I’m Special

Have you ever felt taken for granted by loved ones in your life? Have you ever had one of those days where you just don’t feel very special? Where people you know love, cherish and adore you are indifferent, distant or distracted? Feels terrible, doesn’t it?

So you’re not being treated like you’re special from someone you think should be treating you like you’re special. Do you let it get to you? Like it’s all about you and it’s up to them to make you feel special? That’s the problem, there, not whether you are special or deserving, but that you are relying on someone else to make you feel that way. That is hard work, impossible work, and is unfair to ask of anyone.

Feeling special, just like everything else, is up to you. When you think you’re pretty special, the world will fall in line. Feeling special is an expression of confidence and self-worth, both of which come from within. True, people can acknowledge your specialness, in some way, but that in itself does not make you special. Neither does someone’s temporary lapse of acknowledgement of your specialness make you any less special. Confidence, self-worth, feeling special; it’s an energy, and like all energy, it attracts a corresponding energy. Feeling special is just like being likable; if you don’t like yourself much, it’s pretty silly to expect others to like you, too.

If you want to feel special, you need to develop that feeling about yourself, first. You need to decide what it is that you think is special about you. Make a list. I’m not kidding, sit down and make a list of all the special things about you. Pretty hard, isn’t it? If you’ve never taken time to document your special qualities, if you aren’t aware of your special qualities, then who the hell are you to think someone else is duty bound to make that list and remind you of the contents of that list, regularly, to your satisfaction?

Think about it. What makes you special, contemplate, deliberate, consider and then, write it down. Once you have a list, leave it in a handy place, you’re likely to think of more reasons why you are special, and those reasons should be added to your list, too. Keep a running list for however long it takes for you to figure out all your special qualities. Once your list is fairly complete, keep it close at hand, read it over, often. Daily, even. If you journal or repeat affirmations each day, add your special list to your daily practice, lest we ever forget what makes us so special. This practice, more than any other, will instill in you the confidence and the self-worth you need to feel special, all by yourself, without external reinforcement.

Are there special qualities you lack? When you made your list, are there some items you think should be on the list that aren’t? Here is a magic trick; add them to your list, too. Affirm them, acknowledge the desired qualities in your life as though they were true, and you will embody them, they will become true. By the power of suggestion, through persistent belief and affirmation, you can adopt the qualities you lack, the qualities you desire. Magic.

The wonderful thing about self-sufficient, self-sustained “specialness” is you never have to rely on anyone to supply you with it, to fill that void. Your belief in yourself, your own special qualities, can never be taken from you. You are the keeper, your special qualities are yours, you’ve discovered them, you’ve recognized them, they are yours, all yours. Cherish them. Foster them. Believe them. Become them. The confidence and self-worth that springs from this will carry you through life with more happiness and bliss than you’ve ever known. Trust me.

There is another little trick with feeling special, the golden rule applies. Exponentially. Congratulations, first of all, on finally figuring out that you’re special in so many ways. Have you noticed the people in your life? Aren’t they special, too? Oh. My. Are you taking them for granted? Or are you just indifferent, distant or distracted? True, it is up to them to fill their own specialness void, but there is certainly no harm in being attentive, caring or heedful. Truly, one of the special qualities you develop should be attentiveness, caring, heedfulness, and these traits will foster good relationships with the people in your life. To feel extra special, treat the people in your life special and they will likely reciprocate.

Strive to be attentive to everyone in your life; friends, family, lovers, co-workers, superiors at work, those you oversee at work, acquaintances, strangers on the street. Being attentive requires no special skill, just a general awareness and thoughtfulness. In a world where random acts of kindness are notable, and sadly, are treated like extraordinary acts, seek to adopt random kindness as one of your qualities. The Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts, two completely separate, autonomous organizations, share a slogan; “do a good turn daily”. Have you done a good turn today? And, is there a rule by which you can only do ONE good turn daily? Be attentive, make yourself special by becoming attentive to everyone you encounter.

