Be Mindful of Your Actions

Be Mindful of Your Actions

It is true that many things change as you age; not only physical aspects, but views and opinions, as well. One of the nice things is whatever your views or opinions are, they are often accepted rather than tackled as something to debate about.

I witnessed an experience through a child’s eyes this past week. I know it is a common occurrence in daily life, but this time I viewed it from a completely different angle. I suppose it was the expression on her little face and even the confusion in her eyes, although brief. Her age is that of beginning to understand the feelings of embarrassment while trying to develop her own personality. I think, as society, we far too often discard how truly fragile the whole core of development is for a child. Speaking from my memories, there are many that occurred in my younger years that had both positive and negative impacts on my persona.

Regarding this particular occurrence, we were standing in line at a Subway restaurant waiting our turn to order the favored sandwiches. This little child was so excited, as this is her favorite restaurant and she is learning to choose and make her requests known to the sandwich artist. She also selects her chips and drink and, of course, a cookie. After she had made her requests known, she asked politely if she could get some straws for her 2 chocolate milks. She was given permission. This was such a big deal for her, as she was expanding her responsibilities and gaining confidence in her choices.

There were several adults in the restaurant standing in line that had begun to watch this precious little child. Not only were her actions cute to observe, but also quite impressive for such a young one. On her way to retrieve straws for her drinks, she stopped and turned around to ask if it was alright to get some for her Papaw, Gram, and Mommy, too. Again, she was granted permission. Only the top of her little head could be seen as she collected the straws. As she rounded the counter and returned to join us, two women behind me burst into laughter. It startled the child and she stopped walking. There she stood with a handful of straws; her sincere offering of care for those she loved. The look on her face was one that would tug at the coldest of heartstrings. She was being laughed at and she recognized that.

I am quite sure the women meant no harm and their expression was one to applaud how cute was this little girl holding what looked like 20 straws for her family. However, this child did not understand their reactions in the same way it was expressed. To her, she had done something unacceptable and there were a multitude of eyes drawn to her blunder. Thankfully, the confusion was recognized and the child was offered a gentle redirection to offset the embarrassment she was experiencing. An expression of thanks was given for her kindness and consideration of her family. A suggestion was made to count  how many straws would be needed and the rest could be used by those that were standing in line; therefore, the child had been thoughtful of not only her family members, but those that were waiting their turn in the restaurant. A smile returned to that little face and confidence, once again, exuded.

The way the scene unfolded caused me to have a different view than I might have had in the past. Although the expressions of laughter by the adults were not intended to harm or hurt, that is exactly what occurred. Children are precious and have so many cute actions and reactions, it is difficult to not express joy to such. However, a child will often have a completely different view and as adults, we must be diligent and aware of the effects of our expressions. This child was trying extremely hard to be strong by making her own choices and voicing her own opinions. I remember when I was young it being a bit scary to independently embrace the simplest of tasks. There is something uplifting and terrifying, at the same time, in those situations.

It all turned out alright and the momentary feelings of embarrassment and confusion expressed were diverted. However, it made me be very conscious of the actions many adults project. We must be careful that our laughter directed at a child is not perceived as a tool to discourage or make fun of. The world is an increasingly difficult environment of societal demands and bullying is at the forefront in schools and the workplace, alike. So many times we do not recognize or acknowledge the extent of our actions, regardless if intended or not, until the effects directly apply to us or our own children. Just as this child was being taught responsibility and offered encouragement to build confidence, it is just as important the lesson is taught to never laugh at another person. Laughter is to be used to uplift, not to cause humiliation. Even little ones feel hurt when being a subject of such disheartening attention.

With further thought, the elderly, disabled, and abused are also subject to adverse remarks and actions. Again, it is not necessarily intentional, but if thought is considered prior, it can be a great deterrent of unnecessary hurt. The next time a situation arises that might warrant a chuckle, it is imperative that it is not displayed at the expense of someone else.

I’ll see you on the flip side……..

