Thank You

For the last seven years I’ve suffered at the hands of those with greater power and lesser insight.

It’s not that my life has been all hell and horror, but it’s safe to say the worst moments of my existence happened during this time. So I’m thrilled to announce it’s officially over.

That doesn’t mean I won’t continue to live with the consequences, nor does it vindicate those who caused this pain. And for my part in it, I’ve paid the price. A proportionately higher price than our society accepts. Life isn’t fair sometime.

But we are not a product of what happens to us. We are a product of how we respond to those events, the accusations, the unjust decisions. I’m not saying the events themselves don’t change us. They do. But what shapes us, in the end, lies within our hearts.

So I thank not only those who stood by me, but those who inspired me over my lifetime. All of you who shared your wisdom and built a tower of strength within me.

And I thank God for holding me close.

Thank you.


Photo Credit: © stock.adobe.com

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Hidden Truths, Secret Sorrows

“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Our face is a mask, sometimes opaque, sometimes transparent.

Recently a friend of mine was taking an online test about reading emotions, and not doing too well. She was frustrated. I suspect the test was flawed in multiple ways, and even if she did read the emotions correctly, there’s never any way to be certain of the reason for the feelings. We can’t read minds, and we don’t know all that is happening in anyone’s life.

Someone may smile at something we said because it ties in with a conversation they had only a moment before. We’re unaware of what was said, however, and think they’re smiling inappropriately at our tale, and become frustrated. It happens everyday.

That’s a simple misunderstanding. Just as we don’t know what is spoken in the moments before we join a discussion, we most often have no way of fully knowing what’s happening in the lives of those around us. People are discreet enough generally to keep their private lives private, and sometimes they do so almost to a fault.

I have a friend who was dealing with her mother’s Alzheimer’s last year, and I never knew until shortly before her mom died. She and I had been working on a project together and I’d wondered why she’d lost her enthusiasm for it. Was it something I said? Had I been too controlling? I can get stuck in my ways. Now, that could have been the case, but more likely, she simply had other priorities.

She kept up a brave face around me, and maybe wondered why I never asked how her mom was doing. You see, others knew. I didn’t. Perhaps I should have known. We live in a communication age, but our own personal interactions frequently suffer from presumptions and assumptions all around. We rely too much on expectations and, as I alluded to above, expressions of emotion.

How we view our peers and others around us is more than just reading facial expressions, of course.

As well as how they view us. We’re born with a look that defines us, or helps others think they can define us. We grow and mature and that look changes and develops with us, but never truly reflects all that we are. It limits our definition of ourselves to other people.

When I was in high school, I peripherally was friends with a young woman, a year older than I, who to this day I’d have to say was the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met. Another woman in my group described her by saying, “she looks like a cover girl, only she hasn’t been airbrushed.” The only person to come close to matching her beauty (and it may be a tie) was her younger sister.
woman eyes with flower, color pencil drawing, eye contact. Computer collage.
But beauty had its price. Let me add here these were two of the nicest, most sincere women you’d ever meet as well, and their parents were great people. Yet despite all the kindness they’d show to others, they were subject to vicious rumors and gossip simply because of petty jealousy. They faced other problems directly related to their looks, such as expectations from men when they were far too young to handle that sort of thing, and so on. It wasn’t fair.

The older girl, my friend, was often cautious around other people, knowing what they would be saying as soon as she left the room. That in turn led to talk she was “stuck-up” because she’d be reluctant to open up to someone new, or even those she knew well enough already.

We make judgments sometimes to feel in control of a situation. If we understand what’s going on, we can deal with it, so we seek an answer — and run the risk of being horribly wrong.

How do we discern a person’s heart?

Respecting another’s privacy is an important value to many of us, and in doing so, we also must respect we will likely give up some knowledge we may find useful, whether we have a right to it or not. That knowledge includes the ability, at times, to fully understand someone’s painful history and appreciate their distant behavior as a symptom of that aching within themselves.

I do believe we should, in general, live with an attitude every person is far more complex than we can recognize when we first meet them. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt, understanding we don’t know what secret sorrows they face, is the gracious thing to do.

