Hung by your tongue……….

We’ve all been there.  Said something we shouldn’t have said.  Repeated something that at first appeared innocent, or was just a comment to be ‘part of the group, part of the conversation’.  As soon as it’s left your lips and rolled off your tongue, you realized you’ve just hung yourself.

I have learned this life lesson, the hard way, many times over.  Each time the sting of the ‘tack’ as it pierces our tongue should be pain enough to remember to never speak ill of someone, gossip, or repeat something we aren’t 100% certain of.  What makes us repeat this behavior?  For some, it’s merely fitting in.  For others, it can create a false sense of acceptance, the appearance of being now a part of the ‘inner circle’.

For lack of a better way to express it, I think that this tongue wagging is a direct mirror to the soul.   We all suffer from low self-esteem.  We all suffer from feeling left out, and no one that I have ever met loves a secret, especially when you know someone has one and they haven’t shared it with you.

I have been in situations where the truth was known to me, but not to the others around me .  The story-tellers were ‘shifting’ the storyline, and creating such a state of inquisitiveness with their audience, that they kept on imbedding more and more into the story, until it little resembled the reality of the situation.  I always feel bad when I am in that situation, because I want to blurt out the truth, but then I am betraying the confidence of the person who shared their moment with me and risk appearing to me causing a stir as the attention shifts to me.  This is such a difficult situation.

A few posts back I reflected upon courageous conversations, saying what you mean and meaning what you say, seeking first to understand before being understood, pausing before reacting, taking a mental/emotional time-out for yourself and even giving yourself 24 hours before you react.  We all know that life is 20% of what happens to us and 80% how we react to it.  What is the reaction stemming from?  Again, it all goes back to self – esteem.

I have been told in the past that I have the kind of personality that’s on fire!’ It is the kind of magnetism that can light the world up (on fire) or burn it down (by fire)  Scary analogy.  I now know it to be true.  Happiness is a choice.  Anger is a choice.   When we speak is a choice.  When we don’t speak is a choice.  Maybe it comes down to self-discipline, I believe its time I look in my own hand-mirror and ask myself some courageous questions.  Maybe it’s time to just be quiet.  Just reflect.  Just feel.  Stop seeking to know. 

It doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks of me.  It matters most what I think of myself.  My tongue is tired.  It’s tired of defending my feelings, tired of debating my beliefs, weary of giving advice and hurts from being pierced by the thumb-tacks of the repercussions of speaking first and thinking later.

Have you had the experience and tendencies to be hung by your tongue?

Let me know how you practice to find the Sounds of Silence…….and keep your tongue feeling fresh………………..

That “New School Year” feeling~

Do you remember what it was like to start a new school year?  Do you remember going ‘back-to-schoolshopping‘ with your mom?  I am from the era of lay-away plans and one good pair of dress shoes and the best sneakers we could afford for gym class.   I am also from the 70’s where we carried Lunch boxes to school, you now, the ones with the ‘glass’ thermos and you had to be so careful to never drop the box, or bang it against something.  I can’t even begin to tell you the trauma and drama of getting to lunch period, only to open your lunch box and discover one of two things happened.  The lid wasn’t screwed on tight enough, so the milk your mom said you were drinking because it was ‘good for you’ had leaked all over and everything smelled sour and was soaked, or the other disaster – as you picked up your thermos you heard that unmistakable sloshing sound of broken glass.  That happened to me quite a few times and mom was always mad because NOW the new thermos wasn’t going to match and it cost a lot of money to replace – I guess they didn’t have plastic liners back then.  Other things that I remember are, as I got older, I always begged my mom to let me get the ‘boy’ sneakers with the rubber toe and she always said, no.   When designer jeans came out in the 80’s I was allowed to get one pair of conservative Gloria Vanderbilt‘s but with no stitching on the pocket because mom didn’t want me to bring attention to that part of my body.  Heaven forbid!!!

 Fast forward 30 years later and I have a daughter who is entering her senior year of high-school.  Gone are the days of your ‘First-day-big-deal-back-to- school-outfit’, and gone are the days of shopping with mom.  This generation of children doesn’t wait for what they want, I call them the ‘microwave’ generation – if you can’t get it in 30 seconds – you don’t want it.  Everything they want, they must get immediate gratification because the abundance of choices, and styles and money is so different in this day and age.  (Don’t they know that delay of self-gratification is a sign of maturity?)

