Living With Despair Or Hope“Oft hope is born when all is forlorn.”     J.R.R. Tolkien

“She wondered that hope was so much harder then despair.”     Patricia Briggs

“Losing your life is not the worst thing that can happen. The worst thing is to lose your reason for living.”     Jo Nesbo

“The difference between hope and despair is a different way of telling stories from the same facts.”     Alain de Botton

How many of us are fearful at every turn. I would guess that most of us worry constantly. We fear so many things that we don't even count or connect them anymore. Our anxiety level increases along with the stress. What we don't see is the numerous diseases we encounter because of the pressure of our burdens. We may be able to walk through fire to help someone, especially our families, but facing the issues of daily life may bring us to our knees. I heard someone say that there would always be prayer in schools, because there would always be tests.

The wonder of why we succumb to life's strain is not especially hard to understand.  Facing problems head on is not the preference for most of us.  We perhaps prefer to think about it when we are forced. Perhaps  that is for the best in certain respects. Life does appear to wear us all down to the point of making us feel defeated.

Maybe we ought to reflect on what life means, and what goals we have set. Perhaps we doom ourselves by trying to gain the same items as everyone else, or have a  certain amount of money. Most of us take pride in the achievements of our kids. The honor falls on us so we think. Taking a deeper look in what we believe, and search for, may produce surprising answers. ...continue reading "Living With Despair Or Hope"

What we want for our kids may not be what they ever wanted. What our kids do or don't achieve has nothing to do with our own  happiness or disappointment. Our dreams may not be their dreams. Having reached the pinnacle of life may not look the same to each individual. I realize there are certain things that define all humans and their needs and wants, but perhaps taking a more profound look into ourselves, may solve some of our issues.

The pressure is on kids to achieve at school, be a hero at sports, and work for a scholarship for college. At the very least we hope they will gain entrance into colleges. Those of us without a lot of money hope to see our kids in a better position than we ever found ourselves. We may feel cheated or denied access to the good things in life. It can easily leave one bitter. That is not difficult to understand. But disappointment occurs in every level of society. There is no magic cure for heartache. Being human almost implies there will be plenty of demanding things to endure and master along with the good.

As a human, it is important for us to be in control. I believe now that once we give up that notion, life appears easier to accept. The ugly truth is that we are never really in control of anything. The happenings of life are slow and quick, happy and sad. Some things we can prepare for while others are shocks to the system. There are slow daily grinds,  and fast horrendous unexpected obstacles to deal with. Most likely none of us would change places with others.

It may not be exactly the same, but fear creeps into our lives and can become the unwanted guest. Teens build up so much stress that many teens at such a young age, figure life is too hard to continue. Again the pressure to win it all is tremendous. Where is the reflection of life itself. Perhaps we don't appreciate things as much as we should, myself included. We should not have to value something after it is gone.

I recently lost my dog and the lack of her presence is so challenging  to endure.  I am not attempting to compare an animals loss to the loss of people, but it dawned on me how many more times I might have petted her or played in the yard with her. It has led me to comprehend life as fluid motion. It moves swiftly onward so whatever we value ought to be appreciated at the moment, especially while we can still enjoy it.

Fear is insidious. Teens worry about tests, dating and being accepted. Adults worry about money, their kids, homes, spouses and careers. Then life happens and throws in all kinds of roadblocks. We all have so many issues, it is impossible to mention all of them. We come to a false belief in the notion that our best is never good enough. That adds to our anxiety and sends us running in circles while searching for meaning in life. So many of us just keep moving and thinking the motion somehow will fix our worry. Facing problematic concerns is too difficult.

Now I see it as running away. I am escaping my problems by waiting for the answer to fall from the sky. I don't face some of my worries or burdens. I simply ignore them and keep moving. One day I thought about the fact that I spend way too much time on those negative fears and concerns. Many or most of them can't be altered, but I know I can face them if I muster my courage. Perhaps my fears can't be crushed, but likely they can be approached, modified and understood. Accepting isn't easy but honestly managing the fear renders it neutral. I can handle it in a variety of ways and see it for what it is.

As life moves forward we have children and then encounter problems that were unforeseen. We can lay on the battlefield defeated and discouraged, surrendering to life in defeat. Or we can face it and fight it by tackling it head on, allowing our mind heart and spirit to work together to find better answers than giving up. Perhaps we may not find the solutions we were seeking, but we might find a remedy we can work with. Enlightenment  grants us the courage to travel in a new direction.

We all hurt inside when our objectives and desires are left by the wayside. We cry for our kids and others we love when there are mistakes, pains or heartaches. What is not clear to see or understand, is that many times our cries are for ourselves and the things or ideas we longed to see happen. It is our loss that hurts. We wanted or expected certain things to happen and when they don't go according to our plan, we are devastated. I am totally included in this group's interpretation.

I honestly wonder if it is spiritual growth that we all need despite our efforts to avoid it or encounter it. Maybe our trials and tribulations bring about a deliverance from jealousies, envy, pride, anger, control and more. We may get knocked down but perhaps we are a better person when we get back up. It forces us to view life in a different way despite our best efforts to avoid that.

