What Doesn’t Kill Us…

…makes us stronger.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this aphorism.  There is no question it can seem discounting of the real difficulties we face in life and trivialize them with a touch of condescension; but, there is in fact powerful truth integrated into this familiar saying.

There is a universal law, the Law of Opposition, which says two things: “That which we oppose, we strengthen, and whatever is opposing us can also strengthen us” (Halaway, 2017, p. 12).  Universal laws are unchangeable and work whether we know about them or not. Knowing about them allows to act from a place of power rather than to be acted upon.

The Law of Opposition resonates as truth to me, because my life experiences have undeniably proven it time and again. I have learned that when I oppose something or resist it, I am indeed left drained. It is truth that when we put our energy into opposing something, it actually strengthens the very thing we are opposing and weakens us. Now, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stand up against things that are damaging or toxic, but when we push against them, we are actually not going to get the results we are hoping for. It is more about standing in our own truth and strength, without giving all of our energy to opposition or resistance. Energy is expended through our focus, our time, and our effort. We are far better served by focusing our energy on how we can change, let go, and grow in a way to bring light into dark places. The way we bring light into dark places is by focusing our efforts on expanding the light, not by opposing the dark.

The second part of the Law of Opposition has been the most profound for me over the past few years.  As I experienced difficult things on my life-journey, people and experiences that felt like they were doing everything in their power to destroy me—oppose me and my growth—I felt weak and hopeless on more than one occasion. I compare this to the times at the gym when I’m increasing weights during my lifting practice. When I lift the heavier weights I feel weak, and thoughts of, “you can’t do this,” get louder in my mind. Ironically though, this is where and how I’m gaining my strength. It is indeed true that those things that are opposing us can be the very things that help strengthen us…if we choose. In our book, Victim to Victor, one particular photograph and caption story entitled “Holding” represents just this:

“I progressed against all odds, because of my own strength and because you actually provided the resistance I needed for this growth. I became in spite of you, and in some ways because of you.”

These words are based on experience. They are our truth. And they align with the key truth found in the Law of Opposition: whatever is opposing us can also strengthen us.

So bring it on…

We can choose to take the opposition and use it to find our strength, our voice, and our purpose. We can choose to focus our energy on our growth, not on resistance. We accept and we act. We become…

…stronger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author’s note:

Much thanks to one of my dear mentors, Dale Halaway, for all he has taught me in relation to this and for the invaluable truths found in his book referenced in this post:

Halaway, D. (2017). Being called to change.  Lifestyle Entrepreneurs Press.

 

 

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The Power of Okay

I have come to find great power in the ability to know and speak the words, “I’m okay.” It is more than a feeling or a seemingly less than ideal response to the question of, “How are you?”  It is a state of being. The full power of it is accessed when we become aware of the grounding truths contained within being okay.

There are three powerful truths found in the idea of being okay:

1.  First, feeling negative emotions or experiencing difficulties in life does not mean we are not okay.

Life is about change. Period. Our circumstances, experiences, thoughts, and emotions change constantly; yet, we worry so much about needing to be happy or looking like we are doing amazing all of the time. That isn’t reality. We will have days that our response to the question, “How are you?” might be something akin to awful, sad, frustrated, etc. Although we’d rarely admit those, because somehow we have come to believe that if we aren’t doing awesome, then something must be wrong–wrong with us. We have such fear of negative emotions that we do anything to avoid them–medicate them, ignore them, deny them, or project them. We tend to do this because there is often shame attached as a result of our belief that if we are experiencing these negative emotions, something must be wrong with us. It is okay to have these feelings. They are just feelings; they are not who we are. There is, however, important information contained in every emotion, which we can get to if we sit with them rather than run from them. I have learned that by resisting or running from those feelings, I just power them up and amplify them. And the greatest lesson I have learned is this: Even when I’m feeling the most painful of emotions, I’m still okay. This awareness is freeing. I am less afraid of difficult emotions or days when I just feel off, because in those moments I check in and ask myself, “Am I okay?” and nine times out of ten, the answer is a calming, yes.

2. Second, being okay is within our control.

This was not an easy one for me to grasp. I have often felt that things were happening to me and that I had little to no control in certain situations or just in life in general.  When I get in that space of victim energy, the fear and panic rise. I quickly start to feel, not okay. It is true that we cannot always control the situation and we can never control others; however, we can control our perspective, our response, and our action. That is so incredibly powerful. When I really claim this, I can feel the shift immediately–from panic to power. Our thoughts and beliefs shape our reality, which is so empowering when we are aware and begin to consciously act on this truth. We have the ability to go from not okay to okay; but to do that, we first have to accept that it is okay to be not okay. Accepting it without judgment is the first step to shifting it. The second step is to remember our ability to control our perspective and our response. And third, is an understanding that even when we do not feel okay, we are in truth really okay.  

