Posts Tagged With: people


“Take These Broken Wings and Learn to Fly”

“Take these broken wings and learn to fly.” ~Paul McCartney

This person I admire more than I probably should said something yesterday that cemented my admiration. The discussion centered around helping people with disabilities in a way that allows them dignity and as much self-reliance as they can manage. His closing comment went like something like this, “Helping those with more visible disabilities allows us to better deal with our own less visible disabilities.”

Remarkable insight.  of a broken lower leg Wellcome Images V0030072.jpg

I’d been thinking about the brokenness of every person for a few days anyway. And then to hear someone I admire acknowledge everyones shortcomings and failings, including his own, humbled me.

Every person I know is broken somehow, someway. Every. Single. Adult.

Seven or eight years ago that tune had only one note; I thought I was the only broken one in a world of mostly people who had it together. But then a few things happened and my eyes opened to see the world with a bit more clarity. It can weigh on you, knowing how much heartache and hurt others deal with. It’d be easier to go through life as an eyes-half-open kind of person, in denial about the bad stuff going on around me. There’s only so much a person ought to deal with, right?

As much as I’d like to ignore or pretend or buy into the happy face people bravely put on things, it’s not always possible.

Photo by Tobias "ToMar" Maier (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Tobias “ToMar” Maier (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

That perfect couple? The one with the nice house and cool cars and adorable kids. Broken in one way or another. I’d lay money on it.

The guy at the gym you admire so much? Fractured from a tough childhood, or a difficult marriage.

That one person who always cracks the best jokes and seems to have no care in the world? Damaged and hurting, sometime, someway, for sure.

The smartest person in the room? Torn to pieces inside or struggling with something beyond their control.

That drop-dead gorgeous woman at the grocery store? She may be barely keeping it together, or ready to walk away from, what to everyone else, looks like an ideal life.

I know that sounds jaded and negative and pessimistic. But it’s the truth. Every one of us has broken parts, hurting hearts, cracked open insides, crushed, disintegrating, injured, disjointed, imperfect pieces. Some affect our lives on a daily, ongoing basis, and others only deal with it as a kind of background  theme song.

Some don’t even know they’re broken, and as they thrash about they end up injuring those closest to them. Some assume that no one can tell they’ve got a massive psychological limp, or that they’re carrying an emotional backpack loaded down with broken, sometimes unmendable parts of themselves.

Photo by Stefan Kühn (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Stefan Kühn (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

We all, mostly, keep going from day to day. We drag the broken arm of loss or sadness or abuse out of bed and make the best of things. We put a bit of makeup on over the bruises of shame or fear or loneliness and step out into our day as bravely as we can. Many heft a weighty cast of addiction, on permanent recovery, as we hobble through the ins and outs of every day life.

A few people I know, well, more than a few, have held open their brokenness for me to view. And occasionally, I’ve shared my own fractures and pain. I’ve seen enough to confidently say that yes, we’re all broken a little or a lot, in some way or another.

What’s most remarkable to me is when one of the more broken, limping, sore and worn down people reaches over and pulls up another broken, hurting, tired soul and encourages them, offers a shoulder to lean on. Weak and struggling and yet willing to lift and help where and when they can. That amazes me. But they get it and can empathize and offer understanding and caring.

We all have brokenness that can serve another. Really, we do. Whether we join a support group of fellow stroke sufferers or caregivers, or we quietly give someone we know a hug and tell them they can get through this, we can give something that will help. Perhaps we even write an anonymous note of encouragement, or text an uplifting quote that’s helped us get through. The possibilities for reaching out have no limits.

Those who’ve been the most broken, or are still injured, seem to more often be the most generous in their offers of help.

Why do you suppose that is?

I don’t know either.

Maybe the answer lies in paraphrasing what my friend said, “Helping those with visible brokenness allows us to better deal with our own less visible afflictions.”

Do you think that’s true? In lifting, are we lifted? In helping, are we helped? In caring, are we cared for?

Something to ponder, I suppose.

