Last Wednesday, at least in Richfield Springs, the day was a little greyer, the snow was a little thicker, and the afternoon ticked by agonizingly slowly, as if the slush frozen with salt and sand had clogged time immobile.
But it wasn’t the weather that was dampening people’s spirits. It was the loss of a dear woman many called friend. Last Wednesday, friends and family said goodbye to a very remarkable woman, Helen Dufloe.
How do I know she was remarkable even though I had never met her? Because I was told so by another very remarkable woman, Barbara Petersen.
I was due my lunch break when I saw Barbara Petersen outside, so I took the time to say hi and to bring her a couple of the photos she had submitted for publication in that week’s Mercury.
Over a cup of tea, Barbara told me how she had spent her morning paying final tribute to her friend and mentor, Helen. Her reminiscing began with a brief accounting of how they met, and ended with a recap of how Helen had taken her under her wing and given Barbara new life.
This got me thinking about all of the remarkable people in my life, the times I have been taken under someone’s wing, and how many people have made a difference in my life. Then, I took it a step further and thought about how many people’s lives I may have touched in a positive way. How many people would think that I had been a positive influence in their lifetime?
Life is full of choices, and it is often hard to not categorize these choices as right or wrong. But I’ve learned in life that oftentimes there is no right or wrong, just different situations, different reactions, different choices and different outcomes. There are many factors that lead up to actions and their results. But one factor can remain consistent. Our intentions.
As long as we keep our intentions true, as long as we can strive to be the best person we can be to ourselves and those around us, then we will have a positive influence on other people’s lives.
How do we keep our intentions positive? It’s difficult. For instance, if we say we are praying for someone because we are truly interested in sending them energy, or asking for intervention for them, that is a good intention. But if we say we are praying for them to make them feel guilty about their actions or to get them to go to church or confession, that is a bad intention.
If we loan someone money knowing they are not going to give it back, then go around bragging about how we helped someone who was down and out and was never paid back, that is a bad intention. If we loan someone money not expecting it back, that is a good intention.
Only we know the motive behind the actions we take. And it is those motives, combined with our actions, that reflect on the type of person we are and how others receive us into their lives.
Although I never met Mrs. Dufloe, I imagine she was a woman of good intentions, just from the way Barbara was talking about her.
We only get to live this lifetime once, and each moment of each day we live is lost once it passes. How do we make the most of each day? How do we use our time effectively so that when all is said and done, people will weep tears of sorrow at our passing, not tears of joy?
You focus on you, not others. You focus on doing whatever it is you’re doing to the best of your capability. You speak up for what is right, to the person you need to address, not behind their backs. You pitch in, and help, when you can, whether it is physically taking up someone else’s burden or just giving guidance and support. You remain honest. You act trustworthy.
All of these little tips fall under the one category of keeping your intentions true.
There is an affirmation I learned during my Reiki training that goes, “Just for today I will be thankful for all the goodness in my life. Just for today I will not worry. Just for today I will not anger. Just for today I will do my work honestly. Just for today I will be kind to my neighbor and every living thing.”
These are basic truths that we should not have to be reminded to fulfill each day. But sometimes it helps to see them in writing. I can’t always follow all of them, but they are a goal each day. I give them to you now, to try and live by.
If you keep your intentions true, life will be a lot sweeter and filled with more friends. People will remember you with a smile, not a scowl.
And maybe, just once, you will make a difference in someone’s life.
So go out there and remember, life is for the living, so make a difference, and live it.