The Friendship Garden

Friendship Garden

This is my garden, which I call Friendship. It features all my friends, from my treasured inner circle to casual comrades. Its a spectacular event. I say event because gardens of any relationships are a constantly changing work of nature, part in, and part beyond, our control.

Some parts of the garden are old and deeply cherished, they form the core, the centerpieces. I spend most of my time here. Established and reliable, the old friends here require little maintenance but we must watch they aren’t taken for granted. They periodically feature exciting new growth which should be closely watched. When a friend flowers or sends out new shoots, we don’t want to miss it! They don’t want us too either.

When caring for our relationship with a friend, it is important to remember that we can never see an entire friend at once. To fully appreciate a friend, we must become aware of all their facets and dimensions. We must bear in mind the memory of our first impression, then step carefully around to enjoy other points of view. We can’t get stuck in the past, we have to watch how they grow and appreciate the friend for who they are ‘now’ as much as ‘then’, and think about what they’re becoming.

Most of all, we must try to see them the way they see themselves, and the way they see the world. This helps us understand them, which is vital for the relationship to have any real strength. It is also important to recognize that our relative position in relation to a friend will change because we are each always growing, always in motion, both independently and as a result of our relationship. The care we invest influences how we each grow.

Sometimes the friends of my garden are sunshine and smiles. Other times they are drooping down with sadness. The former need us, the latter need us even more, though they may not realize it at the time. The Garden of Friendship is something we must invest in on a regular basis. We must give it support and lend our strength. To do that, we must see ourselves as Gardeners. Being an active friend who invests in others must be part of our identity. When it is, we make decisions in our lives that naturally reinforce that identity and produce positive results based on it.

Be careful. Even our relationships with the friends closest to us will slowly die if abused or neglected. Many people make the mistake of spending all their time focused on themselves. Or in the Gardens of Love and Family. Don’t push Friendship to the back, don’t make it less important. Our lives require balance. Friendship has an important and vital place in a healthy lifestyle. Believe me, ignore your Garden of Friendship and it will shrivel up and all the relationships will die off. Many are unrecoverable. We are left lonelier and lesser for it. Starting a whole new garden again is very difficult.

Beyond the inner circle are other friends whom we don’t spend as much time with, but still value. Other friends in the garden are fresh and new. They are easily spoiled and that fragility demands delicate care if they are to grow into something splendid. Again, take heed. Spending all our time in any one part of the garden causes neglect in others. New friends are the most easily lost and therefore demanding. They can seem exciting, especially when we’re young and learning. But being a social butterfly always on the lookout for new additions to the garden can lead to core relationships going dry, or festering with a rot of resentment when investment in the relationship is going only one way for too long.

The center of the garden is usually the brightest and most lively. But even in the healthiest gardens there are darker corners and even unsightly sores on our favourite friends. We don’t like to visit these places much, once they appear. We try to convince ourselves these blights don’t exist by lying to ourselves or avoiding them and hoping they clear up on their own. They won’t. In these places our relationships have become infested with diseases like Guilt, Jealousy, the Sense of Inferiority, Competition and it’s partner Comparison, and worst of all – Selfishness. Left unchecked, they will only worsen, poisoning the friend, and ourselves.

We can rid ourselves of the darker spots. This garden has no walls, no insurmountable obstacles and there are no limits. The only barriers to the beauty, support and mutual growth here are the limits we place on our own perception and action. This may be due to our naiveté, inexperience, prejudice, or lack of faith. It may be because we’re lacking in the skills needed to maintain our garden, but these are mastered with practice and study. Many diseases tend to sprout from our own weaknesses and mistakes. These are correctable. Curing diseases comes from being willing to face them and ourselves honestly. Communication is key. Follow it with action.

Like it or not, the past has an effect on the present. Salt water, like that of tears, can damage the soil and make it harder for friendships to thrive. Sometimes a friend is gone forever. Lucky for us though, if we are diligently strong we can remove the old and start fresh. We can revitalize the foundations of growth. When old relationships pass on, new ones can be formed.

It is always hard to start again after so much effort was put into previous growth, but we mustn’t let that stop us, we must embrace the thrill of challenge. It takes a brave heart to plant new seeds of friendship and give love all over again, to put faith in the relationship and give it trust in the wake of tragedy. But we have, hopefully, wisdom gained from past mistakes to help. Vary the conditions, perhaps it needs more nourishment, perhaps it needs more independence, but the first place we should always look for improvement is with ourselves. It’s always the first and wisest investment and it pays off for everyone.

Everyone’s garden is different. Some are larger than others, and all overlap other gardens to varying degrees. Some are healthy and brim with beautiful, vigorous style. Some gardeners seek only the company of a few seemingly un-noteworthy yet hardy individuals and have relationships that, for a long while, struggled to survive, but have now established themselves and can never die. Sometimes the soil is naturally lush and almost anything will grow well. Sometimes it takes a very special species to take root.

