Don’t Allow Too Many Missed Opportunities to Say, I Love You

Don’t Allow Too Many Missed Opportunities to Say, I Love You

appreciation

“We cannot tell the exact moment a friendship is formed; as in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses, there is at last one that makes the heart run over.” (Author unknown)

I just finished reading Love for No Reason by, Marci Shimoff and wanted to share a powerful story in the book on communicating love and appreciation to one another.

“There’s a wonderful story about the power of appreciation that I’ve told in my speeches for years.  It’s based on the work of Helice “Sparkey” Bridges whose organization, Difference Makers International, has designed blue ribbons that read, Who I am Makes a Difference.  Their goal is that 300 million people worldwide each receive one of these ribbons by 2020.

The story is about a teacher in New York City who heard about these blue ribbons and decided to use them in an “appreciation ceremony” one afternoon with her high school seniors.  She honored each student one by one, telling them what she appreciated about them and then presented them with a ribbon.

She then gave each student three more blue ribbons to pass along in acknowledgement of others to see what impact it would make in their community.  One student gave a ribbon to his workplace supervisor.  From there it ended up in the hands of his boss, a busy executive who decided to give the ribbon to his fourteen-year-old son.  That night, the executive sat his son down on the couch and said to him, “My days are really hectic and when I come home I don’t pay a lot of attention to you.  Sometimes I scream at you for different things.  But tonight, I just wanted to let you know that you do make a difference to me.  Besides your mother, you are the most important person in my life.  You’re a great kid and I love you!”

Hearing this, the son began to sob.  He went over to a drawer, opened it, and took out a gun.  Still crying he looked at his father and said, “Dad, I was going to commit suicide tomorrow because I didn’t think you loved me.  Now I don’t have to.  Please take this gun from me.”

You never know how much someone might need to hear your kind words of appreciation.  Life can be riddled with challenges and often we lose our way.  That is why we must never miss an opportunity to share how much we appreciate each other.  You may be the lifeline someone is reaching out for.

My Challenge:  Make a point of finding one person every day to share what you appreciate about them.

Namaste,
Maria Elena Escobar

Perfect Love Does Not Judge

Perfect Love Does Not Judge

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“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” ~ Mother Teresa

I am continuing on the theme of LOVE for April.  Today I want to talk about judging one another.  It is so automatic for some of us we don’t even know we are doing it.

When we judge someone it says more about ourselves than the other person.  We all look at life through a different lens.  Whatever baggage you bring to the situation will affect how you perceive it.  So ask yourself, “am I judging others?’

When you make an assumption before you here the facts or ask questions, you are judging them.  When you automatically assume the person is falling into a past habit and respond to them accordingly without confirmation, you are judging.  When you get angry at a behavior without getting facts, you are judging.  Things are not always how they appear.  You cannot love someone and judge them.

This poem is a great example of how we can learn to choose to love before judging.  You can’t take back your words, so be thoughtful and careful when you accuse or get angry.  Get the facts and read the writing on the wall.

The Handwriting On The Wall

A weary mother returned from the store,
Lugging groceries through the kitchen door.
Awaiting her arrival was her 8 year old son,
Anxious to relate what his younger brother had done.

“While I was out playing and Dad was on a call,
T.J. took his crayons and wrote on the wall!
It’s on the new paper you just hung in the den.
I told him you’d be mad at having to do it again.”

She let out a moan and furrowed her brow,
“Where is your little brother right now?”
She emptied her arms and with a purposeful stride,
She marched to his closet where he had gone to hide.

She called his full name as she entered his room.
He trembled with fear–he knew that meant doom!
For the next ten minutes, she ranted and raved
About the expensive wallpaper and how she had saved.

Lamenting all the work it would take to repair,
She condemned his actions and total lack of care.
The more she scolded, the madder she got,
Then stomped from his room, totally distraught!

She headed for the den to confirm her fears.
When she saw the wall, her eyes flooded with tears.
The message she read pierced her soul with a dart.
It said, “I love Mommy”, surrounded by a heart.

Well, the wallpaper remained, just as she found it,
With an empty picture frame hung to surround it.
A reminder to her, and indeed to all,
Take time to read the handwriting on the wall.

Taken from, Moral Stories by academictips.org Author unknown

My Challenge: Think before you react next time someone upsets you or does something you disagree with.  Ask questions and get the facts before you respond.  Choose the most loving response available.

Namaste,
Maria Elena Escobar

Lovingly Listen by Giving Your Sacred Attention

Lovingly Listen by Giving Your Sacred Attention

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“In order to listen, we have to make space for someone else to participate in the conversation.” ~ Jenna Hall, The Daily Love

I was drawn to this blog post today in the daily Love, Listening… Do You Do It? written by, Jenna Hall.  It caught my attention because during a visioning/meditation session I was doing this morning I kept thinking about the act of giving someone my sacred attention.  In this techno age where everyone is texting or checking email, actual focused undivided listening is rare.

