One Reason to be Thankful

Mother

My Mother, Polly Dunia, her granddaughter, Lindsay Parsons to her left, and on the right, great niece Manuela Meziere

“Of all of the reasons for which one can be thankful, a mother’s love is truly one of the best.”

Sitting at my desk on the evening of Thanksgiving I’d been looking forward to writing this post all week long. For months, my mother has been my chief editor for these articles. She scrutinizes them for grammatical, punctuation and usage errors however, this one needed to remain a secret. Fortunately my siblings and I are celebrating a belated Thanksgiving Holiday with her this Sunday which made the perfect excuse for her to take the week off.

If there is one thing for which I am most grateful to her is that any kindness, integrity, honesty, or similar attributes I possess can be attributed mainly to her. Raising three boys with ravenous appetites and always on the go was at best, difficult. At one point, we were so involved with our own lives that she wouldn’t cook Sunday morning breakfast until we had at least mowed the front and back yards. Fortunately, my younger sister was there to give her a break from us.

What really hits home for me are those times when I did not appreciate her or worse, let her down by my actions. Many times I wish there were a way to go back and change those moments but I also believe that those disappointments have made stronger the appreciation for her love and patience.

One other characteristic I also received from her is my propensity for proper grammar and I hope my big brother will forgive me for relating this next story. He was in seventh grade and I was in fourth. One evening while doing his grammar homework at the dinner table, mom was helping him. I was in the next room watching TV with the door closed. Suddenly I heard her exclaim in a rather loud voice, “No, it’s a preposition!” A few minutes later, she said the exact same words only a bit louder. After her fifth time shouting it, I remember feeling anxious and thinking, “I’m going to remember what a preposition is”! My brother may not have grasped it at that moment but he did go on to major in Latin and teaches it at the high school level.

Each Saturday morning, I make it a point to call her. The conversations touch on many subjects but mainly I want to hear in her voice that she is okay. If I sense something that tells me otherwise, I’ll make an effort to bring up one of her many  positive attributes and remind her that she still does an incredible job. Most assuredly, I’ll be doing it again this Saturday.

There are times during these phone conversations when I do the lion’s share of the talking but that portion usually ends by me saying, “Okay Mother, I’ll shut up now and let you have a turn”.  My main concern is to leave the call on a positive note and to tell her that I love her.

For the last three decades, most of her time has been spent helping others and volunteering. She first began caring for her own mother, then her sister, grandchildren, and other relatives. She also volunteered at a local hospital. These episodes all contain countless stories of selfless dedication providing food, transportation, or simply a sympathetic ear.

Though she has never considered herself a physically strong person, last January, right before her eighty-fifth birthday, she fell and broke her hip. This type of injury is devastating for most in her age bracket but in less than six months after her surgery, she was walking without the use of a cane!

Being a parent of adult children myself now makes me love and appreciate even more what she has done. But unlike her, I never had to raise them alone.

It’s ironic that thinking back on those times when I feel like I let her down or didn’t appreciate her as much as I should have would foster and develop a deeper love and appreciation for her but they do and for that reason, I can and will continue to remember those as well as the times I did.

Thank you mom and I do love you more each day. Please know that if you find any mistakes or errors, you won’t be blaming yourself!

 

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Truly Thankful

“A Gift from the Heart is never given with an expectation of what it will receive in return.”

This week in the U.S., we celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday. While its origins go back to 1621, it has unfortunately evolved into another corporate exploitation with the day after marking the largest retail shopping day of the year known as “Black Friday”. But the one thing which big business can never usurp from it is the spirit behind its celebration.

Giving thanks is a powerful human expression and emotion. When done with a sincere heart, it creates a calm and warming feeling within which numerous studies have been done to prove why thankfulness invokes these extremely positive outcomes.

There is a saying which undoubtedly everyone has heard and that is, “It’s better to give than to receive” and if I may be reflective for a moment, as a child and young adult, there were times when I questioned this age-old adage. It wasn’t that I didn’t like doing things for others or expected something in return, but how can NOT having something be better than having something?

For decades I was restrained with my “generosity” and on several occasions made excuses why I shouldn’t participate in the spirit of giving. Other times when I did give, a sour expression on my face was very telling of the lack of a charitable spirit behind it. Even though my attitude was clearly not consistent with that popular saying, nonetheless had anyone asked me about it, I would have adamantly agreed that it was always better to give than to receive.

Fortunately a few years back, I had hired a business coach, *RaShelle Roberts. One day as our session was ending, she told me something which I will never forget. “The Universe has no judgement”, she began.  “It’s like a mirror and whatever you put out into the world it will reflect back on to you.” For some reason, her statement really hit home with me and my attitude about giving started to evolve.

I began going out of my way to give more than ever. There was no expectation for anything in return but merely showing the Universe that I was a kind and giving person. It didn’t take long to notice a difference both in me and my financial situation. There was a feeling I had more money without any change in my job or lifestyle to explain it. Even if the additional means were not available, the feelings it evoked in me were now making that age-old adage come true.