I remember being little and waiting for what felt like FOREVER in between Christmas and my birthday in July, until we could get something new at the end of the summer and go back to school shopping with my 2 sisters – and it always felt like such a spree.  Mom only took us to the better department stores.  First, we would travel about 30 minutes from home to order our special, custom made shoes from Richard Duff in Denville, NJ.  I think they were leather soled buster browns or something, but we never wore shoes like the kids do today, we didn’t have Payless and Famous Footwear, you got one pair of shoes and they went with EVERYTHING.  Next we’d head over to another store where we always picked out new cotton underwear (white) and cotton socks (white) and a few outfits.  It was also the dreaded moment of truth, and the horror of having to shop for a bra with mom, when every year we went through the same distress because I had nothing to put in mine and still wore the ‘stretch’ kind until my senior year in high school.  We should have just gotten me t-shirts.  I was always the president of the IBTC – my sisters outpaced me in that department very quickly.!

We didn’t have a lot of money, but we didn’t realize it.  We always had what we needed and my mom was good with budgeting and planning. (I wish I had learned that skill from her)  My parents didn’t have credit cards and quite frankly, didn’t believe in them.  Mom always had a Christmas Club, and when they needed a new washer and dryer, I remember the first Sears and Roebuck card that entered our home, it was such a big deal!!!   My dad works very hard as a blue-collar laborer, and at 65, he is still doing that same job today, the job he started when he was 17 years old, as an electrician.  My dad is the epitome of loyalty and tenacity, he has never missed a day of work in almost 50 years ( except to when he fell down our icy steps on the lake about 30 of them, while carrying my sisters twins down to the house from the road (75 steps up) and he slipped on the ice, the baby went sledding and dad’s fall was stopped by a wrought iron railing that cracked his leg in half – he was such a brute that he waited a day before going to the emergency room, and told us all it was just a bad sprain)  He has worked for the same company and truly taught me what it means to work and work hard. 

 Everything was respectful back then,  and we were always covered up.  I am not sure what the parents of today are thinking but some of the gals my daughter goes to school with appear as if they are doing the walk of shame and just coming home from a night out in the club….I am not certain of ‘what’ their intention is for learning, but the fashion stakes and the competition to ‘fit in’ is so fierce and it starts with the lousy-stinkin-brand of sneakers you’ve got on your feet. What happened to the basics?  What happened to caring more about what was in your books than what was on your feet?  

I struggle sometimes to reveal in a non-confrontational way the tenets of being a lady to my daughter.  I try to be a good example, and keep her from the phony outer trappings that we all succumb to and it’s really a difficult part of parenting.  I have raised her to believe that she is the most beautiful on the ‘inside’ and that beauty is fleeting.  Such a tumultuous message. 

On this night before the first day of her last year of high school, I pray for guidance and wisdom and peace.  I pray for the patience to listen more than I speak.  I pray for insight, compassion and strength to endure alongside of her, everything that is thrown her way.  I pray for God’s hand to be upon her car as she drives to and from the senior parking lot.  I wish for happiness and utter joy as she discovers ‘who’ she is going to be, ‘where’  she is going to attend college and that she always remembers to be a human ‘being’ not a human ‘doing’ – my daughter is using the wings that I gave her, and is standing firm in the roots of a loving family steeped with traditions, and memories.  Our daughter is still blessed to have all 4 of her grandparents (who provide much wisdom/and commentary whether she wants to hear it or not!)  and comes from a long line of consistency and committment, for there is no divorce in our families.  When I stop and think about that, it really amazes me – 

I miss my childhood and am quite sentimental.  I miss going back-to-school- shopping with my own mom, and miss the simplicity of her sewing our outfits, buying presents for us in thrift shops, and knowing that no matter what, she was always there for us when we came home from school.  My mom baked cookies, we had snacks and home-made lunches, and lot’s of love.  I have tried to recreate that for my own daughter, and hope that she will pass the baton to her children someday.

Share with me your memories of ‘back-to-school’ , for I would really like to know……..

Are you a Balcony Person or a Basement Dweller kinda person…..?

