We All Look For Acknowledgment From Others

I’m back after a whirlwind weekend. I had planned to blog yesterday, and I found I needed the day to debrief. Thank you for your understanding and your patience…

It was a lovely weekend, and still, I am left with incomplete, sad feelings about things which occurred… and in this case, didn’t occur. I found it difficult that I received no acknowledgment for what I am doing in my life. In conversations with people, we talked about them, and then, there was little interest in what is happening with me.

Hmmm, I have this thought and wonder if I am being self-centered by wanting acknowledgment. Then I think of the fact that we all wish to be acknowledged, and there is nothing wrong in that. It is a basic human desire, and perhaps even a need. My belief is that most of the time when we are upset or down or joyous, we just want to be heard about those things… we want acknowledgment.

As I consider that I am a little upset that I didn’t receive acknowledgment, I recognize that I need to be responsible for my own feelings instead of blaming them on the people who didn’t show me acknowledgment. So I accept responsibility for myself by doing a self-appraisal.

In that, I recognize that I might be seeking approval because I am feeling “less than” or/and that I am looking for approval. Ahhh. Perhaps the crux of the issue. I may have been seeking acknowledgment because I needed to build myself up,

Wow. Looked at in this light, my heart softens toward the others who did not show an interest in me and my activities. You see, I was beginning to resent them for their lack of caring about me, about what I’m doing. With a softened heart, the fact that I did not receive acknowledgment has less sting, less resentment attached to it.

This is how it works for me when I take responsibility for my feelings. I start by being pissed, hurt, slighted, and I end up with an open and softened heart. All by showing myself acknowledgment by examining my feelings, my motives. I am reminded that the weekend was not about me… and I can get out of myself.

Yes, it would have been nice to have conversations with acknowledgment about what I’m doing in my world, and there was not really the time or opportunity, as we were into what was happening right in front of us. We were involved in the task at hand… marrying Brian and Amy. I am reminded that I need work on my confidence level in regard to the path I have chosen to follow, to pursue.

As I look back upon the weekend, when I am honest, I must humbly admit that there were snippets of time in which people were showing me acknowledgment… I just wanted more. I needed more reassurance that I am okay the way I am. But that is an inside job,a nd I see I have more work to do in this area.

It is always a matter of learning to pay ourselves acknowledgment… of giving ourselves what we seek from others. In that act, we become complete, whole, and more at peace.

What do you need and want acknowledgment for in your life? Your accomplishments and successes, your plans and aspirations? Are you seeking acknowledgment, or are you taking responsibility for your own feelings? Leave a comment and let me know how you are being responsible for your own feelings rather than blaming them on others.



Acknowledge Your Dream

Acknowledgment of Others

One of the things you need to do in the pursuit of your dream is to acknowledge yourself for that dream. When you acknowledge your dream, you are saying yes to the Universe. 

The urgings of your heart are there for a reason…. Your soul wants you to pay attention to the messages it is sending in the form of a dream.

I know this image’s title is Acknowledgment of Others, yet in the verse that accompanies it in the book, it talks about acknowledging yourself also. So, consider that the title is Acknowledgment of Others and Yourself.

It is okay to acknowledge yourself, to give some consideration to your thoughts, your desires, and your dream. Again, once you acknowledge these things, the Universe steps up to match your acknowledgment.

We get our strength from others, as well as from within. That is what the little “beings” are doing in the photo… they are looking at each other to represent turning to others, and they have their “backs” to each other to represent the turning inward that is necessary for us each to regroup.

Acknowledge your dream not only to yourself, but to others as well. Speak of it to them so that it becomes firm in your mind and heart. Ferret out the details of the dream, until you are very familiar with it, until the details are second nature to you.

Today, recognize that you need to acknowledge your dream before the Universe can step in and help you out. Happily tell the world about your dream and your plans to follow it. That is all part of what it means to acknowledge it.

When you put your intention out there, all sorts of things start to happen to further your dream. As you follow it, you will start to know peace.  


Acknowledgment of Others Brings Peace

Acknowledgment of Others

As we continue through the journey to sobriety and emotional peace, we have come to a point where we feel better about ourselves. We feel more complete and accepting of ourselves and our feelings of goodness begin to overflow to those around us. For the next few days, we will examine ways in which we can be more loving to others.

Today, we will talk about acknowledgment. On the one hand, we want to show acknowledgment to ourselves for our characteristics, our feelings, our quirks. “We go within so we can reach out to others.”

We also want to show acknowledgment to others, simply because they are human beings sharing this space we call Earth. “We reach out to others so we can go within.”

