Back in February I posted this blog. This would be before the virus hit and we all wondered if we would indeed get any older. Now, I have come to believe that there is sunshine at the end of the storm. Hospitals are announcing fewer cases and except for the political agendas, people seem to be on the move. An agent whom we know said that they just can’t keep up with the number of houses being bought…so someone is expecting to live in them or sell them again in some future time. ALL THIS LOOKS LIKE A GOOD “GROWING OLDER” possibility.
So let’s talk about this new optimistic view by looking back at what I wrote in February. The only real difference that I can see is the really close contact and the tragedy of the elderly dying alone in a nursing facility. That breaks my heart!
“Everything in advertisement these days is how to stay young and beautiful. Who wouldn’t want to do that?! Well, not so fast, perhaps those that have lived a good, long life have a few things to say about aging. We will explore the subject that no one wants to write about, talk about, or experience…aging. We all grow a little older each day…each hour…each minute. Some tell it better with the graying of the hair, a larger mid-waist, or a few wrinkles…or alot as the case may be.
I live in Florida and all the billboards for senior living look like this:
Yet, many older people are finding a life filled with wonderful memories and FEW, if any regrets about their lives.
It is not all downhill as some would like to think.
The funny thing, however, is that we rarely think of ourselves as getting older.
You notice that I never say OLD, but OLDER because it is the natural part of life for everyone…from crib to the knee replacement!
I’d like to share a portion of one chapter which relates to this topic of growing older:
“What exactly is the meaning of “grace” or doing something with “grace”?” We would all like to think that we can be that kind of person when it comes to seeing our lives slide away and we can begin a possible countdown on two hands. There are those who might make it to the 100 mark, but the quality of life in these people is usually limited. There are exceptions, however. Some Centenarians have some real words of wisdom for all of us.
One man said, “I enjoy robbing the government by continuing to get my pension!” Another Centenarian said about getting older and reaching 100, “It is only a number. You live for the day and a little shot of whiskey occasionally helps,” he said with a smile.
Fond memories seem to play a great part of enjoying the end of life. We all have the heartaches, but it is the happy times that we can and should reflect upon. Building another good memory at any age is the key. It is a great thing to be able to say, “I really did so many things, knew so many people and I believe I mostly did everything that I wanted to do.”
If you are growing older, it is not only the physical body that begins to become more frail, but the mind and emotions can also take a toll. Some of this is genetic or poor health or a disease that is not avoidable. Nevertheless, for those of us who are fortunate enough not to have some of these disabilities, it is up to us to feed the brain with optimism and good thoughts. It is too easy to complain or become “an old fogy” that no one wants to be around or that is old-fashioned or intellectually dull.
Doing the things that make us happy is most important as we age…whether that is writing, as I do, or watering a beautiful flower that has been grown and nurtured by your own hands.
An English lady maintains her wonderful memories of her family as if they are all still around her. With a laugh, she says that sometimes people will hear her talking to herself…but it isn’t really to herself…but to the children that she remembers and cared for through their lives. “They think I am crackers when I talk to myself, but I’m not…just remember the ones I love.”
If you have been in a nursing home for the aged, it is quite depressing, at times, to see so many elderly sitting and doing nothing. Often they are sleeping from medication given to them that can take away quality of life. This is when an advocate is so important to keep watch over a parent or grandparent who may not be able to fend for themselves when it comes to care. Years ago, the elderly stayed in the home of the children until their death. Because of this, they had someone with them who truly cared about them and their welfare. How important it is to speak to those sitting in the Assisted Living facilities and let them know that they are recognized as a special person who has lived a very long life. Each of them have stories to tell if we will take time to listen.
Taking time to listen is exactly why my husband and I interviewed veterans of past wars to write their stories in the book, Men and Women of Valor in the Blue Ridge. Most had never had an interview and were most appreciative to know that the service they gave to their country would live on in a book. This was especially true of an elderly man who fought in Korea with frozen feet. His miracle was that just before surgery to remove his legs, the blood flow came back. Our veterans are quickly passing away, as are the Holocaust survivors of World War II. With grace, many have shared their lives and stories of courage with us. In our present day, those who now sit in wheelchairs, will soon be gone from us. Some have made the trip back to the places where so much happened in their lives to preserve freedom for future generations. Never forget to thank them “for their service.”
Asked if the Centenarians “have any regrets,” most had only a few. Some wished that they had told someone they loved them more or worked harder at a vocation. Time moves swiftly as we grow older. We look back at a full-time career, a number of children in the home, pets to care for and after retirement it is hard to imagine how we fit all that into one 24 hour day! We should want to live those hours as gracefully as possible at any age.
The word ‘grace’ literally means ‘favour.’ In Hebrew, it is CHEN from a root word CHANAN – to bend or stoop in kindness to another.
In Greek it is CHARIS and has the idea of graciousness in manner or action. It comes from a root word CHAIRO to be cheerful, happy. 31
Perhaps this is the key to those who have lived life longer than most…to accept each day with gratefulness and cheerfulness. It is a lesson for all of us to learn to live in GRACE.
On a spiritual level, it is to LIVE and MOVE and have our being (or EXISTENCE). Acts 17:28 It is the GRACE of God that saves us.” N.W. BOYER
It spite of illness, in spite even of the arch-enemy sorrow,one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change,insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in a small way. Quote by Edith Wharton (An American novelist and the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1921.)
Recently I received an email from a reader of this particular blog on Growing Older. What she wrote to me was so impressive that I asked permission to reprint it here for my readers. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
“Hi, Nancy! This was great. It reminded me of my job in Portland, Oregon where I was an Activities Director for an assisted living facility. I had to get my certification from Portland State and I learned a lot about geriatrics! The state required that I provide activities for spiritual needs, physical, creative, educational, and social activities. It was quite a challenge I had 97 residents and I was the only activities person. The nurses were nice enough to help those who were not ambulatory to take them to the activity. I had a “Fit & Fun” class where we exercised to the 1940’s music (they especially liked the Andrews Sisters); I had a Chorus, and a band, we gave concerts to the families. I did educational things like picking a country and showing a 30 minute video about it and before that, I would make some food for them from that country and talk about it for a while—plus I had “happy hour” and music playing on Fridays, and I had a tea party for the ladies (Steve came and played the recorder for them) with lace tablecloths and china tea cups—I had slide shows…and ministers/priests/ and Jewish people come in and offer services. I loved that job so much! It was great fun. Steve called me a “paid party-girl”. 😊
Working with elders was wonderful. Funny…too. “Good morning, Claire, how are you this morning?” Claire replied, “Well, let’s see…I woke up…I was able to eat breakfast…and I could go to the bathroom…It’s goin’ to be a great day!” You never know… I have so many stories.
