Eyes Wide Open (K.Blais)

I turned 39 over the Christmas break. It wasn’t a huge monumental occasion or anything like that, but it did give me a reason to pause for a moment and think about life so far. I’ve learned a lot in my 39 years.  Probably though, I believe that I have learned more in the last 12 than in the previous 27. 

As a child, teenager, and even young adult I believe that I, in some ways, coasted through life a bit oblivious, unaware, and sometimes with my eyes closed. I had a loving and innocent childhood. I led a somewhat sheltered life, but I don’t see anything wrong with being sheltered as a child. As a teen and young adult I attended a great university, obtained three degrees with honours, and got a job in a fulfilling career field. I got married and began a comfortable life with my husband and friend. 

I grew up believing that people are generally good and want to help others. The times in my life where this was proven completely inaccurate (at least by some) were shocking and devastating to me. Betrayals, lies, injustices, and the like shook me to my core in those early days of my ‘awakening’. I quickly came to realize that not all people are good and not all people want to help others. For some this may have been common knowledge, but for me it was as if my eyes were opened wider than they had ever been. 

Twelve years ago, just about the time when I had my son and started a family, I began to realize that not everyone wants what’s best for others. Many want what’s best for them. This was a foreign concept to me in certain ways. I still struggle with understanding it to some degree as I grew up believing that if we want what’s best for everyone then what’s best for us will naturally fall into place. 

Sometimes your childhood beliefs are the hardest ones to adjust. 

In all actuality I haven’t changed that thinking entirely. I still believe that when everyone benefits we all win. I still believe that most people are good and that most people want what’s best for us, at least in my world (I hope) they do. 

But, when we encounter those individuals who are out for number one only, who take and take and take and seldom give back, who chastise and criticize us for their own shortcomings, and who look to hurt rather than to help then maybe it’s time to clean house, to take out the trash, and to burn the bridge. 

I believe in giving everyone a fair chance, but I also believe that there are times when we need to rely on our own common sense and intuition. There are times when we need to use our God-given intelligence and realize when enough is enough. There are times when we need to see those who really love us and those who only love what we do for them.

Unfortunately, it is often in our time of need, when we are at our lowest points, when we look to those individuals that we thought were our closest allies and friends, that we are brought back to reality. Sometimes we are disappointed, perhaps even shocked, by their inability to be there for us. These are the times when we need to have our eyes wide open to the individuals whom we choose to allow (and who we choose to allow to remain) in our lives. We need to ask ourselves whether the people who take the most time, energy, and love from us will actually give the same in return. 

The rest of our lives lie stretched out in front of us like an open road, whether we are 39, 59, or 79. At any age, at any stage, and in any situation maybe it’s time to pause and reflect on what we see in our lives at this point and if who we have in our lives is a positive reflection of who we are and what we hope to achieve. If we have uncertainties about those things and people maybe it’s time to ask questions and to see what the responses are. We may not always like the answers, but the questions will always be worth asking. 

Maybe it’s better to have our eyes wide open sooner, rather than later. 

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Looking Back: What Is This Thing We Call Love? (K.Blais)

Revisiting an old favourite. This post was published a couple of years ago on Valentine’s Day.

(photo courtesy of wikipedia.org)

A blog post on Valentine’s Day – how can I not write about love?

First off, where exactly did the tradition of Valentine’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Valentine, come from? Let me tell you a story — please forgive me if all of its details are not exact. It may have been paraphrased at the writer’s discretion. 😉

There once was a priest by the name of Valentinus (Valentine) who lived in Rome about 250 years after Jesus was born in Bethlehem. At that time, Claudius the Cruel was the Emperor of Rome. St. Valentine, the priest, didn’t like Claudius and many people felt the same way. Claudius believed that Rome should have a big army which he wanted men to volunteer to join. Many men did not want to leave their families, wives, and girlfriends to go off and fight wars and so limited numbers volunteered for the Roman war.

