Have you ever thought about what your “mission” in life is?
I’m not talking about the lists of errands and forgotten “To Do’s”. I’m talking about if you could focus on something that would bring you happiness, joy, purpose, and encompass all that “You” represent to yourself and the world, what would your “mission” be?
My journey to uncover my own “mission” has by no means been an easy one. In fact, it’s actually pretty fluid and right now, I guess you could say that in this particular moment my “mission” is to spread “POSITIVITY” through my blog on PositivelyAnne.
As my life ebbs and flows though, so does my “mission”, but it might help you to understand how to define your own “mission”, if I share with you a little back story on how I have been able to find and define mine.
My journey to find my “mission” began when one afternoon, at the age of eight, I happened to hear these powerful words spoken by Captain James T. Kirk (actor: William Shatner)of the starship Enterprise in the opening credits of Star Trek: The Original Series:
“Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year “mission”: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”
I imagine you are laughing now, but I am totally serious. Totally!
You see I grew up at a time when space was on the minds of all of Americans. Once Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted the American flag on the moon in 1969, those grainy images on our television set of subsequent Apollo missions and the nightly commentary from broadcaster, Walter Cronkite, sent my imagination soaring. The nursery rhyme of my childhood that talked of a cow jumping over the moon, was now replaced by real people traversing the “cheese” planet with lunar landers. It all seemed so big and grand, a “mission” of the utmost importance.
In addition, my father was an aerospace executive and one of my earliest memories is standing with him and my brother in front of a rocket as it was intentionally blown apart on a launch pad as part of its’ “mission” testing. I have never heard a bang as loud as that since then. It was truly awesome to witness, but more importantly it etched the word “mission” into my subconscious. The idea of something powerful, something important, something BIG, really, really BIG!
I was too little to watch the original Star Trek series when it premiered on NBC in 1966, and if not for the growing interest in space after the moon landings, the show probably would have faded into obscurity, written off as a novelty, as were most of the shows in the early days of television. But the moon landings happened and after it’s 3 -year run, Star Trek was blasted into syndication riding high on the possibility that the secrets of space were now within our reach. I watched it as often as I could.
Now being so young, I had no real concept of the deeper meaning of Star Trek. I didn’t understand the lasting implications of the diversity of its’ cast. I didn’t understand its’ ground breaking storylines addressing differences, and inclusion and compromise I guess you could say I didn’t understand much, if anything, of the historic context of the television I was watching.
But, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t really care about any of that. I didn’t watch the show for its’ story lines, my little girls heart was captivated by the opening credits and Captain James T. Kirk’s hypnotic voice inviting us to be a part of his “mission.”
“Space, the final frontier…”
I was rapt with curiosity. I wanted to be a part of the “mission” of this crew. To explore, to seek, to go where I had never gone before.
It sounded so important. I wanted to be important. To do important work like the men on the moon and my father. I wasn’t sure that my calling would be space flight…math was not my favorite subject, but I knew that whatever I did, I wanted my “mission” to matter, to my family, to strangers, to the world.
As I entered high school, America had long ago stopped going to the moon, both in real life and on television. We discovered the moon was not everything the Gumby cartoons had portrayed it to be, let alone Star Trek. My father now worked on a new space program, a space shuttle that would be able to return to earth…a sort of “space truck”, if you will. While its’ initial missions seemed endlessly exciting to me and my heart soared along with my fathers at each successful flight, I was watching television both times the shuttle exploded. First the Challenger, then several years later, the Columbia.
I felt the horror, along with thousands of other students across America, as our disbelieving eyes tracked the sky for the glittering remains of lives lost and dreams shattered. Something in me decided that day that it was no longer practical to reach for the stars and the moon. Keeping my feet grounded here at home, where I knew it was safe, seemed the best course of action. At this point in my life, my “mission” was to get my head out of the clouds and remain rooted in practical tasks and goals here on earth, at least for the next several years. Sometimes my “mission” seemed very trivial.
I’m on a “mission” to finish my homework so that I can go out with my boyfriend.
I’m on a “mission” to pass my geometry class.
I’m on a “mission” to get my college applications completed before the deadline.
I’m on a “mission” to get my laundry done.
I’m on a “mission” to go to the grocery store.
I’m on a “mission” to finish this book I’ve been wanting to finish.
I ‘m on a “mission” to lose 5 pounds.
I’m on a “mission” to not have tan lines.
I really like those Mission Tortilla Chips!!!
Yes, the grandeur of Captain Kirk’s “mission”, the same “mission” that made landing on the moon possible and sent the shuttle into outer space, was now reduced to nothing more than making sure I had a decent tortilla chip to dip into my salsa.
So much for the final frontier!
But trivialities aside, I did accomplish quite a bit after high school. I graduated with degrees in Liberal Studies-Journalism and Business and launched a successful career, first in hotel management and then in higher education. I met the love of my life in the dorms and got married and within a few years we were expecting our first child.
One day, in the first trimester of pregnancy, I found myself on the floor of the bathroom wrapped around the toilet battling a terrible case of morning sickness. I had pretty much memorized “What to Expect When You Are Expecting” and realized I needed to do something to take my mind off of the nausea. Laying down seemed to make it worse, so bed was out, but I decided I could probably prop myself up on the couch and watch a television program as a distraction.
I crawled out of the bathroom and over to the couch and turned on the television. I had no idea what was on. I heard the opening notes of Star Trek and Captain Kirk’s comforting voice:
“Space, the final frontier…” I relaxed. The nausea left me. I closed my eyes and I began to dream about all the “missions” that had come before me and were to follow.
I dreamed about those men who braved the odds to fly millions of miles above our earth to place their footprints and our flag in the dust, only to travel home to crickets chirping once we knew that aliens were not a part of the equation. They never gave up on their “mission”, even as America lost interest in them.
I dreamed of my dad and how tirelessly he and his team worked to make space flight look as easy as driving a truck and the sadness he must have carried inside him when all that was possible for space exploration, suddenly seemed impossible. He never gave up on his “mission” of searching and seeking answers to mans quest to explore space.
I dreamed of my unborn child, the bean inside me that soon would become our son or daughter and how much I wanted them to know that whatever their “mission” in life, their father and I would never give up on them, ever!
Lastly, but most important, I dreamed of my own “mission” and how I didn’t need to let life’s twists and turns stop me from progressing. At times, I move forward at warp speed. Other times, I sit quietly in the shadows taking it all in. Sometimes, I am a great success. Other times a great failure. But, I am always, always compelled to keep trying, not only for myself, but to honor all of those who have come before me and risk it all.
