Keeping Our Heads Above Water (K.Blais)

We have been inundated by rain. Not only rain, but the consequences of water displacement, dams, and beaver habitats have wreaked havoc on many areas. Our rivers and creeks have overflowed with the sheer magnitude of the volumes of water they have struggled to hold. Our lakes, once beautiful places of serenity and peace nestled in God’s country, have become sources of gradual destruction and continuous elements of stress.

Bridges have been destroyed. Roads have washed away. Sink holes have erupted where the earth has seemed to attempt its escape from the intensity of the water’s force. Beloved cottages and breathtaking homes at the edges of our bodies of water have suffered. Belongings have been lost, and while only material, the loss of these possessions has still hurt us.

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(photo credits to RL)

We see a sense of devastation and destruction in so many physical ways, several locations around us hit harder than others, and yet how similar this flooding is to our emotional lives as well.

We often become inundated with problems in life. Those emotional wounds we know all too well, in addition to other stresses (both physical and emotional) laid upon us, can seem so much like the volumes of water poured upon our land. We feel the powerlessness of our inability to control what is happening to us.

We have been wronged and the sheer unfairness of being the person wronged can overwhelm us. We feel the injustice of being taken from and yet we are unable to fight back. We are abandoned, betrayed, and deceived. We struggle to obtain truth, only to be scorned by lies and untruths. What we have attempted to build up for ourselves, has only been torn down. More and more the complexities of life, even the every day things, saturate us.

Yet somehow, maybe even somewhat surprisingly, even through the downpours and the flooding, we do not crawl inside of ourselves to hide away. We do not permit the waves to simply continue to cascade over us, rendering us powerless. We do not allow ourselves to sink and drown.

Instead, we search for higher ground. We fill our sandbags and attempt to barricade the water from causing further destruction. We attempt to salvage what we have left. We lean on the support of our loving friends and family. We allow those who want to help, to help. We trust in our faith and in our beliefs. We face the issues assaulting us head on, doing what we can with what we have.

We take things one step at a time, one day at a time. We try to look for the positive and to acknowledge it, wherever the positive can be found. We remind ourselves that tomorrow is a new day in which the sun may shine and the water may slowly begin to evaporate. We keep our head above the water line, treading for as long as it takes because we do not give up. We will not let the waters win.

We remind ourselves to keep our faith forefront. Soon the water will recede back to its natural shoreline. Soon our feet will touch the sand again. Life will continue on. There may be some repairs ahead of us, but that is no different than how the Earth continues rotating on its axis, repairing itself as it goes.

And we trust that what was once beautiful, can be made beautiful again.

 

Choosing Your Battle (K.Blais)

battle (noun) – an extended contest, struggle, or controversy.

principle (noun) – a moral rule or belief that helps you know what is right and wrong and that influences your actions.      (www.merriam-webster.com)

Image result for battle of principles quotes

Throughout our experiences in life, we often find ourselves having to choose our battles.

There are always (and will always be) issues or concerns that will pop up in our daily lives which we must deal with in one way or another. We may choose to address the concern, to ignore the issue, or even to file it away to be dealt with on another day. We may choose to handle one battle over another, weighing out the pros and cons, perhaps even asking ourselves ‘how much does it really matter anyway?’

There are times though, when we are more successful at “choosing” our battles appropriately. This is often difficult for us as human beings because even though we attempt to stay rational and ‘logical’, our hearts (that is our emotions and feelings) become involved and it is hard to look past the “principle” of the battle itself.

We may also find it difficult to choose to ignore  or ‘let go’ of certain issues because we may feel that they blatantly go against our own morals, beliefs, and principles. We may also struggle with injustices in certain situations, mainly because we believe that we would never treat others in the way in which they are treating someone else.

Lying often begins at a young age. Lying about something small and trivial like who took the skipping rope isn’t a huge deal in the big scheme of things, but the act of lying is. If we are going to lie about taking a skipping rope when we are young, what won’t we lie about when we are older? The art of lying becomes a tangled web which we weave and one in which we often trap ourselves.

Disrespecting another person in words or in actions isn’t ever ok, but is it as bad as physically being aggressive towards someone else? Perhaps not, but it is still wrong. We may find it very difficult to let disrespect “go” because respect is something we all deserve to be given (because it is something which we all want in return).

