Archive | January, 2013

From Hypocrisy to Love

28 Jan

From Hypocrisy to Love.

From Hypocrisy to Love

28 Jan

freeldsart forgivenessDo you ever have to confront your own hypocrisy or am I the only one who wants to act one way and sometimes acts another? I did not sleep well last night, and I woke up angry. Usually I wake up happy and chipper, sometimes to the point of annoying the members of my family who are not morning people. Today was different, and the worst part was that I didn’t know why at first. I did know that I wasn’t angry with any of my family members and was able to get them out the door for the day without any altercations. I was still being nagged by that angry feeling, so I decided to meditate. While meditating, I realized exactly why I was angry and who I was angry with…me.

For the past few years, I have been working on my spiritual path. I’ve changed so much in my life that I can hardly believe I’m the same person I was even ten years ago. There are so many situations that I can step back emotionally and mentally and be the person I want to be. I can be the compassionate, loving and supportive child of God I believe we were all born to be. Occasionally, though, someone throws me a curve ball, Divinely guided I’m sure, that hits me right between the eyes and lets me know I still have some growing to do. Yesterday was one of those times.

Everything was going like clockwork yesterday. I woke up feeling wonderful. I was energetic, focused, productive and at peace. The pond of my life was as smooth as glass. Then I got a phone call from a friend. It was a nice phone call to catch up and tell me some new things going on in my friend’s life, but something happened in that phone call that flipped a switch in me. My friend told me a couple of things that don’t necessarily agree with my values. Most days I can let things like that slide. Yesterday, I slipped into my judges robes and passed sentence on my friend and the situation she was describing. It wasn’t until this morning, after a night of lousy sleep, that I realized what I’d done. That made it even more frustrating because I knew I had to make a choice. I could let things go on as they were. Maybe my friend didn’t notice my judging. Maybe it would just pass. Maybe no one cared. Nice thoughts, but for a person who is working on being authentic and honest, something else had to be done, so I texted my friend and asked if she could stop over. Yes, I could have just called, but something about talking face to face puts more meaning into the conversation for me. Luckily, she had some time and agreed to stop over without knowing what we were going to talk about.

So then I got to wait. She showed up about a half hour later. I told her what I had done and asked for her forgiveness, and she gave it to me. Fortunately for me, she is a very forgiving person, and I am grateful for that. So we went on with our conversation. We’ll go on with our friendship, and I’ll go on with my spiritual path, which has a little bump in it that was easily passed instead of the mountain my mind could have created if I hadn’t come clean with my friend. The day goes on and so does life, but I’m a little different, a little more aware and hopefully a lot better of a person for having had this experience. It was scary asking for forgiveness. It was scarier to admit I’d done something for which I needed forgiveness, but it was scariest to think I might not receive the forgiveness I wanted so badly. I am lucky and blessed and so much happier and wiser for this experience.

Maybe you have a something you’ve done that needs forgiving. Maybe you’re the person that needs to forgive. In either case, I learned that forgiveness, whether asked for or given, is a path to grace. Grace leads to peace, and peace leads to love, and who could ask for more than that? Thanks for being you and have a great day!

Overcoming Winter’s Discontent

25 Jan

 Sunrise Jan 23 2012

So many people are struggling and suffering right now. There is something about this time of the year, especially for those of us in the midst of winter that leads to deep thought and often sad thoughts. The sun often hides for days and so do the people. We feel isolated and alone, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Now I understand that some people have a much deeper down than others that requires counseling and medication, but for those of us who aren’t there and don’t want to go to that place, there are so many things you can do to lift your own spirits and those of others. Sometimes you have to schedule joy into your life just to remind yourself it exists. It keeps you looking forward in anticipation instead of back in regret. In the list that follows, I challenge anyone who struggles at this time of year to schedule at least one thing per week that you enjoy doing, and if necessary, schedule one thing per day. I guarantee it will make a difference.

