Say What you Need to Say

For St. Valentine, because he deserves better.

I love me some Facebook, but I’ve noticed an avalanche of other things where my friend’s status updates used to be. I find it humorous that people are upset when others scroll on by, when they’ve offered little incentive to stop and look. My main reason for going on Facebook is not to be inspired, enlightened, challenged, taught, or entertained, IMG_4788though all of these things take place. I go on Facebook to see what’s happening in the lives of my friends. I enjoy the family pictures, the declarations of love, the documenting of birthdays, weddings and holidays, the silly stories, and the “look what my kid did and I’m so proud” moments. I’ve always been shy and when I see people in social situations that I’m friends with on Facebook, I feel a barrier to approaching them has come down, because I have, at least, a vague idea of what their lives look like. This seems less likely to occur, as personal statuses are replaced with quotes, articles, and cat and dog videos.

We’ve long been trying to take the personal out of our relationships, even though relationships are inherently personal. The cellphone is a primary example of this. Have you ever had someone across from you at a dinner table ignore you while they twiddled IMG_4316with their gadget? I have and I wasn’t impressed. When I’m out with someone, I expect eye contact and conversation. I shouldn’t have to find something else to do while someone checks their emails, their twitter feed, or the number of likes they’ve received on their latest quirky, but charming selfie on Instagram. I’m sitting across from them. Doesn’t that rate as the ultimate “like”? Even more baffling, wasn’t the original intent of the telephone to connect people: families separated by miles could enjoy the sound of their loved one’s voices and catch up on daily goings on? Now we just fumble thumb grammatically incorrect grunts to each other and call it communicating. Texting is convenient for making plans, but it’s not a good way to make or sustain a relationship.

Greeting cards are another way the world tries to interfere with genuine, meaningful connection between individuals. A landmark anniversary, a long-awaited, well-deserved graduation, a sacred wedding ceremony is on the horizon and what is our first thought? We hop on over to the nearest Hallmark. Am I the only one who sees a problem with this? How is it even possible for a stranger to write a heartfelt message to one of our loved ones? There’s nothing personal about greeting cards, other than that they’re created by a team of persons. The messages have to be generic to appeal to a large number of consumers. The cards we give to our mothers, dear children, or best friends are not unique, but mass-produced and marketed. They’re not representations of our thoughts, but someone else’s thoughts. Our thought was to go and purchase a thought, rather than thinking for ourselves. We’ve been duped into buying something else we don’t need.

Why would we pay strangers to say the important things that we need to say to the people who mean the world to us? “Well, I’m not a good writer” is one argument I’ve heard. As far as I know, the average birthday or anniversary message isn’t published in IMG_4792the newspaper or blogged on the internet. Do we really think our relatives and friends expect us to be William Shakespeare? Can’t we just genuinely express our thoughts and feelings with each other? Who wouldn’t prefer a sincere, vulnerable sentence or two over a generic, flowery rhyme?  If one is really at a loss, the phrases “I like you” and “I love you” are powerful and I know people who’ve rarely heard these words. There’s always spell check for those who’re concerned about grammar, but be wary of auto correct. My husband says whenever he types in his name, spell check wants to change it from “Myron” to “moron”.

“Well, I don’t have time” is the standard excuse we hear for just about everything these days. I disagree. Many have time to drive to a mall and stand in a card shop, eyeing the artwork, reading the sentimental verses or funny quips, comparing one card with another, and perusing the price points. There’s an hour or more there to be used to write congratulations to a graduate or to pen a love letter.

“Well, I’m not creative” is another falsehood we’ve been deceived into believing. Yes, artwork on cards is lovely to look at, but it’s disposable. Unless you attach value to it, it IMG_4787ends up in a landfill. It’s about the message, not the packaging. We’re all equipped with an incredible combination of mind and heart, idea and depth of feeling. We only need to harness what’s already there. We’re wired to communicate with passion.

My kids have been making cards since they were old enough to draw. The act of making a card is a gift in itself. It says, “I care so much about you that I’m willing to stop what I’m doing and think about you and see what comes of it.” Recently, my daughter was in a hurry and lamented having to make a card. I had previously scanned a piece of her artwork into the computer and after printing it, suggested she write her friend a birthday wish on the inside. My kids are artistic and have come up with some cool designs, but I prefer to use pictures from Google images on my cards. I write something, select an image that suits the message, and simply copy, paste, and print. Some may argue that a handwritten note is the most personal gesture of all and I would tend to agree, except that the quirky fonts appeal to me. Computer or no, the message is always mine, created and signed with love.

