The Big Difference (K.Blais)

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Awful things happen to us or to the people we love and care about. Terrible things occur continuously in our daily lives. We make decisions which end up being disastrous, although they may have seemed like the best option at the time, and in other cases choices are made for us without our having any say in them at all. Sometimes we hold the power in the decision-making process, and other times we are completely powerless.

Through it all though we strive to stand up and not to sink. We do our best not to let the floods drown us or to pull us down into the depths of despair, even though they may threaten to.

It isn’t always easy. And it doesn’t always work for all of us.

It is essential to remind ourselves that eventually the waters will recede. It’s tricky to remember that sometimes though and, by no means, do we ever intend to make light of the terrible things that happen, but it remains extremely important to attempt to search for the positive amidst the negative.

Out of every horrendous situation is there always a positive to be found? Depending on individual perspectives the answers may vary: maybe, maybe not… and maybe not right away. But, if we search hard enough there is always a bit of light, a small glimmer of hope, a tiny piece of dry land that we can place our feet on, even if it’s just a tiptoe to start. Maybe sometimes the negative just requires a different perspective.

A very close person to me, my dear friend Tracy, has struggled with some health issues over the past couple of years. She one day found herself with mobility issues, needed surgery to repair her knee injury, had a health scare with a dangerous item on the job site, and was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after that (all issues completely unrelated to one another). Add to that other issues which she has dealt with throughout her life, the scope of her tribulations was immense. To be perfectly honest, her world was bleak and dark and at some very low points. With so many negatives piling up on her, there were days when getting out of bed was too much for her to think about.

The floods threatened to close in on her on more than one occasion, but through it all she always searched for that tiny aspect of hope, that glimmer of light, that small piece of land on which she could attempt to stand. Her faith led her to the belief that her cancer was a blessing because having gone through what she had, she was able to be a support system to others battling with cancer. Her journey led her to new friendships which she may have otherwise not have made. Her struggles allowed her to realize the love that so many people had for her. The darkness has allowed her to appreciate the light all that much more. All the negatives that have happened to her have led to so many more positives in her life because she chose to see past them.

Some of us battle with physical or mental health issues, or have loved ones which are battling, which have affected our (and their) quality of life. Frustration, powerlessness, and a feeling of incompetency may overwhelm us. It can be hard to find the positive when we feel so awful. Sometimes we have to realize the negative for what it is. Sometimes we need to surf the waves when we cannot stop them.

Financially or materially we may be experiencing damage or loss. There may be days when our situation seems so bleak that there seems to be no place to go. It is hard to find the positive when the negatives are reflected in everything we have, even our bank accounts.

We may have lost a loved one or loved ones. We all know someone who has experienced the immense grief of losing a person very close to them. It’s extremely hard to see the positive in death and loss, especially when we are in mourning. Sometimes though death can bring us closer to those who remain in our lives. Sometimes death brings a new appreciation for all that we had and all that we have shared with that person, and it may encourage us to cherish and hold dear the time we have with the loved ones left with us. A belief that we will be reunited with our loved one one day can offer peace. Sometimes death can lead us back to life: to living each moment to the fullest and with a deeper appreciation, and may even lead us to taking nothing, even the little things, for granted.

Perhaps relationships have dissolved, friendships and partners have been lost, and life as we knew it has become an illusion. It is difficult to see the negative when everything around us in our personal life seems in a disarray. Sometimes it is difficult to understand how things can fall apart so easily… and perhaps we neglect to see that sometimes things need to fall apart so better things can come together.

Being positive does not mean to ignore the negative. There is no need to put blinders on and pretend that the negative does not exist. Being positive, and living a life which chooses to focus on the positive, can simply mean to live by overcoming the negative. That’s the big difference.

I Won’t Be Sending A Boat (K.Blais)

It has been a very interesting week, to say the least. Knowing I needed a pick me up, a special friend sent me this:

(image courtesy of Bing images)

It spoke volumes to me at the time. I had had a series of negative things happen to me, I felt a little out of control of my own world, and I felt like everything I came into contact with was turning snaky. One particular incident was the icing on the cake for me – being told, in so many words, that no matter how hard I had tried to be a good friend in the past my efforts were still in vain. I would be blamed for falling short and yet another one of my apparent shortcomings would be pointed out.

Now don’t go feeling sorry for me – please don’t. I am a girl with big shoulders and, trust me I have heard and dealt with worse. This time, however, the timing was bad, (or good depending on how you look at it.) You see, I realized that I didn’t need anyone in my life that would make me feel like a failure or like a bad friend, and, practicing my own preaching (finally), I decided it was time to let go.

