A Woman's Voice


THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY ~ The Jongleur ~ December 8, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte

I have French heritage. My dad’s first language was French and I married a Frenchman just like my dad.  Now over forty years later when I look at my husband, I can hardly believe how much he resembles him.  Perhaps it is only in his mannerisms but I see more.  He not only looks like him…it is how he acts…what he says and…also how he says it.  I have always loved my French background, but I have never fulfilled my dream of carrying on a conversation in the French language that I love so much. 

Many years ago when I was experiencing bouts of serious depression, I used to have long periods of silence.  I spent a lot of hours thinking.  Thinking about what was happening to me…thinking about how I had arrived at this point…and thinking about what I was going to do to positively change my lot in life.  The French word for “to think” is “jongler”.  When I had some of these episodes of deep thought, my husband frequently queried me about what was going on in my mind.  It was more out of concern for me than anything else. He wanted to know what I was thinking so he could better help me deal with these troubling thoughts. 

He knew how much I loved the French language and often times he would insert French words into our English conversations.  Therefore, he would ask me what I was “jongling” about on a regular basis.  He would do this to please me as well as to bring me out of that moment of despair and into our present day state of affairs.  He could tell by the expression on my face that I was troubled as I was mulling over things in my mind in order to make more sense of them.  

Now, almost thirty years later, I am writing about these very thoughts in an open and forthright way.  In many instances, I use the voice of the “jongleur” to do so.  The “jongleur” is a French minstrel who used to make his way from town to town to entertain people in the olden days.  At times, he utilized stories or music to help do this.  When I write, it is done in much the same fashion. I usually incorporate much humor… many quotes…anecdotes…and personal stories to entertain my readers. I do this to make a variety of points as well as a method of sharing my personal philosophy on life. 

Now that I have succeeded in sorting through my puzzling thoughts, I feel much more comfortable, not only sharing them with my husband and my family, but with others as well.  I am, what I consider to be, a present day jongleur as I share my written musings with you!   I sincerely hope that you find pleasure in getting to know me better and that you derive some benefit from my writing and what I have to say.  The point to my writing is not because I want to say something, it’s more about my actual need to say it. The following quote describes my desire to write in a nutshell.

“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.” ~  F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

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THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY ~ On Being Judgmental ~ December 1, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte

I had an interesting conversation with one of my daughters a short time ago. In this conversation, she used the word ‘judgemental’ as a negative or undesirable trait. She mentioned during this conversation that she did not want to be a ‘judgmental’ person.  I have also heard other people say such statements as “I’m tired of being judged”.  I find the use of this word rather foreign to me. I personally, seldom if ever, feel like I am being judged by others. Maybe people do judge me and I just don’t recognize it. I don’t know. As a writer, I need to have a wide variety of opinions.  It would be pretty difficult to write books, articles, or blogs without having  them.  As you can probably guess, I’m about to expound on one of these opinions today.

I know that I am not the only one with observational skills and personal opinions. I also know  that it is necessary to assess situations and  people in order to  make an informed decision about what I am observing and where those observations will lead me. This is where I am going to get a little philosophical and use an analogy to better explain my assessment of the use of the word ‘judgmental’.

Many years ago when I suffered from  depression, which is considered to be a form of mental illness, I was ashamed about my condition and chose to hide this fact from my family and friends. I felt that there was a “stigma” attached to mental illness and I did not want anyone to know so I kept it a secret as much as possible.  Now, after almost thirty years I am able to not only write about my experiences but I am far more willing to discuss what I went through when the appropriate opportunity arises. The conclusion I arrived at after all these years, is that I actually had a bias myself. I know it was a learned bias based on my personal frame of reference, but it was a bias nonetheless. At the time of my illness, I was projecting how I thought society felt about mental illness when I was the one actually thinking it.  Does that make sense? If I didn’t have my own bias toward mental illness, I would have been more open about it in the first place regardless of what anyone thought.

Okay, now I want to return to the concept of  ‘being judgmental’ or the feeling of ‘being judged’.  I think the same rationale I used for admitting to my own bias also applies here. Perhaps, people who feel that they are being judged have that trait in their own personality. If they think they are being judged in any way, shape or form, maybe it is because they are actually judgmental towards others themselves. If a trait is part of our character, we might assume that others share this same trait.