There is nothing more loving than to be walking along, passing someone, and showing them acknowledgment with a smile or a nod. It’s as if our heart is bursting with so much love that it pours forth to others, and we show them that we see them, that they matter, simply because they are another person, moving through life as best they can.

“We all want to be seen, to be noticed by those around us. We need to matter to each other, and to ourselves.” A perfect example of all wanting to be seen is the homeless person, standing on the corner of an intersection, asking for money. You have no intention of giving out money. If you’re like I used to be, you feel uncomfortable and you stare straight ahead, avoiding eye contact. 

This says to that person that they are not worthy of acknowledgement. Now, I know that some people are making a very good living standing on street corners, and there are some who have been beaten down so low, that they know no other way to reach out for help then to ask for handouts.

Either way, these people need just as much acknowledgment as the next person. I have found that it brightens up their face to say hello, to smile or nod.

We can do a lot for our sobriety and peace simply by acknowledging others. Remember, this occurs freely when we have acknowledged ourselves.

Today, take those good feelings about yourself and share with others by offering acknowledgment with a smile or a nod. Doesn’t that feel nice to do that, to connect with another in this way? Don’t you feel more at peace?




How to Offer Acknowledgment

The topic after patience is acknowledgment. I share the verse from the book that goes with acknowledgment, and then talk about how to acknowledge.

Acknowledgment of Others

Acknowledgment of Others

“We go within so we can reach out to others and we reach out to others so we can go within. It is a never-endiing circle of acknowledgment of each other, and of ourselves.”

The verse then goes on to say that we just want to be noticed by others, to be seen, how we need to matter to others, and to ourselves. It ends by stating that we need to help each other. We don’t need to do this thing called “life” alone.

Acknowledgment is nothing more than recognizing another and letting them see that you notice them. In the case of ourselves, it is the recognition and noticing of our feelings, our thoughts, our dreams and desires.

It is very simple to acknowledge someone. All it takes is a nod, a smile. If we are talking with someone and another comes up to speak with us, interrupting our conversation, we can hold up our index finger to symbolize “wait a minute. I’ll be right with you.”

It is very important to offer acknowledgment to ourselves. That means first noticing our thoughts and feelings, our dreams and desires, then lending them credence, validating them as we notice them.

On our path to sobriety and peace, we do not want to just look away and ignore these things; we want to offer ourselves the same courtesy we would extend to another. Once we provide our thoughts, feelings, dreams, and desires with acknowledgment, then we can take appropriate action, if indicated.

There is something magical that happens when we acknowledge another. You see, we are each so thirsty to be acknowledged, to be noticed, that their appreciation for noticing them is met with a smile. The same thing happens when we acknowledge ourselves; we gain more self-respect.

Take  a moment today and offer acknowledgment to another, to yourself. Experience the magic. 




How to Show Compassion to Others

As we travel through my book Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing, the next topic is compassion.

I put compassion after gentleness because compassion is another behavior we want to cultivate in our dealings with others and ourselves. If we practice compassion and gentleness, we will go a long way toward our goals of staying sober and finding peace.

Webster defines compassion as sorrow or deep sympathy for the sufferings or troubles of another, often accompanied by a desire to help. It also says compassion is pity for the person, but I disagree with this. I think that to show pity for another is to degrade and negate them as beings.

Pity differs from compassion in that it sometimes is accompanied by contempt because the object of our pity is regarded as weak or inferior. At least, that’s what Webster said when I looked up pity. People do not want our pity, but they may welcome our compassion. 

How do we show compassion? In the book, the verse talks about my dealing with a homeless man and my inability to acknowledge him because I did not have money to give to him. I was ashamed that I couldn’t even smile, or give a nod of acknowledgment. After all, each of us wants nothing more than to be acknowledged for our difficulties. It offers validation for our pain and suffering.

Fields of Compassion

Fields of Compassion

In the book, the verse goes on to say, “All it would take is a look, a smile, to let this man know I care about him, feel his plight, want to help. I can offer a fellow human being a smile, a hand, and fill a vacant field with compassion.” 

To show compassion, we can say to the person something like, “I’m sorry you are needing to deal with this.” That offers acknowledgment and validation for his/her pain. It often is all that is needed for the person to continue on in their grieving process.

We can also ask, “How can I be of help to you?” if we are, in fact, willing to help in some way. Another way to show compassion is through silent means, such as donating something that will help another, such as food or money.

The point is that we get out of ourselves and offer something we have in excess, whether that be our time, our sympathy, a shoulder to cry on, or money.

How do you show compassion to one who is suffering? Do you look away or do your reach out to them? Just for today, try to offer condolences to someone who is suffering and see how it benefits both them and you. 

