Things I Re-Learned While Nervously Watching the Houston Flood Unfold #Harvey

For the past few days, I’ve been sitting, feeling helpless and stressed as I read post after post of people begging for their lives and the rescue of their stranded family members. I know it’s probably not healthy to constantly watch these types of tweets, but I also feel it’s emotionally unhealthy to just look away and be apathetic.

 

So I have been riding my knees from afar, praying, knowing that is really all I can do at the moment. I’ve been tweeting emergency information to those who need it, hoping that one of the numbers will work for them. I’ve donated to a trusted cause.

 

Thankfully, the vast majority of people who were in trouble have been rescued according to the most recent reports. And I’ve been seeing some beautiful stories come out of this ugly situation that have definitely inspired me.

 

A few key truths have been revealed in the past few days about people (particularly Americans) and about life in general. These are truths that I already knew to be true, but it’s a bit of a relief to see them confirmed once again. This country has been in a state of emotional distress for about a year, making many of us question what is true and what is “fake.”

 

Here is what I re-learned from watching the Houston flood drama unfold.

 

There Are Good People Out There–LOTS of Them
It can be tempting to focus on all the stories about people who are negative, mean, and apathetic — especially thanks to 24/7 social media. But if you shift your focus, you’ll see that there are many, many, many really awesome, thoughtful, and caring people in the world. They just don’t get as much attention on a daily basis. See this story, this story and this photo (volunteers lined up) if you need to be reminded that there are plenty of very good human beings still out there.

 

We Have to Help Ourselves and Each Other in Trying Times — We Need Each Other
When situations like the Houston flood occur, citizens can’t always expect a gov agency or emergency phone number to provide safety or rescue immediately. We have to be prepared to help each other and ourselves in stressful times.

 

When you’re in a position to help someone in distress, your responsibility as a good human is to do what you can to help. It might be loading your boat into the back of your pickup and driving miles to save a family. It might mean donating supplies to a shelter to make sure that people are clean and eating. It might mean putting your favorite pastime on pause and spending the day spreading necessary information. It might mean simply getting on your knees and praying in earnest. We have to help each other.

 

One woman on Twitter took the time out of her day to make calls to emergency lines on behalf of distressed people on social media to ensure that they were on rescue lists. It was a small thing that made a big difference.

 

Preparedness is the main way we can help ourselves. No one should be fighting over bottled water the day before a major natural event. Every home should have an emergency preparedness kit, canned foods, and loads of water stashed away. People often laugh at doomsday “preppers” — those people who stock their basements and emergency shelters with canned goods and water. But to a certain degree they have the right idea in mind. With climate change and so many other threats worldwide, now more than ever we have to be prepared for emergencies.

 

I also think it might be a good idea to make small, inexpensive boats requirements for every household or rental property that is located in a potentially vulnerable coastal area. Or at least a fleet of boats stocked by towns/cities. I learned that you can buy a standard boat for under $200, which I think is reasonable. Countless people were saved because of the bravery and dedication of private citizens who owned their own boats.

 

Follow Your Intuition, Always
Days before the flooding happened in Houston, some people from the area were posting memes and light-hearted jokes about Harvey. They were unfortunately doing this instead of preparing and making serious decisions about what to do to protect themselves and their families. Sometimes the fun of social media has to be put aside to handle serious matters. Also, I believe that regardless of what may be broadcast on the news, you have to follow your intuition in tough situations like this. Trust your intuition, always.

 

Color, Religion, Etc. Doesn’t Matter When You Need Urgent Help

I believe it has only been a few weeks since a group of white nationalists marched on Charlottesville VA, threatening minority groups with violence. It lead to the death of an innocent woman who was bravely countering the hate.

 

One important truth that the Houston floods has revealed is that color doesn’t matter when it comes to saving someone or getting saved. People of all races, religions, and backgrounds were riding in those boats together, just thankful to be with each other and safe.

 

America Can Still Be Great Again, But Again It’s Up to Us
Working together, loving one another, planning, and implementing smart ideas — these are the things that have kept the USA strong and revered by other nations for so long. We have to get back to all of that and eliminate the negative distractions that are causing division. We have to come together and put differences aside for the greater good.

 

We also have to stand up and speak up about what’s wrong and how to make it right. This doesn’t have to be done from a huge, popular media platform — a conversation can start right at your kitchen table.