Of course, having so few men join his army made Emperor Claudius very angry. He developed this crazy idea that if men were not married then they would be more willing to join his army. Emperor Claudius declared that there would be no more marriages. St. Valentine, along with others, felt that this was ridiculous and indeed cruel. One of Valentine’s duties as a priest was to marry people – and he kept doing it. Even after Emperor Claudius passed the law forbidding marriage, Valentine continued performing marriage ceremonies secretly.

One night, during one of these secret ceremonies, footsteps were heard at Valentine’s door. The couple he was marrying escaped, but Valentine was caught. He was thrown into jail. His punishment would be death.

Many young people visited Valentine while he was imprisoned. Flowers and notes were thrown up to his window. His supporters wanted him to know that they too believed in love. One of the young people, the daughter of the prison guard, was allowed to visit Valentine in his cell. The two would talk for hours. The prison guard’s daughter believed that Valentine had done the right thing by continuing to perform marriage ceremonies. She supported her friend.

On the day that Valentine was to be sentenced to death, he left the prison guard’s daughter a note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty. The note was signed, ‘From your Valentine’.

It was that little note, written on the day of Valentine’s death, February 14th, 269 A.D., that started the custom of exchanging love notes on Valentine’s Day. Now every year on this day people think of love and friendship. If they know Valentine’s story, they also remember how Claudius tried to stand in the way of love, and how Valentine proved that love cannot be beaten.

So, what is love? Oh yes, I know what the dictionary says, but really, what IS love?

Well first, maybe let’s talk about what love is NOT.

Love is NOT a fluffy sort of thing nor is it a word which should be lightly or randomly used. When we say it, we need to mean it! Love is a feeling of very deep affection. Love is more than just romantic love. (Let’s briefly point out that love is separate from lust – although the two are often mistaken.)

Love is NOT control. Loving someone does not mean that you use your love to control that person’s behaviours, emotions, or even reactions to situations or events. Love will rein in behaviours and actions that may cause the loved one harm or that are made under duress or without clarity of thought, provided that the reining in is, itself, done lovingly.

Love is NOT vengeful nor is it vindictive. Love cannot be about keeping score. It must be about forgiveness and moving forward.

Love is NOT jealous, or hurtful. Love must not be about ownership or infliction of pain, emotional or otherwise. Love is not about hurt, but about preventing hurt. Love is about healing and helping to take away pain when hurt occurs.

Love IS a true and deep emotion, one that is long lasting. When I think of my children and my loved ones, I think of love that never ends. No matter what happens, I know that I will love those people forever.

Love IS respectful and supportive. Love is also generous with that respect and support. Love will sacrifice for loved ones. There is no truer, deeper love than “agape” love: to love like Jesus, with a desire for nothing but the best for others.

Love IS kind and compassionate. Love helps when needed and shows compassion on those who are weak, sad, or suffering.

Love IS loyal. It stands up for truth. Love will take a stand against injustice, hatred, and prejudice. It will speak up and stand up for others, even if it is standing alone.

Today, on Valentine’s Day, let’s think about love in its purest and best forms – the love for family and very dear friends, the love for others, even strangers, in order to show them kindness and compassion, and the love for values and beliefs and standing up for truth.

Let’s focus on the innocence of children and love. Children love unconditionally – let’s take our example from them. Let’s work to keep their minds fresh and innocent, untainted by societal integrations of equating love with lust and sex. Let’s be strong role models in regards to love that comes from the heart.

Let’s remember that love is the greatest gift anyone can give. The commercialism of Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to dictate that we forget about the true demonstrations of love: doing kind things for others, giving a kiss and a hug, making a homemade card and / or a meal for someone, going out of our way for someone else, calling, emailing, or texting someone just to say we are thinking of them. Please note: these demonstrations of love can happen EACH and EVERY day of the year, not just on Valentine’s Day!

Let’s aim to center our thoughts on the real idea behind Valentine’s Day: to love one another just as we, ourselves, were created in love.

