It counts

Sometimes there are things we simply cannot fix or change.

I’m thinking of those moments when a friend, co-worker,  family member, acquaintance is hurting. The sparkle in their eyes has been replaced with tears, they don’t smile anymore…it’s like part of them has been stolen, which is partially true. And gosh, you just want to make them smile again, take away the pain and give them sunny skies.

There is a group of personality types out there I’d like to call the “fixers” and “helpers”. Fixers and helpers are driven to, as the name suggests, fix things…if we could, we would make the world have sunshine every single day.Fixers love to see people happy and make people happy; when someone isn’t happy or is hurting, fixers instantly want to fix it, they feel driven to help. Most, if not all of us, have a certain amount of this fixer/helper personality in us…it makes you human to care about another human.

But sometimes there are  things you cannot fix. Sometimes the hurt is so deep, too deep. Or the hurt and pain is something you cannot relate to at all… and you feel powerless. You want to help, but you can’t; you want to take the pain away, but you can’t. The person feels so far, so out of reach, and you don’t know what to do or say.

Today while I was at work printing paper after paper, this thought struck me: You may not be able to “fix” or take away someone’s pain…but you can be there. And just being there COUNTS. Just giving someone a hug COUNTS. Telling someone “Let me know what I can do to help” COUNTS. Even if you don’t see it, your presence counts to someone that is hurting.

People handle grief and disappointment differently…but we all appreciate when our friends and family are simply THERE for us–ready to talk to, ready to give a hug, ready to just sit in the same room with us.

Sometimes you may not feel like you are helping someone at all, you may feel like giving up…DON’T. You ARE making a difference…even if you don’t see it right now. BE AVAILABLE, GIVE PEOPLE HUGS (where words cannot go, touch often can!), AND DON’T GIVE UP…..IT COUNTS.

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What kind of hugger are you?

What Kind of Hugger are you?

This past weekend I was caught up in thinking about hugs and huggers. It started off because I had one of those blue days where I was just sad and I felt like I was in desperate need of a hug, which then led me to think even more about the many hugs I’ve experienced and given along the way. And then I ended up coming up with the following categorization of huggers.  Where do you fall in the list?

Sider slider – We have all experienced or even delivered this kind of hug. Sider sliders are slick. You reach out to hug them and somehow you end up getting a squeeze around the shoulders, from a side angle. The side sliders keep it safe. They don’t want to be rude, but they also don’t feel comfortable with full blown hugs.

awkward side hug

The Pros- The Pros are confident huggers. They know just how much to squeeze and exactly how long to hug. They usually keep it casual with a small tap on the back that seems like the “this hug is ending” signal. The Pros can read people like a book-they know who to hug and who not to hug.

 Hugaphobic – This category describes an individual who would spray raid on someone, anyone who attempted to hug them. If you have even attempted to hug an individual in this category, you probably remember that dreaded feeling that you were on the verge of death the moment you wrapped your arms around the person, but it was too late to pull back. You were committed. And once you survived the encounter, you will never make the mistake again.

no hugging

The Free Hugger- The individuals in this category of hugging probably own a “free hugs” t-shirt. No not really ;). These people walk around fearlessly giving hugs. In fact, don’t expect or even try to leave the presence of a free hugger without getting a hug. They will come find you. “I will find you….and I will hug you.”

photo credit: coolspoters.com

photo credit: coolspoters.com

Anaconda Hugger- Anaconda Huggers believe in squeezing love into people. Once you are in the grip of an anaconda hugger, take a deep breath- it may be the last breath you get to take for the next few minutes. Anaconda Huggers are usually people with huge hearts…and strong arms.

Oh Wait! You are just an Acquaintance Hugger- Huggers in this group aren’t much for hugging people they don’t know very well, but they will do it. If you have ever been on the other end of a hug delivered by a person in this category you probably remember reaching out for a firm hug (because you’ve watched them saying good byes to their friends and they give them firm, back slapping hugs)  and then felt them just slip away and the hug is over before it even began. You walk away literally feel like you’ve just been hugged by a mannequin that thought you smelled bad (and thinking I thought we were friends!).

