Thursday, August 27, 2009


I plowed into the review of a book called, On Kindness, with great eagerness. Haven't I been preaching this for years with the "Because Nice Matters" theme of VICTORIA? My son once had a baseball cap made for me with the phrase, "Nice Matters," embroidered on it. (I think he got it at one of those stands that machine embroider names in thirty seconds.)

Granted, nice and kind are not exactly in the same ballpark, but they are close.

I was always encouraged at VICTORIA to come up with a "bumper sticker slogan" to describe the magazine. We were such a diverse publication, that this was something of an assignment. When I hit on "Because Nice Matters," I thought I had arrived. I still do. The business side of the magazine, good folk all, didn't see it my way and it was never used the way I intended. But I did use it in the pages of the magazine, and even had Janet McCaffrey create a sampler readers could duplicate. I have one on my wall.

I liked the word nice because it has many meanings. And I have never found it trite. Even "Have a nice day," never bothered me a bit, including when said at the end of a recorded message. What better can you say, than, "What a nice baby?" Or, "You have a nice home." Better yet, a husband's greeting: "You look so nice today." How many times has a mom begged her kids to pick up things, so the house looked "nice" for guests?

I'm sure you get my drift. Nice is a good standard word devoid of pretensions.

Back to this book on kindness. It is a study by a psychoanalyst and a historian--and way too complicated for me to dissect here. It seemed like a lot of hard work and, I am sure, new thinking on the subject. But I personally don't want to think about kindness any further than the examples I've known in my own life or see about me everyday. When you live in a big city, kindness is often done "on the fly." Things happen so fast that the kindness meter may not even be running. It's just common decency when someone runs after you to hand you the hat you unknowingly dropped. Or two young men, without a uttering a syllable, hoisting a stroller up the steps at a subway stop. How kind they are.

My grandmother was a study in kindness. She was brought up on a farm in Nebraska, and I think she learned neighborliness as a religion. Her belief that you do things for others without expecting reward for it was the inspiration for the A Star in Crown award and series in VICTORIA. She wouldn't think a thing of sewing, baking,tending a toddler, or a myriad of other daily gestures for others. Her kindness to me was beyond measure.

Anne Frank wanted to believe that people were basically good; and I want to think they are basically kind for some very simple reasons. It's the right thing to do; and it makes you feel good in the process.

Read On Kindness if you want to delve further into this basic human emotion. But if you do, maybe spend the same amount of time in acts of kindness. It would be a nice thing to do.


  1. Enjoyed your thoughts on "nice" and "kindness".

  2. Nancy- Is the book called "On Kindness" by Phillips, a newer book published in May 2009?

    Also the "Sampler" you mentioned that readers could duplicate, which Victoria issue was it in? I would like to find it,& make one also.

    I really loved this entry from you also, You have such a wonderful way of writing. Thanks so much,-Valery

  3. @Valery: Yes, the book is On Kindness and was published in May 2009. And no, the sampler is no longer available. A good inspiration to create your own in any medium you like! The one I mention is cross-stitch. nl

  4. Thanks Nancy!- I am excited to read the book you have mentioned here.

    About the sampler, I meant that I would like to see the pic of it- or the add where they had been advertised in a Victoria magazine. Which issue it was in? I would love to copy/make it.

    I realize that it is not available to buy now.--Anything that was in a Victoria magazine is beautiful and timeless,to me.- Does the sampler say-"Because Nice Matters"?

    On the topic of stitching and such,-last night I happened to be reading late into the night in your "Jenny Walton,Packing for A Woman's Journey"-book, & read through where you were talking about all the lovely linens that your Aunt Mary made that you now have. Oh, it all sounds just so beautiful! Interesting to know, that some of the items she gave you were used in Victoria magazine Photo shoots! I bet Trish Foley loves your linens also.

    When I was reading the part in the book about your Aunt Mary's Quilts that she had, I was extra glued to the story,wondering if the gorgeous Velvet crazy Quilt of velvet and satin,that I mentioned on here in a post, was one she might have made.... Love,Valery

  5. Dear Nancy,

    This is a wonderful post! It really resonates with me. I live in the centre of a city which some denigrate as unfriendly, and yet I see kindness all around me, from the newsagent who rushes out of his store to tell me the magazine I have on order has just arrived to the deli owner who puts a few extra slices of my favourite salami in my order because he knows I like it. In my little street, neighbours feed each others pets, water each other's plants, pop in with baked treats, drive the car-less to appointments, or just look pleased to see you on a tough day. I see niceness everywhere. It feels good to be nice. It enobles us to be nice. The power of nice is not to be underestimated - it honours the receiver and the giver. I'll definitely look out for this book; thank you for recommending it.


  6. @Valery - I'll find the reference for you. Stay tuned. And yes, it says "Because Nice Matters." Dear Aunt Mary had lovely linens and was a superb embroiderer, but she was not a quilter. The quilts she had were family ones, made mostly by her mother, grandmother, and neighbors. She did not have a velvet quilt. The Bennison and Walton family quilts were more typical of Midwestern craft. Thanks for reading "Packing for a Woman's Journey." It was a labor of love for me.

  7. How Very sweet of you ,Nancy-thank you. I think I will make one too, that says "Prudence" on it.{in my own design}-since reading your book, I have used that word many a time...My Husband looks at me funny when I

    About the velvet crazy quilt- It was featured in the "Victoria, From Heart & Hand" book also. It is so very beautiful, I posted pics of it on a Victoria related site, and also to a quilting group of Ladies, to have them see it,& Hopefully they can replicate one for me. My Auntie in North Dakota that could and would have made it,can no longer do that kind of sewing,but I am determined to have one made like it. It is on page 172-174,of the book, for all of you that might be reading & wondering what it looks like.I wish there was a way to post pictures on here, for all to see it.

    Yes,Nancy I stay tuned to your blog,it is the best thing that I have seen in a long while!Love,Valery

  8. Hi Miss Nancy!
    What a delight it is to find your blog! I was reading Christi's space "Charm and Grace" and just so happened to look at her blog list and there you were!

    For so many years I enjoyed the Victoria magazines when you were editor. While my contemporaries were reading "Teen Beat", I was captivated by the beauty of Victoria. It was "my" magazine and something to which I looked so forward every month. It gave me confidence to have my own personal style and not run with the crowd. Every issue exuded class and that is something that is so distinctly missing from a lot of magazines today.

    Over the years, I have turned again and again to those early magazines for recipes, shop information and decorating designs. Sometimes, though, I'll just read through my issues again, in search of the quiet moments, beautiful antiques, and the wistful countryside retreats that you so favored. It is like having tea with an old friend. When I'm finished, I'll feel renewed and youthful once again. Here, on your blog, I am thankful that I am finally able to tell you how much your work meant (and still means) to me.
    Hugs, Bebe :)

    P.S. I hope you'll come over and visit my blog ~

  9. What a lovely thought, especially in these days when every pop psychologist is preaching "me first" to women. It's so wonderful to hear your voice again!
    Those acts of kindness resonate, don't they, throughout one's life. I still recall the time when a visiting missionary speaker from India urged me to sit next to her (much to the horror of the church ladies who had invited her and expected her to sit on the dias with the elite of that tribe). She was kind to a curious little girl who had admired her sari, and to this day, I think of her with warmth and love.
    Karen Marline