Category Archives: Family…

Trust, Respect, and Expectation

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There are foundational truths in life.

My grandfather used to tell me:

Honey,” he said, “trust and respect are two things in life that should never be given for free. They must be earned.”

Over the years his lesson has been a compass. He intended that I understand what it means to be honorable, to have integrity, and his lesson has played a pivotal role in my personal development.

He was Old Breed Marine Corp, a veteran of WWII, fighting in the Pacific with the First Marine Division, Guadalcanal. He survived the war, and the Great Depression before it, working in the Civilian Conservation Corp and riding the rails across the country to pick fruit or do anything to make ends meet. He was hardened by life but honorable, and it was his way that looking someone in the eye with a handshake and a promise mattered.

When he gave his word, he meant it and he kept it. People on the receiving end of his handshakes and promises knew without question he was good on his word because they knew him. He had a deep respect for the act of earning things. His lesson to me was that actions speak directly to a person’s integrity. You never have to guess at the type of person you’re dealing with because their actions show you who they are.

At the heart of integrity lies the question:

Who Do I Want to Be?

Who we want to be is totally up to us. We choose who we want to be with every promise, commitment, and endeavor. The question of integrity, of ‘who I want to be’, is a fill-in-the-blank exercise repeated constantly throughout life.

Do I want to be taken seriously? My grandfather would say, “Better act like it.”

Do I want to be respected? “Better be respectful..”

Do I want to be trusted? “Better earn it…”

Exercising integrity is how we earn it…

It’s also how others earn our trust and respect, and it’s important we hold people to their word before lavishing them with our trust and respect. This doesn’t mean we should disrespect others before they’ve earned our respect. On the contrary, being disrespectful is never a show of integrity, it’s just ugly. Common courtesy, being considerate of others, is a sign of great integrity, especially when others around us are being inconsiderate and discourteous. Someone who is disrespectful, who lies, cheats, steals, or takes advantage of others has effectively chosen to act in ways that deny them the right to any respect or trust. Unfortunately, it’s too often the case that those who act out in such ways believe they are entitled to trust and respect. Too often, the most inconsiderate among us hold the expectation that people should trust and respect them without ever doing the work to earn it.

Expectation goes hand-in-hand with the current topic. When my grandfather gave his word to someone he understood that in doing so, he created an expectation…right out of thin air, like magic. The moment he gave his word, suddenly there was an expectation for him to fulfill it. They expected what he promised would come to pass. Some would have us believe that expectations are the root of all frustration, but what they fail to understand is that there is a big difference between leveling blind expectation and leveling expectation on a something promised.

BIG difference…

There are times we might expect others to behave a certain way, or expect them to treat us a certain way, and when they don’t, they fall short of our expectations. That is leveling blind expectation. When we hold a person to an expectation they never promised to fulfill we orchestrate our own frustration. However, expecting someone to keep their word is right and good. Expectation in this context is not freely giving away trust and respect, it’s part of the process of allowing someone the opportunity to earn our trust and respect. It’s expecting someone to uphold their end of the bargain. If they choose to sign up for the task, to commit, we rightly level expectation on that commitment and hold them to it.

Inevitably, there will be times when people don’t act with integrity and don’t fulfill their promises, and so fail to earn our trust and respect. This should not invite disrespect or hurtful behavior. Merely dust off your sandals and walk away, Dear Reader, even though it hurts. It hurts when people don’t fulfill the promises or commitments they make to us because we don’t expect it. Unfortunately, some people simply don’t get it, don’t see it, or don’t care that their behavior is hurtful. Nobody in their life told them it wasn’t ok, or they were told but didn’t listen, or they listened but decided it was of little consequence. Sadly, some people couldn’t care less about anyone but themselves or their own situation or issues.

They aren’t in the habit of asking themselves who they want to be. They consistently hurt others and themselves because they do not subscribe to the simple tenet:

Trust and Respect are EARNED

If you want to be respected, be someone others can trust.

