Becoming One of Those Secrets


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How often do we laud someone for what they do rather than who they are? Why do we call someone “great” because of their success, their accomplishments in business, their accolades, rather than the qualities that they exhibit throughout their lives? Why do we ooh and ahh and admonish people that they “just don’t know how beautiful they are”? Why do we not encourage them, “Do you know just how rare your level of empathy and kindness is? Keep that stuff up!”   When I was growing up, I heard what people said, even when I pretended not to. I was lauded for being a good Christian girl who listened to her parents, attended and participated at church, excelled in my school work, etc. Often, though, I questioned whether or not people would actually like me if they really knew me. Was who I was as important or as good as what I did? What if I no longer did all of those things, for one reason or another? Would I no longer be loved, no longer be considered a worthy of a good reputation?

How did you get so deeply conditioned as to not recognize our own God-given worth, the good of our actions, that we doubt the sincerity of others when they do? Why do we answer “I’m glad you think so” (or “I’m glad you think so”) when we are called wonderful, kind, compassionate, etc.? Yet we are trained to say a demure”thank you” when our looks, the attractiveness score we were born with and have grown into, is complimented? We don’t want to appear rude or self-centered, after all, do we?

How can we change this? How can we open up and share the amazingness of these people (and we are included in those people) who really are so epically marvelous, gentle, generous, courageous in love, selfless in action, and tireless in caring? What can we do to let these awe-inspiring secrets know that they are just that: awe-inspiring? How can we laud who they are?

I believe that one of the ways we can manage this is with specific thank-yous. Not just “thank you for being awesome”, but “thank you for sharing that encouragement with me; it was just what I needed in that moment”. Thank them for reaching out, for holding your soul and heart gently when you were having a rough spell. Thank them for the meal they sent over when you grandmother died. Thank them for the post that turned your tears into laughter. Thank them for the thought behind their actions. Thank them for their generosity in giving that surprise gift. Thank them for their courage when you know that it took a goodly amount of it for them to stand up and disagree with those around them.

As we progress through our generation and rear the next, I think that we might be able to agree that we want ourselves and our children to be known for our character, not merely our accomplishments. We want the actions we take that stem from character integrity and a desire to better the lives and the world around us to be a guiding force. We are more than our successes or failures, our triumphs or losses. We are who we are and, if we decide it, who we are can be beautiful. No, not every secret needs to be told, needs to be outed. But can we learn–and then teach–what it is to be one of those gentle-holding, best-kept secrets? To be the best who we can be, as well as acknowledging those who are doing the same. Because the world could definitely use more secrets of that type. I’m going to keep working at it; you are not alone in this endeavor, dear one.

Thoughts of a Sunday: Social Spoons & Gut Feelings


Introverts-treasure-the-closeI am weird about being around people. I often have little issue with chatting with folks online but being in public with people can be hit or miss at times. I admit that there are days that I cannot handle it. There are days that I have ducked out to the bathroom during greeting time at church (like today) because I simply didn’t have the social spoons to deal with shaking hands/interacting with everyone. There are times that I have been absolutely elated at the cancelling of plans, others when I have been devastated and never admitted it. There are times that my spoons have been so few that I have closed my laptop, put my phone in another room, or screened my calls/message alerts just to avoid having to talk to anyone of an evening.

I love people. Really, I do. But, sometimes, I just cannot handle them. Sometimes I can handle them in small doses.  Sometimes I want to get lost in a crowd that I don’t know and be alone in public. And sometimes I just have to force myself to be around large groups, e.g. when teaching, and fake it until I make it. The last leaves me absolutely exhausted and I spend at least a night recharging. That can either be with alone time or by socializing with a handful of people whom I actually, deeply like and enjoy being around.

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Have you ever had a gut feeling for someone? Someone specific? That feeling deep in your core that told you to text, call, write, or instant message them and just…say something nice? Not platitudes but something genuinely, honestly nice? I have and I do, often. And I don’t always understand it.

Sometimes it comes in the morning, sometimes it’s the last thing at night. I might have seen the person just yesterday, or it might have been weeks or even months since I’ve seen or spoken to them. And, yet, there they are: sitting on my heart with a big blinking arrow pointing at them.

I don’t always understand it, but I do it anyway. I’m not saying that this makes me a great person but it is the way I determined to live my life a long time ago. I will always do my best to give those God-gut feelings and heart nudges credit and respect and follow them, whether or not I understand it, get it, or even want to. I never know what might happen or what good might be done to that person because I heeded that gut feeling.

Who Is the Outsider?


