Saturday, March 30, 2013

Living God

Posted on FB by Michelle Cameron who got it from her father-in-law.  So grateful to have people who share kindness and compassion and show others how, too.  

His name is Bill. He has wild hair, wears a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans, and no shoes. This was literally his wardrobe for his entire four years of college.

He is brilliant. Kind of profound and very, very bright. He became a Christian while attending college.

Across the street from the campus is a well-dressed, very conservative church. They want to develop a ministry to the students but are not sure how to go about it.

One day Bill decides to go there. He walks in with no shoes, jeans, his T-shirt, and wild hair. The service has already started and so Bill starts down the aisle looking for a seat.

The church is completely packed and he can't find a seat. By now, people are really looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one says anything.

Bill gets closer and closer and closer to the pulpit, and when he realizes there are no seats, he just squats down right on the carpet.

By now the people are really uptight, and the tension in the air is thick.

About this time, the minister realizes that from way at the back of the church, a deacon is slowly making his way toward Bill.

Now the deacon is in his eighties, has silver-gray hair, and a three-piece suit. A godly man, very elegant, very dignified, very courtly. He walks with a cane and, as he starts walking toward this boy, everyone is saying to themselves that you can't blame him for what he's going to do.

How can you expect a man of his age and of his background to understand some college kid on the floor?

It takes a long time for the man to reach the boy.

The church is utterly silent except for the clicking of the man's cane. All eyes are focused on him. You can't even hear anyone breathing. The minister can't even preach the sermon until the deacon does what he has to do.

And now they see this elderly man drop his cane on the floor. With great difficulty, he lowers himself and sits down next to Bill and worships with him so he won't be alone..

Everyone chokes up with emotion. When the minister regains control, he says, "What I'm about to preach, you will never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget. "

"Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some people will ever read!"

I asked the Lord to bless you
As I prayed for you today.
To guide you and protect you
As you go along your way....
His love is always with you,
His promises are true,
And when we give Him all our cares,
You know He will see us through.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Are You Happy?

 Are you happy?  What dictates your happiness?
Last night a friend of mine said "I read your posts and wish I could be as happy as you."  Well, thanks to this magic potion I traded my cow for, I have unending happiness - ahahahahaha!!!  But seriously folks: turns out, my happiness, and my suffering, is self inflicted.  And it's been a slow learning process!!  

The funny thing is I don't think I'm any happier than when I was a young mom living in a 1-bedroom apartment, sustaining life paycheck to paycheck.  My life now isn't all sunshine and lollipops.  I have conflicts with my kids, I argue with my husband, I witness daily travesties and injustices on varying scales; I encounter angry people, sad people, unpleasant people just as much as the next person.  I tried for years to change my circumstances.  If I could get my husband to see things this way, get my kids to do that instead of this; avoid all the negative people or show what they have to be thankful for!!  If I could just control my environment, I would be exponentially happy!!  
Then, one day I heard a quote that struck me:
"Nothing has changed except my attitude.  And that is everything!" .Anthony DeMello 

What does that mean??  I started to look at things in a new way.  It's not what others do but the way I see it.  This was a huge shift as I suddenly saw life as in a way that all responsibility fell on my shoulders.  This was a little overwhelming!  But I so wanted to change my attitude because if I saw things in a new way, I would have more peace?  Be happier, right?  And so it began: if my kids were misbehaving, it was because I wasn't dealing with the situation effectively.  If my husband and I were arguing, it was because I wasn't communicating effectively.  If I was angry at another driver for almost hitting me, I wasn't processing the information effectively.  It was exhausting!!  While I was trying to change my environment, I was still trying to control my environment by putting myself in the martyr seat.  So in taking on this HUGE responsibility of it all being the way I look at it, I was becoming passive aggressive, without even realizing it!!  Out of the frying pan and into the proverbial frickin' fire!  I was still making it all about me!

