Little Words Can Have a Giant Impact

Photo by Sanja Gjenero

One weekend during my middle school years, I invited a few of my girlfriends over for a pool party.  During the festivities, my mother noticed one of my friends appeared to be upset.  When Mom asked her what was wrong, she said she hated her big nose.  My mother told her she had a beautiful Greek nose, and it was perfect.  From then on, my friend never worried about the size of her nose, and grew to love it.  The conversation had lasted only a few minutes, but the impact of my mother’s loving words to my friend have lasted over two decades.

My childhood friend told me this story a few weeks ago, when I announced on Facebook that I was looking forward to visiting my parents.  She wanted me to say hi to my mother, that she was always so sweet to her, and then shared her story.  Although I already knew my mother was a favorite of my adolescent friends, I was touched and proud.  When I relayed the story to Mom, she had no recollection of the exchange, but I could tell it made her feel good to know she had made such a positive impact.

We have countless conversations in our lifetimes with strangers, friends, co-workers, loved ones, people who look up to us…sometimes we never know the impact a few casual words can have on someone. There are comments I’ve received–especially when I was growing up–that have stuck with me, some playing a part in shaping my identity and how I thought of myself.  I’m sure the majority of those instances were of no consequence to the other person, and they would be shocked that I recall their words and the way I felt after I heard them.

The image-boosting conversation between my mom and friend made me think.  I want to be more aware of what I say to others.  Not to analyze everything I say it, but to remember that my words can have a long-lasting positive or negative effect.  Compliments and encouragement should only be sincere and heartfelt.  Criticism or advice should come from a place of friendship and love.  Although contrary to the nursery school rhyme about sticks and stones, I think our words do have power.  Power to heal or hurt, build up or tear down, inspire or discourage.  If I do make an impact, I want it to be a positive one.  How extraordinary it would be to hear I had a permanently positive effect on one’s self-esteem, like my mom had on my friend so many years ago.  Little words can have a giant impact.  So use your words well.

Bite Your Words

Remember the post Eating Your Words on Purpose?  Here is a continuation of the conversation about food-related words.

Words Are Food Phrases #2:  How do you eat an elephant?

I think we all know the answer to this riddle…One bite at a time.  I love this saying because it plunges deeper than the surface answer and uncovers some treasure-worthy advice.  Many goals or problems appear monstrous at first glance–like the giant mammal, the elephant–but once broken down into mini goals or tasks, are revealed as entirely manageable.  If you keep plodding along, step by step, you’ll eventually find yourself at the finish line.  Or the elephant’s tail.  I’m one of those people who tend to experience a state of overwhelm when I look at a really big-picture situation.  I’ve learned that if I concentrate on one little thing at a time, I’m able to get it done, with a lot less stress and self-doubting.

Words Are Food Phrases #3:  Biting off more than you can chew.

I think this relates to the preceding phrase.  Biting off more than you can chew is not something you want to do, according to the traditional use of this idiom.  However, if you nibble away at the massive portion you have in front of you, why not take the biggest serving you can?  Go for it!  We often underestimate what we can handle because we don’t want to disappoint ourselves or someone else.  We don’t want the added stress or risk the possibility of failure.  Innovators, entrepreneurs, and other influential individuals would never have gotten as far, or achieved as much, as they did if they subscribed to the idea of only biting off what they could chew.

Final thoughts

My advice is to take on those elephants and bite off way more than you can chew.  Then calmly take small forkfuls and chew thoroughly to receive all the nourishment possible.  And enjoy the process!

Do you agree with my take on these phrases?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Chatty Cathy. Chew Count. I Need Caffeine.


It’s Day 1 of my Spring Cleanse, and I’ve already encountered a few challenges. Here’s how I planned for the cleanse to go:  1) With the elimination of TV-watching I would get tons done.  2) By eating only the best, cleansing food I would lose stubborn pounds.  3) Because of the great stuff I was putting into and on my body, my skin would glow and my muscles would be up front and center, wait that sounds weird defined.  Basically, I envisioned a goddess with my face on it, conquering the world with her productivity and glowing, defined body parts.  Yeah, I know.

