Be a rainbow today…

May 13, 2015

“Try to be the rainbow in someone’s cloud.”  (Maya Angelou) When I saw that recently on the Jack’s Winning Words blog, I knew that I had to write something about it.

Everybody has cloudy days, sad days, days of anxiety or fear, days of remorse or sorrow, perhaps just boring day; days caringwhen we could use a rainbow to cheer us up. We all also have the ability to be the person (the rainbow) who goes a little out of their ways to cheer up someone else who is having a bad day.

Some people have an almost automatic reflex to help other whom they see are in need; however, for many of us (I count myself in that number) that is not an immediate reaction. We hesitate, reluctant to “get involved.”  Maybe we mumble a few words of encouragement to them as we scurry past or perhaps we give them a quick hug, or utter a brief “I’m so sorry” and then hurry on with our day. We were polite. We were politically correct. We did our part; but we weren’t a rainbow in that person’s cloudy day.

Being a rainbow means actually taking the time to listen to the person having that cloudy day and paying attention. It girls huggingmeans asking that second question and maybe more, in order to better understand the issue that is causing the problem. It means holding on to that hug for a little longer or just reaching out and touching them in a way that says “I care.” It may mean opening up and sharing something from your life – a similar situation or one of equal seriousness to you and relating how you were able to deal with it. It may mean calling upon the Faith that you’ve spent your whole life developing and sharing it with this person. Hopefully, that Faith is the pot of gold at the end of your rainbow.

men huggingBeing a rainbow in someone’s life is yet another area where women seem to have the advantage over men. Women will run towards someone in emotional pain; while men might turn away and try not to get involved. Hugs (at least meaningful ones) don’t come easily for most men, especially if it’s for another man. Yet a fist bump or back slap doesn’t convey the same feelings. And most men hate to relate stories about times when they were down or needed help. They think that shows weakness. The essence of being a rainbow for somebody is being able to reach out from your soul and touch their soul. The rainbow doesn’t come from over there on the horizon, it comes from inside; it comes from the soul.

Pablo Neruda put it well when he wrote in The Book of Questions – “Donde termina el arco iris, en tu alma o en el horizonte?  – Where does the rainbow end, in your soul or on the horizon?”rainbow in between

Perhaps he would agree that if the rainbow actually starts in your soul and reaches out to touch the soul another; and, that is a beautiful thing. So, don’t add to the gloom of the day. Resolve to be the rainbow in someone’s life today. I suspect that just going about your day with an attitude that says “How can I help someone today?” will make your day better too.

Have a great and brightly colored day! I hope that we meet today, so that I can see how beautiful you can be.

Show someone that you care…

April 9, 2015

“People want to know how much you care before they care how much you know.”  (James F. Hind) – I’m relatively sure that this little gem came to me from the Jack’s Winning Words blog some time ago.

I’ve written here before about being a good listener – Listening is just one indication that you care about the person that you are with and what they have to say. Going beyond just listening and engaging them in a meaningful conversation is another indication.

Some would have you believe that exchanging a quick hug or an air-kiss is an indication of caring about the other person, but in many cases it’s just a perfunctory gesture with little real meaning or emotions behind it. Many people are so
opinionatedfocused upon what they have to say, thinking it to be the most important thing going on at the time, that they miss more than half of the communications exchange that was happening – the non-verbal, body-language parts. Their “let me show you how smart I am” approach to conversations quickly turns off listeners who might have their own opinions on the topic but who need to be drawn out to express those opinions. The know-it-all will wander off wondering why their remarks didn’t resonate better with the silent partner in the conversation; never realizing that their delivery itself showed that they really didn’t care to hear the opinions of others.

So, what can you do to show that you care? Maybe you can begin by focusing not upon what your next statement will be, but what your next question should be. Show the other person that you were interested enough in what they had to say to want to delve into it further and by doing so that you want to understand them and their point of view better. If you cancaring start your next remarks with Why or What or How; you stand a much better chance of both showing that you care and learning more about that person.

Another way to show that you care is by doing rather than just talking. Jump in and help them with something. Volunteer to take a part of the load that they are bearing or the task that they are performing. The old saw that “actions speak louder than words” is true and nothing shows more care than helping. Sometimes there’s nothing that you can do and the best way to show that you care is just to be empathetic and/or sympathetic. People whom you meet who are grieving a loss need that sort of support and care from you.

