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A positive attitude really will help in many situations. If you annoy someone?  Ah, well.

I know, I know.  Not the best attitude to have about having a positive attitude but that’s just the way it goes some days.  On a good day, things will sometimes go wrong.  You won’t always get your way.

You can keep a good sense of humor about it or not.

Me?  I try to keep it all in perspective so that I can write a funny Facebook post later on.  God gave us the ability to laugh.  Use it and most situations really will be easier to handle.

–SueBE

I know a woman named Holly Champagne. It would be hard not to be ebullient with a name like that. Of course, my mother thought “Lori” was an ebullient name, and I am anything but. On the other hand, I once watched one of those “true-life” court shows that featured a boy named Nefarious — nefarious! — who was doing his level best to live up — or is that down? — to his name. Maybe labels are slipperier than we think.

Back in high school, one of my classmates gave quick, one-word descriptors of a group of us girls to a group of boys. My descriptor was “smart,” and even in that moment, I saw my chances with any of those boys fade into nothingness. Words do hurt, do bind and do restrain. But no word can possibly encapsulate the totality of who we are.

Labeling yourself, whether in a positive, negative or even neutral way, sets up certain expectations, certain limits. I am not just a woman, a Catholic, a brunette (a fact that grows more apparent even as my hair grows), a feminist, a liberal. Because what you expect and conjure up on the basis of those words may be as far from true as slapping the word “petite” on me. (Or, as I said to my husband after a recent outing to the movies, “I’m six feet tall and I just saw ‘Wonder Woman.’ I’d get out of my way.”)

God, the author of words (for which I am eternally grateful) does not care much for labels, I think. Labels can be traps. But we humans sure seem to love them, if only for quickly and summarily lumping together and dismissing others as unlike ourselves. We have a deep need to belong to a tribe. And part of finding your tribe seems to include excluding those who do not fit the parameters.

You see a lot of this is the comments section of any social media posting. “Those people” are idiots, losers, corrupt or foolish. “My people” are not. What if, for just one day, we stopped believing in “mine” and “yours,” “them” and “us”? What if we ignored all the labels — rich, poor, dumb, smart, fat, thin — and just got to know one another without expectation or judgment, without filing each person we meet into neat little folders — “like me” or “not like me”?

I suspect something radical would happen. I also suspect that it cannot be done. We like our labels too much. So, instead, let me suggest a new label — “human.” Think about that word. Let the connotations that swirl around it emerge. Hopefully, these thoughts contain such sentiments as “fragile,” “prone to error” and even “lovable.”

Now try applying that label to everyone you meet. It is, after all, how God sees us.

I strongly suspect that part of being resilient is learning how to problem solve.

My son has his first real job as in background check and direct deposit.  I am being strongly encouraged not to helicopter parent.

Not that this is anything new.  Since he was about 9, I’ve had occasional admonitions to “behave myself.”

So how do I manage not to hover now that he’s a life guard and has so much responsibility?  I pray.  I color and pray.  I crochet and pray. And I have a network of friends who will talk me off the ledge if I make a phone call.

God has provided me with the tools I need to give the boy the tools he needs even though I really do want to hover.

–SueBE

God will send you to scary places.  Use your talents on the way.

Roxane Gay recently released her memoir, “Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body” and it’s interesting to see how such an accomplished author can be defined – by some – solely by the number on the scale. I came across a quote of hers once that stayed with me: “When feminism falls short of our expectations, we decide the problem is with feminism rather than with the flawed people who act in the name of the movement.” The same can be said of politics and religion.

As the world seems to be more and more a constant headline of Us vs. Them, I found the author’s insights to be timely and true. There’s always a story, isn’t there? Something led a person to this place. Sometimes that place is one of accolades and applause. Sometimes it’s to impulsive actions based on flawed perceptions.

After the Manchester attacks, mosques in my home state of New Jersey opened their doors to the public. “We want to tell them we are against extremism, we are against terrorism, we are against violence, and we are against discrimination of any type against anyone,” said Imam Mohammad Moutaz Charaf, spiritual leader of the El-Zahra Islamic Center in Midland Park.

The fact that the we need reminders that not every Muslim is a terrorist is astounding. It always amazes me that people online feel they have some kind of birthright to make evil comments about people they don’t even know. Sometimes whole groups. You may not agree with a person’s ideology, or faith, or even their hairstyle, but how does it really affect your life, anyway?

Someday your story will be told. It can be a tale of compassion and courage, or of blame and bigotry. How that story unfolds is really up to you.

Dream big. Dream true. Use the talents God gave you!

Judgement is easy. Take the time to love.

In honor of Father’s Day, a quote from one of my favorite fathers – MLK.

So often we seem to believe that if we can’t do something big, we just won’t do anything at all. But small actions add up.  I’ve discovered this with one of my son’s friends.  Originally he was ” the tag along little brother” but at this point he and Jared are friends.

His brother is super outgoing and way charismatic.  He has a great sense of humor and is always willing to lend someone a hand.

The younger brother is much less outgoing.  He too has a great sense of humor although, as my grandmother would say, it isn’t always a great fit for polite society.  But he’s quiet.  For two years he’s been coming to my house and I don’t think he’d spoken to me 10 times.

The past year has been tough. Some of the changes have been good (a move), some have been bad (a divorce) but change is stressful. It can make you feel overwhelmed and overlooked.

And it isn’t like they live here.  But I’ve picked the younger brother up when the older brother, and the rest of their carpool, had a sporting event.  My husband and I have been their adult chaperones when they have to deal with a curfew.  And we’ve fed them dinner, grilling burgers, ladling stew into bowls, and making pan after pan of mac-n-cheese.

I recently got the shock of a lifetime.  I had made yet more mac-n-cheese, aren’t they sick of it yet, and someone picked me up off the floor.  “I love mac-n-cheese so much.”  When did he get so much taller than me?  A few days later, I was sitting on the sofa crocheting.  The younger brother plopped down beside and proceeded to chat me up about their new cat.

I hadn’t done anything huge but I’ve made a connection, one box of pasta at a time.

Small things are a great way to share God’s love in a world that really needs it.

–SueBE

Choose what? Choose joy! 

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