 

Love Lynn
Lynn is the author of You Matter and other empowering audiobooks for women.
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You *Should* Care What *Someone* Thinks About You

Countless self-help books, quotes and gurus tell us that we shouldn’t care what other people think. That you should just do you. I believe I’ve even provided this advice to some degree in my books and blogs.

But after some thought I have come to realize that this isn’t entirely the best advice. I believe that you shouldn’t care about what everyone else thinks about you but you should care about what someone thinks about you.

Without boundaries, which are often set and established by the people we love and trust, our lives can quickly devolve into a chaotic mess. If you don’t have anyone in this world whose opinion you care about, there are no checks and balances. Sometimes we need the opinion of another person to stay grounded and headed in the right direction.

Take the case of young girls who fall victim to drug abuse, violent relationships and/or sex work. They often grow up without boundaries and pretty much put up a middle finger to everyone in the world. They don’t respect or care about the opinions of their parents, their friends, mentors, teachers or anyone else who might help them live a better life. Not caring about anyone’s opinion often leads them down the path of destruction.

Another thought. Currently in the US, we have a few leaders who think that they can do whatever they want, no matter who it hurts or affects. As much as they might not care about what anyone thinks about their deeds, that mentality will backfire. The opinions of their fellow citizens do matter.

Here’s one more example. I recently watched the Amazon series Z. It’s the story of Zelda Fitzgerald and her husband F. Scott Fitzgerald. They fell in love at first sight and had a whirlwind romance that quickly lead to marriage. But Zelda was unaware of her husband’s wild and lascivious lifestyle. He had no boundaries and neither did his friends. They lived life on their own terms, not caring what anyone thought of them (or so they said). Before she knew it, Zelda was swept up by it all and living that life as well. She died fairly young in a mental hospital.

To reiterate, I don’t think that you should go through life caring about what everyone around you thinks. It’s oppressive to be constantly self-conscious and insecure. But I do think that there is value in having someone in this world whose opinion matters to you, whether it’s a parent, a friend, a mentor or God.

Love Lynn

Lynn Gilliard is an author and blogger. Her new book You Matter encourages women to know and understand their worth. She is also the author of a popular relationship guide entitled Let Him Chase YOU.

5 Great Reasons to Donate to DonorsChoose.org this School Year

If your charitable giving is focused around helping young people, you’ll want to learn more about DonorsChoose.org . It’s a popular website that allows you to donate money to school projects that are set up by educators at elementary schools, junior highs and high schools around the country. You get to choose who you will donate to, right down to the state, city and even the specific school that you want to support.

I was inspired to write this article after receiving an email with pictures from a classroom I donated to back in February. Their request was for supplies to start a garden at their school, which is located in a high poverty area. Months later, I woke up to find an email link to an online album full of pictures showing how their garden has grown!

There are so many great reasons why you should donate to DonorsChoose.org this school year—here are just five of them:

1. It Reminds You of What Is Good and Going Right in The World

When we turn on the television or click onto social media, we’re constantly bombarded with negative stories that can cloud our minds and that may make us think that this world is not so great. We can become so overwhelmed with these stories and messages that we start to think that our society is going completely down the tube. But when you look at ambitious school projects like the many that are being supported at DonorsChoose.org, you realize that there is some good out there in the world. Maybe we need to just focus more on that?

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Image courtesy of DonorsChoose.org

2. The Children Are the Future

It sounds trite but this phrase is and always will be true, generation after generation: the children are the future. The way that children are reared, guided, taught and supported today will affect how they conduct themselves and manage our society in the future. It’s our responsibility as knowing, caring adults to support them in any way that we can. For instance, those children who have learned about growing a garden could become advanced agriculturists of the future. They could be key to keeping us healthy as a society 20 or 30 years from now. And you helped them.

3. You Can Relax Knowing that Your Donation is Directly Benefiting the Children

Some people avoid donating to charities for children because they’re not sure how much of their donation will actually make it to the children. With DonorsChoose.org, there’s a specific project goal set and when it’s reached, administrators order the supplies and send them directly to the school. Though the organization may collect a small administrative fee, I feel comfortable knowing that most of my dollars are definitely going to help the students achieve their goals.