My favorite was Vera. She had Alzheimer’s, couldn’t walk on her own, and had trouble communicating. I found out that she used to play the piano. So one day, I wheeled Vera in front of this grand piano and then I sat down at a nearby table. She looked at me…and looked around…and looked at me again…and looked at the piano…then played a beautiful rendition of “Moonlight Sonata”. I nearly fell over. I ran to get the nurse to show her! Wow. After she finished—I took her back to her room and she fell asleep. She didn’t say a word.
Another favorite was Violet. Again Alzheimer’s –about 3rd stage. She was walking on her own. Wore everything in her closet (we were careful not to have much in there)…needed assistance to be seated because she didn’t know where to sit. She had trouble talking but she babbled anyway. I heard that she used to be a secretary for 45 years. One evening, while she was eating dinner in the dining room, I took a chance and wrote on a piece of paper in Gregg shorthand “How are you today, Violet? ”. Then I left the paper there with the pencil and watched her from the other part of the room. It took a while…she looked at it, then ate some more and looked at it again, picked up the pencil and scratched something. After she left, I went and got the paper… it said, in Gregg shorthand… “I am fine today, thank you.”
When I think of being older…I think of miracles. Those that have happened, and those that have not happened just yet. I’m training my mind to be positive, and grateful. It’s working. 😊 Your wonderful story just added to that!”
ENJOY YOUR LIFE…IT IS THE ONLY ONE YOU HAVE…and the sun is still shining!
VIDEO Turn up sound Interesting thoughts from some who made it to 100 years old…and still enjoying life.
My Mother made a beautiful stitched picture that hangs on my wall. Every time I look at it, I think of her fingers carefully pulling the needle and thread. The message was important to her and it should be for all of us today.
History also is most important to us because it teaches us so much. We can look at what has happened in the past and in some ways project the future…unless we refuse to learn. Most present-day issues are sensitive and hard to discuss, but we must think about these things.
What kind of “fragile” times are we going through and what has history taught our last generations?
Let’s take a hard look at now and then.
- Everyone has become fearful of the possibility of becoming sick or dying from our recent virus.
- Governments have taken control world-wide more than we can remember in our modern history.
- Life and travel has completely changed.
- Tragedies have led people to respond with demonstrations as they let their concerns be known. This is the democratic way, according to our Constitution, and should be respected.
- More tragedies have occurred for business owners, of every race and creed, whose livelihood has been ruined by the breaking and looting, which should have never been connected with those wanting peaceful demonstrations. Some organizations have as their goal to bring down democracy and pit our citizens against one another.
(Let’s look at those in other parts of the world who are fighting to keep their democratic way of life.)
- People in Hong Kong are facing further governmental crack-downs from mainland China as Beijing proposes new legislation. ( “China stunned Hong Kong when it announced it would impose a national security law on the city. Many worry this could spell the end of Hong Kong’s unique freedoms…”) whole story on BBC News
Why even mention the present day problems? It is because these are only a few of the world’s problems that makes “Life Fragile” for all of us, in this country and around the world today.
What can we, the present generations, learn from history?
- The slave owners and slave ship captains were the ones responsible for the sins of the past…not people living today. By making slavery the sin of those living today only makes our society more fragile. Unfortunately, history cannot be relived, as much as we would like to correct the wrongs of the past. Looking at and condemning the actions of the past by individuals or governments is one thing…to place it on the shoulders of those not responsible is another.
We talk of the need for “being together and unified” and for everyone to work together to rid all injustices in society. Yes, the present and future are our responsibilities. To rectify present problems is an honorable goal that most would want to see accomplished, but talk is cheap if we continue to blame those who are not responsible for past injustices.
Mass blame only leads to disruption and a society sickness within groups of people, leadership, the media, and our communities in general.
( Let’s think also about German history.)
- The Nazi regime blamed an entire group of people. They were the builders of the death camps, designed to eliminate the Jews from their culture. I had the honor of taking young Americans to Auschwitz to remember this tragic time during World War II. It is an experience one never forgets. Even the Jews, themselves, could not believe that their businesses were being destroyed and that they would be rounded up to die, simply because they were a particular group of people. Society has a way, through the evils of leadership, to turn against one another. Interestingly enough, Hitler continued to use the expertise of his Jewish doctors and dentist. How could he not have known the value of the individual? Mass hysteria became the weapon of choice, as well as propaganda through the German media, leaflets, and posters against people as a whole.
The German youth today, or their parents, are not responsible. We will make life more fragile if we try to pin on innocent people what tragedies were espoused when they were either tiny children or not even born.
- Past generations of Native Americans had the horror of walking to their death on the Trail of Tears, which is a despicable part of our own history of governmental policies. The white, mostly of European descent, who rode their wagons through the tribal territory to settle the West were often murdered and scalped. No living Native American had anything to do with this tragedy.
- We must not forget the hundreds of Japanese Americans, who were placed by our government leaders during World War II in the U.S.Internment Camps because of being Japanese. The generations today of U.S. Government officials had no part in this.
- Because some policemen have acted in evil ways against defenseless people, ALL men and women wearing the badge can not be blamed or demonized for the acts of others… for many have dedicated their lives to helping safe-guard our communities. Without them, those who mean harm will be let loose on those who will see a greater need to protect themselves. In this case, those wishing for more gun control may find their proposals will fall on deaf ears.
Are we getting the picture?
Blaming ALL people for the actions of some only leads to an extremely fragile society. It leads to the persecution of the innocent and instability of our nation and the world today.
Our last question: Can destroying the representations of history remove it from memory?
Condoleezza Rice, former 66th Secretary of State, explained her view about destroying history to the Washington Examiner. She believes that the Confederate statues and associated names of schools and universities should be used as teaching tools. It is as a way to understand history even as we learn not to celebrate it.
This is why we, the Believers in Christ and of the dignity of all people who were created in the image of God, must not forget to pray. We must pray for each other, all mankind of every nationality and the government leaders around the world, who have the power to turn our world upside down.
We are a fragile world.
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Nelson Mandela, former Pres. of South Africa
Video: Turn up sound
May you be blessed this day with some beautiful music as you listen for the quietness of God’s presence in your heart.
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
Video of beautiful, relaxing background music with nature photography:
Turn on your sound.
If you are trying to make a family decision about the care of your elderly parents, THINK TWICE…MAYBE MORE than twice!!!
It is not easy when elderly people are at home with the rest of the family, who are also at home. Children are not in school; parents may be working from home and the stress goes on until life can go back to some normality.
What about the parent that you have loved so long and they have loved you? If they are dealing with the beginnings of physical or mental decline, it may be that you are thinking, “What do we do? I don’t know if I can give them proper care. I only want what is best.” for him/her/ or them. No one doubts the love between families, but this pandemic has changed family dynamics all together.
