The Power Of One Nice Thing (from Lisa Wingate)

Happy Monday, Everyone and welcome to the porch!  Some days, I don’t know what I’m going to talk about on the porch until five minutes before I get here. So, five minutes ago, I went looking for my new iPad Mini.  As the search turned out to be both an adventure and an opportunity for reflection, I thought I’d share the little story with you.

The iPad Mini was a treat I purchased for myself so I could use it while giving book talks. No more papers to shuffle, no more notes to manage. I would be so uber-cool… So techy and “with it.”

In other words, the iPad mini was my little treat to me. We already had an old-fashioned, large iPad. The guys gave it to me for Mother’s Day several years ago. I haven’t seen it since, but the guys like it.  They use it for web browsing and various other things. The old iPad is too bulky for carrying around at book talks, anyway, but the new iPad Mini is perfect for me.  I love it. It’s a wonderful tool. If you’re interested in using an iPad mini for your speaking engagements, I can recommend be Podium Pro app. It’s great.

But, I digress.

Now that I’m back home, my trusty iPad mini is supposed to be docked on my desk. Yet, every time I go looking for it, it is not there.  Which brings me to what I really want to talk to you about today — men, and man-children, and one small piece of advice that is incredibly simple, yet powerful in terms of family harmony.

To illustrate, let me take you along on my search for my iPad Mini. Is it in the office? No. Is it in the kitchen? No. Is it in the sun room? No. After that, the search reads a little like Green Eggs and Ham. I cannot find it here and there. I cannot find it anywhere.

Sometime during my search, I end up in this room:


This is the hallway bathroom. At one time, I decorated it with a lovely antique theme (these mirrors once belonged to my grandmother.) I worked hard on this room because this is the bathroom closest to the guestroom. The one that guests and visitors actually see.

So, I’m not an insane neatnik by any means, but I do often remind the man and the man children that this is the bathroom other people see — please keep it clean.

Indulge me while I share with you their idea of clean.

Exhibit A:

The old over-door towel technique.  See that thing in the lower, right corner of the shot?  It's a towel bar.  Right now, it's lonely.

The old over-door towel technique. See that thing in the lower, right corner of the shot? It’s a towel bar. Right now, it’s lonely.

Exhibit B:

The inside of this sink looks like a reverse Rogaine comercial. Who's been shaving in here, a wookie?

The inside of this sink looks like a reverse Rogaine comercial. Who’s been shaving in here, a wookie?

Exhibit C:

The piece de resistance -- a toilet-paper masterpiece.  Yes, that object in the bottom corner is a one-handed, monkey-could-do-it, super-easy, toilet paper holder, installed especially because this is a man bathroom.  Note the half-used roll on the back of the toilet.  By all means, let's be sure we don't strain ourselves, lifting that scary cardboard thing off the holder and putting on the new one. It looks so feng shui, there on the back of the toilet.

The piece de resistance — a toilet-paper masterpiece. Yes, that object in the bottom corner is a one-handed, monkey-could-do-it, super-easy, toilet paper holder, installed especially because there are men in the house and we’ve had difficulty with this issue.
Note the half-used roll on the back of the toilet, indicating that the empty roll has been hanging that way quite a while.
By all means, let’s be sure we don’t strain ourselves, lifting that scary cardboard thing off the holder and putting on the new one. The partial roll looks so feng shui, there on the back of the toilet.

Exhibit D:

My iPad mini.  There it is, right on top of my cutsey towel basket.  Where else would it be?

My iPad Mini. There it is, right on top of my cutsey towel basket. Where else would it be?

That, my friends, is aggravating.  It’s just the kind of thing that has occasionally caused the firing of shots across the family battlefield. It’s a recipe for feeling put-upon, ignored, disregarded, and (when someone has the nerve abandon your new iPad in the bathroom)  just plain grossed-out. It’s a perfect catalyst for some serious nagging. Trust me, I’ve done my share.  Clearly, it’s hopeless.

Which brings me to the title of this post. Not so long ago after a funeral, I was talking with one of my neighbors — a sweet, little lady who’s navigating her first year as a widow.  She offered a little piece of marital advice to the “youngsters” in the group, and the longer I practice it, the more I see that it’s a simple, yet beautiful recipe for peace in any relationship.

“We had a rocky first few years of marriage,” she admitted, her eyes twinkling behind bottle-thick glasses. “Then, my auntie told me to look for one nice thing I could for my husband every day, and just see what happened. I didn’t think it would work, because to tell you the truth, my husband was a slob.  His mama had spoiled him rotten, but I figured it was worth a try, so I did. Lots of times, it was just a little thing I’d do. Perhaps when he left his shoes in the hall, I’d carry them to the bedroom and put them away and not say anything about it, or when he deposited his laundry on the floor, I’d take it to the hamper. Do you know what happened after a while?

By this time, of course, the rest of us were spellbound.  We theorized that eventually the husband perceived the change in her behavior, and began to change his own, becoming more considerate.

The woman shook her head, a slow, sweet smile loosening the folds around her mouth. “He didn’t change all that much, but after a while, I did.  When I’d see something mussed up or out of place, instead of thinking about how aggravated I was, I’d think, Well, there’s my chance to do one nice thing for today, and I’d feel good about it instead of being angry. Sometimes, I’d get a half-dozen chances in a day, but you know what? It feels good to do a half-dozen nice things in a day. And when you feel good, you’re happy.”