I have a “mission” and it’s ever changing, like me. But I’m all in. I’m ready for the challenge and in doing so, I truly think I have a damn good shot at this whole live long and prosper thing.
Thirty years of marriage, three kids, and four careers later, I’m still trying, one positive step forward at a time. Won’t you join me? PositivelyAnne
Please Like and Follow my blog. You can also follow on FB. ALL ARE WELCOME!
I entered the waiting area of the radiation oncology department a half hour early, anxiousness after all of my pre-appointments with the oncology team, and ready to get the actual radiation started. The receptionist area was still closed, a sign taped to the wire cage that the office opened at 8am, but I was surprised to see three women already seated, their heads huddled together around what appeared to be a large puzzle.
One woman was definitely in her eighties. She had a walker perched to one side of her, a cup of coffee in her hand and she was wearing a bulky, ill- fitting cable knit sweater that dwarfed her petite frame. Around her neck was a patterned wool scarf that literally swallowed her chin, and on her head of silver, was a knit cap of the same pattern. Her ensemble struck me as really odd given it was mid-October in San Diego, our Indian summer, and despite the air- conditioned waiting room, once outside it was hovering in the low 90’s. Her face was deeply lined and her skin, an ashen shade of grey.
“Wow, she must really have cancer pretty bad”, I thought.
The woman to the left of her was probably in her fifties and she was wearing a pastel pink headscarf with a beautiful jewel pin on the front. In contrast to the woman in the bulky sweater, this woman looked very elegant in a tailored crème pantsuit with a silky blouse of jade and matching jade pumps. She was leaning forward over the puzzle, a piece of it in her hand, and her face registered intense concentration.
Seated next to her was another woman, she was much younger, maybe mid-twenties. She had on yoga pants and an off the shoulder sweatshirt that said, “#cancersucks”, her hair was little nubs like grass seed that is just beginning to sprout. She greeted me with a big smile and said, “Welcome to the Club” and motioned me to come sit next to her.
I looked at her confused, what club? “Well, um, I need to check in, I’m starting my radiation treatments today.”
The elderly woman with the walker said, “Yes, we know that honey, the gal opens up at 8am, come and sit with us and help us figure out this damn puzzle!”
I was taken aback. I just stared at them. Puzzle? What in the world, are they nuts? I’m here for radiation. This is serious you idiots. I HAVE CANCER! I have no time for the trivialities of a puzzle!
I turned towards the registration counter, and read the sign again. “Open at 8am!” I turned back towards the waiting area and the elegant woman, puzzle piece in hand, motioned towards the open seat next to her. “C’mon over here and help me find where this sucker goes!
Again, I just stared.
This time my voice was a little firmer.
“Um, thanks, but I’m here for my first radiation treatment today, I don’t think I could work on a puzzle.”
The elderly woman said, “We’ve all been there honey, but trust us, together is how we beat this thing. I’m back for the fourth time, not much left to radiate, but I’m going to beat it like I’ve beaten cancer all the other times. My friend here (pointing to the elegant woman) is almost finished with her radiation treatments for breast cancer, she gets to ring the bell tomorrow. And the youngster there (pointing at the woman in the yoga pants) is a newbie, like you, but she started a couple weeks ago.”
I’ve blanked out what happened next because I certainly don’t remember the elderly woman getting up and coming to stand beside me. But suddenly she was just there, walker and all, right next to me gripping my hand. I have a fuzzy memory of her saying something like, “C’mon, it’s ok, come join us!”
I remember her hand was like ice. Cold… so very, very cold. The bones of her fingers had a gnarled appearance, blue veins standing out like cracked porcelain against the grey of her skin. Two of her fingernails were black. I tried to recoil my hand, but she held on tighter. “C’mon, we need you!
Despite her cold hand, I felt a trickle of sweat drip down my back. Fear???
The elderly woman drew me over to the puzzle area, “Sweetie, fighting cancer is like this puzzle. It takes us apart and we have to put ourselves back together one piece at a time. Sometimes we need help to complete our puzzle…lots of help. C’mon and sit a minute with us while you wait for your radiation appointment and help put “US” back together.”
Did I hear her right? Did she just say, “Help put “US” back together?”
What is this “US” business? Poor thing, she must be delusional. I’ve never seen her or the other two women before in my life. I’m here for my radiation treatment, not to work on a puzzle. Again, I tried to pull away, but the elderly woman patted my hand and softly said, “Help us.”
Something about this elderly woman fascinated me, but also scared me. It was silly. I was towering over her and she looked as if a gust of wind could topple her without the security of her walker. Something about what she said made me want to run, to hide. The sweat was now rolling down my back. She tugged on my hand harder.
I took a seat next to her like she had asked me to. I was too afraid not to.
I was 52 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My mom had breast cancer in her 50’s and so the possibility that I might someday have it was always lurking in the shadows of my mind. But my mom had beaten the disease for over twenty years and in all honesty, I really didn’t spend any measurable time worrying about cancer or any other sort of life altering disease. If I got cancer, or any of the millions of other illnesses that were possible to ravage the human body, I’d deal with it as I’ve dealt with every other drama in my life.
On my own terms, head up, and with my usual can-do spirit.
But here it was, this cancer demon not only on my doorstep, but taking over my entire house. Every room.
It was overwhelming. The neat and tidy box I imagined my cancer journey to be, was not so neat and tidy in real life. I had complications, lots and lots of complications. I felt torn apart, like pieces of a puzzle waiting to be put back together.
It was unsettling, disconcerting, humbling and frankly, the scariest thing I had ever dealt with in my entire life.
I stared down at the puzzle in front of me and back up at the women.
The elegant woman said, “We were just saying to each other that figuring out the puzzle of life is hard enough, add cancer or any other major trauma and sometimes things don’t fit like they used to because cancer changes us, not only physically, but in all ways.” She talked a bit about how she had to rethink her life priorities, particularly when her cancer returned in a new, more aggressive way.
I found myself opening up. I told these strangers about my breast cancer, the complications, the surgery I was facing after radiation to fix my colon and after that a very probable hysterectomy. I told them I was so scared.
The elegant woman handed me the puzzle piece that was in her hand. “Honey, sometimes we need a little teamwork to get us through the darkness.”
I looked down at the puzzle before me. It was one of those thousand-piece deals, of a very famous Thomas Kinkade painting. A cobble stone street stood in the foreground of a white cottage. Yellow lights winked happily from the cottage windows and the street lanterns along the cobble stone street showcased an abundant garden, flora of every color, wrapping itself around the sides of the cottage like a hug. It was a happy looking picture and I smiled, until I looked down at the puzzle piece in my hand.
