Stop & Smell the Roses

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picture of smiling woman smelling flower

Smell the Roses. 

We’ve all heard the popular quote “stop and smell the roses.”  Well this also applies to things like your daily readings and meditations. It is one thing to do these things and just going through the motions, but how much do you really take in and absorb, and how much do you really get out of it?

For years, I faithfully read my daily meditations. They became a part of my daily routine. After my morning readings, I would sit quietly and digest the material, allowing it to sink into my consciousness. This was a great way to start my day and proceed with a clear mind on what I wanted out of life.

But…

Over the years, I somehow began to get careless. I rushed through my reading and mediations without really absorbing them, without fully taking in the meanings and lessons they offered. As a result, I missed the essence of what keeps me grounded.

Do you read, meditate or perhaps do yoga? If you do, are you just going through the motions and thinking about what you have to do next, or are you there in the moment learning and benefiting as much as you can? So many of us have such hectic lives that we don’t even know how to relax anymore. We don’t allow ourselves to chill out for even a short period of time and quiet ourselves – we don’t take time to see the roses, much less smell them!

There is great power in your readings and mediations, power that can change your day, power that can make sense of what is currently happening in your life, power to let go of anger and see things through a different light. However, if we simply go through the motions and never really process what we read, how can it really help us?

So please remember that you will get out of your inspirational readings and meditations exactly what you put into them. The more you practice absorbing the material and quieting your mind, the easier it will become, and the greater the benefits will be.

Feel free to join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts pageTwitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn.

Treasure Your Friends

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Two happy teenage girl friends playing with hair as mustache

Treat Friends Like Treasured Items

Our connection was immediate on our first day of law school. We now have a soulful bond that has spanned over 20 years. Who would have thought the two of us, from such different worlds, 11 years apart in age, could come together as lifelong friends? Yet we have. She loves animals; so do I. I root for the underdog; so does she. She is an old spirit, wise beyond her years. And when I met her, I had lived a life far beyond my years. Her heart is bristling with the love of all things living, and her spirit is quite courageous.

That first day of class when Lorene challenged our contracts Professor, I knew we would be friends. Career changes, relocations, marriages, disagreements, aging, failed Bar exams, two law school reunions, we are still friends.

What is friendship?

It’s a voluntary connection, a bond between two or more people that transcends race, religion, gender, or political persuasion. It’s showing we can count on someone to be there when we need him or her.

It’s unconditionally being loved, no matter what. It’s having someone to laugh with, dance with, and celebrate with. It’s having the courage to tell the truth and having the courage to be told the truth.

Friendship is trusting someone enough to reveal that side of us that we dare not reveal too often. It’s knowing a friend will deliver on the promise. It’s offering of whatever we have to give to make our friends road just a little easier: an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, a sofa to crash on, our heart, our attention.

Friends are like a warm, cozy fire on a cold, damp night. True friendship is a gift from God that we are required to take care of.

How do we get friends?

I heard years ago that to have a friend, you must be a friend. For years, my mentor Louise reminded me that if I found it necessary to sleep with other woman’s husband’s I wouldn’t have any girlfriends. What a novel concept. Yet the truth is, that at that time in my life I didn’t think I needed women in my life.  “Women are too competitive,” I’d say. “They can’t be trusted. They back stab you.” Of course, I knew that was true because I helped to perpetuate this by my own behavior. Today I know the value and ultimate unity of same-sex friendships.

Where do we find friends?

Everywhere we are: the hallway in our apartment building, our job, the elevator, the gym, the Opera, and church, and a community meeting, at PTA.

Wherever we show up, there are opportunities to make friends. Some friends pass through our lives on a temporary mission. Other stay for a while, perhaps months or even years. Their charge is to assist us along the journey in a way that only they can do. Their expertise is needed at the moment in time. But then there are those who come in for the long-haul. They share our journey in a special way, and a slice of history is created.

What gets in the way of friendship? Hurt feelings, ego, family, other friends, work, communities, changing values, change and goals, and distance. And some relationships, seemingly through nobody’s fault, just fade away. Yet I believe that no relationship just dies.

Like anything else, where we place our attention is what gets fed and grows. If a relationship has reached its expiration, it’s because we have allowed that to happen for some reason.