 

My biggest Balcony Person, my husband and best friend, John~

 

As I go through my life, each and every day,  I constantly encounter ‘messengers’ and have learned that there are many paths to leaving an unapologetic legacy in a lifetime.  These mentors share with me their stories of progress, offer prayers, suggest books to read, and offer words of encouragement.   These connections go to the HEART of what matters to me.   Here is a story about one of them, a special person,    named Nancy~

Many moons ago, a ‘mom’ at my daughters elementary school, happened to strike up a conversation with me, she was the kindest person, and her house stands on the corner where the children cross to head over to Spring Garden School.  For seven years, I would pass Nancy and she’d wave.I would always see her chatting with the crossing guard and the other moms as we hurried by with our children down the one-way lane to school.  Every so often, if I wasn’t on the run, I had the pleasure of sharing life stories with her.  She was always so insightful and so loving and really had a wealth of understanding.  One day, as I was chatting, she mentioned to me that she had a ‘lending library’ on her front porch and she wanted to share two books with me.  One is called:  Balcony People by Joyce Landorf Heatherley and the other is Hung by the Tongue and I can’t quite place the author.

Nancy ran inside and grabbed the book for me and asked me to take some time to read it and pray about it, and learn from it, and to return it.   I held onto it for months.  (The book is paperback and was written in 1984) I read the book over and over – it’s only 70 pages.   I devoured the book and began to align myself with this philosphy and noticed within the first few pages,  ‘who’ were my Balcony People and ‘who’ were my Basement People.  As you can imagine, the words stand for EXACTLY what they truly mean. 

Balcony people cheer and are in the light, and Basement people leer and jeer and are in the dark. I began to want to immediately extract myself from Basement People, but also began to realize in my life where I had begun to exhibit that dreaded cellar personality, and contemplated, am I being a Basement person to anyone?  That began the mission –

 

Uncovering the truth of our souls is often difficult.  Change is not comfortable for most people and you can’t know that you are missing tools in your spiritual toolbox, until you know they aren’t there –  you need to know that you need to change and you become AWARE that you something isn’t quite right.  The next Action step will be to find the willingness and the courage to take a deeper dive and discover what your mindset is all about and where to get the help…..

As a mom, I took on the responsibility that I needed to learn this for myself, so that I could live this legacy for my own daughter.  For as much as we like to think that our children listen to what we say, they really live what they see, and they model what we do, (and what we don’t do) versus what we tell them they should do.  Hypocracy is the worst kind of teacher. 

Being in the spotlight as a  Sunday School teacher, a Pioneer Girls Leader and as a Girl Scout Leader, I knew I had been granted the gift of teaching and took the role model position quite to heart.  I  realized I had both the opportunity and the responsibility to share this idea with those little souls surrounding me, to teach them to mirror this character trait and pass it on to their families and friends.   It is amazing how children keep us on course and remind us when we’ve gotten off of the road~

Many times along the way, I had to stop, take a closer look ‘inside’ and admit that I, too, was living once again in the basement, and I had to physically and emotionally, open up the metal ‘storm’ doors to MY basement and walk up a very treacherous flight of steps.  Each step was cluttered with all the fear, anxiety, dissapointments, loss, despair, misunderstandings, misgivings, and turn of events that had caused in me a desire to head down into the dark, damp, moldy and mildewy place of refuge that somehow becomes so comfortable. I had to be careful, it is so easy to slip and fall back down.  The climb up is hard – but what waits at the top, in the light of day, and it is so worth the challenge of picking your way through, pushing things aside and finding your way.   It’s not fun down there in the dark, and it’s really, really, really,  hard to ‘yell up’ as opposed to leaning over a balcony and shouting down.

The difference between the two is this:

Balcony People (as per Joyce Landorf Heatherley) are the kinda people who BELIEVE in YOU.  It’s the person who leans way, way over your balcony railing:  Waving their coat above their head, and yelling above the frightening noises of your world, “I love you!  I believe in you and your abilities:  You can do it!  Keep at it.  Keep on! 

*The WISEST of BALCONY PEOPLE people know that God chose you before He made the world, and they KNOW that God is here beside you, they KNOW without  doubt that:  HE IS, HE WAS and HE ALWAYS WILL BE –  He is right here, and He’s NOT SITTING DOWN!!!!!.  You are His child, He is your Father.  His coat is off too, and He is in the Balcony cheering you on with the others, together!”  isn’t that a great vision?