Being trustworthy, honest, and kind is not everyone’s goal, believe it or not. There are some who do not care if there are people in this world who actually trust them nor may they care that they cannot be trusted, how honest or dishonest they are, or even if they show kindness to others or not. It is often unclear to us as to why individuals may act this way,  which makes it very difficult to understand these actions especially when our own principles do not allow us to support, condone, or even to adequately explain this behaviour.

Let’s try to remember:

We were put on this Earth to help one another. If we can’t help one another, then we certainly shouldn’t hurt one another.

Words and inaction can inflict as much damage as physically aggressive acts. Our words and behaviours are what shape our reputation for the most part so we should choose them wisely.

We will often have no idea what battles the person next to us may be fighting. Choose to be kind over being anything else.

The Golden Rule isn’t that hard to live by – if you wouldn’t want it done to you, don’t do it to someone else. It’s that simple.

Whatever our beliefs and principles are, our own struggles and trials will come and go. We will have to choose our battles and to fight them in our own way, without losing sight of our principles in the process.

The Nose On Your Face (K.Blais)

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My nine year-old asked me an interesting question the other day.

“Mom, did you know that your eyes always see your nose, it’s just that your brain ignores it?”

Why, no, in fact, I guess I didn’t.

I mean, I knew it. I just hadn’t really ever thought about it much. I don’t always look out of my eyes and see my nose I realized, but it was an interesting question which led to some further questions of my own.

Like our nose, how much do we see that our brain chooses to ignore?

It’s like that with people sometimes, isn’t it? You may hear things about someone, but you do the ‘right’ thing and choose to form your own opinion. This itself isn’t a bad thing. It is good sometimes not to take to heart everything that you hear. You may believe whole heartedly in an individual, you are adamant that he/she is a good person, sometimes even to the disagreement of that person him/herself,  you believe in that fact more than anything, only to find out that you just couldn’t see what everyone else saw all along. Your brain chose to ignore the nose on your face.

Sometimes we are blind to the things right in front of us, even the good things. We fail to see those who truly care about us and who are, and have been, there for us in good times and in bad times (because true friends are there in both). We may forget to appreciate those people and to give them the time and respect which they deserve. (Hint: They are usually the ones who don’t demand these things from us; they are standing back silently cheering for us from the sidelines.) We may also neglect to see what in our life is positive and beneficial for our well-being. We may choose, over and over again, to push aside the things which should be priorities. Again, our brain chooses to ignore the nose on our face.

While it is extremely important not to “cut off your nose to spite your face”, (which itself could be a whole different post), we must remember that even though we don’t always acknowledge its presence, our nose is a vital part of us. While it is good to ignore it sometimes, sometimes it is also good to stare at your nose and acknowledge the demanding presence that it is on your face as well.

Fortunately, and unfortunately, we are given daily reminders of how important our nose is. We are sadly and tragically aware of how precious life is and how important it is to hold our loved ones close when we learn of a friend losing a beloved child. We are reminded of how valuable our own health is when we ourselves become sick, or a loved one does, and we need to seek out medical care. We are reminded of the importance of respecting, valuing, and cherishing our friends and family members, especially when their absence leaves a noticeable void in our lives. We may begin to miss things which once were very important in our lives, without even realizing that we had begun to ignore their importance and significance.

Perhaps we can all think of the nose question as a bit of a reality check.

What do your eyes see?

(image used courtesy of All-free-download.com)

words and dreams (K.Blais)

I had a dream the other night about someone really important to me. In waking, I was overcome with feeling melancholy and “saddish” (if that makes sense). While dreaming I was trying to convey how much I truly cared for this person, but my words seemed to have little effect. The individual in my dream seemed to be unfazed by my words which seemed so clear to me, and, it was indeed saddening. I woke up almost in tears and I carried that feeling of sadness with me throughout the entire day. 

I’ve been dreaming a lot lately, vivid and clear dreams that often seem so real I could retell them as if I have actually lived them in real life. I’ve also noticed that my dreams of late have reflected my real life thoughts and feelings, even concerns which have boggled about in my mind throughout the day. 

