Jean Anne Costa
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Creating Community

Affirmation:  I am an integral part of a community of likeminded individuals. 
Because I am open and accepting, I am invited by friends and family to share in fun experiences. 
I find that several of my affirmations revolve around my relationships with family and friends.  I like people but I like some people more when I see them less.  Do you ever feel that way?  When I take the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, I fall half way between the introvert and the extrovert; meaning that I gain energy both from being alone and from being with people.  So, I need to balance that.  I need quiet time and I need time with others.  Of course, all the research shows that health depends a great deal on having an extended support system.  There has been research showing that how well we cope in our older age, depends on our social system.  Being a breast cancer survivor, I’ve read and experienced, how effective support groups are in one’s recovery process. 
There are times when I can feel isolated.  I’m not sure why because between my hubby, children, grandchildren, mother and several close friends, all who live nearby, you’d think I’d be overwhelmed with personal interaction.  But, if I get caught up in comparing myself to others I know, those people who are very popular, you know the ones.  They are the people who are always being asked to every party, every gathering, every fun trip, and every social event.  When I find myself looking at their lives and then examining mine, I wonder if I’ve missed the boat somewhere.  It’s funny because I always tell people and myself to avoid comparisons. I know we compare our worst to everyone else’s best.  We compare our inside to the other’s outside and no one ever wins from such a thought process.  I know this.  But, periodically I still get caught.  This topic is one of those times.  I have several friends who I must admit are amazing at creating personal relationships.  They are the ones who are always heading off to visit or travel with other friends.  I often leave their presence wondering what I’m doing wrong or simply wondering if I really am that different from them. 
So, I decided to remind myself that, I am an integral part of a community of likeminded individuals.  I also decided to affirm that: Because I am open and accepting, I am invited by friends and family to share in fun experiences. 
I truly am a part of a community of likeminded individuals.  They may not all be right around the corner, or even in my town but I know they are out there.  They are all the people who sent me notes and cards and mementos when I was going through cancer treatments.  They are the people I don’t hesitate to contact when I want to be remembered in prayer or need a loved one remembered in prayer.  They are the people who love talk to with me about how to improve the quality of their lives, the people who love to discuss concepts and ideas.  They are the people I know who are always excited about learning, the generous people who donate every year to the Pink Ribbon Yoga Retreat so that women, who can’t afford to attend, get to come for free.  If I focus on all the wonderful people in my community I stop thinking about what I don’t have and instead focus on what I do.  As to the affirmation about being open and accepting, well, that one means, I always say yes.  Yes, I’ll join you.  Yes, I’m ready to go.  Yes, I want to spend time with you.  Isn’t that the secret to strong relationships, sharing experiences and spending time together? 