Not everyone has the built-in options of home health care professionals, but placing a family member in an assisted living care is also extremely expensive. For those who could afford such arrangements, is this truly the best answer. Think about it. Because these facilities have a “no visitors” policy, it may be the last you would be able to see your Mom or Dad face to face..or they see you, for some time to come. It may not only be a permanent separation, but a death sentence to those unable to cope with such loneliness. It is not unusual for the elderly to stop eating when depression sets in.
As we know, years ago and in many other countries, the elderly lived within the same house as the rest of the family. They had interaction, care and to die was not a lonely experience. This blog does not intend to give you an answer to this difficult decision that perhaps you or a friend may be going through concerning your elderly loved ones, but it does give some food for thought.
Think what you would want for yourself as you continue to climb the AGING ladder.
This is an informative article written by Sara Harrison in Wired.
“IT TOOK SIX weeks, several long, frustrating phone calls, and a consultation with Apple Care before Laurie Jacobs got her 89-year-old father up and running on FaceTime. Jacobs, who is a geriatrician by training and is now the chair of the Department of Medicine at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, was worried about how her parents were coping during the pandemic. They live in a long-term care community, but they felt isolated and lonely. Over the phone, Jacobs couldn’t tell how her mother, who has some cognitive decline, was feeling or if she was walking comfortably. “The communication at a distance is very difficult,” she says. “You don’t always get the whole picture with an older adult on the telephone.”
And, like so many other Americans in quarantine, her parents were running out of things to do. “They seemed bored and somewhat depressed by the lack of stimulation, so further ways for them to interact was very important,” says Jacobs.
The Covid-19 pandemic presents a doubly complicated situation for older people: Not only are they at higher risk of contracting the disease, and more likely to develop severe infections and die from it, but they are also the most likely to struggle with—and suffer from— the consequences of prevention strategies like social distancing. For people with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or severely reduced mobility, social-distancing guidelines can be impractical and nearly impossible to follow, making prevention and treatment even more complicated.
Seniors, especially those above age 80, have been hard hit by the virus. That’s in part because they often have comorbidities like diabetes and hypertension, which make them more likely to be hospitalized. Doctors aren’t sure why those conditions make the effects of the virus worse, but both conditions are associated with greater expression of the ACE2 receptor, a protein on human cells that the coronavirus latches onto to start replicating.
Many older adults also have chronic, low-grade inflammation, a state called “inflammaging,” in which the body is unable to control the release of cytokines, small proteins that are supposed to help modulate the body’s immune response. This dysregulation could put seniors at great risk of “cytokine storms,” a condition reported in severe Covid-19 cases during which a patient’s immune system spins out of control and starts damaging healthy organs.
Seniors are also more vulnerable because of immunosenescence, a slow deterioration of the immune system that is a normal part of aging. When people are young, the immune system has a big reservoir of T-cells and B-cells ready to fight infections. These are called “naive cells,” meaning they haven’t encountered any bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens yet. When those naive cells encounter an infection, some of them learn to recognize that pathogen and become ready to fight it off if the body gets exposed to it again. “As we age, we lose that reservoir of T-cells and B-cells,” says Wayne McCormick, head of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine at the University of Washington. “It’s hard for us to make new ones, although some people seem to retain that capacity better than others.” That means the person’s body may mount a less robust immune system response than it would have done when they were younger.
Immunosenescence also means that diseases present differently in seniors, which may make it difficult for their doctors or caretakers to recognize a Covid-19 infection. While many Covid-19 cases include fever, for example, in seniors the symptoms might also be due in part to dense living conditions, under staffing, and a lack of personal protective equipment. And recently, health authorities have realized that the virus is spreading rapidly in work communities where employees are housed in crowded conditions, share long commutes on shuttles, or cannot easily socially distance, like meat packing or farm work.
Whether they live in a long-term care facility, nursing home, or in a family home, many seniors have unique needs that make it impossible for them to socially distance. Some need help eating, washing, going to the bathroom, or moving around. “You can’t do that using Facetime,” says Eric Widera, a professor at the University of California San Francisco who specializes in geriatric and palliative medicine.
Yet for older adults living in their homes, social distancing can cause isolation and loneliness. Most of the places people would go to socialize—senior centers, libraries, churches, temples, or synagogues—are closed. Families are discouraged from visiting. “We’re worried it’s going to cause a wave of true loneliness,” says Widera, which can lead to serious health problems including worse cognitive function, higher blood pressure and heart disease.
While older adults are the most likely to catch Covid-19, they also may be less likely to benefit from a vaccine. Because seniors don’t raise the same immune response that younger adults and children do, they generally don’t respond as well to vaccines. They also aren’t always included in clinical trials. “If you look at the last many decades of research, the vast majority of randomized control trials do not include older adults. And if they do, they don’t include frail older adults, who are at risk for this,” says Widera. “That’s one of our worries: That we’ll be looking at potential treatments, vaccines, but not actually testing it on the people who are at the most risk of developing this disease.”
For people with dementia or other kinds of cognitive decline, things get even more complicated. Widera points out that people with dementia may not remember they need to wash their hands more often or refrain from touching their face. And dementia patients often wander. In communal living or care facilities, they might walk in and out of other patients’ rooms, down the hall, or into common living areas, all of which increase the likelihood of catching and transmitting the disease. Diagnosing Covid-19 in those patients could be even harder, too. “People with cognitive impairment may not be able to report their symptoms very well,” says McCormick. “Even if they had a cough an hour ago, they may not remember that they did.”
Patients with dementia also have unique challenges if they end up in the hospital. Covid-19 symptoms can worsen their confusion and delirium, as can being in an unfamiliar setting like a hospital room. These patients may be terrified when they’re separated from their family or their usual caregivers and are being tended to by staff covered head-to-toe in protective gowns and masks. With nurses trying to limit patient interactions to reduce the need for this protective gear, patients are often isolated for much of the day.
Martine Sanon, a professor of geriatric and palliative medicine at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, says that usually they encourage family members to be part of the care team and to help orient and comfort their loved ones, but with limited protective equipment, and with fears about spreading the virus, those options aren’t available. “The families have been tremendously wonderful,” she says, often using FaceTime to play favorite music in the background or to call patients by a familiar nickname. “That does help.”
At Hackensack University Medical Center, Jacobs says usually they try to use non-pharmacological methods to help soothe distressed and confused patients. “The way we manage that usually in the hospital is basically staff sitting with a patient, reorienting them, using music, using touch,” she says. But with Covid-19, it’s too dangerous to have someone sit with a contagious patient all day. Instead, the hospital now relies on medication to calm patients down.