One of my favorite things to do at his time or any time of the year is to have lunch with a friend. Because winter is a time when people usually hibernate in their homes, we see less of them. If you are limited with your funds to eat out, host a potluck lunch at your home. If your home is less tidy and clean than you would like it to be, setting a date to have people over is great motivation to get you moving in the right direction. If things are super tight financially and you’d rather not have people in, host a brown bag lunch at the mall. Just make sure somebody buys at least an item or two from the food court. If you work, you could translate any of these to an evening, or you could host a game night for friends and/or family. Ask several people to bring games they enjoy or have a few of your own. You could even set up a jigsaw puzzle if you prefer to just talk. I recently had a few friends over to talk and catch up. We broke open a jigsaw puzzle and worked on the puzzle while we talked and spent one of the most pleasant afternoons I’ve had in a while.

If you’re a person who prefers to stay home or is more house bound because of small children, find a children’s classic book to read. For women, may I suggest anything by Judy Blume and for men or moms of boys who appreciate their humor try the Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Captain Underpants books. Want to really feel like a kid again? Read them under a big blanket with a flashlight. Speaking of feeling like a kid, if you have them, make a blanket fort with them. Play with play dough. Bake cookies. Play in the snow. Finger paint. Look at old photo albums. You can also learn something new, like how to crochet, knit or sew, or you can just find beautiful music or a funny movie that will brighten your day. Music on youtube is free to create your own playlist and your local library may have just the movie you’re looking for. If quiet is your thing, try learning yoga or meditation. It calms your mind and helps you in countless ways.

If you have the financial means, you could treat someone to breakfast or lunch. You could send a gift card or a small amount of cash anonymously in the mail. You could pay a few dollars toward the next person in line at Starbuck’s or the Drive Thru. You could cook a meal or bake some goodies for a neighbor, friend or family member. You could buy flowers for yourself or someone else. I don’t know about other areas of the country, but our local Kroger has discounted flowers for as little as five dollars. If you really want to get crazy, buy some flowers and give them to a stranger. Just hand them to the person, wish them a wonderful day and walk away. I promise they will smile for days.

If all of that feels overwhelming, maybe you need to give yourself a gift. If you’re already spending time at home, give yourself the gift of organization. Organize your finances, pictures or home videos. Clean out the basement or your closets. If you can just spend 15, 5 or even 2 minutes per day clearing out and organizing one area of your life, you will make a positive difference. The key is to get rid of at least one thing per day. Get it out of your house or ready to leave your house and make sure it leaves.

If you really want to look forward, plan a trip to somewhere sunny and start saving for it now. It may or may not happen, but just the idea of being there will lift your spirits. You might even try cooking local dishes from your destination to give you a taste of the vacation you may have some day.

Finally, and this is one of my favorites, you could send a note or a letter of thanks to someone who has touched your life in a positive way. Even if it seems unimportant to you, it may mean the world to the person who receives the note or letter. This is something I started doing a while ago. Two of my children have March birthdays. Some years there have been coaches, teachers or other people who have significantly affected their lives. Sometime near their birthday, I send those people a note to let them know how they have positively affected my children. It only takes a few minutes, but in a few cases, the results are ever lasting. One coach still carries his letter with him, and the letter was written seven years ago.

Maybe none of these appeal to you. Maybe several do. You can do something or you can do nothing but one thing remains the same. You are special and you do matter. You don’t matter for what you do. You matter for who you are, and in my book that means you are a beloved child of the Divine Creator. You are more than you see in the mirror and you are here because you have something to do in this life that only you can do. If you don’t know what that is yet, it can be the most wonderful and exciting search of your life. You can do this and you can make to spring, one day, one hour and one moment at a time. Most of all, thanks for being you and have a great day!

Accepting Personality Differences

17 Jan

Accepting Personality Differences.

Accepting Personality Differences

17 Jan

Family 1If you’re married or in a committed relationship, you’ve probably realized that your significant other is different from you. If you’re a parent of two or more children, you’ve almost assuredly found that one of your children is different from you. If you haven’t, they just aren’t old enough yet.

