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A rare form of generosity…

I love the quote by Simone Weil, “Attention is the rarest form of generosity.” Personally, I believe her quote rings true today more than ever. At a time where people can physically,  be it at times technologically, connected, people often seem more disconnected to true genuine conversation and ultimately relationships than ever before. So you may ask what was going on in the world and personally for Simone Weil to make this statement in the early 1900s.

Simone Weil who lived during a tough time in culture 1909-1943, including both World Wars. According to some, she was a philosopher and political activist who eventually turned to religion. We can learn some about her through her essays and writings, but to me she seems like a person who was seeking truth and looking for ways to overcome the evil in the world. Some say she became a Christian and emphasized martyrdom and sacrifice as you sought to share her beliefs and give attention to the hurt of others, which led to her dying an early death at age 34. Simone wrote “Attention is the rarest form of generosity” in a letter to a poet friend ins 1942. It is likely she make this statement out of personal experience. Maybe she felt as if no one was truly giving attention to people (the part of creation made in God’s image). It was after all a time of world war, mass killings of Jews, development of nuclear reactor (which became a part of the first  nuclear bomb), families being torn apart by war, etc. Whatever the reason, I can’t help but wonder if it was stated out of the feeling that no one was giving attention to hurting people in the world, likely including herself.

Maybe Simon believed that if people would show true care and concern for one another by giving them attention that people would respond with love and not fear which often leads to terrible behaviors. Consider the pharaoh in Egypt who thought the Jews were becoming too numerous so he treated them like slaves. What if he would have paid attention to them, learned more about them, listened to their stories about their God? Could this have caused him to love them and in turn not lose his first born son? (Exodus) What if Hitler would have given attention to the Jews in his country, learned from them, and given them a chance to be a part of the country he ruled? Could Germany have been a great nation still today instead of millions dying,  including Hitler, for a terrible ideal?

What if you paid attention to those around you? Would it improve your marriage? Would it impact your kids’ behavior? Would it allow for you to make a new friend? Would it change the trajectory of someone’s life? It certainly could! Finally, what if people paid attention to you? Consider how it could change your life.

While we can’t necessarily make people pay attention to us, we can be people who give attention to others.  So, if you want to be a generous person give your attention to someone today. Here are some a tips for when you try:

-Be aware of the messages sent from your body language (make eye contact, think about your facial expressions). Put your phone down!

-Ask open ended questions and/or specific about the person and his/her situation? Demonstrate concern.

-Paraphrase to show you want to understand when engaging in conversation.

-Don’t interrupt or insert your own personal stuff while you are listening to someone.

-Verbally affirm others.

-Notice the person in the corner or notice the person who no one else is noticing and be friendly. Get to know your neighbors. Make a new friend at work.

-Spend quality time with others without technology and give undivided attention. (Don’t act like you are in a hurry).

I am a firm believer that most of the hurts in the world come from relationships, but so does our healing. My faith leads me to believe that ultimate relationship is with God alone. I believe He alone fills the void in our lives, but also uses others to spread His love and attention. Simone Weil also said, “At the centre of the human heart is the longing for an absolute good, a longing which is always there and is never appeased by any object in this world,” which makes me think she came to the same conclusion and belief I have in God.

I hope someone give you attention today!

Dr. Natalie Atwell

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A great recommendation from a teenager

Teenagers these days often are described as being self-centered, lazy, unmotivated, and addicted to social media instead of living life without posting about it or considering using a filter for pictures they post.

I was encouraged this summer as I met a very amazing teenage boy at the beach who was so kind to my not quite teenage boys. He took them riding in a boat, helped them learn to kayak, and never acted like they were bothering him. He and his brother were very respectful and truly a joy to be around. One day, the teenage boy told me he was reading the book “Make Your Bed: Little things that can change your life…and maybe the world” by Admiral William McCraven. He also told me he wants to be a navy seal one day.  I have no doubt that he will achieve his goal and will be a great leader one day.

After I met him and talked to his mother about how she is raising two amazing boys, I saw a book at the library that caught my eye, “Sea Stories: My life in special operations” By Admiral William McCraven. Since this man obviously caught the attention of a neat teenager, I thought maybe I’d enjoy a book written by the same man. The book did not disappoint. I found someone who is very successful to also be humble and gracious.

Here are some things I learned from the book:

-Turn hardships into laughter, self-deprecating, unforgettable, and unforgettable stories.. it’s all in how you remember it!