3. Third, we really are okay.

This is a truth I have experienced over and over. We are carried. We are supported more than we can imagine and every moment is orchestrated for our benefit. Life really is happening for us. Even the awful experiences, the difficulties, the moments we wonder what in the hell is happening and who’s in charge…even those are for us. I am still not at the depths of this, but I am learning. This third point is found in faith with the potential to be knowing.  I believe we are loved beyond what we can imagine. I believe grace is woven into the threads of our lives and wrapped around us in the moments we don’t feel okay, reminding us that we are indeed okay.

I’m okay. No matter what has happened or what is in front of me, I’m okay. Yes, there are times I feel fantastic and times I feel awful, but in all those times I can also say, I am okay. The ability to say that and really know it in my soul is a victory that was hard fought and one that has changed my life.

When I get asked how I am, I no longer respond weakly that I’m just okay, but instead I respond with the full power of awareness of the strength and the beauty of what that really means.

I am okay.

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Speak Your Truth

Somewhere early on in my life, I took on the belief that it is best to smile and keep quiet. Best to keep the peace and appear…I’m not sure, “proper” maybe.  A part of me took this on and yet resisted it at the same time because deep down I knew this was not total truth.

Early in my adulthood, I tried harder to follow this belief, as it appeared to be more acceptable and pleasing, and I so wanted to be pleasing. Then after a personal experience where I had been quiet for too long, I started to find my voice. But in my effort to finally find my voice, I found it in anger. Anger is a higher vibration than sadness or hopelessness, so it does feel better at first, like you are getting some of your power back. Anger does serve a purpose to propel us forward and to stand up when someone or something has been dishonored, but then it needs to be let go of or the holding on to it becomes toxic.  True power comes from speaking your truth from a place of grounding, and not so much from intense emotions. When we speak from intense emotions and from a place of fear and need, we actually give our power away instead of reclaiming it. Taking a moment to process the emotions and get to the truth before we speak is a key way to ensure we are speaking our truth from a place of power.

When we need to speak up, but we keep quiet simply to avoid ruffling feathers or to keep others comfortable, it is dishonoring, to ourselves and even to them. The one time in His life the Savior became angry was when the temple was being dishonored. If we are in fact a temple, the symbol of a vessel that holds the divine, then without question the time to get angry is when we have been dishonored.  I have learned this for sure, that every time we do not speak up when we are dishonored it begins to wear away our soul.  In those moments, we give our power away, and instead of moving closer to our divinity we actually move further away from it.

Another truth I discovered on this journey is that once I found my voice and understood how to use it, I also learned how and when not to speak. I had to learn that it wasn’t weakness to be quiet at times, but another place of strength when you are standing in your power.  There is one amazing line found only in Matthew on the account of Christ that is so profound. There are many accusing Him falsely, provoking Him, and wondering why He will not speak up; and then this line, “But Jesus held his peace” (Matthew 26:63).  So powerful. Sometimes it is best to let the moment play out; to let others rage without joining in the energy or speaking when no one is in a place to hear. There can be great power in holding your peace. Maybe you will speak it later at a better time. Maybe you will hold it and decide it isn’t worth your energy and focus. And maybe watching the events will guide you to hold your peace and walk away for good. I had a profound experience with this that truly taught me there are times where the best way to stand in your power is to hold your peace.

Like all things in life, it becomes about balance. We will learn as we heal and grow how and when to use our voice, but we should indeed use it. We should use it to lift others, give light in the darkness, share love, and stand up by speaking our truth. This is how we stand in our truth and in our power.  This is how we truly honor the Divine, by honoring what He created.

Find your voice.

Stand in your power.

Speak your truth.

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Maybe Now Is a Good Time to Close Your Eyes and Go Within

How does this look? We can catch ourselves quite often asking this, or more accurately, thinking it. We worry how we look, how the house looks, how we look as a mother, as a friend, as a saint, as (option to fill in the blank with pretty much anything). Although we may believe this, life is not actually about how it looks.