Whatever the case, our Gardens of Friendship undoubtably make life brighter and more interesting. They’re worth our time. Budgeting a significant portion of our time with our friends leads to happier, healthier, more productive lives in all areas. Who knows when we’ll want a friend for support at a crucial moment? Who knows what new opportunities a friend might pass along? And then there’s the sheer joy of simply being there for our friends. Investment is its own reward.

Neglect your Garden of Friendship at your peril. The next time you find yourself near your own garden, step inside for a bit. If you’ve been away a long time, your Garden of Friendship is probably in need of you. Say hi to your favorites and approach the ones you haven’t spent much time with recently. Let them know that you still care, that you’re still here for them and that they’re important to you. See if a little attention can open up a new flower bud. Watch it bloom and see the beauty inside. Every flower is unique. So is every friend.

Our relationships nurture us as much as we share with them. The fruits they produce are amongst the sweetest to be tasted and the wisdom to be harvested is priceless. Also remember, as others have planted roots in your garden, you no doubt have planted roots in theirs. Never forget your roots.

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Be Happy (English and Japanese)

Be Happy Title

English only version here.

Be Happy Title

All of us want to be happy. But sometimes we lose hope, and it feels like the world and its problems are overwhelming. Being happy is easier and more simple than you realize. Here are a few pieces of advice to help guide you, so that you too can be happy.

幸せになりなさい。時には希望を失い世界中の問題に圧倒されるだろう。でも幸せになるという事は君達が思うより簡単でシンプルな事なんだ。君達も幸せになれ るように、ここで幸せになる手引きをしよう。

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth, because it doesn’t last forever.

若いという事を楽しみなさい、それは永遠には続かないから。

Don’t waste your entire youth in cram schools and studying too much. School is important, but too much isn’t going to help you become a better person. Spend time learning about other people, falling in love for the first time, trying new things and exercising your creativity. There is more to learn in life than what you find in textbooks.

若くある時間すべてを塾や勉強だけに無駄にしてはいけない。学校は大切だ、でもそればかりが君達を良い人間にするわけではない。他人について学ぶために時間 を使いなさい、恋に落ちるために時間を使いなさい、新しい事を試み、想像力を働かせる事に時間を費やしなさい。人生にはテキストブックの中に書かれた事より 、より多くの事を学ばなくてはいけないから。

Don’t worry too much about what school you get into. Don’t buy into the illusion that attending one school makes you a better person than  someone attending a different school. It doesn’t. All people are born equal. The most important differences between us are in our actions; not DNA, not family, not wealth, not political influence or anything else. One school is only better than another if it does a better job of  helping you learn. Competing for status is an empty goal.

どの学校に進学するかについてあまり悩んではいけない。一つの学校に進学する事が他の学校に進学するより、良い人間になれるなんて幻想は信じてはいけない 。全ての人間は平等に生まれたのだから、一番大切なのは私達の起こす行動である。DNAではなく、家でもなく、お金でも政治の影響でもない。君達が学ぶ事を 助けるのが良い学校というものだ。ステータス競争は虚しいゴールでしかない。

Life and Indecision

Dream. Dreams are what challenge you and the world to have a better future.

夢を持ちなさい。夢が君達の挑戦を生み、世界により良い未来をつくる。

Don’t worry about the future. Worrying is as effective as trying to solve an math equation by chewing gum. It’s better to accept that the future is out of your control, but know that you can still work towards a better one.

将来を心配する事はない。心配は数式を解くためにガムを噛むくらい意味のない事だ。未来はコントロールできるものではないのだと、受け入れる方が良い。でも より良い未来の為に努力出来る事は知っておいた方がいい。

Sing.

歌いなさい。

Do one thing everyday that scares you. Maybe you’re afraid of speaking in public, or standing up to a bully, or just afraid of the dark. Fear can be conquered.

自分が恐れている事を毎日一つづつやってみること。君は人前で話す事を恐れているかもしれない、いじめっ子に立ち向かう事を恐れているかもしれないし、暗闇 を恐れているかもしれない。でも恐怖は乗り越える事ができる。

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, and don’t put up with people who are careless with yours.

他人の心を踏みにじってはいけない。君達の心を踏みにじる人たちに我慢してもいけない。

Don’t waste your time being jealous about what you think other people have; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long, but in the end, it’s only with yourself.

他人が持っているものに嫉妬する事に時間を無駄にしてはいけない。時には君の方が先を歩いている事もあるし、時には君の方が後ろを歩いているかもしれない。 でもこのレースは長いし、最後には自分自身との競争なのだから。

Smile. As often as you possibly can.

できるだけ多く笑いなさい。

Hand with love script

Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; compliment others, don’t insult them, even behind their backs.

人から受ける賛辞を覚えておきなさい。中傷は忘れる事。他人を褒めること、中傷をしてはいけない。たとえその人がその場にいないときであっても。

Don’t smoke. Smoking kills, and second-hand smoke kills friends, family and co-workers. Science and medicine have proven that.

タバコはやめなさい。体に悪いし、他の人にも悪い。それは科学的にも医学的にも既に証明されている。

Some people are selfish, some people are rude, but the first step towards more kindness in the world is to be kind to others first.

