With my compliments

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Have you complimented someone today? This week? This month?

It’s amazing what a few words of support and kindness can do for someone who feels like he or she is uncertain or struggling to accomplish specific goals or develop certain skills.

And those kind words are particularly important when they come from someone who is in a position of authority in that subject.

I am an amateur photographer; a good one, in my own opinion. And I am eternally grateful for and happy to hear friends and loved ones tell me when they like a particular photo or group of images.

But recently, I have received some very kind comments from other photographers, whose work impresses the hell out of me, and who, in a few cases, don’t know me beyond what they have seen of my work on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter.

Earlier today, someone I did not know stopped by my Instagram account to comment on an image I posted recently.

Simply wonderful! You got what it takes for a good photographer!

I immediately jumped over to his account and realized that I was being complimented by someone who I believe has amazing talent. This is someone making a career as a professional photographer.

I have likewise built a nice friendship with one of the official photographers for my beloved Toronto Marlies; a man who will periodically compliment me on a particularly good shot. I have told him as much, but I’m not sure he believes how much his kind words and encouragement mean to me.

When someone does well, I like to let them know I think so. I think my compliments are most powerful, however, when they related to writing; my particular strength.

What is your area of expertise or authority?

When was the last time you took a moment to tell someone further down the development chain that he or she had done a really good job on something or that you found his or her work impressive?

Trust me; it will make their day to hear that.

And if you are already spreading encouragement and passion, thank you for that. We need to make sure this spreads.

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You never know what people will like…so don’t try to anticipate; just create

My (other) family

Dog Pound

The rowdy rabble that are Duke’s Dog Pound

This is my family.

Not in the genetic sense, you understand, or even in the social sense. We did not grow up in the same house.

But a couple of times a week for the better part of eight months of the year, we gather at our local house of passion—the Ricoh Coliseum—and join in frenzied excitement over our beloved hockey club.

This is my Marlies family.

We are an odd collection of people of all ages, temperaments and backgrounds. We come from all regions around the city (and abroad) and have quite unique life experiences. And yet we are family.

And like all families, we can irritate the hell out of each other. Sometimes the passions can overwhelm those sitting in nearby seats. We do not deal equally well with challenging times, whether for our team or our family. And disagreement over the smallest thing can take fire, forming a wedge however temporary between family members and forcing others to take sides.

But the second there is a threat from outside the family, we quickly band together in support, in concern and in love. And ultimately, we are drawn yet again by our shared love of our boys in blue and white.

I would do almost anything for these people, help them in whatever way they might need. And I know both from my gut and from experience that they would help me if I needed it.

When viewed from outside, we are complete strangers to each other. Except for small pockets, we do not spend time together much beyond the arena. I don’t hear the minutiae of your life, nor you mine.

And yet, when the hockey season ends each Spring, I am saddened, not just because our boys didn’t advance further in the playoffs, but also because it will now be months before I once again see most of these people.

But when those gates open in October, and we wander down the familiar hallways to our familiar seats around the pristine sheet of ice, it is a moment of pure joy.

I am home with my family.

This is my family, and I adore them to pieces.

Stop denying compliments

You’re a really nice person for coming to read my blog, and I really appreciate it.

I just wanted you to know that. You deserve to hear nice things about yourself.

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It’s been a really good week or so for me on the compliment front as two previously unknown people have taken a moment to offer nice comments about my magazine writing.

In reference to a past commentary, Diane wanted me to know:

You’re a superb writer—love the line “One need only look at any war-torn region of the world today to realize that in the middle of a conflict, bullets take precedence over bandages.”

Similarly, Martina offered me her thoughts on a recent interview I conducted:

This was a great interview and a pleasure to listen to it. I don’t hear too many interviews with writers and editors so well prepared.

I tell you this not to say that you should love my work too, but rather to note that it wasn’t that long ago when I would have completely dismissed these lovely comments. Not because I am a dick, but because I am not worthy of such praise.

Throughout my life, I have had a lot of self-worth and self-image problems…still do, to be completely honest. I couldn’t believe that anyone would like me or my work because I and it had no value. Anything nice they had to say was just an effort to…I dunno…I have no idea why they said it.

But it wasn’t true. If it wasn’t a lie, it was a mistake.

As I’ve gotten better with myself over the last several years, I’ve noticed a lot of other people share this problem. They can’t, or perhaps more accurately won’t take a compliment.

dont deny

Please stop! Let people offer you their compliments. And then, say “Thank you.”

Simply say “Thank you” when someone gives you a compliment…no eye roll, no looking away or down, no self-deprecation. Just take it and acknowledge it! It sounds trite, but it isn’t.

A big part of being able to move past self-worth and self-image issues and slowly diminish their impact in my life has been the idea of accepting compliments from other people as more than politeness.

If it works for you as it did for me, at first you just go through the motions…but then slowly, as you take the compliments in and hear them more often–really, really hear them–you begin to think they may be based on something…they may be true. I’m sure they are.

I gave a dear friend of mine similar advice yesterday when she blogged about her vulnerability.

I then proceeded to give her about half-a-dozen compliments in short order to demonstrate my love and appreciation for her, to let her know she was worthy of praise.

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Without knowing which of you is reading when, it is a little difficult for me to do the same right now, other than to let you know that you too are worthy of praise.

So let people praise you…and then, just say “Thank you”.

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(These beautiful images are the property of their owners and are used here without permission, but deepest appreciation.)