Chronic Helping Tic

Affirmation:  I live a Christ centered life of love, joy, peace, gratitude and compassion.
My dear friend from my study group, The Seekers, sent me an Oprah article called, CHT (chronic helping tic.)  I read with interest the symptoms the author attitributed to this ailment and I immediately realized I too had this disorder.  It’s been an interesting process watching myself try to hold back from offering advice and guidance to people who haven’t asked me for help and in many cases ,from  people I don’t even know, total strangers.
I am the oldest child of a family of three.  My father always wanted a son but he got me instead and he seemed to really like me.  We spent a lot of quality time together, probably a lot more time than was usual at that time.  He really had a zest for life.  He was a kind and decent man.  He worked hard and he played hard and he included me whenever he could.  I tell you all this because when I read Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, I saw a lot of the male attributes they described in my personality.  One that was very strong was the desire to help people fix things, not to simply listen but to offer unsolicited advice when really; all they wanted was a sympathetic ear.  I have worked hard over the years to change this guttural response.  I am not always successful.  I just feel like I have so much practical information about so many topics, I mean I love to read and to talk about psychosocial issues and then I’m ready to share this knowledge at the drop of the hat. But, I know that most people don’t want help, they don’t really want advice even when they ask for it.  It can be a fine line between empowering and enabling.  I walk it carefully and slip only too often.
I remember the story about Andre Carnegie when he was seated with a female dinner partner and after asking her a simple open ended question, did not get to speak again for the rest of the meal.  When they were finally finished, she told him he was the most interesting dinner partner she had ever had the pleasure of speaking with.  I know that’s an extreme but I believe most people love to talk about themselves and really will have polite conversations but even then, they are thinking about what they are going to say next.  Mary Kay Ash has a story too about a woman who came to her for advice on a serious, personal issue.  When the meeting was over the woman was thrilled with the results of the conversation.  Mary Kay said she never said a word.  She simply listened while this woman talked herself through her problem.  This could be why a great therapist is in such demand.  They are trained listeners.
After reading the article my friend sent me, I decided to take a hiatus from offering un-solicited help and to see how it went.  I was doing fairly well until a woman in the grocery picked up a bag of mixed peppers.  I immediately told her that I had bought those last week and not all of them were fresh.  As soon as it came out, I wanted to kick myself.  I think the secret here is what is motivating me to offer advice.  If it’s a genuine concern for the other, that’s probably good but if it’s more about my ego, what I know and my wanting you to know how much I know, that’s not a good thing.  This lady was fairly grateful.  She said she’d had the same experience but had forgotten. 
Also, I have a woman in my church who always arrives impeccably coifed.  She’s an older woman but it’s obvious that she takes very good care of herself.  The last time she arrived she looked marvelous and then I noticed several long hairs growing from her chin.  Honestly, if I’d had a tweezer, I might have whipped it out at that very moment and offered my grooming skills but I didn’t and I decided it wouldn’t help her in any way if I told her about them and then there was the question, did she want to know.  I must say that CHT just about took over my thoughts for quite a while.  What was the right thing to do?  Did she care?  Did she think that was OK?   Should I call or email?  Would she never talk to me again or be embarrassed to be around me?  After reading the article, I decided it was once again a case of CHT and I almost let it go, except for the fact that I’m writing about it here and now.  What do you think?  How would you have handled it?  What advice do you have for me?  Have you ever experienced such a tic? 
The Courage to Change book from Alanon has one reading about someone’s gravestone.  Whoever buried this gentleman had written on it, “He’s finally minding his own business.”  I really don’t want that on my gravestone.  So, each day I now try to stop myself from stepping into someone else’s life if it’s not from a purely loving heart.  If it’s about them and what they truly seem to need and if I don’t care how it makes me feel, maybe then it’ll be OK.  But, if it’s something I’m doing that feeds my ego, I need to recognize that and let it go.  Yes, my mission statement for my life is, “I lead a Christ centered life of love, joy, peace, gratitude and compassion.”  If all of my behavior is based on that I am sure when I reach out, it will be with a pure heart and if that’s true, all else will be as it should be. 



Affirmation:  The best is yet to come.

My husband, Sandy and I have been married for almost 43 years.  I teasingly tell people I was a child bride, maybe 15.  But, while we were young, right out of college, we were a “reasonable” age.  Looking back, I don’t think I had a clue what I was committing to.  I’d like to think the young people marrying today have more knowledge about relationships and what saying “I do” represents than I did.  I think they might have an advantage over me because of all the information available in the media.  I know all of it isn’t good, but at least they are exposed to a great deal of different situations. 

I came from a very small family and unless I learned from their example, there wasn’t much more information available.  I was lucky because both my husband and I came from stable, loving families.  I’m sure that’s one of the reason two naïve kids like us have made it this far.
We went to dinner with a newlywed couple one evening.  They were young but they already had a lot of schooling under their belts and were looking at additional degrees.  They were considerate of each other and had a maturity about them that belied their years.  It was a pleasure to be with them.  I found myself offering my perspective on marriage.  I find myself sharing this information more and more often.  It’s usually because I am so surprised at where I’m at in my relationship with my husband and that no one ever told me about this stage of marriage.  In fact, even with today’s information overload, I haven’t seen this anywhere and it’s really important for couples to know this, especially young couples.

After 43 years, we still love one another.  We have raised three children, moved seven times, and been through illness and deaths.  We have struggled financially and psychologically.  We have played together and we have shared the most intimate of experiences.  One, for example, is when Sandy shaved my head before my hair fell out from chemo.  There are almost no words to say what that was like.  It’s been good and it’s been tough.  It’s been life and I’m so very grateful I’ve gotten to share it all with him.

And, what is it I want couples to know?  I want them to know that marriage is difficult but if there are no irreconcilable differences, no overwhelming obstacles to staying together, marriage gets better and better.  It can become one of the richest experiences of your life if you have the fortitude to hang in there so you can share your later years with that person with whom you became of age.  For us, this is the best our marriage has ever been and it’s a great joy.  Would you agree that’s what can happen?  Many many years ago I had an “older” woman tell me her time as an empty nester was the sexiest time of her marriage.  It’s true.  It’s worth it.  Don’t give up.