“We are all wonderful, beautiful wrecks. That’s what connects us–that we’re all broken, all beautifully imperfect.” ~ Emilio Estevez

Here’s the link to the Beatles song from which I got my title for today.

Categories: Being Human, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

How Many People Does It Take to Change a Lightbulb?

It’s Gratituesday! I’m sure you know a few “how many people does it take to change a lightbulb” jokes. I actually found a website that has them listed alphabetically by profession.  My favorite is this one:

How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?

Only one, but it has to really want to change.

What do lightbulb jokes have to do with Gratitude? You’d be surprised at the answer. If you were to seriously ask how many people are involved in the actual process of changing a lightbulb, you’d be surprised. Really. Stay with me here.

I remember sitting in the theater after the movie “Apollo 13” as the credits scrolled by. Astounded by how many people it took to put this movie together, I then naturally wondered how many people it took to put even one actual Apollo mission up into space.


Japanese calligraphy meaning Gratitude.

From there, for days, even weeks afterwards, I wondered about all the background people we seldom see, pay attention to, or know about that make different things work.

At a restaurant I see a greeter, a server and maybe a food runner, occasionally a manager makes the rounds. Yet, there are cooks, prep cooks, dishwashers, bussers, cleaning crews after hours, delivery truck drivers, garbage truck drivers, food processors and handlers at a factory, sellers, buyers, equipment manufacturers, harvesters, growers, farmers, ranchers, dairymen, water purification workers, just to name a few obvious ones. I haven’t even touched on who made the aprons, napkins, plates, lights, the building or the tables and chairs.

And that’s just a restaurant. What about a college or university or an elementary school?

My simple trip to the grocery store or to the corner drug store involves thousands and thousands of people working to create, produce, package, order, process, sell, ship, inventory, stock, price, and then finally run the store.  All that, just so I can pop in, choose a four pack of lightbulbs and take them home to replace the burned out ones. I’m sure I missed a few steps in there.

How many people does it take to change a lightbulb? We may never know.

My youngest sister posted this as her Gratituesday Facebook status last week. (She’s the one who got me started doing Gratituesdays a few years ago. She’s a smart one! Thanks Becky! )

“Naikan therapy reminds people to be thankful for everything. If you are sitting in a chair, you need to realize that someone made that chair, and someone sold it and someone delivered it – and you are the beneficiary of all that. Just because they didn’t do it especially for you doesn’t mean you aren’t blessed to be using it and enjoying it. Life becomes a series of small miracles, and you may start to notice everything that goes right in a typical life and not the few things that go wrong. ~― Will SchwalbeThe End of Your Life Book Club

I love this expansive way of thinking about the world. I feel more connected, more aware, and more thankful. When I eat my breakfast, a part of my brain thinks briefly of the many people that made my simple meal of yogurt and granola possible. Pretty amazing, if you ask me.

Just a thought here and there about all that goes into making everything in my world exist, work, run smoothly, and my life easier leaves me feeling more blessed than ever today!

Another rock find!

Another rock find!

I’ve decided to get back to my daily practice of a gratitude journal. I’ve run across some slick smartphone gratitude apps. Debating if I want to try one, or if I’m going old school and pulling out a blank book to write in every evening before lights out. Either way, I know, from experiences going back over twenty years, it can and will make a difference in my outlook, my focus and my life. I’ve written a little about it previously in this post if you’re curious.

I’d be interested to know if any of you have tried gratitude journaling, on your phone or in a traditional notebook. Has it made a difference? Or is it just another thing on your to-do list that weighs you down?

Oh, and if you have a favorite lightbulb joke, I’d love it if you shared in the comments. Thanks!

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, People | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Six Things I Learned (or Relearned) Recently

You know those moments when the lightbulb goes on over your head? Or maybe it’s not a lightbulb. For me it’s more like this sensation of balance, like everything, just for a moment, is just right. Fleeting and tenuous, those bubbles of perfection or insight can disappear without even registering on our consciousness.


idea (Photo credit: Tony Dowler)

I’ve had it happen several times lately. In an effort not to forget the moment, the cogs all clicking into place, the wholeness of the idea, I’m putting them into words.

