One Person Can Make a Difference

I was talking with a friend last night about some of the recent tragedies going on in our world. She said it just seems so overwhelming and that she is just one person – how can she change anything? I asked her if she had ever heard the story of the little boy and the starfish. She said no. So I told her. Now I’ll tell you.

The Starfish Story

Original story by: Loren Eisley

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed

a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean.

Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?”

The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean.

The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”

“Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish?

You can’t make a difference!”

After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish,

and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said…”

I made a difference for that one.”

Sometimes life can be so overwhelming- we think our actions with one person don’t make a difference. But they can – for that person. The most positive thing you can do is start! Start with that one person. Don’t give up because you think you can’t impact anyone or everyone – so why try.

Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa of Calcutta, Gandhi and so many ordinary and everyday people started by focusing on helping just one person at a time. Their work spread because more and more people started to help too! One at a time.

I have talked to several people in my life who had been contemplating suicide and self-harm. I talked to them about the value of waiting one more day because life is worth it. I have helped people see that there is great value in finding someone who can help them before they commit to making that life altering decision. I know that those conversations mattered – to me and to that person.

You CAN make a Difference in the lives of others. You don’t have to be the person who saves the whole world! Be the person who helps make their world better, happier, more loving, kind, courteous, forgiving and positive.

Don’t be afraid – to have fun!

Yesterday a group of people I work with went out bowling. None of us are on a bowling league and none of us are joining the PBA (Professional Bowlers Association). But one thing we all did – was have fun!

We cheered for each other. We ate pizza. Talked about our lives. We smiled a lot. And when we got gutter balls we all went – oh well. And then we moved on and kept having fun. There were even a few of us who kept sharing the same bowling ball because it felt like the right one for us.

Life is too short to not have fun. I think it’s worth it to take the risk of looking silly too! No one is perfect. And trying to be that way is stressful for that person and those around you.

If bowling isn’t your thing, pick something else! Play charades, go to karaoke, go to a concert, just go outside and blow bubbles. Whatever you think will make you smile, laugh and let go. It will help you and those around you to feel positive.

Have fun!

Baggage – check it at the door.

Everyone has some kind of baggage that they carry through life. It can be regrets, resentments, grief and things that you have no control over. Carrying this through life makes it harder to move forward. Your baggage can get heavier and heavier if you don’t deal with it.

Whatever it is that you keep holding onto it is keeping you from having a positive and happy life. Look at what is in your baggage. Think about why you’re still holding onto it. Consider if it is helping you or hurting you. And then get rid of it.

There are many ways to do this. The primary way is to make a decision to let it go. This is in your thinking and your actions.

But some people need a symbolic way to let it go. I have seen people write their baggage on a balloon and release it or pop it or let the air out. I have seen others write it on a piece of paper and burn the paper. At a workshop I attended there was a piece of old luggage for each person. They wrote down every single thing they wanted to let go of. They put it into the piece of luggage. And put it outside the door of the room. We then proceeded with the workshop which dealt with the mental side of letting it go. But the final stop was after the workshop. As we walked out of the room we said goodbye to our baggage and kept walking.

Whatever method you use it is time to let go of your baggage. There is so much more for you to do today and in the future. I think it’s time for your baggage to go on it’s own trip – out of your life. Of course that is up to you. But for me it has made me more positive open and honest person. I can do the same for you.

A Rose by any other name…

Think of the best things that have ever happened to you.  Do you have trouble describing them?  Do the words amazing and incredible seem to fall short?  That’s because what we feel can rarely be described in words.  In the play “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare, Juliet says, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  It’s the feeling of that experience – not the words – that stay with you. 

A Rose…

I started thinking about this earlier in the week.  A friend of mine, who I have known since high school, lost her mother on Monday.  She and her mother are two of the sweetest, funniest, kindest, most loving and positive people I know. But those words do not do justice to the life changing feelings I have because they have been in my life.

By Any other Name…

Her Mom’s name is Rose.  I love her dearly and always will.  That feeling will stay with me forever.  When I have those feelings, as well as the sad ones because she is gone, I don’t ignore them.  I feel them. Because they are important to feel.  One day in the future I will mostly feel the joyful feelings about her being in my life.

