Tag Archive | relationships

Do You Want To Be Great?

I recently heard about the passing of a man to whom I was introduced to a few years ago. We met when I had just created the CYACYL brand and I was unsure about how I would proceed. He had media experience and professional contacts and offered advice and support. He even introduced me to a few people that later went on to become guests of the show.

I was not what one would consider to be a close friend of this man and our contact was limited to sporadic phone calls or periodic emails and Facebook messages, but when we were in communication, he always made me feel like I could accomplish anything. His words were so kind and reassuring and he had such a gentle nature about him that one couldn’t help but be drawn to him.

When I heard that he passed away, and at a young age, I was heartbroken. I couldn’t understand why his death had such a deep impact on me, after all, we weren’t particularly close. Then I realized that he approached life with love and kindness and an open heart. He would do anything he could to help another person, even an acquaintance. He looked for the upside of life and really seemed to savor the moment. He was grateful for what he had and treasured his family and friends. Even during his physical challenges and progressing illness, he was faithful to God. Every time I was around him, even briefly, I left a better person. He made me feel special. I would miss that.

Perhaps Maya Angelou summed it up best when she said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Often we touch others in ways we will never know. A smile, an extended hand, a kind word or gesture, support, an invitation. Simple things in life, that we take for granted, that can mean the world to someone else.

We all have tremendous power over one another. Our words and actions can reinforce the courage to press on or provide one more reason to give up. We can extinguish the flame of pain and suffering or be the one to add another log to the fire. We can offer light in a time of darkness or build another layer to a wall of isolation.

When your life comes to an end, how do you want to be remembered? Me? I want to be remembered as being GREAT because as Mark Twain said, “Really GREAT people make you feel that you, too, can become great.

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The Miracle of Friendship

A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you. – Elbert Hubbard

Recently someone asked me what I believe are the qualities of a good friend. To be honest, I had to stop and think about this for a while because it is something to which I really hadn’t given much thought. I have always been surrounded by an army of friends, many of whom have been by my side since childhood, so I probably take friendship for granted.

To answer this question, I decided to look at the people in my life to find some commonalities and examine my behavior towards them. In doing so, I compiled this list of what I believe makes a good friend. There are many more qualities that can be added, but I think these are the biggies. Finding someone who embodies these attributes and being this person for another is a true gift.

Loyal to the end. Perhaps one of the best ways to determine true friendship is to see who keeps your secrets. A true friend would never make you the subject of idle gossip and would go to the grave with something you said in confidence. Finding a confidant can be quite challenging, but when you do, cherish that person and hold on with everything you’ve got.

Doesn’t judge. We all make mistakes and do stupid things. A true friend does not judge you and will not treat you differently, no matter what you’ve done. He or she will stand by your side when everyone else has turned against you.

They’ll be the mirror you’re afraid to look into. Sometimes you may not see that you’re involved in harmful behavior, physically or emotionally. You may be in a romantic relationship that doesn’t serve you well, have a dead end job, or be abusing substances. During these times a true friend will tell you things you don’t necessarily want to hear. This person will speak the hard truths and will be someone on whom you can depend for brutal honesty.

Motivates you to do better. A true friend is your best cheerleader. This person is not jealous about your accomplishments and will always encourage you to believe in yourself, because he or she believes in you. This friend challenges you and builds you up, he or she doesn’t tear you down.

Unconditional love. You don’t have to work for a true friend’s affection; the love is not based on what you do for him or her. This person doesn’t care about your financial status or job position. You are loved solely because of who you are.

Always by your side (even when you don’t ask for help). Everyone has times of need, and a true friend will be by your side helping out, or just sitting with you in silence. He or she provides support and comfort and you get through the difficult time just because this person is there.

Spend Valentine’s Day with the Love of Your Life

­I was watching television recently when it happened … I saw the first commercial for the Valentine’s Day diamond collection – you know, the gift that every woman will treasure. As I listened to the music and watched as the camera panned the romantic setting, waves of emotion overcame me like a tsunami. At that moment, in my mind, everyone in the world was in a loving, committed relationship and I was going to be the only person sitting home alone on February 14 (most likely eating ice cream).