We may be forced with challenging changes that brings anxiety into our lives. But any time we have faced tremendous difficulties, we are confronted with finding our own strength to deal with the changes. Perhaps we come to acknowledge our need to appreciate those people and things we cherish. I like everyone else, take so much for granted. We lose our patience, get angry, feel envious, jealousy  and intolerant more times than we would like to admit.

I just wonder if the obstacles remind us to slow down, smell the flowers or coffee, and reflect on finding peace and serenity. If nothing else, life teaches us to have more patience, love, empathy, and compassion. It leads us towards understanding, and learning to appreciate the small  stuff. It awakens us to the little things in life that we should cherish and remember. Perhaps we are being nudged towards the good and spiritual side of ourselves. This in no way means God brings us sorrow in order to teach us something. On the contrary. I believe we are brought to the attention of what life is all about.

We all die at some point. We have bodies and souls. Most likely we should be focusing more on our inner growth than our outer enrichment. Faith and hope drives away fear and stress. In many ways faith and hope are our miracle cures. If we just slow down and look for the real meaning in our lives, we may not be so quick to toss those simple actions of a gift of dandelions from a child. The child at such a young age knows about beauty and love. As we get older we drive those messages further from our minds and hearts and embrace the frivolity of worldly desires.

By renewing our faith in a higher being, perhaps we can relieve the panicky feelings of fear, dread, jealousy, losing control, loneliness, anger, and heartache of all kinds. Mankind is really facing similar issues. We just run away from them until they catch us. Focusing on hope and love, drives away the clouds of fear and doubt. The challenge is to keep hope strong and alive. Succumbing to our fears,  leaves us defeated already from things that may never befall us.  It also creates a losing feeling before we have begun to do battle.  Faith gives us courage to accept the hope and love available.

Life has never been about finishing. Life is more of a  circle. Life is all about the ride we take. There are problems that confront all of us. Fearing the future is destroying our present with  thoughts that never come to pass.  Enduring our daily issues with faith and hope, brings courage to ride into the future with love, because life is the ride. Enjoy your life by seeing it with new eyes of peace and serenity. Whether physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually threatened, always choose to battle with hope as your partner.

“Life is filled with unanswered questions, but it is the courage to seek those answers that continues to give meaning to life. You can spend your life wallowing in despair, wondering why you were the one who was led towards the road strewn with pain, or you can be grateful that you are strong enough to survive it.”     J.D. Stroube

“I have had to experience so much stupidity, so many vices, so much error, so much nausea, disillusionment and sorrow, just in order to become a child again and begin anew. I had to experience despair, I had to sink to the greatest mental depths, to thoughts of suicide, in order to experience grace.”    Herman Hesse

“Whatever happens in your life, no matter how troubling things might seem, do not enter the neighborhood of despair. Even when all doors remain closed, God will open up a new path only for you. Be thankful! It is easy to be thankful when all is well. A Sufi is thankful not only for what he has been given but also for all that has been denied.”     Elif Shafak

Our Rebellious Hearts"What the soul knows is often  unknown to the man who has a soul. We are infinitely more than we think." Kahlil Gibran

"I realized that all the trouble I ever had about you came from some smallness or fear in myself."    Mary Haskell

"All cruelty springs from weakness.”    Seneca

"We are expression of earth, and of life - not separate individuals only. We cannot get enough away from the earth to see the earth and ourselves as separates. We move with its great movements and our growth is part of its great growth."    Kahlil Gibran

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.”    Seneca

There has been a tremendous amount of talk about mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. The fascinating part is that nothing ever changes. I wrote a book on the mother-in-law daughter-in-law dilemma which took  over fifteen years of research. I interviewed people at the beginning of those years and at the end and I got the same results. To be honest, I was shocked.

Today's young people appear to be more computer literate, independent and outspoken. Yet when you mention a mother-in-law, their complaints and issues sound  the same throughout the ages. They are no less confident around their mothers-in-law than any other generation. Perhaps they are even less secure, given the confusion regarding one insignificant person, who appears to make them nervous. The mystery is they can't figure out why. ...continue reading "Rebellious Mothers-in-Law"

The  typical answers, which have some truth in them, are jealousy, fear, and their own insecurity towards their relationship with their husbands. Their possessive feelings towards their husbands, causes a resistance in them to accept their mother-in-law. Regardless of how any of us feel, mothers are mothers and they will likely always hold a connected bond with their daughters as well as their sons. Most women like to believe that only daughters stay close to their mothers. I call this surface bonds.

Mothers keep their bonds of affection for all of their kids, and young or old the love does not diminish.  The belief is that women stay bonded  to mom, but men somehow evolve into a new creature that stops caring about his beginnings. Many men likely under duress, leave a lot of space between themselves and their mothers, so as to alleviate any trouble with their wives.

Of course it is silly because if we looked into the future, or at life itself, we would realize that we will perhaps one day be at the other end of the stick. None of us think of that. We  assume we will  have our tiny babies, toddlers and young children under our spell forever. As older women will attest, time passes quietly but swiftly and things turn around. I have heard the same  rhetoric of  "how much better I would do things than my mother-n-law did." Probably you won't make the same mistakes, but you will forge ahead with your own errors, unwittingly unaware that you have done anything wrong.

