Loyalty?

“You give loyalty, you’ll get it back. You give love, you’ll get it back.”  Tommy Lasorda

Loyalty is an old word and cited by many leaders.  But it is a puzzling word. Many of us have seen our parents work their whole career at the same facility only to be let go just before retirement. Apparently loyalty was not a two-way street.

Some have followed leaders blindly-being loyal. But was it from love or fear?

Whistleblowers have cropped up and consequently some unjust activities were exposed and practices corrected. The whistleblower is seen by the company as disloyal, but by the community as a brave exposer of injustice.

Perhaps we use the word loyal to promote a concept of unconditional love for someone. But even as a loving parent we have to sometimes say ‘no’ to the child.

Is it loyalty we seek or honesty and dependability that are the more supportive options?

“Everyone should be respected as an individual, but no one idolized.”  Albert Einstein

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/loyal/

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Sail with the Phase

“Only when your consciousness is totally focused on the  moment you are in, can you receive whatever gift, lesson, or delight that moment has to offer.” Barbara De Angelis

A life is full of many moments. Some I love, some I tend to resent. I remember when my children were young. Somedays would be more taxing than others. Often during those times a friend would say, ‘they are going through a phase, they will move into another soon.’

I gave that a lot of thought. If I hurried them through every phase, the end result would be to rush their lives. Lives are so short anyway. Why would I rush a life away?

Today, my children are adults. My parents have passed away. Illness and disease have come and gone. And I have asked myself again-would I wish away any of these phases of suffering?

My answer is, no. All the moments have made me who I am today. The good and delightful, and the sad and sorrowful. They comprise me.

Phases do come and go. Some are short, and some seem as though they will never pass. My goal is to keep moving through the phases. Embrace what I can and try not to get stuck in any one place.

“To reach a port, we must sail – sail, not tie at anchor, sail not drift.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/phase/

Head in the Sand?

“I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.”  Maya Angelou

I found this quote very insightful. Placing empathy with courage.

The last week or two I have witnessed loved ones go through difficult times. Their challenges were on very separate planes, but life shattering just the same. It has led me to reflect on a few terms.

Understanding- grasp an idea, perceive a meaning

Sympathy-feelings of compassion

Empathy-vicariously experience the same feelings/thoughts/attitudes

It seems to me that these words go in order. For me to reach a point of empathy, I first need to understand. Once I come to a place where I grasp what is happening, then I can have feelings of compassion. Empathy goes further, in that I embrace -not their experience, for it is their journey-but I can ‘hug’ them as I connect to their feelings.

That’s where the courage comes in. The courage to stop my crazy daily rush and demands to understand. Sometimes, I’d rather keep my head in the sand.

ostrich with head in sand

What I don’t know, I don’t have to respond to-I try to tell myself. Finding out about trouble will undoubtably call for response. There’s the courage. Do I have the courage to understand, thereby allowing me to feel sympathy, and ultimately to share empathy?

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Stephen Covey

 

 

Freedom!

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” Thomas Jefferson

What a wonderful time for our nation as we witnessed a milestone in our legal system which just enabled more citizens to embrace a long with-held freedom. The freedom to obtain a legal certificate of marriage for same sex partners.

I think the definition of marriage, is the legal union between two people. At some point in time, the concept was added-between a husband and a wife (male and female). But that is a very limited definition. The full definition is a ‘legal contract’.  Having that legal contract allows one to speak on behalf of their injured/or medically impaired partner, to be provided spousal privilege  in not  testifying in court when it could harm your partner, and in issues related to taxes.

Many of these issues were unknown to me until I became friends with those who did not have those same freedoms. I am happy today that they can now experience them.

Our nation has many concerns to think about. We are starting the presidential campaigns and must look at issues related to our financial processes, and defense resources to name a couple. It is time to put aside social differences.

“I have never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” Thomas Jefferson

Let’s be inspired by our founding fathers as we ALL celebrate freedom today!!

