Why Do We Hurt the People We Love?

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The shattering of a heart when being broken is the loudest quiet ever.
Carroll Bryant

Last night, I attended a Lent Reconciliation service for children at my church. Fr. Michael stood up to speak briefly before the services began and I found myself glued to his every word. He first read the story of when Jesus appears to his disciples for the third time after the resurrection. After they had all finished eating, Jesus asks Simon Peter, “Simon Peter, son of John, do you love me?” Jesus goes on to repeat the question three times. Simon Peter’s third and last response is, “”Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Fr. Michael went on to explain that Simon Peter was the disciple who had denied knowing Jesus three times before His crucifixion. (NIV 60-61): “Peter replied, ‘Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!’ Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.”

Jesus, according to Fr. Michael, was not mad at Simon Peter. He loved him and forgave him. Simon Peter wanted to be forgiven and it was done. But, he asked, “Why do you think we want to be forgiven? We don’t have to ask for forgiveness if we don’t want to. We do it because of love.”

He told the congregation that the love that we feel for someone leads us to want to be forgiven. It is because of that love that we seek forgiveness in the first place. He told everyone to imagine their own life. “Think about a time when you were hurt in your own life. How would you feel if a friend you loved did this to you?”

I almost felt like Fr. Michael was speaking directly to me. I, like so many others, have been hurt more times than I can count. But Fr. Michael’s point was we all get hurt but it doesn’t mean that person doesn’t love you or that you don’t love them. Sometimes the people we love are easy targets. We don’t mean to hurt them.

The following is a verse from a song by the Mills Brothers called You Always Hurt the One You Love:

“You always hurt the one you love, the one you should not hurt at all;
You always take the sweetest rose, and crush it till the petals fall;
You always break the kindest heart, with a hasty word you can’t recall;
So if I broke your heart last night, it’s because I love you most of all.”

In the case of Simon Peter, I’m sure it was fear that led him to deny knowing Jesus, a man he loved dearly. But obviously there are varying reasons why we hurt the people we love. Just look around you. How many times have you seen best friends become enemies and two lovers become strangers? Many times, right?

So why, then, do we hurt the people we love? Well, for one, the ego has a good role in all of this. Our ego prevents us from expressing our feelings. When we love someone so deeply, it is only natural that we expect certain things from them. We want them to feel the same way we do and do the same things we do. But when we feel that our feelings or actions are not reciprocated, we often react by hurting the one we love. Sometimes, unfortunately, this is intentional but more often it’s not.

Think of it this way, when you meet someone new and there is a conflict, what happens? You don’t think much about it. You are able to just go on with your life. But when it involves someone you love, it’s not that easy. You’ve given the other person a piece of your heart. You’ve told this person your deepest secrets. You trusted this person and this makes things all the more difficult.

There is conflict in every relationship sooner or later. Change happens. Life happens. How many times have you promised never to hurt someone only to hurt them in the end? Sometimes these conflicts lead to the end of a marriage, make strangers out of family members or turn friends into foes.

I’m not making excuses or implying that it’s OK to hurt the one you love, far from it. But if we could all just put our egos aside and look at the bigger picture, just maybe we’ll see that certain relationships are worth fighting for. Maybe we’ll realize it’s worth holding on for just a little bit longer. And just maybe it all begins with admitting your pain, acknowledging your own vulnerability and asking for forgiveness.

Vivere: Will You Dare to Live?

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To thine own self be true.  – Shakespeare

I hate it when people think they know what’s best for me and even more so when they are right. Recently I went out to lunch with my cousin Sal and confided in him how I was feeling so overwhelmed by everything going on in my life.  I told him how I sometimes felt like I was living everyone’s life except my own. Sal looked at me and said something that made me stop my ranting in mid-sentence, “You’re losing yourself.  That’s what’s happening.”

His wise words hit me like a ton of bricks.  It wasn’t something that I wanted to hear but Sal was absolutely right.  I realized that I have been spending so much time trying to make others happy that I was neglecting the one person that truly counts: me.

The late Leo Buscaglia was a professor teaching at the University of Southern California in the late 1960’s when a student of his committed suicide.  Her death had a tremendous impact on him and led him to start a non-credit course entitled Love 1A.  Although no grades were given, this course grew in popularity and led to the publication of several bestselling books.