Nobody plans on making problems for anyone least of all your son or daughter-in-law. The trouble is, if one has made trouble already, forgiveness is the only route that allows them on the track again. Of course we can skip the forgiveness, and rattle onward with confusion, distrust, uneasiness, fights, horrible interactions, and free time spent on rehashing everything that was said and done. Humans are great at overlooking their own transgressions. We give ourselves plenty of slack in reference to pain and blame. In the end we all are delivered fair amounts of stress, anxiety and worry.

Mothers-in-law need time to adjust. When a woman becomes a new mother, she frets and wants to be left alone so she can learn all the ways to take care of her baby. She doesn't want a lot of advice, at least not from the older generation. She gains her independence and eventually steers her own wheel. Likewise, a new mother-in-law must learn how to switch up  her own way of doing things. She no longer can interfere with her sons choices, nor stop by when she feels like it. Yes her son probably wouldn't care any more than her daughter-in-law worries if her own mother stops by. The trouble is the daughter-in-law wants her privacy, and deserves her privacy. Mothers-in-law need to respect the lines that are drawn.

This is easier said than done. If a mother has freely spoken to her child for over twenty years, it is difficult to expect her to suddenly learn how to keep her mouth quiet. Of course she needs to learn this, but give her some time and space to fall back, make mistakes and then learn to adjust. It is the changes and fear of the transformations that are likely taking place. The love is always solid but the alterations in the relationship are numerous. Changes require a lot of adjustments in action, words and emotional acceptance.

Calling men mommies boys, only makes the men put up a facade of separation from the mother. That in turn hurts the mother. We haven't changed the son's love for his mother. We have only caused him to hide his feeling and keep them undercover. That is silly as well as sad, when we don't place the same parameters on our own heartfelt associations. Just as we can't be forced to love someone, likewise we can't be forced to stop loving someone. The heart rebels.

How much time, effort, pain, fear and stress we needlessly place on our shoulders. There is room for one more person to love in this big world. We must have confidence in ourselves, trust in our own worth and not feel jealousy in the mother son relationship. Perhaps if we could get beyond  that, we would all learn to have serenity. Mothers-in-law are just as guilty of jealousy, as well as insecurity. But trusting they have a place in their son's heart, should give them peace.  Why do we want to spend our happy times, assessing what another says or does. In the end it is futile and pointless. The evaluation results always depend on the person doing the assessment more than what is the truth.

Mothers-in-law have a new playing field. They need to refrain from overstepping boundaries, respect rules that are set, even if they don't agree with them, or even if they think they are ridiculous. Respect and tolerance is key. Understanding how much your son loves this person is essential. They are his family now, and although you will always be a part  of his family, stepping back a bit and recognizing the importance of his union and the onward cycle of his life is crucial.

Most if not all mothers do not want to keep their sons locked away or stagnant. Allowing them to live the life they choose is not our decision to make, but it does necessitate that  we accept his decisions. Daughters-in-law who want peace, and honesty, must accept some of the fault in a failing relationship with their mothers-in-law. By understanding their role in the crises, they can alter their opinions, as well as stretch their thinking. By coming to realize that they can't just pretend their husband never had a mother, or that he can easily walk away from having her in his life, will afford a deeper revelation about life itself.

A daughter-in-law's fear and stress might be her own nervousness at taking the helm. Of course the daughter-in-law is up to it but she must have some faith in herself. None of us can control another, or not forever. If we wrap our treasure and hide it, how can we enjoy it ourselves. Bringing it into the light gives others the chance to experience some of the joy. By having our husband's interests in mind, we might offer a truce in any difficult situation.

Judging the mother-in-law too early in the game causes misconceptions. It would be like judging a child's temperament after the mother is leaving the child in your care. The screaming yelling and misbehaving child is under duress at the moment. It is not a good time to be judging him or her. I would suggest the mother-in-law may be at that same point in time, as the toddler.  She is under fire to accept so many changes that are definitely attuned with life and natural, but not easy. Perhaps a mothers slight temper tantrum is also quite natural. Give her time to adjust and make it as easy and as acceptable as possible because in the end she will come to understand, there are no other options.

Mothers-in-law should understand that their daughters-in-law are young, and have a lot to learn about the progression of life. Attempting to give them the fast pass doesn't work. They are vulnerable, are excited about their new beginning and want independence and freedom, to make their own choices. A mother-in-law has to allow her son and his wife to make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes. Interfering is out of the question. Perhaps their ridiculous idea might pan out better than you thought.Everyone is breaking new ground. We all react poorly at moments. Acting like  children is probably very common in adults of all temperaments. Whether we behave aggressively,  or passive aggressively, everyone needs forgiveness and kindness at times.