Realistic assumption? Of course not. But for a few minutes the drama queen in me took over and my emotions ran wild. Fortunately, I was able to reign them in, but the feelings I experienced are very common.

The truth of the matter is that while there are many people in wonderful relationships, there are more people today living life as singles than ever before. So, there are more people sitting home believing that they are less of a person because they are one and not a part of two. Society perpetuates this belief.

When we are little, we are taught that we need someone to complete us. The princess is always in search of her prince. We search high and low for him, trying on every glass slipper looking for the perfect fit. Sometimes we find the right shoe, other times we squeeze a size nine into a seven. Going barefoot is never an option.

We are given the misguided notion that life is a Hallmark commercial. But… guess what? The fairytale doesn’t exist; at least not in the way it’s portrayed. There is no prince or princess that will make any of us live happily ever after – no outside person can do that; it’s an inside job.

Until we rekindle the flame of self-love, there will be failed or unfulfilled relationships and tears at the thought of being alone. The self-love I refer to has nothing to do with being selfish, it’s actually being selfless. It’s putting the time and energy into understanding who we are and what we want. It’s about finding our path and fulfilling our dreams. It’s making ourself whole so we can be in a relationship with another (or not) in a healthy way. When we’re whole, there is no jealousy, resentment or neediness. It enables us to find (or stay with) someone who complements us – not completes us.

What better time than Valentine’s Day to reestablish a relationship with yourself? Let it take root and then share it with your soul mate or your sole mate!

Is It A WHAT Or A WHO?

What the new year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the new year. ~Vern McLellan

Happy New Year!

Another year has come to an end and a new one is just beginning. As usual, we use this time as an opportunity to reflect on our life and set new goals.

I’m sure you have seen this Brad Paisley quotation many times in recent weeks: “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.”

As you embark on this task and create your resolutions for the year, I ask, is your priority a WHAT or a WHO?

So often we get caught up in working for the big house, newest model car, designer clothes, latest tech gadget, swankiest vacation, etc., that we lose sight of the most important treasure in life – our relationship with people.

We get so hung up on the things that we want that we forget the people we need, who need us. We miss the school play to work “just one more hour.” We don’t go to dinner with our spouse because “the big game is on.” We don’t listen when others speak to us because our mind is wandering to other places.

In five, 10 or 20 years, you won’t remember which cell phone or tablet you had this year or which work proposal you completed. But, someone will remember your treatment – your words and actions – then, just as he/she remembers it now.

While it’s wonderful to have dreams and goals and strive for abundance in life, just remember that it should not be done at the expense of a loved one or treasured relationship.

What is your priority in 2014? Is it a WHAT or a WHO?

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year. Or Is It?

I love the Christmas season … always have, always will. It’s a time of spiritual renewal, celebrating with family and friends sharing your love. What could be better than this? It is the most wonderful time of the year! Or is it?

Recently, my parish priest told me a story about a man who advertised for a family with whom he could share Christmas dinner. The man said he had no family and couldn’t bear another holiday alone.

If you are one of the millions of people who has lost a loved one or experienced a traumatic life-altering event, the holiday season can be brutal.  It can be the loneliest time of the year.

Watching holiday movies where everyone is gathered around a big table enjoying a meal together and you have no family; seeing television programs showing an abundance of Christmas gifts under the tree when you just lost your job; even watching a jewelry commercial in which the guy gives his girlfriend a diamond pendant and you’re not in a relationship – TORTURE!

We get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season -shopping, cooking, baking, parties, school plays – that we forget to look around and see the people in our circle that may be in pain. We neglect to open our hearts and homes to our friends and family.

When I was growing up, my family would have Christmas dinner in my grandparent’s basement. Yes, the basement. Horror of horrors. We used mismatched dishes, glasses and silverware. We sat at card tables, folding tables, sometimes even used TV trays for the kiddies. And do you know why? Because EVERYONE was invited and welcome in that home. If any family member (or even a guest) heard about people that were going to be alone (even a family of four), they were instructed to invite them. We cooked for an army so it didn’t matter if there were 10 or 50; we always made do.

