Memorial Day – A day of Reflection

This year Memorial day falls on the day many prefer to use as the somber original purpose of Memorial Day. There has even been push to make May 30th the remembrance day rather than our current last Monday of the month holiday. It took on a whole new meaning when it became a holiday weekend of celebration.

It became the official start of the Summer season for the beaches and businesses. Even the prices of shoreline businesses are dictated by it. Everyone celebrates the beginning of the warm weather season with Memorial Day – with cook-outs and backyard and beach fun.

But the true meaning is not forgotten by those who have lost loved ones in Service to give you those freedoms. You are even free to forget them and take what you have for granted.

For those in somber reflection today – I see you. You matter and so do those you’ve lost. I am grateful that they have given me the freedoms that I have. The freedom to express my Faith in God. The freedom to express myself, to develop my own style of who I am. And yes, even the freedom to take for granted things that are not optional in other places around the globe. I am grateful to be allowed to be me.

If you know someone who has lost a friend or family member in Service – reach out with compassion for the pain that is amplified today. Perhaps they can share a bit of light that loved one held, the precious memories of them that hold an energy that lives on as they speak of them.

A soldier dies twice – the day their body dies, and the day they are no longer remembered. So if we’re going to celebrate, let’s celebrate them for taking the path of the Heroes Journey and making the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you for your service for us all.

Written by Melody Belliveau

Uvalde’s Wounds Are Our Own

My mind doesn’t seem to want to rest, with the feelings swirling between the magic of the spiritual world and the wounds of the 3D world. Another school shooting. You can use the word ‘horrified’ but shocked no longer holds true.

Where were his thoughts?

With it brings a fierce fight for weapons control. He was barely eighteen, but they were easy to get. He posted on social media a half-hour before he did it – but it still happened. What was he thinking? Was calling it out publicly his own cries for help in stopping it? Was he hoping he would be stopped? We may never know the whys of this devastating tragedy, but the impact will be felt for generations – long after it leaves the news and laws are fought over to change it. So many are left dealing with the scars. We need to hear and understand what their cries are about in order to create that change we so desperately seek.

Not a child, but not truly an adult, he did not need to look hard to find adult examples of the same anguish and rage. That is what we need to address. He died not knowing that living in the wounds is not the only way to live. The sadness for all stays with me.

We must look deeper

The key to this is not solely with the guns – it is also understanding the anguish of the perpetrator to solve the issue. This flamingo wants to be an ostrich, but we can’t – I can’t. We have to understand to change it, and the act is so horrifying we don’t want to look. It feels too close to compassion. We are not comfortable with that. Hearts and souls are being wounded – lives are being torn apart and taken. We are not powerless to stop it. We have generations screaming in anguish and we see nothing but pain and punishment. We have to look deeper.

When we live in our anguish and rage, we allow evil to take over and a path of destruction is what it brings. It happened here, it is what’s happening in Ukraine and countless places around the globe. If we don’t live near it, we don’t want to continually hear about it and we even label it as political so we can detach ourselves from the suffering. Out of sight, out of mind – until it comes too close for comfort. That is not how we heal from it or how we reduce it from happening.

We need to see the pain and understand it. Those bullied explode and become the ultimate bully. But what causes the bullying to begin with? The one being bullied is not the cause. It is the careless words of those reflecting their own wounds who inflict the damage. What is it inside us that causes us to judge another simply to hurt them? Why do we feel compelled to inflict the wounds on another? “If you don’t heal what hurt you, you’ll bleed on those who didn’t cut you.” There’s an awful lot of bleeding going on.

Who becomes the bully?

We create anti-bullying policies but have no idea how to correct the behavior, so we merely punish it, or turn a blind eye to it. Make no mistake – it’s still happening today and adults can be the loudest voices of it. If you doubt that, just look through a bit of social media comments. We can do better.

Our Impact

“Be Impeccable With Your Words” is the first of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. So much bloodshed could be prevented if we put intentional effort into that. Our words can be a sword that eventually spills blood without us even realizing they held that power.

It is not a fault or a judgement, but rather a responsibility of us all. Instead of letting our emotions of it lead to more division, let’s learn to use our words wisely for each other. It is the only way to stop creating wounds with them. In the words of Peter Clarke, “Be kind out there”.

Written by Melody Belliveau

January Reflections

Yesterday I had written my reflections of my journey through January. But I didn’t post it. Sometimes when that happens, I find myself criticizing my inactions.- “a day late and a dollar short” came up in my thoughts at the end of the day. Guess I’m still learning to trust (as I’ve seen before) that the Universe had more to show me, as January wasn’t quite over yet.