So, one day I'm at the pediatrician and I'm trying to explain to my son where to find the bathroom down the hall: "The door on the opposite wall.  Across the hall.  There's only one door on that wall!  Where are you looking???  Ben!!  OPPOSITE wall!  Why are you looking at the ceiling?!!"  I felt I was once again failing in my communication skills and not effectively dealing with the situation.  When the doctor came in, it seemed to me that I had made a small scene in the process and I went into a lengthy apology: "I'm so sorry for that; I was trying to communicate the needs and it wasn't coming out effectively and I didn't handle the situation well."  (Look at me being all responsible for my own actions!)  To this the doctor replies: "Well, all I can say is...get over it!  So what's happening with Ben today...."  I was so hyper-focused on my behavior, I had lost sight of my behavior! 

Now, I'm not saying this process was all for not; this actually got me through a heavy door called "ego".  

Here are some definitions of ego (

noun, plural e·gos.
the “I” or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought.
Psychoanalysis . the part of the psychic apparatus that experiences and reacts to the outside world and thus mediates between the primitive drives of the id and the demands of the social and physical environment.
egotism; conceit; self-importance: Her ego becomes more unbearable each day.
self-esteem or self-image; feelings: Your criticism wounded his ego.
often initial capital letter  ) Philosophy .
the enduring and conscious element that knows experience.
Scholasticism. the complete person comprising both body and soul.

The recurring theme here is the self as a separate being from others: me vs. you.  So, this process of transitioning from thinking in a "me vs. you" way to a "we" way reminding me of learning to drive.  Everything in the beginning has be very deliberate and well thought out: "Turn on my signal, look in my mirror, shoulder check, slowly advance out in to traffic..." and so on.  Who does that now?  We do it but do we actually THINK about it?  No.  So now I had a solid idea of how my ego (me-me-me) plays into my life.  And, let's face it; ego has a place but it doesn't play well with global peace!  But that's another conversation for another time.

A while back I was using my friends restroom and she had the Serenity Prayer hung beside the sink.  I’ve read that prayer a million times.  As I was driving along, a few days after my doctor-reality-smack, for some reason it popped into my head:

My happiness or suffering doesn't lie in the hands of others.  It is in my own hands.  If I don't like something.  Do something about it.  How I influence any situation is up to me.  Will I solve the problem?  Will I bend the actions of others to do my bidding?  Will I change anything?  I don't know.  All I can do is put it out there.  Accept that I have done everything I can to have a positive influence on the outcome.  It may not get me where I was thinking I wanted to go but peace comes not from outside actions but from within.
I had not come to peace when I was "taking responsibility" for my own actions.  I was still trying to change everything around me by convincing myself I was responsible for what happens.  How very important I am, thought I in a very self-important way!  

Where I am now, on this ongoing journey of discovery, is that I have a choice how to see things.  And the filter I am conditioning myself to apply to any situation is one of compassion, understanding, and peaceful solutions.  Does it always work?  Nope.  I still have an ego!  I still don't understand why people think one way rather than my way, but I'm trying to take it to the next level.  
In researching items to fill in the holes in this essay, I found this:

“Our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as being able to remake ourselves.” ~Gandhi

The amount of peace and suffering we experience daily is an inside job.  If you are at peace with yourself, it matters not what happens around you.  With peace inside you can see that other's suffering has nothing to do with you.  I mean this not in an insensitive way; but when someone else is suffering, and we make it about us, about our suffering, that's the ego doing the translating.  

The ego is a powerful thing!  Don't get me started on religion and world wars and so on, and so on.  The ego is a BIG figure here!  

So, am I happy?  Sure!  Am I happier than you?  I doubt it.  I'm just working on developing the gift we've all been given; to see what I have as opposed to what I have not.  It's never-ending, this process.  But it's making this life journey so much more enjoyable!  And putting joy out there, makes me happy too.  Potentially a win-win!  I hope you find your happy today.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Courage and Confidence!

Notes from a Mary Kay Speaker.  Awesome!!