I am usually a very upbeat and positive person who encourages others to be positive too.  But I am human — we all are you know!  It’s okay to be sad sometimes.  I have found that I appreciate sunny days more after I have experienced a really snowy and cold winter (I do live in Cleveland, Ohio!)

All of this helps me stay positive.  To my friend and her Mom, Rose – you are now sweetness and light.  You always were – but now you always will be.

Rose – just as sweet by any other name. 

Be like Rose.  Be positive.

Be A Pilgrim

There are many definitions of the word “pilgrim”.  Many people think of the group of people who sailed on the ship called the Mayflower.  Others think of a person who journeys to a sacred place for religious reasons.  And there is of course the definition that says a pilgrim is a person who is journeying through life. There is a distinct difference between “existing” and “journeying” through life.  A person who is a pilgrim lives a life that they examine, learn from and grow from.  I try to be a pilgrim and not the version from the Mayflower.
Very recently, I was on a 10 day trip to Israel on a religious pilgrimage.  It was with a group of 40 people all on their own religious journey.  I am a Roman Catholic and it was incredibly meaningful for me to visit places that I had read about and talked about for most of my life.  I could write at least 10 blogs on this topic – but that is for another time.  But the journey that I was on also happened to be that of a journeying pilgrim.  
This journey helped me to take time to examine things that I have said and done in my life.  It also helped me to look at how I impact the lives of others in my daily life.  I worked with someone once who saw a post it note on my cubicle wall.  It read “Be Kind to Unkind People, they need it the most”.  This person commented that I am always kind to people.  I told him that I work hard to be, but being kind is also in how I think about things too.  He told me that was too much work and was surprised that I do that.  Looking back, I realize now that this was part of my “journey” as a pilgrim.  That my thoughts matter as much as my words and actions.
When you are journeying through this day, remember that your thoughts matter.  If you think something long enough, you will end us saying what you think.  If you say what you think long enough, you end up acting on it.  Those actions are what tell others what kind of pilgrim you have chosen to be.
Be a positive pilgrim.

Mean what you say. Say what you mean. Don’t say it mean.

Being positive takes work sometimes. Life has challenges and frustrations. Ultimately it is how we respond to challenges that shows us who we have become as people.

Are you a “man or woman of your word”? Do you say what you mean? Or do you say what you think people want to hear? And then secretly hope they figure out what you actually meant? I personally think that is exhausting and makes it hard to stay positive.

There is a better way. You can be direct and say what you mean. But your tone of voice, facial expressions and body language all play a part. When you are being genuine in what you say – don’t present it as an attack on another person. Simple say what is your truth. They own their reactions- just like you own your delivery of what you are saying.

I love that the world is full of so many different kinds of people. We all bring experiences and knowledge with us. Being kind in our communication acknowledges that. It is a positive thing to take a step back and think – before we speak.

Whatever challenges or frustrations you may be dealing with today – be positive. It makes a difference.

Learn Something New – An investment in yourself.

There is always something new to learn. No matter your age, your job or your level of knowledge. It is a positive decision and impact to your life. Nobody knows everything. If they say they do – it’s not true – and they need some work on their humility!

When you decide to learn something new – it can be scary because you “don’t know what you don’t know”. But trust me when I say as you learn, that fear can change to confidence and a positive attitude! For example, riding a bike can be scary at first, even with training wheels. As you get comfortable with learning how it works, those wheels go away. Then you practice balancing on your own. Soon you are riding with confidence and your hair is blowing in the breeze. Weeeeeee!!!

Riding bikes in Vancouver!

I started a new job in May of 2017. I promise you that I learn something new every day. But not just at work. Paying attention to the people in my life – all around me helps me learn about them – and me. How we handle change and stress can teach us alot!

Take time to learn a new skill, hobby or way of doing things. It is one of the best investments you will ever make. The return on your investment is totally worth it. And it will keep you positive!

Your Life is a Gift.

Earlier this week, I was reminded of one of the things that keeps me positive.  It is acknowledging that my LIFE is a GIFT!  My father, one of my greatest positivity coaches, had a heart attack and was hospitalized.  He is recuperating at home and is on the mend!  HOORAY! At first though, I was terrified that I wouldn’t have him around and now it is so clear to me that he and my family were reminded of a precious gift – LIFE.

