The Forlorn Stranger

I haven’t done one of these posts in a while, so here you go.  I can’t stop thinking tonight and that usually means I really have to write about it.  Whatever “it” really is.  Every November, I try to do the posts that show you who I am.  Not just because I am a Scorpio, but because it feels right to talk to you about giving back. 

The thing is, I need to give myself permission to be human too.  I don’t like the word “judge” because I feel that it is overused.  So let me paint this picture.  I had to take something back to the store.  I didn’t want to, and really wasn’t going out.  TMI, but I use excuses in my head like “It’s raining and I have PMS.” Whatever.  It was true.  However, somehow I decided to get in the car anyway and take something back to the store not near my house.

I had on my yoga clothes, and my hair was crazy…and I drive a pretty ermmmm beat-up looking mini-van.  BUT it’s PAID for.  And has GANDALF on the side as well as my “Not all who wander are lost” sticker…so it’s been good to me.  It might be leaking oil and perhaps my dad thinks it’s going to break down on me…but it gets me from point A to B.

I live with 7 invisible diseases still…give or take some symptoms that could count as more probably, but I look like a middle-aged, gasp, soccer mom.  I can pull off younger according to nice man at Trader Joe’s who ID’d me for wine saying I looked like a high schooler.  I think he just expected a tip.  Or an invite to drink wine.  Who knows.  But the point to this is, I AM JUST TRYING TO MAKE IT like everyone else. 

As I left the store after returning my cheap leggings, I decided to go next door to check out the work out clothes.  I almost missed him he as he blended into the wall.  There was a young man wrapped up with a sign saying homeless.  My heart skipped a beat and I timidly smiled at him, but secretly thought “Oh shit.  I never carry any cash.  I have to do something even if he isn’t for real.”  <<<< notice that last thought.  It’s ok to think that.

As I went to the dressing room, I dug through my purse to find a card and wrote the name of local shelters on the back.  I went in the line, and bought snacks and a bottle of water.  I put them in a bag with the card.  I walked outside and went right up to him.  He didn’t think I was going to stop.  I could tell.  His eyes looked like he was about to cry.  I glanced at what appeared to be a rather new suitcase, and really big at that, but thought, don’t “judge” that.  Look directly at him.  As I kept eye contact, I began to tell him about a few local shelters and I said here is a snack for you.  I asked him if he knew where a few were and he answered about one being only for women.  I wasn’t even trying to trip him up, but I remembered he was right.

I told him about a program I used to refer families to, and I said is this a recent thing?  He said he was “locked up” and lost his job.  I said okay, well if you promise to do what these people tell you, you can stay there.  He actually smiled a bit around the corners of his mouth and thanked me and said he would look into it.  As I walked away, I didn’t want to know his name.  I just got in my car and thanked Jesus and asked him to protect this unknown stranger.  My eyes welled up with tears as I remembered him looking like he was about to cry as I went up to him and made eye contact.

It was not my place to think about all the other people who I saw in the store.  It was not my place to think of the executive man in the suit.  The woman with riding boots and expensive clothes.  The ladies Christmas shopping already.  The woman who passed me in nice work clothes and watched what I was doing.  It was my place to think what if this was me?  What if this was my brother?  What if this was someone I knew?  What if this was an angel checking on humanity reporting back?  <<< Okay, but it could be.  Anyway, so I just wanted to let you know that I am not always an angel either.  But I do have a good heart.  So do you if you listen to it.

State of gratitude

Gratitude Journal Prompts

Stuck in a “Gratitude Rut” because sometimes life is hard?

Years ago, through a series of health issues that seemed to come out of no where, I was left with lots of pain.  Darkness began to saturate my thoughts.  Pain really does lead to fear…fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate and hate leads to suffering.  Yes, Yoda is a wise one.  But so was the Buddha who also spoke of suffering.  Anyway, through a series of steps, hard steps, I began to turn my thoughts back to what was best for me.  That meant getting rid of dead weight.  People who did not support my new habits and ways of life.  That part was really hard, but necessary.  As necessary as breathing because you have to surround yourself with what you are trying to become.  That is one of my top shared quotes as said by me, Aimee Halpin.  So let’s look at some prompts to help you create new habits of the mind.30 days of Thankfulness