Confidence Builders

Taking Action:
1. Be present in the moment.  Focus on breathing and what trying to do. Be calm.
2. Lighten up!  You are creating the obstacles.
3. Really, really want it.  Look forward to it!

Mine: truly believe in what you're talking about.

Facing your Fear:
Do the thing you think you cannot do.  Do it. Don't tell yourself, do it.
How to do this? Be curious.  Your perceptions wash away. It opens you up!
Remember an experience of what you got something new.
Fear is often based on unhelpful interpretations. Don't take your thoughts too seriously. Breathe. Get out of your head!
Facing Fear - failing teaches you if you are willing to learn.
Failing can only be learned from first hand. Must be experienced by you.
Failure brings strength - you become desensitized.
Try try again. People really don't care that much. Don't build things up beyond what it is.
Know yourself and what you want.
"The world makes room for men..."(look up)
Look inside yourself!  Relax. What do you love? Stop asking "What if?!!"  Unless its leading you toward you rather than away.

Understand in what order things happen
Courage comes after the action.
Progressive desensitization.  The more you do it, the less fear.

Key to self confidence: prepare yourself.

Confidence comes from Not fearing to be wrong. Rejection doesn't actually hurt you.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Inner Peace - Not Outer Peace

Today's theme seems to be a recurring in all the things I do and read.  Hmmmm... intereseting.

Stumbled across this quote (well, really stumbled across the knowledge it was Fred Roger's birthday and then looked him up soooo...):

“When I say it's you I like, I'm talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.” 
― Fred Rogers

What a great man.  There is a whole page of quotes by Mr. Rogers.

I'm a bit disconnected today because I have a lot of things to do but just wanted to take a moment to share what I did with others.

This picture came up in my feed by, I believe, Sun Gazer.

While I love the Dalai Lama, I wonder if this quote was actually him or if it was taken out of context.  While beautiful, it struck me a bit odd.  Here is what I had to say about it:

"If you have actual inner peace, you don't let behaviors of others destroy it, you see the behaviors of others for what it is: nothing to do with you. From there you can use your peace and pray for the behavior of others and use compassion. The root of inner peace."

Inner peace is something that comes from within.  It is not a result of the environment around us.  It is in all of us be gets buried by all the pride, ego, and self-centeredness that is also in all of us.

Doing my daily meditation (Day 3 with Deepak Chopra!) the theme was "My Mind And Body Are In Perfect Sync".  Yes, they are.  But what kind of sync?  I want peace.  When I feel peace in my mind, I feel peace in my body.  And vice versa.  When I can let go of what I think the rest of the universe is doing to me and and see me as how I effect my universe, there is much empowerment, humility, and peace.

I asked the question on FB,
 When do YOU know you are stressed? How does your body respond? How do you work through it?
Nobody has actually answered this question. Maybe lead with that next time?  But really, I just hope that some people give it some thought, even if they don't write it in my feed.  Planting the seed is all I can do.

Peace to you!!

Monday, March 18, 2013

You Are Lucky!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  Yesterday, thanks to the gorgeous weather we're having, I pulled out my summer attire.  As I'm pulling on my shorts this morning (to go with my shamrock knee socks) it seemed odd to me that it seems much of my summer attire has SHRUNK while in storage!!  Which brought me to my next thought: being fit has little to do with luck.  You may have genetic predispositions that put you in the "lucky" (high metabolism) or "unlucky" (sluggish thyroid) categories but here are the 5 things I need to be fit: regular cardio AND strength training (yes ladies; we need to lift those weights!), regular hydration, adequate amounts and regular patterns of sleep, enough food energy (enough food to keep your body working efficiently - too much and you gain weight; too little and you hold on to every calorie that comes into your body!),  and last, but not least, inner peace!  Yes!  Peace!  Cortisol, also known as your "stress hormone" can really play havoc on your system if not kept in check.    Here is an interesting article on cortisol:

