The “Eternal Punchline”

Eternal Punchline

We all have had times when we felt like everyone was laughing at us (and not in a good way). It feels terrible. It alienates us. It is not what anyone deserves.

Jose and his smile definitely brighten the day.

In one of my Oral Communications classes, my student Jose shared a powerful statement based on the personal strength he discovered in himself after years of feeling like the “eternal punchline.”

Jose is Mexican-American, hard-working, and a super talented speaker. He is not a traditional student in that he is not “fresh” out of high school, but he is most definitely a refreshing addition to his program and to all those he encounters.

The Oral Communications course is designed to bring awareness to interpersonal differences and strengthen communication skills. With most of the chapters in our text, I ask students to write a personal reflection on the content or how it applies to their own experiences. Chapter 6 is on unfair judgement and bias. I asked my students to share their thoughts on a time when they experienced bias in their own personal lives and how it has affected the way they communicate with or view others.

Jose’s response was so honest and so powerful, I had to read it a few times to wrap my head around his pragmatic approach to the unfair way others (even his closest friends) have spoken to or of him. Continue reading “The “Eternal Punchline””

“Like There’s No Such Thing As a Broken Heart”: Lyrics to Live By

broken heart

Rarely is there a day goes by that Old Dominion’s “No Such Thing as a Broken Heart”  isn’t played on the radio. (At least I hear it almost every day.)  Every time the track plays, I feel like they are singing right to me.

What songs out there grab you this way?

There are so many positive elements to this song that I don’t know if I could effectively convey its power in one post so I’m going to just give the chorus some attention here.

“You can’t keep the ground from shaking, no matter how hard you try, you can’t keep the sunsets from fading, you gotta treat your love like you’re jumping off a rope swing maybe ’cause the whole thing is really just a shot in the dark.” Continue reading ““Like There’s No Such Thing As a Broken Heart”: Lyrics to Live By”

Explaining Dr. King to My Children

mlk jr. quote

My two older kiddos have read the I Am Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. book and have had numerous lessons about the way he changed the world, but my 5-year-old had some questions about why he didn’t go to school today.

mlk jr

A terrific book on the life and times of Dr. King

The simple answer was we didn’t go to school today because we are remembering and honoring the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

His question in return, “Why?”

Well, where do I start?

I told my son about how African-Americans were not treated equally in America and how Martin Luther King Jr. was a smart and kind man, who tried to get people to work together so that everyone was treated equally. He wanted his children to grow up to have the opportunities all others had. He didn’t want people to have to live in fear of being beaten or left out because of how they looked. Dr. King preached about how peace could and would bring about change if only everyone would open their hearts to its healing powers. He asked people to respond with kindness and understanding instead of anger and hitting. His ideas gave us wonderful guidance as to the ways we should treat one another and resolve our issues.

“Oh, okay,” was my son’s simple reply.

Later my two older kiddos were fighting and my youngest son yelled, “Hey, we are out of school because Marting Luther King says we have to stop fighting! So stop fighting” Continue reading “Explaining Dr. King to My Children”

Changing Someone

Changing Someone

When we begin to change someone,
the change is not always noticeable.
The changes rarely happen instantly
or make a huge racket.
An extra giggle in our laugh or a sweet curl at the corner of their mouth,
an higher hop in your step or a wider swing in their swag.

When we begin to change someone,
the change is not always noticeable.
An extra plate becomes a common setting next to yours.
Everyday the shoes by the door number a pair more.
Schedules shift.
Your circle of friends decreases, blends, expands.

When we begin to change someone,
the change is not always noticeable.
Lives start to melt into a schedule in sync.
Habits begin to form hand-in-hand with routine.
The dishes may start to make it to the sink;
the laundry may pile itself in the right places.

When we begin to change someone,
the change is not always noticeable.
When the changes start to make themselves known,
Those that have changed are not always happy with how they have grown.
The deviation from their norms can lead to bitterness.
They did not want to change, but they wanted to be with you. Continue reading “Changing Someone”

What’s a “Freak”?

 

About a month ago my children discovered the movie The Greatest Showman. It is a musical based on the life story of P.T. Barnum (played by Hugh Jackman). In the film Barnum invites individuals who are considered “freaks” to become part of his show. Some of Barnum’s “freaks” include the bearded lady, the world’s tallest man, the world’s fattest man, wolf boy, and acrobats. As far as musical movies go, it was an alright show.

Of course the cruelty shown to the “freaks” in the film led to questions from my kids, and they wanted to know, “What’s a freak?”

I explained to them that the term “freak” comes from “freak of nature” meaning that sometimes things occur in our world that make humans or animals freaks of nature. In their infinite innocence they understood that being different makes someone or something special but also makes the abnormality a target for cruelty and ostracism.

With true indignation all of my kids ranted about the the mean things done in the film by citizens who were afraid of or hated the “freaks” in Barnum’s show. I just reminded them that, in real life, they should be kind and accepting of others who are different. Continue reading “What’s a “Freak”?”

So Glad You Were Born!

wish candle

Whenever people tell me it is their birthday, I always tell them, “I am so glad you were born.” Most look at me like I am crazy or just laugh at me. I am genuine in this statement.

Had that person not been born, never would I have had the opportunity to meet and know them or celebrate the anniversary of their birth.