Nobody likes feeling as though they’ve been taken for granted, minimized, or ignored. I have two personal mantras: (1) Do Better, Be Better and, (2) There is Always a Way. These are consciously linked to my grandfather’s lesson. Striving to do better means my actions will have the potential to benefit others, but they also benefit me, because I’m happier when I do good things, when I improve, when I act in ways that fulfill who I want to be. Believing there is always a way provides me confidence in my convictions. I know that when I give my word, I do so with confidence that no matter what, I will find a way to fulfill my commitment.

Putting more positive truths to work feels good because it affirms our legacy and purpose. The business of earning trust and respect doesn’t leave much room for shame, self-loathing, or anger. Also nice to know that the next time we encounter those who can’t see past their own noses we don’t need to stick around. We don’t owe them anything. In those moments, we can hold fast to our own mantra, knowing it’s enough to be enlightened and feel the freedom of our own honesty and integrity.

Thanks for the lessons Grandpa, I sure miss you.

You rock…

Work It, Girl…

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A good mom teaches us a lot.  If we’re lucky enough to become moms one day, we realize more and more just how much we learned from her.  In general, moms get a bad rap, held to a much higher standard than anyone else who might enter our lives.  Her missteps are often severely judged, not just in her own mind and heart, but in those of her children.  But for better or worse, she’s the one we turn to most, the one who is always there, a constant gardener in love and care, in her way.

‘Her way’ may not always be something we agree with, but even if she’s made a mistake, we’re going to learn something from it.  She’s human sure, but beyond that, she’s mom, which means she impacts your life in a way like no other.  As we grow and become adults, it’s important to consider her not just as mom, but as a person on her own journey.  Puts a little different perspective on her mistakes, doesn’t it?

Considering her this way should likewise put an improved perspective on her love and constant gardening.  She’s just another human being on a journey, yet she devotes the majority of her thoughts, energies, decisions, and dreams toward your well-being, the epitome of unconditional love.  And though it may not always seem as though her love comes without strings (she actually expects things of you!?!) it ultimately does, because every demand is made with your best interests at heart.  And we cut her some slack, she’s lived longer than we have, she likely knows more than we do about a thing or two, so we try to listen more and judge less.  We have some faith in her love for us.

My mother struggled to raise me on her own, a struggle I’ll never completely understand because I have not had to experience it.  She worked…HARD.  Sometimes more than one job at a time when things were particularly lean or I needed something special for school or sports.  She did what she had to do.  And she made me do.  Whether it was “Go outside and play”, “Get up, you’re going to work with me today, I need help”, “Clean up this room!”, they were each lessons.  She was teaching me about work and life.  She was teaching me what work does for you, how it makes you feel, how to use it to empower and enable good things to happen in your life.  Translation, please?