Being attentive to your lover is particularly important. Make them feel as special today as you did when your love was new. Everyday. It is so easy to slip into a complacent pattern where you know you love each other, but the time has passed where you feel the need to “prove” your love, to have to remind the other of your love. Once the love is assumed without much expression, lovers begin to feel under-appreciated, taken for granted. Lovers begin to feel that the spark is dwindling, or, worse, gone. If there is love, the spark is there, no matter how long it has been, even if doubt and bitterness have crept in, there is still a spark that can usually be reignited. You’re special, remember? And there must be something you find special about your lover, or you wouldn’t have fallen in love in the first place. Remember. And become attentive to those special qualities. Acknowledge them, praise them. Be thoughtful, caring and heedful and what you have between you will become more special, again.

Life is special. If you’re alive, you possess life. Simply being in possession of life puts you in possession of something special. Foster your special qualities and your life will become more and more special. With the confidence and self-worth you uncover, your life will blossom into something greater, people in your life will regard you in a new manner, and you will make the world a better place by sharing your special qualities, by being attentive, thoughtful, careful and heedful. It is a cycle. The more special you believe you are, the more special your life becomes. You become special by believing you are special. Believe. I’m special. So are you.



How Do You Do?

A greeting, a making of acquaintance. I am happy to meet you! How do you do is also a question I’d like to pose. How do you do?

My day is not quite complete unless I’ve made the acquaintance of someone I’ve never met before. I find this exciting, exhilarating and illuminating. People are so tremendously interesting, and from each and every meeting, often the first and last in one, I learn something valuable and hope I have left an impression, as well.

Today, I met lots of “new” people on a hike. Yesterday, I had a brief, but interesting conversation with the cashier at the grocery store, the day before, a very interesting man at a coffee shop. In the past three days, I have had casual conversations with at least a dozen people I’ve never met before. Sometimes, I think I am like the curious, friendly little puppy, panting and happily wagging my tail as I strain against my leash, eager to meet new people.

Hidden Falls Hike with the ladies "Meet-Up" group
Hidden Falls Hike with the ladies “Meet-Up” group

Why do I find people so fascinating? I like to find out what they do. Yes, I love to learn what people do for a living, but more interesting, what they do when they aren’t working. I find that many people live interesting lives, have hobbies and activities that I’ve always wanted to try, or to learn more about. Many people I meet are enthusiastic about their health, or their fitness, or their academic pursuits and I am thrilled to learn what they have to say. Almost always, we end up having a shared interest or shared topic and can chat for some time.

To say I have an energy, or enthusiasm, or confidence might be a little bit of an understatement. I really am eager to meet people and I think it shows when I walk into a room. I find that most the people I end up engaging with have a similar energy level, enthusiasm and confidence. If you believe in the law of attraction, I suppose this makes complete sense; like energies attract like energies. Or, perhaps my energy, enthusiasm and confidence make me a little more approachable than other folks.

I do try to be approachable. I make eye contact with people, and I guess I smile, whether I am aware of it, or not. A couple years ago I was at LAX, Los Angeles International Airport, I was returning home after a long week away, waiting for my last of several flights. It was quite late at night and I was chatting on the phone with my son. People were milling around me as I sat near my departure gate. There were a few flights departing from a few gates clustered close together. After I concluded my call, I did my usual thing, I checked in on Facebook. After I got home, I received a comment on my check in from a man I’ve known since kindergarten and probably haven’t seen since high school. He obviously knew I’d been at LAX, but asked if I had been sitting at gate 81, wearing a black coat and a scarf. Yes, I had. He was standing right next to me, waiting to board another flight, and I was on the phone. He recognized me, I don’t remember seeing him, or didn’t recognize him, but he said I smiled at him. So, I guess I smile, randomly at people, if I am unable to strike up a conversation. I’m not really sure, but so it would seem. I am just grateful, for whatever reason, I have so many opportunities for making acquaintances.

About opportunities; they don’t just happen. No one is going to walk up to your front door and want to meet you, unless they’re selling something. In which case, I don’t generally answer the door. I know exactly what I want to buy, where I want to buy it, when I want to buy it, how much I want to spend on it and where I am going to put it. I don’t need anyone trying to mess up my very deliberate acquisition process. I’m going minimalist. Thank you. Back to opportunities; they are made, they don’t just happen. If you spend most of your leisure time in front of the television, you are not creating any opportunities. The dozen or so people I met in the past three days? I left my house and went out into the world and while I was interacting with society, I made the acquaintance of a bunch of really nice people.