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It’s Your Day, Roo

It’s Your Day, Roo

29 years ago today, I held my only son in my arms for the first time. He was such a beautiful baby. I know that is the motherly thing to say, but it was true. He was a big boy and loved to be held and sung to while he took his bottle. He would make little humming sounds while he ate, like he was singing his own little comforting song. His sister loved him at first sight and wanted to take him home immediately. She didn’t understand why we couldn’t go home from the hospital for a day or two, so she hit me in the stomach and cried. After some explaining, she said she would be waiting for him at home. She and my mother and father were indeed waiting for us at our house when we arrived with our little bundle of joy two days later and she jumped right in to help take care of her baby brother.

He was always a contented, happy child, and entertained himself easily. The love for his family was immense. When he was 3 years old, I became “Kanga” and he became “Roo”. That was important to him, so per his request, the name change was made. All these years later, the names are still hanging around. His first desire of an occupation when he grew up was to be a turtle. He loved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Donatello was his favorite (the purple masked guy!). He would look for them whenever we would drive through town in hopes he could catch a glimpse of the turtles in their famed turtle van.

As he grew, he developed a love for pro-wrestling and Monday and Thursday nights became “a must” to watch WWE, TNA, and such. It was a big deal to subscribe to a pay-per-view event….you know Wrestlemania and others…..and order pizza to accompany the entertainment. There were a few times he tried to put me, his sister, his dad, his papaw, his best friend, or anyone else that looked like decent prey, in the figure-four. If you don’t know what the figure-four is, you have missed out for sure. Our basement was the place he and his best friend would wrestle from one end to the other mimicking the pro-wrestlers of the day. Neither would give up or give in, but they both had a respect for each other so no one was hurt; just lots of fun.

As a teenager, he became quite the athlete. He would tackle a challenge in sports like it was dependent on life and death and would persevere. He became the 5th leading scorer in basketball in the history of his high school, and that still stands today, and went on to play college basketball, earn a bachelors degree in Social Work, a masters degree in Social Work with a special certification in School Social Work, and is presently working on a 2nd masters degree in school counseling. His love of football, particularly Pittsburgh Steelers, and basketball, Louisville Cardinals, extended to adulthood and still enjoys watching the occasional wrestling match and attending games of Cincinnati Reds baseball and Xavier basketball teams.

He has chosen well with his girlfriend as she is a beautiful lady with a gracious, wonderful, Christian heart. They are a great compliment to each other and our family is very blessed because of her.  He has shared his love of sports and life, in general, with her and she has unselfishly embraced his passions, including his love for finding something else to add to his collection of memorabilia for his man-cave. She has learned a lot about football and wrestling, (she already knew about basketball because she played, herself, in high school) and is a willing audience to the televised events. I think the next feat is to get her to build her own fantasy football team!

He spends his days helping children and their families succeed together in the educational arena as a School Social Worker in the elementary school where he is employed, continuing his education, and maintaining the home he has purchased. In addition, he sets a wonderful example for his niece as to what a man should be. He loves her as if she was his own child and the love from her is reciprocated. Although they are miles apart, they see each other as much as possible and spend every minute playing and interacting, that goes on for days, and that is a true description of their personal time together. He facetimes her every night before bed to spend a few minutes with her and for them to exchange “love you….nite, nite”! What a special bond they have.  He always did place his family as a priority, even when he was a little boy, and still does today. His grandparents, paternal and maternal, were a constant in his life and although they have passed on, the reminders are embedded.  There is a continuance of ambitions and goals established years ago that was encouraged especially by his Pa, who was his strongest and most influential mentor.

It makes me very proud that he is a responsible, hardworking, honest and trustworthy, Christian man. Fiercely independent and passionate about his beliefs, he only expects from others what he is willing to give himself. Standards are set high, including morals, appreciation of self, compassion, love, and care for others. However, there is no tolerance for those that try to use, abuse, or take advantage of another or of a self-serving situation. He encourages and praises the honest and does not ignore the circumstances of the dishonest. I would say those are some upstanding traits. He is a person I can trust, and I do not trust many people, and even though we might not always agree on everything, and shouldn’t, he would never betray me. God is the center of his life and all decisions are guided by his faith. One day he will be a husband, a father, a grandfather. And I have no doubt he will be the same wonderful man he has been as a brother, uncle, friend, companion, grandson and son.

