All my life I’ve been torn between caring and not caring.
On the one hand, I care deeply about other people. I grew up in a difficult family (alcoholics) and so much of what I ‘care’ about has to do with people who have ‘less than.’ I make a conscious effort to be helpful and kind.
On the other hand, I have never really cared about what people think about my choices. Because I grew up quickly and had a lot of responsibility, I learned to be independent. When my choices conflict with what other people think they should be, it causes them discomfort and then they judge me. They are afraid that my ‘differentness’ might rub off on them or challenge their own ideas.
A lot of decisions are made because people are so afraid of what other people will say or think. OR what we imagine they might say or think. The more time we spend thinking about what others think, the less time we spend doing cool, fun or interesting stuff, that we want to do.
This morning I heard an old favorite on the radio. “Make Your Own Kind of Music” by Mama Cass Elliott
Nobody can tell ya
There’s only one song worth singing
They may try and sell ya
Cause it hangs them up
To see someone like you
You gotta make your own kind of music
Sing your own special song
Make your own kind music
Even if nobody else sings along
It takes courage to sing your own song. Most of us want someone to sing along. Realize that to be yourself in the face of criticism, being different, having unique ideas and viewpoints, speaking up, etc. are all hallmarks of strength. And if they don’t like it, well, I just don’t care.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” –Theodore Roosevelt
“WE ALREADY HAVE everything we need. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fear that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun; all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here.” Pema Chodron Start Where You Are
What could Rough Rider (soldier, big game hunter, President) Teddy Roosevelt and a Buddhist nun have in common?
They both counsel us to live in the day, today. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not here.
If you are seeing the world from under a cloud today, know the sun is just above them. If you are feeling the sun on your face, turn that light towards someone else. It can be as simple as a smile, a thank you. We’re in this together. #Goteam
Photo Credit: Buddha Dog Bruce
“The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” – Scott Hamilton
People with a bad attitude (bullies and the like) HATE inspirational sayings. They think they are for are stupid and ‘weak’ people. They feel their anger and bad temper are justified. I remember having a ‘chip on my shoulder’ when I was growing up. (Maybe I still have it.)
My parents were alcoholics, I had my share of problems. Worse, I couldn’t control how I expressed my anger. It just came out. Often when I didn’t want or expect it to. The people I was most angry at… wouldn’t have been able to hear me even if I had expressed my frustrations and fear.
So I’d be at the grocery store and some young clerk would make a mistake and I’d lash out, all out of proportion to the error. When I finished carrying on, I would feel justified at first… then I’d just feel awful. Why did I do that? I was never going to do it again. And then, suddenly, I would do it again.
I finally got sick of being angry. I got help. I went to Al-Anon (free peer support for families of alcoholics), got a counselor, went to treatment for children of alcoholics. My life changed slowly but dramatically.
My story is no different than many others. I was lucky; I had the will and resources to get help. Many caring and intelligent people never get help. They just stay mad, sad and lost.
If you recognize that you sometimes lash out at people, whether at people you love or strangers, I urge you to talk to someone. There are free resources available to you, no matter where you live. No matter what your problem, there are others who have had them too.
Photo credit: Scott Hamilton
I have the privilege of being a teacher. I am grateful for the opportunity and in general, I work to learn as much as I teach. Every environment (classroom, one on one, online) provides me a chance to learn because of the students. Each one teaches me something interesting and often, important.
Life is a series of learning opportunities. How we approach learning is as important as our character.
When someone is a ‘student’ – they get space to fail/make mistakes/goof up. In fact, we expect it. But somehow, when we “grow up” – that changes. We aren’t students anymore; we’re expected to be confident, aware, ‘on top of things.’
Ugh. This drives me crazy. If we view everyone as a full time student of life… who happens to be employed as a (fill in the blank), imagine how much easier it would be to try new things and learn. Failure, mistakes and goof ups would be normal, good, desirable.
Good teachers are everywhere, but good students are hard to find. Look to teach others (it makes us feel smart and important) but WORK to learn (it makes us feel stupid and weak). Hang around other students (entrepreneurs, kids, artists)… they’re full of mistakes and joy.
What’s blocking your vision?
I have a vision of my self as a creative person. I’d like to consider myself an artist. I’m not concerned whether other people think I’m an artist, I want to think of myself that way.
I’m not sure what is blocking me. Is my hair in my face? Do I lack motivation? Do I need a teacher? Do I think I’m too old?
I’m committed to reaching this goal because it’s the only goal I’ve ever had in my entire life that is just for me. I’ll keep you updated on my journey.
Photo credit: Blonde girl splitshire
“If you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.”
Maybe you don’t want or think you can – change the world. I understand. Your little start up, your job, your way of being in the world, doesn’t matter much.
My idea about ‘changing the world’ is only to help one person, on one day, today. That’s it. So if you change your definition to match mine, perhaps you’d be more inclined to join me.
