Who Doesn’t Want to be Liked?


A generous cartoonist, Joe McKeever, drew my picture recently! I attended the Southern Christian Writer’s Conference in which he was a workshop presenter. He graciously offered to draw the image of each of the 200 participants! I gladly sat before him with a smile. In less than five minutes this gifted man connected with me while he drew.

I loved how he made me look younger and thinner than I really am. He focused on positive features. I felt honored by his drawing.

Although I posed and smiled, this experience made me curious about how others see the outline of my life. I became aware of what I see in the outline of others’ lives. What is it that I look for as I encounter others?

We all have levels of connections from brief acquaintances to intimate relationships. What we look for in others and how we present ourselves creates atmospheres of acceptance or rejection and anything in between. Who doesn’t want to be liked? Here are three things to be conscious of with new connections as well as deep relationships.

Smiles are inviting.

Some of us smile naturally. Others don’t. Those who don’t may have been born that way. Some toddlers have serious looks on their faces while others smile with their entire bodies. For adults, let’s assume that smiling naturally is easier for some than others. Michael Hyatt’s recent podcast addressed the importance of intentionally smiling and how vital it is for all of us, especially those in leadership.

Be genuinely interested in others.

Recognize that each of us long to be heard and understood. Making eye contact with another person is a tremendous gift of attention. We can be so busy to go through the check out at the grocery store that we don’t notice the personhood of the one behind the counter. Many who serve us wear name badges. Looking them in the eye and saying, “Thank you, (say their name)” can make a huge difference in their lives. If I come across someone whose name seems complicated, I’ll even ask how they pronounce it. I’ll say it back to them with a thank you. It’s a way to honor them.

Look for positive qualities in others.

Most of us know what it’s like to purchase a new or used vehicle. Our focus on what we buy brings our attention to the same vehicles on the road we didn’t notice before. We find what we look for. In the same way, if we have critical attitudes toward ourselves, we’ll be critical of others. If we are intentional to look for positive qualities in ourselves, we’ll look for positives in others.

I’m blessed to be on the receiving end of Joe’s attention and positive outlook in his cartoon drawing of me. May each of us be intentional about the outline of our lives; how others see us and how we see them.

Questions to ponder:

What positive traits are you drawn to in others?

How are you seen by acquaintances?  by friends? by family?

How has this article been helpful to you?

Are You Listening the Right Way?


Listening the right way is a continual challenge for most of us.

Even as a therapist, I sometimes have a program running in the back of my mind thinking, I want to make sure this client gets their money’s worth. I must give some enlightenment or wisdom to make it worth their while. In reality, people need to be thoroughly heard and understood first.

If you’re like me, we think we’re listening in our personal relationships. Instead, we’re thinking of how we’re going to respond before hearing what the other person is saying. We’re ready to give an answer rather than listen. We get caught in the trap of wanting to fix the problem rather than listen.

I heard a well-known and respected preacher on the radio recently. His message was all about being ready to give an answer to those who aren’t Christians. He addressed how to answer someone with different beliefs. He didn’t address how to honor their humanity, or how to empathize with them, or how to seek to understand them. There was no emphasis on how to be open to the Spirit of God while listening to the other. The message gave an air of superiority rather than humility.

Jesus models listening to others throughout the New Testament. He took time to dialogue and honored others. I believe Francis of Assisi got it right when he said, May we seek to understand more than being understood. 

As I sat under Dr. Dan Seigel’s teaching on interpersonal neurobiology, one of his quotes stood out to me. It affirmed what I believe Jesus modeled and how God designed us to be in relationship with others. In reference to brain health and well-being, he said,

“Feeling felt is healing and is likely the most important feeling we can have.”

If we learned to listen well, we head in the direction of restored relationships. If we grow to listen well, we invite others to hear us. If we listen well to those we’re closest to, our hearts would be renewed. We are designed to feel felt by those who mean the most.

