A hand made sign hangs by our bathroom mirror and it reads “Make Smart Choices Today.” Purposely, the first letter of each word also begins the first name of each member in our family. You could call it our motto. Over the years, I am certain these four words have been read and interpreted many different ways: “Do your homework,” “Avoid peer pressure,” “Eat well and exercise,”Fight that depression.”
Choices are not just actions, they are also reactions. They are opportunities to peel back ugly layers that hide some really valuable treasures. These layers call themselves jealousy, selfishness, denial, and defeat. Victory does not satisfy temptation and negative emotions. They never go away. But, each time we lift our chin to the sky, the devil will raise a brow. Our strength makes him nervous.
You can chase rainbows, or you can chase rain.
You can forgive, or you can hold pain.
You can seek vengeance, or you can forget.
You can recover, or you can regret.
The choice is yours.
YOU are a treasure!
Based on a true story, today’s thought will open similarly to a joke, but end with a punchline in the form of a treasure:
A guy walks into a bar. He finds his place at the stool he unofficially owns as the barmaid prepares his order without asking what it is. He was already there when my husband and I arrived, but I would bet that is a pretty accurate scenario. To put it simply, he was an obvious, harmless regular.
Our dining entertainment was the friendly banter between the two. And that night’s topic… a seasoned member of society’s theory behind what’s wrong with the world today. In the opposite corner, an equally passionate individual defending the world, for there is so much of it still ahead of her. She tried to explain that the “evil” internet is the reason she is still able to pursue a degree while working the long hours required to get by. He countered with memories of conversations without screens and the set of encyclopedias he’s proud to still use. Both had valid points. He preached. She poured. They both smiled the whole time.
It was hard not to eavesdrop. At first, I tried really hard not to. But, then it happened…the patron turned friend referred to the world’s lost piece as appreciation. My ears perked like a puppy and I turned to face him. After what I hoped was his last sip of the day, he sat his empty glass down and said: “You can’t smell Google.” The glass was retrieved with the promise to see him soon.
The routine visit and opportunity to give another lecture probably made his day. The hour or two with her mind off the daily grind may have made hers as well. Stumbling upon this beautiful relationship most certainly made mine.
My son gave me a flower on the eve of his graduation. That night, I placed my nose to a pedal and slowly inhaled. You are so right, friendly stranger. You can’t smell Google.
YOU are a treasure!
My house is full of character. I am not talking about my collection of Disney figurines. I am referring to those distinguishing qualities that make things unique. You know, that scratch, that dent, that crayon drawing on the wall. These are traits that are often called flaws.
Let me tell you the story of our first piece of furniture that did not come from a curb on garbage night. I chuckle knowing that I once thought that buying a new oak dresser for an elementary-aged boy was a good idea. That dresser got character before it’s first coat of pledge. It’s still there today…a five-pointed star with two eyes and mouth smiling from ear to ear (if stars actually have ears.) Boy, was I angry at this unexpected introduction. I did not care if it was a star. I did not care if it was smiling. I did not care if this was my son rebelling or marking his territory. I was angry.
The inability to afford another dresser kept me from discarding it. The lack of time and energy kept me from buffing it out. My friends, as I share these words, I am just weeks away from my carving artist being on his own. I promise you that I am going to look at that star and finally give it the returned smile it’s been waiting for.
The moral here is that we all have imperfections, some on the surface and some beneath. Think long and hard before deciding to change or discard. People will still love you with that blemish or scar. People will still visit if there are weeds in your garden or dust on your shelves.
By the way, just because I upgraded to Craigslist doesn’t mean I stopped my treasure hunt. I have projects waiting that were inspired by things another person no longer had use for. There is accomplishment, quality time and beauty in my future. It is true that one man’s trash could be another man’s treasure. Share with me yours! What do you currently have that didn’t shine the same way for another?
YOU are a treasure!
I have bodyguards. Believe it or not, so do you. They are just not easily recognized because they don’t look like Hercules in a suit and sunglasses. Because we are not royalty or of celebrity status, we may not purposely seek protectors. But, we are worthy of them and, like the treasures I speak of so often, they are around us.
