Monday, April 28, 2014

Today she gave me $5...

She walks the streets at all hours of the day checking garbage cans. Every week she is out there, no matter how cold.  Rain seems to be the only time I don't see her.  It appears life has not been easy for her and I'm sure there are some who have told her to scram and leave their garbage alone.

What started out for me as something so simple has changed me more than she knows.  She has taught me the value of letting people give you things and simply saying thank you, even though I know she has what most of us consider to be less.

In a previous post,, I shared a little about my friend. Since then, I have received another fish, bananas and now, $5.  But I will tell you, words cannot express what she has truly given me.  Very few words are spoken between us, she always smiles when she sees me come out, and always says thank you.  Today, I told her thank you.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Search for Significance

I’ve been thinking lately. We all desire to belong, plain and simple. We all desire to be recognized, to know that who we are means something. Not that we all seek to be president, or the best doctor or the next “Bill Gates”. No, many of us just want to be known.  We hear about someone getting an award for a job well done and a part of us thinks “man, that should have been me” whether it’s because we played a key part or simply because we know that we have done something amazing too.  We say we don’t need to be in the spotlight, which is true, I believe, for most of us.  Yet something inside longs to be recognized, to know we are making a difference, to be told we are doing something right.

Growing up, most of us have someone in our life that tells us how pretty or handsome we are, what a good job we’ve done or some form of compliment.  We draw or color pictures for our family and watch for their approval (hoping our picture would go on the frig).  Maybe you received an award for perfect attendance or student of the month.  We receive report cards from school saying something, even if it was that “Johnny talks too much.” Because a negative comment is still recognition, the acknowledgement that someone noticed us.  As we get older and develop our own opinion, we look for someone to agree with us.  As teens, we look to our peers for acceptance & reassurance.  But then we get out of school.  We begin to search again, to belong, to be recognized.  We search for jobs, relationships, companions, places to live, cars.  Many of us find a job, have a family, yet in some way, we are still missing something that says you made a difference.  Think about it, if marriage was enough, the divorce rate wouldn’t be so high.  If having kids was enough, our young generation would be thriving.  If the perfect job was enough, depression wouldn’t be regularly diagnosed.  If being single was the answer, dating websites wouldn’t be so common.  People who are single often think they just need to get married.  People who are married think maybe they married too young, too late, the wrong person.  Even though as an adult we learn to accept the way things are, we still long to hear some sort of recognition, something that says “you’re doing it right.”

I guess what I am trying to say is I just want to exist for more than cleaning the house, for more than just cooking another dinner, for more than just existing.  In a way, I believe we all do.  Let’s face it, if we all really looked inside, we’d agree that when we receive a compliment or are acknowledged in some way, it makes us feel better.  Seriously, men don’t want to just be known for working hard and taking care of the yard and women don’t want to be known as a “just a stay at home mom” or the “working mom who does it all.”  Within each of us is a longing for more, our mind KNOWS we were made for more. 

So, here’s my challenge.  What if we stop being so critical and judgmental and thinking “other” people are really messed up?  What if we stop getting mad at the person who cut you off?  What if we stop judging the disruptive kid?  What if we DON’T leave an ugly note for the person who parked too close or too crooked?  What if we stop cussing people out, flipping people off, calling someone names, chasing people because they drove too close to us?  What if we stopped getting mad at the cashier because they move too slow, stopped screaming at the person on the phone just because we don’t like what we hear?  What if we stopped comparing people?  What if we stopped demanding to get “our way?”  

AND INSTEAD, we start focusing on what people do RIGHT, let people pass us, find a way to harness the active kids energy into something positive, I mean, look at Jacob Barnett (see link below).  What if we just park somewhere else, speak encouraging words, smile more often, be kind to the cashier, spoke respectfully to people on the phone, stop demanding our way and consider the fact that maybe the person who sped passed you is racing to get to the hospital to say goodbye to a loved one?  Maybe, just maybe we would see that we are all just trying to get somewhere and looking for a way to belong.  And maybe, just maybe we would hear “you’re doing it right” more often, even better, we’d know.

Jacob Barnett: