Tag Archive | friendship

11/28/13 Today’s Advice to My Beautiful Daughters: It’s ok to cry.

For most of my life, I have tried not to cry.

Somewhere along the line, I got it in my head that crying was a sign of weakness or manipulation and the idea of “don’t’ ever let ‘em see you sweat” took on a broader meaning.  I thought I needed to choke it back, push it down, stifle it so that everyone could see that I was strong.  When I was 15, I stopped eating because emotion has to be dealt with.  If I couldn’t cry, something had to give.  And it gave.  I lost weight until my mom was frantic.  And then slowly, I recovered enough from the emotions that plagued me and I got back to normal, without having to spend time in an eating disorder clinic.  My “strength” took a toll.

As I have gotten older, I have turned into a total sap. I can cry at just about anything, happy or sad.  I have shed more tears over internet videos than I ever have for myself, my own pain, my own joys and sorrows.  Crying for others highs and lows is so much easier than crying for me.

When I cry, I cry alone…in hotel rooms or when everyone is gone, or in the dark when everyone is asleep.  I still can’t release with others, even though I can release for others.  Every once in a while, I cry in church, and hope nobody notices.

Even though I know that tears are healing, I think I will always struggle to embrace them. This is not a good thing.

So for you and for me…it’s ok to cry.  It. Is. Ok. To. Cry.

There are times when the enormity of a place, a moment, a time will overwhelm you.   Whatever emotion that brings is healthy and good.  It often will reveal your humanity, your compassionate heart, your love.  When you cry for others, you love.  When you cry in front of others, you allow them to love.

This week, I visited the 9/11 Memorial with 120 high school students.  One of those students was overcome with the enormity of the place.  She cried.  Her tears revealed her compassionate soul, her care for the world that was forever changed when she was just 4 years old.  She cried for people she had never met, and all that grieved because of  that day.  And as her friends tried to distract her and cheer her with hugs and words that would make her smile, I thought to myself, “Cry.” In her tears on that day, I saw her heart in a new way and I saw her friends have the opportunity to love her and it was good. Her tears revealed her humanity and the humanity of those who care about her.

Sometimes it takes a kid to teach us something.  In this case, it reminded me that the thing I have spent a lifetime stifling is the thing that heals, that shows love, that is good.

It is ok to cry.  With your help, I will try to remember that.

9/11Memorial

9/25/12 Today’s Advice to My Beautiful Daughters – Broken hearts really do mend

Broken hearts mend.

If there is anything in the world that I wish I could spare you, it is the a broken heart.  But I know that to avoid broken hearts, also means to avoid the greatest joys and accomplishments.  It means avoiding love and trial and hope and the best parts of friendship.  It means avoiding being a mother and watching YOUR beautiful daughters grow and learn and fly out of the nest.  Those are the best parts of life, but with them comes some heartbreak.  Today, my advice is that you are just going to have to trust me on this…hearts mend.

One of the things I have learned about being a mother is that it really is true that your heart is walking around outside your body.  When things happen to you, it happens to me.  With every heartbreak you feel, my heart breaks too.  But the shattering and the mending builds a stronger heart.  It builds a heart that understands pain so can empathize more.  It builds a heart that understands strength so it can hope more.  It builds a heart that understands love so it can love more.  A broken heart will mend, and it will be stronger than it was before.

When my heart feels like it has shattered into a million tiny pieces, these are the things that matter:

  • Your smile (you have no idea how many wounds your smiles can heal)
  • Hearing your voice
  • Hugs
  • Flowers from a friend
  • All the little ways that friends reach out to let me know they are out there when I am ready
  • Seeing you happy
  • The peace that comes from knowing you will be ok
  • The patient love and understanding of my best friend and husband

I’m not sure when I will be ready to write about the last month in its entirety, but I am ready to say that my heart has broken but it is mending.  Things are different now and it feels weird to have some pieces of the mending happening in Lansing, Michigan.  Every picture and phone call from my smiling Spartan and every special moment at home with my “only child”  is stitching my heart back together…different, stronger, new.

Broken hearts do mend, and whenever you are facing your own shattering and mending, I will be right there with you…helping you find YOUR different, stronger, new.

7/7/12 Today’s Advice to My Beautiful Daughters – What do you want?

One of my friends and blog followers posted a comment on my post about being right, and that comment got me thinking.  She said that she has been in situations over the last month that made her ask the question, “What do I want?”

Isn’t that brilliant?  What if we asked that question in every situation, in every argument, every conflict, every moment of doubt or celebration?  What do I want from this?  What is my goal?  What am I hoping to achieve in this conversation?

