Starbucks. (This is good because I’ve cut back from going every day!) I was in the drive-thru line and just happened to notice the lady in the SUV behind me.

At first I thought she must have bad allergies because she was rubbing her eyes under her sunglasses. Then I noticed her nose was red, and thought, This poor lady is really sick with a bad cold. Then she took off her sunglasses to wipe tears. She wasn’t sick, she was crying… a lot.

When I got to the window, I asked to pay for her coffee and asked the barista to let her know I would be praying for her that day.

The next week at Starbucks, the same man took my order. He said, “Remember that lady you bought the coffee for? She was stunned. She said she had just lost her job earlier that morning and that coffee was a sign that she was going to be provided for. She came back a few days later and paid for the person behind her. She said it was to celebrate that she got a new job!”

Where am I going with all of this?

Your kindness changed my Friday and my future. You kept me on the right track. I was tempted to throw away the blog. My husband, mother, and mother-in-law were cheering me on to do it because it takes me over 20 hours a week to bring it to you, and of course, I’m not paid.

They saw this blog as an opportunity for hard work, worrisome technology glitches, time away from my family and finishing my books, and not relaxing. I don’t blame them; they love me. They want to protect me.

Your kindness expressed in your e-mails stopped me from ending something that I know full well I’m supposed to do with my life, and it even convinced my family that I should keep going forward.

My little act of noticing the tears of the lady behind me encouraged her that the door which closed that morning meant she would be opening a new one in the future.

Our giant good intentions do very little, if anything, in the world.

Your small kindnesses, smiles, encouraging e-mails, everyday actions like buying coffee, holding open a door for someone, smiling at the person who asks, “Do you want fries with that?”, get multiplied to the tenth power. (A math metaphor–there’s something I never thought I’d use!)

Etiquette (kind words and actions put into practice) have the power to change decisions, encourage actions, and strengthen faith. That’s what etiquette, my brand at least, is all about.

This week may you and I continue to gain both 20/20 eyesight to see the voids around us and the urge to act on every opportunity to fill the voids with positive and powerful interactions.

In this day and age, you and I will make our own silver linings. We’ll be the cool breeze and the sweet center of others’ days. We might not change the world, but we’ll positively impact the day of the people in our sphere. Then maybe they’ll tell ten friends, then they’ll tell ten friends….

Let’s intentionally be kind to one another. Compliment someone who really isn’t even doing a good job (waitress, cashier, teller, etc.), wish them a great day, and then step back and watch how your words change that person’s countenance and bring a smile to his or her face. Then see if he or she doesn’t pass it on.

It will be our own personal experiment. Get your kids to help. Have them open the doors for others and say, “Please, let me get this for you!” It’s a fantastic lesson for them to see how their kind words and small actions affect others.

Some people will gush all over us and our children. Sadly, some people won’t say a word of thanks. That’s OK, too. It quickly shows our children how it makes others feel to have their kindnesses not noticed or appreciated. They’ll be much more apt to say, “Thank you!” the next time someone does something nice for them.

Comment here about all you see and do this week. Share past stories, too. Let’s make this page the starting point for a purposeful kindness groundswell. It’s going to be fun to see how many cool breezes and silver linings we bring about!

Can’t wait to read your comments! Let’s make 20 comments our goal! So come on, share your stories with your blog family here!

Oh, and please come back Wednesday for Reader Q&A! We’ll have “Seven Tips for What to Do in Church, Movies, and Other Public Events.” One of the tips is about your backside…really! You’ll love it!

See you in the comments section and then back here on Wednesday for great etiquette tips!

If you’re new here, please take a moment and click on “Register by e-mail or RSS feed” to get free tips each week. We’ll love having you as part of the family!




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  • Merrymntnmom

    Dear Maralee,

    I just ran across this post today (9-27-2011) after revisiting one of Christy Jordan’s recipes.  It is as timely today as when you first wrote it. “Love one another” never gets old, never goes out of style, never really misses the mark.  God bless your day and that of your family and of all your readers!


    • Maralee McKee

      Dear Mary,

      You’re so kind! Thank you for your sweet note! You’re so right, “Love one another” never misses the mark.

      Thank you again for writing!

      Maralee :)

  • Maralee McKee

    Dear Dorothy,

    You are so kind! Thank you for your compliments on the blog! Your encouragement is a gift as I'm always shy to blog. Thank you again and may your New Year bring you great blessings!

    With gratitude,

  • dorothysaul

    I just happened upon your site and I absolutely love it! What a terrific writer and inspiration you are. Happy Holidays to you and yours.

  • Su

    Hello Maralee

    I just wanted to let you know that I did unsubscribe to your mailing list some weeks back. But I still visit your site. I unsubscribed because I didn’t have always have the time to read the emails, so rather than receiving them and not reading them, I just continued to visit your site on my own.

    Your Starbucks story was so sweet. It was very nice of you to do something like that.
    (Oh and by the way, we don’t even have Starbucks where I live!)

  • Maralee McKee

    Dear Bill,

    Wow- eight years in the law firm! What a multitude of lives you touched in that time.

    No wonder your firm saw a hundred clients a day. People flock to where they feel welcomed, cared for, and safe.

