Thursday, February 26, 2009

Spread a little sunshine!

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.
~Winston Churchill
You never know when someone is watching. You never know what affects those around you. Your actions could make or break someone's day. Are those things we consider as we go along each day? Do we stop and think about our impact on those around us?

I am the type of person who wants everyone to be happy with me. So, when someone exhibits displeasure with me, I take it personally and work hard to rectify the situation. One example is when getting honked at. It really ticks me off when people honk at me- especially when there is no reason for it. I was at a car garage, waiting for the machine to print off my parking stub/ticket, and the car behind me honks! I tried to hurry and get out of everyone's way, but was rather perturbed by my lack of control and his impatience. That experience put a bit of irritation in my otherwise pleasant day.

Working in a restaurant gives me all sorts of attitudes and people to deal with. There have been numerous occasions when I would put on a smile in reply to rudeness. The times I enjoy work the most are when the customer is polite and thankful. I am helping them, but they don't act as if they are entitled to it. I love it when some of the customers just say thank you and appreciate the work that is done for their dinner. I've had several people call me "ma'am". Those that are polite cause happiness to my day.

The unpleasant flip side to polite customers is the rude customers. I've had so many different people complain about prices, complain about not getting service quick enough, and try to sweet talk their way out of paying for extras. I'm sorry, but a lot of the stuff people complain about is the things I cannot change. Prices are made by corporate, not even my boss. I'm sorry about your 'bad' service, but I'm not the one who gave you that service. And I don't try to cheat my company when you add extras to your meal. I will make you pay for it. If you don't like the price, then don't add extras. It's very simple- at least for me.

When these people act this way, it really affects my day. I don't try to take it personally, but rudeness is always hard to swallow. I know it's not always stemmed from my workplace. It comes from their workplace. I always try to be polite to them so they can have a bright spot in their day. I know I always remember a smiling face when at the store or a resaurant.

Think about when you are going through your day. When do you get upset with those around you? Place yourself in their shoes and think how you would feel. Then purpose to be cheerful. It takes effort sometimes, but is well worth it. You never know how your politeness could boost up those around you.

Monday, February 23, 2009

La la la la la

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.
~Victor Hugo

Music has been a huge part of my life. I've been surrounded by it and immerse myself into it whenever possible. I think music conveys something much deeper than words. Some things cannot be spoken, just felt.

Growing up, my parents always had music on. If you were to watch home videos, there would be cds going on in the background. My mom has played the piano for almost 40 years and has taught for over 20. This experience brought a love of music to all her children, with all of them taking piano at some point. My dad has been the song director at a couple churches and has teamed with my mom to create the order of service on Sunday church services. This is how I developed a greater appreciation for music. I didn't just listen to it; I evaluated it, enjoyed it, and understood the work gone on to create the piece.

Not many people just sit and listen to music. They will use it as a background to what they are doing. Words are added to make songs, which can complement the music. But, how many people let plain music just wash over them?

The reason I started thinking about the essence of music is because of watching a movie yesterday. I know, you may be thinking movies definitely do not have just music-all the time. I was watching Braveheart when my sister commented on the music. I stopped focusing on the actions of the people and started listening to the music. It was gorgeous! The really cool thing is how the music transcended above any words that could've been spoken. There were several instances where no words were said and the music was all that was there to evoke emotion. One example is when William Wallace saw his wife in the crowd right before his death. The voices died down as the music swelled. No words were shared, yet you feel so many emotions evoked from the music. Compassion, love, joy, sorrow- these are some of my feelings in this short exchange.

Does music make people cry? Does its beauty stop people in their tracks? My mom plays beautifully and at times I just sit next to her piano and listen. I also watch the music and turn her pages. There have been many songs that I would just stand there and feel tears come to my eyes. I can't really explain it but music can create so many feelings. Yearning, praise for my Savior, happiness, sadness, and dancing can be aroused from simple melodies.

These simple melodies can permeate into your everyday life. Who doesn't occasionally start humming to a song? At my workplace, I hum or whistle everyday while doing my various tasks. Music is such a big part of my life and I know that I'm not alone in that respect. Think about how music affects you and how it can create different moods. It's so amazing how much impact music creates.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

We are family

Families are like fudge - mostly sweet with a few nuts.
~Author Unknown

I think this author could've been me; this fits my family like a glove. I love my family so much. We are very unique, yet held together by bonds stronger than we think we could have. However, we are weird. At least, we do weird things.

