Today, writing a blog feels inadequate as I shift under the weight of yet another personal loss. In a short week, I found I had lost a dear family member and a co-worker whom I really liked.
“Words are like nets – we hope they’ll cover what we mean, but we know they can’t possibly hold that much joy, or grief, or wonder.”
Jodi Picoult, Change of Heart
I feel like any combination of words cannot capture the wistfulness of wanting everything to stay the same; for everyone to remain alive; for grief to pack its bags and visit somewhere not so close-to-home.
What a relief to know we don’t have to cast out our nets and fish for words to express how we feel.
There are other ways to reach out for meaning. Or to stay folded-in.
In difficult times, carry something beautiful in your heart.
Beautiful Things You Might Carry in Your Heart…
An anticipated event
A person you love
A landmark place where you discovered God
A rare and splendid moment
Let these treasures sustain you, carry you, ground you and tie all your loose ends to something real. Something of substance.
We know we must carry on even during a time of grief. How is that possible? Here is a quote I often turn to.
Just for Today
Just for today, keep it simple.
Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Look at your life
for all you have gained
rather than lost.
Look at your path for everything
you’ve gotten through, rather than
where you think you should be.
Celebrate rather than criticize.
Experience rather than expect.
Stand in the sunlight
Rather than the shadows.
Quietly honor your heart
rather than disown pieces of yourself.
Take a break from all that.
See how that goes.
Just for today.
Author, L.C. Lourie
Maybe today you need this. If not, I’ll not be offended.
The power of empathy is often felt deeply in silence.
A compliment is usually a short phrase or sentence.
A compliment isn’t usually an essay or character development based on your uncle Henry. It doesn’t take a PhD or a master’s degree to offer one up.
The art of giving and receiving compliments is often pushed to the margins as an afterthought in life and business – but today let’s take a moment to applaud the power of the warmly-delivered affirmation.
Recently my daughter told me, “Mom, I’m in a bubble of sadness”. That was enough to make me want to get in my car and drive the two hours so I could burst her bubble.
Instead, I reminded her of her own talent for making others laugh. She laughed, and I like to think she emerged from her little bubble in that moment onto a steadier footing.
A well-placed compliment, even a lowly one, can carry the day – and several days after that.
“I can live for two months on a good compliment.” – Mark Twain
>Gratitude grows and fills the gaps where doubt once flourished. >Giving a compliment is a meaningful way of being fully present. >Giving a compliment breathes hope into a difficult situation. >Saying something positive is a booster shot of confidence. >An honest and sincere compliment validates who we are.
While googling the difference between “complements” and “compliments”, I stumbled on an unconventional list compiled by a blogger named Mary. She is all about affirmations and “seeing ourselves more gently”. Here’s a sampling from Mary’s list, with a few of my own thrown into the mix:
15 Unique Compliments to Give Someone
1. You are as vibrant as a Lisa Frank angel kitty deluxe pen set. 2. I bet you were voted “Most Likely to Stay Fabulous” in high school. 3. Looking into your eyes is like looking into a kaleidoscope. 4. Your sense of childlike wonder brings others joy. 5. The world is so lucky that you exist right now. 6. You’re more fun than the corn pit at Port Farms. 7. Your ability to overcome adverse situations is inspiring. 8. If I had to choose between unicorns being real or keeping you in my life, I’d keep you. 9. You are cooler than The Fonz. 10. Your level of general awesomeness is getting a little out of control. 11. I’m consistently impressed by the dedication you give to your passions. 12. Your perspective is refreshing. 13. I’d rather do something boring with you than pop an unlimited supply of bubble wrap. 14. You’re so un-basic your pH level is almost zero. 15. Anyone’s coolness level increases by six percent just by being in the same room.
It is also a compliment to invite your best friends to your kid’s wedding when there isn’t a stay at home order in place. To give a nod to your favorite author in your next book is a valued compliment; to ask someone you highly respect to read and endorse your novel is a compliment you may have to pay for; It is a compliment to ask a good cook to bring whatever they’d like to cook to your family reunion because you trust their opinion and you’ve never tasted a bad thing from their table. My supervisor gave me a compliment when she said that she had sent my daily jabs for our company on to the division head over us.
The Art of Receiving
Equally important as delivering a compliment, is receiving one. Many of us tend to deny or deflect compliments others give us. This is nonsense. Honor the giver by lovingly receiving what is shared. Simply say “thank you.”
And move on.
Allow the expression of gratitude to propel you into even better workflows, improved habits, more genuine depths of living.