Buscaglia was a renowned motivational speaker who believed “the hardest battle you’re ever going to fight is the battle to be just you.”  No doubt, there is a certain level of contentment we feel when we are part of the crowd.  There is a level of comfort we feel from knowing that we fit in and are accepted.  But sometimes we need to find the courage to walk a path which is truly our own.

Looking back at my life, I can tell you that I didn’t always feel this way.  When I was a little girl I wanted more than anything to fit in.  Because I was born with cerebral palsy, I felt like an outsider looking in.  At that point in my life, I didn’t want to be “different;” I wanted to be just be like everyone else.  I didn’t want to be that little girl with kinky, curly hair looking back at me in the mirror.

Well as they say you live and learn.  It’s amazing how your life experiences can force you to make a complete reversal in your way of thinking.  Through trial and error and all my ups and downs in my life I’ve come to realize that I didn’t come to this earth to be just like everyone else.  I came here to live my own life and fulfill my own purpose.  And at that time, maybe I didn’t want to be considered different.  But today that’s just what I want. I want to be different and unique.  I want to be my own person.

Buscaglia was so right; one of the hardest battles we will ever face in life is the battle to be true to ourselves.  Far too often, we pretend to be someone else for the sake of gaining acceptance.  We ignore that inner voice that’s crying out for our attention for the sake of gaining someone’s love or friendship.  We all do it.  We say yes when we really want to say no.  We pretend to be happy when our insides are filled with dread.

Bronnie Ware spent years working as a palliative nurse caring for those in the final stages of their lives.  Ware questioned her patients about their final regrets which later led to her bestselling book, “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.”  It doesn’t surprise me that the number one regret among the dying was:  I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

She writes, “This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

The next four most mentioned regrets were:

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Living a life true to yourself means following your own inner voice.  It means listening to your deepest thoughts and honoring your most precious desires.  It means not losing yourself at the expense of trying to make someone else happy. It means finding the courage to live your own life.

Whenever I need a nudge or help in being true to myself, I always listen to one of my favorite songs by Andrea Bocelli (duet with Laura Pausini) called Dare to Live.  The words touch every crevice of my heart and always make me take a step back and really listen to the moment. Here are the words in English:

Try looking at tomorrow not yesterday
And all the things you left behind
All those tender words you did not say
The gentle touch you couldn’t find

In these days of nameless faces
There is no one truth but only pieces
My life is all i have to give

Dare to live until the very last
Dare to live forget about the past
Dare to live giving something of yourself to others
Even when it seems there’s nothing more left to give

But if you see a human
In front of your entrance
Who sleeps wrapped in a box,
If you would listen to the world in the morning
Without the noise of the rain.
You are that one who can create with your voice,
You think with the thoughts of people,
Of the God who is just the God.

To live, no one has ever taught it,
To live, it’s impossible to live without the past,
To live is beautiful even if you have never asked for

It will be a song, someone will sing it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5q67TA8bv4

Today as I write these words, I am making a promise to myself to listen more deeply to my own inner voice.  I am promising to live more of my own life and not the life my friends, family and the public expect of me.  I am promising to follow my own inner wisdom.  I am daring to live.

Have you been true to yourself?  Are you with me? Will you dare to live or as they say in Italian, vivere?

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What is True Love?

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“…true love comes in many colors, not just red.”

Have you ever wondered what true love really is?  As I little girl, I was mesmerized by such fairytales as Cinderella and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  I dreamed of one day meeting my own prince charming and hence finding true love.

Most of us think of true love as something experienced by a man and a woman, or a person and their significant other.  I mean, after all, doesn’t true love require physical attraction and intimacy?  A psychologist by the name of Robert Sternberg came up with the triangular theory of love which is made up of three parts: intimacy, passion and commitment.  According to his theory, the amount of love one experiences will depend on the strength of these components.  And a relationship lacking any of these components, according to this theory, is less likely to survive.

Well as they say, I must agree to disagree here.  True love doesn’t have to involve sexual or physical attraction.

