Words that Heal

Perhaps you’ve had days like me, where words someone says or doesn’t say can dramatically impact your thoughts, feelings and overall demeanor. They can repeat and circle endlessly within the mind, never ceasing, not if for a brief moment. Sometimes, they even stretch beyond what they initially were, eating away at us, suffocating our willingness to take chances, limiting our confidence and ultimately, can silence us. With that being said, there is also the ability for someone’s words to have a dramatically opposite effect – one that lifts us, one that inspires us, or simply makes us feel noticed, acknowledged and recognized. These words can come in the simplest of ways – an acknowledgement of our style, a talent, a facial feature, anything, really. Though, no matter how “small,” these words or acknowledgements may seem on the surface, what they can do for us inward, is a whole other impact, one that just might change someone’s life.

To better explain what I mean by this, I was simply scrolling through Facebook this afternoon, when I stumbled across a quote my friend shared. It was a quote/series of thoughts that deeply resonated with me, so profoundly so that it inspired this very blog post, prompting me to share it with those of you who might be reading. This is what I mean:

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After I read this, I contemplated all it meant to me for awhile. It led me back to my first job out of college, where I worked at a nonprofit organization facilitating various programs and doing a bit of grant writing. During my time there, I was fortunate enough to meet countless amounts of people who are filled with greatness, intelligence and talent. One woman in particular, a member of the community coalition affiliated with the organization I worked for, stood out to me, but not only to me, my fellow coworkers, as well. We agreed she embodied strength and an undeniable aura of kindness and reassurance. From merely chatting with her for moments, I could sense the compassion and depth within her. When she spoke to others, she connected in such a way that had the ability to make nearly anyone she spoke to feel heard and recognized. Though I didn’t know her well, certain words and conversations she and I shared still cross my mind, today. Every Thanksgiving, I think of when she told me of the tradition she and her friend share: visiting the hotel directly located within the path of Philadephia’s annual Thanksgiving Day Parade and sharing tea together, with a view facing the parade. From my understanding, they lived a distance from each other, but would always visit in that hotel restaurant each Thanksgiving, delighting in each others’ company and sharing in the Thanksgiving Day parade festivities.

Meeting her brought a newfound confidence to me, in talking and complimenting others. Sure, I’d issued compliments to others such as great shoes or hairstyle, or outfit, but at that time, it was hard for me to recall ever really complimenting someone other than my family, about their personality and ability to connect with others. With this particular woman, it was different. In one of our few conversations, I wished her well, as she made her way out of the office to continue to her day, but before she did, I complimented her on her optimism and compassion, her willingness to help and to hear others, to give them a voice,  to allow them to share and to truly recognize all they were saying. Having the ability to make someone not only feel listened to, but HEARD, is a rare quality in itself and I felt it was necessary for me to take the chance to compliment her on this.

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So today, I urge you, if you haven’t already, to issue someone a compliment, no matter how small it may seem to you, to them, it could brighten their day – it could very well be the only positive thing they hear today, or almost any day. Even when we don’t feel our best, we can always do something to make others feel good, because I know for myself, when feeling down, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else.

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Closure by Inquiry

Just over five years ago, I was 23 and employed full-time in a profession I loved, which more or less fell into my lap one day.  One moment, I was unemployed, desperately searching for a career, unaware if my degree would prove fruitful and the next instant, I was helping to impact people’s lives on a daily basis. Battling self-esteem issues the majority of my life, I was still highly critical of myself, but slowly managing to combat these emotions in a more constructive way as time progressed.

Longing for a romantic relationship of some kind, or at least someone to date, I met a guy who intrigued me, but also sent perplexing thoughts through my mind. He was three years my senior, working in a high-level position and for one reason or another, captivated me. Still to this day, I never quite understood what it was about him that stirred such emotions within me. That being said, I was enthralled with him from day one, yet we never could seem to figure each other out. We were never “together” per se and much of our communication was conducted via text message. He and I lived a distance from each other (the suburbs for me, him – the city). Though I had a car, I was desperately fearful of city-driving, hailing from the suburbs my entire life. As an anxious person, driving in the city, or even the mere thought of driving in the city, frightened me beyond words. My fear of driving in the city erroneously translated to him as me not wanting to see him and rather than explain myself, I suppose I allowed him to believe it.

