Archive for May, 2009


Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

I was reading through the May 2009 edition of Time Magazine when a comment by Meg Ryan jumped off the pages and pointed out something spectacularly important. That’s right, Meg Ryan the actress. She wrote a short blurb on Tom Hanks for the magazine’s “The Time 100: The World’s Most Influential People.” Tom is one of the esteemed 100. In any event, Meg was rambling, almost aimlessly, about how great Tom is and how much fun he can be. The article didn’t offer much support to what made Tom so influential until she hit the home run with one quick observation. “He’s interesting because he is interested.” She went on to say he has a “wondrous capacity to wonder.”

Until reading those words I honestly hadn’t considered before how many of the people I would call influential in my life had the quality of being interested. Interested not just in me, but in everything around them. They reached beyond themselves and took in any and all information their surroundings had to offer. Questions were asked for answers, not for conversation’s sake. Observations were made for knowledge and not for ego. I suppose when you think of what it takes to be influential, being able to understand or relate to those we share our environment would play a heavy role.

Now my mind is flipping through the people I’ve encountered in my life who clearly wanted the power of influence, but who just couldn’t quite get there. Many did seem to be missing the inclination to take a genuine interest in anyone or anything other than themselves. Now isn’t that something to think about? And all because of Meg Ryan.

The Present Game – Beautiful Like Me Project

Monday, May 18th, 2009

Today’s question for the Beautiful Like Me project is “what is the best way to build self-esteem.”

Honestly, I think self-esteem isn’t something to be built, but something to be preserved. We come ready made with a strong sense of self. I’m sure of it. My kids are young, 3 and 1 1/2. Both of them love every inch of themselves. Coincidentally, they love every inch of others too. They are able to do what most adults can’t, love and appreciate who they are without needing to diminish what others have. My daughter can tell another girl her hair is pretty without even thinking about her own hair. She can go to another kid’s house or play with another kid’s toys without any thought to how what that kid has compares to what she has. Her eyes and mind digest the world around her with no need to pick it apart and stomp on it or on herself.

It won’t last, I know. Society will make daily attempts to tell my kids how flawed they are, mostly in the hopes they will see the wisdom in opening their wallets and buying their way to a new improved human form. Adults will model for them the tried and true method of making oneself feel better by judging what others have as lacking or less than ideal. The best I can do, in the immediate sense, is make darn sure I’m not one of those adults.

Back to the question for the day, it is important to ask how to build self-esteem since so many of us have had our original infrastructure dismantled. So where do we find the tools and equipment for the rebuild? We could scout out building materials and spend a fortune on supplies and contractors. The handy thing is, in many cases, the boards, bricks and nails we were equipped with originally are still there. They just have to be rediscovered. Time needs to be taken to notice what is great about us again, to celebrate what is fabulous.

Just as my daughter has a good handle on self-esteem, she has also mastered the rediscovery process. She isn’t doing it with her own qualities yet, but with what she has around her. Perhaps we could follow her lead.

She loves to play the ‘present game’. I saved a dark blue velvet box from a gift a few years back. Olivia adores the thing. She frequently stuffs various toys and objects in the box and asks me to open my present. I ooh and ah over the contents. Then it is my turn to find something to hide inside so she has a chance to open a present. She’s always delighted. No matter how many times she’s seen or played with whatever she finds, opening the box and seeing it there is exciting.

Not long ago Olivia had a birthday and was able to open real presents. Interestingly enough, her reaction wasn’t all that different from when she’d been opening a velvet box jammed full of things she already had. Maybe at her tender age Olivia has managed to figure out the best gifts we have are already in our possession. What a blessing if she can find pleasure with what she has versus always wanting more. How thoughtful to take the time to reopen the same old stuff and allow the opportunity to take another look at what makes them so great. It’s so easy to become indifferent over time to the old and crave the new and improved. Perhaps we wouldn’t need so much new in our life if we followed Olivia’s lead and wrapped up the gifts we already have so we can rip them open and rediscover them again. Maybe we could do this with more than material objects. Maybe we could do this with all of the special qualities that make up us and our kids. Maybe we could dedicate time every day to unwrapping the forgotten and cheering with delight. Maybe we could help everyone to realize all that we have and are truly is a gift and that the best part of gifts isn’t the bows or paper that decorates the box, but what lies underneath waiting to be discovered. I know when my daughter is opening presents, the joy and celebration is an impermeable barrier to anything negative. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be so focused on the excitement of our own gifts the messages fall on deaf ears.

Thanks for reading, if you are interested in reading more blogs covering the Beautiful Like Me project, follow the links built into this post to Wicked Step Mom’s site. She is also on my blog roll. The list of participants grows each time. If you’d like to join in the cause, we’d love to have your voice.