The piece was not pristine white, or cheery yellow, or even red or green or blue, no, it was midnight black.
The reality of the entire puzzle came into focus then. All that was left to finish of the happy scene was one corner, one dark corner. Every piece that was left to place was midnight black and indistinguishable from each other except for the individual intricacies of their jagged edges.
Why these women wanted me to help them because this is the hardest part of the puzzle!
A solid field of darkness that requires a keen eye, patience and sheer determination in order to solve. I didn’t think I had any of that left in me.
I held up the puzzle piece to the light above me. It was unremarkable. One of those typical puzzle pieces that look like two hands sticking out from a horseshoe. Common, except one of the hands was a little longer than the other.
The woman in the yoga pants said, “These two ladies come a half hour early for radiation to work on the puzzle together.” “I thought that was ridiculous! Why would anyone come early to radiation? Then I went home that first night after treatment and the fear crept in and ever since that day, I am here early, with these amazing ladies and one of these crazy, silly puzzles.”
“We are often surprised when we arrive each day that all that is left to finish of the puzzle is the darker, solid pieces”, said the elegant woman.
“We often need the assistance of a new person to help us solve where those darker pieces go, “said the elderly woman, that’s how we met our friend here”, she said pointing to the woman in the yoga pants. “In fact, she finished this tricky corner over here yesterday.”
I looked back down at the puzzle. The dark space that was yet to be completed. Suddenly, the puzzle dissolved before my eyes and in its place I imagined myself prostrate on the table with these three women hovering over me.
“I think it might go here,” the elderly woman said trying to put a piece of me back together. “No, can’t you see that edge there is a bit jagged?”, the elegant woman said. “Keep trying”, the younger woman said, “Together we can do this!”
“Help me”, I said. “Help me to be whole again.”
I was suddenly back in front of the puzzle, the three women at my side, their eyes on me with a clarity and a knowing that was palpable. I took the puzzle piece in my hand and pressed it in place.
“You did it!”, the elderly woman said. “We needed you and you did it.”
My name was called for my appointment and I got up and hugged each of them. The radiation tech smiled and as she walked me to the back area she said, “It’s funny how a silly puzzle has a way of helping us see just what we need.”
I lay on the radiation table, bare from the waist up, hands above my head, while the radiation tech maneuvered my body into place. I was told not to move as gears began to grind and my body slowly, very slowly was placed inside a large tube.
“Are you ready”, the radiation tech said. For a split second I felt a pang of fear.
Then a warmth enveloped me and I was laying there, my three new friends hovering over me in my mind, reassuring me that they would pick me up and put me back together, no matter how hard the puzzle.
“Life is a Puzzle, We are the Pieces”
Cancer is indeed a part of my life puzzle and it has certainly changed the physical me. However, cancer also gave me the opportunity to understand that the puzzle of my life is not mine alone to solve. When it comes to the hard parts of my puzzle, the pieces that don’t seem to fit, the dark spaces where it’s almost impossible to see the light, I can rely on the kindness of my family, my friends and yes, even strangers, to bless me, to put me back together in a way that is better and stronger than anything I could do on my own.
I hope I can be that for you too! PositivelyAnne
Please “like” and “follow” my blog for weekly positive inspiration and for a daily positivity boost you can follow me on FB at PositivelyAnne or Instagram at #positivelyanne
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you
-Lewis B. Smedes (Ethicist and Theologian)
It seems I’m always asking for forgiveness
again, and again and again!
My request is almost always met with confusion.
And yet, I keep asking,
“Do you forgive me?”
“Do you forgive me?”
“FORGIVE ME, FORGIVE ME, FORGIVE ME!!!”
Then one day I hear you say
“Do you forgive me?”
and clarity blooms.
For forgiveness is not about the
question, nor the answer, but about trusting the action.
Copyright 2019 PositivelyAnne.com
I remember the minute the words were out of my mouth, I wanted to crawl in a hole. I could literally see the light go out of my husband’s eyes; those two brilliant green orbs that had welcomed me to the breakfast table just a few moments before, now blinked at me dull and hooded. As we ate breakfast, my husband had made some forgettable joke about some HGTV show we always watched together. I was nursing a cold and had awoke with a terrible headache and my initial reaction to his joke was not to go along with the fun or respond in kind as I usually would, but to bite his head off. And when I say bite, I mean “CHOMP!” To be honest, my reaction caught me off guard as much as it did him. Damn that Nyquil is some scary stuff! When the heck did I turn into Godzilla? But my own disbelief aside, I knew what I had said. I owned it. I was an adult. I had to fix things, make it right.
“I’m sorry honey, that was pretty crazy.” I mumbled something about not feeling well and then with a question in my voice I said those four timeless words:
“Do You Forgive Me?”
At first he said jokingly, “No”…then seeing my crestfallen face, he broke out into a big smile, those green eyes twinkling and said, “What do you think?”
I said I honestly didn’t know. I mean I thought I did, but I needed to hear the word.
“Yes” he said and went back to his eggs and casual conversation. All be it, any and all discussion of HGTV was unspokenly off the table lest Godzilla rear her ugly head again.
Now after over thirty years of marriage I can attest to the fact that my husband and I pretty much read each other’s minds and finish each other’s sentences. It is quite funny sometimes and actually catches us off guard at other times.
“Oh my gosh, I was just going to tell you about that…you must have been reading my mind.” “I can’t believe we both were thinking the same thing about that person!” “I just read that article and was sending it to you!” Happens all the time with us. We are simpatico. Soul mates and instant best friends since our first date in 1984.
So, it might surprise you to know that despite our deep connection and my sorrow at spoiling our beautiful morning with my Godzilla impression, I didn’t put a lot of stock in his simple one-word response of “Yes!” I guess you could say I didn’t trust it.
Which is odd because my husband is truly one of the good guys. The most genuinely honest and decent person I have ever met. So there is absolutely no excuse for questioning his forgiveness. I mean this is a guy who makes his living working fourteen hour days as a contractor and yet at the end of the day, he still finds the energy to cook a wonderful gourmet meal for us and give a damn about my day. This is the guy that got up early on his day off to make me fluffy eggs and oranges with sugared rims and I just bit his freakin head off. I’m blessed, more than blessed.