自分勝手な人もいるし、失礼な人もいるだろう。でも世界中の優しさの第一歩は他人に優しくなる事からはじまる。

You are not as fat as you imagine. In fact, you may be too thin. While you don’t want to be fat, being too thin is not sexy or healthy.

君が思うほど君は太ってはいないし、事実痩せ過ぎかもしれない。太りたくないと思っているけれど、痩せ過ぎは健康でも美しくもない。

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old income statements.

古いラブレターはとっておきなさい。収入証明書は捨てる事。

Be kind to your teeth. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

歯を大切にしなさい。なくなる頃には寂しく思うから。

Don’t be afraid to do something just because you’re not good at it. Everyone was just as bad at some point, and sometimes that can be a lot more fun. You will get better over time.

苦手な事をやってみる事を恐れてはいけない。みんな最初はうまくいかないものたのだから。時にはそれが楽しいときもあるし、時間がたてばうまくできるように なる。

Hug. 

抱きしめなさい。

Love couple romantic heart

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. It doesn’t matter if you’re 16 or 40 and still confused, but if you don’t know, go out and try new things in order to find out.

自分が将来何をしたいかわからなくても心配することはない。16だろうが40だろうが年齢は関係ない。やりたい事がわからなければ新しい事をやってみればい い。

Don’t be afraid to reach out and offer to help others. They may be shy at first, but you never know just how much good you can do until you try.

他人を助ける事と、助けを求める事を恐れてはいけない。最初は恥ずかしいかもしれないけれど、やってみるまでそれがどれだけ良い結果を生むかわからないのだ から。

Drink milk, eat cheese, bok choy or even hot peppers, whatever you want, but get plenty of calcium for strong bones.

牛乳を飲みなさい、チーズを食べなさい、体菜か唐辛子を食べてもいい。食べたいものを食べればいい、でも強い骨を作るために沢山カルシウムをとりなさい。

There’s more to life than accepting someone else’s idea of what you should do with it. Find something you want to do passionately, something you believe in, that makes the world a better place, and gives your life meaning.

他人の理想を受け入れるよりも、もっと多くの事が人生にはある。情熱を持てる事を、自分が信じられる事を探しなさい。それが世界をより良い世界にし、人生に 意味を与えるから。

Exercise. It’s the most effective way to stay healthy, and be beautiful. Your body is the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

運動をする事、それが健康と美に一番効果がある。君達自身の体は君達が持つ事のできる最高の楽器だから。

Fit couple piggy back

Finding the right person to share your life with means finding yourself first. Being alone is easy, but not being alone is easier than you think.

人生を分かち合いたいと思う人を見つけるという事は、まず自分を見つける事。一人になるのは簡単だけど、一人にならない事は君達が思うよりもっと簡単なこと 。

Dance.

踊りなさい。

Get to know your parents, they’ll be gone all too soon. Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

親の事をもっと知りなさい。彼らは早すぎるくらい早くいなくなってしまう。兄弟には親切になりなさい、彼らは君達の過去への繋がりで、将来もずっと一緒にい るだろう人達だから。

Understand that friends come and go, but for a precious few you should work to hold on to. Do not underestimate how important they are to your life.

友達は出会っては去っていくもの、でも一握りの大切な友達を手放してはいけない。彼らの存在の大切さを決して侮ってはいけない。

Take vacations. Visit new places, eat new food, try new things. Spend quality time with your family. Doing these things will make your life richer in ways more important than making money can.

休みをとりなさい、新しい場所を訪れ、新しいものを食べ、新しい事をしなさい。家族と大切な時間を過ごしなさい。これらの事はお金を稼ぐよりもっと多くの裕 福さを生むだろう。

Travel. There are unlimited ways to live life. See how people in other places are living their lives. Experiment with the way you live yours.

旅をしなさい。人生には限りなく沢山の生き方がある。他の場所で生きる人達の生き方をみて、自分の人生をどう生きるか実験してみなさい。

Being different isn’t a bad thing. But as different as we are on the outside, we all share the same basic experiences and emotions. Despite differences in gender, culture, social standing, wealth, language and clothing, we are inherently united in ways far more important. Being different doesn’t make you less normal, it just makes you a different kind of normal and that’s ok. Identity doesn’t come from what other people tell you that you should be. You can be anything you want.

他人と違う事は悪い事ではない。外見が違っても同じ感情と経験を分かち合っているのだから。性の違いや文化、社会性、貧富の差、言語、服装の違いを省いても 、みんなもっと大切な形で結ばれている。他人と違う事は君達の普通性を欠く事にはならない、ただちがう種類の普通の人になるだけだ。個性とは他人に押し付け られた理想からくるのではない。自分がなりたい自分になればいい。

Scars are ok, even emotional ones. It means the wounds have healed and you’re ok now. Maybe a little wiser.

傷は悪いものじゃない、たとえそれが心の傷であっても。残った傷は、それが治った事と君達がもう大丈夫で、ほんの少し賢くもなった証。

World in hands

We’re beset on all sides from natural disasters, corrupt politicians, war, famine, disease, laziness, selfishness, greed and misery. The world is unpredictable, and no matter how much we try, we can’t hide from it,  even by living on an island. Life can be mean, but it isn’t about how hard life hits you. It’s about how much you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you experience and keep moving forward. That’s how we grow. That’s how winning is done.