The person that started it all is my dad. He likes to have fun with his kids. For as long as I can remember, he has made me laugh. He made up songs for all four of us and would sing them when we went to bed. Some of the things he does aren't so cute. He loves to make fun of songs. He makes up little ditties, or makes up new words to songs. Most of the times they make everyone laugh. There are the occasional songs I like that my dad has tried to ruin, though.
My dad does other funny things. He sometimes uses funny voices to add a new 'depth' to the conversation. Those voices can mimic movie characters, like Forrest Gump, or just make up some hilarious accent.

My mom is a little nutty, but she is mild compared to the rest of the family. Her children bore the brunt of this strangeness. My siblings and I have started coming up with our own songs, making up family inside jokes, and yes, the occasional voices.

I can't really explain all that makes us a little nutty. When we all sit down for dinner, we are normally there for a while because of our conversations. We talk about funny stories, add movie quotes throughout the conversations, and laugh. We laugh so often. Beverages have been spewed regularly, probably on a weekly average as a result of this laughter. We randomly burst into song. These are a couple examples of what we do in our house.

Even though we are all silly, these little things express our love for one another. One example would be when I was younger. My parents would occasionally come into my room when I was waking up, and sing a wake up song. This was incredibly irritating to me since I like to wake up on my own. But, I know that they were just having fun and loving me through my grouchiness.

My family shows our love through the little things, as well as the big. My family has been there for each other through dead pets, bad grades, lost friendships, basketball games, and more. My family is more than just family; they are friends. I don't know many people who just open up to their parents over everything. I don't know many siblings who enjoy hanging out.

Now it's out there. These are just a few of the not-so-normal things we do. We love each other more because of these strange habits. Now it's up to you. Think through your family activities when you were growing up. Did you do things that were abnormal? I like to think that every family does fun stuff. But I've gotten the impression that my family goes above and beyond normal. We have some 'nuts'. The question I now pose is: Are these things truly weird?

Monday, February 16, 2009

No? No? What does that mean?

A soft refusal is not always taken, but a rude one is immediately believed.

~Alexander Chase

Alexander Chase must have had children, at least, for the first part of the quotation. As far as the second part goes, rude can also mean firm. When one answers timidly and not at all assertively, then one is taken advantage of. But, when one answers confidently, the listener believes them.

If any of you have ever dealt with children, you know of what I speak. The child is doing something he shouldn't be doing, moreover he knows he shouldn't, and you try to intervene. You intervene several times and each time goes along the same lines. "Johnny, why don't you play with the ball outside?" "No, Marie, you shouldn't be hitting your sister." Shouldn't? Why don't you? What type of commands are these? If the child is repeatedly ignoring your instruction, you need to kick it up a notch. "Johnny, I've told you several times to play outside. If you do it again, you can't have that ball for the rest of the evening." The good overseer will follow through with that punishment, not just make empty threats.

In no way am I saying punishment is the only option. But, I think several people are scared of their children and won't discipline them for recurring wrong. A firm answer is needed. The word 'no' doesn't have to be used; use the right tone and express your wishes so the point gets across.

This quote can also be used in relationships between adults as well. I've been in numerous conversations when my friends try to get me to do something I don't want to do. An example would be when we went to Cedar Point this past summer. I don't care for rollercoasters, especially ones with corkscrews and loops. My friends asked repeatedly for me to go on a ride with them, and all my responses were weak. I got pulled onto the Millenium Force, which is the tallest one in the park, for my first roller coaster ride EVER!!! Needless to say, I was a little shaky after the ride. I enjoyed the ride, but then realized the importance of a firm, if not rude answer. I did NOT want to go on The Dragster!

Rude replies give the answer, but don't get the desired response. When asking someone if they wanted to go watch a movie, they replied in the negative- with a negative attitude. I thought, "Whoa, ok, I won't ask you again! Sorry for bothering you."
I definitely see several ways to take this quote. I know my post hasn't included all the possibilities, but that is on purpose. My hope is that my thoughts are not the only way to delve into this quote. This coming week I have purposed to be assertive in my answers. Maybe I'll see other ways this quote is carried out.

Friday, February 13, 2009

I wonder what they're thinking about me...