We can and do project the emotions that we are dealing with on others. We actually have no idea what other people are thinking. If we choose to express our views on other people’s thoughts, we are only sharing what is going on in our own minds. What I’m basically trying to say is this. What we think we see in others may actually live within ourselves. The only way we can ever know what someone else is thinking is if they share their thoughts with us. 

“Be nice to someone today. It might not mean much to you but it could make the world of difference to them. The ones we think deserve it the least are the ones who need it the most”.  ~ Charles Betts

 

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY ~ Reasonable Expectations ~ October 13, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte

Not too long ago, I had an interesting conversation with one of my adult daughters. She was actually quizzing me about child rearing practices and expectations. She wasn’t pleased with the behavior of one of her children. She mentioned that when she and her sisters were growing up, that they just knew that their father and I had expectations of them. She went on to say that she innately knew by those expectations just how far she could go. For instance,  she knew that she was expected to get good grades in school, to behave in an acceptable manner whether we were there to witness it or not, or to get a higher education and be all that she could be.  This daughter also told me that our having expectations of her and her sisters help set the bar for their personal growth and success because they learned to have reasonable goals and expectations of themselves.

My husband and I also have expectations of ourselves. We are both goal oriented and  have set numerous targets for ourselves over the years. We then worked hard to attain these sometimes difficult goals. When we failed, and we did fail on more than one occasion, we just tried harder and prayed for the guidance that we needed. When I look at the world around me, I think it is a positive attribute to have reasonable expectations of others especially if I have expectations of myself and my loved ones. In fact, I am complimenting them because I have such high regard for them as I see them in that same light. To me, to not have any expectations of others is to infer that they are less than me. I do not look at my friends or others in this way.

I would consider this type of behavior as a big effort on my part to avoid disappointment. I’ve been there and this kind of imbalance in a relationship is not very rewarding for either party. To expect nothing and only choose to give and never receive in a relationship is not what I would even classify as a relationship.  It not only implies that I am capable of more but it also implies that others are less than me and not as willing or able to give. It gives me the upper hand and suggests that they are needy and I am not.  It does nothing for a person’s self-esteem to even hint at the idea that they may have nothing to give back.  When we expect nothing of others what are we really saying?

Relationships or friendships imply an affinity, kinship, or connection to other human beings.  My friends are very much equal to me and I treat them as equals and they do the same. I would not accept to be treated as less in any of my relationships.  I expect my friends to be able to count on me during both the good and bad times.  I am no more chosen to just give to them than they are chosen to just give to me. We are all meant to give and receive on this earth. These kinds of reciprocal and respectful relationships are what make up the fabric of lasting and true friendship.  This is why I have chosen to have reasonable expectations of my friends. They are as capable of giving as I am. We are the same. For that I am very grateful because I need their prayers, their love, their support, and their encouragement.  I would like to think that they need the same from me.  I am very honored when they embrace the fact that they can count on me.

It is our mutual love and respect for each other as well as the give and take in all healthy relationships that have made them all the more precious to me. It has also given these kinships the strength to stand the test of time. It would be an ideal world if we could all be in a position to only give but I know full well that it has been a humbling experience for me to admit that I need to receive as well. This humbling experience has reminded me of the necessity for more humility in my life by accepting that I too, am needy, at times. “We all mold one another’s dreams.  We all hold each other’s fragile hopes in our hands.  We all touch others’ hearts….” ~ Source Unknown.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES

“The sculptor will chip off all the unnecessary material to set free the angel. Nature will chip and pound us remorselessly to bring out our possibilities. she will strip us of wealth, humble our pride, humiliate our ambition, let us down from the ladder of fame, will discipline us in a thousand different ways if she can develop a little character….” ~ Orison Swett Marden

“There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something tomorrow.” ~ Orison Swett Marden

 

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY ~ Connecting The Dots ~ August 18, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte

When you were a young child, did you ever do  “connect the dot” pictures in your activity/coloring book? I don’t know if they still have these around, but in those days, if we followed the numbers and connected the dots, we would see what the picture was and then we would color it in.

In life, I view God’s Plan as much the same. From my point of view, it’s similar to a bunch of dots which are in the processing of being connected so that His Divine Plan or picture will eventually be revealed to us as humankind. Over the last several weeks and months, I have connected with many fellow authors and have had the opportunity to feel very connected to these gifted people. One referred to this experience as a “God thing”, another referred to it as a “God connection”. It felt wonderful to connect with these people in the atmosphere of love, acceptance and cooperation.

