Finding Joy – In a cup of coffee

In the words of Pastor Rick Warren, “Contentment is not laziness, complacency, apathy, or fatalism. Contentment does not mean you are not making progress, or you do not have goals. It means you are happy with what you have right now.”

“It is better to have only a less with peace of mind, than being busy all the time with both hands, trying to catch the wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:6

If only

When I was younger climbing the rungs of my career and as a mother of young sons trying to catch my breath, I wish I had heard these words then and they become more powerful for me to heed now in my empty nest. Turning back time is impossible but living in the present can slow it down.

Which brings me to today, the biggest day of the year for retailers and shoppers – Black Friday. This isn’t a day I usually go out to the local shops and mall, however, my son is home from college and has the day off of work. He wants to go shopping. A chance to spend time with my son, you bet!

Joy in a cup of coffee

Around the world and particularly in the United States, there is much discontent. It is difficult to find much joy no matter where one turns although many people mouth these words across social media to make kindness great again (myself included). Yet even today for this Black Friday after waiting in a long drive-thru lane to purchase a decaf coffee for my son, the vehicle in front of us paid for our order. My son and I look at each other in amazement as the drive-thru server with the biggest smile and the brightest blue eyes said it had been happening all day. So of course, we paid kindness forward or should I say backward.

It was the best gift I bought all day.

It was worth every penny of the $11.31 for one 16 oz. cup of decaf coffee to see the joy in the faces of the drive-thru server and my son.

Caffeinated thoughts

I had enough coffee before we had set out on our shopping expedition, still the Starbucks pay-it behind experience got me thinking in over-drive.

Why does it take a holiday for us to be kind to one another?

Is it reminder to ourselves that kindness can still bring joy to a stranger? That the gift of giving without any expectations is still possible, still worthy?

How can we learn to be content with acts of kindness rather than simply buying a gift out of obligation or because it is the latest, greatest, and most likely the most expensive material gift on the shelves today and we must have it?

How can we, as a nation learn to be content with what we have rather than be so concerned with those seeking fairness in asylum, equality, and opportunity to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Granted, we have our own set of problems with homelessness, gun and domestic violence, and under-insured people, but do we even bother helping our own as we check-out the latest X-Box or designer sneakers?

How do we accept others different than ourselves who are also American-born citizens as well as those born elsewhere?

How can we be kind to one another every day?

Paying kindness forward

Citizens of the United States have always rallied to help one another in crisis, whether here at home or abroad. Yet currently there are many Americans who are taking a nationalist approach to the global economy and national security to name just two topics. I contend it is easier to keep what made this country great – our ingenuity, our integrity, and yes, our kindness than to discard those qualities for own self-righteousness.

I am not what I own, whether it is in the material things I buy on Black Friday or what I am given because by the grace of God I live in the United States. Dreams and ambitions do not just reside in these things, but in what I do, in what I think, and where I live. They reside in each one of us who may look, believe, speak differently than I do or live beyond borders.

I pray that I can be content with what I have and allow my content to make progress toward healing the world with the goal of making it a better place for everyone. Not just in the holiday season but all  year long.

Find joy in making the world a better place

Heal the World lyrics by Michael Jackson

Heal the World Video

May we all find joy

Why not buy someone a cup of coffee today and discuss how kindness can be paid forward to heal the world? Then act upon it together. Kindness starts with you and me. It starts with acceptance and the desire to understand each other and not just in the drive-thru lane.

Peace,

The Blogging Owl

 

(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved – The Blogging Owl – SL Prielipp-Falzone

Finding Joy – The Prayer Jar

Finding Joy

Last week was an unkind and politically charged week personally and globally. It is difficult to find joy each day when life seems to bring a new intensity of disharmony, divisiveness and disappointment. Yet the birds continue to sing and the flowers bloom wide as if revealing a sort of ignorance of any impending storm because they are confident in the rainbow.

It would be nice if I could have that type of ignorance, I thought.

As I scrolled on Facebook one day last week, I saw this photo quote from Anthony D. Wiliams:

37544441_1596537090457551_3173847988405534720_o

The Gift of Joy

37603474_1809835792398078_964323065368412160_nI’m not always consistent at being a “Watering Can, ” which is my personal initiative for helping others thrive. As I was thinking about this quote, I received in the mail a surprise package from one of my best friends from childhood, Julie. In her lovely card she noted how the hearts on the breast of the owl spoke to her of me and how she thinks of me daily as she practices finding joy, a topic we have discussed together. Our treasured friendship goes back several decades and I am grateful for God blessing me with such a long, lasting friendship.

The Prayer Jar

In my prayer journal I began to write about the joy I found in the act of kindness and friendship. I realized that finding joy isn’t that difficult when I practice kindness each day, even on the most difficult days. I found this past week when someone sent me a very unkind message about my weight gain that it is important not only to gift kindness to others but to gift it to ourselves too.

