I can lift a certain amount of weight by myself. When my friend helps me we can lift three times the weight I was able to lift alone. It’s the way life works. We can do much more together than we can do alone. When we work together we discover “our way” will get us much further than “my way” will get us. C’mon reach out a helping hand and work together with family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors. Together, we’ll make it a better world.
Is it time to broaden your circle of contacts beyond work and friends? What about your neighbors, the folks who life next door or on the same floor? The more we connect with those near us, the more we lose our sense of isolation and develop a sense of connectivity. It’s emotionally and physically healthy to make connections. When we connect we have people to call on when we need a hand. We also have the opportunity to lend a helping hand. From a personal experience as a widower, it has made all the difference for me. I have great neighbors who have my back and I have their back as well.
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’
May your neighbors respect you, trouble neglect you, angels protect you and heaven accept you
I want to be like the unnoticed people who cross my path. The quiet, unassuming, kind, responsible, and compassionate people. The man and woman who quietly lend a helping hand, offer a smile, do what they are supposed to do, and take the time to listen. They are the superglue holding us together.
It’s Marsha, one of the cashiers at my market. It doesn’t matter what time of day, what day of the year I go through her line, her smile lights up the sky. She never forgets to say, “How are you doing? I hope your day is a good one.” I leave feeling good and ready to pay it forward.
It’s my neighbors Tina, Andrea, Lucy, Doug, and Fran. There is always time for a hello, and a willingness to step up whenever needed. Don’t have to ask, they know. It’s as if they receive cosmic messages a neighbor needs them. They don’t make excuses. They show up. Sleeves rolled up, Happy to pitch in. Knowing I have neighbors who care brings a rainbow over my home each day.
It’s my Starbucks barista. She knows me by name and my drink, “Venti dark roast, no room for cream, right, Ray?” The unnoticed people abound. They’re everywhere. I imagine you’re one of the unnoticed people. You go about doing your job, being kind, taking time for someone who needs a helping hand. It’s a simple thing. No advanced degree needed. People making other people feel welcome. People pitching in and helping other people – all done without headlines,
It’s a simple thing. No advanced degree needed. People making other people feel welcome. People pitching in and helping other people – all done without headlines, notoriety, or fanfare. It goes unnoticed by everyone except the person on the receiving end who is grateful.
Today, I will be one of the unnoticed people, making all I meet feel welcome and passing along a smile.
“Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible.” – Albert Einstein
I am a guy dancing alone. In reality, I’m only alone if I choose to be alone. I am surrounded by great neighbors. I have great friends. I have wonderful daughters and grandchildren. Everywhere I travel I meet good people, kind people, compassionate people.
I am attempting the absurd, as Einstein says – I am proving to myself and to all who share a similar journey, suffering doesn’t have the last word. Love has the last word. Despair has no place in the conversation. Love is the conversation. Sorrow will not triumph. Love will triumph over all.
Yes, believing in the awesome, healing, renewing, recreating power of love is absurd. It is the path I follow to achieve the absurd.
“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” Maya Angelu
A few years back, I was traveling with four of my doctoral students to our research site. One of the doctoral students said, “Dr. Calabrese, where do you call home?” He knew my career took me to several states. Without hesitation, I said, “Home is where I am with my wife, the person I love most.” He didn’t understand. He said, “My home is Kansas. I knew he wouldn’t understand what I meant.
I’ve never thought of home as a house or a location. I’ve always thought of it as a place where I am with the person or people I love most in this world.
“Home isn’t where you’re from, it’s where you find light when all grows dark.” ~ Pierce Brown
In that particular place, whether it is a house, car, restaurant, or coffee shop, I am at peace because I know I am loved as I am. I have to be no other than who I am.
Now, nine months since Babe died, I am recreating a home. My five daughters live out of state and here I am in Texas, alone, but not lonely. Together with my neighbors and new friends, I am recreating a place I will call home.
“I don’t care if we have our house, or a cliff ledge, or a cardboard box. Home is wherever we all are, together,” James Patterson
I hope you have a place called home.
“You sanctify whatever you are grateful for.” Anthony DeMello
It’s easy to be grateful when the sun is shining, I’m feeling good, everything is going my way, and each card I turn up is a winner. Why shouldn’t I feel grateful, I deserve it? Or, so I think.
Then life happens. I’m walking across a personal desert. The sun, which I once praised, is now threatening me with its scorching heat. My strength ebbs. I can’t turn a winning card. Grateful? Grateful for what? Or, so I think.
Sorrow and suffering taught me important lessons. I learned to be grateful for all that was. I am grateful for all that is. I will be grateful for all that comes my way. Each morning and evening I recall events with a grateful heart.
A good cup of coffee. Safe shelter. Friends. Neighbors. Daughters. A beautiful sunrise or sunset. A good workout. A chance to pray. The birds that visit the feeder. The ripe cherry tomatoes. The red roses, rosemary, and basil that grow in my garden. The warm sun, or rain. A text, email, or call from family or friends. The list goes on.
It’s all gift. When I receive a gift from someone, I send a thank you note. In like manner, I give thanks to my loving God for all. It’s all good.