During a particularly difficult pose in yoga class, the instructor said these brilliant words: “Remember yoga is a feeling practice. This is not about how you look, but how this feels within you. Maybe now is a good time to close your eyes and go within.” My goodness, YES!  So I did just that…I closed my eyes and went back to how this felt within me. I quit worrying about how I looked in the pose (e.g., if my leg was as high as the person next to me) and focused on where I was at in this experience.

We are bombarded with how things are supposed to look. I’m not entirely sure where these ideas of how something is supposed to look originate from, but the real damage comes when we buy into them.  The idea of “perfection” is everywhere, and the idea of “becoming” has been lost. The truth is we are all becoming, and this becoming is the divine perfection.  If we function under the need to appear perfect, it moves us into fear and often results in further disconnect from self and others.  In our connection with others, we often only show the best parts of ourselves, because those are what seem to be acceptable, and we fear if we show any real weakness or faults we will be rejected; and in the very act of denying our true self, we are in fact rejecting ourselves.  This is the opposite of connection because it is driven by fear instead of love.

The greatest tragedy is this: We are so worried about how we appear to others and if we look good to them, we have completely disconnected from self and have no idea how any of it actually feels within us. We, quite frankly, have learned to disconnect from our feelings so completely, we honestly have no idea how we feel most of the time. And if something doesn’t feel good, instead of honoring that, we ignore it. We are masters of ignoring our feelings. Our feelings are there to tell us something—if a boundary has been crossed, if something is honoring or dishonoring, if something resonates with the highest parts of us. In order to really connect with others, we must first connect with self, and the vehicle for that is getting in touch with how things feel within us, not with how they look.

Now, don’t freak out. I find when we talk about doing things based on how they feel, we have an uprising of fear from people with images of evil ways of self-indulgence and debauchery. That’s not the direction I’m suggesting (nor is it truth). We have often been conditioned that we cannot trust how we feel—we are inherently evil after all, right? No, wrong. Yes, we have an ego-self that is often a result of trying to navigate this world—a self that is not necessarily our highest self—but this self has been created to protect us and needs to be acknowledged and honored as we move to creating a deeper connection to our highest self.  We do not need to fear our feelings. We can learn to acknowledge our feelings and honor them; always asking if the direction we are going is in our highest good. When we start to connect with our feelings and honor them, we begin to reconnect with self. This connection changes everything about the way we function and creates an alignment within that brings unimaginable peace and joy.

When we find ourselves worrying about how we look and how we compare, this is the moment to close our eyes and go within. This is the moment we can take a deep breath and ask, “How does this feel?” As we then honor the answer, we will regain our own trust. This allows us to navigate life from the space of what resonates as truth within us, and not from a space focused on how we will be seen. It is the most freeing and honoring space.

Maybe now is a good time to close your eyes and go within.

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Mountains and Bear Hunts

I had a friend ask me if I had ever thought about climbing such-and-such mountain.  It had honestly never crossed my mind. When I get asked something, however, I like to pursue it a bit. Examine it closely and see if there is anything deeper there for me. (Ponders…)

Yep. I have NO desire to climb a mountain.

But why, I wondered. That seems like a great thing to accomplish. And then the thought came into my mind loud and clear: I have already climbed several mountains, thank you.

I have physically done a few hikes up mountains, yes, but I meant something different. I know what it is like to stand in front of a mountain and wish there was a way around it…or better yet, a way to move it. I know what it is like to be so overwhelmed at the climb in front of you that your chest feels tight and tears come in continuous streams. I know what it is like to start that climb despite your fears and reservations and the strength it takes to start to move. I know what it is like to feel like you’ve been climbing forever only to look back and realize the ground is just a little bit below you.  I know what it is like to have moments where every part of you is so tired you can’t see straight; moments where you would give anything to be able to just go back or somehow magically fly to the top. I know what it is like to have the air get so thin you can barely breathe. And I know the heavy thoughts that rise to consciousness and take all your reserve of strength to combat: Please just let this be over. I will never get through this. I can’t do this.

But I also know what it is like to stand at the top of that mountain and feel indescribable relief and joy wash over you. And most importantly, I know what it is like to look at the other side and know that everything that you were meant for is now accessible to you. To not only have thoughts realized that you are strong enough and that you can and did do this, but because you experienced it, they are now deep beliefs you feel with every part of your body and soul. That strength and knowledge is the greatest of gifts from the climb.

I have learned a few things from climbing these mountains. First, resisting the climb does not help. Resisting something that is just creates unnecessary angst and drains you of energy. Surrendering to the process of the climb is vital for success.

