Category Archives: Life in general

The art of listening

It is better to be a friend than to have one

Have you ever had one of those moments when you stumble across a quote or saying and it speaks to you, like it was meant for you at that exact point in time? Well, I had one of those moments the other week while reading a letter from a friend and seeing this quote, “it is better to be a friend than to have one”.

Friendship is one of life’s greatest blessings. Someone who is there in good and bad times, can make you laugh, cares about you, challenges you to become a better person, and listens whether you need advice or just want to talk.

But that last point is so often forgotten. Listening has become such a rare thing in a world full of people who only want to voice their opinions but don’t have time or care about opinions of those around them whether it’s in everyday conversations or on social media. More than often, we listen to reply, we don’t listen to understand. And by doing this, whether purposefully or not, we are creating an attitude of ignorance.

Growing up, I remember hearing about schools that would hand out awards for “talks the least, says the most”. That seemed like such a great award, something to strive toward in life. There is nothing wrong with talking, expressing yourself or voicing your opinions but communication is a two-way street. I truly believe there are times to talk and times to just be silent and listen.  By listening to those around us, we are showing respect, that we appreciate them, and are able to better understand their perspective.

The other week, I was asked to speak during the opening ceremony at a local Relay for Life event. It is always an incredible experience and slightly nerve-wrecking to share my story with others. It is truly humbling and makes me so happy to know that my story can help and inspire others.  As ridiculous as it sounds, in those moments I feel tickled pink. But what I love most about sharing my story with others is getting their response and hearing from them. I truly enjoy getting to know them better and learning about who they are. At the Relay for Life, it was overwhelming to see how cancer has affected so many people. To listen to a patient, survivor, or caregiver tell their story is to help them heal which is something I understand from personal experience. It is moments like that where it is more important to be a friend and to just listen.

 

A wise old owl lived in an oak,
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?

– unknown author

 

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True strength

Be a man
We must be swift as the coursing river
Be a man
With all the force of a great typhoon
Be a man
With all the strength of a raging fire
Mysterious as the dark side of the moon

I thought I was finished with blogging about Disney music but with the release of Beauty and the Beast,  Disney themed playlists have become my go-to music whenever life gets boring. This time, I’ve been inspired by I’ll make a man out of you from Mulan.

Although there are many great Disney movies with incredible music, one of my personal favorites for both movie and music combo would have to be Mulan. Based on a Chinese legend, when her country is facing war, Mulan secretly disguises herself as a man, taking her father’s place in the emperor’s army. Despite the many challenges and adversity faced along the way, through her strength, bravery, and duty to her country, Mulan helps to defeat the Huns and becomes one of China’s greatest heroines in the process. Mulan is considered a Disney princess but she is definitely not your typical damsel in distress. Her character is fierce, courageous, determined, and resilient.
Growing up with three older brothers and being surrounded by their friends, I’ve never really been a girly girl.  That might come as a surprise to some because my office at work is decorated in fake flowers, dainty colors, and I love wearing dresses! But growing up, I was that girl in the neighborhood who liked to play backyard football, get muddy, and spoke my mind whether you asked my opinion or not. While cancer and becoming physically disabled kind of changed the whole backyard football part, I still speak my mind and consider myself tough, resilient, and determined in every aspect of life.
The other day, I was sliding tables together for a meeting and someone said to me “don’t do that, you might hurt yourself”. Usually, I would brush that comment right off my shoulders but for some odd reason it bothered me.
As the youngest in the family and only girl, my brothers were determined to “make a man” out of me so that I would be able to withstand anything life threw at me. Along with giving me a love of sports, they taught me to never give up no matter what I faced, to work hard,  stay strong, and to always stand my ground.  Over the years, I’ve thrown a couple other things of my own into the mix, like having faith, being hopeful, and remaining positive.

