When your college-age daughter comes home for spring break and convinces you to binge watch the hit TV show A Million Little Things, it’s a struggle to get anything else done. (Amazing show!)
But as a writer, at least I can count this as storytelling homework, and the takeaways from every episode are so rich that they leave you contemplating life, grief, ethics, truth, relationships, the power of love and more.
Just halfway through watching the season on demand, the lessons I’ve gleaned so far are ones that most of us already know, but often need reminders to practice. Among them are these gems:
- You never know what someone else is going through, so be kind.
- You never know what someone else has been through, so stop judging.
- Things aren’t always what they seem, so quit longing for the greener grass across the fence.
- Pause in your busyness to really see and hear the people closest to you. Give them the space to be vulnerable and imperfect, and love them anyway.
- Love yourself enough to give life all you’ve got, no matter how many times you fall and have to get back up again. You and your purpose are worth it.
May these reminders guide our actions and interactions in the days, weeks and months to come, until we no longer need to recall them, because they’ve become our habits.
Am I perfect? Nope – far from it.
Am I persistent? Yep – about the dreams and goals that fuel my purpose.
Am I mistake-proof? I wish! But the lessons learned through missteps are refining, and sometimes life-affirming.
Am I kind? Certainly not always; but I do my best to lead with love and follow the Golden Rule, because in the end all that really matters is somehow leaving others better than you found them.
What say you?
How would you answer the questions above?
If you can cut yourself some slack, yet still give , you can enjoy the journey to becoming your best self as much as reaching the destination.
And, perhaps, you’ll better appreciate the excellence-seekers on the path with you, as they stumble and stride forward, too.
The joy is indeed in the journey.
By Stacy Hawkins Adams
“Don’t Make Assumptions.” I appreciate this one of Don Miguel Ruiz’s tenets from his book The Four Agreements in particular because it reminds us to give grace to others due to our own blind spots.
There’s no way we can fully know what someone else is going through or has gone through – especially by watching their social media “commercials.”
There’s no way to know the complete behind-the-scenes experiences that have motivated others’ next steps or perhaps left them stuck – unless we both ask with an open heart (when appropriate) and listen with unfiltered ears (always).
Until we can truly see and value others, we’ll always assume what “should” or “could” be their reality and/or their responses. But what good does this kind of judgment yield?
So consider this agreement a practice worth pursuing, in the spirit of elevating relationships of all kinds.
Ask instead of assuming you know their truths and speak up instead of assuming they “should” know yours.
Pause instead of pointing fingers; reflect instead of rejecting. Know that unless you’ve walked the very path they’re trodding, you really know very little – and vice versa!
Extend grace as you’re also seeking it. Hold at the forefront of your mind that each day and each personal encounter should begin and end the same – with love as the central force.
I own two Kate Spade purses. A dear friend gifted them to me a few years ago as a “no special reason – I just wanted to” present. So whenever I’ve carried them, she has always filled my mind with loving thoughts.
Now when I use those handbags, I’ll also remember that Kate Spade was a real person, in need of help. I’ll remember to continue looking past people’s automatic smiles to make sure their eyes are smiling, too. If the light seems to be missing, I’ll offer a hand, listening ear, the truth in love, a therapist or counselor’s contact info, or a shoulder to cry on.
Let those around you know that your shoulders, hands, heart and lack of judgment are available, also. We all need safe spaces to land every now and then.
My thoughts are with all who are struggling with emotional or mental health challenges. There’s nothing wrong with seeking help; in fact, it requires a certain strength.
Do it today. Many, many of us are cheering for you.
~ Stacy Hawkins Adams
Were you one of those kids who believed that ghosts or monsters lurked in your bedroom closet, waiting until the lights were out and you were trying to sleep to make their presence known? (See my raised hand.)
Or, maybe you were the young adult with the world before you, yet you were so anxious about making wrong decisions that you opted more often than not to play it safe and make choices that were safe. (Hand still partially raised.)
Or, could it be that now, as a full-fledged adult, you view your age, weight, finances, personality or other personal circumstances as reasons for staying in a holding pattern or coasting through each day? (Hand NOT raised.)
