Wednesday, June 22, 2011


It was one of the nicest notes I had ever received. It was from a piano student who thanked me for making a difference in his life. I saved it for a long time. I'm not sure what happened to it.

I'll bet you get letters like that. Not every day of course, but once in a while you get a thoughtful note that makes your day. For me, a meaningful note creates a special kind of happy, one that I like to remember. Think about the last really nice note you got. Do you remember what it said? Do you remember how it made you feel?What happened to it?

When I get letters like that, I save them for a while and read them again and again. Eventually, though, they become part of the clutter of my life. I give in to tidiness and throw them away. It hurts a little. I've sometimes regretted this, but, really, where do you store those special notes and letters? Maybe in a shoebox, right next to the box of photos that your grandkids will someday organize?

I received a gift that changed all that. It was an inexpensive notebook that had been covered with pretty paper and decorated with ribbons. It sat on my shelf for a long time looking lovely, but quite empty.

What to do with an empty book? What to do with sweet little notes? I think I found a match. This idea is so simple that even I can do it. All it takes is a little glue and it doesn't need to be acid free, archival stuff. I'm surprised I didn't think of it sooner.

Another messy problem for me was those cute little handouts I sometimes get. They might have little thoughts or quotes on them. Sometimes they are decorative. These go on my fridge for a while, but how many quotes do I want on my fridge? Do I want my fridge to become a bulletin board. Trust me, I'm not a neat-freak, but even I have limits.

After a reasonable time on my fridge/bulletin board, these little handouts can also make the move to my empty book.

Besides providing storage for special notes and handouts, this book can provide a little pick-me-up, on discouraging days, when I question my value or my effectiveness. Reading notes of appreciation can remind me that I am making a difference. I am loved and valued.

The handouts can remind me of special times with people who care about me. Reading the thoughts on them can lift my spirits, or change my attitude on a difficult day. Even on difficult days I can be grateful and I can be glad to be me.

Not every note or handout needs to be saved, but some are worth keeping. If I come across a thought that speaks to me, I don't have to wait for a handout. I can write it in my book. Pretty markers are fun, but totally optional. Sticky notes work too.

This is the first thought that made it into my notebook. "By being yourself you put something wonderful in the world that wasn't there before." (Edwin Elliot) I don't know who Edwin Elliot is, but I love the way he thinks. Don't you?

Do you have an empty notebook and some pretty paper? Size doesn't matter. You can dress it up, but only if you want to. It's a little scrapbook, but simpler. No stress involved.

Make it plain or fancy. Make it fun. Just do it. Create a space for meaningful notes--a space that you can visit whenever you want. Mine is called Linda's LoveNotes. Maybe yours will be called Teresa's Treasures or Sally's Stuff.

If notes of appreciation make a difference for you, maybe you can make a difference for someone else by writing thoughtful notes. Notice people. Catch them doing something nice and tell them you appreciate it. Notes don’t have to be elaborate, just heartfelt. They don’t even have to be on fancy cards. Nice words on notebook paper are just as meaningful. Make someone’s day.

If it’s been a while since you’ve received a thoughtful note, why not write your own. No one knows you better. Write a note that says the things you’d love to hear. Write the note that you would love to read. It's okay to love yourself.

What would you say to yourself? Here are some ideas.

I love your new haircut. It looks great on you.

By the way, have you lost weight? I noticed. You look terrific.

You have the nicest kids. I think you’ve taught them well.

I really appreciate your kindness. You made a difference last week when you stopped by to say hello.

That was a great lesson you gave on Sunday. It touched my heart.

I love your smile. You make me happy. Thanks for being my friend.

Linda Garner

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Work in Progress

It's true. I'm not perfect. Neither are you. I'm working on it. I have a feeling you are too. I'm a work in process. I have flaws, but I also have hope. I have both goals and dreams.

What if we were only valued for our achievements? What if the only goal that mattered was perfection? What if our worth was attached to the ends and not the means? What if only the perfect were considered worth something?

Sometimes we focus too much on results. We demand perfection and feel worth less when we fall short of our expectations. Perfection is a life-long process and may be beyond our grasp. Is there no joy in the journey?

If we harbor thoughts of worthlessness because we are not perfect, we have set ourselves up for failure. We will never be good enough.

This is a thinking error. Indeed our worth is infinite. Our service and contributions, though not perfect, are valuable. Your life has value. So does mine.

You are in charge of your thoughts. You can change your thinking. You can choose to value your efforts, your body, your appearance, your feelings, your thoughts. You can choose to enjoy the present. You can choose to enjoy becoming. You can choose.

You can do this. You can. You are a work in progress. What could be better.


Linda Garner

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It'll Be Our Secret

The page was covered with circles of different sizes. I invited the girls to write in each circle something they liked about themselves. I suggested that some could be about their appearance, but some should be about other things. Talents could be included, as well as character traits.

Most girls got right to work, but one beautiful and outstanding girl stared at the paper in her lap, and then gave me a questioning look. "This doesn't feel right," she said. "This feels like bragging." She really looked uncomfortable. "We aren't supposed to..." Her voice trailed off, as if she wasn't sure how to finish the sentence.

I finished it for her "We aren't supposed to like ourselves?"I asked. "Is that what you're thinking?"

She nodded. She seemed embarassed.

The discussion that followed was exciting. Ideas were shared that gave her a new perspective on self-worth. We gave her permission to celebrate her strengths. We gave her permission to love herself.

Lots of us identify with Emily's (not her real name)question. "We aren't supposed to like ourselves, are we? Liking ourselves is not part of our culture. We think that people who like themselves are selfish and bratty. We think that people who like themselves are mean.

Honestly, I think we have it backwards. People who like themselves are free to reach out to others. They serve more. They love more. They worry less about appearances. People who like themselves have more compassion. They don't go around hurting others.

Bullies are not people who like themselves. Prisons are filled with people who don't like themselves. Drug abuse, eating disorders, personality disorders, behavior disorders, and addictions take root in people who don't like themselves.

If we are supposed to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, we better like ourselves a lot.

Draw some circles on a piece of paper. It's easy. Grab some lids from things in your cupboard and start tracing. In each circle write something you like about yourself. Don't be embarassed. Nobody has to see it but you. It'll be our secret.

Isn't it time we starting loving ourselves?

Linda Garner