Archive | January 2011

The (Wo)Man In The Mirror

Recently I reread a piece by a poet I follow called “Open Book.”  I remembered at the rereading the awe I felt on my first pass.  I admired the degree of honesty he displayed in giving the readers a look at himself.  He even invited questions from the reader if they so desired.  It was mentioned that this view of him of a man is not frequently given.  On second pass, I began to question “would I ever have the guts to expose myself in such a way? Do people really care? Wouldn’t they rather find out on their own?”

Despite the doubts I took the plunge and engaged in the exercise giving my friends and relatives on Facebook a little glimpse of the me I know me to be. Now I do say “little” glimpse because I was fully aware that I was not exposing…well…everything.  What I was attempting to do, however, was to give people a glimpse into what makes me who I am.

To say that the exercise felt a little scary was an understatement.  Often I am the one to whom others come to tell  all of  “their business.”  Most often that has not involved me sharing a lot of myself in return.  I kind of  had the mindset of  “I didn’t ask them to tell me.  If they want to tell me their business that’s on them.”  But things have been changing lately.  For at least the past year I have been opening myself up more. It started with my closest friends and the circle has been gradually increasing.  So while there has been a gradual lessening of the internal stronghold,  it was more than a notion to consider opening myself up to such a degree on a vehicle such as Facebook even if it was only to my “friends.”

Interestingly to me, perhaps of no surprise to you,  I was met with support and encouragement.  People shared what the Cup of Cheer updates and blogs have meant to them and how they’ve made a difference in their lives.  I was encouraged.  I learned to hide many parts of myself in childhood- not because I didn’t want people to know me but because of my great sensitivity.  I was hurt easily and I noticed that when people (especially children) hurt you they didn’t really care.  My answer to this was to harden my exterior and keep myself to myself.

The peeling back of the layers of me has served many purposes.  It has caused me to take an even greater look at myself  (I have always been introspective).  As opposed to opening me to pain, as I was afraid of, letting others see me better has allowed others to understand,  relate better to, and commiserate with me.

I encourage you to take a stab at the exercise.  Take a look at yourself in the mirror, admit who you truly are, and share that with others.  I hope that you, like I , find the exercise to be enlightening, fulfilling, and worth the effort.

Spread love…peace and blessings.

That’s What Friends Are For

Try to live life in a way that your spirit attracts people who will support you when you need it- no questions asked.  It’s truly a blessing.

Recently life’s circumstances caused me to have what can rightly be interpreted as “a very bad day.”  (Yes even the cheerful can sometimes become overwhelmed by circumstances)  I decided to approach the moment differently than I have at other times in the past.  I went out onto Facebook and asked my friends to pray for me.  NO details given; just asked them to send up a general prayer.

I was overwhelmed by the response that I received.  Many friends checked in to say that it is “done.”  There were no questions asked.  No inquiring minds wanting to know.  What I realized within a short period of time was that my friends were trying to return to me what I try to project out to others daily.

And that’s when it REALLY hit me.  (Sometimes lessons are gentle and sometimes they hit you like a sledgehammer.) The spirit that you display and project is magnified in those around you.  If you project a spirit of love then love surrounds you.  If you project a spirit of negativity then negative spirits surround you.  Now this, in and of itself,  is not a new lesson.  I have known it for a while.  I think, for me, the shock was in seeing it manifest itself so quickly on a micro level.  Sometimes we ask/ pray for a thing to happen and the universe takes a long time to respond.  Sometimes, as happened with me, there is am immediate response to a request.

As I stated earlier this was a “very bad day” but I felt surrounded by such love and warmth in such a short amount of time that I had to take pause.  It was almost as if I could feel these prayers working on my behalf.  Since the negativity of the situation was nothing that I wanted to embrace and give further life to,  I was deeply grateful.  I realized that in my attempts to always spread love I am loved and I also realized that’s what friends are for.

So I publicly take a moment to thank my friends who stood with and/or prayed for me on that day.  I don’t know that I deserve you,  but I am certainly glad that my life is blessed by your presence.

Everything Must Change But Some Things Need to Remain The Same

I really like the song  “Everything Must Change” and I know that there is a lot of truth in this sentiment.  There are however many things from the past that should be retained in order for us to maintain a “civil” society.  For the purposes of this discussion we will concentrate on just one thing – the nature of mutual give and take.