1. I need to spend time outdoors more often!

Hopped on my bike a couple of days ago after work to ride home, the temperature somewhere in the 100’s, and my body just synced with the wheels turning. I felt pleasantly warm, at peace, free. I reveled in the feeling of the ride even in the blaze of the early evening sun.

2. I want more fresh air in my days.

Stepped outside this morning to a pleasant cool, (yes, cool) breeze. A couple of hummingbirds are chittering and playing tag. The leaves on the tree shush and wave. The air hasn’t heated up yet. A young adult walks past with a lilt in his step and singing aloud along with his tunes. I could have missed this if I hadn’t been planning on a walk.

3. I need to think a few seconds longer before engaging the gears on my mouth!

Started telling someone about a negative experience I’d had, meaning only to skim the surface of the story, leave out details, gloss over the bad stuff. Instead I find myself dragging out every dumb detail and spilling my guts. Ugh! I didn’t want to relive it all, didn’t want it out there in the air. At once time I kept myself so restrained. What’s the deal? I’ve swung to the other side of the pendulum, blab, blab, blab, blab, blab. Shudder!!  Think first, speak last!

4. Be careful what you wish for, pray for, hope for, because you just might get it.

I had been wanting more alone time, quiet, peace, silence. Not for necessarily selfish reasons, but wanting to write more, connect with the deeper, more significant parts of my life without interruption. Now I’m on the verge of a completely empty nest. Sigh…Sure there’s some great things about that. I can see some downside to it, too. It’s gonna take some adjusting.

Bronze figures, Fleetwood, Lancs

Bronze figures, Fleetwood, Lancs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5. Say goodbye like it’s gonna be a while until you see them.

You never know if it will be the last time in a long time, or the last time, period. “Goodnight.” “See ya’ in a few.” “Talk to you next week.” Maybe the morning isn’t like every other morning. Maybe the quick trip to the store has a horrendous detour. Maybe next week doesn’t arrive for them. I don’t want to wish I’d said “I love you,” I’m just going to make sure I do, so I’ll know I did.

6. Honesty is easier.

Sure it might be more painful, more direct, ruffle some feathers or strain relationships, but it’s always the better choice. We all need a little thicker skin, to take offense less easily, to cut each other some slack. I know I do anyway.

That’s all. Nothing earthshaking in my little learning curve. Just reminders that I needed.

Any lightbulbs in your life lately?

Categories: Wondering | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Toast to the Younger Generation, Some of Them Anyway

It’s Gratituesday! Today I am grateful for those good kids, the ones that disprove the “teenager’s are all rotten theory.”  I know some amazing teens who are respectful, kind, thoughtful, conscientious, giving, selfless, happy, easy-going and still fun to hang out with. They continue to step up that way even when others their age revert to two-year-old behaviors of selfishness, tantrums. disrespect and disruption.

I want to hug these out of the norm happy wonders of the human race! I want to thank them for trying so hard. They deserve kudos and congratulations. They give me hope for our future.

gratitude wallpaper_16:9

(Photo credit: dontstealmypen)

These kids volunteer without complaint. They show up for assignments without whining. Listening without interrupting or texting is one of the most respectful things I’ve seen. They smile or wave at grownups without getting embarrassed. They say “thank you” and “please” and “sure, I can do that.” They show up to class on time, prepared, with homework done. They babysit siblings and neighbors and can be trusted to be responsible and reliable. They don’t back talk or make snide remarks or respond with sarcasm or a demeaning tone. They use appropriate terms like “Sir, Ma’m, Mrs. Ms.” They express appreciation to others. They want to make a difference where they can.

Being in the “betweenness” of childhood and adulthood isn’t easy. It looks easy to the adults because they have selective memory of their own teen life being all fun and hanging out. But if they’re honest with themselves they’ll also remember how tough it is trying to figure out who they are, what they want to become, where they’re going, how to manage the maze of hormones and emotions and angst and homework and social insanity.

