That best portion of a good man's life; His little, nameless,
unremembered acts of kindness and of love. William Wordsworth (1770-1850) There really is no small act of kindness. As even the smallest act can have a profound impact on the life of another. A few weeks ago I was in a convenience store. It was a busy Saturday and there were a ton of customers. Each in a hurry to get to their weekend festivities. One lone sales clerk ran the register. As the line grew longer and longer you could see her stress level growing. She wasn't deaf to the grumblings of the people as they waited. One guy needed ice, which was locked up outside. When I walked in he was outside waiting for her to come out and unlock the bin. He followed me as I walked inside the store. I glanced back at him when I heard him bark at the girl that he had been waiting 4 minutes and he wanted his ice. He yelled at her, "Now Dammit!" and stormed back out. I grabbed my coffee and went and stood in line. At this point there was on 3 people in front of me. When it became my turn I looked at her and gave a small smile. I told this poor kid that I was in no hurry and I would wait for her to go take care of the guy with the ice. The guy behind me grumbled and I fix him with a glare. She smiled gratefully and ran outside. When she came back, she had tears in her eyes. She said I had no idea what gift I had just given her. She wanted to hug me. Really, all I did was wait an extra 2 minutes. That small gesture meant the world to her. Out the door I went. When I stopped in yesterday I was greeted by a giant smile. Same clerk. She whispered to her co-worker as I walked by; "that is the lady I told you about." That small act cost me nothing. I remember once a few years back my kid and I were walking into the supermarket. There was this adorable little old lady loading her bags into her trunk. She was just putting the last bag in and her carriage was empty. My kid walked over to her, smiled took the carriage from her and said, "I'll return it. Have a nice day." This little old lady looked at him and awarded him with the biggest smile. She looked at me and winked. That small completely random act of returning her carriage for her, made her day. I was so proud of my kid. When I told him that, he just looked at me, shrugged and asked if we could get Cheerios for cereal. There are opportunities everywhere to touch someone's life. Everyday they are there. It's just so easy to get caught up in the craziness of life, that we miss the chances. When I created the Random Thoughts page on Facebook I had no idea what would come of it. I've had the pleasure over the past 6 months, to network with some other pages and their creators and was invited into a group for inspirational page owners. A forum to discuss our work, our ideas, issues that arise and our pages. In this group are people from all over the world. Every day they dedicate their time and energy into putting positive, uplifting messages into the world. For no other reason than because they can. They want to make people think, feel inspired and laugh. One woman in particular, has touched my heart. Her name is Carmen and she is the creator behind the facebook page called "Paying It Forward ~ One Day at a Time". Her whole goal is to inspire people to reach out in kindness to someone and for that someone to pay it forward to another. In a world filled with strife. Where the evening news is all about loss, devastation, wars and all the bad. This woman wants to trump all that, by spreading kindness. Simple really when you think about it. Carmen even created this little bright green bracelets that say "Paying It Forward ~ One Day at a Time" on it. The magic behind these bracelets is awesome. While sitting in my truck the other day waiting to get my coffee I had an idea. When it was my turn at the window, I told the guy I wanted to pay for the woman behind me as well. I gave him one of the green bracelets and asked that he give it to her with her coffee and tell her I said "Happy Thursday". Off I went about my day. Quite frankly, it made me feel good to do it. I love the little secret acts that one can do everyday. Especially when the receiver has no idea who you are or where you come from. Sometimes when my family and I go out to dinner, we will pick someone that is dining alone. We ask our server to put their dinner on our bill, but not to say anything to them. We giggle at our mischievousness. We pay the bill and scurry out of the restaurant. We could be having the worst day ever, but in that small random act it turns our whole day around. Practice random acts of kindness. Open the door for a stranger. Help someone with their groceries. Kindness costs nothing but is priceless. Strangers, friends and family. Start small. One random- off the cuff act a day. Go get some of your own Paying It Forward bracelets and give them out. Leave them with your tip at dinner for the stressed out server with a note telling them Thanks. Tape a dollar to a vending machine with a note that says, "Next One on Me. Pay it Forward." Keep your eyes open. There will be a chance every day to; Pay It Forward.