My mom doesn’t like celebrating her birthday. She prefers to call them “pass-overs.” She wants them to “pass right on over.” There isn’t anyone I am more grateful for being born than her so I always try to make her day special (even though she doesn’t like it).

Here’s the thing. Too often we wait for birthdays or anniversaries to show our excitement for someone’s existence. Today be sure to share with someone you know how glad you are that they were born. Find a way for your genuineness to shine through and your gratitude for their role in your life to be clear. Appreciation is one of the best gifts we can give.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. I am so glad you were born! (I mean it!)

Don’t Worry…They are Struggling Too

Don't Worry...they are struggling too

“I don’t care what they think.”

“Who do they think they are? Judging me?”

“Seriously, why do they think they are better than me?”

How often do we find ourselves making these snarky statements?

Our rhetoric for these loaded comments usually shows itself when we feel like someone does not like us or something we do. We immediately go on the defensive and throw down the I-don’t-care-what-you-think-of-me jargon, but inside we are battling the why-don’t-they-like-me fight.

Some of the snarkiest people I have ever met are also some of the most insecure individuals I have known. To inflate their self-perception, they preach a degrading dialogue about anyone they think they bring down. The problem with this kind of judging is that the hurtful words usually become flames in the fire of burning bridges for future friendships and work experiences.

Let me give you a for instance: When I was in college I worked for an entertainment retailer. My job included working in the book department, the cafe, and training new employees. I loved that job. There was one associate, who we will call Adam. Adam did a nice job on register and worked well with customers on the floor. He eventually made it to the ranks of shift manager. After becoming a shift manager, for whatever reason, Adam gradually became unhappy with the company. He put in his two weeks notice. One night while closing the store, I overheard him tell another associate that he never comes to work for his last day at any job. Well, I knew what was coming and planned to come in the day of his last shift. We were going to be short a manager. Continue reading “Don’t Worry…They are Struggling Too”

Be a Gold Digger

Gold Digger

I can be pretty annoying sometimes. My occasional forgetfulness is bothersome but it REALLY bugs my husband when I point out the good in the failed efforts of others.

Someone may have just run their car through our fence, but I, in earnest, point out that they at least avoided our mailbox. The person who is blocking our lane of traffic to turn, when there is a turn lane, infuriates him; I mention that it’s a good idea to not dart in front of oncoming traffic. My son colors on the wall. Hubby freaks out; “At least he used the washable markers,” is my reply. (It’s really annoying. I know.)

Parents used to tell me at conferences they didn’t know how I could put up with “those kids.” Often times “those kids” were their own offspring. It was weird to me that they would not talk up the golden traits in their kids. Many parents would say they were being “realistic” about their children. I would point out that if you always tell your kid they are “bad” then being “bad” becomes their reality.

I still watch the morning news, even though the negativity kills me. The journalists drool at dropping headlines about failure, fighting, and fear but the feel-good, happy-ending stories are giving a 15 second spot and a quick commentator remark as the closing credits roll. Why is that?

png 1 Why is it so much easier to share the dirt on people than it is to find the gold in others? Continue reading “Be a Gold Digger”

A Fire All My Own

via Daily Prompt: Solitary

I think I found where world peace should start…

After a long day of travel, we arrived at our rented, vacation cabin. We spent the evening checking out the lake and camp grounds, did some fishing, and tested out the kayaks. When the kids finally realized they were hungry, each began to gather smalls sticks to start our fire. Hubby purchased firewood from the local woodshed and got it going. I dug out the hotdogs, buns, marshmallows, and skewers.

The open-flame grilled dogs were extra delicious and the kids probably wasted more marshmallows than they ate, but it was fun to watch. When the camp fire and “roasting” things began to lose its appeal, the kiddos hopped in the hot tub. I cleaned up the meal mess. Hubby checked out the area map and brochure of attractions.

It was not until well after dark and the kids were tucked into their respective beds that I was able to do what I wanted on vacation…sit quietly.

There is something powerful and energizing in a camp fire. Watching the flames dance and hearing the logs crack you are fully award that in front of you is a living, breathing creature. Even though I was alone by the campfire, I could not feel lonely.  Continue reading “A Fire All My Own”

Don’t Keep All Summer in a Day

All Summer in a Day.jpg

Ray Bradbury’s short story “All Summer in a Day” takes place on Venus and at a school where the children eagerly await the one day that summer will occur. On Venus summer comes once every seven years for just a matter of hours. The rest of the time the weather is stormy, windy, and overcast. This day is especially important to young Margot. Margot’s family moved from Earth and are considering the costly and arduous process of returning to the third planet from the sun for fear of losing their daughter to heartbreak. Margot is small, pale, and all too lonely. ‘She was an old photograph dusted from an album, whitenedaway, and if she spoke at all her voice would be a ghost.” The school children tease and ostracize her for her homesickness and taunt her about the only artwork she creates, pictures of life back on Earth. (The other children have no memories of what life is like on Earth.)

As the time nears to go outside and enjoy the rare sunshine, plants, and warmth, the children think it funny to lock Margot in the closet. They do not intend to leave her there but forget the grief-stricken girl as soon as the first rays of sun appear. Continue reading “Don’t Keep All Summer in a Day”