Even though that comment was probably out of concern and kindness, it seemed to question my strength. (maybe I’m reading too much into this, it’s a girl problem)

Because of my disabilities, I may not appear to be physically strong or able to do everything I once was able to but I do not consider myself weak to any extent.
Being strong is not just a physical attribute like our society thinks of it, strength is also mental and emotional.
As a cancer survivor, I have been fortunate to get to know other survivors and although not every survivor has bulging muscles, they have more strength in their tiny finger than most people will ever have in their life. They are emotionally, mentally, and spiritually strong. Their experiences have taught them to persevere, to stay determined, to be brave, and hopeful. This is true strength to me, having the courage and strength within to overcome any obstacle you’re faced with.
There is a line in I’ll make a man out of you that says “tranquil as a forest but on fire within”, that lyric speaks volumes about where strength really lies.
True strength is not only in your physical being, it’s not in how swift you move or how much you can lift but it’s in your character, how you respond to adversity.
 “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”
-Mahatma Gandhi 

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Shouldn’t the end come first?

Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.

~Oliver Wendell Holmes

As I mentioned in another post, one of my resolutions for this year is to read more, to learn more, and to broaden my worldview. Books, articles, blogs, whatever I can get my hands on. Recently, I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. This book truly challenged my way of thinking and caused me to examine myself. It is a book I will go back to throughout my life and read over and over. This book is filled with so many great insights on how to approach various situations in life and how to constantly improve yourself.

As the title obviously states, the author describes the 7 habits to becoming more effective, whether in your work environment, with family and friends, and in life. Although each habit really spoke to me, the second habit really stood out to me,  Begin with the end in mind. In describing what he meant, the author asked the reader to imagine being at a funeral-their own funeral. He continued to ask who would be there, what would they say about you, etc. Then he asked if the answers to those questions would align with what your hopes would be. In other words, would the people you hope to be at your funeral be there? What would they say about you? Is it what you would want them to say? Or remember you as?

Although I think most people would say positive things about me, I’m not quite sure about my immediate family. They see sides of me most people don’t, my negative side, my impatient side, my moody side, and my favorite, my “just don’t bother me or speak to me” side. (my brothers use to add an adjective before Beth, it was their special name for me-no, it wasn’t beautiful)

I can only imagine what my stepdad would say, probably she’s a nag, bossy, and, impatient. “Always complaining about something whether I don’t do the dishes, if I track mud through the house, or if I chew too loudly.” After thinking about this, I realized I need to try to be more patient with him, understanding, and communicate my ideas better instead of nagging.

The same goes for my brother who is two years older than me. We have never really gotten along, always arguing about something, constantly fighting, or nitpicking at each other’s flaws. The things he would say about me  I’m sure wouldn’t be pleasant. But when I think about it, I am pretty awful sometimes and need to work on being a better sister instead of placing all the blame on him.

There’s a popular song by Tim McGraw about living like you’re dying that discusses what’s like to live each day knowing it might be your last. Although we all don’t really dwell on the thought of dying someday, it will happen. How do you want to be remembered?  When you imagine your funeral, who do you hope will be there? What do you think they will say? Is it what you hope they would say? And if not, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate.

And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying”
And he said
“Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying”

-Tim McGraw

wildflowers

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Tale as long as time

“If it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it.”

– Cogsworth

As I continue on my Disney journey and explaining the life lessons each movie taught me, I have to include one of my favorite movies EVER, Beauty and the Beast. In my previous posts, I picked out a song from the movie that spoke to me but for Beauty and the Beast, that’s just impossible. I love everything about the movie (absolutely everything). But what I love most about the movie is Belle. It’s safe to say that she is my girl crush. Not only is she pretty but Belle is gentle, caring, intelligent, and determined. Growing up, I always wanted to be like Belle. (I know she is just a movie character but work with me here) She embodies many of the characteristics I wish to emulate, like being selfless, seeing the inner beauty in others, standing up for what you believe in, and always being willing to learn.

So today, instead of analyzing a song, I’m going to analyze Belle and how she influenced me. (and continues to do so) .

Lesson #1 

Intelligence is beautiful.

We are first introduced to Belle as she strolls through her tiny village one morning, running errands and picking up a new book to read. The villagers find this to be very peculiar, questioning why such a pretty girl has her nose stuck in a book. Doesn’t she have something else better to do with her life?! What they don’t know is Belle has a thirst for knowledge, adventure, and a curiosity for what lies beyond “her provincial life”. She finds reading books as a way to quench her thirst and learn more about the world.