私たちはいつだって天災や堕落した政治、戦争や飢え、病気や堕落や放漫、欲や惨めさなどの問題を抱えている。世界は予想のつかないものだ、どれだけ努力して も隠れる事はできない。人生は残酷になりえる。でも大切な事は人生がどれだけ残酷かではなく、君達がどれだけそれに耐え前進できるかだ。みんなそうやって成 長するし、勝利とはそういうものだ。

The world does not need weapons and conflict. We need schools and health care and art galleries. Putting the past behind us and working towards a closer, happier future with our neighbors is the best way to achieve world peace.

世界には武器も衝突も必要ない。必要とされているのは学校や健康保険や美術館だ。過去を置いて、仲間と一緒に幸せな未来へと努力する事が世界の平和への第一 歩だ。

Accept that certain things will always be true: economies fluctuate, the political system always needs improvement, you too will get old, and the world will change. None of these should stop you from fully living your life.

ある一定のものが変わらず事実である事を受け入れなさい。経済は変動し、政治のシステムはいつも改善が必要で、君達だって年をとるし世界は常に変化している 。でもこれらのどれをとっても君達が一生懸命生きる事を止める事はできない。

Never give up.

あきらめてはいけない。

Living in a democracy means we all have a voice. Using that voice isn’t a privilege, it’s our duty. Speaking out against injustice and corruption and bad government is the first step in making our country better.

民主社会に生きるという事は私たち一人一人が声を持つという事。これは特権ではなく、義務である。不正義や堕落、悪い政治に対して立ち上がるという事は国を 良くする第一歩である。

thing-called-love

We only have one planet to live on. We all share it and we all have an equal responsibility to help care for it. It’s the single most important thing you’ll ever pass on to your children.

私たちが住む事ができるのはたった一つの惑星だ。みんなが同等に責任があり、君達が自分たちの子供に譲る事のできる一番大切なものだ。

Be careful whose advice you take. There are plenty of parents and politicians, tv shows and newspapers that all want to tell you exactly what to do in life, but you don’t have to do exactly what they say. Sometimes they are right, sometimes they are wrong. You are always free to decide for yourself.

誰の助言を信じるかに気をつけなさい。沢山の親や政治家、テレビや新聞が君に人生で何をすべきかを伝えたがる。それは時には正しい事もあるし、間違っている 事もある。君達には自分で決める自由がある。

Be careful which rules you follow. Don’t follow blindly. All rules should have a valid reason for being. If there is no valid reason for a rule, the rule should be changed or removed. Rules should be made to help us, not hinder. Sometimes they can do more harm than good. Learn to question rules and authority and make sure that these are in place for your benefit, not your detriment. Rules can be changed. You can change them.

どのルールに従うか気をつけなさい。盲目的に従ってはいけない。全てのルールには意味があるし、もし意味のないものであれば改善されるべきだ。ルールは私達 を守るためにあって、邪魔をするものではない。時にはそれは良い影響を及ぼし、時には悪い影響を与える。まず疑問を抱く事を学びなさい。ルールは変えられる 事ができるし、君達が変える事ができる。

Love. With all your heart. Never be afraid to show it, or tell someone how you feel.

愛しなさい、心の底から。自分の思いを伝える事を恐れてはいけない。

Life is a challenge. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it feels all too hard, but in the end, it’s always too short and we wish we did more with it in the time we had. Don’t waste your time. If you want to be happy, you can. All you have to do is try.

人生は挑戦だ。楽な時もあるし、つらい時もある。でも最後には人生は短く、時間があった時にもっと色々すればよかったと思うだろう。人生を無駄にしてはいけ ない。幸せになりたければなれる。やってみる事だ。

Smiling Happy face emoji emoticon

 

Download: PDF – Be Happy

We Need To Understand Christmas Better

by Timothy Baril

Happy Holidays Christmas village at night

Sometimes - in scripted text Christmas isn’t always the stuff of dreams. Sometimes it falls rather short of our hopes.

Santa and reindeer looking in window at a happy family

Maybe we’re without loved ones, or far from them this year. Maybe we’ve lost friends, or moved to a new city and don’t know anyone yet, or for whatever reason, just feel really alone this Christmas. Can you imagine what it’s like to wake up Christmas morning and have nothing under the tree? No one to share Christmas dinner with? It’s a heartbreaking feeling.

Lonely at Christmas in winter

Yet, not all Christmases were like this for us in the past. We know how good they can be, which is why, when a bad year comes around, it makes us appreciate just how good the holidays can be. A sad or lonely end to the year makes one reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. It’s an understanding that’s lost to so many of us, a holiday we sometimes take for granted.

Christmas SucksI hate Christmas, grumpy cat

People often become too burned out from their daily lives, or overwhelmed by the demands of daily life which have nothing to do with Christmas. It’s easy for them to set aside this time of year and forget about it, or get negative about the holiday, especially when it gets too commercial. Or, we often just glaze over it, going through the motions without much reflection.