Sunday was my daughter Erica’s 14th birthday and to celebrate we decided to do dinner and a movie.  Her movie of choice was Disney’s blockbuster hit, Frozen.  Both of my daughters had already seen it but they wanted to see it again as a family.  Although I had heard wonderful reviews and was expecting a good movie, I must say I was pleasantly surprised.  The movie far exceeded my expectations.

Although this film has love as its central theme like so many other Disney animations, Frozen was far more than your kiss me and we’ll live happily ever after fairytale ending.  The plot of the story revolves around the relationship between two sisters.  Anna, the youngest sister is searching for love and companionship while her sister, Elsa, keeps her sister at bay because she is afraid of harming her with her magical powers.

I don’t want to give the film away for those of you who haven’t seen it but in the end Anna needs an act of true love to save her.  But instead, Anna risks her life to save Elsa.  As the film comes to a close, we realize that this movie is not about your typical fairytale ending but rather about the unconditional, relentless love between two sisters.

As I watched the ending, I admit tears fell down my face.  I looked over at my daughter Lia and hugged her as she smiled back at me and whispered, “I knew you’d like it, Mom.”  Afterwards we went out to dinner and the conversation turned to the movie.  “I can see why you two like that movie so much.  True love is not just about love between a man and a woman.  It’s about the deep love you share with anyone in your life like grandma or grandpa.  It’s about the love you share with your sister or the love between two friends.”

Both of my daughters nodded in agreement as we sat at the hibachi grill.  After two weeks of dating my husband, I realized that I was falling in love with him.  Up until that point, I hadn’t told him that I was born with a mild case of cerebral palsy and hearing loss.  I was afraid that he would end our relationship as others had done to me in the past.  But I figured, I had to tell him because I didn’t want to risk being more hurt later.

One night, I looked at John, struggling to find the right words.  “John, I have to tell you something.” But before I could utter any words, tears fell down my face.  John looked at me scared of what I was about to say.  “John, I was born with cerebral palsy.”

I looked down afraid to face him but John quickly took my face in his hands.  “So you are still the same beautiful woman you were before.”  Is this true love, yes, it is.

When I graduated from college, I had a difficult time finding a job.  I was told by one prospective employer that I should get out of the field.  Because of my hearing impairment, she told me that I would never make it as a journalist.  Needless to say I was crushed; I went home and cried in my mother’s arms.  My beautiful mother looked at me and said, “Now Josie, you listen to me.  These people are ignorant.  You can do anything that you put your mind to, Josie.  You can do it.”

I spent the next hour or so sobbing in my mother’s reassuring arms.  Is this true love, yes, it is.

More recently, when a mass was found on my breast, my friend Vanessa came with me for my biopsy.  She took a half day off of work to be there for me.  Although I told her that I would be fine and I would be OK going alone, the truth is I was afraid and didn’t want to be alone.

Vanessa saw through me and took the time to come with me.  Although I was worried, it was an immense comfort to know that I had a wonderful, caring friend sitting in the waiting room.   Is this true love, yes it is.

My point here is true love comes in many colors, not just red.  It’s about the love and commitment between two hearts, not necessarily a man and a woman.  It’s about two people caring for one another and loving unconditionally.  It’s about seeing beyond someone’s faults and imperfections and loving them just the way they are.

Many single people go through the Valentine’s Day blues.  But the truth is you don’t have to have a date on Valentine’s Day.    Seek out a friend, family member or anyone else who touches your heart.  Make it a day to celebrate all the different shades of love in your life.

1111: What Does It All Mean?

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“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are a great deal of numerical synchronicities taking place in the universe these days.  In particular, people across the globe are becoming more and more aware of the 11:11 phenomenon.  Considered one the most powerful numbers in the universe, this is said to signify that you are being reminded of your soul’s purpose and our connection to the Divine or our higher self.

I have heard many explanations for this over the years and have written about it myself on many occasions. It is said that when we see this number repeatedly our angels and spirit guides are trying to connect with us.  It is a reminder to trust our intuition and the signs that we are given.

