A Caribbean Mess

A Caribbean Mess

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Keepin' It Real ALL THE TIME: "It's Gotta Stop"

About three people have noticed I've taken a bit of a break from blogging for the last few months. There are lots of reasons, and they don't really matter today. I've even drafted a few posts, but I haven't felt very motivated to post. 
And now? I mean it!


Last week, another one of my former students' lives was lost due to suicide. I don't remember how many students it is now... 
but the fact is: It's happening 
Because even if it was only one... well, that's 

I've had a rush of feelings and memories the past couple of days- Not only of this particular student, but all of my students. I taught many of them for 5 years straight (watching them grow from middle school to their senior year in high school when they left me embracing all that life had to offer with all the vigor in the world)!!! 

Well, whatever it is... it's happening everywhere.
And although it is NEVER ANYONE'S fault when something like this happens, I do believe there are a few things we can do to prevent it.


All day today, I have been wracking my brain thinking of all of the things that I do to try to make other people happy, and to let them know that I love them..... little things that I wonder if we all spent a little more time trying to do... maybe we could spread a little bit more happiness, rather than pain and sorrow. 
I came up with a little list. It's nothing new, but it does come from me...


#1 - Compliments

It's not that I'm so vain and self-centered that I need people to notice me all the time, but I'm just saying... it's nice to hear a compliment every now and then, and I have noticed that complimenting is a LOST ART! 

I don't like to toot my horn too much, but I must say, I'm a 
"Class-A Complimenter" (is that even a word?)
I learned early in my life that a compliment ALWAYS breaks the ice and is a GREAT way to ease into a conversation. It's not that I'm being fake. I'm not going to lie to you, but it has become second nature to me. I almost always start a conversation with a compliment. Doesn't it make sense? You INSTANTLY make people feel welcomed, loved, noticed, and special.


Not too long ago, I went somewhere and I was lookin' pretty fly. There were a lot of girls there. (I say girls because I don't expect boys to ever say anything). I was wearing a brand new outfit... surely someone was bound to notice. NOPE! NOT ONE compliment the whole time I was there. Well, maybe I didn't look that good? 
NAH... that couldn't have been it. I knew I did. 

So what the heck? Where did the complimenting go? I thought back to my girlfriends back at home. I know that the FIRST thing that would have come out of their mouths would be...
"Dang! You look good!"

Who hears that, and doesn't smile or get super cute shy? C'mon!


And for the record, if you've never heard me compliment you... 
1) I must not really like you
2) You probably don't look that good
or 3) Open up your ears...

(Chances are? It's #3) 

#2 - Validation

I don't care who you are, EVERYONE wants to feel validated.
Let other people know that their voice is heard. Even if you disagree with them, you can ACKNOWLEDGE them AND their statement before you throw in your 
fire of a rebuttal.

Make people feel like what they are doing is important. Please excuse me as I speak in "mom" terms right now... it's what I do best, but I know these things can apply to anyone anywhere.

How many of you, when a child falls down and skins their knee say, 
"Just wait 'till you break a leg!" 

Or a teenage girl who just got dumped by "the love of her life"
"Don't worry about him. You won't even remember his name 10 years from now."

And why wouldn't you do that? Because it's rude? Inhumane? Derogatory? Patronizing?

So then... please tell me WHY do we do the adult version of this?

"I'm so tired! My baby doesn't let me sleep."
"Oh.. just wait until you have three."

"3 year-olds are HARD!" 
"Hmmmph... wait until they are teenagers."

WHY do we do this to each other? 
Oh! I know! To make other people feel like they are worthless scum? 
To make ourselves feel better?

I'm sure I've been guilty of it SOMEWHERE along the line, but my friends would be able to tell you that I don't use the terms, "Just wait" because IT... DOES.... NOT... VALIDATE....

Is one kid easier than three? Do I feel like I'm on a vacation when I only have one of my children with me? HECK, YEAH!
BUT... I remember how hard it was with just one (or two). Your whole world gets turned around and you're supposed to spend all of your time and energy making sure SOMEONE ELSE is happy all of the time?

So, let's all grow up a little bit, and help people realize that it's okay to think that life is hard where they are.

However, with that said, the same thing goes for the other way around. 
Let's make sure we give credit where credit is due!

For example: 

Don't be doing your lamaze on the delivery table next to a woman who has a newborn babe in her arms, and look at her and say, 

Catch my drift?

#3 - Don't Judge and Give People the Benefit of the Doubt

I use this example all the time, but sometimes I yell at my kids.
I understand that there are a lot of moms out there who don't yell at all. 
Kudos to you! I've got some lessons to learn!

But, don't go jumping to conclusions that my kids get yelled at all day long and can never catch a break. 