Here’s the thing for me…revising what I eat is one thing, revising my habitual actions (routine) is another.  Daily routines are no-brainers.  Many of us wouldn’t be able to function in the morning without them–imagine having to think hard about brushing your teeth, getting dressed, making coffee, etc when bleary-eyed and still brain-dead.  It would be a disaster!  I’m trying to change some habitual behaviors of mine during this cleanse, and am having some challenges with…

Reigning In My Mind’s Chatty Cathy

[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=chatting+on+phone&iid=6306727″ src=”7/0/f/7/teenage_lifestyle_shot_e3b1.jpg?adImageId=11866693&imageId=6306727″ width=”234″ height=”352″ /]One of the many characteristics I’ve inherited from my amazing father is an overactive mind.  Most of the time, it’s in constant motion.  The upside is generating tons of ideas, plans, and solutions.  The downside is the incessant chatter of second guessing, worrying, and over thinking.  It’s really hard to shut down once it’s started, and can be a pain when I need to focus or relax.

One activity that ceases my chatter is exercise.  Not cardio machines, I’m talking kick butt spin class, like the one I attended this morning.  It took 20 minutes or so for Chatty Cathy to put a lid on it, but soon I found myself only aware of the music pumping in the room, my (labored) breathing, and the rhythm of my movement.  I was present 100%, giving it my all, and getting a profoundly better workout than if I was contemplating my next article idea, what I was going to eat later, or my schedule for the week.

I want to be present when I’m doing something I enjoy.  I want to be present when I’m talking with someone I care about.  Being several places at once in my head equals to really not being anywhere. I want to change that.

Eating Mindfully

[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=eating+alone&iid=260626″ src=”0257/9567cc3a-7e50-40e4-a950-18838f2caaaf.jpg?adImageId=11866787&imageId=260626″ width=”234″ height=”156″ /]I like to multitask, so eating while not watching TV, reading, or doing work is a tough one.  The purpose of eating without distraction is to appreciate your food, be tuned in to your fullness meter, and to be more satisfied.  I completed this mission today, though not completely with success.  My eyes darted around the table at anything with words on it.  “No!  I must not read while eating!”  The product description on the back of the coconut lotion caught my eye.  “Oh, it has passion flower in it?  And it’s wheat and gluten-free like my cleanse, that’s…Oh, no!  I’m doing it again!  Uh-oh, I don’t remember eating those last few bites.  Did I chew thoroughly?”  Of course I had no idea because I wasn’t paying attention to my food. Again.  Why do I treat my meals like an ignored child?  Now I feel guilty.

Going Sans Caffeine = Negative Nelly

[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=negative+thoughts&iid=250629″ src=”0247/c0708c02-74f3-4080-8b3d-e0ba365964e1.jpg?adImageId=11867336&imageId=250629″ width=”380″ height=”257″ /]I did prepare ahead of time for this cleanse by weaning myself off coffee entirely–a feat in itself as I was needing a large french press (and then some) to make it through my day.  Then I was only drinking a couple of cups of green tea until today.  Totally eschewing caffeine might be a problem however.  When I don’t have any caffeine, I get tired.  When I’m tired, I get cranky.  When I get cranky, I tend to experience more negative thoughts.  As I am human and this is the real world, I can’t expect to be positive all the time on this cleanse.  That wouldn’t be cleansing, that would be pretending.

In general, I think the best way to deal with negative thoughts is to actually deal with them. To treat them like Martha Stewart would treat pesky guests.  She wouldn’t ignore them or throw them out.  She would acknowledge them, welcome them in, politely listen to what they had to say, and then cheerily send them on their way with a homemade craft or edible gift.  So I will treat my thoughts during this cleanse as I do normally–I won’t ignore negative thoughts, but I also won’t allow them to take up much of my time.  Martha will be so proud.

I don’t know if any of this blabbering (side effect of cleansing?) helped anyone, but I hope you found some benefit in it.  Let me know!