Basement People are the exact opposite – Joyces teaches us that these people participate in the noisy pandemonium of the ‘evil’ side of this world, who explode all around us like cannon volleys.  These types of souls are not capapble of hugging, they can’t rescue others and they don’t know what it means to be ‘safe.’  They hurry us through our life and frighten us.  They live in the noise of cancer, divorce, the lethal poison of rejection, discouragement, depression, lonliness and other terrible unnamed scenarios.  They pound loudly in our minds, our bodies and our souls, with their messages.  Their personal wall paper is ripping off of the wall and they don’t sing God’s song-  they are negative, they seek first to understand themselves before understanding you and most of all,  they don’t offer you (or themselves)  Grace.

The Healing antidote to all of this is Affirmation!

Balcony People affirm & respect human dignity and worth. It is said that when the bonding occurs between Christians – the process is utterly spectacular, because it is stronger, perhaps, than any other.  It is a marvelous experience indeed!   That is why believers gather amongst one another – it is life changing.

It is no secret that when others discern the good, the noble, the honorable and the just tenets of our character (no matter how miniscule they may be) and then tell us ‘HOW’ they admire those traits, WE FEEL VISIBLE!   We begin to ‘SEE’ ourselves and own our self worth.  We feel LOVED because we are nurtured and nourished.  Oh what a life lesson to SEEK to be fertilizer and enrich and quench the thirst of others rather than act as emotional vampires who suck the life out of one another.

THAT is what Nancy offered me on her front porch when she handed me the booklet. 

THAT is what I offer you in this blog today………………I am clapping for you right now from my heart……we can change the world with just one round of applause for another human being……………..

The constant judgment we pour on ourselves is not only from external sources, but from deep within ourselves and often that self-rejection is the severest kind of all.  Finding genuine love for ourselves and affirming ourselves is tricky and what I have learned, quite rare. 

To that end, we all need to deal with our own brokenness so we can unpack the Samsonite, stop lugging around the Steamer Trunk and MOVE out into the world, with maybe just a small purse and become AFFIRMERS.

So, I ask you?

……….are you living live from the Balcony?………or are you living in the Basement?

**For more information and to obtain a copy of the book: www.balconypublishing.com

or just call 1-800-777-7949

I have just learned that Joyce is 80 years old and not in good health,and she currently lives in Texas. The gentleman that I ordered the books from this morning told me she would love to hear of what this book has meant to me………and I plan on writing her a love letter this afternoon. 

Night Wrestling with the angels~

Sleepless in Nutley, yet again.  Restless and anxious about all the changes that are taking place within my life.  And somehow they are all happening at once – The awareness comes daily and the willingess is here, but at night, as I try to fall asleep, the courage falters and I begin to fear…I play the ‘what if…..?’ game and sleep doesn’t come easy. 

A long time ago, I read a book called:  Night Wrestling – and it involved a theory that at night, we wrestle with the angels because during the day we are too busy for God to gain our attention.  So, at night, when we finally settle down, issues that need to be addressed, problems that need to be resolved, and the ability to listen is heightened and the angels come to speak to us on behalf of God.  As we labor to fall asleep, they tug at our heartstrings and cause us to reflect and become aware of the changes that need to occur.  I was never much of a wrestler, but the concept resonates with me.  For the last several years, at least as far back as I can remember, no matter when I go to bed, I always awaken at exactly 3:23 a.m.   I have no idea the significance of the number, or time, but it’s constant and I can depend upon it.  It’s the kind of awakening that is like you never slept.  Lately, I get up and journal, or read, or I pray. 

As I work on changing my mind and seeking freedom from an inability to let go and learning to practice radical forgiveness – it seems as if I am being bombarded with opportunities to be stretched.  I have experienced more ways to forgive over the last 11 weeks than I dare say has been comfortable.  I am challenged more than ever now, since I set my intention to stop being an imperative person and to loosen up on the grip of control.  It seems as if once I said it, the universe has sent me all sorts of trials and tribulations in my personal life, in my friendships, and my relationships, and in general. 

During these sleepless in Nutley nights, the darkness and quiet in the house helps to create a tomb of dissapointments, regrets, sadness, worries and a perpetuation of that which we put aside during the day.  When morning approaches thing seem different and a new perspective is had. 