We all want to be understood regarding our feelings, which are not easy to express. How many mothers-in-law want to believe they are expressing a temper tantrum, and showing signs of jealousy. How many daughters-in-law want to believe they are possessive and jealous of their mothers-in-law. Both parties will get over the newness of it all, and release their own fears in time. When that future time comes, it would be nice to still have a worthwhile relationship. Trust me, it is an awesome treasure to have and well worth waiting for, or working towards. Tolerance, forgiveness, understanding and love will open the chrysalis to a new adventure that all will love and enjoy, if we will simply have faith that it is possible.

A man can be free without being great, but no man can be great without being free."     Kahlil Gibran

"Imagination sees the complete reality, - it is where past, present and future meet... Imagination is limited neither to the reality which is apparent - nor to one place. It lives everywhere. It is at a center and feels the vibrations of all the circles within which east and west are virtually included. Imagination is the life of mental freedom. It realizes what everything is in its many aspects ... Imagination does not uplift: we don’t want to be uplifted, we want to be more completely aware."    Kahlil Gibran

"When the hand of Life is heavy and night song-less, it is the time for love and trust. And how light the hand life becomes and how song-ful the night, when one is loving and trusting all." Anonymous

“He suffers more than necessary, who suffers before it is necessary.”    Seneca

yes“No one fights dirtier or more brutally than blood; only family knows it’s own weaknesses, the exact placement of the heart. The tragedy is that one can still live with the force of hatred, feel infuriated that once you are born to another, that kinship lasts through life and death, immutable, unchanging, no matter how great the misdeed or betrayal. Blood cannot be denied, and perhaps that’s why we fight tooth and claw, because we cannot—being only human—put asunder what God has joined together.” Whitney Otto

“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.” Mahatma Gandhi

“Whenever you are confronted with an opponent. Conquer him with love.” Mahatma Gandhi

I think we might be low on encouragement. We all need it and want it, yet most of us most of the time never get it. Are we all so deprived, or tired that we can't muster any kind words for each other. I know there are so many times I'd rather lash out at someone, in order to diffuse my anger. It might be that a bit of encouragement would surprise us, and disarm us in the process.

How often  do workers get any kind of compliments. They hardly see the boss, , unless of course something went wrong. How  is it we can attend the meeting to criticize, but not be there to compliment. Sometimes it feels good when someone acknowledges that we are doing a great job. It makes us feel noticed. In this great big world, with more friends than we can count, it is nice to be noticed.

The boss is busy with numerous e-mails, calls appointments and meetings with others. Finding the time for one more thing just doesn't fit into his schedule. When  others do mess up perhaps they were sick, had a duty call for the baby or kids, or health issues kept them away. We can't be available and suitable every minute of every day. Those are the times we hassle ourselves about doing a better job. The truth is we are not machines, and we have emotional, and physical issues to confront. How about friends who we rely on for boosts to the ego. Of course they might be burdened themselves and have nothing left for us. I have been there when you run out of close friends to call, when you are experiencing disappointment and defeat. ...continue reading "Learning How To Fight Nicely"

Those times when we have only ourselves for comfort, appear to be scary. We have come to depend on others for support and answers. Perhaps  that is why there are so many drugs out on the market. Without the personal presence of others, we rely on medicine to alter the pain. The importance of our relationships can't be overestimated. For good or bad here just are, and always will be those moments, when we want to let someone else steer the boat, and make the decisions. One can call it tiredness, insecurity, dependent or even vulnerable, but the fact remains that we need each other. Facing that reality, and comprehending that it is not a detriment to our character, brings acceptance  to our relationships as well as to ourselves.

Wives and husbands take their  turns at being disappointing. When we least expect it, we find ourselves disappointed by them, and the crushing feeling is painful. Sometimes it happens because they misunderstood what we were trying to say. Other times we misinterpret what they are attempting to explain. Whether we are half listening, tired or in a bad mood, the result is confusion which escalates. It turns into anger, and causes an explosive atmosphere.

Many times I have misconstrued, what others were attempting to explain. Just as many times I have miscalculated, another person's response. Our humanity is so open to failures in emotional and practical issues. Often it is stated that we only hear what we want to hear. Maybe there is some truth in that statement. If I am in a sad mood, I  take the words, "your work is okay," to mean my work is lousy. On a good day I would take the same words to imply, Hey you are good, and the work is great.

On a very low day I would only half listen to what another was talking about. likely I would give a quick  irrelevant answer, and in return get a curt remark back. I probably would take offense and walk away angry. My buddy would  likely do the same, in the opposite direction. Upon arriving home, I might consider what just happened,  and why. It would be hard to blame myself, but I am sure I would have no difficulty faulting another.

That is why when one listens to an argument, it is like hearing two different versions. We see it from our own perspective. I bring my past experiences to the table, which obviously differ from your past experiences. I suppose what I viewed between my parents, might also play into how I see our argument proceeding. The same is true for your opinions, which could be shadowed by  your view is of the entanglement. I honestly think many of us have to unlearn the ways we were taught, to deal with problems. Many of us fall into the same patterns as our parents. Unless they were model citizens, we have some adjusting to do.

That is why disagreements can take so many turns in the road. We might find ourselves the victim in places we never meant to venture into. A simple remark can have a huge repertoire of emotions built into it. Unhappily we all learn the signposts in time, and how to  avoid them. It is almost amusing to watch a young couple disagree. They attempt to hold onto their dignity, and rising anger, until the bingo point of certain gestures, words or actions, that stifle calmness, and release fury.