But something in me just wasn’t buying that I had done enough to earn his forgiveness. So again I told him I was sorry for my words. His response was to say that it was o.k. and that he was going to clean up the breakfast dishes and go outside to do a little gardening. He truly seemed unaffected. But not me. No inside me, I was a bubbling caldron of guilt. OMG, he’s washing the dishes after what I said to him! Why aren’t we rehashing all I said so I can really apologize? Really earn his forgiveness.
My head was throbbing now. My tummy gurgling despite just having had breakfast. I felt like I was going to throw up. How the heck can he garden after what I said to him? Maybe he’s still mad at me and just needs to clear his head? Yeah, that must be it.
I told him to go on outside to the garden while I finished up the dishes and I would join him when I was done.
Working in our yard has always been one of those things my husband and I enjoy doing together. Immersing our hands in the soil, pruning and sculpting our trees and bushes, coaxing fruit and veggies from seeds, fussing and putzing till whatever troubles we have on our minds are long forgotten.
Did he have me on his mind? Was he angry at me? Did he really forgive me?
I found him in the garden shed getting his tools.
Me: “Um, did you mean it when you said you forgive me?”
My Husband: “Yes!” It was a casual, almost flippant response.
Me: “Well what kind of a “Yes” is that?”
My husband: “It’s a Yes kind of Yes!” A slightly irritated, but still pretty casual response.
Me: “Well are you sure?”
My Husband: “Yes!” His tone was definitely a little annoyed now.
Me: “Well, I think we should talk about it, because you still seem upset!” I don’t remember if he walked past me or ran past me, but he definitely walked away. He looked completely perplexed.
But that did matter, I wanted to talk about it and talk about it I did … ALL AFTERNOON!
I couldn’t seem to stop myself.
While I babbled on about how I didn’t mean this when I said that or how I was cranky because I wasn’t feeling well, my husband stood in our yard carefully and methodically pruning our lemon tree.
I didn’t catch a clue that he was over it. Moved on. That he knew I wasn’t feeling well and had given me a huge pass on my behavior the moment the words were out of my mouth that morning. That he couldn’t even remember what he had said about the goofs on HGTV, let alone anything I had said.
I wasn’t ready to accept the trust implicit in the words “I forgive” that he had given to me. I was too consumed with blaming myself, with not forgiving myself.
It was all so silly given the triviality of how the whole thing started. But I was determined to get to the bottom of this whole forgiveness deal. So I dug in and morphed into a self-appointed private investigator, invisible note pad at the ready, British accent, pipe in mouth, on a quest to dig and analyze and probe the sincerity of my husband’s forgiveness of my words.
In my head I heard a little voice that sounded an awful lot like Benedict Cumberbatch.
“Now sir, when you told your wife this morning that you forgave her, what was the context of that conversation? Did you say “I forgive you” with clarity of thought, no malace or conjecture, or did you say it with just a hint of snark?”
Huh? What the heck am I doing? Why is Benedict Cumberbatch vocalizing in my head?
I came back to reality long enough to look at my husband, still pruning the lemon tree, a look of peace and contentment on his face despite my Sherlockian attempts at interrogation. Ah gardening….
Suddenly another voice popped into my head…but it was my own. “Are you so caught up in the idea of forgiveness that you have forgotten what it actually means to forgive and the joy that comes from accepting the simplicity of the gift that it is?
I had a feeling I knew what the answer would be.
The word “forgiveness” is a noun, a label that categorizes all the steps, processes, things we do to rectify an offense. It’s a label in which we strategize, question, ponder, mull, what it’s going to take to fix our misdeeds. Sometimes when I talk about forgiveness, I convolute it’s meaning with all of the other things I want out of those two simple words, “I forgive.” Yes, it’s admirable I want people not to hurt anymore. But I tend to take it a step further and I want people to forget what I did, to immediately let go their anger, frustration at my actions and I want them to like me. I become “The Forgiver!” and boy am I demanding as hell of the humans I hurt. I need proof I’m forgiven. And I can’t provide that for my own misdeeds, so I go round and round in a circle complicating all that it means to forgive.
Because the word “forgive” is an action, a verb. It’s simple, uncomplicated, a little gem of a word, without caveat. It is to be taken at face value as simply, “I stop”. Now you can fill in the blank after I stop to anything you want. “I stop feeling resentful or angry or frustrated or sad or hurt!” It is one of those words where it means what it means and that is all there is to it. And I might add that what it means is up to the individual and their timetable, but it has a heck of a lot to do with trust.
Ah there’s the rub. My husbands ability to forgive and the parameters he places on it are his and not mine to control or manipulate or worry about. His simple response of “Yes” when I asked if he forgave me, was absolutely the best and most appropriate response for him.
His “Yes” meant “Yes” and it was my job to trust in it, not to question it’s sincerity.
To forgive is simply to stop and trust. Trust in love, trust in kindness, trust in faith and hope and all of the things that help us to heal when we wake up cranky and spout nonsense. To trust in the goodness in each other. To trust in the goodness in ourselves.
Life can really can be that simple sometimes, if we humans stop complicating it.
On a journey to live life more positively…come join me!
Please like and follow my weekly blog here and check me out on FB at PositivelyAnne or on Instagram at #positivelyanne for daily positive inspiration.
As you go about your daily life, you will encounter many lemons. Sour expressions, sour attitudes, sour auras! The good thing is that if you don’t want to be a lemon, you don’t have to be! Just don’t let those lemons rub themselves all over you! And you don’t even have to save them! Just let lemons be lemons! -C. Joybell C.
photo: Morning Accomplishments by PositivelyAnne
As the morning sun was just peaking over the hill behind our house, I sat in my favorite chair, enjoying my first cup of coffee, when through the window I spotted a pair of doves who had begun the process of building a nest in our lemon tree.
The nest was being built in the apex of two branches towards the back of the tree. These branches were covered with dark green leaves and laden with bright yellow citrus fruit. One of the doves appeared to be in charge of gathering the twigs to make the nest and I watched it as it scoured the ground underneath a nearby pepper tree, where it would bring back to the waiting dove a single twig of the exact same size as all the others lining the nest. The other dove would take that twig and maneuver it in place using their beak, head and breast. One layer of twigs laid vertically and then another layer laid horizontally on top of that layer and then all layers compressed to form a sphere.
I got up from my chair, face pressed against the window, and I marveled at the architectural, construction and engineering skills of these two birds. I’m supposedly smarter than doves and yet, I can’t cut a piece of lumber without measuring and remeasuring and here each twig this bird gathered was somehow proportionate to the previous twig. How could that be? And that spherical shape…what’s up with that? I certainly couldn’t build anything spherical without…well, I can’t build anything spherical period!!!