Gratitude Prompts:

  • What does it mean to be grateful?  Write a few words about what it means to you.
  • Who do I appreciate?  Think long and hard about this one if necessary.
  • What abilities do I have that I’m grateful for or what am I proud of that I recently accomplished?  It can be going to the store.  It’s that easy.
  • What experiences have I had that I am grateful for?  Have you ever thought about thanking your body?  Weird, I know.  But just ponder that for a minute.
  • What opportunities do I have that I am thankful for that others might not have?  If you are unsure, write down 3 synonyms for gratitude and see what comes up in your mind.
  • What am I taking for granted that, if I stop to think about it, I am grateful for that perhaps others don’t have?  Reflect on something that perhaps even made you stronger than you were before it happened.
  • What is different today than it was a year ago that has really helped me be grateful?  Maybe even something that you learned to grow in a way you never thought possible.
  • Write down ways that you find balance in your life that you can be grateful for…and if you don’t have self-care practices in place, write ways to add them to your life.

These few suggestions can help change your mindset if you even do one a week.  Don’t wait for the right time to think of being grateful…practice it daily.  If you can elaborate on the things that are going right in your life, you start to focus energy on the good and more good will be seen…therefore, more good will appear to really come your way.  Don’t forget to give it a real chance.  It takes time to change your thoughts and methods.

Need more help?  Purchase this E-book for more!

autumn-joy

New:  Want to be surrounded by others working on a similar goal?  Visit the Head|Heart|Health Club today!

 

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Motivational Monday…my surprise

Hey y’all!  Guess what?  People seem to like me!!  I have friends:)  So this weekend was a certain erm birthday.  My husband isn’t known for planning things.  That isn’t his fault necessarily…it’s just the way things are.  However, in my family, birthdays have always been a big deal.  So my mom planned to take me shopping…and everyone came along.  The kids, my dad and good ole’ hubby.

We went to the outlets…but it was like they were giving away free puppies or something.  So it wasn’t really a good idea.  I did enjoy myself in one store, but after that, I was like, oh yeah, this is why I do not shop.  I don’t.  I can’t stand the commercialization of things.  Lines out the door just to get $5 off or whatever.  Maybe you all like it, but meh.  I don’t.

So anyway, it was all they could do to keep me out to a certain time.  But when we finished dinner, I told them I was coming home to put on my special comfy jammies…I bought myself for my birthday.  Shh.  I did.  I bought erm these like snuggie, zip up long john things.  Hahahaha.  But seriously.  I did.

MeProof.

But surprise!!  People were coming over to my house…and some were already in my house.  And it was wonderful because they had food and things.  Ok, they had wine.  But the food was gluten-free and that was oh so thoughtful that they went to that kind of trouble for little ole me.  But I had to stay in real clothes…but that was ok.  We had a fire pit and we talked.  I miss talking to people.  I did pick up my phone to snap a few photos, but really almost forgot to do that.  So I appreciate the party because it was about being real again.  Talking and being in the moment.  The one that is right now.  Now tomorrow, or a few days from now, or I have to do x,y,z because x, y, z will be there.  Please connect in the here and now with your peeps.  They will be ever so thankful and appreciative…and grateful.

Friends

And they will be really HAPPY.

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30 days of thankfulness…

Be thankful

Last year at this time, I wrote all about my past teaching experiences, but I didn’t tell all the stories.  I think sometimes people go about their day-to-day lives and they don’t realize how hard it is for “others” to acclimate.  Let me explain “others”.  Others are the people who have seen more.  War veterans, drug users come clean, homeless, recovering alcoholics, people from poverty, cancer survivors, empaths, police detectives, people who live with invisible diseases, counselors, teachers and many, many more.  “Others” try to blend in, but it’s really hard sometimes.  They carry around the knowledge that there are bad things out there…bad things that perhaps normal people don’t notice.

So for my 30 days of Thankfulness on my, ahem, slightly larger Facebook Fan page,  I have paired with people from all walks of life.  Yes, all of the above types of people and I dearly LOVE them all.  They have the biggest hearts of anyone I know and they also hurt the most when things don’t quite go as expected.  The funny thing about the inspirational page owners is that we are people too, and sometimes, real life tries to kick us when we are down, but because we know, just know, others are counting on us to get up again, we do.