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to read a new book at least every month. Growing up, I used to be a bookworm but as life got in the way, I haven’t had time to read as much as I’d like. But this year, I’m determined to change that. No matter if it is a classic novel, a textbook, a fantasy novel,  or a comic book, all books have something to teach us. Within each book lies a story that will broaden our perspective, challenge us, or make us laugh. Books make us think and wonder. So far, I have kept my resolution and read 2 very different books that caused me to examine myself and enable me to see the world through someone else’s eyes. Belle shows us that intelligence is beautiful, that the more we learn, the more we become informed and enlightened. And with knowledge, we can achieve our dreams.

Lesson #2 

Be yourself and never be afraid to stand up for what you believe in

One of the first lessons we learn from Belle is to be yourself and not to be discouraged by others. It is quite obvious that Belle is an outcast in town and that most people find her to be odd but she does not let a bunch of ridiculous opinions get her down. Instead of pretending to be in love with Gaston and “fitting in” with the town or giving up her love for reading, Belle remains true to herself

Belle was also not afraid to voice her opinion or speak up for what she believed in. As a prisoner of the castle, Belle was not intimidated by the Beast. Instead, her comments and arguments challenged the Beast to look beyond his narrow ways and to see the truth.

Belle teaches us to brave, to remain strong even when we are scared, and to stand up for what is right.

Lesson #3 Loyalty.

This point can very easily be tied with Lesson #2. Throughout the movie, Belle shows her loyalty to those she really cares about. The first example is her father, Maurice. The town may find Belle to be a bit odd but to  everyone, Maurice is downright strange. He is always tinkering with his “new inventions.” Gaston even thinks Maurice is crazy and should be locked up.  But Belle does not care about what anyone else thinks. She is aware that her father is a little quirky but loves him and supports him despite of others’ opinions.

Another example is how Belle returns to the Beast after leaving to look after her father. She cares for the Beast and wants to warn him of the attack on his castle.  Although she was merely a prisoner and does not owe anything to the Beast, she feels a sense of loyalty towards him. Her steadfast loyalty towards both her father and the Beast helps her to gain respect from them and those around her.

Lesson #4 Don’t judge a book by the cover

One of the most obvious lessons from Beauty and the Beast is that of inner beauty versus outer beauty. Gaston may seem like the whole package, tall, dark, and handsome; but he proves to have a serious vanity issue and is in capable of seeing  anything beyond surface level. His massive ego, interest in only himself, and ugly personality immediately cause Belle to run far away from Gaston. He is a prime example of how you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

Although Belle was startled by the Beast’s appearance at first, with patience, kindness, and love, she was able to look past his exterior and see the man who lied within.

One of my favorite quotes, which happens to be from another Disney movie, describes this lesson very well.

“Do not be fooled by its commonplace appearance. Like so many things, it is not what outside, but what is inside that counts.”

-Aladdin

So many times we see something only for surface value and not for what truly is. As someone who is physically disabled and looks different from most, this is something I experience all the time.  Belle reminds us to look beyond physical appearance and see the inner beauty in those around us.

belle2

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Lessons from the wind

Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon
Or asked the grinning bobcat why he grinned
Can you sing with all the voices of the mountains
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind

As you could probably tell from my last post, I am obsessed with Disney and on a mission to share my interpretations and memories of some iconic songs.

“Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas, in my opinion, is one of Disney’s greatest hits. Not only is it easy to sing along, which I’ve done several times, (it’s not pretty though) but Colors of the Wind is full of so much wisdom and thought-provoking questions.