And that, my friends, is the kind of logic that applies in all situations… even situations involving cruddy bathrooms, toilet paper roll-change avoidance syndrome, and most importantly, stolen iPads Minis.

😉 Lisa

The Prayer Box — Selected as One of Booklist’s Top Ten of 2013!

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Selected among BOOKLIST'S Top 10 of 2012 and Top 10 of 2013, Lisa Wingate weaves Southern settings with elements of women's fiction, history, and mystery to create stories that Publisher's Weekly calls "Masterful" and Library Journal refers to as "Lyrical and beautiful." She is a seven-time Carol Award nominee, and a two-time Carol Award winner. She once dreamed of making the Olympics and winning the National Finals Rodeo, but was thwarted by an inability to do a back flip on the balance beam and parents who wouldn't finance a rodeo career, so she took her first-grade teacher's advice and became a writer instead ;)

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  1. Rachel Hauck says

    Oh Lisa, such a great post! I learned that lesson early on too! :)

    One thing I’ve been meditating on for this book I’m writing is “loving well.”

    Have I loved well? Does it matter if everything is fair or if my affections or efforts are retuned equally?

    Am i Loving well?

    The older woman’s story is THE perfect example of loving well.

    Thanks for the encouragement today!

    Much love,

    • Lisa Wingate says

      Thank you Rachel! I think your question is such a great place to focus. What a world we would live-in if we all could keep as our main concern whether we have loved well, not whether we have gotten what wanted or been paid back in equal measure.

    • Lisa Wingate says

      Hi Missy! So glad to see you on the porch! It is so true that the older generation possesses incredible nuggets of wisdom to share. The thing is, they want to share, but so often I think they fear that we are not interested in listening. Bless you for the work you do to bring those stories out!

  2. says

    I love this, Lisa. What a great reminder that it’s often our own attitude that needs adjusted when we feel like “adjusting” someone else’s. So glad you found your iPad Mini! 😉

    • Lisa Wingate says

      Oh, Jolina! Do I know it! So often it is my attitude that could use an adjustment, and I guess the deeper point is that my attitude is the only attitude I can control :-)

      I am very very glad to have my new iPad Mini back!



  3. Virginia Rush says

    okay I needed this lesson big time today…BIG TIME…. I actually started today without realizing it. and as much as this body will allow me, going to keep doing it in some small way…. way to go Lisa, it’s been too long since I’ve been on the porch, yours and my own. Porches go along way to solving a lot of problems. Thanks

    • Lisa Wingate says


      You sweet thing! Your smile would be welcome on any porch. And yes, I little time on the porch is a good cure for many ills of the soul… Especially when the company is good.

      Happy 2014!


  4. teresa c. says

    Thank you for sharing that story..I love talking to older people, they have such wisdom. I do wish i’d known this 40 yrs ago..I might (but I doubt it) still be married right now. lol Keep that I-pad mini locked in your desk from now on..then you’ll aways know where it is :)

    • Lisa Wingate says

      LOL! These guys have radar for my stuff. It does not seem to matter where I hide it. They will find it.

      I too, wish I had had this neighbors advice years ago. It could have saved lots of complaining, both the interior kind and the exterior kind.



  5. says

    Thanks so much!! What a great idea! Changing me, instead of nagging. I have had several chances to do “One nice thing” this morning already as I straightened the house before I sat down to FB, blog and write. Now I feel better about blessing them. Maybe tomorrow’s “nice thing” will be to put away the teens clothes instead of putting them on their beds for them to put away. Currently their stacks have been moved to a bedside table and a practice pad for the drummer. Gotta love those men-children. :)

    • Lisa Wingate says

      Oh, girlfriend, I am right there with you. I know the stacks of laundry on the floor!

      From one manchild mom to another, I have to say it does feel a whole lot better to think of it as doing my one nice thing. And actually, I have to give The guys credit. They have responded with some nice things too :-)

      Gotta love those man children! You’re right!

  6. Shellie says

    And that my friends, is another wise post from Belle Monday! :) Thanks, Lisa. It is such a blessing to be in relationship with you!

    • Lisa Wingate says

      Shellie, I treasure your friendship. I love that we all encourage each other and learn from each other.


  7. Patti Lynch says

    We’ve been married 38 years. That story is a wonderful reminder of love and patience. I will remember this story as I pick up shoes, hats, etc.

    Thank you Lisa.

    • Lisa Wingate says

      Hi Patti,

      Say hello to the hubby and Moses Lake for me!!

      And 38 years of marriage is a wonderful accomplishment, too 😉

  8. Theresa Caudillo says

    I literally laughed out loud reading this. I so totally can relate to the bathroom issues. Thanks for the laugh & the reminder to change your perspective.

    • Lisa wingate says

      You are welcome, Theresa. I’m so glad you joined us on the porch. It’s nice to know others have bathroom issues too =D

    • Lisa Wingate says

      Bill, I think it would work both ways, except in that case you’d have to be the one doing the one nice thing… which would make you a nice guy. It’s good to be a nice guy. the world needs more of those 😉

    • Lisa Wingate says

      Becky Wade, my Texas sister of the pen, how wonderful to know that we also have this in common. We can think of it as material for the next story, right?

      Thanks for stopping by!


  9. Julie Cantrell says

    Lisa, I cannot believe I missed this post yesterday. I love this, laughed at it, smiled at it, laughed again…mainly because I can imagine you in all of this and it just makes me smile so BIG to take this walk through life with you. Hugs and thanks for the very sweet, happy, thoughtful post.

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