I’ve made minor adaptations to this poem by Anonymous. It’s a reminder for us to honor the dignity and worth of others. May we recognize our own longings to be heard and understood.


When you ask me to listen to you

and I start giving advice,

I have not done what you asked.

When you ask me to listen to you

and I begin to tell you why you shouldn’t feel that way,

I am trampling on your feelings

When you ask me to listen to you

and I feel I have to do something to solve your problem,

I have failed you, strange as that may seem.

Listen! All you asked, was that I listen,

and not talk or do or fix – just hear you.

And you can do for yourself; you are not helpless –

Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless.

When I do something for you what you can and need to do for yourself,

I contribute to your fear and weakness.

But, when I accept your emotions and respect what you feel,

no matter how irrational it may seem,

then you can quit trying to convince me and

can get about the business of understanding what’s behind the feeling.

And when that’s clear, the answers are obvious and you may not even need advice.

Irrational feelings make sense when we understand what’s behind them.

So, I will listen and just hear you.

And if I want to talk, I will wait a minute for my turn;

and ask you to listen to me.

Questions to Ponder

What is one way you’ve learned to listen well?

How has this poem touched you today?



Breathe in Awareness


I made a blunder when I hit the “publish” button rather than the “save draft” button on the last post. Some of you received an e-mail ready to read my post, only to get “Oops, this page couldn’t be found.”

I must confess another blunder several posts ago when I copied the wrong RSS feed and published another subscriber’s comment to everyone. I imagine some of you got unwanted email from me that day. This part of my apology is overdue. At the time, I spent a lot of energy with a tech from my e-mail service to figure out what I did wrong so it could be fixed right away. I was hoping you would overlook it at the time. Now I’m wondering that the combination of these blunders may be eroding the trust I’m trying to build with you.

You deserve quality content and utmost respect for your email inbox. I confess my inexperience and impulsivity. Please forgive me. I do want to assure you that I’m continuing to learn, and grow, and develop as I write and post.

With that, I’m taking a deep breath now. . .

This is the portion I intended to send.

Most of us have experienced certain conversations that require us to take in deep breaths of air. Whether the communication is personal or business related, we might experience a gasp of excitement or shock. Our bodies respond with involuntary rhythms of air through our lungs. Anticipation, dread, worry, fear, and energy are signals to the soul.

Perhaps it’s God’s way of getting our attention.

Not only particular conversations need deep breaths of air, but certain circumstances do. For example, I’ve experienced waves of anxiety where the walls of the room seemed to be closing in on me. Other symptoms like shallow breathing or sweaty palms can interfere in the moment.

Medical procedures usually trigger such responses. My breathing became shallow while sitting in the dentist chair as I anticipated a root canal procedure. Another time, during a yearly mammogram, I almost fainted because I forgot to breathe. It was so embarrassing!

Other than occasional moments of forgetting to breathe, most of us don’t even think about it. We’re able to take in a deep breath of air. . . . we can breathe in openness. . . we can breathe in courage . . . we can breathe in the air around us.

Breathing in air is so natural for most of us, isn’t it?

. . .unless we’re a newborn baby emerging from our mother’s womb gasping for our first.

. . . unless we’re on our deathbed, gasping for our last.

Everything in between birth and death is our substance for life: AIR.

May each of us breathe in the apologies that we need to make. . . the forgiveness we need to give. . . the learning curve we need to learn. . . the continued risk beyond our comfort. The breathing space between our birth and death are the choices we make.

Thank you for your patience. I’d love your feedback!

Face Insecurity for Freedom to Create


To look at one’s personal history from a perspective of openness and growth brings freedom for developing creativity in the present.

Progressive awareness has been liberating for me at different phases throughout my life! At this stage, I’m realizing my energy toward writing. I’m drawn to have a clearer picture of God’s blessings and giftedness He’s given me. Paying attention to my upbringing has helped me face insecurity for freedom to create. 