Click this to get your own Paying It Forward~ One Day at a Time Bracelets!!!!
In truth it is not even really about you. It has always been about them.
Their issues, their hang ups. You are just fine the way you are.
Have you ever seen the Wizard of Oz, Snow White or the TV show Once Upon a Time? At the heart of each one of these is good vs. evil- bad vs. good. Throughout the story the battle goes back and forth until you are left on the edge of your seat wondering who is ahead and who is behind. You curse when the Bad scores points against the Good and cheer when Good prevails. Back and forth it goes in constant drama. Makes for good TV but not so much when you are faced with it in life. Maybe not evil per se, but the back and forth with someone that only wants to hurt, discredit or force you to eat the poisoned apple.
When someone is so full of pain, of insecurity or just plain miserable with their own lives, they tend to lash out at others. Hoping to elevate their own conditions they force a power play of sorts. Breaking another down as a way of building themselves up. If it goes on for a long period of time it becomes habit for this type of person. It eats even further away at what good they had inside. It becomes all encompassing and a way of life. Lash out at someone who they perceive as better, happier more successful and in turn they feel better about themselves. A slight twist of reality and Poof! like magic, they are better than the one they have been focusing on. Their negativity seeps through though unrealized and touches everything around them. Plunging them further into the darkness. They will continually lash out because they lack the strength to take a honest look at their own lives. It becomes an obsession of sorts.
Take the Wicked Witch in Oz. She stalked Dorothy. She sent flying monkeys at her, she threatened her and did everything to exert her power over her. Green with jealously, locked in her castle she needed to hurt what was good. She manipulated and lied and looked for any opening to release her pain onto another. It is the same with this type of person. They never realize their actions will not lead to a better life. Nor do they seem to care. For as long as they are focusing on the actions of another, they need not be looking at themselves.
I feel sorry for people like this. That lack the strength to fix their own lives. That allow their unhappiness to direct the course their lives take. The pain and heartache they can inflict on others is a direct reflection back on them. But one they will avoid seeing at all costs. They lie. They bully. They lash out. They talk behind your back and do whatever they can to discredit you. They keep files and notes and look for whatever opening they can find to hurt you. They infiltrate your friends, your family and your life. But only if you allow it. You do not have to let their poison effect you.
In truth it is not even really about you. It has always been about them. Their issues, their hang ups. Nothing you could ever do or say will change it. When you realize this, the power shifts. Hold your head up high, shoulders back and remember that it is not your battle to fight, you do not ever need to defend yourself. Because the fight is inside of them. They need to make peace with themselves.
Maybe if you are lucky they will manipulate themselves into $20,000 that they can put towards therapy. But I wouldn't eat any apples in the meantime.
Who gets an AHA! Moment playing a video game? This girl.
Apparently there is an app for that.
Back in February I jumped on the bandwagon and bought an IPhone. I love the Apps that I have found that are useful to me. Weather apps, News apps, Email and Maps. I have one app that has a library of inspirational quotes and one that takes a picture and converts it to a a document for emailing. All very useful to me, great for work and keeping things straight. A list app, a reminder app, a calendar and appointment app. Useful tools to help manage a busy life. But none of these apps brought me to an AHA! moment like a silly game did. Seriously.
I do not play video games. Never have and probably never will. I have always found different ways to pass the time. Reading, writing, the never ending cleaning and laundry. When I got my new phone my husband and kid were telling me about all the games I could download. Angry Birds. Words with Friends. Draw Something. The list goes on and on. At first I did not download any games. The phone was a tool. But as time went on I wanted to know what everyone was talking about. Also, being a tech geek really didn't help. So I download a few. Deleted most just as fast. But I have kept a few. There is one I like to play called "Bejeweled Blitz". A quick synopsis- Basically your screen is filled with different colored jewels. The object is to get 3 or more of the same color lined up to clear them off your screen. It beeps, buzzes and points rack up as you clear more jewels. If you clear more than 3 jewels at a time one will light up and explode if you clear it on a different move. You only have a minute.
