This woman is not only organized, efficient, and smart, but always pleasant. So much so that I find myself wishing I could be as calm, focused, and appropriate as she. Appropriate—that may have been the trigger. I can be appropriate; hopefully am usually appropriate. But not always.
I become inappropriate when I feel hurt. Because I can identify character traits I admire and wish to have more of, it allows me to recognize what I wish to be or do or work on. It is a gift to me to see how easy she makes it look because I can hope to achieve some success by mimicking her.
It is a strange feeling to be "well down the road" and still working on improving myself. I am thankful for the recognition, the sense of commitment, the actual chance to improve, and the apparent opportunity for some success if I keep at it.
I wonder why now? And laugh at the obvious: Why not? Then I wonder, is it the pandemic? When living in a pandemic, we can't totally ignore the chance of death, even swift death! Maybe that is what prompts taking stock. That would make sense.
Something else occurs to me: feeling loved. I have always been blessed with that feeling, starting with great parents who adored my sister and me. We didn't always appreciate that gift but we came to recognize it. My sister shared an awareness years ago that was right on. "As long as children know their parents love them and want to do what is right for them," she said, "they will be okay."
When we are enveloped by kindness, it is so much easier to see areas that need attention.
That simple truth sustains me because I know I was loved and can see that they desired the best for me, just as I desired the best for my children.
Lately, my children seem to be even more loving. Maybe that allows me to face my shortcomings. Plus, in recent months, I have felt incoming warmth from many avenues. High school and college friends have written and called. My son-in-law sent me the most wonderful Christmas card ever. My daughter's cards were always lovely; the last was almost overwhelming. My stepsons are so wonderful to me that I can hardly believe my good fortune. And two of our best friends are their mom and stepdad.
A respected client sent me a letter of thanks that included such kind affirmations of my business that I will keep it always. Another friend I hold in high regard took the time to write the kindest letter about one of my recent columns. These affirmations have been so enriching that I wonder if my musings about the pandemic's influence are widespread.
When we are enveloped by kindness, it is so much easier to see areas that need attention. When we are safe, feel loved, and accepted, it is easier to take a look at our shortcomings, really want to work on them, and believe we can succeed.
This column came about one week after we went to press with our February issue. I turned that month's column in the day before deadline. Jennifer had more than enough to do at deadline, and I was late again! She never said a harsh word. I saw how flawed I was then and finally pledged to myself to never let it happen again. It only took 40 years. Thank you, Jen, and I apologize.
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 39 years.
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