Secondly, there is no other way to gain the wisdom and strength that comes from each particular journey other than going through it. This brought to mind one of my favorite children’s books, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. I taught dance for years and used this with my little ones as a great activity to explore types of movements and tie it to a visual experience. In the story, the family goes on a bear hunt only to be continually faced with a new obstacle like tall grass, lakes, and mountains.  As they discover each one, the narrator states: “Can’t go under it, can’t go around it, we have to go through it.”  Profound truth indeed. We can actually avoid things. It is always our choice whether or not to do the hard thing that will grow us, or to stay where we are at and stay safe. Our ego wants us to stay safe, because what that really means is we stay stuck. If we never get on the other side of the grass or the lake or the mountain then we never get the experience, wisdom, and strength that comes from that journey. We only have access to the higher parts of us by going through it. Going through the experience moves us from possibilities to certainties; from thoughts or hopes to truths; and from who we can be to who we really are.

I have climbed a few mountains. I wanted to go around them or under them. I wanted to make them move. And even with my awareness of the payoff of going through that experience, when I stand in front of a new one, those thoughts still come. I am learning though, that I can choose to surrender to the climb and I can allow every experience to be a teacher. This allows me to focus on the journey rather than the destination. It is, after all, all about the climb.

In, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, there is another repeating verse that stood out to me. The narrator states, “I’m not afraid! Are you? Not me!” We need not be afraid. We are never alone. And we are ready for the climb or we would not find ourselves at the base of this particular mountain at this particular time. Each previous climb has prepared us for this moment. We are everything we need to be.

I’m not afraid.

I’m going to go through it.

 

 

 

 

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Where We Find Our Power

Three things: 1) Experiences in life are an opportunity to learn; 2) the people we meet are our teachers; and 3) the truths we hear, and recognize as such, wake us up. I keenly remember one of those “wake up” moments, which happened while watching the movie Spiderman. The line Uncle Ben shared when talking to Peter resonated deeply with me: “With great power comes great responsibility.” That is truth. My life experiences have taught me there is another deep truth found within those words. I will come back to that.

Why are we fascinated with superheroes? I believe it is because deep down we know there is more to us than what appears on the surface. We are more than our thoughts, feelings, and weaknesses. We are more than this physical form. We want to believe we have superpowers. We want the power to overcome fear and darkness. We want to be limitless. We look for ways to empower ourselves and step into our best self. So how do we empower ourselves? Where do we find our power?

Our power is found in a couple of places. Our power is first found in our honor. When we honor ourselves through love and positive choices that aid in our growth and healing, we reclaim some of our power. When we consciously choose to move from victim to victor, we find who we truly are and step into everything we can be. There is great strength found here. Honoring ourselves allows us to honor others. Honor holds great power.

The next place we find our power is by owning what is ours to own— taking responsibility for our choices and the consequences of those choices.  I heard a quote years ago that has stuck with me: “A person’s self-esteem is in direct proportion to the amount of responsibility they take for their actions.” This was another “wake-up” moment for me. That statement is total truth. I do believe we are more—divine. So when we are imperfect and make mistakes, we often want to hide them. Most cultures induce feelings of shame for making mistakes. When we take judgment out and simply observe, seeing every mistake as an opportunity to learn, it is safer to own. And who’s to say it is even a mistake if it takes us to where we need to be with new insight and understanding?  When we choose to look at the truth, whatever that is, and own it, then we are in our power. We cannot change things about us—we cannot grow—until we honestly own where we are at. It is important to understand that change and growth cannot happen in judgment, only love. This is paramount.

There is a flip-side to this coin. Just as much as not owning what is ours can keep us stuck, so can owning what is NOT ours to own. For example, when we are in a relationship that ends and we take the blame for all of it. This is not healthy, nor is it truth. Each person in a relationship has ownership of their feelings, thoughts, reactions and choices. When we try to own those for the other person, both of us become stuck. We cannot process those for another. We cannot heal for another or grow for another. When we take it on, they lose the opportunity of owning it in truth, which provides the opportunity for them to “wake up” and heal. The key is to own what is ours and let others own what is theirs.

Hiding does not come from a place of power. Running does not come from a place of power. Blaming does not come from a place of power. All of these come from fear and a victim mentality. When we hide or run or blame, we actually give our power away. The truth is that with responsibility comes great power.