Time passed and he moved away years later, back to his hometown thousands of miles and states away. No words were exchanged, but for years, I still thought of him and wondered if he followed suit. At some points, we would exchange text messages, but never made concrete plans to see each other again, or travel to one another. Still, in the back of my mind, I always wondered what could have been or what it could or may lead to. Perhaps it is the romantic in me, or quite possibly, I read too many novels, but the idea of us somehow “finding each other” after all these years, left me swirling with contentment and contemplation.

Then, roughly two days ago, my fate was more or less sealed when it came to him. Knowing he was living in the midst of the Hurricane currently plaguing portions of the US and outside areas, I fretted and contemplated texting him. My inability to text him at the first thought was my fear of him being in a relationship and not responding to me, or at my worst fear, him exchanging a hurtful message to me. Still, I couldn’t live with me not inquiring after him to learn if he was safe or not. Summoning the minuscule amounts of courage left within me, I bravely tapped out a message to him, reading none another than, “Hey, how have you been?” To me, it was innocent, but friendly, a friend simply inquiring after another friend. There were no romantic implications in that, or so I believed.

A short amount of time later, his number was swiftly deleted from my phone, tears began to fill my eyes and the ruminating and disparaging remarks directed towards me filled my head. “How foolish I felt. How stupid I was, how grossly ashamed I was. I was undeserving, ugly, to be ignored and forgotten of. How idiotic I was to have thought I could have meant something to someone like him.” This disparaging inward monologue transpired within my mind for much of the evening. Instructed to delete his phone number, because he was “dating the woman he intends to marry,” I was filled with shock and an inability to initially comprehend all I read. Sure, I can understand if he is with someone else, it is his right and prerogative, but to have sent me such a hurtful message as that, to me, is unacceptable and not to mention, undeserving. What did I do to deserve such a message, I asked myself? All I merely asked him was how he was. I struggled to come to this conclusion, but when I ultimately did, I decided I was proud of myself for who I am. I’m proud that I was a big enough person to ask after him, because I was concerned about his wellbeing as a person who I believed was living in the storm zone. There was nothing romantic about my inquiry. Therefore, it is him who should be regretful. Him, who should feel guilty because of the language he used and the harsh tone of his words. It is not me to be reprimanded or who should feel ashamed, I’m proud that I am caring, I’m proud that I am brave and I’m also proud that I took the time to speak my truth through this blog post, because if it happened to me, it’s happened to others, as well. So, whenever you feel the urge to berate yourself because of someone else’s words toward you,  remember that the way someone behaves or speaks to you is not a reflection of you, but a reflection of them, as a person.

I’m glad I learned now, rather than later; it is the closure I needed and in the wise words of someone I know, “Beauty is what you feel inside, not what you see the mirror.”

Perspective by the Quote

Good Morning! I hope your weekend has been a pleasant and relaxing one, thus far. A couple of days ago, I had every intention of posting this very post, but unfortunately, several unfortunate occurrences seemed to interfere.

Never Quit

Between the issues related to the wireless network/router and my laptop, to the minor settings issue with my iPhone, it was frustrating and difficult to feel as though it wasn’t my fault, or beyond my control. When I found myself becoming stressed and overwhelmed, I turned to what I most often do – quotes. For those who know me well, or have been reading my blog for even a brief time, quotes are something I highly value and feel it helps me keep situations and life, in general, in perspective. Needless to say, I managed to stumble across several quotes this past week (most were tweeted by one of my favorite TODAY Show anchors, Hoda Kotb) which I found to be inspiring, motivating and comforting. The last quote I found (which you’ll see pictured, below) is from a necklace I happened to spot while browsing at Kohl’s with my sister and niece. Initially, I spotted it a couple weeks ago and then several days ago, we visited Kohl’s again and since the quote had been on my mind since first seeing it, but I couldn’t recall the specifics of it, I was able to locate it and snap a quick photo to share.

Quotes of the Week:

  • “And suddenly you know… It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”
  • “People grow when they are loved well. If you want to help others heal, love them without an agenda.”
  • “With the right music, you either forget everything or you remember everything.”
  • “You’re the wish my heart made.”

