Karla’s Korner – Don’t Hide: Lessons From A Skunk
Don’t Hide: Lessons From A Skunk…
Sometimes in the midst of an ordinary day a blessing pops up or a reminder that makes one stop, re-focus and remember not only our own relevance and place in this big world but that of others as well. This week I found that message in a children’s book as I read to my preschoolers. It’s the story of a skunk, Sassafras, who avoided others because he was different. Poppy, the wise old skunk shared his wisdom and made Sassafras see his relevance and me remember mine. In trying to explain to Sassafras that he is important, including his “stink” Poppy shares these words…
“I used to worry about that very same thing when I was a young skunk, but a skunk is a skunk. We are who we’re meant to be. That stink is part of being a skunk, like the stinger is part of a bee.”
Turning the page to continue the story my heart smiled because I realize this is not just a cute little story for children, but a great message for the grown-ups who read it as well. How often do we find ourselves feeling out of place, awkward, not good enough, unworthy and irrelevant? How often do we sit on the sidelines of life because we feel that we just don’t have anything to contribute? The fact is we all have something to contribute to our world. We have a purpose. We are relevant.
One of life’s greatest blessings is that of friendship, human connection and interaction. As in the story of Sassafras, we sometimes find ourselves feeling out of sync, unimportant, less than relevant and trying to hide away because we think being out of sight is easier. There is nothing easy about being alone, in fact I believe it is more difficult to do life alone than with your tribe, those weirdos who connect with you socially, emotionally and spiritually. We were not created to hide away like a scared little skunk in the hollow of an old oak tree. We were created I believe to live out in the wide open spaces of this great big scary, intimidating, chaotic, nonsensical, amazing, beautiful world with people, not tucked away alone.
One of the greatest challenges we face today is that of indifference. At some point in our lives we all have learned to identify differences amongst ourselves. We are not born with the ability (I use that word lightly) to pick apart the characteristics and lifestyles of others and determine what we think is right, wrong or indifferent. Unfortunately that is something we learn from our environment. Ironically our environment plays a big part in who we are and what we believe. It is our job then to be mindful in not using our learned behavior to judge, belittle or segregate someone just because they are different than we are. Quite often it is necessary to unlearn those behaviors and re-learn or determine exactly what it is we believe. Taking time to purposefully choose kindness over judgement acknowledging that while we may be different we are all relevant in this world is a necessary element of authentic living.
Surrounding ourselves with a strong support system is important. My own support system reminds me of a recipe for a layer cake. Each ingredient is necessary for the cake to bake properly; when one is missing the cake isn’t complete or edible. Each person in our lives is a necessary element (ingredient) and when combined makes life complete, whole and sweet. During a conversation with one of my “tribe members” about relevance and purposeful living he said: “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around” It’s those simple everyday kindnesses that help keep us out of the hollow of the tree and out in the open fields living the life we are meant to live.
As a recovering food addict I know all too well the feelings of shame, guilt and irrelevance. During a low time in my life journey that same friend messaged me saying “you’re relevant, worth the effort. Keep it going. You can do this.” Those few words gave me the courage to keep fighting that day and not give in to the destruction that is my addiction.
Whether you are the one hiding away from life like Sassafras the skunk or the one judging others I encourage you to stop and be mindful in your thinking. Know that you are a relevant part of life, you matter to someone and in turn they matter to you. We can’t do life alone. We need each other. We need to touch and be touched, to love and be loved, to listen and to be heard. Life is about people…live it with them.
I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy!
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