A lot of people grow out of childhood and think that Christmas loses it’s magic, it’s appeal.  It’s just not ‘fun’ anymore. They think, Christmas used to be all about the excitement of getting presents, but when you’re old enough to buy things for yourself, the magic fades. This is all tragic, because it all happens when we simply fail to understand why Christmas is really the best time of the year.

The - calligraphy text true meaning of the holiday season makes Christmas so special and enduring, universal and timeless; makes it something we should never forget. We need to pull ourselves back from the commercialization and shopping, set aside the bustle of daily life, and focus on something more important.

The meaning of Christmas is this: Christmas is about the Appreciation of Other People. Goodwill towards man; gestures of love and peace; presents and Christmas cards; charity donations; family gatherings; and Christmas parties – they’re all just a variety of different ways for us to say Thank You to each other. To say I Love You. The greater joy of the holiday comes from giving, not receiving.

Santa hugging little boy at Christmas at night.It’s saying, I just want to take a little time to show you how much you mean to me, and how much I appreciate you. I want to thank you for the time you’ve given me by taking a little of my time and giving back to you.

You know how hearing all that from other people makes us feel amazing inside? That’s how we can make everyone else feel! Isn’t that wonderful? What an amazing opportunity that is.

How do we give back? It might be by inviting people to a holiday event, and by accepting invitations to another’s event. Hosting, or attending, a Christmas party is a way of saying, I value you, and I want to spend the most precious time of the year with you. I want to celebrate our relationship, our friendship, our bonds, by being together at this special time.

Classic Christmas party art illustration of a couple with food and drinksNow, we might see each other many times throughout the year, but at Christmas, the entire spirit of the season’s gatherings and exchanges are not just about having fun, or getting drunk or the food, or the games or any peripheral things. It’s foremost about people and relationships. It’s about giving of ourself.

People in calligraphy text often go shopping at Christmas like it’s some kind of chore. Or, recently, it’s become the fashion not to shop at all, not to give presents to very many friends or to donate to charities. People latch on to some excuse about not wanting to buy into the commercialism or they hate the crowds but that’s not really true, is it? It’s laziness. It’s a failure to properly value each other. It’s the very reason Christmas was created, and is needed – to battle very hopelessness and depression and negativity that routinely builds up inside us.

Wrapped Christmas gifts and presents under the tree.A present is not just a present. When we give someone a present, it’s more than just picking some random thing up at the store, and going through the motions of a traditional exchange of things, this time with wrapping paper over them. A present has meaning. Do not give it lightly! It’s a symbol of our respect, friendship, family bonds, love and affection. We could write on the face of it: “Here, I thought of you, and I wanted to make you happy. I hope this present does just that. I hope it gives you a smile, or makes your life just a little easier, or a little nicer. I appreciate you.”

The more someone means to us, perhaps the bigger or more expensive the gift, or, better, the more thoughtful. We can spend a fortune on the biggest, most expensive gift, but if doesn’t say anything about our relationship, or does nothing to make the recipient happy, it’s a waste.

Let’s take a moment to think about our choices this year. Think about each one of our friends and family. Are we planning to get each one a gift? If so – great! If not, why? Don’t we appreciate them being in our life? Will we show our gratitude another way? Will we invite them to spend time with us? Will we plan something together? Will we call them up for no more reason than to say thank you and Merry Christmas? Snow covered pine spruce tree in winter at Christmas.

Or are we not planning to make a special effort for the people in our life this year? Why? Are they not worth it? Not good people? Then why are they in our life? Or, what does it say about us that we aren’t the type of person to give back to those who have given of themselves to us? What type of person are we that we don’t give first, but wait for others to give something to us before we respond? Let’s think about how we’ve been this year and ask ourselves, is this who we want to be? Are we being good family, a good spouse, lover, or friend?

So many gifts are a waste. When people say “It’s the thought that counts.” they’re right. We love being thought about. We love that someone cared enough about us to put thought into a gift, put their love and energy and time into it. They only do that when they value us, and we love being valued.

It’s very easy for a lot of people to give gifts without putting any thought into it at all, and these gifts are a waste. And, it’s becoming increasingly common to not give a gift at all. Either we’re giving gifts to the wrong people, or we must be pretty hollow individuals if there’s no one we really value in our lives. How heartless we are! How unappreciative of everything that people do for us. Why, we don’t even realize what they’re doing for us. We’re taking them for granted. Admit it, we’re all guilty of taking a few of the people in our lives for granted.

Putting thought into a gift means putting thought into a relationship. Selecting a present is a time to reflect on how good of a friend or family member we’ve been to others, how good of one they have been to us, and all the good ways we’ve been there for each other over the year. How many laughs have we shared, how many times have we used each other’s shoulders as support or to cry on? Were we there for each other’s birthday’s, for a wedding, the birth of a child? How many heartfelt compliments were exchanged, how many deep conversations, how many hugs and handshakes? All that reflection, on ourselves and on them and our relationships, goes into each present. That’s what makes a present so special. That’s why we should be overflowing with desire to give them, and why we should be moved and humbled to receive them. Opening Christmas gift present and experiencing magic

It’s not always financially possible to buy presents for everyone we want to, or ought to. Though it’s become out of fashion, it’s perfectly acceptable to make a present as well. Bake some cookies, draw a picture, make a song. If we’ve got a talent, it doesn’t have to be perfect, but using it to say Merry Christmas as a gift to another is touching and charming. Put something of ourself into our gifts, for that’s what people really want.