Having that open mind and open heart, giving others a chance to reveal themselves, will help teach us the perception and insight we seek. It is immensely rewarding to be the one who discovers the cold and bitter outsider is a warm, kind person waiting to be loved.

Yes, we must always use discretion when reaching out to others to save ourselves from being taken advantage of by manipulative and greedy people. A slow and steady approach of grace with the counsel of others is always wise.

Grace, wisdom, warmth of spirit. Gifts of human kindness that can change the world.

Oil painting nature grass flowers- yellow dandelions

 


Image Credits: (Masks) © tereks — Fotolia; (Face) © jozefklopacka — Fotolia; (Flowers) © nongkran-ch — Fotolia

When the Bad Defines Us

adobestock_96444752-convertedI finally got in for my long-overdue eye exam on Monday, and was disappointed when I learned the office manager, Corinna*, no longer worked there. “Corinna hasn’t been here since October,” the new manager told me, with pursed lips.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” I said, “but happy to meet you.” The latter statement was a moment of graciousness. I really would have preferred to see Corinna. Several years ago, when I was broke and struggling to put food on my table, she called a local charitable organization and arranged to have them pay for my eye exam, three months of contact lenses and a new pair of glasses.

Since my previous pair was more than ten years old, and my prescription typically results in glasses that cost more than $300, the glasses alone were a huge gift. Throw in the exam and the contact lenses, and I was ecstatic.

I’ve been seeing this eye doctor for at least eight years now, and when I mentioned to him how sorry I was Corinna had left, he, too, grimaced a little, and said, “She was embezzling from me for seven or eight months. I had to fire her.”

He went on to tell me how his attorney relayed four or five more similar stories from other doctors in the area. In my doctor’s case, he chose not to prosecute, since Corinna agreed to pay him back in full, and he didn’t want her children to see her in jail. His wife was ready to throw her behind bars and lose the key, but the long-term relationship, while destroyed, meant something to him.

I learned about this shortly after hearing more details of another similar, but more troublesome, story about a woman who’s dating a friend of mine. I wrote about this once before, and I need to be clear that no charges have yet been filed. However, on the local news, they reported she had embezzled 1.1 million dollars of county funds over ten years.

AdobeStock_112894681 [Converted]Of course the question arises, how could this happen? Why didn’t they catch it? The bigger question in my mind is, what was she thinking? She had to understand she’d get caught someday. Her boyfriend’s ex-wife is a good friend of mine, and has told me this woman is in complete denial about what she’s done. She believes she’ll get probation, but not jail time.

This is being investigated by the FBI and IRS as a federal crime, and whether she wants to believe it or not, she is facing years of federal time, which makes me terribly sad, and angry at the same time.

I’ve heard of people who, when facing a financial problem, commit a crime just as a matter of course. That’s how they solve their money woes. For most of us, it’s time to get creative within the bounds of the law and whatever other moral boundaries exist for us.

More than a million dollars over ten years is a lot of money in my world, and I know it was in this woman’s circle as well. She didn’t need that money. She wanted something she wasn’t able to afford, and she sought to hurt others to do it.

I don’t wish prison time on her, but I do wish to see some remorse, some understanding of what she’s done to others in her community.

I don’t know what led her, or Corinna, to steal from their employer. I try to remain empathetic and compassionate. I still like Corinna; she was good to me.

Judge not lest ye be judged. But it’s hard not to judge a little.

*not her real name.

All images © geosap – Fotolia

Desire

Peace and Grief

“Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there’s a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see.”
― Helen Keller

If you believe in an afterlife, as I do, than you believe my friend Laurie’s brother Monte is whole now, healed from the cancer that took him from us. More than that, he is free from all other physical, mental and emotional constraints that held him back in this world. Helen Keller’s blindness was a significant disability, yet we all exist in an imperfect state, and there are things we too don’t “see” in this life, things that limit us in other ways.

While there is a peace that comes from faith, there is still grieving. Family & friends will miss his laugh, his strong opinions, his kind heart. A good man was taken from us way too young. Monte would have been 50 this August.

My thoughts, prayers and love go to Laurie and her family, as well as all who cared about Monte. Thank you to those of you who prayed for him and Laurie in the past few days.


Image Credit: © pelinni — Bigstock