I have noticed in recent years, especially with the steadily increasing popularization of social media outlets, that more and more people are engaging in very one-sided relationships.  There are celebrities and so-called celebrities who ask their “friends/followers” to do everything from buy their latest cd/product offering to quote what they have said as the Lord’s gospel or changing their profile picture to whatever said star’s is.  What do they offer in return? Good question; for many the answer is absolutely nothing.  They will not respond if you tweet (speak to) them directly on twitter nor do they appear to show  much if any appreciation.  I believe that this type of behavior is now falling under the modern definition of marketing.  Well I studied  marketing in college and though it was a few years ago I guarantee you that the basic precepts have not changed very much.

That’s the celebrities.  Some may say their lack of civility is a bit more acceptable.  After all, many of them have millions of followers on twitter and who has the time to respond to all of the people individually?  I disagree as only a small percentage will actually make contact, but even if we take them out of the picture let’s discuss the everyday Jane/Joe.

Talking has come to represent, for many people aged 35 and under (and even some “old heads”), a less than desirable means of communication.  Many people prefer to text or tweet to communicate with others.  I have seen tweets where people say “why are they calling me if I sent them a text?”  Interestingly enough, these very same people expect the phone to be answered when they are on the dialing end of it.

In recent days I have had discussions about and have mentally explored the concept of “pay it forward.”  While it is true that some people you are just not in a position to ever repay for the kind things that they are able to do for you.  In those instances, instead of attempting to pay them back you pay the kindness forward.  In most cases, however, we ideally operate from a position of treating others the way we expect to be treated.

I would like to offer some former “givens” that I would like to see return to common society.

1.  Afford people with kindness and attention- this means that when someone calls you, you return the call when available.  There are some subsets of this: listen to the voice mail message if the person took the time to leave it (it is rude not to do so); if you tell someone you are going to “call them back” do it- if you have no intentions of it don’t say  it; and when you receive a text or call acknowledge it.

2.  Return to actually talking “voice to voice” with people.  No it doesn’t have to be every day nor does it have to be for an especially long period of time, but most people appreciate a phone call or visit above all else.  Many still appreciate an old-fashioned,  hand written letter but understand that most people don’t have or take the time to do such things anymore.

3.  We have become very comfortable with telling ourselves and others what we are too busy to do or what we don’t have time for.  There is a truth that has not changed since the truth was the truth- people do any and every thing that they WANT to do.  Be honest with yourself and others and stop saying that you don’t have time.  It is not necessarily hurtful to say “that’s not on the top of my priority list right now” or “I’m sorry but right now I’m focusing on doing some other things.”  The notion of busy makes us feel good- implies that we are serving some life’s purpose.  Sometimes, we are just busy being busy.  And please understand that the time you are unwilling to give to someone else will soon become the time they no longer give to you.

I ask you earnestly and cheerfully to examine how you treat those you say you care about in your life.  My assumption is that we all have a desire to make those we love and care about (to whatever degree) feel loved and cared about.   With this assumption I think we all should make a greater effort to:

  • regularly show people how important they are to us through regular voice and physical contact
  • make time- tomorrow is not promised to any of us
  • spread love- your smile, hug, and/or kindness may be all that a person has to draw on to get through this day
  • admit when you are making mistakes and make the immediate effort to fix the problem instead of going on the defensive

Again, I know that everything must change but it is imperative that some things remain the same and love and civility are two of those things.

2010 What A Blessing

It has never been more apparent to me that there are two ways to view any given situation than it was  in the year 2010.  While the year was a time of numerous personal challenges, it also afforded me more blessings than I can probably even recount.  I will however attempt to give you my summary as best I remember them.

  • I made many friends through social networking.  Some of these friends I am as close to as good family members.
  • Because of my network of friends I twice visited the city of Chicago that is now like my second home.
  • Visits with great, long- term  friends became more frequent.
  • I reconnected with old friends from both high school and college who I’m very aligned with on a spiritual plane.
  • I became a budding blogger.
  • My Cup of Cheer brand was birthed and continues to grow.
  • My children changed school (to my dismay) but are flourishing (to my delight)
  • My sense of my true self became more evident.
  • I shared my grandmother’s final days with her.
  • I lost a job that my gut told me not to take (the universe corrects itself).
  • The greatest truth came to me- God is in us and God is love. One of our main purposes in life is to spread love.
  • I went all year without getting ill- not even a cold.
  • I ended the year by getting exactly the type of job that I have been wanting to secure for years (that’s why  I had to be free of the other one).

These are just a few of my blessings from the previous year.  I’m sure that I have not even scratched the surface.  What I know for sure is that I am very blessed.  Whatever challenges I am presented with pale in comparison to my bounty of blessings.  I look forward to what 2011 has to offer and know that the path I am charting for myself will be fulfilled.