Monday, December 30, 2013

When you find yourself asking... "WHY????"

At this time of the year... there tends to be a lot of 'reflecting', regrets, new hope, and making of resolutions.   I've never been one to make resolutions... because, I know myself well enough to know that ... "I'd GET very disappointed with myself" when I failed and also knowing myself... I know that I would fail to fulfill whatever the resolution was that I had made. 

Just try to do your best everyday.  I tell my students all the time that 'all we own in this world' that is our own making and CAN NEVER BE TAKEN AWAY FROM US... is our own 'character'... it is up to us to decide what type of person that we want to be each and every day.   We have constant chances to start over.   To make changes.   Are we honest?  Do we keep our word?  Treat each other following the Golden Rule?  "Do onto others as you would have them do unto you?"  Or to put in it words that a 7 year old can understand... "Treat others the way that you want them to treat you."  I always tell them 'Do what you know is the right thing to do-- not what you see others doing."

I hope it does make a difference.   Eventually.   Even if I never see the result of my attempts at teaching character along with our learning lessons.   I will tell you this though... while 'as a whole' children are the same... there is a big part of the world (USA world especially- since, that is my life's frame) that isn't the same as it was even 10 years ago.   There just seems to be more of 'blaming others'...  Even in little things.  It makes me sad.  And tired.

Sometimes, I feel like I am ready to get a cane and hold it over my head and yell at people to get off of my lawn! 

We shape others each and every day.   It is our choice to be helpful to strangers, to smile at those that seem tired, unsmiling, fretting, overwhelmed.   Who knows what battles they are fighting?  I'm sure that I'm like many of you- I rarely share (especially with those that I work with-- we only have to learn that lesson once, right?) personal problems with casual friends, work friends, etc.   All it takes is to be 'burned once' by someone... eager to share 'news' about you... and why is it that they tend to add this 'news' with a side order of some 'embellishment' on their part?

I just know that in my everyday life and especially my life as an American living overseas and 'rarely' understanding the language being spoken around me... that I very much appreciate those that do try to help me get around in this world, help me know what to do, how to find something and even as simple as help me order food off of the menu.  It doesn't take much for me to receive the benefits of someone's kindness towards me.

Last week, I went around my new community, as I've done for over 30 years... I took holiday goodies to the local people that are a part of my life.   In the past, I've made several things and made a holiday goodie package- this year... time was very limited-- and I made fudge.   Fudge is something that is a part of the Christmas holiday and winter season in the states and especially in the southern states.   I translated a simple message to Italian explaining that this was a candy that was a 'traditional' holiday food for Christmas from my part of America.   I then wrote out this message for each package of fudge that I passed out.

Before school was out, I gave some to the teachers in my grade-level and to the office staff of course.   In my 'off-base community' I took the fudge to the girl that cuts my hair, to the physical therapy department, to the local grocery store (he doesn't speak any English- but, he is so nice to me), the local pizza place, and to the Deli of the much larger grocery store that I also frequent.   I gave the fudge to others too.   They all read my little translated message and thanked me profusely for my simple gift.   I did this when I lived in America too.

Last week, when my friends arrived from Germany (via:  Austria and the Christmas Market in Bolzano, Italy) it was dinner time.   I took them to one of the local small restaurants.   No one speaks any English at this place.  (nor do I expect them to do so)   This was the first time that I had been there at night- my other visits had consisted of going there at lunch...  At lunch, there is a hand-written menu listing 3 choices of each of the 3 courses, that they had prepared that day, to choose from.   At dinner, there was a printed menu to select from.   I saw a chicken dish and I had wondered if it was the same chicken dish that I had recently had for lunch.   So, I asked her if this particular dish had tomatoes in it.  (I did use the Italian words for chicken and tomatoes.)

 In her attempt to make sure that I was helped as much as possible, the waitress actually called a friend who spoke both Italian and English to act as my/our translator.   There was much laughing and enjoyment in their attempts to help me and my friends.   It's just things like this that, while it was a small thing, it meant so much to me... that they were willing to go that extra step to make sure that I was able to order what I wanted to eat from the menu.

I try my best to 'most of the time' to see the good in the world... and I'd like to think that there really are good people out there in this world... tiny, little, kindnesses are done all around us all day long.  Sometimes, these acts of kindnesses are given, shared, blessed, and even dumped on us too.

I remember a speech that I heard when I was in high school.   I don't remember who the speaker was... but, he was talking about how we all have a 'bucket' and that every time someone says something mean, doesn't keep a promise, ignores us, stabs us in the back, disappoints us, etc.... well, it dings our buckets we develop some leaks/holes in our buckets...  that get bigger and bigger and eventually...   Pretty soon... our bucket full of:  happiness, joy, endurance, and being able to handle life's ups and downs appropriately gets all skewed/drained/etc.   AND, the only way to fill our bucket back up is by being kind towards others and receiving the same in return... showing care/concern/commitment/faith/being honest/helping/simple politeness/etc.  AND, Each praise towards us and each kindness that we show towards others - even if it is returning borrowed property... fills our bucket and the buckets of others too.

It was a very powerful speech.   A huge convention center full of thousands of teenagers in absolute silence listening to the power of words spoken to our hearts.   I heard this 30 years ago and I can still remember the gist of the speech.   We were there as a part of our FHA state convention in Oklahoma City to hear speakers in the General Assembly Meeting.

Of course, after this... we got to go and see the current heart throb in concert:  David Cassidy!   We did scream our heads off too.   Our poor Home Economics Teacher.   We gave her a headache.  I think it also might have had something to do with some of the girls going down on the main floor, to the empty seats, to get a closer view of David Cassidy instead of staying in our 'cheap seats' up high in the balcony?

I remember that we were NOT ALLOWED to speak on the way home.   For over 2 hours.  It was a long, long, long bus ride home.

So, go out there and fill some buckets and try your best to keep your bucket from getting empty too!

I hope that 2014 finds you with a very full bucket on a regular basis.   Be kind to yourself-- sometimes the world seems to be getting a little harder to find the 'good'... but, it is out there.  I have to believe that it is still out there.  

I hope that you have good health, happiness, joy, find lost things, and experience peace and restful sleep in this new year.

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