Category: Observations about Life


There’s so much good stuff going on in the US this week that I had trouble finding only 5 articles!  I ended up with six today, but I could have gone on and on.  Enjoy!

22 year old graduates valedictorian from college after dropping out of high school.  After Michael Moubarek had an accident that could have killed him, he decided to make some changes, went back and finished high school, and now intends to be a doctor.  Great article, and it just goes to show that no matter what, life can change anytime.  Never give up!

5-year-old invites homeless man for a meal at the Waffle House after learning what “homeless” meant.

Police in Farmington, NH have started stopping people to praise and reward them for following laws.  Police said they feel like it’s helping them to get to know the community, and also nice to be able to have positive interactions with people.  They reported that they thought of the program after seeing a man go out of his way to use the crosswalk after heavy snow.

Teens take service dogs to prom.  Neither of them planned to go to prom, but then they met because of their service dogs, and decided to go together.  Cutest double date ever!  This is a video.

Update.  Last week, I posted about a veteran who has prostate cancer and was released from the hospital to a home with no food.  He called 911, and since then, he’s continued to receive food donations and is now getting Meals on Wheels.  It’s nice to see how much people care.

America’s oldest park ranger advocates for people of color, and she hopes, opens options to little girls.

Clickbait are those headlines that promise something stunning, shocking or salacious.  We click on them because we want to know the dirt on celebrities, that miracle cure that will make us skinny, or that secret that will make us rich.

I have to tell you something.

Celebrities are just people.  People who often have their bad days recorded for posterity.

There is no miracle cure to make you skinny.

Unless you work for it or have a secret rich relative somewhere (you don’t), you’re not getting rich.

Don’t want to see clickbait?  Stop clicking on it.

Clickbait happens to sell advertising.  They don’t care if you read the articles attached to them or not.  They just care that you clicked, because advertisers pay for “clicks.”  The articles are often cobbled together without regard to the English language.  I’ve read many of them so that you don’t have to.  Trust me; you’re not missing anything.

If you want to see more positive stories, or important stories, “click” on those.  Because Big Brother is watching our choices: on Facebook, on Google, in your email, what you pay attention to is what you’ll be shown.  Advertising exists to sell you things, and companies will put advertising where you’re likely to see it.

The power to change the focus is in your hands.  It’s in my hands.

Choose wisely.

Once upon a time, when I was younger, and knew everything, I thought that it was okay to let people know I didn’t like them.  I thought that being misanthropic toward people meant I was being honest.  I’m an introvert, so my default setting is to not like anyone, especially when I first meet them.  Therefore, if someone irritated me more than the normal why-do-I-have-to-interact-with-other-humans reaction, I would make sure they knew that I didn’t like them, using snide remarks, sarcasm, and occasionally out and out ignoring.

Yes, as an “adult,” I often acted like a 5 year old.

In my defense, I have made friends with some strange characters who didn’t have boundaries, and in the cases, the only way I found to discourage them from following me around was to be rude.

But still, that’s no reason to treat other people badly.

I had been sort of coming to that realization for awhile.  I realized that the people who I admired most were kind to everyone, and didn’t treat others badly, even when they deserved it.

Then, I started work at a new place, and most everyone ignored me.  They weren’t mean; just indifferent.  I didn’t feel welcome, except for two people who went out of their way to be helpful and kind.  I realized that the “honesty” I thought I was selling was really snake oil.

How you treat people says more about you than it does about them.  What do I want my behavior to say about me?  Do I want it to say that I’m judgmental, unkind, and disinterested?  Or do I want it to say that I’m accepting, kind, and helpful?

I still prefer to be left alone, and it can be hard to get interested in new people, but I try to make an effort, at least to smile and have a conversation, because that’s how I would want someone to treat me.

What do you want your behavior to tell others about you?

How To Succeed

“Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.”
-Samuel Johnson

Very few people get anything really important on the first try.  The difference between someone who is successful and someone who fails is often how many times you’re willing to try.  This week, keep in mind that no matter what happens, you can be ultimately successful if you keep trying.