Well Now That’s Different

Monday, May 11th, 2009

I’m looking forward to the day when people can set aside their political differences and start acting mature again. The Conservatives are a buzz over Wanda Sykes joking at the White House Correspondents Dinner about how Rush Limbaugh was likely the 20th terrorist on 9/11 and he missed his plane because he was strung out on Oxycontin. I agree it was tacky. It isn’t something I found humor in, nor would I have gone there. That said, I find it odd those who have been calling Obama “Osama” and posting pictures of him in a turban find Sykes’ remarks inappropriate. I mean, comparing our President to the mastermind of 9/11 seems more extreme to me than painting Limbaugh as one of the hijackers. Just saying.

Swiper the Fox

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

My kids are ‘Dora the Explorer’ fans. Though she annoys me at times, I do appreciate how much they learn from her. My daughter frequently laces her conversation with Spanish and she’s using it correctly. I find that amazingly cool.

In any event, there is a character on the show who I worry about. It’s Swiper the Fox. Swiper is constantly stealing things and celebrating how Dora will never find what he’s taken. Of course, she always does. His efforts are never successful. He keeps doing it though. He was born to steal, it appears. Or was he?

Because Dora is always able to undo his damage, I think it’s reasonable to assume Swiper means no real harm. It’s more of a game to him than anything else. In a way, he is baiting Dora to play with him. As smart as Dora is and with all of the problems she is capable of solving she hasn’t bothered to dissect why Swiper behaves the way he does. She makes no effort to put an end to the problem long term. Her best plan is to tell him not to steal. “Swiper no Swiping!” That’s all well and good, but what if she took the time to give Swiper attention aside from when she is trying to keep something from him? Maybe she could invite him on one of her adventures and show him some positive attention? It’s not uncommon for people to act out in a negative way in an effort to be noticed.

I know it would break from the format of having the show be so repetitive parents want to bang their heads against the table, but maybe Swiper could eventually be reformed and kids could learn from Dora how to process the behavior of others and figure out ways to change it versus simply enduring.

The Questions Get Harder

Monday, May 4th, 2009

If you’ve been following my blog recently you know I’ve been participating in “Beautiful Like Me.” It’s a project started by a fellow blogger, Wicked Stepmom, that challenges those participating to dissect different factors that contribute to poor self-esteem in kids. You can read more about the project here. My first two contributions to this project were


Both topics were tough and took a while to work through. Today’s topic is no exception. In fact, I think the questions seem to get harder as we go along. Not because I have no ideas of what to write. To the contrary, my mind seems to swim with thoughts and potential responses. The challenge is in making it count. The more I contribute to this project, the more it matters to me to get it right. Its importance and the revelations participants have the potential to collectively make are on the forefront of my mind.

Today’s topic: What features/qualities would we like today’s children to see as beautiful?

My knee jerk response to this question is to say I would be happy if kids saw humanity as beautiful. Sounds simple, but we may have a problem. That would require kids being consistently aware of the humanity in us all. It’s not that they are incapable, but I suspect popular culture is grooming them to notice the material instead the person. Kids are saturated with gadgets, accessories, cosmetics and celebrity culture. How others measure up in the above seems to determine how they are viewed on the surface. The result is a generation destined to follow, compelled to copy and motivated to spend their way to self-appreciation.

Now, does this mean kids view their Razor phones and Paris Hilton sunglasses as beautiful? I’d like to think not. Perhaps it’s more beauty not being a focus. They talk about what is cool, hot, awesome and pretty. Beauty doesn’t seem to come up all that often. Our kids are moving a mile a minute. Judgments are made in haste with eyes trained to notice decorations.

The failure to see the humanity in each other, and arguably in ourselves, could very well be the catalyst for the growing discontent many seem to feel. The heart knows there is more to existence than all of this superficial garbage. It nags at the brain by churning an inner desire to be ourselves in all of our unique glory. The brain wants to believe, but it has to overcome the growing fear what is unique and real won’t be acceptable. It has reason to doubt as it has been bombarded by messages of what is falsely important and ideal.

If it were up to me, I’d like kids to find diversity, courage, strength, compassion, love and nature beautiful. I’d like them to fall hopelessly in love with the rare individuals amongst us who are able to show their raw emotions in times when others may expect them to present a stiff upper lip. There is beauty in what is genuine. There is beauty in what is real. When I think of a beautiful person, I’m more inclined to think of those who have touched me in some deep and compelling way. Their actions gave me pause and helped me to see a greater meaning in life. Trinkets, decorations, pomp and bravado just don’t take me there. Usually what touched me was just part of that person being them. It’s not like they were doing something for my benefit. By some blessing from above, I was allowed to witness a moment, long or short, of humanity at its best.