Awkward hugger- Individuals in this group feel lost. They don’t know when to give a hug, when not to give a hug. They don’t know how long to “embrace” so it is either too long or too short. They don’t know whether to give a side hug or a full hug…and usually it ends up being a weird combination of the two. And the poor awkward huggers can’t recognize a hugaphobic when they see one….it can get ugly.

hug


 

Out of all of these categories of huggers I am a little bit of an awkward hugger and the Oh Wait! You are just an Acquaintance Hugger. Hugging friends and family is something that just comes naturally but,…I don’t know you… I don’t know you very well…I just don’t know what to do! To hug or not to hug?

We should all try to hug more. Hugs make us feel safe, they make us feel happy, they make us feel loved. If  you aren’t comfortable hugging everyone, that’s OK! Hug the people close to you…hug them more often. We all need hugs (even those of us who don’t really like getting them!)…we all need to know we are cared about. The Huffington Post has an interesting article on the health benefits of hugging called, “7 Reasons Why We Should Be Given More Hugs”. find it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/27/health-benefits-of-huggin_n_5008616.html

Poem, The Girl With Thick Framed Glasses

This is a poem I started a long time ago and finally picked up last week and finished.

The Girl With Thick Framed Glasses

Behind her glasses

Those thick-lined frames

She was one of those people everyone passes,

Disappearing in a sea of names.

Brown hair pulled into a ponytail

A smile touched her pink lips

Her skin was freckled and pale

Her cheeks the color of rose tips.

She worked in the college café

Ringing up orders, making frappes

And by brewing coffee, saving the day-

At least mine, anyway.

The girl that no one for sure knew

Was the one my throat got tight around

When I tried to say “Hi”, my legs turned to glue

My palms got sweaty, my heart would pound.

Behind those thick framed glasses

Were her beautiful eyes-

The color of ginger and molasses-

The love in them stretched to the skies.

To the world she was just a cashier

That rang up their orders each day,

No one noticed her brown hair

Shine when the sun hit it a certain way.

To the world she may not have mattered much,

Just the coffee stop on the way to their classes-

So many lives she did subtly touch,

The girl behind the thick framed glasses.

Talk to the girl that visits your dreams

Who is an angel, just without wings.

Talk to the give with the sweet face,

Whose movements are all touched with grace.

On the last day of school I had one chance

To ask her to the end of year dance.

I walked into the café-

But I couldn’t find the words to say.

“She already has a date,” I thought

“Tell her how you feel!” My courage fought.

She was the girl I longed to know-

She was beautiful, but I couldn’t tell her so.

I paused and looked at her once more-

And turned back, and out the door.

I am the girl with thick framed glasses

The girl that everyone passes

The girl that no one notices in a crowd

Even though I’m screaming so loud.

I’m the girl that needs to know

That in the middle of hundreds of lights,

Someone sees my glow.

I’m the girl that needs to know

That in this big world I am not alone

That I am wanted and longed to be known.

I wrote this with the thought that someone out there may NEED to know they are cared about. Someone out there may NEED YOU. Don’t just assume they know you care…..tell them.

D E R E K…man or monster?

Nadia looked at her phone, afraid to see how late it was. 2:04 AM. A day spent helping about 1000 people-packs of children, moms pushing obnoxiously sized strollers, couples walking hand in hand, and huge families that decided it would be a great idea to go to the zoo for their reunion were all in her work day future. She needed to turn in, she was exhausted.  But then she heard the little ding that had been her central focus for nearly a week. That had kept her awake till nearly 3:00 AM every night. Her eyes popped back up to the screen of her mac book to see she had a juicy message waiting. Her heart beat quickened as she opened the message from him- a man she thought didn’t exist – couldn’t exist.

Two weeks ago she had been engaged.  For all her life she dreamed of finding a good man and getting married and living happily ever after. It always seemed like it would be a piece of cake. Then came a slew of crummy relationships and a quickly ended engagement. They had all led her to doubt if  her dream of happily ever after could ever happen; or if real men even existed.  She was sick of getting her heart broken. Sick of being on a roller coaster ride of emotions. She was sick of the game of dating and for now she had enough of it! Becoming a nun and living a quiet life of celibacy was an idea rolling around in her head. Perhaps things would be easier that way.