We may find that the answer is often that we want to prove a point or change someone’s mind or win.  What do you REALLY want the outcome to be, not just in the discussion or event in question, but what do you want the impact on your relationship to be?

What if I asked that question of myself the next time I felt ready to nag or say (in one way or another), “I told you so.”  What if the next criticism that is going to pass my lips first passes through the filter of “what do I want?”  Is it still worth it when you think about it that way?  Does winning or proving a point or changing a mind still have the same importance if you first ask, “What do I want?”

What do you want for others, and yourself, for your relationship?  How important is THIS comment, this conversation, this point?

What do you want?

Shout out to Sara K. for the inspiration for this post!

7/6/12 Today’s Advice to My Beautiful Daughters – Put others first.

There are times where it is easier to be selfish.  It is easier to think about my own point of view.  I don’t feel generous or kind or patient enough to think about another’s point of view.  Those days are tough.  They aren’t tough because I feel guilty.  They are tough because when I put me first, I just feel lousy.  Those are the days that my irritability is high and my patience is low.  The things that go on in my head should never see the light of day because they are vile and ugly and mean.

What I learn from those days is that it feels crappy to be selfish.  It feels miserable to be wrapped up in myself.  When I feel like that, I don’t like me.  When I focus on me, turn my attentions and my desires only on what I want, I don’t like what I see.  And worse, those are the days that the people closest to me (you!) avoid me.  You tiptoe around, disappear into your rooms and try to avoid rocking the boat.  My selfishness becomes a poison in our house, and nobody is unaffected.

The times that you have been the most unhappy with each other is when you focus on your own point of view.

In contrast to all that, there are times when the focus points out.  There are magical days when we are all focused on each other, when we are more worried about what is happening to each other than what is happening to our own selves.  We defend, we laugh, we enjoy, we are happy.  Those are the very best days in our house.  I don’t think our good mood makes it so, because I think the good mood comes from the pointing ourselves out, giving ourselves to each other, sharing life from the collective point of view, instead of the selfish point of view.  It just feels better when we put others first.  I’m not sure what it says about the selfish thing that we actually benefit when we focus on others (is that a selfish motive??) but I do know it works.

The next time I am feeling snarky and self-righteous and mean, I’m going to work harder to turn it around, to focus on other, to see a different point of view.  Perhaps when I look through that lens, the cloudy veil of yuck will lift and we will all be happier for it.

Try it.  Put others first.

 

 

7/5/12 Today’s Advice to My Beautiful Daughters – Be kind, not right.

Being right isn’t all it is cracked up to be.  Sometimes being right isn’t right.

There are times when we find ourselves in arguments that seem critically important in the moment, that get us riled up with righteous indignation, that cause us to rant and fret and worry and stew.  Sometimes these arguments are truly important, but most of the time they are just arguments.  Their outcome will not make a difference in a week or a month and it is possible that in that time, we will forget what the issue was in the first place.  Most arguments fall into this category I think.

Those petty, small, unimportant arguments become a real problem when we decide that being right is more important than being kind.  Winning the argument becomes a higher priority than winning at friendship.  Our quest for right-ness causes us to say things that can’t be unsaid.  It causes us to forget why we are arguing and focus on who we are arguing with.  When we focus our argument on the person, being right has trumped being what we know to be right.  And then we all lose.

When people get hurt because of your victory, being right wasn’t right.

When you get the last word because your words have become weapons that have left someone battered and torn, you lose a little part of yourself in the winning.

When your argument has casualties, people who get pulled into the fray, damaged in your battle, bruised by your determination to prove a point, your point is lost because people will just remember how you made them feel, and not what you were so right about.

When people feel like they have to pick sides and things become so black and white that all the middle gray area, disappears, you have lost.

When your victory feels shallow and your triumph leaves you feeling empty, being right wasn’t right at all.

When you engage in battle over right and wrong, black and white, winning and losing, how do you FEEL?  When you make your point, are you focused on the issue or is your point just a dagger aimed at someone’s heart?  When you walk away from a conversation, do you feel good about what you have said or is there a part that you wish you could have back?  When you examine that part that you’d like to have back, how do you react?  Do you learn?  Do you apologize?  Do you use that weapon again?

The world is full of conflict and people and wars and battles.  In every conflict, there are two sides that believe they are right.  In every war, each side fights for the right-ness that they believe in.  How many winners do you really see in the bombed out remains of the battles big and small?  How many victors emerge without casualty?  What price do we pay for the privilege of being right?

What price do YOU pay?