My heart condition of SVT with an extra electrode in my heart (on medication for) kicked in and my heart spent the rest of the night galloping like the horses I feel drawn to. (Ironic since I am highly allergic to them and can’t get near one.) I thank God every morning for the gift of a new day, but this made me question again this month if I would see the next.

I knew the signs of needing medical intervention for my heart to need rebooting, as has been done before, so I waited and observed through the night like my own nurse. I used to joke when explaining it that God gave me such a big heart, he gave me an extra part. But with that heart, I have so much left to do to serve. Every single day that he gives me.

“…Ladies and gentlemen, you’ve got to understand that the reason that you are existing in this world today is because you have things that must be done and only certain people are qualified, to take it to the level that it needs to be taken to…” Coach Pain from Never Give Up. I’ve shared this quote many times and on many platforms because I truly believe this about every one of us. So I know February will be the month that sees the best of me if I’m gifted the time here.

January was quite the journey

I started it with an ambition to take all that I have been learning and integrating them into my daily habits. My goals are big ones and I wanted to make the most of each and every day. Then Covid hit my entire household of 7. No one needed hospitalization and we faired through it, all quarantined together.

My goals came to a pause, although there were some new habits that became even more important while I withdrew from much of social media to rest. My writing was merely focused on journaling and jotting down insights my meditation time brought my way. Self care that is stressed as important was not just an option but a necessity for recovery.

For me, being high risk, should have scary, and losing Betty White before her anticipated birthday, was not only sad, but unnerving for me with my birthday coming up. For someone with my rare autoimmune disorder, my age was a rarity on it’s own. From what I could find I am the oldest one alive with it in the world, and well past any expectations of the medical community.

Making it to my birthday with Covid made it all the more significant and family and friends made me feel loved with an overwhelming amount of birthday wishes. I even have a new toasting tradition that started last year with my amazing friend from LinkedIn, thank you Tiffany, and all of you who took the time to think of me and reach out.

Once I had recovered, along with the rest of the family, my single-parent daughter had a work trip week to New York and needed me to stay with the kids. Family comes first and I put my presence in those moments rather than my goals. This was a time of bonding that was a huge Blessing on its own.

Although home with a fresh perspective for my time, I realized I had been sitting in a comfort zone of where I used to be not wanting to be seen. Brene Brown says vulnerability is showing up and being seen when there are no guarantees. That is the growth uncomfort zone I had been in through 2021. Taking that self care time brought me comfortably to the sidelines. Stepping forward again was something I hesitated with. But growth is seeing that and recognizing the need to step back into the me I am becoming.

So for February, I am ready to make it the best of who I am . Life is beautiful and fulfilling and I’m going to make it the Blessing it’s meant to be.

What insights did your January journey gift to you? Do you see them as valuable to your February ahead? You are meant for something special. You matter and you are meant to share how with the world.

The Lessons of Regret

Doing The Shadow Work

Healing from our past doesn’t just involve looking at the wrongs others have done to us, but the wrongs we have done to others as well. I knew I needed to write this, and even decided I would not share another until I did. That led to an absence of me sharing. But it’s a necessity to do the shadow work, it’s even in the AA 12-Step Program as a way to heal. It is something we all need, not just those in AA.

If we can’t go back and undo it, we must share what we’ve learned from it so others can see it from the inside. That means stepping into the uncomfort of our mistakes and regrets. People speak of regret because we cannot change what’s already happened. 20/20 vision of hindsight brings clarity to the why’s. We wish we had seen the insight before.

What if we could change the past? Would it truly make things better? The movie The Butterfly Effect challenges that concept (it’s graphic to watch). Those that have been through traumas and used them in their purpose, will tell you why it became a Blessing of their bigger picture. Sometimes we fail to see how our regrets could have possibly been a Blessing. This is the story of that one for me.

My Regret

I have one, a regret of my own words, that has stayed in my soul, from preteen years probably until the day I draw my last breath. It has haunted me since my view of 20/20 clarity kicked in. The day I let a good friend down, by my narrow perception and focus on myself.

It goes back to junior high school. I had a classmate in homeroom who worked with me to care for the small animals we had in the back room.. We talked often and I considered him a good friend. My ego killed our friendship and I hurt him. Let me offer, not an excuse, but simply the true explanation.

