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.”
If you’re a blogger, you know all too well what spam is. If you aren’t a blogger, let me clarify it for you – it’s like junk e-mail. The kind that wastes your time on a good day and question humanity on a bad one. Generally, I go through my blogs deleting what spam makes its vile way through spam filters with thoughts like:
And so on. But today, while sorting through spam on my Dream Analysis site, I had other thoughts completely. I found myself in a batch of spam comments that I call “Keester Sunshine Spam.” It’s all so complimentary and sugar-y it’s as though they’re shooting sunshine up your keester, so it’s Keester Sunshine. Spammy comments like “You’re brilliant and I’m blown away!” and “Has someone notified the genius police yet? You’re a genius!” were deleted one by one.
About halfway through the list I thought:
I won’t bore you with the details of spam plugins or how the one on that particular website is disappointing me. I just want to help you to see compliments and words of encouragement in the same light I saw them in about 30 minutes ago. Even though I knew the comments were bogus little cans of spam, I couldn’t help thinking, “Wow. If these were legit words of encouragement and honest, sincere compliments, I’d spend hours a day on this site!” I didn’t think, “If these were legit, I’d slack off. After all, compliments would mean I’d arrived! Why go further?”
Some people seem to think that complimenting others will cause the individual to “slack off” or stop reaching.
Compliments cause people to reach further, do more, and see if they can’t do even better things. The brain says, “They notice! I’m good at what I do! Yay, me!” These words generate such a positive little buzz that you find yourself powered by a gas far more powerful than the one you had before.
By contrast, negative, deconstructive words or (just as bad), NO words at all bring about the complete opposite result. The brain says, “I can’t seem to do anything right! I can’t seem to do enough for him/her. Why even try?”
As you may have noticed, I’ve been MIA (Missing Internet Action in this instance) for nearly a week. The hideous storms that tore through the south left us without internet service for 6 days. If I DIDN’T have over 20 sites that I publish and maintain, it would have been an inconvenience – as it was, it was horrendous. I certainly won’t say disastrous – what happened in Alabama was disastrous. In fact, by comparison, my situation WAS just an inconvenience.
Whatever we call it, I will be busy for days catching up on e-mail, comments, updates, posts, reviews, etc. However, after my epiphany while clearing spam, I simply had to take a break and share a few words about compliments with my Self Help friends.
I also want to say how nice it was to come to Self Help Daily today and find such nice, encouraging (and legit) comments waiting for me. They simply re-affirmed everything I’d been thinking. Each wonderful comment made me want to roll my sleeves up further and do my absolute best.
That’s the effect positive words have on a person – whether they’re children or not. However, for children and young people, the truth seems to be especially TRUE. All caps. I’ve always felt this way. So much so that whenever anyone would (or even when they do now) tell my daughters how beautiful they are, I’d always add something to the effect of, “… and very smart!” or “… and they have great personalities, too!” Even when I was as young as they are now, it just seemed to me that a child should hear all sorts of wonderful things about themselves. They truly gain a sense of their identity from our words, which is why I never wanted them to ONLY identify themselves by the way they look.
In a very real sense, we all gain a sense of our identity from other people”s words – especially people who place a hefty price tag on other people’s opinions.
In our daily conversations, we’d all do well to remember that things we treat so casually (our words) are actually the most powerful tools we own. With these tools we either build people UP or we tear them down.
It’s our choice. Do we want strong, confident “I can do anything!” people in our home and workplace or do we want to spend our lives with defeated, beaten down “I can’t do anything right!” people?
As soon as words leave our mouth, they begin creating the world we know.
Someone once said, “People have a way of becoming what you encourage them to be, not what you nag them to be.” I’m not sure who said the words or when they said them, but I do know this – they hit it right on the head.
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.
I just finished a very special and ridiculously entertaining book: In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving.While I love all books, my favorite type of book to read is non-fiction. Whether it’s historical, motivational, inspirational, self growth, how to, biographical, or autobiographical, if there’s a non-fiction book on the premises, I’m not too far behind it.
Character is something that you cannot buy, and it’s something that cannot be taken from you. You can only lose it. It’s the most important thing you own. – Sean Tuohy
One of the things that makes In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving so extraordinary is the fact that it could very well be listed under any of the categories I just described. How cool is that?
If you loved The Blind Side even half as much as I did (I laughed, I cried, I clapped), there’s a part of you that wants to know more about this warm and wonderful family. They’ll tell you right up front that they aren’t perfect – but many things about them are so darn near, they know what perfect had for breakfast.
Even after the movie, I wanted to know more about Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy as well as their children, Collins, Michael, and S.J. I bought the book, The Blind Side (I laughed, I cried, I clapped). After reading the book… you guessed it, I wanted to know more.
