Friday, August 12, 2011

It's not all about you!

I've come to realize that while my life and schedule are extremely busy and important (at least to me) ... that it's not all about me. Yes, I have responsibilities and agendas and hopes and dreams, but then so do a lot of other people. Mine certainly aren't any more important than theirs are. Of course, I'm sure there are times when all of us (if we were to be completely honest) think that the world revolves only around us, that what we do is most crucial, that our time is more valuable that anyone else's and that what we think and have to say is always right. Wow, is it just me or does that last sentence sound really selfish and perhaps even delusional? We've all experienced people like these.

Only this week I was sitting in 'clearly marked' construction where signs indicated for a good 1/2 mile that the 'left lane would be closed ahead'. While I sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic in the right lane patiently waiting my turn (or at least I'd like to think I was patient), car after car sped by me in the left lane thinking that there was no need for them to wait their turn like everyone else, that it was perfectly acceptable for them to suddenly cut me off and merge into my lane ... AS IF their time was somehow so much more valuable than mine or everyone else who was sitting in the right lane. I tried to show them some grace ... I swear I looked for the flashing lights on top of their car to indicate that they were a police car or an EMS vehicle on their way to saving someone's life, but try as I might I just didn't see those flashers. Go figure! So what is my point with all of this, besides the clear disregards for other people's time? My point is that we need to look outside of our own little bubbles sometimes. We need to make a bigger effort to support other people, whether that is through everyday courtesies to total strangers (in the backed up traffic lane, in the cashier's line at the grocery store, or merely opening up the door for a young mother who is struggling to push the stroller all while holding the hand of a distracted 4 year old). Sad to say but we shouldn't even have to think twice about the situations above. These should be natural instincts.

But we can take it a step further and put more effort in to it. There are so many ways to support the people around us. We just need to slow down and observe, take the time to really pay attention. Look around you and take note ... what are your friend's or family's passions and interests? Go to your 8 year old nephew's baseball game. Cheer him on. It doesn't matter if he's the MVP or the bench warmer. Cheer his name, let him know you're there for him. Trust me, after YEARS of attending hockey games, dance recitals, school concerts, half time shows, and charity fundraising events people welcome the support. I remember years ago when my husband was coaching the high school's roller hockey team. I would sit in the bleachers (at EVERY game) and cheer for EVERY boy on the team. I know that schedules can get demanding, but it was sad to see a 16 year old boy score a goal and look into the stands for his parents (who weren't there). That's why I made the effort to know the name of each player on the team and cheered for every one of them. See, it's not all about me or my son. Of course I should probably add a disclaimer that lets you know that I am one of 'those' fans ... the kind that scream and cheer and stand for most of the game. I'm not an athletic person, but have ALWAYS loved high school sports. At one high school football game I was cheering and carrying on after the home team scored a touchdown when another parent said 'Wow, you sure are a proud parent. What position does your son play?' I just laughed and said, "Oh I don't have a son on the football team, my son is in the drum line with the marching band!' The look are the parent's face was priceless.

There are so many ways to show your support. Your gesture doesn't have to big, just letting someone know that you're paying attention can be huge. This week I attended my first garden walk. It was amazing. This couple had beautiful gardens at their home. They'd obviously spent a lot of money and time planning, planting and pruning their plants and flowers. It was well thought out and just plain beautiful. The fun part was watching how excited they were to talk about what they had accomplished and how they'd done it. While they appreciated the support, I enjoyed the view!

This morning started the 2011 Susan G. Komen Michigan 3 Day Walk for breast cancer. I walked in the event last summer, but was unable to participate this year. I know several of the walkers who are out there walking or volunteering today. As a past walker, I KNOW first hand the impact the enthusiasm from the cheering stations has on the walkers. It's what they need to keep going as they walk 60 miles in 3 days in the hopes of making a difference for research and for finding a cure. If you should see a walker out there today or in your town, make a friendly sign, honk your car horn, wave to them, give them sandwich bags filled with ice cubes, anything ... but show them some support!

In any of life's situations, a little show of support can go a long way!

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