2 Lessons From Minjay: A Post-Election Special Edition

Always a smile on Minjay’s face.

A lot of people, all across the political spectrum, are left wondering how to act, feel, and move on from a divisive, bitter election. As I often do in times of challenge, I turn to Minjay for lessons on how to be a good human. Here are two things I’ve learned from him so far that I think apply especially to this week, and to how we can move forward.

Love everyone and everything. Say hi to everyone. Assume they’re the best. Try. But retreat quickly if they’re mean and stay away.

There isn’t a dog or human that we come into contact with on walks or at the park that Minjay doesn’t want to say hi to, play with, and get to know. Minjay will even try to play with dogs who have snapped at him before. He’ll give them a chance, every time, though a bit more cautiously than usual, and if they snap again he just walks away, still happy and wagging his tail.

It is so clear how he assumes that everyone is awesome, everyone is fun, everyone is kind and worth saying hello to. As I’ve watched him over the past four years on daily walks, it’s opened me up to become more friendly and more open to others.

He’s also helped me deal with people who aren’t particularly nice– You always try to say hello and engage, and if they’re mean, you simply walk away without giving it another thought. Which leads me to the next lesson…

My writing partner, always extra happy when we're sitting outside.
My writing partner, always extra happy when we’re sitting outside.

Don’t let anyone affect or change your character.

We were at an outdoor picnic-style event last summer with friends, and in our group there was another dog. The poor pup was a rescue and still getting used to other dogs and noisy outdoor settings. Minjay, every-friendly, wiggled up to the dog to try and play. He rolled around on the grass, smiling, clearly loving our summer night outside. The other dog was barking non-stop, right in Minjay’s face, but that didn’t deter him from having a great time.

I think on some level he knew that the dog wouldn’t hurt him, and he was not about to let anyone ruin his fun or change his mood. I was stunned– even though I’d seen his happy disposition in action a thousand times before, so I shouldn’t have been so surprised— at how he stretched out on our blanket, a huge-happy-dog smile across his face, tail wagging, completely ignoring the other dog’s barks (again, it was right in his face, practically touching him. This wasn’t barking from far away). I made a huge mental note to myself that evening: No matter how someone else is acting, you don’t let them alter who you are and your mood, or ruin a great time for you.

I saw a post by Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert on Instagram yesterday that reminded me of this very note I had made to myself a few months ago:


And finally, I’ll end this post with a great video that is a good reminder of how much we can find in common with people we disagree with, especially when it comes to dogs:


Q&A With Author & Blogger Kristy Woodson Harvey

Kristy Woodson Harvey

Kristy Woodson Harvey is the author of two well-received novels, Dear Carolina and Lies and Other Acts of Love, blogger at Design Chic (a blog she founded and works on with her mother), wife, and mom of a four-year-old boy. Like most women, she wears so many different hats. In this week’s Q&A, Kristy shares her thoughts on how to strive for some balance without being too hard on yourself, and designing a happy life. 

  • How did you identify your passions and follow your dreams?

I tried a lot of different things! I’ve always loved writing, but I’m also extremely passionate about food, science, interior design and yoga. I always thought I would be a journalist because I could combine all of my loves and write about everything, but I also worked in finance for a while. I never, ever expected to be an author, but decided (when I was nearing my 25th birthday!) that I wanted to check something big off of my bucket list. I never expected it to change my life. I fell completely in love with writing novels and have never looked back. 

  • What does the term “work-life balance” mean to you? Do you think “work-life balance” is possible?

My husband and I have a small son, so, at the moment, most of our “life” is about him! I am a mom first and it has been easier, actually, to have a small child because, as I travel quite a bit promoting the books, he can tour with me. All of that will change when he starts school. I’m also a big goal setter and am always striving to be better, but I realized that I am probably not going to keep up my stringent exercise routine when I’m on tour for thirty days. And I’m not going to have green juice every day or manage to eat organic in tiny towns I’m visiting along the way. And I can’t chair a volunteer event the month before a new book launches. I think so much of work-life balance is about simply finding what makes you happy–not to the point of being totally selfish, of course, but I think paring down is essential. We all have so much coming at us all the time that, at some point, you have to learn to say no. (If my mother is reading this, she will laugh. I am horrific at saying no. But I’m getting better!)

Kristy Woodson Harvey Author

  • What do you wish you do differently in how you manage your day and time? What do you feel you don’t have enough time for, or wish you could tackle better?

I so wish that I was a morning person and loved to go to bed early. I imagine how I would get up at 5, work out, then work for an hour before my son got up. But I get my best ideas at night and often stay up too late! I also cannot function at 5 am. Maybe if I drank coffee? Honestly, I spent a couple of years really struggling with fitting everything in and trying to be everything to everyone.

Something about turning 30 sort of tempered that in me. I give myself a lot more grace. I’m usually on very tight deadlines, my mom and I have a wonderful design blog and I have a great family. If I can fit those three things in–and sweat a little–most days, I feel fine about things. Don’t get me wrong, I continually have a massive to-do list, a list of goals, a list of new habits I’m trying to form. I’m incredibly Type-A. I know that one day I’ll have more time, but I’m not wishing today away. I’m very happy with the way things are!

  • Do you have advice for someone (especially young women) starting a new endeavor and grappling with issues of following her passions, doing meaningful work and making a difference, while managing her time to find some “balance?”

Again, in the spirit of honesty, I don’t believe that passion and balance can live alongside one another one hundred percent of the time. When I think of passion, I think of true love. Just like when you’re falling in love and all you want to do is be with that person, when a wonderful idea strikes, all you want to do is explore it. And I think it is one of life’s great gifts to give yourself that time.

Kristy Woodson Harvey Michelle Chahine Sinno

When I am truly engrossed in a new book, I might stay up until 4 am writing until I can’t keep my eyes open. I wrote almost all of my debut, DEAR CAROLINA, in the middle of the night when I was up for feedings with my newborn son! I think we get very caught up in having to get it all right. Keep the perfect house, be the perfect wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter, fashion plate, dress size, career woman… It is so much pressure!

My advice is, when passion strikes, go for it. If you don’t work out for a week or call your friends back for a few days or cook a beautiful meal for a while because you are immersed in something that lights you on fire, it will probably be okay. What I have learned as someone who has sometimes felt like she is beating her head against a wall trying to achieve balance is that “balance” and “happiness” are not synonymous all the time. I’d choose happy any day of the week.


TIP: For some work-life balance, take the time to unplug and read Kristy’s new book, Lies and Other Acts of Love, in the sun with some Iced Tea Lemonade. 

Lies and Other Acts of Love Summer Reading Michelle Chahine Sinno