 

 

love is a choice

“The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

“The only way love can last a lifetime is if it’s unconditional. The truth is this: love is not determined by the one being loved but rather by the one choosing to love” Stephen Kendrick

I grew up with the feeling of being loved. I believed that no matter what I did, I could talk with my parents about it, they would help me, forgive me, and love me. It made me feel so safe and secure…no matter what the world threw at me, if I rallied or if I failed, I could count on my parents. Not that I was always lovable. I am pretty sure that during the teen age years I caused some heart break. I veered from the path of strong love to a religious bent. I became a zealot and while I am sure I presumed to love my parents, I would also fall on my knees in sobbing pleas for God to save their souls-as I felt they were doomed for hell. I am afraid that during those times they didn’t feel love and acceptance from me, but could sense my thoughts of judgement on them. Despite my intolerant distance from them, they loved me.

I grew out of my zealot bent. I had an opportunity to show both of my parents before their death my devotion to them, full acceptance and great love. They didn’t expect an apology…it was all a part of growing up and experimenting with different philosophies, ideas, and directions. But I have apologized. To them, and to myself. It is one of my regrets: if I ever made anyone feel bad about themselves because their beliefs were different than mine.

I have also been the recipient of conditional love. My husband of 31 years could not accept me when I began to question the actions and dogmas of our strong fundamental conservative church. He was a minister and my freedom of thought was unacceptable. I often say, when I stopped enjoying the church, he stopped enjoying me.

In the end, I learned unconditional love from people ‘outside’ the church. The people in the church had ‘conditions’ on their love for me.

But I cannot answer for other people. I can only answer for myself, my actions, and reactions.

Love may feel very natural and instinctual. Sometimes it is, and most often it starts that way. But love is a choice and a commitment. When a child / teen starts to get involved in things that one might feel is wrong, and maybe it is, and maybe you need to show a little ‘tough’ love, but when you look into their eyes, you see who they are, who they will become and you believe they can do it. You have to look beyond the current moment.

When my daughter was born with spina bifida, she learned to walk with leg braces and crutches when she was two years old. It was wonderful that she could stand, it was also sad that she needed assistance. Sometimes she cried and didn’t want to put on the braces. After my hugs to her, I would look in her eyes and I didn’t see a two year old with crutches, I saw a beautiful young woman who was mobile and could get around independently.  I gave her strength through my belief that she could do it.

When my son was in college and feeling listless and couldn’t find direction in his life, he looked at me and asked , “what should I do”? This was during the time that Back to the Future movie had come out, and in the movie there is a family photo and people keep vanishing from the picture. He said, tell me what to do, I am vanishing… But I looked him in the eyes and didn’t see a lost young man. I saw a capable, bright, strong young man. I told him I could not tell him what to do, he had his own journey, but I knew whatever he chose to do, he would do it great. He could accomplish whatever he set out to do.

Today my daughter is driving a special equipped van and living in her own apartment. My son is a husband,  and father of a beautiful 4 year old daughter and gainfully employed. He looks at her and tells her she can be and do anything she wants to do. No ‘box’ to stay within, just a free spirit soar that her spirit can take.

Love can be challenging. Loving people can let in pain. Loving people can bring joy. But love them, it is a choice. That is what makes conditional love so painful—they choose to let go of their love if you don’t do as they say, or be as they want. When I met and fell in love with my current husband, he accepted me then, and now, for who I am, not necessarily what I do. When he hugged me, he hugged my soul.

“The fire that we call loving is too strong for human minds. But just right for human souls” Aberjhani

Choose Happiness

“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” Jim Rohn

How does happiness happen? Could a person have found any happiness in a concentration camp? Would being in the camp doom that person to never smiling, having a pleasant thought, or feeling a happiness in their heart? I have never been in a concentration camp, so I cannot suppose to claim that I would know the answer to that question. But I have faced sadness, broken heart, broken dreams, disappointment, and terrible grief on many occasions. I have been on my hands and knees sobbing into the carpet as my heart broke.

I would not say that during the time that I was crying that I was happy. In fact I would have resented someone suggesting at that time that I should be. But over the course of what ever it was that I was surviving, I think finding happiness was a tool for survival. Happiness isn’t necessarily an activity, it may be a mindset. It is both.

Happiness is also something that I am responsible for myself. Other people may make me laugh, they may ask me to a party or to something that I would enjoy…but I could go to those places and still be very unhappy.

I have a friend who tells me of her friend who is constantly upset with her husband because he does not make her happy. In turn, he runs around trying to make her happy. A person can spend a lot of time and money doing that. The truth is, I believe, we are all responsible for our own happiness.