About a decade ago, I read a couple of books that changed my life, Positive Personality Profiles by Robert A Rohm and Personality Plus by Florence Littauer. I also had the privilege of hearing both authors speak on the subject of personality profiles. In simplest terms, people are either introverted or extroverted. They are also either task oriented or people oriented. Within those two realms there are several levels and variations, but when you learn about them more in depth, it explains so much about your own life, the views of others who are different than you and why you have conflict, especially conflict that you cannot seem to resolve. I’ll share an example from my own life to illustrate.

In case you haven’t noticed or don’t know me at all, I am very outgoing. I am also a huge people person. Nothing energizes me more than hanging out with friends, going to sporting events and just being around others. It took me years to figure out how to keep a house because tasks always felt like punishment to me, especially if I had to do it alone. I have a relative who is also outgoing, but is extremely task oriented. When we were much younger, I would drive by her house and see her working in her yard and stop to visit. Many times, she barely looked up, and she never stopped working. I would be hurt because I would think she was being rude by not stopping to visit with me, and I would leave with a wounded heart. It wasn’t until I read the books that I realized while I was busy being wounded because she wouldn’t visit, she was busy being irritated by my presence because I was slowing down her progress with her task. Neither was right or wrong; we just have a different way of being in the world. Now, when I see her working in her yard, I stop without getting out of my car and honk my horn. We exchange a greeting, and I drive on. I’m happy to make a quick connection, and she’s happy to get back to her task. I know we’ll talk later at some family function when she isn’t focused on her task, and she knows I won’t interrupt her for more than a few seconds.

Those types of situations are easy, because I don’t live with her. But what if you live with someone who is very different from you? Well, I do. As outgoing as I am, that is how reserved my husband is. When we go to a party, I flit from one group to the next talking to as many people as I can and enjoying the flow. My husband sits in one place for the most part, talking if someone sits with him or people watching if he’s alone. At one time, I would have tried to bring him into conversations and introduce him to everyone. I now realize that exhausts him. I get fired up from being with others. He gets drained. If it weren’t for me, he wouldn’t go to parties, except for family and not even many of those. Again, neither is right or wrong, but fortunately, we’ve learned each other’s style, and I honestly believe those books are a huge part of the reason we have such a solid and intimate marriage. We understand each other deeply and respect each others’ differences.

Then there are the children; we have three, and they are all so very different from one another. Our oldest is very task driven and more on the introverted side. He has always done very well in school no matter the circumstances because he wants to complete the task and complete it well, and he almost always does. On the people side, though, we’ve had to have several discussions about awareness of others’ feelings. He is a tough cookie and forgets sometimes that others are not, especially his brothers and mom. We know that he never intends to hurt, and fortunately, his more tender, task oriented father is helping him to be a bit softer. Then there’s our middle child who is so very much like his father. I probably have the least amount of conflict with him because he is so much like his dad. He is more task oriented and more reserved. A more social set of parents might worry about him, but after knowing his father for over two decades, I realize that my introvert will be just fine. In school, though, a mean or undisciplined teacher can unravel him for a while until he learns to adapt. He is truly that person that reflects back to you how you behave toward him. If you’re kind, you get kindness. If you’re anything else, you get little to nothing from him. With him, we have to remind him that everyone does their best, and sometimes you have to weather even the meanest of teachers, and he has. Finally, there is my youngest. I get him more than he knows because in a lot of ways, I was just like him. He is social and can talk to almost anyone. He is curious and bright. He loves life. Unlike me, he is not a big fan of school. He just doesn’t like tasks like class work, homework and tests. School for him is like housework for me, a necessary evil. Like me, he has almost made peace with having to do what has to be done, but for him, keeping it fun is the way to go. If only school could be a series of video games, then he would most definitely be a straight A student.