Hello!  It’s Friday again, many people’s favorite day of the week (second only to Saturday).

I’ve summed up the stories I’ve posted, but these aren’t the complete stories.  Click the link to read the entire articles, see the pictures, or watch the videos.  Thanks for stopping by, and I hope these stories make you smile, the same way they did for me.

911 operator buys food for an elderly vet who needed help.  He was in the hospital, and when he was discharged, he had no food at home, no family to help, and no way of buying groceries.  The 911 operator and police bought him food and took it to his house.  He is now receiving assistance from social services.

A Phoenix police officer helped a homeless man by taking him to the hospital and making sure he had a plan to care for himself after surgery.  These things weren’t his job, but he did them anyway.  If he didn’t do them, they might not have gotten done, and the man obviously needed the help.

A school sends home an uplifting letter before a big test, to remind children that the test does not measure everything that’s important.  The original letter was apparently written in 1999, and it occasionally goes viral.  It just goes to show that we’re all hungry for positive feedback and that tests measure very little of who we actually are.

A teenaged boy took his great-grandmother to prom because “she’s the prettiest woman.”  The month before (linked in this article), another teen took her grandfather to prom.  Proms have come under fire for being superficial and girls wearing inappropriate dresses, so it’s nice to see this newer trend with teens taking family members or friends to prom.  (I’m a sucker for these stories.)  Here’s a link to another one where the high school quarterback took his friend, a girl with Down’s Syndrome, to the prom.

Shelter dog scheduled for euthanasia is adopted by a veteran, and is now in the running for hero dog of the year for helping the vet manage his PTSD and traumatic brain injury.

That’s all I’ve got for this week, but that’s obviously not all the news.  Remember, there’s a lot of good things in the world.  It’s what you focus on that matters.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Judgement Free Zone

There aren’t many judgement free zones these days.  Facebook has become an excuse to post all kinds of judgements that come in the form of complaining about others, commenting on articles, and other things too numerous to list.

This morning, a friend of mine posted a picture of a sports car parked in a handicapped spot, and a lot of people commented that the friend should park too close to it, that if someone can get in and out of a car like that, they don’t need a handicapped space, that the person who had that car was probably “lawsuit-happy,” and other things.

I want to encourage you to try to make your brain into a judgement free zone, free from judging yourself, and free from judging others.  I con’t know how many times I’ve heard people say some variation of “don’t judge me until you know me.”

Well, guess what?

We all have stories.

I get it; it’s easy to jump to conclusions about people.  It’s easy to say that if a person is handicapped, they shouldn’t be getting in and out of a sports car.  But there are a lot of handicaps that don’t show.  People sometimes have muscle disorders that make it difficult for them to move.  Or maybe they’re moving just fine now, but can’t predict if they’ll still be moving fine five minutes from now.

I know someone who’s had 3 or 4 cervical spine surgeries.  This person has struggled with walking.  Some days she can walk a mile.  Some days she falls a lot.  She used to have to ride a motorized cart around the grocery store, and it embarrassed her because she thought people would think she was using it because she was “fat” instead of because of medical issues.  These days, she doesn’t need the cart, but parking lots continue to be tripping hazards.  She still parks in the handicapped spots because she is handicapped, and she never knows when she’ll struggle with walking.

She’s relatively young looking, and most of the time, she walks fine.  She doesn’t limp or stumble, and you can’t see the scars on her neck because they’re covered with hair.  It would be easy to assume that she parks in the handicapped spot because of her weight or because of laziness.

Don’t judge.

If you want to make an assumption, assume that everyone has a story.  When I first started trying to change my mindset from judgement to acceptance, I found it easier to make up stories about someone.

That person who cut me off in traffic isn’t a jerk; he just got the news that his child is sick and he’s rushing home because he loves her so much.  That person who was rude to me in the grocery store was up all night caring for her mother, who has cancer.  That 20 year old who parked in the handicapped spot and appears to be in perfect health actually has multiple sclerosis.