Some of you who know me know this about me, but I believe it’s remarkable and will say it again here, because it fits. Every year on my birthday I receive a birthday card from my parents, as many of you do, but my card always has a handwritten list on it. My Dad uses up the white space left on the card to affirm me as a person. He lists my good qualities and achievements. The card may be pretty and the verse clever, but they’re IMG_4790meaningless to me. It’s the list I crave and cherish. I have years’ worth of cards that document my growth over my lifetime, because my Dad takes the time and makes the effort to sit down and think about me. Every once and awhile, I look at these cards again and see what he sees and feel good and grateful. I encourage you to do the same for those you love. You will never know what a message from your soul will do for another human being until you put it out there. In your relationships, you have the power to uplift, inspire, and encourage. Your words can bring meaning, healing, hope, joy and love. Or, you can go to the store. It’s your choice.

Happy Valentines Day!

Posts come out when I feel like it. 😀 Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: @pollyeloquent2 and don’t forget to mention that you’re a reader. It’s a private account. Thanks so much for your time and attention. 🙂

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Random Schmandom

What will you do for someone else today?

We watched Evan Almighty the other day. Though I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, I have one issue. They used the acronym ARK for Acts of Random Kindness, or Random Acts of Kindness as, I believe, it was originally ordered. Humorist Danny Wallace published a book with this title. Being someone who is always searching for the right word, I think pairing “random” with “acts of kindness” is a mistake.kindnessfeet-1868670_1280

Good ole’ Webster defines random as, “lacking a definite plan, purpose, or pattern– made, done, or chosen at random.” I know random. It’s how I live my life. When I have a day to myself, I prefer to go off on a whim. I do make lists, but it’s a rare treat when I cross something out and usually I’ve scribbled my loose intentions in a slant on a napkin or a grocery receipt which I stuff somewhere. Occasionally, I find a nest of scraps and they’re only marginally comprehensible. It’s a challenge for me to put out persistent, concerted effort to acquire a skill of any kind. Putting my keys in the same place twice is a major accomplishment. Routine is not on my non-existent agenda. At a certain point in our family life, my husband stated that we would each have our own particular seat at the dinner table. I bulked. I already felt organized. I told him I wasn’t in kindergarten anymore. Left on my own, I wouldn’t even eat at set times, but forage throughout the day, nibbling on bits of whatever it is I’m craving at the moment. My kids love this about me. Once when my husband was working late, my youngest daughter walked by and asked, “what’s for supper” as children often do. Without looking up, I said, “Halloween candy.” Later, that same daughter pranced past with chocolate smeared all over her beaming face. “This is the best day ever,” she cried.

Have you ever lived with a random person? Did you find them charming or exasperating? If you asked my husband, he wouldn’t describe my randomness as a kindnesschild-3858368_1280positive attribute. Can he rely on me? Yes and no. Can he predict my behavior? He’s given that up for health reasons. Does he find me interesting, amusing, or exciting, like an obscure, odd, colorful bird? An Emphatic Yes. So, random can be eye-opening and curious, but mostly it’s sporadic (“no plan, purpose or pattern”). I’m not saying it isn’t important for us to watch for those one-time opportunities to meet the small needs of people we encounter as we go about our day, but what if nothing presents itself? Am I off the hook? How many random acts of kindness do I need to accumulate in a day to really feel good about myself? I don’t want to make it a habit, do I?

Yes, I do. Kindness is not simply an act, but a way of being. It overflows from a loving, thankful heart. It often requires a sacrifice and it should be performed gladly without expectation. It’s not to be kept inside and doled out in a miserly fashion whenever it’s convenient or we feel up to it. It’s not enough to only show kindness one designated day kindnesstrabi-328402_1280or week of the year. The expression of kindness shouldn’t be limited to strangers or old people or street folk, but it should be given freely and lavishly. Spontaneous is good, but deliberate and thoughtful is better. Write a well-crafted love letter. Throw an elegant birthday party. Volunteer to be a Stem Cell donor. Use your skills to enrich the lives of others. Commit intentional, regular, meaningful acts of kindness. Become an expert and you will alter the world one kindness at a time.

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Posts come out when I feel like it. 😀 Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: @penelopepantaloons and don’t forget to mention that you’re a reader. It’s a private account. Thanks so much for your time and attention. 🙂

 

 

 

Unearth the Bowl

We bought a bowl once. It’s a shiny gold with vibrant splashes of red, green, blue and orange and we thought it would make a striking centerpiece for our table. We did not, at the time, consider what, if anything, we would put in it. Nor did we consider how much an empty bowl might beckon us to fill it. I’m ashamed to say this beautiful bowl has become a bowl for bills; piles of important papers now cascade from it completely blotting out the original reason for which it was purchased. Now instead of looking at the beautiful bowl and experiencing joy, I look at a bowl of bills and feel frustrated, worried, and depressed.
Continue reading “Unearth the Bowl”