Golf & Lessons Learned

Affirmation:  I value my accomplishments and my disappointments.
On June 19th, 2011 Rory McIlroy won the US Open in golf.  I play golf although I do not consider myself a golfer.  I am married to a golfer and recently my adult son, Joey, has given up sky diving and taken up golf.  (Thank You, Lord.)  Considering we have been married for almost 43 years, I have learned a lot about the sport.  I must admit there have been many times in our marriage when I was deeply resentful of the time and energy my husband put into his passion.  When the children were little and he worked 100 hours a week and still played golf on the weekends, I thought I’d go crazy.  He did stop playing when our youngest child, Ellen, was born.  He needed a break and I needed a break too. 

Many years ago I read James Dobson’s, Final Rounds.  It completely changed the way I saw the sport.  It truly was a life changing read.  It helped too that my children were older and I had a little more free time.  But, when I read the memories that he and his dad had collected together, I better understood the appeal of the game.  Golf  wasn’t just “a good walk spoiled” as Mark Twain; it was about so much more.  It was about relationships and adventures and shared experiences.  I took it to heart and started focusing on those aspects and not how many times I was hitting (or swinging) at that little ball.  Yes, something changed.  I started having more fun and truly valuing the time I spent with Sandy and now with my son.  Sometimes my daughter-in-law, Belen, joins us on the course as Joey’s chauffeur.  It can be a delightful day and I really have learned to value being out on the course.

Part of our shared interest lies in occasionally watching the major tournaments with my family.  The US Open is one of them.  And, this year’s was very exciting.  This young man, Rory McIlroy (22 years) won. He’s from Northern Island.  Not only did he win but he broke all sorts of records.  He shot 65-66-68-68.  He was as much as 17 under par at one point.  He went into the tournament winning by 8 strokes.  These are unheard of accomplishments. 

That’s all wonderful and exciting but for me, it was the story behind his win that touched my heart.  His father was there; it was his Father’s Day present.  The story that emerged was of a family of very hard working people.  His dad had worked as a janitor and when his son showed an interest in golf, he became the bar tender at the golf club so that they could afford his lessons.  When he accepted his award, he didn’t’ leave out his “mum” either.  He said it was because of their hard work and sacrifice that he was there today. 

The media spent a great deal of time talking about this young man’s loss at the Masters in Augusta.  They kept talking about how he was winning by 4 strokes when the final round began, and then “fell apart.”  Everyone was amazed that he had pulled himself together so quickly and was doing so well.  Some thought he might never recover from such a devastating loss.  It was one of the questions presented to him several minutes after accepting the US Open trophy.  The announcer asked him to speak about losing the Masters and what that had been like.  Ready?  “The Masters was a very valuable experience for me.  I learned a few things about myself and my game.” 

This champion is much wiser than his 22 years.  It takes some of us a lifetime to discover that every life experience leads to wisdom and knowledge.  It’s all up to us how we perceive it and whether or not we value every single one of them, both the accomplishments and the disappointments.  Like Rory, it can lead us to championship skills, the skills of leading a rewarding, fulfilling life. 


Affirmation:  I am loveable, I am worthy, I do well.

Oprah Winfrey ended her 25 year show this June.  I think I missed a lot because I am not an avid television watcher.  I rarely have the TV on during the day and now, with DVRs I rarely watch more than an hour of TV in the evening.  I once had a very good friend suggest I Tivo the Oprah show and watch what was of interest to me.  I also had another friend tell me if I watched more Oprah I would probably take fewer classes, since she teaches about almost everything in which I am interested.  I think they were both right and I didn’t take their advice to heart or I just couldn’t seem to find the time to watch her daily show.  But, I did DVR her very last show.  I have now watched it twice and I will very likely watch it again.  Her theme was what she had learned from her viewers over the years.  I actually went back and took notes.

“There is a common thread that runs though all of our pain and all of our suffering, unworthiness, not feeling worthy enough to own the life you were created for.  We often block our inherent blessings because we don’t think we’re good enough, smart enough or pretty enough or worthy enough.”  She went on to say, “You’re worthy because you have been born.  Your being here, your being alive makes worthiness your birth right.  You alone are enough.” 

