Monday, January 21, 2008

Collected Notes

I grew up in a home where Mother had a saying for almost everything. Some were true words of wisdom, some cliches and some just plain mush. Many of them have worked their way into my mind and heart. Over the years, additional ones have been added. It used to shock me when I would hear myself saying the same phrases to my kids. Now that they are adults, I hope some of the sayings give the same direction to their lives as they have given to mine.

Back in my teen years, I had a trigger-temper. At one point, I lashed out at my oldest sister to the point that she was packing to cut short her visit home and go back to the college campus in Indiana. Fortunately, we were able to reconcile before she actually left. Not long after that, I saw a small post-card like joke card that said, "Keep your temper, no one else wants it!" One of those "Ah-ha" moments. I carried that card for a long time and have not lost my temper like that again. Doesn't mean that I do not get angry, I just deal with it differently than I did then.

Also in the teen years, I found a copy of a poem that has been the guiding light for my life ever since. It is familiar to most people .
"I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing that I can do or any kindness that I can show, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again."
I first saw it as written by Anonymous. I have since seen it credited to a couple of authors. Whoever wrote it, I cannot thank them enough. Those few words have lit my path, both personally and professionally.

Life has good days and bad days. I try not to wallow in the bad days! "No matter what is happening, this is not the worst it has ever been!" I made it through all those other days: divorce, death of loved ones, job loses, career changes, cancer diagnosis, etc. and I can make it through today if I just keep putting one foot in front of the other - sometimes just to keep from falling down!

Pollyanna? Maybe. If so, it is how I choose to be. "How much difference will it make six-months from now?" If it will not make much of a difference, I won't give it much thought and certainly no argument. If it will make a difference, I will do whatever is in my power to address the issue so there is minimal impact on a future reality. I worked in the substance abuse treatment field for a number of years and it is sort of a short version of the Serenity Prayer.

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

One of Mom's favorites was, "There but for the grace of God, go I." Those few words have kept me from thinking that I am better than anyone else for any reason. We never know what hardships and life experiences another has had that causes them to be or behave a certain way. I try very hard not to judge. Take people for who and what they are and if I cannot, leave them alone.

I shared the importance of "Don't let anyone live in your head rent free." in an earlier post. Sometimes it is very difficult not to focus on what someone else thinks. It is so easy to get caught up with what others say or do. It is then that I find myself saying or doing things that I later regret.

Like many people, I find it difficult to ask for help. It is easy to give advice but not so easy to ask for it when it is needed. "You alone can do it, but you cannot do it alone." It manifests itself in so many ways - delaying a trip to the doctor or needing to open a pickle jar and many other other situations, large and small.

The list goes on and on. There is one to fit almost any situation. It just requires that I slow down long enough to figure out which of the pearls of wisdom fits! Slowing down is the hard part.

The hurried I go, the behinder I get!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

An Aluminum Can

What do you get when you add an aluminum can to a bunch of other aluminum cans? You get a loan fund. I have just come in from the front porch where I have been busy smashing cans collected over the last week or so. Cans come from some friends and neighbors, but mostly they come from residents at Taft Homes, where I am proud to serve as manager. We started collecting cans in mid-June. Residents were invited to save cans and bring them to the office. It has really become a unifying community activity. The cans are recycled and the proceeds go into a micro-loan fund for residents. The maximum loan is $10.00, but it is surprising what $10.00 can do when you have nothing! Residents decided not to make any loans until we had at least $100.00 and not to make any loans if the fund gets down to $20.00. The first loan was made in September as it took a while to get people involved. So far, thirty-four loans have been made. Loans are to be repaid within 30 days and there is a 50 cent charge that is due when the loan is repaid. Very few loans have gone beyond the 30 days and no other loans can be given if there is an unpaid loan.

Loans have been used to buy a few groceries, diapers, bus rides, probably a few six-packs and who knows what else. We do not ask. It is just heart-warming to see the level of participation in the can collection by a sizable number of residents, even those who have never used the loan fund. Even with the loans that are currently out, we have about $170.00 in the cash box. I would call it a success!