So I made a post and kicked off my 30 days yesterday, and the one word I used was “Life” because I am very thankful for it even though it does not always go as planned.  I am also thankful for my readers here because you guys have been with me for a while.  You know more than my FB fans do, because to them, it’s just pretty quotes.  But to me, and you, we know there are always stories behind every quote.  Always LIFE behind every quote I make.  So here’s to the life behind the quotes.

Thankful

Tune in Thursday all month long for Thankful Thursday here on the blog.

Author’s note:  I completed an extra journaling section just for you guys who are part of the 4 Weeks to Wellness challenge!

 

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Poverty…

What does poverty look like?

It can be any color.  Sometimes, it is painful.  It doesn’t have a phone, internet or cable.  Sometimes, it hangs out with anger.  It has a rumbling belly and a grudge a mile wide.  Sometimes it is cold.  It gets mad at others who don’t appreciate the finer things, like having a warm jacket.  Sometimes it is envious.  It might be friends with drugs and alcohol.  Sometimes, it tries to hide from those friends.  It doesn’t care if it has to use food stamps as long as that means food.  But sometimes, oh sometimes, it hates asking for help.  Poverty has pride even though others don’t notice it.  Sometimes, it was just born like this and wishes it could grow up to be something else.

I loved all my children instantly.  Even the difficult one.  The mad one.  The one who hated school.  I thought he hated me too, but since it was only first grade, what in the world did he have to be so angry for?

He didn’t listen, or do homework.  I tried to talk to his mother, but she didn’t answer the phone.  Half the numbers weren’t working for most of the kids by November anyway.  Some parents still hadn’t met me yet.  This was not what I thought.  What was I doing here?  One day, my angry friend didn’t show up to school.  He always tried to pick a fight with the other kids or back talk me, but I was still surprised he wasn’t there.  An hour or so after school started, in walked “Q” with his wife-beater on drenched in sweat (the kids called tank-top undershirts that name).  I felt his forehead, and asked him what in the world happened.  Was he sick?  No, I missed the bus.  Ok, so is your mom signing you in?  No, she’s not (he angrily spit out the words).  Okay, honey.  How did you get here?  I walked.  You walked???  To school???  Honey, I have to call your mom.  Where is she?  You can’t call her.  Her boyfriend ripped the phone off the wall and hit her with it.  So then, they left.  And I missed the bus.  At this point, I had to compose my features.  I was about to cry.  Ahem.  I’m just going to get my friend real quick.  Would you like to talk to her?  (I am/was legally bound to report abuse of all kinds and I didn’t know what else had happened, but before he said another word, I needed the counselor there.)  No.  I don’t.  Can I give you a hug?  Yes.  I squeezed Mr. Q as tight as I could infusing in him all the love I possessed so he knew someone cared.  So I got him working on whatever totally trivial piece of work I was required to teach this child.  Because let me tell you, I can’t remember what it was and he certainly needed to know he was loved right then.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, I loved the curriculum I taught back then, but I knew I needed to teach so much more.  Things that are taught from birth to age 6 that slip the minds of some folks because they seem second nature.

I’d like to tell you this had a happy ending, but the truth is after I talked to the guidance counselor, his momma tried to come up to my class and start a fight with me.  I had just found out I was pregnant with my first child and the guidance counselor was there in the hall as the mom stared me down, mind you, I’m still a 5’2 white girl, and I stared right back.  She did make a motion as if to strike me, but did not.  She went in to see the principal and my friend Q was moved to a different room that year.  A black teacher’s room (see previous post if you wonder why this matters).  He came to my room every day.  Every single day after that.  He told me he missed me.  He asked to be moved back.  I was almost on the verge of tears so I sat him down.  “You didn’t do anything wrong, honey. And neither did I.  Sometimes, folks don’t see eye to eye on how to handle a situation, so they do the best they can.  Your momma, well, she doesn’t like me much now.  Maybe later she will, but right now she doesn’t.  It’s not your fault. ”  Like I said, Q came to see me everyday.  His teacher and I were already friends, so she knew how much it meant to me.  And guess what, she was married to a white man, but Q’s mom didn’t know that, ha.

