perspective

If There’s Anything I Can Do…

There are so many overused sayings right now. Phrases that are just float in one ear and out the other…a year like no other. Unprecedented. Look a little different. Blah blah blah. We hear them so much they lose their meaning.

And then there are the ones that are not only overused but undermeant. One biggie: thoughts and prayers. And the subject of this little rant-ish post: “if there’s anything I can do…”

It’s natural for many of us to want to offer help. Really, it is. I am in this camp and readily offer to give aid when people are in a pinch, a tough spot, or in a full-blown crisis. It’s in my nature (and my enneagram.)

But in recent weeks I’ve wondered… do we really mean it? Or is it just empty comments to make us feel better about the powerlessness we might feel in times of turmoil? What might helping mean?

A friend has a relative in the hospital. They need someone to sit with them in the waiting room. They may need a disinterested friend to sit with them as they talk to the doctor. They need childcare. They need someone to clean their house, take care of their dog. They need grocery shopping. They need respite support.

A co-worker has car trouble. They need to get to work. They need someone to pick them up, take them home, take them out on errands. Take them to the repair shop.

An elderly neighbor is isolated at home. They need technical help with online billpay. They need someone to drive them to doctor’s appointments. They need companionship. They need someone to connect with. A ride to the senior center. A walk at the park. A help with household tasks and chores. They need stimulating talk and even the occasional adventure.

So many people have needs. It’s actually overwhelming to think of all the ways that others may need help. Some of these remain invisible. People don’t ask others for what they might need. We are afraid of inconveniencing others. Afraid to share our vulnerability. Afraid to need others.

I do get this because there are many times we ask for help and people bail out at the last minute. Why say “if there’s anything you need” if you don’t really mean it?

On the flip side, if you do ask someone for something, expect them to come through. It’s frustrating to sign up to give help then have that blown off at the last minute. If you actually ask for help, mean it.

Logistics can be a nightmare. Yes, there is often some measure of juggling, reprioritizing, shuffling needed. People are worth it. There is no merit badge for suffering in silence.

Whatever it is you say or do, mean it. Don’t drop in empty offers of help to make yourself feel better. Be sincere. Not someone who gives too much lip service and not enough actual service.

perspective

We Interrupt This Program…

I had a conversation with a friend recently about active listening. I don’t remember how the topic came up, but I do know listening is a weakness for me. I am just bad at it. I find it very hard to focus at times. I have a restless mind. I can be easily distracted by the ping-ponging of things I want to check, need to do, or am just curious about. It’s a challenge for me to maintain eye contact and just focus on what other people are saying.

I’ve worked on this weakness several times in my adult life but eventually I stop paying attention. Well, this conversation with a friend brought it to the top of mind and I naturally started monitoring myself and how I behave in conversations.

Just in the first morning of paying attention I noticed that I interrupted people three different times. It happened twice at the gym and once at my job. This was in the span of a couple of hours.

First, at the gym, my coach was telling people something funny I said and I had to jump in and talk over her. Like she wasn’t saying it right, I guess. I don’t know.

Then at the end of class I wanted to give a friend something and they were in the middle of an informative conversation. So I stared at them and waited for them to stop talking so I could do what I needed to do. They did the right thing and ignored me so I just left pretty annoyed. Thinking back, what did I expect her to do?

Finally, the end of the school year takes interruptions to a whole new level. I don’t have a work partner to help manage them this year and my personal workload has increased as well. Time is always on my mind. I try to stay positive but I am sure people can read my frustrations in my body and voice. When colleagues take a long time to tell me what they want and I think I already know what they’re going to say, I jump in and finish their request for them.

Sigh. Here’s what I said to myself after this realization:

Seriously, what the heck?!?!? Interrupting over and over again? Geez. That’s pretty obnoxious.

It truly is. I know that I hate being interrupted and here I am doing it to people. And often.

It makes me think of the book I am currently reading, Ego is the Enemy. The need to jump in and tell my version of the story, add my details, tell someone what I need to say, or speed things up is ego jumping in. My time is more important. My version is better. My needs take priority. My life is always the breaking news. Me, me, me. What am I losing by not listening better? If I claim to care about others, listening is a big part of that.

It’s embarrassing to admit all of this but sharing it can start me on the path to improving it (again.)

mental health

Power

Who has the power?

Is it me or is it you?

Is it physical strength? Is it mental strength? Do you even know?

If one thinks they have mastered the power of words and the power of persuasion, does that make him or her strong?

The ability of strength can be determined by how long one can endure. Maybe endure the battle. Maybe it’s the power to endure pain. It could even be the power of patience. Waiting. Sitting idle. A sleeper cell of sorts.
Sometimes people mistake physical strength for power. Sometimes people overlook the strength required to endure a long battle. Maybe even a battle of the minds. 

Patience. Persistence. Consistency. Loyalty. These are all words that develop a powerful individual. Add a little street smarts and power is magnified. One may be little but still be fierce.

People should always be aware of the underdog. One should never underestimate the power or strength of a determined underdog. I admire many who battle daily as the underdog. I may even enjoy being named an underdog.

Push my buttons. I dare you. I am built to endure on many levels. I welcome a challenge. I also cheer for underdogs near and far. I advocate for those who lack strength when a bully is in sight.