Cortisol: How It Relates To Stress

By , Guide
Updated February 22, 2012 Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by the Medical Review Board
Cortisol: How It Relates To Stress
Cortisol, The Stress Hormone
Photo From
Definition: Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands that helps regulate blood pressure and cardiovascular function, as well as the body's use of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Cortisol secretion increases in response to physical and psychological stress during thefight or flight response, which is why it's sometimes called "the stress hormone."
Because of its involvement in the body's stress response, cortisol levels are among the most popular used to measure the presence and intensity of stress in various situations. Cortisol in itself is not harmful, and is in fact a vital part of the body's healthy functioning. However, during times of chronic stress, the body can experience elevated levels of cortisol, which can have negative short-term and long-term ramifications for health. (Read this for more on cortisol.)
Because of the damage that elevated cortisol levels and long-term stress can do, it's vital to have an effective stress management plan that includes multiple layers of stress relief strategies. Take advantage of these stress management resources for short-term and long-term stress management help, and see this resource for stress management basics.
Also Known As: "The stress hormone"
Ongoing Resources for Stress Relief
In the mean time, be at peace by brothers and sisters and luck will find you!  Have a great day! 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Broken Pieces Salvaged

Yesterday, my husband, Steve, brought me my recently mended New York City spoon-rest.  I used to take such gestures for granted.  Until I realized his "Love Language" is acts of service.  That's how he shows love.
I got the spoon rest on my first trip to NYC in November 2010 when I went with my mom and two sisters for my mother's 75th birthday.  It was a WONDERFUL trip.
Steve had given me my first iPhone at the time as an early birthday present so I would have an easier time getting around the island (though my sister insisted on taking out her life-size accordion map to navigate our way!!).  A few months later I was cleaning the stove top upon which the spoon rest lay.  In that one swift motion I had inadvertently launched that ceramic reminder into cosmic orbit, destined for certain doom.  It broke.  There lay my homage to NYC yellow cab drivers and our harrowing experiences there in, in 4 pieces.  I was greatly disappointed.  I lay the pieces on the counter thinking I would dispose of them properly in cardboard (my oldest still bearing a puncture scar in his thigh from a less-than-well-disposed glass piece that poked through a garbage bag and into his leg years ago), only to return later and it was gone.  I assumed my husband had chucked it away (not in cardboard and therefore would be on the lookout for stabbing garbage bags!).  The next day, I came in to the kitchen and there on my counter lay the recently assembled spoon rest, glued together by my loving husband.  He knew how much I loved that spoon-rest.  Or, at least the wonderful, crazy memories it brought me.  Then I broke it again.  And he fixed it again.  Then the glue gave out.  He fixed it again.  The glue gave out again.  And this time he brought it to me and said "This time I epoxy'd it!"
My husband is not perfect.  And neither am I.  But, when it comes down to brass tax, through all of our broken times, I take great comfort in knowing he is always willing to fix things when he knows it means a lot to me.  I know it's a silly little thing but, as I spied the once-again reassembled spoon rest beside my desk, I felt an overwhelming love for that man, my husband.  He shows his love in acts of service.  When I think of all the things he has done for me over the years I see how much he truly loves me.  We may not always get the love that we prefer, but when we recognize that someone is showing love in the best way they know how, it means the world.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Courageous and Compassionate

On my trip to DC, I ended up rooming with a wonderful lady who I came to know as a real kindred spirit.  Her vision is so rooted in love, I was inspired by her kindness and compassion, and the humanity and humility of her daily struggles.  She brought new perspectives to me and broadened ones I already had.  We spoke of what our purpose is and how we best impact the world around us.  She shared with me what I thought to be a great act of courage - she spoke against a good friend's negative and damning religious views.  I wondered if I could be so courageous.