I don’t hold him in my arms anymore and sing to him while he takes his bottle, but I will always hold him in my arms and hug him while my heart sings with joy for the man he has become. God has truly blessed me with my only son.

Happy Birthday, Roo…….Love, Kanga

I’ll see you on the flip side………

 

The Whistle of a Train

The Whistle of a Train

I love the sound of quietness. Many people would say I was crazy and that is ok. It does not matter to me what anyone says about me anymore. Of course, I appreciate compliments or good remarks, but negative ones do not define me. I suppose you reach an age that such just does not have a place in your life, and in reflection, never should have.

As I sit in my recliner paying no attention to anything around me, I am jolted into a memory caused by the sound of a train. It is rolling along on the track, the clanking of the wheels is soothing and the whistle calls out to the night. Like a light being turned on at the flip of a switch, I am taken back a few years when my life was facing certain change; a door was closing. I found my bed to be that of a pallet of blankets on the floor beside my father’s bed. We, both, enjoyed staying up late and talking the last hour before time to turn in for the night. He would fall asleep before I would and I would lay there on the floor beside his bed, the darkness illuminated only by a night light in the hallway, listening to the silence.

During that time, I would pray and be thankful for another day with him and then I would cry knowing the end was near. I would reflect upon my childhood and how he cared for me; now I was caring for him. I could have slept in the next room on a bed, but I did not want to. I wanted to be close to him; it was for him and it was for me. I imagined scenarios where he would need me during the night and if I was in the next room, I would not be able to hear him. Also, I did not want to miss a minute of being close to him, as I knew the days were numbered and sooner than later, the opportunity to lie on the floor beside his bed would be no more.  Every morning around 3:00 a.m., the whistle of a train would pierce the night, followed by the clanking of its wheels on the track. That train knew where it was going. I did, too, and there was no turning around from the destination that lay ahead.

So in the quietness, I would appreciate the time to prepare myself, if there is such a thing, for what lay ahead.  It allowed me to regroup and think about who I really was and who I wanted to strive to be.  I do not think we get enough quiet time and as a result, can begin to lose the concept of our depth. Society is so involved in the tug of war of expectations placed upon each of us by our own demands or what we allow from others. Sometimes, there is not much of a choice in the matter. However,  many times we choose to be subservient to our own detriment rather than protect that which is sacred to our heart; our own well-being. It is not selfish to care for yourself, although there are many that would argue that point. It always makes me wonder how a person becomes as callous as to interject their own expectations without regard for the other person. I am convinced we all need more quietness and self-reflection.

A favorite Bible verse of mine frequently reminds me the importance of “Being Still”. I am a patient person by nature, but the times spent with my daddy at the end of his life taught me the importance of being still. I understood every moment that passed was one I would not get back and I did not want to miss a minute. I was very adamant about being with him round the clock, but I was also absorbing the preciousness of the quiet talks, the quiet times tending to him, the quiet prayers. God and daddy encouraged me to be still, to slow down and take in life’s blessings and appreciate every moment of every day. I often struggle with pulling back the reins and letting life “be”, but I am conscious of the necessity to do so.

The day came when I rolled up the blankets that had taken a home on the floor, washed them and put them away, and I went back to sleeping in a bed. But things have never been the same and never will be…..not that it should. I still enjoy staying up late and the quietness of the night around me; I suppose for more reasons than just one now. My thoughts often turn to the wonderful conversations I shared with my daddy and I draw strength and guidance from that. Even as an adult, we never get over needing our parents. I am thankful I had that strong relationship to reflect upon to help show me the way through my daily life. I am still learning how to be still, but the quiet of the night when the day has settled and the world is sleeping and gearing up for another round of chaos, I am soaking in the memories of what used to be and using that to strengthen the core of who I am. The whistle of the train in the middle of the night will always be a reminder to never take this life or those you love, and love you, for granted. In the quietness, you will hear far more than ever imagined.