And then he came along- the man who had been keeping her awake until the wee hours of the night – the man that caused her to hope again : Derek.

da...da...da

da…da…da

He didn’t come along like the other guys. Nadia was beautiful. Strangers were daily proclaiming her beauty to her. “I just have to tell you…you’re GORGEOUS!”; “You look exactly like Olivia Wilde!” ; “I want your eyes!” ; “You’re like the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen!”  With her perfect figure, long thick golden hair, straight white teeth and bright green eyes, getting guys to notice her wasn’t difficult. In fact, getting guys NOT to notice her was the hard part. And right now she wanted nothing to do with the boys that ran around thinking they were men.

How Derek came along was subtle. He didn’t come along with a cheesy pick-up line asking for her number. He didn’t come along bragging about how much he could “lift”. He didn’t come along trying to impress her with jokes. He didn’t come along like most guys, which was why he was able to get close. He sneaked into her life through a lit-up rectangle screen and housed in a mysterious world known as …..“The Internet”.

Nadia never believed in meeting a man online and finding love by means of the internet. It was just plain weird in her mind. But here she was now…a week later, daring to believe in the impossible. Derek was so sweet and romantic. He made Nadia feel like she was the most amazing person in the world…and not just her body, her heart. He wasn’t cocky. He was humble and funny. Nadia glanced at his picture. Other than the fact he was an absolute gem personality-wise he was good looking…quite good looking. He had a dazzling smile that carved adorable dimples in his cheeks, he had big deep green and brown eyes with thick eyelashes and a full head of brown hair. He was like a thief in the night…the object of his desire…was her heart. And very quickly, he was stealing it. She read his message, her heart pounding.

“I know this is going to sound crazy…but I think I’m falling in love with you. In fact…I know it. I feel it in my heart. Do you ever just know things? I mean know them in your heart? I’ve never felt this connection with anyone…ever. I always used to think the idea of soul mates was stupid…until I met you…I feel like my soul is bonded to you somehow. Goodness! Is this crazy or what?”

Nadia gasped. It was crazy…but so romantic!  Part of her mind begged her to reconsider. Begged her to be careful. Begged her to at least wait until she met the guy when she went back to college in a week. The other part of her wanted to fall into his internet arms…confessing her love for him. They did have a strong…almost unreal connection after all. And he had made her heart feel alive and happy again. Could it be true? Could people fall in love on the internet? internet dating

A week later –

I looked at the computer screen that had an endless slide show of pictures of Nadia’s “internet man”, Derek, floating across it. He was pretty darn cute I even had to admit…in almost all of the 54 pictures he sent her. There was only one picture that confused me. A picture of “Derek” that barely looked like the handsome buck he was in all of the rest of the pictures. I actually couldn’t figure out how this person…could even be same person in the 53 other photos. Oh well. I knew I shouldn’t be shallow. According to Nadia, Derek was a rare find in a man. He was a gem. And his looks didn’t matter. Still I the whole thing was weird. I am a total romantic. I believed in love and in soul mates and I believed you could meet them in the craziest ways; but I was wary of meeting them through the internet. It just seemed so shady. So impersonal.  When Nadia told me how she thought she met “the one” two weeks after breaking up with her fiance, needless to say I was skeptical…but by the glow in her eyes I hoped it was true.

I supposed we would find out if it was true, if she had found the man of her dreams, in just about an hour…when she would met him face to face.

…To Be Continued…

What do you think of internet dating? Do you think it’s possible to find love online?

 

 

 

 

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” -Muhammad Ali

My dear friend Zac is as practical and down to earth as they come. He looked at himself as just another average guy: average height, average looking, average life experiences. To me and my group of friends he was that subtle hilarious person that says the perfect one-liner at the right moment and gave advice like a sage of old. He was always a willing listener and would go to any movie with anyone…even chick flicks. With a successful job and the heart that treats every girl like a princess Zac was an extraordinary catch….but he didn’t even know it.

