Civil Rights Leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Making a Speech
Civil Rights Leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Making a Speech
The empty spaces make
wholeness. The emptiness in a
pot makes it valuable; you can
fill it with food or water.
Pay attention to what isn’t. Listen
for what your child does not say.
Observe what she does not do.
Similarly, know that your child
uses your empty spaces. What
you do not say resounds. What
you do not do impresses.
– from The Tao of Motherhood by Vimala McClure
The above is a beautiful excerpt from a beautiful little book, The Tao of Motherhood. Had it not been for our week-long, greatly uninvited and grossly unappreciated internet abstinence, I would have written about this beautiful book sooner. However, if you use the Amazon river of greatness, you can STILL have this book delivered in time for Mother’s Day. It’s truly, truly a wonderful little book filled with beauty.
What’s amazing about the words above is this: The reader doesn’t have to be a mother, or even a female, to benefit from the lesson taught in wording so brief.
We can all benefit from the reminder that’s at the heart of this passage. People will learn more from what they see us do than what they hear us say. Sometimes they will get a better indication of our character by the things we DON’T say as opposed to the things we DO say.
My mother was incredibly non-judgmental. She didn’t look down on others, irregardless of their circumstances or abilities/inabilities. She never copped a holier-than-thou attitude. Ever. The thought of her saying something derogatory or insulting about another human being is almost laughable. Of course, there were behaviors that she didn’t condone and if she thought anyone was being cruel or mean-spirited, she’d be the first to say so.
But there’s a difference between hating what people do and hating people, isn’t there? There’s a clear line and she never crossed it.
More importantly, she didn’t have a racist or bigoted bone in her body. She didn’t see color when she looked at people, she didn’t see ethnicity. She saw people – made by God, loved by God. In fact, one of the things I hate most in this world is racism, which is something I strongly shared with my mother.
As a result of the things my mother didn’t say and the hatred she didn’t possess, she raised a daughter who is filled far more with love than with hate.
The “emptiness” of hate and the nonjudgmental attitudes continued to my own three daughters. Because they didn’t hear their mother judging others or being unkind and cruel, they have never taken part in the ugliness themselves. It wasn’t something I sat them down one day and drilled into their heads, “You must not make fun of others or look down on them. Even more importantly, you must not ever be bigoted! ” When you “leave out” certain things in your life, others will notice – whether they’re children or adults.
As Vimala McClure said, “Empty spaces make wholeness.”
Michael, Brittany, me, and Emily. My mom wanted us to sit still for a few more family pictures by the Christmas tree, but Emily had had her fill of being still! Brittany looks like a little baby bird and Michael looks like he just woke up!
As I wrote not long ago, Empty Nest Syndrome is a popular subject in my e-mail’s inbox. It was a fairly popular subject before I wrote Empty Nest Syndrome: Let’s Bury the Phrase in the Yard, but after the article, it’s a rock star.
Unfortunately, it’s a pretty unhappy rock star.
I love getting e-mail from all of my friends – which is what I consider anyone who actually takes the time to honor me by reading my words. I know I ramble like a Mexican grey wolf through the Sonoran Desert. Sometimes, like el lobo, I probably look like I have no idea where I’m headed… but, give us this – we’re passionate about getting there!
So, for those of you who bear with me, you’re a friend for life and I welcome your e-mails any time. Self Help Daily is different than a lot of other websites and blogs – there are certain topics that some people aren’t comfortable talking about in the comments. I’m always floored by those who throw caution to the wind and open up in the comment’s section – but I know it’s not an option for everyone and every situation.
Three separate e-mails have come over the past 8 days.
Yet, in spite of all the differences, the e-mails were more alike than they were different. Pain is pain, no matter how you try to sugarcoat it. Most of the parents I hear from are parents who now find themselves in an “empty nest.” However, I hear from a great number who simply FEEL like the nest is empty (because their kids are away more than they’re home) and from others who know the day is approaching.
