Tag Archives: experience

You Can’t Train Kindness

In less that 14 days, I will be leaving my current job and returning to my Alma Mater for a job in the Geography Department. Many people at my current job have told me they will miss me because I have always been so kind. My kindness comes not from a sense of duty (“I am a Christian – or an American, or a mom, or a grandmother, or a woman – so I should be kind”). No. My kindness comes from a thankful heart and a genuine desire to serve others.

Is that altruism? Some will argue that altruism comes from a motivation of self-centeredness (“Look at how kind I am”, “Look at how generous I am with my time, money, etc.”). Others will argue that altruism comes from guilt, or the need for penance, or another negative response. Still others will argue that altruism comes from man’s ‘basic goodness’. (As an aside, Jeremiah 17:9 says, ‘The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?’) I argue that my kindness comes from none of the above, that it is not altruism for altruism’s sake.

My kindness comes from a thankful heart – thankful for my children, my grandbabies, Cycle Dude, my pups, my mom and my family and so many more blessings God has given me. My kindness comes from a genuine desire to serve others. I know how I want to be treated and so I treat others that way. The sum of my past equals the person I am now.

Will my replacement be kind? Will he or she be willing to do what’s not ‘in their job description’ in order to help others? Will my replacement take the time to answer people’s questions? Will my replacement answer the phone with a smile, ask, “How may I help you?” and be genuinely concerned for others’ welfare?

You can’t train kindness – it must come from a thankful heart and a grateful life. Kindness is a heart overflowing with joy, in spite of difficult circumstances. Kindness is seeking the best in others and expecting it in ourselves. Kindness is pouring out abundant grace to those who least deserve it. Kindness is seeing our weaknesses and admitting them and forgiving them in others. Kindness is going the extra mile, then going a mile more. Kindness comes from sitting quietly, hearing our heartbeat and thanking God for the gift of life. Kindness comes from selflessness.

I have learned a great deal in my 50 something years. I have learned that serving others in kindness and grace is the most joyful thing I can do. Stay tuned. . . .

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Lawn Mower

I recently read about the new trend in parenting, the “Lawn Mower Parent”. These folks seem far worse than the “Helicopter Parent”. The Lawn Mower Parent mows down every obstacle in their child’s life so the child doesn’t have to overcome adversity, etc. Needless to say, this kind of parenting will produce very weak, pampered and entitled people – even more so that the Helicopter Parent.

A child is like a butterfly. If you help the butterfly out of its cocoon, it will die. the butterfly needs to struggle out of the cocoon to gain strength. It needs to let its wings unfold slowly so they will dry and also be strong. We do our children no favors when we mow down the obstacles for them. The obstacles are what causes strength and resiliency in a person’s life. Are they fun? Heck, no! But they are needed to allow us to grow into strong, healthy people.

One cannot live one’s life without some pain and adversity. I know of people who try to avoid pain at all costs – their lives are dull and they are dull. Getting out of bed in the morning is inviting pain and adversity. My divorce was one of the most painful things I had ever been through. I would much rather had gone through natural childbirth again! But I have come out of it a much stronger and more compassionate person.

We can spend so much time mowing down pain and adversity that we have little time for anything else. We may be mowing down flowers or insects – the little things that make life special. Weeds continue to pop up in different parts of the yard. As we go after one weed, another pops up and at the end of the day we are exhausted from mowing. Put the lawn mower away. A few weeds are good.

Yes, pain and adversity are not pleasant. That’s a ‘duhism’. But pain and adversity help us to become stronger. We grow and change in ways we never thought possible. And through that growth and change, we are able to be more empathetic toward others as they face pain and diversity in their lives. Isn’t that part of what life is about – helping one another along on this journey? Life is an adventure, live it! Stay tuned. . . .

Looking in the Rear View Mirror

When I was learning to drive (way back in the Dark Ages), my Driver’s Ed teacher told us we should constantly be scanning the rear view and side mirrors. I thought, “How can I do that and keep my mind on what’s in front of me?”

The aftermath of a divorce is sort of like driving – you have a destination and you need to keep your mind on what’s ahead of you, not constantly what’s behind you. Every now and then, my past raises its ugly head and I can easily get distracted and not be able to focus on the here and now and what is ahead. I have to remember that a) my past is under the grace of God and b) my past is past.