Just a random rant worth a read. Life is full of shitheads. Are you a person I may refer to as a shithead or are you an underdog I may fight for?

challenges

The S Word

What word(s) am I referring to?

Sex

Shame

Suicide

The three S words noted above are tricky words in a way. They can somewhat be connected. They are also difficult for many to talk openly about.

I took a poll online of some acquaintances. Different genders. Different generations. Different lifestyles. Different life exposures. It was interesting to review the responses.

Sex is hard to talk about for some due to their upbringing. Some find it tricky due to their personal choices. Others find the word only challenging if the audience was an elder. 

Suicide was next up on the list. The ones I thought could speak openly about it found it difficult. The ones that had exposure in the past were okay to talk about it but not secure or confident by any means. Others just saw it as taboo.

Shame brought up a mixed bag of reactions. Especially if shame was linked to either of the other S words. So much to think about.

At the end of the day I challenge you to think about these words in isolation. How comfortable are you opening up a discussion on the word itself or how would you react if one asked you to talk about it?

Sex – a parent has to be prepared for this conversation. A friend may need to counsel a friend on sexual orientation. A grandparent may need to offer support in an abusive situation. Don’t be afraid of this S word. Instead think about how you can prepare yourself to converse about it no matter what the circumstances.

Suicide – everyone should say the word out loud. Everyone should be comfortable asking a friend, family member, coworker or close connection if they are feeling so bad they thought about harming themselves. If the answer is yes, one should probe and actually use the S word to see if that person needs help. Today’s world is challenging for many. Being available to a person struggling may be lifesaving. Practice the word. It’s an important word to have in your vocabulary.

Shame – one can feel shame over the the littlest things. What’s a mole hill to you is a mountain to others. Understanding how a person can feel shame may help you be a better person. This S word can be tough depending on the circumstances. Keep the word in the back of your mind. Be kind to others. 

My S word project was a little random but it was very thought provoking. I hope just the sharing of the words and the brief content of this blog may make you think before you speak. Think before you act. Think before you type. Words are powerful but can also be dangerous. Use your words wisely. Cherish those around you and look to share kind words with others when you can.

Our world has enough hate today. Let’s focus on kindness and shift the S words to promote positive thoughts:

Sunshine

Smile

Supportive

Sweet

Social

Soothe

Success

The above words are a few that come to mind for me. Write your list of a words today. Practice using them in 2021. Focus on the positives but be ready to talk when somebody needs you to cover the other S words! Today’s thought post is aimed at helping others. Do what you can to be prepared to help somebody when the need arises. 

Happy January!

perspective

$&7%# is all she wrote…

I made it through Saturday.

Then Sunday came along and I learned a few words. Observed my couch getting a beat down. I listened to hootin and hollering more than I care to reflect on.

Now it’s Monday. Same shit different day.

False start!

No foul.

Out of bounds, you ass!

Block in the back.

You suck!

Why isn’t the whistle blowing.

Take the time out.

YES!

Quiet for a few minutes. Maybe it’s half time? 

Friggin’ safety sucks. 

Are you kidding.

Whistle blows repeatedly.

Offsides.

Whistle blows.

False start.

It’s going to #6 be ready! said spectator.

Get out of bounds!

Spike it!

Ooooh.

Good job.

Jesus friggin’ Christ.

This is bullshit.

He got pushed!

He got pushed.

Over and over.

Watch the recap.

No penalty. 

Penalty declined.

Oh, what on earth could I possibly be writing about? Damn football. College football. NFL football. Monday Night Football. It’s all the same to me. A shit show on steroids.
Unfiltered chaos. Overwhelming negativity.

A big fat distraction at bedtime. An annoyance on the weekend. A time suck. An unnecessary event that includes rage, celebration, sportsmanship, and so much more. Why do people get so hyped up that they talk to the TV? Do they think the referee can hear them? Is a game really that personal? So crazy to me.

Is there a healthy level of watching football that doesn’t seem like it will cause a heart attack? Am I the only one that experiences this? I took a poll and apparently I’m not.

I don’t need to go to a bar for this kind a of people watching. I can be in my own house. I can go to a friend’s house where the guys are watching a game in the man cave. Sometimes it’s even a coed event and/or spectacle.

It’s hard to do your homework. It’s hard to pay your bills. It’s hard to have a phone conversation when others are acting like 2-year-olds having a tantrum because they didn’t get a sucker or toy at the store. 

How does one sum up this behavior? What does it do for our kids who are watching silently? Will this aggression spill over to a youth football game? Is there any logic in this chaos? Should one be able to control their emotions in the moment? This doesn’t even include alcohol which would only intensify the crazy.

Is there another equivalent to football in America that causes so much raw emotion amongst its spectators? Maybe a heavy metal concert. A violent hockey game? Just not sure.

I’m sure there is another side of football I can’t see at the moment because my judgment is clouded with all the noise and disturbance around me. Either way I found it fitting to jot down my environment during this insanity.  I thought somebody make get a chuckle out of it.

Are you a football fan?

Can you keep your behavior in check?

Are you an athlete?

I will invest in some headphones during football season to stay sane. At one point I thought a finger might have been severed with all the curse words I heard. Guess no cause for alarm. It’s just football.

Oh damn it’s just half time now! I need to get headphones now.