Sometimes the best way to show that you care is to help the other person find their way back to whatever Faith they have. Many events can take a person to the edge of the abyss and obscure the path back from the edge in darkness. There is lifes stormsno stronger light that can be used to cut through that darkness than Faith. If through your caring touch and conversation you can help them rekindle that light of their faith, you will be helping them on the journey back from the darkness of the depression that has led them to the edge. Show them that you care and remind them that God cares and help them see that nothing is impossible with His help. Perhaps you have a personal experience that you can share with them to help reinforce that message. Show that you care by sharing it with them. I think that you will find that you are as touched and reinforced by that sharing as they are and both of you will be the better for it.

So, what can you do today to show people that you care? Is there someone who has been trying to tell you something; but, you were too busy showing them how smart you are? Are their people talking at you whom you are not really caregiver handshearing? Take some time to listen. Take some time to ask questions. Take some time to get to really know those people and share their points of view. It will be time well spent. Let someone know that you care today.

The will to succeed…

February 2, 2015

“Winning isn’t everything, Charlie Brown.”  “That’s true, but losing isn’t anything.”  (Linus and Charlie philosophizing) – As seen on the blog Jack’s Winning Words.

I guess it’s no surprise to see quotes about winning and losing the day after the Super Bowl. I watched the first half of that game, but couldn’t stay up for the rest, which apparently turned out to be a very good game. But, in any game like that someone or some team will football helmetemerge the “winner” and the other side will be labeled the “loser.” That’s too bad, since both teams gave it their all and in the process provided some great entertainment for millions of people.

Jack went on to write in his blog – Vince Lombardi didn’t say, “Winning is the only thing!”  He said, “The will to win is the only thing.”  So much emphasis these days is placed on winning or losing in sports or just in the everyday events of life.  Today’s “Vince” might say, “The main thing is the will to succeed!” …and that can happen in winning and also in losing.

That is so true. I have written here before about the benefits of learning from your mistakes or losses in life. In fact, learning how to deal with losses and how to learn and get better from them is one of life’s most important lessons; which, unfortunately, many never learn. Certainly you don’t see the losers cheering and celebrating in their locker room with Champagne. Instead you quite often see bowed heads and tears. As a temporary display of disappointment that is understandable; however, it should not be allowed to descend into attitudes of failure. The effort it took to get to that big game by both teams was and is commendable and should be recognized by everyone, including the players who were not on the winning team. Both teams had and have the will to succeed and that makes everyone on both teams winners.

Do you have the will to win? In everyday life that “will” might manifest itsingle momself in the drive to get up and go to the gym every morning before work (or after work) or it might be the discipline to get that homework done before watching TV or playing a video game. Sometimes it’s just the will not to be beaten down by the trials that life hands you. When I think of the everyday winners that I’ve met or heard about, I think of the many single moms raising a family by themselves and wonder at their will to win, not for themselves so much as for their children.  I also think of the caregivers, especially those caring for a loved one who can no longer even recognize them, but who have the will to continue trying to make their lives safe, secure and as caregiver“normal” as can be. And then there are those who leave the safety and security of this country to travel to foreign lands to help the children there find a place to live and to learn. They have a will to win in the face of overwhelming odds that will carry them through the trials that they face

Most of us will never be on a team in the Super Bowl or chose to take on the challenges of a missionary caregiver; but many will have the opportunity to provide care and comfort to aging parents or perhaps take on the challenges involved in providing foster care for children in need. Some never get to go to foreign lands to help, but work tirelessly here to be able to send things that will help make life better for children there. Whatever the level caregiver handsof service to others that we take on, it is important to have that will to succeed. Sometimes that means taking the time to quietly ask for help in a moment of prayer. There could be no better coach for your team than the One who will answer those prayers. We’re all winners when we play on that team.

Have a great week ahead. Be successful. Help is just a prayer away.

Dealing with life’s pains…

September 27, 2014

“Knowing that there is worse pain doesn’t make the present pain hurt less.”  (Real Live Preacher), as seen recently on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

We all experience pain from time to time, whether it is real, physical pain or emotional pain. Sometimes people will say things like “shake it off” or maybe “it could be worse.” Those sage pieces of advice seldom help in the moment. In fact, recent studies have shown the harmful effects of decades of sports coaches telling a player with a concussion to shake it off and get back in the game. There are tons of stories from ex-athletes about how they wish now that they had taken better care of their bodies, instead of “playing through the pain.”