Taking a compliment is one form of extending grace. It may have taken a bit of courage for your colleague to say something meaningful to you; take it the way you would a donut or a funny meme – with absolute pure delight!
Wear your compliment like a badge of honor. A badge of honor is a complement to you.
When nothing seems to be going right, dig deep into your emotional pocket and pull out a past compliment that has helped define who you are today. I have a folded up piece of paper I carry around in my wallet with three words written on it: warm, professional, funny. When my confidence is fragile, I unfold that paper and read the words my program director wrote in an evaluation, a long time ago. It’s a treasured note that carries me through the doubtful times.
Compliments give hope. Don’t be stingy with them.
Compliments are not “empty praises” … they are life-givers.
Compliments are not casual statements; they are launching pads to creativity and intention.
Have you ever wondered what’s happened to all the working lighthouses? How could they be defunct? What takes the place of helping a vessel to anchor or to its pier in safe harbor?
Harbor Pilots are, by sheer tenacity, a remarkable crew. The job requires round-the-clock availability, a complete understanding of the local waters, hazards and weather conditions, and the agility to climb a 30-foot rope ladder up the side of a large vessel.
Our harbor has them. Any port of call has them; these sailors are navigational experts regarding local waters.
When a ship comes into unknown waters, the harbor pilot maneuvers a small craft right up to the big rig, climbing up that ladder and getting behind the wheel to steer the vessel into safe mooring.
And so it is with the staff I work with.
There are a few who understand the aim in a specialized way. They can plot the course for shoreline and safe harbor in waters that most of us have never seen prior to this. We don’t want to encounter nasty surprises, do we? What will we do if a rock pierces the hull?
While most of us are sequestered with our laptops and zoom sessions focused in on the target for the day, someone with years in the industry will come alongside and prove their maturity and faithfulness by soldiering our vision through our company’s performance of the necessary tasks.
Tasks, such as security, handling delays, sorting through the troubled complaints and defunct systems, and steering the crew into the final destination with wisdom and other hands-on assignments move us beyond the irritations and angers and abnormal shallows.
These are our harbor pilots – these comrades who are sailing in to assist our somewhat lurching, unsteady building to navigate in unknown waters.
In rough waters, how does a ship or smaller boat find it’s way around sandy banks, jutting rocks, and unusual winds to safe harbor? Guided by the strength and knowledge of someone who has a firm grasp of the way around the banks that would beach us, that’s how.
We all experience waves of gratitude and relief as we are coming to the shoreline.
We are all in this together – but today, let’s take a moment to applaud our unsung heroes, our unseen administrators, first responders, our essential leaders.
A collective “thank you” from all our various ports of call; our kitchen table offices, our cell phones, laptops and heart connections everywhere are warranted. You are worthy deckhands, but it would mean there’s nowhere to land without the harbor pilot.
Can you list one or two harbor pilots in your most choppy, unpredictable waves of life?
Later — when we are all back together — tossed, tested and polished bits of beach glass will emerge gleaming in our midst.
What treasures we will discover.
Kathy Joy, writes the Breath of Joy coffee table series. Simply Summer, Ah, Autumn, Winter Whispers, and Singing Spring. These books make for exceptional “thank-you” gifts and acknowledgments of special someones in your life.
As hard as it is to wave goodbye to summer, I find myself once again greeting fall with a hearty hello.
There’s something about that time between air conditioning and heat; the lower electric bill coupled with crisp nights brings on some good sleeping. The darker mornings and earlier sunsets force us to be the light as we get out of bed to savor the three month transition to winter.
For some, fall’s glory is celebrated in corn mazes and caterpillars, raking more and mowing less; for others, it’s the ginger beer and sweatshirts, football games and pumpkin spice lattes. Still others embrace the fall by stirring hot apple cider with a cinnamon stick, while riding atop a wagon of hay.
When I welcome fall, I reminisce the harvest, especially the autumn harvest of 2012.
For years, the entire back yard was converted to several large summer gardens and, come autumn, a few fall gardens as well. The entire process from turning over the land in the spring to yielding the harvest throughout the fall and into the winter brought hours of joy and pounds of produce to record in my garden ledger.
The first year I planted sweet potatoes, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I opted to start small until I knew they would be a success, so I planted just a few slips. From what I had read, I expected about six to eight sweet potatoes from each plant. Of course I had no idea what if anything was going on underground all spring and summer. Neither did I know when the potatoes were ready for digging.