While touring the Capital Building, we saw numerous depictions of courageous people including the recently unveiled statue of Rosa Parks, now among great people and presidents in the nation's Capital Building.  I was overwhelmed with awe by the courage of this one woman who, quite literally, took a stand by simply sitting down and refusing to move.  Shortly after, I was at the Library of Congress and was discussing this reaction I had with one of the employees who happened to be African American; I told her how emotional I became when I saw this wonderful honor showed to Rosa Parks.  She looked genuinely shocked and asked why.  I told her, when I look at Rosa Parks I see her as a symbol of such incredible strength and courage; she was one person (just like her and me!) who chose to say "no more", even while knowing the possible negative personal consequences of her actions;  she spoke for all those who needed to be spoken for.  That sort of courage is something I am searching for in my own self.  I think the woman may have been shocked that a white woman was so moved but, as I opened up, we shared a moment of unity in admiration of the display of one single woman who showed such incredible humanity and courage.  

Courage is about doing what is not easy; doing what some are reluctant to do because of the possible negative consequences.  But when courage is rooted in love, it bring a light to the world like no other.  Compassion is courageous.  We were a large group traveling with 18 kids the ages of 10 and 11 and they could be pretty scattered!  I observed some people who were clearly on a path to get where they needed to get, regardless of what they had to do to get it.  But most people we encountered were kind, courteous, and not just a little compassionate.  I mean, they weren't pulling children from burning buildings or donating a kidney, but they chose a higher form of thinking: kindness and compassion.  These actions fuel the greater good that includes all of us.  In opposition is intolerance, impatience, and unkindness which serves one: the individual ego.  Each of those small acts of those individual persons added up to a create a better - more compassionate - world to live in.

During our magnificent trip, my new friend shared with me this wonderful quote.  It is by Marianne Williamson from her book A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’  Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.  We are all meant to shine, as children do.  We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Courage isn't about being better than others; it is about taking the chance of being the best you are and, by doing so, affording others the inspiration to do the same.  Olympic gold medalists aren’t great because they beat everyone else; they’re great because they are an example of what hard work and determination can accomplish; that a personal best, above all else, is possible. 

Another great quote my friend shared with me:

“The mediocre teacher tells.  The good teacher explains.  The superior teacher demonstrates.  The great teacher inspires.”  ~William Arthur Ward

Being courageous, being the best “you” you can be, that is what inspires.  This is applicable on so many levels.  From day to day contact with others, to how we lead our children as parents, to how we influence those we work with.  But, as I said to one of the kids on our trip who was often leading some of the other boys down a dark path: "You are a great leader, I can see that by how others listen to you.  You are a very important person; never think that you're not because you really, really are!  And what you do, matters.  You may think "I'm just a 10 year old kid", but you influence others in everything you do.  And that's a wonderful thing!  But just be aware of how you want to be that influence; do you want to use it for the power of good or of the power of evil."  At first he seemed reluctant to listen but at the end, I could see in his eyes, he was thinking about it.  He smiled and nodded his head and then got back in line.  Did he hear me?  I don't know.  But knowing that we are important and influence our surroundings can be incredibly empowering.  

The whole trip was full of great examples of courageous people; Washington, Lincoln, MLK, Rosa Parks, just to name a few.  They are great because they acted in courage - they had faith - that proved to benefit the greater good.  But courage requires a leap of faith.  I recently learned that when Martin Luther King Jr. received the call about Rosa Parks and was asked to speak on her behalf, his first reaction was (as I understand it) "Let me think about it."  The next morning he called up and said "What do you need me to do."  Sometimes courage doesn't come in an instant.  Sometimes, like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, we must ask, is this really what I must do?  Courage comes in many forms and in different times.  

As I discussed with my friend, we are all moving in the same direction.  And there is only one relevant direction: forward.  But each of us has to either consciously or subconsciously decide how to live our lives.  Do we live quietly and think "The suffering of others has nothing to do with me" or do we take that first step of faith and decide to create a world where we are courageously kind, compassionate, and loving?  I hope to be influenced by these great leaders and the everyday humble and kind - both show inspiring elements of courage.  And, through these great inspirations, perhaps I too can inspire another person to live courageously in love and compassion.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Seeing LIfe In A Negative Light is an Affliction

If you saw someone drowning, what would you do?  Would you run away?  Call for help?  Jump in and try to save them?  That's kind of how I view people who behave negatively: drowning in a sea of negativity.  What it would be like to live a life seeing everything in the negative?  The Eeyore existence where everything is "woe is me"? How awful, how HORRIBLE, would that be??  I actually have difficulty breathing just thinking about it as it feels like an oppressive darkness.  When you think about it, it's really kind of like a disease.  We think because something is in the brain, we can control it.  "Just think more positively!"  "Be more positive!"  "Be happier!"  Well, for some people, that's not an easy thing to do.  But there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of interest in that perspective.