Many times couples are lamenting their sadness over the disagreement, and professing to do better the next time. Most of them will do better, because they learn how to drive the marriage mobile, and avoid the warning signs. All fights  don't end in disaster. Most of the arguments can lead to a discovery of truth about each other. They realize also that they can't behave like their parents, because they are two different people. They also learn that the words spoken, were not holding the rebuff they envisioned in their own minds. Love is learned behavior, and so to is fighting. It is so vital that we discover how to fight with a purpose of having a positive and loving outcome.

“Read it with sorrow and you will feel hate. Read it with anger and you will feel vengeful. Read it with paranoia and you will feel confusion. Read it with empathy and you will feel compassion.
Read it with love and you will feel flattery. Read it with hope and you will feel positive. Read it with humor and you will feel joy. Read it with God and you will feel the truth. Read it without bias and you will feel peace. Don't read it at all and you will not feel a thing.”    Shannon Adler

“Before you can live a part of you has to die. You have to let go of what could have been, how you should have acted and what you wish you would have said differently. You have to accept that you can’t change the past experiences, opinions of others at that moment in time or outcomes from their choices or yours. When you finally recognize that truth then you will understand the true meaning of forgiveness of yourself and others. From this point you will finally be free.”  Shannon L. Alder

Ordinary Might Be Extraordinary“Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”    Desmond Tutu

“There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth.”    Leo Tolstoy

“Everybody's got the seam of goodness in them, Kit," said Grandpa. "Just a matter of whether it can be found and brought out into the light.”    David Almond

I spend a lot of time talking about comparisons, jealousy and competition. The truth is just when I think I have discovered where it mostly originates,  I find new areas of initiations. It is true that parents, grandparents and most people, compare constantly without thought. We hear about he tallest child, best athlete, intelligent or pretty girl, and more common discussions.

I wonder why we can't seem to control our measurements. It would be horrible if we went to work everyday and listened to others talk about the best worker, smartest computer programmer, or other items we might consider. If neighbors commented on the lawns, houses, apartments or anything else that perhaps is measurable, we would avoid encounters with such individuals. ...continue reading "Ordinary Might Be Extraordinary"

Today I had another encounter with such an incident of judgement, and it really  hurt me to the core, because I am sure it resonated negatively with a lot of people. Someone was mentioning a young  person in the news, who had done great things, but then died at a very early age. Dying at an early age is terrible for anyone to have to deal with. Without a  doubt we would all agree with that statement.

All of the praise was deserving  for this individual, and I agreed wholeheartedly with the discussion. Then came the crucial point of contention for me. The person doing all of the praise, began stating that although the woman was young, she had likely done more in her life, than a person of eighty or ninety. Her accomplishments were tremendous and her recognition was renown. On that I would agree, but it wasn't necessary to compare her life, with any other life. Compliments without comparisons is vitally significant.

At that moment I wanted to yell stop, but the person was on a platform, delivering a speech and the option of offering opinions to the discussion was nil. I sat there quietly and began reminiscing about my grandmother as well as other people who had already passed from my life at a very old age. Of course they were not known by many, and had not captured the eye of the general public. Somehow the pain of that speech bothered me enough to write this post on the incident.

My grandmother would be considered illiterate by today's standards. She was loved by the entire family, and was without a doubt missed by all of us. Her grandchildren numbered twenty-one and her great-grandchildren numbered significantly more. When anyone loses someone they love, age may not be considered. They are all missed. Most of us are left with the loss felt within our hearts.

My grandmother had the knack of making every one of her grandchildren feel important. When in her presence, you felt loved and cared for. Her great accomplishments regarding love, were many. Whenever anyone in the family came over to visit, she would take charge of the kids, allow the mother some free time to engage in conversations with others, and rock the baby or children until they fell asleep.

She was one of those amazing people who could ignore the screaming child, and smile at you when you went to check if everything was okay. I remember her specifically telling me the baby was fine, and to  just go back and enjoy myself. Her calm manner led one to understand, she would have the patience and love to deal with the situation. She loved every grandchild and every one of them was aware of it. Another thing she did was the dishes and pots in the sink. You could not tear her aware from doing dishes. None of us realized that she had done this for each and ever one of us, numerous times, perhaps too many to count.

We all felt so special that we believed she loved us so much that she would do anything for us. We were all correct in our thinking. Her influence over all of us was immeasurable. Her love transcended years and time and space, yet she never perhaps received the eulogy she deserved. We were all present at her wake, and I am not saying she wasn't appreciated, but we didn't feel we should send out news flashes about her wonderful, meaningful life. She raised kids, cooked cleaned and made the lives of anyone she met, as comfortable and easy as she could.

Where I am going with this, is to the point that so many ordinary lives are actually extraordinary. Their lives perhaps go unnoticed, but God and the ones who love them are conscious of the gift. Their contributions probably also appear diminished, when compared to those individuals who make the news.