How do you do; how do you create opportunities for meeting people? When I walked into the coffee shop a couple of days ago, I was there to work on a project for work between appointments. I take advantage of free Wi-Fi all the time, I love working from public places whenever I can. I ordered my half-caf and a banana and plunked my computer down at a table near an outlet, which happened to be adjacent to another table with an outlet where a nice looking man had plunked down his computer. I went about my tasks and before long, he struck up a conversation and we chatted, intermittently, for an hour. He was very interesting and found a lot of what I had to say interesting, as well. He left and went about his day, I left and went about mine. Simple as that. But in that meeting and the brief friendly conversation, I learned that he did many different, interesting things to make a living and had some spare time interests in common with me as well. I was smiling.

Today, I deliberately sought an opportunity to meet people. I belong to several “Meet-Up” groups (www.meetup.com). One of my favorites is a local group called “40 Something Women’s Group” and they do all sorts of fun things; dancing, movies, happy hours, brunches, wine tasting, hikes. All things I enjoy. Today, a hike. Of the ten or so ladies in attendance, I’d met two of them previously. During our lovely hike on this very warm, spring day, I enjoyed nature; the green hills, the wildflowers, the waterfalls, not so much the rattlesnake. More than nature, I enjoyed the many conversations I had with various ladies as we strolled along.

Hidden Falls Hike with the ladies "Meet-Up" group
Hidden Falls Hike with the ladies “Meet-Up” group

Of course, you get a bunch of 40 something ladies together, many divorced, and often the topic of meeting men comes up. Many of the ladies use online dating services, with limited success. A lot of energy goes into “meeting someone”. I don’t know, I’ve never tried. For me, it just happens, whether I’m ready, or not. I meet people all the time, one I met turned out to be someone I’d love to share my life with. I most certainly did not set out to find someone of a certain age, height, hair color, income level with specific spare time interests. I drank an oatmeal stout and ate ice cream at a bar, by myself, while traveling for work and I guess I was approachable. I must have smiled.

One of the ladies I chatted with today had a similar experience. She and I agreed that often times we meet someone compatible, someone terrific, someone we click with, when we aren’t trying, at all. We also agreed that rather than working on meeting someone, we put our time to better use working on ourselves. When we like ourselves and have become someone we would like to spend time with, often someone else comes around that feels the same way. I think this is where energy, enthusiasm and confidence come into play. I genuinely like myself, pretty much most of the time, and that translates into a confidence, approachability. And that also explains why I mostly meet people who are confident, energetic and enthusiastic, because they like themselves and are therefore, approachable, likeable. They smile.

If you find yourself dissatisfied with the lack of opportunity to meet people, that can be easily fixed. Find resources for meeting people, like Meet-Ups or other social groups; church, fitness, sports, activities, philanthropies, volunteering, and the list goes on. If you find, no matter how hard you try, you can’t find someone compatible to spend time with, whether friends or for dating or serious relationships, it’s possible you’re working too hard at it, and possibly, you’re working on the wrong person. Work on yourself and when you like what you’ve become, genuinely and completely, chances are, other people will feel the same way about you. Give yourself the opportunity and be approachable, and I’m pretty sure you’ll have more “how do you do’s”! Smile!

Straight Up

Lose ten pounds instantly. I’m being straight up with you, you can look like you’ve lost ten pounds by doing one, simple little thing. Improve your posture.

Earn a million dollars instantly. I’m being straight up with you, here, too, you can feel like a million dollars by doing one, simple little thing. Improve your posture.

I was getting ready to go have lunch with my girlfriends today. I have known them most of my life, they’ve seen me through thick and thin, quite literally. I changed my clothes a few times, settling on a maxi skirt and a form-fitting tee shirt. As I turned and looked at myself in the mirror, I was a little dissatisfied. The past few weeks have been sort of tough on my diet and work out routine; vacation in Alaska, then my daughter visiting and our “Nor Cal Chicken and Waffles Tour”. I haven’t exercised in over three weeks, and I’ve been eating more and worse than I like to. It is beginning to show. As I regarded my reflection in the mirror, I could see that little bit of extra weight on my back, squeezing out ever so slightly over my bra, behind my armpits. I hate that! I stood up straight and drew my shoulders back and reevaluated my reflection. The little bulge was gone and my waist slimmed right before my eyes. What a difference! It was like losing ten pounds instantly.