It would seem there is a whole campaign where there are t-shirts, and coffee mugs, and bumper stickers that says "Mean People Suck".  I think that is sooooooo ironic.  What is the antonym for mean?  Nice.  Generous.  Kind.  Unselfish.  So, if you say "Mean People Suck", are you being nice, generous, kind, or unselfish?  Kinda sounds like they're being mean about being mean!  

A word that came up at my house last night was "self- righteous"  I don't have a lot of patience for "self-rightious" behavior.  Wait...does that make me self-rightous?, because I don't think I'm better than people who are.  It's just not something I care to spend a lot of time doing or partaking in for that matter.  There will always be self-righteous people.   Self-righteous just seems to feed the ego more than the collective good.  We are all given different gifts and talents and, like in nature, everyone and everything serves a purpose.

I feel I have been given a gift.  I have a heart that lets in life's positive moments as they present themselves.  I mean, I don't always see things in a positive way (some days can seem pretty gloomy which is why friends are so great to give your perspective (or bitch-slap you and say "SNAP OUTTOFIT!":) )) but I have been given a heart by the grace of God, nature, and all the wonderful people in my life that show me with great enthusiasm all that I have rather than what I don't have.  Part of it has been conditioning.  And,  I think the series of events leading me up to this point in my life has allowed me to think positively.  It hasn't all been sunshine and roses but I've been given a gift to see the light when all seems in darkness.  It is a gift.  

A gift is something that is given.  Because, you can have another person with similar circumstances who just can't see any good in anything.  Why?  Why do some struggle more than others?  Why do some find it so hard to come out of the darkness and into the light?  Why can I open my heart to let in that light while so many shut it out?  I don't think it is a known thing.  Maybe for those that dwell in darkness, that is the devil they know.  To open your heart takes faith.  And faith is something that needs to be cultivated.

We all have our struggles.  But, like the old Irish wisdom, "If you hung your troubles on a line with everyone else's, chances are you'd take your own back down."  Each person is an individual and we can never fully understand what another person is feeling any more than we can understand what their voice sounds like in their own head.  

So, when you meet someone who is mean, or a real downer, or "negative", what do you do?  Well, if you listened to the posts on FB and in media, you run away screaming, arms flailing!  I just did a search engine search on "Negative people" and here are some of the images that came up: 
"I am allergic to negative people"
"How to deal with negative people: Ignore, Ignore, Ignore
"Surgeon General's Warning: Hanging Around Negative People Is Hazardous To Your Health"
"Avoid negative people for they are the greatest destroyers of self confidence and self esteem."
"I hate negative people" [my personal favorite]

When did another person become responsible for the way I feel?  I mean, I think if you were in Guantanamo Bay, they would find ways to break you, but seriously?  When did we become puppets?  I pull my own strings, thank you very much.  If I feel bad about something, it's because I let myself feel bad about something.  We have lost all accountability for ourselves.  

So, after all is said and done would I go and find friends that can only see dark, negative things? I don't think so.  Would I find a partner who is abusive?  Not likely.  But I do recognize people like that need help.  And their hurt and darkness is no part anything to do with my existence but what happens in their own minds, bodies, spirits.  

