Posted in Life Truths

Asphalt Truth

At a recent session, my therapist, attempting to get me a bit more grounded in reality, gave me an assignment: “Neal, why don’t you try to come up with a few REALISTIC affirmations about areas of your life where you would like to see meaningful improvement?” (Interpretation: what I tell myself maybe isn’t always rooted in actuality. Hmm, I don’t see what’s wrong with “Tonight is my turn to win Powerball.”)

Here’s one I came up with: “I love today. I love right now. Well, maybe I don’t exactly love today or love right now, but I am glad I have a today and a right now to have positive or negative feelings about.”

And although I don’t really like this next one, I appreciate its realistic groundedness: “I own it all—Everything I’ve ever done. Because there is no do-over button for life.” (But I do wish Apple would just go ahead and create one.)

But yesterday my buddy Mark texted me a quote which is SO much more intelligent and effective than my “no do-over” affirmation …

Asphalt truth!

Posted in Encouragement, Holiday Joy

Have You Counted Your Holiday Blessings? (Part One)

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Have you done so this holiday?  Blessings come in SO many forms and dressings.  I urge you to take a sheet of paper and number your joys.  Here is a sampling of mine:

1.  I had to miss my seven year-old grandson Daniel’s first piano recital earlier this week.  (I was SO frustrated.)  Tonight at my family’s early Christmas dinner, I walked in the door and daughter Amy had arranged for Daniel to dress back up in his Calvin Klein suit and play Jingle Bells (as he did at the recital).  It melted my heart.

 

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(Okay, I’m not sure about the sunglasses either.)

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(Absolute grandfather joy.)

Here’s Daniel at the actual recital:

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2.  The ability to smell Christmas.

3.  Enjoying the power of silly.

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4.  Hosting a Holiday and Hot Toddy Chili Party Saturday night.

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What fun!

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Good buddies Ellie, Jamie and Brennan.

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I read “A Cup of Christmas Tea” to the twenty-something guests–and asked them to think about a person important in their upbringing to toast at the end of the story.  I urge you to do the same.  Who encouraged you along your way?

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“Let’s raise a cup of Christmas cheer, to family and loved ones far and near.”

So take a few moments, and with Bing, count your blessings:

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5.  Tree shadows on a wall during a walk the other night.

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What are a few of your Holiday Blessings?  Come on, share a few.

 

Posted in Encouragement

“You Is” — I’m Standing in Your Balcony

To Encourage Sincerely perhaps ranks at the top of gifts we can give one to another.  I will never forget the first time my daughter Amy and I ran, with tens of thousands of other runners, the annual July 4th 10K Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta.  (Perhaps “ran” is much too dynamic a word to describe what I did during those 6.2 miles.)  At each mile marker, and actually various places in-between, folks would appear in my peripheral vision with cups of cold water in outstretched hands, yelling phrases such as, “Keep it up, #4932, you can do it!” and “Just look at you running so fast!”  I would turn a corner or reach a hilltop and hear blaring cheerily from loudspeakers the theme song from “Chariots of Fire” or “Rocky.”  Such encouragement made me feel like an actual runner.

In a post from way back, I introduced the concept of Balcony People:  “Balcony people are those folks in your life who encourage you, lift you up, give of themselves to you in some way.  They make you feel valuable and important.  They climb the steps up into your balcony, lean over the railing, gaze back down at you as you struggle through life and yell, ‘You can make it!  Keep going!'”

In another post, Balcony People-Part Two, I introduced five guiding principles of Balcony People:

“1.  Balcony People are willing to take risks.  Because when we reach outside of ourselves to help or encourage someone else, we take the chance of being rejected, laughed at, embarrassed, or even thought of as a little weird.  ‘Old Man Saye, why do you keep telling me my yellow dress is just so very pretty?!  Please back away me!'”

2.  BP realize that what you reap, you sow.  Staying in balconies makes you happier and healthier.  Crouching in dank basements is unhealthy.

3.  BP give to give, not to get.  Because giving away good to others is simply the right thing to do.

4.  BP look for the good in others.  They realize the truth of the statement that we usually find what we’re looking for.

5.  BP express encouragement sincerely.  They don’t flatter or lie.  Okay, maybe except when I couldn’t think of anything good to say about one student’s essay, and all I could come up with was, ‘Cool font.'”

I know I have mentioned on the blog before that Kathryn Stockett’s The Help stands as one of the best novels I have read in the past few years.  I loved the story of black maids in the 1960’s south so much that I used it in several composition classes at Georgia Southern.  The book went over amazingly well, with many students telling me that they loved the book and would be passing it along to friends and family to read (and also telling me, disturbingly, that the book was the first one they had ever actually ever gotten all the way through).  The book ENCOURAGES the voiceless to realize that yes, they too have voices.

In the twenty-second scene below from the movie version of The Help, Aibilene explains to her young charge exactly what the girl is, and what she needs to believe about herself.  Oh, how our world would be beautifully improved if we would all see each other the way Aibilene sees Mae Mobley.

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I challenge you to find someone today, tomorrow.  Encourage.  Lift up.  See the good.  Get in someone’s balcony.