4. You Can Donate Any Small Amount and It Still Makes an Impact

When I started out donating to Donors Choose, I would submit small donations in the amount of $7 to multiple projects. What I quickly found was that even a small donation amount would cause a ripple effect and the project would be fully funded in a day or two. Sometimes national or local businesses match the donations of individuals to help the classroom reach its goal more quickly.

5. The Kids Know that Someone Out There Cares

There’s a crisis of children (and adults) who believe that they don’t really matter to the world. Donating to DonorsChoose.org and leaving a message for the kids (and their teacher) is a way to combat that. The students will always remember that someone out there in the world cared about their existence and supported them.

When you donate to DonorsChoose.org and similar organizations for children, you can feel confident that you’re making a difference. If you ever forget that you made a difference, chances are that you’ll get a little reminder via email from a classroom full of excited children. Create an account at the DonorsChoose.org today and donate any amount to a school project that you’re passionate about.

Love Lynn


Lynn Gilliard is an author and blogger. Her new book You Matter encourages women to know and understand their worth. She is also the author of a popular relationship guide entitled Let Him Chase YOU.

Everyone Has an “Unfair” Advantage — What’s Yours? #LoveLynn

Have you ever been envious of another person’s talents or perceived advantages? Such as really good looks? Extreme intelligence? Or artistic ability?

I’ll be the first to admit it, yes! I remember in high school there was a guy who was ridiculously smart and always #1 in every single one of my honors classes. No one could ever beat him at any assignment… it was uncanny. Though I also had a good class rating, I was still envious of his effortless intelligence.

Another example. I had a friend who had a natural ability to attract new friends and people around her. If I brought someone new to meet her, they would almost always fall in love with her and want to see her even more than me!

You might call these types of skills and traits “unfair advantages” and bemoan the fact that you don’t have them. But the truth of the matter is that everyone has at least one “unfair” advantage over others. Do you know yours?

One of my unfair advantages is my ability to write off the cuff — an idea will pop in my mind and I’ll write an entire blog post about it in about 15 minutes. Another is my ability to tell a good story. I naturally know how to use cadence, timing and eye contact to engage and amuse someone with a story. When I write a story, I write it in a way that allows you to visualize each scene in your mind, like a movie.

So have you figured out one of your unfair advantages yet? Is it cooking a specific dish? Is it that children are naturally drawn to you? Is it that you’re an interesting tweeter? Is it your wit or sense of humor? Are you photogenic no matter where you take a picture?

Or maybe it’s that you can sense what someone else is feeling without them saying a word?

Maybe once you identify your “unfair” advantages, you won’t feel the need to envy the advantages that others possess. Maybe you’ll begin to understand that they aren’t actually unfair, but a powerful God-given trait that you’re meant to use to make a positive change in this world.

You are enough, and YOU MATTER.

Love Lynn

Lynn Gilliard is a writer and transformational blogger. She is the author of a book of life and love advice for women entitled Why Doesn’t He Love Me? and a popular relationship guide entitled Let Him Chase YOU.

Going Against the Grain or Going Along to Get Along?

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
– Mark Twain

Have you ever gone along with something, whether it was an idea, an action or a joke just because most of your friends or family members agree with it?

Yet something deep down inside tells you that something’s not quite right. That is your intuition talking to you, but unfortunately sometimes we ignore that voice. We choose the path of least resistance and just go along to get along.

Going against the grain (a euphemism for going one way when everyone else is going the other way) seems too difficult a task at first. You may have to deal with ridicule or judgment for your choices. Wouldn’t it just be easier to just agree with everyone and go with the crowd?

But there is SO much freedom in going against the grain when it’s warranted. For one, your conscience is FREE, because you know deep down that you’re doing the right thing. And you’re also freeing yourself from the mental slavery that comes with “group think.” The more people who go along with a certain belief, thought, obsession or action, the tougher it is to resist joining the ranks.

When I first decided that I would work for myself and own my own business, many of the people around me laughed and judged me. I frequently heard “why don’t you just go get a *real* job?” Today many of those same people struggle in careers they don’t really like. I decided to go against the grain, and I love what I do. It’s not always easy work being an entrepreneur, but I earn, have freedom AND I’m able to express my creativity every day.

People are always trying to impose their views and opinions on others — you have the free will and right to not agree if you wish. Exercise that free will at every and any opportunity!

Don’t ever be afraid to go against the grain when necessary. Your skin might get “prickled” a little along the way, but you may look up soon enough to clearly see that you chose the right path for YOU.