He came in one day and summoned up the courage to talk to me about his accusations against one of our male teachers. I had already heard and was both hurt and angry, shamefully, not for him, but rather for myself. You see, it was the very same teacher, I had a deep crush on. He even attended our church alone and I spent the Sunday service eagerly awaiting my chance to say hello to him on the way out. My friend’s accusation killed that for me.

I lashed out at that beautiful soul trying to tell me something so difficult, and making himself so vulnerable to me; and yet my reaction was all about me. I truly regret that. I wish I had listened as the friend he needed. I failed him as a support system when he trusted me enough to have the belief I was one. For that I am truly sorry, and have been for quite some time. Looking back from the lens I have now, what courage he had!! He spoke his truth with no guarantees of what he could be faced with, even from his peers.

I pray God has helped him with a quality life full of wondrous moments that take your breath away. If it has been the opposite, I pray for his strength to give him a 20/20 clarity of how he can become an inspiration to others.

Taking the lesson

We all read stories, reflecting back on our own. Where in your story, did your ego cause regrets? Can we ask ourselves, before we respond to the next situation, “How can I truly be there for them?” Don’t make it about you, and you may avoid regret later because of it.

For those who have been hurt by others in a moment of vulnerability, remind your soul, that their actions are from a lens of their own wounds. You may never know the impact it has when they finally see beyond it and look back. Don’t allow the hurt to create a limited lens for yourself.

Moving Forward

Any conversation with connection requires two things, alternately: vulnerability and compassion. If someone speaks to us with the courage to share their vulnerabilities with us, we need to have intentional compassion for where they are in their share. They have entrusted us with their soul. The have entrusted us with no guarantees that we will even hear them. But until we do, we cannot truly see them. We are all in this together, and we show each other just how much we understand that by how we treat each other.

Hopefully, sharing my story, my regret, will prevent someone else from being hurt, the way I hurt him. It is the only possible way it could be called a Blessing. For me, it is my truest regret.

Written by Melody Belliveau

Independence Day

Yesterday was the 4th of July or Independence Day. I waited most of the day to write it. Why? I had to ask myself what the hesitation was about (there is a reason for everything – it’s not just about procrastination).

What does the holiday truly mean?

I am grateful – to live in a land where I can choose my career. I can pursue my purpose with many options to choose from to spread my gifts to serve others with. I have the freedom to bring my grandkids to the park or play kickball with them and to celebrate (or not) the holidays the way I choose. I have much to be thankful for.

I am happy – for the precious memories I have of family gatherings we enjoyed celebrating as I grew up. Family holidays were an important part of not just my life, but many others. Those memories can bring, not just a smile to the face, but to the heart and soul as well.

I am sad – for the meaning to others that suffered through the birth of our nation. Our history is not full of only prideful actions but shamefully cruel ones as well. Most Indigenous people do not see it as a celebration – but the beginning of the end of their freedoms. I am mindful of that. The fact is, we had to take time to distinguish who could be free in steps of civil rights that still need much more work. The facts of slavery that took until this present year to have Juneteenth declared, speaks volumes of how slow our speed of equality proceeds.

But mostly I am reflective –

Reflective of the words written on the Declaration to which we celebrate.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness…”

They are words that when imbedded in our actions make us feel like Patriots that are proud to be Americans. As a nation, however, after more than two hundred years, we are not there yet. Sometimes, we are so divided, it seems we have abandoned the desire to even hold them as truths.

If other countries, anywhere, could see us stand out based on our example of those truths, then we would have arrived. But we are still far from reaching it. Anytime we look down on others, see them as less than ourselves, we are not holding up to our Patriotism no matter how much we wave our flag.

Your neighbor, your community, your state, along with others, are all equals, no matter what their skin color, gender, religious beliefs, or political views are and they are part of your pledge of Patriotism. To say you are an American, is to say they are entitled to be treated with respect, regardless of their differences. It means your rights are no more important than theirs. They matter as much as you do.

Consider this:

It isn’t the laws that make us matter, it’s how we treat each other that make up who we are. Each one of us collectively, with our individual actions, speaks to who we are as a country. What can you do as an individual, to show you care about others? Not just those you relate to, but those you don’t are just as important, maybe even more.

If you live in a community where people complain about those setting off fireworks and scaring pets as well as those suffering from PTSD and Anxiety such as Veterans, and you cross state lines to purchase them to set off despite this – you are going against the very truths you are celebrating. Consider the others. Perhaps an act of kindness – volunteer at a pet shelter to understand the impact with more clarity or mow that Veteran neighbor’s lawn (you get the point with these examples). This would go so much further to show your true colors of Patriotism. What a day of true celebration it would be if we all acted that way for Independence Day and beyond.