What really caused me to pause was the fact that the doves were building this amazing creation completely surrounded by dozens and dozens of really large lemons. Some of the lemons appeared to be heavier, and larger, than their tiny bodies, and many of the lemons were hanging directly, ominously, over their handiwork. All it would take is quick snap of a stem, a wayward fruit dropping and all that these two industrious creatures had worked so hard to create would be destroyed. Yet, the doves seemed completely unphased by the lemons and just diligently went about the work they had set out to do.
Maybe the birds weren’t too smart after all. I mean I wouldn’t build my house with a potential disaster looming overhead like that.
A thought crossed my mind:
“Not all lemons make lemonade.”
photo: Lemon Reflections by PositivelyAnne
Practicing positivity requires a certain level of “intentional awareness” of life’s lemons: the people, the places and the things, that bring one down and impact a person in a negative way. A few years back, I made a list of the lemons in my life and it was a bit humbling to discover that even positive folks like me can get caught up in some pretty sour situations, with some pretty sour people.
But being “aware” of life’s lemons is a totally different proposition then feeling compelled to try and make lemonade out of ALL OF THEM!
Is that even possible to do? To make lemonade out of all of the people, places and things that bring us down. Or were the doves onto something? Is it possible to be your positive self, do your thing, surrounded, just as these doves are, by life’s lemons?
When I was a little girl, I remember being very sensitive to anyone in my life, be it family, friend or stranger, who had a sour disposition or approached life in a negative way. Although I didn’t have much life experience, I had a keen awareness that there were some people in the world, who preferred to stay sour lemons. The folks who had no interest in making lemonade and made it their mission to make life difficult for others. I didn’t understand that. I wasn’t wired that way.
Now this did not include the folks I knew with horrible childhoods or who were poor, suffering from depression, mental illness or addiction issues. As complex as those issues were for a little girl to process, I somehow understood that there was a difference between being a victim of your circumstances and “consciously choosing” to be a lemon in life by permanently wallowing in anger, nastiness and hate.
As I got older, my concern for doing something about these individuals who checked off “lemon” as a lifestyle turned into a compulsion to where I felt I had to turn these lemons into lemonade any time I encountered one!
And that meant lots of sleep lost and lots of disappointment for me.
Life, in case you aren’t as attune to it as me, is sure full of a lot of lemons!
Families! Friends! Communities! Workplaces! Schools! Churches! Grocery Stores! Banks! Airplanes! The list is endless…
LEMONS! LEMONS! LEMONS!
Literally, I’m drowning in lemons…a heavy, depressive pile of lemons! What happened to positivity in this world? What happened to light and hope and peace?
Social Media is the worst of it. The divide and conquer mentality, the focus on all things that tear us apart, all the things that don’t matter in the end. I’m a cancer survivor so I know how futile it is to spend one precious moment of life focused on negativity. It’s a big reason I started a positivity blog. A happy place in cyber-space.
“Why does the world have to be so focused on the lemons, when it could be focused on making the lemonade?”
I remember one night recently, I unloaded on my husband (I owe him one!) my concern that the world was being taken over by negativity, a bunch of lemons with no interest in making lemonade. He said something along the lines of “Maybe, but they are not stopping you from doing what you do best. Be your positive self, which everyone appreciates and it’s natural for you. No matter what you do, there will always be some negative folks,” aka, some LEMONS!
I won’t tell you how I reacted. It wasn’t pretty. My poor hubby. Gosh I do love him so for putting up with me. I think I argued something to the effect that it was a cop out for me to just give those negative folks a pass without even trying to make lemonade.
But in the end, not looking forward to another sleepless night, I had to agree my hubby was right. My way wasn’t working. I was worn to a nub worrying about all of the lemons I couldn’t fix, when I was doing so much good with those who were open to positivity.
And truth be told, not a one of the stubborn lemons I had come across, either in my past nor in my present, was permanently stopping me from doing anything I wanted to do, least of all creating a successful positivity blog, talking about positivity, BEING POSITIVE!
It was me that was stopping me! Me that was so focused on bringing all of the lemons over to my side that I lost sight of the fact that I didn’t have to do that.
“Not all lemons make lemonade.”
I finished my morning coffee and looked out at the lone dove, work complete, sitting quietly on her nest, trusting life in the face of all of those lemons above and below and all around it. In fact, the more I looked at the bird nest, I began to notice the beauty in the lemons surrounding it. Their brightness of color, their different shapes and weights. Their importance in providing a cover and safety for the doves and at the same time a reminder of their vulnerability.
Maybe the doves are a little smarter than me after all. We all encounter lemons in life. Some will make lemonade sweeter than we’ve ever known, but many, and in some cases most, will only serve to remind us that we need to stay focused on our goals, on what makes us happy and positive.
photo: Lemon After Storm by PositivelyAnne
Sometimes, we just have to let the lemons be and build our nest the best way we know how. One positive step at a time.
You, Me, Us. Together.
Please click Like and Follow if you would like to read more from PositivelyAnne.com.
Here is a universal law: that when it comes to negative and positive, you will always thrive more powerfully in the positive if you have first been immersed in, and have heroically overcome, the polar opposite negative of that thing.
-C. Joybell C.
photo: Carlsbad Twilight by PositivelyAnne
Has it crossed your mind lately that no matter what you do to be positive about life, it seems the soldiers of negativity stand ready for battle, day and night?
I used to feel that way. Night after night tumbling into bed, my positive- self weary from the constant battle with the “negativity” demons that seemed to lurk in every crevice of my life. I lost count of how many sleepless nights I spent tossing and turning as the plotting and planning in my brain took on a life of its own trying to find the perfect strategy for defeating my enemy, “negativity!”
Then one day, while I was performing the very mundane task of changing the batteries in a flashlight, I discovered that instead of going to war with negativity day and night, I had to do something a little different. My positive self-had to develop
A PARTNERSHIP WITH NEGATIVITY!
It all started with a flashlight. In my house flashlights are everywhere. My husband is a flashlight aficionado and we have flashlights in every room in the house. (Yes, all three of our kids got flashlights for Christmas last year, thank you very much!).
Of course, living in sunny Southern California there is not much use for flashlights except for finding the bathroom in the dark when camping, or the occasional item that rolls under the stove. I went to grab a flashlight for the latter and of course, because we don’t use flashlights very often, the batteries were dead. I found some new batteries and went about the process of changing them. Now I knew which way to do it by matching the plus and minus markings on the batteries to the plus and minus markings on the flashlight. Of course, as life goes, the markings were barely visible on this particular flashlight and because I didn’t have my glasses on, it took me a couple tries and a few choice curse words to get them in the right way so that the flashlight worked.