I want you to think about the people who you have at some in time or another call friends. We will explore what you appreciate about them and ways you can let them know, and if appropriate, how to reconnect with them. Here is your starting point:

  • In your own words, define friendship. To help you, bring to mind someone you consider – or have ever considered to be a friend. List the characteristics that make him or her a good friend.
  • Today make a list of your closest friends. It doesn’t matter whether they live in your neighborhood, your state, or across the globe. When you think of your real friends, who comes to mind?
  • Now, think of someone you listed and bring to mind an experience you had with your friend that made you know he or she was on your team. Really allow yourself to reflect on that time in your life. What happened? How did you feel?
  • Contact the people on your list. Make a call, send a thank you note, or send a card saying “just thinking of you.” This is your day to appreciate people who have been there as friends. In some cases, it simply might be an opportunity to reconnect.
  • Identify two people who are currently out of your life who at one time were important. What happened? Reflect on times past, when there was love between you. Even though much time may have passed, if appropriate, make a call, send an email, or write a note saying “hi, I’m thinking of you.”

After you have done all of this, take time to rest, recharge, and regroup. What observations can you make about your behavior? What worked? What didn’t work? What seemed extra hard? Why?

Join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts page, Twitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

 

 

Friends. Friendship.

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Friends. Friendship.

Friends. Friendship.

Friends. Friendship.

I just enjoyed another great week with my gal pals. Shared experiences with women I really like, as well as those I want to get to know. And I have more of these outings planned. Actions speak louder than words and if want to continue to preach and write about the importance of friendships, then I must nurture my own.

So how much do you value your relationships – I mean really value them?

There’s no doubt that social media has created many opportunities for people to interact with one another.  But regardless, social media is not a substitute for face-to-face engagement. You may have hundreds (or thousands) of Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and Google+ circle members, but does that really fulfill your deep need for authentic alliances?  I would venture to say, “it does not”.

So what is friendship? I define it as a voluntary connection, a bond between two or more people that transcends race, religion, gender, economics, or political persuasion. It’s knowing you can count on someone to be there when things are going well and when things are not.  It’s having someone to laugh with, cry with, dance with, and celebrate with. It’s trusting someone enough to reveal that side of yourself, a side that you would not often share.

The wonderful thing is that friendships are not only good for the soul, but good for the body as well. There are numerous studies showing the correlation between physical isolation and various diseases, including cancer and heart disease.

Busy People.

Yes, I know people are busy with their careers, the needs of their children, and countless other things that demand time and attention. But that being said, like anything else that’s worthwhile, maintaining your friendships takes effort and action.

So what can you do?

You can make regular lunch or dinner dates with your inner circle of friends. You can try new activities together, such as hiking, canoeing, running, walking, or even volunteer together at your favorite charity or not-for-profit. If you can’t do these things on a regular basis, then call your friends instead of texting, or send a handwritten note or card instead of an email. If your friends are scattered around the country, see if you can meet for a reunion at least once a year at a different location. One of my besties and I go to Miraval Spa every year for a girl’s weekend. Whatever you do, try and keep the meeting, at least, partially focused on personal stuff, it just business related matters.

It Takes Work.

Meet-ups with friends don’t just happen, they need to be planned. So one thing that works for me and my pals is to plan our next meeting before we part. For example, if we are having lunch, before we are finished, we schedule our next lunch.

Of course, all of this is not to say that you can’t or shouldn’t make new friends. Adding new folks to your coterie of alliances make life interesting. So if you have a new co-worker or neighbor who you have a good vibe about, go for it and invite them to coffee. You never know what can come of it, maybe just a pleasant acquaintance, or maybe a close lifelong friend who will be there for you. My friends come from my spiritual community, my business community, my recovery community, my volunteer community, and my neighborhood.

Again, this all requires action and commitment. But you can’t put a price on good friendships because they are truly invaluable!

Feel free to join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts pageTwitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn.

The Forgiveness Factor

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Key to Forgiveness. Willingness to Forgive.

Forgive. Keys to Forgiveness.