-Don’t lie to your parents, they know. Give your kids a chance to tell the truth.

-Don’t underestimate the power of one act of kindness. Call a kid, encourage someone today it may make all the difference in the world.

-Take it one evolution at a time. Don’t quit, it’s not the smartest, fastest or strongest who are always successful. It’s the ones who stumble, fall, falter, persevere, who get up and keep moving.

-Sacrifice is worth the reward. God is always working. His hand is in everything . When it’s your time to go, it’s your time.

-People are always listening:). 

-There are angels and spirits among us. Be aware.

-War gives your life meaning. Everyone longs for an honorable fight, a battle of convictions.

-Don’t be a bench sitter

-People deserve a second chance

-Be kind to people who are going thru tough times. Continue to fight regardless of your injury! Lose the paperwork…

-Bombs can be carried in shoes… Your decisions effect others sometimes long after you intended them to.

-Overcome evil with good

-Have hope that God can turn brokenness into something beautiful. 

-Leaders must be prepared to trust who are fighting for them and to make tough decisions.

-Sometimes rough men have to protect the innocent. 

-The sacrifices of the men and women in the armed forces help to save those who may be the best great scientists, doctors , pastors, etc.

-Millennials ask why, sacrifice and say they will be just fine, they are more inclusive, more engaged, not always unmotivated.

-It feels great when justice is served

-Practice the tough plans and drills, go over them and over so you are prepared.

-Tomorrow has stories too.

 

Be blessed today. Keep going, don’t quit, If it isn’t over yet, it is not the end…A brighter day is ahead.

Dr. Atwell

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Not quite an American Sniper but a just as tough American Aircraft Mechanic!

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This past weekend, my husband and I went to see American Sniper. Scenes from the movie, thoughts about veterans, and mostly memories of my dad being in the military have replayed in my mind over and over the past few days. I don’t want to spoil the movie, but I highly recommend it.

I know I often write about my parents, and it’s honestly because I’m blessed to have some pretty amazing ones. My dad was an aircraft mechanic in the Air Force and Air National Guard for 36 years. He served in Desert Storm and the War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq during my childhood, teenage and young adult years. Honestly as a child, at first I hated him being gone because my mom was a drill sergeant when he was gone (as a mother now, I know why…dad was also the one who helped with homework…). The wives though are some of the truly unsung about heroines. Mom always said everything went wrong when dad left from water heaters breaking to snakes showing up on the front porch. I would have hated to see some of those terrorists up against my mom when my dad was gone. I watched her kill a bat with a broom and chop a snake’s head off with a shovel when he was gone one time. When he got home as a child, I wanted to know what treasure he brought me. He was gone sometimes 6+ months at a time. He also helped fight fires and things out west every year it seems. As a teen, I remember having nightmares about him in war. As a young adult, I remember meeting him at the airport once when he came home from a long trip to Afghanistan and I was so honored and so overwhelmed with pride, that I almost wanted to sign up for the Air National Guard so I could be like him. Who cares if he wasn’t a sniper, he and every service man and woman have very important jobs and do so to protect us and our freedoms!

I hope today’s blog encourages you to pray for our country, our leaders, our military, and anyone who fights for the freedoms we take for granted daily. I hope to inspire you to say “thank you” to service men and women you know, encourage the families of those who are here struggling while those in their families are serving or even write a congressman to support bills that fight for the proper treatment of veterans.

Lastly, support efforts to help veterans and their families adjust as they return home. PTSD is very serious and people suffering need our prayers, support and assistance whatever this means for you. Maybe it means volunteering, donating funds to aid in treatment of these individuals, paying for someone’s meal to say thanks, or simply saying thanks.

According to the http://www.ptsd.ne.gov site, An estimated 7.8 percent of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. About 3.6 percent of U.S. adults aged 18 to 54 (5.2 million people) have PTSD during the course of a given year. The traumatic events most often associated with PTSD for men are rape, combat exposure, childhood neglect, and childhood physical abuse. About 30 percent of the men and women who have spent time in war zones experience PTSD. An additional 20 to 25 percent have had partial PTSD at some point in their lives. PTSD is only one side effect of service, many lose families, and much more fighting to protect us.

I’ll end with the words of Dr. Martin Luther Kind Jr. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘what are you doing for others?'”

Proud to be an American,

Natalie 🙂