One of the reasons I find that I like this one; it is mindless. I don't have to think or plot. I just match up colors and get the highest score in under a minute. If I am stuck on something I am writing or just home from a crazy day at work, I play "Blitz" to give my mind a break. It is mindless, solves nothing and doesn't get any writing done. But it gives my subconscious sometime to brew unfettered. But I can apparently only do mindless for so long because this morning as I was moving those little jewels around, I had an AHA! Moment. A life lesson in this game? Really?
As I was moving jewels around causing chain reactions and explosions, I realized something. One little shift can cause a chain reaction that clears a whole bunch of jewels at the same time and changes the entire look of the screen. One little move. It was here that I found my lesson.
One little shift can change our entire outlook. One little move on our part can change the landscape of our thoughts, our outlook and our problems. When I sat there looking for jewels to move, I suddenly felt stuck. I was looking at the entire screen, trying to find the biggest move. Time was running out and I felt the pressure. I had to find a move, a big move. But I couldn't. What I found were small moves that didn't bring me as many points. Until the one that did. I moved one jewel and set off the biggest chain reaction and scored a ton of points.
AHA! Cue light bulb over my head.
Same thing goes for life. Sometimes life is overwhelming. Sometimes you feel the weight of it on your shoulders and the pressure gets to be so much you feel like you will be crushed. You don't know where to start. You don't know where to turn. Instead of making any moves- you freeze.
The lesson I learned playing a damn game on my cell phone. Make smaller moves.
You do not have to solves all of your problems in one fell swoop. You do not have to confront everything in your past that is holding you back in one day. You don't have to do it all at once. But you have to do some of it. Make smaller moves. One then another. Keeping working at it. Keeping making strides. Then one day, you will make that one small move that cascades into another and another and you will get to where you need to be.
Life Lesson in a damn game.. Yeah, there is an app for that.
I am fluent in four languages. English, sarcasm, profanity and male.
It was the last one that was the hardest to master.
The other day a good friend of mine stopped by. Randomly out of the blue. I happened to be sitting on my deck having coffee and writing at the time as it was early morning. I glanced up as I heard the deep guttural sound of a souped up exhaust. As he got out of his huge truck- coffee in hand, I knew something was up. My usually smiling, happy go lucky friend, looked forlorn, lost and sad. You have to get a picture of this guy in your head. He is tall, strong as an ox and a man's man. Rugged and tough on the outside, big teddy bear on the inside. But he is a guy. With obvious guy tendencies. Talking isn't one of his strong points. So when he shows up out of the blue, with coffee and a lost look on his face, I knew something was up. I also knew it was going to be an hour and several cups of coffee before he got around to it. Thankfully, I am multilingual. I speak English, sarcasm, profanity, and "Male". Being fluent in Male comes in handy at times like these.
After about the 5th cup of coffee and the latest news on his truck modifications, he finally had gotten around to the reason behind his visit. He had an argument with his girlfriend the night before. He knew that he had screwed something up, but was unable to translate her words into Male. So he came to see me. Once the caffeine had loosened his tongue, he got into the gist of the argument. Apparently there had been a discussion on soul mates. She had made a comment about a girlfriend of hers finding her soul mate. My friend, sensing he was supposed to contribute something, said that was awesome for her. He knew how awesome it was to find his soul mate. He had her. In his world, this comment was the type to score some brownie points. And thing is, he really means it. But then, he followed it up with, "finding your soul mate is cool, it takes the pressure off and you don't have to work at it any more. You find the one you are supposed to love and that's it." Apparently his girlfriend took exception to the follow up comment. Her rebuttal was something along the lines of; "Of course you still have to work at it. You have to show the person you love, how much they mean to you. Actions, speak louder than words." There was alot more she said, alot more. But the basic summary is, she now understands why he never goes that extra effort for her, does special things just for her or puts any thought into their relationship. He thinks he is done. He has her, he is happy and now doesn't need to worry or think about it anymore. If only right?