Do you believe that?  It’s the same theme over and over.  We are so much more than we seem.  We are spirit, we are eternal, and we are children of God.  We were created to bring light and love into this world.  We don’t need to do anything else in order to do that.  But, should we choose to go out into the world and bring our love and our energy, we need to do it with a sense of power and compassion.  We were created to shine.  Let your light shine.  Do not act small, do not shy away from life, it doesn’t help anyone.  By believing in your worthiness by acting as if, you give permission to all those lives you touch, to be and to feel the same way.

Open your heart, do not be afraid.  In yoga we practice “Open Heart” asanas.  Take a deep breath, pull your shoulders back, open your arms, and smile.  Inhale and breathe into your heart, as you exhale, see the love and energy shinning out, as you inhale, feel the love and positive energy filling you up.  Believe it.  You are loved; you are worthy.

Financial Prosperity

Affirmation:   We attract financial prosperity
Money!  I’m fairly thrifty on most things.  But, I don’t like to feel like I have to be thrifty.  I like to choose to be thrifty.  Can you see the difference?  It reminds me of some diets I’ve been on.  As soon as I felt I was denying myself of some specific food, I wanted it more.  Recently, I have joined Weight Watchers Online and I’ve been fascinated by the amount of food I can eat and also that I can eat anything I want, within a reasonable amount.  It seems to be working for me.  It’s the same with money, I don’t mind watching my pennies, I just want to do it because I have a responsibility to be financially aware and prudent not because we are in dire straits.  Maybe an ounce of prevention will help to keep us from being in real financial difficulties, maybe.
The affirmation:  We attract financial prosperity is one of the few where I include my husband in the statement.  Our finances are totally interwoven.  I guess that’s fairly normal after 42 years of marriage.  I remember the first time I told him about this affirmation.  We were in church.  He was pretty skeptical.  Then the donation basket was passed and I asked him for some additional cash to put in it.  Being the great guy he is, he immediately handed me more money.  “See”, I said, “We do attract financial prosperity!”  He smiled and just shook his head.
My study group, The Seekers, has been working on the book Second Blooming for Women.   One of the topics has led to a lot of discussion both within and outside the group.  The statement is, “If money were no object ________.”  How would you fill that in?  I love asking people this question.
My husband has a story about being in speech class in college.  He decided to speak about the song “If I Ruled the World.”  To gather information, he went around asking people what they would do if they ruled the world.  One person he asked was a young co-worker.  He was the delivery fellow at their local pharmacy.  This young man gave the question a great deal of thought and finally shared, “I would have someone set me up in business.”  Sandy, my hubby, said, “I don’t think you get it.  You RULE the whole world.”  The young man again gave it quite a bit of thought and what do you think he answered?  “Yup, if I ruled the world, I’d have someone set me up in business.  That’s what I’d do.”
When I was first confronted with the fill in the blank about money, I must admit my vision was limited.  Not as much as the delivery guy but more than I like to admit. Then, after speaking with my group, I found myself imagining all sorts of altruistic activities.  “No object” you say, “Well, I’d cure cancer, make sure everyone had any proven, available inoculations, feed the hungry, especially the children and finally, I would make a supreme effort to educate the women of the world.”   I might have to own a private jet in order to get around tending to the whole world but I’m willing to do whatever is necessary. 
Then came the real revelation.  Money may be limited but that doesn’t mean I can’t still devote some of my income to those things I feel are important.   My donations may not take care of the whole world but it would at least take care of a part of it.  I do set aside part of our income to give to charity.  As we shared some of our ideas, it came to me that I have been giving money to educate women.  I make a monthly donation to my high school, Saint Agnes Academic High in College Point, N.Y.  It’s an all girl school and I credit it and the teachers I had for the life I now live.  It was a wonderful environment.  It showed me my potential.  I had nuns and lay teachers who had their PHDs in Mathematics, English, and Latin, to name a few subjects.  They were remarkable women and by being in their presence, I began to see that I too could educate myself and reach heights I never before dreamed possible.  
What about you?  If money were no object what would be your priorities?  Remember, we are spiritual beings.  We have the gifts and ability to tap into the unseen, the unknown, the power of God!  Truly, the only limits that exist are the limits we place on ourselves.  It’s our choice; do we go to the ocean with a thimble, a bucket or a pipeline?   It’s all yours just like the sun shines on all of us, prosperity can belong to everyone; dream large. 


