I Don’t Like You…Or Do I?

Last week I challenged myself by meeting with a woman whom I didn’t think I liked.

Life is funny. I mentioned to a friend, this woman was one person I really didn’t want to run into and the very next day she entered my life again after not seeing her in years. We used to work together and at that time I was influenced by a certain person and his opinions of others. I didn’t know if my negative thoughts about her were based on how I felt or how he felt.

The TRUTH is I didn’t know her and I never did so I decided to meet with her to form my own opinion.

This is what I learned:

She made incredible SACRIFICES for her son to ensure their relationship is strong before he graduates. This meant changing jobs so she was more available to him physically and emotionally. It affected her life financially but as she spoke, it was clear that the money was secondary to the relationship she’s built with her son as a result of her DECISION.

He wanted a Mom that wasn’t stressed out and had time for him. She LISTENED to his needs and took ACTION.

She went back to school and got her Masters.

She’s traveled to almost every continent with her son…something she wanted to do before he graduated.

She was single for a long time and decided if love wasn’t for her, she was okay on her own. She refused to lower her standards. (I love that!) Things shifted and she met a wonderful man that clearly makes her heart smile.

We had a great chat about love, family, friends, jobs, dating and personal struggles. We laughed a lot and our emotions got the best of us at times as we spoke about people we loved.

I was honest with her.

I told her my opinion had been tainted and I was so grateful we met so I could connect with her from a REAL and AUTHENTIC place instead of a past and convoluted perception.

I left that night with such RESPECT for her and the CHOICES she’s made in her life. She is no doubt a strong woman with clear goals. She is driven and knows what she wants. She is also kind hearted, open, loving and cares deeply for the people in her life.

Perhaps there were things in the past that I didn’t agree with when I worked with her; honestly, I don’t remember…it’s in the past and I know I’ve changed since then so maybe she has as well.

Life is short. Time is precious. Everyone has a story if you pause and listen. We all make mistakes, face challenges and learn our lessons. None of us are perfect and by practising compassion and empathy we can meet in the middle and build a connection that’s real. Feed the TRUTH and starve the impressions, misconceptions, judgements and lies. I’m sure glad I made that conscious choice.

With a smile,

Tina

 

 

Teach Compassion and Empathy

When I was a child I was fascinated with books about slavery or WWII…I couldn’t understand how one human being could treat another human being with such cruelty, violence and disregard. I didn’t understand racism or hatred, (I still don’t)…and I wept for the horrific trauma people suffered at the hands of other people.

I was an extremely sensitive child and the human spirit and experience interested me. As a child I used to pretend to be blind. I’d cover my eyes so I really understood what it felt like to count your steps to make sure you didn’t trip over something…or feel where the toothpaste was and if I could put the paste on the brush and properly reach my mouth.

Once I felt like I had a good understanding of what that felt like I’d move on to spend a few days with only one arm…how do you eat, get dressed or tie your shoes if you only have one arm…same with only having use of one leg…how do you climb a tree, kneel down to weed the garden or get upstairs to go to your room?

How did things CHANGE? How did I FEEL?

I chose physical challenges as a child because that was something I could ‘mimic’ and my maturity didn’t understand mental health or emotional challenges.

I believe my depth of empathy and compassion was deeply rooted based on my childhood experiments.

I had an experience last week where I needed COMPASSION and EMPATHY from the person I was speaking to on the other end of the phone. It was a large corporation and I received standard, generalized answers…I was not being heard and felt completely frustrated that the other person couldn’t or wouldn’t tap into the ‘human’ element of our conversation. I got very upset and ended the call abruptly. I was angry, scared and distraught.

This was indeed a large corporation but ultimately it is still an individual on the other end of the phone. It is a person who could put themselves in my shoes and show some COMPASSION. They may not have the power to do anything but they do have the power to offer words of KINDNESS.