It doesn’t matter to me if these stories are true or not.  What matters is that they could be true.  How horrible would I feel if I found out that one of those things was true, and I hadn’t responded with compassion?  I’m okay with being wrong in the opposite direction; I was compassionate and kind, but the person was really a jerk.  I can live with that.  But unkindness to someone who’s struggling with something?  Wouldn’t I want people to be a little kinder to me if I were trying to manage a heavy burden that day?

None of us is going to be perfect at this.  There are days when I just want to growl at everyone and everything.  But I would hope that on those days, someone out there who has to deal with me, thinks, “I bet she’s not always like this.  She’s probably just having a bad day, so I’ll be a little nicer.”

Kindness costs nothing, but judgement is expensive.

Ladybird Johnson Wildlife Center, Austin TX Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Ladybird Johnson Wildlife Center, Austin TX
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

On Wellness Wednesday, I try to post on a topic related to wellness.

On Monday, I posted quotes about kindness.  I try to be kind, to live my life in a way that spreads kindness, but I’m only human, after all.  And sometimes the Universe presents me with lessons to remind me that I can always be kinder.

I try to be kind both in action and thought.  Being kind in action means taking a moment to listen to someone, even when I don’t feel like it, saying “please” and “thank you,” smiling at others.  Being kind in thought is often harder for me.  It means not judging other people.

I walk a fine line with being kind in thought and wanting to watch real life drama.  Part of the problem is that I like gossip, not to judge necessarily, but because I like stories.  It doesn’t matter to me if they’re true or not; I like hearing them.  I like seeing bickering on Facebook because I like the story aspect of it.  I have to constantly remind myself that there are real people potentially being hurt by gossip and bickering, and that even though I might not spread it, just by being a listener, I’m complicit in negativity.

My lesson this week came from driving.  I was in a parking lot and about to pull out and make a right onto a throughway of the parking lot.  A man in a pickup was coming from where I couldn’t see him (there were bushes).  In all fairness, I wasn’t paying as close of attention as I could have been.  I wasn’t texting or anything like that, just sort of in my own thoughts.  I almost hit him.  When I say “almost,” I don’t mean that it was a close call or anything like that, just that I almost pulled out and hit him, but I slammed on my brakes with plenty of time to stop.

The man passed where I was, and then stopped in the middle of this throughway.  He was making rude gestures, and I was a little afraid that he was going to get out of his pick-up and come back to yell at me.  I was about three seconds from backing up and going the opposite way when he finally continued on his journey.

I was angry, and thinking things like, “Who does he think he is?” and “Everyone makes mistakes.  That jerk is acting like he never almost pulled out on someone.”  And other stuff too.

Then, I realized that I probably startled or even scared him.  When people get scared, they get angry.  The man probably didn’t know how to manage his anger and fear, so he stopped in the road, took a moment to compose himself, and basically blew off steam in a safe way.  It’s not like he came back to confront me or slammed on his brakes to “get even” or followed me.  He just stopped and was angry.  In all fairness, he was probably upset about the incident a lot longer than I was.

I hadn’t been thinking very kindly toward a man who had an upsetting thing happen in his day.  Yes, I was only unkind in my thoughts, but unkind thoughts can lead to unkind actions.  If I had stayed stuck in my self-righteousness, I could have taken it out on someone else.

Not long after that, I had an opportunity to practice the lesson.  I went to Goodwill to buy some picture frames, and I found way too many cool ones.  So as I stood at the checkout, heavy frames in my arms (of course I didn’t get a cart), the cashier was chatting with a male employee.  The two of them stood there for far too long as he bought some small item, gum or candy or something (I’m guessing he was on his lunch break).  My first thought was that they should notice me and move faster.  This time around, I caught myself and reminded myself that any retail establishment is fairly stressful work, and they were under no obligation to notice me.  I could just as easily open my mouth and ask to put my frames down, but I didn’t want to do that, which was not their fault.

