Make Peace Not War

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I watch people talk until they are blue in the face to try and change someone’s mind. I see it on Facebook with hundreds of exchanges between people where it is clearly obvious no one is really listening to the other but instead only trying to defend his or her point of view. Why do we do that? Why do we waste precious time and words on something that is never going to make a difference? Sometimes it’s necessary to agree to disagree and just move on. Why this need to feel we are right and have to prove it? Do we ever stop and consider that with some things there is no right or wrong and just a difference of opinion? Take a deep breath, be respectful and move on. Make peace not war. We have enough of that already. 

Put Down The Darn Gloves

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I don’t want to fight.

Really, I don’t!

I’m finding communication to be quite challenging lately. Why is it when I have a question for someone, they raise their boxing gloves? As a parent, I feel I have the right to ask questions to anyone who comes in contact with either one of my children. The last time I asked a simple question about the teaching style of a particular class, the teacher attacked me and became very defensive. Why ARE people so defensive

Today, I got a call from the dental hygienist notifying me that Kayleigh missed her appointment. When I asked how she notified us of the appointment, her tone changed and the tackling began. In a very snotty tone she assured me that the reminder came to “this number”(my cellphone) and that someone confirmed the appointment. The truth is the text went to my husbands phone when I told the office a few months ago to make sure all appointment reminders come to me and only me.  As she was searching for an available time to reschedule the cleaning I decided to tell her about Chases teeth. He got his braces off two weeks ago and I was sick inside when he smiled at me for the first time. All I could see were two silver fillings in his top, front, two teeth. When I told her this, she went straight to irate telling me this could not have happened in that office because they wouldn’t put silver fillings in the front of someone’s mouth. She went on and on and on.  Was she insinuating that I was lying or that we went somewhere else to have work done and we were trying to pin it on their office? Shouldn’t she maybe have looked at his chart before lecturing me? I seriously couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Why does everything come down to confrontation? I just don’t get it. She was supposed to speak with the dentist and call me back but that was several hours ago. I’m almost to the point where I don’t want to interact with anyone. I can’t take anymore of it and I don’t want to be a whipping board for someone’s misplaced anger or insecurity.

I’m not sharing this to complain. I am hoping it will bring awareness to the way you speak to other people. Are you always ready for a fight? Do YOU feel attacked? Do you often take things personally more times than not? Is this only happening to me? 

Take a breath. Calm down and know everything can’t possibly be all about you. You’re just not that important. None of us are. Sometimes a question is simply a question.

A New Perspective on Cell Phones

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I know I complain often about cell phones and how they disturb living in so many ways but today I would like to offer a new perspective.

Last week I mentioned my mom was in the hospital. I was so relieved to know that I could get up to the minute updates from my brothers and sister. Sometimes having a phone in the pocket can come in very handy in those moments you really need to reach someone. My sister in law even snapped a photo of her in her hospital bed so I could I could get a look at her with my own eyes.

Last night my nephew made his first television appearance on ESPN. I was so disappointed I would have to miss it because I would be watching my daughter in her homecoming parade. While I was there, my sister sent me the video of him on TV right to my phone. I was so grateful and proud, I even shed a tiny tear. And the best part of all was hearing the family cheering in the background the second they saw his face on TV.

My niece is my little ray of sunshine. Nothing makes me happier then when she bugs her mother enough to let her FaceTime me. I love looking into her beautiful face. It is such an amazing gift.

I’ve mentioned that I don’t live close to home. I remember the year my birthday fell on Easter. Not only was I sad I wasn’t with extended family that day but I didnt even hear from them. I was sure they must have forgotten me. Then, I checked Facebook and they were all there in a video singing happy birthday to me.

Honestly, the cell phone really does help me feel connected in so many ways and disconnected in so many others. There is a very fine balance between abusing its privileges and talking advantage of all it has to offer. Somedays I love it, some days I resent it but I can’t deny it has much to offer.

What are your feelings about cell phones? Do you love them, hate them or flip flop between the two?

Lost In Emotions

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One thing I’ve learned about dealing with teens that can also be applied to adults is this. Once you lose your cool, as soon as you raise your voice or use an angry tone, it is game over. You have handed over your opportunity to make a point. You have now become an enemy and someone the other person only sees as mean instead of hearing the message that was intended to be spoken. Sometimes that’s what I believe people want. Being mean gives my kids an excuse to retreat to their rooms instead of staying downstairs and cleaning up their own mess or being responsible for what is expected of them to do. I see it so clearly when there is an exchange between my husband and my kids and how this allows a point on the teens score card and zero on dads. It’s not so easy however, when I am the one that completely loses my cool. I guess I have to work on that a little more. Remember, if you want someone to listen, you have to say it in a way they are willing to hear. When you yell or berate, the person you are speaking to will stop listening and you will look like the bad guy while they escape the lesson. That is lose lose for everyone involved. Stay calm and speak in a nice voice.