I thought for a moment. Here is this awesome guy. He loves his girlfriend, plans on marrying her soon. He doesn't want anyone else. He is happy. He is also now seriously confused. I got up from my chair and told him to follow me. I walked over to his truck and started speaking male. I opened the little door to his gas tank and said "What goes in here?" He replied fuel. Then I popped the hood. I pointed to the spark plugs and said, "What are these for?" He replied that they were spark plugs and that they caused the spark to ignite the fuel. No spark. No combustion. No Combustion. No Go. He is glaring at me now because he knows I know all of this and thinks I am toying with him. Then I point to the oil cap and say "Why does your truck need oil?" He replied through gritted teeth, that it lubricates the engine components and makes it run smoothly. Now he is really looking at me like I have finally lost it. So I drop the tailgate, sit down and say...
"You put fuel in twice a week. The spark plugs ignite the fuel and cause combustion. This causes you to go. The oil lubricates all your engine components and makes things run smoothly. This takes maintenance. This takes thought. This takes work. You forget to maintain anyone of these and your truck breaks down. The same thing goes for your relationship. You are the fuel, your love is the spark plug and the oil, well the oil is the blood and life of your relationship. You have to maintain the oil, just like you have to maintain your life. Your actions fuel your relationship, your thoughts spark it and your love makes it run smoothly. If any one of these breaks down, you have to fix it in order for it to work. Routine maintenance is key."
He stood very still. His eyes looking at his truck but seeing in his mind his girlfriend. He understood. He works hard, he is always faithful and he loves her. But what he didn't realize at first, is that while all of this was the fuel to his relationship he still needed to maintain it. He still needed to make that special effort for her. For her and him. It was only together that their engine ran smoothly. Now he understood that not only did he need to remember to get gas and his oil changed. He also needed to dedicate time and attention to her. She wasn't the type that needed a big display or expensive gifts and he knew that. He also knew that he was going to do whatever it took to make her happy.
He looked at me with a grin and said he was going home to tell her that he understood. That she was just like his truck and he was going to treat her the same way. I just shook my head at him and let him go. Baby steps. She will understand. He is a guy after all.
There will always be someone different then you. That is what makes the world
such an amazing place and life such an amazing journey. Each one of us
has a place in this world. The time has come to accept this.
The time has come to evolve once again.
Growing up my grandmother always taught me that it is what a person has on the inside that counts. That it didn't matter what color they were, what church they belonged to or how much they made. What made a person worth knowing you had to look for, listen for and feel. That just because someone drove a fancy car, had the best of everything or went to church every Sunday, didn't show me anything more about them, then how they chose to spend their money or their Sunday. You learn about people through their actions. If you saw good in them, believe it. If you saw bad, believe that too. Always be true, be fair and give people the benefit of the doubt.
She also taught me that every person in this world, deserves to be here. That I didn't necessarily have to believe in them, agree with them or even like them. But they deserve to be here as much as I. She taught me values. She taught me open mindedness. She taught one another powerful lesson; Treat others as I want them to treat me. Well I have grown up and I still hold these truths as a guide to live my life by. I don't care if you are rich or poor, black or white, Catholic, Christian or Atheist. I don't care if you make a boatload of money, sweep floors or flip burgers. I do not care if you are educated or not. I do not care if you are gay, straight, Bi or Single and getting it where you can. All I care about is, who you are as a person and how you treat others. What do you give out to the world. Who are you on the inside?