Finding joy in an act of kindness

The visuals are always helpful in trying to develop a habit. In becoming more consistent as a Watering Can and in finding joy each day, I have created a prayer jar.
I painted the lid of a dollar store glass jar with pink nail polish. The color, pink signifies friendship, compassion, sensitivity, generosity, warm-heartedness, nurturing, soothing, admiration, gratitude, appreciation. I printed and pasted on the front of the jar the quote by Anthony D. Williams.

The Prayer Jar has 3 components: Serve, Pray, Honor.

IMG_1732At the end of each day, I will write on a white index card or a slip of payer the date of the act of kindness, a prayer for that person and a prayer of gratitude in honoring God for what he has given me.

Serve

Intentional or random, I’ll serve others in kindness and find joy in the process.

Pray

For those of you who also follow my, The Prayer Journals Blog, you know the last pages of my prayer journal are reserved for the names of people who have requested prayer or situations that may need prayer. My prayer placed in the jar each day will be a prayer of kindness being paid forward.

Honor

On that same card or slip of paper I will thank God for giving me an opportunity to serve and in finding joy that day.

My Intentions

The prayer jar isn’t intended to show me how wonderful a person I am for my daily acts of kindness, but as I look back on my week, month, the year of where I have found joy. And if I fall short of my daily goal, it will remind me that joy can be found each day, but the real sustaining joy in life is in service to others – walking the talk of a Watering Can – helping others thrive!

It is the act of finding joy each day.

On the days when the world has gone crazy or perhaps just in my world, I want to be the sparrow, the bloom, the rainbow.

Peace,

New web photo - Sheri

The Blogging Owl

 

(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved – The Blogging Owl – SL Prielipp-Falzone

Food or Poison?

I was trying to race from Lenawee County before the eyes of repressed childhood memories began to flutter, but of course, no one can race out of this godforsaken County because everyone seemingly drives way below the posted speed limits on these tired two-lane country roads. I had just attended the memorial service for one of my beloved English teachers and after paying a public tribute in front of his family, friends, colleagues, and former students, I was overcome with emotion as I had been since first learning of his passing on Facebook four days earlier. Yet, as repressed as my childhood memories are when I am far, far away from the hometown of my youth the fear of being back here hit me hard.

Lenawee County

“I never want to come back here again,” I said to myself out loud.

Angry at allowing myself for listening to the broken record of my father’s condescending and alcoholic voice in my head for so many years and all the memories associated with it, I still didn’t want to be reminded for the umpteenth time why I hate Lenawee County.

“I coulda been somebody!” Borrowing a line from Rocky Balboa.

The truth is – I am somebody.  Mother, Wife, Blogger as a dear friend reminded me last week – great ones at that, he said.

But, I’m not who I had hoped to be – a full-time, employed writer earning a living doing what I love. (Mind you, it’s my fault that I am not. I just don’t like being reminded of it.) Looking out over the fields of hay and corn stalks I could see in my waking memory, my father driving a tractor pulling a manure spreader spreading the vile of animal waste – pig shit. No other odor is worse than pig shit. I can smell it even now, though there aren’t any hog farms along my current route of M-52.

Pig manure

My English and band classes had kept me alive in high school. Teachers, whether they knew it or not, literally saved me – not only then, but throughout the years when the memory of my father’s toxic words and shitty behavior that would want to choke my perseverance over the years trying to change the outcome of my childhood. I wrote my way through it in my personal journals just as Mr. Roberts coaxed me to do in high school.

“Sheri, just keep writing. Just keep writing your way through it.”

Sitting in that small funeral home trying to reminisce with former high school students, I honestly couldn’t remember anything. Their memories of specific class assignments and projects were both heartwarming and disturbing. Disturbing because even as president of my graduating class, I could not remember one iota of my high school graduation nor much of anything else for that matter. What I will always remember is the personal interaction of my favorite teachers who were encouraging, who supported my dreams, and who were simply – kind.

A kindness I did not know at home.

My therapist, if she were sitting in the seat next to me would remind me that in those years, particularly before I was 21 years old, I was in survival mode. She would say, “Sheri, some books are meant to be put on a shelf and kept there.” But it is never too late to write new endings, I remind myself as I continued to gaze out over vast farm fields. Still thinking about “endings”, I reflected on another student’s eulogy who spoke of some teachers not being as kind as Mr. Roberts.

Then I thought, “Each one of us is fertilizer. A fertilizer that is either food to help tender plants grow or poison if not handled correctly. It all depends on how we treat one another.”

So I asked myself when Lenawee County was finally and fully in my rearview mirror, what kind of fertilizer am I?

Food or poison?

Writer or not, I hope to be the food of kindness towards others because I may never know whose life I might just be saving.