What If Today…He Peed In His Toy Box?

“Young boys should never be sent to bed…they always wake up a day older.” ~ J.M.Barrie, Finding Neverland

Yup. The title says it all.

He peed in the toy box and it was finally discovered a few days later after his older brother spilled the beans.

Twenty-five years ago I think I would have reacted differently. I would have seen it as an act of treason or mutiny or disrespect of the highest degree.

Someone would have walked the plank.

Now it means nothing more to me than evidence that a 4-year old was having a moment in his own Neverland, and no matter how hard I try, I’ll never be able to understand that world again even though I’d lived in it myself for at least 365 days.

And you know that when it comes to little boys the worst thing you can do, unless you want to encourage more of the same behavior, is react. A smile is fine. But they know me too well. If they can get me to laugh they’ll have received the stamp of approval for a repeat performance.

So, as everyone was busy doing morning things, I cleaned it out and threw away a lot of toys, and soaked Legos in sudsy bleach ’cause we think they’re keepers.

Fast forward to mid-day yesterday. In the midst of doing stuff that will never amount to much except keeping chaos at bay, I learned that a friend’s pee is flowing freely for the first time in years. That’s big news. He was so excited about it that he called the dialysis center to tell all the doctors and nurses that had tended to him for such a long time until yesterday.

Two days earlier he was sitting in a wheelchair, hooked up to a machine.  But then his mother called in the middle of his treatment to tell him that a kidney was ready for him.

Come home.

He left, got a transplant later the next day, and is  now in recovery. He’ll turn 24 sometime in the next twelve months. It’s safe to bet that he’ll go a long way on that kidney. I’d like to think that he’d give my boy a high-five for peeing in the toy box ’cause that ability means so much more to him now.

But then the reality struck: if he’d received a kidney, then somebody else had died. My joy turned to melancholy as I contemplated what had happened – how the puzzle pieces of a death and a life fit together perfectly.

Somewhere in another part of the country two parents are grieving the loss of their 35-yr.-old son who died suddenly of a heart attack . He was an organ donor. They’ll bury him without one of his kidneys and every other organ that he donated.

I’ll bet they’re treasuring the memories of him doing silly things when he was 4-yrs.-old and are very happy that they didn’t take it all too seriously. I’d like to believe that that’s how it’s going for them.

Kinda puts a new spin on peeing in a toy box. Doesn’t it?

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What If Today…You Understood Love Languages?

“Love is a verb.” ~ Gary Chapman, Five Love Languages

Do you know anything about love languages or thought about their importance in understanding the significant people in your life – your family members, friends, coworkers, employers, employees, and how best to serve them?

Take the brief Love Language test if you’re interested in discovering your love language.

Which one is yours?:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Acts of Service
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Quality Time
  • Physical Touch

A clue to figuring out which is yours is to ask yourself how you express love to others. That’s probably where you’ll find the answer.

*******

I sat in the driveway and pressed the heels of both hands into my eyes as hard as I could to stop the tears. Problem was I couldn’t stop my heart from reminding me that it wanted to be heard and the tears were its voice. There was no way I could go inside unless I could pull myself together. I knew what I felt and why, but those feelings would be a burden if shared, out of context, in the middle of an ordinary day.

My daughter and I had been enjoying each others’ company as we drove down the winding road through the woods and along the beach on our way home. We were listening to music from her collection and she said, “Listen to this, it’s from the funeral. His brother is in a band and wrote this for his brother after he died.”

She went on as I melted into the music: “His dad and this brother built his coffin that morning. Then the roads were closed and they carried it one last time down Water Street (the name of the song) to bury him next to the church a few hours before the funeral.”

The feelings were intense. They always were.

Twice more that same day I tried to share what I was feeling, but I kept getting choked up as the images of a young smiling blonde-haired boy with a big smile morphed into a coffin resting on the shoulders of family and friends being carried past mourners and anchored boats in the quiet harbor.

********

What was it that I was really experiencing?

When someone says goodbye or dies, who they are smacks me hard in the face and heart. I see and feel them completely.