I’ll see you on the flip side………

 

Deep Within The Heart

Deep Within The Heart

As I get older, I really try to pay attention to the important things within that make me who I am. I find myself analyzing the why’s of my actions and reactions. I do not always have a legitimate answer that I am willing to share with the outside world, or even those close to me for that matter, but I know. That is the most important factor of it all; I know.

Life has not always been easy. I am no different than anyone else in that respect. We all have issues and burdens mingled throughout the joys that pave the way to the person we end up being in the end. Not the silhouette; the carved out unshakeable mortal God formed.

I was blessed with a loving, supportive family to guide and care for me. We were not without faults and, like all families, had internal matters we dealt with as a unit. Although I had a solid relationship with my mother and brother, I was always “daddy’s little girl”. This must have started the first day I met him, on my birth day, and a vine of love and devotion was planted that would wind its way throughout my life. It took root deep within my heart.

I do not think the dictionary has a complete offering of adjectives that could paint a portrait of my daddy. It is natural to state such observations about a loved one, but daddy was above and beyond most, not only to me, but to many. He was a respected and admired man that worked hard, loved God and family, and valued what made a life. I am not referring to material items, but those things of substance that money cannot buy. He was adamant about setting a good example for his children and being available to listen to our needs and concerns. He was truly my best friend and exemplified such a model for all that had the pleasure of his acquaintance.

I feel very fortunate to have had the privilege of such a man in my life. As mentioned before, life has not always been easy, but I could always depend on my daddy to offer guidance, love, and support regardless what circumstances arose. The circle of life cannot be controlled by human beings and sometimes things happen that have devastating effects on us as individuals. Such occurrences transpired for me during my childhood that set the stage for the paths I would follow as an adult. Daddy stayed solid, although his heart was broken, and continued to be a pillar for me through the loss of my brother. My respect and admiration for him only deepened each day.

Daddy grew up in the Depression Era. He knew what it was to have little and appreciate what you did have. His mother loved the farm life and her animals, especially her horse named Fanny. She sold eggs and milk and traded vegetables, chickens, and cows, until she was able to obtain a buggy her horse could pull. He would often recall how she would heat coals and wrap them in a container and place in the bottom of the buggy to keep her children’s feet warm in the winter. Another recollection was the school lunch she would pack for him and his sister. He would routinely find biscuits and sausage wrapped carefully awaiting the opportunity to fill his belly. This was food easily accessible since they lived on a farm and raised their own meat. But he was ashamed of the menu because it depicted being poor so he would hide behind a tree to obscure his presence and consume his meal each day

As a young man, he went off to war and served in the United States Army. His tour led him to the European Theater during World War II. He served as a Staff Sergeant and earned a Purple Heart for wounds received in action and 2 Bronze Stars; one for meritorious service in ground combat against the armed enemy in the European – African – Middle Eastern Theater of Operations and one for heroic achievement in connection with military operations in Germany. When faced with withering mortar and small arms fire, he voluntarily exposed himself with utter disregard for his personal safety to the concentrated fire of enemy snipers to bring vitally required ammunition to the men of his platoon which was facing an enemy counter attack. Daddy did not speak often of his war experiences, but the stories he did share with me were much entailed and I understand why he chose to refrain from revisiting those memories.

As an elderly man, he would recall his youth and a common story was his remembrance of coming home on one particular furlough from the war. He arrived in his hometown late at night. He walked from the bus station to his parent’s home, about ½ mile away, and stood outside the bedroom window and talked to his mother. He then went on to visit some buddies late into the night. He would talk about how his mother cried with joy that he was home, if only temporarily, and he was safe. He would reflect affectionately and say he wished he would have understood, at the time, the entire picture of his mother’s nurturing and love and would become tearful.

Daddy only had a 10th grade education, but that was never a deterrent to his success. He lived simply, but had all he needed or desired. He worked hard and climbed his way up the ladder of achievements. Being a child during the Depression Era, he knew how to not be wasteful and save for the future. He wanted to leave the next generation better than his and he did.