The other thing is how common place it is to be interrupted by the kids or distractions.  I can’t remember the last time I was able to complete a thought with certain people in my life who have children. To be honest I do find myself trying to fit in what I need to say as fast as possible so I get to get it out.  When I was a kid it was understood you do not interrupt Mom on the phone.  In this “I want attention now society”, kids today think nothing about interrupting a million times while you are talking.

I consider it an act of love to really pay attention when someone is talking; I consider it sacred attention because it tells the person, “right now you are the only thing that matters.”  I made a promise to myself to be fully present and listen fully when people are speaking. No interrupting, no multitasking, no checking email, just listening and giving my undivided sacred attention.

I like what Jenna had to say.   She shared that some people are so enthusiastic when they share about their life and what they’re doing the conversation is one sided.  I admit I am guilty of being so passionate about my purpose that sharing is more like asking people to drink from a fire hose. I am going to be more aware and make space for someone else to participate in the conversation more.

As I thought about what it means to truly give sacred attention, I was convicted about not interrupting.  I am really working on changing that.  I realize that is an area where I am not showing love and it is incredibly selfish to think what I have to say is more important than letting someone complete a thought.  I apologize to anyone I have ever done that to.  I am determined that this will become my strength and as an act of love I will learn to consistently make every effort to give the people in my life my sacred attention from now on.

How about you, can you relate?

My Challenge: For the next week make a decision that when someone is talking to you, in person or on the phone, you will give your undivided sacred attention.  No typing or checking email while they’re talking.  No texting.  If in person, make eye contact and demonstrate genuine interest.  If on the phone don’t let others distract you from being a good friend.  Love them enough to give them your sacred attention.

Namaste,
Maria Elena Escobar

Letting Go: The Hardest Type of Empowering Love

Letting Go: The Hardest Type of Empowering Love

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“There are two things we should give to our children: Roots and Wings.” ~ Goethe

Nothing can stunt growth like enabling someone.  It is the hardest thing to do when we love someone to watch them struggle and to stand back and let them figure it out for themselves.  We always grow the most when we are outside our comfort zone.  When we love someone, sometimes the hardest thing we have to do is say “no”.

I am familiar with this.  For many years when I was deep in my mess and depressed my Mother kept rescuing me and bailing me out.  I kept saying “I will get it together tomorrow.”  I had the best of intentions.  But I knew I had a safety net and as long as I did, when things were hard I would ask for help rather than do the hard work of working it out for myself.

The greatest gift my Mother gave me was when she made me stand on my own two feet and stopped enabling me.  When she did she let me grow and I rose to the challenge.  I still know she is there if I need her but I want to stand on my own, I don’t need to be rescued.

If I am not living close to the edge then I am not stepping out my comfort zone enough.  What a great feeling when you discover you are stronger than you think.  It is the hardest part of loving someone, letting go, but sometimes it is the most loving thing we can do.

This is a great story that illustrates that perfectly.

The Story of the Butterfly

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly.
One day a small opening appeared.
He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours
as it struggled to squeeze its body through the tiny hole.
Then it stopped, as if it couldn’t go further.

So the man decided to help the butterfly.
He took a pair of scissors and
snipped off the remaining bits of cocoon.
The butterfly emerged easily but
it had a swollen body and shriveled wings.

The man continued to watch it,
expecting that any minute the wings would enlarge
and expand enough to support the body,
Neither happened!
In fact the butterfly spent the rest of its life
crawling around.
It was never able to fly.

What the man in his kindness
and haste did not understand:
The restricting cocoon and the struggle
required by the butterfly to get through the opening
was a way of forcing the fluid from the body
into the wings so that it would be ready
for flight once that was achieved.

Sometimes struggles are exactly
what we need in our lives.
Going through life with no obstacles would cripple us.
We will not be as strong as we could have been
and we would never fly.

Taken from Motivational Stories by Kevin @ http://www.motivationalwellbeing.com/motivational-stories.html

My Challenge:  The next time you’re tempted to do your kids homework or think it would be easier if you did it yourself in some situation with someone you love, stop and let them challenge themselves to grow outside their comfort zone.  It will be the most loving thing you can do.

Namaste,
Maria Elena Escobar

Learn Lessons of Love from Nature

Learn Lessons of Love from Nature

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“Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God.” ~ George Washington Carver

There are many lessons about unconditional love we can learn from nature.  An all-time favorite book of mine is, Hinds Feet on High Places Written by, Hannah Hurnard.  The author uses some of the most beautiful analogies from nature to describe life’s lessons.  One in particular always inspires me.  Wild flowers are often in places where no eye will ever see them, yet they cheerfully shine their beautiful faces to the sun.