While mortality rates are higher for older adults with Covid-19, many do survive. What recovery looks like for them is more complicated. “That’s the other shoe to drop,” says William Greenough of Johns Hopkins. Older adults are likely to be weaker and to recover more slowly after a hospitalization, he says. With so many hospital gyms, rehab, and physical therapy facilities closed, that’s going to make their progress even more difficult.
None of these issues—loneliness, immunosenescence, difficulty recovering from hospital stays—are new problems, and none are unique to the virus. But the novel coronavirus exacerbates the many challenges older patients already face. “Covid-19 intensifies and complicates everything,” says Greenough.
During this time of self-isolation, I continue to write, but I also stop to paint when I truly want to relax. My art is nothing like a professional, but I love the freedom it gives to paint whatever is in my mind. Usually it has something to do with God’s nature…a flower, tree, or anything beautiful. As we sail along on this time of testing, we know that life will continue.
Nothing ever stands still…not time, events, or even our own living breath. Each moment we live is different from the last. We will move forward and it will be ours to find the peace God wants us to have. It may be in reading our favorite books, working in the garden, painting or sewing some special thing. We should also make this time to sit down to read God’s Holy Scriptures, an inspiring book or to be consistent in praying. We have the choice of how we will face these times.
One of the things that my husband and I have enjoyed has been the ability to travel. We may not be doing much of this in the time to come, but we remember with fondness some of our favorite trips. Going to Japan ranks very high on the list.
First time I went to Japan was as an educator, invited by the Japanese government. The second time was with my husband who had at one time been to Japan as a U.S. Navy Chaplain. It was great to return together. Being a part of another culture has always intrigued and delighted me. There is so much to learn. Perhaps the thing I come away with from getting to know different parts of the world is how much we are really alike. We work, play, and often make our faith a honored part of living.
I’m sharing with you a video by the artist, Akiane Kramarik, who has an amazing God-given talent. Akiane has taken her art around the world and in doing so, as a young woman has gained insight into the beauty of all people. It is even more true as we know that the whole world is trying to rise above the difficulties of the time. As we have heard many times, we are in this TOGETHER.
On this trip, she talks about visiting Japan and what it meant to her. She stresses that we have a need to SAIL FORWARD…even before she had any knowledge about a world-wide pandemic about to happen. You will notice that the people of Japan are going about their daily business in large groups. Such were the “good old days.” Go with me now on a tour of Japan with Akiane. At the end, she will demonstrate her incredible artistic talent.
This blog post is also presented as a gift to all Mothers around the world and especially those who have found it difficult to see family, whom they love, during the coronavirus…and especially on this MOTHER’S DAY!
In Honor of my Mother, Alta, who died at age 93.
Here I am with Mother when we were both young!
Video: Turn up the sound
A famous quote by one of our former Presidents, John F. Kennedy:
“Ask Not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
There is so much push-back about who is doing what to contain this terrible virus. No one ever seems to be doing enough. There are comments directed at everyone in government from the President, State Governors to the City Mayors. Yes, each of these should shoulder responsibility for the welfare of the general public. They were elected to do just that. Governments around the world also shoulder responsibility to a world that is totally connected.
Yet, the WHEN something was done or not done may not help at this point. It is what are WE doing now to protect ourselves, our family, friends, neighbors and anyone who might come to our yard or door?
WE must think further than someone doing something FOR US…to OUR DOING something or anything that WE can do.
So what is it that we should be doing? I thought maybe I would try to list some things that is beyond what we all know about “washing hands, coughing or sneezing the right way and keeping our distances.” Perhaps these are some things to think about that WE CAN DO. Here are several suggestions:
- Make phone calls to those we know are sitting at home alone. These will be greatly appreciated and break the monotony of having no one to share thoughts with. It also is emotionally and mentally beneficial to send picture emails of family, children, pets etc. that will brighten their day. My roses are blooming in my yard and my 97 year old Uncle, in North Carolina, enjoys seeing what’s new at our house in Florida.
- Gather up some colored pencils, drawing paper, coloring books, or anything you might have a supply of and leave it at your neighbor’s doorstep to help with home-schooling their children during this time.
- Make a call to a medical facility, doctor’s office, police station, firemen, or other first responders to THANK THEM for all they are doing. They should know that people care. Each time we hear a siren, we know the medics are on duty…caring for those who may have an infection, putting their own lives at risk.
- Light a candle in your window to remind yourself to pray for those you know or don’t know around the world.
- Last, but not least…don’t forget to mail off your contribution of money to help support the on-going financial needs of your church or charitable organization. The local food banks and Salvation Army are ready to help those in need or homeless.
Remember that you may be only one…but you are ONE. One person makes up many. All things that you can share to benefit others and to lighten the burdens will bring people together in the name of your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. During this hard time, YOU can make a difference and be the LIGHT TO THE WORLD… in whatever way you want to let your LIGHT SHINE to others.
Blessings from Bill and Nancy Boyer at Boyer Writes
Turn up your sound:
Recently I read a blog written by Stephen RM. It spoke to me and I felt that I’d like to add some of my own notes to the specific suggestions made by him. I have entitled my part of this blog as FORTITUDE AND LIVING LIFE. It is my hope that you enjoy this and give it some serious thought:
The Oxford Dictionary defines FORTITUDE as follows:
Fortitude refers to strength in the face of adversity or difficulty. … People who have fortitude are described in an admiring way for their courage and this word comes from the Latin word fortitudo, meaning “strength.”
There are some things in life that give us the ability to press on and enjoy life. Yes, it does have to do with the heart because how we think about life is our heart-felt desire to enjoy it.
Here are a few things that are suggested as things to do before getting to the elderly age of ____. You notice that no particular age was put in this space! Age is only a number since your birth. Pay little attention to it or what other say about being of a certain age because people have always put restraints on age….such as: “You are too young!” or “You do that at your age?” etc etc. Therefore, the advise of this writing is to think about these things before you get too much older to experience some of them.
Suggestions for a happy and fulfilled life:
1. Travel the World Together
Traveling with someone you love can bring you closer together and makes for scrapbook-worthy memories. (The nice thing about scrapbooks is that you get to enjoy these experiences over and over without whipping out your phone and trying to find the pictures you took somewhere! nwb)
2. Travel the World Alone
But hey, if you don’t have anyone to travel with right now – that’s okay too! Traveling alone is a completely different and rewarding experience that you should definitely do at least once. ( I knew a lady who was definitely a senior who traveled alone and she would find where the young people were bunking on a ship and mix and mingle. Good for her! nwb)
3. Be Mentored by Someone
Any successful person will tell you that they wouldn’t have gotten to where they are now if not for the help of a mentor. Take the time to find the right one for you and you’ll reap lifetime benefits. (A mentor might even be a teacher of something you have not tried. I had never tried throwing clay for ceramics, but my mentor taught me how. Now, I am proud of the little dishes that I use for myself or guests. nwb)
4. Mentor Someone
Pay it forward!