The next day I called again and it was a completely different experience. The woman on the other end of the phone clearly had a big heart and perhaps had experienced similar circumstances and therefore understood my situation. She still explained to me the rules of the company but spoke with a kind and gentle heart and that made all the difference. She also made the effort to try to change some things for me and as a result we resolved the situation.

The difference was night and day because one person showed COMPASSION and EMPATHY and the other did not or could not. He has his own life story / perception but what a different result we both would have had that night if he had shown more COMPASSION.

Whether you are in high heels or dirty ripped jeans…whether you make $250,000 per year or $25,000 per year…whether you drink wine at a lovely restaurant or Lysol in the back alley…a human being is a human being.

Practice and teach compassion and empathy and our world will be a very different place.

I would like to express a very special THANK YOU to Natalie and Susan for their KINDNESS, COMPASSION and SUPPORT that day. I am humbled by your kindness, lifted by your helping hand and extremely grateful for your compassion.

PLEASE CHOOSE COMPASSION: Teach it, act upon it, share it and experience how good it feels. One day, you will receive what you have given.

With a smile,

Tina

 

Open Your Heart…Open Your Life

I love people. I don’t always love what they do or cruel words they may say, but I am a people person and I enjoy hearing the stories of others and learning from their experiences.

Last week was Halloween. I am in a prime area with lots of kids showing up at the door. I engaged with each one of them through a compliment and conversation asking them about their costume and getting them into ‘character’. I love kids and it was such a FUN night. My friend decorated and we visited until the next knock on the door…

Two fellows stopped by collecting food for the food bank through www.trickoreat.ca. They were university students. My friend and I gave them some canned goods then casually said they should stop by later for whatever was left of the candy…and a glass of wine.

Well, later that night there was a knock on the door and there they were! I was quite surprised…why would two university students want to hang out with two women twice their age?!

It was great fun…we had an interesting conversation about their schooling, history, art, psychology, bullying, their family history etc. We had snacks, a glass of wine and it was the perfect way to end the evening.

Some may think I’m foolish for opening my home up to two strangers…some may think I’m being a ‘cougar’ since they are young men in university…others may think they wanted something else other than the lovely conversation we had between the four of us.

I choose to live in a world where I can open up my home to a person I don’t know and they will leave as a friend…and that is exactly what happened…hugs out the door…smiles all around…it was a fun and interesting night. I am grateful they took us seriously and came back to say hello.

We continue to keep in touch. Isn’t that great?

Isn’t that what life is about…connection of the human heart?

Open your door. Open your heart. Open your life and you will receive great gifts.

With a smile,

Tina

 

The Power Of Kindness – A Full Circle Moment

Yesterday, I had a good reminder that you never know how you affect someone’s life…that the smallest of gestures to YOU could mean the world to THEM.

I was introduced to a lovely woman now in her late 20’s and she told me she remembered me as a teenager. She was a young singer at the time taking lessons with another teacher in town.

She said:

“My teacher knew I was so taken by you. I read about you in the paper and I wanted to meet you…so I emailed you!”

Apparently I responded and invited her and her mother to join me at my CD release party. I don’t remember doing this because for me, it was such a simple, easy and ‘small’ thing to do.

She drove in from Cache Creek to Kamloops for the performance, a 166 km round trip. Apparently during my performance I gave her a ‘shout out’ and thanked them for coming to the show. She was thrilled!

She said she never forgot that night and how I took the time to invite her and made her feel special at the event by acknowledging her.

So simple, yet here we were 14 years later and she remembers it vividly and was so happy to meet me again after all these years.

This time SHE gave me the GIFT because I needed a reminder that what I do and who I am affects people in positive ways. She reminded me that your ACTIONS and WORDS today could have a true impact on someone and catch up to you years later.

Don’t you want to be remembered for being kind, loving and supportive? I sure do…in the end, that is your legacy…

Don’t underestimate the power of kindness and if someone has impacted your life, please tell them.

Life is short and life is precious.

Let’s EMBRACE each other today; give each other SUPPORT and share our LOVE and KINDNESS. If you have something to give (and we all do), give it away…it will come back to you eventually…in this example, it took 14 years…but the timing was perfect!

