Posted in Life As I Know It, Soapbox

The Viral Spiral of Negativity

Have you ever noticed that it can take just one negative coworker to really bring an office down? Or how one parent berating an umpire can “inspire” others in the crowd to do the same? Or how one person gossiping can open the door to others chiming in and “sharing,” too? Continue reading “The Viral Spiral of Negativity”

Posted in Life As I Know It, Soapbox

Mean People (Still) Suck

For those of us in the U.S., today we are celebrating our Independence Day. It was a reverse Brexit 240 years ago, and when our founding fathers did it, they aimed to see to it that our citizens had a bunch of freedoms: of religion, speech, press—and rights: to bear arms, trial by jury, etc. Of course, while they may have wanted to be all about freedoms and rights, they still allowed slavery and denied women the right to vote and own property, among other things. So…let’s just say that the founding fathers needed to find a little bit more. Continue reading “Mean People (Still) Suck”

Posted in Life As I Know It, Soapbox

I’d Rather Live in Kindness Cove than Bitch Bay

This past week was our annual trek to the Northwoods in Wisconsin, and we were blessed with beautiful weather and genuine opportunities to relax and enjoy life unfolding rather than life devouring.

One bit of fun my husband and I discovered was paddleboat fishing.  Continue reading “I’d Rather Live in Kindness Cove than Bitch Bay”

Posted in Life As I Know It

Living By Candlelight

I’ve always been a pyromaniac, albeit a responsible one.

From as far back as the time my sister ratted out my five-year-old self to my parents about playing with matches (and somewhat smugly watched as I got spanked for it, I might add), I have been enchanted with fire.

 

matches

 

Like the times my mom used to run into the grocery store for a few things and leave me in the car (remember when that was okay?) and I used to use the car cigarette lighter to relight the butts left in the ashtray (see maybe that’s why it stopped being okay…)

And then there were the numerous times my friend Jen and I dabbled with fire…one of my favorites being how we set a fire in the concrete storm drain outlet (that way, it couldn’t possibly get out of control…See? I told you: responsible) and enjoyed it until it had burned itself out and I was called home to dinner. While outside, I was noseblind to my smoky smell, but when I walked into my house and got a whiff of myself, I panicked and went into the bathroom to come up with a “solution” to my fiery smell…The result? The brilliant choice of spraying myself abundantly with rose-scented Glade. I sat down to dinner in a stink cloud of smoke and canned rose…My mom must have thought that she was better off not knowing because she never asked any questions about that one. Ever.

Yes, I have a few stories that illustrate my love affair with fire. Some, I will never tell. (Jen—remember that one New Year’s Eve with the pizza box?)

So it’s no surprise that the chilly days of this past weekend made me quick to want to light some candles…and it got me to thinking about the simple beauty and power of candlelight.

As soon as I lit a candle in the late afternoon gloom, the room felt different. Warmer. Cozier. Just a single candle cast a glow that made a difference.

 

candle 1

 

It brings back thoughts of songs I was raised on, like This Little Light of Mine and Pass It On. Songs that drive home the point of the power of one little light or how a spark can be the beginning of something much bigger. And, of course, with those songs, the emphasis is on sharing the love of Jesus—how our little lights should shine brightly because we have the Light within us.

 

song

 

And while this is absolutely critical to a faith-filled life, I find my thoughts rippling out further. I think about the flash of a camera—how it too is a “little light.” But while the flash is powerful, it is also brief—and it can often be blinding and disorienting to those who are near when it flashes.

But the consistent flicker of a small flame offers comfort and hope. One small light amidst the darkness can be powerful enough to help you find your way home.

 

candle 2

 

I don’t want to live by flash, but I must admit that all too often I see myself have a brief burst of “illumination” of some sort…and then it is over all too soon.

Instead…I want to live by candlelight.

I want to burn steady and consistently, and I want my actions to reflect the Light within.

I want the results of what I say and do to glow with warmth and perhaps push away some of the gloom of a melancholy day.

 

candle 3

 

A challenge of living by candlelight—to extend the metaphor further (yea!)—is that my light can be all too easily blown out by the winds of the world. Thankfully, though, that’s not the end of it because the Light is there ready to reignite when needed. The Source remains eternal.

The idea of living by candlelight is simply a reminder of the power and beauty that one little light can bring into the darkness…and that if we do choose to shine, we will make a difference, just like that candle did for me in the pall of a gray evening.

The pyromaniac in me smiles at that.

 

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Posted in Soapbox

Bet You Didn’t Mean to Be…But You Were

It blows my mind that the 26 letters of our alphabet are responsible for all the words we speak or write in the English language. How powerful those little letters are.

They can bring together and tear apart. They can start fights and end wars. With all that muscle, you would think it best that we use them wisely.

But…we’re human. So it’s a pretty safe bet we mess up on this front. A lot.

Sure, there are the boors in life who are really clueless when it comes to having their vocal cords rub together—like the time I was told, “Why don’t you have any kids yet? You better start soon—you’re not getting any younger.” At the time, I was in my early 30s.

I told the guy, who happened to be a teacher colleague of mine, “You know that really isn’t any of your business, right? And you better realize that when you say something like that to a woman, it’s possible that she could be struggling to get pregnant. How do you think that would make her feel?” His eyebrows were pretty much touching his receding hairline at that point, and I like to think that he never made the same kind of mistake again. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Don't be a boorish boar.
Don’t be a boorish boar.

While most of us have a bit more sensitivity than that particular example, we still have times where even in our subtlety, we might be guilty of being

INsensitive.
ThoughtLESS.
INconsiderate.

I’ve had a couple of friends lose a noticeable amount of weight, but not because of any direct attempt to do so. They were going through significant life challenges that were painful and were indirectly dropping pounds because of it.

Time and again, though, I would see people come up to them and say, “You are looking GREAT! What’s your secret?!” or “I am so ENVIOUS—I wish I could lose weight like that!”

Now these people obviously didn’t know the truth and weren’t trying to be insensitive, but a change in approach would have been a great choice. In the past, while I didn’t necessarily say those kinds of things, my typical remark would have been, “You are looking fit these days…” But after seeing what my friends went through, I now say, “How are things going with you?” Because it really shouldn’t be about the weight, right?

It is a purposeful attempt to be more thoughtful and aware.

Because if that person truly feels like you care about their answer to “how are things going with you?” you just may learn that things aren’t that great after all. In fact, they could be very far from great.

We just don’t know the battles that others may be waging. And not everyone is going to tell us their story. But keeping in mind that there may be an untold story might help us to be more

Sensitive.
ThoughtFUL.
Considerate.

And couldn’t we all use a little more of that?