So, the issue of negative people isn't the fact that they are negative.  It's how the environment deals with it.  Negative people can't make you negative any more than loving cats can make you into a cat.  However, you can become negative (if you're not already) if you don't feel good about yourself.  Confident.  Humble.  Courageous.  Compassionate.  Rather than avoiding negative people (which will be present always), focus on strengthening you.  Your soul.  Your mental being.  When you feel good about who you are, are at peace with yourself, there is nothing anyone can do or say that will take that away.  

Some people are so deep in the mire of emotional darkness they will try to draw you in.  So why let them?  What if you were the one to draw them to light?  Would it hurt to try?  Well, if you weren't a strong swimmer and you were trying to save someone from  drowning, you very well may go down with them.  So there are options.  You can find someone who is qualified to offer them assistance or you can work on yourself to be stronger swimmer.  But it's important to realize, no matter how hard you try, no matter how many life rings are thrown, that person may still drown.  But at least you did your part.  

ISFP: Matt's Question of the Day - March 9, 2013

Matt's Question of the Day:
How do you deal with your anger?

Mo Cooper This is a good one. I post a lot of positive stuff and I'm sure a lot of people want to b**ch-slap me for being so dang chipper! But honestly, I come from a long line of angry people. Not violently angry, but reeeeally short tempered/sharp tongued sorts. I got really tired of it. So, for the past 2 1/2ish years I have been consciously converting an angry reaction into a compassionate one. When someone is "rude" to me, I say a silent prayer that they find the way out of their darkness soon (because their reaction -what's going on inside of them - really has nothing to do with me). If someone cuts me off in traffic, I hope that their distraction is good ol' cloudiness and not something horrible occupying their mind. We are all in this together. I have a finite number of moments on this earth and I'm tired of giving one more ounce of anger and darkness time to a life so full of potential light. I just read a quote: "For every minute of anger, you miss 60 sec of happiness." Amen! Do I get angry/upset/frustrated? Hell yeah! But it's now the exception more so than the rule. It is incredibly liberating!! Oh, and lots of coffee helps too.  Cheers, Matt. Hope your day brings you joy.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Mean People - Seen Any Lately?

So, yesterday I said to a friend of mine, jokingly: "You could never be mean to me."  He saw that as a challenge and came back with (also jokingly, I'm sure) "Oh, I could be mean to you but I'm not because you're the mom of my daughter's friend!"  He didn't really get my point.  I didn't mean he couldn't TRY to be mean to me (anyone can do that); I meant that, what some may perceive as a "mean"person, I see a lonely, sad soul who really must be in a very dark place to feel a need to behave in such a way.

I mean, I'VE been mean.  I've been mean!  God bless that little boy in my 4th grade class that nobody gave a Valentine to; he was a "mean" kid.  He stood up and threw his chair.  He always looked a little worse for wear.  He lived in the apartments behind the school.  He had a scar over his eye.  He wasn't terribly kind.  And nobody was terribly kind to him.   I carry that with me every day.*  Not as regret, but as a reminder.  I had an opportunity to be kind and, as I sat at my dining room table filling out my Valentines, I consciously thought, "Should I give one to Cory?  No, I'm not giving one to him.  What would my friends think?"  I remember it like yesterday.  Another time, there was a new girl in my office (I was a grown up!) and she seemed a bit...daft, I believe was my take on her at the time.  Did I show her compassion?  Show the new girl the ropes?  Nope.  I was short with her and, sometimes, downright rude!  And I'm sure others can recall throughout my life many other times I was just real a**  (which is why I often greet people from years ago with "Hey!  How are you?  I'm sorry I was such a jerk."  

Am I a bad person?  I don't think so.  Can I be mean?  Of course.  Everybody can be mean.  Everybody has their moments.  EVERYBODY has a bad day.  I feel blessed/lucky that I can look back on those times and think "I was such a jerk!  I'm so glad that's not people's take away from me."  At least...I hope they don't.  Not because I would look bad, but because that means they carry with them some of that negativity I put out in the world.  And that would be truly sad.  