In a wonderful article, “10 Navy Seal Life Lessons You Can Use Every Day,” I found a mountain of inspiration for my world-changing adventure.
What struck me about this, “up to your neck” lesson was the story behind it: “While the (training) group was (sic) up to their necks in mud, one SEAL started singing through the ordeal and others joined him in chorus. It was something that gave them hope.”
I love to sing. I have happy childhood memories singing show tunes in the car with my mother when we went on a long trip. I can still picture the words carefully written out. Singing was a way to pass the time AND bring us together.
The seal story shows one person’s power to change a group’s thoughts and feelings. If not for that one SEAL, would the entire group have made it through? A calm, positive voice… when we are afraid, lost or feel hopeless… can get us through it. Can you be that one voice for someone today?
Photo Credit: Lance Iverson SF Chronicle
I like these. I particularly like #3. Show ‘great’ respect…
If you’ve been reading the news then you know about “Ferguson” Missouri.
I know many people don’t want to talk about it, but that doesn’t make the problem go away.
And there is a problem. It’s no one’s ‘fault’… but if you aren’t willing to confront the truth, if you are not willing to think about what the people in the streets (black and white, young and old) are saying… then perhaps you get to carry some of the blame. In this situation, there is no right and wrong, there is only moving forward by getting involved in the conversation.
If you look at and listen to the conversation of high school students around the country… each of us can begin to have hope. Listen to the students at the Saint Louis High School where the principal is having students engage each other… which he monitors and insists on respect between the students.
“…creating that decorum within the meeting – is really important to having people say what they need to say. And I always tell the kids, you know, how you relay your message has a lot to do with how it’s accepted and whom you influence.” Kevin Grawer, principal of Maplewood Richmond Heights High School.
Are you listening to people who disagree with you or are you just yelling or worse… pretending their point of view is irrelevant? Do you work to see the other person’s point of view? It’s so easy to be righteous. They should do this or that.
But I’ve never walked in their shoes.
I have, however, been poor, afraid and female. I have a glimpse into why some of the anger exists and why I feel it is often justified.
Respect. It all starts there.
Do you embrace the mess?
If you want to hear someone interesting talk about problem solving like an artist, thinking like an artist; here is designer Marc Ecko sharing his thoughts on embrace the mess. He believes that the wealth that matters can’t be really be counted. Think about it. He also recommends that each of us be an “un-label.” When you have truly found yourself, people are not sure how to describe the essence of “you.” They only know that you are true to yourself and encourage others to do so too.
What’s good about the mess?
It’s rare that innovation/learning/joy comes from a completely planned event. It’s the goof ups, the unexpected changes, the learning how to…, that often produces the good stuff. Are you afraid of the mess?
Try finger painting, with food from your refrigerator (not a lot, just a little). Hang around little kids, watch them experiment. What can we learn from them?
When you have a problem to solve, following all the rules, doing the same thing over and over, talking to the same people for advice and then expecting a breakthrough, doesn’t make sense. For today, I give you permission to do the messy thing. Let me know how it goes.
Photo credit: messy baby photographer
If you are familiar with the street/graffiti artist Bansky you are lucky. He is a social commentator and whether you agree with him or not, he does rattle the brain which, afterall, is the job of a social critic.
After being anonymous for his entire career… his graffiti would just ‘appear’ places when the sun came up… he was finally ‘caught’ by British police. I think the time, energy and money spent chasing him was a complete waste. When he took his art to the streets of New York City in 2013, 31 Days of Banksy… the city was enthralled with his work.
In the first image above, we see him combine the simplest of images (arrow) with the power of words…to inspire us.
We live in a complicated world so it seems to me that arresting a guy for thoughtful graffiti just doesn’t make sense. I don’t care what his name is. I don’t care where he lives. I only care that he is free to do what he is called to do.
Here’s my motherly advice to each of you:
When you think you’re going backward, you are are likely paving the path forward in unexpected ways.
Free Banksy or jail us all. Keep art alive.
“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.” Emerson
When we’re kids, we think we’re cool and you know what… we are.
Then we “learn” how to fit in. We lose our uniqueness.
The process of becoming a grown up can be brutal. We try to fit in with groups because we feel lost and alone. We think people don’t understand us but the truth is, we don’t understand ourselves.
The good news about being ‘grown’ up is that we, hopefully, come to know ourselves enough to learn to trust and believe in ourselves. To stand on our own, to earn our way.
Do you still look to others for approval? Or do you look in the mirror and think.. yeah. I’m ok. Just the way I am. Fitting in can feel good but it feels even better to know who we are and believe in ourselves no matter what other people think. Care about ‘them’ less and your uniqueness more. After all, in the end, you’re all you’ve got.
Image credit: Homemade Spidey Costume