Archives for the month of: June, 2015

Do you know the value of kindness? I’m not talking about those people who do things for others to make themselves feel better or those that require any kind of personal gain from their actions. I’m speaking of a wholesome kindness coming from a good heart and desire to help their fellow man—-making the world a kinder, better place. No accolades expected or needed.

Some people can live such harsh lives they may not be aware of how important this is in the world. Some may have never experienced true unconditional kindness. I’ve met just such people in my life. It’s sad, as their environment has turned them dark with narcissism. Personal gratification is their only goal.

It never ceases to amaze me the people that consider themselves to have a “kind heart” or who are “following in the way God wanted” yet everything they do is for their own personal ego. Every action to lead them to feel better about themselves. Yet when a person falls down—-they criticize and offer no assistance. When a person is impaired —-they judge. If a person has gone through hardships—-they think of themselves as better and offer no compassion. Does that make them truly kind —-or closet narcissists?

Please allow me to digress.

As an adult, I’ve been exposed to the harsh criticism of negative people. For whatever reason, these people tear me down in order to feel better about themselves. I started to believe the harsh criticism—-though it had no basis or truth. I withdrew from the people who brought out my sunshine.

Conversely, as a child, I grew up in a household with a strong Catholic influence. When I say strong —-I mean intense. It was not harsh or overbearing—-more closely related to a safety net. Church was a place to go for guidance, comfort or acceptance. Going to church was more of a requirement than something I enjoyed. Kind of like cleaning my room or doing the dishes.

In my family, my grandmother was a matriarch—-what she said—we did —-without argument. It’s a good thing she never asked us to step in front of a moving train, as I’m sure we would have done so happily without argument. We gave her all of the respect a matriarch deserves. As with most great matriarchs she was very in touch with her spirituality—-her sister (my great Aunt) a nun—-two of my aunts pledged to the convent as well. My mother was president of the Alter’s Society, which translated to the priest having dinner at our house on numerous occasions. I spent my grade school years in parochial school with nuns as teachers and my aunt as principal. We were at the convent often visiting with everyone there. We were a Catholic Mecca!

Before you think of the old school nuns that scared children half to death and traumatized with rulers across knuckles daily—-these were a different breed. The nuns that I was exposed to were smart —-happy—-enthusiastic —-spiritual yet not overbearing about it—-and calming. They could make the worst of days—-amazing. They taught me kindness—-integrity—-and to love completely without fear as a barrier.

One nun in particular was tall, slender and has a smile that intensifies a room with happiness —-her mere presence warms your soul from the inside out to a point it bursts a smile out of your heart. In addition to teaching academics, she also played the organ and piano. During school presentations, her entire face lit up while she accompanied our little voices. She would sway to and fro while she played. Her excitement beaming from her face with numerous expressions that to this day bring fond memories. One glance her way and we’d smile. A real smile—-from the core. She was—-sunshine.

Years and years have passed since those days. As adults, we get into the stresses of life. Work, children, relationships—-at times these experiences build animosity—-pessimism—-life breaks down into a rut. We forget our core and allow the world to break us down—-taint that child—- that smile beaming from the inside out. Our sunshine turns into dusk—-then darkness.

I was guilty of this. Through the years I let small things adjust my sunshine—-pessimistic people—-the loss of loved ones—-difficulty with family members—-it all shaded the sunshine.

Do you have a person in your life that is a rock? They are there no matter the mood you are in? To quote Marilyn Monroe, “If you can’t handle me at my worst—-you don’t deserve me at my best!” Wise words.

My family’s rock recently had her 50th Anniversary. After all of the many graduations—-weddings—-awards ceremonies—-for the first time all attention was on the rock. She is a nun—-Phd—-counselor—-confidant—-therapist—-exceptional listener—-advisor—-sibling—-and my aunt. Words can not describe the amazing person she is. Nor can they describe the love I have for her. She rarely places a demand, but when she does, everyone stops and listens.

As for me, I’m stubborn—-strong willed—-independent—-and moved over a thousand miles away from where I grew up. I hadn’t been home since 2006, when I made a promise to a friend to attend a class reunion. Since that time—-quite honestly—-I checked out.

Until now. Two months ago the “Rock” summoned my attendance to the 50th anniversary party to be held at the convent. It was turning into a family reunion. The rock wanted me there and that was that. Who argues with a rock? I was seriously thinking about arguing until family protocol kicked in.

I had no idea what to expect. Would there be arguments—-uncomfortable situations—-criticism—-I was planning for the worst and hoping for the best.

When I arrived at the convent, a calm melted over me. It was familiar—-soothing. One by one each of my aunts came to give me a hug. The soothing familiar hugs—- only those that love you from the soul out can give. Humans sometimes call it “unconditional love”. What is that? I define it as a love beyond yourself. A love with no expectations or demands. Animals know it well. It is a love that does not require accolades, attention or explanation. It just accepts you quietly and establishes your safety net. It gives you a raft when the flood waters of life are raging rapids.

We all went to lunch at the convent. It was like going through the line in grade school —-tray and all. As I was walking with my tray to join my family—-there she was. The happy—-smiling face from my childhood. That amazing smile still polished on her face—-her beam of light stronger than ever. My entire body filled instantly with a warm, soft, burst of sunshine—-breaking through with a smile. After all of these years, she had not changed a bit! For the first time in years—-I was “home”. I was the burst of sunshine I had always been—-the positive spirit —-the dreamer that believed I’d rather be an optimist and a fool than a pessimist and right. Once again—-a hug reminded my core who I was —-and still am. The sunshine came out of hibernation and beamed stronger than ever. I merely needed a reminder it was there.