Indeed, the bodyguard that responds to the ad on Monster will most likely need to know how to throw a punch to qualify. But, we are made of more than skin and bones. We can be hurt without being hit. Harm’s way does not always lead to large crowds or dark alleys. For some of us, an idle mind is a scary predator.
I can throw some darn good pity parties, but I don’t subscribe to them. Instead, I seek out distractions. I call this treasure hunting. It has made red lights, pumping gas and long lines much easier to deal with.
These words are dedicated to some people who will probably never read them. This includes the woman who started a conversation with me at Wegmans, the co-worker who talked me through what was not a real crisis, the guy who broke out in random dance while waiting for his bus to arrive, and whoever posted the most recent adorable monkey video. For a few moments, you fought off worry, my worst enemy. You lifted some weight off my shoulders by just being you.
Thank you, strangers. Thank you, friends. Thank you, inventor of those tiny televisions at gas pumps. You sparkle like diamonds.
YOU are a treasure!
Imagine, if you will, a doll…any kind of doll. How do you see her? Is she on display with other still and delicate conversation starters? Or, is she an heirloom…an imperfect focal point whose value is in her journey, not her ribbons and lace? Is your doll a female or am I stereotyping? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
As beholders, we want to protect our treasures. If we don’t, we become vulnerable. Just how vulnerable depends on how selfish we choose to be. You see, often times it is ourselves we are trying to protect. The fear of loss and the guilt of being irresponsible are unpleasant emotions, to say the least.
The right relationships are a multitude of irreplaceable treasures that mesh together over time. These are treasures in the form of good emotions such as support, forgiveness, appreciation and, most importantly, unconditional love. When your treasure is perfect, the fear of losing it can sling unrealistic scenarios at your mind and turn just about anything into catastrophe. The result of being too protective can lead to an unhappy treasure.
The porcelain Scarlett O’Hara cannot be admired without the risk of falling off the shelf. The durable Raggedy Ann cannot truly comfort without soaking in some snot and tears. Let your treasures do what they are meant to do. They, will then, treasure you in return.
YOU are a treasure!
“No pain, no gain.” four words we’ve all thought or said to maintain motivation. But what kind of gain are we referring to? Think about it, people gain things all the time, often not on purpose. Just this past week I gained a new friend and the process was actually quite joyful. There was no pain involved at all. And last month I gained a cool cutting board. Before that, an extra hour of sleep. Am I the person I am today because of these? Of course not. What is needed to achieve progress that has real value? You guessed it…pain.
My fitness instructor reinforces that popular motto several times a day through words of her own. Just when I think I can’t possibly do another squat thrust, she predictably shouts “two more!” I’ve wanted to scream. I’ve wanted to cry. I’ve wanted to vomit. But, the result of countless “two more’s” has been less worry and fewer unexplained tears. That is a gain that means something.
So, what is your “two more?” Four years ago, mine was two more minutes without a negative thought. Pain takes more forms than just physical. There was pain involved in making my decision to fight after ignoring and denying for so long. I did not wake up one day and say “I’m going to work out.” I woke up one day and said “Enough is enough.” Before taking two more steps towards the studio (plug: Power Fitness Group Exercise), there were two more minutes spent researching a regimen that would work for me. And before that, there were two more affirmations reminding myself that I deserve to be a happy person.
You deserve to be a happy person. Start your journey with your own personal “two more,” whether that means steps towards your front door or miles on the treadmill. The end is value added gain.
YOU are a treasure!
In reality, very few figures of the past actually buried their treasure. The tales of these notorious buccaneers evolved into a fantasy that there are random riches underground where “X” marks the spot. My friends, by now you should expect what is coming next. A treasure is not just a box of riches, not just a bag of loot. A treasure is anything that has value to someone. Sometimes a treasure is obvious and sometimes, like the myth, a treasure needs to be discovered beneath the dirt, the rubble, the unpleasant.
Devastation can show up unannounced and wash away satisfaction, progress and hope. But beneath the fallen branches, there will still be roots. Beneath the crumbled structures, there will still be foundations. Beneath the worst of the wreckage, there will still be treasures. Some may be as short as a two second smile. Some may be as small as a brief distraction. The light of hope that shines with each “little treasure” carries a power that is truly massive.
