Words

“Words are seeds that do more than blow around. They land in our hearts and not the ground. Be careful what you plant and careful what you say. You might have to eat what you planted one day.”
-Unknown

Several years ago I ran into a young man at a wedding that I used to work with, but hadn’t seen in a few years. I asked how and what he was doing and he explained, among other things, that he had moved out to the opposite coast and was now living in Oregon.
I was surprised for a number of reasons and when I asked him why the move, he told me it was because of something I said to him once, several years earlier, and he decided to take my advice.

At first I thought he had mistaken me for someone else because, A) no one really listens to me, and B) even if they did, they wouldn’t listen to me.

Curious, I asked what kind of advice I could have possibly given that would cause him to move three thousand miles away. He said I once told him that if he woke up one morning, put his feet on the ground and was not happy with where he was, he should have the courage to do whatever was necessary to make a change in his life.
He told that story to his wife about a year after they got married and soon after, they left their jobs and started a new life on a different coast.

Words.

They have such power over us. More than we care to admit to sometimes.

They can change a life, save a life or destroy a life. They are free, priceless and sometimes carry burdens that last a lifetime.

They leave scars.

They soften and harden hearts.

For all that we know about words and the kind of impact they have on each of us, we sometimes remain careless with them.

Especially with children.

Words can affect adults in many of the same ways they do children. They can make us feel incredibly special or drop us to our knees. The difference, I think, is that adults can sometimes rationalize or explain away the negative comments. They can bounce back by understanding the source or respond by standing up to those words. Children, especially younger children, don’t have those same abilities. Too often they believe what they hear and may internalize those feelings for years. Sometimes it begins to shape their lives.

Being a parent can be challenging at times. I don’t know a parent who doesn’t try to do the right thing when it comes to their children. Or at least believes they are.

You know, volume is a funny thing. There have been times when I’ve heard a band play a song live and the music is so loud, I couldn’t hear the words. Children are no different. Sometimes, when the volume is too high, they just hear the noise, which can be as damaging as the words they can’t hear.

Sometimes we think we’re disciplining our children when we’re only inflicting our control over them. There’s a big difference between the two, just as there is between encouragement and constant critiques. Parents sometimes attempt to live their own lives through their children, instead of allowing them to grow, make mistakes and find their own way through life.

All these actions involve words.

With children, words have a greater impact and last much longer. The control or influence we think we have as parents, only lasts a few years. Rebellion, much longer.
They will remember. And when they’re old enough, they will understand and make their own decisions and choices.

Then the impact of words may be reversed. Strange how that works.

You know, the funny thing is, I didn’t remember having that conversation with that young man I spoke with. Even after he told me about it and I tried to go back in my memory and remember when I may have said it, I couldn’t.

But he did. And that’s the point.

That’s the blessing and the curse about words.

You may not remember what was said today, especially when it comes to children.

But they will.

And one day, you may have to eat what you planted.

No F#@$ing Way!!!!

So my oldest daughter sent me this article recently which claims that those who have a tendency to use salty language were also the most honest people. My guess is she sent this because it was, a) interesting and, b) she is searching for redemption.

Now I don’t throw around that particularly distasteful four letter word loosely, though it has slipped out under my breath when I slammed a hammer down on my finger while poorly attempting some household project I should have left to professionals. Quite honestly, I don’t like the word and think it’s used gratuitously in too many areas of life. Its a word that usually makes me cringe.
That being said, I do curse on occasion. I think most people do. Not F-bomb cursing, of course, but the usual stuff that generates emotion or gets your point across.

This study, done by scientists at the University of Cambridge surveyed 276 people about their most commonly used swear words and how often the say or write them. Then they measured the participants honesty  with questions about blaming others, cheating at games and taking advantage of people.
The study claims that while some may view swearing/cursing as negative social behavior, those same people are not filtering their language, so they are probably not fabricating stories which may result in untruths.
Essentially, if you’re willing to drop a few F-bombs, you’re probably not worried about making yourself look good in front of others.

A larger study of 74, 000 people on Facebook came up with the same results. Researchers found that people who try to keep it clean also try to look cooler online, which involved fudging the truth. That same practice of dishonesty would eventually carry over to their personal/professional lives.

While I initially dismissed my daughter’s attempt at halo polishing, the more I thought about this, the more validity it had for me. I initially told her that a person can be honest and still not curse. Then I started thinking about the people I knew, both past and present, and began compartmentalizing them. Friends, business associates, family, clergy, etc.
I even remembered a saintly aunt I had growing up, and I know she cursed, even if it was in Italian.

I began to realize, as I went through my list, that I don’t really trust the people I never heard curse. Now I understand why. If this study is correct and those who don’t curse are not honest, it stands to reason that I wouldn’t trust, or even like, them.

So there you have it. If you ever want to be taken seriously by people or have them take you into their confidence, you’d better sprinkle a little salt on your vocab. If not, you’ll find your friends becoming fewer, your professional life becoming stagnant and your family largely choosing to ignore you. Because the truth is, people who throw in a few little colorful words now and then are more fun, tell interesting stories, are better children to their parents and better parents to their children. Hell, I exchanged off-color jokes with my parents from the time I was a kid. I can still see my mother laughing as I told her another one.

Of course the seriously rigid, can always hang out with other tight ass non-cursers.

Imagine how much f@#%&ing fun that dysfunctional group will that be?

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Just Another Day

On the first day of 2017, 210 people were killed or injured by gun violence in America, including a one year old, teens and a mother and daughter.

Today, there was Ft. Lauderdale.

Tomorrow, it could be my hometown.

Or yours.

Like most forms of illness, there is an indiscriminate nature to gun violence. No one is immune. Not you. Not me.

