Selflessness is the word that was given to me by “Living52words”. After contemplating this word, “selflessness” this past week, some old thoughts regarding words came forward, too.
When I was a child my great-aunt, told me time and time again, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything”, “Be careful what you ask for” and my dear mother-in-law told me years ago, “Words have power”. Yes, they do! Words evoke emotion, words inspire, words express love (they do lots of negatives, too, but I’m choosing the positives here).
Well, well, what is “selflessness”? It is being “selfless”. It is being “other” focused. It is an action taken for the benefit of another person or persons. It’s giving, it’s kind, it’s not judging. It does NOT have an ego, it does NOT expect a reward, it does NOT expect recognition. It is the “Good Samaritan” a person who gives assistance to those who are injured, ill, in peril, or incapacitated. The life of Jesus, his acts, his teaching, his words are the highest examples of selflessness.
A few years ago, I was curious about my ancestry/ethnicity and submitted my DNA for testing. To my surprise, I found two half brothers and a half-sister. My husband and I saw that one brother, (80 years old, very poor health and in dire straits) needed help; he has lived with us now for 2 years. We chose to do this to improve his life. I tell this now only because after writing about what selflessness is, I see this could be an example of a selfless act.
So, I ask, what does selflessness create for others? Blessings, surprises, hope, joy and perhaps saving a life. What else can you think of?
This week's blog writer is Hattie Reed. Hattie Reed grew up in Oklahoma City, OK. She and her husband, Randy (her high school sweetheart), moved to Colorado in 1980. Hattie, with her husband, are the former business owners of Village Frame, a custom picture framing and art store, in Greenwood Village, CO, and in Castle Rock, CO. Furthermore, she established and managed H Reed & Company, an executive search and staffing company in 2006. She is an active contributor to the community and served on the Castle Rock Art Commission, as well as supporting her husband during his terms as Castle Rock's Mayor. In April of 2020, both businesses were closed to pursue retirement, travel, and fun. Hattie enjoys art, DIY projects, knitting, and journaling. Currently, she is very excited to be working at Nick Lucey’s, Rhyolite Gallery, in Castle Rock. She and Randy have two daughters, two sons-in-law, and two grandsons all living in Colorado.
I googled the word “tolerance”. According to Merriam Webster it means the “willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own, the ability to accept, experience, or survive something harmful or unpleasant, and/or your body's ability to become adjusted to something (such as a drug) so that its effects are experienced less strongly.”
Tolerance is something everyone has to measure on their own whether it be physically, mentally, or spiritually. Everyone is different. Some people have a strong tolerance to stress, while others may feel crushed by even a small amount of stress. Tolerance can be attributed to those that work out and learn about their body’s limits. We even have to learn to tolerate each other as people, like those that are introverted and those that are extroverted.
Tolerance is also something we have to learn to change and challenge in ourselves as human beings. Sometimes we must learn to tolerate negative things in our lives and know when it is time to speak up or change the things around us. An example-- How long can you tolerate someone yelling at you? How long can you tolerate others ridiculing you? How much can we tolerate before we speak up?
I am Native American with some French ancestry. I am Navajo, Sac & Fox, and Prairie Band Potawatomi. I have had to tolerate the ignorance of others about my Native culture and heritage. But because of my high tolerance to ignorance, I don’t get mad or upset, I use the moment as a time to educate others about my Native background. I am also an artist so I have learned to tolerate criticism. Not everyone is going to like my work, and that is ok. We have had to tolerate many things this year with sickness and other stresses. With tolerance, we learn how well we can handle various situations, but also how to grow to be better human beings. Tolerance can be a good and bad thing but it depends on how we perceive it. Because of tolerance I have been able to take a deep breath and learn to look at the situations around me.
Because of my tolerance, I know when I need to improve myself and when I need to speak up. Sometimes there are times to be silent and humble, and other times when words need to be spoken to stand up for something that is right. We all must learn to tolerate many things, but we can work together to learn what each other’s limits are and how we can help each other to grow. This is what tolerance means to me.
This week's blog writer, Amber DuBoise-Shepherd, is a Native American artist and has participated in various exhibitions and shows across Oklahoma. DuBoise-Shepherd is the Manager of Education and Outreach at the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art since April 2019. She currently lives in Shawnee, OK with her husband Josh Shepherd.
Covid-19 has even impacted common courtesy. Yesterday, as I was leaving my voting precinct, I held the door for a woman who was about to enter. She stopped short, as it was impossible to keep six feet apart. She finally motioned for me to move on, so the door closed and I took a wide detour around her. I felt awkward and sad that courtesy has also suffered during these strange times.
But as I reflected on the changes, I thought of a time in the past when my offer to hold a door was not accepted, but for an entirely different reason. The time was about 1969 (yes, I am old), and I was visiting Mobile, Alabama. As I was entering a department store, an elderly black woman was coming from the opposite direction, so I held the door. She said, “Oh honey, please don’t do that. You will get me into trouble”. This was my first introduction to understanding discrimination, a lesson learned through an attempt at courtesy. My commitment…Be more aware, empathetic, and observant.
Also, now that I have retired and time is not at such a hectic pace, I realize that in driving I often sped up to keep someone from cutting in front of me. And what did that get me…I arrived at the next stop light one second ahead of the other car. My commitment…Be more courteous as I drive.
Some form of courtesy that was made aware to me as a child, was the importance of calling people by name. I have three sisters, so the four of us were always referred to as “The Sheward Girls.” People rarely called us by name, as they probably couldn’t remember who was who. It became important to me to address others by name, especially children. These days it might take longer for me to recall a name, but my commitment…do my best.
The local Sonic had a wonderful young lady who worked the drive-through window. She always said “Good Morning” and then “Have a great day”. This is not all that unusual except she said it as though she meant it. She made a difference in my day with only a few well-spoken words. My commitment…no automatic responses, but honest, meaningful statements.
And, have you ever been to Chick-fil-A? The employees often say “My Pleasure”. This obviously is something the company teaches and stresses. Recently, I was in a store and after I said thank you, the young employee responded with “My pleasure”. I did not ask, but my guess was that he had previously worked at Chick-fil-A. The important aspect of the encounter was that his response appeared to be heart-felt. My commitment…remain mindful of the manners I have been taught.
So much of courtesy is an interconnection of the words and lessons we have learned from Living52. Let us all be kinder, more loving, more gracious by being courteous.
Another reminder: It is courteous to wear a mask, maintain social distance, and wash hands. Thank you for reading my meanderings and blessings to each of you.
Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart. --Henry Clay
Written by Ann M. Way, former Senior Program Officer and Interim Director of Sarkeys Foundation and Executive Director of Mary Abbott Children’s House which provides forensic interviews of physically and sexually abused children. Her greatest joys in life are her children, Tonya and Michael; her son-in-law and daughter-in-law, David and Laurie, and her grandchildren, Braden, Ethan, Andrew, Alex, Kate, and her grandson, Taylor, who resides in Heaven.