So there it is. This is the truth hidden within those words I first heard on Spiderman. With a little rearranging, a profound and life-changing truth is found:  “With responsibility comes great power.”

power

 

 

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The Pity Potty and Other Pearls of Wisdom from My Dad

My dad is a quiet man. When he does speak, however, his words are genuine, kind, and wise. Our conversations that have included his carefully worded advice (which he rarely gives because he never wants to intrude or bother) have had a profound effect on me and my life. I often write about my mother and her insightful words of wisdom, which have become dearer to me since her passing, but my father’s words have meant just as much. I have listened and taken note. They are indeed pearls of wisdom and I have chosen my three favorite to share in celebration of his life.

Pearl #1: Make a list of what you want to accomplish in a day and diligently work at it one item at a time.

My entire life my father has worked more than one job. He accomplishes more in a day than most of us do in a week. He was always up at the crack of dawn and was the one to wake me for school (because he was up and ready to go before I’d even contemplated rolling out of bed). He’d come home after his first job around 4:00pm, change his clothes, and head to the next job. He’d usually land home after 9:00pm, and that was if he didn’t have meetings or other obligations besides work that day (a rare occurrence). I distinctly remember the day I asked him how he was able to accomplish so much with everything he had on his plate and without getting overwhelmed. He pulled out a couple of 3×5 cards from his front shirt pocket. On those cards was a list of all the things he needed to do that day. He proceeded to tell me that he just did one thing at a time and kept going down his list until they were done. He said if he didn’t get to it that day, he’d simply move the item(s) to the top of his list for the next day. This simple piece of advice has helped me keep perspective and accomplish what I have needed to. I make lists almost every day, although I prefer small notebooks that I keep in my purse (mostly because I don’t wear shirts with pockets). The concept is the same, however. And it works.

Pearl #2: If you say you’re going to do something, do it.

My father is a man of his word. He honors his commitments and follows through on what he says he’s going to do. If my dad says he will do something, you can take that to the bank. I only remember him explicitly stating the above pearl a few times, but he lived it by example every day. I have not been perfect at this one. But I have never forgotten it and continue to work towards honoring his example by being a woman of my word.

I can count on him. Everyone can count on him. And that is worth more than gold.

Pearl #3: Don’t stay on the pity potty too long.

This one is my favorite. My dad has a wonderful sense of humor, which he often uses when sharing advice to keep it light. So I was pouting (feeling fantastically sorry for myself about something) and he smiled at me and said, “Shantell, it’s okay to feel bad. Sometimes things are crummy. But it is important to not stay on the pity potty too long.”  Now when advice is given but not actually practiced by the giver, it doesn’t hold much weight. On the flip side, when advice is given from experience and example it is profound. My father has had a million reasons to sit on and STAY on the pity potty (refer back to Pearl #1 for starters). He has had a great deal of responsibility on his shoulders with providing for and taking care of our family. He was such a support to my mom and I know it could not have been easy for him at times. But he never complained. Not once. It wasn’t that he just refrained from complaining, because if he had felt like a victim and had the “poor me” mentality, it would have shown up somehow. But he has never viewed himself that way. No matter what has been in front of him, he has always looked for the good. He could have felt sorry for himself being married to a woman with a chronic illness. But all I’ve ever heard him say in relation to this is what an honor it was for him to love her. He could complain about all the times he’s had to step in and help me. Again, he hasn’t. All he’s ever said is how much he loves helping. His humility and willingness to give in love often leaves me speechless.

Thank you, dad, for all of your love and support and for your profound pearls of wisdom.

It is my greatest honor to be your daughter.

 

 

 

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The Power of Effectual Struggle

There is a profound difference between struggle and effectual struggle. I was aware of the two concepts independently of each other, but their connection and the importance of that difference became incredibly clear during an experience working with teachers.

I was at the end of day in which I had trained teachers on effective strategies to help struggling readers decode (i.e., break down and read) unfamiliar words. I moved into teaching the teachers how to help students transfer these skills to their reading, and I was introducing the concept of accountable reading. Accountable reading is the idea that once students have skills sufficient to handle unfamiliar words, they should no longer be allowed to just guess at or skip the word (or ask the teacher to give it to them).  They are accountable for what they know and responsible for applying those skills to the task at hand.  I offered steps to help guide a student in this process, which starts by encouraging the student to sound out the word all the way to the end a couple of times, and then if they still don’t know the word they are to apply the skills they have learned systematically.  Once they apply their skills and work with the word, then they are to try and sound it out again a couple of times through. They must do all of this before they can ask a teacher for help with the word. A teacher raised her hand and asked, “So we’re just supposed to let the student struggle with the word?”