I found myself more than a little irritated. “Why in the 21st century am I doing battle with the batteries in my dumb flashlight?” Of course, deep down I knew why. That positive and negative had to go to together in just the right way to make it work.
photo: Winter Hope by PositivelyAnne
But that didn’t matter. My irritation was clouding my brain and as trivial as this sounds, I put down the flashlight, picked up my phone and took my irritation out on a search engine:
Am I the only one in the world who thinks it’s dumb that I can’t just shove the batteries in my flashlight any which way and get it to work?
Now I figured when I pushed the send button I would be taken to the blog-o-sphere and rejoice in a myriad of snarky bloggers intent on fueling my negative thoughts about batteries. Instead, much to my surprise, what popped up first on my phone screen was from a site called quickstudylabs.com:
Electrons have a negative charge and are repelled by the negative terminal.
(“Yeah, Yeah, Yeah…so what?”, I thought.)
Electrons are attracted towards the positive terminal because negative electrons are…
ATTRACTED BY THE POSITIVE!
What?!!!! I re-read the words, once, twice, three times. Surely this was a joke. I ran to get my glasses to make sure I was reading it correctly.
Electrons are negative and repelled by negativity. Electrons are attracted towards the positive terminal because negative electrons are attracted to the positive!
Holy Moly!!!! Suddenly I understood the reason why my positivity journey was being derailed over and over again.
I was going about this whole positivity thing the wrong way. I was spending way too much time fighting negativity with anger, frustration, and irritation when I should have been using the power of my own positivity to acknowledge negativity exists, to embrace it, connect with it and let it absorb all of my positive energy. Just like a flashlight battery.
Negativity is attracted to Positivity! Positivity embraces it, absorbs it and uses it to affect change. In you, in me, in the world!
That’s what negativity wants…to embrace the positive…and when we let it do that, our positivity takes over and suddenly our flashlight works.
So how is it going in my life since the great flashlight revelation? Well, I am human, and imperfect, and there are still plenty of times I just want to just stuff the damn batteries into my life’s flashlight and be done with it.
But I am learning that when I stop doing battle with the negative aspects in my life and instead pause, take notes and learn from what they are trying to tell me, my positivity just takes over. The flashlight of my life is revealing blessing after blessing. It’s those things I’m focused on now. I’m learning to “partner with negativity” and keep it in my “positivity toolkit” as a reminder of all positivity wants me to be, can be and who I am!
Maybe it will work for you to. Oh, in case you are wondering, flashlights reveal a whole other world under our stoves- HA HA!!!…but alas, that’s a story I will leave to tell another day.
On this journey together, one positive (and negative) step at a time!
PositivelyAnne (positivelyanne.com and instagram #positivelyanne)
Thank you for reading and I hope you will not only Like, but Follow my blog. I look forward to our positive journey together!
I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.-Abraham Maslow, Toward a Psychology of Being
I take great pride in being a problem solver. A helper.
I enjoy the puzzle like quality of problem solving and the sort of “high” that comes from seeing a problem resolved and the happiness it brings not only to myself, but to others. Over the years, besides working through my own personal problem arsenal, I have solved literally hundreds of problems for individuals, groups, companies and organizations I have been associated with. My track record of success is pretty darn good and so it’s not a stretch to say that I am one of those “go to” people when the junk hits the fan.
But as I entered my 50’s, I noticed that some of the shine was starting to wear off the challenge of tackling problems day in and day out. At first, it was nothing more than a little irritation or a few bouts of indigestion.
Take a few Tums and move on.
But after my cancer diagnosis and especially during my treatment, I found that tackling any problems, outside my own set of health issues, set off a vicious cycle of anxiousness in me that left me feeling so tired I could barely function some days. The joy of problem solving was gone!
I talked to my physician. “Fatigue is a common side effect of cancer treatment and that can lead to a level of depression that can compound that fatigue.” In other words what I was feeling was totally normal and expected.
But I wasn’t buying that explanation. Something else was going on with me. Yes, I did understand that cancer fatigue was real and I was experiencing it, but I was also feeling more blessed and positive about a lot of things in life since my diagnosis. The little things. In fact, I was feeling so blessed that the idea for starting this positivity blog bloomed and I began to take pictures and write, engaging my inner muse in a way I had only dreamed about pre-cancer. The only thing that seemed to rob me of energy was solving problems…something I used to love.
So, what the heck was happening to me?
Recently a friend, (who is also a terrific problem solver) and I were discussing the fact that a program at our church was not going to happen this year because a critical volunteer had dropped out and a replacement wasn’t readily available on the horizon.
“You and me, we are “The Fixers”, she said, “And, I guess we can’t always “fix things”, can we? “
I remember I stood there rather stunned that she had recognized this “Super Hero” label in herself and more importantly, in me.
You see the dictionary definition of Problem Solving says this:
A thinker who focuses on the problem as stated and tries to find a solution.Merriam-Websters Dictionary
Notice it says ABSOLUTELY NOTHING…NADA…ZIP…ZERO about implementing the solution to the problem.
That’s where I got off track. Somehow, I moved from being a joyous problem solver to embracing being “The Fixer”, the implementer, if you will, of the solution, all day, all the time.
And there-in lies the reason WHY I WAS SO TIRED!!!
Why had I let my life as a successful “problem solver” morph into that of a tired, overworked, “problem fixer?”
A negative in my “positivity tool kit”.
Upon reflection, I think it was a combination of a lot of things: I’m good at team building to solve problems and people know it, so I get asked all the time to help in some pretty dire situations; I’m willing to take on tough problems and stick with it until a solution can be found; and I’m not afraid to do battle with people (who are unreasonable, egotistical, lacking empathy and tact) to achieve a solution.
All of this can be quite stressful, especially if it’s a daily thing.
But I think the biggest reason problem solving has become such a tiresome chore for me, is that I lost sight of the fact that just because I can provide a reasonable solution to a problem, doesn’t mean that I AM the right person to implement it.
I do not have to be “The Fixer!”
You might be thinking, why not just say “no?”
That’s a valid point! I agree, many times I should have said no. But it’s also true that we live in a culture today that values one stop shopping, in business and in pleasure. How quickly we can get from point A to point Z has morphed problem solving and problem resolution into a single mouse click.
Maybe I got caught up in that mindset.
But let’s face it, sometimes a single click isn’t that satisfying. Sometimes our skill set is better suited to only certain aspects of problem resolution.