Over the past three months, I have repeatedly noticed 11:11 or 1:11.  In fact, as if that weren’t enough, my family and friends are noticing it as well.  Recently, my husband John told me he kept glancing at the clock at 11:11 or 1:11 and couldn’t figure out what was going on.  Then shortly before Christmas of last year, John was in the checkout line in the cafeteria at work waiting to pay for his coffee.  He has bought coffee there numerous times and the cost is $1.12.  Yet on this day, the sales clerk rang up the coffee wrong.  She entered in 11:11.  She apologized to my husband and went to re-ring the coffee up but she couldn’t.

Her register tape ran out and she had to add new paper to the machine.  The whole time my husband is staring at the numbers 11:11 on the register thinking, “OH MY GOD!”  He told me that he wanted to take a picture of it but didn’t.

It hasn’t stopped.  My two daughters frequently yell out, “Hey Mom, it is 11:11 p.m.”  My good friend Vanessa started noticing that either she would receive a text from me or she would happen to send me a text and notice that it read 11:11 or 1:11.  She often takes screen shots of her phone and sends them to me as a confirmation.  The photo above with this blog is just one example.

As I write this, we are in the midst of a snow storm so my husband is currently working from home.  Earlier today I walked over to him to tell him something.  He happened to glance at his watch.  Yet again, it was 11:11 a.m.

John just looked at me smiling saying, “There you go again.”  But the truth is I didn’t do anything.  It wasn’t me at all.  Our angels and spirit guides are always with us helping us and nudging us to make sure we are following our life’s purpose.

I know that many of you who are reading this may be thinking this is all just a matter of coincidence.  But is it?  One night my daughter Lia fell asleep on the sofa while we were watching television.  Suddenly she startled me when she woke up from a seemingly sound sleep pointing at the clock on the DVD player and saying, “Hey Mom, Look.  11:11, Mom!  11:11.” She then closed her eyes and went back to sleep.

I was so stunned by her words.  I mean there she was sleeping and then the first words out of her mouth when she woke up were, “Hey Mom, Look. 11:11?” Where did that come from?  The very next day, I received a hang up on my answering machine.  The time?  You guessed it: 11:11 a.m.

So what does all this all mean?  There are so many different explanations and interpretations out there.  For example:

*11:11 is a gateway to our higher awareness.  It is said to be a doorway to another dimension or an awakening code.

*The number 1 signifies that new beginnings and adventures are about to take form.

*It is a reminder to be aware of your thoughts as they are manifesting around you.

*It is a message not to fear and doubt what is happening in your life.

*You are being told to trust your intuition or that little voice within and to have faith in the Divine.

*It is a reminder of our connection to the universe and Oneness.  We are being called to remember that we a spiritual beings having a human experience.

*Some say it is a message from the angels and your guides letting you know that you are exactly where you need to be and that everything is in perfect alignment.

Which is it?  Truthfully, all are correct.  We need to pay attention to what is going on in our lives at the time that we receive these angelic messages.  Listen to that inner voice and follow the guidance that you are given. It’s meant for you so only you can know the true meaning.

I know this is not always easy. Personally, I think my intuition is telling me to trust more.  You see every night as part of my prayers, I say, “Help me to do what I am meant to be doing.”  Yet there is always a minute part of me that doubts what I’m doing, that wonders if I’m really where I need to be in life.  I’m wondering if I’m doing enough.

On a soul level, I have no doubt that I was meant to write my books.  I have received so many validations showing me that I was guided to do so.  I don’t doubt this at all.  Yet, I have been so impatient lately.  I have been so overwhelmed.  I get so many letters and emails from people asking for my help or my advice and sometimes I feel like I just can’t do it all.

But just maybe I’m not supposed to try and help the entire world.  Maybe I’m supposed to help as many people as I can.  Maybe, just maybe, that’s enough.  Personally, I believe I’m being reminded to trust the signs that I’m being given.  I’m being reminded to have faith in both God and myself.  I’m being told that I’m on the right path.

What does 11:11 mean to you?  Matthew 7 states, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”   Ask and trust what you are given.

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YOU are how YOU think

 

  youarehowyouthink

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Henry Ford

January is that wonderful time of the year when most of us make our New Year’s resolutions and vow to do everything from spend more time with friends to quit smoking.  But what tops the list for many is losing weight and getting in shape. Statistics show that the majority of adults over 20 years of age are overweight so it’s easy to understand why so many want to lose the bulge.