On the emotional level, people who have just experienced the loss of a loved one or child cannot be consoled by adviceremorseful from others. Theirs is a deep person pain that only they can feel and understand. What is really needed in those moments is a hug and a shoulder to cry upon. The release of letting it out through a good cry is much better than trying to maintain “a stiff upper lip.” The emotional pain that we experience in such times is our minds trying to get itself around the overwhelming senses of fear and confusion and loss and concern for the future all at once. It is too much to process and organize and compartmentalize, so we break down in tears and that somehow helps. The tears provide a way for it to all wash over us at once and get out.  After a good cry, you head can clear and rational thought return.

Once the initial pain subsidies we often settle into a period of dull, persistent pain, whether the injury be physical or mental. That can come in the form of a throbbing, back of the head pain or as sharp little jibs of pain as we are reminded of the loss or the initial injury. We begin to learn how to deal with the persistent pain and perhaps start the rehabilitation process to try to get back to a new “normal.”

Soman on cruthesme injuries in sport are career ending and many losses in life are life-changing. Things can never get back to the way they were, so you need to focus upon living with things the way they are. That is hard on ex-athletes and on people who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Many ex-athletes suffer though bouts of depression because they can no longer perform at the level that they were used to; but, more importantly, they are no longer a member of the team that defined them as people and served as a “family” of sorts.

People who lose their life partners suffer the greatest sense of loss of all. It is hard to lose a child, especially for a mother; but to lose your life partner is much worse. A successful long-term relationship with a life partner results in the melding of the two souls to such as extent that the loss of one will leave the other feeling only half there. The pain of having half of who you had become in life torn away is beyond that of all other human pain. Yet, we survive. We may cry longer and with deeper emotions that at any other time in our lives; but we live on.

When you are a child and got hurt, your mom might kiss your boo-boo and make it all better. You probably never toldcaring her that kissing the boo-boo really didn’t make the pain go away; but that being held and loved made bearing the pain a little easier. As adults we seldom still have mom around to kiss our boo-boos; but, if you are lucky you have friends or relatives who are there to give you that hug of assurance and tell you that things will be alright. In that moment, let yourself go; become that child again that finds comfort and relief from the pain in someone’s arms. Have a good cry; then, thank them for being there. They may not even understand what they just did for you; but, they’ll be glad that they were there to help.

An what if they aren’t there when you need them? Remember that you are never alone. You have only to acknowledge that God is there to comfort you to begin feeling the warmth of His embrace. There’s no boo-boo too big for God to handle, if you go to Him for a hug.

Show someone that you care…

September 17, 2014

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this – “Nothing is as bad as it seems, and nothing is as good as it seems.”  (Lou Holz)  Jack went on to write – Holz is a true motivator of people.  He’s often asked to speak at business meetings, because he makes sense in a down-to-earth way.  Lou says:  “I follow 3 rules.  Do the right thing, do the best you can and always show people you care.” 

I’ve written posts about how we sometimes let our imagination that over and make things seem worse than they are, especially situations relating to confrontations with others. I’ve also written about taking the time to celebrate even your small accomplishments, as a way to keep yourself motivated. Today I’d like to focus on that last sentence that was attributed to Holz – “Do the right thing, do the best that you can and always show people you care.”

I’ve written here about the first two thoughts in Holz’s advice, but not about that last phrase. It’s all too easy to just caring
ignore people in today’s fast-paced world of e-everything. Sometimes it is inadvertent – you just don’t see them or their needs, because your attention is riveted to that tiny screen in front of you. That’s bad.  But, sometimes you ignore people on purpose, because you just don’t want to take the time to get involved in their lives and problems. That’s worse. You are making a conscious decision to show them that you don’t care about them.

Obviously, you can’t take on all of the troubles of the world and all of the people in it; however, for the tiny fraction of the world‘s population that you know personally, it is up to you to show that you care. best friendsYou can’t really blow it off by thinking, “oh, someone else will help them”; especially if they have sought you out to share their problem. I sort of wrote about this topic in my post Reach out, I’ll be there back in 2012 and again in one of my three little words that will change your life posts – I’ll be there. The gist of those posts was to make yourself available when someone reached out for help.