Sometimes it’s easy to go down that slippery slope and want to get caught up in the past. We have regrets, we feel angry, sad or bitter. Stop that!! Just like the rear view mirror on a car, the past is a tool: learn from your past, understand your mistakes, mature past your mistakes and move on. If you are constantly looking in the rear view mirror while you are driving, you’ll smash into something ahead of you! The same thing goes with your healing journey – look ahead, not behind.

In 1989, Christian Artist Bob Bennett released, “Lord of the Past”:

Every harsh word spoken
Every promise ever broken to me
Total recall of data in the memory
Every tear that has washed my face
Every moment of disgrace that I have known
Every time I’ve ever felt alone

Lord of the here and now
Lord of the come what may
I want to believe somehow
That you can heal these wounds of yesterday
(You can redeem these things so far away)
So now I’m asking you
To do what you want to do
Be the Lord of the Past
(Be the Lord of my Past)
Oh how I want you to
Be the Lord of the Past

All the chances I let slip by
All the dreams that I let die in vain
Afraid of failure and afraid of pain
Every tear that has washed my face
Every moment of disgrace that I have known
Every time I’ve ever felt alone

Today, resolve to spend more time looking ahead than looking behind. After all, you can’t change the past. Learn from it. Let God heal it. Stay tuned. . . .

 

 

 

It’s Your Decision

I had a job interview yesterday. I was excited about it and thought I was prepared. However, when I got to the interview, the three people in the room all seemed to be in a sour mood. No one smiled and it seemed like I was just a token interview that no one wanted to do. I almost got up and walked out. But I thought, “Well, I’m here – stick it out.”

I was quite upset when I left the interview and I was on the verge of tears. Luckily, I had planned dinner with my best buddy. She was disappointed that I did not feel good about the interview. I thought, “You know – this is my decision: am I going to feel bad about myself because the interview didn’t go like I thought it would? Am I going to feel bad because my friend is disappointed?” I talked with Cycle Dude about it a little bit, then I decided that I did what I could do and it’s in the past.

I have blogged before about giving other people the power to make you feel bad. Short story – DON’T! I decided not to let those three people or my friend cause me to feel bad about myself. I know my abilities, I know my skills and I know what I do on a daily basis that contributes to my job. Last week I received a phone call from someone at my job. She said she had been to three different departments before she was told to call me. I asked her, “You were told to call this department?” She said, “No, I was told to call YOU, that you would know how to help me.” That made me feel great! (And, of course, I did help her and followed up to make sure she had gotten what she needed.)

Each day we are faced with what a friend calls “life-giving” or “non-life-giving” decisions. Are we going to make the decision to let others speak negatively into our lives? Are we going to allow bad experiences to ruin our day? Each day is a gift and each decision should be life-giving. Sometimes we make bad decisions and things don’t go the way we anticipated. Stand up, brush yourself off and move on. It’s your decision. Stay tuned. . .

 

Getting On In Years

I recently found out that my eleven-year old Boxer/terrier mix dog named Jack has cancer. I was devastated! After surgery and consultation with Jack’s doctor, we decided to monitor the tumor since it is a low-grade, non-aggressive type of cancer. It took Jack a couple of days to recover from surgery, but he’s back to his old self. I have noticed, though, that Jack has seemed to slow down in the last year. He is getting on in years and seems quite content to live his life out in peace.

I, too, am getting on in years – but not how you may think. When I refer to “getting on in years”, I refer to the years that have passed since I got divorced. The years immediately preceding and immediately after my divorce were raw and angry – kind of like a cancerous tumor. It took a few years for me to work through the pain and anger.

I am now eight years on this side of the divorce. Life is good again. I have an amazing wonderful man in my life who I love like crazy and who loves me. My pups keep me laughing. I am going to be a grandma for the second time in January. My children and first grand baby are all doing well. My job is good. I have a wonderful church family. I am blessed beyond measure.

I still think about the past at times and remember the pain, the anger and the mess that my marriage had become. Those years were difficult, but they are getting further and further away. Like Jack, I am quite content to live out my life in peace – surrounded by those I love and blessed more than I deserve! Stay tuned. . .