  “…and little wild flowers have a wonderful lesson to teach.  They offer themselves so sweetly and confidently and willingly, even if it seems that there is no one to appreciate them.  Just as though they sang a joyous little song to themselves, that it is so happy to love, even though one is not loved in return… All the fairest beauties of the human soul, its greatest victories, and most splendid achievements are always those which no one knows anything about, or can anyone dimly guess at.  Every inner response to Love and every conquest over self-love is a new flower on the tree of Love. 
    Many a quiet, ordinary, hidden life, unknown to the world, is a veritable garden in which Love’s flowers and fruits have come to such perfection that it is a place of delight where the King of Love himself walks with his friends.  Some of my servants have indeed won great visible victories and rightly loved and revered by men, but always their greatest victories are like the wild flowers, that no one knows about.”

The wild flowers demonstrate unconditional love, giving with no expectation of having any returned.  It is the silent victories that give life meaning and build character.  The moments were we make a choice to put someone first or serve without the other knowing, these are the wildflower moments in our life.

The daily decisions we make minute by minute determine how much we enjoy life as a journey and love for the sake of love. Reading this book made me stop to think of all the lessons we can learn from nature.  To learn the secret truths that give life meaning, purpose and beauty, we must stop to look and listen.  Sometimes we just need to slow down and take the scenic route.  Sometimes in the pursuit of happiness we need to stop and just be happy.

True unconditional love is one that needs no recognition but the pure joy of loving is its own reward.  This is the love I am determined to be.

My Challenge:  Take a moment in nature, the weather is so perfect this time of year.  Listen for the lessons on love she teaches and journal on them.

Namaste,
Maria Elena Escobar

Love Never Fails

Love Never Fails

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“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13

This scripture in the New Testament is such a great definition of what love is.  It is rarely lived up to.  But today for a change I thought I would examine it and put out a call to raise the level of love we put in our relationships.

What is love?

Love is:

Patient: Patience is calmly enduring pain, trials, discomfort, opposition and difficulty without complaining.  When you are patient you stay calm when the one you love is pushing your buttons.  You don’t complain when they give you a situation that frustrates you. I am not saying that you stuff your feelings but you come from a place of love and tolerance.

Kind is characterized by a sympathetic, helpful and gentle nature.  When you are kind in a relationship you think about the others needs and find ways to lift their burdens, serve them and help lift them up.  You show sympathy and concern when they suffer.

Love is not:

Boastful, when someone boasts they puff themselves up in speech often to put the other down.  When you love you don’t say I was right you were wrong because you love the other person and don’t want to make the other person to feel bad.  You don’t always need to be right.

Proud: Being proud is not entirely bad, you should have a healthy self-respect but again love does not lord their strength or accomplishments to make someone feel less about themselves.  You don’t make yourself feel good at someone’s expense.

Does not dishonor others:  To honor means to hold in high regard.  When we treat people we love in a way that diminishes them or disrespects them we are not honoring them.

Self-seeking, when you love someone you look for ways to meet their needs and not only yours.  We all need to take care of ourselves but when we love another we learn not to put ourselves above others.  In healthy relationships you would both will be doing this.

Easily angered, this one is challenging for a lot of people.  It is when you stop and truly listen, have compassion and walk in someone’s shoes before you react that you can change this behavior.  If you choose not to react but instead respond in love then this will no longer be an issue.

Love:

Keeps no records of wrongs.  How often when in an argument we bring up some obscure infraction from the past?  Love wipes the slate clean.  It is like it never happened.  Humans are the only species that make ourselves and others pay for the consequences of our mistakes over and over.  Other species pay once, then it is done.  We can learn a lot from that.  We are not our past mistakes.

Does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth.  This makes me think of gossip.  When we share in the guise of venting the negative things we feel about someone who we love that hurt us we are stepping on slippery ground.  We love, we want to build up others and not tear them down.  Which goes with love honors another.  Think about how you represent people you love to others.  Do you only share when they mess up?  Do you also revel in their strengths and catch them doing good and share about that as well.

Love Always:

Protects: when we protect we cover or shield from exposure, injury, damage, or destruction those we love.  When we love we got their back.  We look ahead and when we see them making choices or in destructive relationships we have the courage to speak the truth even if it is uncomfortable.  We risk our comfort to protect and  are willing to go out of our way to do what is needed to keep them safe, even if it is against themselves.

Trusts: when we trust we demonstrate assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.  We are confident in the character of the other and give them the benefit of the doubt.  We are not quick to judgment or making assumptions because we believe the best.  We ask questions and when we get answers we believe in the person.

Hopes: When we hope we have a great desire for the best for another and we wait with expectation in faith that good things will happen for them.  We believe the best in them and expect the best from them.  We want the best for them.

Perseveres: when we persevere we persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counter-influences, opposition, or discouragement.  We don’t give up on people even if it is hard, even if it feels hopeless we persist.

Why?  Because love never fails.

My Challenge:  This is the level of love that we are called to; will you challenge yourself to demonstrate these qualities in your relationships?  Ask yourself where can I love more and use these guides as a gauge to call yourself to love more.  I know I still have work to do in many of these areas.  I will take this challenge and I am determined to be the love in this scripture.  Be the love I was created to be, who will join me?

Namaste,
Maria Elena Escobar