A lot of my girlfriends tell me that they have been having difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep too.  How are you handling your own version of Night Wrestling?  Any advice for insomnia and what you’ve done to get over getting to sleep-

Fleeing from being a ‘Freedom Hedger’

Fleeing to Freedom

The definition of a ‘hedge’ according to my handy dandy American Heritage dictionary is to ‘enclose or bound with’ – I was thinking today about boundaries and how Imperative Thinking has paralyzed me in many personal relationships.  I was pondering how to flee from my own inability to let go of control and realized (had an awareness) that the more meaningful something or someone is to me, that is the area where I am tempted most at hedging on freedom.  Pause for a moment and reflect upon that~

First and foremost on my mind, I thought of marriage.   I thought of my initial views and immature beliefs about getting married versus where I am at today, 18 years after saying ‘I Do’ – I definately started out with a Cinderella Complex and believed in the fairy-tale of falling in love, getting married, purchasing our first home and starting a family.    For me, it was ALL about the wedding and I soon learned that the wedding day was symbolic of a choice,  as I believe most of us do, and represented the ‘least amount of work’ versus being married and building upon a commitment.   Most people tend to get married with the unrealistic expectation that their union will be the core of their present felicitous life and a basis for their future happiness.  Most couples end up trying to force their partner into a pattern of choices that reflect selfish thoughts and needs.  Many husbands and wives make their spouse out to be their “Jesus” ~ expecting them to fill the voids, to be the answer to all of their questions, to be their other half, or as has been said in the movies….to complete them.  The freedom and success in a marriage comes when we aren’t fearful of losing our own happiness when we live out our own lives first, and then seek first to understand our partner,  before being understood ourselves.    When I look at the qualities of people in successful long-term relationships (marriages) that have stood the test of time, I  come to the insightful and precious realization that no one was controlling, and there were no hedges surrounding them.

Expectations are wonderful, but can be so unrealistic.   One of the best gifts ever given to me came from the result of being in a loving marriage- and that was the creation of  our child.   As I was taking my walk this evening, my thoughts turned to my 17 year old daughter.  I began to muse about the high expectations I set for her and questioned whether or not that had to do with the fact that I wanted to be deemed as a successful parent?? I asked myself  to consider if  the demands I have made on her surrounding very specific behaviors and attitudes since she was old enough to understand, had more to do with me, than with her?  I always believed that I have let her have choices, but when it comes right down to it, the choices were more to do with the plans I had for her, versus the plans she has for herself.  This realization in my thinking has brought me to the place where I can say my actions caused a lot of power struggles.  What must have been behind my fears was my overwhelming desire for her to succeed.  I took control and my imperative, controlling approach to this style of living has only served to make things worse.   But now I know better, and we cannot know, until we know.

Controlling breeds contempt and frustration.  Both have been alive and well in my spirit and in our home.  Sometimes our best intentions cause us to turn to coercion amongst our spouses and children, which demeans their human dignity.  I now understand why I have been so frustrated. 

In Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, the definition of freedom states:

1b.  the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action;

1e.  the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken.

To be free from Imperative Thinking and to stop planting hedges around myself and others is to realize that liberation lies in the process of making choicesWe all have choices.   Choices, good and bad, have consequences.   I can choose to continue to be an Imperative Thinker, or I can choose to be liberated and flee from the boundaries that hold me back.  This freedom to enjoy my closest and personal relationships is worth it, because there is no greater gift than to evolve into a lovely, LOVING human being – not a lovely human doing.  Doing controlling behaviors surely repels us from one another.  It allows us to allow others to be who they are and we become accepting.  What a privilege it is to understand this for myself, and be able to offer it to others.

I have learned that freedom is not just for relationships between people – but is important for ME!  Inwardly generated freedom allows me to respond to people and circumstances appropriately, genuinely and openly.  This is MY choice.  And today, it is what I yearn to embrace, and submit to becoming better at. Submission – now, heck, there is a choice!   For, again, to reiterate,  there are always choices and consequences, but when I allow freedom to guide my thoughts for myself and for others, I will always have options.  Options are good and they provide us with an opportunity to be influential, rather than a Freedom Hedger.

So, today, is it possible that you, too,  need to trim your hedges?  Cut them back or dig them up? Or maybe prune them into a beautiful topiary that others can enjoy- who knows what your mind can conceive when you are fleeing control- The first step is to just become aware, then willing, and then find the courage to let go.  I would love to know ‘how’ your pruning goes……