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:

compliment-poem

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.

admire-beauty

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.

compliment-quote

Thoughts we can Feel

Good Monday morning, to you! If it happens to be stormy, windy and rainy by you, I hope you are able to have a pleasant day in spite of it. Whether your day is going well, or perhaps you could use a bit of motivation and encouraging words, I’m here today to offer some of quotes I’ve discovered recently that are quickly becoming my favorites. So without further adieu, here are some quotes of encouragement and strength today:

“The strongest people aren’t always the people who win, but the people who don’t give up when they lose.”

“If you keep looking back at your yesterday’s, you are not living in the gift that the present is.”

“There comes a day when turning the page is the best decision for you because you realize there’s so much more to the book than the page you were stuck on.”

“Never let your fear decide your future.”

“Note to self: I am allowed to cry. I am allowed to scream, but I am not allowed to give up. It will all get down somehow. Just breathe.”

“Admire someone else’s beauty without questioning your own.”

“Don’t start your day with the broken pieces of yesterday. Every day is a fresh start. Each day is a new beginning. Every morning we wake up is the first day of our new life.”

“You are part of a puzzle in someone’s life. You may never know where you fit, but someone’s life may never be complete without you in it.”

“Trust that every ending is followed by a beginning.”

“Use your eyes to see the needs and use your talents to meet them.”

“Don’t let your fear of the past affect the outlook of your future. Live for what tomorrow has to bring, not what yesterday has taken away.”

positive-quote                            courage-quotes

 

Words Sitting Beside Us

This post is bound to be more or less all over the place, so I apologize for the mess of words it may very well result in. Lately, I’ve been contemplating countless hours about the words some us don’t, won’t or feel we cannot say. They never really go away, even if they are no longer at the forefront of our minds. Or, they may appear or emerge in other ways, like a nervous tic, foot tapping, biting our lips or cheeks, and beyond. Sometimes, we ruminate about them, mulling over what could or will happen if these words and feelings are verbalized or written to someone or something. Therefore, many of us repress them, stuffing them deep inside of us, tucked away into an area that feels raw and unaddressed. It never leaves though; it sits and sits, and sometimes, when it becomes too much to bear, the words spill out in ways we never intended, or not in the way we hoped.

For me, the words I don’t say sit beside me each day. They follow me from place to place, like a piece of lint of dust that simply won’t disappear until it is properly addressed. Other times, when I HAVE spoken up, a sense of relief washes over me and I am amazed by how fulfilling and cleansing it was to finally release the emotions and words building inside of me. In some instances, I’ve been shocked to learn others have harbored nearly identical sentiments to me, wondering why I waited so long to speak the words I felt couldn’t. So many times, unnecessarily, I’ve walked around berating myself for feeling as I do, thinking as I do and for my inability to speak the truth, words that very well could set me free from emotional duress. The words I often choose to not speak sometimes become my shadow; I can always see or feel it lingering in the background and even when I focus all my efforts in ignoring it, it never ceases to escape.

Instead of focusing on how my thoughts and words will be received, my goal for the impending year is to focus on speaking the truth in ways that are respectful, truthful, and accountable. I’ve found from past experiences that when we focus so much on how our feelings and words will be received by others, the words we do end up sharing are the furthest from what we intended and thereby, we are left feeling unheard and the pain/unspoken truths still sit beside us. Thoughts and sentiments can eat away at us, bit by bit until we reduced to silence or whispers. It pains me each day I see others doing to this to themselves, because I know, firsthand, how deeply painful it is. Ignoring or repressing it doesn’t make it disappear, or even numb it, despite what we might think. Those little jabs at our loved ones, self-defeating judgments of ourselves when we look in the mirror  and beyond – all of them, I truly believe, are the those unspoken thoughts and feelings rearing their vicious heads.

So, if I can say one thing as we make our way into the holidays and the New Year, it is to speak your truth. Speak it loud and speak it clear, because others can only hear you if you take the risk and remember, no matter how hard we may try, others opinions of us cannot be controlled by us. We have no power over someone’s thoughts of us, we only have power over how we present ourselves, the words we say and the choices we make. My hope is that you’ll make the choice to make your voice heard, speak the truth and speak it clear.

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.”

A Tangled Path to Acceptance

Let me ask you this on this Friday morning: how often have you looked back on your life, no matter how positive or not so positive it has been and regretted a choice, thought, or decision you’ve made? To that end, how many times have you thought, if only? If only I had made a different decision or choice – if only I had taken a chance, or maybe, if only I hadn’t taken that chance? It is often easier and even, sadly, a widely-accepted social norm to berate or chastise oneself for the decisions one made or didn’t make.