That is how I have always lived my life – everyone is welcome at my table. But, when I look around, I do not see others living their life that way. This is something I don’t understand.

I see people that have holiday dinners with their families but don’t ever extend an invitation to a few extra people that they know don’t have a family. What difference will two, three or even six people make? Everyone knows someone in his or her inner circle that needs a hand. Just imagine how many less lonely people there would be if a friend extended a hand!

There’s still time!

This Christmas I encourage you to look at the people in your life – family members (even extended family and in-laws), friends, coworkers – and open your home and your heart. Share a meal and some company. Make someone feel like he or she is loved and wanted. If you don’t have enough china or crystal, use your every day dishes and glasses. Mix and match, or use paper. I guarantee your guests won’t mind. It won’t take much from you, but you will receive so much.

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”  Matthew 25:40

Merry Christmas!

PS: It doesn’t matter what holiday you celebrate, open your heart and your home.

Maneuvering Through the Dark

A few weeks ago I had the misfortune (or good fortune) of injuring my foot. It is nothing serious – a torn tendon and minor fracture – but it has forced me to wear an air boot, slow down, and rest much more than I am accustomed to. I am a person that is used to being on the go, very energetic and independent, so, while it is not a life threatening injury, it is certainly a life annoying injury.

One day, about a week into my hobbling around, I had to visit the home of someone who has never been particularly supportive of me. This person lives on the second floor of a two family home and requires the climb up extremely steep, cement, outdoor stairs in order to arrive at the entrance. When I got to the home it was daylight, but within minutes the sun went down and it was soon pitch black outside.

I completed my business and said my goodbye. As I approached the door, I requested that the person turn on an exterior light, as the stairway was very dark. I was informed that the light did not work. This person did not offer to assist me in any way and I had to maneuver my way down treacherous stairs, with a wounded foot, in total darkness.

I made it home safely, but to be honest, I was quite upset. Initially I spent some time being hurt, feeling sorry for myself, wallowing in self-pity. I decided that behavior was not going to serve me well so I began to think about the situation rationally. I came to realize that this was a wonderful illustration of our relationship.  This person has continually left me wounded, in the dark, to maneuver my way on my own. I have been trying to hang on because I was afraid to let go. But, looking back, every time I made it through the dark alone, I emerged stronger, more self confident and self-reliant.

I am a firm believer that there are gifts and blessings in every situation if you take the time to look for them. Here is another example. Had I not injured my foot I would not have been able to see with such clarity. There was something in the situation that was so clear, such a vivid message for me. It is time to let go.

How about you? What have you experienced, good or bad, that can teach you a life lesson? I challenge you to put your emotions aside and allow yourself to see your situation clearly. It may not always be what you want, but the lesson is usually in full sight.

Without the Bad You Wouldn’t Feel the Good

One of my friends stopped by my house this past weekend and when I answered the door, she was surprised to see tears streaming down my face. Immediately she asked what was wrong. I told her that I was watching The Waltons marathon on television. The look on her face was priceless!

I explained that The Waltons has always reminded me of my family when I was growing up, especially the grandmother. I said that watching the show made me long for my family members, all of whom have since passed, and the wonderful times that we shared. My friend asked why I watch the show if it makes me cry and I told her that the emotions are bittersweet because while I feel extremely sad, I also remember the love and joy that I felt over the years. The wonderful memories came flooding in.

Sometimes you need to experience the bad in order to get to the good. We all have days when life’s challenges or daily obstacles that are usually handled without blinking an eye, have the power to drive a dagger into the heart. Life doesn’t always work out according to plan. Everyone feels vulnerable, sad and lonely from time to time. That’s ok. It’s those challenging days that give meaning to every other day. The ups and downs make life worth living. Without the bad you wouldn’t feel the good.

Just because you’re having a day or two (or sometimes month or year) that isn’t going your way, doesn’t mean you’re having a bad life. Look past the sadness to the gifts and lessons that are being offered – sometimes you have to look through the tears – but they’re always there.

Good night John-boy.