“Among my most prized possessions are words that I have never spoken.”
~Orson Scott Card
We all have those times in our lives when we know we have to take a break from some things in order to try and fix others. It’s been a minute since I sat down and wrote a thoughtful blog post. That changes today.
“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
It is my belief that most of us have heard this at some time in our lives and I can honestly say that I have lived my life by it. Growing up, I heard it nearly every day. What makes a person repeat something like this to a child they are molding into an adult? I can think of a few reasons.
We can use words to create an escape for others, that’s one of the truly wonderful gifts of this world and I’m always aware that it lies right at my fingertips. On the other side of that are the times—and I pray they are less often although I fear they are not—when words are employed not to lift up but to hurt and bring down. As the Kings of Leon say, sometimes words lie at “the tip of your tongue, the top of your lungs.” It is those with the potential for anger and negativity that are best left unsaid.
When I was growing up, my mom was often called names and labeled negatively because of her lifestyle and wardrobe choices. Sure, she was a Single mom with a Red sports car with the personalized plate, “PaperDoll”. She wore Dove shorts, stockings and high heels. She had the Farrah Fawcett hair and spent a lot of time on The Vegas strip. She also Worked all day at the newspaper and danced all night at Caesar’s Palace. I’d look at her and think, “My mom is the blonde Wonder Woman.” Most days I was in awe of her. No matter how tough things got for us, every day, multiple times a day, I heard the words, “I love you, sweetie.” My mom never said a bad word against anyone, mind you, but she got an earful. Did people think her child wasn’t listening too? I heard.
Hooker. Prostitute. Groupie.
My mom is not wealthy monetarily, but she does not go through a fast food drive-thru with a homeless person in the vicinity and not order an extra sandwich to give to them on her way out. She keeps Ziploc bags of pet food in her car at all times for strays that cross her path while she’s out and about. She doesn’t pass a piece of trash on the ground that she doesn’t pick up and toss where it belongs. Strangers better be ready to see her smile and accept the compliments she will give them and random conversations she will strike up as they cross paths. She nearly kills herself caring for others when they are sick and in need. I’m reminded of the year she kept Grandma at home with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s for as long as she could rather than put her in the hospital. How Mom would work all day and then come home and spend the night hours into the next morning promising Grandma she was her daughter or that there weren’t any bad guys in the house trying to get them. And then get dressed to go to work and start the day again with no sleep. You understand. Mom’s not perfect. But I can think of a few more accurate word choices.
Angel. Daughter. Survivor.
“Don’t worry about what anyone says about you. Never be embarrassed. Never be ashamed to be yourself. Do everything you do in the very best way you can do it and you’ll always be okay.”
Those are the words I hope you hear more often than not. Those are the words I’m thankful for in times when others have not been so kind. Those are more of the things Mom told me growing up that I’ve never forgotten and that I want to share with you.
But here is the real magic! With as much effect as the unkind words might have on us, we are so much stronger than they ever will be!
Maybe time won’t take away all the mean and negative things our ears will hear in our lifetimes, but we can counteract them with two things: our own positive words to others and our actions. And it can be the smallest thing!
You might not have the ability to respond directly or effectively to the negativity, but you can go out and do something that is a positive force somewhere else. I can make a couple extra PB&J’s to carry in my purse as I’m out and about and crossing paths with someone who is hungry and on the street and not let my pride get in the way when I see them and it comes time to forget about what anyone will think and extend my hand to them. I can bring along a plastic bag as I’m out walking my neighborhood or the beach as I often do and pick up trash. I can smile at someone who isn’t smiling or think a good thought for the people involved with the sirens I hear in the distance. I can begin and end each day telling my son that I love him. That he is “just right” as he is and that while I want him to always do his best, I don’t expect him to be perfect.
Now I understand why it is that my mom told me the things she did every day. She was just like me and you and every other person on this planet. Someone made an unfortunate bad choice and hurt her. And she was just trying to counteract that by making a positive affect where she could, inside me. Inside my gigantic, limitless, knows-no-capacity, stretchy, absorbent heart.
I invite you to do something you might feel is too small or insignificant today, this week, this month. I promise you, it will go much further than you think. Text someone you’ve been thinking of right this second with a smiley face. Hop on Facebook and go beyond just hitting the “like” button and thank someone for that inspirational quote they shared that touched you.
As for me, I’ll be doing those things and also picking up trash, offering up a sandwich, and writing stories I hope will help.
I can’t help but smile and think that Buzz had to have had love on his mind when he said…
“To infinity and beyond!”