I have a pet peeve. Well, actually, I have a few (remember, I'm still under construction), but one that has always stuck in my craw is when people don't say "thank you" in response to thoughtfulness, kindness, etc. Many years ago, a friend told me that whenever one does something from their heart, a thank you from the recipient should not be necessary. Deep down inside, I think that may be the right approach. But I'm not there yet. Clearly, there are some circumstances when a thank you isn't expected--for example, in the case of an anonymous gift to a known or unknown recipient. But when someone takes the time and/or makes an effort to show consideration to someone--and both the giver and recipient are known--I think a "thank you" should be given. Nothing extravagant is necessary, but at least an acknowledgement and expression of appreciation. For example, "thanks for opening or holding the door for me; thanks for letting me go before you in line at the grocery store; thanks for bringing me coffee; thanks for the thoughtful card and/or gift"; or waving to someone who allows you to move ahead of them in traffic, etc. Just common courtesy. Living abroad has made me more open-minded about many things, and I've learned a great deal about different cultures. But no matter where I've traveled or who I've met, a simple "thank you" in response to a gesture of kindness seems to be universal. Common courtesy. . . is it really too much to expect? Maybe. But I still have a ways to go on this one.
From time to time I hear people entertain the thought of starting their lives over with a clean slate. They talk about the places they would go, the things they would do, the profession and/or business they would have, the dream(s) they would pursue, etc. Mostly, they speak of hopes dashed, or dreams unfulfilled, and the accompanying regrets.
Sometimes when people are deeply entrenched in their circumstances they have a fatalistic view of life. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to think in terms of hope and possibilities. But those of us who are able and available can make a real difference in the lives of those who have lost hope, feel intimidated, or need encouragement to pursue their hearts' desires. It might be as simple as lending an ear, offering a kind word, or letting them know the types of resources available. It's a first step, a baby step. But it may provide a glimmer of hope and change a life.
What if we:
Yes, what if?
It's difficult to listen to the radio and/or television, or use the internet without being subjected to something hateful, vitriolic, demeaning, and hurtful about someone or some group of people. Sometimes, we allow others' views to influence our opinions, attitudes, and actions towards others.
TODAY, what if we:
TODAY, what if we:
TODAY, what if we:
TODAY, what if we move outside our circles and our comfort zones and treat others the way we want to be treated? What if we loved--or tried to love--our neighbors (our fellow man/woman) as ourselves?
Love. Look for it. It's all around.
Joy. Look for it. It's all around.
Laughter. Listen for it. It's all around.
Peace. Look for it. It's all around.
Kindness. Look for it. It's all around.
Compassion. Look for it. It's all around.
Forgiveness. Look for it. It's all around.
Hope. Look for it. It's all around.
Did you find what you were looking for? If not in others, hopefully inside of you.
What does it mean to win? To be victorious or succeed at something in the face of a struggle or difficulty, right? Have you won at anything lately? How about today? Did you hold your tongue rather than wound another with your words? Did you see the positive in something that had negative implications? Avoid showing road rage to someone who cut you off in traffic? Begin an exercise program? How about offering an encouraging word to someone in the midst of your own pain? Volunteer your time/talent for something that didn't involve you or your family? Did you turn away from gossip? Did you show compassion to someone with whom you have issues? Eat a healthy meal? Make a connection with someone you consider difficult? What about taking a first step towards a goal or dream? These are examples of victories if our usual inclination may have been to do otherwise. Victories that may seem small and inconsequential to others who don't know where we've been, our history, our struggles. But because we know our struggles, we might consider these "small" victories significant. They may encourage us to appreciate each step on our journey; to continue on our path. Maybe we won't throw a party--or, maybe we will--but we can at least do a little joyful dance in our heads and hearts in gratitude.
Once we get into the mindset of celebrating the "small" victories, we may find we won't wait for the large victories to validate us. And that matters because it's often the small victories that lead us to, and prepare us for, the large victories. It's important to remember that a small win is still a win.
The movie, "It's a Wonderful Life", reminds us that friends are a blessing. I feel blessed to know I have friends, and am humbled by their love. Here are some quotes that remind me of the gems in my life:
"Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That's why it's a comfort to go hand in hand." Emily Kimbrough
"A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Proverbs 18:24
"The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are." C.S. Lewis
"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words." Author unknown
"Friendship isn't about whom you have known the longest... It's about who came, and never left your side...." Author unknown
"I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar, but I cherish the friend who for me does not consult his calendar. " Robert Brault
"Friends pick us up when we fall down, and if they can't pick us up, they lie down and listen for a while." Author unknown
"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." Proverbs 17:17
"Friends are like walls. Sometimes you lean on them, and sometimes it's good just knowing they are there." Author unknown
"The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart." Elisabeth Foley
"Remember, you don't need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends who are certain." Author unknown
"No matter how sure you are that a friend will be there for you, it's still the greatest feeling when the time comes and there they are." Robert Brault
"A friend can tell you things you don't want to tell yourself." Frances Ward Weller
"Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down." Oprah Winfrey
"The best kind of friend is the one you could sit on a porch with, never saying a word, and walk away feeling like that was the best conversation you've had." Author unknown
"The most memorable people in life will be the friends who loved you even when you weren't very lovable." Author unknown
"Any day is a great day to say 'thank you for being my friend.'" Natalie Taylor
"No man is a failure who has friends." Quote from the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life"
Not all of us will be news makers and/or trendsetters, but life is so much richer when we use our lives--or at least a portion of our precious, limited time on this earth--to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
Many, the world over, are now celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela, who made a significant difference in the lives of others. In the struggle for freedom, equality, and education for all, Madiba's later years epitomized this quote from Robert Brault: “Life becomes easier when you learn to accept an apology you never got.”
