Sunday, May 31, 2009

Positive People Help Turn a Bad Week Good

It's been a rough week. Someone very close to me fears he may be losing his job soon, and one of my very best friends of 20 years is seriously ill. While I'm doing my best to remain strong for them, I'm also struggling to cope with my own insecurities and pain caused by a tragic event that forever changed my life four months ago today. 

Just like the old saying goes, when life hands you lemons, go make lemonade. I learned a long time ago that to get through trying times, it's important to focus on all the good things and positive people in your life.  So, that's what I've been striving to do this past week. My mental anguish knocked me down a bit, but a few people helped bring me back up. 

I've wrote before about some of the amazing people I've met through my client, 
The Salvation Army of Washtenaw County. Another one of those incredible people is Tim Schroeder. I first learned about Tim through an article he wrote in TSA-WC's newsletter. Tim made a very powerful impact on me during our phone calls and e-mail exchanges,  but finally hearing him tell his story in person last week was exactly what I needed to lift my spirits. 

For many years, Tim dealt with numerous addictions that eventually landed him in jail facing three life sentences. He fought hard to leave his previous life behind and is now leading a program at TSA-WC and the Livingston County jail to help others who have been overtaken by addictions. He also recently found love again and remarried his wife who he divorced about 10 years ago. You can read all about Tim here. Tim's inspirational story helped remind me that when you hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up. I soaked up a bit of Tim's happiness the day I listened to his story and used it to get me through this difficult week.

The other uplifting part of my week occurred over wine and sushi. The combination of two of my favorite dining choices was made even better by the people I was sharing it with - my best bud and colleague, Lauren, and Stephanie Casola, someone who I previously only connected with through e-mail and Twitter. Laughing, eating and sharing stories with Lauren and Stephanie helped me forget about the bad things that had been dragging me down all week.

I can always count on Lauren to brighten my mood because she's one of the most positive people I know, and I quickly learned that Stephanie was exactly the same. Stephanie was one of my favorites journalists to work with back when she was with The Observer & Eccentric, but she did a complete 180 and is now working at a local public relations firm. I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to lose my job, let alone dive head first into a completely new career immediately after losing that job. My coworker, Andrea Westfall (another person who constantly brings a smile to my face), did exactly the same thing. I admire Stephanie and Andrea for being brave enough to try a new career and for succeeding after such a short amount of time in their new roles. Their positive attitudes and upbeat personalities are infectious, even more so during this past week.

A new week lies ahead, and I'm going into it with high expectations. Life throws everyone curve balls now and then, so I know I'm not alone. Whether they realized it or not, the above mentioned people played a big part in helping me to bury my blue mood.

Anyone reading this who has a story to share about someone who recently inspired them or injected them with a much-needed dose of positivity, please share :)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Dash

I recently attended a PRSA Detroit event where the speaker, Denise Ann Taylor, read aloud one of my favorite poems - "The Dash." It's a very clever poem and is a great reminder that what matters most is how you choose to spend the years between your birth and death. It really makes you think! 

The Dash 
By Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth
And spoke of the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own,
The cars, the house, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard;
Are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what's true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we've never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile,
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is being read
With your life's actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

Know of any other great poems that really help put things into perspective? Please share!