Tag Archives: relationships

Quantity vs Quality

 

“Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles”

-Steve Jobs

Quantity vs. Quality? This has always been a lingering debate in my head. Which is more important in our daily lives, quantity or quality.
My dad used to always bring this argument up, questioning which mattered most. In his case, having ALS, quality far outweighed quantity. Because of the disease, his life was cut shorter than most. He would’ve liked to live longer with the disease but at what cost? Most likely, he would have needed machines to assist him with breathing, eating, and almost all of his daily functions. Choosing to live longer, he might have sacrificed the quality of his day-to-day life for quantity of years and that was something he didn’t want to do. Ultimately, he chose quality over quantity. He chose to try to live in the present moment and not think about the future or how much longer he had to live. He wanted to maintain the little bit of independence he still had instead of depending on assistive devices and maintain quality relationships.

I was reading an article the other day about the difference between quality vs quantity. It described quality as a characteristic, a feature or state of being. Whereas, quantity is the extent or sum of a value. It goes on to say how quantity cannot change or be argued, what is 2 will always remain 2. Quality however, is subjective and has the ability to change over time.

I think it’s safe to say that our society tends to value quantity over quality. How much money we make, how many gadgets we have, how many tasks we can juggle at once, etc.  Although I’m pretty sure most people would agree with making lots of money, this thought process can be dangerous, especially when it comes to relationships. By focusing on quantity, we often sacrifice quality.

What do you want in life, quality or quantity?

“It’s better to have fewer things of quality than too much expendable junk”

-Rachel Zoe

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For the love of animals

 
Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened
-Anatole France
 
 
The other day someone asked me what my favorite animal is.
 
Since a young age I’ve been obsessed with elephants, mostly because elephant starts with an E and so does my name, Elizabeth. I spent hours learning about elephants, memorizing fun facts about them. For example, the easiest way to tell an elephant is African or Asian is by their ears. It is said that African elephants have bigger ears compared to Asian elephants.  Elephants also have extremely developed brains, the saying “you have a memory of an elephant” actually is a pretty accurate statement. When talking about our love of elephants, my friend referred to them as “gentle giants”. Elephants are the largest land animal on earth but despite their massive size, they have gentle, caring hearts. Herds of elephants are centered around females and elephants in general express maternal instincts. They are able to show empathy, grief, compassion, and are very playful.
 

Although being asked what my favorite animal seemed like a silly question, it made me think how animals play such a big role in our lives as humans. They provide us with basic necessities like food, drink, transportation, and companionship just to name a few. Animals teach us how to use our instincts, how to adapt, to love unconditionally, and to never take life too seriously.

Growing up, my family always had cats as household pets, each a stray cat except one which we bought from a vet. My dad wasn’t a huge fan of dogs. Between him dying of ALS and me dealing with cancer, we just didn’t have time to commit to a dog. But cats were an easy solution because they’re independent and self-sufficient but still provide companionship and love. It’s amazing how pets become part of the family. I loved each one of them, even the one that was a little crazy.  It is often said that having household pets can teach children lessons such as responsibility, compassion, respect, etc. I agree with that completely.

Shortly after my mom remarried, my stepdad convinced her into getting a dog. Having never grown up with dogs, I actually really didn’t care for them. So whenever my mom mentioned getting a dog, my response was “if you get a dog, I’m not coming home”, usually a couple other words were included in this.
One of the reasons for this was after my dad died, I had gotten an adorable white kitten and wasn’t sure if she would get along with a dog. For the last year of my dad’s life, I begged him for a white kitten with either blue eyes or green eyes and a cute little pink nose. However, mostly because of breathing issues, he didn’t want another cat in the house. So when he died, one of the first things out of my mouth was “can I get a kitten now?” (loving daughter that I am) Snowball was born a week after my dad’s death and was everything I wanted. She was perfectly white and had one blue eye and one green eye. She loved to cuddle and was so sweet.

Flash forward years later, one night in college after returning from Christmas break, my brother called saying he, his wife, and their dog were driving home to meet the new dog mom rescued and were planning to pick me up on the way. As we drove home, I had many thoughts going through my head but mostly was convinced I would not love this new dog. Well, that quickly changed the second he sat near me, looked at me with his big brown eyes, and smiled. Snowball and Riley did not get along at all and after several months, I gave Snowball away to a good family. She was terrified of dogs and would hide all the time. It was a difficult decision but she deserved a better life and there was no way I would give away Riley instead.

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 I still have a love for cats but cannot imagine how I lived so long without having a dog. Everyday Riley teaches me something, whether it is to love unconditionally, to find pleasure in the simple things, or to be kind towards others. (especially when you want something)
Being part german shepherd, part husky, Riley is very intuitive and picks up on my disabilities very easily. He knows to sit and be patient when I struggle to put on his collar or to walk slower with me because I can’t keep up. For not being a trained service dog, I see now how much service dogs or service animals can be helpful.
All animals whether it be cats, dogs, other family pets or even wild animals teach us about life and help us to see the beauty in the world. 

“How it is that animals understand things I do not know, but it is certain that they do understand. Perhaps there is a language which is not made of words and everything in the world understands it. Perhaps there is a soul hidden in everything and it can always speak, without even making a sound, to another soul.”

Frances Hodgson Burnett

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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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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

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It’s the little things

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.”

-Helen Keller

As the Christmas season comes into full swing, people are rushing around searching for the perfect gifts, finding the perfect tree, and the perfect  everything; stress and anxiety are at an all  time high. Worrying about who to buy for or what they want. Better make sure to get that nice party platter. What do I wear to that Christmas party? Hopefully I can afford that. Aren’t the holidays about being joyous and relaxing?! Instead it’s about making sure everything is perfect and worrying about what you don’t have.

The other day I spoke at a business luncheon. I enjoy every opportunity I have to share my story with others, to watch their reactions, and to hear that I inspired them in someway or gave them a different perspective. But what is really cool though is how in return it helps me too; I am inspired by them.  The responses, reactions, and personal stories are so touching and moving. I lift them up through telling my life story but they lift me up too and, at least for me, that is one of the greatest gifts I can receive.

It made me think that really the best things in life are not things; they’re relationships or how people make you feel. And I’m not just talking about romantic feelings but those who give you confidence, encourage you to keep trying or challenge you to become a better person.  It’s said over and over, especially this time of year, but it’s true; the best things in life are not presents, decorations, or fancy cookies (although they’re all nice) ;  it’s about helping those around us, giving your time to others, and offering a smile every now and then.

 So before you start panicking  about whether you have enough food for your holiday party, whether the bows match the wrapping paper, or if they’ll like the present you got them. Stop, take a breath, and remember Christmas and life in general are not about the material things but about relationships with others, how they make you feel, about moments, and creating memories.

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