There is no friend like the old friend, who has shared our morning days, No greeting like his welcome, no homage like his praise: Fame is the scentless sunflower, with gaudy crown of gold; But friendship is the breathing rose, with sweets in every fold.
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Sunflowers draw their energy and warmth from the sun. That one fact prevents us from growing them on our property. Living in a shady, forested mini-wood has its drawbacks.
Yet, sunflowers bring cheer, energy, brightness, and good feelings whether growing in your yard or neighboring field, or in a vase on a table in your living room or on your deck.
Although they can’t speak aloud to us, their message is one of friendship and good feelings. Odd that man is incapable, even with his wide vocabulary, of extending kindness to those around him.
We could take a lesson from the sunflower as she exudes grace and acceptance of the world around her. She allows chipmunks, squirrels, bees, and others to feast at her center filled with seeds and pollen.
And where does she find what she needs for tomorrow and the next day? She spends her days tracking the sun to warm herself and attract pollinators. In the morning, she is positioned to face the sun as it rises to prepare herself for another day of work, or is it pleasure? I doubt we’ll ever know.
The featured image above holds the answer to this question. The word cloud contains many emotions experienced by those confronted with negative reactions. Perhaps in the form of words or even by threatened actions. Reading the emotions tells us what our words and actions may do to another.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Let’s see how that works. Look at the image of Will Muschamp during his tenure as head football coach at the University of Florida.
The score of this game held Muschamp’s future. Muschamp’s facial expression defines his anger. And it’s not hard to see the object of his scorn.
WHY AM I WRITING ABOUT THIS?
We’ll get to that in a minute. First, another example I saw while watching an NCAA football game a couple of weeks ago. What I saw has stayed with me as it brought back memories of a painful childhood.
I searched online football news for a photo perhaps taken by a reporter or TV crew, but no luck. You’ll have to use your imaginations to bring the image to mind.
One of the two teams playing made a touchdown, and as usual, there was much celebration. As the offensive players made it to the sidelines, the offensive line coach was waiting. He expressed heated displeasure with his players. I couldn’t understand why.
As the young collegiate players took seats, the coach visibly berated them. His facial expressions, like those of Will Muschamp, revealed such anger it was frightening. His index finger did its share of chest jabbing. If faceguards had not been in place, I daresay he may have done more. Despite the touchdown, it seems some of his players had made a mistake in carrying out the play. The touchdown was forgotten in favor of berating his players.
As a child exposed to similar abuses, I looked on as these young men shrank on the TV screen. Still in full uniform and pads, their shoulders slumped and theirs heads hung low. They were experiencing many of the emotions in the word cloud above. I felt bad for them all, including the coach for his behavior.
IT’S NOT JUST IN SPORTS
I’m writing about this topic because it’s evident in all phases of our world. Today bullying runs rampant in so many places–the workplace, schoolroom, community activities, and organizations. Many relationships suffer the effects of bullying.
If we take a look around our daily lives, a short list becomes clear. We find it in professional workplaces, employer to employee, friendships, and among family members.
Take a look at why this happens. Usually it happens when a sense of competition, hierarchy, power, or control gets out of hand. Even in our community of writers, editors, coaches, and teachers it can happen.
How can this be you might ask? Among writers and those who support them or direct their paths?
I recently met with a writing coach. She requested I send the first ten pages of my manuscript for her review. Not to critique or edit, simply review. Despite knowing this, my nerves jangled as I headed toward the appointment. Rooted in my mother’s persistent negative reactions toward me, I anticipated a negative response.
Imagine my relief when the coach began our meeting with the words, “You’re a good writer.” Of course, there were topics addressed which needed work and I knew there would be. But she began our meeting on a positive note. It made all the difference in how I left the meeting.
A FEW THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
When critiquing another’s writing, do you jump on the most negative element in feedback? Or do you lead first with something positive?
When commenting on a blog post, do you immediately point out a grammatical error or an incorrect fact? Or do you first offer appreciation for the writer’s effort and time in posting?
When participating in a Google Hangout or Skype conversation, do you put others down? Or do you ignore whatever irritates you in a more private, less offensive way later?
Do you choose public forum vs. privacy to clear the air with a fellow writer, editor, coach, or teacher?
As adults, we no longer see the need to raise hands to speak. Yet, there is another way to avoid talking over each other and being rude. Be patient and wait for a break in the conversation and then speak. No reason to step on others’ toes and/or feelings.
This short list is only five examples of ways we can watch our own behavior. Sometimes, as the irate football coach did, we react too fast. In so doing, we reduce the other party to any of the several emotions in our word cloud. And we cast ourselves in the role of an abuser or bully.
Bullying isn’t found only among our children and youth. Adults have a handle on bullying too. It may be a carryover from a dysfunctional childhood. Perhaps a lack of self-respect from a feeling of unworthiness. Even jealousy plays a large role. As adults, we must set the example for children and youth.
Let’s try to make a difference by remembering these words:
“Words are containers for power. You choose what kind of power they carry.”
Nothing raises one’s spirits more than signs of spring. Blue skies, sunlight, colorful trees and flowers. Even a quick spring shower. These conditions are especially effective in healing the spirits of someone who has been more or less confined for the month of March.
But time wasn’t wasted. Some things are done effectively from the recliner with a laptop at hand. Most of the time, however, I slept and read, and took more pain meds and slept some more, and read. When I had my wits about me, I was spring cleaning the computer and my website.
Not all is back in order as you’ll notice on the site. I’m working with the theme designer to work out the kinks and hope to have everything running in tip-top shape soon. Or at least as soon as my pain management doctor says I’m good to go off the current regimen.
I’m so glad to be back among you, my writing friends, and hope to have plenty of reading material for you soon.
Tomorrow look for my review of Pamela Jane’s memoir, An Incredible Talent for Existing. Pamela is likely well-known to many of you as a regular on Women’s Memoirs.