If you are a teen who’s giving it your best shot, trying to make good decisions, working to help your family, being a good friend, being respectful to the adults and others in your life, pat yourself on the back, buy yourself a shake, give yourself some well deserved credit. And know that you’re noticed and appreciated and yes, even loved!

If you have a teen in your life who is one of these great people, please let them know you appreciate how hard they work at being a good person. Let them know in real, tangible, out-loud ways, that they are wonderful and cared for and doing a great job.

Don’t blow smoke and make something up either. Praise the real things you’re seeing. And don’t sandwich it between criticism of what they aren’t succeeding at. Just let it be out there all by itself. Here’s a few suggestions:

“You are doing a great job at being kind to your brother.”

“I love how you hold the door for people!”

“Thanks for helping out with dinner today, it means a lot to me when you step up like that.”

“I know it isn’t easy holding down a job while going to school, you’re da’ bomb!”

“I appreciate how respectful you are to your mother and other adults.”

How glad I am to see such good stuff happening in the lives of young people. I’m making it a priority to send out more appreciation, live and in person to these good kids. I hope you’ll join me.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Hope, People, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Voila! Virtual and Real Made Clear

Virtual or Real?

Which do you choose most often?

I could share some definitions from a dictionary for you. Like so.


  • 1 almost or nearly as described, but not completely or according to strict definition:the virtual absence of border contr
  • 2  Computing not physically existing as such but made by software to appear to do so:virtual images


  • : of or relating to fixed, permanent, or immovable things (as lands or tenements)
  • 2a : not artificial, fraudulent, or illusory : genuine <real gold>;also : being precisely what the name implies <a realprofessional>
  • (1) : occurring or existing in actuality

Or I could show you this awesome video and you’ll get it immediately.

At the very least, you’ll laugh.

Finding a balance in life has never been easy. Seems for me lately the scales have tipped to one side too far. I’m working on a better equilibrium. I hope I don’t get caught with my pants down, (excuse the cliché’ but it fits, huh?)

If I remember my priorities that I wrote about here, then it’s easier to choose real when real is the best choice.

It isn’t easy. But it sure can be entertaining.

  • Real-ly? (
Categories: Humor, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I’ve Seen that Smile Somewhere Before

I’ve been told on numerous occasions that I have a familiar face. I remind people of aunts, cousins, nieces, grandmothers, sisters, former bosses or secretaries, neighbors and co-workers. That could be a problem if I were in witness protection. I probably wouldn’t last very long.

Mildred C Youngberg (1920 - )

Mildred C Youngberg (1920 – ) (Photo credit: Robert of Fairfax)

I’ve had complete strangers walk up to me in restaurants and swear that I am their relation from years back. Am I sure my name isn’t Mildred? Yes, I’m sure. And have I ever lived in Scranton? No, I have never lived there. Dang. And they walk away shaking their head.

If someone is staring at me, I know it isn’t really me they’re seeing.  They’re probably trying to figure out why Aunt Matilda would be at a rest area in Wyoming when she hates driving and lives in Miami Beach.

With little kids it’s different. They just see a friendly face. I try to remember to smile at the ones strapped in a grocery cart. It’s fun to watch them notice that I’ve noticed them. Sometimes I’ll throw in a wink and they all but giggle with delight. It’s like we have a secret, just shared eye to eye. There’s an occasional nap-deprived grouchy kid, but mostly the response is delightful.

I think the familiar face thing I have going on has helped me get a job or two. So far, I haven’t ever had anyone say I remind them of someone they didn’t like. Maybe “nice” comes with a face like mine. I don’t know.

Kathy Bates

Kathy Bates (Photo credit: matteomerletto)

I’ve occasionally run across someone who seems familiar in an eerie way and decide they remind me of what I see in the mirror.  I’m not intrigued. I’m freaked out by it. I tend to run the opposite direction. Who’d want to have a conversation with themselves? Not me. No way. They’d probably think I was off my rocker if I told them they reminded me of me. Wouldn’t you?

