Happy New Year....every day
People are getting ready to go to parties tonight to ring in the New Year. Parades, way too much food, way too much drink, and bowl games are apparently the way to get our year started off in the right way. What?? Well, never mind all that. However you ring in the New Year, I hope you do it with vim and vigor. Did you know that "vim" comes from a Latin word for "strength"? Better yet, do you care? I do, only because I love the meaning of words, and I love, love, love anything to do with grammar. (I think I just heard Dave say "You just love correcting people's grammar", which may be true but a bit harsh for this kinder, gentler day of New Years' Eve.)
Since you will likely be busy today and tomorrow, I'll keep this post brief, but I wanted to point something out. I love all the well-wishes on Facebook --- people posting pictures of 2017 being washed away and 2018 spring forth in new and bright glory. One friend sent me a picture of a clock of 2017. Each "hour" of 2017 is a word such as: stress, disappointment, chaos, failures, and darkness (yes, there are seven more of them, but trust me, they are all pretty grim). When you touch the clock, the hand of 2017 time starts sweeping away all those words and then, at the end, fireworks go off and 2018 begins anew. I love it. I really do.
I just have a question: why do we wait until the end of the year to say, "If this year stunk, I sure hope next year will be better?" In fact, why do we wait until this day to wish everyone a Happy New Year? (Okay, what smart-alec just said, "because it is the only time it is a new year") My point is: why do we not wish each other a Happy New Day every single day? Why do we not say, at the end of each day, "I am going to wipe away all the frustration and despair from today and start anew tomorrow"? I am blessed to be in a pretty cool 12-step group that teaches us to do this on a daily basis.
I am not speaking for everyone in a 12-step program, but here's what it looks like for me:
I start my day by getting down on my knees (literally----just ask Kirby, who often comes over to the side of the bed to lick my nose) to ask God to direct my thinking for the day, a day that is new and fresh every day ---not just at the end of the year and the beginning of a new year.
I then try to remember the principles I have been taught about cleaning my own house (not literally---Lord knows Dave would laugh his butt off thinking I would do a good job with this on a daily basis), trust God, and help others along the way.
On a side note, we took a bunch of stuff to a donation drop-off center yesterday and they were SWAMPED! I asked the girl that was working if she and her co-workers wished we could all do a better job of cleaning out our closets throughout the year instead of waiting until year's end. She was exhausted and could only nod. But we save it all up for some reasons (tax purposes, perhaps?) for the end of the year when we should likely be "cleaning house" and taking care of others throughout the year.
During the day, when I am agitated, fearful, caught up in worry or whatever, I pause and sometimes even say, "I am going to start my day over." I pray to my Higher Power (who, for me, is God, but whatever works for you...) to help me begin again with a grateful heart. And if I really get in a bind, I talk to another someone who might be able to help me screw my head back on correctly.
At the end of the day, I take a moment to give thanks for the day and ask forgiveness for the places in which I have strayed or messed up.
Every day is a new day. I am eternally grateful for that. I am also eternally grateful for all the friends and family with whom I get to share the journey of life.
Why wait for the end of the year to celebrate making it through another year? Why wait for the beginning of the year to begin a resolution? Why not, instead, start each day with a clean heart and clean mind and live life the way God intended----cleaning house, trusting God and helping the guy behind you? And then, at the end of the day, when you might not have reached your "mark", don't beat yourself up. Instead, say, "Tomorrow's another day, and I have another really good shot at it."
Happy Communicating, today and every day!!
Fake it 'til You Make It
The title of my blog is a phrase we often hear---some despise it; some say it epitomizes what we have to do sometimes to get through certain experiences. I’ve been thinking a good deal about this issue lately, giving some friendly advice to new and dear “little sisters” and taking the same advice from my main spiritual advisor. You might recall (look at that---how I assume you have read some of my blogs before----isn’t that cute and assuming of me?) I blogged fairly recently about the word “fine”. We get asked how we are doing, and our initial response is to say “fine”, even if we aren’t. The reasons are good intentioned, I believe, as the alternative is to say, “I’m not fine. Do you have a couple of hours for me to vent and to get advice from you?” to which the person, particularly a stranger, would be apt to think we are daft (and look at that---I’m working on throwing in some English references, as well) and run, or at least walk away at a brisk pace.
Communicating with one another does not come easily. Did I just hear you say “Duh!”? I know, right? Well, if we truly know this, then how is it that we seem to be surprised when things don’t go off as planned? This topic could obviously be one that lasts for the next year, but I am going to mention a couple of circumstances where “fake it ‘til you make it” might come in handy.
MARRIAGE AND OTHER INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS
Dave says he has a few questions for God when he sees Him. The first is: For what reason did You make men and women so different? I’ll tell you about his second and third question some other time, as they consist of wholly different topics. Assuming that God gives Dave a chance a face-to-face audience without laughing outloud (the God of my understanding knows a good chuckle opportunity when He sees one), I happen to believe the answer might consist of something along the lines of: Men and women complement each other and our patterns of communication are not with us when we come out of the womb, but we have to be willing to work for them and work with them if we think the relationship is worth it. (Notice how I bolded words I believe God would say, as if He might be offended if I try to put words in His mouth but less likely to be offended if I give him props with the bold wording.)
So, how and why would we “fake it ‘til we make it”? Dave always, jokingly (I think), gives the following advice to the groom at every wedding we attend: “Just remember these words: You’re right. I’m wrong. I’m sorry.”