In layman terms that translates to:
I know I am not. When I think about problem solving, what excites me about it is that I love being the catalog; the wealth of ideas and possibilities that others can peruse, take bits and pieces from and make it their own.
That brings me happiness. It brings others happiness too and that’s important for me not to forget, but to make clear to those I agree to help.
Sure, I can implement solutions, but I’m happiest when I’m number two or even in the shadows. When I’m the person behind the scenes engaging others to take a solution and implement it into action.
That doesn’t mean that I won’t step up in life. Stepping up is as much a part of me, as problem solving, especially with something I’m passionate about.
But I know I need to be more comfortable putting out the “stop sign” without fear and taking back control of my own narrative when my plate is full. Fighting cancer seems just as good a time as any. But really it doesn’t have to be that dramatic. When it stops being fun, it’s time to stop!
Just as not every problem is mine to solve;
Every solution is not mine to implement!
Sometimes we all need to put “The Fixer” on ice for a while, including me!
Maybe you are feeling the same way? I encourage you to take the time to think about whether your current approach to “problem solving” has evolved into something that is leading you down a road to negativity and unhappiness. And I can assure you, that if you choose to put “The Fixer” on ice for a while, you can trust that it’s going to be o.k.
The wonderful thing about ice is that it melts; so, when it’s time to jump back in and become “The Fixer” again, opportunities will be there.
They always are for talented people like you and me.
If you like my site, please click like and subscribe to positivelyanne.com so that it moves up the blog food chain and others can find me. I figure the more positive souls out there the better, right?!!! Also, feel free to share your thoughts on problem solving and how it’s impacted your life.
A man does not know what he knows
until he knows what he doesn’t know.
-Laurence J. Peter
Prior to what I now call my own “Period of Enlightenment”, I’m ashamed to say that once I hit my twenties, my approach to cultivating wisdom, involved nothing more than the curation of “wise” people and “wise” experiences with a sort of impersonal detachment one might feel when walking through a museum filled with marble statues. I was a “master collector” of all things wise and yet, I felt nothing more than fleeting emotions to what I was collecting. My passion was sincere in the moment, but I lacked the commitment to truly understand what I was doing.
Simply put, it didn’t register with me that for wisdom to become an effective tool in my “positivity tool kit” I had to stop seeing it as an inanimate object placed atop a pedestal, where my only interaction would be to periodically admire and pet it. Instead I needed to “cultivate wisdom” as a living, breathing garden. One that would need my constant attention, daily tending, and yes, weeding!
I am not sure why I chose in my adulthood to become a “collector” vs. “cultivator” of wisdom. Maybe it was laziness, maybe it was wanting to prove myself to my family, friends, work colleagues, strangers. Maybe it was fear of what I would discover about myself. All, l I know is I have been collecting an ark full of wisdom with absolutely no clue what to do with it!
As a young child I think I was much better knowing what to do with the wisdom that was before me.
One example worth sharing is I had a best friend who lived next door to me and she had an older brother. Her older brother was very creative and artistic and he would constantly change the décor in his bedroom. I am not talking new sheets or a paint color, but a complete transformation something akin to what you would find on a movie set. There was man’s first walk on the moon, Pink Floyd’s infamous Off the Wall album cover, the undersea world of Jacque Cousteau. All of it crafted and created by my friends’ brother. It was incredible, magical and this boy, a kid really, was creating all of this before he passed algebra. I asked him once why he was always redecorating his room and he said, “It makes me happy!”
It made me happy too! His creativity was free, joyful, knowing no bounds.
More on that in a minute…
As I said, somewhere in my adult years, I tossed aside this idea of nurturing and tending and weeding my wisdom garden and I began “collecting” wisdom, in all its’ forms, for the sake of collecting.
And at first, it was fun and exciting this business of “collecting” wisdom. I was very successful at surrounding myself with some pretty great people and partaking in some amazing activities and adventures. But after a while, the sheer volume of “wise” people and “wise” activities in my life became overwhelming, claustrophobic and scripted. I didn’t know what to do with all of the wisdom in my collection. Most of it, I would place on a pedestal, an object left forgotten to gather dust.
And after a while, I wanted to forget all of it because it was just too stressful.
I felt the imagined eyes of all of my “wise” friends on me day and night and the pressure building inside me that I had to do something really great with all of this wisdom I had been collecting over the years or somehow, I would be viewed as a failure.
It made me literally sick, joyless, depressed.
When someone would express they thought I was wise, I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone in my wisdom collection was laughing. I’m serious!
I imagined a great museum hall, with thousands upon thousands of marble sculptures all staring down at me from great pedestals. Their faces devoid of emotion.
“She has no clue what she’s supposed to do with us, so she just keeps collecting more and more of us!”
How could it be that I had reached my fifties and so carefully made sure my world was top heavy with experienced, knowledgeable folks of good character and judgement and yet, be so clueless about what to do with it all?
The answer came to me last year when I was perusing Facebook. I was thinking of launching a decorating site and it crossed my mind to look up my old friend and her very creative brother. We had moved away in the early 1970’s and although we’d pledged, we’d always stay in touch, we didn’t, and well, I had no idea what paths their lives had taken.
It took me some time and I finally found both of them. Their faces smiling out from the pages of Facebook, both older. My friends’ brothers face lined with age and experience and holding what might have been a grandchild. Both of their profiles required that I send them a “friend request” in order to see more.
My fingers hovered over the keyboard, ready to press the request key. I remember thinking about my friends’ brother, “I wonder if he went on to do something with all of that creativity?”
And then it hit me. He had. He had changed me!
I had cultivated the wisdom I had garnered from him as a child and put it to daily use in my life.
Without even trying, this creative boy next door, had become my lifetime guide, mentor and window into true creativity.
He is primarily the reason why I have been so comfortable redecorating first, the bedrooms of my youth, then apartments and houses I have lived in and taken on the responsibilities of designing dormitory living and eating environments at a major university, reimagining the youth rooms and preschool indoor and outdoor spaces at my church.
No, I am not a designer, architect, artist or any of those things. I create simply because it makes me happy and I have the wisdom of a neighborhood boy to thank for that.
So now my challenge is to dismantle the remainder of my “collection” of wisdom and begin the process of “cultivating” it purposefully in my own garden.
Maybe I will discover many more positive stories of wisdom seed planting in my life than I realize.
Maybe the pedestals I imagine are not as plentiful in my life and my wisdom garden is full of beautiful blooming flowers, breathtaking buildings and simple, joyous people. I’d like to think that’s the case, but I’m imagining, much like cleaning out my closets, I won’t remember why I collected a lot of the wisdom that is there.