“Those who are wise won’t be busy, and those who are too busy can’t be wise.” ~ Lin Yutang
Life has a way of grabbing hold of me, tossing me in the air, and daring me to land on my feet. I get out of bed, filled with great intentions and goals for the day, then boom, life literally knocks at the door. A neighbor stops by and asks to borrow lawn chairs. I didn’t have time to save my work on the computer, I silently pray there will be no power surge or my Mac decides to freeze. I help my neighbor carry the chairs to his garage. I get back on task, the cell rings. I see by the caller ID I need to take the call. I hit command s, save my work. I take the call. A friend says, “Can we have coffee in an hour, I need some advice? I push my morning workout to the afternoon. Coffee with my friend takes an hour and a half. I get home in time to make a light lunch. I want my workout. I offer a silent prayer, “Please God, no more interruptions.” Sometimes, I think the angels must laugh and laugh at me. A daughter calls and wants to FaceTime. What’s a dad to do? I happily FaceTime. After our call, I check the time, I can squeeze in a workout. I hurry to Y. Do I hear the angels laughing again? I hit three school zones with the orange lights flashing. I get to the Y. I hit it hard. On the way out, Jerry, an eighty-something-year-old man calls me over and starts talking. I’ve heard these stories before. I see he needs to talk. I listen as if they are the first time I’ve heard them. This is becoming my typical day.
In the early evening, I sit on the patio and gaze into the sacred space Babe and I created. It is time to pray. I quiet my mind. In a moment of grace, I realize I accomplished none of what I wanted to accomplish, but everything I had to accomplish. Sometimes, you have to let the wind fill your sails and take you where it wants to take you.
I helped a neighbor.
I had coffee with and listened to a friend.
I FaceTimed with my daughters.
I drove safely through the school zones.
I thank God for the grace of letting my business go and embracing His business.
Yesterday was Easter Sunday. I am a most fortunate guy. I have great neighbors. My backyard neighbor invited me to join her family for Easter Sunday dinner. She is a great cook and sensitive to my weird healthy dietary habits – A special thank you, T!
Let’s see. I want to make sure I have it right. If yesterday was Sunday, and a special one at that, today is get back on track day, a great day, and a Monday all rolled up into one. It doesn’t get much better. Unless it is Friday. Fridays are always good. I also like Wednesdays, hump day. Don’t forget Tuesdays and Thursdays, they’re the slices of bread surrounding hump day, and are always good, especially if they’re whole grain (Sometimes, I don’t get my attempts at humor.). If you think I’m forgetting about the weekends, no way – I was made for weekends. All of this brings me back to today, Monday. It’s a healthy eating, high on protein, light on the calories, nutritious, light up your life kind of meal. With that great intro, back by popular demand, one night only, buy your tickets in advance, hold the applause for Tuna Salad!
The exit doors are locked. Don’t think boring when you think Tuna Salad. Reread Herman Melville’s, Moby Dick? Okay, we’re not talking the great white whale and Captain Ahab. We’re talking something better, white, albacore Tuna, packed in water. When you finish consuming your tuna salad with this recipe, you’ll be able to leap tall building with a single bound. You’ll be faster than a speeding bullet. Hold that thought, I just got through watching a rerun of Superman.
Put away the fishing pole. Cancel reservations for the deep sea expedition. Take a trip to your local supermarket or Amazon and pick up a pouch, packet, skinny envelope of the gold, white albacore Tuna packed in water. Make sure it has the the American Heart Association symbol for heart healthy on it. Mine looks like this:
We’re talking easy, squeezy here. Tear open the top, use a fork to drop the tuna into a bowl – there is no scaling, cleaning, and fish intestines (I’m a guy, with a live little boy inside me. I was going to say guts instead of intestines, but the Food Channel might be reading). I make my tuna around noontime so it can chill in the fridge while I spend my day blogging, tweeting, exercising, and trying to find cheap flights to Vegas.
I mash (guy speak) the tuna, do the Texas two-step to the fridge, grab the low-fat mayo in one one hand. My other hand seeks out a jalapeno, cucumber, and cilantro. You may ask yourself, ‘Why didn’t he make two trips to the fridge?’ If you’re a guy reading this, you understand. If not, it’s wired into our genes, it goes back to when we were barely standing erect, much like some of my high school friends. Let’s just say, they were insensitive to how others felt.
I use a slicer – Be careful amigo, you could lose the tip of a finger. Although, it would add some protein to the tuna (that’s the little boy again). I don’t use it with the cilantro. I use cooking scissors. I take the paper thin jalapeno and cucumber slices, chop, chop with the knife into smaller cubes and put the trio in with tuna and mayo and mix. Five minutes, twenty seconds start to finish. Now you understand the need for the two hand approach in the fridge. I was going for new PR. The tuna goes in the fridge. I put Siran wrap on it first. I’m letting it chill. It’s Y time. The elliptical machine will worry about me if I’m a no-show.
A half hour before dinner, I pull out my salad greens, cherry tomatoes, the remains of the cucumber, and almonds (yes, I keep my almonds in the fridge – they like to chill out.). The box says triple washed, ready to eat baby kale and baby spinach. I don’t argue with the ready to eat wording. I take a large handful and put it into a large bowl (I did wash my hands before I started). I use the slicer on a thicker setting with the cucumber – the reason? I’m trying to make this look nice for you and Pinterest. I eyeball the cherry tomatoes and cut them in halves. Sprinkle almonds around in a male haphazard manner and I can see the finish line. I turn to my salad dressing of choice, Modena balsamic vinegarette, and EVOO. Think healthy heart. A healthy heart is a happy heart – that’s what my veterinarian told me when I had my yearly physical. I still don’t understand when she checks my stomach my right leg involuntarily jumps at 80 miles an hour.
We’re almost done, stay in your saddle for a few more seconds. Back to the fridge, the tuna is waiting. I take it out and place it as neat as a guy can on the salad. Dinner is ready. It’s easy, healthy, and an attitude popping meal.
Now the whole truth and nothing but the truth. After the photo on the right. I plopped (guy speak) the rest of the tuna on my salad. My oh my it was good. I give it two thumbs up.