Tomorrow, I will talk about ways in which we can show compassion to ourselves.





Growth of Character

I was drawn to the beautiful sweeping staircase behind this gate, and the interesting growth on the wall made me think of our lovely growth of character that develops as we follow the principles of living.

Growth of Character

Growth of Character

The verse asks, “Do we notice the character of another, grown over time on the wall of one’s being?” Then it asks if we notice our own character, evolved over time on our own wall. “Do we groom the moss and mold, encouraging new growth to flourish?”

One of the kindest things we can do for others and ourselves is to notice one’s character, and to recognize its growth over the years. It is a form of acknowledgment, of respect.

We each are interesting beings, with a character that has developed over time because of our unique experiences in life. This is to be honored – in others and in ourselves. 

When I titled this photo, I was thinking of Joe, an elder gentleman I met on a bus on the way from the parking lot to the Wooden Boat Show in Port Townsend, Washington. It was September of 2004.

He was hampered by a disability, and, yet, he was filled with enthusiasm and life. We struck up a conversation and I could not help but notice he was full of character. A nice friendship developed from that and the lunch we later shared.

We each have a character, grown over time on the wall of our being. We can continue to cultivate it as we age, lending grace to that process, as with Joe. Just as we notice that growth of character in another, we can notice it in ourselves. And, through living good principles of living such as we have been discussing, we can groom it, such that it flourishes.

Just for today, notice the character of another and offer it acknowledgment and respect. Just for today, notice your character and do something to encourage new growth. Then stand back and admire the beauty you find.   


What is Compassion?

Our next stop as we work our way through my book Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing is compassion. And what is compassion? It is the ability to feel sympathy or sorrow for another’s sufferings and is usally associated with an urge to help.

what is compassion

Fields of Compassion

To interject, the interesting and very unique thing about my book is that I wrote three-quarters of the verses that appear in it before I even discovered the gates and photographed them.

Such is the case for the verse that accompanies Fields of Compassion. I wrote the bulk of the verse in Colorado in 2003, immediately following an uncomfortable experience with a homeless man, and I found the gate image in Napa Valley, California in 2005. I later re-wrote the last stanza, which I quote below. I rewrote it because the original was just a demonstration of self-pity for my shame.

What happened in 2003 was, I stopped at a light in Denver and there was a homeless man on the corner. I didn’t want to give him money, so after a brief encounter of our eyes meeting, I looked away with shame and avoided further eye contact.

I felt horrible that I couldn’t even acknowledge this man, another human being who was struggling. After I went through the light, I stopped and wrote the verse that goes with the image, in which I talk about how I could not even show my compassion to this man, and that I cried for the lack of compassion we show one another. 

The end of the verse reads, “All it would take is a look, a smile, to let this man know that I care about him, feel his plight, want to help. I can offer a fellow human being a smile, a hand, and fill a vacant field with compassion…”

Back to our definition for the question what is compassion? You can have sorrow for another’s plight, and you can take it one step further by acknowledging them. All it takes is a smile, a nod of the head. Sometimes you wish to reach into your pocket to help with money, but even if you do not do that, you can display your sympathy, your compassion. This goes for anyone who is suffering.

It even holds true for yourself when you are suffering. You can show yourself sympathy when you are healing and dealing, for example, with grief, sorrow, or remorse that arises.  You can fill your empty field with compassion.

Compassion is not to be confused with pity, feeling sorry for others, and especially feeling self-pity. Now, Webster includes pity in the definition of compassion, yet, in my experience, I have found that self-pity was very destructive for me. It perpetuated my blaming of others for my woes, kept me drinking over it, and it kept me from moving forward and taking action. It stopped me from being useful to others. And pitying others I found to be demeaning. 

I hope I have answered for you the question what is compassion. How do you show compassion to another or yourself?


Examine Your Character

Growth of Character

Do you look, over time, at the wall of your being? Do you examine your character which has grown over the years? If you are living a sober life, then you do a self-appraisal daily, keeping track of your behaviors, your actions, and you adjust them when necessary.

You learn to practice the things about which we have talked… tolerance, respect, acknowledgment. And, in so doing, you are lending to the improvement and growth of your character.

What is meant by “character”? In the image, it is the growth of moss on the concrete wall, it is that which lends distinction. So is it with us. Our character is what makes us unique; it’s our distinctive mark. It is the sum of how we treat each other… and ourselves.

You have the chance to examine your character on an on-going basis, every day. Perhaps all it takes is honesty, openness, and willingness. Perhaps it involves fortitude – the courage to patiently endure pain and misfortune. This leads to a growth in your character, in that which makes you, you.