  1. “Go outside and play” teaches that there is a whole world out there just waiting for you to experience it, but you’ll never encounter its mysteries unless you get up, get on with it, and get out there.
  2. “Get up, you’re going to work with me today, I need help” teaches several lessons.  First lesson: The value of gumption, of getting about the business of living, instead of sleeping it away.  Sleep is necessary of course, but like most things in life, in moderation and good health.  Second lesson: It’s good to help others.  We all need a little help every now and then, but a child who isn’t taught to recognize it and follow through, will never help anyone but themselves.  Third lesson: “You’re going to work with me today” teaches that work is necessary to life.  The perception that work is drudgery, something to be avoided in favor of relaxation, is an incorrect perception.  Actually, work (especially hard work) makes you.  What does this mean?  Work makes you by instilling a sense of confidence in your own abilities.  It teaches self-reliance.  It’s the only thing that helps you understand what being productive feels like; that to endeavor is to burn, to be alive and on fire with activity.  It’s a positive, worth-building thing, and the best thing to keep one depression-free and feeling optimistic. Having goals is necessary.  Without it, we sit static, motionless and helpless in a world that is moving all around us, leaving us behind.  Fourth lesson: By requesting that I go to work with her, she demonstrated a belief in my ability to help.  This is often the first experience a child has that helps them understand they can positively impact others through action.
  1. “Clean up this room!” teaches self respect.  It may seem like a demand, but in reality it’s a request to benefit both of you.  Mom has likely already figured out self respect and she has it, therefore she values her space, which includes the one you occupy.  But she’s also teaching you, because she learned (maybe the hard way) that respecting yourself directly impacts the decisions you make for yourself in life.  Decisions are choices and they ultimately influence life and happiness.  Choice in partner, environment, work place, health, even rest and relaxation, are all governed in some way by self respect.  Without it, we are a punching bag who believes we deserve less, which leads to things like poor performance, pessimism, lethargy, and stress, ultimately things that can have real affect on personal health and wellbeing.  Living in a pigsty translates to believing you deserve to live in a pigsty.  Essentially, think it, believe it, do it.  Believing in yourself, recognizing your value, merit, and goodness means you are less likely to accept less than the very best situation you can create for yourself.  Your environment is a direct reflection of how much you value you.  And beyond its impact on you, any devaluation of life and endeavors, purpose and potential, means you will fail to have a positive impact on others.

Mom lessons extend past instruction, into the realm of behavior.  My mom has always maintained an excellent work ethic.  She’s always doing.  This doesn’t mean she can’t relax or won’t, it means she is on fire with activity.  When she relaxes, she earned it.  This enables her to exhibit an extraordinary generosity and a hopeful, endless love.  Her spirit shines with exuberant energy, resulting in a vigorous, fun-loving attitude that always brings a smile to others.  As a result, she belies her age, often mistaken for being much younger (not a bad thing, right ladies?).  She loves to learn, read, and experience.  I’ve always found much admiration for these things, and I find that in my admiration of them first in her, I now seek them out in others.  More importantly, I seek them out in myself.  I am proud of those aspects of myself that I can directly attribute to her influence.   I am an incredibly hard worker, because I enjoy being productive, endeavoring, living on fire.  I love, appreciate, and respect life.  And each day, I wake with a passion to live that drives me in many different directions at once.  These things and more are the direct result of her impassioned efforts, her love and life lessons.

Thankfully, we never get too old to learn something new.  Work it, girl…work it.  Mom wants you to know YOU ROCK…

🙂

**Image creds go to: http://www.andherlittledogtoo.com**

Sad is not bad, it’s necessary…

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Recently, we experienced the ordeal of our daughter, our youngest, leaving home for college. What followed were several evenings of looking awkwardly across the dinner table at each other, lots of silence, and a profound, unshakable sadness.   Obviously, there was some anticipation of emotional pain prior to the event, since our son had left home three years earlier, but it did little to cushion the blow of our suddenly-empty house and empty hearts.

When your children leave home, even in happiness and excitement for their future, your life completely upends. Everything changes, and the loss of their presence is tangible.  Adjustment begins slowly and naturally, in urgent necessity, accomplished through the process of grieving what has been lost.  A shroud of sadness settles over us like a healing cocoon, incubating against a world that continues to move, unmoved, by our personal hell.  For a time, we curl into our memories of hugs and spoken words, the sheets that smell like a distant perfume, and trophies lovingly packed away into boxes with labels.

Such an incubation period is necessary to healing, yet people outside our grief are not comfortable with our sadness…

The concept of ‘being sad’ has somehow been perverted. It has become a status of disdain, to be avoided or treated away as quickly as possible.  But just as happiness has its place in our life journey, so does sadness.  If we weren’t so preoccupied with the belief that one should be in an impossible state of ‘constant happiness’, we might be better equipped to see the positive aspects of something that makes us, essentially…’feel bad’.

Sounds like a contradiction…I mean, how can something that makes us feel bad, be good for us?