When I see people in my community, my state or this nation hate on a specific group of people because they are different then them, it makes me crazy. Just because someone is different than you does not make you a better person. It just makes you different. Differences are awesome. Can you imagine how boring life would be if we were all the same? Seriously. I can't imagine a world where every one looked like me, talked like me thought like me. It would be so boring. But yet every time I turn on the news or read a paper this is what I see. Wars, fighting, demonstrations. One side versus the other side. Each side claiming they are right, that their way is the only way. Really? Just because something isn't right for one makes it wrong for all. Just because I eat meat doesn't make me a horrible person. It makes me someone who eats meat. Just because you go to a Catholic church and your neighbor worships in a small Baptist chapel, doesn't make you right and him wrong. It makes you Catholic and he a Baptist. Both human beings, both good people. Just different . Just because I chose to love and marry a man doesn't make me any better than the man who marries another man. I am right for me. He is right for him. Simple as that. Or at least it should be.
Human beings have always formed "family units" in order to survive. When a father passed along the protection of his daughter to another man, marriage was created to formalize the agreement. In essence the woman was property. The agreement for marriage usually came with some form of financial arrangement. A dowry was often given to the husband for taking care of his wife. In return, the wife had no rights to any of their property or children. She also had no right to refuse sex at any time with the her husband. If he wanted it, she had to give it to him or he would simply just take it. There was a time in certain areas of England, when wives were often sold between men. This was the crude creation of what is now called divorce. As a woman I am so glad that we have evolved from this. That we as the human race have gotten to where were are today. I can't imagine being sold as property. I can't imagine not having the legal right to refuse sex husband or not.
We saw a need to protect our rights as women. That we own the rights to our bodies, our minds and share equal rights in raising our children and owning property. We now have the freedom to vote, to marry who we choose, and if we do not want to have sex, we aren't forced against our will because he is in the mood. Our rights have evolved. The men in various religious organizations fought it. We fought back. Why? Because no one should ever exert that much control over someone who can think, make decisions and has the basic human right to love whomever they chose.
Why then is this is the case with women and not with a gay or lesbian couple that wants to marry? You do not have to like it. You do not have to participate in it. You can still believe your beliefs, still go to church and enjoy your freedom to do so. What we as a nation do not have the right to do, is deny these same freedoms to anyone else. Be them gay, straight or purple. What we have to do is respect it. Why? Because like the women of old, it is their right to own their own bodies, their own minds and their right to love whomever they choose. You have the right to practice your religion. You have the right to pray and you have the right to disagree with their choices. You even have the right to voice your beliefs. What we shouldn't do though is convince ourselves that this gives us the right or the freedom to deny others the same courtesy.
If everyone just took a step back and freely gave these rights to others that they hold so close and cherish for themselves, we wouldn't have demonstrations at a friggin' fast food chicken restaurant. We could focus more on our own lives and ways to be better people, better and stronger families and a better race entirely.
There will always be someone different then you. That is what makes the world such an amazing place and life such an amazing journey. Each one of us has a place in this world. The time has come to accept this. The time has come to evolve once again. The time to give equal rights is now. I am not trying to change anyone's opinion. What you believe is right for you. I may agree with it or I may not. But I what I will never agree to is denying anyone their equal rights. As an American. As a Human Being. It really should just be a given.
That is what I have on the inside.
If you spend to much time making judgments and not seeing people for who they
really are, it is you who will lose out. Finding inspiration in people you meet
on a daily basis makes life so much more interesting. Everyone you
come across in life is fighting some kind of battle.
Maybe they can shed some light on yours.
