Reflection Revelations

            “I’m starting with the man in the mirror/ I’m asking him to change his ways . . .If you want to make the world a better place/ Take a look at yourself, and then make a change.”—As performed by Michael Jackson; written by Glen Ballard and Siedah Garrett

 

            “Yesterday I was so clever, so I wanted to change the world.  Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”—Rumi

 

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            I can still remember the first time it happened as if it were yesterday.  Since then, it has happened on several more occasions, each one occurring as if it had never before happened.

 

            “What do I have on my forehead?” I will think as I catch a quick glimpse of my reflection in my bathroom mirror.  

 

            “What do I have near my eye, my cheek, my mouth . . .?”  

 

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            It’s always the same surprise.  At first, I think I am seeing dirt, and I begin rubbing vigorously with a saliva-wet finger—as if I do not have a faucet only inches away from my fingers.  When it doesn’t disappear under such spirited efforts, I then switch to the soap and water directly below the mirror and renew my efforts. About halfway into the motion of soaping up the so-called soiled skin, it hits me like a red round gym ball smacking the side of my head. Arg!  It’s a wrinkle, or two, or seven.

 

            That’s when I go through the next round of self-deprecating thoughts.  

 

            “You look at yourself every day in the mirror to brush teeth, wash face, apply make-up, fix hair . . ..  How on earth did you NOT notice these wrinkles before? Are you blind?”

 

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            The facts are, Dear Reader, I don’t wear contacts, I’ve been far-sighted since I was a kid, and I am the proud owner of aging eyes with an astigmatism; so of course, I don’t see my wrinkles when I am at the bathroom mirror as I typically don’t yet have on my glasses for the day. 

 

            Ok, well, that’s not entirely true.  I typically have my glasses on when I am brushing my teeth—which is twice per day, but let’s be honest.  At the age of nearly 54, I do not spend much time truly gazing at myself. In fact, while I may see my reflection, I don’t really see me.  My mind is typically off meandering around the hundreds of thoughts scattered throughout my cerebrum.  Still, at my age, it should not be any great shock or surprise to discover wrinkles are mapping out my face like the tattered, overused roadmap that my husband and I once kept in our vehicles in the years before driving apps. 

 

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            In fact, recently, due to my aging eyes, and a remodel, I now have a small magnifying mirror attached to my bathroom wall near the vanity mirror.  Talk about a shock to the system! At first, it was all fun and games because I could actually see to pluck my eyebrows, apply eye makeup, and floss my teeth.  The party quickly ended, however, when it also began to reveal how deeply those crows feet, laugh lines, worry lines, and smile lines have really embedded into my face like lines on wet sand made with a stick.  What the heck? When did all of this happen? Why didn’t someone tell me? You mean, I’ve been walking around feeling like I am 20, or at the very least, 30 years old on the inside, but actually looking like my real age on the outside?  I’ve been lying to myself, and no one had the courage to tell me? Clearly, I have no real friends or honest loved ones!

 

            And so it, with criticism.  Hard, cold, biting, slashing, tearing, stomach wrenching critiques offered up freely by others.   Speaking of being whacked with a red gym ball, criticism can also be like that. It seems to come out of nowhere when we are not prepared or looking for it—like the way I felt the first time I really gazed in my magnifying mirror and saw the truth of my aging face.

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            Proclamations of censure seem to happen with great frequency in pop culture, and at this point in time, they almost seem comical given their sources.  However, when it is personally delivered and received via special delivery by an important person in one’s life, it is not so funny. Raw emotions, wounded feelings, and even misunderstandings are often tilled up like a fallow field of wasteland as a result of these personal bombshells.  What is a person to do at such times?

 

            According to wise words I recently read, one has two options.  The first alternative is to make the realization that the person must not truly see you, your true heart, and your true intentions. Understand that their vision may be a reflection of their own self-judgement or insecurities.  Accept it with empathy for their suffering, and then move on with the knowledge that you have actually learned more about the messenger.

 

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            In contrast, the second option is to think of the critique as mirror magnifying and reflecting an actual smudge of dirt upon your proverbial face that needs to be cleaned.  Of course, you can ignore it, and lie to yourself, as I have done for years regarding the wrinkles on my face. Then, there is the option of fighting back, punching the mirror, and shattering its reflection, hurting both the person, your metaphorical fist, and possibly risk destroying any opportunity to amend the relationship.  Finally, you can view it for the truth it is revealing. Thus, creating an opportunity to wipe the dirt off, and challenging you to begin to search for ways to change, seizing the opportunity for a more fertile awareness in which a new seed has been planted, offering you a chance to learn, grow, and perhaps even improve. 

 

          Here’s to magnifying mirrors.  May we embrace the true reflections they reveal.

 

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A Penny For Your Thoughts

        Find a penny, pick it up, All the day, You’ll have good luck!  Give it to a faithful friend, Then your luck will NEVER end!—Unknown

 

There it was, glinting in the bright morning sunlight, although not as lustrous as it once had been.  The blacktop had recently been paved, and from the appearance of its copper face, it appeared as if some of that pavement had covered it as well.  I started to walk on past, but like the siren call, I could not ignore it.  The face seemed to implore me to bend down.  Must. Be. Picked. Up.