Look out, here comes the grey wolf… but aren’t the “approaching days” the worst?! When Emily’s wedding was approaching, each holiday and birthday kind of had a dark cloud hovering above. No matter how hard I tried NOT to, I kept thinking, “This is the last Christmas she’ll be living at home…” or “This is the last time she’ll have a birthday while living with us…” Silly stuff like that. Take it from me, as someone who has lived through it – the approaching days are FAR worse than the the days after the fact. Christmases, birthdays, and other holidays aren’t any different whatsoever. The kids just arrive through another door…. and generally arrive starving, so always have food on hand!
There was something extra distressing about the recent e-mails. They went past the “lonely days” and the “echoing silence.” Each of these e-mails had an underlying theme: The overwhelming feelings caused by “Empty Nest Syndrome” had caused relationship problems in their families. The very real threat of this is one of the things that prompted me to write my initial article.
I’m going to primarily address the ladies right now – but I ask that my male friends please continue reading. It’ll help you understand the lady in your life better, as well as her pain.
As mothers, most of us are possessed with an overwhelming feeling of love and devotion the minute we hold our newborn baby. Something happens when we look down into the precious face of our baby girl or baby boy. Internal feelings of love fill us as do feelings of protection. Heaven help the individual who tries to get between a mother and her child! We devote our entire lives to caring for, protecting, and loving this baby. Over the years, our days and nights are filled with caring for them. OF COURSE we have our own lives and OF COURSE we love our spouses just as deeply – but a good mother has a strong tie that binds her to each of her children.
I can’t remember what the exact situation was, but I do remember my husband once telling me that he was very thankful that I was this way. He said he thanked God every day that his daughters had me for a mother. I think most husbands and fathers (if they’re worth their weight!) feel this way. They want the mother of their children to love them with an all-encompassing love.
The power of a mother is a very powerful thing. So is the determination to protect them and care for them. In a way, when the child begins to date, work, and go to college – we kind of feel like we’re “losing” them. That’s utter nonsense, of course, but there is a very real feeling that something is pulling them away from us.
Again – I want to remind you that I’ve been there. When Emily was born, I had just turned 20. I had never held a baby in my entire life. When they placed that little 8 pounds of wiggling pinkness in my arms something profound happened. I was no longer Joi the spoiled only child who listened to Prince and Madonna all day. I was no longer the girl who collected unicorns and loved to shop everyday with her new cute as all get out husband. How my hair looked or whether or not my nail polish and lip gloss matched didn’t matter quite as much.
I was a mommy.
I home-schooled all three of our daughters all the way through school. Every hour of my days were filled with little girls… and then teen-aged girls. I loved every second and, yes, they most definitely went by too fast. Someone asked me once if my days were “too quiet” now and my exact answer was this, “Quiet, most of the time… but too quiet? I wouldn’t go that far!”
An interesting life (that’s what I’m calling it today) has actually done something remarkable for me. It has made me incredibly strong. At times when I would be tempted to say that I miss Emily being in her room – I’m able to swallow the words and come up with something better. You see, saying these things to our children serves absolutely no purpose at all.
Saying these words to our spouses serves no purpose at all. Giving our pain a voice only hurts the people we should never, ever wan to hurt.
When we first held our children in our arms, our number 1 thought was to protect them from harm. We positioned our arms and hands with the utmost of care – just to make sure their heads rested easily. Sometimes it caused a crick in my neck but I didn’t care – as long as my little pink ladies were comfortable! Did you ever have a toddler fall asleep in your lap and want desperately to move? Whether it was a leg that had gone to sleep or an itch you couldn’t reach, all you wanted to do was move that child and reclaim mobility!
And yet you didn’t.
Our children are still our children – just taller, hopefully wiser, and usually hungrier. These are still our babies and it’s still our responsibility to protect them – yes, even at our own inconvenience. Is it easy? Not even remotely! But please try to picture yourself with your child as a toddler – asleep in your lap. What mattered most THEN is what matters most NOW: The happiness of your little girl or little boy.
When we come across to our children as lonely – or make them feel like they’ve hurt or abandoned us – it hurts them. They may react with anger, but what they’re feeling is pain. A pain they don’t know what to do with because “mom” had always been the strong one.
I was thinking about my own parents a few nights ago. I was 19 when I got married and moved several states away. Their only child… a very spoiled little girl, at that… was headed off many miles and many hours away. I know they experienced a lot of pain and worry. Sometimes I could hear it in their voices on the phone and I’d have to hurry off the phone before they realized I was crying.
