For some today will be totally forgettable. Just another day filled with meaningless activities or mindless entertainment.
For some today is the most important day of their life, a turning point, a course correction, a pinnacle.
For some today is the end.
Some will live today savoring every moment, capturing every word or glance or feeling to relive in memory a thousand times over.
Some will say words they wish they never had and other have unspoken words that will remain that way.
For the young there is the illusion that there are plenty of days ahead.
For the old there is the reality that there are more days behind.
While everyday does not have to be packed with people and activity and meaning it is far too precious to be just tossed away because it carries the label….Monday.
My home is where I keep my stuff but it’s also where I keep my heart. My favorite person in the whole wide world shares the space with me and at the end of the hall my favorite teen has a room she makes her own.
This morning both are away. He is nearing the end of a week-long business trip and she is at high school with all the challenges that entails.
As I was moving around our home, my eyes fell on items not of my choosing but from the hearts of others. It started when reaching for a simple coffee mug. It was a birthday gift from a friend I haven’t seen in a couple of years. Then reaching for a spatula, another gift from a friend I haven’t seen in 6 years at least. Picking up a prayer shawl from a friend I’ve never seen. Settling on the couch with a book recommended by a friend I keep thinking of visiting but haven’t set a date. Looking up and seeing a painting on the wall done by my mother. Realizing the ear rings I chose this morning were the gift of creativity from a dear heart.
I may be home alone with just a couple of big dogs today but my home suddenly seemed very full and very empty all at the same time.
The old adage “It’s better to give than receive” could just as easily read “It’s easier to give than receive” when it comes to five things.
Compliments – Is your first response to deny or down play the compliment? How difficult is it for you to simply say “thank you” and mean it?
Posing for photos – Are you the first to offer to take the group photo to avoid actually being in it? When someone picks up a camera to you move toward them or away?
Gifts – How gracious are you at receiving gifts of appreciation or celebration or just because someone thought of you? Do you feel like you have to be worthy for someone to give you a gift?
Advice – When someone offers you insight into a situation you are facing are you open to hearing them?
Help – Asking for help is challenging enough. How open are you to someone offering help?
Each time you down play a compliment you are telling the person offering it that their perspective is wrong or that you don’t agree with their observation. It is a gift from the heart. Receive it as such.
You may not be happy with your appearance but a photo doesn’t change how everyone sees it. It just makes a record of you being present at that moment in time. For those who love you that’s what matters. When the moment has passed that photo may be exactly what their heart needs.
Chosen with you in mind, a gift is a physical expression of someone else thinking of you. Always be gracious.
Your situation has been noticed by someone who wants it to be better. They may be lacking in information or wisdom but they did notice and they did speak up.
And if you need help…
Saturday night I sat on a plastic high school gym bleacher with tears rolling down my face.
Tonight I know the tears will flow again.
Both tear generators are final performances of ensembles I have taken to heart.
The Santa Teresa High School Winter Guard competed at the California Color Guard Championships. For the seven seniors it was their last performance before graduation. The next few weeks will be full of “last times” and the bittersweet feeling of rushing forward while looking back. I know all too well how fast life moves forward and how hard it becomes to keep in touch with people you used to see everyday at school or work or every few days at practice. These seven young women have become near and dear to my heart. Their program was titled “Here We Are”. It was beautiful.
After nine years “How I Met Your Mother” will air their final new episode tonight. This will bring tears, too. The characters have been fun but like Winter Guard the special group of people has worked long and hard at their craft to bring a performance that touches the audience. HIMYM has been a favorite in our home for a long time and we will miss them. On to reruns!
If you want me to know, you should tell me.
If you want me to remember, you should write it down.
If you want me to understand, we should have coffee.
With every goal or pursuit there is much to be gained but always at a cost. Great chefs work nights and weekends. The dinner service is the high point of their day. Great doctors endure the years of late night studying only to be followed by the double and sometimes triple shifts of an intern. Saving lives or improving the quality of those lives is a noble pursuit. Musicians spend countless hours practicing, practicing, practicing to find just the right sound and make it seem effortless and natural. While Carnegie Hall is probably not the destination of most the path is still the same. In each journey something is put down so something of greater worth can be picked up. Hours exchanged for knowledge.
One of my favorite things to do is speak at retreats and conferences. It’s also one of the hardest challenges I face. Not because I have a fear of public speaking. That really never bothers me at all. What challenges me is being face to face with all those people. I am by nature an introvert. I can spend days alone in silence and be happy. I can also eat my favorite breakfast…fried potato with grilled onions. I vary the additives. Sometimes an egg and basil join the mix. Other times a little sausage and paprika. But the foundation is still heavy on onion.
Can’t really do that if I’m going to speak to you. I would hate for the onions to come between us. The idea of you being offended by the breath that carries my words sends me to the bagel and yogurt with joy. Just not onion bagels!
What are you pursuing?
What are you putting down?
What are you picking up?
What would you give up for someone else?
Looking over my friends list on Facebook this morning I realized each one is smarter or better or more skilled at 2 or 3 or more things than I am.
I see their strength and knowledge as something admirable and inspiring.
I see characteristics I want to emulate, insights I want to explore and wisdom I deeply respect.
I read a lot. Maybe not compared to some people but statistically above average. The great advantage I have over most is all of my reading is self selected. I do not have to read endless office email threads or analyst reports or white paper. Even reading the directions is a totally discretionary decision resting entirely in my control. That being said, I choose to read a lot.
This morning a blogger I subscribed to about 3 years ago posted that he had purchased an ebook written by another blogger on writing. I followed the rabbit trail to Amazon where it was offered for a mere $2.99. But I have learned that many short ebooks are often compilations of blog posts written over a period of a few months. Going directly to the author’s website I found the same little missive offered free with a bonus simply for subscribing to her future writing. This was the path I chose.
A quick download later, I was blasting through the 42 “page” ebook when something so incredibly familiar popped up on page 23. She recounted her experience at a writers conference where she had the opportunity to ask someone she respected how to find a mentor. The response was what I’ve been doing all along.
Most of the people I respect and admire are very public people. Their character is known. Their journey, with all it’s mountain tops and valleys, is not hidden. Their wisdom and insights are readily available. Usually in written form! I can learn from them without sitting across the table having them repeat the same thing they have told countless others. I can read the book!
If I want to learn how writer’s became better writers, there’s a pretty good chance they have written about it.
If I want to learn how to bake a better cake, there are 39,300,000 websites that pop up in 0.73 seconds if I Google “bake a cake“.
If I want to learn to run, there is a track at the local high school frequented by….RUNNERS!
Hunting down someone who is farther down a chosen path than I am is not necessary. I have hundreds of good mentors!
I can read, I can search, I can do the leg work. And I can blaze my own trail.
We all have them.
Some are acknowledged.
Others ignored or totally unaware.
Strengths and weaknesses are the same.
We all have them.
Some are acknowledged.
Others ignored or totally unaware.
It’s what draws us together and keeps us apart.
But what if someone is watching out for your blind spots for you?
What if someone’s strength matches up with your weakness?
What if your strength matches up with my weakness?
What if I asked you to watch my blind spot?
What if I asked you to lend your strength?
What if I offered mine?