He had two best friends Tim, a fellow Star Wars and Volley ball enthusiast; and Sarah, well Sarah was the girl of his dreams. He and Sarah had known each other since they were children playing with barbie dolls and ninga turtles and mud. Over the years they had become closer and closer through countless hours and talking and laughing and blog writing. Sarah was beautiful with glossy light brown hair that was always well-styled and that ran past her shoulders; her eyes were small sea-green ovals that seemed to twinkle when she thought something was humorous. From many trips abroad and a Nikon DSLR camera she seemed so cool and so cultured to Zac. Where had he been that was cool? I mean, even the Air force couldn’t seem to help that out; he hoped to be sent to Hawaii or Florida or Germany…they sent him to Alabama! All said…Sarah was out of his league. Zac was certain Sarah never thought twice about romance with him….actually he was certain she never even thought once about it!

~

“You like Sarah, don’t you?” I asked Zac while sitting down over a cup bolba tea and a bottled water for him.

“She would NEVER think of me that way!” Zac said totally not answering the question. He scrunched his thick light brown eyebrows together and then took a long swing of his bottled water. I could tell he was deep in thought. He slid his long fingers through his buzz-cut ashen blond hair and bit his lip.

“I bet you are wrong! You guys get along so well; you run together, you see movies, you hike, you talk all the time…” I said and then took a sip of the Vanilla-rose flavored tea. I cringed a little as I drank it, wishing I hadn’t been to adventurous on my choice of beverage. Roses are delicious to smell not eat…or drink!

Zac shook his head and then waved his hand through the air, “It’s no big deal either, it’s just not like that between us! We are just great friends!” He said with nonchalant conviction. He took another drink of his water before saying, “I just can’t stand how Sarah doesn’t see how incredible she is! She told me on the phone that she thought she wasn’t that pretty and wondered why it was taking forever to find the right guy…” he shook his head distressed, “That is CRAZY! She is so beautiful. Any guy would be lucky to have her! And I know the man she gets will be amazing.”

I agreed with him.

~

Sarah glanced at herself once last time in the mirror. She curled her hair with a wide barrel curling iron that created waves a Victoria Secret Model would be envious of. Her brand new shirt from Express accentuated her slim and athletic build. She hoped Zac would notice. She had liked him for such a long time but she was about it just give up. A guy from the office was interested…very interested in her. He was sweet and kind too, maybe even perfect boyfriend material, but he just wasn’t Zac.

~

Zac’s silver jeep was immaculately clean and even though it was a year old it still had that new car smell. Sarah giggled at the thought of Zac owning a jeep of all vehicles when he hated things getting dirty. They were parked outside the Tinseltown Movie Theater with a good half-hour to blow before the next showing of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. A few snowflakes swirled in the frosty air outside. Zac burst open the driver’s door carrying a brown paper bag and two cups of coffee, a caramel macchiato for Sarah, black with one packet of sugar in the raw for him. The cold from outside instantly sucked out at least twenty degrees of heat making the car feel like a refrigerator box.

“Burr!” Zac exclaimed through clacking teeth as he handed Sarah the coffee. “I got it with extra foam and caramel…just like you like; even double checked it to make sure it was perfect.”

“Thank you! You are the best!” Sarah said clutching the drink in her hand. “And thanks for paying…”

Zac waved his hand and shook his head, “That’s what friends do.”

Sarah sighed as he said the word “friend”. He never would notice her, would he?

“Also, guess what else I got? A blue berry scone!” He said his eyes lighting up at the look of delight on her face. She looked simply stunning he thought.

“Yay!” She squealed opening the brown sack and reaching in to the divine goodness.

“You should feel very privileged too…because I would never let anyone else eat that crumb-maker in my car.” He laughed as he said it.

Sarah laughed and rolled her eyes, “I do, for a matter-of-fact.” They chatted back and forth moving effortlessly from one topic to the next. Finally Sarah’s love life came up.

“How about that guy at work; haven’t you gone on what? Four dates with him?” Zac asked with enthusiasm thinking of how he must be the friend Sarah needed.

Sarah stared down at the half-eaten scone that rested on a napkin on her legs. “I just don’t know about him. He’s nice and very gentlemanly to me but…” her words trailed off. She knew exactly why she didn’t want to start something with Jerry. She instead said, “There’s really no spark.”