Just last week I was watching television when a commercial came on for a popular weight loss program.  The ad touted “you are what you eat.” I don’t disagree with this phrase as I do believe that the food we eat definitely affects our health and wellbeing.  However, as people look to a better 2014, I wish they would also remember something far more important and that is “you are how you think.”

Why is it more important?  How you think will determine whether or not you will achieve those resolutions in the first place.  I recently read an article in Mail Online which stated that by January 9th most people give up their New Year’s resolutions. And the number one reason most people give up is fear.

Too often we make resolutions for the wrong reason—not because we want to but because we feel we should.  We also set the stakes too high and expect too much too soon. So when we wake up on January 1st and are not able to give up smoking or stick to that belt-tightening diet, we quickly give up because we tell ourselves we just can’t do it and are afraid to fail.

As a motivational speaker and the author of Make Up Your Mind to Be Happy, I often coach people on the importance of positive thinking.  I remember a woman who wanted to know if being a positive thinker means you are happy 100 percent of the time.  I quickly replied, “No,” and explained that this was not even possible.

Positive thinking does not erase the negatives in our lives.  The negatives are still very much there but positive thinking does involve making the most out of a bad situation.  It means approaching life with a positive outlook.  It means recognizing the best in people and appreciating the good in everything, including you.

How you think effects every little thing in your life.  It shapes who you are as a person.  It determines whether you will succeed or fail, whether you will laugh or cry and, yes, whether or not you will have the confidence and the willpower to achieve those New Year’s resolutions in 2014.

While it is true that what we eat affects our body, it is also true that our way of thinking has a profound impact on what happens inside our body as well.  Repressing and harboring negative thoughts and feelings can lead to stress, back pain and high blood pressure.

One of my favorite quotes is by Abraham Lincoln who said, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”  Happiness lies within you.  If you take the time to look hard enough, you will see the positive in every situation.

You are how you think. Focus on the positive and then reap the rewards as the positive begins to manifest around you. Happy 2014!

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda?

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To me, one of the worse feelings we can experience in life is regret.  How many times have you strolled down the “shoulda, woulda, coulda” path?  How many times have you either blamed yourself for a bad outcome or wished you would have done something but didn’t?

Regrets are negative, conscious reactions to our past actions and inactions.  This can lead to depression, remorse, and unhappiness.   Bonnie Ware, a palliative nurse, recorded the top five most common regrets of the dying.  I’m not surprised by most of the things that made this list.  Here they are:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others      expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

When people are on their deathbed, it’s only natural that they look back over their lives and review what might have been.  It is common for people to review the life they lived and see all the consequences of their actions and inactions. Far too often, this involves realizing that they lived their lives according to the expectations of others, not their own.

People spend so much time worrying about fitting into the status quo and worrying about what others say or do that they neglect to live their own life.

As a speaker and author, I have written about the afterlife and strive to help the bereaved by sharing the message that life doesn’t end and love never dies.  I can tell you after many years of research, no one ever says they wished they had spent more time working.  Instead we come to realize that as long as our basic needs were met, it really didn’t matter how much money we made, how big our house was or how many cars we owned.

I’m not saying I wouldn’t love a bigger house and more money.  We all want nice things in life.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  But it’s important that we don’t get caught up in the material things.  In the bigger picture, none of that really matters.

The third regret, “I wish I had the courage to express my feelings,” really hits home with me.  I was always afraid to show my feelings.  Although I’ve gotten better and try to tell my loved ones how I feel as much as possible, there’s always that small part of me that’s afraid the other person won’t feel the same way.

We’ve all experienced this at one time or another.  But what’s worse:  keeping your feelings to yourself and never having to face rejection or showing how you feel and never having to wonder how the other person feels?  Personally, I prefer the latter.

Moving on, I’ve never met anyone who has never regretted not spending more time with friends or keeping in touch.  We’ve all been guilty of that.  People come into our lives for a reason. Unfortunately, however, many of us let these friendships slip away because we get so caught up in our own lives.

If you find yourself thinking of an old friend or missing a family member, reach out to them.  Your efforts may or may not be successful but at least you will know that you tried.  Hence, you will have erased this one regret from your mind.