I think I have good posture, I think I practice sitting and standing nice and straight, but now and then, when I see myself in a mirror, or reflected in a window, I notice that I am slouching and my tummy is sticking out. This seems to be what most of us do “naturally”. Slouch. And slump. It takes a concerted effort to maintain good posture. It takes practice.

I took ballet as a girl. One of my classmate’s moms had a ballet school. She lived around the corner from me, still does, as a matter of fact. All the girls in the neighborhood took ballet from her. Her ballet school was in an old Victorian house, downtown, and if I remember correctly, it was white with pink trim. I vividly remember the smell and can still hear the creak of the wooden floor. The bedrooms had all been converted into dance studios with barres along the wall and wall to wall mirrors on one side. Beginning lessons were upstairs and were taught by the oldest daughter or another long time dancer. We learned the basic positions and simple floor work. There were performances, now and again, and our parents would all come watch us dance. We’d have to buy certain color leotards and tights for the different numbers we were to perform. To this day, I still get a little rush of excitement when I go to a dance apparel store; Capezio, Danskin, all those wonderful things! I still have ballet shoes.

As you gained skill, you would move into more advanced classes. Everyone was thrilled when they finally got to go to class downstairs, in the living room, where my friend’s mom actually taught. I remember her as seeming strict, she was ballerina thin and had, I assume, very long graying hair, which she always wore in a bun, perhaps giving her that heir of strictness and severity. She may have carried a stick that she would tap out the beat with, on the wooden floor. Or this is an image from some distorted, post traumatic stress syndrome type dream I’ve had about her. Though, really, she is quite kind and nice and compassionate. I think she was just one of those grown ups you kind of feared when you’re a little kid. She would always harp on us to suck in our tummies, to stand up straight, and she would try to give us good reasons to do so. I remember her saying things like “hold in your tummies, you don’t want your husband to pick you up by  the waist some day and have it be all soft and mushy.”  Perhaps this is where some of my Cinderella-Like fantasies of love and marriage and men who like to dance come from! My husband never once tried to pick me up by the waist. Nor did he dance. I think I only had one boyfriend, ever, who really, truly loved to dance, and he came out of the closet some time later. A coincidence, I’m sure, but ironic, nonetheless.

What I really learned from my ballet teacher, though, was that we don’t naturally stand up straight, we don’t naturally hold in our tummies, it is learned. In years of fitness classes and training, I’ve heard the term “muscle memory” used. We have been told to vary our work outs so we “confuse” our muscles into working harder. Many athletes rely on muscle memory to perform feats, like the long jump and triple jump, or gymnastic maneuvers or diving. Practicing the same move over and over and over until the muscles remember it and do it “naturally”. Posture is the same, it relies on muscle memory, which we must practice over and over and over.

Another thing about good posture, it doesn’t just make you look like you lost ten pounds, instantly, it also makes you feel like a million dollars. When you sit up and stand up straight, you look and feel more confident, more alert, more engaged, more focussed. When you slouch and slump, you adopt that same attitude mentally; lazy, lethargic, limp, listless. As an example, when practicing active listening, which we should all do, you sit up straight and lean slightly towards the person you are listening to. This engages you with the speaker, you actually hear and remember better what is being said by physically altering your body position and language. To paraphrase; by sitting up straight, your are more engaged and focused and it actually has a positive impact on how much of the conversation you’ll remember. How can that not translate to everything? If you practice good posture, routinely,  you will be more engaged and focussed, in general. We’ve already established that you’ll look better. So, by practicing good posture, resulting in looking better and feeling better, our self-esteem and self-confidence rise, our mental attitude improves. What a deal!

Start paying attention to people you know. Observe people who tend towards depression. How is their posture? How many super happy, optimistic people have you met that are slumped and slouched? I can’t think of any. In my experience, posture is a visible indicator of mental attitude. The people I know with the most positive mental attitudes are also the people I can cite that have erect posture. The people I know who are, to be blunt, downers, I always remember as having poor posture. It’s like the difference between Eeyore and Tigger! If you’re a Winnie the Pooh fan. Am I right?

So, I’m telling you, straight up, the secret to looking ten pounds thinner and feeling like a million dollars begins with standing, straight up!