5. Leave a Legacy
Leave something behind that will outlive you – a non-profit organization, a movement, a sustainable business – your imagination is the limit!
6. Go Skinny Dipping
I’m not certain I would want to find a nude beach in America, but If you visit Japan, they have wonderful springs…No swimsuits and separate areas for male and female…who bring their children. An eye-opening experience for someone from a different culture. nwb
7. Give Back
Living for something beyond ourselves gives us a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Bless others with your blessings!
8. Start Journaling
Write down your thoughts now, reread them years later, and you’ll be amazed to see how far you’ve come. ( You have a story…tell it! It will be a joy to those you love to read after you are heaven-bound. nwb)
9. Fall in Love
Seriously, anyone should definitely fall in love at least once. Even if doesn’t end in happy ever after. (Our first love will probably not be the love of our life. I personally found my TRUE LOVE after I was a single parent with three children. After 38+ years of marriage, I am eternally grateful! nwb)
10. Attend a Religious Event (that’s not your own)
Whether you’re religious or not, try exploring other faith denominations and get different perspectives on spirituality. (Not everyone will be comfortable in a place of worship outside of their belief. It is important to look at what you believe in your worship of God and find joy in true faith. It will be your comfort on your death-bed. However, to be aware of what others believe is important to our understanding of life. As a Christian, I have had opportunity to travel and learn from the Buddhist students that I taught. It was a good experience, but in the long-run, it strengthened my love for Christ, my Savior. nwb)
11. Build Your Expertise
Be an expert at something. If someone mentions your name, there should be a skill that they can always count on you for. (I trained to be a teacher. After retirement, I became a writer and now this is more a part of my identity than that of an educator. Interestingly, as I write, I still believe that some things written are a form of teaching. nwb)
12. Live or Travel in a Developing Country
If you’re from the western part of the world, the best way to understand cultures different from your own is to immerse yourself in it. Live in a handful of developing nations and see their world through their eyes. ( How true this suggestion is! Nothing can top my experience of traveling in Mongolia, Ukraine, and Guatemala. All had different cultures and languages. At first it is somewhat intimidating, but in hind-sight, an excellent experience. nwb)
13. Be Happy Alone
Learn to love yourself and find happiness in your own company. It’s one of the most freeing things you could do for yourself. (How very true!! nwb)
14. Commit to Healthy Habits
Start building healthy habits as early as you can and you’ll find more things to do as you grow older.
15. Become a Multi-Hyphenated Individual
With our fast-evolving world today, it’s absolutely possible to have more than one career. Be the doctor-lawyer, or award-winning author-speaker you always wanted to be. (Taking on another interest does not always mean a change of career, especially if it requires great expense or time-consuming study. It is a broadening of interests that keep us alive and young in thought and mind. Try, as I did, to go to an art class with very young students. I could have been their parent, but I was accepted by them and learned that having a nose ring wasn’t the end of the world! nwb) Thanks Stephen RM
Be happy in your heart because it brings about great FORTITUDE as life moves on.
VIDEO OF BACKGROUND MUSIC FOR YOUR DAY:
This is the age of electronics and social media that covers the world. We can look for someone through this medium that was never available in the past. Because of this and the hundreds of people who read my blog from around the world, I am dedicating this post to the parents and friends who have a missing loved one.
Maybe a person has vanished because of foul play or maybe he or she left of their own accord, which those of us who have experienced this know well the sadness that separation brings. Yet, people make their decisions and we all live with the results.
We pray for these brave parents of the Missing People’s Choir of England that they will be reunited with their missing loved ones. They have been left with memories only and the constant words in their hearts and minds, “I Miss You!” They are still hoping and praying that the doorbell will ring and you…the missing, will be standing there. If you are one of these people on the screen above the performers, JUST CALL. That is all they wish for…to know that you are safe and alive.
Go to a phone. Call your Mom or Dad. They only want you to know that you have always been loved and are greatly missed. The past is the past and there is a future.
Whether it has been a day or so…or years…just CALL.
The video below is of a group of people in Great Britain who bonded together to sing and share their sorrow and sadness because each one has a missing loved one. It appears as a musical event of talent, but their purpose is clear…maybe, just maybe someone will see the program or this blog and will make a decision to go home to those who care.
Look carefully at the pictures and names put on the screen behind the singers. Do you know this person? Is this person…you? Are any of these people your parents? Pass on this blog to friends who can also pass it on. It may bring someone home.
(If you don’t have access to a home number, there are numbers to call for help: In the U.S.: Any age or if a missing person is a child, call 911, or call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children: 800-THE-LOST (800-843-5678). There is NO online filing—all reports must be made on the phone or in person. In the UK: free, confidential and available 24/7. Call or text 116 000 Email email@example.com.
Video Turn up the sound
President George HW Bush called for a “kinder nation” and from time to time we will see evidence that there are many kind people in the world. The shame is that most stories we see on TV or on the internet are of the violent and outrageous.
I began looking for some actual videos of kindness…or pictures to prove that it does not matter to what nationality or race one belongs…KINDNESS is kindness…and it crosses all boundaries.
I read about a woman on an airline who had a crying 2-year-old and a 5-year-old. A woman offered to help and hold a child throughout the flight. The mother was so grateful.
I understand this well in that I had three children on an airline from California to Florida. My daughter, who was a baby, cried off and on the entire trip. My sons tried to ignore it and curled up on the floor to sleep. That, in itself, was a no-no. I’m certain the other passengers were beside themselves with hostile thoughts, but no one wanted to reach out to help and make things better. We all lived through it…but barely. One does not realize that it is sometimes impossible to silence a tired, upset child who is used to his/her routine, safely back at home in the bed.
Another act of kindness was a young 13-year-old who went outside in the rain with an umbrella to help an elderly gentleman get home. There is definitely hope for the next generation. This young man made his mother proud…and he should be also.
I happen to be an animal lover. It is easy to love all animals. It is not so easy to love the down and out who may or may not have made their own bed and are now lying in it. Nevertheless, these are exactly the kind of people to whom Jesus Christ reached out …the beggar, the harlot, the unclean and pathetic. He calls us to do the same…not just during Christmas when we have a warm, cheerful heart… but always. We may be the only face of “Christ” that they will see…or the only hands and heart that shows God’s love.
Below is a video that calls for people of all walks of life to reach out to a fellow human being…or an animal that is in distress. Saving a life or making one just a little better is what we need today…this Christmas…and always. Bring your kindness to someone today.
Mathew 25:40 “…Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, you have done it unto Me.”
