May 10, 2011

Lessons Learned by Traveling

Traveling….trains, planes and automobiles. Airports, train and bus terminals, perhaps there really is no greater locale that brings strangers together on a daily basis. While traveling last week, from New York to South Carolina, I had the opportunity to see some unique people in action and learn perhaps another great lesson in this thing called life.

Maybe I was a bit more turned into my surroundings having just spoken to Terri Amos-Brit, and learning her journey of discovery as The Enlightened Mom. I have probably seen this happen in the past, but was not in tune with it, and perhaps could not relate it to my life. There are times when you are just so caught up in your own life; you tune out everything around you. Living in the moment isn’t always as easy as it seems.

 As I transferred planes on my way down at O’Hare, I hit the ladies room. A usual transfer activity and I am certainly no stranger to O’Hare. I can do it in my sleep. But on this particular day, one of the ladies wash room attendants was singing hymns in her native Spanish. She was extremely happy, and she had a beautiful voice, which I told her. When I left the wash room, just by hearing her happily singing, I was automatically happier. She set the tone for the day…………

On my back to New York, and a transfer this time at Charlotte (love the Charlotte Airport!) I again, did my usual ladies room stop.  The attendant in this wash room could have been the opener for the Oprah show. “Ladies, I hope that you all are having a good day and safe travels. I have toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, mints, sanitizer, and basically anything that you may need. Please do not hesitate to ask me any questions about the Charlotte Airport. I will be glad to assist you in whatever way I can.” Her energy, her genuine happiness at seeing everyone and love for her job left me astonished. Personally I have never been a wash room attendant and hope I never am, but if I ever had to be in their place, I hope I would be as positive as they were.

While I was waiting in Charlotte for the plane back to Newark, there was this college-age woman who would have made the cast of the Jersey Shore look tame. While I watched her, I came to realize how strangers can affect your mood. Even though I didn’t know them, my wash room ladies made me happy. I started to think of how my mood could affect strangers. Did I want them to go away from an encounter with me, like I went away from my wash room ladies, happy,  or did I come across like the woman screaming into the phone, which would negatively affect their mood? It made me vow to seriously work at being nicer, more helpful. I wanted a chance encounter to have a positive effect. Happiness and kindness are contagious…..pass it on!

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