It wasn’t so long ago that I had a real blow out pity party for myself. I was feeling isolated and alone and resented the fact that I lived so far away from the precious family who raised me and who I missed dearly. For years, I felt like the outsider looking in at all the moments I continued to miss. I had to challenge myself to find a healthier perspective than the one that was weighing me down to the depths of despair. I looked at the family I was raising and realized how much precious time I had wasted allowing myself to get caught up in nonsense. I tried so hard to change my way of thinking. Will this really matter a year from now after I let chunks of time slip away because I was engulfed in senseless drama? The change came slowly and I welcomed it excitedly. Slowly but surely I got my priorities straight.
My mom leaves tomorrow after visiting for almost 4 weeks. I see things so different now than a few years ago. Time is only what we make it. It can be quality or it can be quantity and slowly but surely I am learning to give my relationships purpose and focus. We must embrace the time we are given to spend with the people we love. Each turn of the hand of the clock is a blessing and we must find a way to put substance into every opportunity to connect. We waste so much precious time marching for the latest cause, but how much time and energy do we put into the people who are there beside us? Maybe loving them, enjoying them, listening, appreciating them is our real purpose and we are missing the mark trying to save a world when it is the people around us who need to be saved. They they need us to slow down and pause long enough to really see them, to connect on that level that is so difficult to find in these changing times. We create moments and we make memories when we focus on doing just that. Maybe that is where real change comes from. Pay attention to the people around you. Make time for them and find a way to make them feel special. Don’t we all need so much more of that?
This mindset that we have to punish people and inflict pain on those whose views differ with our own is the exact thinking that leads someone to shoot into a crowd of innocent people. Why do we feel someone deserves to pay? Why do we have to jump on the bandwagon of asserting our own consequences? Airlines, rental cars… these people are just as guilty when it comes to thinking it is our right to personally manipulate and control others. Disguise it anyway you wish but this is the source of a scary problem that gets worse every single day. When you declare sides, you push away solutions and you create war. When only one side can be a winner, we all lose when we are one country, one people and we lose sight of what we were trying to accomplish in the first place because we get lost somewhere in our desire to fight. Imagine if we all came together behind something that would lead to a change directly in response to the problem we claim we are trying to eliminate. Look around at where people are putting their energy. Those things will not stop the next shooting. Lead with love, not anger and then things will fall into place. Why is that so hard to understand? Lead with love in your words, lead with love in your thoughts and follow through with love in your actions. Whatever you bring to the table is all you will ever have to serve to others. It’s a tough lesson to swallow. Time to eat!
I started the day a witness to misplaced aggression. When you don’t keep yourself in a place of balance, whatever you have an excess of tends to spill over onto somebody else. Often times our frustration with another human being is a result of them not meeting our expectations. One of the hardest lessons I have ever had to learn is that people are not always on my timeframe and their way of doing something can look very different from my way of doing something. We can resist who someone is all we want but until we surrender to who someone really is and allow them to be themselves completely, we will always invite conflict to a table that was meant to bring peace. We are all so very different and until we learn to embrace our differences rather than have contempt for one another because of them, aggravation and aggression will replace acceptance and love.
The world can seem so small sometimes. Not in its size but in its actions. As individuals we just want to feel loved and wanted and accepted, at least by the people in our inner circles. Often I wonder if we are aware of how we make others feel. I’ve watched people grow or completely deflate as a direct result of how someone treats them. Do you ever ask yourself, what are my words and actions telling the people in my life? Am I making them feel cherished and special or am I making them feel unwanted, unloved?
I wrote a post in December about what my son had planned out when my daughter came home for Christmas break. For a week he talked about getting two inflatable decorations for each side of the driveway and he also filled her room with all kinds of balloons. How do you think that made her feel when she arrived home and what does that say about the kind of person he is to want to purposely make her feel special?
This is a reminder to be more patient when you talk, more attentive when someone is around and more appreciative of the ones who go the extra mile to make you feel good about yourself for no particular reason at all. These people are our heroes of kindness and civility and are often the ones who crave the same kind of love and kindness they give so freely. Remember that today as you interact with those around you. Awareness is the key to change. Pay attention to how people react to you. Are you making them smile or shrink? What is their response? How are you making them feel? You have a chance every single day to build someone up or tear them down. Be accountable for your words and actions and how they affect everyone around you. Do good. Be kind and make the world a nicer place.
If withholding respect becomes a practice you think is a game, don’t be surprised when people stop extending respect your way. The more common disrespect becomes the greater chance of experiencing it on a daily basis. The way you treat people defines who you are. It isn’t about the person you disrespect. It’s about thinking you are on another level and last I heard we were all created equal. It is the flawed humanness in us that ranks people. We create the inequality that was never meant to be. It tells a story about what is in our heart and honestly sometimes the picture can be very ugly. I’ve never felt that anyone has ever had to earn my respect. I’ve never felt that I was in a position to determine who deserved what. I may get mad but at the end of the day my heart wins out. My thinking is imperfect. It is tainted by my experiences. Sometimes a person is exactly the way they were meant to be and the real problem is how I have chosen to see them. I was taught to respect people period. It didn’t matter if I liked someone or disagreed on every single thing. Respect was never optional. Now I look around and see disrespect everyplace I look. It’s a dark day for me. I will pick myself up by the bootstraps and I will move on but right now the darkness feels so darn chilly. I am grateful that witnessing bad behavior does not suck me into it. It makes me work even harder to make sure that kindness always comes first. Is respect becoming extinct? I sure hope not because thankfully there is so much good out there to counteract the bad. May goodness prevail.
Something I’ve decided to get serious about lately is reteaching people how to treat me. I have to be consistent and selective when it comes to what I will accept in my relationships these days. I am constantly working on myself but the missing link was working on the interactions within my relationships as well. So what message am I trying to send? My time is important. I am important and I hope I reciprocate the same. We are too distracted and our lack of attentiveness can really make the person on the receiving end feel isolated and unimportant. We can also be pretty flat and sometimes someone needs a little bit of our enthusiasm to make them feel special and loved. So ask yourself, how do people treat me and what am I doing to encourage or discourage their behavior? How do I make others feel and am I being mindful in my interactions? There is always room for growth so why not give it a try?
Sending my daughter off to college this year has trained me to be more mindful of the time I have. I have wasted so many minutes, hours, even years on the things and situations that drove me crazy but that I would never have the power or control to change. I traded quality time with the people I love for the nonsense that would eventually pass after I finally learned to take my attention and focus off of that one thing that made me, my life and everyone around me so miserably uncomfortable. When I became fixated and obsessed with that one situation, everything else took on less value. The saddest part is, people and relationships suffered and I can never get that time back. It’s easy not to value time when you think it is limitless but once it is rationed, reality provides a very hard blow to the most sensitive part of your face. Sometimes lessons are learned quickly and others take years but this girl walks away from conflict, stress, negativity and drama quicker than ever before. I have a long way to go but when I look back on the journey, I am always one step closer to where I want to be. Cherish what’s important and make sure you know the difference between what is and what is not.