Dear Girlfriend, I need to tell you something. You are one of the most tremendous human beings I have ever met. Not only are you beautiful on the outside, you have this amazing ability to allow your inner beauty to shine through and magnify all of your gifts. You are a wonderful daughter, sister, mother, aunt, friend. You are the total package. Please don’t ever waste your time with people who say they love you, but treat you as if they don’t. They are lying to you. They may not be unloving or lying to you on purpose, but recognize that regardless of their motives they are not good for someone of your calibre. Remember that it is possible to love someone and still not to be in their life, or have them in yours. Walking away is not only a gift to you, but it could be a gift to them as well. By walking away, this stops the cycle of manipulation, deceit and hurt and could potentially save someone else from their behavior. This goes for friends and lovers. Sometimes they are the same person, sometimes they are different. Please don’t ever accept anything negative about your heart or your character that anyone says to you because it is simply not true. Not at all. I learned long ago that when someone thinks it’s necessary to point out your flaws to defend their own without asking them to, it speaks volumes about how they feel about themselves.You have the power to change the station. Your friends, family, and children are watching you. They watch how you accept a compliment. They watch how you accept criticism. They pay attention to what you buy into and they will follow your example. Think about who is watching you and act on their behalf, even if you cannot find strength to do it for yourself. Your daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, siblings and even your parents can learn from the self love you portray. Do it for them. Do it for me. I’m watching you, too. Regardless of whether you choose to take this advice, know that I will always love you, accept you and be here for you. I love you more than you will ever know. I am your biggest fan. Original Post on Real Zest
When prompted to write in celebration of care-giving women, I had to seriously contemplate who I would write about. I truly have so many women in my life that deserve celebration in this capacity. I was conflicted. I didn’t want to be cliche. I didn’t want to boast. I didn’t want to take anything away from whomever I was writing about. So, I put it aside for a day or two. This morning, the answer came to me, clearly. And so, I shall introduce you to “Yvonne”. I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing Yvonne’s human-ness for as long as I can remember. The youngest of 3 children in a relatively poor, single parent family, she was forced into caregiving at an early age. She and her siblings often fended for themselves while their mother worked very hard to provide them with the necessities of life, while molding them into wonderful, caring people. Yvonne witnessed things, as some children do, that she shouldn’t have, but her experiences as a young person armed her with the compassion and bravery required to live the beautiful life she has. Yvonne attended university, with the “rite of passage” trip to Europe thrown into the middle ( which required immense bravery) , and upon her return, earned her degree in Education. She meant to be a teacher. She didn’t follow that occupation in the intended manner, but has ended up being an educator all of her life. She married, had a child, divorced - a mutual decision by her and her husband when they both discovered that she was not fully living in the marriage the way she was entitled to live. In making that decision, they both educated each-other about love, ironically....and beautifully. They remain good friends. She has embraced his new family with the level of caring she shows her own blood. While trying to gain some experience, she volunteered at a local non profit organization focused on giving children a safe place to hang out after school and at night. She was soon offered a job. Faced with the obligations of a child’s needs, and despite being friends with her ex - not getting the financial assistance she was entitled to - she took the job and ended up working with disadvantaged kids in higher risk neighborhoods for nearly 30 years. Yvonne made a small impact on thousands of kids, and a huge impact on hundreds. Even though she was the very busy director of many of the organizations’ clubs over the years, she never passed up an opportunity to play basketball or floor hockey with the kids or welcome them into her office for a pep-talk or a catch up. The children that attended the club were never intimidated by her. In fact, they wanted her around. She was fun, without being irresponsible, and firm without being someone they feared. Her home was a safe place for her child’s friends to visit. They knew that they could come there to sit,hang out, talk or be quiet - sometimes just to get away from the verbal, emotional or physical abuse that they endured at home and at school. Yvonne never interfered unless there was a legal obligation to, and I believe that is why they felt safe coming to spend time at her house, even if her child (their friend) wasn’t home. Interestingly enough, her work with other people’s children took her away from her own. Her child was a “latchkey” kid, who fended for them self, and despite opportunities, stayed mostly out of trouble, formed solid & meaningful friendships and was an eager and intelligent student. Her child didn’t resent Yvonne’s absence as they too, were independent and could visit mom at work and enroll in programs there, but often chose not to, finding other constructive ways to fill their time. Her child never felt unloved or uncared for, as Yvonne had the gift of ensuring that her child knew that every waking minute of Yvonne’s existence and contribution to society was to ultimately provide the necessities and a better world for her child. Her child did and still does admire and respect the wonderful role model that is their mother. Yvonne often overlooked her own well-being for others. She would push aside time that she could have spent on herself, dealing with an issue at work-ultimately helping someone else out. She never bought herself new clothes and often looked disheveled because she was always consumed with providing love, guidance and encouragement to those around her. No one noticed her neglected appearance because all they could see was her heart. After almost 30 years at her job, she changed organizations. She now works in the administration of a special needs school. There, she cares for the travel needs of the staff and is the spokesperson for the school when her presence is required. It’s no surprise that she is loved an appreciated there. Yvonne has a way about her, not often seen. She is about 5’4 and as strong as an ox, physically, mentally and emotionally, while possessing an incredibly gentle soul. People absolutely love her, often asking after her when she is not around. Babies melt easily into her caring arms - even youngsters that haven’t met her before. People have told me stories about how her caring set change to a course in their life. Her friends’ eyes light up when we discuss Yvonne. I have never heard an ill word spoken about her. She earned respect from her family, friends and peers in a gentle way. She loves fiercely, yet subtly. She is a best friend. She is an amazing mother. She is a phenomenal woman. She is an extraordinary human being. Yvonne is also my biggest hero because she introduced me to so many women care-givers that have inspired my growth in my own life. These are the women that competed with her, in my mind, as the celebrated ones. Specifically, she introduced me to women that molded who I am today. They helped create my positive belief systems and cared for me when my mother wasn’t around. She introduced me to her close women friends, my grandmother, and most importantly to myself. “Yvonne” is my mother.