It was time to let go of holding on to something which would never be the same again. It was time to realize that we all make our own decisions in life and there will either be people who will support us in those decisions or people who won’t. More specifically, we may have people in our lives that just can’t support us. They can’t stand by and watch us make decisions which we know aren’t in their best interests. They can’t be a part of a world which will eventually destroy us. So sometimes, as those people, we just need to let go.

Later in the day, my supportive friend sent me another quote, one which I could relate so much to that I eventually shared it on social media.

(image courtesy of Bing images)

It didn’t matter that I was considered an inadequate friend to someone else, what mattered was that I had other people who cared about me enough to make me smile again: Friends who told me that instead of feeling defeated that I should feel “triumphant” because of the life I have and the life I will continue to have regardless of this incident, friends who can tell exactly how I am feeling by how I respond to their texts and won’t believe me when I say “I’m fine” when really I’m not, and friends who know exactly what to say when the days are dark and others seem determined to break me down.

I have to say that sometimes we need those negative people in our lives too because they give us the reality check we may need. We might realize that while we yearn for the way a friendship was in the past we realize through their actions that it most likely will never be the same again and that it may be for the best. We might realize that it is time to move on and to focus our energy on those who value who we are and who appreciate the caring nature we have. We may need to remove ourselves as the doormat of the lives of the negative and focus on helping those who want to be helped. We may need to spend our time being a part of someone’s life who actually wants us in it.

I’ve thought long and hard over the week and I’ve realized that while I have reconstructed this particular bridge so many times, there is no lumber left to build a new one. This time the bridge has burnt and there will be no rebuilding it.

I have also realized another thing:

I won’t be sending a boat.

What Matters Most (K.Blais)

I borrowed the title for my blog post this week from a book which I recently picked up off my bookshelf which I had received a long time ago as a gift. Written by Luanne Rice, it’s a book aptly named after its title. Check it out on goodreads here.

The book and its title got me thinking about what matters most in our own lives and what priorities we put first. There are always a million things to do: things that have to be done and things that we want to do. We seldom find enough time to do everything, let alone the stuff that is most important to us.

Lately, in our household, we have been talking a lot about priorities and completing the numerous things that need to be done in order of their importance as opposed to the order in which we might feel like doing them. It’s not always easy to do that. Sometimes you just don’t feel like doing yard work when you’d rather be writing, or fixing the car when you’d rather be tinkering on your four wheeler, or better yet, driving it. Sometimes being a “grown-up” is harder than we think. Sometimes what matters most is doing what is best for everyone, not just ourselves.

What matters most aren’t always the physical things that need to be done. Sometimes what matters most are the little things: taking a moment to read your daughter a book even though you have many other things to do, taking the time to talk to your son about his day because he wants to chat, answering the phone, even when you’re busy, and talking to a friend who needs a listening ear. Sometimes what matters most are the smallest things that make the biggest differences.

There are times when what matters most are the things that you know you need to do in order to feel better about yourself and your own well-being. At times this can take the form of placing more of a focus on your health and fitness levels. It may be taking the time to make sure that you get your exercise in for the day. It can mean planning healthy meals and snack options so that you can stay on track with your weight loss goals. It could mean taking an extra few moments to find some inner peace through prayer or meditation before you begin or as you end a hectic day. What matters most may be doing something that brings you a little bit of happiness in whatever way possible.

The days where it feels like everything and everyone in the world is against you are the times when it is most important to remember what matters most. On these days, I personally find that a refocus on my 3 F’s helps: Faith, Family, and Friends. And, yes, sometimes this is easier said than done. Sometimes we get so consumed with the worries and frets of daily life that we forget to reach out to those who can help us through the tough times. When we do remember to reach out, then there are times when we forget to thank those people for being such a blessing to us. There are days when we find ourselves so involved with things and issues that shouldn’t matter, that we forget how important the ones are that do matter!

What matters most is different for each and every one of us, and sometimes a refocus on our priorities can determine the difference between what matters most for the moment and what matters most for long term gain. It can be a daily struggle to try to remember to put what matters most first and not get bogged down in the other things that often consume our time and our lives. When this inevitably occurs, it is important to remember to SIMPLIFY, to be Living Life, and to cherish the people that are most important and show our appreciation to them. What matters most is that we realize, acknowledge, and take the time to count our blessings.

What matters most to you?

(photo courtesy of pennyturko.com)

(Dear Readers, Thank you for being an important part of what matters most to me! J Love, ~ K ~ )

Friendship: A Song Of The Heart (K. Blais)

“A friend loves at all times.” Proverbs 17:17

‘Friendship’ as a blog topic is one that I’ve been mulling over for some time now. It is a subject which I have touched on and alluded to, but never really concentrated solely on in a post before. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write about it, I just hadn’t yet found the right inspiration, I suppose. Today as I considered it once again, I found this quote and it immediately stuck with me: A true friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words (Anonymous). I like the idea of friendship being a song and finding a place in the heart.

