Monday, March 2, 2009

I Get By With a Little Help...Four Lessons From My Friends

I’ve been blessed in my life with amazing friends. They have bailed me out when I was floundering in confusion. They listened to me when I wallowed in self-pity. They’ve provided me with moments of joyful abandon. But most important, they have left me with their thoughts and visions of life. Here are just four of the most profound things my friends have said.

1. “I can forgive a beautiful woman for almost anything she does. A woman who’s not that pretty? Well, she had just better do her best to stay on my good side.” ---Ex boyfriend, K.

K. hit on a reality of human nature---people usually favor the attractive over the not so attractive.

The best looking person often gets the job, not the most qualified person. A Hugh Jackman look-alike slacker with no morals gets all the phone numbers written on a napkin, while his nice-guy friend with glasses and the Wi-Fi Detector shirt stays home alone. (Until he forms his own software dynasty and makes mega-billions a year.) The plain young woman who epitomizes Proverbs 31: 10-31 languishes dateless, while blonde bimbo beach bikini babe has men offering to sweep up the tracks made in the sand by her flip-flops.

I have talked to too many women who feel their husbands or boyfriends don't find them attractive. Maybe they gained a few pounds during pregnancy or haven’t had time to do their nails in years. I have watched some men friends get passed over as a potential mate time and again, even though they are angels in disguise, but have a receding hairline.

So yeah, K.’s a bonehead. But his statement has caused me to examine my own behavior.

I always tried to make sure that my decisions on hiring someone were based on qualifications only. I tried to make sure that I didn’t automatically brush off the slovenly customer who had matted hair and no teeth.

I now try to constantly be aware of when I might be judging someone on looks alone, and I especially try to be cognizant of someone else’s pain. I never want to hear again something like I heard from my very beautiful friend Gut Laugh Girl at a singles dance. When I asked her why she didn’t ask someone to dance she replied, “Because all the men here are praying, Dear God, please don’t let the fat chick ask me to dance.

2. “I used to wish that I could play the piano well, but then I had to face the truth and realize I did not want to play the piano well at all. What I really wanted was to play the piano well without having to work at it.”
My friend T. is definitely not a bonehead. She is someone who thinks a lot about life and truth.

I think her statement is indicative of our throw-away immediate gratification culture. We want to be talented and skilled, we just don’t want to have to work to get there. It takes too much time. We want to be able to speak Spanish better, but Grey’s Anatomy is on tonight. We want to get in shape, but Saturdays were made for sleeping in. We want to become better writers but ctn bcuz i @wrk & bos so hav2go. TTYL.

T.’s statement haunts me whenever I try to rationalize why I don’t do or haven’t done something. It all boils down to wanting all the rewards without having to do all the work. It’s about assuming that talented people are just “lucky” and since “we” are not that lucky, we are absolved from having to exert effort.

The fact is, talented people work hard.

3. “Don’t confuse activity with results.”---JC

This quote was hanging on a plaque in my friend’s living room hallway. His name was JC. I call him “a person with a clue.”

When he was in the process of buying a new house, he was getting a little frustrated with his real estate agent. It seemed the agent was taking far too long in getting things wrapped up, but kept making excuses and telling JC that he was working very hard on getting things done. To which JC replied, “Don’t confuse activity with results.”

This caused the agent to reflect. When JC finally moved into his new home, he was surprised to see his admonition engraved on a plaque and hanging on the wall--a gift from a grateful real estate agent. He said it had changed his life.

Is your life a whirlwind of activity? Do you feel like you are always going 100 mph? At the end of the day, do you wonder what you have really accomplished?

It’s kind of like when I used to go for a walk on my treadmill. I would look at the gauge and be happy because I just walked 2 miles! But you know what? I was really still just standing in the same spot as when I started. A lot of activity but I really didn’t go anywhere.

I’m a Franklin planner freak. Yes, I make to-do lists. I prioritize.

Although I still allow those non-important but urgent interruptions to get me off track sometimes, I can’t imagine life without my lists. It would be like walking backwards on that treadmill.

If you feel like you are busy, busy, busy, try The List. Make use of The Check Mark. Feel good because The List is Done.

4. “The worst thing a parent can do to a child is not to convince them that they are unloved, but rather to convince them that they are unlovable.”---Dr. F.

During my college Shakespeare class, my professor, Dr. F. was in a melancholy mood, and said this to the class. It broke my heart because I knew he would not know it unless he had experienced it. He was an unloved child.

It was an enlightening moment because I knew from that day on that one of the most painful life experiences would be to feel as if you are incapable of being loved.

It’s not just children who feel unlovable.

Man, does your wife know how much you love her? Does she always have to wonder? Does she feel unlovable because of your treatment of her? Does she feel ugly around you?

Woman, what about you? Does your husband feel adored when he walks in the door? Does he know how great you think he is? Does he feel lovable enough to want you with him at all times? Or do you make him feel like such an oaf with your constant harping that he soon begins to wonder if he has any worth to anyone?

Parents, do your children bask in your love? Do they have the confidence to meet the challenges that come from a sick society because your love makes them feel they can do anything? Or do they know without a doubt that they are the least of all the priorities in your life? (Add them to The List.)

People who doubt whether or not they are loved, soon fall into depression, or feel that they cannot accomplish even the simplest tasks.

People who are loved, and who feel that love constantly, bring a synergistic effect to everything they do. Burdens seem lighter, tasks seem easier and the thought processes are more creative.

It’s up to you. Your treatment of your family plays a large part in determining whether they will become builders or destroyers.

While you’re at it, cherish your friends too. Friends keep us grounded and keep us from feeling like we’re swirling in a toilet full of muck.

So the next time you’re with your friends, really listen. They have enlightening things to say.


  1. Randi

    That is absolutely beautiful - I love all 4 of those tips you learned from friends and agree wholeheartedly with all of them.

    I will add my 2 cents worth:

    hiring people - in addition to qualifications, you have to also look at how well you get along with each other - I don't care what they look like, but with a choice between 2 equally qualified people, I will choose the one who I get along better with - have the rapport with.

    busy busy? I have said that to a few people - it's quality time, not quantity time. I try and spend my time wisely on getting whatever results I was aiming for.

    unloved? that is such a heartbreaking one and I thank you for sharing that!

    Thanks again for a beautiful post!


  2. Daisy,

    You are so welcome! And thanks for adding your 2 cents!

    You are so right about hiring someone with whom you have good rapport. I've actually had to fire well-qualified people because they could not seem to get along with anyone, especially my customers. The sad fact is sometimes we see our co-workers for more time in a day than we see our own families (and you're right, that's why we need to make sure we are spending quality time.) It's essential to have people who love other people working right there beside you.

    Thanks again for your well-thought out comments! It's always a pleasure when you come and visit!


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