He had losses in life that were very difficult. He buried a father, mother, sister; a wife of 48 years; a daughter that lived only an hour; a child that was never known as it perished due to an ectopic pregnancy; and a son that was 31 years old. He never wavered from his faith in God and never wavered as a father to me. He was stellar on the battlefield and just as much so as a father.

For 16 years, there was only daddy and I. Momma and my brother had passed. I had my own family, but daddy continued to be what grounded me. As an adult, I developed into a very private person, choosing to deal on my own, as best I could, whatever life threw at me. But I was never alone. I always had God and I always had daddy in my corner. He gave me comfort just spending time with him and although many times remained unspoken, he knew when I needed that extra hug, that extra pat on the back, that extra squeeze of the hand.

Today, daddy would have been 92 years old. It has been close to 6 years since I have heard his voice or held his hand. Tomorrow, I will be another year older. Although I am blessed to know he is reaping Heaven’s reward, my heart still hurts. God understands that. Each birthday I have now, I think about how he must have felt when we first met; when that vine of love and devotion was so freely planted and cultivated over the years. He occupied a place in my life that no one else will ever be able to fill, nor should they. I was changed forever with his passing and as long as I have breath in my body, there will be a void. But through it all, he gave me the tools to carry on and the pride to try my best, to be as good a person as I can, to continue what he established. Regardless how far in age I am blessed to travel in this life, I will always be my “daddy’s little girl”. That will remain deep within my heart.

In Honor & Memory; Always loved, Always missed, Forever in my heart, until we meet again………..

I’ll see you on the flip side……….

What Is You Choice – Worry or Happy

What Is You Choice – Worry or Happy

Don’t worry – Be Happy. How many times have you heard this? How many times have you followed this advice? If you are like most people, not very many times. Worry is built into our psyche, in my opinion, and can be used as a teaching tool to strengthen our personal relationship with God. Sound crazy? Read on.

Each person is responsible for their own path in life, including successes, failures, and the timeframe it takes to reach the end result of goals and desires. Reality should not be discarded in recognizing a multitude of factors can alter the journey in ways that can accelerate, deter, or change the course of direction, altogether. However, anyone that sets positive goals for themselves and is diligent will accomplish what they set out to do. There is a desire and necessity to control your own destiny, at least to the degree you can.

Whether it is individual personalities or societal demands, the stresses of worry, or feeling it is necessary to fit the situation, can move to the forefront of daily life. It can be coupled with the underlying conscious or subconscious need for control within ourselves. Yes, it is important to be responsible for ourselves and to maintain control to apply the proper direction to our own personal journey. However, control can be a dangerous concept when it overrides and becomes the focus. Not only will it steal your joy on a daily basis, but it will also interfere with the personal relationships, including the most important one; the one you have with God.

God instructs us to rely on Him. Yes, I do that, as many people do. In all honesty, though, it can often be generic. Did you ever think about how invested God is in His creation? We are definitely a part of that. However, our investment in Him is so miniscule it would offer no use to compare. Consider this scenario: Life is going well. Time spent in prayer with God and/or reading the Holy Bible is habitual, but without deep thought or substance in what is absorbed. We feel we are “in control”. Priority for time in prayer is moved from the top to somewhere in the middle; all dependent upon other demands for time and circumstances. After all, everything is going well, or at least tolerable. Now consider this scenario: Something has occurred to alter the “life is going well” concept. A plethora of situations could cause this change ranging from illness, financial struggles, job stresses, or just feeling tired/lack of sleep and beyond. And worry. Worry over the circumstances mentioned or other situations. We don’t feel “in control”. Despair is prevalent; mood is dictated by anxiety and depression; hopelessness is at the forefront of thoughts. What do we do? Call out to God; pray often, whisper requests for help, search for answers and comfort through God’s Holy Word, The Bible. We open ourselves and our hearts to receive any feelings of peace that can be mustered. Sound familiar?

The scenarios given are exactly how we react. When all is going well, we minimize the need to walk with God in depth. When life throws negative curves, we immediately cry for help. The generations before me would call that “backward thinking”. We often fail to put God as a priority in our lives and might not give as much sincerity to offering prayers of thankfulness as we do when we are desperate for His help in our own matters. It seems a bit self-serving.