In October of 2012, my friend Kathy Joy was visiting for the weekend. We had a full schedule between a trip to our favorite Delaware beach, a guest pass for a Combat class at the gym, an event at the homestead where I volunteered as a docent, and a dinner and music night with my parents who were coming in from out of town. Knowing that Kathy’s late husband Roger was a farmer after retiring from the police force, and a farmer before they married, I felt that I needed Kathy by my side as I dug through the earth.
We had to fit this into our schedule somehow. Besides, how long could it take to dig up a few potatoes? We’d dig and then cook dinner.
If there were no sweet potatoes, Kathy would be there to console me. If there were six to eight per plant, we could celebrate together, eating sweet potatoes for supper and sending some home. I read that a pitch fork—rather than a shovel—is needed to avoid breaking or bruising the tubes. That was one garden tool lacking in my shed.
Breaking the earth gently with a shovel, I then dug nervously with gloved hands, not wanting to hurt what little produce might be underground. Every other scoop I turned to Kathy for the go-ahead to dig deeper. And then there was a tint of orange!
One potato, two potato, three potato, more! With each potato, came a squeal, and the count continued. Kathy! There are more over here. And over here! And over here! Even when we thought we were done, we found more, far from where the few slips were planted.
As the sun began to set and the cool of a fall breeze blew our hair, a train of sweet potatoes tracked the benches of a 22 foot square deck. From big-as-our-faces-enormous, to medium, to small-as-a-fist, we were overwhelmed with potatoes. A few were bruised by the excitement of the digging and the harvest, but not enough to have to toss them. Even after we finished digging, I wondered if there were more out there that we missed.
With several large buckets full of sweet potatoes, and a search for more containers, we had enough root vegetables to last a number of households the winter. We laughed and counted, counted and laughed, well past the dinner hour. We’d have potatoes for a bedtime snack.
Spring and summer, hidden from view, potatoes were growing like crazy. From a little, came a lot. The element of surprise, the beauty of the root vegetables, and sharing the moment with a friend who celebrated with me made the harvest of 2012 the sweetest ever.
I didn’t grow sweet potatoes again after that, wanting this memory to be the one I cherished and celebrated when waving goodbye to summers and greeting falls with a hearty hello.
In this season of limited restaurant outings, my family and friends are happily opting into beach picnics on the peninsula.
The lake beckons and our sunset suppers are a highlight of summer 2020.
These water encounters are full of life and laughter; no matter how old or young we are, the urge to squeal with delight is irresistible.
The other night I met up with my daughter, who has an unmistakable kinship with All Things Water. She snaps pictures of sunsets, scours the beach for bits of smoothed glass, and runs to the waves for all the splashes, all the water therapy she can absorb.
Her red hair in the glow of a Lake Erie sunset is a work of art, and can never really be captured in a photo.
After a beach picnic of turkey sandwiches and fresh fruit, we kicked off our flip flops and headed for the surf – which that night was full of kick and sass. The waves were rolling in high and splashy.
The break-walls in the distance were pushing back towers of froth and spray.
I carry this memory like a tall glass of pure hydration: every sip replenishes and renews. Water is a living, dynamic being – just like us.
A scientist-writer wrote a book, “Secret of Water – A Language of Life”. In the book, the late Masaru Emoto claims water has memory. He says water can be influenced by positive words and form beautiful crystals.
This one has allegedly responded to the words “love” and “gratitude”. The researcher says water also responds to music in the form of these exquisite hexagonal shapes.
On the flip side, less vibrant, or “dead” water, does not form hexagonal shapes; rather, its image appears flat and unremarkable.
Some might call these ideas bogus, an extreme hoax; even pseudo-science. No matter where faith and science might overlap, water is pretty amazing. Water is pretty amazing.
We can all agree it’s important for life.
We, like the surface of the earth, are least 70 percent water. An adult should drink at least 2.5 liters of water every day to sustain normal life functions. Another 1.5 liters is absorbed through the skin during bathing or showering. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle
It is also absorbed from standing in the rain!
Pretty much every living thing depends on the abundance of water.
Can water drops retain memory?
I don’t know.
Personally, I defer to the Creator for the mysteries of water.
To me it’s no secret water is life-giving, that it cleanses bodies, refreshes the earth and draws us to the shore for our own rejuvenation.
Test the waters, and see for yourself.
Kathy Joy writes for The Daily Jab, for Books for Bonding Hearts, and for her own blog, Coffee with Kathy. You can transition directly from ordinary to extraordinary with her Breath of Joy seasonal coffee table books. Find out more! Sign uphere for inspiring posts from this author! She is available for speaking engagements geared to your needs.