As I read over the lyrics last night, my mind felt blown!  As a child, I listened to this song almost everyday and thought the lyrics related so well to the movie but now as an adult, realize the beautiful messages in this song that can be transferred to our daily lives. Seriously, there are a lot of issues in our world today that could be resolved or viewed differentaly by listening to this song. (not trying to sound political but just saying, that’s my political rant)

An overall theme of the song is about broadening one’s perspective, how often we are blinded by ignorance or narrow-mindness. The song starts out by saying:

You think I’m an ignorant savage
And you’ve been so many places
I guess it must be so
But still I cannot see
If the savage one is me
How can there be so much that you don’t know? You don’t know

Lesson #1

Although, this may seem self-explainatory, it is something that is much easier said than done.  We are all guilty of judging others, it is part of our human nature. We often think that if we’ve met one, we’ve met them all. Or that anyone who doesn’t dress, think, or act like us, they should be treated like outcasts.
For example, I have one friend from college that before we ever even spoke to each other, I had a preconceived notion of her (which turned out to be absolutely false) She had designer clothes, designer bags, her hair and makeup was always flawless, never seemed troubled by anything, and always surrounded by friends. Well, you can imagine how stupid and terrible I felt when the two of us started to work together on a group project and we got to know each other better. The way she put others before herself, how she saw the best in everyone regardless of their looks, and how upon asking “how are you?”  in passing, she genuiely was interested in you; not just in making small talk. She is an incredible person and I am so glad my own ignorance didn’t keep me from gaining such an amazing friend..

There is a saying “don’t let one bad apple ruin them all”. Don’t let your own ignorant, preconceived notions, or bias ideals, blind you from seeing the truth.

Lesson #2
But I know every rock and tree and creature
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name

As cliche as this is and is repeated over and over, it is true. Everything in life has a reason. Native Americans believe there are spirits everywhere and although I’m a Christian, I definitely can understand what they’re saying. But also from a physical viewpoint, plants provide oxygen, earth provides foods that we eat, water to drink, and animals to watch over( either to provide us with food or to love and care for) Everything has a reason and they deserve our respect.

Lesson #3

This is my favorite part!

You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You’ll learn things you never knew you never knew

This ties in with the lyrics from before and is something I’ve touched on a million times in my blog. One of the greatest downfalls of humans is being narrow0minded; seeing the world only from our perspective and nothing more. By doing this, we are shutting the door on so many wonderful experiences, opportunities, and suprises the world has to offer.

Although many stories come to mind, one in particular is that of high school. Many of the teachers were uncomfortable with my lack of balance or unsteady gait to explain it best. I would take step, hoping my feet would do what my brain told them. Sometimes I’d take one step forward and two steps backwards. I used to stumble and fall a lot, never usaully seriously injuring myself but there was always that concern. Many of the teachers wanted me in a wheelchair but I explained (several times too many) that this was something I was not interested in. How I had once been in a wheelchair but was stubborn and determined to walk again, even if it was not perfect. And that I had no interest in going back into a wheelchair, it was non-negotiable for me. Well, you can imagine how well that went with some teachers.

After plenty of teacher meetings and feeling attacked, I decided it was my job to educate these teachers on what it is like to be physically disabled and to have a physically disabled student because they didn’t really understand either. And if they weren’t educated on this issue, then how was it fair of me to expect them to understand what daily life was like for me being disabled and why the thought of any assistive device didn’t sit well with me? It was with this conclusion that they started to see more through my perspective but also I began to see from their eyes.Both sides decided to let go of the wheelchair idea and along with finding a greater respect for each other, we we’re able to find an even ground..

Maybe that’s not the greatest example but hopefully it makes you think. There are many times where arguments or disagreements could easily be solved by pausing and trying to learn what it is like to walk in the footsteps of a stranger. Everyone is unique with a different upbringing, a different way of thinking, and a unique perspective. Although frusterating at times, this is what makes the world such a great place, no one of is exactly alike and we all can learn something from each other. Even if we don’t see eye to eye, we can still listen and acknowledge contrasting perspectives, opinions and beliefs.

Lesson #4

How high will the sycamore grow
If you cut it down, then you’ll never know

This ties in with Lesson #1 and 3#. We are quick to judge based on first glance or what we perceive the situation to be and by doing this, we often turn our backs on something great. Something that could challenge our thinking, improve who you are as an invidual,  or enable us to grow.  And don’t we all want to grow?


poc

We need to sing with all the voices of the mountain
Need to paint with all the colors of the wind
You can own the earth and still
All you’ll own is earth until
You can paint with all the colors of the wind

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The ticking sound of time

“You would know the value of time, the day you start counting not the hours, but the seconds they contain, and what you did with them.”