Diversity

Writers note:  I wrote the two pieces separately, thinking of the same situation.  They seemed to fit together to give you, the reader, the whole picture.

 

Motivational Monday…

I hope you are enjoying my “giving back” series for November.  If you haven’t had a chance to read the previous two posts, please take a peek.  There is a quote I read every night before going to bed.  I am going to post it in the middle here today and change things up.  I know, wild.

Find Yourself

I reflect on this quote and ponder if I have “found myself” yet.  I don’t want to miss my chance to help others, and keep wondering if I am missing some sort of sign.  One of my friends messaged me last night and said almost the same thing.  Maybe it’s our age…30 something, with me closer to the next decade this errrrm week actually.  I will be…wait for it…39.  There.  I said it.  So I am doing quite a bit of reflecting on what I have done in the past and if I could have done anything different.  I don’t think I could.  So, my motivation for this today is to embrace everything that has led me to this one point in my life, and reflect with happiness that I did the best I could in any past situation.  A wise man told me he discovered a secret.  I don’t know if he would want to be named or not, but I really like what he told me, so here it is:

Another great lesson in life is to fully know that at any given moment a person does the very best they can, given what they have been taught, their experiences, knowledge and state of mind at the time.

This is a simple truth because if people were able to do better, they would have, i.e. it was the best they had at that moment.

Sometimes their “best” doesn’t match our, or societies, standards but it was all they had when they opened their bag of life skills and looked in.

I read this 5 times or more and let it sink in.  I am so glad he said that to me even if I didn’t realize how much I needed to hear it at that particular moment.  So not only are people doing the best they can, but you are too.  So if you haven’t “found” yourself yet, that’s okay.  We are all doing the best we can.

NaBloPoMo and my mission…

Just because I’m not going to write the next great American novel doesn’t mean I’m not going to blog more this month.  National Blog Posting Month gave me an idea last year for some really interesting posts, so this year, I am branching out again.

I started this day off by helping others in my neighborhood.  It was a small gesture at first, but I hope they enjoyed it.  A surprise treat on two porches.  Next, a neighbor called and asked for help with writing an obituary.  I can honestly say that I haven’t had to look into that before, but I was quite surprised at the price.  She had her draft ready to go, but had a hard time navigating the internet.  I think it’s cute when the older generation doesn’t really understand as I’m sure I’ll be like that one day.  Anyway, it took me a few seconds and I was done, but since her computer was slow and a bit old as well, I couldn’t get the photo to upload properly.  It also was estimated to cost her over $450.  She was shocked.  We took the photo part off after much debate, changing it to black/white, and cutting some lines.  By the time we were done it was still $300.

The sad thing is, I realize newspapers are becoming a thing of the past, but everything seems price driven right now.  As I walked away with a jar of homemade fig preserves, I thought about the barter system.  Why can’t we do more things like this right now?  We are all hurting for money.  Or better yet, start doing more without expecting anything in return.  I see people all the time trying to sell their belongings.  When it doesn’t sell, I hope you donate.  I am going to be posting more about giving back to the community this month and I am going to be looking into ways we can change things for each other.

This is the page of a dear friend, and I encourage you to browse it as you ponder what we really can do to help the “re-Birth of Humanity“.  If you take a peek at the top, Glynne has a blog link as well.  She also has a tribute to some modern-day humanitarians.  The definition of such is an ethic of kindness, benevolence and sympathy extended to all human beings.  And this brings me to my challenge for November.  Kindness.  Paying it forward.  Compassion.  These are just a few of the things I am going to be highlighting over on my FB page.  I am going to make an effort to help others this month in any small way I can, and I don’t mean monetary right now.  We need to get out of the mindset where we feel that if we don’t have anything to give, we simply don’t try.  You would be surprised at what others admire about you and it could be a small thing like computer skills.  It could be photography used to help others.  Donating old toys to local shelters.  Your time at a soup kitchen.  Secretly sweeping the leaves from an elderly neighbors drive.  Mowing the lawn of a single mother.  Looking directly in the eye of the cashier and saying “Thank you.”