Why are we so resistant? I’m sure it is not because we think we are God, however, actions would reinforce that maybe we think our knowledge is greater than His sometimes. God understands us and has mercy on our shortcomings. He can take a situation of worry and use it to bring us closer to Him. He wants us to be happy and joyful and trust in His word that He will always be there. He can take the worst situation in our lives and give us comfort and peace in return.

How do you get it? The first step, if you haven’t taken it already, is to believe and accept that God sent His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins so that we can have eternal life and that He was resurrected from the grave and lives again. Ask Jesus to dwell in your heart and save you; wash your sins away and make you new again. Then grow in your relationship with God by relying on Him; let Him work it out the worries and struggles in your life, praise Him for your blessings….which by the way are many. Walk through this life with God by your side, in front of you, behind you, with a shield around you. Worry will creep its way back in from time to time, but you will have the alternative to choose peace and have confidence that everything is not on your shoulders to figure out. Rely on your faith and depend on Him.

Lastly, there is no need to wait until you have reached a level of perceived worthiness or expectation you will never make another mistake in your life. God accepts us the way we are with all of our shortcomings. Stop worrying; He’s waiting. You can’t control everything. Give it all over to Him; your worries, your troubles; your life. You will find a happiness and a peace you have never known.

I’ll see you on the flip side……

The Warmth On My Face

The Warmth On My Face

A few days ago, I was walking the dog in my backyard. It was one of those days the weather was just perfection in every way. The temperature, the sunshine, the breeze; one of those days people always say they wish every day was like it. I suppose the lure of it all caused me to close my eyes and turn my face toward the sun. It felt wonderful….the warmth on my face, the gentle breeze touching my skin, the songs of the birds entertaining me. I instructed myself to take long, deep breaths and open my being to the feelings I was experiencing from the simple, yet powerful, story of nature around me.

I had an array of thoughts as I stood there. My first was why had I ignored this? Stupidity on my part, as God had provided these pleasures and contentment for my soul and I had totally passed it off without acknowledgement or thought. So small in comparison, but like when I write and it stirs emotions for someone, what appreciation there is for the acknowledgement. I’m sure it pleased God that I had noticed and, furthermore, appreciated His miraculous gifts of creation and comfort.

I felt such peace as the warmth from the sun seemed to resonate through me. I was encouraged and truly uplifted by the power of this heavenly light. The breeze that floated across my skin reminded me of when another person passes close by and stirs the air around your being. I allowed myself to remember the many times loved ones had walked beside me and the laughter and conversation that was enjoyed. Taken for granted at the time, it is a precious treasure of a memory now.

The symphony the birds offered was true harmony. Each had its own melody, but the chorus was in unison. It was a language all its own, but simple to understand. There was joy expressed from this feathered community. How could I not be enveloped by the sheer happiness of the bird’s voices? They were very adamant in their opinions of the beautiful day.

And there was peace. If only for those few moments, there was undeniable peace. It is offered to me every day in many ways, yet I ignore it. I don’t do so purposefully. Like everyone else, I normalize my environment and often get caught up in the struggles of life, failing to recognize and enjoy the miraculous gifts around me.

All too often we expect something to be perfect before we give recognition. For example, if the temperature had been too hot or too cold or the clouds had hidden the sun, I most likely would not have reacted to the surroundings the way I did. I would have missed the inner peace I enjoyed and I would have missed the message I felt unfold while I stood there with my face tilted toward the sky.

It’s no wonder people are so frazzled and overwhelmed. The busyness of life is stealing the joy. We are thrown into the chaos, to some degree, whether we want to be or not. Of course, we all have responsibilities and ownership of our own person. But what importance do we place on the simple things? We, as a society, are so caught up in demands and turmoil, we fail to seek out or even notice the substance of life that is right before us. We have become so materialistic that is has truly robbed and blinded us to what matters or should matter. People striving to have more “things” while giving little or no investment to time spent together, laughter, appreciation of a deep breath to calm and restore the soul.