By Carey Wilkinson Lee ( Member of Womentum) The first thing I noticed was that it wasn’t windy … Though I was sure a Chinook must have come during the night. It was one of those amazing Cochrane, Alberta days that I brag to my friends about. It was +5; the sky was a blue I could get lost in – perfect morning for walking my puppy, Bella. Then, without warning, my mind beamed me back home … mentally checking my to-do list. As my body was out walking, breathing in fresh air, my brain was visualizing me tidying the kitchen, then vacuuming through the house, then wrapping a few gifts before remembering to grab the postal package slip before heading out to get gas, groceries, stop at Home Treasures, phone to make dentist appointments, take my vitamins, visit the bank, pick up the package with gifts (straight from the North Pole), get crickets for the gecko, make a veggie tray for the party tonight, text my friend to confirm cooking class and stressing about when I’ll grab some nutrients in before school pickup time … Another dog walking it’s human finally brought me back onto the beautiful Riverview pathway. As I said “Hello” and passed by, something caught my eye on a branch about 3 feet in front of me. It looked like a treasure and my curiosity pulled me towards it. What was hanging there instantly brought out the little kid in me. It took me a few seconds for my brain (being so far away as it was) to believe it could be true. Right in front of me, hanging from a branch on the side of the pathway as a 4”, totally intact, 3D chocolate Santa! It was then that I finally took a look around to notice my surroundings. Like little diamonds sparkling in the sun, I saw them - a dozen or so chocolate Christmas ornaments lining the pathway that I had just come from. Numerous feelings went through me at this moment: How cool it was that someone did this – putting out chocolate for any random stranger to find and enjoy. Chocolate treats with no bias. It didn’t matter what religion they were, if they had a successful career, whether their child is an over achiever or not, the color of their skin or if they were feeling overwhelmed by being a parent. It is a gift offered with no set guidelines or rules. How fun this would be to do! Running around, hanging delicious, festive treats for strangers to take. And even better to make them smile. AND even better, for them to follow suit and do something to make someone else’s day. How could I have possibly walked by all those chocolate treasures and not even noticed. It struck me how amazing it is that my body can be in one place and my mind is in a completely different one. My brain was trying to solve problems and get work done but wasn’t in any physically place to do anything about it. My patience and anxiety level was climbing with each step I took. How lucky I am. To live in such a beautiful, safe place. With fun and creative people around me to plant these gifts in my path. I walked back the way that I came, this time noticing every little ornament hanging from scattered branches. I remembered a great mental exercise a friend had told me about. “To be in the moment, notice three things you can see, three things you can hear, three things you can smell and three things you can touch”, she said. So, I tried this. It felt fantastic to feel the air I was breathing in and to see the snow on the trees and to hear the river flowing and to see the ridiculous fun Bella was having on her walk. One minute of noticing my surroundings took my anxiety from a nine out of ten to a two. I also knew that I would do something later in the day to pay this random, anonymous gift forward. I truly believe that small, random acts of kindness can heal our world. We just have to decide that we can. Thank you Pathway Elves. Please know that your efforts were noticed and they had an amazing impact. I took some Riverview kids down on a walk later that day. I didn’t tell them what they would find but told them to keep their eyes open. I told them, “You never know when there will be a gift right in front of you”. Each one was surprised and felt special to have found a sparkly treat in the trees – it was magical. They each had one (which they ate on the spot) and left the rest for someone else who would be lucky enough to walk by … and be in the moment enough to notice.