That’s what I do all the time. Not a day passes without those feelings.

Noticing people and understanding them – their thoughts, feelings, and life,  is my love language.

How I love other  people  –  listening, observing,and  understanding them, is what I really want done for me. I’ve learned to channel that emotional need of mine into family history – service for other people for whom really paying attention to and valuing  a deceased ancestor or distant living relative doesn’t come naturally. It’s a perfect fit.

Learning someone else’s love language is a little it harder.

“I’m bored!”  was followed with a lot of crazy behavior that was getting my little boy in a lot of trouble. I’d provided him with books, crayons, paper,and toys but nothing stopped the whining. I couldn’t stand it any longer because it didn’t make any sense. What did he want? It didn’t seem healthy to keep providing ideas and props to entertain him. That wasn’t how I grew up. I always found things to do.

I had to leave the room ’cause I wasn’t reaching him. As I passed him I spontaneously grabbed him and started tickling him. After about fifteen minutes of chasing, screeching, and writhing on the floor, we ended and I sat back down, out of breath.

“Thanks for playing with me! “my son said from across the room with a huge smile.

Wait. Wasn’t that what I was doing before? Apparently not.

Was it really that simple?

Listen to what Gary Chapman says:

“When a child really feels loved, he will develop normally, but when his love tank is empty, the child will misbehave. Much of the misbehavior of children is motivated by the cravings of an empty love tank.”

Doesn’t that make a lot of sense?

Later that night he was watching tv with me and leaned in and gave me a hug. “I’m the best boy,” he whispered to me.

“How do you know that?” I asked.

“You told me.” he answered as he stared straight ahead. Yes, I had told him that many times. I didn’t think he’d heard me. But he had. He just never believed me.

I guess he just needed to be tickled….

What if you watched people to discern their love language so that you would be able to communicate your love for them them in a way that they could feel and understand?

What if instead of buying your significant other jewels (Receiving Gifts) you knew they’d rather have a back rub (Physical Touch)?

What if instead of remodeling the kitchen for your mom (Acts of Service), you perused her scrapbooks and photo albums for an afternoon here and there (Quality Time)?

Wouldn’t it be fun to try and figure it out?

I dare you. Whadya say?

What If Today…You Knew That Heaven Had a Plan For You?

“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.”~ Viktor E. Frankl

Do you know what you were born to do in the world?

I do.

A lifetime of experiences that seem disconnected and random make so much sense when looking backwards. But I walked forward into every one of them in faith.

I’m sure that each of us is here for a reason and is irreplaceable.

That makes me feel really happy.

Some people say I’m hard on myself and that not staying focused is normal because I “have a lot going on.” Truth? Doing what I was born to do “saves” me – gives me a reason to keep going when life appears to be full of dead ends. I feel infused with so much light and joy when I’m working on family history. It’s not an escape. It’s not a hobby. It’s a mission.

How do I know that, and how can you know when you’re on to something bigger than yourself but it also feels like second nature to you-  like you’ve stepped back on to a road that seems more than familiar- it feels like home?

I know because of how I feel. I feel like the conduit to Heaven opens up and direct communication and love flow both ways.

I know because I don’t need anyone to agree with me. I ‘m not trying to please anyone.

I do what I do because it feels like eating a good meal, one that you dream about, shop for, and enjoy with friends. It’s as necessary to my survival as food and water. When I stop researching my ancestors and writing their stories I feel fine until I start again and feel my drought stricken soul come to life, like cracked mud flats soaking in their long-awaited rain.

I know because when someone asks for help with their family history it feels like a team of wild horses pounding in my chest and I have to rein them in so as not to scare someone off with my passion.

I know because I talk to myself and I don’t care who’s listening when I’m researching someone’s life and they are being difficult, stubborn, or especially entertaining. My children tease me a lot and ask me what I’m talking about or if I’m talking to them. They are easily amused but are becoming very used to my clapping when I hit a goldmine of facts to add to a person’s story.

I know because  every part of my brain comes alive and my heart validates all of its thoughts. Family history is my drug of choice and I feel like a drug pusher when I ask someone to give it a try, knowing how easily one can get addicted.