I personally refer to it as connecting the dots to help further unveil what God has in store for us as we work together to make things happen toward achieving this goal. When these moments occur, I can tell you that it feels so right, like when we were children and we finished our picture. Although, once and awhile just like when we were young, we might connect the wrong dot in the picture, we may also connect the wrong dot in our dealings with people. At these times, it usually doesn’t look or feel right. Then we have to retrace our steps and erase where we went in order to get back on track. Does this ever happen to you?

At times, we can connect with a person whom at first blush appears to be a “dot” or a “God connection”.  After a while though, their behavior may change. Instead of working together for the common good, our relationship takes a negative turn. Often times, we seem to become competitors. They may start putting us down or taking from us what they require in order to succeed or further their own agenda all the while calling us their friend. In the great scheme of things, if and when, we are striving to do God’s Will here on earth, we are not competitors vying for some golden cup. The key is to help each other because the prize is the same for us all.  When we don’t positively or productively connect with people, we are not working toward the completion of God’s Big Picture. This is the common goal. I think the following quote sums it up pretty well. We need each other! Are you a “dot”?

“What I do you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do. The needs are great, and none of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.” ~ Cindie Thomas

 

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY ~ Child’s Play…Or Is It? (Part II) ~ July 14, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte

Last Thursday I wrote the first part to this article. For those of you who missed it, you can check it out here, Child’s Play…Or Is It? I received a few responses to this post and I thought I would share some of them with you and further elaborate on the original post.

Desiray wrote ~ “I know that story all to well myself. I had friends that did the same thing and it does hurt your feelings because they act as though you are as not important as the other person. But I wasn’t as nice as you sis, I wouldn’t go back. And I stayed mad at that person for a couple of days, and when they would come back and say that they were sorry then I would accept it and we would play again. But I told them if they did it again to me they couldn’t be my friends. I told them ‘I don’t hurt your feelings so don’t hurt mine’. Great post and lesson.”

Barb wrote ~ “Yes, how I remember lessons from childhood and used to spend a great deal of time writing about them. It is so true that many adults do this. I wonder if they even realize it. I’ve felt the sting of being so easily replaced by adults in life and dropped like a hot potato. Very thought-provoking what our childhood experiences can serve upon reflection. Excellent point and story.”

Belinda wrote ~ “Wow, I wonder if Yvette’s mom had any idea that the lesson learned that day would be written about decades later. We should never merely use people then toss them aside.”

When I first wrote this article I almost decided to ‘not’ post it because I wasn’t sure if anyone  would be able to relate to it. After receiving these comments, I realized that many adults still behave in inconsiderate or unkind ways. There are a few words that struck me the most in the above comments. In Desiray’s, it is the feeling of not being “as important as the other person”. Isn’t it strange how some people have the ability to make others feel like they are less important in a relationship? It is as if what they have to offer is inferior to others. I find this very sad.

In Belinda’s response she mentions we shouldn’t use people. This never feels right but to toss people aside after they have served their purpose is not only unkind, it is cruel.  The word that struck me the most in Barb’s comment is the word sting. We all know that when a bee stings, it hurts. All three of these women have honestly admitted that when people treat us as less important, or use us and then toss us aside, or drop us like hot potatoes, it hurts.

Perhaps Barb is right and they don’t even realize what they are doing. I honestly don’t know but I can say this, I agree that this inappropriate behavior can and still does take place by adults. I would also like to add this. If it wasn’t appropriate behavior as a young child like Yvette’s mom so aptly pointed out in last week’s post, it is no more appropriate today. As I previously stated, morals and values never go out of style. What do you think?

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY ~ Child’s Play…Or Is It? ~ July 7, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte

I want to tell you a cute little story with a very big lesson in it. When I was a very young girl about 6 years old or so, I used to play a lot with the neighborhood kids. In those days, you could go freely from one house to the next without a lot of concern by your parents. One little girl named Yvette asked me to come over and play dolls at her house. She was younger than me but I was happy to play with her. Right at the onset, she told me that she had already called on two other little girls (sisters) but they were having their afternoon nap. They actually did that in those days too right up until you started school. Yvette and I played for a least an hour in her back porch with her mother periodically checking up on us. We both had a wonderful time. Shortly thereafter, there was a knock on the door and there appeared the two sisters that Yvette originally wanted to play with. In they came and with that out I went.  Yvette promptly told me that I had to go home because now they could play with her. I never gave it a moment’s thought and I just got up and quietly left.