In two weeks, many of us--the world over--will celebrate the birth of Jesus, the ultimate difference-maker and model of forgiveness for Christians. Wishing you and yours the love, joy, hope, peace, and spirit of Christmas.
Have you seen the movie "It's a Wonderful Life"? It's broadcast on television during the Christmas season, but I sometimes watch it at other times of the year as its messages resound throughout. In the movie, the life of the protagonist, George Bailey, is challenging--to say the least. As a young man, George dreamed of college and traveling the world. Those dreams were dashed when George's father died and George had to take over the family business. After that, George did what he could to make the best of his life--a great deal of which included helping others. And just when it seemed things were going well, something happened that shook George to his core. Having endured one setback too many, George got tired. He was at the end of his rope, and believed things would be better if he wasn't alive, or had never been born. But before he was able to act on his despair, George was sent a guardian angel who showed him the blessings he had and how his life made a significant difference in the lives of others. In the end, George saw that despite his challenges he had a life worth living, rich in love. It seemed like he was so accustomed to making sacrifices and being there for others that he didn't realize they would be there for him in his time of need.
Some of life's greatest lessons are learned in the midst of our trials and tribulations. We may be devastated or discouraged along the way, but it's important to hold on. As older people used to say when I was growing up, "just keep living . . . chances come around." Nothing good or bad lasts forever, so we must make the best of our circumstances and allow our blessings, our faith, our hope, our joy, to cushion life's harsh blows. One thing from the movie that really resonated with me was that George didn't reach out to his family and friends to say he needed help. He suffered in silence. Many of us do so, thinking no one will understand; no one will be there for us; others will criticize us; we can handle it on our own, etc. I've been there. But like George, I have learned that when we have others who will love and support us in the midst of and through our pain--and allow them to do so--we'll find that it is, indeed, a wonderful life.
What's a tire without a rim? The rim supports, holds the tire. Tires and rims are interdependent--they work together for a designated purpose. Even when a tire is flat, the rim supports it. It doesn't have the ability to inflate the tire, but it supports it nonetheless.
In life, sometimes we're the tire and, unless we are completely selfish and self-centered, sometimes we're the rim. As tires, we try to move our lives in various directions. We may start families, create businesses, get an education, have careers, set goals, live our dreams, etc. But absent the rims in our lives--those who provide support along the way--it's impossible to fully realize our potential; or manage our various responsibilities. Our rims include those who take care of our children, teachers, garbage collectors, cashiers, receptionists, secretaries, maintenance workers, co-workers, managers, employees, parents, siblings, children, godparents, friends, postal workers, delivery workers, stock crews, doctors, lawyers, accountants, mechanics, acquaintances, strangers, etc.
My point is that very little works in isolation. In order to make our relationships, our jobs, our communities, and our world better, we must depend on each other. We are attached, connected. Sometimes we take each other for granted; or we overlook the importance of those who provide support for us, especially if they are on the periphery of our lives. We sometimes devalue them, underestimate them, or fail to see them. We can all look at our lives and recall situations where but for the help of someone (sometimes a stranger), we wouldn't have our lives, our homes, our jobs, etc. Maybe someone saved our child from getting hit by a car; made an exception for us; provided a word of encouragement; smiled when we needed kindness; made a call on our behalf; paid a bill when we couldn't see our way through; returned something valuable we thought we lost; wiped our tears; held our hands when we were afraid or could not walk alone, etc. Our rims lighten our loads, stand in the gaps, help make connections, and facilitate the business and conduct of our lives. They provide support even when we're deflated.
So it's important to recognize, acknowledge, and appreciate our rims. We're often so busy that we don't truly see or focus on the many people who touch our lives in one way or another. But most of us are still standing because of our rims. I know I am. And because I'm grateful for my rims, I intend to do a better job of letting them know I don't take them for granted. 'Cause after all, what's a tire without a rim, but empty?
***Thank you, my readers, as you, too, are my rims. You may not comment, but I know from my website statistics that there are many of you. Thank you for taking the time to stop by, and I pray you have been encouraged by the blog.