Love Lynn

Now Available at Amazon & Audible.com!

Lynn Gilliard is a writer and transformational blogger. She is the author of a book of life and love advice for women entitled Why Doesn’t He Love Me? and a popular relationship guide entitled Let Him Chase YOU.

Guidance vs Pushing Opinions on Others

I recently watched the Lifetime biopic Whitney, about the life of one of my favorite entertainers of all time — Whitney Houston. It centered around the romantic relationship she had with her ex-husband Bobby Brown.

In one scene, Whitney announces to her family that she is getting married to Bobby and her family flips their collective lids! In the movie, her mother warns her that he will bring her down, but she defiantly stayed by his side. In the end, her mother was right and they eventually divorced. He seemed to love her, but the energy that he shared with Whitney did ultimately contribute to her fall from "grace" in the public eye, as her mother advised.

What is the difference between giving someone guidance and forcing your will on them? I think there can be a fine line.

On one hand, you can’t tell someone how to live her life. She is ultimately the person who will decide the direction it will take.

On the other hand, if you know something that another person doesn’t know, isn’t it irresponsible not to try to warn them?

Sometimes I feel that some segments of our culture have been on the decline because so many people are insistent on living a totally "free" life where they just go where the wind blows. They don’t want to hear the opinions of others because they find it too "oppressive." But how can you learn and grow in a productive way if you refuse to accept well-intentioned guidance from others? Values, mores and standards help keep us all level-headed.

I think that the difference between guidance and forcing your will on others is the source. If people trust you and value your opinion, your advice is more likely to be considered valuable guidance. If you are considered a "messy" and judgmental person who doesn’t practice what you preach, your opinion is more likely to be considered an oppression or intrusion — even if it does hold some value.

A Little Guidance on Accepting Guidance 🙂
Live your life the way that you want to live it AND also be open to positive guidance from others from time to time. An opinion from another person is not always meant to be judgment or oppression — sometimes it is a blessing. You never know if one small piece of advice from someone can save you from unnecessary, long-term stress and strife.

Love Lynn

Lynn Gilliard is a writer and transformational blogger. She is the author of a popular relationship guide entitled Let Him Chase YOUand an upcoming book of life advice for women entitled Why Doesn’t He Love Me?

How Can I Be a Mentor if I Don’t Even Have My OWN Life Together Yet?

In my early twenties I signed up for Big Brothers Big Sisters and quickly became a mentor of a young shy 11 year old girl.

As time went on in the mentoring process, I started to second guess myself.

What could I possibly teach this girl? What do I have to offer her?

At the time I was starting off in my career as a freelance writer and designer so money came here and there. It was a struggle to pay my bills. I was still driving the same car that I bought in college–it shook and quivered with age and I felt embarrassed picking her up in it. I could barely afford to buy my young mentee a slice of pizza when we hung out together. I was struggling. I felt like such a failure.

Every time I thought to call my mentee for a visit this question nagged at me: why would she want to grow up and be anything like me?

So eventually my visits with my mentee lessened. When she reached the age of 14 her family decided to move away, so the BBBS relationship expired. I have to admit that while I was sad that I’d probably never see her again I was a little relieved that I no longer had to fight with myself over my significance and impact on her young life.

Years later, I look back and feel a little foolish for allowing those self-defeating thoughts to affect my mentoring relationship. I did have a chance to see her again recently and found that she turned out to be a beautiful, confident and ambitious teenager. She is on her way to great things, and I like to think I played a small role in that.

I am speaking to anyone who is thinking about becoming a mentor or is currently a mentor who doubts your ability to positively influence your mentee. It’s not so much about getting her to admire you or to be just like you. It’s about the attention and love you’re giving the child which she may not be getting enough of at home.

Much like adults, kids just want to feel special, listened to, attended to and understood. If you can give them that, you have done your job as a mentor.

So just because you don’t quite have life figured out yet doesn’t mean that you arent a good candidate for mentorship. Some young person out there needs exactly what you have to offer. Just give her the attention, love and positive guidance that YOU wish you had received more of as a child.

Love Lynn

Lynn Gilliard is a writer and transformational blogger. She is the author of a self-help guide entitled Survive, Live or Thrive?and a popular relationship guide entitled Let Him Chase YOU.