Within what felt like only a few minutes, Yvette came running down the sidewalk and asked me to come back and play. She explained to me that her mother came out to check on us and she discovered that I wasn’t there anymore. From what I could gather, her mother asked where I was and Yvette told her she had sent me home. Her mother went on to say that it wasn’t a kind thing to do. She then encouraged Yvette to go get me and invite me back to play dolls with her and the other two little girls. I quickly accepted this offer and then Yvette’s mother treated us all to Popsicles.

I will never forget this incident as long as I live. Yvette is not the only one that learned a lesson that day because I know something very much resonated with me. I don’t know how many times I see adults treat their friends this exact same way except they are not playing dolls. When someone else comes along, they drop the friends they have and move on. Everytime I see such behavior I think of Yvette’s mom and I wish she had been there for these people when they were children so that they would know how to treat people in their adult life.

I’ve been told that we learn all we need to know by the time we are in kindergarten as far as how we are supposed to treat others. It doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves of these little lessons so that we can treat our friends with the love and respect that they deserve. Kudos to Yvette’s mom.  Mothers have a very important job and it’s a good thing to acknowledge this fact because they are the very first teachers! Do you remember any special childhood lessons? Do you still try to keep them in mind in your adult life? Treating people with love and respect never changes no matter what our age. Do unto others…yup, it’s still applies today. Morals and values never go out of style.

FOUND MONEY ~ Part II ~ July 1, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte

….Continued from yesterday

Found Money

When she turned around, I asked if her name was Gina. She said “no” and as I was about to turn around and keep walking she called back to me. She asked why I was looking for Gina because she knew her. Gina was her children’s babysitter.  I said that I found an envelope with Gina’s name on it. That’s all, no more info than that.  She then started to walk toward me. She looked so relieved as she told me that the envelope contained $200 and it fell out of the boys’ lunch kit while they were walking to Gina’s earlier this morning. This is when I first encountered her. If you would have seen the look on this young mother’s face. I think it was sheer disbelief bordering on shock when I handed her the sealed envelope with the $200 still in it. I may have made her day but you know something, she made mine too. It felt so rewarding to find her and give back what wasn’t mine in the first place.

A couple of years ago, when my husband and I were at a very crowded flea market in Mesa, AZ. a very similar situation occurred. A young couple was walking ahead of us and when the fellow pulled his hand out of his pocket a big wad of money fell to the ground. He was totally oblivious as my husband bent down to pick it up. We could easily have turned down an aisle or walked into a kiosk. They just kept walking ahead of us until my husband tapped him on the shoulder and said “You dropped your money”. Seeing both their faces was priceless.They were unbelievably grateful. I know there’s an old saying that goes like this; “A fool and his money are soon parted”.  Neither my husband nor I are fools. It was not our money in either instance and we took great pleasure in returning it to the rightful owners. I wish someone had done that with my daughter all those years ago. Being honest gives us the opportunity to have more faith in humankind.

I would love to hear some of your short stories about your own acts of kindness and how they made you feel or perhaps a story of an act of kindness bestowed upon you.  Sometimes, the smallest kindness can have the most profound effect.

“Be nice to someone today. It might not mean much to you but it could make the world of difference to them. The ones we think deserve it the least are the ones who need it the most”. ( An original saying by Charles Betts)

Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian readers!

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY ~ Found Money ~ June 30, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte

A strange thing happened to me on my  morning walk. I usually walk two miles every morning with my husband but today he was off mowing our daughter’s lawn. I decided to stick my ear plugs in and enjoy some music as I walked alone.  I met a few people on my path. One was a jogger, one was a biker and one was a mother with two young boys. As I walked along enjoying the music, I spotted a sealed envelope on the grassy boulevard that obviously all three of these people had missed. Initially, I thought someone had dropped a piece of mail  so I picked it up and thought I would just pop it in the mail box for them. On closer inspection, I could see through the holes in the envelope that there was cash inside because I could see a $50 bill. On the front of it was written the name Gina ($200).

I have found money before but it is usually in the form of coins. I have also found the odd paper money but never have I found $200. About 30 years ago I found a $1 bill that has “Jesus Loves You” written on it and I still have it folded up in my wallet today. When I find this kind of money, it feels good. However, finding this $200 did not feel good at all. It reminded me of when my teenage daughter had a paper route. She was supposed to go shopping after school and when she used the rest room, she accidentally forgot her cash in an envelope by the sink. There was $100 in it and she was absolutely heartsick that no one turned it in. We helped her out by giving her some money but she has never forgotten that moment and neither have I.