I could feel the concern in the teacher’s voice. I recognized the energy of the emotion from my own experiences, and my conditioned response—based on these experiences—came up first and I wanted to say, “No! Don’t let the poor child just struggle!” I had to stop the words in my throat before they reached my mouth. I needed to process for a moment.

In that moment of seeking clarity and truth, all the pieces that I had collected in relation to this instantaneously came together and the full picture come into view.  Those moments still amaze me—moments that happen at the speed of light and yet somehow seemingly in slow motion.

Here is the truth that came from that moment of clarity:

I knew that desire to help all too well. My son, who is dyslexic, would struggle so much when we were reading when he was little. I hated seeing him struggle and I did not know at the time why he was struggling or what to do to help. I did not have the right tools to help him, so I could not give him the right tools. There was no good outcome from the struggle. It was a destructive process that only caused frustration, damaged his self-esteem, and left him feeling powerless. In that case, letting him struggle was not effective and giving him the word seemed like a great kindness. But it still left him powerless.

As understanding flooded in, I answered the teacher with great confidence, “Yes, let the student struggle. Because here is the key: The student now has the tools to work with the word so that at the end of the struggle they will feel empowered because they were able to apply skills and gain something from the process.”

When we have knowledge and tools to apply to our challenges they become effectual, because with those tools we can get to the other side with greater knowledge, confidence and experience. We will be successful when we have tools sufficient for the task at hand.

Tools
“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”

I realized why watching someone struggle who does not have the tools necessary to get through a challenge is so painful— It will not be an effectual struggle. In those moments, it is merciful to help. I realized that this is what it comes down to as a parent. When our children are struggling, we are to determine if they have the necessary tools to make this struggle constructive or if it will end up being destructive. If it is destructive, we need to step in and help. Our job is to give them as many tools as possible, so that whatever challenge comes in front of them they will have the right tools and can walk into the situation with confidence.

I believe this is one of our greatest missions on this journey of life. We are to empower ourselves with as much knowledge and as many tools possible so that whatever situation comes our way, the struggle within that experience will be effectual. And within those effectual struggles, we often gain new tools that will help us be better prepared for the next experience—more complex tools for complex challenges that yield deeper and more profound growth.

When we continually turn to others to rescue us, heal us, basically ‘give us the word,’ we are left powerless. It is simply a temporary fix that alleviates the pain of the struggle for a moment, but leaves us unprepared for everything in front of us. We often shake our fist at God for not stepping in and helping during our struggles (at least not to the level we’d like). We want the pain to stop. We want it all to be okay. In those moments, I do not believe that God is choosing to exercise His power in a cruel way, but in a beautiful way that allows us the amazing gift of discovering our own power.

It is the highest form of love—allowing another to go through the process to find their power—to allow them to struggle. That can feel ‘off’ at first, but when we understand the difference between struggle and effectual struggle, the greater purpose comes into focus and we can see what sufficient tools can build. Therein lies our power.

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Leaving Things Better Than We Find Them

I still remember the moment my mother called me into the bathroom after she’d gotten ready for the day and taught me a very important lesson. She was wiping down the sink and she said, “Shantell, we should always leave things as nice as or nicer than we find them.” She taught this lesson over and over, mostly through her example. I often hear her voice whisper this kind truth to me when I’m staying at someone’s home and I imagine her smiling as I wipe things down.

As with most of my mother’s pearls of wisdom, there was deeper truth to be found beyond the obvious. As I look back at my mother’s life I realize she did this in every interaction. People were left as well off, but often better, than before she found them. Is this possible? In every interaction in our lives is it possible to leave people better off for having known us? I would like to believe so.

Not every encounter or relationship continues, but even in the ending of connections I believe there is a way to keep from leaving them the worse for wear.  When we are committed to honoring ourselves and honoring others and we live by this, there is an element of respect that guides the outcome and makes it one, that even though it might be painful, that won’t be destructive. And if during the relationship of whatever kind, we align ourselves to this highest good of giving to the other person in ways to help build them, then that gift continues even if the relationship itself does not.

The more aware I become and the more I heal and connect to my highest self, the more I am able to do this. It is my soul’s desire upon the realization of this deeper truth found in my mother’s lesson that I am able to leave people (and even better continue with people) better off than when I found them.

 

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