My Dad and I on my Wedding Day!

Especially at this time of the year, the holiday season, people are often sad because they have loved ones who are no longer with us.  It was only a month ago that my own grandmother passed away at 100 years old. Those are valid and deeply meaningful feelings. Part of being positive is acknowledging how you feel and actually feeling it.  Admitting I am sad about my grandmother passing is healthy.  Admitting that I was scared I would lose my Dad is the truth and a valid feeling.

However, to remain positive I believe that those feelings need to be for a limited time and then for moments – here and there – but not a constant state of being.  In other words, I believe that it is okay to visit a pity party but I don’t want to live in a pit!

Some people struggle with poor quality of life for different reasons:  health, poverty, homelessness, imprisonment, anxiety, depression and abuse.  But when you are alive, there is ALWAYS some hope for things to improve.  Knowing your life is a gift – is a gift in itself.  DON’T GIVE UP!

We can easily take our lives for granted in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.  DON’T.  Don’t take it for granted.  LIVE.  Enjoy LIFE.  Find the positives in LIFE.   When you are opening your gifts during the holidays, make sure to unwrap and USE the best gift of all – LIFE.

 

Keep your eyes open… Positive Inspiration is everywhere!

When you are looking for good – you tend to see it more often.  If you are a “Debby Downer” (like the SNL character), you will always see things as the worst they can possibly be.  Yes, bad things do happen to good people.  But good things also happen!  I am someone who looks on the bright side of things and learns from my mistakes.  Being positive is a personal commitment each person must make. It is in my attitude.  It can be in yours too.

Me and my grandmother – positive and loving.

I would love to say that being positive was self-taught. But for me it was not,  I learned this from several incredible people in my life!  This includes my grandmother Laurene.  She just passed away last week on Thanksgiving Day at 100!  It would be easy to focus on the loss and sadness of not being able to see her anymore. And you can be sad – and still be positive.

There were quite a few things that have kept me positive over the last week.

LOVE – I told her that I loved her and she told me.  That is important – tell people how you feel.

TALKING – I appreciate all the amazing adventures she had in 100 years.  I am blest to have been able to talk to her about many of them.

FAITH – She had a deep and abiding faith in God and so do I.  We talked about that often and I am so grateful for that.

Next year, I will be 50 – because of the example provided by my Grandmother, I know that I have a lot more adventure left in me!  Get ready!!!

There is a saying that “Life is about the journey – not the destination.”  Positive people believe that.  I went on several hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains.  Some of the people in my hiking group one day were trying to “make good time” to get to the top of the mountain.  They asked me why I wasn’t trying to do that too.  I told them that these mountains are amazing – but you have to keep your eyes open and stop to look at them. Otherwise, what’s the point of making good time? Racing to the top is great – but it is important to enjoy the journey.

Keep your eyes open!  Look for positive inspiration!  Be positively inspired!

 

Guidance – ask for it!

No one person should expect to know everything. That is both unrealistic and unfair to expect of others or of yourself. Did you know that if you do not know the answer to something it is perfectly acceptable to say “I don’t know”?

There is great freedom in realizing you can ask others for help and guidance when you don’t know. I do pride myself on being able to figure things out on my own. But that doesn’t mean that when I need help I can’t ask.

For example I started a new job in May of this year. I knew how to do the basics of the job before I got it. But I had to learn things about how we do things at my company and in our department.

It would not make any sense for me to think I can’t ask questions.

Asking for guidance is one of the most positive things you can do. Not only does it help you to know how to do something but it also acknowledges that someone else has the expertise.

Using the example of work probably applies to many people but I also use this personal life and in my spiritual life.

Sometimes, not often enough, I ask God to show me the way to happiness and contentment in my life. I don’t always listen, those are the times when I need to be calm and still and listen to the small voice inside. It is usually telling me to stay positive and look for God’s signs – or guidance. When I do I feel really good and like anything is possible.

In my personal life, I talk to those who have had similar life experiences and challenges. People who understand where I have been provide guidance that is more valuable than you can imagine!

The bottom line is – no one person knows everything- and they shouldn’t. That’s too much pressure! Admit you need guidance and ask for it. It will definitely help you feel positive.