Christmas cards hanging on a string on the wallIt’s also perfectly nice to send a holiday card. Be careful it’s not another empty gesture, though. Just signing a name to a mass produced product is a waste, and shows no thought. A few honest, caring words, some specific details about our relationship in the past year, a desire to spend the future with that person, these show far deeper meaning. A card like that shows someone that they have value in our life.

Time in calligraphy text is the only true currency. Money and things are nothing more than physical representations of our time. Our time is very limited, and the only thing that’s truly priceless. How we spend it says so much about how much we value and appreciate each other. Be it in the form of giving a present; writing a card; singing a song; hosting a party; attending a dinner; traveling a long distance to be together; giving up something else to be with someone; or any other sacrifice or choice, these are all, in their most basic expression, gifts of time. How much time is spent on someone is the only true expression of our appreciation for their value and worth. It says as much about us, as it does about whom we give it to. A person who gives nothing does not appreciate anything. A person who gives everything, must truly have the warmest of hearts. What kind of person are we?

When we raise our children, we know how important it is to praise them when they do good. The older we get, the more that practice seems to disappear from our lives. We’ve developed work cultures that tell us not to expect praise, and that a salary should be enough for us. We take family for granted. We often don’t work to give back to our friends because in such a busy, increasingly connected world, an exciting new friendship is just around the corner, so we don’t make effort to maintain the ones we have.

Sexy Santa girls in Christmas costume with presentsYet, as adults, we’re just as busy making choices and learning and growing as when we were kids. We had parents and teachers to give us feedback then, and it gave us confidence and strength, affirmed us as good people, and this, in turn, breeds compassion and more growth. Maybe we forget, but we need all that praise and feedback just as much when we are adults. And just as importantly, it’s now our turn to start giving that feedback to others. Christmas is a time set aside for just that purpose.

We forget to show appreciation, or affirm the goodness of others, for much of the year. Birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, these are all small events when we should be giving back to each other. Christmas, however, is a wonderful time of year that lasts not a single day, but weeks. We shouldn’t complain that the Christmas season seems to start right on the heels of Halloween or Thanksgiving’s passing. We should be grateful for whatever excuse has extended the most compassionate time of the year for an even longer period. Just like the lyrics in so many songs, wishing for Christmas every day of the year.

Christmas is a magical time where we’ve all agreed that at this time we need to set aside everything else in life and really focus on what’s most important to us – each other. It’s a time for sitting down with family and saying “Thank you for everything you’ve done for me this past year!”Adorable and cute snowman couple at Christmas

For taking a friend by the hand and saying “Hey! You’re a great person. I believe in you. The way you do this and that is really special, and thank you for this, and I’m so sorry that happened to you but don’t lose hope, don’t lose faith in yourself, and let’s do our best to spend more time together in the future.”

Two happy little girls children hugging and smilingIt’s a time when we can walk up to each other and we don’t have to be shy or embarrassed or afraid to say “Here I am! I love you. I’m here for you. Lean on me. Ask me for help. I’m here – just here for you – whenever you need me.”

It’s a time of year when we take our partner’s hand and it’s not as much about romance and lust as other lover’s days are, it’s about all the times we were there to support each other and be a team and communicate and share life, to share time.

 

One in calligraphy scriptof the worst feelings we can have is to feel alone. And we can feel like that all the time. Even with a family, we might feel like they just don’t understand us, or argue too much with us. Even with a partner we can feel like a distance has grown between us and at the end of the day it’s just us against the world after all. That feeling can be a hundred times worse after a breakup. Even with friends it might feel like they never call, never invite us to anything, never make time for us, never come to our events, never buy us gifts, never seem to value us at all. We show up at the same parties, we hang out and watch movies together, but in the end, when push comes to shove and things get hard, or at the moments of our lives when we really need others, or moments are really special to us, it feels like no one is really there.

 

Lonely girl at Christmas art illustration from DeviantArtLife is busy. Really busy. And it’s not getting any less so. We work too much, we allow ourselves to take on too many obligations we don’t really want. We split ourselves up between too many casual friends and acquaintances, so we neglect to spend the right amount of time with the people who are closest to us, or should be. The people who give us the most, who help us grow the most, who make us happiest, we ignore in favour of some other distraction. We spread ourselves out with TV and cell phones and the internet, thinking we’re being social, but neglecting face time with each other. We get so excited about meeting someone new that we forget to appreciate those who we’ve shared so many good memories with already. Meeting new people can be a good learning process, but maintaining old relationships is a life affirming process.