Family members are the ones who know us best. There are often things that break families apart…even if it is not understood why. There could have been arguments or no argument at all. A decision was made to walk away…to go a different direction. Sometimes it is through the influence of others…or a decision is made by the one member who decides to leave. Whatever the reason…coming home is a difficult thing to do. It means facing the people that we have loved the most in the past. It may even be hard for those who were left. To take the step to go home again may be like a bitter pill. Swallowing the pill of the unknown…the hope for acceptance…or the possibility of rejection is even harder. We are human and we don’t like to admit we made poor decisions. We are also told that “forgiveness is divine.”
Someone reading my blog today is saying to his/herself that this sounds like my situation. You either have a person who has left you…or you have left those who love and know you the best. Life will go on even if you decide to never face your family again, but is it really what you want? Will you never know the warm embrace that is there waiting for you? The longer time goes on and you walk away in your mind and heart, will you ever have another chance?
Is it worth it to pick up the phone, show up at the door, or write a letter to those you have left behind? You may not really know how much it would mean to even one person that was always a part of your life. You may have never left your family, but have someone that you have avoided or have not spoken to in years. Reconciliation is a word not often used, but a very important word. Only peace and happiness can come when there is reconciliation.
Only you can decide. God will give you the courage if it is a “Yes”…and He will weep tears along with yours on the lonely nights if your decision is “NO”…but weep you will. Eventually weeping is assured because no one will force you to do anything you do not want to do…not even God.
In the Holy Scriptures, the Prodigal Son’s father did not run after the child he loved, but allowed him to leave and waited patiently until he finally saw the familiar figure approaching him from afar. His joy could not be contained! Who is waiting for you?
The video below shares not only the beautiful music of the choir, but a message within its drama. No, it’s not Christmas as the video indicates, but your decision may be the best present ever.
VIDEO (turn up sound)
Occasionally, I will be going toward the altar at church and will see an elderly person waiting quietly in the pew for the minister to bring to them the Holy Communion. They are usually frail and do not feel that they can walk on their own very well. I am reminded of what my husband, who is also a priest in the Episcopal Church, often says about the elderly…“If they have lost the love of their life or have no family close by, they rarely have the human touch…the hug…the warmth of another human.” Knowing this, I might reach down and pat her (or him) on the shoulder and take their hand, without saying a word just so they know there is a touch in their life.
On researching this need for human touch, I found out the following:
“Upon birth, some babies require a little more attention at hospitals before they can leave with their parents to begin their life. Babies who receive stimulation in the form of touch have shown to grow and gain weight at rates faster than those who lack touch. They also experience fewer health issues in their first year. The simple act of a touch can lower stress levels (specifically the stress hormone cortisol) and regulate a proper body temperature in a baby’s body through the release of hormones.
The connection was realized upon finding out that children who grew up in environments such as orphanages, with less contact and engagement, had higher hormone levels compared to children raised with parents. In turn, this difference in environment can lead to many issues later in life – from a struggle to bond and behavioral issues.
However, some of the damage caused by touch deprivation can be reversed due to a change in environment – a study done in Romania in the 1980’s supports this, showing that in children aged six to twelve, those who lived in an orphanage for eight months or more possessed higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol compared to those who lived in an orphanage for four months or less.” (taken from Youngzine..Renee)
When my youngest son was born, he had to stay in the hospital for several days because he was under-weight. As I went to visit him daily, I would often walk in and find him being rocked by a nurse or nurse’s helper. They called him their “Little Cowboy” because his hair had little sideburns. Seeing that he was being loved meant so much.
I also learned the truth about the need for touch and human development when I was teaching at a University in Ukraine. I visited two orphanages. One was State run and the other was a Christian run home for children. The children in the State-run orphanage did not smile. When we put them on our laps to try to talk with them and hug them, they did not seem to know how to respond. Nothing brought a smile to their faces. On arriving at the Christian orphanage, the atmosphere was completely different. The children were laughing, hanging onto their adult workers and seemed well adjusted in so many ways.
Recently my husband posted a video about a man who has made it his mission to give the tiny, often sick or premature babies the human touch they need. I’m going to share this video with my readers today because it is the life story of a senior person giving of himself to a new life on earth. He is making a difference.
Let this video touch your heart and think of reaching out yourself to someone who may need a “touch” of love.
Turn up sound
We have all heard the song, “I’ll be home for Christmas”, but what if some of the people you love will not be there? What if you were not invited to be with your family members in some other location? You may have a family member in the military that is far away and the thing he or she would like most is to be with family, but it is impossible. The song mentioned above is a heartbreak song for many.
There also may be family members who don’t want to share Christmas with you and have made that choice. It is never easy to come to the realization that someone does not want to be with you on one of the most special times of the year…especially for Christians. The question is…How does One deal with a reality at this time of year…or anytime, for that matter?
We really have one of two choices. It can be to let our emotions and disappointment weigh us down OR turn our directions toward a time of thankfulness for all the other blessings that we have.
First, look around you. Do you have other family members who are excited to be with you? Lavish them with your love…for they have not turned away. Do you have a roof over your head and food on the table? Rest in your most comfortable chair and eat with gratefulness. When the old, dark thoughts begin to come back and cloud your day, refuse them and look at the stars or the beautiful trees outside and realize that this life is too short to spend it in mourning…especially things that you can’t change.
Take someone by the hand and give them this message:
For us here in Florida, it may be down by the lake or through a green park, looking at the winter flowers.
Decorate a tree or a bush outside. Turn on some cheerful Christmas music…sacred or otherwise. I never knew how anyone could come up with lyrics like “Grandmother got run over by a reindeer”…but maybe it is good to chuckle and then shake your head because we would never say something like that about our Grandmother.
Give your pet an extra pat on the head and a bone in his stocking. What, no stocking for your dog!? Find one. Our beautiful 14-year-old Golden Retriever passed away this year, but I still strung lights around her memorial garden and whispered to her beautiful spirit, “These lights are just for you, Gracie”. Surprisingly, a beautiful rose appeared on the bush above her little tombstone in the middle of winter.
If none of these spark your imagination or lift your spirits about missing family or friends, turn toward someone outside the family. The scriptures tell us something that we should be doing, not only at Christmas but always.
James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
My husband and I have been surprised on returning to Florida from Virginia, how many people around us are either recent widows or in the last few years have become widowers. We decided to visit them for a while to listen to their thoughts and feelings. One lady has just recently lost her husband and will be having Christmas lunch with us. I mention this to say that when we are feeling “blue” about family situations, it changes things when we reach out.
Don’t forget the different organizations that make it possible to help children who are in need. Recently a child had written to her teacher that he only wanted Santa to bring a ball, some food and added…”I need a blanket.” If that does not pull you out of doldrums, you may need to examine charities like Samaritan’s Purse that brings smiles to children around the world. ( See Operation Christmas Child..Samaritan’s Purse)
Christmas is not all about giving or getting. I recently told someone that if I would receive a letter from my children saying anything of appreciation for me as their Mother, THAT would be “the best Christmas present of all.” So often Christmas is hard on those who have had expenses throughout the year and the funds are just not there for presents of any kind. Kind words and thoughtfulness is only the cost of a 50 cent stamp.