What price would you pay if you chose kindness instead?  What would the spoils of victory look like if you didn’t win, didn’t defeat, didn’t end up on top?  What would your world look like if you made room for more than one right answer?

Next time you heat up for that argument, ask yourself what kindness would look like instead.

7/4/12 Today’s Advice to My Beautiful Daughters — Pay Attention!

In previous posts, I have encouraged you to make room for others on life’s narrow paths.  I have told you to lead by example and encouraged you to  try and fail and to not give up.  I have given you advice on relating to people and knowing when not to relate to people, when to speak up and when to be quiet.  But one of the things that I have missed is that we all need to PAY ATTENTION!!

I have told you to look  at the world and the people who are around and in front of you.   What I haven’t told you is that you need to notice the things and the people who aren’t there.  You need to learn to recognize the significance of absence.  Practice seeing the people who are crying out for help in their silence, in their apartness, in their NOT being on the path at all.

Sadly, it took a friend crying out on behalf of someone else for me to realize this.  And when she pointed it out, I realized with shock that I hadn’t even noticed that this person was missing.  How awful is that?  I have been so caught up in what is around me, concentrating on my reactions to people and situations and trying to make sense of the emotions that have cropped up because change is coming and departures are imminent.  I have been so focused on the obvious things that I haven’t even noticed the people who silently just went away.

Think about how you have felt when YOUR absence wasn’t noticed…when people stopped recognizing that you weren’t part of the group, when someone didn’t notice that you stopped trying, when someone didn’t reach out when you drew away.  How did you feel?  Now ask yourself how closely you pay attention to the silent comings and goings, the prolonged silences, the people who aren’t posting as much on Facebook, or who haven’t been to church in a while or who didn’t show up to a party that you attended.  What is going on with the people who aren’t there?  What are they going through that makes it easier to stay away?

We have all heard the expression, “the squeaky wheel gets the oil” and it is very true.  It is sometimes so true that we treat the quiet wheel like it doesn’t exist at all.

Pay attention to silence.  Look for absence.  Seek out inactivity.  Pay attention.

7/2/12 Today’s Advice to My Beautiful Daughters – Be the Change

Be the change you want to see in the world.

Lately, I’ve seen so many examples of the youth leading the way.  You seem to have it figured out so much better than us “mature” adults….at least in some areas.

So today’s advice is to honor you and the wisdom that you have to offer the rest of us.

We live in a world of intolerance.  Kids your age don’t think that is ok.  You see the screaming adults on news channels and nasty campaign ads on TV and divisive rhetoric on the internet and you respond with head shakes (thanks for telling me what SMH means) and with tolerance.  The only thing you seem to be INtolerant of is… intolerance.  When a gay friend comes out publicly, youth respond with overwhelming kindness, support and love.  We all need to learn from that.  When you want the world to be more tolerant, bring tolerance to the world.

When you think the world has forgotten what friendship means, respond by showing the world what true friendship looks like.

When you think that people aren’t accepting of others, show the world what acceptance looks like.

When you think that Christians are giving Christianity a bad name, show the world what you believe it means to be a Christian.

Adults talk a lot of talk.  We complain and rant about what is wrong with the world, but we can’t seem to do much to change it.  We judge people for their judgmental-ness.  We pick sides.  We wag our tongues and whisper in corners.  We say one thing and demonstrate by our actions that we mean another.  If we want to change the world, we simply have to look at youth.

I know that none of this is perfect and that kids are bullied and can be incredibly mean sometimes.  But what I see more than that is a culture of acceptance.  I see kids reaching out to kids who have a different race, religion and sexual orientation.  I see them fight for the less fortunate and fight for the rights of others.  They show the world what it could be while we sit back and talk about it.

To all of us, follow the example of my beautiful daughters and the young people out there and be the change that you want to see in the world.

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Just as I finished writing this blog, I got a message from a boy who recently came out publicly.  He was thanking me for supporting him even though I didn’t know him.  He heard about my Facebook status last night where I told the world that I was proud of the kids that supported him.  He made me cry.  I say this not to toot my own horn, but to reinforce the points that I have made here.  He told me that it wasn’t the support of his family and friends that meant so much because he KNEW he would get that.  What he didn’t expect was support from people who he didn’t know.  And he is getting that too.  Both of these things are remarkable…that we have come to a place where a young man can feel confident that he will be accepted by his friends and family is so different from what I have seen for previous generations.  But it is also striking that what he expected from the rest of the world was intolerance.  At least he has been pleasantly surprised.  The youth is indeed going to change the world.