“Sarah that’s great! What have I told you about the “spark”…its a scam…just a big lie!” Zac said even though he felt like he was on-fire, all-out twitter-pated when he was with Sarah.

“I know-he actually asked if I would be his girlfriend,”

“Really?”

Sarah nodded trying to read his expression. It wasn’t what she was hoping for. “You think I should just say yes then?”

Zac, using his fingers quickly pointed out the pros and cons Sarah had mentioned about Jerry. “So, what I am saying is you ought to give it a shot. If it doesn’t work out at least you tried right? And you don’t wanna pass up on a great guy.” As Zac said it he felt his soul screaming at him, begging him to just say, “No you shouldn’t date him…because I’m in love with you.” 

Sarah looked out the window so Zac wouldn’t see her eyes fill with tears. He really did think of her just as a friend. She pulled in a deep breath and said a solemn, “O-ok.”

~

Sarah married Jerry in May 2013. Zac couldn’t bring himself to go to the wedding.

~

My sister and Sarah got together with a few other friends for a girl’s night out. Sarah was so happy and so in love with her new husband Jerry. Her face glowed. Somehow the conversation turned to guys the girls had liked but things never worked out. Andrea suddenly asked Sarah, “Just out of curiosity, did you ever like Zac?”

Sarah nodded, “Oh my goodness, I was crazy about him! I liked him so much, he just never had those feelings for me.I finally gave up one day and ended up falling for Jerry!”

~

This was a true story.

~

A poem by John Greenleaf Whittier titled, “Maud Mary” has this powerful line at the end: “For all sad words of tongue or of pen, the saddest are these: “It might have been!” What’s worse than rejection?There are very few things..but regret…regret is worse. Take chances. Even though risks are risky…dare to risk.

“For Everything he did Wrong, He did One thing Right” Lessons From Juan Pablo

Lessons from Juan Pablo #2 “For All the things he did wrong, he did do one thing right: show us what NOT to look for in a mate.”
I used to wish that the name of the person I was supposed to be with could be simply written on an index card and slipped into my mailbox entitled, “Autumn’s Soul Mate.” How easy would life be? But, if it did happen this way, there are so many things we wouldn’t learn. I believe God gave us common sense, and He wants us to use it.
One thing that bugged me about Juan Pablo is that he couldn’t seem to come up with specific reasons for liking a girl; for Nikki he said, “She is soooooooo sexy;” “She’s a good kisser;” “She’s beautiful,” and then lastly “She has a heart for people.”Umm…ok. Getting compliments on our looks is GREAT! But you want someone that appreciates your inside too. Juan Pablo managed to pick out that ‘she has a heart for people’ and that ‘she was honest (which he said about EVERYONE)’. Two great qualities, but he tended to obsess about the girls looks more than anything. WARNING: if a guy (or a girl for the guys) when asked why they like you can only list things about your appearance, this could mean a serious red flag.
Do you want love that lasts for a life time? Then you need to look for certain qualities in a person! Here is a list of some “must have” qualities to look for:

1. Honesty
One speaker put it perfectly, “A woman can live with an imperfect man, but never a liar!” You want someone you can trust. In fact it is very hard to have a relationship filled with love if there isn’t trust. And beware of the little lies…it can mean he/or she is very comfortable telling them.
2. Respect
When someone has learned to respect others, they have an amazing quality. You want someone that is in the habit of viewing people, all people with having an amazing value. Lack of respect screams of a person that is full of themselves and hard to get along with. Do you really want to be with that? A person that is respectful will value your thoughts and opinions and body. A respectful person will not make you feel cheap and used. (Btw…if someone makes you feel bad about his/her going to strip clubs or looking at porn…you are not the crazy, jealous girlfriend or boyfriend they may have called you…you just want to be valued and respected…and in fact they are just being incredibly disrespectful!!!)
3. Kindness/Consideration/Communication
Juan Pablo struck down in this category. He seems like a nice guy so I’ll give him that but, he was extremely inconsiderate and bad at communication. This became clear as the Bachelor Season started to wind down. He didn’t ask questions (it was all about him and his needs) and time and time again he was rude under the guise of “being honest.” You need an honest person, but you need someone who can say “hard, honest things” in a very kind respectful and loving way-it’s called being considerate. Also, along the same lines, look for someone that is just a nice person! I will never understand the obsession with the “bad boy/bad girl.” Someone that smiles, talks kindly to people, and is genuinely caring will be “more exciting and fulfilling” in the long run than someone who is “dangerous.” Lastly, I wedged communication in here, because it really is an important quality. Good communicators ask questions and give real answers. (Bad Communication example from Juan Pablo: saying “It’s Ok” all the time…)Communicators learn how to open up and share their feelings.
4. Loyal
My stomach sort of did a flip when Juan Pablo’s family warned the girls how he would just “peace out” when the going is tuff. WHAT? If your boyfriend or girlfriend’s family member tells you this, run for the hills! If you want to be in love for a life time it is absolutely necessary to have the kind of person that cares enough about the relationship to fight for it. Life is full of ups and downs you want someone you can rely on through the journey.