What are the rewards of growing our character? It raises our self-esteem; we like ourselves better and, in turn, we can like others better also. Pretty nice reward for learning to examine your character, don’t you think?


Author statement: It is my intent in bringing you this blog, to acquaint you with the topics in my book. I present them in the blog in the same order in which they appear in the book. The sequence of topics reflects my own healing journey in sobriety, from deep despair and feeling worthless, to joy and peace. I hope you find in these pages that which you seek.


Ways To Show Acknowledgment To Others

Acknowledgment of Others

We go within so we can reach out to others and we reach out to others so we can go within. It is a never-ending circle of acknowledgment – of each other, and of ourselves.

We just want to be seen, to be noticed by those around us. We need to matter to each other, and to ourselves.

We do not need to do this alone. We need to help each other.

I was so excited when this gate showed up. It came across my path when I moved out of my van into an apartment, in preparation for major wrist surgery from a work-related injury. I digress… This gate reminded me of little “people,” beings, if you will, looking at each other, while their backs were to another. It represented what is spoken about in the first stanza above.

Which do we do first? Acknowledgment of another or acknowledgment of ourselves? They are intertwined and, perhaps, cannot be separated,  if one believes in paying respect to others as a way of life. Yet, often we forget to acknowledge others, we don’t even consider acknowledging ourselves.

Why is this so? Perhaps, we get so wrapped up in our lives that we forget. Perhaps, we don’t see ourselves as worthy of our attention, or we see such an acknowledgment as self-centered. But as the verse states above, we need both forms, both ways to show acknowledgment to others. We cannot do one without the other, as life is a continually-evolving circle of giving and receiving, seeking and finding, caring and being cared about.

To show acknowledgment to another is to show respect for them as a human being. It is a way of saying I see you, or, you matter. To show acknowledgment to oneself is to show respect for one’s feelings, desires. It’s a way to say to ourselves that we matter as a person, that we are worthy of being noticed.

So, what are some ways to show acknowledgment to others? A simple nod while giving direct eye contact, and with a smile preferably, is all it really takes most of the time. It tells the customer that the clerk has seen him and will be with him as soon as possible, allowing the customer to practice patience. It tells the homeless man that he is seen as a fellow human being, deserving of something other than driving on without even looking, without offering the most minimal of greetings, allowing the person a shred of dignity.

It’s as simple as telling our spouses thank you for the things they do in our lives, even if it is as simple as taking out the trash or making the bed. This allows the spouse to feel that what they have done matters, that their effort was noticed and appreciated. We all need to feel this. When we do, the circle grows.

This type of acknowledgment by others allows us to feel cared about, better about ourselves. When we feel better about ourselves, we can give more attention to others and be less centered in self. When we give more attention to others, we can be more cared about. And so the circle evolves. It’s a joyous experience when we act upon it.

We really can’t do it alone. We truly need to help each other.


How to Cultivate Differences in Others

Cultivation of Differences

differences“We ask, require, demand that those around us be like us, share our attributes, our beliefs. And in so doing, we compare… one to another. In that process, do we not squash the spirit of one who is different then us – one whose thoughts and drerams and talents lie in a different place?

We are like the gates. Although similar in design, what thrives in one spot does not grow in another. On one, there is rust or corrosion or patina, while on the other is mellowed brass.

One is not more beautiful than another. Each has beauty in its own right, if we will only look… if we will only see.”

I wrote the first and third stanzas of this prose in my journal early in my sobriety, when I began to deal with my feelings of having been compared to my siblings and was expected to have their talents and attributes. Then, two years later, I photographed this gate. It took a few months to match the prose with it.

This is an example of why I believe this book to be Divinely inspired. Not only did I find this prose which described this image, I found better than half of the prose for this book in my journals, written before I ever saw the gate it describes.

As I was typing in the prose above, I was struck by the line about how we squash the spirit of another when we compare them to others. I know today that my spirit was squashed and it was through the creation of this book that I have been able to free my spirit and let it soar.

My experience has led me to be sensitive to the ways in which I compare people. I have only been able to identify my participation in character assassination by taking a good hard look at who I am, a self-appraisal, if you will, of my assets and liabilities. Through that process, I was able to see the ways in which I compare others. I was also able to see that I, in fact, had my own talents and skills and strengths. I had not been acknowledging them during my life.

Once I looked at myself, I then had to accept who I was, including my assets. My spirit began to heal. I felt hope. I began to be able to express gratitude for things around me, people around me. Now, I specifically focus on another’s differences, their strong points, and offer acknowledgment when I am able. My spirit has soared  throughout this process of cultivating differences.

How do you cultivate the differences of those around you?