I remember after we’d been married (and moved) for about a month, my mom called. I could hear excitement in her voice as she talked about a new camera my dad had bought. He was taking up photography and was taking pictures of everything and everyone! She was excited for him and she said she’d started taking up a few crafts. She was going to paint the living room and the paper the bathroom – and she was so excited about everything, I could hardly keep up with her.
When I got off the phone, I felt like the world had lifted off of my shoulders. My mom and dad were okay. They were happy, excited, and living their lives. I felt so happy, I couldn’t sit still and the smile on my face was in no hurry to fade.
Your children and your spouse need you now more than ever. Never think for a second that any part of an empty nest is easy on good ole dad! In fact, he has compounded problems – he misses his child, he worries about the child (all of those crazy “dad worries” like gas, insurance, dead bolts, strangers…), and he worries about his wife. Truth be told, I’m sure in many ways he misses her too. Please do your loved ones – and yourself – a huge favor and find your will to live and your desire to be happy again. The smile you see on their face will melt your heart and make you happier than you can imagine.
For those of you who have strained relationships because of this transition of life, you simply have to hit REFRESH. Ever had a web page that refused to load properly? You hit REFRESH and give it a second chance – voila! Everything loads just like it was meant to – it just needed a second chance.
Here’s your second chance. Make a great supper and have everyone attend. Make everyone’s favorite foods! You don’t have to make a big speech – if you’re like me, you’d probably just cry anyway – but if you want to say something, keep it simple, “I’m better now. I love you. Let’s eat.”
Most importantly, just let everyone see you happy – it may be a sight they haven’t seen in a while. Let them see you smile, hear you laugh, and remember just how special their mom/wife is. No doubt they’ve missed you terribly,
A few final thoughts:
I know you have the strength inside of you and when you tap into it, you’ll amaze yourself as much as your family. You’ll wear it beautifully.
Every now and then (insert a light year between the now and then) a book comes along that’s so IMPORTANT the book reviewer is left searching for words like Gollum searched for his preciousssss.
It’s my fervent hope that as I lie in the floor of our home office writing these words I don’t physically resemble Gollum. I do, however, feel his pain.
Precioussss words, where are you????
Like so many people, my heart positively breaks for victims of bullies and bullying. No one should have their quality or enjoyment of life compromised by another person. Ironically, more times than not, the bully doesn’t have much quality or enjoyment in their own life – if they did, they’d find a more worthy title for themselves than “bully.” Be that as it may, they don’t have the right to impose their nastiness on others.
A very brilliant and timely book, The Skinny on Bullying: The Legend of Gretchen has been written by Mike Cassidy. I was lucky enough to receive a copy and it’s the very book that put me in kinship with Mr. Gollum (from the Lord of the Rings fame).
From the Back Cover:
The Skinny on Bullying is the story of two popular 5th graders at Stickville Elementary School named Beth and Billy. After a fun filled summer, the time has come to start 6th grade at Stickville Middle School. Once school starts, Beth and Billy soon realize they aren’t as popular as they used to be. They experience bullying. With the help of teachers, adults and friends they devise strategies to put a stop to bullying and grow up a bit in the process.
Like all of the books in “The Skinny On” line, The Skinny on Bullying: The Legend of Gretchen is exceptional. The story flows in a very powerful and entertaining, yet easy to read format. People of all ages would enjoy this book but I’m particularly eager to see as many young people get their hands on The Skinny on Bullying as possible.
The Skinny on Bullying will teach you to:
About the Author
Mike Cassidy is a writer and social media expert who grew up in the Connecticut suburbs outside New York City. Mike is a 2006 graduate of Villanova University with a degree in Communications.
Anyone who is interested in helping bring an end to bullying (online or off), should consider this as more than a book. The Skinny on Bullying: The Legend of Gretchen is what we’ve all been looking for and waiting for – a book that clearly shows young people what they need to do to avoid becoming victims or, for that matter, bullies.