The key to forgiveness is a willingness to forgive.  Just saying “I forgive you” doesn’t rid you of the anger. Think about it: How often have you seen someone who says he’s forgiven someone else and yet is still riddled with anger and resentment at the mention of that person’s name? Someone who at every chance he gets makes hurtful comments aimed at the very person he claims to have forgiven, despite being quick to tell you he’s forgiven the person? In these cases, saying “I forgive you” is like making an empty promise, or saying “I love you” when you don’t really mean it. If solid action doesn’t accompany the words, the words mean nothing.

So how do you begin to forgive?

Following is a step-by-step list of suggestions to help you truly forgive:

Step 1: Pray for an open heart – Even a tiny opening can let forgiveness in. Praying to be willing to forgive often creates a space to allow forgiveness to step in.

Step 2: Read inspirational materials – If prayer is too far out for your reach, or even if it’s not, read material that will soften your heart. Sometimes just letting in positive information will create a change of thinking.

Step 3: Attempt to understand – Understanding is the foundation of love and love is the basis for gratitude. Grasping why people behave as they do can sometimes help us forgive them. Sometimes, because of someone else’s enlightened self-interest, we get hurt. Unfortunately, when people are hurt, they lash out and hurt others. But the truth is that rarely does anyone start out wanting to hurt us. It’s not personal; it’s just the way it is. This by no means justifies their behavior, it simply explains it.

Step 4: See your part – Be open to seeing the part you played in the situation. This is equally as difficult as Step #3, because more often than not, we don’t recognize our part. In our minds, we are always the good guy being tormented and abused by the big bad guy. But interpersonal problems almost always involve two or more people. Once you’re able to see past your hurt and anger to how you might have contributed to what happened, you’re better able to understand that they, like you, are human and make mistakes.

Step 5: What you put out is what you get back – Understand that as long as you are unwilling to forgive others, you limit the possibility that others will forgive you. The Universal Law of Karma is alive and well.

Step 6: Be grateful – Write a gratitude list of the things you like about the person or that she or he did well. This might take some effort, but try. By writing this list you create a space for humanity to step in. It is hard to hold on to anger when you see the other person as having done something right.

 

Lastly write a letter to the person expressing your feelings. Write about what hurt you, how they betrayed your trust, how they didn’t care for you. Don’t worry you won’t be sending it, and no one but you will see it, so write exactly how you feel. Thereafter in your journal write the payoffs for making peace with this person.

Feel free to join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts pageTwitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn.

Friendship. Courage. Friends on a Rock.

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Friendship. Courage.  Friends on a Rock.

Friendship. Courage.

Friendship. Courage.

Quite often life’s pleasures and great moments sprout from the little things, the things that may seem insignificant at the time.

A few weeks ago on CBS Sunday Morning, I saw a story on the news about three second grade students from Kittredge Elementary in North Andover, Massachusetts. These students created a long-lasting friendship from something as simple as a little rock sticking out of the ground in their schools playground.

Celia DiSalvo, Kyra Brown, and Alex Gamble were second graders when they began their quest to dig up this “little rock” using sticks and plastic utensils from the cafeteria. What seemed like a quick and easy task turned into a mission that lasted the course of 4 school years. Each day at recess, the three friends painstakingly dug around this rock in their mission to unearth it.

As it turns out, the little rock wasn’t so little at all, but rather a big boulder. Having followed the students unwavering quest, the school decided to bring in heavy equipment to finally bring the rock to the surface before the three friends left for middle school. Now, seven years later, the rock sits in the school’s playground, a symbol of perseverance and friendship.

As it turns out, this simple “little rock” has turned into a meeting place for the students of Kittredge Elementary. Students meet at the rock and form friendships. Some students say that the rock has become a sanctuary where students who are bullied or have few friends go to, and inevitably, find comfort and friendship. The three students who started the digging ten years ago have become school legends.

It’s the Simple Things that matter.

As is very often the case if we really take time to notice, great things often grow out of simple little things. One little good deed, act of kindness or generosity, or even a kind word can sometimes alter the direction of a person’s life – change their life!  Meeting friends on a rock.

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover.

Another lesson this story can teach us is that it is never wise to judge something simply by what you can see from the outside – this goes for people as well as potential opportunities. What’s important is what lies beneath the surface, the unseen potential.

All of this from something as simple as a little rock sticking out of the ground? You bet!

Feel free to join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts pageTwitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn.