Pep Talking

A friend of mine was having a really bad day at work. She called me up to vent and to get a pep talk. “You got this,” I said. “Breathe,” I said. “You are one of the most capable and intelligent people I know, and you love your job. If anyone can fix this situation, it’s you.”

I’ve always been a good pep talker. It’s second nature to me. But someone recently pointed out to me that that is not the case for everyone.

I should know that. It’s why I honed the craft in the first place.

I grew up in an emotionally barren landscape. My mother was so depressed and overwhelmed that I was often the very last thing on her mind. She was never abusive. I always had a roof (such as it was) over my head, and food in my belly. She emphasized the importance of education. But I was so starved for love and affection that I’m amazed my heart didn’t atrophy. More than anything, I just wanted to be seen.

Because of that, I spent a great deal of time inside my head in a world of my own making, where people said things to me that I desperately wanted to hear. “You’re going to be just fine.” “I’m proud of you.” “You are a loveable person.” “I have faith in you.” “You can do it!”

So now, when I see that someone is at a low point, I simply tell them what I’d most like to hear if I were to find myself in a similar situation. It’s easy.

So why doesn’t everyone do this? The world would be a much nicer place if they did. But there are a few preliminary steps that you have to take to get to that point, I suppose:

  • Being empathetic enough to realize when someone is going through a rough patch.

  • Having the confidence to know that an encouraging word from you would be helpful and appreciated.

  • Having the generosity of spirit to feel that this is an effort worth making.

  • Being capable of picking up on social cues.

  • Sincerely caring about others.

  • Having a genuine belief that people are capable of more than they give themselves credit for, and the ability to creatively articulate that at a moment’s notice.

  • Pulling your head out of your own butt long enough to see what’s going on around you.

Help raise someone up today! Can you do it? Yes! I have faith in you!

pep talk

I’ve got a Crush on You, Sweetie Pie

Here’s an interesting thought: at least once in your life, someone has had a crush on you and you didn’t even know it. You know how I know? Because I’m quite sure that every single person who is reading this has had a crush on someone at least once in their lives and has kept quiet about it, so you do the math.

Ah, to bathe in the deliciously warm and silky waters of a crush is like nothing else you will ever experience. For a brief shining moment in your life, you get to indulge in the sweet fantasy of positive possibilities. You get to imagine your future as a thing of perfection in which every touch, every word, every experience will be pure bliss. Colors appear more vibrant, everything tastes better, and you seem to dance down the street, your feet never quite touching the dirty pavement. When the object of your affection comes into view… paradise. What’s that you hear? A choir of angels singing. “Ahhhhhhhhh…”

I’ve had more than a few crushes in my lifetime, and I hold each one close to my heart like a precious jewel. It’s also why I never go to reunions. I don’t want the balding man with the beer gut in the ill-fitting polyester suit to take the sparkle off my sapphire.

Crushes can run their course and fade away, or they can lead to a rude awakening when you discover him in the supply room with Becky Maplebottom. (I don’t want to talk about it.) They can lead to humiliating rejection, or they can turn into sweet agony and endure for decades. On the other hand, if they become obsessions and enter the realm of stalking, then you need to be in a rubber room.

The only sad thing about crushes is that when kept in the closet, they also represent potential that was never realized. Being vulnerable is scary, but if you don’t take a deep breath and speak up, for crying out loud, you’ll never know what you might be missing.

I’d like to think that for every contented couple out there, there was once a delightful crush that ended in a breathless mutual admission. And I’ll make that the happy ending to this story. Because I can.

I shall leave you now with the dulcet tones of Frank Sinatra. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RtH02InlKP4 )

Words of Encouragement and Emotional Support

I was just talking to a friend of mine and she told me a story. When her husband was in hospice, his mother would talk to him on the phone but would never tell him she loved him. In fact, in the 60 years he had been on the planet, she had never told him. Not even once.

One day after one of those phone calls, which the son ended by saying, “I love you, Mom”, and the mother ended by saying “Bye”, my friend went barging into her mother-in-law’s room and said, “What is WRONG with you? Why can’t you tell your own son that you love him?”

She replied, “He knows I love him.”

“No, Mom, actually, he doesn’t. He’s your only child and he’s dying. You should be rocking him in your arms. You should be telling him that you love him. You should be telling him you are proud of him. The fact that you aren’t doing so just shows what a cruel and heartless old shrew you are.”