I strongly urge all parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, teachers, and principals to put a copy of The Skinny on Bullying: The Legend of Gretchen in the hands of every young person in your life. The book is presented in a very delightful comic book-type format with lovable, funny characters that kids of any age would love reading about. I can see a teenager enjoying this book as easily as a fifth grader.
The Skinny on Bullying lays out for the reader the four main types of bullying:
Each of the types of bullying is dealt with beautifully – with examples as well as ways to avoid bullies and how to handle them if complete avoidance proves impossible.
We honestly have to get a handle on this situation right now and, as is the case with all situations, educating everyone is the first step. How can we expect the problem to go away if we don’t meet it head on? Our young people must be educated and this book is the ideal opportunity to make this happen.
I’d especially love to see someone, in a position to do so, make this book required reading in all public and private schools. If teachers would read it with their students, then discuss it in class – I know we’d have what we’re all looking for.
A happy ending.
Please click HERE today to order a copy for the young people in your life.
The video below is a plea from Ellen DeGeneres regarding teenage bullying. She sums up, beautifully, everything that’s been running through my mind since reading about the most recent tragedy. Another precious young life has been destroyed because of individuals who don’t have enough going on in their own lives to keep from nosing into other lives.
After being what is termed cyber-bullied, Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi jumped to his death. The short (and heartbreaking story): Tyler’s roommate apparently set up spy cameras in their dorm room – recording Tyler kissing another young man. He then went to a young female student’s room and fired up the livestream recording.
The kids (you know, the ones without interesting enough lives to keep them busy) then distributed the video over Twitter.
Mortified, young Tyler Clementi said his goodbyes on Facebook and jumped to his death.
As someone who loves young people more than I love my next breath, I am completely shaken by this whole thing. Some people are hoping that the young people who caused this (or should I say played a role in causing this) get years in prison. Personally, I can’t see even more lives wasted as a glorious solution.
They should be made to do community service, in my opinion, and lots of it. They should have to join a group that seeks to find a solution for bullying. Maybe they should be guinea pigs – allowing us to probe under their skin to find out just what sort of people find bullying to be an entertaining sport.
My mind is drawing blanks as to where one would even look for a solution to cyber bullying. As adults who know better, are we setting the example?
Here’s an example. What about all of the “touched up” photos that are everywhere online featuring celebrities? The blogs show the original picture of the individual, along with the photoshopped, airbrushed, and often completely altered version. People take great pleasure in these. Recently, there were pictures of a Madonna photo shoot – before and after. I have to admit, even I laughed at the headline (Re-Touched, Not For the vVery First Time).
Clever, right? Well,maybe not.
As a society, we’ve become kind of obsessed with “knocking people down” and “exposing” them. Why is that? Most of us have all that we need and then some…. Why not want the same for everyone? At what point did we stop pulling for people and start pushing them?
If Madonna’s arms are airbrushed, so freaking what?! Why fixate on that? Fixate on her career and the fact that she looks amazing.
We have to STOP making the act of “knocking people down” a form of entertainment. We need stricter laws, I acknowledge that, but we need – first and foremost – to look deep inside of us and ask ourselves, “What makes us behave like monsters?!” It isn’t cool, it isn’t cute, and it in no way makes us look better to anyone – least of all to God.
Since the beginning of time, being “different” has kind of marked a person. Whether it’s your sexuality, your race, your appearance, or how you talk – if you’re different from the “norm,” people will sit up and take notice. Those who are comfortable in their own skin and are completely have their act together will notice you, then grant you the freedom to live your own life. They may not 100 percent agree with everything you do, but they’ll fight for your right to live your own life – safely and happily. Besides, they’re too busy living their own lives to interfere with yours’!
However, the uncool crowd – those filled with hatred, prejudices, and vile – will do more than just notice you. They’ll do all they can to ostracize you, bully you, and try to make everyone else do the same. That’s all they’ve got – they don’t have any real game to speak of.
I honestly hope this is something you’ll think long and hard about. Please talk to the young people in your life and, again, please take a stand. Take an honest look at the people you hang around with offline or the people online who you follow on social media sites, forums, or blogs. If you ever detect any form of bullying or intolerance, run… don’t walk… in the other direction. If you stick around, you’re condoning what they do. You’re an enabler.
Be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem. As someone who loves young people, I’m begging you.