As I was watching the news today, with the sound off, my nineteen month old granddaughter played next to me. She was innocently laughing at everything she touched. And as I watched her play, I wondered what kind of world my grandchildren are going to know. I wondered what kind of fear they will understand and how they will live their lives. And I wondered if they will ever truly be free.

We should all be wondering the same thing, because this senselessness doesn’t seem to be going away. That’s the reality we all try to turn away from.

Those who died today were probably someone’s child and/or parents.

Someone else’s.

Whose will they be tomorrow?

What You Don’t Know

You know my name,
not my story.
You see my smile,
not my pain.
You notice my cuts,
not my scars.
You can read my lips,
not my mind.
Unknown

About a year and a half ago, shortly after my grandson was diagnosed with lymphoma, (he’s fine now, thank God), my daughter and I were in a store picking up some things she needed. We looked like everyone else in the store, going about our business as if everything was normal. People who may have noticed or spoken to us could not possibly know what our lives were like at that time. The uncertainty, the shock, the pain. The feeling of wanting to breathe but not remembering how. To everyone else, we looked like everyone else.

Everyday, we sit next to cars at traffic lights, not knowing if those people are on their way to work, or a doctor’s office for test results. Not knowing if they’re going to visit a dying relative or attend a wake. We speak with people who work at their jobs, especially in the service field, and wonder why they’re not very friendly. Co-workers may be having a personal crisis they choose not to share and be withdrawn or distant. Some may become argumentative or angry.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we all have moments in our lives when life just doesn’t seem fair. We struggle to get out of bed sometimes and face what’s in front of us. We hope people are kind that day, even if they don’t know or understand our pain.

Kindness and understanding are the best hugs you can give someone.

We’ll all need a little of both at some point in our lives. If we understand that simple fact, then why not return the favor or set the example for others. Give that person who may not be in the best mood the benefit of the doubt. Don’t assume the worst of people without understanding the reason for their behavior.

Kindness and understanding.

It’s really not that hard.

A New Kind Of Romance

There is a fine line between Saturday night and Sunday morning.
Jimmy Buffet, Fruitcakes

This is one of my favorite Jimmy Buffett lines and I was reminded of it today during school. I have been working in the school library the last few weeks and almost everyday, these two ten-year old girls come in to read or look for books they can read together. They’re inseparable.
They’re both chatty and like to engage in conversation, which is okay with me as long as they whisper. No easy task for ten-year old girls.

So today they were talking with me about the books they’re reading and after a few minutes the conversation went like this..

Ten year old: My mom is strict with the books that I read, she only reads Christian books and wants me to do the same.

Me: Well, I’m sure there are a lot of good books in here that she wouldn’t have a problem with you reading.

Ten year old: I know but she only really likes Christian books and romance stuff like Fifty Shades of Grey.

Me: (after what seemed like a five-minute pause which allowed me to digest what I just heard) So she reads Christian books and romance novels like Fifty Shades of Grey?

Ten year old: (as she’s thumbing through her book) Yeah, that’s all she really seems interested in reading.

Me: Well, whatever makes her happy.

Ten year old: (nodding) Yeah, that’s what I say.

I guess I can elaborate a bit here and discuss the obvious but I think the obvious pretty much speaks for itself. So for all you folks out there who read the romance novel, Fifty Shades, those Christian books are just a little further down on the shelf, when you’re done. Then you can put on Jimmy Buffett and Fruitcakes. Somehow it will all come together.

 

The Paperclip

One of my daughters saw this short video on Facebook and sent it to me.
During this season of line pushing Black Friday’s and hectic Cyber Monday’s, a little three year old girl reminds us that not everything comes with big price tags or in large packages. Most times it’s the smallest things throughout the year that matter most; a hug, a visit, a letter.

A paperclip.

 

A Man Called Ove

“People said Ove saw the world in black and white. But she was color. All the color he had.”
Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove

I’m not a book reviewer and I rarely suggest one because everyone has different tastes when it comes to what they enjoy reading. But I’ll make an exception for A Man Called Ove.

This is a word of mouth book written by Swedish author, Fredrik Backman that has become an international best seller. It is a story of loss and love, how first impressions are not always reliable and why people should first be understood before we pass judgment.   It will make you laugh out loud and bring tears to your eyes in a matter of pages.

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A brief synopsis from the back cover…

At first sight, Ove is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet, a curmudgeon with staunch principles, strict routines and a short fuse. People think him bitter and he thinks himself surrounded by idiots.
Ove’s well-ordered solitary world gets a shakeup one November morning with the appearance of new neighbors, a chatty young couple and their two boisterous daughters, who announce their arrival by accidentally flattening Ove’s mailbox with their U-haul. What follows is a heartwarming tale of unkept cats, unlikely friendships and a community’s unexpected reassessment of the one person they thought they had all figured out.

If you’re looking for a gift this holiday season or just want an easy read to curl up with during the holidays, I have a feeling Ove will reward the time you spend with him.

One last passage from the book…

“To love someone is like moving into a house,” Sonja used to say. “At first you fall in love with everything new, you wonder every morning that this is one’s own, as if they are afraid that someone will suddenly come tumbling through the door and say that there has been a serious mistake and that it simply was not meant that you would live so fine. But as the years go by, the facade worn, the wood cracks here and there, you start to love this house not so much for all the ways it is perfect but for all the ways it is not. You become familiar with all its nooks and crannies. How to avoid that the key gets stuck in the lock if it is cold outside. Which floorboards have some give when you step on them, and exactly how to open the doors for them not to creak. That’s it, all the little secrets that make it your home. “
– Fredrik Backman , A Man Called Ove”

Enjoy!