So, do you see yourself here? Do you see your spouse, parent or children here? If not, they’re probably some other combination, and that’s ok. The bottom line is we need all types of people in this world. We need detail oriented people who love to do accounting, which would be like prison for me. We need people who love people to be counselors and therapists. We need outgoing, determined people to lead. We even need fun, outgoing people to keep life light and interesting. It took a while to realize that every personality is valuable because every person is valuable. If you have someone in your life that is “difficult”, check out these books. You may realize that your difficulty with them is based solely on a personality difference and when you see how important each personality is, your difficulty may disappear. You may even learn to appreciate the difference and learn a few things from that person. If you can do that, you’ll feel better about everyone out there and maybe become a better person yourself. Thanks for being you and have a great day!

Finding Faith in a Moment of Chaos

11 Jan

CJ BirthIt’s been said that 85% of people belief in a Divine Creator, but lately it seems like very few have faith in that Creator. We take on so much of the burden of life that we could turn over in faith to that very force. In the Christian faith, we have a line in a prayer that says, “Thy will be done” and refers to the will of God. I realized the power of that line almost 13 years ago on a hospital gurney or trolley, as it’s known outside of North America. I was being rushed from a labor and delivery room to an operating room and the only thing I could do was pray. My child’s heat rate was plummeting and mine was soaring. I was filled with a deep fear I’ve never known before or since. I prayed The Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father, who are in Heaven
Hallowed be Thy name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
The prayer goes on, but I couldn’t. I was in the battle of my life at that point. I’d been in the hospital for eight weeks waiting for this child, being away from my other two, and I just couldn’t believe what was happening. I couldn’t believe I might not have a child to take home. I kept trying to say the prayer, and I couldn’t get past that line. The doctor and nurses were literally running down the hall calling out orders to the staff as we ran by. By the time I reached the operating room, and they hooked me up to the machines, I heard the nurse calling out the heart rate; 60, 55, 50, 45. I started to watch them cut me open, but the sight of my own blood splashing everywhere was too much for me. I still tried to pray and finally just broke down. I surrendered to “Thy will be done” and a few seconds later, my son was born; feet first, which the nurses said was impossible because he’d been head down and engaged that morning. He was completely wrapped in his umbilical cord from head to toe and looked like a ball of thick twine. Unbelievably, the cord was not around his neck, but he didn’t make a sound. He was blue and he was silent. He wasn’t breathing, and neither was I. I waited for what seemed like an eternity before I heard anything, and when I did, it wasn’t the healthy cry I’d heard twice before. It was pitiful. It reminded me of the sound a very small lamb makes, and I was relieved and flooded with love for a child I still hadn’t seen. All of this happened in less than five minutes because they wheeled me out of labor and delivery at 4:16, my son was born at 4:19, and my husband was in the room by 4:21 when it was all over.

I know so much of this sound very dramatic, and that’s because it was. A child’s life was at stake, but so was my faith. For my son, his life of exceptional needs was just beginning. He had no choice but to surrender to his situation. I had many more choices. Some of them offended the nurses in ICU because they didn’t understand my son’s situation or mine. I was even told during my exit interview that some of the nurses said I wasn’t easy to please, and that hurt at the time. I realize now, that I was the only voice my son had at the time. To me, he was much more than a patient in a bed. To me, he was a symbol or renewed faith and love, and I would do anything to protect him.
Some days, just being a parent tests my love and faith. Some days, I feel I’m at my wits’ end. Then I remember that day. I remember that moment of fear, and I remember surrendering to faith that the right path would unfold, and it has. It’s not all ease and grace, but that isn’t the job of life. The job of life is to roll on, and it’s up to us how we choose to proceed. Some will continue to proceed in fear, whether it’s creating it, feeling it or making it bigger by passing it on. Some will choose faith and with it, love, and in my book, they will make a much better world for themselves and others. I choose faith and love as much as possible, and I hope you will too. Thanks for being you and have a great day.

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