    With the warmth and kindness you each chose to give as gifts to your clients you blessed them in ways above and beyond any monetary or legal wins or losses could equal.

    People (grumpy ones!) sometimes want to insist that manners aren’t of value becuase they aren’t “real.’ Huh?

    Somewhere along the way our society has made a trade, our “good manners” for “an edge,” and we think we’re stronger for it.

    Not at all, manners are real, they’re a real effort sometimes! You nailed it perfectly when you said, “…when we decide ahead of time.”

    True manners aren’t something we pull out on formal ocassions, they’re a decision to live out the golden rule instead of simply memorizing it!

    Bill, you are the best! As always, a million thank yous for your great input!

  • Maralee McKee

    Thank you Christy!

    What an honor and joy it is to count you as a friend and mentor!

    You carry glee and positivity that is more potent than any pixie dust!


  • BillGent

    I don’t know how I missed this post. I thought I had subscribed and Christy’s mention of you made me go look. I am now!

    This is a very sweet post. I worked for a lawyer for many years before I had to quit to take care of my dad. His type of practice created a high traffic office. We would deal with 100′s of clients a day.

    He insisted on treating each client with love and respect. He told us..”They are already unhappy that they have to use us, if they are not pleasant, don’t take it personally, we have no idea what they are dealing with in life.”

    If the client told us of difficult situations, he were to ask if we could pray for them. In the 8 years I worked there, everyone was thankful and appreciative that we would do that.

    I took all that to heart in my personal life. There are so many people out there that are difficult to deal with. Lord knows I’ve been one at times.

    Life is difficult at best. We can make it easier by deciding ahead of time how we are going to respond and react to people. As it is written “A gentle answer turns away wrath”.
    If we decide ahead of time that a certain difficult relative or person is not going to set us off, it can help our blood pressure tremendously.

    Thanks for this post Maralee. You ARE “Da Woman”!

  • Christy

    Maralee, this post really touched my heart. Thank you so much for taking the time to share it. You’ve changed lives today and you don’t even know it!

  • Maralee McKee

    Dear Jo,

    What a sweet note you wrote! Thank you for introducing yourself! I’m so honored you’re enjoying the blog.

    The blog-o-sphere is wonderful! It unites South American born and raised ladies currently living in Canada (you, of course!) with someone who has never lived in another county, yet alone another country (me), and gives us our own “local” community to plant and grow global friendships!

    It will be a joy getting to know you in the weeks and months ahead!

    Again, welcome to the blog! It’s a joy to meet you!

    All my best,


    Like the other poster, Bonnie, your Starbucks story brought tears to my eyes. You’re absolutely right; we need these small kindnesses to make big differences in our lives and in the lives of others.

    I have never regretted signing up for your email letters — I learned of you from Southern Plate, which I learned about from Southern Hospitality, and now this Canadian-livin’, South American born-and-raised girl is positively surrounded by Southern ladies and lovin’ every minute!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for agreeing to continue your blog!

  • Maralee McKee

    Hello Everyone!

    Wanted to let each of you know how truly special you are! Thank you for your kind and encouraging words, and your incrediably gracious compliments of the site!

    It’s an honor to have you as readers. I look forward to getting to know you in the weeks, months, and years ahead!

    What a joy that we’re starting new friendships together! I look forward to spending more time with each of you!

    All my best,

  • Hattie

    What a Southern Belle you are! A classy lady, and you take time to pass on that class to the rest of us gals! Thank you for all the time and effort you take with this blog. Thanks for squeezing us into your busy life.
    Love & Hugs,

  • pojeda

    Thank you for your site! I have always felt that showing someone kindness or just giving a smile will make a person’s day. You never know what another person is going through, and a act of kindness may be just what they need to clear the storm clouds for them!

  • Bonnie

    Maralee, your story about the lady behind you at Starbucks made me cry :) You have such a lovely heart. Thanks for all the hard work you put into this web site. It blesses me, and I pray it blesses you as well.

  • Erin

    I’ve recently graduated with a masters but I’ve yet to find a job in my field. In the meantime I’m working at an outlet mall. Even though I enjoy working with all the clothes and seeing many different people, it’s easy to think this job is worthless and that I’m not making any difference, at least in the way I hope to. It really helps me to put things in perspective by remembering that the customers I see each day may not have exactly the circumstances they wish either, but that they deserve a pleasant shopping experience. I really try to provide my best service to each one, with a smile, compliments and thoughtfulness. I hope it is a cool breeze to some of them.

  • Memoria

    Thank you for this post. I loved the story about the lady crying at Starbucks.

  • Susan Roddom

    What a nice reminder. I know I get so busy and stressed about my obligations, I tend to let others’ negativity get to me, so it is nice to regain perspective. It is so rewarding to see my son hold doors for people or offer to carry things for them without being prompted. Glad to find your blog!

  • Cindy

    I think your site is refreshing. In this stressful rushed time we live in it is nice to have someone remind us of the important things in life. It is always nice to make someone’s day by a nice comment or a smile. Or just do something for someone who just needs a friend. I am glad you have joined Southern Plate it is a wonderful site and I love it. “Us Southern Girls” need to stick together.