Relationships are so important. They take away that loneliness we’re so prone to. They help give us confidence and self respect. Having friends and family let’s us know that there are others similar to us, or who approve of us, and by extension, that means we’re good people. It’s social confirmation that we’re making the right choices in life, at least more often than we’re making mistakes. It’s confirmation that we’ve got a good heart, that we’re valuable to other people. It’s confirmation that our lives have real meaning, beyond our own selfish desires and personal achievements. It shows that we’re creating value in the lives of other people.

Beautiful Christmas tree at night with lights under snow

The sheer number of people we know, or who casually call us friend, isn’t important. We can have a thousand people around us all the time, be a real social butterfly, but in the end, these relationships aren’t going to give our life meaning, and aren’t going to really affirm us as a person. It’s having long lasting, deep relationships, relationships we work to maintain, people we put effort and time into. These relationships are what really reflect on us as a person. By going out and showing our appreciation for others, it’s a way of saying, “Hey, the world is a better place because of you, and how you’re living your life, and I hope you keeping on being a part of my world for a long time to come.” That very expression will brighten the lives of everyone we touch. That is what makes the world a truly better place.

Having a tight circle of friends and family that really understand us, that we choose spend a lot of time with, and who choose us back, this really tells us what kind of person we are. And Christmas is the time of year when we set aside everything else that might have managed to get in the way the rest of the year, when we go out of our way to be together with those people, and show them all the love and appreciation that’s bursting in our hearts to give, and all that they deserve to receive.

Happy mother showing Christmas ball  to baby near Christmas tree

Don’t we want certain people to know just how lovable they are, how cute and funny, how cherished, how supportive, how cheerful, how amazing they’ve been this year? Don’t we want to reach down to those mired in sadness, loneliness or depression and raise them up by reminding them of how good they really are, and that we want them in our lives? Or how good they could be if they didn’t give up on themselves? Don’t we want to put smiles on face, joy in hearts?

Appreciation breeds humility and compassion and love in ourselves and others. Don’t we want to be a source of all that? Don’t we want to help encourage that in the people who matter most to us? Don’t we want to feel just a little bit like Santa for a while?

Cool Santa Claus at Christmas with sleigh and bag of presents
Art by Genzoman.

What more meaningful way could we possibly spend our time than to do all that for someone we like?

This in calligraphy script year, and every year after, when the holiday season is once again upon us, let’s remind ourselves of the true spirit of Christmas, and think about who means the most to us, and why. Then let’s go out and tell them, or far better yet – show them. Appreciation is so much more meaningful when shown with actions, not just words. Let’s celebrate with them, exchange presents, write cards, raise a glass, share a meal. Let’s take some of our time and give it to them. When we have given all of ourselves and more, then we’ll have become, to them, the kind of person we want in our own lives.

That is the magic of Christmas. That is what makes the world a better place.

Merry Christmas writing

(This article treats Christmas as a non-religious, universal, inclusive event.)

Timothy Baril - Believe in yourself - believe in others

This Is Why I Need You

Romantic love couple

Love & Romance Couple in Water

This is why I need you.

Every day I try to be the best person I can be. The reason I do that, is you.

I want to help you become the happiest, most successful person you can be. So I share my knowledge, look for ways to make you smile and laugh, and appreciate the many wonderful things about you, all the time.

Every day I work to become stronger, tougher, and wiser than before. So I can become better for you. So I can make the world a better place for you.

But I’m human and being all that, every day, can be a challenge. Because life isn’t easy. It wears at us. Sometimes it gets mean and beats us down and kicks dirt in our face. It gets hard to stand up and be ourselves. Sometimes, we just get tired.

I’m just like you. I get lonely. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. I have bad days and stressful days. Sick days and ugly days. There are times when I feel like everyone hates me, and times when I hate myself.

Some days I look in the mirror and I see nothing but wrinkles, features that are too big, and eyes that are such a boring colour. And I wonder where all this fat came from.

There are evenings I’ll sit by the phone and watch it refuse to ring all night long. And I wonder why no one wants me around.

There are days when I’ll look at my work, my chores, my art, my life and I’ll feel like a total failure. I won’t feel good enough.

And I’ll feel that way even though some part of me knows none of it is true. Six days out of seven maybe I do have faith in myself but on this day that faith is gone and self doubt gnaws on my heart until it’s only chewed ruins, bleeding hope.

That’s why I need you.

Love & Friendship & Relationships

I don’t mean need like a baby needs a parent, I’m not dependent on you. I can stand on my own. But I do need you like a teammate, a partner, because I’m interdependent with you. Alone I can survive even the worst of things. But life can be so much better than just scraping by. If you have someone to share it with.

I need your smile to help raise my own. I need your laughter to give me something to cheer about. I need your enthusiasm and your energy to brighten my spirits. I need your compliments to bolster my self esteem, your caring words to heal my wounds. I need your beauty to make me excited about the world.

I need you to ask about my day, to ask about my feelings, the way I ask about yours. I need you to want to spend time with me, the way I want to spend time with you. I need you to just call me for no reason and be silly with me and invite me to dinner and ask me to build something or make something or design something for you just because you know I can and it gives me a chance to prove myself to you, prove what I can do, prove who I am. Because when you do that, I don’t feel like a loser or a failure, I feel like a good person.