The woman didn’t say a word. She stayed in her room the rest of the evening and then went to sleep. The next day she woke up and called her son and told him she loved him. And she did so every day for the next several weeks until he finally died. And it meant everything to him. It’s all he had ever wanted from her.

This is not an isolated incident. There are a lot of people out there who think that their actions are enough, that they don’t have to reinforce them with words. Yes, that man’s mother had fed him and clothed him and sent him off to school and made him chicken soup when he had a cold. Yes, those are forms of love. She never neglected his needs and she wasn’t physically abusive toward him, and he turned out to be a good person. Maybe that should be enough.

But why is it so hard to add just one more simple thing to the mix, the one thing that costs not one penny, and takes no physical effort at all? Words of encouragement. Words of support. Confirmation of love.

Here are some words that are worth more than gold, that I, personally, have longed to hear on more than one occasion:

  • I admire you.
  • I have faith in you. Don’t give up.
  • I’m proud of the life that you live.
  • I love you so much.
  • You are my favorite person on earth.
  • You have always been there for me. Thank you.
  • I want to be just like you when I grow up.
  • You are doing a good job.
  • I’m so glad you are a part of my life.
  • Thank you for all you’ve done. I know it hasn’t been easy.
  • I’m a better person for having known you.
  • I think of you often, and I smile.
  • I appreciate all that you do.
  • You can do it.
  • I’m proud to be seen with you.
  • I like your style.
  • You are a good person.
  • I always look forward to seeing you.
  • You mean the world to me.
  • You make a difference in my life.
  • Thank you for everything you’ve taught me. It hasn’t gone unnoticed.

If you just chose one of these phrases a day and said it to someone who is a part of your life, whether it be a friend, a relative, a neighbor or a coworker, it would take less than 3 seconds of your time, but you would see a positive change in your relationships.

So the next time you feel the urge to tease someone or take them for granted, try this instead. The next time you feel the urge to close yourself off or withhold affection, try this instead. The next time you THINK something positive but don’t have the courage to share it, try this instead. The next time you say something nice ABOUT someone but not TO them, try this instead. Think of it as an experiment if you must. It might feel awkward at first, and it may make you feel vulnerable, but it will be the best thing you’ve ever done in your life, and you’ll be amazed at the positive feedback you’ll receive.

You can do it. I have faith in you.

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[Image credit: booooooom.com]

Lying Down with Dogs

Here’s another one of my theories.

There are two types of dog owners: those who allow their dogs to sleep in their beds and those who do not. Well, technically, that part is a fact. But here comes the theory part: you can tell a lot about a person by which of these two groups he or she falls into.

Bed people (and in the interests of full disclosure, I am one of these) are nurturing, and tend to be more interested in love and affection than they are in strict cleanliness and control. Floor people are more regimented. Their bed linens tend to match and are not to be disturbed. If you are the type to iron your underwear, you’re a floor person, no doubt about it.

And because, as the saying goes, birds of a feather flock together, if you’re a bed person, your friends tend to be bed people, too. Bed people find floor people to be anal retentive, and floor people think bed people are sloppy and inefficient.

Floor people make excellent administrators. Without them, the trains would not run on time, and our medical files would be lost forever. Bed people, on the other hand, tend to be more creative and artistic. They make the world colorful and entertaining.

Bed people stop and smell the roses. Floor people plant the roses. Floor people save for retirement. Bed people live for the moment. Floor people tuck in their shirts. Bed people resent that they even have to wear them.

There is a place in this world for both groups of people. And I’m delighted to say that they both love and care for their dogs. The world would be completely unrecognizable without both groups. It’s as if there’s this canine yin yang thing happening, and it makes the world go ‘round.

But there is a third group of dog owners that I haven’t mentioned, which I call scum people. Dogs are social animals that live for nothing but approval, but this group will chain their dogs up all alone in the back yard, rain or shine, winter or summer. They let them howl all night long, and feed them Rob Roy dog food, which has absolutely no nutritional value, because it’s cheap. The more extreme members of this crowd own puppy mills or are into dog fighting. Their dogs tend to flinch when a hand is extended toward them, because their experience with hands has been harsh and painful. This group of people, as far as I’m concerned, is the scum of the earth and shouldn’t be allowed the privilege of owning a pet.  I suppose there is some biological need for scum in this world, but for the life of me, I’ve yet to find it.

I much prefer bed people and floor people.

Dog in Bed with Feet

(Image credit: myhoundhaven.org)