It took me a while, but after living for a bit and surviving a couple of life’s major “D’s” – death of loved ones and divorce – I’ve come to realize that life’s not meant to be expansive and enjoyed only after you’ve conquered your challenges; instead, while you’re wading (sometimes knee-deep) through them, you could be growing, learning, laughing, loving and even thriving in your inner soul.
Watching my now-deceased older sister find enjoyment in simple things after surviving a double lung transplant in 2011 taught me to value each breath, each opportunity to connect with loved ones, and indeed, each day.
Experiencing the death of important relationships and the snuffing out of their accompanying dreams taught me to value myself, flaws and all, because even if no one else is around, I have to live with and love me.
Pushing through all kinds of highs and lows with others shook me and shaped me into a more empathetic, peaceful and purposeful person – someone filled with more resilience, hope, deeper faith and joy for simple blessings than I otherwise might have possessed.
While my experiences have been uniquely my own, the benefits they’ve yielded are universally possible.
What has hampered you or broken your heart? What has made you press pause and enter a journey of self-examination or sacrifice? What has led to tears that have filled God’s bottle with your name on it, yet also grew a garden of unexpected supporters and mentors to surround you?
Consider those consequences as the gems for your journey. Allow them to fuel your steps forward and foster more hope and heartiness where needed.
Fear comes to us all, yet fear can’t take up residence unless we grant permission.
- Acknowledge the emotion’s presence, then try to assess why you’re afraid.
- Envision your worst-case scenario. If the thing you’re fearing were to happen, how would you survive? (Your faith, your Plan B, support from family or friends, or all of the above? )
- Envision your best-case scenario and how this outcome would empower and elevate you. If this were to happen, how would you stay centered while sustaining the success?
- Remind yourself that whatever comes, you are strong enough, smart enough and loved enough to fall down and get up, or to stand and wait, or to rise and forge a new path – whatever is required.
- Remember that by some accounts, FEAR is simply “False Evidence Appearing Real.” You have all within you to overtake whatever is causing you to stumble or spin your wheels.
Embrace the five suggestions outlined above and execute them routinely – one moment, one hour, one day at a time. Refresh and repeat as necessary.
Invest attention and intention in yourself, and before you know it, you’ll find yourself shedding your cocoon and soaring, in your solely special way.
You’ll be living life “untapped,” in a space where regrets are few, life lessons are abundant, and grace is more than sufficient.
Just days after images of death and horror from the mass shooting at a high school in Florida filled our TV and digital screens, we are now being jarred by coverage of the funerals for 15 young people and the two adults who perished with them.
As Martin Luther III declared yesterday during a visit to Richmond, Virginia, the fact that such secondary trauma is now routine has resulted in a nation living with post traumatic stress, in perpetual fight-or-flight mode, with a desensitization to the taking of human life.
“Until we change the culture, we’re not going to address the issue,” Mr. King told a roomful of attentive listeners of all ages and ethnicities during a talk at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Yet, he went on to assert that it all starts with individual decisions to do what’s right, to listen to one’s conscious, to follow through with integrity.
As he shared his thoughts on human rights and reminisced about the special times he could remember spending with his father before losing Dr. King when he was 10, I couldn’t help but wonder how, 50 years after Dr. King’s murder, Mr. King maintains hope for a better future. He answered for me (and likely others) before the question was verbally uttered.
“I had to learn to hate the evil act and not the person. I’m thankful for the Spirit that teaches you to forgive.”
Even so, he called on each person within earshot to do something, whether locally, nationally or globally, to change their communities and the world for the better.
I too, issue that challenge, in my own way, through the words that follow:
We all can do something to make a difference.
Listen. Be present.
Go out of your way.
Give others a chance.
Be your sister’s keeper,
your brother’s armor bearer.
Call a local official.
Start a petition.
Laugh together, cry together.
Hug it out. Press on.
Use your words for good.
Use your innate gifts for best.
Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
All these things?? This is what a change for the better requires. Daily.
Will you (we) embrace the call?
Our world sure needs you (us).
© Stacy Hawkins Adams