I've noticed something about myself since living in Grenada:
I yell when I'm hot
I yell when I'm hungry
I yell when I feel physically trapped (a little claustrophobic)
I yell when I trip over things
I yell when I feel like I'm getting judged for my children's 

There are certain things that trigger my crankiness. And it would just be so nice if people saw me lose my temper with my kids... that instead of raising their eyebrows and rolling their eyes because they assume that is the norm, if they came over and said, "Hey... you must be having a rough day (thus acknowledging the fact that people don't think I'm always like this), what can I do to help?"

We never know what underlying problems may be going on in someone's lives. Maybe we should just assume that they know better than we do (when it's their life).

#4 - Contact Others When You Think of Them

There have been days that I have been curled up on my bed just sobbing. Life is hard, and it doesn't seem like there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

Does it happen to anyone else? 
Whatever... I know it does...

Have you ever thought of someone at the most random time of your day, and thought, "I wonder how they are?"


Sometimes when I am down in the dumps, my heart aches because I feel like no one cares. I'll say a prayer, "Please... doesn't ANYONE care about me right now? Do I always have to be the one to ask for help? Can't someone just think of me for a change? Do I always have to slip through the cracks because everyone thinks I've got it together?"

Well... I am a FIRM BELIEVER that people don't just "pop" in your head for no reason at all. It's for a dang good reason. They probably need you to buoy them up. 
So DO it!

There have been so many times I have stared at my computer thinking, 
"Will SOMEONE please just message me? I don't know who to go to for help... so will someone PLEASE just come to me?"

And it's heartbreaking when they don't.

Of course, we HAVE to be willing to reach out to others and ask for help when we need it, too. I TOTALLY believe that.

But, WHAT IF????
Everyone in the world contacted ONE other person every day who "happened" to pop into their head?
That would be A LOT of people who are thought of! That would be a LOT of happiness spread around in the world in just one day.

#5 - Love

I think we think this is harder than it really is. It doesn't take much to love someone else. It takes selfless service, sacrifice, acceptance, affection, and understanding.

It's easy to say that you "love" your family, your spouse, your parents, your children, your close friends, but what about people who we really aren't that "close" to?

Can we still love them?

As a teacher, I LOVED my students, and although I haven't spoken to most of them since the last time they left my classroom, I still love them. Sure, they drove me nuts most of the time. Sure, I was super sarcastic and wouldn't accept late work under any circumstances. Sure, I told them that they just asked me a REALLY stupid question... but the fact is? I LOVED THEM!

I'm pretty sure that some of the best laughs in my life occurred in my classroom. I'm pretty sure that they shaped me into the person I am today. AND... 
I'm 100% sure I STILL love them, care about them, think of them.

I wonder if this student who's life was ended too early knew I still loved her and still cared about her? I'm sure she didn't. We haven't spoken or had any correspondence for years, and she probably hasn't given  me a second thought. 

I'm sure she had no idea of how many people really do love her. I'm sure she felt all alone, like there was no one in the world who cared, I'm sure her definition of "LOVE" was clouded.

 My heart aches for her as I think of the pain and anguish she must have felt to get to this point in her life: the moment when she feels like there is nothing worth living for. My heart sinks for the family, friends, and loved ones she left behind: the feelings of "Where did I go wrong? What could I have done differently?"

I cannot reiterate that ENOUGH!

But, of course, that is much easier said from the outside.

I guess my final point tonight is this:

#6 - Look for the Subtle Signs and Calls for Help

There is so much sadness and heartache in the world. People are hurting, and they are hurting EVERYWHERE. Look around you (but don't look for signs of hurt, because the chances are... you won't see the hurt). 

Because we are SOOOOO set on thinking that life has to be perfect all of the time? WHY? Because we have become so guarded? Because we feel like everyone else around us has got it together, so there must be something wrong with us? Because we can't share our true feelings... I'll be judged! 

Why do people get so bugged when I post something negative up on Facebook? 
Seriously people? My husband is GONE 12 hours a day... and I talk to children 5 and under... ALL... DAY... LONG... pretending to be dogs, babies, and purple minions. You kind of get to a point that you don't know who to vent to. 

So? I just put it out there for the whole universe to see! 

"That's so lame. She's just trying to get attention." 
"WELL, NO S#*@, SHERLOCK! Of course, I'm trying to get some attention! Help me, PLEASE!" 

BUT... what happens instead? People will roll their eyes, people will tell me to take it somewhere else, people will tell me to cheer up... life isn't so bad, people will "one-up" me with their disaster of the day and make me feel like a Class-A LOSER... 

The list goes on and on.....

WHY, OH WHY are we so bad at answering calls for help?!! 

So, open up your eyes AND ears...

And don't look for the hurt, but look and listen for the subtle cries of help, because they ARE out there. ALL... THE... TIME....

And then? 


Signing off... <3

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