Lastly, it feels like I knew this stuff before I was born- like I’ve spent my whole life collecting pieces of a puzzle with my name written all over it. And when I see all the pieces meld together to reveal the picture, I see my heart and Heaven’s smiling because I see how I fit in the world.

And I feel joy.

Wherever you are in the world, know that you matter. I’m thankful to be celebrating another Thanksgiving tomorrow. I hope yours is perfect.

Do me a favor. Listen to this song. I love it. And then, if you feel so inclined, answer some questions for me:

  • Do you know who you are for the world? How did you figure it out?
  • What are some of your gifts or talents that serve others and your soul simultaneously?

What If Today…You Stopped Being Such a Marshmallow?

 

“If you took one tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised by how well things can work out…Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won’t make us happier.” ~Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

And it’s a huge distraction from seeing what’s beautiful in the world.

Suffering on a personal or a global level begs for solutions; people to show up to alleviate it- to solve problems and to serve.

Do you join the crowd and complain, or do you get energized to find answers?

I do both, but not for long. Complaining about the obvious actually makes me tired- too drained emotionally to see through the fog of doubt, fear, anxiety, and hopelessness.

Complaining works only to expose the reality of a situation with all of it’s truths and fears, and then it reveals a person’s commitment to move forward regardless of obstacles. My mom calls it “committed complaining.”

In other words: after you are made aware of a problem and your part in it, what do you do? Do you get to work to solve it or do you really enjoy talking about it? I’m a process person. I need to talk about things until I understand them. Once I do, that’s it. I’m on to bigger and better things.

It is in our minds first that we sow seeds that blossom and grow to overshadow the weeds of thinking that don’t take us or anyone else anywhere but in circles.

“First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans. Then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.” ~Napoleon Hill

I  find it fascinating to watch my thoughts and to listen to people’s conversations.

I love solving problems.

You?

 

What If Today…You Knew You Were Enough?

“You can be the most beautiful person in the world, and everybody sees light and rainbows when they look at you, but if you yourself don’t know it, all of that doesn’t matter. Every second that you spend on doubting your worth,  every moment that you use to criticize yourself; is a second of your life wasted, is a moment of your life thrown away, It’s not like you have forever, so don’t waste any of your seconds, don’t throw even one of your moments away.” ~ C . Joybell C

What if today you knew that what was inside of you, your thoughts, desires, dreams, passions, everything was enough? Enough for you? Enough for God?

No more searching.

No more wondering.

No more withholding.

No more complaining about other people, how they treat you or understand you.

Just being.

Being 100% you.

Giving.

Sharing.

Loving.

Caring.

With no expectation of any of it being returned by anyone.

Because you know something nobody else might know about you:

You are a child of God.

You have infinite worth.

You will always be worthy of His love.

And you will know that His love is enough.

His light shines inside of you and is what other people see when they look at you.

Keep that light burning.

Because today you are enough to Him.

What If Today…You Came For Thanksgiving?

“Music I heard with you was more than music, and bread I broke with you was more than bread.”~ Conrad Aiken

Anticipation was the real meal. Truth be told, she was getting stuffed.

Who would come? What would they bring? The building excitement was almost too much to bear.

Savory smells of turkey stuffed with bread cubes bathed in butter and broth and loaded with pecans, giblets, apples and herbs had started floating from the kitchen a few hours earlier. The shadows on the living room floor had shortened considerably since 4 am when the boiling and chopping of the heart and liver had begun. The vegetable-filled, braided bread cornucopia sat majestically as the  guest of honor amid a mishmash of fine china plates and water goblets whose patience was wearing thin.

Guests would soon be floating over the threshold of the front door as they followed  the scent of a house laden with the promises of a hearty and satisfying meal from the end of the cobblestone alleyway all the way into the front hall. Her mouth watered thinking of the sandwich piled with leftovers- the real meal that she’d eat in the quiet of the night as she relished the day’s memories, and walls permeated with the smells of the day sighed with every mouthful, coveting every tidbit swallowed by the gluttonous floor.