Showing that you care is about more than just being there when there is a problem. It’s also about being there during the good time, to join the celebration for whatever little victory was just achieved. It’s especially important to spouses and children that the things that they achieve at home or in school be recognized and that you show that you care. Successful working husbands often will be rewarded by their companies with plaques or bonuses or other means of recognition; however, there are no awards given to the stay-at-home mom who successfully manages the home and raises the children. She is often left to tag along to the banquets or trips that her husband might have won. You can show her that you care by surprising her with an award of flowers or maybe a weekend get-away trip – something special that says, “I recognize and care about what you are doing.”

The same thought process applies to caring about your parents. Once children get out on their own and have their own families to worry about, mom and dad are often relegated to a few visits a year, maybe around the Holidays. It’s not fishing with grandpathat you don’t still love them and aren’t thankful for all that they may have done for you when you were growing up, it just that you have become too busy with your own life and that of your own family. That’s understandable and as it should be; however, make the effort to include them the important events that your family celebrates – birthdays, holidays and sports or other events that they might want to attend. It shows that you still care and that they are still an important part of your life. It also help’s your children get to know their grandparents and may give them a better understanding about how mommy or daddy grew up.

One way to show anybody that you care about them is to listen to them. We often are too impatient to take our next listeningturn to speak and so we don’t listen to what the other person is saying. This little quote from Bryant H. McGill sums it up well – “One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” So, show some respect and show that you care by really listening to what the other person is saying to you. You may surprise yourself when you discover what you may have been missing by not paying attention.

So, show someone that you care today. Call your mom or dad or just a friend. When they ask what you are calling about, just tell them that you miss talking to them and just wanted to see how they are doing. You’ll make them very happy and you’ll end up happy, too.

“You can’t do life by yourself.”

July 30, 2014

Today’s little quote comes from a news story on the local news last night that concerned an international soccer competition for the homeless of the world. The story concerned this athletic competition which is between people who were homeless in various countries. Click here to see the ace of the homeless from around the world. As one participant from the U.S. was being interviewed about it he expressed his thankfulness for the program and the assistance that he has received and he said, “you can’t do life by yourself.”

That statement was much more profound than I’m sure he realized at the time. You don’t have to be homeless to come to that conclusion, but people who have lived on the streets probably realize it quicker and more deeply than most of us. None of us lives in a vacuum, by ourselves; however, many homeless people come awfully close to that – cut off from the rest of society many times they form a little society of their own out on the streets, because “you can’t do life by yourself.”

gloomy guySometimes there are people who aren’t homeless, just friendless. These are people, who for one reason or another, are cut off, or have cut themselves off, from others. They have a home and maybe even some pets (many time way too many pets), but they don’t have friends or relatives or anyone else to interact with, so they become little islands unto themselves. They are cut off and become hermits or recluses because they don’t realize that “you can’t do life by yourself.”

Hopefully you are not homeless or like one of those people who have become islands unto themselves. What you can become, without realizing it, is someone who by their actions and reactions pushes people away, refusing help or advice when it is really needed. You may be trying to live life by yourself and not even realize it. If you are lucky you will have friends who see this and realize that you need help, even if youcheering up can’t find a way to ask for it. Those are true friends; let them into your life. They know that “you can’t do life by yourself.”

There are those who, for reasons of pride or arrogance or bullheadedness, can’t seem to admit that they need the support or help of others. Some are people who will steadfastly resist a hug and may need a slap up-side-the-head. They may resist your help, but don’t give up on them. Sometimes you just need to grab them by the shoulders and give them a good shake and yell at them “you can’t do life by yourself.”

For the most part, though, I think you’ll find a welcome smile and warm embrace from someone that you see needs your help and concern. Don’t be afraid to ask if you can help. Don’t be shy about offering to help caringand don’t hold back when your help is accepted. You’ll feel good about helping and you’ll feel better knowing that when your time comes to need help, others will be there because they too know, “you can’t do life by yourself.”

So, go out today and be a friend, be there for someone in need, listen to someone’s sad story and offer comfort and help. Help someone who is down and out. Reach out to someone is alone and lonely, even if they won’t admit it. Basically be a human being, because as a human being you know that “you can’t do life by yourself.”