Pay It Forward

“I think you can scare somebody out of doing something, but not out of feeling like they want to.”  – Catherin Ryan Hyde, Chasing Windmills

A few weeks ago while I was on the bus on my way to work, a lady got on a few stops after mine.  After she boarded I had a hard time concentrating on the book I was reading, which I really wanted to read.  My commute time is my reading time, and I am really jealous of that time, so needless to say I wasn’t a happy camper.

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This wasn’t the first time this happened with this lady.  If the timing is perfect, our paths can cross easily a few times a week, which means I don’t get to read.  That day I had enough of the struggle and just sat there and listened to her message.  Let me explain what happened.

I’d like to think that I’m a non-judgemental person, and I do believe that everyone has freedom of speech, and a right to their own opinions.  But this lady was just driving me bonkers that day.  She was preaching very loudly about the fact that God watches everyone therefore we need to be careful of what we do, and that there really is a place called hell.  She would stress that in order to avoid hell we need to follow what the bible says, or else God will punish us and send us to an eternal life in purgatory. She went on to say that God will be angry if we let Jesus’ death to wipe our sins away be a waste of time.  She would go on and on until we reached the subway station, and continue until she got onto the subway and went her own way.  What a heavy message to hear first thing in the morning!

This time while she preached, I observed the people on the bus and how they reacted.  They wouldn’t look her way, would avoid eye contact with her.  I could see that many people didn’t want to hear her, and some looked uncomfortable.  I know that although I was listening to her, I too felt uncomfortable. I had a hard time relating with the message she was trying to convey – that God was an entity of judgement, anger, and something to be fearful of.  I didn’t like the emotions which were being drawn up in me from this.  I was glad when she was no longer near me.

One afternoon this week while I was on my way home , I was on the subway reading my book when someone caught my attention.  A beautiful, older lady who had an amazing presence about her and radiated joy and love walked by me.  I was totally enraptured with her, to the point that I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.  Once she reached the front end of the subway, close to where I was sitting, she would go up to every person, stand in front of them and say “You are beautiful.  God loves you.  God bless you.”  I was totally taken aback by that.  She had such a loving way about her, and was delivering such a beautiful message.  Witnessing what this woman was doing, I felt my heart swell and found myself smiling.  I’m by all means not religious, but when she stood in front of me, and said those words, I found myself saying “thank you, and God bless you.”  I don’t know why I did that, it just felt like the right thing to do.

But the strangest thing happened.  I noticed, that although she was delivering a completely different message than the other lady on the bus, the one who spoke of a mean God, this woman received the same reaction.  No one would look at her, give her the time of day.  I know that I didn’t have the same feelings come up inside of me – this time I felt cozy and warm inside and for the rest of the day I felt better, more happy, and I paid it forward.  I was more loving and kind towards others, I held open doors, gave my seat to someone who needed it, and smiled at strangers.  I just didn’t understand why the others on the subway didn’t see what I saw, and reacted the way they did.  Were they threatened by her?  Were they afraid of what others would think if she responded?  Or is it because she used the word “God” and “love”?  I don’t know.  Like I said before I’m not religious at all, but I understood what she was saying.  She was saying that I am special, I am loved.  Who doesn’t want to hear that?  Who cares that she is a total stranger, the fact of the matter is, she is spreading love and joy to everyone, and people, we need it and should pay it forward.

This video which has been viral on Facebook says it all.  Enjoy. Pay it forward.

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When I’m Most Susceptible To Idiots

“Never argue with an idiot; he will bring you down to his level and win from experience.” ― Brad Slipiec

I think I’ve figured something out.  Sometimes it takes me a while, but I know I’ll eventually get there, and things will change.  In other words, I had a huge light bulb moment today.

Christmas was good, I had a nice time with family.  The day after was ok.  We had a pj day and I tried to make the most of it with my daughter.  My butt was planted firmly on the couch while I tried so hard not to whine and complain about my high fever, aching body and splitting head ache.  I seriously felt like I was hit by a huge truck.  My daughter was a trooper even though we had to cancel our plans for the day.  In fact, she kind of took care of me, making sure that I rested, checked my temperature and drank fluids.  It was nice to be looked after for a change.

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But today was different.  Today I worked from home while my daughter was in tow.  She played in the backyard in the snow, while I sat at the kitchen table.  It was nice to see the kids through the garden doors, hear them playing while I worked away on my Mac.  I was still sick with a high fever, but I felt somewhat better hearing them, and getting cool, fresh air when they would throw the door open to tell me some exciting news.

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Then the chaos started.  I began getting text messages that were demanding, argumentative and unreasonable.  I found myself getting wound up while I tried to deal with this.  I was ready to set my phone on fire.  It was getting late so I called my daughter in for lunch, and found myself snapping at her, not being able to handle normal things such as her normal complaints about eating her fruit.  And I felt myself getting anxious, irritable and frustrated with everything around me.  The afternoon wasn’t turning out well and I was spiralling downward – fast.

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The text messages continued, and the more I tried to reason with this individual, the more outrageous the conversation would become, to the point when I was told that this would be handled in person, rather than text.  Fine by me, I thought.  I’m a firm believer that things should be resolved either in person or by telephone (voice).  Plus, I would then be able to share the evidence to support my point.

Well the ‘calm’ discussion I anticipated didn’t work out that way.  The in-person meeting was high-tension and high-conflict.  Something that I didn’t want to expose my daughter to, and luckily she was in the other room, out of ear-shot, or so I thought.  It was absolutely impossible to reason with this person, and when this person left, I found myself tied up in a tight knot.  What the heck was going on?