Sadly we’re not there yet. From the sounds in my neighborhood, and the social media complaints that have others saying, “what do you expect, it’s the 4th of July?!” This year’s Independence Day did not reflect the unity in compassion for each other. Maybe someday, somehow, perhaps we will start.

Compassion Not Contempt

Written by Melody Belliveau

Finding the Gold Nuggets

Stepping out of judgement

What happens when we step out of judgements for others? We learn that there are valuable gold nuggets from anyone that crosses our path and we can learn from them all. Those who know me would be shocked that on my music playlist, right after Imagine from Mercy Me (my type of heartfelt music) is Eminem’s Lose Yourself. Why? Because although I am not a fan of his style of music, this song is a message that I have needed in my life.

“Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment, would you capture it, or just let it slip?” these are the first lines of the song. Powerful to anyone, anywhere, with the potential to make an impact. Our steps to our future are just that, but only if we take them as each one presents itself. This song gives me the courage to go beyond myself and take the shot when it presents, and the more I do, the more appear.

The Universe serves you

When we focus on our dislikes for something, such as some distasteful words in a song, we miss the powerful message that it contains. This song tells you to take the shot or opportunity you were meant for. It’s a strong Blessing when you are out of your comfort zone to do it, and not to quit. A message that EVERY SINGLE PERSON needs to hear at some point in their lives. I know it’s a message that helps me. Can it help you?

There are gold nuggets along our path and we cannot judge who the universe sends to present it. All we are responsible for is seeing it and using it to make an impact. Only you can decide, no matter who teaches you. When presented with that opportunity, will you let fear hold you back or are you going to Lose Yourself? See it, feel it, and then take your shot and give it all you’ve got.

Thank you Eminem for being a Blessing in my life.

Written by Melody Belliveau

Putting Out a Hand…

Reaching out a hand

There are times when the universe calls out to ask for a helping hand. We are given so many chances for it we don’t even see it sometimes. It opens the chance for someone else to see something they may need along the way of their journey. We all have a purpose and sometimes we are a branch outstretched to help or outstretched to receive. After you read this, could you reflect on possibilities in your life? Sometimes we are Blessed with signs of guidance, and it is a gift for it to be both in the same instance.

I can give you a little story that is an example of a possibility:

While cleaning my work space on my Saturday routine, I came across a printout from several years ago (2017) of “16 Personalities” where I had taken the personality test. I had been pleased with my results as it was a nod to who I felt I was inside. I searched my emails for the remaining results I had not printed. I reread the ones I had, and felt it was even more true to who I am now, at least in my pursuits of life.

The next day, personality tests were the topic of a live feed I was randomly watching. I responded to one comment and I hope he did something with it, even if only out of shear curiosity based on my response. Could that have helped steer him into a fulfilling future? Maybe….. that’s good enough for me. I gave the possibility of #IWillHelpOne with my presence. Was I meant to help him with direction? Maybe….. The possibility is there. I don’t know him or even remember his name and it doesn’t matter if he even noticed mine. It is irrelevant.

Tool to help

Perhaps you won’t remember where you read this, but my hope is you look it up and take the test because you’re curious too. Could it be a tool for you as well? Wouldn’t it be great if it helped you with a focus and you shared it with others too?

Popping up along the path

Upon reflection, maybe you can find an example of how someone has either, given you a piece of what you needed in your life, or a time you have offered it out. I hope it makes you more aware of the possibilities when they pop up along your path. It is how we are truly all in this together.

Written by Melody Belliveau

We Trust Together

An example of how we are all in this together:

Your family pet, otherwise called “a family member” gives love with no limitations. Sometimes something happens to them and you have to leave them at an animal hospital in the hands of others. What is on both your mind and theirs is simply – I don’t feel good and I can’t be with my Mom and family. It cuts you more than a physical wound. Are they spending their time with someone who sees how special they are? Will they comfort them while they are scared with no one they know?

Those in the field:

Thank you a million times for caring enough to be there for our Bane. Our trust is in you and your gentle, loving care. He is the personification of love and we reflect that back on him with how much he is loved. We trust that you will see it in him too because he is our sweet and lovable furry toddler, our child. When it counts the most, we are indeed, in this together.