So how do we do that? Where is the button to make us happy? There is no button. Wish there was.

Perspective is one way. The way we see the situation. If I believe I have it worse than anyone else-I sit around and lick my wounds and confirm to myself over and over how bad my situation is. If I get out of myself, look around me, I see things could be worse. Others are hurting too. Maybe they need help too. If I think that I didn’t deserve this to happen to me…than what? Someone else deserved it? Am I better than them? We live in a world that things happen. They happen to everyone-cancer/dementia/disability/loneliness/sorrow…the whole list..is no respecter of persons. They hit anyone; anytime. Admitting to myself that I am sad or disappointed or wish that it had not happened is okay and healthy. Thinking I have it worse than anyone else is “stinkin thinkin”. And it will poison me.

Activity is one way. Get myself out of the house. Go out where other people are. Their energy might infuse me. I might see something that helps my perspective. Perhaps there is a person in my life that always encourages me. I am very fortunate to have sisters who are very close to each other. They are more than sisters, they are friends. One of them is my identical twin-couldn’t be much closer than that. We know when the other person needs someone even before they call or come by. All it takes is one friend. It might even be a pet. I have talked to JJ my little silky terrier on many occasions and he is a good listener. For some, it may be God. Getting out -seeing people-sharing with someone ..they are all activities that help me find some happiness even in a bad time.

Pleasure Journal is another way. During some of my saddest times, I kept a pretty wordless book with me. It reminded me to look for something that made me smile or made me feel good and I wrote it down. I tried to write something every day. Sometimes they were pretty simple: I heard a little child giggle in the grocery store today and it made me smile-I saw the first daffodil and it brought me pleasure-I stood outside and felt the breeze and it felt like it was gently blowing the sadness off of me….

Laughter is a great way. I may not feel like laughing, but once I do, it is like medicine. No one may be around to make me laugh. Fortunately I had a TV, and I watched a lot of sit coms. They made me laugh. Watching children in the park can make me laugh.

All the above are active things. they are things one has to get up and do. That is why I like the quote above…it is something you design… You have to know yourself and then be true to yourself. What brings you pleasure. There have been times in my life I just could not answer that, hence the pleasure journal that made me focus on that question. Over time I learned that a nice hot bath brought me pleasure, listening to music lifted my spirits, and making thought lists of what is good in my life would help change my perspective.

Events happen in life. Sadness occurs. I heard a saying a long time ago, ‘you can become bitter, or you can become better-it is the “i” that makes the difference’. I have gone back to that many times. I can’t control what happens to me but I can control how I respond to it. Stinkin thinkin will make me bitter and resentful. Processing the sad event, getting out of myself, reminding myself of the blessings around me..are all proactive things that I can do that will return/or create happiness for me.

It is an activity, and it is a mindset. The choice is mine.

Kindness

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” Plato

One day I while I was sitting in church, I was thinking about some of the struggles I was facing at that time. My mother was struggling with dementia, and we were in grief as we watched her disappear before us. I glanced around the congregation and thought about all the struggles people around me must be facing too.

They enter the church and smile, just like I did. They laugh at the light hearted comments, just like I did. But inside my heart was breaking. I wondered how many others had broken hearts too.

I work at a hospital. I have had many days and nights in a hospital ‘on the other side of the sheets’ sort to speak. I know what it is like to have your schedule disrupted, to have pain, to be frightened of the possible outcome, to be confused and to want comfort-not just for your physical pain, but your emotional and spiritual peace. Not a day goes by that I don’t pass people who are coming and going through those hospital halls that I don’t think about what they may be facing. I try and offer comfort where I can…an explanation/directions/smile..anything I might be able to do to wrap some comfort around their heart.

I’ve learned I am not unique to struggles. Everyone has them. They vary in their intensity, and there may be moments of reprieve, but another struggle will come.

So, I want to be kind to people. Kindness leads to thinking outside of myself. If all I can be concerned about is my personal struggle -and how people can help me; I am blinded to the needs around me and how I might help others.

I recently discovered a web site that is private and does not accept any grants or donations, they only accept stories of kindness and post those to inspire others with ideas of things they could do to promote kindness. http://www.randomactsofkindness.org

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless” Mother Teresa