Here is a portion of one of my favorite songs called “Seasons of Love”. It’s been a bit of a mantra to me ever since I heard it years ago:

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter and in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love

With love and a smile,

Tina

 

This Is The Face Of Depression

This is the face of depression, anxiety, panic attacks and suicidal thoughts.

It’s not what you would expect, is it? It usually isn’t…You may be aware that today is National Suicide Prevention Day. It’s a day to honor, recognize, talk and gain knowledge about a silent killer that affects our youth, seniors and everyone in between. There are no barriers with suicide when it comes to race, gender, religion or status. It hits those who are wealthy, poor, talented, brilliant, charismatic and shy.

I can guarantee that you have someone in your life right now who thinks about SUICIDE…who feels HOPELESS…LOST…in such PAIN they feel suicide is the only way out of it…their world is DARK, yet they SMILE and LAUGH like nothing is wrong…their ANXIETY may be crippling and yet you may think they are just too busy to come out for dinner…they may be highly functioning on the outside but their inner world is in CHAOS…the FEAR builds to OVERWHELMING degrees…the SELF LOATHING, WORTHLESSNESS and HOPELESSNESS consume their thoughts…

They become NUMB…not feeling anything…food has no taste…life has no meaning…they sleep for hours or have insomnia lying awake staring at the ceiling…

They may SELF MEDICATE through drugs, alcohol, food, shopping, gambling, sex or self harm (cutting or burning)…

They are the great pretenders. They show up, they pretend, they go home and they think about ways they could end their life…

They may choose a date of death and begin preparing by getting rid of their belongings, meeting for lunch and telling you how much they love you. They may have mood swings, no appetite and have lost interest in things that used to inspire them.

All of this thinking, planning, isolating and avoiding is done with a mind that is not well.

It’s crucial to understand in that state, the brain is not a healthy brain.

It has NOTHING to do with strength of character or level of intelligence. It may be triggered by a loss of a loved one, financial burdens, relationship problems, job/career stress or other health issues (chronic pain for example) but ultimately a healthy brain is not a suicidal brain.

We ask people to reach out, but I know from personal experience and speaking to those who have suffered and who have lost a loved one, it’s much harder to ask for help than it seems…this could be because you don’t want to burden someone else with your own problems…you feel you should be able to snap yourself out of it…you can’t see how it will improve…you are ashamed…

Again, this is all done with a brain that is not healthy and that is what we have to remember. With a healthy brain but an injured back, we would reach out if we weren’t functioning well on a daily basis…we would alert our friends if we had cancer or any other illness yet we HIDE when we suffer with mental illnesses…

There are no fundraisers for people when they are losing work because of depression and yet if they had breast cancer we would rally together and have a barbeque or sell 50/50 tickets to raise money to help during their treatment…

What is the difference?

One is accepted in society and the other is not…both are illnesses…both affect their ability to work, care for their family and pay the bills…

National Suicide Prevention Day is today but ultimately it’s a conversation that needs to happen on a regular basis…open dialogue, removing stigmas, sharing feelings, listening, giving hope, offering love, support and reaching out with compassion and empathy are some ways to help those suffering.

I want you to know I have personal experience with suicide. I have supported many loved ones through their suicide attempts…I understand the depth of pain…I have been there, I have thought of ways to end my own life…I have gritted my teeth through days and nights choosing sleep so I silence the loud, all encompassing voices in my head telling me how useless I am…I get it…but I also know that by REACHING OUT, even though it was hard, I got through it and today I am HAPPY to be ALIVE. See yourself in me and grab onto that HOPE.

AVOID ISOLATING. Seek help immediately by contacting a mental health professional at 310-6789 or calling 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433). Reach out to someone you trust such as your doctor, family, friends, therapist or spiritual adviser.

I know it’s hard, but I also know YOU. ARE. WORTH. IT.

With a smile and deep compassion,

Tina

PS. Please share, you never know who might need to read this today. xo