Sitting at the pool in the summer of 2017, I was seized with thought that the words we write are too often NOT the words we say. And this bad habit starts when we’re young; we hold back our gems of love and encouragement because we fear vulnerability. Yet we also know, vulnerability leads to real connection.
So I wrote this piece. It became a “reader favorite,” and was especially popular among the great people I knew in high school in the suburbs of Philadelphia. (Yes, I am among the blessed few who still remember those days as golden, even if it was a turbulent time for me personally.) Philly has always been good to me, and I would encourage you to check out other popular posts that reference the City of Brotherly Love – especially “Philadelphia – My Other Hometown,” “Who Are Your Cheerleaders?,” and “Day 20 – Thunderbird Pizza.”
Meanwhile – I re-post this piece about yearbooks (who doesn’t have one?) in celebration of my blog’s 5th Anniversary, and to help us reflect again on how we can lift one another up – today.
Two weeks ago I was reunited with a friend from high school I hadn’t seen in 27 years. We had reconnected through Facebook, but the second I saw her in person I knew I would have recognized her anywhere. She was the same engaging, intelligent, self-possessed, and kind woman I knew so long ago, and I felt privileged to hear about her life between then and now, and to meet two of her five children. Conversation was easy as we quickly found common ground. My only regret is that I can’t see more of her; I think we’d be good friends once again if given the chance. But she lives in Alabama and I’m in Maryland and that’s the way life goes.
Before our meeting, I pulled out my yearbook from senior year to see if she’d signed it. Tragically, she hadn’t. (Her daughters seemed especially disappointed when I mentioned this cosmic oversight.) As I searched for her non-existent words to me, I read through the others – scrawled across pages that hadn’t seen light in well over two decades. My spirit soared from the generosity bestowed by so many good, and young, souls. We were, after all, just 17 or 18 years old.
“Talking with you was always a high point of my days…”
“You are one of the nicest people I have ever met…”
“I have always been a distant admirer of yours…”
“I’m happy to have had you cheering for me…”
“I love this pen. It writes so smooth!”
“Cheering made you a leader and it shows…”
“Thanks so much for putting up with all my whining…”
“I’ve always been able to tell you just about anything and always felt safe in telling you…”
“You were a real inspiration to me…”
“I’ll always love you.”
Now – having read these excerpts from my friends’ notes to me, let’s consider…
Today, how often do we encourage one another in our everyday lives?
When did you last tell a colleague:
“You know, you really are brilliant at _____.”
“I’m impressed with your commitment.”
“Thanks for making my job easier and more pleasant, too.”
How about your children? When did they last hear you say:
“I like your observations. You are smart.”
“I love your enthusiasm. You will succeed.”
“You’re the best kid around. I am cheering for you.”
When was the last time you looked your spouse/significant other in the eye and said one of the following:
“Thank you for listening to me.”
“I respect you, appreciate you, and admire you. Thank you for being you.”
“I’m so happy with the life we’re making together.”
“I’ll always love you.”
If this seems silly or trite (and it is mushy, I’ll give you that) consider this simple idea we generally accept as truth … What we do becomes who we are. Therefore, think before you speak. Say nice words with good intentions, and become a nicer person with even better intentions.
Imagine if everything each of us said (and wrote) reflected the best parts of our spirits, rather than whatever’s gotten the best of us.
It’d be like graduation day – every day. Sunshine and rainbows, everywhere we looked.
Pleasing words are a honeycomb,
Sweet to the taste and healthful to the body.