That negativity, that darkness, comes in many forms but it's all the same darkness.  When you "fight" aggression with aggression, what do you get?  A big frickin' mess.  Anger and pride are two things that stand in the way of compassion.  And when you are actively unkind, you are allowing in that same darkness that consumes "mean" people.  You are taking on part of their darkness.  I have a friend who will say about someone he does't like: "I'm not mean to them.  I'm just not going to waste kindness on a jerk like that."  Maybe it's just me, but first of all, I don't think kindness is ever wasted because it's not about how it's received that is of any concern to me, but the fact that I put kindness out there in the first place.  And secondly, he doesn't come away feeling good, he comes away feeling bad. Or indifferent.  And when we are indifferent, we are building walls, not bridges.  

I've hear people say about a "mean person: "She doesn't deserve kindness."  Says who?  I've never understood the word "deserve".  Does someone deserve to win the lottery any more than I deserve to have MS?  Life's not about deserving.  Like the quote I had on my FB profile yesterday: "Even after all this time, the Sun never says to the Earth 'You owe me'.  Look what happens with a love like that.  I lights the whole sky."  The only thing I can think that we honestly deserve - as humans sharing relatively tight living space - is compassion.  That is what builds.  

So, if you must be mean to me, be mean to me.  That darkness inside of you has nothing to do with me.  No, I didn't make you feel this way, any more than you made me feel this way; you got to that darkness all by yourself.  But I will do my best to show you kindness, show you light.  It is only with light that the darkness can be penetrated.  Will you let in my light?  Into your darkness?  I don't know.  What you do with it is your responsibility.  Letting my light shine is mine.  

Post Script: But if a person is mean with a weapon? Pray for them and then run like hell!!! 

*(I've often thought of contacting him and apologizing to him and imagining it being like that Adam Sandler movie when Adam calls a guy and apologizes for being a jerk in school and when he hangs up the guy take him off his "people I want to kill" list!)

For another point of view on this check out this link:

Sunday, March 3, 2013

My Life - The After-School Special

Ever feel like your life is an afterschool special?  This morning, I had to bring Holly to CCE with Ben and me as Steve wasn't home.  In CCE we discussed moral decisions and temptation.  LITERALLY as we come to the part talking about what it means to be tempted and how we have a choice on how to react, Holly was there doing an excellent job of exemplifying temptation by distracting her brother with the game she was playing on my phone, and he took the bait: lock, stock, and barrel.  I ended up separating them resulting in much contempt (and embarrassment) from Ben.  He felt he was being wrongly called out because of something his sister was doing!
After class, after spending the remainder of the class time with his head on the table, I asked him what part he had in the entire situation.  Time after time he pointed out what his sister did.  Acknowledging that his sister also didn't make peaceful choices, my focus was currently on his actions; time after time I asked him how HE contributed to the situation, having no control over what his sister did.  Again and again and again, he tried to pin his behavior on his sister's actions.  So, finally, I said when we got home I wanted him to write down his part in the situation and not to mention his sister's actions at all.  I'm tired of hearing one more person blame their actions on someone else's actions - bottom line, he made a choice!
I really didn't expect much as he seemed pretty hell-bent on blaming his sister for everything he was feeling.  Not a word was spoken on the way home.  Upon arrival, he jumped out of the car to go in the house.  I got out and reached out to give him the keys but when he came back he ignored the keys and, crying, gave me a big hug!  My 10 year old boy doesn't give hugs!!  He went upstairs immediately and came down with a note shortly after that said the following:

"I am sorry for interrupting your class and being an idiot.  I will try to never do that again.  I didn't listen to you and I was mean to Holly.  Next time I will listen more and pay less attention to my surroundings.  I wasn't taking care for my actions.  Now I suffer the consequences.  Here I am.

Now it's...


I know it's a small thing but I can't remember being more proud of him for being accountable for his actions.  He recognized his part in the whole scenario and what to practice (well, at least he will try!) to avoid it in the future.  I felt like I saw his spirit grow today.  The more accountable for our actions, the more peace we will find in the world.  There was peace in our land, at least for a little while, and it was good!