In the case of our daughter leaving home, I can say my sadness is good, because it comes from a place of deep, intense love. I’m grieving my personal loss of her presence, which added so much immeasurable happiness to my daily life.  However, I grieve for me, yet rejoice for her and for the world that will now have the unique opportunity to get to know her.  It is in the hope for her future that I find my way through the grief of her leaving.  Thankfully, I grieve a change, impermanent in that I still have her in my life, though no longer under my roof.

A few days after her arrival at college, one of the students on campus went missing. Two days ago, as we visiting our daughter, a body was found just off campus and identified as the missing young woman.  I will not pretend to be capable of comprehending the level of grief her family is now experiencing…

What I do know is that their grieving, like mine, is necessary

Grief, on all levels, is an acknowledgement. We are fragile creatures.  Without acknowledgment of the truth, the pronounced permanence and unpredictability of change, we cannot find the acceptance necessary to move on.  Grief simultaneously teaches us and puts us in our place.  The stages grow in us a steady, burning desire to continue to live, learn, love, and inspire.

When we’re on the outside of grief, watching another in pain, we want to make it better. We recognize pain is painful and our compassion wishes it away, especially when it’s someone we love.  We just want to make it all better, but we need to exercise patience and respect for the process and acknowledge it.  It’s important to remember that grief, sadness, and pain are necessary components to the human experience.

Nothing highlights great happiness as much as marked sadness. Never was one so overjoyed to come into the light, as one who has just emerged from the darkest forest floor.  The key to grief and sadness is maintaining, and promoting, hope.  Hope is the tiny light that beckons through the darkest hour, pointing us toward acceptance and beyond.

No matter the cause, we really shouldn’t seek to counsel those who are grieving. Grief is a natural process, like breathing, so let it be.  Grief shouldn’t be chastised simply because it makes us uncomfortable.  Instead, grief should find respect for its process.  It should be met with patient compassion and loving hopefulness for its promise to yield to brighter days  🙂

 

*Image courtesy of:  http://evolvingfaith.blogspot.com/p/grief-quotes.html*

MOVING…onward & upward to New Mexico!

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NMBlogIt’s official:  I’ve been accepted to Graduate School with NMSU!  I will begin my study Spring 2015!

I’m very happy and excited, although the work of moving 14 years of accumulated ‘stuff’ is quite intimidating ;P

…totally doable, and do it I shall! 

The physical move is really only one small part of this new change.  Nothing in life seems to come in tiny, bite-sized pieces, but I like to remind myself that I learned to ride my bike uphill, so I seem to be hardwired for it. 

Our youngest is leaving home for college next month.  She will be attending in-state and our son just recently moved back in-state…and now we are leaving.  Am I right to say that it seems to run counter to what is ‘normal’ in these situations?

I mean: ‘kids-leave-home’…normal.  Check. 

But….

‘Kids-and-parents-leave-home-at-same time-and-parents-move-allllll-the-way-across-the-Continental-United-States-away-from-kids’…hmmm…normal?  Not so much!

Being always hopeful in life and maintaining an optimistic attitude is so incredibly important.  Now more than ever, personally.  BIG changes coming on the horizon, folks, but it’s all good.

I’ll be sure to keep ya’ll posted 🙂

 

*image credit: http://deafnetwork.com/wordpress/blog/2013/09/18/nms-schools-for-deaf-and-visually-impaired-provide-little-online-data*

Please listen to your flight attendant….

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Before every plane ride, the cramped individuals of the cabin are always treated to the preflight safety instructions.  They’re always the same; the flight attendant walks us through what to do and where to go in case of an emergency.  If you’ve flown more than once, it’s more likely you will be fumbling with your tiny airplane pillow or an electronic device, rather than listening to this standard briefing.  But I’ve chosen it as a blog topic for good reason.  There is actually a really great bit of advice to be found, metaphorically, within the mundane instruction.

