YOU MATTER

When I say YOU MATTER, I mean it. No matter what your life is like right now, you matter. There is a popular trend going on right now on social media called “Put Your Finger Down.” Simply put you are supposed to put a finger down for each of the statements being said. So let’s go ahead and play this little game.

Put A Finger Down…

if you have felt overwhelmed by life in the past week

if you your room, house, apartment, car is not clean

if you have laundry that needs to be done

if a friend has hurt you in the past month

if you have lost a loved one in the past year

if you have felt alone in the past month

if you feel like your future is not so bright

if others have wrongly judged you

if you have not been kind to someone you love in the past week

if you have felt like giving up in the past year

Okay, I am not sure how many fingers you have down but I can tell you that I have most of mine down. Now, if I were to stop there, imagine how depressing and hopeless I would continue to feel. So let’s try turning this game upside down. Now I want you to put a finger up for each of the true statements below.

Put A Finger Up…

if you have told someone you love them in the past 24 hours

if you have received an act of kindness in the past month

if you have have done an act of kindness in the past week

if you have smiled for any reason in the past 24 hours

if you have shown gratitude towards a friend in the past month

if you have reconnected with someone from your past in the last 6 months

if you have felt like someone cares about you

if you have reached out to a friend or family member in need

if you have have laughed with friends in the past week

if you are still breathing

Now, again, I am not sure how many fingers you have up. I have all 10 up. What I personally noticed is that the feelings I have felt putting my fingers up completely outweigh how I felt after having my fingers down.

What is important to recognize here is that no matter how hard, challenging, tough and depressing life can be, the good will ALWAYS outweigh the bad. The most important way to ensure this is true is by understanding that YOU MATTER. You have the ability to determine how you feel and more importantly how you react to situations. This does not mean you hide or suppress your feelings but it does mean that you take the time to pause and try to see the good. What you feel matters, what you do matters, how you treat others matter. You may not always feel like you matter but let me state it one more time, YOU MATTER, to me.

I APPRECIATE YOU AND WHETHER I PERSONALLY KNOW YOU OR NOT, YOU MATTER. DON’T EVER GIVE UP. THIS WORLD NEEDS YOU.

Empowerment through embracement

There has been no shortage of thoughts lately on many different topics. One that has hit me pretty hard revolves around America and our democracy. The amount of contention, bullying, negativity, hate, mud throwing, etc. is taking its toll.

I personally have watched amazing people become bitter, hateful, mean and condescending online. As a result I have seen good people be emotionally hurt and become mentally damaged.

We live in country that has been founded on freedom. So I am all about people having their own opinions and feel it’s an important part of what makes our country great. But what we have witnessed this year is something I would never want to experience again. The blatant dismissal of human dignity from both Republicans and Democrats has been gut wrenching.

All that said, let me share some of the thoughts that have flooded my mind and heart. What happens when you mix the colors red and blue? Correct, you get the color purple. In doing some research on the color purple, here is what I found:

Purple combines the calm stability of blue and the fierce energy of red. The color purple is often associated with power, ambition, creativity, wisdom, dignity, devotion, peace and pride.

The color purple has a variety of effects on the mind and body, including uplifting spirits, calming the mind and nerves, enhancing the sacred, increasing nurturing tendencies and sensitivity, and encouraging imagination and creativity.

Effectively purple maintains a connection with both the physical world and our soul, which makes it an excellent color to represent harmony and transformation.

If you look at the venn diagram below you will see a visual representation of what I see in my head. Let me ask you to ponder these questions as I am:

* What would America look like, feel like if we embraced those items associated with the color purple?

* What can I do to help get myself and potentially those around me into the color purple?

* What has caused me to distance myself from the color purple?

Now to make this very clear, in no way am I talking about policies or political platforms, nor am I talking about any politicians. What am I referring to the ability to co-exist with people who have different ideas, beliefs, values and even ways of expressing themselves. I am not going to allow myself to change what I believe because of how angry or hateful others get not would I want anyone to change their beliefs or positions. What I will do is strive to do my best to understand what others believe and think by listening. This does not mean I am going to change but it does allow for open communication. And guess what, if after a better understanding I take the time to learn more and if I feel that a change of my position is warranted, then I will make that decision.