I recently started watching the new “Hawaii Five-0” television series from the beginning and one of the words that shows up frequently, especially in relation to Detective Danny “Danno” Williams, is “haole”. “Haole” is the Hawaiian word for “outsider”, and, honestly, it makes me bristle a bit to hear it sometimes, just like it does Danno. So many movies and stories are predicated on the plot of the outsider making good, finding common ground, and becoming part of his surroundings/community. So many languages have a word for outsider – gadjo, gaijin, haole, jackeen, msungu, for example. It makes me think. It makes me wonder.

Have I ever been seen as the outsider?

I know that I have seen myself that way before and it served to make me afraid and worried about doing well and thriving in a new community. When I first arrived at graduate school is a prime example of this, and it took a great deal of encouragement and love from friends and family far away and a fair amount of courage on my part to overcome it. But I do wonder if anyone else has ever seen me as an outsider.

Admitting new people into our lives and into our social circles is a part of life, though not always easy. Learning to share our friends, our family, the people whom we have seen as ours one way or another, can be incredibly difficult, but it opens us up to chances at new friendships, new relationships, which are pretty scary in their own right. I’ve stepped out and gotten to know people, admitted them into my life, into my circle, and sometimes it has worked out wonderfully, and sometimes it hasn’t. That’s life. I will admit, however, to having thoughts of “hey, they are mine” when I have seen friends make friends and hang out with new people, and that is where I have to stop, take stock, and remind myself that these people have done nothing wrong to me, neither set. Also, everyone deserves and needs friends and that, above all things, I want my friends, the dear ones in my life, to be happy. So while there may indeed be people who are ‘outsiders’ to my life, I often have to remind myself that they do not deserve to be thought of or treated so. I needed people to accept me and all the connections that I would make throughout my life that would also weave through theirs, so I can owe someone else nothing less than that same acceptance. Even if we never become ‘insiders’ to each other’s lives, I don’t want to see or think of them as an outsider. It would set us at odds and that can weigh heavily on the mind and soul.

But it still prods me to wonder, to even ask the question: have you ever seen me as an outsider?

The Ache of Being Wanted


Vulnerability alert!

I got dolled up yesterday for Pretty Lipstick Day (random self-esteem booster days established by one of my best friends) and took my picture. Admittedly, it was rather good. I looked rather good. I was very surprised and even more so at the number of likes and comments that it got after I posted it. For the rest of the day, I felt an ache in my gut. And, if I am completely honest with myself, then I know what it is. It’s the ache for being admired, being wanted.

Oh, yes, I’m admired. I’m wanted. My husband adores me and I him. He shows me how much all the time. But, in the interest of honesty, I have to admit that it’s pretty awesome to be admired by others. My self-esteems was never really the best growing up, as you probably know, though it got a bit better in college as I became more comfortable with myself. However, it has never stopped my amazement and giddiness at being admired by others, both known and strangers. When I am told that I am beautiful, or mesmerizing (that was a bellydance goal for me), smiled at, flirted with, or lingered on, I admit that it feels good. Extremely good. It’s great when I am dressed up and trying to look really nice, and even more so when I’m just…well, me. And it makes me hungry for more.

We all have that ache for approval, that hunger to know that we are deemed “good enough” in the eyes of others. It’s not easy to admit because we are afraid that it might reveal us to be self-serving, arrogant, or even narcissistic. But that is not necessarily the case. It’s a very human ache to be wanted, to know that there is something about us that others find attractive, desirable, and good, and, moreover, to be told so, shown so. It’s the craving for the blush, for the warmth, the swell in our chest that come from being being admired. It makes us feel pretty or handsome, it makes us stand up straighter and walk a little taller, maybe even strut a little. And there is nothing wrong with that. No, we should not place our self-worth solely in the compliments of others; that would be unhealthy. But to deny that we, as interdependent creatures in a highly social environment (introvert or extrovert aside), do not desire admiration, to be wanted and desired, would be a lie.

Yes, I’ve been feeling that ache lately and also working to convince myself, not just you, that it is indeed OK. My self-esteem wars with my reason very often – forcing me to weigh out whether or not I have a right to the emotions that I feel – and, therefore, I do not feel like it is OK a lot of the time. So everything that I’ve just told you goes double for myself.

So, if you feel the ache, do not despair. It’s OK. I do, too. It’s not necessarily fun to feel that way but we can own it, admit it to ourselves, and realize that it is human and it is all right. We all feel that way and we can help each other out, make the ache a little less. Tell a friend, or someone that you just think it of, that they look nice today or that you miss them or enjoy being around them.