Instead of focusing on the reasons WHY we made that particular decision or choice, we focus on where it has lead us to, what we have lost, or the ramifications of it. Instead of focusing on what actually drove these past choices, we may ruminate, analyze, or play out scenarios in our head of what our lives might have been like if we’d made different choices or taken different paths. Often times, this only leads us to sadness or regret and as a result, we spend much of our time dwelling in the past, envisioning a life we don’t have instead of relishing in what we DO have and the time we have been given to live it.

On the flip side, there can in fact be positives to reflecting on the past. It can keep us from making future poor decisions or provide us with insight into difficult choices, decisions and other situations within our lives. Self-acceptance has often been something I’ve struggled with in particular through the years and acknowledging where I am at the present time. Being kinder to myself is something I hope and wish to employ at I begin my 28th year on Tuesday, May 3rd.

Begin Again quote

As I said last year on my 27th birthday, for those of you who may recall, birthdays for me are often a chance to set a new goal, a new dream, or maybe the decision to choose to pursue a goal I neglected, but always harbored within me. With that being said, my goal for my 28th year, is to acknowledge I may not have or be living the life I believed I would, but then again, when I envisioned my life, I was a very young, impressionable adolescent or child, unaware of what life could bring or what I could encounter. I didn’t realize that the plans we make for ourselves can and will change as we grow and develop as a person and see more of what life has to offer. Some of these changes will be positive, some of them will be negative, but just because the path I thought I would take is vastly different, does not mean it is the one I will always lead. To get what we aspire to have out of life, we have to start somewhere. This year will be the year I decide to acknowledge what I’ve lost and the choices I made, but instead of ruminating and wallowing in self-pity, will choose to start again and adjust my sails.

After all, there truly is no time limit on when we can achieve our dreams or set new goals; why not start now?

Starting Over quote

Spring Forward in Thoughts

Good Morning, to you and Happy Earth Day! Since I’ve only very recently resumed blogging after a brief hiatus, I neglected to welcome in the new season of Spring (hardly new, now a month into it!). That being said, Spring has always been a season I’ve looked forward to for a multitude of reasons. Living in the suburbs of Philadelphia, we often endure a harsh, frigid winter (or at least, in reason years we have) and so the Spring is always a welcome occurrence in my mind. There is truly nothing better than having the ability to step outside of my house, sans a heavy winter coat and boots and feel the light, Spring breeze tousling my hair and allowing for a cleansing fresh start. The beginning of Spring is also an acknowledgement and reminder of new beginnings. Not only are seasonal flowers and produce blooming and growing, but it’s also the chance to try something new and with that, it leads me to my recent discovery via Twitter, one of my favorite social media platforms.

Spring Quote 2

Having recently read the latest novel by acclaimed author, Debbie Macomber, I decided to check out her Twitter page and see what she’s been up to and if she’s sharing any inspirational words. While on her page, I noticed her “retweeting” several quotes and other motivational tweets by the Twitter name – World Changing Women. Curious as I was, I clicked over onto their page and discovered an entire outpouring of motivational and inspirational quotes, posted multiple times throughout the day. To me, it was just what I was looking for and hoping to see. Immediately, I clicked “follow” and since then, have been actively enjoying their tweets, liking them for further reference.

So, I thought, what better than to share some of my favorite quotes thus far, or at least those that have profoundly resonated with me:

Quotes/Thoughts from “World Changing Women” (Twitter handle: @WomenOfHistory)

“Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.”

“Worry does nothing but steal your joy and keep you very busy doing nothing.”

“Sometimes it takes sadness to know happiness, noise to appreciate silence and absence to value presence.”

“When you do something out of love, you don’t count the cost.”

“Some people pass through our lives in a shorter time frame than we had hoped to teach us things they never could have taught if they had stayed.”

“The story of your life has many chapters. One bad chapter doesn’t mean it’s the end of the book.”

“Don’t let your fear of the past affect the outlook of your future. Live for what tomorrow has to bring, not what yesterday has taken away.”

“Turn your wounds into wisdom.”

“People who are meant to be together find their way back, they may take a few detours, but they are never lost.”

“Being defeated is often a temporary condition; giving up is what makes it permanent.”

Spring Quote

 

Half the Truth

The other day, a rough, emotionally-driven, raw afternoon, I sat in my car with the windows drawn and tears streaming down my face as I mindlessly scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed on my phone. Like clockwork, I scrolled through the countless photos of people’s children, engagement and pregnancy announcements, party photos and simply happy moments. Sure, mixed in here and there were trivial complaints or motivational quotes, but nothing capturing my undivided attention, until…

A favorite author of mine, Elizabeth Gilbert, the writer behind the popular non-fiction novel, Eat Pray Love, posted a short piece of writing entitled, “Not this.” Words filled my newsfeed, words that seemed to spill from me, capturing each thought, worry and sentiment I’ve felt through the years. Realizing others and more specifically, Gilbert herself and the others she speaks of have experienced similar feelings was all the comfort and reassurance I needed at that moment. Reading this piece summoned a certain confidence and courage within me, words I needed to hear at moment, thoughts I needed to propel me forward. After reading it, I pushed open the door to my car and felt as though a window had suddenly been opened.