With the help of others, rebuilding is not impossible. The pieces of your future weigh less when others help carry them. Do not ignore your ability to help someone find their treasure when the “X” is nowhere in sight. Unselfish, genuine care in a time of need has the power to change a life. When one gives this, it is not work.
YOU are a treasure!
All good things must come to an end. Says who? I saw my favorite band in concert last week. Being lost in the awesomeness of rock and roll indeed was a good thing, a good thing that came to an end after the amazing encore and toss of the drumsticks. But here I am reminiscing with you. And I am certain that there are many smiles to come as I recall the evening in days to come. You see, happy is the moment, happier is the memory. All good things come to an end only if you let them.
However, depression doesn’t care. It is in front of me with an arm out asking for the hall pass back. It knows there are ordinary days ahead to control. It is the bully I cannot see.
It will take more than fond memories to win this battle. Though I appreciate them so much, along with those who helped me dig my well, living in the past is not practical or motivating. I need to pick up my own shovel and prepare for the thirst of the future.
We all deserve a happier future, whether we are embraced or alone, confident or confused. Happy is telling yourself that. Happier is believing it. I will not let the bully win. Happier is my shield made of titanium.
YOU are a treasure!
Last week, a friend and co worker shared a quote that stayed with me longer than others have. It actually shaped the days that followed. By the end of the week, it had become a moral:
“Those who drink the water must remember those who dug the well.”
Celebrating another birthday left me pleasantly over quenched. Please do not allow the upcoming re cap to lead to misjudgment. I am not a bragger. I am not a hypocrite. I am not always happy. Each word I write I choose to share, but is ultimately meant for me as I strive to be happier.
The kick off was a visit from mom with expected gifts in hand. I am well aware that sounded selfish. You see, being an only child of a hard working single mother made me a self proclaimed receiver. I became the master of the guilt trip, making her absences only forgivable by means of toys and ice cream. I demanded and she accommodated. She just wanted me to be happy and each time she delivered, I certainly was.
Adolescence and adulthood turned the tables. Before we knew it, I was the one with the busy life. Discovering the beauty of true and unconditional relationships makes me wish I could take back some thoughts and actions of the past. My open heart and mature mind came together and put an end to the verbal demands. But mom never stopped listening.
This year, beneath the pink curly ribbon was a cutting board. I unwrapped the paper to find support of my healthy lifestyle. Mom never stops listening. Happy is the moment you receive. Happier is the moment you appreciate and you can appreciate any time you choose to.
As a spoiled child, not appreciating left me with nothing but bald barbie dolls and stomach aches. Thanks to my new attitude, each time I chop a vegetable, I will think of my mom. That, my friends is the extra that we all can bring into our lives. It is being happier.
YOU are a treasure!
This North Eastern girl recently paid tribute to the adorable John Denver while welcoming the long awaited daylight savings time. Did you know that “Sunshine On My Shoulders” was actually written on a rainy day? It’s true. Look it up!
What this tells me is that on a day typically associated with gloom, Denver chose to look on the bright side, literally. The result was a moment of happiness that he chose to create. And out of that moment came a song that a lot of people enjoyed. Speaking of “Singing In The Rain,” let’s give a shout out to Gene Kelly who did just that because it “made him happy again.”
A friend sent me a message this week that read “obstacles are an opportunity to shine.” This “shine” that Angie speaks of comes when you earn instead of take, when you overcome instead of accept.
Let’s first remember that gloom does not always come in the form of raindrops. It can appear as physical pain, some bad news or in my case, nothing specific at all. We also do not have the right to judge another by how they measure and react to their personal version. Some gloom, especially in the tragic and unexpected form will warrant every one of the feelings we don’t like to have. There are people who suffer from mental illness that cannot control the unnecessary magnitude. We should not discount that. We should not assume that finding more happiness each day will come easy for all. However, we do have the power to help.The fact that you are reading these words is helping me!
I thank you for taking the time and leave you with this thought: A hurdle can be jumped over, a moment of anger can be dismissed, a rainy day can still have shine. Be like John Denver and sing. Be like Gene Kelly and dance. What have you got to loose…a few more minutes without joy?
Remember, YOU are a treasure!