Wednesday, June 14, 2006

"My Baby Fell Out the Stroller"

Yesterday, I left my office in Midtown at the end of the day and jumped on the train to go pick up my son at school. I was rushing down the stairway at the 59th and Lexington station to catch the express train uptown, struggling against a sea of people surging up the stairs to catch the N. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a woman standing still, clutching a baby at the bottom of the stairs, standing next to an empty stroller.

"I can't stop, I'm running late, someone else will help her carry it up," I thought, and then stopped in my tracks and turned around.

One of the most rewarding things about writing this blog has been the change it has made in my OWN behavior. I notice that because I am always on the lookout for other people doing good deeds, it turns out that as a result I see more opportunities to help others myself. And the process of chronicling all the kindnesses others shower upon me makes me feel honor bound to return the favor to the universe. I feel so grateful about this. Good deeds have become my daily ethos and although I feel so flawed in many ways, this attitude is something I am really happy about.

So I just couldn't keep walking. I stopped, turned around, and asked the woman if she needed help carrying the stroller up the stairs. Suddenly I noticed that her cheeks were tear streaked and she was holding the baby very close.

"My baby fell out the stroller," she told me. "A man was helping me carry the stroller but he tripped and my baby, he fell out the stroller." She was trembling.

She was cradling the baby boy (who was maybe 6 months old) and the tears brimmed up in her eyes and trickled down her cheeks in a ceaseless stream. He was quiet in her arms, with his face pressed against her breast, sucking on a pacifier.

"Did he fall down the STAIRS?" I asked her, horrified. She looked in my eyes and nodded, and my own eyes filled with tears, seeing her mute anguish and terror. I asked her if he had cried, and she nodded. All of a sudden another woman appeared beside me. "Is everything OK?" she asked.

The mother gave a little sob and said again, "My baby fell out the stroller, my baby fell out the stroller!" The new woman said, "Well you have got to get him to a doctor, and make sure he is all right!"

"I know," said the mother. "But I ain't putting him back in that stroller!"

I put down my packages (book, magazine, leftovers from lunch) on the ground and said "I will carry the stroller outside for you, if you carry the baby."

As I turned around I noticed that a large group of people had suddenly gathered around the three of us. A young man asked me, "Were you going up the stairs yourself?"

"No," I answered. "I was going down to the 4/5. But I don't mind."

"I'll carry the stroller, and make sure she gets outside OK with the baby," he said, smiled reassuringly at the mother, and lifted the stroller effortlessly, motioning her to follow him. A crowd of people surrounded her as she went up the stairs, sort of placing their hands in the air around and behind her, as if to catch her and the baby if she stumbled.

Friday, June 09, 2006

FlyLady and Hey Tom

I've recently discovered two amazing web sites. I've added links to both. Reading each of these sites (they are linked) has changed my attitude profoundly in the last few weeks about cleaning the house, being (or not being) organized, my value as a person, and understanding the mysterious behavior of the men in my life.

Quite a tall order, eh?

FlyLady is a free service provided by a wonderful, life-affirming, and funny group of women who help hundreds of thousands of people improve the state of their homes, and by corrolary their mental, emotional and spiritual states. Their simple, cheery, practical reminders and advice have seeped into my consciousness to the extent that I suddenly find I have a COMPLETELY different perspective on my home, my gifts and flaws, and my relationship with myself. Because of this breakthrough I find that I am less fearful and more forgiving of myself and of others. I have new hope about creating a more manageable life and helping my son do the same thing.

I can't even describe how much this means to me. I have always lived with this perpetual sense of impending doom, and I am starting to realize that I don't have to feel that way. I'm not there yet, but I can see the light at the end of a (long) tunnel, and it's such a relief to know I can get out of the cycle of panic and disorganization and harsh self-criticism.

The other web site is called It is an advice website for people involved in the FlyLady system, run by a group of men who are related to the women running FlyLady. They attempt to explain the mysteries of the male psyche to the often bewildered women who write in, and also offer practical advice about tools, home repairs, relationships, shoes, the law, computer problems, you name it. Each of these guys has his own areas of expertise, and often several of them will weigh in on a particular letter. The tenor of their comments is unfailingly kind, compassionate, respectful, honest, informative and often hilarious. They just seem like really good men. Their explanations of the way men's minds work has been a revelation to me and has helped me so much just in the last couple of weeks in my relationship with my beloved fiance and son.

I'm surrounded by men! I live with two and work for two and am friends with a lot more. It's so nice to have a little peephole into their brains.

The paradigm shift this experience has given me is like the one when I had a child, or when I studied economics for the first time, or when I discovered the principles of AlAnon. I feel like I'm looking at the world through a new pair of glasses, and it looks much nicer.

The most amazing thing is that both services are completely FREE. It's incredible to me how much real, practical good they are doing for so many thousands of people - helping people help themselves, with kindness, encouragement, and homespun wisdom.

Thank you FlyLady! Thank you HeyTom! I'm so grateful that I found you.