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

Reality Check

Getting personal

My mother hurt me to the core this past summer. A hurt cutting so deep that it opened-up once again childhood wounds that I had worked diligently to confront and heal over the past several years. I saw a new side of her, or rather a side, I tried not to see for a long time. And because of long standing childhood wounds and this last straw, my behavior had become a blaring, blinking, red danger light and it was becoming apparent in everything I was posting online, writing or journaling.

My attitude was becoming belligerent a result of coming from a place of anger and deep sadness. I was retreating more and more into a self-imposed exile away from family, friends, and even God.

Getting real

Attitudes are shaped by past and present experiences, perceptions, long standing exposure and repetitive feedback of those around us, particularly those who have raised us and who are closest to us. And our behavior is the result of that attitude that reinforces our beliefs of being bad, good, or worthy.

To make a long story short about the current state of my attitude, I was coping with my anger and emotions versus managing them. Coping, in my opinion, puts a person on the side of weakness instead of empowerment. I needed to get real about my current state of mind.

The outside world

We have become a divisive nation on almost every front and it seems to be getting only worse. I cannot control the world, but I can control what I see, hear, and read. Mind you, I am not putting my head in the sand, which was my own initial fear, but the fact of the matter comes down to these 3 questions I have had to step back and answer:

What do I stand for?

What I am unwilling to negotiate?

What are my core values and how are they being defined in my life?

My personal world

What’s in my control in my personal world just like in the outside world is a bit more daunting when personal slights can trigger emotions regarding long-standing issues. I began to realize how the outside world was feeding the negative experiences and perceptions I had of myself – a few of those auto-wind tapes from childhood I thought I had shredded had been left behind. My parents are who they are, but they have taught me many things, and in some instances how not to treat my own sons. But my parents are not the whole of who I am, their experiences are not the totality of my experiences, nor are they the sum of who I am as a person, a wife, as a mother, as a colleague, as a friend, and so on.

“Getting me” is the same as “getting the other person”

Take for example, University of Michigan coach, John Harbaugh’s response when his son came out as being gay and he immediately responded to his son, “Live your truth.”

Our behavior is determined by our beliefs, either our ability (or inability) to express ourselves and talk about problems comes from our individual frame of references. And are we each open to communicating with each other in a supportive atmosphere? If social media has taught us anything is that making a simple statement to putting our laundry out on the Internet is ripe for ridicule. Whether it is social media or my personal interactions, I am going to live my truth and try to abide by my motto that I developed years ago which is….

The 4 R’s – Resist Reaction Let Reason Rule:

• What is the motive behind my behavior?
• Are my words or my behavior, according to my principles, or they in response to the other person?
• What is my intention with my interactions with others?

Recognizing the danger signals:

Can I?

• Actively listen?
• Acknowledge the other person’s position?
• Accept the other person’s perspective?
• Avoid accusations?
• Move on in grace, knowing my values may not be honored or accepted?

Final note

Whatever that “TRUTH” is even if it is never shared with or honored by another, may we all resist to control, blame, judge, misinform or be indifferent to one another.

Reality check

I’m still in my imposed self-exile working on being positive, kind, and more importantly, healing myself and trying to help others thrive.

Peace

 

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The Blogging Owl Muses

January 20, 2017:  

deep valley
the shifting shadows
survival

January 21, 2017:  

power of women
never underestimate
mother’s wooden spoon

January 22, 2017:  

an old wound
fingering the scab
a blind eye

January 23, 2017:

rise and shine
a tea kettle whistles
sparrow’s song

January 24, 2017:

shutting off
social media
alarm clock

January 25, 2017:

we all stand
at God’s judgment seat
the front row

January 26, 2017:

folding thoughts
this morning’s laundry
into words

January 27, 2017:

off Facebook
tired of scrolling
my last post

Cleansing my spirit

Over this past week, I could no longer stomach the endless parade of unoriginal thought on Facebook. The endless sharing of memes that either are supposed to inspire agreement or share in the hatred that is abounding in this nation all became too much for me.

January 28, 2017:

detoxing
cleansing the spirit
facebook fast

 

 

The Facebook platform has allowed us (I’ve included myself in here as well) to voice our own definition of character.  This is Dictionary.com’s Definition of Character.

And I wonder if we would have the same fierce fortitude to voice, and in some cases, vomit all our thoughts physically in front of the other person(s) rather than behind a faceless electronic device. There have been so many times I have erased a post or a retort to another’s post before hitting the post button. And there have been other times where my left hand physically grabbed my right wrist while saying out loud, “Take your hands off the keyboard!”

My insightful friend, Lyn says, “We can choose to be offended… or not.”

I love that insight if what is being said is directing to me personally.  But what if what is being said is being directed toward the vulnerable?  I’m only musing here.

thumbs-down-dislike

Original thought is dead

But it isn’t what people type out so much, that is, if they were really trying to be thoughtful in explaining their position or points of view, but it’s all those damn memes!

Memes are NOT funny!

I don’t care if you are a Republican, a Democrat, a Star Wars fan, whatever…

Memes are NOT inspiring!

I don’t care if you have the most beautiful daughter or love you son, then SAY IT in your own words! I will not think you are conceited, or whatever…

Memes are NOT original!

And NO, I won’t type “YES,” or “AMEN,” and I certainly won’t share it. Furthermore, I won’t pass on to the next ten people to a prayer to cure cancer – not because I don’t want to cure cancer because 100% of people I know are already praying for a cure anyways.

Okay, memes may be okay to you but not to me. So I spent most of my time on Facebook just scrolling, scrolling, and scrolling.

Seeking first to understand and to be understood

And the non-stop news article posts!

OH! For the love of scotch! (Yes, I am guilty too.)  I posted an article within 2 hours of President Trump being sworn into office about the FHA withdrawing lowering their fees which would have given access to affordable housing to more people. My day time job is in mortgage operations where we had just received the FHA compliance bulletin in our office. Yet! Someone responded by saying it was probably fake news! And another posted that they were only withdrawing the fees that had not yet taken effect. Ah, excuse me? Compliance rules require disclosing new fees if the mortgage closing will occur after the fees become in effect. There are compliance timing rules.

Now, of course, the average consumer may or may not understand this element but rather than posting a comment why not post a question?  “Why does this article upset you?”  Why don’t we seek to understand first rather than vomiting ignorance through our keyboard? (Yes! I am including myself in this group too.)

It’s your Facebook Wall, post whatever you want.

Just keep scrolling. And in the words of my friend, Lyn, I again offer her advice again, “You can choose to be offended, or not” and risk being unfriended or blocked.

I have un-friended friends and family because they were incessant on telling me what I should post or told me I must delete a post where the content of my post had nothing to do with them personally, or even insinuated anything they personally (to my knowledge) may have been involved.  Some were unfriended simply because they were abusive to other Facebook friends who posted on my timeline.

My Facebook future

I am not sure when, or if, I will be posting to my personal Facebook wall again. The political climate is just too hateful, unoriginal thought is too mind numbing, and it is hurting my mind, body, and spirit to just keep scrolling. I’m choosing not to be offended by stopping and getting off the Facebook bus.

I will still be posting to my writing Facebook page, The Insomniac Writer – The Blogging Owl. Writing feeds my soul and God feeds my spirit.

You can continue to find me here on my blog and on my other blog, http://www.theprayerjournals.com, on Twitter @thebloggingowl and @prayerprompts.

Peace out!