There are stalking laws, though, so I cooled my heels. Finally, my patience and adherence to the law has paid off. This outstanding book fills in the missing pieces and provides you with family histories that are more fascinating than even I had dared to hope. I guess it makes sense that outrageously colorful people would have more of their kind up their family tree.
And what stories they have to tell!
We fight. We make up. And we get over it. That’s what families do. – In a Heartbeat, Page 27
The book is brilliantly divided into chapters which are “hosted” by different individuals (Tim McGraw, Sean Tuohy, Leigh Anne Tuohy, Collins Tuohy, S.J. , Sandra Bullock, and Michael Oher). Being able to hear the different voices makes the book even more special. It really was a stroke of absolute brilliance. When Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy describe their childhood and college life, you feel as though they’re in the room with you. Each has a conversational writing style that makes everything in the world right.
From Publishers Weekly
Those familiar with the film The Blind Side, or Michael Lewis’s best-selling book, will likely already know the inspiring story of how the Tuohys took future-NFL star Michael Oher into their home and adopted him. For anyone wondering what more there might be to say about it, the answer is: plenty. In a Heartbeat finds the Tuohys attempting to determine what it was that made them reach out to the homeless African-American boy they saw walking down the street in a t-shirt and shorts on a winter’s day. Leigh Anne and Sean had known tough times themselves and had put themselves on the lookout for troubled kids in need of help. As a white, southern, church-going family, they defy red-state/blue-state stereotypes (for instance, by sending their teen-age daughter to a seminar fostering racial and social justice); though Leigh Anne has been described as a “gun-toting Republican Christian,” and admits to carrying weapons, she also claims to cross “party lines all the time.” With Jenkins’s help they write with humor about their quirks and the joy that Michael brought to their family, finally arriving at the belief that “we can all change people’s lives by investing time in individuals.”
I’ll be completely up front with you (as always). I should have had this book review up last month. February was ridiculous for me, though, and – literally – this is the absolute soonest I can write this review. Don’t get me wrong, I could have thrown up a quickie – you know, here’s the picture of the book, here’s what the back cover says, here’s the link, you’ll like it. Wham, bam, go order it mam (or gentleman.) This book deserves much more than that, so here is the review – a couple of weeks later than I would have liked to have written it.
As we reflected on our own ways of giving, we came to see that we often approached charity too formally. Giving shouldn’t always be a prescribed ritual or ceremony; it doesn’t need to be accompanied by properly stamped paperwork. If we worried less about the procedures and methods of giving and concentrated more on a giving state of mind, we might have more to offer than we knew. – Page 22, In a Heartbeat
It’s funny, I’m not sure I’ve ever told you or not, but it’s WAY, WAY, WAY easier to write a book review for a book you either….
If this book had answered to one of these descriptions, the review would have been up long ago. The book would have been boxed up and given away or spat on and thrown away.
But a book that you know to be a very special book – one that you wish as many people as possible would read? That’s one tough assignment. I have so many thoughts running around in my overly-caffeinated mind. Each thought is clamoring for attention like a roomful of kindergarten kids. They’re bumping off of one another, each one trying to be louder than the next. Normally, it’s a show I enjoy, but I really want to do right by this book.
Ever since, I’ve known how little it really takes to give someone a big leg up. – In a Heartbeat, Page 40
A sample of the random thoughts:
Those are just some of the thoughts running around my head. I guess now would be a good time to pause and thank God and WordPress for Bullet Points.
In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving is without a doubt the next book you should read. I sincerely hope that you’ll grab a copy right away and devour it cover to cover. I thought it’d be fitting to end with a favorite passage from the book. It’s written by Sean Tuohy. It’s from a chapter in which he tells about his fascinating childhood, college basketball career, and the head-on collision with fate… also known as the night he met Leigh Anne.
One of the reasons I find this section of the story especially fascinating is that their relationship reminds me a great deal of the one I share with my own collision, aka my husband Michael. In our world, however, he’s more like Leigh Anne, while I’m the one sometimes just trying to hold on!
When friends ask me how I’ve managed to forge such a happy marriage for twenty-eight years, I joke that it’s because I don’t have a huge need to be in charge. But the real answer is more difficult to articulate. How do you explain harmony? For whatever reason, we have it, even though we’re very different. I’m a slow talker and more roundabout; she’s quick-firing, easy to rile, and very assertive. My way of doing things takes three weeks; hers takes three minutes. We’re both achievers – we just go about it differently. So who is right? I don’t think either of us cares, which is probably one reason we don’t have many arguments. What matters most is that we complement each other. And, on the important things, we understand each other perfectly.
Over the years, our differences have tended to be sources of interest, not conflict. – Sean Tuohy, In a Heartbeat, pages 56-57
Read more about In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving by clicking the link.