Disney Necklace

 

 

 

 

Worthy of Being You

The following post will probably be one of the most impromptu I’ve ever written, thus far. Just moments ago, I was mindlessly perusing Twitter as I so often do, throughout the day and stumbled across a tweet from one of my many favorite magazines, Good Housekeeping. I’ve read the magazine for years despite not being in their specifically targeted age demographic and have always found something I could relate to, no matter what. That being said, this morning’s tweet featured a link to an article written by bestselling author, Jennifer Wiener, published in the August 2015 issue of the magazine. After quickly reading the article, I felt overly inspired and more than compelled to both tweet about it, as well as craft a blog post surrounding it.

Good Housekeeping   Jennifer Weiner

A link to the Good Housekeeping article: http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/a33462/insult-hurt-self-confidence/

If you’re not a follower of Good Housekeeping on social media, a reader of the magazine, or familiar with them at all, I wanted to share it with whomever may be reading, because I feel as though it is an article that can be used as inspiration, support, awareness and may come as a realization, that we are not alone in some of the sentiments we may experience on a daily basis. For me, this post resonated on more than a singular level. In the article, the author describes how she avoided photos like the plague, stating she felt she looked “disgusting, horrible and bloated,” believing as though she didn’t deserve to be seen in a photo, feeling guilt and shame surrounding her appearance. She also stated the amount of sadness and regret she feels when looking back on parts of her life, because the photos of these times are absent. Perhaps the most poignant section of this story, in relation to myself is this:

“What I’d say is that perfect is impossible. When the camera comes out, don’t hide. Tell yourself that every time a real, imperfect woman shows up in a photograph, an angel gets its wings … and a girl who sees it might believe that her looks are OK.

Be brave. Smile and say, “Here I am.”

It’s hard for me to explain how much the author’s words truly mean to me and resonate. I can’t even begin to recall all the times I’ve hidden and shied away from the camera, of how many moments I’ve missed out or how many moments I wish I could visually recall and can’t because I hid from the camera. In August 2014, I became an aunt to my beautiful, intelligent and inspiring niece, who I love with every ounce of myself, and the only photo I have of she, my sister and I, is one from when my dog, Oliver was having surgery and we were waiting for him in the waiting room. It hurts to know this and it isn’t because of any other reason than me, avoiding the camera. So maybe today, I’ll take a photo, a photo that should have been taken whenever I felt so inclined, and be proud to be here, be proud I have the ability to take a photo, and the courage to look at it, be okay with the image looking at back at me, and bravely say, as the article states, “Here I am.”

Smile for the Camera: A “Camera Shy” Phenomenon

Good Monday Morning, to you! I’m back after several days away from the blog world. For a while, I contemplated the direction I was going with this blog. It’s hard to not feel discouraged, or as though I am writing without having anyone listen, but then I realized, the most important thing about having a blog of this kind, is to have fun with it and not place too much pressure on myself, as I so often do in many other respects. Anyway, I wanted to advise those of you who might be reading, to stay tuned this week, because I have a *VERY EXCITING* giveaway on-deck for mid-week! Here’s a hint to pique your interest: what I will be giving away is sure to keep you hydrated! Anyhow, now that I’ve finally announced my very FIRST giveaway, let’s get to today’s musing, or at least, allow me to introduce it. Over the weekend, while mindlessly perusing Facebook, I stumbled across an ad sponsored by one of my favorite companies, not only for their high-quality, trustworthy products, but also for the initiatives they support and produce: Dove. Perhaps you’ve noticed it as well – it is a Dove advertisement with a woman shielding her face and on her face covering is the curious statement: 77% of women are camera shy. This may be shocking to some, but to others, they may see it as a definite truth. I was a little bit of both, but more on that in a minute. Allow me to brief you on my morning eats:

Breakfast (Monday, July 29, 2013):

1 container Yoplait 100 Vanilla Greek Yogurt: (As I believe I’ve noted before, this particular flavor of vanilla Greek yogurt is potentially one of my favorites. The vanilla flavor is strong, not muted and fresh. Plus, it mixes very well with cereal. I must note, yesterday I had another brand of Honey Vanilla Bean Greek Yogurt – Voskos, and loved the flavor, plus I could see actual vanilla BEAN in the yogurt! Vanilla bean = high quality alert, for sure!)

1 cup ShopRite store-brand Crispix: (This cereal is a new purchase, since I’ve been wanting Crispix for awhile. The Kellogg’s name brand version of Crispix, however, was much too expensive for my wallet, so I settled for the ShopRite version, which in my opinion, is just as good and fits the bill. It brought a wave of nostalgia over me, as I recall being 8-years-old, piling my morning cereal bowl high with a mixture of Crispix and Life Cereal, some of it spilling out, as I heartily dug into my large pile.)

