Archive | February 2014

Resist Putting People on Pedestals

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“Don’t put me on a pedestal, for I am sure to fall. Just love me as I am flaws and all.”

– Author Unknown 

It is great to admire, respect and look up to those who are excelling in some area of life or be impressed by someone’s exceptional wisdom. To be sure, another’s brilliance can inspire us to new actions, and encourage us by the heroic acts that they do.

However, appreciating someone’s talents and abilities is certainly much different than putting them on a pedestal and idealizing them in some way.

While it might seem flattering to put someone in an elevated place, it actually isn’t fair to them or us. When we hold others in a glorified position, we are holding them to a higher standard than those less exalted, and often seeing ourselves in a lower level position.

This imbalanced delegation of power can cause us to diminish our own special skills, while at the same time, placing exceedingly unrealistic expectations on the object of our affection as well.

Mirroring certain attributes we appreciate and admire in someone else isn’t necessarily harmful unless we are trying to be someone else or copying their way of life in exchange for our own.

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Though we hear that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it can take on a negative twist when it blurs the lines between our lives and the one we emulate.

Equally destructive is the adverse reactions experienced when the object of our admiration doesn’t live up to the high expectations or character of whom we created them to be. The ensuing judgments of them can become harsh and disproportionately out of focus as well.

So, instead of putting someone on a pedestal, we can look to achieve a more balanced perspective by simply appreciating their talents and abilities while at the same time equally appreciating our own as well.

Action Step:

Assess if you have placed someone on a pedestal, and use it as a signal to rejuvenate aspects of your own life, and to treat yourself as an equal.

Give Some Extra Love Today

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A friend of ours recently passed away at the age of 40. The suddenness of his death is a shock and has left many questions. Upon the heels of this situation, we happened upon a movie called Premonition starring Sandra Bullock which was also about sudden loss.

Though the topic was depressing and seemingly a poor choice given the recent situation with our friend, it was actually the perfect one. Our loss, coupled with the films message was a sobering reminder to enjoy each day and celebrate our loved ones for they might not be here tomorrow.

Even though we aren’t in charge of our ending, we are in charge of how we live our lives and the amount of gratitude, humility and expressions of love we share while we are here.

It is so easy to get caught up in problematic daily concerns, and have them overshadow our daily blessings. Unfortunately, these distractions can make us forget to be grateful for the connections we share, and for the miracle of life.

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Celebrating each other and life with renewed awareness and appreciation is one of the lessons to be gained from loss, and learning it without losing someone is even better.

Action Step:

Give your loved ones an extra hug or thought of kindness today!

Celebrate Love

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With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I thought I would pass along a heartwarming story about the spirit of love and giving written by Ruth McDonald entitled, “The Valentine.”

Enjoy!

He was a shy little boy, not very popular with the other children in Grade One. As Valentine’s Day approached, his mother was delighted when he asked her one evening to sit down and write the names of all the children in his class so that he could make a Valentine for each. Slowly he remembered each name aloud, and his mother recorded them on a piece of paper. He worried endlessly for fear he would forget someone. 

Armed with a book of Valentines to cut out, with scissors and crayons and paste, he plodded his conscientious way down the list. When each one was finished, his mother printed the name on a piece of paper and watched him laboriously copy it. As the pile of finished Valentines grew, so did his satisfaction. 

About this time, his mother began to worry whether the other children would make Valentines for him. He hurried home so fast each afternoon to get on with this task, that it seemed likely the other children playing along the street would forget his existence altogether. How absolutely horrible if he went to the party armed with 37 tokens of love — and no one had remembered him! She wondered if there was some way she could sneak a few Valentines among those he was making so that he would be sure of receiving at least a few. But he watched his hoard so jealously, and counted them ever so lovingly, that there was no chance to slip in an extra. She assumed the mother’s most normal role of patient waiting. 

The day of the Valentine box finally arrived, and she watched him trudge of the snowy street, a box of heart-shaped cookies in one hand, a shopping bag clutched in the other with 37 neat tokens of his labor. She watched him with a burning heart. “Please, God, she prayed, let him get at-least a few!”

All afternoon her hands were busy here and there, but her heart was at the school. At half past three, she took her knitting and sat with studied coincidence in a chair that gave her a full view of the street.

Finally, he appeared alone. Her heart sank. Up the street he came, turning every once in a while to back up a few steps into the wind. She strained her eyes to see his face. At that distance it was just a rosy blur.

It was not until he turned in at the walk that she saw it — the one lone Valentine clutched in his little red mitt. Only one. After all his work. And from the teacher probably. The knitting blurred before her eyes. If only you could stand before your child and life! She laid down her work and walked to meet him at the door.

“What rosy cheeks!” she said. “Here let me untie your scarf. Were the cookies good?”

He turned toward her a face shining with happiness and complete fulfillment. “Do you know what?” he said.” I didn’t forget a one. Not a single one.

Become More Mindful

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Many of us can relate to operating on autopilot without giving much thought to the task at hand or the variety of choices we have in any given day. Often our attention gets pulled away from the present moment by circumstances around us, and our own harried thoughts concerning upcoming appointments. So, even though our mind and body occupy the same quarters, they aren’t necessarily focused on the same thing at the same time.

For instance, we may be physically present at dinner with friends but be mentally distracted by reviewing the presentation we are giving at work tomorrow. Similarly, we may engage in texting with another friend who is not at the dinner table which distracts from our current companions. Clearly our body is there, but our mind is not.

Multitasking is not uncommon or always avoidable in some situations due to the many exterior demands and electronic devices that vie for our time. However, by becoming more mindful and aware when our attention has been averted, we can bring it back to the event at hand with much more regularity.

Just by giving ourselves a 10 minute break and taking deep breaths while noticing our breathing, is all that is needed to help center us in the present moment. The more we regularly take this time-out, the more we will desire to continue or expand upon it, and the easier it becomes to keep our attention where we want it.

Recently, I received an email chain letter that contains a note that was written by an 83-year-old woman to her friend which I thought was applicable here. The abridged version is shown below.

Dear Friend,

I’m reading more and dusting less. I’m sitting in the yard and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I’m spending more time with my family and friends and less time working.

Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experiences to savor, not to endure. I’m trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them. I’m not “saving” anything; we use our good china and crystal for every day.

“Someday” and “one of these days” are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it’s worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now. I’m not sure what others would’ve done had they known they wouldn’t be here for the tomorrow that we all take for granted.

I think they would have:

  • Called family members and a few close friends.
  • Called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles.

I like to think they would have gone out for a Chinese dinner or for whatever their favorite food was.

It’s those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew my hours were limited. Certain letters that I intended to write one of these days and sorry that I didn’t tell my husband and parents often enough how much I truly love them. 

I’m trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives. And every morning when I open my eyes, tell myself that it is special. That every day, every minute, every breath truly is a gift!

Action Step:

If you are interested in being notified when the upcoming Mindfulness Center opens in Scottsdale, AZ, and for a schedule of events being offered, please email me at (cathie@helpwithyourlife.com) to be included on the mailing list. I will be running a variety of workshops and book groups along with other like-minded facilitator’s.