I guess that’s the way life and wisdom intertwine. Maybe it just takes some years to figure it out. To wipe away the film that keeps us from remembering the innocence of childhood, when it was as simple as a boys bedroom and before it became so very complicated.
But it is my hope that as I move from a “collector” to a “cultivator of wisdom” that I am more mindful to plant it, tend it and weed it, so that it grows into something that I use, day in and day out, until there is nothing left.
May you find much success in the journey to “cultivate wisdom” in your own lives and know I will be here, garden tools at the ready, to support you.
If you like my site, please click like so that it moves up the blog foodchain and others can find me. I figure the more positive souls out there the better, right?!!! Also, feel free to share briefly your thoughts on wisdom and how it’s impacted your life.
All photos and images are my own, except where noted.
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. -Aesop
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, like so many of you ( or those you love), cancer figures prominently in my life story. Specifically breast cancer, but there were also a host of other medical issues that came about as a direct result of my cancer treatment (I will share some of that in later posts). To sum it up, I became intimately acquainted with hospitals and medical professionals pretty quickly after finding that first lump and the next fifteen-month journey literally flipped my world on its head. Now heading into my 2nd year post drama, looking back on that time, I consider it a gift. For it was during those long months of struggle that I came to understand how important it is to live my life as positively as I can and to do that, I had to not only follow my doctors’ instructions for self-care, but I had to equip myself with a “Positivity Toolkit” to help me navigate my new world post cancer.
One of the first tools I added to my “Positivity Toolkit” was to practice intentional kindness.
Prior to cancer, I would say it’s a pretty fair assessment that I felt pretty adept at being kind. Kind with my family, kind with my friends, kind at work, kind at church, kind, kind, kind! Yep, kindness was a natural part of my personality and I just never questioned it as being anything I needed to work on; let alone understand that the brand of kindness I was practicing wasn’t always leaving me feeling warm and fuzzy.
In fact, looking back on my life pre-cancer, my brand of kindness actually caused me a whole lot of personal daily stress…maybe even downright misery.
Didn’t my husband know I was just being “kind” when I said that?
My employee didn’t appreciate the raise I gave them…why do I bother being kind?
I do laundry all day and all I get for my kindness is more clothes on the floor?
Yep, I was kind alright. But the kind of “kind” I was practicing had a price to pay.
I was fully expecting others to be kind back.
Well, isn’t that the way life is supposed to go? I’m kind to you, you’re kind to me? Seems logical right? And for over fifty years I lived my life with those expectations. Then during one of my hospital stays, I saw kindness modeled in an entirely different way (intentional kindness)by a graveyard shift nurse, and I began to understand the importance of making a change in my practiced brand of kindness. Let me explain.
Hospitals are scary places, period! I spent enough time in them over the past couple of years to feel pretty comfortable saying that no one goes to the hospital (except for hospital employees and volunteers) with the intent of doing anything other than getting the hell out of there as quickly as possible! My observation is that in our vulnerability, as patients who have no choice but to lie prostrate, in a hospital bed, beholden to the wims of our disease and our bodies response to the remedy, many patients feel it’s also their inalienable right to morph into Satan and unleash every obnoxious, miserable and all around crabby thing that could ever be said to anybody on the nursing staff.
Well nurses are trained caregivers, right? It’s their job to take care of us in all of our crab- fueled glory. It’s what they are paid to do!!! That being said, it was shocking to me how many people in the waiting areas, in the ER, in the bed next to mine, in the hospital rooms lining floor after floor after floor, would treat the nurses as if they were the person responsible for them being in the hospital in the first place.
“Get me my water!” “I don’t want to do what you are telling me!” “You fix me right now or I’ll do something to you!” “Who made this pudding sh**, you?” “Our family hates you!!!”
I heard all of these things and much more coming from my fellow patients and even some of their family members. Now you might be thinking , well people are hurting, a bit of nastiness is to be expected. Maybe. But what I saw and heard was this systemic spewing of “negativity” that knew no bounds. Nothing was off limits for people to say to their fellow human being, let alone their caregiver. It made me feel sad and ashamed.
“Had I ever said anything that nasty to someone trying to be kind to me?”
One particularly late night, I was attempting to sleep after back to back emergency surgeries and I could hear this man verbally tearing into a nurse down the hall.
“You get your damn behind out of my room, you witch.” “I do not want you near me!” In response I heard a very calm voice say, “Oh I’m so sorry you are hurting there sweetie..I know it’s hard. Get some rest and I’ll check on you in a bit.” Then I heard something crash…maybe a chair…I don’t know. But it was scary. I hunkered down in my bed and pulling the covers over my head a million things ran through my mind, but the biggest was: Why would anyone in their right mind become a nurse? She was just trying to be kind. She was just doing her freakin job!
Just then the door to my hospital room opened and this nurse walked in, her face lined with the years and I had no doubt it was the same nurse who the man was yelling at. I peered skeptically out at her from the safety of the covers over my head.
“Hey there sweetie”, she said very softly. ” I’m sorry. I’m sorry he’s so loud. He’s upset and hurting and well, I’m sorry. How are you doing my dear?”
“Huh, sorry?” “YOU ARE SORRY, WHY? (I think I was actually yelling at her) That guy treated you so poorly, you were just being kind to him and he treated you like crap…you deserve better!”
Taking my hand, in her careworn one, the nurse sat on the edge of my bed and said something that would change my life. She said, “Yes, I do deserve better. But I learned a long time ago that kindness is not what you get, it’s what you give.”
And there, there in that hospital room, with a crazy guy screaming down the hall, was my introduction to practicing intentional kindness. Plop…right there in my lap!
To practice intentional kindness is to give kindness freely and openly, without attaching conditions or expectations that it will be returned. Powerful stuff!!!
Wow, it’s hard to do. It really is. I stumble often. But the more I practice intentional kindness, I find that kindness is not something I need others to see in me, but something that is living and breathing in my own mirror. I no longer wear a “kindness” façade with expectations and objectives that no one can live up to. I am kind because it pleases me!
So this week, I encourage you to take a look at your own kindness meter and practice intentional kindness with me.
Together we can do this, one positive step at a time! PositivelyAnne
If you like my site, please click like so that it moves up the blog foodchain and others can find me. I figure the more positive souls out there the better, right?!!! Also, feel free to share briefly your thoughts on kindness and how it’s impacted your life.
All photos and images are my own, except where noted.