Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Judgment Can be a Robber

          I was reminded recently just how bad it feels to be unfairly judged. Let’s just say I did something. It wasn’t a bad thing but it was a choice to do something different than what one of my friends would have done. My choice in no way affected her. And she didn’t have all the pertinent information as to why I decided to do what I did.

          This difference among friends might have been okay except, instead of reaching out to me to share her point of view, she just withdrew and stayed away… for a couple of years!  She pulled away even when I tried to communicate with her, asking if something was wrong and why she hadn't responded to my efforts to contact her.

What's the Take-away?

          All that doesn’t matter. What really matters to me is that I’m thankful this happened. I’m thankful I got a firsthand lesson in exactly how awful it feels to be judged for my actions. It is a huge reminder not to judge what others may say or do, but to remember that there’s much more going on than I will ever know about any decision made by others. When I don't 'get' it all, it's probably better just to stand by and continue to be the good friend that I am ... silently.

          I feel wholeheartedly that judging can be a good thing. We need to judge situations and people to make sure they are not harmful and injurious to our hearts, bodies or souls. Judging, or rather misjudging the actions, attitudes, and beliefs of others, however, is a villain, a robber of the human-ness of people. Unjustified harsh judgments that we might make can steal our grace by the diminishment of unconditional love that we have for others.

          Because we have to incorporate judgments into our everyday life, it’s easy to misjudge. Kind of like the difficulties of dieting because we have to eat some food. (Why do I equate everything with food???) Anyway, one of the traps of judging is that it usually stops there with no further information exchange. If we arrive at a negative judgment we don’t usually pursue the situation or person further to find out if we were correct in our assumptions (which we probably shouldn't have made in the first place).

What I Learned
          So for myself, before making a judgment, in the future I will:

- Listen to what is said with an open mind
- Ask a ton of probing questions
- See if my opinion and attitudes get in the way
          of seeing the clear picture 

Ask myself if it matters...does their behavior
          or decision affect me at all and, finally,

      - Convey my final decision to pull away or be upset in a clear
                and timely manner.

          I miss my friend and I forgive her. I wish we hadn’t wasted these years on a judgment that went off the rails.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Nearly 7 Things I’m Looking for in a Best Friend

          Disclaimer:  I will start off by saying that, in spite of the title of this post, I am well aware that you have to give in order to get. Thus, I need to be and do all that I wish for in a best friend. I have to treat both myself and another the ways I list here.

1.  Positive Attitude.
          A positive attitude is one of the qualities I value most in a close friend. My ability to function hinges significantly on how positive and upbeat the people around me are. Negative people who complain a lot or who only have dire things to share bring me down. I’m not Pollyanna, however, I cannot give forth joy if all that is coming in is what’s wrong in the world.
2.  A Good Listener
          Part of being a good listener is remembering. When your friend says they’re facing a grueling test on Thursday, a call on Friday to follow-up is a sign that you were listening, both to the content and the emotion behind their message.
3.  Conversation
          Eye contact is critical in conversation. Your friends can’t believe you’re really interested if you’re fumbling with your iPhone or off in la-la land thinking of how you’ll respond. Don’t speak in order to one-up your friends with stories that look to out- due their experiences. Silence is ok too or, better yet, parrot back a shortened version of what they shared.
4.  No Judgment
          Know what is the biggest giveaway that you might be judgmental of your friend – from their point of view? It’s that you’re judgmental of others in casual conversation with your friend. If you can be snarky about someone else, you might easily be snarky about me.
5.  Commitment
          If you promise to do something for me, please do it…or tell me with as much advance notice as possible why you can’t. Reliance on each other is a core value of strong friendships. Ninety nine point nine percent of the time I don’t need to be reminded that I’m meeting you for lunch, coffee, a movie or just a gab session. You’re that important to me to not forget.
6.  Screwing Up
          If I mess up, if I hurt your feelings or forget to do or be one of the items above, forgive me. Tell me gently how I messed up and how it made you feel…and then move on.  Realize that a close friend is on your short list of people you want in your life. Acknowledge that you want them in your life even if they unintentionally hurt you once in a great while.
7.  Money
          No, no, no…..just kidding.

          What does your list look like? Do your friends know what’s important to you? I believe it’s worth the investment to let them know. Perhaps you should share this post with them????

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

What I Love and Hate About Fall

This post from last fall is one of my most popular. I still feel the same now as I did then. Enjoy!

          I wonder if what I love about fall, you love about fall. I’m not a big summer fan with all that inescapable heat (read ‘no air conditioning’), so on those first few mornings when I step out into the cool morning air that whispers a change is imminent, my heart quickens.

           See if the five things I love about fall are what you love:

          1. Crisp mornings and cool evenings

          2. Mother Nature’s most spectacular display

          3. Kids heading back to school and a less crowded
                    routine is re-established in the community

          4. New television programs I’ve been waiting all
                    summer for finally arrive. The big networks
                    put their programming backsides into shows
                    that start in Sept and Oct.

           5. I begin looking forward to holiday activities
                    with family and friends

What I Don’t Love About Fall

           At the same time, as fall signals some pending changes, I begin to steel myself. The following is my list of five things I don’t love about fall:

           1. Holiday preparation stress – planning, shopping,
                    cooking, wrapping

           2. Too much food and drink and not enough exercise

           3. Having to stay indoors more

           4. All those holiday activities with family and friends
                    (see #5 above in my list of what I love about fall)

           5. Generally more colds, flu, and a myriad of other

What to Do     

           Can you relate to this love/hate dilemma? Do you also experience the diversity of all fall brings in both fun and not so fun events and activities? I wish I could give you some concrete ideas for things to do to avoid the not-so-fun parts of what comes before winter and the new year. For myself, I know if I’m wanting to stay grounded enough, I just will. I will seek out less stressful situations, I will go to my spiritual home to absorb the soul sustaining elixir that keeps me sane, and I will surround myself with people who love me unconditionally, even when I’m not successful. It's generally not an all or nothing proposition. I do well part of the time and fall down and have to regroup another part of the time. Such is life!

           The best advice I can give you, dear reader, is not to throw over your well-established habits: exercise, get plenty of rest, meditate, make the best food choices you are able to at any given moment and find quality time for yourself to rejuvenate so you can be there for the kids, spouse, friends and family members. Do the best you can.

           Good luck! I hope we're both successful!
 Fall veggies at the farmers' market.

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