(photo courtesy of photobucket.com)

(Dear Readers, Your reads, comments, likes, and shares are messages of love to me! Thank you for your support, always! Please take a moment to like our Facebook page, Writing For The Love of It, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @kim_blais. With great affection, ~ K ~)

Tolerance, Intolerance, and What Happens In Between (K.Blais)

My beloved sister-in-law once told me that I am the most patient, tolerant person that she knows. While there are many days where I am sure some would beg to differ (including myself), I do admit to being accepting and tolerant of most people and situations. It does, however, depend on the day and the situation and maybe even my own mood. All of those things act as the gauge to my reactions to different things. And certainly, some days in themselves are more tolerable than others. Generally, though, I guess in self-reflection, I try to make an honest effort to give others the benefit of the doubt, to think before I speak (or type!), and to be patient and tolerable of others. Not everyone has the same beliefs, values, and opinions that I have and I try to respect that difference. I try to remember that everyone has their own battles which they are fighting and I don’t walk in anyone else’s shoes but my own. I try to remember those things – but I often fall short as well. Some days are better than others in many ways.

However, I will admit that there are also many things to which I am intolerable as well – namely bullying, insults, cruelty, and anything that hurts my children, my family, or my friends. Those are things which I don’t believe that anyone should stand for. Speaking for others who cannot speak for themselves, caring about others and wanting what’s best for them, being happy for and being generous with our words of support for others are all things which ADD to the richness and quality of our lives. Nothing is lost in giving praise; all the more is gained.

So, what happens in between tolerance and intolerance? How does the move between these two occur?

I’d have to say that the “in between” is usually when we finally realize that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. We can be tolerant of certain things only for so long before they start to wear us down. Yes, we should forgive seventy times seven and turn the other cheek, but we have also been blessed with thinking minds that direct us into making decisions about what is just and right.

(photo courtesy of nocompulsion.com)

The following are some issues which often lead us from tolerating to being intolerant:

Being taken for granted or taken advantage of

I think we have all been there. We have all had someone or some “ones” in our life who have taken us for granted or even taken advantage of us. The “taking” may occur once or twice, maybe even more than that. We may have become a doormat for others to walk on or over, but there usually comes a point when we tire of others wiping their feet on us. We become intolerant of their inability to say thank you, to appreciate, and to reciprocate without wanting something in return. We decide to speak up for ourselves and make it known that this type of behavior will no longer be tolerated. Sometimes this speaking up is respected and we receive better treatment, and sometimes it is met with confrontation and conflict.

Being the target of someone else’s jealousy and envy

Jealousy can rear its ugly head and turn otherwise pleasant people into something else. Words, comments, even conversations spoken behind our backs can lead us to feeling hurt and betrayed. Those words also say something about the person or people speaking them. It’s easy to fall into the trap, I will completely agree. AND I will also admit that I am not without fault here as well. Too often I am tempted into questioning how others can “fall into a pile of you-know-what and still come out smelling like a rose”. It’s hard, too, when things don’t come as easily for us as they seem to for others. Where intolerance comes in is when these jealous episodes continue to occur even when we’ve made an effort to put an end to them. We start to become intolerant of others who cannot seem to be a positive aspect of our lives.

Being a misused, abused, or betrayed

Sometimes we grow used to being treated a certain way by others that we do not recognize that the behavior has become abusive, either emotionally or physically. We tolerate the behavior because it is “normal” to us. The truth is that abuse in any form does not need to be tolerated. Betrayal can also be devastating and can rock our world, not necessarily in a positive way. Sometimes it can take a long time to fully forgive and heal from this type of hurt. And, yes, sometimes, we may even decide that the betrayal is too great, or there have been too many untruths to allow trust to grow again. Sometimes we even become intolerant of friendships which have grown one-sided and represent too much negativity in our lives.

The move from tolerance to intolerance is not always a conscious choice. It doesn’t usually happen that we wake up one morning and decide that we will not tolerate certain things or behaviors any longer. Intolerance usually comes after much hurt, pain, and even heartache. We can even flip back and forth from intolerance to tolerance with certain issues over the course of days, months, or years. Tolerance, intolerance, and what happens in between usually boils down to one thing – a realization and clarity of the awareness that enough is finally enough.

(Dear Readers, Thank you so much for your continued support. Don’t miss a single post by subscribing to Writing For The Love Of It by email. Don’t forget to like our Facebook page and follow me on Twitter @kim_blais. Love, ~ K ~)