Included in preflight safety instructions is what to do if cabin pressure changes.  When cabin pressure changes on an airline, it triggers the emergency oxygen masks to drop from overhead each passenger.  The instructions given for what to do when the masks dropped always perplexed me when I was younger.  The flight attendant tells the passengers that they must ‘first secure their own mask, before placing a mask on their child’.

I always used to think that seemed a bit selfish.  I mean, isn’t the first instinct of a parent to run to the aid of their child, without regard for themselves?  That seems right…save the child first.

Then, I had children.  And now I see the wisdom in the words.  I think it’s natural, especially for women, to forget your own needs.  We get good at putting ourselves on the back burner for others.  Anything else seems selfish.  After all, taking time for yourself is frowned on, because the perception is that by making time for yourself, you are taking it away from someone else.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

The reason the flight attendant insists on putting your mask on first is so you can take care of your child.  Without that mask, and the oxygen it provides, you will lose consciousness while trying to help your child.  The result is a child left without a parent to care for them, without protection, and in grave danger.  The metaphor is pretty powerful; if you don’t take care of yourself, you cannot possibly hope to be present to truly provide the care those you love really need.

This week, the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died of drug overdose in his New York City apartment.  Alone.  On the bathroom floor.  I can think of few, more sadly preventable ways to die.  Police found 40 bags of heroine in his apartment, and he was found only because he failed to pick up his three young children as promised that day.  Please don’t interpret any anger on my part as being aimed at Mr. Hoffman.  I hate addiction, not the addicted.  Mr. Hoffman, a beautiful, talented human being, filled with the same potentiality for life that every human being possesses, chose in a moment of emptiness to believe the lie of addiction.  It is a lie which says that something other than living and being ever-present in your life is somehow better in a given moment.  It says there is no truth in human pain and suffering, nothing to be learned.  It insists pain simply be eradicated, even if only as a temporary reprieve.  But in truth, addiction is pain.  It is a thief that robs life and replaces it with more and more hollow emptiness.  Numbness replaces presence.  Game over…

Addiction allows us to play the victim.  It hides the ability and free will of the human spirit which empower all good practice and positive thought.  Addiction is the lie, because we are not victims to anything but our own minds.  We live our choices.  No one chooses to be an addict, but we do choose to do the things that set addiction in motion.  Life is a powerful experience that merits responsibility for identifying what is best and discerning what is good and right in our lives.  Life is precious and fragile…so respect the journey.

So please, listen to your flight attendant.  Take care of yourself first.  Feed yourself full to the top with good things, so you can be ready and able to be there for all those other human beings you love so much  🙂

*image provided by: http://williamtollefsonvalues.blogspot.com/2013/07/addiction-recovery-southwest-florida.html

Love Letter to the World (A Wish)…

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I love it when you smile… when you look upon others without judgment, with a kind heart…

And I love the look on your face when you receive kindness from others…
I love it when you make your children your #1 priority in life and the way they, in turn, make the world a better place for others, because of your efforts…
I love it when you’re not selfish; because you recognize that being self-absorbed means you fail to see the potential in others or contribute to anyone besides yourself…
I love when you give without expectation of reciprocity or praise…
I love when you consider the needs of others above your own feelings; because you understand your feelings aren’t always the most important thing in the world…you understand others have needs that may outweigh your feelings, feelings which may actually be very self-serving…
I love that you know happiness comes from the inside, not outside, so you don’t spend time forcing others to do things just to ‘make you happy’…
I love that you fulfill yourself and strive to be a better person, not just because it makes you better, but because you know you are contributing something positive to the world through your existence…
I love that you never hurt people, lie, or try to make others feel guilty…
I love when you choose to lift people up, rather than gossip or look down your nose at them…
I love how you always endeavor to find the good in things…
I love the way you support the goals of others, rather than tear them down, even when they don’t agree with what you think…
I love your humility, work ethic, and honesty…especially during tough situations…
I love your generosity of spirit and your humanity…
But most of all, I love the way you love me back 🙂