When I got up to the cashier, she was not happy to see me.  She made some comment about being past her shift, and that her relief hadn’t shown up yet.  I smiled and validated her, and as we talked for a few minutes, she became more and more relaxed.  I could tell by the way she started smiling at me and calling me “hon.”  By the time she was done ringing me up, she went and held the door for me so that I could carry my heavy frames out more easily and returned my encouragement to “have a good day!” with “you too!”

Would I have been justified in responding to her as grumpily as she responded to me?  Maybe.  After all, the customer is always right… right?  But sometimes, being right isn’t worth the aggravation.  Because I decided to be kind, we both felt better when I left the store.

Remember that everyone you meet has a lesson to teach.  It’s up to you to figure out what that lesson is.

I’m going to work to be kinder today than I was yesterday.  And tomorrow, I’ll try to be kinder than I was today.

Have a beautiful day, everyone!

On Motivational Mondays, I share a quote to set a positive tone for the week.

Sunset, Ft. Lauderdale, FL Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Sunset, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”

-Audrey Hepburn

“A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.”

-William Arthur Ward

Be the most beautiful and kindest version of yourself that you can be this week.

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Flower on Cozumel, Mexico Photo Credit: Doree Weller

“Yet” is an amazing word.  Whenever something hasn’t happened in my life, something I want to happen, I just add the word “yet,” and it transforms the non-event from a disappointment to a possibility.  For example, take a look at the two sentences below.

I haven’t had a novel published.

I haven’t had a novel published yet.

The second sentence is much more promising.

The only difference between success and failure is how many times you’re willing to try.  Most people don’t succeed at anything important on the first try.  They practice, they perfect, they keep trying.  Giving up means you never get to use the “yet.”

Thomas Edison is quoted as saying, “I didn’t fail.  I just found 2,000 ways not to make a lightbulb.” This quote is sometimes used with different numbers: 100, 1000, 10,000.  The number doesn’t matter.  Even if it’s 100, it’s still a lot. The point is that he was only successful because he didn’t give up, and we don’t remember his failures.  We remember his name.

If he had given up at any point, we wouldn’t know who he was.  Someone else would have “invented” the light bulb.

That’s the point.  Whenever someone is successful, it looks easy.  Because they did it.  So it’s easy to forget that there was a process between failure and success.

JK Rowling succeeded as a novelist because she kept trying.  So did: Stephen King, Richard Adams, John Grisham, Louisa May Alcott, and many others.

My point is that whenever I start to get discouraged about something in my life, I remind myself that failure is just success I haven’t had yet.

I both dread and get excited about the “x” part of the challenge.  Dread because coming up with an “x” word is hard.  Get excited because it gives me a chance to learn new words.  I think “xenolith” is one of my favorites.

Xenolith: n. – (geology) a piece of rock of different origin from the igneous rock in which it is embedded

In case you don’t know what igneous is, it’s rock that’s formed from cooled lava.  I actually knew that because I’ve always kind of had a thing for rocks.

View from the South Rim Photo Credit: Doree Weller

View from the South Rim
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

The first thing this made me think of was the Grand Canyon.  I wondered, “Does the Grand Canyon have xenoliths, and can this be a way for me to talk about that amazing place?”

Yes, as a matter of fact, it does.  And I can.

Beyond the sheer coolness factor of the Grand Canyon, it’s a great place to learn about science.  When I stood at the top of the South Rim, I had trouble wrapping my mind around the sheer magnitude of the canyon.  It looked more like a movie set than something real.  The colors are amazing.  I took about a million photos there, but a picture doesn’t begin to capture the reality of it.

The park has Visitors’ Centers that illustrate the different layers and how they believe the canyon was formed.  It has a model of the different layers of rock, and how these layers formed.  It always amazes me when I can stand in places seeped in history.

According to the National Park Services website, the Grand Canyon is getting bigger.  The natural processes that formed the canyon continue to be in effect today.

One of the reasons I love places like this is that I can almost hear the echoes of the past.  Places like the Grand Canyon wake my brain up better than a dozen cups of coffee, and get my creative writing juices flowing.

What makes you feel your most creative or most alive?

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