"We probably wouldn't worry about what people think of us if we could know how seldom they do."
~Olin Miller

This is a common worry. People want to impress those around us. The hard part is guessing when the other person is actually paying attention to what you do. So, you have to safeguard every movement, every clothing article, and act perfectly so no one can think bad of you. Want to know a secret? They probably aren't paying attention! They don't think about everything you do!

I struggle with keeping a level head in some situations. My car is a loud car. It rumbles and squeaks and generally makes noises. I'll drive down the road and see people turn their heads. "What is that hideous sound? Who would drive a car so loud?" At least, I think that's what they are thinking. One day I was driving one of my friends to an activity. We stopped at a light and the car next to me stopped as well. A girl in the passenger seat looked over at me, made eye contact, and turned away laughing. "She's laughing at my loud car!" I exclaimed. My friend looked at me in disbelief and asked if I actually thought she was laughing at me. In other words, they don't really care; it's not about you. I had to admit they were probably not even thinking about me or anything to do with me.

It may sound pathetic, but it is easy to confuse reality and paranoia. If you are sitting somewhere, and people look at you and laugh, its easy to think they are laughing at you. It may just have been a passing glance, or their companion said something funny. Chances are those people haven't thought or spoken about you at all.

As you've been writing your posts, you have deleted sentences and reworded thoughts because of the perception of the reader. How will they take that comment? Will they think I'm a shallow person? In all reality, I have no idea if anyone will read this post. So I will write what I think without the basis of peer criticism. My thoughts shouldn't be changed because of possible mockery or fear of upsetting people. Yes, the temptation is there, and I heed to it a lot. I can only work harder to not care about other people's thoughts.

Basically, we think people think about us all the time. In reality, we probably aren't in their thought process at all. We should live our lives without the thought of being under a microscope. There would probably be a difference in how we go through each day.

Don't hate me 'cuz I'm beautiful

"Rarely do great beauty and great virtue dwell together"
~Petrarch [Francesco Petrarca]

When I read this quote, I think of all the 'beautiful' people I've known. The prettiest girl in class, the cute jock, the favorite actor: all of which were beautiful on the outside. But, were they necessarily beautiful on the inside?

There is a new television show called "True Beauty". The premise of this show is to put physically attractive people through tests to see who is truly beautiful on the inside. The catch is that the contestants think it's all about their outer beauty. I have to admit, when I first heard of the show, I thought it was a shallow, dumb waste of airtime. But, I watched the first episode on a whim with some friends. I was hooked. I found it so funny! All these gorgeous people were complaining and shallow.

Many of you might not understand how they could not know. I had my doubts too, but after watching, it is clear these people are oblivious to these hidden challenges. One example could be their clothes challenge. In groups of three people, each group had $100 to buy complete outfits for their group. The challenge was to see who looked the best using scant supplies. I was floored when each group used their beauty to get free clothing or discounts. One group went as far as claiming to be a charity for cancer so they would get money from people. The judges put a secret challenge out to test their inner beauty. They positioned a charity sitting on a corner that was collecting donations. The test was to see who would put money in the box. A simple task, but not done by everyone.

Another example is their attitude towards those around them. They make comments about how they are the most beautiful, how the judges think they are gorgeous, and complain about their challenges. I think, seriously? If I was the most beautiful, according to the judges, I wouldn't be bragging about it to my competition! I would still want help from my potential teammates in future challenges!

These are people in the spotlight though. What about the average 'beautiful' person? What about the high school prom queen, or the star quarterback? When you think about those people, do you remember any inner beauty? I've known some pretty girls who were not self-absorbed. They were kind to others, honest, and hard-working. I think that isn't the norm, just like Petrarch suggested.

I knew this guy, let's call him George, who was a school favorite. He was a star basketball player, a star soccer player, and attractive too. All the young girls fawned over him if he so much as glanced in their direction. And he knew it! That's what started the loss of fascination for me. When he knew he was attractive, he thought he could slide by on some accounts. In one home soccer game, he pantsed a much younger player on his team. This might not seem like a big deal, but it was pretty upsetting to the younger player. Imagine exposing your boxers for all your peers and peers' parents to see. Embarrassment would be on my list of emotions. George was suspended. When this was found out, several people couldn't believe it- including myself. Anyone else doing it would have been suspended as well, but it was shocking to see the favorite get into trouble. Virtue, in this case, was lacking from this individual.

