January 5, 2011

We Can Be Builders . . .

Get ready – I’m in one of those deep thinking moods.

My boy Ollie is into blocks right now.  He pulls the basket of blocks out and puts it at my feet by the coffee table.  Then he says ‘Mama’ and points at the table, signaling me that it’s time to build.  With his chubby little hands he brings me blocks one by one and I add them to our tower.  The higher it gets, the more excited he gets. Some days he leaves the structure intact for the kids to see.  Other days he will let it fall so we can start all over again from the bottom.  It’s one of the great joys of my current life as a Mom.

But here’s the deal – I had a conversation with a friend recently wherein she revealed to me that the scrutiny of another woman was weighing her down greatly.  I wanted to tell her to not worry about it.  To put it out of her mind and get on with her life.  But I couldn’t for two reasons.

First, I had been in her shoes – the one on the receiving end of someone else’s judgment, scorn, jealousy, disapproval, etc. and I knew that just like her, I wasn’t able to shake off that horrible feeling that somebody else disliked me and the way I did things.

Second, I am ashamed to admit that on occasion I have been the one who’s dishing out the negativity, scrutiny, and harsh feelings towards other women. Why? Why do I do that?

I didn’t know what to tell my friend, so I said I was sorry and that I thought she was amazing. Meh.

As I sit and build blocks with Ollie and watch his happiness grow exponentially with the addition of each level, I think of this friend.  And I think of myself.  And I think of all of us who make up the wonderful world of women.

Why can’t we be builders?  Why can’t we raise each other up to higher levels? Why can’t we try, one block at a time, to surround other women with the kind of positive feelings that would exponentially increase their happiness?

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that many {most?} women already suffer in the self esteem department without scathing reviews from other women.  We beat ourselves up enough as it is. And though we are our own harshest critics, we are also the harshest critics of other women – including women we do not even know. It’s time to turn the tide and I feel strongly that I have to make some changes personally to help it happen.

So I’m going to issue you the same challenge I have issued myself.  Today I’m going to ask you to join me in being a builder.  Will you join me this year in trying to lift up other women? It sounds easy, doesn’t it? But I know it won’t be.

It means that we’ve got to decrease the amount of jealousy and envy we feel and replace it with genuine happiness for the good things that happen to other women. This {in my opinion} is one of the great secrets of life: when you have true joy for the successes of others, you get happiness in return.

It means that we’ve got to set aside judgment and remember that we haven’t worn the moccasins that other women wear. We do not know the sorrows and heartaches, trials and troubles that others have faced. Instead let’s search for sympathy and empathy. Let’s agree to look closely at the lives of other women to understand their needs and then try to meet them in some way.

It means that we have to hold our tongues instead of spewing negativity and gossip. Can you imagine the momentous change we could impart if only the women who read THIS BLOG vowed that they would NEVER speak a word of gossip about another woman again? In that idea alone lies immense power.

It means that we’ve got to come to terms with differences in others instead of criticizing them.  Hallelujah that we are not all the same! Celebrate it instead of shying away from it.  Get to know some women that have different interests than you. Give others the chance to get to know what makes you different and unique.

It means we’ve got to redefine what beautiful is.  We’ve got to stop paying attention to photo shopped pictures of women with personal stylists on magazine covers and start looking at the gorgeous REAL women who surround us every day. They are the ones who should inspire and intrigue us.

These are just a few small steps, but I think they can make a difference.

When Ollie’s tall tower of blocks comes tumbling down, he usually puts his hands on his cheeks and declares “Uh Oh!” There is usually a moment of fussing or crying before we clean up the mess and start to put it all back together.

There are women out there whose towers have fallen, knocked down by other women, or crumbling marriages, or children in trouble, or emotional, physical and mental pain. They are feeling that uh-oh feeling.  They may be crying and fussing.  And they need you and me to help them clean up the mess and put things back together.

Will you join me? Will you be a builder? If you are willing to accept my challenge, how about letting me know with a comment. Just think of it as adding a block to my tower today.

PS. Throughout the coming months I’d like to highlight how women are being builders of other women. I hope you’ll join me.

30 comments:

Apis Melliflora said...

I love this post and I love you, Dragonfly. Of course, I'll be a builder. I'll write my name first in big bold John Hancock letters. So many places in Scripture, we are told to "support and encourage" one another. Those words run through my head a lot.

The hardest part is retraining your brain to not be critical of people. After much schooling, that's what my brain does best: criticize, analyze, dissect, categorize, discern and discriminate. I have to discipline my brain to "support and encourage"others all the time!

Not speaking the critical words to others is hard, given that women are, by nature, communicators, but even harder is not allowing yourself to think those critical thoughts in the secret spaces of your brain.

I give this post a standing ovation.

christy said...

I'm in!! So much of my time as a mother has been trying to teach my girls to not let others' criticisms of them define them. It's so hard to teach. It would be easier if the criticisms weren't there in the first place.

I know it won't be easy but I'm up for the challenge. Thanks for a great, uplifting post.

AllisonK said...

Beautifully said Samantha! You have a wonderful way of expressing yourself and "building" those who read your blog.

Suzy J said...

love love love it! I teach group fitness for 24 hr fitness in L.A. of all places! When I moved here I was scared and intimidated and not very well received to tell you the truth! I am a real girl with real curves from 4 babies! I embrace a little jiggle. I even say in my class if it doesn't shake a little you may leave. (a comment even in jest I will be rephrasing after this blog) I love the mom in the back row that is huffing away and trying to keep up! I will now work on loving the girl in the front row who is out doing me! Thank you thank you thank you and I am signing my name and I will be a builer!