Today when I found that cash, in my mind, I saw my heartsick daughter. I knew in my heart I wanted to make every effort to find Gina. I never opened the envelope nor did I put it in my pocket. I hoped someone would see me carrying it and claim it. I held it my hand visible for anyone to see. I kept my eyes open for someone who might be searching for it. As I backed tracked, I ran into the woman with the young boys but now she was alone. Her back was to me but I could see that she was on the phone. She didn’t seem to be looking for a lost envelope but I decided to call out to her anyways….

To be continued tomorrow….

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY ~ FIRST THINGS FIRST~ June 23, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte

Not too long ago, I wrote an article titled, Confidence In God.  If you happened to read it, I was referring to a little booklet my that dad gave me many years ago. Today, I would like to share a passage with you from that booklet.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

“From our childhood many of us have been told more of the punishments God has in store for us if we fail to please Him than the rewards He looks forward to giving when we do please Him….The first thing in loving our Lord is to believe Him lovable. What are the sort of persons one loves?  First, they must be easy to get on with. How many in their heart of hearts think our Lord easy to get on with? We think Him touchy, unapproachable, easily annoyed or offended. And yet all this fear of Him pains Him very much. Would our father wish us to hang our heads, be shy and shrinking in his presence? How much less so our Heavenly Father? He has an almost foolish love for us.” (Rev. Daniel Considine)

How many of you can relate to this quote? How many of you can think back to your childhood and remember the fear that was instilled in you? How many of you remember hearing about the fires of eternal damnation and that you would burn there if you didn’t do what God wanted? Yes…we learned full well the punishments of God!

On the other hand, how many of you ever heard that God loved you?

In all the teachings I learned as a child, I never once recall hearing the word LOVE to describe how God felt about me or anyone else for that matter.  If you are in my age bracket, the word God and LOVE, never went hand in hand. The word reward was never heard either. The word punishment definitely was used to describe what God was all about and what His plans for us would be if we didn’t tow the line. How much damage was done to some of the children of my era? Are you one of them?

I think Rev. Daniel Considine has it right. It took me twenty-five years to write I’m Not Perfect & It’s Okay. It’s hard to believe it took me that long to put pen to paper but in actuality it took me that long to garner the courage and determination to set the record straight.  God loves me, warts and all and He loves you too!

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY ~ Confidence in God ~ June 9, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte

Have you ever been given a precious gift with very little monetary value that means so much to you? Many years ago, long before my father passed away, he gave each of his children a booklet titled “Confidence in God ~ Words of Encouragement” by Rev. Daniel Considine S. J.  It is very small, about 3″ by 5″ and has 94 pages. What I didn’t realize at the time was quite how dear this little gift was to me. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and have done so on many occasions since. However, I no longer have the original booklet which was actually the most special because my father signed it inside to his daughter Dolores…love Dad.

I was so thrilled with the content of the booklet that I shared it with the mother of a student that I was teaching. I wanted to pass along the beautiful message in this gift. As the years went by, I came to regret that I had given this gift away. It was so priceless to me. I eventually purchased several of these very booklets and gave them away as gifts myself. I know it sounds silly, but I wish I had kept that original little gift from my father and just given away one of the new ones that I bought, however, I only ordered them after the fact. The content of all the booklets remains the same and although the message in it still holds true today, my booklet does not have that personal inscription that has come to mean so much to me over the years. I am so sentimental and in my haste and with the right intentions, I gave away a gift that can’t be replaced. Every time I see my copy of “Confidence in God” I long to see my Dad’s signature inside. Have you ever done that? Have you given away some priceless, little gift that cannot be replaced no matter how hard you try?

I wanted to share a quote with you from this booklet. When I randomly opened the page, this was the first one to jump out at me. “It is no small penance in these days merely to bear with yourself; and if you bear properly with yourself and your neighbor, God will give you the highest graces.”  I would have to say that this is the message that God would like for us to hear today. On that note, I wish you all a grace-filled day!

FREE DRAW ~ Anyone who leaves a comment on any article from now until June 15th, gets their name put in a draw for a free copy of my book ”Growing Up & Liking It”.  The more comments that you leave the greater your chances of winning. Good Luck!

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