I firmly believe the people are inherently good. Sure, there are going to be people who wish to do harm either emotionally and physically but that is not the norm. I do believe that we must be willing to stand-up and if needed defend what we believe. I do not believe this comes from rioting or violence, nor does it come from name calling, hateful speech, threats or bullying. Real, sustainable change comes after respectful, two-way communication.

There is no silver bullet per se but what my hope is that each of us can see how we can get closer to becoming Americans (aka purple color). It’s my belief that this is the only way that we can become a country of respect, compassion, service and understanding.

Sorry for the longer post and this does not come from a perspective of trying to start political fight. It comes from my heart as I see so many people hurting. No one wakes up in the morning hoping they get to feel hurt, people want to feel hope, happiness and stability. This will NEVER come from a politician or leader, it will only come from within, thus it is on each individual to find ways to become a great American.

America is amazing and that is because of the people who make up this country. This includes Democrats, Republicans, Independents, etc. We are a country made up of many different races which is awesome. These different races are what fill our country with people that have different ideas, beliefs, values, skills and talents. What a true blessing this is and one I am so thankful for. I will end with this, there is incredible empowerment through authentic embracement.

COVID-A Personal Experience

What started as something that seemed literally continents away (6, 738 miles to be exact) and never to impact my life became as real as any life experience I have ever had. We would watch the updated numbers of Covid cases in Utah and think, that’s crazy, at least we are safe, so we thought.

I was at work when I got a text from my wife saying that someone she had been very close to had tested positive for Covid. Not only that, her husband had as well. I immediately let my supervisor know that I needed to leave to get tested for Covid.

Once I got home I went online and filled out the Test Utah pre-screen. After answering the questions, I was provided with a code, as was my wife to go get tested.

The process was fairly simple but if I am being honest, when they did the actual test, the words I can use to express my feelings were “extremely uncomfortable”. They swabbed up through our nose and I felt like they were touching my brain. However, after about 20 to 30 minutes the discomfort went away. Then the waiting game started.

Our results finally came two days after we took the test. My wife’s results was positive and mine was negative. There was for the first time a real feeling of fear and nervousness. We reviewed the steps we needed to take based on the information from the CDC. The same day we received our results I began to have symptoms of Covid. These included a cough, nausea, muscle aches and loss of smell/taste. Once we spoke with our family doctor he determined that I most likely was positive for Covid and needed to self-isolate.

Based on this information we had all three of our boys tested. Our oldest tested positive and our two others tested negative. Our home became an isolation and quarantine compound. At first things were fine as we all understood the need to take all the necessary percautions to ensure safety. However, that changed.

The change I am referring to is the mental toll that this isolation was taking on our entire family. For me personally I was riding quite an emotional rollercoaster. I had no idea how the inability to not taste and smell would have on my emotionally. I mean it created feelings of frustration, anxiety, depression, anger and loneliness. It is hard to explain exactly why I felt all these at different times but I did. As I take the time think about this there are some reasons these feelings became real. First of all was the realization that Covid was in our home after thinking for months that there is no way we would ever experience it, next was the fact that none of us could work which created an enormous amount of stress as we have bills to pay. Working from home was only an option for two of our sons. Thank goodness my wife’s boss was very understanding.

As the days went on, we all started to feel better, although I continued to not be able to taste or smell, which was important to help create feelings of hope and that we would make it through this experience. I have to say that I was so impressed how my wife handle the situation. She stayed very positive and really provided inspiration for our entire family.

At the end of the day, my personal experience with Covid was one that forced me to think a lot more about both my mental and physical health. It was a wake-up call of sorts. I am one who strives to be positive and uplifiting. I love making others smile but during these past couple of weeks, I have realized that ensuring that I take time for myself is important. I also realized how blessed I am to have friends, family and neighbors who care. Whether it was a phone call, text, comment on social media, dropping off Crumble Cookies or knowing prayers were being offered on our behalf, I am truly grateful.

All of this said, it is important to be thoughtful during these crazy times. Meaning, if you truly care about others then wear a mask, social distance as best you can, wash your hands often, if you feel any symptoms, quarantine and as needed, get tested. Covid is real and life is precious.

Thanks to all those who reached out during this experience.