A Reason to Smile

Ever get caught with that random smile on your face that seems to have come out of nowhere?  The one where someone sees you and says “What?” and you realize you were smiling because a great memory of someone had crossed your mind?

A friend of my husband’s and by extension, mine, passed away last year.  It was completely unexpected and he was way too young.  My husband and him were pretty good friends, but it wasn’t like we saw him every day or we all spent a ton of time together. He was one of those people filled with a ton of energy, genuine, true to himself, respectful, and at times, a bit off the wall in his thinking and his actions. Being around him was a bit of a crapshoot as you never knew what he was going to do, but it was always an experience you remembered and often times, you would be laughing about it later.  There are some great stories about the tree people documentary he saw on the Discovery Channel and a particular incident in a Mexican restaurant, but they aren’t as funny if you weren’t there and even less so, if you didn’t know him.

What is interesting though to me is how much we talk about him now. The most random things will trigger a thought about him.  My husband and I will look at each other and just start laughing and commenting on something he did, said or a guess at what he might think.  And we realize we miss him, more than we knew we did, and we smile.  It is the lasting impression of his character that has stuck with us.  It was how he made us feel, how he treated those he kept close in his life, and did I mention he loved his pet chickens?

In my last post I was talking about who we let into and keep around is in our lives and being ok with letting people go if they are toxic to our well being, but I hadn’t mentioned the role we play in our own environment.  And then I thought about our friend, and smiled.

“Show respect to even those who don’t deserve it; not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of yours.”

~Dave Willis

We all make choices every day. Not only do we choose who keep in our life, but we also need to think about our responsibility in creating the environment around us.  I encourage you to look inside yourself and ask yourself how you are doing.  Are you adding negativity, anger, and resentment to your environment or are you adding love, respect, empathy, and compassion?  It is a choice.  We make it over and over again, numerous times every day with every personal interaction we have.  We have to hold ourselves accountable for what we put out into the universe.


This has nothing to do with changing anyone’s beliefs or everyone needing to agree or lettings things go.  It is about how we treat the people we come across in our day to day. Our environment and how people will remember us comes down to fundamental respect and compassion for one another as human beings.  We all have our own life struggles, some beyond our wildest imaginations, but as fellow occupants of this planet we need to each be responsible for our own corner of the world.  When you conclude your time on this planet, how will people remember you?  Will they remember you with a smile?

I know I would prefer people to smile when they think of me, both now and after I pass. I also know that I have to continue to work on my thoughts and actions like everyone else. It comes down to this – we are the making of our own legacy.  Our friend, I think he would be amazed if he had any idea the way he has touched so many people.  I will smile at the memory of him and only hope to someday be someone else’s reason to smile.

Wishing you all the very best day and until next time,


PS – For everyone wondering about my elephant, she has slowly started making a turn for the door.

Toxic Awakening

Another call. Another text. Another voicemail. You see who it is from or hear their voice, and you can’t help but roll your eyes. It is them…again…and you dread having to deal with it. We all have had people in our lives at some point where that becomes the normal reaction. It could be a friend, a family member or a co-worker, but we can come across them in all parts of our life. The question is how do you deal with it.

A few years ago, there were a couple of people in my life I considered to be very close friends. We shared a lot about our daily lives, the ups and downs of our relationships and jobs, and we talked practically every day if not multiple times a day. The thing you might find the most interesting is that I didn’t do the eye roll when I heard from them. It was quite the opposite. I was happy to hear from them because they were so important to me. They made me feel connected. Two of the friends were going through some relationship issues and another was struggling with their job and what they wanted to do with their life. All things which we can relate to and certainly want to be there to support our friends through. What I didn’t realize at the time, was what it was doing to me.

I was dating my husband at the time and some interesting circumstances started to develop. The more I heard from the friends struggling in their relationships, over time, the more I started to “notice” issues with my own. The small, everyday things that never bothered me were suddenly becoming these huge points of contention. And for the friend struggling with their job – yep, I found myself becoming less motivated and less satisfied with a job that I had previously loved.

After several months of continued conversations with these close friends and the growing discourse in my own life, through mere coincidence, I ended up with some time away from all of them at once for a few days. It gave me time to reflect and I had an epiphany. With some perspective, I realized how much of their own life’s “drama” had become my own and knew things needed to change. Without even noticing it, I had become much more short-tempered, angry, and permanently stressed out. I had internalized everything going on with everyone else and it was manifesting itself in unhealthy ways in my own life and I was simply drained.

Initially, my thought was to get a handle on my own life. Refocusing on my relationship with my boyfriend (now husband) and my job, I took a step back and made them both the priority and pushed my friendships to the back burner a bit. When I did that, you would have thought I had set the world on fire! It sounds a bit funny now, but it became obvious to me very quickly what I thought were close friendships were really my friends’ need to have an audience, to help fuel their own personal drama. My distance and lack of focus on them was taking away from them fulfilling their needs to be the center of attention and have someone to complain to. It was the recognition of their self-serving intent that solidified how toxic the relationships really had become to me and my own happiness.

