Families can be a strange bunch. You don’t get to pick them, and they are usually there for life. But if you’ve been fortunate like me, you have had more connection than absence, more harmony than conflict, and more good memories than bad ones. I know that isn’t the case for many. I’ve heard stories of sisters who haven’t spoken in years or of words spoken in the heat of the moment that have resulted in a life-long estrangement between a father and son. And only when the last breath was taken was there forgiveness and peace between the two. So often the silent cries of a sibling, parent, or teen go unnoticed because of the need to be right instead of kind. Or the drift of time separates conversations and the needs of the other go unnoticed. But it’s at those very times that we need to put aside petty squabbles and extend the hand of helpfulness. For as this post’s opening quote reminds us, when you help another, you help yourself. I call it healing through helping.
Do you find it difficult to ask for help? Do you prefer to do things yourself rather than delegating tasks to others? Are you tired yet? I hear that complaint so often from people I know. In fact, years ago I used to be one of those people. Never comfortable asking for advice – I thought I would be judged for not knowing. I assumed no one could do it as well as I could, so I carried the entire burden of the chore or the decision on my tired shoulders. No wonder I was burnt out, no longer happy with what I was doing for work or in my personal life. Feeling suffocated and buried under the weight of carrying the responsibly for everyone else on my shoulders. Good grief! Who did I think I was anyway – Super Woman? If this describes you then give yourself a break by Being Helpful to yourself. After all, you can’t help anyone else if you’re not prepared to help yourself. Like I repeatedly remind my readers, everything starts with “the self”.
I recently heard the phrase “there is no planet B” and this clever play with words really stuck with me. With all the clear evidence about the dramatic impact of climate change, we are living the consequences of past choices up close and personal. No longer can we hide our heads in the sand avoiding what is right in front of us. The extreme heat, the forest fires, droughts, floods, hurricanes, and that’s just the summer. What’s in store for us this winter? So as the saying goes, when we know better, we do better. Now is the time to do better. This last blog in my month-long series of “Being Honourable” from my book Being Joy™ is dedicated to honouring our planet for it is the only real home we have. And my request this week is an important one.
Who do you admire and why? Is it because of their accomplishments? Are they kind and generous of spirit? Or is it because of their convictions? When you think about those who you admire, whether they’re from previous times, are fictional characters or are people you know today, is there a common attribute that connects them? Is it a quality you would like to emulate? For me, the ones I admire have lived with honour. They admit they’re not perfect but have strived to be better than they were before. They believe in truth and doing the right thing with compassion, especially when it’s hard. They are my heroes.
Have you researched your family tree? Did you discover any surprises? Is there someone from your past who you most take after? I find the study of genealogy to be a fascinating undertaking – to learn about my roots, the people whose DNA runs through my cells today and the way the past can influence my present characteristics and inclinations. This month’s joy habit theme is about Being Honourable and for this week’s post, I am honouring my ancestors. I am fortunate that back in the late 70’s, my father Jack and his brother Cliff, decided to do a deep dive into our history and were able to go back as far as the late 1700’s. The result of their research was a binder they had professionally printed with pictures and biographies for each branch of the family. The objective was to have each successive generation add their story to the binder so that there would be an ongoing living history of the family for future generations. Easier said than done I’m afraid with the original duo, my dad and his brother, now deceased and with the next generation of relatives spread out all over the world.
Do you have any daily rituals that show respect for “the self”? Ways of honouring who you are? Things you do to nurture the inside as well as the outside of your being? Daily reminders that you are deserving of respect because you do your best to live up to your higher self? This month’s joy habit is about being honourable. And the best way to convey that you are an honourable human being – someone who lives their truth with conviction and compassion - is by ensuring you are living in balance with all that surrounds you. Let me tell you what I mean. To me, honouring “the self” means being mindful of what I allow into my life. The thoughts I think, the people I interact with, the environments I expose myself to and of course, the things I allow on or into my body. In order for me to live a balanced and honourable life, I work diligently at replacing the things that weaken and disempower me with things that nurture and strengthen me.
What’s your purpose? Are you a teacher of young minds or new concepts? Are you a builder of companies or of things? Are you a leader – someone who can mobilize others because of a shared vision? As this is the last blog about this month’s joy habit about being on purpose, I’ve chosen the purpose of leadership to wrap up the series. Why? Because I believe we need to reawaken the leadership qualities we all possess in order to stand up for people or things we care about. We can no longer afford to stand by thinking that someone else will do the heavy lifting. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Are you someone who is in constant motion? Do you crave change? Are you able to see opportunities where others just see rubble? If this describes some of your characteristics, then your purpose may be that of a “builder” – someone who is likely either a serial entrepreneur or literally in the building profession. And just like Michelangelo who when asked how he could create such a masterpiece as his famous statue of David, said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” , you too are being called to transform matter into your masterpiece. You may be an alchemist my friend.
Are you someone who loves to learn? Do you ask a lot of questions? Are you curious about everything? If so, your purpose may be that of a teacher. Since this month’s joy habit is about being on purpose, I thought I would talk about three distinct expressions of purpose for the rest of July, starting with those teachers who open the doors for the rest of us. I’ve found that most of the teachers I know and respect are life-long learners who are passionate about sharing what they know with others. Their caring nature makes them generous and giving. Take my good friend Jan for example who chose teaching school children the love of learning as her profession. What a gift to the world Jan’s purposeful passion has been.
Did you create a new ritual or activity during the pandemic that has now become part of your daily routine? Is it something that has elevated you? Hope so. Mine has. In the early days of the pandemic, my son and I created a morning ritual that I’m happy to say continues to this day. Since we knew we wouldn’t be able to see each other in person for a while, he called me each morning on his way to work. In the first few weeks it was merely a way to stay connected to each other on a more regular basis. But it soon morphed into something much more meaningful. In many ways it helped to shift our energy away from thoughts of fear and anxiety and towards peace and promise instead. This is how it began. Once we said good morning, we each asked the other “what is your gratitude for today”. Sometimes it was as simple as the sun shining or the smell of the morning. Other times it was deeper and required a few seconds of contemplation. And after a few months, we added an evening call that included “tell me one good thing that happened today.”