What Exactly Did You Mean By That?

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Do you examine conversations? Do you go back and ponder the words that are spoken to try and understand the deeper meaning of what someone is saying? Do you have too much time on your hands? Are you over thinking conversations that eventually damage your most precious relationships?

I know for me, words are just words. I certainly don’t try and say things I don’t mean but at the same time, my words are not the word of God. Sometimes I am making a joke or speaking to fill up the silence and my words shouldn’t be taken too seriously at all.

My point here is this, if you are so focused on someone’s words so you can determine what kind of person they are, cut it out. If we look hard enough for anything, the mind will eventually find it and people will simply stop wanting to be around you. No one wants to be questioned or challenged or feel like they have to explain themselves time and time again. 

Lighten up, words are just words. You give them meaning …….or not. Think about that one. Would you want someone over thinking and manipulating the meaning of your words? I don’t think so. Would you want someone throwing your own words back in your face? Oh no, I wouldn’t have guessed. Do you want someone wondering about you, what do you think she meant by that? Of course not. Don’t you do it either.

To Speak or Not To Speak

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To speak or not to speak, that should be the question. I am learning to control when and if I will speak a little more everyday. I am slowly starting to have the ability to react less and make a conscious decision if I will respond more. Do we just say too much? I saw the quote a while ago that says, before you speak, ask yourself these questions,

Is it true?

Is it kind?

Is it necessary?

The fact is, nobody needs to hear every single thing you’re thinking. In fact, I strongly recommend that if you want to maintain happy, healthy relationships just say less. You don’t have to engage in every conversation, you don’t have to have the last word. You don’t have to debate with anyone to prove your point and if someone says something negative, don’t continue the conversation. Take a few deep breaths, don’t judge and don’t allow yourself to go there anymore.  You can make the world better or you can make it bitter. What will your words do?

Which Would You Choose?

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It’s better to be kind than to be right                    Anne Lamott

There are some who take advantage of the whole freedom of speech concept. There are a few who believe it is their right and obligation to speak every thought in their head out loud. There was a time when what was “right” seemed clear cut. A time when there was less gray and more black and white. Now the lines of right are blurred by individual beliefs and opinions. Sometimes I really believe it is in someone’s nature to fight. Fighting with words is no exception. Other times, it seems like a need for people to wait for the point in a conversation where you give them an opportunity to make a correction. Why can’t we just listen? Why do we feel the need to jump in with our words while someone is just trying to make conversation? 

I know for myself, sometimes I want to jump on the “I’m Right” train or even worse, the “I know more than you train” but at the end of the day, in retrospect, I can’t help but ask myself, was it really worth it? Couldn’t I have found a way to keep my mouth closed and not go to that place that causes me or someone else to feel uncomfortable? Isn’t it better sometimes to choose silence and just be kind instead of feeling the need to prove my point? MY point. That sums it up. If I already know it, why push it onto someone else? Choosing when to speak and when not to is a very important factor in getting along. Unfortunately, the desire to be right for some far exceeds the getting along part.  

This was day 3 of the 3 day quote challenge. If you would like to participate, I informally nominate you. What quotes inspire you may just inspire someone else. Why not give it a try? Thank you to https://fallinginlovewithfreedom.wordpress.com/ for nominating me to take part. The rules are simple. Post one quote a day for three days and nominate three other bloggers to take the challenge. Don’t forget to acknowledge the blogger who nominated you. I hope you choose to take part.

You’re Dismissed

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I’ve noticed a growing trend lately that makes me feel ill at ease. It’s growing at a rapid rate, and the more it takes off, the smaller we feel. I’m an observer, not a judger but a watcher. I notice things because I am less rushed than I up used to be, more focused. People are dismissive. There are so many examples swirling around in my head, I can hardly wait to get them on this page.

Let me start with my simple life. I am a stay at home mom. I wear many hats. I have feelings and value and underneath the tough exterior I carry there is this tiny innuendo that I just don’t matter. When I speak to someone and they don’t respond, how do you think that makes me feel? When I reach out to the world and it doesn’t respond, it makes me feel like I don’t exist. I feel invisible, ignored, not important….dismissed.

I’m not sure when or how this even started to become a normal way of life. It makes me sad. When I talk to my children and they don’t answer me, I feel unappreciated. When I email a teacher with worries and concerns and don’t get an email back, I feel like my concerns are passed over and not taken seriously. When teachers do not send me a weekly email required by my sons 504 I feel like a nuisance and a nag when I have to email them. When I try to have a conversation with my husband that leads to nowhere, I feel unheard. I have become the villain by continuously trying to force and encourage communication. When exactly did communication become a crime? When did life change so drastically that I have to feel bad for pulling teeth to get people to communicate?