No one really likes being stared at. It’s disconcerting. Feels a bit like someone’s casing the joint. If you see someone who seems familiar, try not to stare too much. It might be me you’re staring at.

I need to come up with some great responses, ready to go without any thinking about it, to the next few people who think I’m their great-aunt Martha. I’m not THAT old, for one thing.

What do you say to someone when they say they remind you of someone else? Has it ever happened to you? Now if someone said, “wow, you remind me of Kathy Bates,” I’d be totally flattered and say thank you. I’m sure no one ever goes up to Kathy Bates and says “hey, you remind me of this blogger I know, Kami Tilby. Ever read her stuff?” She’d just stare back at you like you’d had one too many drinks.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a bothersome thing. Just weird. I suppose in the afterlife I could be one of those guardian angels that aren’t scary. Imagine the stories. “Yeah, I had this angel who looked just like Grandma show up just in the nick of time, saved my life.”

Until then, I suppose I’ll just be that familiar, friendly face in the crowd, across the restaurant, or in the car next to you at the stop light. Just smile and wave as if you know me. I’ll wave back. I’ll probably even give you a wink and a smile.

Categories: Relationships, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Can’t Buy Me Love, and Yet, All You Need Is Love? Lucky Me

It’s Gratituesday! Today I am thankful for love. I know it sounds sappy, but give me a chance to explain.

I’m grateful for unconditional love from my parents, MSH, my kids, and my extended family. I know that no matter how big I goof up, how whiney I get, how unreliable and messy my life is, they are still going to provide me with with love, acceptance and understanding. Even if they don’t understand, they’ll jump that bridge and love me anyway. I’ve been rescued, resuscitated, healed, helped, snuggled, succored, cared for and cuddled by these people in ways only family can offer. What more could I ask for?

And yet there is more love in my life!

LOVE Sculpture, JFK Plaza

LOVE Sculpture by Robert Indiana, JFK Plaza (Photo credit: euthman)

Shared experiences with a few people have created a love that’s definitely not romance, stronger than friendship and distinct from familial love. I’m not sure there is a word for it. A spiritual connection? It’s an understanding or an emotion that requires no words and no actions. It just is. Does that make sense? Like any rare substance, these precious few relationships are priceless and guarded carefully. Surely there’s a word for this kind of love, but I’ve yet to hear or read it. I may have to invent it.

And More!!

I’m grateful for the quirky love of friendship. Each relationship I have is different, some are easy, some are not, but all involve love and persistence and concern. I have friends I can count on for a hug. Some friends I know will keep me humble with humor and sarcasm. And others see the good in me that no mirror I own ever allows me to see in myself. I can even lay open my heart to some with complete trust and no judgment. Those who trust me in the same way amaze me and instill a desire to try harder, be better and be worthy of that trust.


I’m thankful that so many people have given me the opportunity to get to know and love them. Thinking about all the love in my life is like stumbling on a treasure trove, chests overflowing with diamonds and gems and silver and gold. I can’t imagine feeling any richer than I do now. Love surely makes my world keep spinning, floats my boat, keeps me grounded, fills my days, lights up my dark times, and creates joy.

Yes, I’m definitely grateful for love.


Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Love | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Do I Have to Spell It Out For You? Body Language, Sign Language and Mind Reading

I know an adorable seventeen-month old girl who uses sign language as part of her repertoire of communication skills.  What a marvelous thing to watch her sign “more please” or “all done” or “milk” instead of wailing, crying, throwing a tantrum or simply being frustrated beyond all reason.   After being in the car for way too long one day she kept signing “all done” to her mom in the rear view mirror.  She was definitely all done being in that car seat and ready for a change of scenery.  Such an adaptive kid!

I’ve thought about her and wondered if I need to add some kind of sign language to my life.  Not American Sign Language necessarily.  What I’m thinking I need to have is something akin to the universal sign for I’m choking, (hands at the throat, turning blue, panic on your face) or you’re an idiot driver, (we all know what that looks like, eesh!) or hello (waving a hand.)