Now, you might be saying to yourself, “That all sounds fine and dandy” (it shouldn’t; it’s a joke), but what if we had a mantra we really did say to one another, along the lines of “Our marriage/partnership is more important than this argument”, and then held out your hand to the other person. Sound fake? Yep, it might be to begin with, but once we begin saying such words, even begrudgingly, they can actually become a better way to communicate. You have to admit those words sure beat:
Partner 1: You took the last Butterfinger out of the refrigerator!
Partner 2: It’s been in there for two days!
P1: I was saving it for Saturday! (whatever---just go with my scenario)
P2: You didn’t tell me!
And on and on it goes, sometimes ad nauseam
But what if…..just what if…the scenario were to change to:
Partner 1: Do you know what happened to the Butterfinger in the ‘frig?
Partner 2: Sorry, babe, I just ate that. I should have asked you first.
Partner 1 OR 2: No worries, our marriage is so much more important than that Butterfinger.
Does it sound contrived? Does it sound fake? Of course it does! And it is going to, until it becomes part of our mantra. Pretty soon, we’ll be joking about it (and, likely, a bag of Butterfingers will be bought for Partner 1 in the near future), and our communication will not deteriorate faster than recent political discussions on Facebook. I, for one, do not ever plan on “unfriending” Dave. We just celebrated 25 years of marriage, and we both agreed to re-up for another 25 years.
SCHOOL LEADERS AND TEACHERS
One of the so-many blessings of my work is that I am honored with the opportunity to work with teachers, school leaders, districts, territories, and even countries around the world on the topic of communication. The question: “How can we help students learn best?” is at the root of all our topics. I learned to keep students at the center of every single decision we make in schools a long, long time ago from a very wise man in Florida, who now wisely spends his days fishing and playing with his grandkids.
When working with teachers, I often get asked, “How do you create a culture of manners and respect in a classroom filled with students who don’t come from backgrounds that honor manners and respect?” Great question----one that deserves not to be placated by “You just do it”. Sometimes we simply have to fake it ‘til we make it, and here's how you might do just that.
When I am on the plane, and the person is kicking me in the back of my seat, trust me when I tell you I want to turn around and say “Knock it off!” But I have learned (strike that) am learning to turn around and say, “I am sure you don’t realize it, but I am feeling every beat of the kicks on my seat. Do you mind….” By the time I get this far, I always, always, always get the “I’m so sorry! I didn’t realize I was kicking you!”
Have a blessed Christmas (and every other holiday you celebrate) season, and enjoy your family! And just remember, if they start to bug you, employ the “fake it ‘til you make it” ---- let me know how it turns out.
Happy Communicating and Blessings to you all!
Presents and Presence
Catching up with my 5th grade teacher, Claudia Edgerton, has been such a joy…and no small feat, by the way. As a young girl living with a single mom, we moved around so very much. So very much. We moved when the rent in a particular apartment complex got too high. We moved to try to find a safer neighborhood. So, to reconnect with “Mrs. Edgerton” has been such a blessing and true gift. She made me feel like a true learner when I was in her class, and she is still honoring me by praising my writing and accomplishments.
I was an avid reader, anyway, but you couldn’t stay a non-reader in Mrs. Edgerton’s class. She read “Where the Red Fern Grows”, Judy Blume books, Beverly Cleary books, and so many others to us. It may not be the most popular gift, but books are what I send to my grand-niece for every birthday, Christmas, or other occasions.
I was asking someone if they remember the Beverly Cleary book about Ramona’s first day of school. Her teacher told her to sit in a particular seat for the present time. All Ramona heard was “sit here for the present”. She was devastated at the end of the day when she had to leave the classroom empty-handed. The story is so great for so many reasons (can’t you just feel her disappointment and bewilderment?), and I am going to focus on two.
2. Presence is so much more important than presents- My spiritual advisor and I meet on a fairly regular basis (which, translated, means in between my crazy travel. God bless her for being patient with me). She and I met yesterday at our favorite Smoothie spot, and she brought me a box filled with amazing gifts for my 52nd birthday. Some were spiritual, some were anti-aging, some were just adorable. Lisa is the consummate gift-giver. She always seems to find quirky, fun items that make the receiver (me, in this case) know she is truly listening to and watching me. We sat and talked about life (and all the ways I need her in my life) for 2 hours. As I was driving home, I thought about this concept: Someone’s presence in your life can be the greatest present you ever receive. I have found this to be true for me, particularly as I grow older. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love gifts---Dave gave me a James Avery Hope, Faith and Love ring for our anniversary; Kelly Raaum gave me a James Avery “cross in a butterfly” necklace when she came to take care of me after my reconstruction surgery; Robin gave rings to Kelly and me that symbolize our lifetime friendship; Rita gave me “survivor” gifts, as did so many people from Edge Elementary School (where I was principal for seven years up until five years ago). These and so many more I am forgetting to mention at the moment (because that is what some of this post-breast cancer medication does to me----or maybe it’s age) tangible gifts are precious to me. But time with loved ones….those are the gifts of “presence” that one can never get back, except through looking through Facebook memories! 😊 I am in firm belief that telling people how you feel about them and making time to see, hug, and laugh with them is the greatest present of all.
I wonder if Ramona Quimby ever figured that out.
Happy Communicating and Blessings to you all!