Saturday, August 23, 2014

Walking A Mile

There's a saying that says to truly understand what a person is dealing with you would need to walk a mile in their shoes. There's been a lot of attention lately to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It has created a phenomenal amount of awareness, as well as funds for research. From what I understand the icy cold water is supposed to simulate the sensation of the affected nerves that an ALS patient feels. I've seen the Facebook videos and received my challenge yesterday. Like any challenge though, I had a choice to make. I chose to make the donation; not because I was afraid of appearing vulnerable on camera or afraid of a little cold water. No, my choice was for personal reasons. I completely respect each person who has accepted the challenge, made a donation to the cause, or obtained a greater understanding of a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain. My decision comes from a different place.

Have you ever asked the abused spouse or the child of an alcoholic parent how they would feel if you were to apply some fake bruises and go out in public so that people could judge you? Would it help you to relate? Would a cancer patient feel any better if you were to shave your head as a sign of support? My son did that once. He was at college and the captain of a Relay For Life team. I appreciated that he wanted to feel connected and wanted to show his support to me while I was going through my chemo treatments, so as a fundraiser he let the college students in his dorm shave his head. BUT he never asked me how 'I' felt about it. When I saw him I literally broke down and cried. I understood his need to feel connected but all I could see was a mirror image of myself and I saw him as being ill and damaged. It broke my heart. Fortunately his hair grew back much faster than mine. We talked about it and I made him promise that he would never intentionally do that again.

I will ALWAYS support various causes and for a lot of reasons; because I know someone dealing with the issue, or I see the awareness and knowledge being created, or I see breakthroughs being made. Sure, I haven't won the lotto (yet) and I can't support every cause, but I will continue to make donations when I can, walk in fundraisers, and learn when I can.

Walking a mile in someone's shoes isn't always a reality, sometimes you can learn just as much by opening your mind and your heart. To all those who took the Ice Bucket Challenge - I applaud you! To all those who donated instead - I applaud you as well! To all those who endure or care for someone who has ALS or diabetes or cancer or heart disease or suffers from abuse or weight issues or depression, etc. - I applaud ALL of your efforts and your determination. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Considerations: They're Worth Thinking About

According to ‘considerations’ are defined as thoughtful or sympathetic regard or respect; a thoughtfulness for others. Do you find yourself having days where you look around at the world and just scratch your head; perhaps wonder where the common decency and respect for others has gone? The past week was filled with ample opportunities to witness BOTH the good and the bad in people. We had devastating flood waters in local areas that either weren’t accustomed to or prepared for the amount of rain that they got. Many people lost power and/or belongings. We saw reports on TV of people rummaging through other people’s water-sodden personal belongings in front of houses, but we also saw people reaching out to help their fellow neighbors.

This past week I heard about people getting out of their cars and running to the aid of a stranded driver on a busy road, yet I personally witnessed a bout of potential road rage between the drivers of 2 large SUVs. I heard stories of hope from some mission trip youth and I kept tabs on people who were walking 60 miles in hopes of helping to find a cure for breast cancer.
It’s easy to get caught up in the little everyday scenarios where someone has inconvenienced us, or been rude to us, or made us feel a little taken for granted. When that happens I try to regroup. I try to shrug it off as someone being a little too busy and or maybe just inconsiderate and hope that they weren’t intentional in their actions. I try to look at the bigger picture and be thankful for all of the good that is around me. At the end of the day I hope that there was a balance and assure myself that tomorrow will be a new day.

The next time someone assumes things on your behalf or someone cuts you off in traffic try to stay in the moment … get through it with as few emotional scars as possible and move on. The less baggage you carry with you into tomorrow the better you will feel. Bottom line – we‘ll never be able to control the actions of others so we need to worry less about what THEY should or should not have done and instead focus more on what we CAN control … our own actions. Just something to think about.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Choices Matter

Every day we are faced with choices and decisions that need to be made. What should you order for breakfast? Should you wear the red tie or the blue tie to the meeting? Should you give your mother a call today or wait until tomorrow?

You may not realize it at the time but ANY one choice can ultimately change your path. Good decisions OR bad; they all make a difference. You may ask yourself … ‘What would my life look like today if I had accepted that other job right out of college? What if I’d said yes in high school when that one person asked me to the prom? What if I’d accepted that job that wanted me to relocate my family?’

None of us have a crystal ball. We can’t predict our futures; only God knows what is in store for us. If you did know now what your life would OR could look like in 5 years or even 10 would you do anything differently today? Do you make your decisions in the ‘here and now’ or do you tend to look ahead at the big picture?

I suppose there’s not really a right or wrong approach other than knowing that all of your actions and behaviors and choices and decisions all matter and all carry a great deal of weight. You are probably the best person to decide what is right for you, but know that your choices all have consequences. Will you wake up tomorrow or even next month and be happy with the decisions you made today? Something to think about.

Have you made any choices that you maybe regretted later; just as well have you made any choices that you were absolutely content with and wouldn’t have changed for anything?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Where Is Your Faith?

Do you ever find yourself facing one of those ‘frustrating’ days. The kind that make you feel overwhelmed, antsy, and agitated? You’re not alone. Many people feel this way at some point. It doesn’t mean it’s entirely your fault or often can’t even be avoided. Sometimes you just have days when you feel like the stars aren’t aligned. Your day can start out by spilling coffee on your blouse or having someone cut you off in traffic. You may get a deadline unexpectedly moved up at work or have an unpleasant confrontation with a stranger. Sometimes these things just happen, but hopefully not too often.
When you find yourself facing a day like that what’s your first response? To become defensive? To become angry? To try to fix everything (which I find can be the most exhausting)?

Every once in a while I face a day like this. I guess that just makes me normal. I’m fortunate though to have some great people around me for support; my family, my friends, and my co-workers. I’ll be honest and say that sometimes the little things can frustrate me as much as the big things. It’s my nature to play the peacekeeper, to want be able to re-align the stars, and to get everything and everyone back to running smoothly. Truth be told if I could really manage to accomplish all that I’d be giving myself WAY too much credit.

I need to accept that there are things out of my control (ok … MANY things). Everything is in God’s hands. Maybe He is presenting me with a frustrating day now and then to teach me something. To teach me to be more understanding, or to have more patience, or to turn some of my stress over to Him. I’ve always had a hard time doing that. It’s not that I don’t have faith, because I do. I think it’s because I was raised to try to be self-sufficient and independent. For me to stand back and ‘turn it over to God’, in my mind, makes me think I’m taking the easy way out – that I’m not doing my share and am standing back waiting for Him to take care of my life for me. In my heart I know that isn’t the case; I should be asking God for support and accomplish my tasks and tackle my stresses with Him by my side, BUT my head tells me to keep trying to handle everything myself. Absurd, I know.  So right after I master re-aligning the stars I’ll get started on figuring out how to align my heart and my mind.

Any suggestions? How do you handle your frustrating days?