To sum up, look for someone with, “A Good Name”- having a “good name” is having established good character. This is the kind of person you want. This is the kind of person you will admire and love for a lifetime.

As you start dating and “talking” to potential mates guard your heart and check for character. NOTE: Again, no one is perfect; but you want someone who strives for good character, who though they may and will fail, they never stop striving for those good qualities.

UP NEXT: Ever since I was little I was obsessed “love” and “Mr. Right.” I was always sure that I would find my soul mate and be madly in love with him forever. But, as I grew up, I actually wondered if true love could last. Thousands of marriages fall apart every single year; and people fall out of love at an alarming rate! Then, there are the people that stay married and “grow old together”- they simply seem to have nothing better to do than to bicker and complain about the other person. So I pose this question: is life-long love just a fairy tale?
I decided that it isn’t.
Read my next blog entry titled, “True love: just for fairy tales?” Lesson’s from Juan Pablo.

Lessons from Juan Pablo

Lessons from Juan Pablo

Do Prince Charming’s exist? A look at Romance….

I can tell you that after the Bachelor’s Juan Pablo, a lot of girls out there probably lost all hope in the male species. But, there is hope! Our Princes are out there, but they are rare and can be hard to find!

In today’s society, we are hammered into our minds to “follow our hearts”- we are told it’s the only true way to fall in love. However, I say follow your head first and then open your heart and give it away to the RIGHT MAN. The first lesson that we can learn from Juan Pablo actually centers around Nikki, Claire, and all of us women who choose to follow our hearts.

You watched it, painfully I might add, as Nikki and Claire had the red flag of “danger!” “danger!” waving in front of their faces time and time again. They even would question the red flag for a moment and then…right when you think they would do something about it…they succumbed to the “charm’s” and “ok’s” and “everything is great’s” and “honesty” of Juan Pablo. All of us watching saw it, (even me! Who btw at first kept making excuses for him-I wanted to believe he was a good guy!) and we all couldn’t understand why the girls would do nothing about it! Well, girls most of us have all been in Nikki and Claire’s situation.

We have all “followed our heart”, letting our feelings take over our better judgment. What happens, for girls and guys alike, is we start liking someone without knowing what qualities to look for in a person-we just put it all on the line (our hearts, emotions, lives) based souly on what our heart tells us. For me, that meant making excuses for bad things the guy would do, over and over again. My friends would tell me things that they were concerned about, but I would dismiss it and be totally blind in my feelings. It has been said that “love is blind”-which is a good thing when you are in love with a good person (that way you look past their small mistakes!); but “blind love” can just mean “heart break” and “unhappiness” if we have chosen to fall in love with a person lacking good character. I have been guilty of this simply “following my heart” without stepping back and thinking clearly and of course at the end of the road I got a broken heart. There is a better way!

How do we find our Mr. Right? First, we need to step back and figure out the essential qualities that need to be in a life-mate. And I’m not saying a crazy list of “perfections”-REMEMBER NO ONE IS PERFECT! But true love that lasts a long time can happen when you are with someone that has good character.

Next time I’ll write about some key qualities to look for in a mate titled, “For all the things Juan Pablo did wrong, he did one thing right: show us what NOT to look for in a relationship!” haha! Long title I know, but come on, pretty funny!