I’m thinking something a little more helpful. What I need is a sign for “you’re right, I was being selfish, I’m sorry.”  Then, I need another sign that admits no guilt but apologizes profusely, “Can you ever forgive me, I’m so very sorry.”

I love You

I love You in ASL (Photo credit: purprin)

I also need a sign that clearly communicates, “tonight would be a good night for you to get take out for dinner.”

There is a big need for a sign that says “please don’t talk to me right now or I’ll come unglued.” There’s a more urgent need for a sign that clearly means “please notice me and pay attention and give me a hug before I implode.”

Too complicated? Yeah, probably. Okay, how about a sign for “lonely,” “need a friend,” “in over my head,” “check back in a bit,” or “I like you.” A little too direct maybe.  Hmmm.  Maybe we need direct and concise and less nuance.

Sure, I know there’s that whole body language thing, but it’s so subtle that it’s not always clear.  The “chin wave/head nod” is a great example of this.  It’s a guy thing, or a teenager thing, or both.  There’s a sort of eye contact, but not quite, and then instead of waving hello the other person kind of lifts their chin at you.  Like a fist bump, but not.  When you get a “chin wave”  you feel cool and accepted, but not quite acknowledged.  Couldn’t they have just waved?  Do they not want anyone to know they know you?  See, mixed message.

My favorite universal sign is the smile.  The genuine smile.  Try smiling at the kid in the grocery cart.  Then wait for it.  They get this surprised look that turns into a grin.  Then wink.  Okay, maybe not wink, the parent might get weirded out.  But smile at them like you’re really seeing them.  Smiling at children always surprises them and their response is fun to watch.  You just might make their day! And yours!

While you’re at it wave at the sign holder on the corner, too.  I have a friend whose walking route took her past one of these human sign holders.  She took some time every day to chat a bit, found out this woman’s story.  What a story!!  Now instead of looking away, or pretending distraction, I wave back at her because she is a real person, doing a tough job, (especially tough in the AZ heat) and I want to acknowledge her.  I’ll bet those people hardly ever get a friendly wave.  Wouldn’t you want one if you were them?

But I digress.

Wish I could do the Spock Mind Meld on some people. Boy, would that come in handy!!  Alas, mind reading is another topic for another day.

I’m just trying to up my communication skills here.  Thinking out loud.  Any suggestions you can shoot my way would be very welcome.

Here’s one last idea.  We could try using words.

Categories: Humor, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

It’s Gratituesday!

It’s Gratituesday!  Today I am thankful for the surprising mix of people who have brought me here, to who I am and to how I’m living my life.  We’ve moved around the country some during my married lifetime, and have lived in four different homes in the same town over the past fifteen years.  Every one of those moves placed people in my path who have shaped my view of the world,  sculpted an aspect of personality, tweaked how I tune in to events in my life.

I’ve found connections with an eclectic assortment of perspectives and temperaments, shared inside jokes and laughter with assorted comedic sensitivities, talked to, cried with and worked for people I never would have planned to be involved with.  But always, one person’s chemistry and complexities worked its magic on another. I’m so glad we were thrown together for however long, for whatever purpose.

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon (Photo credit: YoTuT)

Sometimes it was a bumpy start.  Sometimes a rough ride in the middle made it seem we’d never learn from or help each other.  Sometimes reason was missing completely from the equation and yet the relationship still worked its purpose, like a river slowly carving away at a cliff wall, one grain of sand at a time.

There have been misunderstandings.  There have been mistakes.  There have been hours of missing those I left behind or friends who moved on ahead.  There have been countless joys, hugs, handshakes, winks, dusty trails, songs sung, tears shed, silences.  Relationships of every hue, tone, timbre, color, and pitch have lent themselves to the ongoing work of me becoming me.

Today I am me because of you.  For that I am grateful beyond imagining.

Categories: Gratituesday, Relationships | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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