In life, tragedy can bring depression—-cold hearted people can bring disappointment with negativity. As humans we forget the sunshine within us. Smiles and hugs brought back my sunshine—- whose sunshine will yours bring back?

In life, we must deplete the shadow—-look into our souls—-find the sunshine! Always remember to hold your head high—-let your sunshine beam from the inside out—-and strut!

Have you ever had someone in your life that literally stops you in your tracks for a smile and a laugh? My friend’s husband is that very person for the both of us. He manages to take the most innocent of circumstances and turn them in to something hysterical!

Not long ago, my friend and I were out shopping. Upon returning to their house, we found her husband sitting in his chair putting lotion on his legs and feet. He had an uncomfortable fidget as he was rubbing his lower legs and feet—-holding the pump bottle in one hand and rubbing vigorously with the other. His face filled with a squint that clearly showed his discomfort.

“What’s the matter?” My friend asked her husband. “I have dry skin. I’ve been putting lotion on my legs over and over, except the itch is getting worse—-not better!” He continued to put lotion on his hand and rub it vigorously into his legs and feet.

My friend stared at her husband in shock, then began to laugh. “That bottle has shampoo in it!” She exclaimed in amusement. “I bought a large economy bottle of shampoo. Then I bought a small bottle to transfer it to so it didn’t take up as much room. That is the bottle I put it in!”

Her husband looked at her. The wheels of deduction spinning ferociously in his head. All of us stood in silence for several seconds, pondering what had just happened. Then hysterical laughter filled the room!

He stood up from his chair and walked into the bathroom to shower. “Be careful you don’t slip on the shower floor! Shampoo is slippery when wet!” We exclaimed in laughter! “Well at least my feet will be clean!” He yelled from behind the door.

Sometimes in life, we get so wrapped up in routine, we forget to verify what’s in the bottle. The result can lead to an undesirable result.

Always take time to enjoy life. Pay attention to the people that love and care for you. Above all—-communicate—-laugh—-and always pay attention to what’s in your bottle!

 

Are you your worst critic? It is a toss up in today’s world whether society or our own personal opinions are the worst critics. As for me, the idea of judging another person is out of my thought process. However, I constantly hear people giving their evaluations of others as if they have been given the power of evaluating others and to them their opinion matters. Those that judge the harshest, typically have the most faults to hide. It is no wonder there is such a problem with body image—-personal image—-and self esteem. How does one have any of those things in a society more critical than ever?

As a teenage girl, I was plump. If I were a boy I would have been called “husky”. ¬†High school is where the perceptions of our bodies begin to develop in profound ways. In college, I found working out to be a fun source of entertainment and stress release. I slimmed down and met my first long term boyfriend. He used to tell me, “if you ever get fat I’m gone!” I spent most of my time stressing about every morsel entering my mouth so as to stay slim and keep him happy. Why? Looking back —-it was the person judging me based on aesthetic traits that had the problem—-not my weight. Why can’t people look at important qualities such as loyalty—-honesty—-integrity—-and moral turpitude?

I asked numerous beautiful women to give me one word to describe their bodies. Their answers were shocking. Gross—-fat—-jiggly—-disgusting—-were the more common descriptions given. Why? These women were some of the most incredible, loyal, good hearted people. Why do they not see themselves that way?

A few years ago, a guy I was dating and his family decided it would be funny to call me “big”. When I confronted him with the question of why, to make himself feel better he came up with a response of “well….you’re tall.” Since when are tall and big the same thing? So I asked numerous people to define in one word “big” for me—-just in case I was evaluating this wrong. The responses were—-large—-heavy—-plus —-not one response came back as “tall”. How did it affect me to be described to my face as “big”? I had difficulty eating. Even the healthiest of foods I looked at and worried about gaining weight. When looking in a mirror, I saw a “big” body that needed to lose weight. At that point in my life I was 16% body fat. Hardly what any medical professional would term as “big”. Words do more damage than any fist.

So why are people so cruel? Typically it is their own insecurities that cause them to critically judge others. I have known 3 anorexic women in my life. All three are the first to criticize others and yet they are offended when criticized. Why as a society do we allow insecure, miserable people to get in our minds and alter our opinions of ourselves?

Recently, a beautiful young lady made the cover of People magazine. She created a huge stir. Why? Not because she is beautiful—-which she most definitely is. Not because of her famous family—-as she isn’t part of anything famous. But because she is a size 22. In watching an interview with this delightful young woman, I noticed her very positive self image. How wonderfully refreshing it was to watch a young woman with a positive self image. Why can’t we all have the same positive image of ourself?

I was speaking with a friend recently. They are wonderful in so many ways. Yet the one constant in every conversation was how fat —-disgusting —-unable to lose weight—-my friend thought they are. Yet what I see is a beautiful person with a good heart—-who is not overweight. Yet their stimuli and morphed thought process of what “normal” is has created a poor body image. In fact, their thought of what their normal weight should be would make them too thin and unhealthy. How do you turn poor thinking into positive? Why does a number on a scale determine self worth? Some of the ugliest people I have ever met —-internally—-are the lowest numbers on a scale. They are miserable and toxic.

My challenge is to strike that thinking from your mind. See the beautiful person you are. Take pride in defining yourself in a positive way and become deeper than a puddle. Life is too short to dance with ugly people. Ugly is defined as self absorbed—-critical—-judgmental—-why be around anyone who does not see you for the beautiful person you are both inside and out. Eliminate these critical, toxic people from your world. If anyone in your world makes you feel insecure or critical of yourself—-they do not deserve to be a part of your world.

You are beautiful—-You are special —-and you deserve to be around people of the same caliber.