I saw one to a "Julie" and although my heart surged, I didn't believe she meant me until I clicked the link and it went to my blog. LOL
Thank you, Slouching Mom, for the honor!
When I got that award, it tickled a memory. Kellan gave me one recently too, which I haven't passed along. I'm not sure but this one probably needs passing along, too. There is certainly "deservedness" out there for both awards. However, for some reason, now simply doesn't feel like the right time to pass them along. It feels like I am waiting for something that is coming. Isn't that odd?
As I contemplated these awards and the obligation I have to pay them forward, I felt an additional sense of responsibility but couldn't recall exactly what that was, that niggling. It came to me on Friday.
I saw the ROFL awards posted Friday and a thought hit me like a slap across the face:
Great scott, my buddy the Mad Hatter was generous enough to not only read the entirety of my Shakespearian account of our latest run-in with the squatters on our land (Romeo and Juliet of the House of Raccoon) but she awarded me a ROFL Award for that too.
This largely happened while I was traveling for that 3-4 week period, and right about when I found out I live in Toxic Town. (<-- Note ineffectual employment of defensive excuses with rationale thrown in for less good measure.)
So although I thanked her when she told me she nominated that post, I never publicly thanked her nor acknowledged the award.
Let me do so, belatedly.
Thank you, Mad Hatter, for graciously awarding In Fair Verona with a ROFL Award for September.
And may I say your post with the award in it was pretty much its own ROFL.
When I realized my mistake, I felt a horrible guilt and shame. It felt like a flush that started on my ears and rushed to cover my face. I wear shame outwardly; my fair skin flushes easily with the force of my emotions.
In my youth, that in and of itself was a great shame to me. I hated that people could read me so easily, and they were rarely kind about it; my flushes always garnered taunting and teasing.
It always made me look and seem guilty, when in actuality, I was usually simply overwhelmed with the attention or the charge I faced.
However, in this case, I was actually guilty.
My shame and guilt are multifold, as these things usually are.
I hate to overlook a kindness. I've reached an age and lived a life that has taught me to value the nice gestures you encounter. I know they are like pearls, real ones from submerged wild oysters: rare and valuable. Sometimes I overwhelm and embarrass people with my gratitude and recognition of their kindness. They prefer to fly under the radar, or think little of what they did. I have a heady need to let them know how much it meant to me, and I try to balance that with the other person's preference.
In the end, though, I need to share my appreciation. It probably makes me appear a little needy and desperate, and maybe I am, a little. Certainly I like recognition, definitely I like when someone reaches out. Mostly, though, I value kindness with an intensity few people seem to share, or understand.
Sometimes I wonder if some people have a life in which kindness is expected, if they feel an unconscious and unspoiled entitlement to it. Perhaps the world and the people in it have generally been kind to them, so they truly find an act of kindness, whether given or received, something of nothing.
"Oh, it was nothing," we so often say in response to a grateful thanks.
And yet, kindness is never nothing.
"It was no trouble," and "I was glad to do it" are easier for me to swallow along with the old standard, "You're welcome."
But nothing troubles me.
If given kindness is nothing to some, then perhaps this explains why received kind gestures are so often taken for granted. Although I find this less and less the older I---and my friends---get. Perhaps one of the greatest mistakes of youth is expectation of things received.
When my kids simply expect and accept the good times and good things that come to them, I marvel and mourn all at once. I marvel that they live a life in which good things happen and they are not surprised. I am grateful for this, and relish their naivete. I also mourn that this is not so for other children, and worry that my children will grow up the take good for granted. I try to balance good with appreciation, to teach them to recognize and acknowledge special.
And perhaps that's the key, something common is no longer special. It is, instead, ordinary, and therefore of little significance. If one sees kindness daily, then what makes one act stand out against another? Something would have to be quite extraordinary.
Isn't that what we strive for? To make kindness ordinary? The standard operating procedure?
Certainly I expect of myself kindness everyday, expect it to simply be, without effort. I expect nothing in return, want to think nothing of what I do. I think of a way I can do some good, therefore, I offer or do. So, if I think nothing of what I do, think it is simply doing what I can and should do, then why does the acknowledgement of a gesture as nothing trouble me so much?
The truth is that even everyday kindness---such as the stranger holding the door open for me yesterday---will always be extraordinary to me because it shines the light on a moment, second, when one person thinks of another and extends courtesy and kindness.
And even if kindness does become mundane, I hope we all always know this.
This is why is so mortifies me to make a mistake, to break a social protocol---a personal more of acknowledging kind gestures with gratitude. It horrifies me to miss doing something that I know is important for both myself and the other person.
In fact, regardless, I hate it when I do that, when I drop the ball, have things fall off the plate. I know it means my chart got the mark, "below expectations." I realize it is a symptom of a larger problem: perfectionism and putting too much on the plate. So, logically, I endeavor to simplify my life and accommodate the concept of "good enough."
Except, this seems to run counter to my complicated personality which seems to prefer a complex life. Therefore, as soon as I shovel one thing off, I immediately add on one to two others, and am back to grading and evaluating myself and my actions---as a boss or teacher would do. I realize this is also a symptom.
Of course, me being me, I had to rectify my error, immediately. With gratitude (as due) and apology (as owed).
So I wrote the above thanks and endeavored to simply feel grateful. I knew proper focus should be on the Very Kind Thing Mad Hatter did, rather than wallowing in the suffused shame and guilt. I wanted to make this about her, and the good warm fuzzy her nice gesture should generate. I thought back to how I'd paused after writing In Fair Verona, hesitant to post it, afraid it would be a big dud with people wondering what I was smoking (but only in their minds, as my comments would remain blank due to confusion and GASP boredom). Before I posted it, I thought hard about how I'd feel if there weren't any comments and I decided I was okay with that. I thought it was amusing and I felt good about what I'd created. I was therefore more than happily surprised by the positive reception that post got. When Mad wrote to say she thought it deserved an award, I was over the moon.
As I began this post, I thought back to that feeling and let it wash over me.
It ate away a little at my guilt and shame, but like a cheap Halloween tattoo, those stubbornly stuck to my mind and heart.
Guilt and shame are like that, as are all other negative feelings. They stick. Sometimes I liken myself to a pig who enjoys wallowing in muck. The part of my brain that keeps me relatively sane reminds me there is benefit to that muck for the pigs, and then I recall Bub and Pie's post long ago about the positive power of negative thinking.
So instead of berating myself doubly---once for making a mistake and twice for wallowing in the mistake with guilt and shame---I recognized that shame and guilt serve a function: they remind me of what I value and what is valuable, and how to behave well within that. They prompted me to attempt to rectify instead of simply ignoring and glossing over, as too often is the case. In the end, those negative emotions generated a positive event.
That reminded me of a saying I am probably not quite quoting exactly, which I cannot attribute properly, but nevertheless find valuable:
There is a benefit to how I think and who I am...I bring something worthy to others and the world.
Addendum: The funny thing about life is that not only did that saying come in handy for personal use and for this blog post, but I found a second occasion to use it to. De is accentuating the positive and asking for good affirmations. Go share one if you can, go take one if you need.
Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
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