Stacey Gerlach Moe said...

This is so awesome, Sam. Yes, count me in! I already know of ways in my little world that I can do this.

amy eskew said...

Sam, this is a great post and I am with you! This underscores an essay I just read by Joyce Carol Oates in the New Yorker- about the death of her husband. Someone left a cruel note on her car the morning he died, because they didn't like the way she had parked...we all need to work on our petty anger and negativity towards other people, no matter what the situation, because you just never know what may be happening in their lives. Maybe, too, by being less critical of others we can learn to be kinder to ourselves, as well!

Thanks for bringing this up- great post!

The Nerd Mom said...

This is something I have tried to fix in myself for years. I'm a true Virgo, and by nature, very critical, especially of myself. I think I have finally gotten to the point of "live and let live" when other people aren't doing things the way *I* would do them - that doesn't mean it is wrong! And I've tried to pass that on to my kids. Now, training myself not to even have those THOUGHTS? That's gonna take a liiiiittttle longer. :)

Aiketa said...

I'm in, I'm in! For sure it will be difficult but I want to try.
Last year, I did a few weeks my medicine school practicals with two general surgeons (a man and a woman) with another girl and a boy. So every morning when we (the 3 of us) arrived and met the doctors, the woman would only say hi to the boy. For me and the other girl was kind of weird and irrespectful. With the days going on, she still did the same to us, but not only us, also to a lot of other women. But we never gave up on saying hi to her. I felt sorry for her. She kind of hated (or still hates) all other women around her... I think the relatioships with other girls/women that I have in my life is something really incredibly beautiful, that my life would be much more meaningless without it.
I think we should help each other!
And Dragonfly, you just write beautifuly!

squeezeme said...

You are a builder in my life and I'm so grateful! I will add my blocks too!

The Queen Vee said...

Count me in on this action. Beautifully writeen post and terrific analogy.

Meaja said...

I'm on board! There's always room for improvements and I will gladly participate. Thanks Samantha for inspiring me.

Susan said...

Count me in!

Sparcam said...

Aww, Sam! I have to tell you, this has been one of the toughest years of my life! Seeing this post gave me hope that this year will be better. I am also going to link to your blog through mine because this is important to share and network. You are/were inspired!

Linda said...

I'm in Sam. Let's do this. Thank you for your wake up directive. I have been in search of New Years resolutions of substance, ones which don't simply relate to ME. This will do it. It won't be easy.
But, it MUST be done.
Linda

LJB said...

Beautifully said Dragonfly! I think we all have been "wreckers" instead of "builders" at some time or another! Thanks for calling us out and motivating us to be better! So count me in! I will do my best to become a "builder" this year!

Kasey said...

I'm in. I need this. I need to be more positive to myself and others. Amen sister!!

Rachel said...

I love this post. I'm in, too!

JulieB said...

Thanks for this Samantha! I need this for so many reasons.

Dan and Bec said...

Hi Sam,
I had a great time with Aimee and Liz. Lizzy just took a job working for Chuck's company (he was just made president not to long ago) so she just moved to Albuquerque. And Aimee continues to be the best teacher with the biggest heart ever! Love my sisters!

You've got a great gift in writing...I'm all in!

west wind said...

thank you for this lovely post from a fellow builder. i have seriously devoted energy and ability as a builder through what i like to call "vigilant empathy."

right now, i want to honor the network friends and women i know who are supportive and present for those struggling with being the focus of harassing and stalking behavior. it's a difficult situation to think about, talk about and without a supportive network, it can be a lonely, confusing, scary place to be. thank you ladies for rising above and providing support beyond what counselors, attorneys and law enforcement do. you are needed and loved, you are awesome and loving.

Heather Lindsey said...

This was so beautiful. I've been puzzling over this same topic for months now, not sure how to start the revolution. Thank you for putting my thoughts and the feelings of my heart into words and solid actions. We can all do this! We must!

Jessie said...

Thank you for being a builder for me and helping me feel supported! I really needed your encouragement...it means so much!

And yes, I join your crusade to do my best to be a builder myself. A wonderful resolution for the new year!

Jane said...

Words of wisdom and good thought. Relationships SHOULD be supportive and building versus tearing down. Here Here to your blog!

Brenda Gore said...

Add me to the list of builders. I love this post! It has had me thinking alot since reading it yesterday. I would love to use this as my theme for my RS lesson next month, will have to pray more about that. Would you mind? You have a wonderful way of expressing yourself. You are a builder to all of us who read your amazing blog.

Morgan -Ing said...

I think this is great! We do need to be builders more! Of ourselves and most definitely of each other! We've got hard jobs and are always overly critical of ourselves. Like we need OTHER people to be critical too! :)

Hilary said...

I really liked this post, and I'm happy to say I realy think this is something I've actually gotten better at....
But I can alwyas be better. :)

Tobi said...

Sam you are such an inspiration. You are always thinking of ways to improve. I'm blown away by your creativity and superb imagination. Thank you for sharing such a thought provoking post. I'm in.

Anne said...

What a great post! I'm so glad I stopped by. I will definitely try to be a builder : )
(from MMB)

Bells said...

We had Stake Conference this week and our Stake President asked everyone to work on only speaking kind words to and about one another. His challenge and yours is one I am willing to take on this year, my family is on board as well. It is hard to change, but with the Lord's help, we can do anything.

Princesa said...

Great post and challenge Samantha. Count me in.