A Lesson In Gratitude

My 88-year-old mother has been a positive, loving, stable, supportive, and giving influence throughout my life.

Money was scarce, but I never felt poor. We lived in a small home in a little steel mill town. Although we struggled, I never heard my parents discuss money concerns.   Nor did I know  they searched the couch for dimes that may have fallen out of dad’s pocket to pay for his bus rides to work.  Never missed having a car.  Always felt loved, and secure.

But I never really realized how important that security was, until a few days ago. The backstory is three years ago, when my mother’s dementia became apparent, I moved her to Florida to be near me.  My father, who was her prince, and our hero, passed two years prior.

This week something happened. Mom told me she was scared.  She asked to  go “home.” When I inquired who she wanted to see at home, she said her mother.  More of the backstory, both parents were deceased by the time she was three  years old, and her sister, age 14, successfully raised my mom and her four siblings.

Have you ever watched your mother cry and say she was scared?  This was my first experience seeing mom genuinely afraid.  It devastated me.  It made me cry.

But, this blog is not about my mother’s experience or how well (or at times not) I deal with her pain. My message is I am a very lucky person. The question is why, and I hope this simple little story is a life lesson.

Lucky, you might think?  Dealing with a mother who has dementia?The answer is yes I am a lucky girl. While reflecting on what mom is going through, I realized my parents provided immense security. I never knew about the financial pressure of making ends meet. There was never a time I felt I could not go to my parents. They were always there for me. Although I have always been grateful, I know I have truly been blessed. 

 

Even after my dad passed, as hard as that was, I felt comforted by the very thought of him. Maybe that sounds a bit crazy but you see, he took great care of mom.  They watched over each other.  Daily I pray he looks down on me, and guides me to make the right decisions for mom.

Today I read a beautiful post written by a young friend of mine, Aimee Tarte, Owner of Lady And The Mug, in Coral Springs, Florida. She wrote:

No matter what happens in my life, I am at peace because I understand how blessed I am and for that, I’m eternally grateful. Let’s not just be thankful today, but change our mindsets to appreciate the smallest of things we overlook. I’ll always be an optimist and believe in everyone, especially those who have done wrong against me. Serve others, give with a pure heart, and remember how short life is”

 

That says it all, now doesn’t it?

Take a few moments to STOP and think about your life. What lessons of gratitude can you find that never occurred to you? Think of one small of thing you previously overlooked and post below. I would love your feedback.  It could inspire all of us!

A note from Sunny. This blog was written by my dear forever friend, Irma Parone of Parone Group.

She can be reached at irma@paronegroup.com  www.paronegroup.com

Also please free to also leave comments on this post.

 

Giving the Precious Gift of Kind Words

My friend Melissa is one of the most generous people I know. She blesses the lives of many in a very special way. When the moment presents itself, Melissa never misses an opportunity to lavish sincere praise.

Not only does she express her kindness to others by issuing compliments, Melissa does so in a significant way.

The other day I was the recipient of one of Melissa’s bighearted gifts. She attended a presentation I gave at a business meeting. Not only did she absorb and remember the message I delivered, the next morning when I visited my Facebook page Melissa tagged me in a post.

Other friends might have sent me a quick private message telling me they enjoyed my presentation. Not Melissa. She wrote a lengthy paragraph of “shout out” praise to be viewed on social media. Her act of kindness was extremely generous and an example of how Melissa goes out of her way to lift up people making them feel special.

Generosity is the virtue of giving freely and abundantly. Sometimes we give time, in other instances money or material goods. People like Melissa find innovative ways to make the world a brighter place with carefully chosen words.

Khalil Gibran is quoted as saying, “Generosity is giving more than you can and taking less than your need.”

Wise words to live by and yet, conversely, we can all identify acquaintances, perhaps even family members, who either refrain, or rarely think to offer up an “atta girl” or extend encouragement. Often in my coaching practice I encounter individuals who talk about never receiving a compliment from a parent, sibling or their boss.

Denying a deserving person a word of praise is the opposite of being generous. In fact, withholding admiration on a consistent basis can even be a form of emotional punishment.

Not everyone is as highly skilled as Melissa in the art of a compliment. If you are holding back praising others because it feels awkward, or you fear doing it wrong, just practice. Start small.

Try telling your boss you like her dress (if you do). Next try focusing on characteristics and skills. Perhaps your coworker wrote a procedure streamlining a task and making your work-life easier. Applaud that action, verbally, in writing or at a staff meeting in front of the boss.

There is only one rule when passing out compliments. Be sincere. Coupling sincerity with generosity makes your compliment memorable.

Make a point of issuing gracious compliments this week. Gift others with words of praise. Remember it costs you nothing to be kind, but may mean everything to someone else.

How to Get Over a Major Hurt

Thorny experiences are challenging. Bruised memories of a taxing ordeal linger on like a bad dream even after grinding through the pain and discomfort.

This baggage not only casts a negative shadow, it takes up space.  Living with a past hurt is like having a dreary dungeon-like room in your home so crammed full of unsightly objects you cannot get in to open a window and let the sun shine in.

Ridding yourself of the urge to ruminate over painful experiences takes some extra effort. Think pageantry or radical action. Recently I read about a practice called a sorrow bonfire.  I never was much of a Campfire Girl but the idea appeals to me.There is power in fire. Take your painful experience and commit it to paper. Trek out to the beach or a campsite and create a bonfire.

Bring some friends along to witness the event. With sincere reflection toss your missive into the fire.  As you watch the document go up in flames, reflect on the fact it’s been reduced to ash. It can no longer throw a dark pallor over your life.

Sometimes you just need to beat the crap out of a huge hurt.

Years ago, when I felt my stress and frustration level mounting, I’d head out to a local game room. Upon entering I’d make a beeline for a game involving a soft mallet used to beat down pop-up gophers. Smacking those little guys back in their hole was not only a fun stress reliever; I also racked up multiple valuable redeemable points. My next move was to gift some little person with tickets that could be converted into cute stuffed animals.

The smiles I received in return were worth the all the money I poured into the gopher machine. I left feeling joyful on the drive home.

In her book, “Happiness as a Second Language,” author Valerie Alexander offers up another interesting action to rid yourself of a painful experience. Fill a piñata with fun little treats.

Next hang it up and hammer your paper-mache image with all your might as you commit to letting go of the bad memory forever. Then scoop up the delights and share them with others.

Ready to leave your pain behind and move on? Try the bonfire or piñata or any other method that ends in joy. Let go of the hurt. It’s time, right?