Sunday’s Food for the Soul: The BEST You

Every morning, as I am dropping off my kiddos to school I have a ritual of reminders and one challenge.  When we are a block away from school I recite the following….

I love you. You are a child of the Lord. Challenge for today: Help a friend in need (these change daily but often have the same message…be kind, compassionate, and treat others the way you would like to be treated). Then the best part…

I start off by stating, “And remember, all you have to be today is….” and they all express “the best me I can be”. Then they are off.

That last statement has always been a favorite of mine. How beautiful and magnificent those otherwise simplest words become when placed together. What a perfect message and motto to live by. How marvelous to know that you do not have to live up to anyone’s standards or expectations but your own. And how important it is for children to know that they should not be just like every other child in their school, for each is special, each has unique talents to share, and each can learn so much from the others.

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It got me thinking, many adults could use this reminder. Many adults compare themselves to others, to coworkers, other mothers, etc. This can bring about insecurities and uncomfortable feelings of inadequacies. God has given each of us special talents and when all those talents come together it can be a symphony of perfection.  But unfortunately we try so hard to be like others that we lose ourselves. A Symphony cannot exist with all flutes!

 

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We not only compare our accomplishments, skills, and experiences, but we also get superficial with our comparisons. We compare our hair, facial features, body types to others and some suffer gravely because they feel like they do not own up to society’s idea of the perfect body.  What is the saying? “Everyone with curly hairs wants straight; everyone with straight wants curly?” I can’t even bear the thought of a world where we all look the same.  Rock what God has given you, red hair, curly hair, full sized woman, petite woman, etc. be genuine and watch how your self-confidence can soar.

 

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This week’s homework:

When you catch yourself admiring someone else’s talent, looks, skills, and/or accomplishments embrace it for what it is, admire their strengths then stop! Do not compare yourself to them. Do not even take one step down that path of self-destruction. Remember you are an important part of the symphony of life. We need YOUR talent, YOUR skill, YOUR confidence, not another flute.

 

Have you ever caught yourself comparing yourself to others? Have you ever experienced jealousy, self-pity, or loathing as a consequence of the comparison? How did you stop?

Sunday’s Food for the Soul: Gossiping

This week’s topic is one that I know many of us struggle with, myself included. Gossip!

Have you ever found yourself with a group of girlfriends and suddenly the gossip gets underway? Someone chimes in expressing, “I wouldn’t have done that if I were her. What was she thinking?” Then without skipping a beat everyone throws in their two cents worth. “If I were her I would…..” and before you know it the entire group is focusing all their attention on some else’s shortcomings. Why? Why focus all attention on someone who isn’t even present? It deters any attention on those in attendance. It is far too personal and hard to share our own shortcomings.  And sometimes tearing someone else down is a way that others feel artificially built up. Why artificially? Because there is no spiritual growth when we tear others down, in fact, that “feel good” feeling is quite temporary and once it wears off the gossiper often falls lower than the person they were gossiping about.

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Steps to Stop Gossiping…..

  1. Shut it down. If someone comes up to you and says, “did you hear what happened to so-and-so?” simply reply, “No, I should really give them a call and catch up. Thanks for reminding me to get in touch with them”.
  2. Fill the silence with truth not gossip. Gossip seems to always spill during those moments of silence. Instead of talking about others bring up something going on in your life, a television show, book you are reading or want to read, hobby you enjoy, etc. there is so many more worthy discussions to be had.
  3. Be cautious with the company you keep. If they are willing to gossip freely about so-and-so when she is not present chances are they have no problem gossiping about you too. Maybe it is time to make a new group of girlfriends?
  4. What about those people who gossip about you? Forgive them. Chances are they either do not have much going on in their lives, they are dealing with jealousy or hurting immensely and in order to make themselves feel temporary better they need to tear you down. This is a hard one but it can be mastered in time.
  5. Take the high road. Focus on the positive. Image if that same group of girls who were doing all that gossiping used their time more wisely and came up with a great way to help out the community with a fundraiser, drive, etc.

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Have you ever gossiped about someone? Did you feel bad afterward? Perhaps you have a friend who gossips, how do you redirect the conversation? Please share any experiences or advice as it pertains to this week’s topic.

Sunday’s Food for the Soul: Be Present

You can only begin to fully live once you leave your worries behind. This is not to say that you should not be concerned and plan accordingly for the future, simply don’t dwell. If you dwell and worry your life will pass you by.