I do not want to appear comparative as the person who I am writing about. There are many people who deserve praise and eulogies perhaps even before they die. Those who are in the limelight certainly deserve the honor for their great works. We just can't forget those who are in the shadows, but also do great work,  which is seen only by a few.

A life spent in compassion and care of others, be it for family, friends or strangers, is a worthwhile life. Maybe their life  will never be expounded on the front page of newspapers, but they have front row seats in many hearts. Many ordinary people are perhaps just as deserving of recognition, that likely they won't receive, and really don't look to receive. They are content to do what they can, when we can, and without any mention or credit to their names. I know God sees more than us and it is not going unnoticed.

Definitely it is time to reflect on that ripple effect. What any inconsequential act, any of us do, has astounding repercussions of all kinds. Compassion and empathy travel endlessly beyond, reaching into the future of our kids, and grand-kids. Perhaps we might never see the ripples of our good deeds which possibly impacts strangers. Recognizing this fact, should make us more cognizant of the significance of our lives. No  life is inconsequential.

I know the speaker was not trying to say other people's lives were not important. Although it did appear, that he assumed, the simple quiet long lives, might have less  meaning. A life is a life. Live with compassion for others, and with care regarding our  words and actions. Be  quick to forgive and let  patience and tolerance flourish. Your life is without a doubt meaningful and extraordinary.

Never underestimate your worth or the work that you do. We influence people every day, including strangers. We all think act and observe others. Easing anyone's pain, is God-like. Bringing comfort and love to others, allows them to become the people they were meant to become. Think about a match that has the ability to light the campfire. That campfire creates warmth and  light, as well as nourishment through the food we are able to cook over it. If we misuse the match, we likely create a forest fire of some size, be it large or small. People are influenced by good and evil actions and words. By providing kindness and love, we light the campfire, which triggers inspirations.

What we do in our lives is woven throughout the fabric of many lives. Family members and strangers are affected. Taking our lives more seriously is crucial. We can't ever doubt our own life, or ability to change the world for the better is an impossible undertaking.  We are not  powerless to make a difference. Simply living a life filled with love and empathy for all, will make a difference. The transformation will be beyond measure, and beyond years. Live your ordinary life with passion because it really is extraordinary in so many ways.

“It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that they'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”     Mahatma Gandhi

“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”      William Shakespeare

Compassion“Some things take so long But how do I explain When not too many people Can see we're all the same And because of all their tears Your eyes can't hope to see The beauty that surrounds them Now, isn't it a pity”    George Harrison

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

I am convinced that most of us believe we are not understood, and that others don't have enough  sympathy for our trials and tribulations. There is a disconnect between what we say and do, and how others interpret that. Put another way, what we say and do is not always easily understood by others. Many people retreat from our conversations, confused with our words and possibly insulted.

I am beginning to hate the word insulted. What does that mean, "I am insulted". I am as guilty of being on both sides of the issue so I understand it as we all do, from both sides. It is ludicrous to think that any of us go to a function or work with the intention of deliberately  hurting another individual. Our minds are not telling us to plan an onslaught of speech that tears  another ego down. It has to makes us wonder if we are so fragile, that our confidence can be shaken at the slightest affront.

Does our attitude  of being offended bring on the sympathy? Is that what we are searching for? Perhaps when any of us want attention from others, we strive to gain it in any way that we can. Attaining the sympathy of others is probably one way we all can easily win. The trouble is, there is usually a culprit in the situation. That person becomes the perpetrator of the offense against us. In reality, probably they are the scapegoat of our fears and stresses.

It isn't a huge  problem, so we think, because there is no physical crime committed. However, the person does believe there has been an emotional upset and misconduct executed. Of course we all fall into these traps that others set, and we admonish ourselves for the dilemma we are in. I know I never go to a party with the intention of singling out  someone to affront. I do like to talk so I suppose there have been times when I have unwittingly upset another individual. ...continue reading "Compassion"

When one confronts this problem head on, we realize our innocence in the situation. Our hearts had no malicious thoughts to injure another but needless to say we find ourselves on the proverbial hot seat anyways. I must admit, it is the worst chair to sit upon, especially when you are totally innocent. Most of the time the greatest offense is just not reflecting before speaking.

When any of us speak without thought, words may appear to be hurtful, tasteless, condemning insulting, unsympathetic or perhaps too joyous for the occasion. At these times we are at the mercy of the person who perceives us as guilty of a transgression. Most likely we can accept the fault immediately and move on. Many others within the group will probably sympathize with the disrespected person. We simply must endure the punishment, even if we are blameless. Giving more attention to the incident only increases its' intensity and prolongs the atmosphere of pity.

The hardest part is the fact that we never meant to cause pain in the first place. I suppose most of us have received sympathy at one time or another even when it wasn't deserved. Maybe merited, or not justified, has nothing to do with truth. If one is emotionally downtrodden, then attaining some responsiveness and care from others is warranted. We just need to appreciate our unhappiness, so that we don't over think the situation and increase another person's fault in the event.

It is sad that so many of us are neglected enough to require consideration at the most unexpected times. It is as if the cup of emotional pain has run over and spilled onto others. In the process we achieve kindness, but it might be at the cost of accusing another innocent person. Of course if this accused person becomes subjected to the insult of their integrity, they might suffer the violation of their own person.