Beauty and virtue are hard to find together. Self gets in the way. But, to those I've known who possess both, I am happy to know it can be done. Inner beauty shines through the physical characteristics we find attractive.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Can I Believe You?

“What upsets me is not that you lied to me, but that from now on I can no longer believe you.”
~Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

One of the saddest things in life is realizing you can't trust someone. Worse yet is when this distrust stems from personal injury in a relationship. You could distrust someone because of their reputation. But when you witness their dishonesty, it makes it that much harder to regain faith in them.

I was watching television at a friend's house when What I Like About You came on. This particular episode showed Holly borrowing her older sister's car (without permission). The car ended up being stolen and for the remainder of the episode, Holly is trying to lie about how it got stolen. In the end, her older sister finds out. She went on to tell Holly that she couldn't trust her because of her deception, that she wouldn't know when to believe her.

I thought that episode was a great example for this quote. Holly lied about something. But, her sister's reaction didn't just go along with the actual act of disobedience. It was more so geared towards future actions and the lack of trust for those actions. It only takes one mistake to undo years of trust.

My parents would treat lying very seriously.My mom would always say, "How can I believe you?" after one of us would lie. The hard part would be that she couldn't. The saying by Mr. Nietzsche reminds me of the old adage: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. It is hard to believe someone after they have failed you. The hardest part isn't their lie. It's worse when you think of the breach in your relationship. How do you know they are telling the truth now? What are the repercussions for the circumstances these lies produced?

It's a hard thing to reconcile with. Family and friends are the closest ones to you. We should be even more truthful with these people so trust can be evident in every situation. Yet we seem to be like Holly and decieve those very people. This quote caused me to think further about the penalties to my actions. If I can't be trusted, how can my relationships survive? Honesty is the best policy.

Monday, February 2, 2009

I win, you lose mentality

“Sports do not build character. They reveal it.”
~Heywood Broun

I one thousand percent agree with this quote. When the pressure is on, when you are put into stressful circumstances, then you know what the other person is like. You are going to play like you live your life. How you view your opponents, your teammates, and authority (coaches, referees, etc.), gives evidence to your opinion of mankind.

The impression you get of athletes comes from how they play. There was a team my school played against that we did not like. I'll call them the Eagles. We felt that the guys were arrogant and rude. One guy in particular was disliked by many. I'll call him Bob. In a tournament game, the Eagles was crushing the opposing team. So, this player, Bob, and one other player sat down on their side of the court and would not even play defense on the other team. Besides the fact that this wasn't helping their teammates, it was degrading to the other team. To treat the other team this way was unacceptable to my school. Eventually their coach caught on to what they were doing, and removed them from the court.

My team was far from perfect though. Tempers would rise over bad calls, or players would disagree with the coach. One girl received a technical because she punched the ground after a bad call. These things might be common in the sports world, but they do show you what a person is like. When people get angry about calls, it shows that anger is one of the ways they handle problems. They think that their opinion can be appreciated and respected by raising their voice. No, that might not be the exact thought process behind it. But, that's what they end up doing.

But bad character is not the only thing sports produce. The pressure from a game or the stress of the season can show how good a person's character is. When a player will listen to their coach, they show a teachability that carries into the work place or school. There was a player on our team who was always good. She never got mad, in school or basketball. She always listened to advice. Whenever she got frustrated, she didn't say anything or make a big deal about it. This showed that she would be calm in other situations and not resort to anger to get things accomplished.

You always have a favorite team to play against. Ask yourself why they are your favorite team. My favorite team was the Cougars. They were my favorite because they were honorable in their playing. They never played dirty, got in arguments with my team, or exuded arrogance. My team loved playing them because we knew that we could enjoy the game. There was competition and the fight to win, but it was a healthy type of competition. I even talked to their players after games and sat around with them during tournaments. I wasn't the only one from my team who felt that way. In my senior year, my team was in the second seed in the tournament. The Cougars were fourth and lost the first round. They ended up being last in the tournament, but they weren't angry about it. Yes, they were disappointed, but they all cheered for my team in the championship game, without jealousy. Their character shown through defeat. I know that challenged me to think about how I could be a better player.

As I look back on games, practices, and tournaments, I think about the different people I observed and how people would observe me. Sports are fun things. They do show your character and how you react to pressure. But, you can watch the progress of how people build their character. You never know who is watching and learning from your example.