I first heard these words lying in bed in a hostel in Vancouver during a quiet Monday evening. A day out of my normal routine in our home in Alberta, it began with an authentic moment with a stranger who became a friend in the few days that we had together as roommates. An experience without the typical awkwardness found between strangers. We seemed to immediately connect as women, as mothers, and as human beings. Following our goodbyes that morning, I proceeded to a day on my own. From sitting in a coffee shop to burying my toes in the sand of Stanley Park beaches I spend the day with myself. Each moment of the day offering a new opportunity to just be. As tiredness of the last few days of training sunk into my body and mind, I decided to head back to my room. The next hour was a delightful introduction to my new roommate, a young girl from Belguim on a long stay in Canada. Once again human connection felt easy, without barriers and a gift. Soon after as she prepared herself for her volunteering shift at a local event I tucked myself in for some rest. As the room quieted from her departure I settled in and picked a movie on Netflix. As I browsed my list I noticed a movie I had chosen over a year ago and decided to give it a go. I soon realized that what began with humor and mindless tv soon turned into me leaning into the experience of these characters. The movie was The Last Word with Shirley MacLaine as Harriet Lauler, a retired businesswoman who hires a young journalist Anne Sherman played by Amanda Seyfried to write her obituary and reshape her legacy.
Words have such a profound ability to create an impactWe use them to share, to connect, to argue and to show love. And yet we often speak without noticing the words we use and what they mean. There is a message that is woven through the movie and shone like a bright light in a scene where Harriet becomes a disc jockey. She leans forward to the microphone and says
“Please don’t have a nice day. Have a day that matters, Have a day that’s true, Have a day that’s direct, Have a day that’s honest. A nice day…mmm…you’ll be miserable…Have a day that means something.”I had to stop the movie as I found my mind swirling with how often in any day we say have a nice day? And for the first time, I felt as though I was challenging these words. How many times just today had I used those exact words. The two women with whom I had made beautiful connections with. The lady who smiled so brightly as she handed me my first cup of tea. The women who stopped to let me pet her dog in the park. I was struck by not even being able to count how often. Each time they were returned with “you too”, “thanks you also” and a smile. When you look it up Google will tell you that nice means “pleasant; agreeable; satisfactory.” Are you seeing what I’m seeing? All these people who had added something special to my day had been rewarded by being told to have a satisfactory day. Everything in my life that matters involves a real human being. Someone with dreams for themselves, for the people in their lives. They have memories that have instilled wisdom. Their lives inspire something incredible in the world and create possibilities for themselves and others. There is nothing at all “satisfactory” about that. When my children go into the world taking steps to reach their dreams there is nothing “pleasant” about it.