As I said earlier, I’m not amazed by most of the things on Bonnie Ware’s list.  But I have to admit the last regret, “I wish I had let myself be happier,” came as a bit of surprise to me.  According to Ware, many of her dying patients realized at the end that happiness is a choice.  Happiness is a state of mind.  These patients wished they had sought out laughter more and just enjoyed life

Life presents us with all kinds of opportunities.  Whether we take advantage of these opportunities or reject them for one reason or another is our choice.  In fact, we are where we are in life at this very moment because of all the choices we’ve made in the past.

The good news we can change our life and erase some of those regrets simply by doing and not procrastinating. Some may not think so but we are always in control.

Recently, I attended Sunday mass and my parish was doing a sermon on the afterlife.  Fr. Michael delivered one of the most powerful and moving speeches I have ever heard.  He spoke about how we are all here for a reason.  And although there is an afterlife, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make the most of every opportunity we are given here on earth.

He then went on to talk about how far too often people put things off and never do them.  People always say that they will get to it someday but Fr. Michael emphatically told the congregation, “The problem with someday is that it may rob you of today.”

When Fr.Michael completed his speech, the church exploded with applause as we all contemplated his profound words.   Yes, so very true.  The problem with putting things off until another day is that day may never come.

I’ve realized the hard way that life doesn’t always give us second chances.  If you have the chance to say I love you, say it.  If you have the opportunity to show someone just how much you care, show it.  If you’re sorry for something you did, express it.  And if you really want something, do everything you can to get it.

A neighbor sent me the following inspirational email called, “Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda:”

Too many people put off something that brings them joy just because they haven’t thought about it, don’t have it on their schedule, didn’t know it was coming or are too rigid to depart from their routine.

I got to thinking one day about all those people on the Titanic who passed up dessert at dinner that fateful night in an effort to cut back. From then on, I’ve tried to be a little more flexible.

How many women out there will eat at home because their husband didn’t suggest going out to dinner until after something had been thawed? Does the word ‘refrigeration’ mean nothing to you?

How often have your kids dropped in to talk and sat in silence while you watched ‘ Jeopardy ‘ on television?

I cannot count the times I called my sister and said, ‘How about going to lunch in a half hour?’ She would gas up and stammer, ‘I can’t. I have clothes on the line. My hair is dirty. I wish I had known yesterday, I had a late breakfast, it looks like rain’ and my personal favorite: ‘It’s Monday.’ She died a few days ago. We never did have that lunch together.

Because we cram so much into our lives, we tend to schedule our headaches. We live on a sparse diet of promises we make to ourselves when all the conditions are perfect!

We’ll go back and visit the grandparents when we get Steve toilet-trained. We’ll entertain when we replace the living-room carpet. We’ll go on a second honeymoon when we get two more kids out of college.

Life has a way of accelerating as we get older. The days get shorter, and the list of promises to ourselves gets longer. One morning, we awaken, and all we have to show for our lives is a litany of ‘I’m going to,’ ‘I plan on,’ and ‘Someday, when things are settled down a bit.’

When anyone calls my ‘seize the moment’ friend, she is open to adventure and available for trips. She keeps an open mind on new ideas. Her enthusiasm for life is contagious. You talk with her for five minutes, and you’re ready to trade your bad feet for a pair of Rollerblades and skip an elevator for a bungee cord.

My lips have not touched ice cream in 10 years. I love ice cream. It’s just that I might as well apply it directly to my stomach with a spatula and eliminate the digestive process. The other day, I stopped the car and bought a triple-decker. If my car had hit an iceberg on the way home, I would have died happy.

Now….go on and have a nice day. Do something you WANT to…not something on your SHOULD DO list. If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting? I had a friend from high school that I was always going to call and never did. The other day her name was in the obituaries so we never had that chat.

Have you ever watched kids playing on a merry go round or listened to the rain lapping on the ground? Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight or gazed at the sun into the fading night? Do you run through each day on the fly? When you ask, “How are you, do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed with the next hundred chores running through your head? Ever told your child, ‘We’ll do it tomorrow.’ and in your haste, not see his sorrow? Ever lost touch? Let a good friendship die? Just call to say, ‘Hi’?