I went back to the living room and sat down next to my daughter.  She wanted to do something together so we painted a kit that Santa got us for Christmas.  Strangely enough, I found it extremely cathartic and felt my mood suddenly change.  I was thinking to myself about what had transpired, why I was so uptight, and then, almost as if an answer to my questions, my daughter says to me “Mommy, it’s only clothes.  Who cares.  Just let it go.” I was stunned.  I turned to her and said “Honey, you’re right.  It’s only clothes and not worth all the arguing.” And she said “Exactly.  There are other things that are more important – such as painting!”  What wisdom from a seven-year old.  God I love her.

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And so while I continued to paint I thought about why this incident had gotten to me so much, and I figured out that when I’m tired, run down and sick, I’m more susceptible to the antics of idiots.  I am more likely to engage in the stupidity game that they try to get me to play into.  They get the better of me, but not anymore.  I’ve learned their method of attack – hit them while they’re still down.  Does this happen to anyone else but me?

Then I read a friend’s status on Facebook “woke up feeling stressed, then I decided to count all the ways I am blessed. Then the reality hit me – I need to chill and let my worries be.”

Damn straight.  I do need to let my worries be.  I do need to focus on what I’ve been blessed with, and not get distracted by all the nonsense that gets brought to me by idiots.  Clearly this happens to everyone, especially when you’re not able to function at your fullest.  The way around that is to focus on what good there is in your life, on your blessings.

So I have figured out that at the end of the day I can hold my head up high.  I’m able to walk away from today’s incident knowing that in my heart I’ve been truthful and honest, and I’ve been loving and caring.  I have done no wrong to anyone, and I have not been hurtful.  As my daughter said “it’s only clothes.” There are way more important things that need my attention and it’s better to spend my precious time and energy on something life-giving, not life draining.  And idiots can be life draining if you let them be.

I Have A Not-So-Great Secret

I’d love to share it with you, but I’m not sure if you can handle it.  It’s something you already know, but you probably don’t do anything about.  In fact, most of us don’t.

My secret is….we all are going to die one day.  Yep, that’s right, we are.

This morning I logged onto Facebook and saw a status update which belongs to my little cousin (who isn’t so little anymore) set to “R.I.P [friend’s name] I love you ♥”  My heart broke to read those words.  She is in her early twenties, which means her friend is likely the same age.  I had an opportunity to briefly chat with her on Skype, and I found out that she was with this friend last night, and he died in an accident between then and the early hours of this morning.

After our chat, I sat there a little while thinking (never a good thing) about the question I asked her: “did your friend die suddenly?” I sat there wondering what exactly does this question mean?  Is death not a guarantee in life?  It’s not like we have a choice to NOT die. If you’re born, you can bet your socks off that you are going to die. I don’t think the impact of someone dying in an accident is any greater than someone who dies while fighting a terminal illness. In the end  they both leave us.

Perhaps it’s because we tend to believe that we will live forever, even though we know that this isn’t possible, and therefore plan and live our lives according to this belief.  We don’t do the things that truly matter to us, and we don’t spend time with the people we want to.  We insist on getting the laundry done, when our children plead with us to spend at least five minutes playing on the floor with them.  We stay in a job we find meaningless, when we actually crave to do something satisfying. And we torture ourselves to stay in an unhealthy relationship for fear of being the ‘bad’ person by ending it or being alone.

Face it, every time someone we love dies, we get hit in the head with the “life is too short” bat.  And when the pain subsides, the bruises disappear, we revert back to our old habits.  Why do we do this?  I’m not so sure but I think it has to do with fear.  A fear of uncertainty.  A fear of making life changing decisions.  A fear of getting what we want.  For some, changing jobs is just as stressful as getting married, or divorced.  It’s scary.  And please don’t think that I’m saying that choosing to put a load into the laundry over playing with your kid is so bad, and is a difficult life changing decision.  But when it’s done on a constant basis, you have to figure out WHY you do that.  WHY is changing jobs so difficult.  WHY do you choose misery over happiness?  Once you figure this out,  it will make the work of reprogramming those neurons easier.

So maybe I’m onto something.  Maybe it is fear of change that keeps us from living our lives to it’s fullest. Some people think that to live the life you want is to overhaul your life all at once.  But you don’t! Even when it appears that you don’t have a choice, you actually do.  Babies are a perfect example of this.  They don’t come out of the whomb walking and running.  Heck, they can’t even lift their heads!  It’s a learning process – life is a learning process.  It takes baby steps – first to sit, then you crawl and then you walk.  So why do we expect change to occurr all at once?

Let me share what’s been happening with me.  Recently I went through, and am still going through a lot of change in my life.  Most of it not by choice.  I feel as if my life has become an Etch A Sketch pad, and someone is shaking the damn thing so hard that everything I know and have been comfortable with has been erased from my life.  However, one thing I learned through all of this, is that I have at every moment a decision which needs to be made – what is life-giving to me at this moment?  Sometimes it means that the laundry will have to wait,  and other times I give my daughter a piggy-back ride to the laundry room and she helps me change loads. And some times it means ending a life-long relationship and changing all that I know.

What is the point to this question?  It allows you to LIVE your life in the moment – be present.  It breaks down those huge, life changing decisions and moments into little bite-sized pieces.  All in all – it allows you to LIVE LIFE.

What is the life-giving decision you’ve made today?