Feeling dismissed is awful. It lowers our self esteem and makes us second guess our own worth. It is a shame that two seconds of someones respect and time are too much to expect anymore. How did things start to go this wrong? What could I possibly do about it? Should I back off and just come to expect that a response will most likely not be given or do I send this post out into the Universe and beg each and every one of you to do better than the norm. Make eye contact, respond to email, talk back to people when you are spoken to. We need to wage a war on this new eerie quiet, non existent communication that’s sweeping through our lives and slowly killing our spirits. People are important. Their concerns are important. There emails and words are important. I beg you and challenge you to make everyone feel that way. Make every person feel heard and respected and at the very least, noticed. Acknowledge them the best you can and don’t fall into the category of those who never respond. Hit your like button, leave a comment. Just do something to make people know someone is listening. It may not mean much to you but it will mean the world to the person on the receiving end.

Do You REALLY Know?

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I was reminded today how much we love to assume that we know exactly how we will feel in a given moment. I used to say things like “when I’m a mom, my kids will never behave that way” or “I will never be like my parents”. You probably know those moments well, when what your say or believe seems so absolute. The truth is, there is no way to ever know how we will feel in a given moment until we are laced up in our favorite pair of boots and standing knee deep in the moment as it is happening to us. So many times I have said if that happened to me, then I would do this…. Well, THAT has happened more times than I care to mention. If I am being totally honest, the situation did not always pan out the way I was sure it would. Sometimes I was even surprised by my own response, my strength, my fear, my desperation or whatever other feeling was delivered to my doorstep.

My husband turns the big 5-0 next week and I ran in the party store to buy him something silly. As I got to the register, the girl at the checkout made a remark that someone was turning 50. I proceeded to tell her it was my husband and that he is not very enthusiastic about his big approaching day. That is when her all knowing ego kicked in and she looked me dead in the eyes. This is what she said. “I know when I turn 50 I will feel blessed that I have lived that long.” Hmmmmm….how could I possibly respond? I smiled at her and asked how old she was. “I’m 24 mam.” I chuckled to myself and told her that I really do hope she feels that day on her 50th birthday.

The truth is 50 is a big year. Your life isn’t over by any means but there is that gnawing voice that reminds you, at the very least, it is half over. I guess, if I had to guess, 50 is bittersweet. It is a day that makes you reminisce about the life you have had and apprehensive about the life that is yet to come. It is no secret that a 24 year old body feels very different climbing out of bed than a 50 year old body. With age comes experience and knowledge but also pain in the form of stiff joints and easily fatigued muscles. I’m not quite there yet but I know at 43 I do not have the energy or the athletic ability I had in my 20s. I also don’t have the ability to just shake things off. When something or someone hurts me I feel the pain very deeply. I am able to let things go but they leave little scars and those little scars turn into bigger scars. I also see the world very differently. I pay attention to the small things like I did as a child. I cherish the moments when I feel an abundance of happiness or am surrounded by a group of people I love. I can’t help but think about my own death and the future loss of family and friends. It was easy to ignore in my 20’s because I was invincible and bad things didn’t happen if I didn’t pay attention to them. People weren’t starving or struggling to make ends meet, we weren’t killing each other in this nonsense no solution we call war. People weren’t beheading people and flying planes into buildings filled with people. I just see things very different now. I see more. It is a good reminder to myself that I will never know how I will feel or react in any moment. Everyday I am a different person and years from now I may not even recognize who I am today.

I may not know how my husband will feel a few days from now. I just hope that every year of his life is filled with something that makes him smile and reminds him he is appreciated and loved. Life often becomes so exhausting and so busy that we forget to show people how much they mean to us. Regardless of how he feels, I will be there sharing my life with his, celebrating the moments that are big and important to him and holding his hand and offering my support on the days that are difficult. That is really all I can offer and I hope somehow that will be enough. How do you wrap that and how would it compare to opening a silly shirt that he already knows will be waiting there for him to open on that glorious day?

Just remember, next time you think you know how you would feel if somebody else’s shoes found their way onto your feet, remind yourself that the reality of the experience may be very different from what you believe it to be in your mind. It’s okay to not know and figure it out when the moment is yours. Really, that is the only choice we have.

When To Talk and When To Be Quiet

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Words are so important. Not only the ones you choose to use but also the tone in which you say them. Use them to show kindness and build others up. Let compassion and support and love shine through your voice. I have to remind myself of this often. My voice is quick to show anger. Sometimes I need to take a few deep breaths until the feelings pass and my words can be gentle. Sometimes I need to make the choice to not say anything at all. Ask yourself these questions. Is what I’m about to say going to be insulting or confrontational for the person listening? Is what I’m about to say going to show support for the person who is pleading for it? Do I need to say anything at all? Will what I’m about to say damage my relationship? Maybe we should do a lot more thinking and a little less speaking.