Improve the world

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”  ~Anne Frank

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Know your strengths…

Sometimes, you doubt yourself when you are doing what is right.  It can be instinct, gut feeling or a tingling.  I have many strengths and yet time and time again I fall back on my weaknesses.  I have to work very hard at positive thinking.  There have been many times in my life where if I placed one foot differently I would have slipped.  I didn’t realize that as a senior in high school, I was heading towards a decline in health.  I mean, who really thinks about that at 17 years old?  When my grandmother passed away that year, I started going into what I now recognize as depression.  I just thought I was angry, pissed off at the world, and sad all at the same time.  When I entered college, who knew that 4 years later, I would be under the care of many specialists for the rest of my life.  I didn’t.  And when I became a mom, who knew that I would fight so hard to stay healthy for them.

As “No”vember is coming to a close this week, we have looked at worry, peace, rest, guilt, courage, weakness, nonsense and saying no.  These all give you strength as well.  Without the things that tire us out in life, we would not have the strength to persevere.  I do not know one person who has ever said to me “My life is too full of happiness, money, and ease.  I love everything about my life and I have never faced any difficulties.”  Psst.  If this is you, just keep quiet.  You didn’t tell me.  Anyway, you are much stronger than you imagine.  You do not have to keep going down that dark path.  Do you see the fork in the road?  The one up ahead?  Take that.  It leads to positive thinking and moving forward.  I bet you don’t even realize what your strengths are.  Your friends do.  You know how you have the ability to whip up a recipe with ease or put colors together that just work.  Maybe you have a way with children.  There are some things you do and you do them so well you don’t even realize it.  That is something to focus on.  Please don’t put one foot in the dying hole already.

“Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.”  ~Lao Tzu

No worries…

Pssst.  There are some really cool bloggers following me.  Thanks!  My husband mentioned he never gets notified by e-mail that I have published anything.  Hmmm.  Strange, check your settings.  Well, if you found this page and like what I have to say, thank you for reading.  Here is the next installment in my “No”vember series:

The path not taken

Tiny travelers

Leaf Collecting

The Spy

My daughter woke me up this morning so we could go walk on the trail.  We let other people pass us by that were in “jogging” mode because I wasn’t in a hurry today.  We collected leaves, made the dog a skirt of them actually, and looked around for spies.  They were everywhere, but I only caught one pretending not to notice us.  We had no worries today, and it should be that way everyday, but you must train your mind to look beyond what is wrong in your life and find what is right.  On our walk, we found an abandoned boat.  Maybe they just weren’t getting anywhere and decided to take the scenic route.

Leave the sinking ship behind

“Life gives you plenty of time to do whatever you want to do if you stay in the present moment.”  ~Deepak Chopra

No to guilt…

We all do things in life we shouldn’t do.  We don’t eat right.  We don’t exercise or we don’t lose weight.  We postpone plans.  We avoid things.  We put off making appointments.  And we carry guilt.  Guilt adds to the burdens we already carry around with us each day.  I realize that it is easier said than done, but why is it so hard to make a plan.  The guilt has the power to control you and ruin your life.  Why not turn the tables around?

There are many hills in life.  Sometimes we are climbing up, and other times we have to go down.  Since August, I have let the hills take me down.  I really have.  I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but everything that was going on in my life was getting to me.  I was letting other people in my life add their problems to mine and no one was throwing me a lifeline.  It finally dawned on me in “No”vember, that it was time for me to take control once again.  I don’t even remember handing over the reins to guilt, but there it was having a great time taking me where it wanted.

Several friends were in the middle of huge problems that had nothing to do with me.  I felt guilty saying to them that I really couldn’t help them.  These problems were beyond me, yet as I listened I felt like I was responsible for helping them out in some way.  I really needed a break, and should have found a way to say it.  Unfortunately, I have always felt responsible for helping people come up with plans to handle things.

So to continue on my journey in “No”vember, I am yanking back the reins.  I am going to re-new the gym membership I let lapse and get back to my hot yoga class.  I am making my plan and I hope you make yours.  Namaste.

“I feel like I want to take care of everyone and I also feel this terrible guilt if I am unable to. And I have felt this way ever since all this success started.”  ~Jim Carrey