I admire people who have been writers all their lives! Although I have about thirty or more journals I’ve kept over the years, I’ve not entrusted my written thoughts to the public until recently. My adult insecurities left over from an unprocessed childhood held me back.

As an elementary student, I remember challenging times of creative tasks such as writing a story and drawing a picture. My six year-old self tried making sense of my dad’s death due to cancer. My family’s move to a new school and new neighborhood left me with obstacles bigger than what first graders were meant to cope with. Grief counselors were unheard of in those days.

I choose to acknowledge my past and own it as part of my story. With continual awareness comes grief over what was missed out on. To process through those losses frees me to live in the moment. In the meantime, I’ve learned to honor the energy I have over my writing.

This story touched me deeply. It’s written by Anonymous, who seems to know me well.  If you know this particular Anonymous, please comment so I can thank my good friend.

The Little Boy

Once a little boy went to school. He was quite a little boy and it was quite a big school. But when the little boy found that he could go to his room by walking right in from the door outside, he was happy and the school did not seem quite so big any more.

One morning, when the little boy had been in school awhile, the teacher said: “Today we are going to make a picture.” He liked to make pictures. He could make all kinds: lions and tigers, chickens and cows, trains and boats. He took out his box of crayons and began to draw.

But the teacher said: “Wait! It is not time to begin!” She waited until everyone looked ready. “Now,” said the teacher, “we are going to make flowers.”

“Good!” thought the little boy. He liked to make flowers, and he began to make beautiful ones with his pink and orange and blue crayons.

But the teacher said, “Wait! And I will show you how.” And it was red, with a green stem. “There,” said the teacher. “Now you may begin.”

The little boy looked at the teacher’s flower. Then he looked at his own flower. He liked his flower better than the teacher’s but he did not say this. He just turned his paper over and made a flower like the teacher’s. It was red, with a green stem.

On another day, when the little boy had opened the door from the outside all by himself, the teacher said, “Today we are going to make something with clay.”

“Good!” thought the little boy. He liked clay. He could make all kinds of things with clay: snakes and snowmen, elephants and mice, cars and trucks. He began to pull and pinch his ball of clay.

But the teacher said: “Wait! It is not time to begin!” She waited until everyone looked ready. “Now,” said the teacher, “we are going to make a dish.” He liked to make dishes, and he began to make some that were all shapes and sizes.

Then the teacher said: “Wait! I will show you how.” She showed everyone how to make one deep dish. “There,” said the teacher. “Now you may begin.”

The little boy looked at the teacher’s dish. Then he looked at his own. He liked his dishes better than the teacher’s but he did not say this. He just rolled his clay into a big ball again and made a dish like the teacher’s.

And pretty soon the little boy learned to wait and to watch, and to make things just like the teacher. And pretty soon he didn’t make things of his own anymore.

Then it happened that the little boy and his family moved to another house, in another city, and the little boy had to go to another school. This school was even bigger than the other one. And there was no door from the outside into his room. He had to go up some big steps and walk down a long hall to get to his room.

And the very first day he was there the teacher said, “Today we are going to make a picture.” “Good!” thought the little boy and he waited for the teacher to tell him what to do. But the teacher didn’t say anything; she just walked around the room.

When she came to the little boy, she said, “Don’t you want to make a picture?”

“Yes,” said the little boy. “What are we going to make?”

“I don’t know until you make it,” said the teacher.

“How shall I make it?” asked the little boy.

“Why, any way you like,” said the teacher.

“Any color?” asked the little boy.

“Any color,” said the teacher, “If everyone made the same picture, and used the same colors, how would I know who made what, and which was which?”

“I don’t know,” said the little boy.

And he began to make a red flower with a green stem.

How does the story touch you?

May you have courage to examine your own personal history. Have openness to face the past. Move beyond the losses and discover your giftedness in the present.

Honor God’s design for you. Be willing to face insecurity for freedom to create.