Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Being Uncommon and Exceptional.

My late grandmother, an strong Irish woman with a cast iron will to match, rarely raised her voice. She was a teacher when class sizes averaged over 40 children in New York City schools. She raised five grandchildren without batting an eye. She was the strongest person I've known, rarely showing fear or weakness and yet I remember her as being tender and patient. When she was upset, she wouldn't raise her voice. Instead, she would simply sit back and with an icy glare say the words, "don't be common".
Those words could strike fear like no other in our house and yet, there was so much depth to them that to this day, the word "common" brings up negative feelings.
I realized that my grandmother was telling us to strive to be better, to choose our words more carefully, to hold our tongue if needed or to think before speaking. Doing so, would be "uncommon"; not giving in to our basic impulses; not reacting to a situation, but being thoughtful and exceptional.
As I had my own children, I would sometimes hear those same words coming out of my mouth, "don't be common, be exceptional". And thankfully, my children obliged.
Being exceptional though, caries it's own negativity. Some people equate being exceptional with being arrogant or comparing yourself to others. Clearly, neither of these things are what I consider exceptional.
Being truly exceptional is being the best that each of us can be. That includes surrounding ourselves with other exceptional people and those that find us exceptional, as well. Hell, life is too short to stick around people who abide by me, I want to be around people who adore me, whom I admire!
How can we do this? How can we lead an exceptional life?
The answer is quite simple; the application is the tricky part.
Be kind.
Be thoughtful.
Be patient.
Learn by taking chances, failing and taking some more chances.
Celebrate your victories.
See miracles each day and bask in them.
Be grateful.
Expect nothing from anyone, but be joyous to receive gifts of friendship, attention, kindness and humor.
Set goals and MAKE THEM HAPPEN.
Be honest and let go of your pride.
Cut yourself some slack but don't make excuses for your mistakes, make remedies. Acknowledge your errors, but don't let them discourage you. A heartfelt apology goes a long way towards helping you as well as the injured party.

If you are lucky enough to have people in your life whom you love and who love you back, appreciate them. Are they exceptional? Tell them so.
I've been blessed with a family full of characters and friends who have exceptional traits that I admire and respect. I can learn from each of them and I am grateful that they share their gifts with me.

That being said, there are the blacksheep in the family who fall into the "common" category that my grandmother warned us about. Every family has them, even "friends" can fall into this category. Being able to recognize them and how they affect my life has been a blessing in itself. Because of them, I am able to choose to devote my time to the exceptional people and let the common ones become memories.

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