Affirmation:   Come Holy Spirit, fill the heart of Your faithful.  Enkindle in me the fire of Your love.
We are approaching the feast of Pentecost.  This marks the day when the Holy Spirit descended onto the apostles and transformed their lives.  I must admit there are several aspects to this feast day that appeal to and fascinate me.
The first one is that after this event, these mild, uneducated, socially awkward men (and I like to think, maybe a woman or two) shrugged off their fears and anxieties and went out into the world preaching and converting it to the message of Jesus Christ.  This whole tale is just remarkable to me.  In fact, it is one of the foundations for why I believe, why I remain a Christian.  I just am in awe of the fact that these men who after the crucifixion were hiding in a room and fearful for their lives have an expericnce that enables them to go off and to preach “the good news.”  How else can one explain what took place if it wasn’t a miracle?  I know I’d need such a dramatic experience before they’d get me out of that room and off to preach to all the corners of the world.  In my mind, the fact that these fishermen were able to completely change the world is proof enough that Jesus Christ is Lord.
The second aspect of this feast day lies in my belief in that we are all more than we seem.  The world is more than it seems.  There are unseen forces affecting every aspect of our existence of which we have very little knowledge.  The Holy Spirit is our counselor, our guide, our path to holiness.  I’m very glad there is such a resource available and I fully intend to take full advantage of it. 
To prepare for Pentecost I have found a short prayer that I am saying daily, sometimes several times a day.  I am saying it and then I am expecting miracles to occur, sort of like the apostles brushing themselves off and finding new found strength and courage.  I don’t know what the miracles will be but I’m anxiously awaiting their occurrence.  Yes, I believe I will recognize them.  I already await the miracles of life because of my faith in Jesus but this feels like I am strengthening my chances. 
So, for the last couple of weeks I say:  Come Holy Spirit, fill the heart of Your faithful.  Enkindle in me the fire of Your love. 


Affirmation:   I avoid all thoughts that weaken me. 
I am an optimist by birth.  I have a dear friend who is a yoga teacher like me and is involved with the planning of the Pink Ribbon Yoga Retreat.  We’ve not only done the yearly four day beach retreat but we have presented several day retreats.  Our concern is always the same. “Is the space big enough to hold all the people who will want to attend?”  We laugh at ourselves now, because the space has always been big enough and it has always been the perfect space.  My experience has been that when things are done with the right intention and lifted up to a Higher Power for their blessing, they usually not only turn out well, but better than you ever dreamed possible. 
Another example of this in my life is when my eldest daughter married.  This is her second marriage.  She is a remarkable woman and has weathered situations no one should have to experience.  But, she experienced them with grace and dignity.  She was unmarried with two small children and her father and I prayed daily that her life would be abundantly blessed.  We never prayed that she’d remarry, unless that was her plan and what she wanted.  We wanted whatever she wanted and that was our prayer.  She did meet someone, a wonderful man with two terrific teenage boys.  (I bet you wondered if there is such a thing.  I am here to tell you, there is.)  They form a marvelous blended family.  If her father and I had prayed for a man for her to marry and a family for her to love, we could not have imagined a situation as blessed as the one she now has. 
But, it is true, I sometimes obsess.  I get caught up in thoughts that repeat themselves over and over.  And, normally they are not thoughts that empower or lift me up.  They can be doom and gloom or questions to which I have no answer and may never have an answer.  That’s when I reroute my thoughts.  Prayer is usually the first step even if it’s a single word.  It turns off the thoughts and turns me around back to those things that are important to me and those thoughts that empower and do uplift. 
When I’m obsessing, I call upon; I avoid all thoughts that weaken me.  It helps to remind me of how I want to perceive the world, at least my world.  I don’t have space for things that deplete my energy.  One of my goals in life is optimal health and that definitely begins with how and what I am thinking.


