|Hi there,This is a bit longer and carries a more serious tone than my usual posts but it’s important so I hope you can read it as your time allows. You can also scroll down to the larger font to read the challenge and skip the story part, if you prefer. I may share the story at the August 12, 2013 Motivational Mondays event – where I will also be introducing you to 6 talented speakers /entertainers. I hope you can come if you are in Winnipeg. Scroll right down to the bottom to register – it’s just ten bucks. MoMondays are popping up in cities everywhere, check the link for a city near you.
Best of August to you, Steph 🙂
*** *** *** *** *** ****
“One of these days you’re gonna love me. Sit down by yourself and think. About the times you turned from me. And what good friends we might have been. And then you’re gonna sigh a little, maybe even cry a little. One of these days you’re gonna love me.” from a Tim McGraw song “One of These Days”
That song almost always brings a tear to my eye. It reminds me of the people in my life that I should have been nicer to.
I wasn’t 20 steps in our downtown library, when a man called me by name. “Stephanie! Do you remember me?”
Don’t you hate it when people put you on the spot like that?
I searched through the rolodex in my mind while I looked this fellow over. He was a big man. He had long, curly hair that almost covered his eyes. He had a big, bushy, unkempt beard. I was certain I had never met this man before.
And then he said his name. “I’m Jim.” (pseudonym)
Oh, Jim. I did remember Jim. Suddenly the memories came like a landslide. Jim was the boy in grade school who had a very tough time. Perhaps you had an ‘Jim’ in your school too? My Jim had to go through daily humiliation – not only inflicted by the students, but by our grade 3 teacher.
You see Jim was dirty. Hardly the fault of an 8 year old boy, one can only imagine what his home life was like. Everyday when he came to school his first task was to show both sides of his hands to the teacher. And if they were dirty (which they were – everyday) she would hand him a bar of soap that she kept in her desk just for him. Off he would go to the washroom then come back to show her his hands again to see if he had pasted the first ‘test’ of the day.
My 8 year old self felt so horrified for him, in some way knowing something was terrible wrong but not knowing what or how to handle it.
I remember Jim at the sock hop. Going from girl to girl asking her to dance. No after no, he just kept asking undeterred. I knew I was next in line, I remember all these conflicting feelings running through my head. I knew what I should do and I knew what I wanted to do. We danced. But all the while I remember wondering what all the kids who were watching were thinking. I was there, but I wasn’t there – do you know what I mean?
Back in the present day library Jim was quite animated. He knew about me and what I was doing and who I married. He said he read about me in the paper – so I though maybe it was the community paper and that we lived in the same part of town.
“Where do you live?” I asked, anticipating we were in the same neighbourhood.
His answer shocked me.
“The Salvation Army on Higgins” he said, “I’ve been struggling with depression but I’m getting better.”
He said this, not with sadness. He said this with pride and hope in his voice. I’m getting better.
“Oh Jim, I’m so sorry, no one deserves that.”
We chatted for a few more minutes until a lady in the library told us to shhhh. Oops, sorry.
“Jim, I have to go, I taking a class upstairs that starts at 2 o’clock. It was really nice seeing you.”
And we parted.
Even though my body sat upstairs in that class, my mind was anywhere but. I realized that I did not do the very thing that I teach my clients to do. I did not do the thing that I encourage my audiences to do and that is to ask W.I.N. – what’s important now.
Surely if I had asked myself that question, I would have realized that sitting in that class was not what was most important at that time. Going to sit down with Jim and buying him a coffee would have been so much more valuable. I was really disappointed with myself.
When I was telling my family this story around the supper table that evening (where was he eating and was he with people who loved him?) I started to cry with sadness at the opportunity I had let slip away.
My son (who works for the Police Service) explains to me that the Salvation Army is a better place than some of the other options, that mostly it houses people who are down on their luck or have a mental illness rather than those who lives have become dedicated to drugs and alcohol.
The next day I had a bright idea. I was going to an event downtown – he lived downtown. What if I asked him if he would like to go?
Yes, that’s what I would do.
For the first time in my life I phoned the Salvation Army for something other than a donation pick up. While they won’t tell you if a person is staying there, they will leave a message in case they are. I leave my name and number and Jim calls back quickly.
I tell him my offer and he quickly agrees – just as quickly he reneges, “Oh, I can’t tonight he says, I don’t have any money.”
I tell him I’m happy to buy him a coffee and we make a plan. I go the to venue and I wait. And wait. And wait. The event start but no Jim.
Jim doesn’t show up. Jim doesn’t call. And that’s the end of the story.
But I don’t want it to be that end of the story. I want to hear from Jim, I want to hear about his life, his family. I want to know if depression caused his hard times at school or if school caused his hard times in life.
I want to help him, I want to tell him how sorry I am that he went through all that humiliation in school, I want to say that I’m sorry I didn’t know how to help him in school, that I wasn’t nicer, that I didn’t buy him a coffee when we met at the library.
I’m sorry Jim – no one deserves to live at the Salvation Army.
Everyone knows a Jim. What do you call yours?
This month, I encourage, I challenge, I implore you to reach out to someone. Someone who is underserved. Someone who hasn’t had the same opportunities as you have had, someone who just needs a break, or a hug or a ticket to MoMonday.
Reach out to someone from your past, someone it’s time to forgive, someone who would be thrilled to hear from you.
Reach out to someone from your present, who is being ignored, shut out, left behind. We don’t know their story. Maybe it’s time we found out?
That song that I quoted at the beginning of this post almost always brings a tear to my eye. It reminds me of the people in my life that I could have, should have been nicer to. Check out the song, if you are so inclined…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Po7MXqrHfj4
“One of these days you’re gonna love me. Sit down by yourself and think. About the times you turned from me. And what good friends we might have been. And then you’re gonna sigh a little, maybe even cry a little. One of these days you’re gonna love me.”
Stephanie Staples, Your Friendly Neighbourhood Game Changer
Stephanie Staples, CSP* is the author of When Enlightening Strikes – Creating a Mindset for Uncommon Success and an internationally acclaimed motivational speaker. She empowers audiences & clients across North America to bring their ‘A’ game to work and to life. Stephanie has a special interest in working with and empowering nurses and healthcare providers. She happily calls Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada home. You can get loads of complimentary resources to help with issues such as work/life balance, wellness, stress management and happiness in general, as well as find out more information about her coaching and speaking services at http://www.YourLifeUnlimited.ca.
* Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), conferred by the National Speakers Association is the speaking profession’s international measure of professional platform proficiency. Less than 10 percent of speakers have earned this credential and are recognized as some of the best in their fields. Stephanie was one of only five professional speakers in Canada (and the only woman) to attain this designation in 2013.