I close with this thought, with the help of a little friend, on the real reason for the need to choose a better outlook on the season:
VIDEO Winchester Cathedral Choir (Turn up sound)
Boyer Writes wishes everyone a blessed and wonderful Thanksgiving….whether it is in your culture to celebrate this day or not…we pass along love and thankful hearts to you our readers.
Music Video Turn up sound
The couple you are going to meet has decided to meet life head-on. They have faith that could have been shattered, but they didn’t allow it to happen. Serving his country, the unthinkable happened. He would be blind for the rest of his life. Hear his story and the words of his beautiful wife. Be inspired and realize that at times the joy we receive in life has to be worked for. This is how they are finding their joy.
(Detroit Free Press)
The best definition of liberal education is one that I read about recently, which was given at a commencement address by Fareed Zakaria. One may hope that the graduates who heard him were enlightened and came out to face the world with a new vision of tolerance.
Who is Fareed Zakaria? He is an Indian-American journalist and author. The Post-American World, The Future of Freedom (2003) was a New York Times bestseller and has been translated into over 25 languages. His most recent book, In Defense of a Liberal Education, has been praised in the New York Times as “an accessible, necessary defense of an idea under siege.”
The essence of what he had to say is in the video below. ( put out by CNN (Alexander King). I think it is worth a listen before we all become so un- enlightened in this world that we cannot listen to any viewpoint but our own. Agree or disagree, we will all live on the same planet…have many of the same worries for our global and individual safety and will share in whatever blesses or plagues us as a society. We will have a “common destiny”.
We are in the middle of the Season of Lent…a time of reflection, repentance and waiting for the great and glorious Easter Day. Having recently attended an event with educated, talented and, yes, sophisticated people, I was struck by the attitude of a person I knew to be a regular church-going person…a professing Christian. It began as a friendly conversation that moved clearly into a belief in self-importance and frankly, snobbery. The person mentioned that they had left a certain congregation because “the people just didn’t have our same social class…mostly trailer park people.”
I came away wondering what Jesus would have thought about “trailer park people.” Many of the people we know, especially in the mountains that we visit each summer, might fit that category of housing…small places, double and single wide trailers, but they are some of the nicest people I know. Some of their dwellings may be humble, but they are definitely down to earth, courteous, loving and caring about others….the salt of the earth. If this person, that I mentioned above, had the opportunity to sit down beside one of my friends in a small cafe and really get to know them, she would find out what we know…they are are truly real people!
In fact, these are some of the very people that Jesus went out of His way to seek out. They weren’t the wealthy or the highly educated…or even the most moral. Most were not self-righteous or condescending about others. They did, however, have people who refused to socialize with them. The woman at the well, who had many husbands and was then living with someone other than a husband, could not understand why Jesus, a Jew, was speaking to her as a Samaritan. Yet, He never spoke down to her as if she was not worthy of God’s love. Most Christians believe that simply giving a drink of cold water in His name is the same as giving it for Christ.
How often modern day people…even Christian people…lift themselves up on a pedestal, thinking of themselves as better than others. I think it is time that all of us take a hard look into our hearts and see if any of these words apply to us:
- holier than thou
When speaking of others or refusing to reach to others, because of our own self-importance or superior feelings, is certainly not following the example of Christ even if we profess to be a Christian. We were not called to be a Christian by elevating ourselves above others. Ultra-sophistication can severely limit the joys in life and the people that He would bring into our lives because we believe that others do not quite make the grade.
We have been told that there is level ground at the Cross. Even the mother of the sons of Zebedee missed the mark when she asked for her sons be able to sit directly next to Jesus when He came into his kingdom. Why would she feel that they were any better or more important than others that followed Him? Jesus left it up to His Father in Heaven to make this decision. He also talked about those who wanted to be “great…shall be a servant.” (Matthew 20:26)
Think about it as you approach people in your walk of life. Those who think of themselves too highly may end up being rebuked by our Lord, as were His disciples.
For me personally, I’m looking forward to sitting with my friends who may live in humble circumstances …hearing their delightful stories and being enriched by their lives… and hopefully to enrich theirs.
VIDEO: Turn up sound
International Women’s Day: It may be a surprise to some that women of the past often hid behind a man for any ambition that they may have had. Did you know the following?
George Elliot was not really a George, but a Mary Ann Evans. Known for her writing such books as Silas Marner, she hid behind another name…a male name. In the nineteenth century, women writers often used male pen-names so that reviewers wouldn’t be prejudiced against them as women. Charlotte and Emily Bronte published under the names Currer and Ellis Bell, and the famous French novelist George Sand was also a woman, Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin.
Prejudiced? Yes, we have our prejudices…and women have had to fight that battle for a very long time. It may seem strange to our young people today when they see women holding signs up about equal pay. It hasn’t been long in this country that women fought to simply vote. We might ask how many did not use that right and privilege in our past election?
We ride on the backs of those who have gone before us. What a shame to let them down. Minority women …and men…also fight the battle of prejudice. Recently, I heard the term “white privilege” and if people felt guilty because they just happened to be born white. The person being asked this question looked puzzled and did not know what to say to the interviewer. If they had been thinking quickly, they might have answered something to the effect…”What country are we speaking of in relationship to white privilege?” It certainly depends on the country that has the majority of people. Most likely there would be “black privilege” in most African countries as far as jobs etc. We know that there is prejudice when one is the minority in certain countries to the religion that they follow. In nations with the majority are Muslims, the Christian or the Jew may be the target, of not only discrimination, but life-threatening attitudes on being infidels. People with the same religion may be targets of another brand of their same religion. So it goes on and on…the prejudice that is felt around the world for one thing or another. Gender is no exception.
Here are a few women who have stood out in history, not hiding, but making their voices heard when many were fearful to do so. (Slide show)
Today, I would like to salute the women of the world for without you there would be no world. You give birth and through you…the generations follow. You, in most cases, cook the food that goes on the table, often after a hard days work. When there is a need to help the others in your household support the family, you pitch in and often save the day. You are smart…ambitious to do your best…and you are to be commended.
Times have changed and in many ways we are better for it. In other areas of life, we are still finding our way out of the sins placed upon us as women. There is still the horrors of female sex trade, sweat shops and abused women. Women may be called the “weaker sex” because physically most of us have less physical strength than the men of the world. However, there is nothing weak about most women…in their courage and in their abilities. In this century, we just look differently and in many cases, we act differently. Modern woman can march for their rights, but often do not represent the average woman when combining rights with vulgar speech or hated rhetoric. It may be good for all of us to look to more recent history to see what women have done to keep freedom ours so that we can enjoy what we do have.