Observing the give and take and flow of circumstances, resulting from our emotional needs, should make all of us prepared to give more attention to the needs of others. Perhaps if we can hear the cries of pain, before they reach the breaking point, we might alter the unfolding events. By giving more leeway to those who are suffering, we may produce a peaceful encounter.

How many times have we made a  joke and found the person not laughing. They may be in a bad mood. It makes no difference in the ensuing outcome, which produces us, the loser. Another day or time the same individual would have laughed, but not that particular day. There are those people who instill certain emotions on items that we have no understanding of. Older people are insulted when a younger person implies they are stupid, not in the loop, or disengaged from the conversation. The laughter it brings is painful but unnoticed. Of course young people are shamed when they don't measure up or their kids are not on the proverbial milestones. They are powerless, angry and upset with themselves. This anger will likely spill over onto someone else. Many times we go home confounded at our blame for things we never meant. We can't even seem to fix the situation no matter how hard we try.

We all want and need answers. Perhaps we would love to shout it out to the world, "I didn't mean anything awful when I spoke. I didn't intend on insulting anyone." The aftermath of an incident is not conducive for gaining forgiveness even for the innocent. Perhaps another day and time will work out better. If we have faith in the notion that others are not out to get us, insult us or make life miserable for us, we just might learn to get along and overlook what we don't always understand. If we don't give others the benefit of the doubt, when it is our turn likely we will not receive the courtesy.

If we are impatient, feeling emotionally or physically sick, or stressed out with our lives, we are allowing those stresses to color our thinking. We miss the innuendos of others. We might say or do something regretful unconsciously. Or we may be the recipient of what we consider painful vibes. In either case our moods, attitudes and built up tension towards other people, cause us to react in negative and frustrating ways. It also makes our perception of reality distorted. The bigger we build it up, the greater the pain and blame for both parties.

It is not what either party wants. One needs attention and love, while another needs acceptance and value for who they are. Pain is afforded to both individuals. One might leave with justice achieved, while the other leaves full of revenge. The battle will possibly continue needlessly.  If we could just observe the pain, perhaps we would be willing to let more perceived insults, fly by us. Acknowledging the goodness in all of us, be it siblings, parents, in-laws or friends, we understand that serenity and peacefulness is better than suffering and anger. As humans, we experience pain. That should put us all on the same page.

We all get cranky, tired and stressed out. Those are the ingredients for a full blown blaze of misunderstanding. I attempt to trust in the goodness of others, and their integrity to avoid giving pain to anyone on purpose. It would be awesome if they extended the same mercy on me. Time  passes swiftly and we don't want to waste it on useless arguments and stressful thinking. It is far better to  contemplate the happiness we receive from others. Take the goodness from every interaction, and prevent the perceived slurs and slights from ever gaining attention in your mind heart or soul. You will find that you are a happier person, who judges less and discovers more goodness in other people. Gaining attention in positive ways is superior to gaining it negatively. Freely give your sympathy, may possibly relieve pain in the process.

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”     Albert Einstein

"When a new day begins, dare to smile gratefully. When there is darkness, dare to be the first to shine a light. When there is injustice, dare to be the first to condemn it. When something seems difficult, dare to do it anyway. When life seems to beat you down, dare to fight back. When there seems to be no hope, dare to find some. When you’re feeling tired, dare to keep going.
When times are tough, dare to be tougher. When love hurts you, dare to love again. When someone is hurting, dare to help them heal. When another is lost, dare to help them find the way. When a friend falls, dare to be the first to extend a hand. When you cross paths with another, dare to make them smile. When you feel great, dare to help someone else feel great too. When the day has ended, dare to feel as you’ve done your best. Dare to be the best you can  At all times, Dare to be!”    Steve Maraboli

Speaking Frankly“Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable; be honest and frank anyway.”     Kent M. Keith

"Frankness is not a license to say anything you want, wherever and whenever you want. It is not rudeness."    Dick Warren

“All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.”    Friedrich Nietzsche

A straightforward speaker, or honest discussion is becoming outmoded. It is difficult to exchange words with anybody, without contemplating every word and facial expression. Even our facial manifestations might tell a  conflicting story from our words. There are times when I retreated from an encounter, utterly confused as to where the other person stood in their convictions. I must admit that many times I am not even sure of the message I professed, during my engagement with another. Confusion regarding beliefs and truths is common. It leaves us all wondering where we stand on numerous issues.

As a teacher it is impossible to perhaps offer a negative argument  about a child. Teachers search for the positive compliments first, but eventually must get to the meat of the matter, which includes negative problems that must be addressed. How else do we correct  anything  if we can't confront it. Parents love their children but must learn to accept the less than honorable qualities, that are sometimes displayed outside the home environment. Upon delivering some painful insights, most teachers hope that parents will work with them, to support healthier outcomes. A lot depends upon the way the parents interpret the information and advice.