I believe God supplied me with refreshment He knew I needed when I allowed myself to embrace what was around me. That is only a sampling of what lies beyond the clouds. I won’t wait for a perfect day to feel the warmth of the sun on my face, a breeze float across my skin, or truly listen to the birds sing. I will be more diligent to listen to the rain, see the joy in a child’s eyes as they tell a story, watch as those I love enjoy each other’s company, sit in the rocking chair on the porch and watch the day turn into night. When was the last time you closed your eyes and turned your face toward the sun and felt its warmth? It will give you more peace than you can imagine.

I’ll see you on the flip side……

The Masks We Wear

The Masks We Wear

What face do you put on for others to see? Or maybe, it is what you allow; the art of wearing a mask. I call it an art because it truly is. It takes creativeness and energy. As each of us walk through daily life, we learn to normalize things; some good, some not so much. Experiences, interactions, joys, disappointments, betrayals, and so on, all dictate how each person presents themselves to the world. However, who we present ourselves to be on the exterior can be in complete contrast to the person who lives within.

Everyone has a past. Never met a person without one. Along with that come reminders of decisions made that if could be retracted, would be. But in truth, a person does the best they can do at the time. Maybe a life experience beyond a person’s control affected them in such a way it caused negative thought processes about their purpose in life. Possibly the environment in which a person is exposed alters the positive reinforcement of self-worth, clear decision making, acceptance of their individuality and such.  Co-dependence traits can slowly evolve into less than desirable situations with relationships, often ones that due to other circumstances make it difficult to escape. It becomes easier to normalize what should not be and put on a mask to greet life.

It is easy for a mask to become the expected expression. This is not to be confused with the attitude of being positive because those that chose to see the “glass as half full”, like me, rather than “as half empty” is focused on blessings. In contrast, the attitude of choosing to be “a stick in the mud” is missing the true concept of what life is and does cause negativity to those in the same environment. Then there is the “generic” mask. I deem this one as a protective mechanism put in place to prevent others from causing hurt or disappointment; a guard established as a preventative of another “let down” that reinforces faith in people or opportunities taken are more destined to result in something less than sought after.

I will be the first to admit I don’t trust others easily. It is now my choice, but was not originally that way. It is the result of experiences. Yes, we are all human beings covered by the grace of God trying to live this life as pleasing to Him as our human nature will allow, so I will cut some slack there. My optimism is showing through. However, it does not extend to trust anymore. For instance, I learned at an early age what it meant to keep something in confidence. My motto is “if someone shares something with me in confidence, then that is where it will stay. If they want someone else to know the information, they can tell it themselves”. Something as simple as a broken confidence can dictate wearing a mask. Imagine the layers of masks we apply to ourselves as life progresses.

I will delve deeper. Relationships…..there is no perfect environment. Companionships are designed to be an enhancement of who you are as a person and not a redesign of yourself. Are you respected? Behaviors are often “normalized” that are contrary to what is healthy and therefore, affects happiness. If today was your last day, would you be content to walk out of this world with the choices you have made in your relationships or would you be heavy-hearted with the realization you cut yourself short; you settled for less; you compromised and normalized that which ultimately stole your individuality, your happiness, your self-worth, your life.

Change is not easy, especially if it is from within. Sometimes situations are so complex that a person just cannot “undo” circumstances, especially if it will cause negative effects to those that are by-standers or innocents. However, a person does have control and choices in their own actions and reactions, what they choose to accept or deny, and how they decide to embrace each day. Peeling away the multiple layers of masks is a place to start and expose the genuine substance of you.

On a personal note, every time I write and publish, I am peeling away a bit of my inner protective mechanism. The desire and passion to write eventually overrode the deep seeded “normal” to protect myself from being vulnerable. I suppose there will always be an air of mystery to my personality in what I allow the world to see, but I am embracing it one post at a time. After all, my journey is unique. The only thing I want to take with me when I go is the satisfaction I left behind a print of myself; the masked and the unmasked. It’s not about approval or recognition. It’s about following a passion within and allowing God to guide that passion. It’s a sense of letting go some of which has been guarded for so long….a time for everything.

I’ll see you on the flip side……….