I have a number of friends whom I care about very much that are going through difficult times with various issues in their lives. My heart goes out to them and my thoughts and prayers are always with them, but I also think how important it is to hug them when they need it and to tell them how I feel, and not just in my dreams. 

In real life, there are times when I worry that the people I care about don’t know how deeply I do care for them. While I always strive to use words full of meaning and to choose them wisely, I wonder sometimes if the words we say have enough value to make people truly believe them. Yes, actions do speak louder than words, but, as I’ve said before, words can be extremely important too. They are, afterall, one of our main forms of communicating with one another. 

Have words lost meaning? Have we used, reused, and overused them so much that others cannot find their intended value sincere? 

We are now submersed in the season of sharing peace, love, and joy. How do you intend to spread those things? Will you share more of yourself with others? Will you choose words that adequately and genuinely express how you feel about those in your life? Will you be more aware of the words you choose to use, how their meanings are interpreted, and how their interpretations might differ from your intentions? 

Will you speak and stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves, even if it means that you are one voice and are standing alone? 

This Christmas, and there beyond, will you choose your words to tell others how much you appreciate and love them? Will you make sure that your words have the meaning and value that you intend for them? 

Just A Different Shade Of Green (K.Blais)

Recently, in conversation with a dear friend, the phrase “The grass is always greener (on the other side of the fence)” came up. My friend had heard an interesting spin on the usual phrase and she added, “It’s just a different shade of green” and I thought, ‘Oh, how true that is!’

(image courtesy of shutterstock.com)

How many times in each of our lives have we wondered, considered, even believed that the grass may be greener on the other ‘side’ of our current situation? In the workplace or our employment situations, we may believe that things would be better if only we had a different job, position, or responsibilities. In our relationships, we may wonder if we would be better suited with someone else or maybe even alone. In our personal reflections, we may feel that if we looked differently, acted differently, or even associated with different people that our lives would be happier; the proverbial grass would be greener, thereby making our lives ‘better’.

Not to burst anyone’s bubble or to rain on any parades, but I don’t think the grass is ever really greener over “there”. I agree whole-heartedly that the grass may look and appear alluring and may be a different shade of green just like my friend stated, but it is still grass.

We will not be able to change the things that need to be changed in our selves and in our current situations if we are always looking for the quick fix of wanting what’s over the fence. We need to mow our own lawns before we want to be on someone else’s. We need to clear off our own doorsteps before we wish we were on the steps of a different house. We need to break our own cycles of laziness or even craziness before we can think that simply being somewhere (emotionally or physically) different is going to change us.

Issues we have at work, in our relationships, or with ourselves will remain constant no matter what side of the fence we are on because they are usually problematic elements deep within ourselves, not in our environment. If we cannot recognize those things as the root of what is ‘wrong’, then they will continue to follow us despite which fences or grass we search out. Remember: The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. This applies to grass gleaning as well.

Now, change can be good, things that are broke do need to be fixed, and sometimes fences can’t be mended or bridges unburned. BUT – if we want greener grass simply because it seems to look better, promises to be more fun, or appears to be the easy way out, then we are searching in vain. Many times things appear better than they are; our perspective or perception may be one way, when reality is completely another. Remember also: The grass is always greener over the septic tank.

In our search for greener grass, we may even be allowing envy or greed to dictate our feelings and enabling our beliefs that we are not and do not have enough. We may have a fear of commitment, of boredom, or even a fear of losing our zest for life. We may feel inferior when others succeed or achieve more than what we do. Whichever is the case, the idea that there will be something over the fence that will allow us to have all that we want, crave, desire, and value and that it will happen on our terms, is a fantasy that many of us fall victim to.

When we constantly search for greener grass we forget that the key to happiness is to make the most of what we have. When we are constantly yearning for what is on the other side of the fence, we lose confidence in ourselves and have a hard time remembering that the focus should be on our own lives and making the best of them. We may even lose hope that our lives can be wonderful and fulfilling just as they are because we are so caught up in wanting the seemingly wonderfulness of the grass that is just out of our reach.

We can’t have the grass over the fence. We can only have our own. Even if we test out the terrain on the other side, that grass becomes ours anyway and will eventually lose its appeal. There will always be another fence with greener grass that we will continue to want. We may even start to desire the grass back over on the original side of the fence where we came from as well.