Friends come in all variances and really, a friend is a friend. I don’t really think that there are better or worse types of friends. A friend is really a gift from God. That being said, I’ve come to think that there are certain categories of friends that many might have in their lives. I hesitate in classifying or generalizing too much because many of us will fit into more than one of the “friend” categories that I’ve listed, but I’m willing to share my thoughts:

“Forever Friends” – these are the ones that you’ve known the longest and have been friends with, literally, forever. Even though your lives, habits, and preferences change, these friends are friends that you hang on to. Maybe it’s because they remind you of many happy memories of the past, or maybe it’s that they know too much for you to ever not be their friend! In any case, forever friends are the meat that sticks to your ribs. These are the ones that you can pick up with exactly where you left off, even if it’s months or years later. Three hour conversations over coffee, poutine, and pie or hanging out talking in a backyard; these are the friends that even when life changes, they never change in your heart.

“Kindred Spirits” – these are the friends that you make an immediate connection with, whether you’ve known them for years or you’ve just really met. Kindred spirits are the friends who share your opinions, your values, and your interests. They may even look at things the same way you do, whether it be how to solve a problem or strategies for dealing with a difficult person or situation. Kindred spirits view life from a similar lens as you, whether it is with rose-coloured glasses or a magnifying glass. Kindred spirits also help you figure out whether “it is what it is” or whether “it is what I am going to make it to be”.

“Live-Life-In-The-Moment Friends” – this category of friends are the ones you can call up when you are craving fun and adventure. They usually have something on-the-go, or are up for doing anything. You may not share your deep, dark secrets with the live-life-in-the-moment friends, but you do enjoy their loyalty, company, and fun-loving attitude towards life. These friends remind you that life is about living, not just getting by.

“Friends as Family, Family as Friends” – these friends are the ones who feel like family, whether they are in actuality or not, and includes family who are your friends as well. They are the friends that you refer to as “your sister from another mister” or “your brother from another mother”, or your “friend first, relative second”. With these friends a strong, blood-like bond is formed, in that you support, defend, and are ‘there for’ them as if they really were your blood relatives. These friends may also be church family members, or friends who share your faith and beliefs. They can, of course, include forever friends and kindred spirits as well. I like to think that these friends fill a void in your life where your family is not able to and are also family who you are blessed to also call friends.

“The Best of Friends” – friends like these are gems to find. Friends who become your best friends are the ones who accept you without question. These friends are the keepers of the deep and dark moments of your life, but NEVER remind you of them. They are the ones you call, text, or email at any moment to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. They laugh with you, cry with you, and walk with you along the road of life. Best friends cheer for you, even when they know you’re going to lose, constructively criticize and challenge you when you need feedback, and lovingly redirect when you are going astray. The best of friends are ones that look out for your well-being, as well as their own, and protect and defend your family as theirs. These friends don’t judge you when you fail or fall short of your own goals and forget your song, instead they offer you a hand to help you up and get you back on your feet again. Those who are the best of friends hold your hand when you are weak and offer strength to support you in the best and worst of times. (The best of friends can also be people who also fit into all the categories above as well.)

I’ve realized that while there are several different categories of friends, there is a common thread amongst all types of friendships. We were put on this Earth together to help, support, and love one another. We have truly given gifts from God – friends to help us along life’s way. True, not all friendships will be healthy and good for us all of the time. We have also been given discerning minds and strong judgment skills to realize when a friendship needs to be loosened or released.

Friendship is a two-way street: it takes two willing individuals to put forth effort and time to equally be a friend to one another. True friendship is also about honesty and trust; without those two key elements a friendship is shaky at best. Friendship should never be about convenience or taking advantage. Friendship should be considered a revered responsibility, not an opportunity. Friendship is also about acceptance – accepting and loving someone as a friend, flaws and all. Being a friend should always be about mutual respect, equitable trust, and appreciative love.

A final thought: A strong friendship doesn’t need daily conversation; it doesn’t always need togetherness. As long as the friendship lives in the heart, true friends will never be apart. (Anonymous) Some days we may forget the song in our heart, or maybe there are days when we don’t even want to remember it, a true friend will keep singing it until, eventually, we start to hum along.

(Dear Readers, I can honestly say that I truly value each and every friendship in my life, but I will admit that some days I fall short in showing it. I know that I am not always the “perfect friend”. I get caught up in my own life, my own worries, and my own “issues” so to speak, that I sometimes forget to check in with others, to reach out to others, and to let people in to help and be helped. I think I have a really good idea of what a true friend is, but I am in no way claiming that I am that model of excellence, in all places, at all times. Thank you for accepting me without judgment and for your friendship, love, and support! Yours, ~ K ~)