See if I Care

I lost something recently that I cherished. No, there’s been no death in my family. I like to use big words and have a tendency to exaggerate. I lost pictures I’d taken on my holidays, pictures I’d admired and played with and hoped to share on Instagram, probably 500 of them. I went on a hike to a lake this summer and impulsively took my phone, the keeper of my precious pictures, on a swim and, nope, I didn’t have them backed up. My phone is dead, blank, unyielding, even though I smothered it in quinoa, rice, and silica crystals, took it in to have it checked out by people who know more about phones than I, stroked it and prayed over it. I’m still praying, but to date, sadly, there’s been no resurrection.
Continue reading “See if I Care”

A Poem For Starters

It’s never too late to start over

No matter the day or the hour

To change one’s mind is not a crime

If something isn’t working

Then

It begs that one begin again

Barreling head long toward some lofty plan

Can mean the end of one’s self

rather than the end one intended to pursue

Start anew

Pause and ponder

Gain some fresh perspective at an intermediate juncture

Recognize and titter at your blunders

Take a new tact or commit to stay the course

For more effective progress can be realized in repose

And a thoughtful journey does a better outcome make

So

Stop

Take your time

Take a breath

Take a good, hard look

Take a break

It’s never too late to start over

 

Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: pollyeloquent. Thanks for reading. 🙂

Sleep Becomes Her

We play a game in our house called “What’s Your Favourite”? We ask each other, “What’s your favourite color or animal or whatever?” Once my son asked me, “Mommy, what’s your favourite thing to do?” “Sleep”, I said.
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Out of the Blind Side

Those of you who’ve been following my blog know that I’ve been running to improve my fitness level. The city I live in has two sides divided by a river and coulees or, if you’re not familiar with that term, ravines. I live a few blocks from the trails on top of the lightroad-815297_12802coulees, a pleasant place to exercise with a beautiful view of the river valley. Yesterday, I awoke at 5 am to get my run in, because I had to be somewhere to volunteer at 6:45. I know, an ungodly hour, but I work in healthcare. A 5 am start to the day isn’t unusual for me. What was unusual about this particular run is it was in the dark. I still opted to go out on top of the coulees, because running on trails is gentler on the body than smacking the pavement, but I didn’t consider how challenging it would be to run without being able to see. Continue reading “Out of the Blind Side”

Hit the Suds, Kids!

I recently experienced the death of a loved one. My dishwasher bit the suds. I knew it was coming. It started to hesitate, buzzing and stalling. For awhile, I was able to coax it to continue on. Then, one sad day, there was no response. I was devastated. She was so disheswashing-machine-1772579_12802dependable, always willing to take on whatever messes I stacked in her. A real wash horse, that one. She was quiet. She kept to herself while she worked. She was even willing to store that food-encrusted stink until she had a full load. No complaints, no rank belching. I loved her. I was thankful for her everyday. I was thankful when I loaded her and thankful when I unloaded her. You’d think all the thankfulness I lavished on her would have had a life-giving effect. I know plenty of people who take their dishwashers for granted. They don’t give them a thought until they break down and then they pelt them with verbal abuse. I was good to my dishwasher. Why me?
Continue reading “Hit the Suds, Kids!”

There’s a World out There

There’s a kid picking through a garbage can

While I sit down to breakfastworldpoor-2382641__4802

There’s tired man in an unemployment line

While I head off to work

There’s an invalid struggling to use his limbs

While I climb on my bicycle

And there’s a world out there trying

While I’m watching my TV

 

There’s a girl, she’s been living in a cardboard box

worldchildren-of-war-1172016_12802While I’m warm and sheltered

There’s a child lying broken on a kitchen floor

While I have been embraced

There’s a boy dodging bullets in a civil war

While I take peace for granted

There’s a world out there crying

While I’m watching my TV

 

I live in a world where I can choose to stay

Will I venture out, will I look and really seeworldboy-529067_12802

That life is happening all around me?

I’ve been living in a fairytale

Some are living in a tragedy

What can I do?

Will I do anything?

 

There’s a lonely one pining in an empty room

worldalone-2666433_1280While I’m loved and wanted

There’s sickly soul looking for a lasting cure

While I’m whole and strong

There’s a muddled mind searching for the simple truth

While I’m clear and rested

There’s a world out there dying

While I’m watching my TV

 

I live in a world that I must choose to leave

I must venture out, I must look and really see

That life is happening all around meworlddrink-3021521_12802

Lord, I wanna be a living spring

Welling up to eternity

Where everyone can come and drink

There’s a world out there

 

Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: pollyeloquent. Thanks for reading. 🙂