 

Hunched over, the weight of my bag pushing me even lower, I could see the year.  1977, huh?  I think I was in 6thgrade or 7thgrade when it was made.  I had a total of two albums then:  Queen’s, Night at the Operaand Kiss’s, Rock and Roll Over. Additionally, I possessed one eight track tape, Fleetwood Mac’s, Rumors,that played on some portable 8-track player that I had somehow won for selling something, but I don’t recall what the somethingwas; and, I was saving my lunch money change and babysitting money to buy the Saturday Night Feversoundtrack, from the soon-to-be released movie that I was absolutely forbade to see. Bell-bottom jeans were on their way out. While straight-legged jeans and Annie Hall clothes, would soon be all the rage in teen fashion. Why all this should pass through my mind in an instance, I’ll never know.

 

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The words, “In God We Trust,” were fairly crusted over with black; however, the word, “Liberty” was fairly recognizable. Abraham Lincoln’s image was marred in spots by the blacktop as well, but he was still identifiable. I decided to give in to my instincts and pick it up.

 

I thought about giving it to one of my clients; and now, based upon my research, I wish I would have.  However, I decided not to give it away because it seemed so tarnished.  (See what I did there?)  Still I felt thankful and even a bit giddy after finding it.  Perhaps, it was the silly memories it triggered me to recall; maybe it was the bright sunshine that imbued my soul with joy; then again, maybe it was the feeling of luck—luck for me, and luck for the rescued to penny to continue on another day, rather spend the rest of its life doomed as part of a parking lot.

 

Did I have a good day on that Saturday?  Absolutely!  Did good fortune follow after finding it?  Well, not exactly, but, hey, I am healthy, alive, able to work, and can spend time with my family—I’d say that’s fortune enough.

 

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Still, finding that penny inspired my curiosity. Why do we say, “Find a penny, pick it up, all the day, you’ll have good luck?”  Week’s later, relaxed and out of town for the weekend, I took time to indulge my inquisitiveness. What I learned was quite interesting—assuming my sources were reliable.

 

First of all, there’s more to the saying than I knew.  I had never learned the rest of the saying, “Give it to a faithful friend, then your luck will NEVER end!”  Who knew?  I should have given it away as my gut had told me to do!

 

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However, before that, I also should have paused andthanked God for my blessings. According to several sources, only a face-up penny possesses the words, “In God We Trust,” which is serves as a reminder that we must trust and rely upon God for everything in our life. Therefore, picking up the penny, pausing long enough to offer up a prayer of thanksgiving before giving the penny away, is key to increasing positive fortune in one’s life.

 

It would appear that the whole, “Find a penny, pick it up,” practice might stem from ancient times.  Folklore has it that metals, such as copper, were considered gifts from gods. If one found something metal, such as a copper coin, that object was a gift, sent from the gods, to protect the finder from evil

 

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However, the picking up a penny found in one’s path can also be traced to ancient Ireland and parts of Northern Europe.  Long ago, in this area of the world, it was once believed that pennies belonged to fairies, leprechauns and pixies.  When one found a penny during this time period, the person was instructed to spit upon the ground where the penny once lay.  Then, the coin was to be tossed into nearby foliage or bushes, so the little creatures could have it.  It was further believed that when the little creatures witnessed a human doing this, they would provide this person much luck and fortune.

 

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There are other interesting, so-called rules regarding the finding of pennies.  For example, a penny found tails up should be turned over and left for another person to find. This promotes good karma to both the person who turned the penny over, and the person who finds the head-up penny.  Along this same line of logic, supposedly, if you see a penny tails up, and do not flip it to the heads up side for someone else, bad luck will befall you.

 

Another nugget oddity that I found was the belief that if you see a person drop a penny, you must return it to them if it lands heads up; otherwise, you’re attempting to steal their luck.  If, however, the penny lands head-down, then it is your job to flip it over.  Thus, changing your fate, the dropper’s fate, and the ultimate finder’s fate!

 

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A few writers went so far as to offer this sage wisdom: Do not flip a found tails up penny, wait 5 seconds or whatever, and then pick it up. Good fortune does not work that way!  These were also the same writers who further believed that when you do find a heads up penny, it must go some place significant, not just in your wallet or pocket. In fact, one source said the found, heads up penny, must be placed on, near, or with some area of your life in which you hope to flourish or increase.

 

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Then, there were these quips about pennies:

 

          “Put a penny wrapped in paper, keep it to avoid your debtors.”

 

          “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue—and a lucky penny in the shoe!”

 

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Finally, I found that some people believe that a penny represents oneness (Get it, one) with God—the unity of the spirit and the body—reminding the finder of their ultimate afterlife.  Several of these writers went on to add that, if, however, one finds a dime, it is thought to be sent from a loved one who has passed away letting you know that you are loved and valued.

 

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Regardless of which belief(s) you wish to embrace on finding a coin, may your day, Dear Reader, be filled with good fortune, much luck, and perhaps, a random coin or two.  Just remember, I shared this advice with you, so don’t be a miser, and keep it all to yourself!

          Hmm . . .maybe I’ll start leaving random, heads-up pennies on the ground for others.  After all, I can now fully say that the penny I found gave me the good fortune of added knowledge! Who knows what a penny could provide for someone else?

 

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