I believe in you. And I need you to believe in me, because it reminds me to believe in myself.

I like being needed by you. It gives my life purpose and meaning. I feel like I have value. I want you to know that for all the wonderful ways you choose to share our time, I value you too. You’re important to me.

Life is a whole lot better when you’re in it with me.

This is why I need you.

Romantic love couple

My 6

My 6 notepad

In following with The 6 People I Believe In idea, these are My 6:

my6

Philip

You’ve grown up to become a really solid guy. You’ve grown stronger. Now you’ve got a wife and four kids who love you dearly and want to share your life with you. You’re fantastic about supporting your wife’s dream. Mom thinks the world of you and Gary and I both want you in our lives. That’s all pretty awesome. I do see cracks in you, waiting to be healed, waiting for you to become more your own person. I can see our old man in your body language, your speech patterns, the way you deal with things. I know because I saw it in him, and I saw them in myself before I tried to get rid of them. Right now we see things differently in his regard, and I’m sorry that we haven’t been able to speak about it yet, but know that I would love to sit down and just talk, anytime. Whatever the old man’s faults, mistakes, and weakness of character, I firmly believe that you do not have to repeat any of that. You are fully capable of being your own person and a complete success. Like all children, you are capable of surpassing the previous generation. If you continue to open yourself up and grow emotionally, challenge yourself with new ideas and deeds, you will continue to evolve and become a husband and parent that your family is proud of for the rest of your life. I believe in you.

♥ ♥ ♥

Gary

You are such a great guy, and you don’t even know it! You’re smarter than you think. You’ve got a great sense of humour. You’re honest, polite, considerate of others. If you took a chance to open yourself up and let other people in, I know you’d make some girl really happy. I have no doubt about that. You can take chances, let people get closer, just be yourself and people will show you how much they like you. I sincerely hope that you make your dream to go around the world a reality. It will change you for the better like nothing else. I believe in you.

♥ ♥ ♥

Tomomi

My words are not good enough to fully express how wonderful you are. My words seem so inadequate when I want to say how much you are worth the deepest trust and respect. You’re an angel, inside and out. So honest, so loving.  You’re the kind of woman that other girls should try to become. You’re a truly valued friend. You’re an amazing partner, and I have no doubt that you’ll be the most happy, loving and skilled mother. I’ve seen you make the most extraordinary dreams come true. I have seen you fight through the toughest times. You are stronger than you know. You are braver too. I can’t wait to see your next dream become reality. I believe in you. Always have, always will.

♥ ♥ ♥

Jeff

I understand your heartbreak, my friend. I wouldn’t have wished what you’ve gone through on anyone. That said, I have seen you grow more from this experience than I saw for a long time before it. You have gained humility. You have gained perspective and wisdom. You have learned the value of precious things. I have no doubt that this has made you a better person. I would even go so far as to say that you needed this. That this growth will make you a better parent, and a better partner in the future. You can fall in love again. You can heal, you rise up and you can become vulnerable with someone else. You are capable of sharing your life again with another person, and you can have happiness again. You will make her happy too. You’re a great guy. You know the value of people. You know what’s important in a relationship. Please, don’t punish yourself, don’t hide away any longer. Your friends really miss you. And there’s a beautiful woman out there waiting to meet you, she just needs the chance. You’re ready to take back your life. I believe in you.

♥ ♥ ♥

Seamus

I have never looked at anyone else and seen so much of myself. And yet, I look up to you in many ways. You’re funny. You’ve got the ability to charm an entire room and you often do. You’re open minded, wicked smart, wise, athletic. You have the heart of a lion, and are as fearless as anyone I’ve ever met. You’re a model of virtue. You’re who other men aspire to become. Maybe you have yet to find your calling, your voice, and turn that passion into a career. But I have rarely seen anyone with as much raw potential and skills just waiting to be unleashed. I simply cannot imagine you ever being knocked down permanently in life. You’re a self-made champion, strong as an ox. When you find the ring you want to fight in, you’re going to succeed. No, you’re going to do more than that. You’ll thrive. I can’t wait to see where you take your future. I believe in you.

♥ ♥ ♥

Yuri

You and I understand each other so well. When I look at you I see the person I once once. The one who didn’t believe in himself, with a hard family life, with heartbreak. But I have seen the real you too, and she’s not so far away. You’re not the delicate flower that you think you are. Just under the surface there is a brilliant, vivacious, elegant, fun, happy girl. When you let her out, she is a vision of loveliness. She is in control, she is resilient and strong, she is powerful. Only your self doubt stands in the way of you becoming all that you dream of, all that you already are and don’t even realize. You have survived so many things in life. You have learned so much. You are completely capable of standing on your own, being a partner to have pride in. Immense pride! Any man would feel like a king walking into a crowded room with you on his arm. We see these things about you. We all do. All your friends. It’s incredibly obvious to us. Take a chance. Change your life. You can see it to. I promise. I believe in you.

♥ ♥ ♥

My 6 Friends with Dreams here.

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