We can only have our grass and the sooner we accept that as a fact, the sooner we can work on improving and growing our own. The grass is always greenest where it is watered. Let’s work on ‘tending to the grass wherever we are’. After all, grass is still grass, whatever shade of green it might end up being.

Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys – Trust Me (K.Blais)

I can’t tell you how many times these past couple of weeks that I have had to shake my head, sometimes in amazement, sometimes in disbelief, and even sometimes in disgust.

People, in general, never cease to baffle me.

(image courtesy of shutterstock.com)

My favourite saying lately has, (somewhat ironically), come from a Polish Proverb: “Not my circus. Not my monkeys.” I have repeated this often in my many moments of amazement, disbelief, bafflement, and disgust as I felt myself unwillingly drawn into, or at least forced to watch, the drama and performances of others.

It’s not always that easy though, is it? We may desperately try to not let the misdeeds and misbehaviours of others affect our own circus and performances, but yet, sometimes, we find ourselves trying to cage those foolish monkeys, even if they aren’t ours.

I know I have said it before, but it still surprises me when individuals behave in a certain way and then are shocked when they must reap the consequences of their actions. It’s not rocket science or brain surgery: if you act like a jerk, people are going to avoid being around you. If you disrespect others, then people will begin to dislike you. It may have absolutely nothing to do with your heritage, your job, or your social status – if you are an ass you will find that there are very few people who will respect an ass. Trust me.

It also continues to surprise me that both the young and the old still (believe that they can?) get away with bullying. Have we not already seen too many of our loved ones suffer depression and even lose them to suicide because of the way that they have been treated by others? Have we not preached and cried and lamented over the fact that bullying must NOT be tolerated in ANY place at ANY time? But yet we still see it occurring. I have witnessed adults bullying adults and the bullying of children by other children and even by adults as well. There is something desperately wrong in our society today if we feel that it is ok to treat anyone poorly. A question I ask my students, my own children, and yes, even some adults: Would you want to be treated this way? If not, then don’t treat anyone else that way either (the Golden Rule philosophy). Bullying should NOT be tolerated and children should be taught at a very early age that unkindness is NOT ok. If no one tells them now, no one will be able to tell them as adults later. Trust me.

I’m not quite sure why I am repeatedly shocked when I see people bringing drama on themselves unnecessarily. Yes, we should all have opinions and we have a right to express those opinions, but why look for trouble when you don’t need to? Everyone deserves to have an opinion, but unless that opinion is shared tactfully, some may find themselves a target when others feel strongly in the opposite way. Disagreements do erupt, friendships and relationships are damaged, and all for what? It’s true, sometimes people take things too personally and feel that they are being “called out” in social media, when, in reality perhaps they are not. It boils down, once again, to treating others the way we would want to be treated ourselves; an issue which reminds me of another of my favourite sayings – “Be kind. And if you can’t be kind, be quiet”. It’s a much more pleasant way to live. Trust me.

I often find myself bewildered at the things which people say. Personally speaking, I don’t profess to know everything, but I am confident in my knowledge of the things which I do know. That doesn’t mean that I feel the need to argue or to find opportunities to prove others wrong. I don’t need to be “right” to feel better about myself or to prove that I ‘know’ more than someone else (which is often based only on one’s own opinion and not on any solid facts). I like to laugh and joke around and I do like to tease good-naturedly, but (hopefully) never to the point where I have made someone feel badly about themselves. I believe in being honest and upfront with others, but I believe in being kind more. There is always a way to be honest with someone and, at the same time, to avoid making them feel inferior. There are ways to be intelligent, funny, and honest and still be kind. People’s feelings should matter more than being right, honest, or funny because hurting someone else unnecessarily is much worse than being wrong, fibbing, or ‘un-funny’. Trust me.

I love mankind, but I will admit that ‘people’ can get under my skin on occasion. I suppose these experiences strengthen my character and teach me to love and care for others even when it is undesirable to do so. I can’t help but wonder: if everyone was the ring master of their own circus, tamed their own monkeys, and thought out their own performances a little more carefully, would the show not run a little more smoothly and the world of the big tent become a happier place? Trust me, I think it would.