You are in grocery store. Harried, stressed and exhausted. There is a woman in front of you, youngish- 40's maybe. She is walking exactly where you want to be, where you deserve to be. She is not walking fast enough. Not moving fast enough. You clear your throat loudly. Hoping she takes the hint. You want to yell "Move it or lose it sister!" at the top of your lungs. She moves ahead a bit and slowly reaches for an item on the shelf. You feel your heart start to race, blood pressure go up. The urge to tap her with your carriage is overwhelming. You have to get home, you have dinner to make. You have laundry that needs to be finished. You have things to do. Clearing your throat didn't move her fast enough. You sigh. Loudly. She glances at you and smiles. A warm smile. She grabs her carriage and walks forward. Still not fast enough for you, but she is out of your way. You grab what you need and you are off. Zipping past her, dirty glance in her direction. The nerve. Some people. World revolves around them. As you reach the end of your shopping, you glance over and see that she has only made it another 4 aisles. You think she is lazy, checking prices because she is poor. You check out and you leave. Not giving her another thought. Places to go, things to do. You are normally a patient person. But seriously, if she lost some weight, got a better job or whatever her reason for being so slow, so in your way, she would have gone faster.
In the time span of a quick stop at the grocery store, you glanced at a woman briefly. You didn't actually see her. You didn't get a sense of her. All you saw was what you projected onto her. Lazy, slow, fat, poor. You tried and convicted her in the space of a minute. You felt better about yourself without even realizing it. Then you were gone.
What you didn't see. What you would have seen had you taken a moment. Only a moment and actually looked at her. Was pain. Not in any outward signs, but in her face. In her walk. The way she maneuvered her carriage, getting the item and getting out of your way. You didn't see her. But she sure as hell saw you. She smiled at you. Knowing full well your anger at her. She smiled. Until you walked past. Then the hurt set in.
There are 50 million Americans, one in five, that suffer from an autoimmune disease. 26.2% of Americans, one in four, suffer from mental illness. 7.8% or 5.2 million Americans will suffer or suffer from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). All of these show no outward symptoms. Nothing you would see at a quick glance. But each one is like an albatross hanging around the neck of the person who suffers from it. That woman in the grocery store was trying. Trying to be independent. Trying to live through the pain. Each step she took sent shock waves through her. But she was determined. Determined not to let her disease stop her from living. She did it. She did her own shopping. This is a natural thoughtless act for most, for her it was an act of sheer strength and determination. But one that no one sees.
Every day you walk past people and automatically judge them. It is a human trait. You see what you want to see, what you are conditioned to see and you judge. Probably not even realizing you are doing it at the time. Everyone is so busy. So caught up in their own little world that we fail to see what is often right in front of us. We judge. We sigh loudly at the slow shopper. We tell the overweight person to exercise more, not understanding it is their medication that makes them that way. We tell the man that can't work, can't function to get over his depression. Just be happy already. People just don't get it. They don't see it and when they do actually see it, they turn their heads and are thankful it isn't them. They judge in order to distance themselves from it.
These people that suffer from diseases you can't see are so impressive to me. They work, they get up everyday knowing what is in store for them. They do it any way. They strive for independence and they try so hard not to let the world see just how hard it is. They lean on those close to them and try not to feel the guilt that it causes. They take medications that make them sick, but are up every morning with their kids. They try. By sheer force of will they make a life for themselves. They are strong, they are tough and they understand that when their disease puts limitations on them, it's time to find a way to work around it. They do it everyday. For some people getting up and out of bed is a victory . Grocery shopping is a cause for celebration. Going fishing and spending time alone for the first time in years, life changing.
I was talking to a friend last week. She suffers from an autoimmune disease. She went camping. Alone with her dog and her pistol. She sent her husband home. She reclaimed some of her independence. She fished, she cooked and cleaned. She was in constant pain but she did not let it stop her. She faced her disease and found ways to work around it. Her happiness and her strength was palpable. Without even realizing it she was inspiring. We all have limitations. We all have something that stands in our way at times. We get frustrated, we cry and yell "Why me?". When what we should be doing is taking a page from my friend's book and say instead, "What can I do different to get where I need to be?"
Don't just look. See. If you spend to much time making judgments and not seeing people for who they really are, it is you who will lose out. Finding inspiration in people you meet on a daily basis makes life so much more interesting. Everyone you come across in life is fighting some kind of battle. Maybe, just maybe, they can shed some light on yours.
Don't just look. See.