She hoped for mashed potatoes smooth enough to eat with her fingers, topped with the gravy she would make from the drippings in the roasting pan. Maybe someone would bring cranberry sauce, the whole berry kind. There was a can in the pantry just in case, but homemade was so much better. The meal was a surprise in the making.

Losing herself  in daydreams accompanied by Pachelbel’s Canon in D playing in her ear, she drifted in and out of sleep under the fleece blanket, startling at the sound of every branch that teased her through the bay window a few feet away.

The mincemeat pie was calling from the oven.

Or was that someone at the door?

(Your turn.  That means that you are an invited guest and you promised to bring something for the feast. Do you have a favorite appetizer, side dish, or dessert? Let’s daydream! Add your contribution in the comments. No alcohol…imbibing can be done before you come! You can pass out on my comfy couches and chairs!)

What If Today…I Had You at Hello?

 “What leaders struggle with most is communicating an image of the future  that draws others in – that speaks to what others see and feel.” (To Lead, Create a Shared Vision, by James Kouzes and Barry Posner, Harvard Business Review, January 2009)

 Do you have  a vision statement-the “why” of what you do? What value do you bring to the customer? Why would they want to work with you, buy what you are selling, read what you are writing, or follow you to the promised land?

In other words, do you know who you are  for  the world?

Vision statements are how you “have me at hello”. Even if they reside solely  in your mind they are valuable. They explain in words a chemistry that can be felt. Isn’t it exciting to find people who get it, get you and are passionate about the same thing OR who are looking for what you have to offer?

Let’s look at Nike’s vision statement to get a better idea of how simple and direct it should be:

“To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. ‘If you have a body, you are an athlete.’ “

If you  haven’t created a vision statement (even if you never speak it out loud, and all it does is reminds you of who you are and what your priorities are) are you relying on building relationships and hoping to gather your tribe because you think if people like you they will eventually follow you, buy your products, or join your cause?

____

I turned around to close the bathroom door and almost wedged my cat’s head in the space.

I was reminded of all the times my children followed me into the bathroom and I’d ask in frustration, “Why are you following me?” I’d ask the ones who’d tripped me up.

“Because we like you!” they’d answer with little smiles, not missing a beat as they maneuvered their way past me.

____

They liked me. Interesting. They didn’t care where I was going. They would follow me anywhere based on the feelings they had being around me. Needless to say, as my children grow up they are a bit more selective about where they follow me, and I’m a lot more aware of my influence on their lives.

 There are two things going on in the beginning of all relationships that can be learned by anyone and transferred to business or a cause.

Listening to who someone is and what they are looking for, and being able to communicate how you can fill that need are two essential qualities of leadership. The masters of these skills know pretty quickly if and when there isn’t a match, say so, and point someone in the right direction.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to not only have someone feel good around you but also be able to understand right off the bat where you are going and feel like jumping on board because they want to go there too? How do you do that?

“The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present.” ~ James Kouzes and Barry Posner

Is it really that hard? Yes and no.

I have been online for two years working towards getting to the bottom, the essence of what and why I do what I do with family history.  I’ve experimented and learned. I’ve never been clear about what I do, so I have friends and followers who support me because they either like me or are obligated to share my posts because we are on Triberr tribes together and that’s what we do.

However, I DO know how to figure out what you’re doing. do know how to connect. That seems to me to be the  easy part. It gets harder to manage my time with more connections, and I often stop to analyze the value of some of them –  just because I love what someone is doing doesn’t mean that I have the time to support them. Sometimes it’s not about friendship but instead about showing up in the world to serve the people who need me in the 24 hours that showed up at my front door this morning. And my friends know that.

It’s a challenge explaining your life purpose, your soul, in a few sentences, but I want people to know where I’m going, what I’m doing, and why. It’s a great way to quickly find out who is staying in the “friend zone” and who is connecting deeper.

What if today you did the same thing and we found out we’re on a similar path-that we are pieces of the same puzzle and are working toward fulfilling the same mission?

I think they call the “place” where that happens a tribe….

What do you think?