I won’t lie to you; backing away was difficult. I had shared so much of myself and my time with these people, but if I didn’t make a change, I was going to get eaten alive by the toxic energy they brought with them. At this point, as I was trying to get the needed separation, this is when the dread set in. I didn’t want to receive another text, or call, or email. In one case, a difficult conversation was required before I was given the room I needed. The others, it took several things before it happened. It took time, minimizing my engagement with them and not responding in the manner I once did before I was able to build enough distance to create the positive environment I desired. When I finally did manage to reset my life’s course, I felt like a weight had been lifted and I could breathe again. I also started to find all of the small stuff that used to set me off…it didn’t bother me any more.

Today, I appreciate the experience I had as I hold more closely the important people in my life and protect those relationships from external negative energy. I identify “drama” and toxic behavior much more quickly and keep it at an arm’s length (or more) as much as I can. I also stick to the belief I am going to only spend time with people of my choosing. If I am unhappy being around someone and I only have so much time on this earth, why spend it with people who don’t make me happy? More importantly, my circle of people who I hold dear today are much more positive and want mutually supportive relationships. Without my experience, I might not have recognized it and appreciate it as much as I do. I am truly blessed with the friends I have in my life today and I hope they know how thankful I am!

Healthy relationships should be filled with positive support, make you feel good about yourself, continue to build up who you are and encourage you to grow into who you want to be. If a person in your life wants to continuously take your time and energy, adds negativity, demeans who you are as a person or may simply be filled with too much “drama” in their own life, I hope you will stop and take a real, hard look at what this relationship adds to your life. If it is anything less than positive, I hope that you can say you need and deserve better for yourself. We all have a right to be happy and sometimes, it means distancing ourselves from the toxic people we currently have in our life. You don’t have to explain yourself – you are an adult – and this is your life. Your happiness is something you should own and protect like the precious commodity it is.

“Toxic people will pollute everything around them.  Don’t hesitate. Fumigate.”

 – Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

Have a good day!

That Funny Thing Called Passion…

I had all sorts of things going through my head this morning as I was trying to decide what I wanted to talk about.  I decided on passion.  So many people seek to find their passion in life that it leaves me wondering if we end up missing it all together in our continuous quest to find it.  Do we have assumptions about what it means and feels to have found it? Has what we are looking for been romanticized by books and movies about people finding their passion that we miss what is right in front of us?  The reason I ask is I am wondering if I could truly tell someone what mine is.  I can’t really say that I could in the traditional sense.  I know the things that I like and what I find interesting, but saying it is my passion, that’s tough.  If you don’t mind indulging me, let’s look into this a little bit together.

Looking at Wikipedia, here is what the site puts forth as its description:

“Passion is a very strong feeling about a person or thing.  Passion is an intense emotion, a compelling enthusiasm or desire for something.  Passion may be a friendly or eager interest in or admiration for a proposal, cause, discovery or activity or love to a feeling of unusual excitement, enthusiasm or compelling emotion, a positive affinity or love, towards a subject.” Wikipedia – Passion

Reading through this more closely, I’m finding that passion is a very broad term that ranges from the simple  – “a friendly interest in” to something a bit more extreme – “a feeling of unusual excitement, enthusiasm or compelling emotion.” So how are we supposed to know what it is to mean for each of us and what our passion may be?  Does that mean I can have more than one?

For me, I know I am interested in all sort of things and sticking with the simple definition of “a friendly interest” then could all of these things be my passions?  It sounds odd to think of having a wide variety of passions so when people talk about finding their passion, is it really a reference to the more extreme definition of a “compelling emotion?”

Here are my thoughts after reading through this and thinking about it a little:

I think we have a wide variety of passions in our lives.  I think we have to acknowledge the passion we have for our families, our friends, our work life – maybe not everything about our jobs, but at least certain tasks that keep us there  – and our hobbies.  Our passions can drive how we spend our time when we allow ourselves to focus on what we want.  I also think that with time and age, we start to naturally grow into understanding ourselves better and what we do and don’t want.

When I was 20, frankly, I didn’t have the confidence and courage to live my life for myself to say that I was living in line with my passion.  It was a life lived for my boyfriend, my parents expectations, and my perception of what life was supposed to be.  Now that I’m 40, I still love and trust the people in my life, but they also aren’t going to decide for me what I do and how I do it.  I’m living life for me and that means spending time doing things I’m interested in.  Or by definition, I guess that means what I’m passionate about.

So I think it comes down to keeping it in perspective and understanding you may already have identified some of your passions.  The thing is, your interest might not be fully developed to the be the extreme definition yet – that compelling emotion – we all are looking to feel to call it our passion.  It could be the next step in evolving our interest that could make the difference.  Once we do unlock the passion for a particular area of our life, I think it helps us start the next chapter in our lives.

“We can each define ambition and progress for ourselves.  The goal is to work toward a world where expectations are not set by the stereotypes that hold us back, but by our personal passion, talents and interest.”

~ Sheryl Sandberg

Have a great day!