That’s not a particularly inspiring part of the story.
But still. There was alcohol involved. There is no use lying about it.
I was at my Mom’s house last October, at a family gathering, and I walked into the kitchen and heard my 21-year-old nephew, Sam (yep, that’s a picture of us) saying something. I don’t even remember what, but I’m guessing it was something stupid that pissed me off. And it set me off. I’m fuzzy on what I said to him, but I believe it was in the spirit of this: “You’re so young and you have this bright future and so much going for you, but you are SO negative. You’re always talking about getting in fights with people. It’s like you just radiate anger. Why do you have such a bad attitude?”
I think his response was a snicker and something along the lines of: “Just go have another glass of wine and leave me alone, Judi.”
The thing is, it had been a tough day. My brothers and sisters and I had spent hours in the garage that afternoon, going through my Dad’s stuff. Everything about his life was in file cabinets and workbench drawers. I felt broken and sad and mad. So it seemed logical to take it out on the someone who wasn’t dead, and didn’t seem to be getting all from life that he could.
Sam and I don’t have a contentious relationship. He’s actually a good kid when he’s not being negative (and I’m not soused). So honestly, I sort of forgot about it.
But of course, there’s more.
The Atoms and Words That Populate Our Days
Christmas day, we were all back in the kitchen, and my sister, Laura (his mom), said something like: “You know, that day you yelled at Sam? Later, he said to me: ‚ÄòMom, I think I DO have a negative attitude. I think I need to change that.’” She told me that he started acting differently—small stuff, like cleaning up his room. Talking differently. Looking at situations differently.
Later that night, Sam confirmed that his mom was right: he did start thinking differently after that day, deciding that he didn’t actually like his negative attitude. So I told him that starting the next day, I would text him an inspirational thought or quote every day.
He laughed. “Okay, Judi, go for it!”
It was sort of a joke until I decided to make it an actual thing. So every day since then, for four months now, I’ve texted him something. Usually it’s a thought about change or patience or conflict or opportunity or kindness. Sometimes it’s a quote by a famous person. Sometimes it’s a graphic quote from Pinterest. Sometimes it comes solely from my head. And sometimes I mine my kids (highlights include 5-year-old Max’s: “Even though you are so strong, you don’t have to be so strong,” and catching 3-year-old Georgia on video saying, “Sam, I love you just the way you are.”).
Sam loves getting my texts (his replies are often hilarious)—I think because it’s a daily reminder of his evolution. And that his aunt is a little crazy.
But honestly, I love taking that minute every day to be intentional with a message. It’s a daily reminder for me that the little words we populate our days with matter in very big ways.
The words we say and text and email and Pin and share are akin to atoms. Like atoms, their seeming insignificance and disposability comes from their ubiquity. “There is always more where that came from,” we think. They’re everywhere. So we let them fly around us without noticing.
But also just like atoms, words are loaded with untold amounts of energy. It would be as easy as breathing not to notice the power locked within.
But you should notice.
Clearly, as a writer, I’m biased, but I believe this with everything I’ve got: your words make your life.
Change your words, and you change your life. (That's a clickable Pinterest image!)
Unlock the energy of your words, and watch what happens. Whether it’s how you treat your customers or how you communicate with your spouse or the way you use social media. Noticing the power of words will change the way you connect.
In a text this weekend, I was teasing Sam about not getting into any fights that night. “I’m not that guy anymore,” he replied.
To which I replied: “I’m going to go ahead and take credit for that.”
The credit is his, of course. But the words paved the way.
What words can you change—today, right now? What words will make the difference?
I could drink one too many glasses of wine and come yell at you. But I think you can find it without me.
Change your words, change your life.