-Herman J Steinherr

As the holidays quickly approaches, our minds tend to reflect on Christmas memories and holiday traditions. After asking some friends what to write about in my blog, they suggested writing about these memories. Well I want to write about another memory, CLOCKS!

Clocks have always been a part of my life. To me, there is something so soothing and comforting about the ticking of a clocks. The constant tick tock drives most people crazy but the rhythmatic sound makes me feel secure and at ease.

One of my dad’s favorite hobbies was to collect clocks, antique clocks, cuckoo clocks, clocks from a ship, and the list goes on. At one point, there were over 70 clocks in our house. There was something about clocks that fascinated my dad. Maybe it was how they worked, how each clock had such intricate detail, and the story each clock held. He loved his clock collection, seeing the beauty in every clock and every chime. I never realized until I was in a house without clocks how he had passed that love onto me. It was so quiet! My friend once spent the night at my house and in the morning, she asked how I slept all the time with clocks always ticking and chiming. I had no answer except that the sound had become second nature to me.

When my dad passed away, clocks not only were a way of telling time but they became a memory of the time we had. A man who was a second father to me, passed away, his family gave us his clock which was actually a gift from my family years ago. His clock also acts as a reminder of our time together and it makes me smile with each chime.

Growing up with clocks has taught me many lessons including preferring an analog clock over digital clocks. But one thing clocks taught me most was to respect time, to value and enjoy your time instead of trying to control it. Time is precious, every second and every moment, no matter how unimportant or small it may seem. To live in the present instead of focusing on the past or on the future. A clock lives in the moment, it doesn’t dwell on the time from yesterday or what is going to occur at a certain time tomorrow. A clock makes every second count, literally. Shouldn’t we all be like clocks?

As we rush around for the holidays, going to parties, shopping, wrapping, and everything in between,  remember to make every second count. Every action you make, every moment, and every word you speak. Respect your time, live in the moment, and value every second even it is spent with people we don’t really care for or doing something that we would much rather not be doing.

“I suppose it’s like the ticking crocodile, isn’t it? Time is chasing after all of us.”
― Peter Pan

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A game of give or take

Being a role model is the most powerful form of education”

-John Wooden

 Growing up with 3 older brothers, sports have always been a big part of my life, whether it’s playing in them or being a spectator. The other Saturday, I was watching pregame for college football, trying to catch-up on some highlights and immediately my eyes were drawn to the TV as Tim Tebow started his analysis of the game.I’m going to be a that annoying girl right now but oh my gosh, he is so beautiful!! And it’s not just that he is good looking but also his morals and character that make him so attractive.

That got me to thinking, how come people like Tim Tebow; who are fantastic role models and committed to helping others,  get a bad rep compared to someone like a flashy athlete with a huge ego, whines when it doesn’t go their way, and makes poor decisions? It’s so weird and frusterating how our society and the media tend to focus soley on drama and trainwrecks instead of paying attention to those who have an upstanding character, put others before themselves, and overcome adversity with determination, courage, and strength.

And is that the kind of role model you want for your child? Someone who gives up when faced with a challenge or blames someone else for their mistakes instead of owning up to it? Or just throws life away when things get tough?

Isn’t that very much like what our society has become too? When things go bad, get difficult, or get a little bit awkward, we throw them away. Food, clothes, phones, computers, or to get a little deeper, careers, relationships, friendships. What happened to forgiveness or trying to repair something instead of just throwing it out and buying a new one?

Sometimes I think instant gratification has made us all weak, causing us to forget what hard work is, and that more than often, we expect things to go a certain way and when they don’t, we throw them away. And as adults, hopefully we can know the difference between something earned and a gift.  But what about the kids in this world who don’t know the difference? Kids are innocent and need a strong role model to teach them about life, to stay determined through trials in life, to give back to those around you, and what the value of hard work truly is instead of  being given something.

Gale Ann Hurd, a famous director,  once said “If you can’t find a good role model, be one.” In a world where there are so many people only concerned for themselves, don’t be a taker. Choose to be a giver. Choose to be a good role model.

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”

-Albert Schweitzer

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