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””

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Stars Can’t Shine Without It – Wise Words Wednesday

Stars Can't Shine

Darkness gets a bum wrap.

Many are afraid of the dark.

All too often we describe the tough times in life as the dark times.

The Dark Ages is a term assigned to the days after the fall of the Roman Empire and the years of struggle within the church for guidance and acceptance because of the uncertainty and haphazard rule of warring leaders. People felt lost, scared, and hopeless.

Even Star Wars warned us to not got to the “dark side.”

If it weren’t for the dark, the stars would not shine.

When life hands us lemons, we say, “Make lemonade.”

So why not do the same with tough times?

If you are going through some dark times, it’s okay to recognize the darkness. It’s okay to say, “This stinks.” It’s really okay to feel sad or mad or frustrated. Once you’ve acknowledged the darkness, you can find the bright spots.

tunnel

My kiddos entering the tunnel to create their constellations.

Our local library offered a constellation creation station this summer. Kids were invited to sketch a dotted outline of any constellation they could imagine. My daughter designed a horse constellation and my son created at robot. As they poked their holes in the “sky” with thumb tacks, the flashlight beam prevented them from seeing the darkness and appreciating the brightness of their work.

Once the holes were punched and the flashlights extinguished, the darkness was welcomed.

It took our eyes a moment to adjust, but once we had time to accept the unlit canvas around us the sight was incredible. Continue reading “Stars Can’t Shine Without It – Wise Words Wednesday”

Yellow Sheets…A Bold Design Choice

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My 6 year old LOVES the color yellow. He has yellow headphones, a yellow tablet case, and even sports yellow Crocs.

As we did some room re-arranging at our home, he inherited his sister’s old room. When we built our home a number of years ago, my daughter selected pink and purple for the walls and those just weren’t going to suite the room’s newest inhabitant. His wall colors were to be yellow (of course), blue, and gray with outer space decorations. (It was going to be out-of-this-world.)

My son insisted that he wanted yellow sheets for his new bedding.

I searched for yellow sheets. It is not possible to find yellow sheets. (Most people associate yellowed sheets with bed wetting.) Amazon, Target, Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond, T.J.Maxx… no one could help me.

wp-1562781503337.jpgSo I did what any loving mother would do. I dyed white sheets yellow.

My husband told me I was crazy. I told him to not mess with me or I would dye his sheets yellow too.

The end result was not perfectly, evenly yellow, but I had a little boy who was very happy.

So while his yellow sheets may have been a bold design choice, I hope he always remembers the brazen acceptance of his vision and how happy it made him to bring that vision to reality.

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As you make your way through the day, I hope you too will find ways to make bold choices and accept the dynamic decisions of those you love. Let the colorful courage be something that not only brightens the situation but charges the positivity and purpose in your day.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. I did not encourage him to yellow the sheets by any other means. They are yellow enough.

 

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”?”

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”

The Beauty of Acceptance – Wise Words Wednesday

Accepting Beauty

Have you ever been to a point in your life that you only see the negatives? Were all you thought about was what you didn’t have, but wanted to have? Where you picked out everyone else’s flaws because you weren’t satisfied with yourself?

Well I have, and let me tell you what I was doing. I was wasting my life. I was missing all the beauty in my life and losing out on my precious time. You see, I never saw the beauty in what I had. I missed out on some amazing talents, time with my family and memories with my kid. I saw what others were achieving and hated it because I wasn’t doing something exciting with my life.

It wasn’t their fault. They were ACTUALLY DOING something with their life, and I was just crying about mine.

It wasn’t until I was sitting in the back-church pew on Saturday night telling God how much I disliked Him for putting my family though hell that I realized it wasn’t Him. He wasn’t the one making my life seem awful. Negativity was something that I felt I needed to survive. In all honestly what I needed was hope, faith, and courage. Seeing the beauty in life is something many miss. Getting up early just to watch the sunrise and listen to the first sound of the birds can be relaxing and an amazing time to meditate on the day’s happenings. Watching the wind blow through the tress doesn’t have to be a sign of rage and anger anymore. It is the voices of all my loved ones gone from this earth talking to me.

Amy K 1I now sit in the back pew at church and thank God for what He has faced me with. I know that He will never hand me more than I can handle. Having faith in Him took the weight of the world off my shoulders. Seeing the beauty in these gave me the hope I needed to become a stronger woman, wife, mother, and friend.

Now I know that to some they are like, “Duh! Get your head out of your butt and look at what you have.”

In all honestly, after having that dark cloth blinding you for so long, it takes some time to see the real color of the life you live. Not everything has to be black. Why not have your world colored by the joy, the beauty, the success of others? Surrounding myself with others who are positive gives me more courage than I could ever have dreamed of. You see for me, I was heading down a dark and lonely path. Shutting out all those that cared about me. It has taken a lot of work and I’m still not perfect, but I am making progress.

By: Amy Kemna

Guest post for 2017 Lessons Learned in the Last Year Intentergy series.

P.S. I have seen so many amazing transformations in Amy the past year that I just had to have her tell her story. Amy, you are beautiful, and I am thankful for your friendship and willingness to share your thoughts on how wonderful life can be when we gracefully accept God, our imperfect lives, and ourselves. 🙂
– Melanie A. Peters