Affirmation:  I am always manifesting.  I manifest to my highest and best.
What we think about, we bring about.  What we concentrate on, we draw towards us or are drawn towards.  I think of the story about the father teaching his son to drive.  Up ahead is a bolder and the father is very concerned that the boy will run into it.  He repeats over and over, “Watch out for that bolder!”  What do you think happens?  Of course, the boy hits the bolder.  How could he possible miss it?  It’s the one thing that’s being pointed to over and again.
We do the same thing in life and so many times, it’s about something negative.  I was with a person once who kept telling me how much trouble she was to her husband.  The man seemed genuinely crazy about her but she kept telling him over and over, how difficult a person she was with whom to live.  I could only imagine how long it would take him to start to believe it.  And, then what would happen?  Would he stay around or would the ground be prepared with the negative comments to grow something she had believed would happen all along?
I participate in the Pink Ribbon Yoga Retreat (.org) every year.  I facilitate it and am one of the yoga teachers.  Our first year in 2005, one of our yoga teachers kept repeating that she didn’t feel skilled enough to teach cancer patients.  She was an extremely gifted teacher and she taught a wonderful gently yoga, a type of yoga very appropriate for cancer survivors.  When the evaluations came in there was one (out of about 20) that mentioned one of the teachers seemed uncomfortable in her teaching skills.  Did she manifest that? 
That’s not to say we manifest everything, although there are some who would disagree with me on that point.  What about you?  I am a breast cancer survivor.  I never dreamed I would get breast cancer.  Now, I have been diagnosed as pre-diabetic, pre-high cholesterol and with osteopeni.  I don’t know who they are talking about because to look at me, you’d never guess I was dealing with any of those issues.  And, just last month, an eye doctor diagnosed me with some sort of condition that exists in only 10% of the population.  I know, I hadn’t manifested that ailment.  I didn’t even know it existed.  And, I know I’m not the only one who has received surprises throughout their lives.
I did however manifest the life I am now living.  I feel blessed beyond belief.  My life is full of love and joy.  My days are rich with people to nurture and who nurture me.  I wake up to a world of beauty and richness.  My faith is continuing to grow.  Even though I have these physical challenges, I still feel like I am strong and healthy.  I think it’s because one of my affirmations is:  This terrific body is Powerful, Strong and Balanced.   
It is a puzzle isn’t it?  I know we manifest our own reality.  I know it!  I also know, life throws things at us we never even dreamed of, both blessings and challenges but why take the chance to manifest those things we don’t’ want to deal with, they may come along anyway.   Why not make the effort to believe in the concept that we can create our destiny?  Why not go for the moon?  Maybe then if you fall, it will be into the stars and not flat faced down into the mud. 


Affirmation:   I accept people as they are and celebrate their relationships with me.
I like people.  When I’ve taken the Meyers Briggs Personality Test, I come out evenly between the introvert and the extrovert.  The test doesn’t tell you how well you relate to people, but whether or not you get energy from being with people or being alone.  The goal is to find a middle ground.  For me, I need some of both and the challenge can be finding that balance. 
I remember when I was in graduate school getting my Masters in Social Work.  My very first course was taught by a dynamite young woman.  She was so energetic and knowledgeable.  It was a fun and interesting course.  She came in one day and it was immediately noticeable to me that she was not her usual self.  She went on to teach the class.  It was a three hour class.  As the class progressed, she seemed to be feeling better.  Her energy level seemed to be rising and she seemed to be enjoying the process more and more.  When the class ended, I took the time to chat with her and I asked her how she was feeling.  She told me she felt great but that when she had first arrived for the class, she had a migraine headache.  Teaching the class had helped her eliminate the headache.
I, too, am a migraine sufferer.  I’ve had a few “doozies.”  I can tell you, standing in front of a classroom for three hours and teaching would not be the way for me to eradicate a headache.  I need medication and I need a dark, quiet room.  I decided there and then, this woman was getting her energy in a very different way than I was.  She’s probably a high level extrovert.  Wouldn’t you agree?
I work very hard at staying connected to my family and friends.  I know how important it is for my psychological and physical well being.  It’s easier sometimes than others.  I seem to be able to putter around the house forever.  I love a day when I have nothing scheduled and I get to go about town doing my errands and perhaps stopping somewhere fun for a quiet lunch and an opportunity to people watch.    
I remember a friend once told me she loved children, but only her own.  Truly, I can relate to that.  I too can feel the same way about people.  And, sometimes I fall into the trap of finding fault with some friends.  I try not to go there with family, but it happens there too.  But, how does that improve the quality of my life?  If I’m finding fault with them, what are they thinking about me, if they’re thinking anything at all?  I want to simply enjoy my relationships, even those casual ones that come from interacting with people who are working to help me with all my different projects and errands.  I want to like and to appreciate everyone.  I know that isn’t feasible but I can make an effort. 
One of my daily readings talks about “affability.”  It says it’s not a trait most pay attention to but when it’s missing, it’s always noticeable.  I like to be affable.  I like to notice people, learn their names, and be kind to them, even if it’s only in a small interaction.  I have found one way to appreciate people is to simply accept them for the way they are, not to judge, not to have expectations, especially expectations about which they have no knowledge.  So, every day, I remind myself, I accept people as they are and celebrate their relationships with me.   And, I hope that’s how they are thinking about me, if they’re thinking about me at all.