Loving kids unconditionally should make accepting their failures easier. Faults should never cause us to love our kids less. Pretending the kids are never to blame is ludicrous. It only magnifies the issues and postpones finding answers. Why is it we are all so convinced  of the necessity of hiding our faults. We  even conceal our children's blame. Honesty has been overcome with pride. We leave no room for truth anymore. Distrust permeates the atmosphere and keeps veracity crushed. ...continue reading "Speaking Frankly"

When things go wrong in any area of society, even those at the top of the pile, cringe and lie if need be. We want to appear to be blameless. Hidden secrets, false agendas, cryptic language, and fear remain powerful tools that cover up honesty and integrity. It is not like we want to be evil or do bad things. We just don't want to be caught or perceived in that manner. Our ego is at stake and our reputation. Instinctively we tout our reputation as if that covers everything. I suppose it does shroud a lot of hidden lies and falsehoods.

My biggest fear about all of this, is how little we cherish honor and reliability. So many of us trip over answering questions, because we are trying to think what we should say and what we should avoid sharing. morality is lacking, along with integrity. We can't jeopardize our character or the pride of our family. So these little indiscretions appear to be nothing in comparison to our life's work and family's decency. We choose to bury our secrets.

Choosing right from wrong is taught at a very young age. As kids mature they learn that it is okay to bend the rules a bit, if your heart is in the right place. This extension of truthfulness stretches as we find glitches in our paths. The bending and stretching continues, until we don't recognize truth from falsehood. Some of us may come to believe we are doing it for the good of others. The fact that it also  benefits us and our good name is irrelevant, so we falsely believe.

The end never justifies the means, is a powerful statement that seems to be forgotten. We almost pride ourselves about how we accomplished so much by disregarding this rule of thumb. Most of us will agree when we observe the positive outcome. I wonder how many people are disheartened at the way animals are used to discover cures. Of course someone will testify that you or a family member, with an illness that is controlled with medicine, are fortunate enough to have received the cure because of animal testing. I still have a problem with this because the end really doesn't justify the means. Mankind always has trouble drawing lines, and I wonder how far we are capable of going.

Thinking out of the box is praised, but if that means anything goes, we must protest and reflect on our actions. Perhaps we have stopped questioning motives or actions, because the situations get too confusing. We can't mix up our misconceptions with what are truly mistakes. Probably our anxiousness to shadow untruthfulness, is our own confused state of mind regarding the matter. We likely would rather pretend we don't understand or we haven't all of the facts to voice an opinion. This alleviates guilt and emotional pain.

Dare one to accept a forthright person searching for honesty. We perhaps dislike these truthful speaking people because they fire up our own consciences. Our government is at times, not honest with us. They feel we can't face the truth or wouldn't understand it. Our families hide facts out of pride, or again with the attitude of saving us pain. One must guess how much truth we actually acquire in the course of a single day.

No wonder we have no faith. If we believe others are always out to get us, then life becomes a harsh, cold battlefield. Judgements abound, lies are professed, and faith is questionable. We all learn to distrust the teachers, doctors, lawyers, politicians, and workers of all kinds. I sometimes feel like I am on an island, with only myself to depend on. Why I question, is it so difficult to listen to a blunt person who states facts.

Deep down do we want to keep the knowledge at bay? I suppose our morality may come into question and we certainly don't want to deal with that. So it leaves us with the option of pretending everything is okay, and allowing life to move along as it always has, without doubting or trying to ask those meaningful questions.

It seems as though the questions that entertain a straightforward answer, may promote integrity and alleviate blame. Likely the parents who genuinely take the truth and work things out with their child, are giving their child more values to call upon when required. Perhaps all of the reflection may produce more thought processes and allow us to travel down unused paths. We may find that truth is easier to deal with than all of the lies or bending of the truths.

Generating pride in honesty and truthfulness may promote values worth establishing throughout society. Evolving into a society ridden with integrity, is challenging, and it takes courage. Transformation can be worthwhile but is never easy. Staying in the state we are in promotes stagnation. Having the strength and courage to attempt something inspirational and emotionally satisfying, lifts us out of the darkness and into the light. Spreading decency throughout our daily lives gets rid of the clouds of doubt. The fuzziness is gone and we can work together for solutions. The fault-finding and fear are alleviated while a candid open living emerges.

The festering anger is openly discussed, and treated with care. The lies and distrust are turned into a tolerance and respect for failure, and support of a renewed effort. The false pride of ego connected to power, is transformed into  humility in accepting our flaws with grace. After all, we never let our guard down with those we believe to be better.  I'd like to see trust, honesty, integrity and humility incorporated into my life. If those virtues were returned to me, how comforting it would be to be able to be myself at all times and with all people.

"Life is too short to be little. Man is never so manly as when he feels deeply, acts boldly, and expresses himself with frankness and with fervor."    Benjamin Disraeli

"We write frankly and fearlessly but then we "modify" before we print."    Mark Twain

"Frankness is a jewel; only the young can afford it."    Mark Twain

"One  must have chaos in oneself to be able  to give birth to a dancing star."    Friedrich Nietzsche

"In the mountains of truth you will never climb in vain: either you will get up higher today you will exercise your strength so as to be able to get up higher tomorrow."    Friedrich Nietzsche