When you worry and hurry through your day, it is like an unopened gift….Thrown away…. Life is not a race. Take it slower. Hear the music before the song is over.

I must admit here that I hardly ever save these forwarded emails.  But this one is a keeper.  Like so many others, I have let a good friendship slip away, I have spent so much time working that I’ve missed out on family time and I have missed many chances to say I love you.

How about you?  Who are you thinking about this holiday season?  Who do you wish you never lost touch with?  What do you keep putting off until someday?  Don’t let that someday rob you of today.

YOU Teach Others How to Treat YOU

“I cannot conceive of a greater loss than the loss of one’s self-respect.” –Mahatma Gandhi

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You either teach people to treat you with respect or you don’t. Period. It’s that simple. What I’m saying here is that you are partly responsible for the mistreatment you get from others.

The law of effect is a principle that was first published in 1905 by Edward Thorndike. What this principle basically says is that if a response to a certain situation or act is good, the situation or act is most likely to be repeated. Say, for example, Michael is married to Sue.

Sue is very short tempered and domineering. One morning, Michael and Sue get into a huge argument before leaving for work. Once at work, Michael decides that although he does not appreciate his wife’s abusive ways, he is going to send her flowers. His feeling is that by doing this she will realize how much he loves her and hopefully stop being abusive.

By doing this, however, Michael did just the opposite. Since he is now rewarding his wife (flowers) for her negative behavior, why should she stop? By putting up with his wife’s behavior, he is sending the message that it is OK to treat him this way. What we allow in our life will continue until we stop it. Being nice to someone does not take away the bad act, yet we all fall victim to this way of thinking time and time again.

It doesn’t matter how much time you have vested in a relationship, whether it be a family member, spouse or friend, you have the right to change the grounds in your relationship. How many times have you kept quiet about a certain situation because you were afraid to stir up bad feelings? How many times have you kept quiet when you really wanted to scream from the top of your lungs? How many times have you smiled in response when you really wanted to frown?

What some don’t realize is that by not saying anything and keeping how you really feel bottled up inside, you are not hurting anyone else but yourself. Believe me when I tell you that I have fell victim to this many times. In fact, I have learned some difficult lessons over the past two months. Some of my personal experiences have caused me to re-evaluate my life and take a very hard look at the many people in it. I’ve realized that I’ve been wasting so much time trying to please people who really have no intention of ever pleasing or respecting me.

Doing what I call a “me check” is not always an easy thing to do because it forces us to recognize things about ourselves we may not want to see. Likewise, it also forces us to see things about others we may not be ready to admit. But if we are not honest with ourselves, no one else will be honest with us. The fact is if we want people to treat us right, we have to command it.

How do we do that? Here are some suggestions:

1. Do not encourage negative behavior. For example, don’t smile when someone says something that you find offensive. Don’t laugh at something you don’t find funny.

2. In my book, Make Up Your Mind to Be Happy, I talk about what I call “soul suckers.” These are the people who bring you down and never have anything nice to say. Weed out the soul suckers in your life and surround yourself with positive people.

3. Don’t lie and say everything is OK when it really isn’t. Say how you really feel. If you don’t, it will reveal itself in other ways.

4. Not only do you have to be honest with others, but you also have to be honest with yourself. As I mentioned before, do a “me check” and ask yourself some tough questions. What do you really want in life? Who are the people in your life that really matter? Who are the ones you are holding onto out of self-proclaimed guilt?

5. Know when to say, “NO!” People who don’t really care about you and just want what you can offer them will go away. And the people who truly care about you will understand and stick around. It really is amazing how quickly you will see someone’s true motives just by saying this one powerful word.

6. Remember that actions speak louder than words. If someone keeps apologizing but not changing their ways, it’s time to recognize the relationship for what it really is.

7. Don’t try to change others. You can’t change people but you can change how you react to them.

There is a well-known Bible verse in which Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Many people think that the word meek implies weakness. But I don’t believe it’s about being weak but rather about being gentle, kind and good-hearted. Standing your ground does not mean you are a bad person. Rather it means that you are a good person who expects the same from others.

When things go wrong in life, it’s common for some to look outside for a solution to the problem. But the first place you should look is inside. Remember, what you allow will continue in your life. What you don’t allow, won’t.

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