Sometimes you see something and it brings tears to your eyes. It reminds you of what you have and how much good there is in your life. This particular video brought tears to my eyes and made me think of perseverance, patience, and preciousness. Bella, is eleven years old, and cannot walk without assistance. She went from a wheelchair and crutches to a Great Dane, George. The connection between the two of them is precious.
Before you watch the video, I will tell you that Chris has a great love of Great Dane’s (he had one before we were married, named Belle) and so I have learned a lot about these gentle giants. I love watching this George with Bella – and that he is with her all day long.
Over the weekend I had a night where I had the craziest dreams. One after another. I would wake up to pee, and remember my dream and think how bizarre.
The last dream I had that night was one with my mom and grandma. I was driving my grandma’s tank of a car, a light blue Chevy Caprice Classic if you want the visual in your head (1977 at that). I had to take it to get something fixed and when the guy drove it he moved the seat. The seat in that car in the front was one big seat that moved, so I knew when I got in I would have to fix it back to her liking, but it I was not sure I got it right, so I came and found her when I got back and she was doing the oddest types of cleaning and then she disappeared and I find my mom.
Now for the last few years of my mom’s life (I was 12-16) she was sick, so often the memories I have she is sick. When she appeared in this dream she was sick, but sitting up on her own (which was not possible in reality). She looked different (yet not well) and she told me she had been in the weight room, and something about her stomach. Which reminded me that I was pregnant and the ‘lil man started kicking me and I then said to my mom would you like to feel him kick? She put her hand on my belly, and that is when I woke up.
Obviously a vivid dream for me, and one that hit home, just the mere moment in seconds of feeling like my mom got to experience a moment with me and my son. And, then it was gone. I woke up with tears in my eyes, and of course had to get up and pee. I find it fascinating how these things happen when we least expect them. Maybe it was a sign or message for me. Even as I type this I have tears in my eyes. My mom has been gone for 21 years. Away from me longer than she was with me. What would it be like to share these last 2 months of my pregnancy with her?
Yesterday my team went out to lunch and one of the items we ordered was polenta fries. One of my favorites especially with the dipping sauce that often comes with them. I found that polenta fries are not something that everyone had tried before. Polenta made from cornmeal make me think of southern cooking most likely because of the cornmeal and how similar it is to the texture of grits.
Which leads me to the true topic of this blog post. Grit. Yes, polenta fries at lunch made me think of grit, which made me think of the book I recently finished called “Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck” by Jon Acuff. He has a plethora of ideas about careers, and adds in some great ideas about empathy and grit. Empathy is something I have been thinking a lot about lately. I can often plow through the day checking items off the long to do list, going from thing to thing, and while people are my top priority, it might not always come across that way. Acuff gets right to the point and this idea kept it simple for me to remember the two components of empathy:
“At times, empathy will feel complicated, but it’s not. It only involves two things: Understanding someone else’s needs. Acting on them.” page 191-192
I can do that. Understand, and act on needs. Can you?
Which leads me to grit. Gosh, I love that word. What is it about the word grit that makes me think of rolling up your sleeves and getting dirty? Doing whatever is necessary to get the job done. Sweat, blood, tears. Well I prefer just the sweat, I can leave the blood and tears behind.
“Grit is being stubborn in the face of fear. Grit is the first time you try something and it’s the thousandth time too. Grit is believing in can when can’t is loud. Grit is expecting fear and moving forward anyway.” page 213
Folks often call me relentless and it is true. If I get something in my mind that I am going to do it, well I do. I do not always care what it takes. I am going to find a way to make it happen. It takes grit to do that. I am stubborn and I am going to move forward anyway. Want to roll up your sleeves and join me?
I had never heard of Michael Jr. He is a comedian. I found him through the website: I Like Giving. I have found myself over the last few weeks going back and watching a video, absorbing it and then coming back at a later time for a new one.
He shares his story of “giving laughter.” I love that idea. I remember a cassette tape I listened to when I was young. The narrator told a story and at the end said to “Go and give a good time.” I think about that often when I am in a situation I do not want to be in or where I, for whatever reason, cannot get out of it. I think what could I do to give in this situation? There are a few ideas he shares that hit home:
“My punchline is to make laughter common place in uncommon places.”
You will want to listen to the part (at 1:48) about the little boy who had been abused by his mom, and how Michael Jr. connects to him through laughter. I had tears. He ends his interview with:
“If we could just stop asking the question: what can I get for myself, and start asking what can I give from myself.”
Enjoy, and maybe take a moment to see other videos shared on I Like Giving.
My mom’s last words to me were: “You are strong.” Who knows what she meant as I was sixteen and not savvy enough to ask her what she meant by it. Maybe it was her way of telling me to “Be strong.” Or maybe it was to reinforce that she felt I was strong in my bones. I will never know, and maybe it does not even matter. It was the first line of my college entrance essay. I wish I still had a copy of it. I would be curious to know how I had processed the next two years of my life before writing about her to get into college. I think I wanted them to know that I was not just another number, that I had lived a life that many have not before they enter college. I wanted to somehow stand out. I needed to stand out as I had no Plan B. I applied to one college and luckily I got in.
I am rambling though. I recently came across this quote from Brenda Shaughnessy. She is an American poet and trust me, I do not follow her at all because somehow my brain and poetry just do not mix. I have never melded well with poetry or understood it. Sure there are poems that sink into my core and change the way that I look at the world, but most of the time I feel perplexed and wonder how they did it. In any case, I am definitely not into poetry because it took me this long to introduce this quote to you:
“I came to see that what constitutes strength is not just a muscle or will. It can also include the most desperate vulnerability, the saddest heartache, the lightest, sweetest laughter.”
I do not remember how, but this quote came into my inbox last week, and stuck with me. I had to share it. So often we think others are strong because they have been through so much (I get that from time to time based on my past). Sometimes we might think someone is strong because they consistently stick to a routine or a workout schedule. Maybe they get up at 4 am to ensure that they have the opportunity to push themselves and their bodies before the rest of their family wakes up and starts the day.
I have written quite a few posts on vulnerability. It is a word that energizes me. There is something about being vulnerable that gives an aura of strength. It says that person is not afraid to put oneself out there and be granted with whatever reaction is returned. Whether they share the scary parts of their life, their saddest and lowest parts, or as Shaughnessy says: the parts that bring laughter. I will give you an example.
A few weeks ago I was traveling with a colleague and my boss. We were walking through the airport to our gate and talking. I was following both of them (both are men) and as they each walked into the bathroom I started to follow them in, only to realize I was walking into the men’s restroom. Ooops. Luckily I caught myself in time, reversed course and moved on to the women’s bathroom. They both had a good laugh and via text it got back to my other co-workers. I could have either be completely embarrassed and devastated, or just rolled with it. I rolled with it and had a good laugh with them.
Sometimes being vulnerable brings us to our strength, whether through tears or laughter.