Block the Nonsense and Always Choose Kind

Many times when I’m watching television or a movie, in church listening to a homily, or reading an article from the NY Post, I try and apply the learnings or message to my own life.

Recently, I finished the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. By finish, obviously I mean I binge watched it in a weekend. I’m not even sure I showered.

For those who haven’t heard about this freshman series, it is adapted from a 2007 novel and follows the story of Hannah Baker, a teenage girl who commits suicide after being bullied at school. Prior to taking her own life, she records a series of cassette tapes that detail the 13 reasons why she ended her life. When I first began watching the series, I was truly disturbed by the behaviors I saw on screen, knowing that these actions are not far fetched from what happens in real life. By the end of the series, I was downright depressed.

My life hostage has two nieces so by proxy, I have two nieces. And they are exceptional young ladies. When I watched 13 Reasons Why, I thought of the nieces and I wanted to cry. I was absolutely sick at the thought that something like that could happen to anyone, let alone two pumpkins I love. And I think what made it worse is that I know it does happen. All the time. Every day.

I am extremely lucky to have crossed paths in my life with many talented and amazing individuals. Colleen O’Malia Stine is one of those people. Colleen and I didn’t know each other in college except to say hi once in awhile, but have since become Facebook friends and I can honestly say, I truly admire her.

Colleen is your typical Midwest gal – bubbly, sassy, and wears her heart on her sleeve. She is a mom to five adorable children ranging from 2 to 13, two of whom were her nephews before she and her husband Doug adopted them after their own parents were taken from them in an unimaginable act of domestic violence. Finally, Colleen is a girl-boss of an outstanding company, Mama Said Tees. She and her business partner are on a mission to build a kindness empire and I know in my heart of hearts they won’t stop until they do.

Kind Is The New Cool. Be The Leader. Addicted To Caffeine and Kindness. Be True To You. When I browse through the Mama Said Tee portfolio of phrases, I’m always struck by the hopeful, positive nature of their messages. Too often I think all of us get bogged down by the glass is half empty day to day doldrums. Negativity is abundant and seems to exponentially multiple. But it doesn’t have to.

What if Hannah Baker had one friend who was a leader, who stood up and was true to themselves? What if they took the message of kindness to heart and instead of becoming a reason why she chose to end her life, became a reason why she decided not to?

Last year, one of my friends made a New Year’s resolution not be negative. To keep above the fray and try to look for the good in everyone and everything. He said it was harder than trying to lose weight. Should it really be that hard? Shouldn’t the golden rule of treat others as you want to be treated be second nature?

I’m not asking you to go out today and completely change the world, but if you take nothing else away, remember this: life is too short for nonsense. Smile at your neighbor, even when their dog decides your lawn is the best bathroom on the block. Teach your children kindness through your own actions so that they can mimic that same kindness to their peers. Stand up to those gossips in your workplace, no one needs to know whose static cling panties fell out of their slacks.

Life is too short. Colleen knows it. I know it. And I’m positive you all know it. Block the nonsense and always choose kind.

Rachel Olszewski

A hot mess held together on a daily basis by dry shampoo and probiotics, Rachel is still trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up but for now is a communications professional by trade. A true Chicagoan through and through, she is an East Coast transplant trying to set down roots. Although the height of her high heels may be getting shorter, Rachel’s expectations are not getting lower and she is on a mission to change the world one person at a time.

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