 

Learning to Walk

I am so excited that I get to see my grandbaby over Easter. I am flying to where my son lives and will spend Easter weekend with him, my daughter-in-law and my grandbaby. My sister also lives in the area, so I will spend time with her and her family as well. The fun thing about having a grandbaby is watching her grow and watching my son and his wife marvel as she reaches her developmental milestones. One of these days, my grandbaby will learn to walk. (Not quite yet, though. She was born in at the end of 2017.)

Learning to walk is a huge milestone for a child. There is so much involved – balance, gross motor skills, muscular and skeletal development, hand-eye coordination, etc. Learning to walk is no small feet (misspelling and pun intended!). Many adults have had to learn to walk again, too. They have had to progress from that infant-like state as well. One must learn to stand before one can walk. And one must learn to walk before one can run. There’s no skipping the proper physiological progression.

Life can  be difficult after a traumatic experience – divorce, an accident, etc. It is tempting to want to curl up in a ball and hide under the covers. We all know that’s not practical. In order to move forward in our lives, to heal and become stronger, we must learn to walk again. What does that look like?

1. Don’t be afraid: When a child is afraid to walk, she will sit down and cry. A child who is eager to walk will pull herself up and walk around the coffee table, then walk as you hold her hands, then she’ll walk to you and then with you. Yes, she will fall, but she keeps trying. Fear kills dreams, adventure and even life. Fear not. Move forward.

2. Don’t look back: The past is the past for a reason – because it’s done and over with. Look forward. Set and achieve goals. Dream big dreams. Laugh at your own silly jokes. Experience the freedom that comes with moving forward.

3. Don’t dwell on it: Whatever “it” is – a divorce, an accident, a death – let it go. We will grieve for that which is lost, but the grief cannot and should not last forever. Grief, despair, depression, anger and bitterness – these are all soul-destroyers. Don’t let the negative emotions and thoughts destroy you. If you are stuck here, seek out professional help.

4. Do stop and take a deep breath: Trauma – whatever it is – saps your energy. From days spent in court to days spent in the hospital or in counseling – you feel drained. Stop. Take a deep breath and know that you will be okay. Give yourself the grace and the time to heal – to renew your energy.

5. Do have a grateful heart: There is always something to be grateful for. Your support group, the medical personnel, your friends – these are all the ‘scaffolding’, if you will, who held you together during the trauma. Be grateful for them. Be grateful for your life.

Sometimes, it hurts to walk. Your muscles may be sore. You may have a misshapen limb. You may have fallen and bruised your knee. Walking is a milestone in your healing journey. It represents months of hard work. Soon, you will be running and will never look back. Life is an adventure! Live it! Stay tuned. . . .

 

A Journey of a Thousand Miles

Before I was divorced, I remember waking up in the morning, dreading the day and thinking, “What am I going to find out about today?” It seemed that each day brought a discovery of yet another thing ex had done. I was worn out. Then came the decision to divorce. That was not a difficult decision at all. The hard part was getting ex to do anything – sign papers, pay alimony (of which he still has not completed, 7 years later), etc. I guess he thought that if he ignored me, I’d go away.

Life immediately following the divorce was almost as bad as life prior to the divorce. The worst thing was not ex (although he was pretty bad), but the emotional untangling of myself from him. I felt as if I was being ripped apart. His actions didn’t make it any easier. Many days, I just wanted to go hide under my bed until it all went away. But I couldn’t do that.

I knew that I had to keep going, to keep living my life. My daughter was still at home, so I had to keep going for her sake. One day, I read the quote that said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. I felt beat down, knowing that my journey had just begun and it was going to be much longer than a thousand miles. Yet, I knew I had to move forward. I knew I had to stand up, take a deep breath and put one foot in front of the other. I could do this journey one step at a time. I didn’t need to worry about the next 999 plus steps.

My mom often told me to take it one day at a time. There were days when I had to take it one hour at a time. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when we see the big picture, when we see the long road ahead. It feels like we have to cross Death Valley in the middle of July! The journey doesn’t seem to bad if we take it one step at a time. Stay tuned. . . .