Written By Melody Belliveau

The Union Issue – A Different Side Of The Coin

Union Workers

I was the child of a blue-collar worker that worked for a unionized corporate plant. He worked for the American Dream of home and family. We had a house because of it. He earned a living wage. There were difficult times, especially during s strike. It is not for those unwilling to make the commitment. He would be forced to work other jobs until the strike ended, a big deal they don’t agree to lightly. It impacts their families and trying to predict a strike’s length is fruitless. But it earned him a job with pride. We were a middle-class family.

Non-union workers

Fast forward to being an adult raising children, I became a middle-class blue-collar worker and took pride in the job I did. It was a wonderful company and I loved it there. We were asked if we wanted to vote to bring in a union. We were not pressured even once by the company. I spoke to my teammates (because that’s what we were) and we agreed that it was a company that cared about us. We were already content, so we voted no. I knew some of the ups and downs of a union. We didn’t need it, and we were happy with the vote turning out against it. The best part was a nod of approval to the company. It spoke volumes of who they were. We were happy…..until…..

The company was sold to a bigger corporation and we shifted to not being valued. “You should be grateful you work for such a big company” we were told. Step by step the things that made it such a great place to work were removed. “A happy worker is a productive worker” was no longer the heart of the business and the volume of production required for each worker was increased to the work of two plus. Talk surfaced about the need of a union, the previous vote now feeling more like a mistake. We were told they would shut the place down. A vote was never taken. We could not chance it.

Perspectives

There is good and bad about a union and many are either fans or opposed to them. It is all based on the perspective they have on what they know. So what should come out of this? Where is the middle ground so desperately needed to this issue?

For the Companies

If a company or corporation really wants to “walk the talk” of caring about the workers, perhaps they could take a look at the true value of those who work for them. Do it to the point they feel no need for a union. If threats are the deciding factor of a vote, what does that really say? When your workers can say “we see no need” then you can smile at a job well done at being leaders.

Perhaps you could find out what those who voted for a union felt and study the answers. If the company could use the answers as a learning opportunity to improve things for their workers, they would never have the need for a union. What an opportunity to learn what matters to the employees!

For the Unions

For the unions, look at the regretted votes and what their message in it is, to improve your services. Always strive to be the best allies of your workers without making it a power and dues money grab. You have a Noble purpose and perhaps you could pride yourself on making sure your workers feel that way. Then companies who really do not care will have the protection for the workers. It is a sad statement to say there are many of them.

So, where is the bottom line?

Employees are an investment, not an expense and deserve the respect of that focus. They matter, and it is your job to prove it. For many, the employee is also your customer. Is it because they cannot afford not to, or because they believe in you? The answer is important.

The Blessings of a Struggle

Reflect on the struggles

When you reflect on the struggles of the past, do you ever wonder about what would have helped you, or was there someone that was a Godsend to you? What did you do with that when it was no longer a struggle for you? Many organizations and support groups are founded on that premise. I found myself on the end of a struggles that became a humiliation. If you finish reading this (even if it’s out of pure curiosity), you will understand the share.

The Point of Struggle

I found myself short at the cash register of our local grocery store (not an uncommon thing for many) but after using 2 cards and my change, along with the pennies left behind by others, I still had to put back a package of Ramen Noodles. The epitome of humiliation as others looked on. I cried while walking home and asked God (we talk a lot) why he had allowed me to go through that. He answered me right away, knowing my feeling of failure. It was the only way he could show me what he wanted me to see.

Discovery Begins

There was a need in my community he wanted me to address. My call to action was planned before I even reached home. When I got my next (and it will be a continuing thing) I went to the same store, to the courtesy booth and purchased several of their gift cards and called the manager over and asked him to please give them to the cashiers to use when someone needs to put something back.

Why?

The Point

Because what if there is someone out there that is struggling and feels the humiliation of putting something back as the final straw of no hope? What if that small token can make them feel some of the good there still is and it is the nod they need to keep pushing on? My desire is for them to know they matter and help them keep a sense of hope.

Following His Purpose For Me

Please do not let your takeaway from this be how nice it was of me. It was just me listening to God’s direction. Sometimes he leads us where we don’t want to go for a purpose. All we have to do is ask him. He allowed it because he knew my response would not be anger at him, or cursing him, but rather questioning him. I am grateful he allowed me to serve that purpose.

Inspiration to Answer a Call

Let your takeaway be inspiration to watch for something you can do, from an experience that you might have (or have had) where you see it’s purpose. I know I missed this one more than once on that lesson.

We Really Are All In This Together

Written By Melody Belliveau With special thanks to Stephen De Sede for the encouragement to share it.