Question: Whose shoulders are we standing on for the rights and privileges we have today? One large group of women are those, like my own Mother, who dropped everything for the war effort for their brothers, husbands, and family men who were fighting in far away places during WWII. They were the Home-Front Women, better known as Rosie the Riveters. There was nothing lazy or unpatriotic about them. They knew they had a job to do…and by gosh…they were going to do it! If they didn’t know how, they knew they could learn. (Slide show)
The Holy Scriptures, that were written in a day when women were often thought of as property or definitely had their place, lifted the woman up and praised her. Even Jesus reached out to the women with the least in reputation, and did not rebuke, but simply said, “Go and sin no more.”
In Proverbs 31: 10-31, a wife, in particular, is praised for all the things she does. One will notice that she is described as a business woman. Maybe she didn’t have a real estate license, but she knew how to negotiate and buy wisely. She is also described as a woman who loves God and reaches out to others.
” An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her,and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”
As a woman, wife, mother, teacher, friend, and neighbor, I thank God for the women in my life that have shown me their love, support and example. It is not all about being on equal footing in all areas of life, but in what we can appreciate about ourselves to have had the privilege of being female.
There is no more hiding. Unlike George Elliot, my books may never be famous like hers, but I have MY name on them of which I am proud and thankful. We have freedoms and privileges that many women of the past could have only dreamed of. GO GIRL…be proud but thankful!
We all want to be accepted. It really doesn’t matter who we are or what we have in common with someone else…just accept us for who we are and don’t worry about the rest! Is this true? It seems to be the socially and politically correct thing in the world today. Just accept everyone…or most everything. We can get philosophical and remind ourselves of some of the things that we think of as acceptance:
ACCEPTANCE OF RELIGIOUS BELIEFS:
- Catholic Christians.. Understanding beliefs and practices of the Catholic Church, acceptance is key to being a committed and devoted catholic. That may include family planning; going to confession; repenting of sins and church attendance. This also is true of the emphasis other Christian groups place on their particular brand of Christian faith and commitment.
- Jews… some similar beliefs in that they accept the Ten Commandments as a way to live and have a good and fulfilling life (Mcdowell and Stewart, 1983).
- Muslims.…acceptance of Allah as their higher being and the teachings of the Koran.
Whatever a person’s religious beliefs, they believe that acceptance of these parts of their faith is important to show structure and commitment in everyday life. Let’s look at some other types of acceptance?
PERSONAL ACCEPTANCE How people accept one another has a direct effect on the individual’s self-esteem and well-being. Does this have to be true? We are told that this need for approval will have a direct impact on a person’s life. Some may even cause psychological disorders. Examples are: approval by parents; acceptance by work associates; peer pressure in schools ; living up the religious up-bringing or teachings and many more relationships.
We have to ask ourselves a very important question.
Is total acceptance what we really want and is it good for us? On the surface, it seems to be a good thing…but maybe not.
- Is it best to be totally accepted by a peer group, whether work; at school, or socially? What are their values?
- Are there dangers to relationships that keeps us in bondage to a person… such as a battered wife who feels there is no recourse? We could elaborate on this where a male is concerned.
- Is staying true to religious tenants that do not bring us to a peaceful, loving God, what we really need or want?
All of this seems complicated…and often we make it so. The thing that is most important is the ACCEPTANCE OF ONE’S SELF. After all, we live with ourselves moment by moment. We are told that we should not be so self-centered. Why not? Of course, we do not mean self-centered to the neglect of others or so wrapped-up in ourselves that no one else matters.
“Self acceptance (or self-centered, as we mean it) is being happy with who you are now. It’s an agreement with yourself to appreciate, validate, accept and support who you are at this moment.” If you find that things in your life need change, then work toward that…evaluating WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU.
ACCEPTANCE…NOT RESIGNATION People may asked how they can accept something or someone that has brought great pain in their life…death of a loved one; a divorce; sickness. All these things may not be able to be changed. They are what life has given. There is a difference between acceptance and resignation. Realization that one can not change the past or the sadness of the present has a lot to do with acceptance. This is living in reality…not in fantasy or wishful thinking.
“Accepting whatever the loss is, does not mean you are forgetting the loss or that you won’t ever feel sad again, but it’s a turning point that means better things are to come.”
All of this is just food for thought as you may be asking yourself how important is acceptance to you. You may also be thinking about relationships, beliefs, and what works for you in your life. Some things may worry you.
There is only One who fully accepts us just as we are and gives us the courage to face life daily. We are told in the Holy Scriptures ( Philippians 4:6) “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
In this video, we see that there are some unusual bonds of acceptance…and just as in humans…those bonds that seem like a good thing may turn out to give an outcome not anticipated. I watched this video several times and heard words that I think also have to do with human behavior when it comes to acceptance…and a need for a relationship. You will hear these words in the dialog: obsession, bonds, controlling, complex emotions and intimacy. All of these pull us into a need for acceptance…to our good or to our detriment. In your own life, you will have to be the judge.
It takes a long time to develop a relationship….sometimes years. We live the ups and downs of the person we care about. There is a special union that only we know…or the other person knows. Sometimes we don’t even know why there is that special connection. We only know that there is. It may be like “Peas and Carrots” as the line says in the movie, Forrest Gump.
Just as in this film, the person we love sometimes leaves and has a rough go of it. The decisions made may even cost a life; ruin a life or shorten a life. Sickness and sadness may follow. We can do nothing about it, but to always care and to love.
Life is strange this way. That special bond, whether that of a father to a son or daughter; a mother to a child, a lover to a lover may seem to be broken, but life has a way of changing what we know today. It may not be the same tomorrow.
Releasing the bird that we want to hold so close is the only way to ever have it come back. That decision is not always easy. We want to feel the feathers in the hand…to touch the heat of its body and yet there is the tug to get away and to be free. We have to release it.
The peas may be separated from the carrots, but they will always have a way of naturally going together. Maybe they will go in the same dish…or maybe they won’t. Regardless, while they were together, they were good.
In Forrest Gump, Jenny, as a child, never wanted to go home. Forrest did not understand why this was…but she knew. Years later, she picked up the rocks to throw at the house representing the person who had caused her so much misery and pain. That abuse had sent her into a life of searching and into drugs and bad relationships. As she hurled the rocks at her house of memories, the famous line is spoken: “Sometimes there is just not enough rocks!” When life hurts, we want to lash back and in despair and in hope…see what it has done to us. Life will go on. We have to give it a chance to correct itself.
Whatever the ending, there will always be some things and some people who brought beauty into our lives. We have to remember those times. They are the “peas and carrots” that have been a part of who we are. Don’t try to separate them or understand them…just take them for what they are.