So here I am today, on a beautiful Spring afternoon in April, hoping that by posting her piece, maybe somewhere a window will be opening for someone else or at least will be a reminder that we’re never truly alone in our thoughts and fears:

“Not this” by Elizabeth Gilbert:

Dear Ones –

Most of us, at some point in our lives (unless we have done everything perfectly…which is: nobody) will have to face a terrible moment in which we realize that we have somehow ended up in the wrong place — or at least, in a very bad place.

Maybe we will have to admit that we are in the wrong job. Or the wrong relationship. With the wrong people around us. Living in the wrong neighborhood. Acting out on the wrong behaviors. Using the wrong substances. Pretending to believe things that we no longer believe. Pretending to be something we were never meant to be.

This moment of realization is seldom fun. In fact, it’s usually terrifying.

I call this moment of realization: NOT THIS.

Because sometimes that’s all you know, at such a moment.

All you know is: NOT THIS.

Sometimes that’s all you CAN know.

All you know is that some deep life force within you is saying, NOT THIS, and it won’t be silenced.

Your body is saying: NOT THIS.

Your heart is saying: NOT THIS.

Your soul is saying: NOT THIS.

But your brain can’t bring itself to say “NOT THIS”, because that would cause a serious problem. The problem is: You don’t have a Plan B in place. This is the only life you have. This is the only job you have. This is the only spouse you have. This is the only house you have. Your brain says, “It may not be great, but we have to put up with it, because there are no other options.” You’re not sure how you got here — to this place of THIS — but you sure as hell don’t know how to get out…

So your brain says: “WE NEED TO KEEP PUTTING UP WITH THIS, BECAUSE THIS IS ALL WE HAVE.”

But still, beating like a quiet drum, your body and your heart and your soul keep saying: NOT THIS…NOT THIS…NOT THIS.

I think some of the bravest people I have ever met were people who had the courage to say the words, “NOT THIS” outloud — even before they had an alternative plan.

People who walked out of bad situations without knowing if there was a better situation on the horizon.

People who looked at the life they were in, and they said, “I don’t know what my life is supposed to be…but it’s NOT THIS.” And then they just…left.

I think my friend who walked out of a marriage after less than a year, and had to move back in with her mother (back into her childhood bedroom), and face the condemnation of the entire community while she slowly created a new life for herself. Everyone said, “If he’s not good enough for you, who will be?” She didn’t know. She didn’t know anything about what her life would look like now. But it started with her saying: NOT THIS.

I think of my friend who took her three young children away from a toxic marriage, despite that fact that her husband supported her and the kids financially…and the four of them (this woman and her three children) all slept in one bed together in a tiny studio apartment for a few years, while she struggled to build a new life. She was poor, she was scared, she was alone. But she had to listen to the voices within her that said, NOT THIS.

I think of friends who walked out of jobs — with no job waiting for them. Because they said NOT THIS.

I think of friends who quit school, rather than keep pretending that they cared about this field of study anymore. And yes, they lost the scholarship. And yes, they ended up working at a fast food restaurant, while everyone else was getting degrees. And yes, it took them a while to figure out where to go next. But there was a relief at last in just surrendering to the holy, non-negotiable truth of NOT THIS.

I think of friends who bravely walked into AA meetings and just fell apart in front of a room full of total strangers, and said, NOT THIS.

I think of a friend who pulled her children out of Sunday School in the middle of church one Sunday because she’d had it with the judgment and self-righteousness of this particular church. Yes, it was her community. Yes, it was her tribe. But she physically couldn’t be in that building anymore without feeling that she would explode. She didn’t know where she was going, spiritually or within her community, but she said, NOT THIS. And walked out.

Rationally, it’s crazy to abandon a perfectly good life (or at least a familiar life) in order to jump into a mystery. No sane person would advise you to make such a leap, with no Plan B in place. We are supposed to be careful. We are supposed to be prudent.

And yet….

And yet.

If you keep ignoring the voices within you that say NOT THIS, just because you don’t know what to do, instead…you may end up stuck in NOT THIS forever.

You don’t need to know where you are going to admit that where you are standing right now is wrong.

The bravest thing to say can be these two words.

What comes next?

I don’t know. You don’t know. Nobody knows. It might be worse. It might be better. But whatever it is…? It’s NOT THIS.

ONWARD,
LG

– Thank you to Elizabeth Gilbert for bravely sharing this inspiring kaleidoscope of words, they are many words I’ve thought, but never written.