1 cup Special K Multigrain Flakes (Such a good cereal, although I must admit, having it day after day is quickly causing it to become redundant. I think it’s time for me to add a new cereal to my daily repertoire!)

1 Banana (I’m proud to report, I am still doing well with the bananas. No problems here, which is a welcome change!)

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Back to today’s musing: Women and the “Camera Shy phenomenon, as stated by Dove. As I previously mentioned, a part of me is not at all surprised or shocked to have the read the statement: “77% of women are camera shy.” The other part of me thought to myself, “Gee, I see so many pictures women take each day of themselves, posting it on their blogs, their instagram accounts, Twitter, Facebook and the like. However, I came to realize, I am truly only viewing a very, very small sampling, in that there are millions of women scattered throughout the world. Some of these women may post photos of themselves, but feel considerably uncomfortable and uneasy doing so. They may even do it, because it is part of their job responsibilities or do it because they are trying to maintain a certain image or conception of themselves.

However, I will be first to admit, I fall in the 77% of women who are camera shy. More often than I can count, I’ve shied away from the camera, fearful of how the camera may actually portray me, or how I’ll end up seeing myself. While my self-perception may be distorted or not, having my picture taken often leaves me feeling vulnerable. When my picture is taken, I surrender any control of how I look to the camera, or at least, it often feels that way. When I was a child, I loved having my photo taken, or recording home videos with my sister, Hope. It didn’t matter to me if my hair was matted or frizzy, or if I had chocolate smeared on my face. All that mattered was capturing that happy, carefree moment I was having. 

A large part of me still wishes I was that way, comfortable and at ease when having my photo taken. There have been so many occasions where I shunned having my photo taken, only to regret later, realizing they are memories I could look back on and see the happiness in the photo. Sure, I can still experience those memories within my mind and heart, but being able to see a photo can often capture a different angle or sense of it. So often, I’ve wanted to take a simple, innocent photo with my mom, sister, a friend, or Oliver, my dog, and I’ve declined. Or I’ve had a photo taken and begged whoever had taken it to either delete it or never show anyone.

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How sad I am to read that statement about 77% of women being camera shy. How I wish I could encourage fellow women, myself included, to own the camera! Or to smile as brightly and as big as we can, no matter if our hair is frizzy, or if our cheeks are sunburned, or if our shirts are wrinkled. Let us focus on the happiness of the moment, of relishing in the time we are spending with others, and the smiles on our faces and in our eyes; let these be what the camera captures and the other “imperfections,” fade quickly into the background, nearly disappearing entirely.

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I’ve mentioned Dove is a company I fully support, not only for their products, but for what they encourage, support and advocate for. If you’re unfamiliar, several years prior, Dove instituted, “The Self-Esteem Fund,” and the “Campaign for Real Beauty.” Many of you have probably seen some of the videos and commercials Dove has produced (i.e. the model who starts off bare-faced and in the end, becomes photoshopped and completely made-over; or the public service announcement stating statistics regarding the heartbreaking way many girls/women view their bodies and overall selves). When I think of Dove and their campaigns and initiatives, it’s hard not to smile and at the same time, feel sad. My smiles are from the comfort in knowing a company as large as Dove finally notices and recognizes what females as a whole routinely feel and encounter, and my tears are from learning of these truths, confirming much of the way, I, myself often feel. They are making attempts to change these truths, or at least, confront them and allow girls/women to realize they are truly not alone in their sentiments.

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Seeing this statement regarding the significant percentage of women who are camera shy, I encourage my fellow girls/women and also, the guys out there, because I believe many boys/men are also similarly camera shy, to own the camera. Smile your beautiful and/or handsome smile, never hide your flaws or imperfections, because they make you, you and remember, the camera and eye catches a genuine smile and happiness better than a flaw. When one is wearing a smile and enjoying themselves, it’s often difficult to look at much else, therefore, perceived flaws and imperfections fade into the background, as simply a minor detail in an otherwise beautiful photo and moment captured in time.

In the words of one of my favorite childhood authors, Dr. Seuss:

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QUESTION: Do you enjoy having your photo taken? If not, why?