As the Holiday Season fast approaches, what are your stories about giving and how has it changed your life or the lives of others. In what ways do yours differ in experience? Let’s celebrate this time of year by reading inspiring and empowering accounts. I look forward to yours.

*To find out more about internationally renowned Business Coach, RaShelle Roberts, click here or on her name above

Thanks to Helena Yankovska. To find out more about her, click here or her name below the picture.

 

How Do Others Influence Us?

 

Nature-Brain

Photo Courtesy of Sayyeda Fatima Ahmed

 

“Others can influence us but ultimately, we are responsible for the choices we make”

Becoming a better version of ourselves is what most of us strive for each day. In the last article, (click here to read it) this objective was contrasted against the idea of always trying to “be who we are”. In both cases, the effect that others have on helping or hindering us is not always clearly understood. A popular saying which highlights this is, “Don’t allow others to keep you from being who you are”. While it is true,  there are times when we need advice and validation from others. There are a few simple concepts that might help in discerning when we should or shouldn’t lean on the remarks of others.

Humans are by nature social creatures. We enter life completely dependent on others but as we grow older and strive for independence, our confidence is boosted when we hear positive assurances from those whom we trust. Conversely, we can establish a negative idea about ourselves if we are persistently belittled or demeaned by those very same people. Our self-image, especially as young children, is greatly influenced by what we perceive from those around us.

Setting the stage for positive self-image at a young age is vital in our ability to grow as humans throughout our entire lifetime. Understanding the difference between making a bad choice is much different from believing that we made that choice because we are worthless or stupid.

As adults, hearing constructive words from others provides validation that we are doing the right thing. If we were to be constantly barraged with negative comments from everyone around us, there is a good chance we would start to believe them no matter how wrong they were.

However, what really validates or allows those words to influence us? It is when we ultimately believe them to be true. When working towards a goal and someone tells you, “Nice job”, it contributes to our confidence but it is only when we believe those words about ourselves that brings it to fruition. No amount of compliments or praise will develop your own value if you do not accept them to be true.

Equally, if someone else criticizes your efforts but you know in your heart that you are doing a good job, their words will fall silent on your ears. If what they say has smatterings of truth, you can choose to take the constructive parts and use it towards your development. Lastly, there is always the option to accept those negative things, believe them and become lost or stymied in your own negative thoughts about who you are. What all three of these scenarios have in common is that WE ultimately must deem them true.

There are times when we are stuck in situations of negativity which may be virtually impossible to escape. Although it is always preferable to be surrounded by supporting and nurturing people, we still must accept that negativity before it adversely impacts our self-confidence.

No matter what others say about us, believing it for ourselves is how it will have any influence or impact on us at all. Thank you very much and I look forward to your comments.

#Empowerment #Healing #selfgrowth

Always Be Yourself!

Bunny

“Being who you are meant to be is a challenge – especially when we are constantly improving on ourselves”

This past week  I celebrated my 59th birthday and along with the wonderful greetings  on social media platforms, my girlfriend gave me a T-shirt which read, “Always Be Yourself – Unless you can be a Bunny – Then always be a Bunny“. While her intention was for it to be a cute gift, the idea of “being yourself” is one which repeatedly intrigues me. There are countless slogans which express a similar thought but I’m not completely convinced that “being yourself” should be the real goal.

Humans constantly strive to better themselves and as a result, we are not the same person we were 5 years or even 1 year ago. So wouldn’t it make more sense for the slogan to read, “Always strive to see who we can become”?

Living in the present moment is important but it is just as vital to continue working on a better version of you. Obstacles along the way help us overcome challenges and build strength of character. We may seek the advice of others whom we trust but ultimately it is up to us to decide whether or not to act upon it. Sometimes well-intended counsel from others becomes a crutch but in my particular case, it was even more convoluted than that.

As a child I wanted to do what was right. I attended church at a very young age and never wanted to disappoint God. Being so young, I didn’t have the confidence to believe that God could reveal to me what was right so I listened to the leaders and elders of the church. What ended up happening wasn’t so much asking for their advice but rather I tried anticipating what they would tell me. If I could figure that out, that would mean my thinking was more aligned with what God would want me to do. It sounds a bit bizarre and wasn’t necessarily what they were teaching, but it was what I felt I needed to do in order to do the right thing.

The results were not only that I never really knew who I was, but even knowing myself was inconsequential. There is an in-depth explanation in my book but I will always remember sitting with my therapist at the age of 53 and telling him, “I have no clue who I am”.

The big breakthrough came when I realized that it was my thinking patterns, which began in childhood, that caused these hurtful and sabotaging results. The shameful things I believed about myself “forced” me to make those choices believing I was actually doing the “right” thing. However, the healing began when I was able to forgive myself for those choices and continue the journey to “Always strive to see who I can become”.

All of us have different ambitions and purposes in our lives but the one objective common among all races, religions, and cultures is to become a better version of ourselves. In the comments, feel free to write some of the hurdles you had to overcome to improve yourself. Perhaps it will be beneficial to other readers. I look forward to reading them.