“Before I Speak, I Ask Myself . . .”

“Before I speak, I ask myself: ‘Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?’ And I usually keep my mouth shut.” Fred Astaire

This sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Yet, for me this is easier said than done. In the heat of the moment, it might seem true. Emotional reasoning has a way of coloring the truth. It might also seem necessary, because if I don’t say it, I might explode. And the concept of “kind” is often the farthest thing from my mind.

I read somewhere that Fred Astaire’s dance moves appeared effortless because he rehearsed relentlessly. Over time, the moves became somewhat automatic. I am not physically graceful, and have no dreams of dancing. However, perhaps  if I tried relentlessly asking Astaire’s questions of myself, I might be able to appear effortless in my gentle relating with others. With enough practice, it might even become automatic!

Some people are always grumbling . . .

“Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses.” Alphonse Karr

So much more elegant than the “glass half empty/half full” saying, isn’t it? Yet it speaks to the same truth.

When I focus on the rose, suddenly the thorns just aren’t that big of a deal. An inconvenience, to be sure, perhaps even dangerous if I stop paying attention. But they are worth the price. The inconvenience. Because . . . oh, the beauty of the rose! The tight-fisted bud, pregnant with fragrance and beauty that is still hidden within the teasing display of outer petals. The joy of watching that bud bloom, slowly, spreading itself to drink in sunlight and dewdrops, and to give its nectar to the flying visitors that stop by for a drink. The heady  fragrance of a fully-opened rose. And the bitter sweetness of watching the rose give its final gift, dropping its petals, to be gathered and used to provide fragrance to a room. Or left to provide nourishment for the soil, so that the next season’s blooms may be just as bountiful.

To think that I would miss all of this if, in a fast cost/benefit analysis, I decided that thorns made the roses more trouble than they are worth!

A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.–Walter Winchell

I remember a (rather pathetic) moment in elementary school. There was a group of three or four of us who were “best friends.”  This was LONG before the term BFF had come into vogue. For some reason I was feeling insecure about my relationship with one of the girls. She told me I was her best friend–and so was one of the others in our group. So I tried to pin my friend down: “but am I your BEST best friend?” Not one of my high self-esteem moments!

Many years, and a lot of friendships later, I still see the value in that question. Not to ask the other person (please, never again!), but to ask myself. How do I “rate” my friendships? How do I get past the ideal that everyone I share my life with is a really good friend?

The quote by Walter Winchell is a great place to start. The friend he describes is the one who is there for you no matter what. Who will crawl out of bed at 3 am to come get you and take you to the emergency room. This is the friend who celebrates your growth and successes, cries with you when you experience a loss, and witnesses your processes and struggles without trying to “fix” them for you.

With the dawn of social media, many of us have thousands of friends. Or I should say, “friends.” I’ve watched people isolate from their in-their-lives friends to spend their time with online friends. I’ve watched marriages end over virtual, online relationships. Guess what, folks, relationships with flesh and blood, actual, in-person people are messy. Complicated. Sometimes painful. And precious, and worth every moment of relationship-tending that is required.

Think about your relationships? Who do you trust completely? Who are you certain will hold your heart gently? Who have you let in too close, too soon? Who do you need to back away from? As you pay attention to your friendships, and monitor your disclosures and expectations to match the friendship level, your relationships will become more natural. Drama-free. You will be able to relax more and enjoy the people with whom you share your life.

Here’s to friends!

There are Two Types of People











“There are two types of people—those who come into a room and say, ‘Well, here I am,’ and those who come in and say, ‘Ah, there you are.’” Frederick Collins

I wish I was a “there you are” person. I’m pretty sure I’m not. I’m more a “here I am and, ah, there you are, too” person. By which I mean, I know (and am glad) you are there, and yet some insecurity causes me to start out by drawing attention to myself.

In school I was a well-behaved class clown. You would think that would be an oxymoron, wouldn’t you? But no. I learned to make my classmates (and teachers) laugh while not being disruptive. I was “appropriate.”

As an adult, this turned into being a performer. A presenter, singer, trainer, teacher. Often my motives were pure–to do the job at hand. Still, sometimes it was all about me. Helping you have a good time while being entertained or taught. To ease my anxiety. To put myself in control.

It’s not easy to turn these habits/adaptations off while in a one-on-one situation. If I’m not entertaining you, will you still like me? Will I feel ok? Intentionally bringing someone joy can be a method of self protection.

The older I get, and the more I travel this journey of life, the more I move into the space of “ah, there you are.” I know I am likeable even when I am not entertaining. Or at least I know it some of the time.

The rest of the time, well. . . Did I ever tell you about the time that I (insert entertaining story here)?


Put Your Ear Down to Your Soul and Listen Hard

“Put your ear down to your soul and listen hard.” Anne Sexton

What I find interesting about this quote is all the things it doesn’t say. For instance, it does not say:

“Ask other people what they think.”

“Read a book or look online. Do your research.”

“Consult with your guide, leader, guru, or mentor.”

“Pray about it.”

Now, please don’t get me wrong. All of those are great ways to get feedback. Or guidance. But I believe the most important piece really is to listen to your soul. To listen within, rather than outside of, yourself.

How else will you know which opinions are right for you? Which suggestions keep you on your true path? When your prayers have been answered?  We often value that which comes from external sources, because we don’t trust ourselves. We imagine that others have the answers to our questions.

I would suggest that when we look inward for answers–not with our brains, but with our hearts–when we learn to hear and trust that “still, small voice,” we will find our answers. Our direction.

Our soul has never lost its connection to All That Is. Let us always remember to tune in to our souls’ wisdom.

Quotations–Finding the Deeper Messages Within

I love quotes! I’ve been collecting them since I was in grade school. I used to copy them perfectly into a journal. When I entered high school, scraps of paper crammed in the journal replaced the hand-written entries. Over the years I started shoving them into file folders. Now I have many digitally stored on my laptop.

Do you have some favorite quotes? I would invite you to spend time with the ones that catch your attention. What is it about those words that catches your heart, or your mind? Think about them. Feel about them. There may be more there than you first noticed.

I’ll be posting some of my favorites here. And then looking more deeply into them. Maybe some of the quotes here will call out to you.