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This week’s assignment:

Live in the present! Oh how simple it sounds but as parents this can be extremely tricky. We always have to be 3 steps ahead of our children’s schedules. Take ten minutes every evening and mentally go through the next day’s schedule. Don’t be tempted to go through the entire week, only the next day. And only for 10 minutes! If there are materials or equipment that will be required the next day place it where it needs to be. Then go about your evening/night. The next day focus on one task at a time, just that one task; give it your undivided attention. Don’t be tempted to multitask; all that does is decrease the quality of your work.

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Instead of giving 65% to 5 tasks give 100% to one. Being attentive and giving your undivided attention to one task truly allows you to be in the present, especially when the task involve activities with your children. Put down the phone. Put it on silence and give your child your undivided attention. Remember, you will reap what you sow. You give your children your undivided time in the present and the future they will do the same for you…so turn off the gadgets and focus on what is real, now, the present.

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Have you found yourself caught up in the past? How did you snap out of it? Or maybe you are dwelling on the future? Have an experience, advice, or question? Please share.

Sunday’s Food for the Soul: Are you a friend or a flatterer?

The chief difference between a friend and a flatterer is this; the flatterer speaks to please, the friend will not leave out even what is disagreeable….At all events any one would rather see his friend angry with him than anyone else flattering him.” -Saint Basil the Great-

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Flattery will get you everywhere, except true friendship!?

Have you come across that person in your life who always greets you with compliments? Even when you know you are wearing your glad rags and sporting the worst hair day ever! But despite it all she will stand there and compliment you till she’s blue in the face.  Or maybe you are that person? Do you feel as though those compliments will show the other person that you are indeed a good person, a friend? Or are you saving face? Do you plan on gossiping about the flattery later? Or, do you wish to have that person do something for you? Are you manipulating?

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The problem is if you are a constant flatterer your words will eventually begin to lose meaning and validity. You might even find people questioning your true purpose. Why? Flattery and manipulation are often one in the same. Flattery is just served up with a smile and cherry on top.

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Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Though true, this statement only harms the person doing the flattering.  When we see others in their true bliss, living their true passion, we can’t help but want to have what they have. But the problem is everyone has their own passion that needs to be found. You simply cannot take what another person is passionate about and make it your passion. Just as you cannot assume that because someone looks great with a certain hair color/cut that you will look similar.  We each have different facial features, body types, and passions that are what makes us so marvelously unique.

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Now, it is important to not confuse flattery with encouragement. A true friend will encourage you as long as they see that it will not harm you in any way. The question then is how do you know if you are a flatterer?

How to tell if you’re a flatterer (Source: Counting My Blessings)

1. Are you nicer to someone when you want something from them?

2. Are you kind to strangers, servers, sales-people, etc. – someone you may never meet again?

3. Are you patient with other drivers no matter what kind of car they drive?

4. Are you more attentive to your “rich uncle” than you are to the one on a fixed income?

5. Are you as pleasant around your family as you are around your friends?

Or

1. Do you look to see how many fans or followers a blog has before you leave a comment?

2. Do you swoon over celebrities while avoiding eye-contact with those in need or homeless?

3. Do you encourage your children to become friends with the attractive, popular kids at school?

4. Do you talk to people the same way you talk about them – your neighbor, boss, coworker, etc.?

5. Do you treat the person asking you for something the way you would want them to treat you if situations were reversed?

 

This week’s Homework Assignment:

When you feel the urge to start complementing someone on something first ask yourself…

Am I doing this to manipulate them…do I want something from them?

Am I doing this to make myself for better about gossiping about them?

Or do I genuinely like that necklace, their hair, blog post, etc.?

You might be surprised with your answer. I know I was.

I know I have been guilty of being a flatterer; I am a work in progress, how about you? I have to be honest; I think it will be difficult to break this flattery cycle. I feel like women in particular practically include flattery as a form of introduction, (i.e. “I would like to induce you to Jennifer, who is sporting an awesome necklace today”….or “Hi Cindy it is nice to meet you, I simply adore those shoes”) do you agree? Disagree? Please share.

Sunday’s Food for the Soul: Stop Criticizing and begin Healing

“Thank you so much for pointing out my flaws, I so appreciate it “said no one, EVER!

Have you ever come across that person who gives you a backhanded compliment or openly criticizes your clothes, actions, food, parenting style etc.?  Or perhaps they sent you an email, an instant message, or you caught wind of it via another close companion? Either way, the act of criticizing others solves nothing. In fact it often has quite an opposite effect.  It brings about defensiveness, resentment, and sometimes more criticism or it simply pushes people away.   When someone chooses to be critical of another it actually speaks volumes about that individual.

 

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Those who criticize others are often hurting themselves. And instead of looking within themselves and trying to determine where the jealousy, resentment, or need to be right stems from they continue to criticize others and the hurt within them just escalates and compounds.

This week’s homework: Break the habit…….this week if you find yourself experiencing critical thoughts about another person….

First, do not act on them. Keep your thoughts to yourself. Remember that age-old saying from childhood, “If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all”.

Second, take a moment to analyze the root of the thought.  For example:

Let’s say at the PTA meeting a mom has a brilliant idea that she shares with the crowd and the crowd reacts positively. Instantly you find yourself trying to find any and all flaws with the idea, her wardrobe, her kids, etc. while the anger within you builds. Consider why you are experiencing such anger towards another person’s idea.  Is it jealousy within you? Do you wish you had come up with the idea? Perhaps you wish you had her courage to stand up and vocalize your ideas?

And lastly, turn that criticism into admiration. This step is often the most difficult because it is admitting that we are not perfect, in fact someone else has a quality that is better. Admire that quality within that person, perhaps you can learn from them.

 

Bonus points: Go up to that person and share the quality that you admire in them. This can take a lot of confidence and courage but I know you can do it….I have faith that one day you will be the best you that you can be.

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There will always be someone smarter, more attractive, better at math, better at sports, etc. that doesn’t mean that you do not have your own unique strong qualities. It simply means that you are a confident individual who can admire those who are better than you at certain things.  The sooner you can come to terms with your own shortcomings and realizes those are others strong suits the happier and more peaceful you will be.

Sunday’s Food for the Soul: Random Acts of Kindness & Senseless Acts of Beauty

Do you find yourself becoming overwhelmed with work, back to school, or just life in general? Wish there was some way to ease the anxiety and bring contentment back into your life? There is.  The treatment towards contentment within is threefold; service, kindness, and love.

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See, the moment you remove your attention from yourself and put that thought and energy into doing good for others through acts of kindness you are reminded of what truly matters in life. Random acts of kindness is a way to keep you grounded and you never know just how much your act of kindness means to others…it might be the one act that prevents someone from making the biggest mistake of their lifetime.

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Please note these acts need not be to time consuming or elaborate, but simple everyday choices you can make to make others feel loved. Here are some suggestions for encouraging others with your random acts of kindness (source)  

 

  1. Be kind
  2. Be thoughtful
  3. Use your manners as a form of kindness.
  4. Give out compliments generously.
  5. Think about people who quietly make a difference to your community and thank them.
  6. Cheer up the lonely.
  7. Volunteer.
  8. Shower a coworker with kindness
  9. Share a little wealth around
  10. Give your family a break.
  11. Hold a friends night-in
  12. Send a message
  13. Forgive somebody
  14. Share a smile
  15. Expect nothing

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Do you have any suggestions to add to the list? I know I personally enjoy serving others with friends (thus the image above…we are rockin those hairnets, lol!) and family. Do you have a story, experience, or act that you would like to share….sometimes reading about the joy others receive through acts of kindness encourages other to do the same so please share.

Sunday’s Food for the Soul: Humility

I have been posting Sunday’s food for the soul on Mom on the go in Holy Toledo’s Facebook page and it has been received well. I realize that not everyone follows the Facebook page so I thought I would start including it as a post. Sunday’s food for the soul is a simple phrase, saying, or contemplation on how to live a more focused, centered, less stress-full, and more fulfilling life. It is a great reflection to get the week started and hopefully carry with you for the duration of the week. Please feel free to share your thoughts, experiences, tribulations, etc. as they relate to the week’s topic.
Sunday’s food for the soul……humility and inner peace go hand in hand.

Our culture is very status conscious and people naturally want to socialize upward. Resist the temptation of being partial to those with status or wealth.  Resist the urge to brag or try to convince others of your worth…people are drawn to individuals with inner confidence that do not need to make themselves look good or be right all the time, who instead speak from their heart and not their ego.

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